Links 5/16/15

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Wally Kahn: Record-breaking glider pilot who helped turn his pursuit into a competitive sport and a popular leisure activity Independent

This Antarctic ice shelf could collapse by 2020, NASA says Washington Post (furzy mouse)

US says Gulf oil spill could last 100 years Associated Press

Silicon Chips That See Are Going to Make Your Smartphone Brilliant MIT Technology Review. I prefer my phones stupid, particularly since, as Bob H points out: “For applications like video surveillance it performs very well.”

Your New Hangover Cure: An IV Treatment? Life by DailyBurn (furzy mouse)

Home loan size surges as buyers pile on debt Sydney Morning Herald (EM)

More than 1,000 plaintiffs file lawsuit to keep Japan out of TPP Kyodo

China Backtracks on Debt Cap as Growth Stumbles Wall Street Journal

China orders banks to keep lending to insolvent state projects Financial Times

Facebook ‘tramples European privacy law’: Belgian watchdog Reuters


Greek Prime Minister Rejects Further Austerity or Labor Changes New York Times

Greece avoids domestic default as cash scramble gets desperate Telegraph

EBRD investments in Greece to depend on talks with creditors ekathimerini. Notice they haven’t done much in Greece, so this would be more an opportunity cost than a loss.


Has Ramadi fallen to IS? Sic Semper Tryannis

IRBIL, Iraq: U.S. rushing new weapons to Iraq as Islamic State advances in Ramadi McClatchy (furzy mouse)

Islamic State militants seize key areas in capital of Iraq’s largest province Washington Post

What’s behind Saudi Arabia’s new muscularity Christian Science Monitor

Stop sanitizing the history of the run-up to Iraq War Washington Post

Some Ask What George W. Bush Would Have Done With Different Iraq Data New York Times (EM). What utter hogwash. Hans Blix was in Iraq inspecting weapons sites. He’d already gone through 75%, and the inspections were ordered by priority, when the US invaded. This war had NOTHING TO DO with WMD. The rest of the world was hugely frustrated with the US refusal to let the UN complete its work.

From Senate Sideline, Elizabeth Warren Is Face of Attack on Trade Bill New York Times

Clintons earned more than $25 million for speeches since 2014 The Hill

When GOP Resistance to Obamacare Hurts Republicans Wonk Wire (furzy mouse)

How the IRS seized a man’s life savings without ever charging him with a crime Washington Post (furzy mouse)

El Niño near-certain to last through summer: U.S. climate center Reuters (EM)

Drought urgency hits rain country: Washington governor declares state emergency Los Angeles Times (David L)

New York District Court Denies Immunity To NYPD Officers Who Arrested A Citizen For Filming Them Techdirt (Chuck L)

Court vacates $85 million award for Oregon National Guardsmen in Iraq health case Reuters (EM)

Burst of speed before Philadelphia train crash at heart of investigation Reuters (EM)

Amtrak’s Failure to Gain Wireless Spectrum Rights Stymied Safety Technology International Business Times (Chuck L)

San Bernardino bankruptcy plan: bondholders hammered while pensions kept whole Reuters (EM). Bonds are not a risk-free investment.

Debt Traders to Fed: We Dare You to Try Raising Rates This Year Bloomberg

Bond Tantrum or Schnitzel Tantrum Big Picture (furzy mouse)

Have bonds reached a tipping point? Financial Times

Consumer Confidence Plunges Below Any Economist’s Estimate; Consumers Shock Economists Michael Shedlock

OBL’s Story Lives

The media’s reaction to Seymour Hersh’s bin Laden scoop has been disgraceful Columbia Journalism Review

Class Warfare

Faster Real GDP Growth during Recoveries Tends To Be Associated with Growth of Jobs in “Low-Paying” Industries St. Louis Fed

Antidote du jour:

lazy frog links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. diptherio

    Re: IRS and Asset Forfeiture

    From the article:

    To its credit, the federal government has been somewhat responsive to the public outcry over these policies. The IRS announced last fall that it would no longer pursue cases like McLellan’s, where there was no indication of any wrongdoing other than the bank deposit amount. And this year, then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced modest restrictions on some types of asset forfeiture highlighted in the Washington Post series, and reemphasized the restrictions already put in place by the IRS.

    Pray tell, how is it “to the credit” of the Feds that they have been somewhat responsive to public outcry over officially-sanctioned theft. Are we supposed to be reassured that the IRS says it will no longer engage in this (obviously) unconstitutional seizure unless they have some other evidence besides the amounts of your deposits? Oooh, and Holder has placed some modest restrictions on some types of legal robbery. Well, whoopty-freakin-doo!

    If you still think the government is here to work in the interests of the populace, you’re fooling yourself. The PTB are too cheap to even pay for their own guardian class (through higher taxes), and instead choose to have their guardians loot their salary from the populace…reminds me of the Robin Hood stories.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘Structuring’ is a particularly Kafkesque aspect of the Money Laundering Act of 1986. All of this is Drug War-related oppression, which of course morphs beyond recognition to destroy innocents who have nothing to do with drugs or any illegal activity, other than the absurd non-crime of making two $9,000 cash deposits (BAD) instead of one $18,000 cash deposit (GOOD).

      Thus the quest for anonymous digital currencies, to cut the risk of a hold-up by shakedown artists with badges.

      1. bob

        It’s even better when you consider that in the HSBC money laundering case, the deposits were made in boxes that were made for it– perfectly sized for the deposit windows.

