Links 4/2/15

Mice sing just like birds, but we can’t hear them Washington Post (furzy mouse)

Dogs not overly anxious about contents of pet food Daily Mash

Can we harness telepathy for moral good? Aeon

This guy just made the first-ever BASE jump off Mount Kilimanjaro Business Insider

Japan on Brink of Another GDP Contraction WSJ Japan Real Time

EU Prepares Google Antitrust Charges Wall Street Journal

European banking supervisor should limit banks’ exposure to all eurozone governments, not just Greece Bruegel

Reading the ECB runes Reuters

Poor and under pressure: the social impact of Europe’s fiscal consolidation Bruegel (Swedish Lex)

Sweden is about to add a gender-neutral pronoun to its official dictionary Washington Post


Updated reform list still not enough to unlock aid ekathimerini

Greece sends new reform list to eurozone Financial Times

Greek defiance mounts as Alexis Tsipras turns to Russia and China Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph. As readers know, I differ in a big way from AEP and think he has gotten too close to his sources in the Greek government. My best guess is that the Troika keeps Greece in the sweatbox. It lets it default on IMF debt (no big deal since IMF deadlines are not hard and fast) and the T-bill refinancings mid-month, but keeps the ELA in place with the proviso that keeping it in place is conditioned on Greece reachinga an agreement on the bailout package. The IMF and ECB continue to hang tough on structural reforms as Greece is forced to make only partial payments to government employees and pensioners and/or resort to funny money scrip. They will work to alleviate adverse international financial market reactions while increasing domestic pressure.


Ukraine calmer, but still short of ceasefire DW

Norway Reverts to Cold War Mode as Russian Air Patrols Spike New York Times (furzy mouse)

Poll blow to Rousseff over austerity plan Financial Times


Will Yemen kick-off the ‘War of the two Blocs?’ RT

Iraq’s Claim to Recapture Tikrit Challenged by Some in the Town Bloomberg

Criticism Mounts on Iran Talks Wall Street Journal

Executive Action Leaves Many Undocumented Immigrants in State of Apprehension and Uncertainty Truthout. As predicted.

Obama Expands Options for Retaliating Against Foreign Hackers New York Times (furzy mouse)

Indiana woman jailed for “feticide.” It’s never happened before. Washington Post Fruzy mouse:”The witch hunts are back, esp. for poor women and ambitious prosecutors….​”

US corporate backlash hits religious freedom bills Financial Times

Brown Orders Mandatory Water Curbs for California Drought Bloomberg

Jeb Bush Pressed Pension Officials On Behalf of Donor’s Firm International Business Times

What If An Oil Rebound Never Comes? OilPrice

Class Warfare

Student Debt Strikers Grow in Number and in Power Truthout

McDonald’s to Raise Pay at Outlets It Operates New York Times

The Blood Cries Out Foreign Policy. Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. rusti

    Here’s a working link to the Washington Post Swedish pronoun story.

    Anecdotally, I know absolutely no one who uses “hen” other than ironically while rolling their eyes, so I think the author of the Washington Post article might have gotten the wrong impression by speaking with a so called “linguistic expert” that has a bachelor’s degree in “Language consultancy”.

    I’m not particularly emotional about pronoun choice, but the whole debate is about the most stereotypically Swedish thing ever.

    1. Working Class Nero

      I know fairly normal people who use it in chat situations where the sex of the subject is unknown:
      Läkaren slog mig. (The doctor hit me)

      Varför gjorde hen det? (Why did he/she do that?)

      There might be one dagis (crèche) in Stockholm that uses it but not much more than that. And I am sure men will use it to hint that other men as less that manly while maintaining a plausibly deniable façade of political correctness.

      Sven är fortfarande hemma och gör ren toaletten. (Sven is still home cleaning the toilet)
      Säg till hen(om?) att vi ska träffas på puben nar hen är klar (Have him/her meet us at the pub when he/she is done)

      As you can see the object pronoun has not yet been worked out.

      But still there are times when you would not want to emphasize the sex of the person you are talking about. In English you can use “they” or “them” for at least a couple of sentences before it becomes obvious what you are doing. But in Swedish if you want to hide the particular sex of the colleague you are going to dinner with “hen” will not work since it quickly immediately obvious you are being coy about your colleague’s sex.

