Link 5/13/15

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Aussie scientists declare El Nino onset, forecast ‘substantial’ weather extremes Japan Times

Space agency targets ‘tick disease’ BBC (David L)

Can we all agree the justifications for this AOL/Verizon deal are batshit insane? Pando

Thousands take part in Estonia’s war games Financial Times

Pentagon weighs sending planes, ships near disputed South China Sea reefs Reuters

The United States should not seek strategic primacy in Asia China Spectator

Beijing Lashes Out Over U.S. Plan on South China Sea Wall Street Journal

China’s Factory Output, Investment and Retail Sales Miss Forecasts Reuters

Euro-Area Growth Picks Up as France Outperforms Germany Bloomberg. “Picks up” is a whopping 0.4%.

UK elections

Cameron to sell Thatcherian old-fashioned “patriotic” neoliberalism failed evolution


REPORT: The IMF won’t join in a third bailout for Greece Reuters. Note that this has yet to be confirmed by other sources (my reader of the German press has not seen any independent accounts there; readers of the European press please indicate if you’ve seen any stories that do not rely on the El Mundo account). Even if true, this is Less significant than it seems, since the IMF was included in the European bailouts only because thelofficialdom wanted to share the pain. There is a fair bit of opposition among European officials, including Jean-Claude Juncker, to the IMF’s role. But for the contingent that still wants the IMF in (to act as designated kneecap breaker?) the IMF threat to exit gives them bargaining leverage to press Greece on structural reforms.

Greece and eurozone agree bailout extension Financial Times. While this report is clearer than other accounts of where exactly Greece got the money, someone who is in contact with knowledgeable sources disagreed on one element of the FT story (as to which account the Greek government used) which has implications for when Greece will run out of dough. However, Varoufakis said that the government only has about two weeks. In the past he’s tended to obfuscate or issue confident statements. Note that the FT and my source do agree that whatever account the Greek government used, it had the right to access it. That is significant in that it means Greece making the money was not an extend and pretend gambit by the Eurocrats, but a clever move by the government. We hope to get to the bottom of this.

EU said to consider plan for Greece in event of Euro exit Irish Times

Europe’s well of sympathy for Greece runs dry Reuters. Notice Syriza impact on Podemos plans.


America’s Achilles’ Heel ClubOrlov (Chuck L). Overwrought at points but nevertheless worth reading.


Jeb Bush won’t answer Iraq ‘hypothetical CNN (furzy mouse)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Pentagon hunts for ISIS on the Secret Internet CNN. Notice how an “ISIS inspired attack” is equated with ISIS.

Rand Paul Is Fighting for Your Privacy—Unless You’re a Woman The Nation (furzy mouse)

Trade Traitors

The 10 biggest lies you’ve been told about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Dave Dayen, Salon (Brindle)

For Senate Democrats, a Win in Trade Vote’s Failure Wall Street Journal

How to lose a trade agenda Albany Democrat-Herald (Sanctuary)

In case you missed it in comments yesterday, Lune gives a good analysis of how Obama’s horse-trading went awry. Lune also thinks, like our Congressional source, that Obama does not have an easy solution and Fast Track therefore is in big trouble.

TTIP: Why the EU-US trade deal matters BBC

EU’s New ‘Scrutiny Board’ To Implement Key US Demands For TAFTA/TTIP Even Before It’s Completed Techdirt (Mel)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

FBI’s warning of white supremacists infiltrating law enforcement nearly forgotten The Grio (JB). While this does appear to be contributing to police brutality towards blacks, this post is thin on concrete evidence, in fairness because the problem has not been investigated.

Moody’s downgrades Chicago to junk Financial Times. The probable bankruptcy of Chicago is curiously underreported.

Amtrak Train Crashes in Philadelphia, Killing at Least Five People Wall Street Journal Maybe we need to invest in infrastructure.

At least 5 dead as Amtrak train derails in Port Richmond. Lambert: “Picture looks bad.”

U.S. May Scrap UBS Libor Deal, Seek Prosecution Bloomberg

Partisan rancour hits US bank bill Financial Times. The claim that big banks weren’t making the case for the changes may be narrowly true but is substantively misleading. The large banks have been using community bank interest groups as their water carriers.

Fed Officials Tell Markets the Training Wheels Are Off WSJ Economics

Bond Rout Deepens to $433 Billion as Bull Positions Unwound Bloomberg

Oil prices rise as OPEC ups demand outlook CNBC

OBL’s Story Lives

The Loneliness of Sy Hersh New Republic. Glenn Greenwald tweet: “Alternative headline to this @tnr article on Hersh: how Dems radically change their beliefs based on who occupies WH”

It’s a Conspiracy! How to Discredit Seymour Hersh The Nation (furzy mouse)

Antidote du jour:

savage cat links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Ned Ludd

    Podemos party co-founder resigns

    A few hours earlier [Juan-Carlos Monedero] had expressed his disappointment on Spanish politics and the more moderate orientation of Podemos. […]

    In the last months, [Podemos leader] Iglesias restructured his faction to make it more hierarchical. While remaining an anti-austerity party, Podemos has also tried to move closer to the centre in political terms, to soften its image.

    The two developments alienated the libertarian [anarchist] and radical components, which were a leading force in the Indignados movement.

    Bloomberg also observes that: “Iglesias has been edging away from the party’s more radical positions, such as a demand to restructure Spain’s debt, as pro-market party Ciudadanos grabs support from more moderate voters.”