    2. cnchal

      But in spite of all this, the IRS continued to prosecute its claims against Lyndon McLellan’s money. When the Institute for Justice publicized the case earlier this year, and it took front and center in a congressional hearing, the U.S. attorney in charge of McLellan’s case sent a letter to his lawyers. It read, in part:

      Whoever made [the case documents] public may serve their own interest but will not help this particular case. Your client needs to resolve this or litigate it. But publicity about it doesn’t help. It just ratchets up feelings in the agency. My offer is to return 50% of the money. The offer is good until March 30th COB”.

      “Another word for it would be extortion,” lawyer Robert Everett Johnson said in an interview. He’s one of the Institute for Justice lawyers working on McLellan’s case. The IRS has your money, but they realize you did nothing wrong. “‘We’re not going to prosecute,'” Johnson said, explaining the IRS’ position in settlement offers, “‘but we think you should give us half your money anyway.'”

      What does one do when your own government decides money itself is a criminal, and becomes pure with them stealing it?

      But McLellan’s court battles aren’t over yet — there’s the tricky question of his legal fees to resolve. Shortly after having his money seized, he had hired a lawyer at a cost of several thousand dollars. He also hired an accountant to go through his financial records with a fine-toothed comb and demonstrate, without a doubt, that his money was obtained by legitimate means. All told, he’s still out about $22,000.

      In a just world, that $22,000 should be doubled for causing extreme aggravation, and come right out of COB’s pocket

      1. Gareth

        “Your client needs to resolve this or litigate it. But publicity about it doesn’t help. It just ratchets up feelings in the agency.”

        Who knew that government agencies had feelings? What kind of idiot would put that in writing in an official response?

      2. hunkerdown

        “Society is a racket, but it’s our racket.”

        Never, ever trust a power that reserves the power to defend you to itself.

      3. Propertius

        I believe you meant that in a just world, it would come out of the US Attorney’s pocket. In this world, of course, he has personal immunity. If I’m not mistaken, the “COB” stands for “close of business”, rather than the initials of the U.S. Attorney.

        1. cnchal

          In this world, of course, he has personal immunity.

          That is what enables acting with impunity.

          When bureaucracy gets this far out of hand, it is the rule appliers and not the rules that are at fault. Accountability means these bureaucrats are responsible for causing untold grief and $22,000 of expenses to a victim of theirs. Make them pay it. Maybe next time some common sense will be used.

          1. hunkerdown

            How? Even suggesting that a US Attorney might be personally responsible for anything at all borders on a Federal crime, never mind looking cross-eyed at one.

      1. hunkerdown

        Most notable are the FBI’s attempts to prevent the message from getting out, same as the “Tax the rich” self-immolator at the White House, lest the little people threaten the far right’s interests.

  2. abynormal

    regarding 100 yr Oil Spill:
    “This is a very unusual set of circumstances,” No. It’s not.

    here’s why: “Only the broad outlines of the company’s response work are known. The government has agreed to keep many details under wraps in the name of protecting the company’s trade secrets.”

    Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts: secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants willing to be dethroned.
    James Joyce

    1. abynormal

      rjs just contacted me with this update:
      “LLOG’s permit to drill a new well near BP’s site was approved April 13 by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, an agency overseeing offshore oil and gas drilling operations. The company’s exploration plan was approved last October following an environmental review by a sister agency, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.”
      …” that reservoir has proved very dangerous and highly technical, and raises questions about whether a company like LLOG has the financial means to respond to a blowout similar to BP’s.”

      leak on

  3. flora

    re: CJR “The Media’s Reaction to Seymour Hersh’s bin Laden scoop has been disgraceful.”
    Yes. Beltway leisure-class “journalists” attack real reporter for reporting.

  4. Brooklin Bridge

    From Senate Sideline, Elizabeth Warren Is Face of Attack on Trade Bill -New York Times

    A shameless attempt at a hatchet job on Warren. Not quite, “damning with feint praise” and not quite outright four letter screams meaning super ultra radical left wing bitch who should mind her own fu*king business.

    Another in the sky rocketing number of articles that say more about the downfall of the NYT than about the subject of the article.

    1. OIFVet

      You say ‘downfall’, they say ‘updated business model’. See, the glass is half full…

      1. Carolinian

        The Times has always been conservative and business oriented on economic matters like trade. It’s their embrace of nuttier rightwing crusades like Clinton’s impeachment and the invasion of Iraq that is the change. After all, these were anything but safe and “conservative.”

        Undoubtedly the decay of our journalism and its leader simply reflects the ethical decay of America’s elite class as a group. One could come up with any number of reasons to explain why that might be true, but it undoubtedly is true.

          1. JTFaraday

            No other way to put it—that is f*cked up. It’s like these people inhabit some other moral universe.

        1. flora

          It’s another symptom of the end of noblesse oblige. I’m using the term respectfully , referring to its traditional function as a cohesive force in society, in the best sense. That the idea and the term itself is now derided is telling.

          1. Carolinian

            Exactly. The ruling class of before may have been just as rapacious toward the “lowers” but at least they didn’t lack for personal patriotism and saw honesty among their own group–“personal honor”–as a necessary virtue. Yves has talked about how even back in the 1990s “your word is your bond” was a feature of business. Traditional conservatives saw their role as keeping order (for their own benefit of course), whereas the current group is all for anarchy and “I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone.” Where they will be gone to is an interesting question. Could be the current situation just represents the insecurity of a dying empire.

            At any rate the Times and the other media often seem to show the same cavalier attitude toward credibility. I guess they figure they’ll be gone too…perhaps to Fox News.

            1. hunkerdown

              It’s not a cavalier attitude toward credibility. It’s that the master narrative is itself less credible now, and the press is an organ of the Establishment and thus obligated to serve it.

