Links 5/14/15

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Honeybees’ Mysterious Die-Off Appears to Worsen New York Times (David L). Not good.

World’s Rudest Robot Set To Simulate the Fury of Call Center Customers Slashdot (Dr. Kevin)

We’re about to enter a new era in medicine Business Insider (David L)

China warns US not to send warships to disputed South China Sea waters South China Morning Post

China tensions ‘hurting US tech groups’ Financial Times

The ‘Seoul Skygarden’ will turn an abandoned highway overpass into South Korea’s version of NYC’s The High Line Business Insider (David L)

Australian wages growth – lowest on record Bill Mitchell (furzy mouse)

Will the ECB QE Save the Euro? Triple Crisis

UK Elections

General Election results: Did just 900 voters hand the Tories a majority government? Mirror

Sajid Javid: From risky business to business secretary Euromoney (Richard Smith). Lambert; “Doubling down”.

Posh, educated and energetic: meet the servants of the super-rich Spectator. Richard Smith: “Monaco without the sunshine.”


Greece plays down referendum option, economy stutters ekathimerini

Greek central govt surplus exceeds target after spending cuts Reuters. This is more complicated and less positive than it seems. First, the spending cuts have been massive, over 10% of the budget. Second, some of these cuts appear to have been deferrals, meaning the government will eventually have to pay vendors. Both the arguably biased IMF and Bruegel, which does not have a dog in this fight, looked at earlier budget releases and concluded that Greece was actually in a fiscal deficit (IMF concluded a large one). And whether you buy the IMF or the Greek view, the severity of the budget cuts is weakening the economy.

How chaos in Libya spawned a security nightmare in the Mediterranean The Conversation (Juan Cole via Lambert)


Yet another huge diplomatic victory for Russia Vineyard of the Saker (YY)

2015 Schlangenbad Dialogue: the East-West Confrontation in Microcosm Une parole franche. Intriguing as well as important.

McCain rejects Pentagon push for more Russian rocket engines Reuters. EM: “The $300 million McCain claims to be so worried about is what fraction of an F-35? One rudder flap?”


Saudi Arabia Says It Will Match Iran in Nuclear Capability New York Times

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

House Votes to End N.S.A.’s Bulk Phone Data Collection New York Times (David L)

Conservative GOP Congressman Credits Snowden For Changing His Position on Patriot Act Intercept

Trade Traitors

No need for haste on TPP deal Japan Times. Surprising since the Japan Times tends to hew pro-America.

In Defending Baltimore Police Officers, Lawyers Build Case From the Details New York Times. It was unwise but perhaps necessary for the prosecutor to outline her case to the media. It is just as unwise for the defense to be making it public.

San Bernardino police seeking stolen gun find it in 3-year-old’s hand Los Angeles Times

Amtrak train in Philadelphia derailment was traveling at over twice speed limit Reuters. Another striking photo.

Prayers and (actual) thoughts


Why Is Oklahoma Now The Earthquake Capital Of The U.S? OilPrice. Not new to NC readers, save its mention of the latest political moves in Oklahoma on this issue.

Saudi claims oil price strategy success Financial Times. Recall we identified the US shale industry as Riyadh’s target.

Calpers’ Pension Hammer Forces ‘Unfair’ Bond Ruling by Judge Bloomberg. Remarkable defensiveness by judge in enforcing pension standing in bankruptcy.

5 Banks Expected to Plead Guilty to Felony Charges New York Times. But no execs, natch. And the summary is straight Lanny Breuer redux:

As much as prosecutors may want to punish the banks, accused of rigging the price of currencies, they are mindful that too harsh a penalty could imperil the businesses.

Do we give other criminal enterprises a break because we might hurt their business? There are plenty of competitors in the FX market. It’s not as if trading would suffer if these players wound up reducing their footprint.

Chief Economist for One of the World’s Largest Banks: “The World Economy Is Like An Ocean Liner Without Lifeboats. If Another Recession Hits, It Could Be A Truly Titanic Struggle For Policymakers” George Washington

Another lingering cost of the bubble: weirdly seasonal GDP data? FT Alphaville

Class Warfare

Obama targets hedge funds in personal remarks on poverty, race Reuters. EM: “I’m sure the hedgies are quaking in their tasseled loafers that Obama might actually mean it this time.”