      Now to make a little segue into the “feticide” story. The WaPost story managed to make absolutely no reference to the sex of the dead fetus/baby and they didn’t even have the pronoun “hen” to help them. This is interesting because in India international feminists are outraged about “feticide’ when it is used as a means of killing female fetuses/babies. Did Purvi Patel know the sex of the child she was aborting/killing and if so was it a little fetus/baby girl that got tossed in the dumpster? After many searches on the internet I finally was able find, and we call all breathe a huge sigh of relief, that no, there is no problem here, the dead fetus/baby was indeed a boy.

      Which sets ups me up for the great love-fest on display between Progressives and Big Business over the Indiana fracas. Now this isn’t the first time Progressives and Big Business have seen eye-to-eye. For example mass third world immigration is very much appreciated by these two great forces. But the spectacle of Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, getting all moral and taking his exceeding brave position on Indiana’s lack of discrimination protection for homosexuals kind of begs the question about whether he would ever consider taking the same position about CHINA’s lack of discrimination protection for homosexuals? Will he actually reward all those progressive states in the US that had the foresight to protect homosexual rights even before it was trendy by pulling his factories out of China and relocating them these states?

      I’m not holding my breath….

      1. susan the other

        plus some factor of many; it doesn’t matter… but hey, what ever happened to ‘it’? Too impersonal?

      2. Propertius

        But the spectacle of Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, getting all moral and taking his exceeding brave position on Indiana’s lack of discrimination protection for homosexuals kind of begs the question about whether he would ever consider taking the same position about CHINA’s lack of discrimination protection for homosexuals

        Or Saudi Arabia. Or Russia.

        Or, for that matter, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

      3. Jack

        The opposition to killing female fetuses isn’t that they’re getting abortions per se, it’s that they’re disposing of ones that aren’t of the ‘desirable’ gender. You’re trying to find hypocrisy where there is none. They aren’t aborting fetuses because they don’t want children or the mother is at risk, they’re doing it because the genetic roulette didn’t gift them with a son, so they’ll abort and try again, and keep doing it until they get the result they want.

    2. Ned Ludd

      In the 1990’s, “he/she” and “s/he” were somewhat popular in the U.S. I never see them anymore, but maybe they are still popular in academia.

      I just use singular they – which has a surprisingly long Wikipedia article – and this avoids the hassle of arguing over a new word.

        1. Ned Ludd

          The problem I recall with “he/she” was when speaking. During a lecture or at a lefty conference, “he/she”, “he/she”, “he/she” can sound cumbersome and be distracting from the content of the speech.

          About ten years ago, on some Internet forums people started using – and arguing over – singular they. I adopted it, but maybe the next generation of young folk will start saying “hen” instead.

            1. optimader

              I just spent a couple days in S Carolina where s/he/it is a popular vernacular expression of exclamation, not gender.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I use singular they a lot. Sometimes it’s a little awkward, but it’s always possible to write around it.

        We don’t really need a new word, especially one that already means female chicken.

    3. Jack

      I don’t see the inherent problem with the idea. Seems to me it’s just a development of the recognition that there are more people in the world than men and language should develop to reflect that. It does get ridiculous in English when people try to come up with new words when we already have the perfectly functional ‘they’ as a non-gendered pronoun. But then these are also often the type of people who come up with absurd constructs like womyn, which is a complete language fail since man just meant human, woman coming from wifmon, ‘wife person’. The word for human male was ‘were’, as in werewolf. My point is that language literacy isn’t their strong-point. But their hearts are in the right place, I think.

      You say the affair is stereotypically Swedish, but I think it illustrates a big problem with Western liberalism as a whole. Instead of focusing on real leftist issues that actually matter liberals spend an inordinate amount of time on petty, not to put too fine a point on it, bullshit. A visit to a place like Tumblr reveals the utter madness of this taken to an extreme. Oh no, I’m being triggered!

  2. Brooklin Bridge

    Obama Expands Options for Retaliating Against Foreign Hackers

    Hmm. Under the TPP, wouldn’t such executive action trigger a law suit by foreign companies ostensibly writing anti-virus software, against the profits they would be susceptible to loosing if the US blocked them from writing the malware that makes their anti-malware necessary?

