Links 5/24/15

World’s biggest American alligator caught by Alabama family goes on display Daily Mail

Saving Little Fish has Big Impact on Ocean Producitvity EcoRI

Asteroid impacts 3.3 billion years ago may have boiled the oceans Ars Technica. Always something new to worry about!

The Outlook for the Economy Janet Yellen, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Janet Yellen: The Federal Reserve expects to raise interest rates this year Telegraph

The U.S. Is About to Change the Way It Calculates GDP Bloomberg. Just in time for J-Yel’s big decision…

Central Bankers Express Contrasting Views at ECB Conference WSJ

Draghi and Fischer reject claim central banks are too politicised FT. Oh, okay.

What will get Europe’s economy rolling again? AP. Best subhead ever: “LET’S NOT FORGET DEMOCRACY.”

We want helicopters, and we want them … Mainly Macro. “[I]ndependent central banks made the obvious way of getting around the lower bound problem, which is a money financed fiscal expansion, more difficult to achieve.” Hmm.

GM inquiry Is said to find criminal fault CNBC. Faulty ignitions.

Trade Traitors

TPP is in trouble, thanks to public interest Al Jazeera

What Elizabeth Warren wants The Economist

Elizabeth Warren and Democrats should be down with TPP WaPo. Froman feeds Jonathan Capehart some talking points, and Capehart dutifully writes them down.

Whatever you think of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama should get his fast track authority Matt Yglesias, Vox. “A trade deal with Europe could be great.” Not if it contains sovereignty-destroying ISDS provisions, it couldn’t.

WTO Orders U.S. to Gut U.S. Consumer Country-of-Origin Meat Labeling Policy, Further Complicating Obama Fast Track Push Eyes on Trade. Still useful.

N.S.A. and Other Matters Leave McConnell’s Senate in Disarray NYT.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

NSA Starts to Shut Down Mass-Spying Program National Journal. Does anybody believe this?

PATRIOT Act on life support after Rand Paul stymies renewal efforts Politico. Oddly, or not, Wyden isn’t mentioned in this story…

Apple and Google Just Attended a Confidential Spy Summit in a Remote English Mansion The Intercept

Paedophile Mason ran lodge set up for GCHQ Sunday Express

Personal details of 500 million Android users at risk: Researchers find it is impossible to completely clear data from handset when changing phone Daily Mail

Black Injustice Tipping Point

49 Shots And The Cop Goes Free Daily Beast. The Brelo case. Shots, through the car’s windshield. While standing on the hood of the car. And reloading.

Cleveland cop acquitted of deaths in 137-shot barrage USA Today. You have to wonder what it takes to get a conviction. 1,370 shots? 13,700? Machine gun fire? Artillery? A strafing pass from an A-10? NOTE: The 137 shots were from all the cops. The 49 were from the one cop charged.

The Latest in Cleveland: Multiple arrests during protests AP. Timeline, and Things to know about the Cleveland Police Department AP

It’s Been 6 Months Since Tamir Rice Died, and the Cop Who Killed Him Still Hasn’t Been Questioned Mother Jones

Cleveland schools tried to teach students to “manage emotions” of Brelo, Tamir Rice cases Plain-Dealer. Well, I suppose….

Municipalities ticket for trees and toys, as traffic revenue declines St LouisToday. Law enforcement for profit continues.

When Chicago cops shoot Chicago Reader. Again, this issue was right there for Chuy if he wanted it. But n-o-o-o-o-o.

Black women get killed by police, too: the #SayHerName demonstrations, explained Vox. Again and as usual, brilliantly creative non-violent tactics, which I can only hope achieve the success they deserve rapidly enough.


A Finance Minister Fit for a Greek Tragedy? NYT

Tsipras Urges European Creditors to Compromise on Greek Deal Bloomberg

Eurozone says no Greek deal without IMF FT

Tsipras faces down radicals within SYRIZA over terms of deal Ekathimerini. Implying thereby that SYRIZA as a party is not “radical,” but pray let us not disturb the “far left” narrative….

How It Works: Spanish Local & Regional Elections The Spain Report

Ireland becomes first country to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote Irish Times; map of constituencies.