What It’s Like When Your City Goes Broke Atlantic (furzy mouse)

Uber drivers struggle to pay subprime auto loans Marketplace

Antidote du jour:

monarch links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Robert Callaghan

    Birds and Bees
    Three ingested neo-nic infused seeds will kill one bird. Neo-nics are water soluble.
    Neo-nics kill bees. Mono-cultures cause bee malnutrition.
    We have to grow more food over the next 50 years than we grew in all of the last 2,000 years. We need 6 million hectares of new farmland every year for the next 30 years to do it. We are actually losing 12 million hectares of farmland every year due to soil degradation, depletion and outright loss. At these rates, humanity only has 60 years of agriculture left. Tough news, right? It gets worse. We have to grow all this food while in just 10 years 66% of humanity will be short of water. Right now, 1 billion people walk a mile every day for water. In 10 years, 2 billion people will be severely short of water. We have already passed peak growth rates in 2006 for wheat, corn, soy, wood and fish. In just 10 years, most of humanity will be fighting for just food and water. In twenty years, vital minerals and energy will be in short supply. In thirty years, runaway mass extinction become unstoppable and irreversible.
    Get your Collapse Data Cheat Sheet here:

    1. Ned Ludd

      In 1910, the U.S. food system used one calorie of energy for every calorie of food output. By 1970, the U.S. food system required nine calories of energy to produce just one calorie of food.

      Energy Use in the U.S. Food System“ was published by Science in 1974. I don’t know of more recent research, but the chart on page 312 reveals the energy required for industrial feedlot agriculture compared to traditional food systems.

      • Feedlot beef & distant fishing – 10-20 calories energy subsidy for every 1 calorie food output
      • Coastal (not distant) fishing – 1 calorie
      • Hunting and gathering – 0.1-0.2 calories
      • Wet rice culture of Thailand, Burma, China, and Indonesia – < 0.1 calories

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        No water = no wet rice culture (in many places of the world).

        Hunting and gathering – a truly genius way of living (probably invented by someone with an IQ > 200 who was able to connect and optimize energy input vs. output, environmental sustainability, active life style, water usage, localism, etc).

        But this is no surprising for those who know our brain size has been shrinking for thousands of years.

          1. juliania

            The Times article doesn’t even mention GM Roundup ready problems that almost eliminate the lovely butterfly migrations depicted in the antidote. Bees and butterflies feed on the same wildflowers, fields of clover, alfalfa, etc.; so while toxicity of the nicotine based pesticides may be equally villainous, let’s not by omission give Monsanto a clean bill of health.

    2. Ed

      One thing I’ve posted here is that as resources deplete, the world becomes physically poorer. Wealth in the end is mainly a function of the ability to efficiently extract and use resources.

      So you get things about the slowdown in trucking reported elsewhere in this site, more seasonal GDP fluctuations, and so on. But to maintain confidence, the media lies about the more well known economic indicators, so you start getting all these anomalies.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Fortress Europe.

      Fortress Moscow.

      Fortress London.

      Fortress Shanghai.

      Fortress Richville.

      Good luck to those not inside a fortress…most likely those who are not in a militarily strong nation, and those who are not serving the elites, either voluntarily (being irresponsible) or involuntarily (not smart or elite-college educated enough).

      If you think inequality is bad now, wait till then.

      1. James Levy

        It’s odd but the US military has done very little to hide the fact that it takes climate change as a given and is preparing for wars over resources, failed states, and mass migrations. The same is true of the British and German militaries (and I’d guess the French). What I’d like to know is whether or not most of the political hacks in both parties (but especially the flag-waving ultras of the Republican Party) comprehend this. Because the scary thing to me is that I don’t think they do. On one level I’d like to believe what goes on in Washington is just Kabuki and that the powers that be know all too well what’s in the cards, but the longer I live the more I think they are delusional. I’m sure a few of them “get it”, but most will kiss military ass and shed a tear each time the flag goes by without every gleaning that the military has left them in the dust on this issue. It’s hard to formulate a strategy for change when almost everyone in positions of authority who could act as “change agents” are either stupid, out of their depth, or delusional. James Kunstler’s contention that if things get bad the military will simply dismiss these clods a la Pride’s Purge is starting to look plausible.

        1. andyb

          The military takes climate change as a given because they are actively changing it through geoengineering; suppression of low pressure systems heading for California to eliminate possible rainfall, chemtrails spewing reflective metals in the atmosphere, and poisoning the land beneath. There is excellent analysis of this on The obvious agenda in the beginning was military superiority, but is now morphing into depopulation. As a recent study predicted: the US, by 2025 will have a population of less than 70 million. Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm. Apparently the incremental genocide we have experienced for the past 50 years isn’t fast enough. What do the devious psychos in charge have planned for us?

        2. hunkerdown

          Well, which is more likely: delusional and simulating rationality, or rational and simulating delusion?

          The military swears fealty to the Paper King. So long as the twits get to pantomime their specialness and the Order obeys, the military doesn’t have much interest in domestic affairs. When they don’t, the military has a mandate.