              The impartial press has always been nothing more than a noble lie.

              1. Carolinian

                It has nothing to do with nobility. If you tell lies people will stop believing you, stop watching or reading you, money will be lost. This is why Brian Williams is currently unemployed. It seems NBC is worried about reputational damage.

                Of course the Times is somewhat different. Their audience really is the establishment so they can coast for some time telling the elites what they want to hear. But they are trashing their brand. They act like an organization without a future (which, given the trends, they probably are).

                1. Brooklin Bridge

                  I recall the NYT being rather careful about its reputation back in the 60’s and 70’s. It did have a slant, but it was harder to pin down. The television channels (all three or four of them) however, were never much more than mouthpieces for the establishment and their news was pretty damn close to the same drivel it is today.

            2. JTFaraday

              “whereas the current group is all for anarchy and “I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone.” Where they will be gone to is an interesting question.

              Ah, you beat me to it!

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Well, I’m finally beyond the NYT and it’s ugly little wart the Boston Globe. Except for links from NC, I can’t be bothered with it’s digital form, and since our old and beloved cat, with his frustrating urinary infections, passed away, we no longer require the printed form.

        But my wife can’t wean herself from the week-end BG – and the damn thing is useful (or at least it’s a satisfying use) for starting the stove in winter so I guess you’re right; the glass is half full, but barely (pine cones would work just fine)

        1. OIFVet

          Sorry to hear about your cat. I had a boy cat who had urinary tract blockage. Thankfully a change in diet solved that problem but not before a near call and a midnight mad rush to the emergency vet.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            Thanks. Years ago he had the same thing as your cat and the diet change also did the trick. This time, though, it was old age. He was almost 18 which is getting up there for a cat, and rather suddenly one month things just got the better of him and the Vet strongly recommended we put him down. Oh was that hard, btw. He lived a good happy life though up until the last month or so.

        2. neo-realist

          Stick w/ the arts and leisure and the book review section—a bit more intellectual honesty and taste than the political coverage.

  5. Jill

    Hersh: How did the US helicopters fly so readily and easily into Pakistani airspace? NPR claimed that we had a drone over that compound for 6 months, just hovering over it. This allowed the CIA to know where every person there was, at all times. That, and they had listening devices installed. This NPR story was given to them by the CIA. I only heard that story one time, then it disappeared– but that one time the CIA was crowing about how much surveillance they had on the compound. How does the drone and surveillance happen without some permission from the Pakistani govt.?

    Further, Hersh mentions that OBL was to be killed because he was being supported by the Saudi govt. and might also be able to further inform on the Saudi govt.’s involvement in 9/11. This involvement is known to the 9/11 commission. By the govt.’s own admission they knew where every person was in that compound. They found OBL on an invalid toilet. Why was it he wasn’t brought in for questioning to help give information about 9/11? Aren’t any of these reporters the slightest bit interested in these questions?

    1. DanB

      Right you are. If Osama was a mastermind and highest level source of information on terrorism, why assassinate him instead of “questioning” him with “enhanced interrogation techniques” to “save American lives”? And why is there no forensic evidence of his death?

    2. Ron

      Hersh had a single source and used that source to generate a storyline. Parts of it may or may not be true but Hersh is correct in using the source to write a story but beyond the right to publish the story has gotten little positive press as the main elements of his story make no sense. While the emphasis to date is on the actual events in the storyline my guess is that Hersh certainly knew his book lacked creditable proof so his interest in publishing this story has little to do with the actual event of killing a bad guy. He has another target in mind but has done a poor job of making that clear.

      1. bob

        “Hersh had a single source and used that source to generate a storyline.”

        Not true in fact.

        “the main elements of his story make no sense.”

        According to you. That’s an opinion. His “main elements” make much more sense, than any of the other dozens of Official, and conflicting elements

        1. Ron

          Hersh is famous for presenting information that contradicts government story lines mostly regarding military matters and generally his accounts have been well received by creditable news agencies and his information is always given high marks and many have led to extensive airing out and changes in government story lines except the latest story.
          This latest Hersh presentation again paints an alternative storyline to a government story that has become from his point of view more PR then fact. The media finds his version of events not to be creditable and my guess Hersh himself probably doesn’t believe everything that has been told to him but in the interest of presenting a different face to a government PR it is worth it from his point of view. I doubt he expected readers to consider this version the bible so to speak and quote various parts as gospel, rather his message is always the same which is to take what the government puts out as fact with a grain of salt.

          1. John Zelnicker

            Interesting that no one here, yet, has picked up on the controversy concerning R. J. Hillhouse breaking this story back in 2011. Although not matching in all details, the main components of her story are very consistent with Hersh’s. So much so, that his neglecting to acknowledge her prior writing is disingenuous at best.

            See the first couple of articles here.

              1. John Zelnicker

                No, I didn’t mean plagiarism (I don’t believe it is), that’s why I didn’t use the word, but it seems illogical that he didn’t at least hear about her writing that story and I think he could have acknowledged it, that’s all.

                Otherwise, I agree with you.

      2. Carolinian

        Hersh has said that the single source was corroborated by many other sources. Of course if you are inclined to think the 78 year old is lying for the sake of his career then you aren’t likely to believe that either.

        The CJR piece in links gets it right. If opponents want to turn this into a he said/they said then Hersh, with his long track record, has a lot more credibility than they do. They are going to need better ammo.