    1. Ned Ludd

      The cult of leadership within Podemos is astounding: Iglesias chose his list of candidates, and the membership simply voted to ratify his list. Anti-capitalists from Izquierda Anticapitalista were prohibited from running for leadership positions, which includes signatories to Podemos’ founding manifesto.

      Because of the media projection of Pablo Iglesias and adopted voting system, the possibility of accessing internal organs was strongly conditioned by the prior inclusion on his list. This method largely distorts the open primary system and reproduced in practice the criticized “dedazo” [from “finger”, defines the practice of being “handpicked”] by parties of the establishment, in which critics depart and loyalty to the leader has primacy.

      Podemos has become a vehicle for the personal and political power of Pablo Iglesias. I imagine he will become Spain’s version of Joschka Fischer, taking his party in whatever direction allows him to amass more power.

        1. Santi

          Sanchez Gordillo is opting to be the Major of Marinaleda 4 more years. He has been there for 40 years and, even as he parted with Izquierda Unida coalition, he got a common list with them for the coming elections and he’ll quite probably get elected again, if the recent Andalusian elections serve as indicator. IU got 43%, Podemos 29%, and the neoliberals PSOE, P and Cs, respectively, 15.7%, 8.3% and 1.9% in this very leftist small town.

    2. Santi

      Listening to Bloomberg to understand a anti-neoliberal party is like listening to creationists to understand the evolution theory. From their own mouth, you can listen to their last interview. Other than this, Podemos is two things: the electoral machinery and leadership that you can watch in the media, and a very strong grassroots set of militants grouped in “Círculos”. They are fairly jacobin, in the best sense of the term (honest professionals without political ambitions and with a strong sense of State), and I’m very curious about what will happen as they grow and start arriving to power in towns in two weks… Fairly different from any other political party in Spain. I’m not in Greece, so I’m not sure, but I think Syriza has some similarities to them. Interesting times :)

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Syriza had to moderate its position to get elected, as you know well. And Podemos aspirations are separate and apart from tactics, particularly regarding the Troika. All you’ve done is recite their general position. Even as soon as Syriza started getting serious opposition, they avoided discussing what was happening in Greece. For instance, when party leader Pablo Iglesias Turrión did interviews in New York, colleagues of mine asked about Syriza’s efforts. He ducked the question. And this was in February, when things looked much more hopeful for the new government.

        Podemos has fallen in popularity in recent polls It’s dropped from 28% to 20%, a significant decline. and has been trying to reposition itself, a fact you try to brush out of the picture. It also did worse than predicted in regional elections in Analdulusia in April (we flagged those as important for Syriza, since if Podemos did well, it would show that left-leaning positions had popular support in other countries and would put pressure on conservative governments in periphery countries, virtually all of whom have been opposed to Greece, some like Spain even more fiercely than Germany). Other sources confirm that Podemos has moderated its position. For instance:

        Spain’s anti-austerity party Podemos, whose meteoric rise has upended the country’s politics, is seeking a second wind as an internal crisis over strategy hits and polls show its popularity may have peaked.

        The surprise resignation on Thursday of one of the party’s founders, 52-year-old political science professor Juan Carlos Monedero, threw the spotlight on party divisions ahead of regional and local elections on May 24, and a general election later in the year.

        Podemos’s first crisis since its 2014 foundation comes as centre-right upstart Ciudadanos (Citizens) is stealing the confidence of voters who want to end the dominance of Spain’s two main parties, but who fear the hard left’s radical tone.

        “There are tensions at the heart of Podemos,” Monedero told an online radio station hours before he announced his surprise resignation.

        Monedero, a former advisor to late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, expressed disappointment over the direction of the party, which was born out of the Indignant protest movement that occupied squares across Spain in 2011 demanding an end to austerity.

        Podemos, which is close to Greece’s Syriza, has now agreed to meet with bankers and soften some of its positions as it tries to broaden its appeal by moving to the centre.

        But the radical Monedero, who has been referred to as the “political brain” of the party, believes it would be a mistake for Podemos to change.

        This interview, with a sympathetic site, also shows Podemos trying to wear a more moderate face by denying that it is radical left (an explicit denial of a resemblance to Syriza) and is outside the right/left framework. Also note that Podemos has been big on talking about process and rule by the elites, but not about economic justice issues like unemployment:

        Podemos are described, often in a detrimental fashion, as radicals or populists but this is more a symptom of the neoliberal and centrist form of politics that the PP and PSOE have employed and consolidated in post-Franco Spain. Speaking to Column F, Manuel Maroto, who was elected to the Commission for Democratic Guarantees within Podemos, highlighted that Podemos openly tries to circumvent right/left categories so that it isn’t relegated to the marginal political position of ‘radical left.’ In Spain, around 40% of voters describe themselves as ‘moderate’ so support from this group is critical if any party is to win an election. Manuel also explained how Podemos’ “political language and election manifestos might reclaim political spaces that were previously abandoned by traditional parties, particularly PSOE (the ideals of a social democracy Scandinavian-style).” Appealing to moderate voters is important for developing a broad support base, in this respect Podemos talk about popular unity and citizen empowerment, ideals that are manifested through Podemos circles (a participatory space for local decision-making) and their support for citizens’ platforms in this year’s municipal elections….