      2. Brindle

        Time for a career change–Equine Advisor is where it’s at:

        “The working and middle classes will carry on fleeing the capital. Housing association homes will go the way of council homes as David Cameron dumps them at a discount. The circle from central London within which only the wealthiest can live will grow ever wider, and the once great, exciting, industrious and creative metropolis of London will become what the Spear’s 500 want it to become: Monaco without the sunshine.”

    4. Ron

      “A prolonged and mysterious die-off of the nation’s honeybees”
      Locally we have a bee keeper with up to 5 hives and has no problem with bee die off. Only those bee’s in hives located near or at large AG operations are at risk,

      1. tim s

        Beekeeping is an inexpensive, rewarding, not-too-demanding hobby that can be done most anywhere, even in the heart of a big city. People do have problems with hive losses, but with proper attention and education, those losses can be minimized. Our local beekeeper’s associations are pretty well populated, and all of this within a major metro area.

        I highly recommend getting into it. You and the environment will appreciate it.

        1. annie

          replying to both tim and ron:
          not true that you need to be near major AG area to have hives threatened. there are several sorts of diseases and invaders to be protected against–some of them yet identified.
          we’ve been keeping bees for several years now and i would say it is neither inexpensive nor ‘not too demanding.’ you may find it so the first year, or even two, but the longer you do it the more complex and challenging. if you thrive on challenge and complexity, i heartily recommend.

          1. tim s

            Well, I do admit to being a rookie at it. I understand that there are challenges, and I’m ready for them. As long as I’m not spread too thin everywhere else, I should be able to stay on top of it. I’ve got some great help close by, and the beekeeper association really is pretty strong. Other than Verroa (sp?) mites, and hive beetles, I’m not sure what the major threats to the hives are, other than perhaps droubt or neglect.

            So far, I’ve got a full hive box kit for around $120, a suit for another $100 maybe, I paid $80 for a full colony that was put into the hive box, and a few tools. I’ll buy another hive kit when I want to split the hive next year. Assuming I’ll be getting honey, that’ll be a fair bit of change I don’t have to spend on honey, so maybe break even in a couple of years.

            But that’s just me speculating, while you speak from experience, so I’ll just stop there. I’m glad it sounds like you would still recommend it too.

    1. bruno marr

      > We are running out of cheap, accessible potassium and phosphates.
      ► These irreplaceable fertilizers cannot be manufactured by humans.
      ► We can recycle phosphates, but we don’t because of because of mining interests.
      ► The nitrogen cycle is so badly corrupted it kills off river and ocean life.

      I’m generally supportive of Lists like this because they encourage folks to think twice about our planet’s predicament. However…the lists often generate half-truths that are not useful in a technical debate of issues.

      One example: We are not “running out” of potassium and phosphates (phosphates are in an inexorable transition from the soil/plant matrix to the ocean). What “we” are doing is allowing soil phosphate to erode into streams and lakes and catalyze (speed up) the overgrowth of unwanted amounts of phytoplankton (green algae) that changes ecological processes in ways we don’t like (mostly). We could re-capture that phosphate (via dredging lakes) but that’s inefficient and expensive.

      So, my point is: understand the details before singing simplified lyrics.

      1. Ed

        I realize I’m nitpicking, but the claim is that “we are running out of cheap, accessible potassium and phosphates.” And the process you just described shows exactly that. I don’t see what your issue is with the claim.

        Yeah, over a geologic timespan the biosphere recycles all of this stuff. The carbon will eventually return from the atmosphere and the oceans into the crust, etc. But the biosphere will likely remove humans from the scene long before this happens.

  2. samhill

    Saudi Arabia Says It Will Match Iran in Nuclear Capability New York Times
    “Ancient Hatreds and Modern Weapons–My Kind of Show!” – George Carlin

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The dark side of the melting pot.

      We hope we can all come together and get along, but what rational evidence is there to show that those hundreds of year old and thousands of year od hatreds that are with us today will be gone, just because our generation is…eh, special?

      More travel abroad? Europeans were visiting each other before the carnage of WWI. Many officers spoken the languages of their enemies.

      More patronizing ethnic restaurants? Not much interaction there, except the customers get accustomed to giving (meal) orders. Unintentionally, practice makes perfect :<

      One religion for all? Actually, often people of the same religion are busier fighting and killing among themselves (over subtle doctrinal differences, for example…must pay attention to the smallest details. It's that important, that sacred.).

      Perhaps that's why many people turn to consumption.

      "I am not fighting with my toys. When we don't get along, when my toys make me angry, I just dump them. Life really is that simple."