    3. susan the other

      Paul Craig Roberts and others have continued to point out that OBL died several years, maybe 10, before the Abbotabad raid. Hersh never mentions this particular death as happening. So Hersh’s hidden agenda is probably to actually give at least some validity to the absurd administration claim that they killed bin Laden. They didn’t. Renal failure did. And the fact that they found him in his villa “on an invalid toilet” is just another detail to smudge the difference.

      1. Carolinian

        You treat an assertion by Paul Craig Roberts as though it were fact. PCR says lots of things including, occasionally, defending the Reagan administration that he once worked for. Why, exactly, would Hersh be carrying the administration’s water while simultaneously portraying them as fools?

        1. susan the other

          Because the blatant deception that bin Laden was still alive and was captured is falling apart. And more people than PCR are saying this.

        2. jrs

          I traced PCR links to the alleged death of OBL (awhile ago before this whole Hersh thing). There were some media reports of his death years before the Obama administration claimed credit for it, including such reports on Fox etc. (broadcast MSM in other words). That is verifiable (or was). But they didn’t give me any certainty that OBL had died then either. They did make me certain he was very sick and hardly leading anything AT THE LEAST, tons and tons of reports on how sick he was.

        3. Tsigantes

          In Europe and Asia, it was immediately reported in all mainstream media that he had died back in early 2002 if I remember correctly. Of renal failure. It took a while before it became clear that somehow for the American media he was still alive. This was understood on this side of the Atlantic as an American need to keep an personified enemy in the public eye so as to wage illegal war on Iraq.

          Recently I read that at the time of the 9/11 attack he was staying in the Mayflower hotel in Washington. Unfortunately I can’t remember the source. Who knows!

        1. andyb

          Check out the David Frost interview (C.2005) with Benazir Bhutto, the PM of Pakistan who without hesitation stated that OBL was dead, and she knew where he was buried. Keep in mind that Pakistani intelligence is just one rung below the Mossad. coincidentally (or not) she was assassinated several weeks after this interview.

        2. andyb

          Check out the David Ray Griffin book; “Osama Bin Laden; dead or alive” published in 2009, and the interview by David Frost of Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani PM who knew from her intelligence service that Bin Laden had died and where he was buried in Pakistan. Coincidentally (or not), Bhutto was assassinated a short time after this interview. In any event, OBL was a CIA asset and was actually treated for renal failure and late stage Marfan’s Disease at Bethesda Naval Hospital in September 2001. CIA generated pix of Bin Laden post 2006 have been proven to be false using a very poor double and show a healthy man.

        3. optimader

          I recall the claims, I was curious if there was a link that factually corroborated his death ~10 years previously. Perfectly plausible IMO, more so than the “raid” as popularly presented, but it remains conjecture as far as I am aware, claiming it as fact is not accurate based on the links..

      2. Lambert Strether

        They’re not “pointing out” anything. They’re asserting it. Hersh, by contrast, is reporting.

        And yes, I’ll take anonymous sources vetted by — My Lai, Abu Ghraib, and the one everybody always forgets, MK ULTRA — Seymour Hersh, over FOX News, Paul Craig Roberts, and Benazir Bhutto.

  6. OIFVet

    Tuesday, May 12th, Obama announces that his monument will be built on Olmsted-designed parkland in Chicago. thus appropriating historic public park space. Wednesday, May 13th, interior secretary Jewell announces Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative. Just not in Jackson Park or Washington Park…

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Finally, a site everyone can agree on for the final solution to toxic nuclear waste.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Strike that. I bet bottom dollar Obama pulled the “too close to a lake” stunt for that very reason. He’s gotta know that’s what’s coming from his loving subjects won’t be just flowers.

        1. OIFVet

          But you really underestimate the mindset of the Chicago Lakefront Liberals. These are the people who voted for Mare Rahmses. Then there are the real estate black reverends who will pocket nice sums from the gentrification crumbs thrown their way, and the many black people who think that jobs are coming to their neighborhood. They might get one in one of Pritzker’s union-busting Hyatts that will be built, or one of the chef-centered restaurants that will open, but not before they are driven out of their neighborhood by rising rents property taxes, and white influx. No my friend, I am afraid that flowers is exactly what Barry will get, on top of the free public land. Heck, I ought to send him a bouquet, my property value is sure to get a nice bump. Except I still have my principles and my self respect, so I won’t …

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            I stand (or stumble) corrected. The bit about the flowers – oh yes, and rising rents – clinched it.

    2. nycTerrierist

      Ugh, how disgusting to desecrate an Olmstead-designed park!
      A monument to ego, indeed.

    3. Carolinian

      On the other hand Olmsted designed a zillion parks all over America. Bottom line: Olmsted a dime a dozen, but only one African American President!

      Just kidding of course. We feel for you.

      1. OIFVet

        That would be half-black, let’s stick to the facts here. But kidding aside, thank you!

      2. optimader

        Actually, no he didn’t design a zillion.
        Even if he did, I prefer any of his parks to a Lieberry memorializing a fake.
        F.L. Olmsted is incidentally the guy responsible for the layout of a couple of the western suburbs as well. Beautiful, beautiful work, very organic, no straight roads.

        1. Carolinian

          Locally he designed the grounds for the Vanderbilts’ ersatz steel-framed Chateau in nearby Asheville. You can catch a glimpse of one of Biltmore’s bridges at the beginning of Michael Mann’s Last of the Mohicans.

          And no, not a zillion but he was a busy guy.

    4. Wins

      Every Kid in a Park, is ‘Park’ a euphemism for FEMA camp?

      I read an article “from our partners” the CFR Says China Must Be Defeated And TPP Is Essential To That, artcile and like my rant in a previous thread. Maybe if the CFR didn’t support China as most favored nation and work out a trade deal, then maybe China wouldn’t be such a threat. Gawd, what IDIOTS!

