Links 5/11/15

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Filmmaker’s close encounter with great white shark Sydney Morning Herald (YY)

M is for Makeover: Inside the new ‘Sesame Street’ set Mashable (Lambert)

Monsanto’s Covert War on European Food Security Near Eastern Outlook (OIFVet)

US regulator probes ‘sharing economy’ Financial Times

Irish Woman Murdered at Duffy’s Cut in 1832 Begins Journey Home Irish Central

It’s all fun and games until war breaks out Japan Times

Ghost Cities of China by Wade Shepard review – unpopulated replica towns explained Guardian. Important.

China’s Smartphone Market Slows Down Wall Street Journal


Critical choices loom ahead of Eurogroup, IMF repayment ekathimerini

IMF Works With Bank Regulators on Contingency Plans for Greek Default Wall Street Journal

Which Countries Stand to Lose Big from a Greek Default? Council of Foreign Relation (Santiago)

Varoufakis puzzles economists with abstruse lecture Politico

Yet Another Greek Secret: The Case of Phantom Assets Cato (Lambert)

How the European Central Bank became the real villain of Greece’s debt drama Telegraph. This recaps what we have been saying for months: first, that the ECB is the real heavyweight in this drama, and second, it has quite deliberately been tightening the vise on Greece whenever it can.

Tsipras: Agreement Only According to Greek People’s Mandate Greek Reporter

Greece introduces cashpoint tax in desperate bid to raise revenue and stop run on banks as country teeters on brink of bankruptcy Daily Mail

Greece’s ‘war cabinet’ prepares to battle EU creditors as anger mounts Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph (Chuck L)


Today’s Victory Day celebrations in Moscow mark a turning point in Russian history Vineyard of the Saker (Chuck L)

In Talks With Merkel, Putin Calls for Improving Relations With Europe New York Times. So Merkel, despite her well-known antipathy for Russia (as in her East German residual loathing), still behaves in a classier manner than other Western leaders. But she still got some digs in: Merkel Raps Putin Over Ukraine Wall Street Journal


Saudi Arabia Says King Won’t Attend Meetings in U.S. New York Times

China ‘negotiates military base’ in Djibouti Aljazeera (furzy mouse)

Bernie Sanders Dislikes Citizens United Ruling So Much, If President, He Vows To Nominate SCOTUS Justice Based On It Bustle (Bill C)

Anti-Gay GOP Politician Comes Out After Being Caught Sending Explicit Photos On Grindr Huffington Post (furzy mouse)

California senators approve ban on grand jury investigations into police deaths Sacramento Bee (Dr. Kevin)

Relentless: The Georgia Sheriff Who Always Gets His Man—Well, Almost Always Atlanta Magazine via Sunday Long Read

Oil leaked into the Hudson River after a fire at a nuclear reactor near NYC Business Insider (David L)

Fifteen years of hurt: Tech stocks were a bubble in 2000 but they are not this time—yet Economist

Fed faces limits on lending powers during crises Financial Times

The strategic under-reporting of banks’ risk VoxEU. Banks lie when they are in trouble!

Does Finance Benefit Society? Luigi Zingales (Mark Thoma via Brent C)

Class Warfare

Cuomo Orders Emergency Measures to Protect Workers at Nail Salons New York Times. The NYT series embarrasses the government into action. Proof of success will be higher prices.

We are all just rats in a cage: How the 1 percent profits from your misery Salon (Charles)

As the world gets richer, inequality grows worse Kenneth Rogoff, Bangkok Post (furzy mouse)

The Killing of Osama bin Laden Seymour M. Hersh, London Review of Books (YY and others)

Whaddaya know: Seymour Hersh shows that Obama’s story of how Osama Bin Laden got whacked was a tissue of lies Corrente

Osama bin Laden Compound Raid Mock-up Cryptome. From 2012, a Billmon reminder via Lambert.

Recall: Ignatius’ harrowing bin Laden Obama assassination plots based on computer files Hersh says never existed @adamjohnsonNYC

Antidote du jour. OMG, these underdressed models are in the snow! The text from a link by YJT: “The bear, named Stepan, weighs more than 1,400 pounds and stands at a height of over 7 feet, but he is completely docile and willing to pose with his human collaborators. Stepan was rescued from hunters as a cub by his owner, professional circus trainer Yury Panteleenko. The bear was raised to be people-friendly, and has played roles in over 20 Russian films. For this shoot, Stepan was coaxed into different poses by his trainer with the help of mozzarella and sweet cookies, two of his favorites treats.”