      1. hunkerdown

        We can’t come together and get along unless we permanently exile imaginary friends (including divided ethos) from the ranks of our peers. Missionaries, salespersons, sports teams and other bullshit vendors perform activities that are directly anti-convivial and destructive of tranquil peace.

        Will the real Alaric please stand up?

  3. Bottom Gun

    NYT: Large Cocaine Cartels Expected to Plead Guilty to Felony Charges, But Punishments May be Tempered
    WASHINGTON, May 14

    For most people, pleading guilty to a felony means they will very likely land in prison, lose their job and forfeit their right to vote.

    But when two of the world’s largest cocaine cartels plead guilty to an array of charges as soon as next week, life will go on, probably without much of a hiccup.

    The Justice Department is preparing to announce that the Medellin and Cali cartels will collectively pay several billion dollars and plead guilty to criminal conspiracy for drug smuggling, price fixing, and racketeering, according to people briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Most if not all of the pleas are expected to come from the cartels’ holding companies, the people said — a first for drug syndicates that until now have had only street-level capos or anyone doing business with “Sonny Burnett” plead guilty…

    Yet as much as prosecutors want to punish global drug syndicates for their misdeeds, they are also mindful that too harsh a penalty could imperil a drug distribution network that contributes billions of dollars to the global economy, a balancing act that could produce pleas that are more symbolic than sweeping.

    “You want to make a statement, but think of all those innocent street dealers out there trying to hustle a few bucks to feed their family,” an unidentified DOJ official said. “Do you want them to lose their jobs?”

    “It’s only fair,” said a high-level Medellin Cartel henchman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Look at the sweet deal they gave HSBC. They just move the wealth around. We create it. Isn’t America about rewarding job creators?”

  4. diptherio

    Question: to what correctional institution would we send one of these “criminal banks,” if it were decided that jail-time were justified? An absurd question, obviously–but no more absurd than referring to “criminal banks” instead of “criminal bankers“. It is truly astounding that at this late date, so many people still refuse to understand the fundamental difference between a notional legal entity, and a real, biological one that makes decisions on behalf of that notional entity. The real criminals aren’t even mentioned by name in the article…well, a couple are, right at the end (which is, btw, the most revealing part of the article):

    Yet after prosecutors announced the deals, the banks’ chief executives promptly assured investors that the effect would be minimal.

    “Apart from the impact of the fine, BNP Paribas will once again post solid results this quarter,” BNP’s chief, Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, said.

    Brady Dougan, Credit Suisse’s chief at the time, said the deal would not cause “any material impact on our operational or business capabilities.”

    Hey Justice: NO ONE IS FOOLED! We can all see that you are assisting in covering up and minimizing criminal activity by bankers, no matter how tough you talk about the banks. While you are supposedly worried about too large of a fine putting these companies out of business, the companies themselves report that your slap-on-the-wrist is just a drop-in-the-bucket for them. We know whose side you’re really on…

    1. Alejandro

      One of the more ‘impressive’ accomplishments of banksters has been to take the concept of “organized crime” and make it legal or seem legal, while simultaneously taking the concept of “justice” and transforming it into a massive “ball of confusion”.

  5. Jim Haygood

    From the NYT article on NSA bulk phone data collection:

    While the House version of the bill would take the government out of the collection business, it … would be in the hands of the private sector — almost certainly telecommunications companies like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

    Remember the infamous Room 641A in San Francisco, which AT&T handed over to the NSA to monitor their trunk lines? It was totally, grossly illegal from 2002 to 2006. Then Congress gave the felons at AT&T retroactive immunity, since their lawbreaking was for the greater good.

    What’s emerging now is the familiar snitch system exemplified by banks, which secretly file CTRs (Cash Transaction Reports) and SARs (Suspicious Activity Reports) with the government, which they are prohibited from revealing to their marks customers. Corporate felons such as AT&T not only will do the same, but probably will lobby to be generously subsidized for their collaboration cooperation.

    Smash the telcos!

    1. Ed

      Going through the “No” votes on the bills banning the NSA from bulk data collection, it seems that the “Nos” came from the members of both caucuses with stronger records on civil liberties. That indicates that this is more smoke and mirrors.

  6. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Uber drivers struggle to pay subprime auto loans

    So Uber is supposed to be one of the “new economy disrupter” darlings?

    While it may be “disruptive,” there’s nothing even remotely “new” about the COMPANY STORE, workforce establishment and retention business model.

    Is The Grapes of Wrath part of the harvard business school curriculum now? How innovative!