      They really believed China would have “behaved” by allowing them into the WTO ?

  7. Ivy

    Re San Bernardino and subsequent muni bankruptcies, here are two potential media and campaign topics, palatable or not:

    1. Expect that pensions will be somehow linked to a type of free-rider problem.
    Pensioners in their case obviously have ill-gotten gains from complicity in past questionable actions.

    2. Public sector employees should not differ fundamentally from employees in the private sector.

    They will be dragged into share the benefits of the mainstream economy where they will have the pleasure of funding their own 401k or similar plans. Defined benefit or defined contribution plan usage will shrink.

    They won’t be able to hide behind the San Berdoo City Attorney argument of “The city needs a workforce. And you can’t have a workforce without pensions”. Yes, you can, or si, se puede, if you prefer. All that is needed is a, shudder, privatized public agency. Back up the moving van.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Employees in the private sector.

      Unless private sector workers and public sector workers united together, the latte will now always be on the defensive, sticking out like a sore thumb, compared to the former, that is, private sector workers, who have been and will always be privatized.

      Divided, we become like water*, naturally flow to the lowest place, to quote from Daodejing,

      * very little viscosity, very little shear strength to maintain an integral whole.

    2. bob

      “Pensioners in their case obviously have ill-gotten gains from complicity in past questionable actions.”

      That’s just a complete turd of logic.

  8. Brindle

    re: “Stop Sanitizing The History Of The Run-Up,,,,” (Iraq War) Greg Sargent/Wapo

    Jeb Bush’s name comes up 16 times in the article, Hillary Clinton–3. There are some interesting points in the piece but the main function is to discredit Jeb Bush. Sargent is a reliable Dem debris-hurler, seems like he used to have a bit more independence.

    1. Michael

      Sargent was trashing Occupy pretty much from day one and was very publicly defending the coordinated takedown on Twitter.

    2. hunkerdown

      There’s an important Presidential election on. Even Kos isn’t allowed to be independent when the agenda must be constrained to the oligarchs’ spec.

    3. Lambert Strether

      A profoundly silly headline on Sargent’s piece. The best thing that could happen to the Iraq debate is that the people who made the right call be named and honored. And Sargent doesn’t name any of the Iraq War opponents.

      One can, after all, only go so far.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    While we have been on a steady series of QEs, China seems to be engaging in much ado about nothing, going back and forth, tightening and loosening.

    One suspects much of their loosening has gone to international art auction houses and western real estate, and not much to the comrades, the crackdown on corruption there.

  10. Juneau

    Hangover cure
    Oral rehydation solution (with less sodium than you think you need, like half diluted sports drinks etc…) seems a lot safer than IV fluids. Easy to harm someone with kidney and heart problems by giving too much fluid, but IV may be a nice alternative to worshiping the porcelain god if you cannot take oral…..if administered by a trained medical professional who has done a physical exam (PA, NP, MD, RN etc….).

    1. optimader

      If you feel a need an IV after a night out , it’s time to reconsider your drug of choice, no?

  11. John Galt III

    The bit about Amtrak not being able to implement safety telemetry because of wireless spectrum is a steaming pile of bull-fermented grass. They have the best right of way in the world for fiber optic cable and the WiFi spectrum essentially is open to all. 11 megabits per second isn’t enough, using inexpensive off-the-shelf hardware? Secured using open-source hardware, open-source firmware and open-source software?

    1. hunkerdown

      Not that their excuse isn’t a steaming pile — especially to those of us who remember what Sprint stood for originally — but if you want hundreds of tons of metal organized by consumer-grade development efforts when somehow the private railroads seem to have had the problem well-solved already for decades, I have to question which problem you’re trying to solve: positive train control or creative-class dharma.

      25kHz of Federally reserved spectrum shouldn’t be a hard thing to shake out of the couch. Unfortunately, “positive train control” includes “control” from outside the private sector, a concept to which our toddler-king corporations and the infant-citizens who have lined up behind them have a violently reflexive aversion, so quite possibly unlikely… until that stretch of track gets sold off to a private interest who, apparently unlike the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, *is* permitted to license spectrum for the purpose.

        1. Paul Tioxon

          Septa, the regional transit agency has reportedly just completed Positive Train Control (PTC). They started in 2011.

          Amtrak, while not implementing PTC, still could have fully implement the older technology which still would have resulted in greater safety than absolutely nothing. Since they will be putting the Automatic Train Control by this Tuesday, due to the emerging news of the complete failure to cover both directions of tracks in this dangerous curve, that will be an improvement. I am not sure how well one system vs the other would have changed the results of the past week, however ATC seems to do what its name implies, it automatically shuts down speeding trains. Septa will have be a unique national standout, because not many other transit agencies are implementing this or are very behind schedule. Freight trains and Amtrak seem to be dragging their feet because they have ATC and do not believe in spending more money for PTC. My fear is the terrible record of high tech computerized up dates in large scale organizations have been miserable, FAA, FBI, IRS and Obamacare website all have been total wastes of time until ugly public exposure revealed the disastrous nature of the Obamacare site and fixed it with real tech experts. This is dragging out a lot info about public transit that will be more and more meaningful as the NorthEast rail corridor plans its bullet train for the future.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Looks like cheese-paring to me, given the perennial underfunding.

            The southbound track is the one where the trains go the fastest, normally, on their way down from New York. The northbound track the trains normally go a lot slower. So controlling the southbound track, and not the northbound one, looks like sane reasoning in an insane system, to me.