Bear hugs models

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. allan

    Candidates start avoiding the M-word:

    As Middle Class Fades, So Does Use of Term on Campaign Trail

    The once ubiquitous term “middle class” has gone conspicuously missing from the 2016 campaign trail, as candidates and their strategists grasp for new terms for an unsettled economic era. The phrase, long synonymous with the American dream, now evokes anxiety, an uncertain future and a lifestyle that is increasingly out of reach.

    1. Carla

      Yesterday’s “Companies Conspiring to Beat Encryption” post contains a helpful hyperlink, showing that Citigroup outlined the plan for life after the elimination of the “middle class” in an enlightening 2005 strategy paper entitled “Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances.” Ten years later, mission accomplished. You knew that Financial Crisis had a larger purpose, didn’t you?

      The summary begins: ‘The World is dividing into two blocs–the Plutonomy and the rest. The U.S., UK, and Canada are key Plutonomies–economies powered by the wealthy. Continental Europe (ex-Italy) and Japan are in the egalitarian bloc.’

      And it helpfully continues:

      ‘In a plutonomy there is no such animal as “the U.S. consumer” or “the UK
      consumer”, or indeed the “Russian consumer”. There are rich consumers, few in number, but disproportionate in the gigantic slice of income and consumption they take. There are the rest, the “non-rich”, the multitudinous many, but only accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie. Consensus analyses that do not tease out the profound impact of the plutonomy on spending power, debt loads, savings rates (and hence current account deficits), oil price impacts etc, i.e., focus on the “average” consumer are flawed from the start. It is easy to drown in a lake with an average depth
      of 4 feet, if one steps into its deeper extremes.’

      Nice analogy! Here’s the whole thing:

      1. Ed

        I’m surprised there were so honest about this. This is exactly the sort of strategy that works great, until suddenly it doesn’t.

        1. ewmayer

          My usage implies as much ‘socialism’ as ‘the sharing economy’ (as practiced) has in common with the mutualism and reciprocity implied by the dictionary definition of sharing. I.e. a pleasing-sounding political euphemism for “those from the rent is to be extracted by any and all means.”

          Actually, in the sense that that implies a 1-way upward transfer I suppose it does connote modern ‘Merican-style socialism — which is never given that epithet, but rather cloaks itself in disingenuous euphemisms like ‘free market capitalism’ — in the sense of privatized profits and socialized losses for the looter elite.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      On the bright side, I guess this clears the Obama administration of the treasonous crime of revealing “classified” information to the Zero Dark Thirty writers and producers.

      Everything in the movie was made up.

      1. Gareth

        I’d like to know more about this please:

        “The Saudis didn’t want bin Laden’s presence revealed to us because he was a Saudi, and so they told the Pakistanis to keep him out of the picture. The Saudis feared if we knew we would pressure the Pakistanis to let bin Laden start talking to us about what the Saudis had been doing with al-Qaida”

    2. andyb

      Hersh correctly examines the clusterfuck and many anomalies of the Bin Laden killing, but the real reason for the lies and duplicity of the entire operation is that Bin Laden had been dead for a decade after succumbing to Marfan’s desease in December 2001. Most are aware that he was a CIA asset used for guerrilla tactics against the Russians in Afghanistan, and remained so until his death. After 911, Bin Laden continuously denied any involvement even though it would have been a recruiting coup for the ages. The fawning MSM, excepting Fox News, ignored his passing in 2001 as well as the confirmation of his death by the Pakistani PM, Bhutto, in her interview with David Frost. The truth, it seems, will always be subservient to agenda of the neocon war mongers. And yes, Obama is just another “selected” tool for this purpose.

      1. Ron

        Hersh has one source and the thread is very complicated creating endless what if’s…I doubt the story line only due to the fact that neither Pakistani nor American government officials could keep all the loose ends together without leaks. What some officials knew in Pakistan about Bin Laden and his whereabouts is not public but it doesn’t matter, he is dead.

      2. Michael

        Allowing that your scenario could be possible because of course the lying liars who lie lie about everything, one thing that is demonstrably false is that bin Laden denied involvement with 9/11.