    1. HotFlash

      I have long thought that former slaveowners must have been delighted wiith the tenant farmer and sharecropper model. After the initial shock they must have realized that a large portion of their costs and risks were offloaded onto the freed slaves. What a deal! Same with Uber, AirBnB, etc. Amazon and Ebay, too, come to think of it.

      1. diptherio

        From the article

        Richard Brunelle feels trapped. The 58-year-old says he has to drive for Uber.

        Brunelle got a car through Uber’s low-credit finance program and needs to make money for the loan. His payments are about $1000 dollars a month, and the loan has a 22.75 [!!!] percent interest rate. That means by the time Brunelle finishes the loan, he will have paid twice the price for his Kia Optima.

        At first, Brunelle thought he could cover the payments and still make a profit. Uber has since cut income to drivers. Now, Brunelle says he’s working just to break even.

        “It’s like a ball and chain,” Brunelle says. “It’s ridiculous.”

        So Uber helps you get a car loan, and even though the interest is a little high, you figure, I can make the payments on my Uber wages, so no problem. You get the loan, get the car…and Uber cuts your wages. Classy.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          I wonder if Uber gets a referral or finder’s fee or some cut of the interest, for as long as it lasts anyway.

          There seems to be no end to the schemes to squeeze financial “value” from people who, at first glance, would appear to have none. I think it’s called “monetization.” Or “the holy grail.”

          At any rate I’m going to have to stop saying that “you can’t get blood from a turnip” because, apparently, you can.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Why don’t they disrupt hedge funds, private equity managers and bankers?

      An simple, transparent algorithm that lets you pick the closest, cheapest one, though first, we have to license a lot of them. But that is not too hard, for a political sovereign. A new legislation or perhaps a new executive order will do.

  7. diptherio

    In the FT Alphaville article on the effects of the GFC on seasonality in GDP data, we find this:

    Americans have boosted their spending at bars and restaurants over the past 12 months at the fastest rate ever — and that doesn’t even account for the fact that inflation is slower now than in the past. Car sales, which are traditionally one of the most significant components affecting changes in total consumption, are still growing faster than any point between August, 2000 and September, 2010.

    Assuming that fast-food joints are counted as restaurants, increased spending in that category may indicate more people opting for the $1 menu over normal grocery shopping, which costs more at any given time, and then requires time to prepare–time you don’t have when you’re working two or three part time jobs.

    As for the car sales, I hardly need to point out to this crowd that sub-prime car loans are the new sub-prime mortgages and it seems likely that the increases here are being driven by unsustainable debt.

    My question is, have we replaced the number of full time jobs that we lost during the GFC yet? I checked about 6 months ago, and we hadn’t at that point (jobs, yes; full time, no).

    1. curlydan

      Or maybe it’s that we’ve now been conditioned to eat $6 and $7 burritos (Chipotle) instead of $1 and $2 burritos (Taco Bell). The “upscale”-ing of restaurants is kind of outrageous. Everything on the menu sure looks and sounds pretty (and so green!), but it costs 4x of its old utilitarian version.

      Taking a family to Chipotle (hypothetically speaking for me…I really try to avoid this) costs $30 instead of the $10-$15 to go to Taco Bell.

      1. hunkerdown

        I grew up in SoCal, so I kinda know from Mexican food. I’ve worked at Taco Bell in the distant past. Twenty years ago it all came from a bag. I’m sure it’s worse now.

        Besides their sourcing and their commitment to cooking from fresh, there’s also about 4-5x more food in that $6 burrito — cut it in half and save some for later.

        If you really have successfully conditioned yourself to successfully eat and enjoy burrito-like substances, I’m not going to stand in your way, but I don’t think you should have to. (Food Network copycat barbacoa recipe)

  8. diptherio

    How to take over a country in 10 easy steps ~War on the Rocks

    3. Secure funding. Unless you’ve got oodles of cash in unmarked bills lying around the chateau, you’re going to have to find someone else to pay for your king-making enterprise. The U.S. government might bankroll your private army, and USAID will throw money at anything. Be sure to mention “capacity building” using “holistic modalities” that establishes the “rule of law” to “counter violent extremism” and deny “terrorist safe havens” in your proposal. List your strongman as an “implementing partner” with the highest respect for human rights. They won’t check, so it’s alright.

    Another good bet are Big Oil companies, especially if you fabricate “third party” geological surveys indicating strategic-reserve levels of oil. If everything else fails, seek out the son of a former British Prime Minister who is politically connected, massively rich, galactically stupid, and fancies himself a latter-day Lawrence of Arabia. Or better yet, Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater and now working for China. [see original for corroborating links]

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Rudest robot.

    “Just following (banal) orders, ma’am.”