            My priors are that I’m a train fan, so I’m inclined to defend Amtrak. (I also don’t care that they’re using what looks like an older version of PTC; railroads are rightly conservative in their technology. I remember reading that passengers couldn’t get their cell GPS’s to work, and so couldn’t tell 911 where they were.)

            1. Paul Tioxon

              Well I’m a mass transit fan too, more familiar with Septa. Amtrak doesn’t bug me at all in general. Both regional and national transit systems are underfunded and perform well with the severe limitation they have. The more info that keeps rolling out, bit by bit due to all of the reporting on rail in general does give me a critical view of Amtrak, no matter how fast the trains are going in which direction, you can’t go that fast through Philly, as you can see, it is loaded with freight trains and at some points shares tracks with CSX. This city is the railroad nexus due to all of the industry, including the premier rail lines of the 19th century rolling through here. So, as fast as you can go, you still don’t have to go 106 mph to cause a catastrophe, as the close by tanker cars have shown. I see no good reason to have tracks right next to one another, one with a critical safety feature and the other without. Look at the results. The costs of $200mil payouts set by Congress for damages will be challenged and certainly exceeds the cost of installation for the North bound tracks. We will be hearing more about the costs, the decision to not implement and on and on. Joe Biden lived on these trains, the current Delaware US Senator Carper got off of the derailed train at Wilmington and former US Congressman from Bucks County was on the dining car and walked out without any injuries at all. It is clear to me that a lot of hell is being raised in a lot circles of notable people. Amtrak is the service for the best and the brightest including Naval cadets, corporate execs and young tech start ups. This is more and more a tragedy that may change history for the better as far as mass rail transit goes.

              1. Lambert Strether

                I commuted daily for two year from Philly to Newark on SEPTA and that Amtrak train they cancelled, on those same tracks, and boy was it awful.

                As I said somewhere else, the thing that amazes me is how fast the engine accelerates. It took IIRC 30 seconds to go from 76mph, not yet in the curve, to 106mph, in the curve. Fantasizing, but if that rock or bullet that hit the front window causes the guy’s hand on the throttle to jerk the wrong way, that could have done it. And we clearly place a lot of responsibility on the driver. Seems like more than an airline pilot.

                1. Paul Tioxon

                  The driver is getting hammered. Trains are relegated to tracks. The tracks don’t move, there is no traffic to compete with on your track and if there is, well, that’s a problem. But the driver starts and stops the train. It is pretty boring. Much less moving parts to contend with than jets,even if the jets fly themselves these days, they don’t take off and land themselves. You have to pay attention but not much happens, again, you are on tracks with no competition or double parked cars or flock of seagulls to go into yr intake.

                  NJ Patco high speed line, which is Septa for NJ commuters, runs a highly automated system for decades with only one operator. It came over the Ben Franklin bridge to 15th and Locust St. People get on and get off with automated fares and a very automated train.

                  Amtrak has a very congested environment. There are overhead pedestrian walkways which may be a source of kids doing stupid things right at the derailment scene. I don’t know enough to say what a rock throwing idiot can do to the train operator. But it looks like we are going to find out a lot more about that in the coming days.

                  It looks like the odds of having a disaster should outweigh whatever egg on their face Amtrak would get with a fouled up roll out PTC. Someone had to push a button to get it started. How bad could it be? Worse than what happened without pushing the button to initiate a brand new safety system? Is there a profound lack of confidence and cover your ass mentality that delayed and delayed but now, it looks like they are being forced to go ahead. So, if something bad happens, they can blame on the feds!

                  1. Lambert Strether

                    Here’s a photo of the windshield, showing the impact of the rocks. I know that Internet evidence is not evidence, but it looks like two impacts to me. I can see how that would throw off the driver at a critical moment; yikes.

                    * * *

                    I have to mildly disagree about the driver. Yes, one doesn’t steer a train, since it’s on rails. And driving a freight train at slow speed through the the flat flyover states may be simple. But I think the case of a passenger train is different. They are very fast, very heavy, and have numerous stops and starts. The driver has to be familiar with the route. (I remember during one of SEPTA’s not infrequent imbroglios my train got sent way the heck out on some line just so they could park it, and the drivers were training each other — really, sharing lore, since I can’t imagine it was written down anywhere — about landmarks on the route, when to speed up, when to slow down, etc.) And the route is dense with all sorts of other traffic, as well as an aging and varied infrastructure. I would bet that an Amtrak driver on the Northeast Corridor has at least as many stressors as an airline pilot.

                    Of course, it would be great if we had bullet trains, with an entirely separate roadbed and complete automation, but we don’t have that yet, and until we do, the driver has a lot of very real responsibility.

                    I’m more reacting to the “ZOMG!!!! 106mph!!!!!” reactions than your comments. Yeah, accidents happen. That’s why they’re called accidents. Now let’s blame the worker!!!!

    2. optimader

      It’s hideous that they are challenged w/ implementing 20th century technology, but wasn’t someone being paid to drive the train?
      It seems there a backhanded call for automation here? Bottom line, some asshole was not doing his job whether or not best available technology was implemented (which of course it should be).

      1. Lambert Strether

        All the headlines stress the 106 mph, but what astonishes me is the acceleration: It seems like the train could go from 70mph to 106mph in less than a minute. That’s some machine to “drive”…

        1. optimader

          What I read was 70-106 mph in 65 seconds, essentially the same, so a 36 mph change in just over a minute. Not really remarkable acceleration, figure 0.55 mph/sec or apprx 0.03Gs — not real push you in the seat material. OTOH, A prodigious F=MA, involved here. Electric traction motors are constant torque –a relentless force to be reckoned with.