        Research published in February by Spain’s Sociological Research Centre (CIS) highlights the link between Podemos and the concerns of the electorate. When asked to assess the current political situation, only 2.5% of people responded ‘good’ or ‘very good,’ while 78.7% responded ‘bad’ or ‘very bad.’ There is a strong desire for change in Spain and this is also reflected in a distrust of politicians, over 55% of people considered corruption and fraud to be a major problem in Spain. Podemos have successfully positioned themselves in opposition to the la casta (the caste or the class), a term used to describe both local and national politicians and their links with business – not dissimilar to what many people would consider to be the ’1%.’…

        Aside from corruption, unemployment is considered to be the biggest problem in Spain by the electorate (almost 80% said it was a major issue) and although it has not been utilised by Podemos as much as people’s contempt towards la casta, it has contributed to a fall in support for PP and PSOE.

  2. abynormal

    re White Supremest…
    “Dr. King’s policy was that nonviolence would achieve the gains for black people in the United States. His major assumption was that if you are nonviolent, if you suffer, your opponent will see your suffering and will be moved to change his heart. That’s very good. He only made one fallacious assumption: In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has none.”
    Stokely Carmichael

    “White supremacy is a black person telling the people of Baltimore to chill out and try peace, thinking they came up with that thought all on their own.”
    Darnell Lamont Walker

    1. diptherio

      That’s a great quote from Darnell Walker.

      Chill out and try peace is something the cops need to do. How many unarmed people have been killed by B-more protesters so far? And how many by the cops? So who are the really violent ones? Just destroying some property, rather than–for instance–responding in kind actually seems to me to be showing a good deal of restraint. Meanwhile, the 5-0 will whack you while you’re in restraints…

      1. Ned Ludd

        Stokely Carmichael misrepresents King’s philosophy of nonviolence.

        Martin Luther King, Jr.: You can, through violence, burn down a building, but you can’t establish justice. You can murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder through violence. You can murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate. And what we’re trying to get rid of is: hate, injustice, and all of these things that continue the long night of man’s inhumanity to man.

        In the same 1967 interview, Martin Luther King, Jr. also puts the accomplishments of the civil rights movement into perspective.

        Martin Luther King, Jr.: I think the biggest problem now is that we got our gains over the last 12 years at bargain rates, so to speak. It didn’t cost the nation anything. In fact, it helped the economic side of the nation, to integrate lunch counters and public accommodations. It didn’t cost the nation anything to get the right to vote established. Now, we’re confronting issues that cannot be solved without costing the nation billions of dollars. Now, I think this is where we’re getting our greatest resistance. They may put it on many other things, but we can’t get rid of slums and poverty without it costing the nation something.

  3. OldLion

    France picking up…
    It is basically due only to moderate oil prices.
    So we in France have a 0.4% growth strongly rooted in an volatile unpredictable facility price.
    Cheers !

  4. Jim Haygood

    The Beautiful People, comrades: it’s a private club, and we ain’t in it:

    Paid meet-and-greets are becoming staples of the celebrity circuit—and for good reason, according to Simon David of XM Concierge.

    “At this point, these things are almost no longer luxuries—they’re a need for a certain type of people. High-end, high-net-worth clients all over the world want to experience unobtainable things.”

    Lady Gaga created a private audience program after her recent tour in Europe, where fans could pay £900 (around $1350) per person for an intimate experience with the star.

    Don’t even attempt this at home before reading William J. Clinton’s classic self-help book, How To Become a Gigolo.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Pay, verb: give (someone) money that is due for work done, goods received, or a debt incurred .

      Celebrities are celebrities because you ‘pay’ attention to them. (I think they should pay you money for you to pay attention – a fair transaction).

      So, a celebrity owes his/her existence as a celebrity to people ‘paying’ them attention (on the internet, TV or magazines).

      And you have to pay (with money) this time to be with them?

      “We all have greatness within each of us. You’re the artist in (or, of) your life. Look within.”

      1. diptherio

        I decided quite some time ago that making my life into a work of art was the only way for me to live. We’re all gonna die–the Earth will eventually be swallowed up by the sun–everything that we build and do is temporal and ultimately meaningless–so I decided that making sure my life was crazy and weird and beautiful was the thing to do. I don’t want to lay on my death bed and tell everybody about how financially responsible I was, how I put my nose to the grindstone, bit the bullet, did as I was told–no, I want to lay on my death bed and have a whole slew of good stories to tell, of all the crazy sh*t I tried, accomplished, failed at…The Lakota say that after you die you go back to the other-side camps, from whence we all came to this Earth when we were born. There, Grandfather will take us into his lodge and have us tell him the story of our life–I want to have some good yarns for Grandfather when I get there. And Elie Wiesel once quoted a Hasidic master: “God created man because he loves stories.” This world is filled with so much pain, so much needless misery and suffering, because most people forget this truth–they think life is about collecting things and hoarding digits in their bank accounts, not about making a strange and wonderful story…and then they wonder why they feel so unfulfilled….

        1. optimader

          We’re all gonna die–the Earth will eventually be swallowed up by the sun–everything that we build and do is temporal and ultimately meaningless
          Level 0100 –Intro to Existentialism.

          The opposite of being financially responsibility is..well.. being financially irresponsible which actually is, as much as anything, a root cause of much of the needless misery and suffering (File Under: MIC budget, say 75%?)