        1. Ron

          The storyline Hersh is selling reminds me of the fake moon landing stories: Expect a rash of YouTube follow up video’s selling this along with countless Ad’s prior to the start.

          The moon landing hoax (full BBC documentary) …. Science proves that NASA faked the moon landings – Moon landing Hoax – Duration: 29:37.
          Stanley Kubrick Faked the Apollo 11 Moon Landing 45 Years Ago, Or So the Conspiracy Theory Goes:

          Apollo Zero seeks to prove that no man has ever really walked on the moon.

          1. vidimi

            this is a baffling claim. if two versions of a story neatly reconcile we say they corroborate each other, not that one plagiarises the other. the other possibility is that it’s the same source behind both stories, but that still makes the claim silly. there wasn’t all that much original in the snowden revelations either, but they were still groundbreaking.

      3. Jack

        “Most are aware that he was a CIA asset used for guerrilla tactics against the Russians in Afghanistan”

        And most people are wrong. He wasn’t a CIA asset, all the money and weapons went to the Afghani Mujahideen, not the Arab Islamists who flocked to Afghanistan from other countries. In fact the accounts of CIA operatives in Afghanistan during the Soviet war make it very clear that the Arabs were openly hostile to them, and would have happily gutted them on sight if it hadn’t been for Afghanis keeping the peace. The ‘he was a CIA asset’ claim is so common everyone accepts it, but it doesn’t hold up at all upon investigation.

      4. hidflect

        And David Frost completely ignored her bombshell comment about Bin Laden moving quickly onto the next talking point. She was dead a few days after…

  2. rich

    PEU Karma for Deals Gone Bad
    Several private equity deals unraveled badly for investors. Among these are Apollo Global Management’s Caesars Entertainment, The Carlyle Group’s Carlyle Capital Corporation and Energy Future Holdings, owned by KKR and TPG. All three went bankrupt.

    Bloomberg reported that bond holders are reluctant to buy deft from Apollo Global affiliates.

    Apollo Global Management LLC is meeting with some of the bond market’s biggest investors to smooth over strained relationships amid accusations it has shortchanged creditors of some of its biggest corporate buyout.

    The private-equity firm co-founded by Leon Black will travel to the offices of money managers who buy high-yield debt, seeking to persuade them that the bonds and loans issued by its companies are worthwhile investments.

    A group of bondholders in a bankrupt unit of Caesars Entertainment Corp., the casino operator Apollo and TPG Capital took private for $30.7 billion in 2008, has claimed in lawsuits that the business was stripped of billions of dollars in assets before the Chapter 11 filing in January.

    at least the avon lady leaves you with something smelling good?..leon probably not so much.

    1. Ivy

      What Leon leaves you with is wrapped in a “diploma” with student debt tissue paper, and is flaming on your doorstep.

  3. C

    President Obama just gave an interview with Yahoo News at the Nike Campus. The article is long and well worth the read. Given what happened with the ACA his decision to promise that the text “will be available for anyone on the internet” is ironic. He also cites the fact that Nike has promised to create 10,000 U.S. based manufacturing jobs IF the agreement is passed as proof that it is good. Despite claiming he learned from NAFTA he does not seem to recall that similar promises were made then and went nowhere.

    Most entertainingly he cites his own support for tough Wall Street reforms as proof of his bona fides on this issue, and says that we will face no problems because “we treat everyone the same.” A fact which hasn’t worked in New Zealand with their disputes. But why let reality get in the way?

    1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

      he learned from NAFTA

      He did! I remember. Obama ran against Hillary on NAFTA (one of the reasons I voted for him in 2008.)

      Meanwhile he secretly reassured* the people who count that it was just campaign b.s. That’s what he learned: Tell the suckers lies, no matter how transparent. But always push the interests of the 1%.

      * I know the Obama campaign denied this, but the proof is in the pudding. What did he do about NAFTA? He secretly resumed the negotiations G.W. Bush had begun on “NAFTA-on-steroids” in the fall of 2009.

      1. Ned Ludd

        Obama interview with Fortune, in June 2008 – “Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified”.