Sweden defeats Russia to grasp Eurovision song contest victory Guardian

How one US Embassy staffer allegedly sextorted hundreds from his desk Ars Technica


Stakes getting dangerously high for Saudi Arabia and its young prince Brookings

A State of Fear: What ISIS Is, and What It Is Not ABC Australia

Map: The Islamic State’s disturbingly successful week WaPo

Isis in position to advance on Damascus FT

No, China Isn’t Building a Game-Changing Canal in Thailand (Yet) The Diplomat

US court to hear suit accusing Adelson of graft in China The Hill. That’s “squillionaire megadonor Sheldon” Adelson.

Class Warfare

How Employers Get Out of Paying Their Workers Priceonomics

These states rob from the poor and give to the rich WaPo

In These 21 Countries, a 40-Hour Work Week Still Keeps Families in Poverty Bloomberg

House of Secrets The New Yorker

A voice for the voiceless McGill News. Interview with François Crépeau, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants.

Four Ways in Which the World Has Surprised Me Over the Past Decade with Its Economics Brad DeLong, Washington Center for Equitable Growth

Want Great Longevity and Health? It Takes a Village WSJ. Also exercise. And beans.

Bill Cunningham | Colors of Spring NYT. Orange. Like jumpsuits. There’s still hope!

Antidote du jour:


OK, wintry scene, but it’s chilly up here!

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. D. Mathews

    The Independent: “Some 144,000 Puerto Ricans decamped for the US last year and a higher number may depart in 2015. A White House official privately described it as the biggest population displacement ever seen outside of a war.”

  2. ambrit

    Chilly now, but just wait. We’re having ’80s and ’90s here in the Deep South. The gardenias are all out! You can smell them for blocks! I’ve got golf ball sized tomatoes and finger long cayenne peppers on the bush. We’ve already put baby string beans from the garden in our salads. The parsley and basil plants are already contributing to Phyls’ cooking. One unintended consequence of global warming will soon be the American South as Tropical Paradise.
    I can imagine some archaeologists from a millennium in the future stumbling about the jungle clad ruins of Atlanta.
    “Great Goddess! Carstairs!”
    “Yes Cyril!”
    “Come here! I think we’ve finally found the temple of the Cola God!”
    “Heavens! You were right! There was civilization before the Great Change!”
    “At last! Those hide bound fossils at the Academy won’t laugh at me now!”
    “But Cyril, look!”
    “Those pictorial representations on the wall!”
    “Look at the people!”
    “What about them?”
    “They’re white!”
    “No, it can’t be. Whites cannot maintain a civilization as high as this one had to be to leave these ruins!”
    “Cyril. We’re going to have to sit ourselves down and think this through before we tell anybody about our discovery.”
    “True Carstairs. No one would believe us. Perhaps some things aren’t meant for us to know.”
    “What a disappointment!”
    Is that a Corgi romping in the snow?

    1. Carolinian

      Parched Western homeowners including moovee stars go all in for fake grass. And it’s not just grass–trees too.

      The Nevada water agency tries to take a middle-ground approach to lawn conversions, requiring a minimum number of live plants for the sake of the ecosystem. With a chuckle, Bennett recalled a woman who applied for a rebate with a landscaping blueprint that was 100 percent artificial, right down to the palm trees. Her rebate was denied.

      Somewhat related: here’s a link to the apparently much edited Wikipedia page about NAPAWA– mentioned on “the Cooler” the other day. This last century scheme seriously advocated moving vast excesses of fresh water from Alaska and Canada, down through the Rocky Mountain trench to the Western and mid-Western U.S. A large number of wilderness destroying lakes and much pumping would have been necessary. Geo-engineering at its finest.

      Some respectable commentators are still talking about it.

    2. Carolinian

      And re the rainforest Southeast: I recently returned from out West and was amazed at the lushness. If CO2 is the reason then the ivies, including the poison variety, seem to see it as catnip.