          “…hoarding digits in their bank accounts..” is what buys artistic independence, more generally, it is what a wise person can use to buy their own time. Ultimately Art is a form of work, don’t kid yourself that it isn’t. There is no honor or “higher purpose” to being a “starving artist”, it is more an unfortunate circumstance.

          …because most people forget this truth–they think life is about collecting things and hoarding digits in their bank accounts, not about making a strange and wonderful story…and then they wonder why they feel so unfulfilled…
          Link on that?
          As long as we’re in the realm of speculation, I speculate the vast, vast majority of people just want to advance their familial circumstance and have a good, if not ultimately meaningful life while enjoying this corporeal existence as best they can ( that would include the Lakota BTW).

          1. diptherio

            Unfortunately, financial responsibility gets equated with greed. That is, people are greedy and call it “financial responsibility.” Sharing creates wealth, not hoarding.

            As for the unfulfillment that I see and sense all around me, ask yourself how it is that Deepak Chopra and Ken Wilber sell so many books, if everybody is fine tending to their bank accounts? Why all the interest in non-Christian religions and generalized “spirituality” if everyone is so fulfilled already? Maybe you’re not feeling the lack, but plenty of people are…which is what keeps Deepak’s and Ken’s bank accounts overflowing.

            Anyway, half of my friends are now homeless, so worrying over much about my own finances seems more than a little petty to me, personally, at the moment. I may be poor, but at least I’ve got a roof and a few mod-cons. My problem is that I can always see someone who needs it more than I do, and I have a hard time not giving it to them…hence, my financial “irresponsibility.”

            1. optimader

              Unfortunately, financial responsibility gets equated with greed
              A matter of semantics then, I simply don’t agree with the definition. IMO financial responsibly is a positive character trait. Greed (avarice) I think most people would agree is not, nor are they really related in any sense..

              I have no particularly informed opinion about Deepak Chopra and/or Ken Wilber, but in general I consider self help books to be artifacts of the long standing phenomena of people seeking to externally acquire sensibilities and judgment about how to behave and in some cases how to conform to a “tribe”

              Amazon: 1-16 of 438,234 results for “self help book” suggests to me that there are plenty of authors mining these desires, not that this is a new phenomena RE: Bible, Koran, Torah, Vedas, Book of the Dead, Tao Te Ching etc. I consider these to all be self help books in there own ways. Humans evolved to be social creatures, many wanting a blueprint for how to think/behave, that’s not really a new development.

              Ultimately taking responsibility for personal finances is, well a personal responsibility and a sign of good character, not a defect, I don’t really see that it has a mutually exclusive relationship w/ empathy and altruism. which are also signs of good character.

    2. Carolinian

      High-end, high-net-worth clients all over the world want to experience unobtainable things

      I saw that movie: The Freshman with Matthew Broderick and Marlon Brando.

      Gangsters and fat cats throw parties where they get together to eat endangered species. Satire then (1990), reality now.

    3. sd

      The new thing is high end VIP experiences at events. Think sky booths but instead of private rooms its a private party area for the 1% so they only mingle with their kind.

    4. optimader

      Good stuff,
      increases the velocity of money while separating discretionary funds from people that apparently that have more money than imagination. Win-Win.

        1. optimader

          Mmm. I’m guessing it’s mostly ephemera in the end.
          Getting spent on caterers, bartenders, party planners, limo drivers, hospitality industry etc etc . Maybe distasteful to some, certainly not my cup of tea, but earning a living to others. Certainly more velocity than it all being buried in some family estate wealth fund.

  5. Savonarola

    I have for a long time utterly failed to understand how Congress could vote for this trade deal out of sheer personal interest. Their power is diminished, sure – because anything they pass can just be undone by corporations. But also, those lucrative jobs they get influencing legislation for corporations after their brief stint in “public service?” Why would the corporations need to influence Congress any longer? If you don’t get what you want as a multinational, it is of no consequence. Corporations are quite literally the new sovereigns.

    If they truly understood how this diminishes their future earning potential, they would all be voting against it not out of concern for any of us, but out of pure self interest.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Indeed, self interest would seem to dictate against these steaming piles of poisonious sh*t. But immediate gain, and I imagine the traitors who are friends of these so called trade agreements will be up for very lucrative rewards, probably outweighs any thoughts of long term profit sustainability derived from abusing the power of their office.

      They are thinking of that one shot sell out in which the payola is of a lifetime scale, or perhaps they have become so corrupted, they simply do it out of habit, regardless of it reducing them to legal puppets rather than simply willing puppets.

      1. optimader

        self interest
        Absolutely, Occam’s razor for a clean shave here… I submit, most of these Congress critters are more persistent than smart. As well they are tuned into quid pro quo for pathetically less money than you would think.

        Most Congress critters are the poster children for the concept of high time preference. that’s how they get caught up is simple cases of financial malfeasance. There are the few of course that hold out long term of the corporate/lobbying positions
        Someone with a high time preference is focused substantially on his well-being in the present and the immediate future relative to the average person, while someone with low time preference places more emphasis than average on their well-being in the further future

        1. cnchal

          Neo classical view

          In the long run steady state, consumption’s share in a person’s income is constant, which pins down the rate of interest as equal to the rate of time preference, with the marginal product of capital adjusting to ensure this equality holds. It is important to note that in this view, it is not that people discount the future because they can receive positive interest rates on their savings. Rather, the causality goes in the opposite direction; interest rates must be positive in order to induce impatient individuals, to forgo current consumptions in favor of future

          The conceit of the technocrat, thinking they lead people around by the nose.