          Unfortunately where they did pull some Gs was on the way down from 102-0 mph in a few hundred feet presumably. Ouch.

          1. Lambert Strether

            It’s not remarkable for a car. But a train? Like you say, prodigious F=MA.

            So in that one minute whatever it was that happened, happened. Acceleration, instead of deceleration. (70mph is under the 80mph speed limit; so it’s not like he left 30th Street Station and gunned it.)

            1. bob

              As far as trains go, commuter or passenger trains are very lightweight.

              The locomotive is still very heavy, but it’s pulling a lot less than the mile long freight train.

              I had to do work around commuter rail tracks in the boston area and they scared the shit out of me. At grade crossings at 60mph, though the center of town, where car traffic was limited to 30mph.

              One crossing place we were working was in the dead center of what used to be called a town. Maybe 1/4 mile visibility one way, less than that the other.

              They’re flying on faith. Even if the engineer did see a problem at the crossing, he wouldn’t be able to do a damn thing. The “joke” among the RR “flagmen” was that the engineer would be better off calling 911 first, then try to slow down.

          2. optimader

            interesting sidebar

            As I recall the speed limitation for trains peeking a grade ( like a mountain) have a “deadman end point speed” based on the mass of the train. As a train naturally accelerates down a grade it’s ability to slow down in limited by the sticking friction at the wheel/rail interface. When the wheel/rail friction is sufficient to start melting the wheel contact surface, adhesion is lost and the train will essentially start sliding and accelerating out of control. This phenomena would apply as a limit for any train attempting to slowdown faster than heat dissipation at the wheel allows. An interesting heat transfer problem –-conduction from the interface limited by radiation from the wheel.

  12. lord koos

    “A Facebook spokeswoman questioned the Belgians’ authority…”

    Yeah — what business does a government have trying to regulate a foreign company doing business on their soil, right?

  13. just me

    “right to know” in Japan’s constitution

    from the 1000 plaintiffs TPP article

    A total of 1,063 plaintiffs, including eight lawmakers, claimed in the case brought to the Tokyo District Court that the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact would undermine their basic human rights such as the right to live and know that are guaranteed under the Constitution.

    The envisaged pact would not only benefit big corporations but jeopardize the country’s food safety and medical systems and destroy the domestic farm sector, according to their written complaint.

    As well as oft-voiced concerns that Japan’s key agricultural sector would be harmed, the plaintiffs are also worried that TPP will push up drug prices — something that is a big issue for other nations participating in the negotiations. The new group rightly points out that corporate sovereignty jeopardizes the independence of Japan’s judicial system, and said that the secrecy surrounding the talks:

    violates the people’s right to know as the document is confidential and the negotiating process will be kept undisclosed for four years after the agreement takes effect.

    bolding signifies i think that’s great

  14. susan the other

    No matter how they try to spin it, the real reasons for the Iraq war remain obscure. At one point somebody (was it Curve Ball?) said of our troop deployment that at least we got them here (meaning Iraq). Why? It accomplished nothing that was disclosed. So there is intentional confusion because if it were explained the American public would be up in political arms. And Jeb Bush is so uncomfortable about the question he contorts his face. The portrait of a secret keeper. And they are letting him get away with it with their vacuous articles.

    1. hunkerdown

      It seems to fit the definition of conspiracy, though that sort of thing is too socialist for the liberal mind to countenance head-on.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Iraq was easy first and foremost. The Iraqis largely surrendered before the fighting as it were started, and a decade of sanctions and the previous Gulf War wrecked their countering ability. We had pre-positioned materials and bases, a handy villain, and Russia and China were still changing. Yeltsin was president just 4 years prior. There were myths about the ease and total defeat from 91 which made it an easier sell. We did it because we could. That’s the great secret.

      Part of the Libyan conflict was about the Benghazi elite recognizing Gaddafi wouldn’t be around in 10 years, and they wanted to grab power before the tribes or a civil war between Gaddafi’s sons and old Cadre broke out. The Pentagon wanted to intervene because they depend on being the world’s policemen. A Euro action would be a disaster for the Pentagon. Hillary and a slew of Democrats needed an excuse for the Iraq War by demonstrating a “democratic smart war.” Sunnis in Syria thought they could get the same kind of deal, but unlike Libya where the French and Italians had to intervene because of the potential refugee crisis, no one could really pitch Syria intervention as a matter of national security so they had to settle for a dirty war.

  15. Glen

    Re: Some Ask What George W. Bush Would Have Done With Different Iraq Data

    The reason any inspections were allowed at all was to ensure that there were no WMD prior to the invasion. Once it was clear that there were no WMD and no threat of a retaliatory response, then Bush invaded.

    The whole WMD scare was nothing but more BS shoved down the American public’s throat to justify the invasion.

    1. James Levy

      Yes, I knew the jig was up on that story when I saw US soldiers on the outskirts of Bagdad without gas masks or chem warfare suits on. If the Americans had even a glimmer of intel that the Iraqis had viable chemical or biological weapons, the troops would have been outfitted accordingly. When I saw them running around without any protection, I was sure that not only where there no chemical or biological weapons, but that the US military were sure there weren’t.

        1. OIFVet

          Well, in the beginning of the invasion the soldiers were in MOPP 2, meaning they had to wear the chemical protection suit and rubber boots at all times. That left the gas mask (10 seconds to put on with proper training) and gloves (about 20 seconds). A friend who took part said that they received permission to go to MOPP 0 in the outskirts of Baghdad. So if the military intelligence (contradiction in terms) knew Saddam had nothing before the invasion, they still made the soldiers wear the MOPP suit all the way to Baghdad. And trust me, that thing sucks bad in the best of circumstances and even more so in the desert. It makes things extra hot, limits movement, and the rubber boots make walking and running quite hard.