    1. fresno dan

      thats a feature, not a bug

      The US government is of big business, by big business, for big business. The US no longer constraints itself to supporting the 1% in US borders, but supports the 1% where ever they may be…

  3. Jim Haygood

    The war on the Houthis has developed not necessarily to our advantage:

    (Reuters) – A unit of Houthi rebels and allies backed by tanks pushed into central Aden, the main foothold of fighters loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, witnesses said on Wednesday, despite a week of air strikes by Saudi-led coalition forces.

    The Houthi movement was jubilant.

    “We can say that after a week of bombing on Yemen the aggressors have not achieved any result … The victories in Aden today embarrass this campaign and silenced the aggressor states,” Houthi spokesman Mohammad Abdulsalam told the militia’s al-Maseera television.

    Probably egged on by their American minders advisors, the Saudis seem to think that air superiority will win the war for them. That’s a U.S. delusion, which has already lost a couple of Mideast wars for its proponents.

    Saturation bombing didn’t work all that well even in WW II, with heavy concentrations of target-rich industrial facilities. (Ultimately, both sides in that conflict resorted to terror bombing of civilians.) In pre-industrial countries with sparse populations, bombing just stiffens the resolve of the rebel militias, as it did in (for instance) Vietnam.

    Watch the idiot Saudis, advised by the idiot Americans, prove this principle once again.

    1. vidimi

      yemen looks like it might become a very big deal with all the sunni countries coming together to make sure that the shia don’t come to power in a country where they are a majority. it’s just a small step away from being a direct war between saudi and iran and, if that happens, i don’t know how other countries will stay away. a prelude to a world war it could well be.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Same feeling here. Saudi Arabia has all the indicators for instability — undemocratic rule by rich, coddled princes, heavy repression, religious rifts, and a large foreign population.

        Saudis imagine that their high-tech weapons, backed up by U.S. advisors, will keep them in power. That was the theory in Yemen, too. All indications are that the US will once again end up siding with brutal dictators against an uprising of the oppressed extremists.

        1. vidimi

          the RT article from links is also interesting and right in saying that it’s a conflict of neo-colonialism vs post-colonialism.

          every country with an ethnic minority rule has this feature as its colonial legacy. with divide and rule, you pit the oft-oppressed minority against the dominant majority in order to secure exploitation rights. the majority obviously doesn’t need you to rule over the minority – they have that already – but the minority will need you for their security.

          creating countries along ethnic lines was deemed important to keep the peace in europe after WW1, but borders in africa, the middle-east and asia were deliberately redrawn to sow conflict for future exploitation.

          1. susan the other

            The link about Burundi and the scarcity of land for subsistence farming was instructive. The old way of life is clearly gone. But at least they once had, and still have, fertile land. Of course, like the Middle East, the main concern isn’t good agricultural land, altho’ it never hurts, unless it makes the natives successfully independent. In the Middle East there are few other resources than oil. And to analyze the situation without ever mentioning oil is most interesting.

            1. vidimi

              yemen is not an oil-rich country, though, so this goes way beyond oil. it’s actually a bit like vietnam: sunni countries are concerned that the houthis will become a model for disenfranchised shia populations at home and they want to snuff that threat out before it gets real. this looks like it’s going to be a big mess and there is bound to be a lot of blowback.

    2. James Levy

      If you are prepared to take the heat, or if there is no significant heat (as was the case with the terror bombing of Japan from March to August 1945) then you can bring a country to its knees if you have enough bombers and the will to use them. No one since the all-out bombing of North Korea in 1950-53 has taken it that far (and North Korea would have collapsed without massive Chinese intervention). It’s unpopular to point this out but the US could have done to Hanoi and Haiphong what was done to Tokyo or Dresden, but for political reasons they did not. If the stakes are considered high enough, nations will do just about anything to get their way. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not about defeating Japan–that was already an established fact–it was about enforcing unconditional surrender rather than allowing negotiated surrender. The US was happy to kill over 100,000 civilians to get that result. If we felt threatened enough, we’d do the same in a heartbeat. Hell, we may have killed that many Iraqis, but a happy alliance of media, military, and government were able to ignore and obscure the number of Iraqi dead. If we and our “allies” felt threatened enough, don’t think they’d hesitate to annihilate the population of Yemen; we could and would defeat the Shiites through genocide if push came to shove.

      1. different clue

        I thought we were going to fight on to Unconditional Surrender in any event. The A-bombs just meant we wouldn’t lose a million American soldiers trying to conquer the Home Islands of Japan by hand.