          An Austrian view

          By contrast, George Reisman says that time preference arises because of the possibility of being less able (say through injury or the effects of aging) or totally unable (through substantial incapacitation or death) to enjoy the use of goods in the future.[4] The further into the future someone considers, the less likely it is that this someone will be able to enjoy the goods as much as they can be enjoyed now. The root of time-preference in Reisman’s view is an internal risk premium that is specific to the owner of the goods, in contrast to an external risk premium that is demanded when the owner invests them in a production process or lends them to another.

          1. Skippy

            Sadly neither one is grounded in social psychology or makes allowances for the influence high powered marketing – advertising has, and is grounded in the absurd individual perspective.

      2. hunkerdown

        If it’s just as lucrative sitting on the board, why work 100-hour executive weeks?

    2. jrs

      congress people have no class consciousness!!! (well if congressmember was a class that is) No solidarity!!! (to future congress people). They’re all in it for themselves.

      The payouts from the immediate cash out may be greater than keeping power long term to the individual congressperson.

    3. 10leggedshadow

      This 1000 times this. If the TPP goes through, lobbying Congress is going the way of the Dodo. Think how much less corps will have to pay lobbyists when they can just got cash in their pockets ordered from the ISDS. So, maybe not extinct, but they will end up paying a lot less $$ to buy off Congress.

  6. financial matters

    The neoliberal agenda seems to be in full force with today’s links. I think it could be said that Ukraine, Libya and Greece are all under assault and this is not in most peoples (99%) best interest.

    EU said to consider plan for Greece in event of Euro exit Irish Times

    “”With Ukraine to the north of Greece ravaged by Russian- backed separatists and Libya to the south collapsing as rival militias fight for control, the German government has made it clear that leaving the euro wouldn’t jeopardize Greece’s place in the European Union.

    “Within the EU there are a lot of financial funds which will continue to be available for Greece,” Thomas Steffen, Germany’s chief negotiator with Greece within the euro area, said at an event in Berlin last week. “There is no reason to even contemplate, that Greece would leave the European Union.”””

    Thousands take part in Estonia’s war games Financial Times

    Eight Nato states, including the US, UK, Poland and Germany, are participating and have sent weaponry ranging from advanced anti-aircraft systems to A10 “Warthog” ground-attack planes and Abrams battle tanks.

    “The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a reminder to us all that Russia remains really aggressive . . . the aggression was a wake-up call to the major allies in the western world in general of the nature of Putin’s regime.”

    I think the Reuters link was predicted by Kouvelakis.

    Europe’s well of sympathy for Greece runs dry Reuters.

    Stathis Kouvelakis in his recent interview in Jacobin ‘Dangerous Days Ahead’ describes some of the problems of trying to take on such an entrenched system.

    “We’re in a moment of crisis. At such a moment even the adversary, not only our side, is hesitating between various different strategies. For the moment, though, the dominant strategy isn’t the one you mention, though it does exist: part of the German elite also agrees with Giscard’s position, that it’d be better to cast off the Greeks, from some points of view even at any cost.

    But what the dominant forces in Europe really want now is to shake down the country. They want to keep Greece in the “iron cage” and force Syriza to do what all the other governments of the Left in Europe ended up doing. They want to show that Syriza is just the same as all the others, that it’s inevitable, that there is no other way. That’s their real strategy, to show that Tsipras is no different from [French President] François Hollande, no different from [former Italian Prime Minister] Romano Prodi, no different from what we recently got from the social-democratic left across Europe.”

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      “But what the dominant forces in Europe really want now is to shake down the country. They want to keep Greece in the “iron cage” and force Syriza to do what all the other governments of the Left in Europe ended up doing. “

      If Emmanuel Todd is right, and considering that when he was still 20 something in the mid-1970s he presciently predicted the forthcoming demise of the USSR he at least deserves a hearing, the dominant “forces” in Europe should be singular – Germany. And its ambitions go far beyond Greece to the “lesser” peoples elsewhere in Europe which includes just about everyone. Here is Pepe Escobar ‘s riff on a recent interview of Todd on a French website. IIRC, Todd’s father was American but he was raised in France by his French mother. The Final Fall was based on his Cambridge PhD thesis which was greeted with considerable ridicule several years previously. In the early naughts Todd wrote After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order, which is unfolding pretty much as foreseen as we speak.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Germany may be the dominant force in Europe, but I can’t square that with the recent ‘when I tell your spooks to spy, you will spy for us’ news.

        1. OIFVet

          Read Christopher Simpson’s ‘Blowback’. It is a thoroughly researched book on the US giving refuge and protection to nazis it deemed useful in the aftermath of WW2. Amongst them was spymaster Reinhard Gehlen, whom the CIA employed and whose reports shaped US perceptions of the Soviets. The result:

          Contrary to the accepted wisdom, however, U.S. dependence on Gehlen’s organization for intelligence on the Soviet military was quite likely a blunder from a strictly practical point of view. For one thing, enlisting Gehlen was in itself a substantial escalation of the cold war that undermined what little hope was possible for EastWest cooperation during the pivotal years of 1945 to 1948. Once on board, Gehlen’s Nazi-tainted operatives often gave the Soviets an easy target for denunciations of war criminals being sheltered by the West. This has since become a highly successful Soviet propaganda theme-in part because there is some truth to it-that is replayed regularly to this day as a means of undermining U.S. and West German relations with Eastern Europe. Financing Gehlen’s organization also appears to have made infiltration of Western intelligence by Soviet spies easier, not more difficult, as will be seen. Most important, Gehlen’s operatives and analysts strongly reinforced U.S. intelligence’s existing predilection toward paranoia about communism and the USSR, contributing significantly to the creation of a body of widely believed misinformation about Soviet behavior.