        In February, as the campaign moved into the Rust Belt, both candidates vowed to invoke a six-month opt-out clause (“as a hammer,” in Obama’s words) to pressure Canada and Mexico to make concessions. […]

        Now, however, Obama says he doesn’t believe in unilaterally reopening NAFTA. […]

        On Feb. 8, Goolsbee met with the Canadian consul general in Chicago and offered assurances that Obama’s rhetoric was “more reflective of political maneuvering than policy,” according to a Canadian memo summarizing the meeting that was obtained by Fortune.

  4. Inverness

    Is there actual evidence that Merkel has “residual East German loathing” of Russia? Do most East Germans (many of whom actually miss the regime)? I haven’t read any evidence hatred of Russia itself is the problem for her, but rather a generalized EU disdain for Russia and Putin.

    Merkel actually speaks fluent Russian, and Putin speaks German. That alone is huge — which means that she can communicate with Putin in ways few other western leaders do. Lack of language barriers grant a certain degree of cultural understanding. Merkel’s relative ability to reason could reflect a greater cultural understanding of Putin’s Russia. Think about how Obama’s lack of second languages limits him.

    1. OIFVet

      There isn’t much middle ground in Eastern Europe, it is either passionate hate or fond memories of life prior to 1989. As for Merkel and the EU’s “generalized disdain”, I call BS on this PC phrasing. Russophobia has always been a part of the Euro-Atlantic elites’ baggage. The only good Russia was the destroyed Russia of the 1990s, and the only good Russian leaders were Gorby and Yeltsin – one a trusting naif, the other a corrupt vodka swiller. Any leader who would assert Russia’s own interests is automatically a villain on par with Stalin. Even Yeltsin couldn’t escape that fate after Kosovo and NATO enlargement of 1999, having realized that his Western “partners”are acting in bad faith and treating Russia as a vanquished non-entity.

      As for Merkel, read Packer’s profile in the New Yorker. It was meant to be flattering, but reveals an authoritarian revanchist.

      1. Inverness

        You’re really generalizing about former Soviet satellites. East Germany is not Czechoslovakia, who had a Prague Spring, nor Poland (with their Solidarity movment), nor Hungary. Those countries had bigger resistance movements. Many East German dissidents were actually sent to West Germany, who bought their freedom. That led to a very different dynamic in East Germany, compared to other former communist countries. Best to avoid lumping all these nations together.

        1. OIFVet

          What do I know, I was only born in Eastern Europe and spend a few weeks there every year.

          1. CB

            And I guess you think that makes you an expert!

            /s:) for those of you not quite up to work week speed, yet.

            1. OIFVet

              I imagine that’s a part of it. The other part is familiarity with pre- and post-Cold War propaganda. All of us grew up with the image of the evil, imperialist West. Now, the new generations are growing up with the image of the evil, imperialist Soviets. This is funded by NGOs and state-sponsored entities as well. Propaganda being what it is, there is precious little middle ground and thus you have polarized societies, some more so than others but polarized nonetheless. In February I posted an example of how modern propaganda works in BG and who its sponsors are.

            2. Jeremy Grimm

              Define what does make an “expert.” Do credentials trump common sense and the weight of money — like salt — weighing on the tail of too many “experts”? I am naturally suspicious of and contentious with “experts” and their “opinions”. They have proven mendacious far too often.

              Everyone has a right to hold an opinion — “expert” — or not. We can all regard that opinion based on its merits and a little on the background and past probity of the person who expresses an opinion using our own judgment and sense of smell.

              Sorry — most of those you might call “expert” — assuming your opinion of what defines an “expert” is not too different from other similar putdowns on the opinions of others — most of those “experts” fail a basic smell test.

              So — what is your opinion and why and how do you disagree with OIFVet? I don’t care whether you are “expert” or not — what’s your opinion? Be aware I will weigh it carefully and will tend to favor the opinion of OIFVet because it makes sense and I do give some points to the moniker he chose.

              Me — I don’t have a dog in this fight. I am incensed by your tactic of questioning OIFVet’s “expertise”. By some definitions of expert — none of us should be allowed to hold an opinion. I have opinions and they must be judged on the merit of the argument that supports them. The Devil incarnate may make an argument. No matter — the argument stands on its own merits — the Devil be damned — and he has been.

        2. Lexington

          You’re really generalizing about former Soviet satellites. East Germany is not Czechoslovakia, who had a Prague Spring, nor Poland (with their Solidarity movment), nor Hungary. Those countries had bigger resistance movements.

          Really? Funny, I seem to recall something about a wall being torn down somewhere in East Germany.