        1. Foy

          Many disagree that the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki was to save a million American lives trying to obtain unconditional Japanese surrender and say rather that its purpose was a loud and clear message to the Soviets:

          “The most illuminating perspective, however, comes from top World War II American military leaders. The conventional wisdom that the atomic bomb saved a million lives is so widespread that … most Americans haven’t paused to ponder something rather striking to anyone seriously concerned with the issue: Not only did most top U.S. military leaders think the bombings were unnecessary and unjustified, many were morally offended by what they regarded as the unnecessary destruction of Japanese cities and what were essentially noncombat populations. Moreover, they spoke about it quite openly and publicly.

          Shortly before his death General George C. Marshall quietly defended the decision, but for the most part he is on record as repeatedly saying that it was not a military decision, but rather a political one.”

    3. mark

      I think you are conflating Strategic bombing with tactical strikes.

      Strategic bombing per WW2 did significantly degrade industrial capacity, though as noted was probably not sufficient to win without other means such as Naval blockade and boots on the ground. The closest to a bomb only campaign being a success would be Serbia, though the early parts of Gulf War 1 was also a significant strategic win for air dominance.

      Tactical bombing to degrade the opposition front line troops and their logistics systems can be devastating and will change the course of a battle or war. Where an enemy is concentrated or moving through open territory, ie a convoy of trucks on a desert road, that advance can be halted with air power alone. typically the limitations are intelligence and targeting, Command must have knowledge of where the target is and the ability to vector aircraft on to target, just having an F15 fly around and pick out what ever they fancy shooting at is not going to work, though WW2 Typhoons and Mosquitoes did have some limited impact with this approach in Normandy.

      I suspect the major problem that the Saudis presently face is the inability to correctly target opposition ground units. In open areas 1 mechanized battalion with air superiority will beat an armored brigade that has no air support. Air support looses efficacy as the ground cover increases, so urban or jungle settings are better for those without air cover, mountains help. The better the targeting mechanism the better the outcome for the air power. Tactical strikes alone will not win you the war but a much smaller force can win with air power. the Bigger question is what local round troops are the Saudis working with?

      1. susan the other

        Did anybody else hear the late nite BBC report on the Saudis getting some A-bombs from their bff Pakistan to use against Yemen? Unbelievable, except it came from the BBC. John Foster Dulles lives!

  4. Jim Haygood

    Ben Carlson on the defined contribution plan (TSP) for federal employees:

    The fees are incredibly low. Each fund charges less than 3 basis points.

    The TSP simply named their funds with a single letter and there are only six fund choices available.

    The overall asset allocation is basically 60/40 [stocks/bonds].

    Notably absent from the federal thrift plan is a money market fund, generally not an appropriate long-term investment for retirement since its expected real return is barely above zero.

    By contrast, I recently helped someone with a corporate defined contribution plan which offered about 35 choices. Some were high-fee actively-managed funds, which the sponsors had paid to be placed on the list. The lower-fee stock and bond index funds were buried deep in the list, toward the end. No info other than fund titles was provided, meaning that several hours of research was required to elicit even basic facts about the funds. This is a bit like a brain surgeon inviting a patient to select the best scalpels.

    Would that Social Security offered to the gen pop the enlightened choices available to federal employees. Or even one choice, a 60/40 balanced fund. But at the sleepy SocSec HQ in Baltimore, a yellowed Norman Rockwell calendar from 1935 remains on the wall, and the whistles of steam locomotives still echo over the city.

    1. JeffC

      The TSP G fund does not actually invest in MM instruments, but it functions like a MMF in that earnings compound without default or duration risk. It’s a better deal than actual MMFs, because it gives you short-term compounding of a rate that is taken from further up the yield curve and that is therefore higher. I happily kept my TSP balance in it during the financial crisis.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Yes, that’s right. The interest rate resets monthly and is based on the weighted average yield of all outstanding Treasury notes and bonds with 4 or more years to maturity.

        Effectively, it’s a floating-rate, intermediate-term Treasury note. And it’s available nowhere else, that I know of.