          “Gehlen had to make his money by creating a threat that we were afraid of,” says Victor Marchetti, formerly the CIA’s chief analyst of Soviet strategic war plans and capabilities, “so we would give him more money to tell us about it.” He continues: “In my opinion, the Gehlen Organization provided nothing worthwhile for understanding or estimating Soviet military or political capabilities in Eastern Europe or anywhere else.” Employing Gehlen was “a waste of time, money, and effort, except that maybe he had some CI [counterintelligence] value, because practically everybody in his organization was sucking off both tits.” In other words, Gehlen did not produce the reliable information for which he was employed, but careful monitoring of the Org might have produced some clues to Soviet espionage activity because the group had been deeply penetrated by double agents, thus giving the United States a vastly expensive and not very efficient means of keeping up with Soviet spies.

          “The Gehlen Organization was the one group that did have networks inside Eastern Europe, and that is why we hired them,” international affairs expert Arthur Macy Cox says. “[But] hiring Gehlen was the biggest mistake the U.S. ever made. Our allies said, ‘You are putting Nazis at the senior levels of your intelligence,’ and they were right. It discredited the United States.” According to Cox, the Gehlen Organization was the primary source of intelligence that claimed that “the Soviets were about to attack [West] Germany…. [That was] the biggest bunch of baloney then, and it is still a bunch of baloney today.”

          Had Gehlen’s role been limited to the preparation of top secret studies for the use of America’s own most expert intelligence analysts, it is unlikely that his project would have done much harm during the postwar period, and it might actually have done some good. But that is not how intelligence agencies actually work. In reality, contending factions in the government leak their versions of events to favored members of Congress or reporters and from them to the public at large. “Secret reports” revealed in this way- especially those that frighten or titillate us-take on a mystique of accuracy that is undeserved. These “secrets” become potent symbols that rally constituencies whose concern is not with the accuracy of a given bit of intelligence but rather with the use to which the leak can be put in the domestic political arena. As time goes on, a self-reinforcing process sets in, each new leak lending credibility to the next, which in turn “confirms” those stories that have already been revealed.

          “The agency [CIA] loved Gehlen because he fed us what we wanted to hear,” Marchetti concludes. “We used his stuff constantly, and we fed it to everybody else: the Pentagon; the White House; the newspapers. They loved it, too. But it was hyped up Russian boogeyman junk, and it did a lot of damage to this country.”

          I don’t see why Gehlen’s successors couldn’t play the same games today, allowing Germany to do economically what Hitler couldn’t do militarily, under the military umbrella helpfully provided by the US and us taxpayers. I am not at all happy to see Germany lording it over Europe, I think we are all familiar with what’s happening in Greece and Ukraine. I don’t trust Germans collectively and that’s that.

      2. kristiina

        Escobar article: extremely interesting, useful insight. Thank you. Reminds me of the national shadow side of germans – they have the mentality of a rapist – ” the Germans will take very badly the refusal of the weaker to obey, a refusal which they perceive as unnatural, unreasonable.” Relevant to remember also in the unfolding greek drama.

      3. EmilianoZ

        I dont think Emmanuel Todd has any family relationship with the US. His father is Olivier Todd (biographer of Camus and Malraux). Olivier Todd’ s father was from the Austro-Hungarian empire, his mother was British (Todd is her name). Emmanuel Todd’s mother is Anne-Marie Nizan, daughter of Paul Nizan, communist friend of Sartre. Paul Nizan was French, as was his wife (Henriette Alphen). He was killed at Dunkirk during WW2.

      4. VietnamVet

        Emanuel Todd’s insights are important. There is absolutely no reporting on the corporate takeover of the West; so all we hear are court whispers, plus a handful of blogs and tweets. Yet, there is no argument that chaos is spreading along the fractures between religions and civilizations across the world from Ukraine to Burma. Rather than being an innate unsolvable condition of humankind, I believe the increase chaos due a small group of wealthy predatory families and multi-national corporations exploiting it to become richer at the expense of everyone else. The power has shifted from the democratic sovereign states being protective of people to transnational institutions and their predatory overlords. Western government leaders are bought puppets, hence their erratic petulance awaiting their cash out.

  7. jgordon

    I saw this latest Chris Hedges post and it really resonated with me:

    I’ve always had a strong intuitive feelings that snitches should be dealt with like vermin wherever they are uncovered. I rank them right on the same level as the drug addict thieves who stole my camera equipment. The state using snitches with such gusto tells me all I need to know about the state. Anyway, I like seeing that the historical record offers good confirmation that my feeling is correct.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Bill Moushey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette penned a classic 8-part exposé of the snitch system in 1998:

      In this nation’s war on crime, something has gone terribly wrong.