          Seemed like a pretty big deal at the time…

          1. Inverness

            That was after Glasnost and Perestroika. Everybody’s literal, and figurative, walls were coming down.
            Of course there were movements — but not ones like the Prague Spring.

            1. Lexington

              Oh, so the Prague Spring is the standard? So what about the 1953 East German uprising? Not to quibble, but if I have my chronology right that puts the German resistance ahead not only of the Czechs, but the Hungarians and Poles as well.

              As much as I enjoy arguing historical trivia let’s get to the point: your argument that East Germany was ok with Soviet domination while the Poles, Czechs and Hungarians weren’t doesn’t hold water.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They should try to tame the Russian bear with mozzarella and sweet cookies

    2. optimader

      Is there actual evidence that Merkel has “residual East German loathing” of Russia?
      No , personally, I think she’s still just a little annoyed w/ Vlad abt. Koni the Black Lab.

      1. OIFVet

        She should be thankful he didn’t bring the Karakachan shepherd he was given in Sofia…

        1. optimader

          To be fair, a dickhead move if you surely know that someone has a phobia about dogs after having been bitten. OTOH, what better cure for a dog phobia than a Black Lab?

          1. OIFVet

            Perhaps it can be counted as such, particularly since I am sure that phobia therapy had not been Putin’s intent. For that, a purse size (Pomeranian, very Ost-ie!) would have been better. I imagine he wanted to take the measure of her…and she flinched. Not the healing type of a mind game, to be sure.

  5. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Bernie Sanders Dislikes Citizens United Ruling So Much, If President, He Vows To Nominate SCOTUS Justice Based On It Bustle (Bill C)

    Glad to see that enthusiasm for discussion of bernie’s primary “challenge” to hillary has not waned after yesterday’s epic discussion.

    Here is Jan Hamshire’s take at FDL, from 2011, on the suggestion that obama needed a primary challenger in 2012 and bernie might be the one for the job.

    This link was provided by CB on yesterday’s thread in the wee hours this morning, and, in my humble opinion, deserves a read.

    1. cwaltz

      With all due respect, Jane felt that not only should Bernie not be a challenger but that HE should get a primary challenge from the left(because there of course are a whole ocean of people more progressive than the guy who attempted to get single payer through) which, quite frankly, is absurd.

      The idea that the way to get a more progressive body is to start by challenging your most progressive members in Congress to set an example comes off as a bad idea on so many levels. You start by challenging the least progressive, not the people you essentially agree with.

      For the record, Sanders proposed a single payer option in the Senate. It didn’t get enough support. Perhaps Jane should ask herself why? (Oh wait part of it couldn’t be because SHE had people like Tbogg ridiculing anyone who wasn’t rubberstamping the brilliant eleventy dimensional Obamacare bill that promised a public option as pie eyed idealist pollyannnas.)

      1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

        Oh wait part of it couldn’t be because SHE had people like Tbogg ridiculing anyone who wasn’t rubberstamping the brilliant eleventy dimensional Obamacare bill that promised a public option as pie eyed idealist pollyannnas.

        I don’t think that isn’t any of why. FDL doesn’t have any Senate votes now, and didn’t then.

        P.S. TBogg is a right-wing Dem leg-humper, for sure. But FDL is not, and he has since moved on to Raw Story.

        1. cwaltz

          FDL doesn’t have any Senate votes(but has a readership that can and does lobby Congress for policy) and Bernie gets exactly 1 Senate vote. They BOTH have a bully pulpit. One of them used his to try and get a single payer plan through, the other used hers to support a public option. Both were unsuccessful. My holding Jane accountable for her failure is no different then her calls to hold Bernie accountable for his. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

          PS Tbogg left of his own accord. He wasn’t asked to leave. While he was at FDL he was given a front page. He probably still would have a front page if he hadn’t gotten bored with explaining why the President in all his awesomeness had failed to enact the progressive policies that all his now jaded supporters expected from him(particularly because his posts generated the most controversy and therefore the most commentary.)