    2. Jack

      It was apparent to me even when I was a kid that no one remotely sane would ever actually invade a country they knew, or even seriously suspected, had nukes or any other WMD. Much less when they were essentially proclaiming their entire invasion strategy via the media. this would have been the likely result. Also, as the years go by it becomes more and more apparent to me that this game very clearly had a message. The central plot theme is how the brute-force Americans go in with an army and everything goes wrong, leaving the British SAS with their surgical strikes to actually accomplish the mission.

  16. Whoa Nellie

    This Antarctic ice shelf could collapse by 2020, NASA says

    So will the weather of the future be more like “Waterworld”, “The Day after Tomorrow” or one of those SyFi channel, “Alien Tornado” flicks?
    …and will Hillary be able to save us?

  17. loeuk

    just me, the right to know is also supreme law of the land in the US under Constitution Article 6. Specifically, it is
    “freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice,” with detailed interpretive guidance here,

    The US government ties itself in knots trying to stymie this and all human rights, but the treaty law is binding on all levels of government.

    1. just me

      Huh? Your link goes to United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Human Rights, references Article 19 of that, and does not mention Article 6 of the Constitution. You sure you’re not thinking of the First Amendment, or even better, the Constitution itself, which starts out “We the People”? Like we knew what was what and reasoned this government of checks and balances into being? Everything to be checked by debating, reasoning jurors and voters? No XXX, no secrecy clause at all?

      I did a search on the Constitution on Wikipedia and “right to know” shows up in discussion of the Sixth Amendment:

      Likewise, a person has the right to a public trial. This right protects defendants from secret proceedings that might encourage abuse of the justice system, and serves to keep the public informed about how the criminal justice system works. This amendment also guarantees an individual’s right to legal counsel if accused of a crime, guarantees that the accused may require witnesses to attend the trial and testify in the presence of the accused, and guarantees the accused a right to know the charges against them.

      So, right to know, just in trials. But as we saw in the Links 5-10-15 discussion thread of Judge Rakoff’s article, no one goes to trial anymore, the DOJ threatens everyone with impossible sentences and so everyone plea bargains instead. If you’re accused of a crime now, you can pretty much assume you’re guilty and will never have a realistic chance to be proved innocent. Almost 100% conviction rate. But if you’re a corporation, you can write in stuff in your $ deal like “without admitting guilt” and gags and seals on what happened in court. Could that happen if there was a public right to know?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Very few things to trust in this world.

      We don’t trust any official reporting.

      Do we trust the government, with its ‘trust me on these trade deals’ or ‘trust me, we are spending money to help (or defend) you’ claims?

      Do we go selective and trust the latter, but not the former? Do we go on a case-by-case basis?

  18. Oregoncharles

    Has the IRS passed a thorough audit lately? Because some years ago, the news was that they couldn’t be audited – at all.

    I wonder this because the individual bureaucrats are acting as if they get to keep the money – themselves . If they can’t be audited, maybe they are.

    1. hunkerdown

      Americans, whose culture is hierarchical and authoritarian, crave to subsume their identities to larger wholes, such as barons (oligarchs) or employers (lords). Never underestimate the willingness of a slave (careerist) to commit mayhem for the slightest good word from their master — even if they’re in the same person (as our own diptherio has suggested). In any case, auditing the IRS wouldn’t do any good, as it’s a Federal prosecuting attorney looking for his W on the leader board, nothing more or less.

      Teacking kids to code makes for more obedient, conscientious workers. Teaching kids information security makes for better citizens who don’t follow crapified authorities.

  19. Jack

    I can’t help but think there’s a connection between the ongoing Iraq revisionism and the shameful attempts at eviscerating Hersh.

    What is Hersh fundamentally saying? That the raid never happened? That bin Laden wasn’t killed? That bin Laden wasn’t even there? He’s not saying any of these things. All he’s claiming is that the Zero Dark Thirty story we were fed that it was an all American operation is a lie. That’s it.

    The notion that this amounts to a crazy, implausible ‘conspiracy theory’, when in very recent memory we, with substantial media compliance, were lied into a war in which the better part of a million people died, makes my head spin. If there is a conspiracy here, it’s the very obvious agenda much of the media has against Hersh. I wouldn’t be surprised if editors are getting marching orders straight from the White House on this.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      I wouldn’t be surprised if editors are getting marching orders straight from the White House on this.

      Yes, very likely! They also have standing orders and a fair amount of experience in dealing the crooked deck to whistle blowers. But on this occasion, yes, they probably also got special orders to screw him.

  20. Patrick Donnelly

    Clathrates caused the Aceh tsunami to be 3,000 times calculated.

    Gulf of Mexico has thousands more tons of clathrates ……..

  21. ChrisPacific

    Telegraph article on Labour in the UK:

    So much doublethink here it borders on the surreal. It’s not even flagged as an opinion piece. Sample paragraph:

    Jim Murphy, a respected and moderate Blairite, left his colleagues stunned and distraught by quitting as Scottish Labour leader after a “poisonous” war with the party’s biggest trade union paymasters.

    Apparently certain factions within Labour are considering abandoning Blairism and adopting policies that people might actually be convinced to vote for. You might think that this was a belated attack of common sense, but you’d be wrong according to the author – instead it’s an existential crisis unprecedented in the party’s 115 year history.

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