      A two-year investigation by the Post-Gazette found that powerful new federal laws designed to snare terrorists, drug smugglers and pornographers are being aimed at business owners, engineers and petty criminals.

      Whether suspects are guilty has come to matter less than making sure they are indicted or convicted or, more likely, coerced into pleading guilty.

      Promises of lenient sentences and huge government checks encourage criminal [informers] to lie on the witness stand. Prosecutors routinely withhold evidence that might help prove a defendant innocent. Some federal agents work so closely with their undercover informants that they become lawbreakers themselves.

      Those who practice this misconduct are almost never penalized or disciplined. “It’s a result-oriented process today, fairness be damned,” said Robert Merkle, whom President Ronald Reagan appointed U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, serving from 1982 to 1988.

      “The philosophy of the past 10 to 15 years [is] that whatever works is what’s right.”

      One you read Moushey’s parade of horrors, your faith in the conviction machine justice system will be forever destroyed.

    2. JCC

      Regarding the Chris Hedges piece, “There are no rules in this dirty game.”.

      But there are unwritten rules. If you snitch to the People on criminal doings of the Government “of the People, by the People, and for the People”, then you are a criminal (Sterling, Risen, Snowden, etc). If you snitch on the Governement, as described, but are a crony of top-level officials, you get a wrist slap (General Patreus). If you snitch on the People, you’re an unsung hero (mostly anonymous and mostly protected).

  8. Santi

    Isn’t the link about the Greek agreement a typo? It points to the Peter Spiegel recount of the February 20 agreement.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Europe’s well of sympathy for Greece runs dry

    A clever move by (some smart guys in) the government to access IMF money…

    I hope it’s not a case of winning a battle while losing the war, or being smart but not wise.

  10. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Even in defiance of their party’s president, Senate Democrats held together Tuesday afternoon. The procedural vote on trade promotion authority failed, meaning Sens. McConnell and Reid can continue to negotiate a path forward that Senate Democrats find acceptable.

    The best way of looking at this is through a lens of pure power/aggression. Obama made another rookie mistake of trying to “roll” his own party, and as would be expected Harry Reid being much more effective and shrewd at raw power politics just took him to the woodshed.

    So the WSJ link does provide a good angle. As for how this now plays out, the best hope to see the TPP completely unravel is that the dems stick to their guns and force major concessions out of the White House. That might upset enough of the GOP traitors to switch their votes to no.

    Obama has a bad habit of sulking and acting like a petulant child when he doesn’t get his way with his own party, so there is hope.

      1. Demeter

        what Obama did to Elizabeth wasn’t sexism, it was Male Chauvinist Piggery. Sexism is much less vicious and more routine. He went for blood. Fortunately, what he got was his own.

  11. rich

    Health Care Fraud Perpetrated by PPACA Designers

    Recall the role health insurers played in the design of President Obama’s health reform, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, abbreviated as PPACA. One company discovered a multi-decade fraud employed by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

    It turns out that one of the reasons workers have been paying more for their coverage is allegedly a common practice among insurers: charging their employer customers unlawful hidden fees.

    The fees came to light when Hi-Lex Controls, an automotive technology company, took Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) to court in 2013 after becoming suspicious that the company had been systematically cheating it over 19 years. After reviewing evidence in the case, a judge ordered that BCBSM stop charging the hidden fees and pay Hi-Lex $6.1 million.

    This is the group President Obama’s PEU health reformer Nancy-Ann DeParle embraced wholeheartedly in creating PPACA. What did these long term cheats do to ensure their profitability at the expense of the “customer”? They stole long before PPACA and likely rigged new features to ensure their profits.

    It’s also one more case of healthcare fraud where no one goes to jail.

  12. fresno dan

    Unlike former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) offered a clear position on whether the US’ 2003 invasion of Iraq was retrospectively a good idea.

    “Of course not,” Cruz told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on Tuesday.


    WOW….the man is not nearly as insane as I had thought. I thought he was full Jim Jones koolaid drinking loon who would have said something to the effect of going into Iraq made the world safe for democracy, or Saddam was a big supporter of terrorism, or something so illogical that I can’t even speculate as to what he would say.
    Seriously, even for us who do not like Cruz, this is a breath of fresh air that he just simply states that getting into that war was a mistake (of COURSE not), with surprising little excuse for it (he rather deftly lays the blame on the congress members at the time and says the intelligence was wrong – not misinterpreted). Maybe this will help to have a serious debate about the US getting into wars. (maybe if intelligence is so unreliable we should – dare I say it??? – be more PRUDENT in our getting involved in foreign conflicts)

    And for republicans who actually want to win the white house, it puts Hillary in quite a bind – gee Hillary, you were as naive as Bush at judging “intelligence” and the consequence of such a momentous action???

    Now of course, some of this is just using this to stick it to Jebbie, and Hillary is collateral damage, but the rather straightforward acknowledgement of the unforced error is at least one very small item to be grateful for in this campaign season.

    1. fresno dan

      you just get the idea that it is difficult because of “triangulation”
      Not the service men who die, the civilian casualties, the unintended consequences.
      Politicians must get the best drugs and hookers – it just seems bizarre how they want to hang on to those political jobs so much that they absolutely refuse to make a decision that MIGHT endanger their reelection…

  13. Oregoncharles

    Since you’ve linked to David Dayen’s Salon article on the TPP, I’m reposting my main comment on it below. I’m hoping Dayen and other reporters are more likely to see it here. The article is a good one, except for one point that I’m getting tired of repeating – hence the cranky tone:

    “And right now, members of Congress can only see the text in a secure room, without being able to bring staffers or take notes, or even talk about specifics in public.” – is a true description of the setup, but bunk nonetheless. This can be true ONLY because the Congressmembers, opponents and supporters alike, are colluding with an unconstitutional abrogation of their powers.