          I guess it all boils down to whether you believe activists have a less important role than Senators. I don’t. Its our job to force the Senate to enact laws we want. At any given time Jane could have tossed single payer activists a bone and supported their efforts to be part of the debate. That isn’t what happened though. The single payer activists were tossed under the bus under the name of pragmatism and we started from the pragmatic public option which promptly got negotiated away in the same name of pragmatism. It’s almost ironic that Jane would find Sanders culpable for the less than perfect health care bill when it was clear that he supported something different(after all he did sponsor a bill) but herself not culpable when she had a poster on her site hawking that same less than perfect bill on her front page(and yes I do realize that Jane probably had Tbogg there in the name of her belief in vigorous debate and because there was a faction of her readership that enjoyed the look down your nose at those who disagree with you snark that Tbogg offered.)

          1. Lambert Strether

            I don’t have a problem with wanting to drag Sanders left, but I don’t see why the same logic wouldn’t apply with wanting to drag health care policy left, as single payer advocates tried to do.

            So I’m still ticked that FDL worked so hard to nail the Overton Window firmly shut at ObamaCare, and I really especially objected to SEIU funding a health care silo at FDL — Hi, Jason Rosenbaum [waves]! — that imposed a news blackout on single payer events and posts.

            Ah well. Blood under the bridge.

            1. hunkerdown

              “The general public would then have an opportunity for recourse” at the next election, Mitchell said in an interview

              The state senator from the LAPD, hmm?

              Angelenos, now is your time to shine. Run this social sadist right into the harbor.

          2. Propertius

            [T]he other used hers to support a public option

            I believe the correct expression is “public option sparkle pony”.

            1. cwaltz


              I guess I didn’t want to feel like I was beating a dead horse-er public option sparkle pony.

              I like FDL and on many issues I admire and agree with what they do(OWS, whistleblower, Manning to name a few). However, I think it has straddled the fence less than perfectly on Democratic Party loyalty and how we move forward strategically. I do give her credit though for not doing what Dkos did and threatening everyone who disagreed with her particular strategy with banning.

              1. hunkerdown

                Also to her credit, she did, at more than one juncture, ask her readership for their input on the direction of the “movement”. The Democratic Party was held to be part of the solution (and not part of the precipitate), which was my cue to exit.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I can’t remember, but did anyone challenge Obama in 2011?

      We could have used it then. ‘Why didn’t you do it then?’

      1. cwaltz

        No. Well that isn’t entirely true. Someone in California was going to try and primary him but the Democratic Party promptly kneecapped them in much the same way they kneecapped the Democratic candidate in Maine or Ned Lamont when he ran against Lieberman.

  6. PhilK

    ORNL heads effort to produce plutonium for space-bound power sources

    OAK RIDGE — Oak Ridge National Laboratory is heading the government’s effort to re-establish a domestic supply of plutonium-238 for the U.S. space program over the next decade, using the High Flux Isotope Reactor to produce the unique isotope of plutonium and a series of shielded hot cells and special labs to separate and purify the intensely radioactive material. . . .

    The United States has not had a domestic source of Pu-238 since 1988, and part of the current U.S. inventory (estimated at about 35 kilograms) was purchased from Russia. Given the geopolitical climate, foreign sources of nuclear material are not considered to be reliable for future needs.

    1. hunkerdown

      “Given the geopolitical climate, foreign sources of nuclear material are not considered to be reliable for future needs.”

      I’d like to nominate this for the un-self-aware understatement of the year award.

      1. hunkerdown

        *snicker* Next up, Russian missiles pound nuclear weapons enrichment facility in Tehran, Tennessee…

    1. Inverness

      Horrifying. Thank you for sharing this. This is a perversion of Canadian hate speech laws, of which I am fond. Some letters to Harper, Mulcair (NDP) and Trudeau are in order.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Hell, let’s boycott Canada, now that it’s morphed into Israel’s North American province.

        1. frosty zoom

          i dunno, i think the ukrainians have got dibs..

          (it took me a while to think of something to say that wasn’t sad)
          ((i guess i still haven’t))

          1. Jim Haygood

            Is Canuckistan even a democracy anymore, with its Prime Minister for Life now in his tenth year in the post?

            This and other disturbing signs will be explored in my forthcoming book, The Trouble With Flannel.

            1. frosty zoom

              better “the trouble with fear.”

              conviently for mr. harper, there are all sorts of people in canada who wear funny hats. and that’s really scary to the majority of voters (32%!).

              alas, the other parties, the neoliberals and the neoneoliberals split the sane vote.

      2. JEHR

        Well, perhaps Harper & Co could be accused of hate crimes for their sanctions against Russia and Iran!