    2. JTMcPhee

      snark, right, JH? “enlightened choices” among Casino offerings to be offered to the “gen pop” as a good thing? What you link offers this statement:

      Government employees are conservative investors. When setting your asset allocation you have to take into account all of your financial assets. Federal employees each recieve [sic] a healthy pension at retirement. It’s a massive perk of being a government employee. A pension provides fixed income in retirement, which makes it very bond-like in nature. Yet by far the largest allocation by plan participants is the treasury bond fund. It’s impossible to know every investor’s situation and assets outside of the plan, but from this information alone, I’d venture to guess that these investors are being far too conservative with their investments.

      Some detail on that “massive perk” and how it’s funded:

      FERS is a retirement plan that provides benefits from three different sources: a Basic Benefit Plan, Social Security and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). Two of the three parts of FERS (Social Security and the TSP) can go with you to your next job if you leave the Federal Government before retirement. The Basic Benefit and Social Security parts of FERS require you to pay your share each pay period. Your agency withholds the cost of the Basic Benefit and Social Security from your pay as payroll deductions. Your agency pays its part too. Then, after you retire, you receive annuity payments each month for the rest of your life.

      The TSP part of FERS is an account that your agency automatically sets up for you. Each pay period your agency deposits into your account amount equal to 1% of the basic pay you earn for the pay period. You can also make your own contributions to your TSP account and your agency will also make a matching contribution. These contributions are tax-deferred. The Thrift Savings Plan is administered by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.

      As to what’s in the offerings to federal employees in their TSP options, there’s this from your link:

      Government employees are conservative investors. When setting your asset allocation you have to take into account all of your financial assets. Federal employees each recieve a healthy pension at retirement. It’s a massive perk of being a government employee. A pension provides fixed income in retirement, which makes it very bond-like in nature. Yet by far the largest allocation by plan participants is the treasury bond fund. It’s impossible to know every investor’s situation and assets outside of the plan, but from this information alone, I’d venture to guess that these investors are being far too conservative with their investments.

      The TSP holds a massive amount of treasury bonds. Scott Burns drew my attention to an impressive stat last week when he made the comment on Twitter that the G Fund assets would rank 7th when compared to foreign holders of U.S. Treasuries. That would rank the G Fund just behind Brazil ($245 billion) but just ahead of both the United Kingdom ($184 billion) and Switzerland ($178 billion) in terms of treasury bond holdings.

      Is it worth noting that but for the Elite’s effective stripping of all the wealth and most of the income out of the good old US of A, all of us could be at least as well off in the retirements that are denied to us by the greed of the monetizers and financializers as those “government employees” the Kochers are teaching the rest of us to envy, hate and drag down to the lowest levels with the rest of us in the Great Race to the Bottom?

      Yah, let’s privatize Social Security and get those muppets into some REAL risk exposure and pluckable by “financial experts and advisers,” only 3 basis points as presently revealed? Forget that there are really good reasons why all that retirement money we all pay out of our wages as our retirement fund and into the SS Trust BwahahahaFund, along with federal employees, gets put into “Special Treasuries?”

      1. MLS

        Why does privatization have be a binary decision where everyone is either in or out? Why, as a SS recipient, can’t I have the option to invest those funds as I see fit – even with limited options similar to the TSP plan – taking all risk and responsibility for doing so in the process? If I blow myself up, it’s my problem and I’ll have to rebuild. If I choose to stick with the safety of government bond and their near-zero real return, that’s my option too.

        1. hunkerdown

          Because that allows you to believe you’re indispensable, precious and “better than”. For that reason alone, you shouldn’t even have the option.

          1. MLS

            Huh? This is such a ridiculous comment I don’t even know where to begin. Here’s a few general points:
            – the option would be available to everyone, so the opportunity is the same for all. Explain how ensuring a suboptimal outcome for all in the name of making sure no one thinks they are “precious” is the best alternative.
            – why does it matter what one thinks of themself when it comes to planning retirement?
            – who should be determining what we are “allowed” to think.
            – I can only conclude based on your comment that you are completely against awards and recognition based on achievement out of concern that someone might feel “better than”.

        2. JTMcPhee

          MLS, reminds me of the PA couple who several decades ago converted all their meager assets to cash and “invested” in PA Dumball Lottery tickets, I think they bought about $38,000 worth with the sale of the trailer house, a couple of rusted cars and whatnot. With the certainty that this would insure their old age and present indulgences with a $127 million wealth increment. Not a single winning combination in all those numbers.

          The next act was to go to the media outlets, in that pre-egonet age, and sob that they and their several kids were now broke, and ask people to take up a collection to put them back where they were before the Big Drawing.