    “You dumb robot! Put your heart into that rudeness. Oh, that’s right, you are a tin-man. Not heart.”

  10. Jackrabbit

    Yet another huge diplomatic victory for Russia . . . -Vineyard of the Saker (YY)

    Saudi Arabia Says It Will Match Iran in Nuclear Capability . . . -New York Times


    What the Saker calls ‘victory’ is mostly that the Sochi talks occurred at all. That is a rather shallow ‘victory’. Many commenters at his site are very cynical of any real progress. He himself acknowledges that he can’t be sure.

    US/NATO is doing what it can to block Russia from establishing the South Stream pipeline (some think unrest in Macedonia is related). I’d guess that the US will support the Minsk Peace Agreement (MPA) if Russia gives up on South Stream and routs its gas via Ukraine (Ukraine oligarchs would benefit and Ukraine itself would get desperately needed revenue). That’s the kind of thing I would expect from neolibcon crony negotiating.

    I believe that the much ballyhooed US-Iran non-deal (thought to be inevitable … because Obama) is on the rocks. I don’t think US neocons will conclude a deal in which a military option is not available. The Iranians have been too good at moving forward with their nuclear technology despite sanctions. Now Iran (and other countries) are preparing to join SCO, which could enable them to thumb their noses at the prospect of automatic sanction penalities that are part of the non-deal. The truly cynical will say that the nuclear deal actually enables an Israeli attack as it dramatically reduces the environmental damage that may result.

    US probably asked Russia to play a “constructive role in the region”, and that (mostly) means to NOT sell the S-300 advanced anti-air/missile system (likely to be upgraded to the S-400 now because the S-300 is no longer in production) to Iran. The US side probably cited a likely nuclear arms race between Saudi Arabia and Iran as “destabilizing”. They probably also offered (in ‘grand bargain’ fashion but with lots of caveats) their “help” on other matters like Ukraine (US puppet state still claims Crimea), Syria (where US is now training “moderate” extremists), Russian sanctions, etc.

    The US State Dept will have convinced themselves that all of this sounds reasonable but I’d guess that the Russia’s are unlikely to play ball (because Obama, and the exceptional! US neolibcon NWO ideology). I see these talks as prelude to more conflict – similar to Kissinger’s statements last year urging that US and Russia find a path forward in Ukraine that is “least bad” for each. As ‘reasonable’ this advice sounded to Western ears, Kissinger was really just throwing sand, hoping to spark uncertainty in Russian leadership as the US-backed Ukrainian leadership moved to consolidate its grip on Ukraine (including elections that would give a sheen of legitimacy to the new government set for the end of May). The Russians were NOT swayed by Kissinger then, nor are they likely to be swayed Kerry.


    Kissinger later penned what I described as the neolibcon declaration of war that was published in a WSJ op-ed of August 2014. This little-noticed ‘decalaration’ consisted of Kissinger’s assurance that the US would prevail in establishing a unilateral NWO. Search “nakedcapitalism Jackrabbit Kissinger” to see more.

    H O P

      1. Jackrabbit

        Yes, I’m sorry. South Stream was redirected so it became TurkStream. Its still the same effort to bypass Ukraine.

      2. JerseyJeffersonian


        I think that Jackrabbit misspoke, but not by much. I suspect that he was referring to what is called Turkstream, the rerouted version of the pipeline(s) through Turkey after Bulgaria, originally planned as the European entry point of South Stream, came to grief after US pressure on their abjectly subservient, neoliberal, wannabe government carried the day. Turkstream emerged as the work-around, routing the pipeline(s) through Turkey, and ending at a terminus in European Turkey. If the Europeans wished to access gas coming through that pipeline, they would have to build the connecting network themselves, on their own dime, instead of the Russian gas company financing, engineering, and building it themselves. Bulgaria lost out on the transit fees, but the gas terminus would still be tantalizingly close to southern and central European nations, but it’d be up to them to pay for the creation and maintenance of the pipeline system. I am not sure if the Russians will back out of Turkstream for a bunch of vague, soon-to-be withdrawn promises by the US and their mincing, poncy boys in Europe. The ability to influence Turkey away from their regionally dangerous support of terrorism via Turkic peoples in Central Asia, and to get access to their money at the same time, sounds a whole lot more substantive than whatever smoke that Kerry was trying to blow up their asses.

        If you have interest in the intricacies of the politics and power relationships of the Caucasus and Central Asia, you might try a visit to a website called the New Great Game, . Much to learn here. Similarly, some of the writings by Pepe Escobar about these regions and the overall topic of Pipelineistan, much of these to be found at Asia Times.