  7. diptherio

    What’s this, I thought, Ken Rogoff has had a come-to-Jesus moment? He’s worried about inequality now? No, as it turns out. Displaying his nearly super-human ability to be a huge douche, Rogoff’s article focuses on those greedy US and European workers:

    By many measures, global inequality has been reduced significantly over the past three decades, implying that capitalism has succeeded spectacularly. Capitalism has perhaps eroded rents that workers in advanced countries enjoy by virtue of where they were born. But it has done even more to help the world’s true middle-income workers in Asia and emerging markets.

    But strangely, or not, no mention of the much greater rents that capitalists in advanced countries enjoy….stunning.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      These guys have not tried to trade currencies in Athens.

      Shorting the euro (or the dollar) by borrowing and selling it – from whom in Greece can they borrow billons from?

      Moreover, trading with the US is a privilege under the current hegemonic system. That’s the only way another country can earn the global reserve currency (other than American corporations setting up factories – investing – in that country).

      So, one more time, with love – selling to America is a privilege under the current system.

    2. Vatch

      The “middle class” has been growing in Asia and other parts of the Third World. There’s just one problem, and it’s the way that many economists define the middle class in the Third World. People who earn between $2.00 and $20.00 per day are in the middle class. No, I am not making this up — this is what real economists believe. See:

      1. jrs

        Well maybe they are. It depends on cost of living, if the basics of life cost much less than it makes sense. The U.S. on the other hand is becoming a 3rd world country with an very high cost of living.

        But Ken Rogoff, yea we really need to stop falling into the global equality argument with people whose motive never was and never will be egalitarianism. It just reduces the whole world to slaves of vastly rich capitalists, ripe for a red revolution but not much else.

  8. frosty zoom

    bond ratings are not the best measures for evaluating TBTF institutions.

    perhaps not, but meanness sure is.

    *”danger, danger, will robinson! replying to the final comment creates new comment!”.

  9. Jim

    The Hersh article in the London Review of Books is fascinating especially if one frames the analysis in terms of the “Double Government” hypothesis of Michael J. Glennon.

    In the most general sense Glennon has argued that the Presidency, Congress and the Courts appear to set national security policy but in reality their role is minimal.

    The major domestic sourcing for Hersh’s narrative come primarily from “a retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abottabad as well as ” two long-time consultants to the Special Operations Command and some unnamed individuals in the CIA.

    These sources are the epitome of the type of power exercised largely unnoticed by the public–a network that exists within the government that tends to finally predominate in issues of national security. (It is also interesting that Gates, one of the true inside/outside players was apparently outraged at Obama story-lines about the incidence.)

    I would hypothesize that the Hersh revelations might be seen as an internal bureaucratic power-struggle over the bin Laden narrative. Obama got mileage from his narrative (in terms of a boost to his re-election) but power players in the national security bureaucracy may have the final say.

    It is generally in the interest of the intelligence/security apparatus to help maintain the illusion that elected officials actually run national security policy but it appears that occasionally an elected President needs to be put in his place.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Personally, I never understood how Bin Laden, Bond Villain though he may have been, managed to drag a kidney dialysis machine over all those mountains. So maybe whoever it was the SEALS gunned down was a stand-in. The layers of possibilities must be of great interest to the contemporary historian or hobbyist, even though, or because, the whole episode is starting to look like another one of those unresolvable hairballs.

      Whatever happened, a lot of people agree that the highlight of Hersh’s piece is his description of the chaos at the White House. I like especially that Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, suggested that Obama claim (lying) that torture produced the intel that enabled the hit. Some enterprising reporter should ask the Clinton campaign about that.

  10. hunkerdown

    The City of Huaxi, Inc. Hunh. Seems that Objectivism’s first (but by no means last) practical obstacle is Objectivists.

  11. frosty zoom

    [in response to mr. strether]

    investigate* the origin of the first dialysis machine. [qwiki linky no worky]

    to infinity and elsewhere!

    *i boycott the verb “google”. take ¡that! list makers!

  12. PlutoniumKun

    The China article is interesting, but I’m not wholly convinced by the arguments that the Ghost cities represent more than just gambling. For one thing, its not accurate to say that the authorities build subways out to them once they are built – certainly around Beijing it was the other way around (as it should be). Lines were built well out beyond the cities boundaries in order to encourage development in the right direction.