      1. ambrit

        A big confirmation on your poison ivy observation. The vine is all over down here. One house a few blocks away has a back yard ‘defended’ on three sides by a completely poison ivy overgrown chain link fence. When the vine reached full growth last year, you could barely see inside the yard from the street. That, and the dreaded kudzu make the outdoors more of an adventure with every year that passes. Pythons and anacondas haven’t reached us, yet.
        I see a graduate dissertation theme for a wildlife management student here. Find an animal that eats tons of kudzu, which would also be a perfect prey animal for pythons and anacondas. Then pitch the idea to the Florida Department of Wildlife! Tenure in weeks!

        1. Carolinian

          Goats. They love kudzu. Might not help with the anaconda problem. On that one you’re pretty much screwed.

          1. ambrit

            Goats. I hadn’t thought of them. Angora for cold weather gear. An industry in the making. I wonder how much damage feral goats might do to other than kudzu? I do see a goat season for hunters.
            Anacondas and pythons though, a classic double bind.

        2. Ivy

          My cousin Poison Oak was pressed into service by Chumash Indians. They would pick baby poison oak leaves to put on wounds to speed healing. They would also eat the young leaves to build up a tolerance, given the widespread growth of poison oak throughout the underbrush in SoCal.

          1. ambrit

            I didn’t know a tolerance to this class of toxins was possible. I know eating apple seeds is supposed to build up a tolerance to cyanide, as in Rasputin. (This seems to be another myth.)
            There are so many “folk remedies” uncollected or tested yet. The old botanists had it right. Go and ask the locals what they use the plants around them for, then test.

        3. Oregoncharles

          The Japanese eat kudzu (the storage roots, in particular) and feed the tops to their animals. It’s a legume, very nutritious.
          I suspect they find our (the South’s) problems with it very humorous.

          1. hunkerdown

            Yet kudzu seems to be vaguely endangered in China because people collect it and make herbal tea of it. It reportedly helps to treat “superficial heat”. I wonder whether more citizens of our South would be helped to think more clearly about doctrine and authority if they did so.

            1. ambrit

              I’m skeptical as to the efficacy of this oriental export to America informing the formation of proper relations. I know not about the states of Oregon or Hunkerdown, but here Down South, the heat is anything but ‘superficial.’ However, if the denizens of the South were to ever learn to think clearly about any social or political relations, change would come ‘like a whirlwind;’ spinning, spinning, spinning. If Kudzu can engender this state of affairs, we will see the rise of a new dispensation; Dixieana Buddhism, whose core teaching would be encapsulated in the original Fire Sermon. The proprietary mantra would be; Om Mane Kudzu Hum, or “The Jewel is in the Kudzu.”
              I foresee great things for the South!

              1. myshkin

                Re: poison sumac varieties. The genus Toxicondendron includes many plants from around the world. In Japan and East Asia the local variety, rhus verniciflua tree, the ‘lacquer tree’ was and is used for superb lacquer work.

                The allergen is contained in the oil urushiol which is also used to derive the lacquer. The process is very dangerous, the Chinese apparently found that the allergic reaction could be treated with shellfish. Great except for those with an anaphylactic allergy reaction to shellfish.

                Along with kudzu there are great thick cables of poison ivy vines climbing the trunks of immense tulip trees into the lush canopy of Rock Creek Park, Washington DC’s own sub tropical National Park.

                1. ambrit

                  Ah, a source of lacquer!
                  I use any variety of Gojo, or Goop, the industrial strength hand cleaners, which I keep around for cleaning up after working on an automobile engine, to get the oil off of my hands. I’m immune to the stuff, but everybody else in the family is not. After a day pulling up and disposing of the poison ivy vines from out of the yard, I learn exactly how one of the old tyme lepers must have felt. “Unclean! Unclean!”

                  1. Oregoncharles

                    Do NOT count on being immune. It’s often a temorary condition. I just talked with someone who was immune – until he came down with a whole-body case that put him out of action for a week and required cortisone. That was poison oak, the western version, but the active ingredient is the same. You can develop a sensitivity.

                    Washing it off thoroughly does help, but keeping it off is better. Personally I wear raingear and rubber gauntlets when I deal with it, then wash them before I take them off. But I’m quite sensitive. Grew up with poison ivy.

                    1. ambrit

                      Thank you very much for this information. I never suspected one could develop a sensitivity. (The older I get, the more things fall apart.)