    Article I, Section 6, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution gives members of Congress complete immunity from penalty for anything they say on the floor – or read into the Record. This is how Sen. Gravel “declassified” the Pentagon Papers. So the last bit of the quote isa flat out lie. Furthermore, the same paragraph gives members of Congress immunity from arrest while Congress is in session or going to or fro. That means they could perfectly well put the text(s) in their pocket, walk out, and then read it into the Congressional Record. Any attempt to stop them would be a Constitutional crisis – one that is long overdue.

    So Dayen and everyone else who’s reported on this is falling for a con. The real problem is deep-dyed gutlessness on the part of our Congress creatures – the same reason other vital information that they have has not been released.

    It’s way past time to call them on it and demand some real public service.

  14. ewmayer

    Fed Officials Tell Markets the Training Wheels Are Off | WSJ Economics

    But please try to ignore the deathgrip your overprotective ambisexual parent, “Fed”, has on your bicycle seat as he/she attempts to steer you toward an impossible goal his/her models assure him/her exists, if he/she simply pushes hard enough to achieve “escape velocity”.

  15. Jackrabbit

    Europe’s well of sympathy for Greece runs dry . . . -Reuters.

    IMO this has all the tell-tale signs of a hit piece.

    It first sets a fearful tone: When radical leftist Alexis Tsipras stormed to victory in Greece’s general election . . . “Radical leftist”? “Stormed to victory”? The barbarians are at the gates!! Continuing with the caricature, we are told that a lefty paper “founded by Jean-Paul Sartre” endorsed Tsipras and that everyone wanted to talk pictures with him and his unconventional finance minister. Hide your children and secure your purses! The populists are here.

    But wait! Center-left establishment figures were friendly to these upstarts. The same establishment that has largely been ineffective and in any sort of real change in the status quo. Furthermore “… southern European officials are angry that Greece is risking wider turmoil by taking talks with its creditors to the brink of default and a possible euro exit.” Haha! there’s the key message fo this hit piece: Syriza has to stop rocking the boat. End its noncooperative strategy and toe the line. Syriza success might make the other nincompoops look bad!

    Next we get a litany of figures from around Europe talking about how unfair Greece is, including what is termed “radical left” Podemos’ Iglesias who: “acknowledged that Greece’s difficult negotiations with its creditors showed there was limited scope to change economic policy in Europe” and “…has now dropped a pledge to default on state debt…”


    This Reuters article is one of many in what appears to be a concerted attack on Syrizae. The strategy that Syriza is following is never discussed, only the seeming incompetence, Greek unfairness, etc. IMO there is a concerted effort by TPTB to deter Greek’s leadership from its strategy of non-cooperation. Their strategy only succeeds if they can win the game of chicken by remaining steadfast up to default and beyond. See this comment and the link: Making Sense of Greece for more (or HOP back to see previous comments).

    H O P

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Just because you don’t like what it says does not mean it is not accurate. Greece had very few sympathizers at the outset among the power players. It was basically some French officials like MIchel Sapin and some EC members like Jean-Claude Juncker and Moscovici. But even they’ve had it with the Syriza government, where minsters contradict each other and act as if they can make policy on their own. Moreover, Tsipras and Varoufakis have said one thing to official of other nations, then walked it back to Greek audiences. It is hard to have any respect for a government that operates like that.

      I posted this earlier, but you seem to have missed it. It was an e-mail from an economist who has written and spoken critically for years about Europe’s austerity policies:

      It is a mess – and it is difficult indeed to not get angry with the way the Greek government has been negotiating with its Eurozone “partners”. Let me first stress that these negotiations were never going to be easy and that – indeed – major opposition to a “Greek deal” is coming from the Baltic States and also Spain and Portugal. It is not just Germany or the ECB – Greece may have overestimated the degree of sympathy which other “crisis countries” have for the Greek cause. But in addition to this, Greece has been alienating almost every actor in this bargaining process by errors of omission or commission and has been losing not only “goodwill” (to the extent there was any) but also precious time and the “initiative”. The Syriza government is constantly running after the facts, in a prolonged state of “emergency” which cannot last politically nor socially (at some point all the cash has been used up …..).

      This is someone who is multilingual, very left leaning, and is savvy enough not to treat the MSM as gospel. Syriza has lost him. Yet you insist that Syriza’s self-inflicted isolation is a media fabrication. Honestly, your reaction is no different that Democratic party tribalists defending Obama.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Even if Syriza had executed their strategy well, people would be frustrated and upset with them because the strategy requires continued suffering and has a good chance of resulting in default and/or Grexit, which no one really wants. They have been inconsistent and sent mixed signals. ‘Partnering’ with ‘the Institutions’, for example. On its face, that seems like selling out.

        BUT Greek leaders have not given the Troika what they want: a Greek austerity program wrapped up with a sovereign bow. It’s reasonable to assume that the closer Greece comes to default, the more pressure will be applied to force Greece to accede to the Troika’s wishes. And that is exactly what we are seeing via the media.

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