    I also find this statement dubious:

    The property bubble is unlikely to burst, as local authorities are merely one (municipal) branch of the Communist party owing money to another (banking) branch, which has no interest in making its comrades bankrupt.

    I don’t really see how this works – it doesn’t matter who is borrowing from who – when prices go beyond what the market can hold, eventually someone has to pay the losses. It seems to be implied that the process can go on forever – I don’t see how this can happen, no matter how cosy it is. In Japan, the system was not dissimilar – in that case of course the losses were tied up in zombie banks which held the economy back for decades. It is possible of course to prevent anyone knowing who is losing money, but its not possible to cover the hole in the economy when all that value is wiped out.

    1. lolcar

      Japan’s unemployment never went over 4% after its real estate crash. Deficit spending easily covered the hole.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Is Japan’s 4% unemployment number more trust worthy than the US unemployment numbers? — Just askin’ — In the United States, at least back in the 1960’s, a 4% unemployment rate was considered tantamount to full employment. Does Japan enjoy full employment now?

        I thought I read somewhere that the suicide rate for middle-aged Japanese men increased and the number of Hikikomori and young people still at home in their late 20’s is in the millions. That seems inconsistent with “healthy” “full employment” or at best suggests that like here too many of Japan’s “employed” make too little to live on given their cost of living.

        1. lolcar

          No, Japan doesn’t enjoy full-employment, any more than any other place that’s governed on neoliberal lines. Nor does it use what I would consider an honest definition of unemployment to calculate its official unemployment figures. But even a bogus measure of the absolute level of unemployment still gives a fair measure of the change in unemployment through a crisis (with the proviso of course that you take the time to check out possible confounding factors – migration, participation rate, changes in methodology etc.). The assertion was that it’s simply impossible to cover the hole in demand during a crash. I think Japan shows that’s not true. Japan also shows that if you keep the bad debt on the books rather than writing it off that hole will keep on dragging the economy down for a long, long time. To the extent that the lending backing the Chinese real estate bubble is from one arm of the state to another arm of the state it should be easier to write off. But whether it happens or not is a political question. Most places the creditors are too politically powerful to allow it – so I’d bet on China turning Japanese – they won’t let the real economy crash (present-day EU style) but nor will it be particularly easy to get rid of the debt overhang.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        The problem in Japan wasn’t unemployment – for social reasons, it never gets high. It was (and is) chronic underemployment of a major sector of the economy. The impact on ordinary people was hidden, but still very real, not to mention the devastation to the domestic service economy as people simply didn’t have money to spend. The Japanese did, as is universally acknowledged, deal with the crash very well in terms of minimising the impact on people, but that still doesn’t mean that the crash wasn’t a devastating blow to the economy, one it still hasn’t recovered from a quarter of a century later.

  13. Howard Beale IV

    U.S. House panel subpoenas Justice Dept over bank prosecutions: AP

    A Treasury spokesman said the department is willing to work with the panel and has cooperated. He added that the department regrets that Republicans “decided to take this unilateral step” by issuing the subpoena.

    The committee’s subpoena comes about two years since former Attorney General Eric Holder told a U.S. Senate committee that it can “become difficult” to prosecute large financial institutions because a criminal charge might have a broader impact on the economy.

    Some lawmakers interpreted those comments to mean that some banks might be too big to fail, even though the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law was supposed to prevent banks from getting so big that their collapse could threaten the market.

    Holder later backtracked on those comments, and in a May 2013 hearing before a House Financial Services panel, another former top Justice Department official assured lawmakers that no bank is too big to prosecute.

    Hensarling said on Monday that his panel has been waiting for two years for documents it requested from the Justice Department, and it had only received “a small sampling” of records related to a drug money laundering probe of HSBC.

    The panel also asked the Treasury Department for unredacted records in connection with the Justice Department’s probe into the bank.

    Maybe some of these guys are smelling blood because of TPP/TTIP? Either that, or it’s kabuki.

  14. Patrick Donnelly

    Socialism is affordable only in a society with surpluses.

    Having a curtailed greed, as a creed, allows surpluses. Americans have been taught that greed is good and worship excess of all kinds. Waste, credit booms and inequality result.

    The High Priests have been exposed by Eve (Yves is a boy name!) so why the debate?

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