          The best part, that says something, I’m not sure what, about the rest of us humans, is that if I remember right, their plea brought in over $100k.

          MLS, you present like a smart person. If you want to go down to the Casino and drop down some money at the roulette or craps table, or buy a whole bunch of lottery tickets, you go do that. In the meantime, the neo-lib-hated feature of SS is that you have to at least make some tiny motion toward common self-preservation, whether you are a “successful day trader” or a muppet or just some Sad Sack whose former job has emigrated to India, or one of the take-home-way-more-than-the-wage-cap Blessed Elite. You get at least minimally taken care of, by all of us, whether we are the meanest-ass Libertarians or vampire squids or Keep-your-stinking-government-hands-off-my-Medicare types, and if you live long enough you even get Medicare coverage, rather than the right-bligation to buy piss-poor medical insurance.

          You didn’t build it, and you have no “right” to tear it down. Especially when you have your choice and can eat it too, when it comes to retirement funding.

          1. MLS

            But what if I don’t want to be taken care of by “all of us”, even in a minimal way? To be sure, I am not suggesting we change the pay-as-you-go construct where my current contributions are used to pay current beneficiaries. I wholeheartedly agree with the concept that society at large should help the general welfare, particularly those that need it or ask for it. I don’t suggest radical changes that take away from all of us contributing to common self-preservation, as you put it. But I do not agree with the notion that you must accept society’s help whether you want to or not, which is what you’re suggesting. That’s simply not who I am. When I want help, I ask for it (as did the couple in your example).

            So if someone wants to stay in SS as it is today, then I say let them, whatever their reason. But if I am willing to take the risk of trying to achieve a better future retirement with the dollars I am committing, why should I prevented from doing so?

            1. skippy

              Coercion is always just around the corner… no its behind you… or over the horizon… maybe even in your dreams….

              Skippy…. is hyperinflation the apogee of coercion… ????

              1. ambrit

                Since I believe that proper hyperinflation usually is the result of a conscious decision by governing authorities to put the printing presses on three shift schedules, yes, it is coercion, but, more the nadir of coercion than the zenith of same.

  5. Ned Ludd

    The CNI-Ibope study found that about nine in 10 of those surveyed disapprove of Ms Rousseff’s policies on interest rates and taxes.

    High interest rates and rising taxes are hallmarks of the president’s austerity plan as she seeks to quell inflation, which is running at about 8 per cent, well above the government’s target of 4.5 per cent.

    Meanwhile, the proportion who see her government as bad or terrible rose from 27 per cent in December to 64 per cent in March.

    Eight percent inflation does not seem particularly terrible. Do workers – who do not control large amount of capital – benefit, over the long-term, when inflation is kept below 5%?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Among other things, high inflation stunts the availability of home mortgages:

      Long term lending in Brazil has traditionally been very scarce due to the very high inflation rates prevailing until not so long ago.

      Interest rates are … around 13%-14% per annum. The loans are also subject to monthly monetary adjustment.

      ‘Monetary adjustment’ means that mortgage principal is indexed to inflation. If inflation doubles prices, your $100,000 mortgage morphs into a $200,000 mortgage. Nice … not.

  6. craazyboy

    “Executive Action Leaves Many Undocumented Immigrants in State of Apprehension and Uncertainty Truthout. As predicted.”

    And not only 20 year faux-residents, but many more that just ran across the border to beat the deadline! This country is flaky.

    ‘Course here’s the rules if we resident-consumers domiciled in the Americas may want to go the other direction. This is just for “residency” – not Mexican dual citizenship and the right to vote for the democrat of the parties choice.

    “The way the laws are written, you are supposed to show $2,000 a month in income for yourself, $500 for each dependent if you want a temporary non-working residency visa. $2,500 if you want to be a permanent resident. But then the local consulate or embassy person can, on a whim, raise those limits on a case by case basis. They said since we weren’t retired, we had to show at least $4,000 a month in income and at a later point he said, “more than $5,000 a month.” Either way that’s an insane amount of income for someone living in central Mexico, especially since we own a house free and clear, but that’s what he wanted to see for a family of three.”

    1. Jim Haygood

      This is pretty much the system throughout LatAm. They are happy to extend residency to retirees who don’t want to work, and have external income. Despite the bureaucratic hurdles and their inconsistent application, residency is an option that rich countries such as Canada and Europe don’t automatically offer to Americans.