        1. Synapsid


          Yes, I believe Jackrabbit was quoting V of the Saker in calling the line South Stream. I was just putting the information out there.

          The line to Turkey makes sense for Russia, as Turkey is an important customer for Russian NG and is also in a touchy relationship with Europe–as well as the point you make, that the EU will have to build and maintain the infrastructure if they want the gas; that’s one less headache for Russia. I’d guess that Putin was happy enough to see the end of South Stream. Gazprom is still paying Saipem, the Italian company that was to build the first stretch of the line and supply support for the second, and has indicated that the contract can be shifted to the Turkish pipeline.

          Turkey would find itself in the catbird seat even if Erdogan had not gone power hungry because the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline is still there too, and allows Turkey some leverage in dealing with Russia. It will bring Azeri gas across Turkey and connect with the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline in Europe; Turkmenistan has suggested tying into it through a pipeline laid across the Caspian, and Turkmenistan has a lot of NG. Iran, also with a great deal of NG, has expressed interest in buying into equity in the TANAP, and maybe sending gas through it later, after sanctions have been lifted. I don’t know how feasible that trans-Caspian line might be, because both Russia and Iran have input on what goes on in the Caspian.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Kerry’s support for the Minsk Peace Accords (“Minsk2”) is strange, given that:

      1) Legislation for a State of Emergency has passed or is being contemplated in Ukraine. (ht comments at MoA). This would quell opposition to the regime (which has already been dampened by recent political killings) and make it easier for Ukraine to conscript men to fight.

      2) The TPP bill that just passed today includes authorization for supplying arms to Ukraine. (ht ZH, citing a Bloomberg report)

      No doubt Russia is keeping a close eye on such developments. That implies that US peace talk is mostly for domestic/Western consumption. And that itself is very worrisome.

  11. optimader

    “The $300 million McCain claims to be so worried about is what fraction of an F-35?
    No, I don’t think that is an accurate claim, Link?

    McCain rejects Pentagon push for more Russian rocket engines Reuters
    As for McCain, like a broken clock being right twice a day, (in his case I’m sure it’s less frequent) on this point he is absolutely correct albeit probably for the wrong reason.
    trade sanctions/ embargos are ineffective foreign policy tools

    The RD-180 is apparently a technically excellent and reliable conventional rocket motor. There is no technical reason not to use them, it has a fine reliability record.
    OTOH It is absolutely wrong to use them for much the same reason TPP is wrong. Using them is yet another consequence of the hollowing out and outsourcing of US manufacturing capability/infrastructure.
    This is high value work that represents excellent jobs. There is no technical reason a domestic equivalent performance R motor should not be produced and used. Indeed the technical memory/capability needs to be generationally pass on from the Gen:Baby Boomer to Gen: Whateva. Now is the time to do that as the BBs are getting hustled out of the picture.
    Technical memory/knowhow is quickly lost when the human assets that retain it are put out on the curb. I’ve seen it happen. Then all those “useless files”/idle tooling that no one understands the relevance gets chucked because they are an “unproductive asset w/ a $/sqft carry cost.
    Necessity focuses the mind and is the mother of invention. As long as the paper shufflers have an expedient outsourcing alternative, the domestic alternative that requires some investment and thoughtful development will with on the vine.

    1. Synapsid


      There are two US space-launch groups active right now, one of which, Space X, has already delivered supplies to the International Space Station. Space X is a private company, so that’s especially good to see.

      The other is the United Launch Alliance, which is Boeing and Lockheed. They’re about ready to do the same as Space X. (Now that I think of it, there’s a third company working but I don’t think it’s as far along as the two above. The name might be Orbit.)

      NASA has helped with seed money for at least the first two named above, maybe with the third. Both Space X and the ULA have as goals developing capability far beyond low-Earth orbit; both have Mars in their sights, as well as the outer Solar System. Government support was justified as addressing precisely the concern you name, that of retaining the ability to support US efforts in space.

      1. optimader

        Yes, thanks for posting that, I wasn’t going to go into further detail other than just referring to the apples-apples comparison as “reliable conventional rocket motor”.
        Both the Space X Falcon and the Aerojet RS-68 are clean sheet designs, so there will be inevitable reliability teething. A third choice, a conventional design, would be a prudent strategy me thinks. That technology exists here in the US but there has to be a motivation to act on it.

        Here is a very good supplemental article that captures more details, long and short of it, it’s gets into reliability engineering which requires successful launch events. The RD-180 is a way old rocket motor design but it has an excellent reliability history.,BenefitsofRD-180RocketEngineReplacementProgramDebated.aspx

        1. Synapsid


          Yep, the R-180 is a grand old workhorse and there are still plenty of them left on the shelf to be sold, but it makes good sense to be moving on. The US needs its own major hardware, and the transition period we’ve been in since the Shuttle was retired is drawing to an end.