      As locals who’ve gone the other way often point out, Latin bureaucracy is a piece of cake compared to the backed-up U.S. INS, which takes years to render decisions.

      If the 2016 presidential election features Bush v. Clinton, I’ll race you to the border.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The one-size-fits-all law was probably written for dragon mothers, whom we are thankful for being key contributors to our laminate flooring/dry wall supply/arsenic rice global supply chain…because we have the global reserve currency.

      But we don’t just take. We give as well. We give them military secrets…albeit involuntarily (though some have commented here that some information is available publicly on the internet). So, no stereotyping nor generalization can be easily made.

  7. vidimi

    re: the telepathy article

    If isolation, cruelty, malice, violence and wars are fuelled by misunderstandings and communication failures, as many people believe, telepathy would seem to offer the cure.

    about as many wars were caused by misunderstandings and communication failures as religion: that is, not very many.

    the research is very interesting, though, and the result highly impressive. no amount of empathy or telepathy will stop psychopaths from rising to the top and the potential that this technology is being developed to be used in computers to scan what people are thinking is beyond scary.

    the article does a good job of illustrating many of the pitfalls of this utopian ideal and is a good read overall.

    1. susan the other

      I enjoyed that link too because it concluded that all telepathy was vanity… which it is. One factoid bothered me – that we can be so horrified that we turn away – that we stop helping each other. It is good to know we have this vulnerable weakness because if we are hammered by brutal scenes in the news we will just tune it out mentally. Not good. And if we are attacked and slaughtered we will run away, run away. Not wanting to just grab that fucking ax and chop our attacker into little snotty bits … we’re too human.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “I did not have intimacy with that devil and throw seniors under the bus.”

    2. susan the other

      The Larry and Ben show. Ben comes out on top for me. He hesitates to be an activist former Fed head. Because did you see that stuff on Iceland? Loved it. Goodbye Larry, Goodbye Ben.

  8. Garrett Pace

    Corporate backlash hits religious freedom bills

    Who is the moral arbitrator for 21st century America? Wal-Mart.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Whatever corporations are for or against, you have to think twice about going along with them, whether your position may be hijacked by them.

  9. tyaresun

    I spent the first five years of my life in USA in Bloomington, Indiana. The faculty at the university are some of the nicest folk I have ever met. The students were great too.

    While I heard that the rest of Indiana was very conservative, I find it hard to believe this new legislation and its popularity.

    1. lord koos

      Bloomington is an isolated pocket — southern Illinois and southern Indiana are both rife with KKK members and racism, worse than some southern states, or at least it was that way a few decades ago. I doubt if much has changed.

    2. neo-realist

      I spent the first five years of my life in USA in Bloomington, Indiana. The faculty at the university are some of the nicest folk I have ever met. The students were great too.

      So the students and the faculty in Bloomington were pretty chill with the blacks I take it?

  10. Jim Haygood

    Bad to worse (for our head-choppin’ Saudi buddies):

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen’s Shiite rebels and their allies fought their way through the commercial center of Aden on Thursday and seized the presidential palace on a strategic hilltop in this southern coastal city, security officials said.

    The capture was a major blow to the Saudi-led coalition, which has been carrying out airstrikes for a week now across Yemen, including in the capital, Sanaa, in a campaign meant to halt the advance of the Iran-backed rebels known as Houthis.

    Send lawyers, drones and money … Barack, get me outta this!

    1. ambrit

      I’ve noticed several times recently that the MSM “usual suspects” always tag on that “backed by Iran” dog whistle in the making when mentioning the Houthis. As several commentators have asserted, the Houthis are a home grown insurgency with a tenuous relationship to the Persian Shia. The general feel is of a long form propaganda campaign to lay the groundwork for a war against Iran.
      “Send lawyers, imams, and money.” Warren Zevon would have had a lot of fun with todays politics.

      1. susan the other

        That RT editorial was revealing. It broke down the situation into two camps. The Neocolonialists and the Postcolonialists. Gee. What the hell does that mean RT? Where do you get your insight? Who are you? The situation is and has always been about the control of oil. Everything else is hysteria.

  11. Ulysses

    From Kat McGowan’s piece on telepathy linked above:

    “If we know that empathy favours the specific and familiar over the foreign and abstract, we can seek out, as our inspiration, personal details about someone far away who needs help. If empathy is easily overwhelmed and blocked by intense suffering, we could compensate by regulating how much information about tragedy we consume. In this way, we could hijack it, redirecting it away from in-group bias and toward morally courageous acts. We would strategically harness the power of what nature gave us – the remarkable ability to see into someone else’s mind and to feel what they are feeling – for the service of moral good.”

    We humans are so easily misled and manipulated by other humans! We allow the MSM to divide and conquer us, making it easier to identify with the trials and tribulations of some phony over-paid “celebrity,” than to do anything to help the real homeless person sleeping in a cardboard box around the corner.

    In today’s world there are a tiny handful of manipulative, transnational kleptocrats and their lackeys– taking advantage of psychological insights such as these to keep us cowed and obedient. What gives me hope is that even a fairly small increase, in feelings of solidarity and empathy among the vast non-kleptocratic majority of humans on this planet, could solve many of our most pressing problems.

    1. susan the other

      You’d think if telepathy really worked it would impart a higher level of knowledge – like seeing into the future maybe just a little bit. So not just telepathic but clairvoyant. If not, why bother with telepathy at all? It is just the stew we are all in in the here and now. What we really need is a little more direction that that, right? So here’s a question: when you look into your own crystal ball, or empathy ball, what do you see?

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Hey, hey, hey there. Take 170 (on avg.) off my phone bill each month – instead I’ll dial from my temple- and I’ll gladly settle for the here and now.

  12. Garrett Pace

    ” President Obama on Wednesday signed an executive order aimed at retaliating against foreign-based online attacks on the United States as the government scrambles to catch up to national security threats that are evolving in a world of fast-changing technology.”

    I remember when I was young, we had a bicameral legislature that would enact laws.

    Whatever happened to those guys?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe they don’t have to hack anyone here.

      Maybe they hack the Chinese manufacturers of (smart) laminate flooring and they just get up and self-drive themselves back home.

      Well, that’s may be hard for laminate flooring to be mobile, but perhaps they hack the central computer of a Japanese smart self-driving car maker based, say, in Aichi prefecture and all their brand-name cars over here just drive themselves to their “Woodstock” in the ‘Burning-Car’ desert to celebrate their ‘liberation.”

    2. James Levy

      It seems to be a rule that the Legislature passes more and more bills of greater and greater length and labyrinthine complexity which have less and less to do with, or effect, the real world. Primarily they spend their time grandstanding, putting the fix in for their backers, and raising money to hold onto their do-nothing seats. The very notion of deliberation seems to be absent from our culture today. Everyone has a pre-set agenda and their responses are scripted ahead of time. The idea of a Congressional “debate” has no meaning any more. A handful of machers orchestrate everything and the rank and file follow them like sheep (albeit in the Republican caucus you now have several machers and they no longer can be counted on to act in concert). This has largely been the case in since the early 20th century, but we see it grow worse and worse, just as we see the Cabinet grow more and more feeble, over time. We live in a big-man, executive action crazed culture.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Mice sing just like birds.

    Er, humans sing too, but we have been ‘educated’ that we are not as good, at least technique-wise, as professionals, stars and celebrities, forgetting that we are all great within, great when we sing stories about ourselves, about what is meaningful in our lives.

    “Kid, sorry, you got a C. Try harder next time… And bring your parents in. We have to talk.”

    Instead, we have been reduced to talking about famous musical bands or groups, quoting their lyrics.

    1. hunkerdown

      Or acting out the glamor of performance without actually *doing*. Say what you will about Guitar Center div. of Bain Industries; a guitar is cheaper than Guitar Hero, all told.

    2. Jagger

      In the early 80s, if you went to a slightly rowdier gasthause in a small German village on a Saturday night, you would see and hear all the everyday, normal Germans singing together as they got drunk. I have never ever seen that in the US.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Japan…another GDP contraction.

    Correction. It’s called GDP miniaturization.

    Japan might have been the first to impress the world but others have been trying to catch up.

    “I didn’t know you can make it that small. How cute! And ingenious.”

  15. john c. halasz

    Re: mice can sing, only we can’t hear them.

    Josephine would have been so proud!

  16. Tammy

    Today’s must read story The Blood Cries Out by Jillian Keenan is disheartening but well worth the time reading.

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