          I seem to recall a de-emphasizing of reworking older hardware, as proposed in an earlier program, but no abandoning of it wholesale. I’m happy to see Space X and the ULA both in the game, anyway. I like the idea of NASA as more of a facilitator than it has been up to now.

          1. Optimader

            Agree on all points. There are great opportunities for simplification on the sholders off advances in materials engineering such as C-C composites

  12. steviefinn

    Perhaps I am a bit slow on this & perhaps many here already know this, but I have been wondering for some time how the many members of TPTB can justify their actions in terms of the cost to many millions. I suppose that a percentage of them are psychopaths, sociapaths, narcissists or just plain bad people that fit in very well within a corrupt predatory system. After almost 40 years I am re-visiting Soltzhenitsyn’s nightmare of a book: ” Gulag Archipelago “, which besides the examples of truly disgusting behaviour from basically ordinary people from the security forces, who are given carte blanche to support an authoritarian system. provides this quote which for me anyway, explains it all.:

    “Macbeth’s self-justifications were feeble – and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb, too. The imagination and spiritual strength of Shakespeare’s evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology. Ideology – that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes…. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations…. Without evildoers there would have been no Archipelago.”

    —Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Chapter 4, p. 173

    Add the increasing scramble for resources, it doesn’t bode well for the future & although I am only outside looking in – it seems to me that the US has gradually been taken over by the same sort of idealogues / fanatics – hopefully only Russians & Germans take it through to it’s full conclusion, but sadly I doubt that.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Social Darwinism

      A view in which people are not fellow human beings with whom to cooperate so as to ‘lift all boats’/’expand the pie’ but competitors, obstacles, and threats in a zero-sum game.

      1. steviefinn

        Thanks for that – I had heard the term but never looked into it. Seems to me to be a load of bollocks that those mentioned above use as one of their justifications. Fits in nicely with the Neo-Cons Straussian hotch pot of Platonic, Machiavellian justification as to why they should rule the planet as philospher Kings. Personally I think the theory could have been written by an intelligent baboon, whose alpha male bully society strangely enough hasn’t evolved all that much over many millennia.

        It seems to me that the success of a modern society is based largely on the middle classes who are basically the one time working classes, but have been allowed through affluence & community, to provide for the most part, a nurturing environment for their children & neighbours. The baboons at the high table obviously believe the opposite.

        1. vidimi

          i like plato’s idea of philosopher kings and it has nothing to do with what you describe above. of course, you may call them philosopher presidents or philosopher prime ministers, as king suggests more absolute power. the idea is of a more pure form of representative democracy in which a leader is chosen from out of the people against her or his will as opposed to campaigning for it, which just separates the psychopathic cream from the crop.

  13. Oregoncharles

    “Honeybees’ Mysterious Die-Off Appears to Worsen New York Times (David L). Not good”

    Not around here (Willamette Valley). Our neighbors’ apiary empire (people in moonsuits and many, many boxes) has now spread to our place. It’s a good thing I planted all those black locusts, which are now in full bloom.

    They opened one box and found 10 queens. And they regularly retrieve swarms from our hazelnut trees, gate, etc. It’s fun to watch, especially when the swarm is 30 feet in the air.

    I wish I knew what we’re doing right around here, besides not using pesticides.
    And they don’t move the hives, another big factor.

    1. optimader

      I wonder if they aren’t just finally overbred and getting stupid? I usually have an abundance of honeybees in e yard during summer. The really love the mint and basil when I let it flower.

      Saw my first bubble bee of the season, I like them, the insect equivalent of a puffer fish

  14. dk

    As much as prosecutors may want to punish the banks, accused of rigging the price of currencies, they are mindful that too harsh a penalty could imperil the businesses.

    More specifically, investors, and in particular pension funds investing in these banks, might lose value on their investments. It’s not the business themselves, but the larger context in which they operate (hence the concept of TBTF).

    Can someone explain to me why banks found guilty (of felony) should not be forced to make whole any directly consequent business losses, as a part of their penalty? This seems only fair. It also strikes me as an almost automatic way to diminish these TBTF entities in a scaling way, and to create a business mechanism, rather than an abstract law or deal, which would make transparent, in the bookeeping sense, the business risk of, for example, repackaging junk as premium product. IF you get caught repackaging junk, you must make your investors whole of any loss they would incur due to the penalties (being barred from certain markets and trades, thereby losing value). I realize I’m not expressing this well in the appropriate language, either.

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