            2. participant-observer-observed

              The kudzu is used in traditional chinese medicine where it is known as “Ge gen” and i can vouch for the beneficial effects, particular stiff neck and shoulders in general and which often accompany aches and pains of flu.

              The root is considered the most medicinal part.

              It is also known for detox of alcohol and drug overuse.

              You can get it in teabags in most Asian supermarkets as “pu-erh” tea and the taste is pretty close to black/red “breakfast” tea as herb teas go.

              1. subgenius

                Pu’erh tea is a specially fermented form of the leaf of camellia sinensis and has nothing to do with ge gen (radix puerariae) – which is (obviously) a root…hence radix.

                Ge gen is part of the oldest pharmacopeia in chinese herbal medicine.

                It is classically used for releasing wind from the exterior, clearing heat and generating fluids, lifting qi to prevent diarrhea and treating hypertension.

                These actions depend on CAREFUL combination with other herbs, depending on the PRECISE nature of the presenting disharmony. Using it alone, and in random dosages, is unlikely to be particularly beneficial. For example…it should be used with caution when there is excessive sweating.

                1. subgenius

                  Ge gen is NOT used for detoxing in classical medicine -That is a modern pharmacological funding of the actions of the isoflavonoids daidzin and daidzein.

                  It is also found to be antispasmodic, antihypertensive, antipyretic (via dilation of blood vessels, lower blood glucose to some degree, and inhibit platlet aggregation in pharmacological testing.

    3. Romancing the Loan

      Just wanted to express my appreciation for the archaeologists bit in the above post. Highly humorous old chap.

      1. ambrit

        I can’t take full credit for the idea. I stole it from an Arthur C. Clarke story, “Reunion.”
        That Atlantaean jungle is covered in kudzu vines and swarming with goats and pythons. “The Royal Road” it is not, alas.

  3. Ned Ludd

    The ekathimerini headline – “Tsipras faces down radicals…” – suggests that the radicals have been cowed. That does not appear to be the case (so far).

    In particular, members of the radical Left Platform led by Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis have refused to approve any deal that departs from the party’s pre-election promises. The faction has been working on a counter-proposal for alternative sources of funding.

    For Syriza, I think a subtle name change would be helpful:

    Συνασπισμός “Ριζοσπαστικής” Αριστεράς

    1. Yves Smith

      We’ve said for some time that the hard left of Syriza, about 1/3 of its MPs, has made it clear that it will check Tsipras. His coalition has only a thin majority and he can’t pass legislation if they defect unless he brings on Pasok or New Democracy MPs. We’ve suspected that his pattern of making conciliatory noises after he meets with European leaders and then semi or fully repudiating what he just said when he gets back to Greece is due to the hard left having a hissy fit.

      But the idea that they can come up with a “funding plan” after the government has wrung its coffers dry is hot air. The only recourse they have now is to issue scrip, like Rob Parenteau’s TANS, which is something Syriza is already considering (they’ve been soliciting advice from experts in this field).

  4. scott

    The article on longevity doesn’t mention another feature of the blue areas, naptime. Not only are these places quite low-stress, many of them have the siesta culture. The shops close most of the afternoon and open in the evening (in the non-tourist areas).
    Seven hours of sleep starting at 11 PM has only been part of the human environment for a couple hundred years at most. Only know is science beginning to understand how important sleep is not just to the brain but to overall health.

    1. jefemt

      There is something in staying home for multiple generations… the entire extended family might occupy a three or four story building… shop on ground level, then a series of apartments above. Whole deal has been owned outright for generations. think of what no house payment, a family business, a climate that supports robust local diverse foodstuffs, and an economically efficient, rational cooperative socialized support service system (ie single payer for all medical CARE). Nominal debt service. One would have time to sit on a bench, have a deeper chat with good friends, play petanque (boules, bocci) with the fellas, nap.
      Mr Jackson Browne… our lady of the well:

      It is a dance we do in silence, far below this morning sun
      You, in your life, me, in mine, we have begun
      Here we stand and without speaking, draw the water from the well
      And stare beyond the plains, to where the mountains lie so still

      But its a long way that I have come
      Across the sand to find this peace among your people in the sun
      Where the families work the land as they have always done
      Oh, its so far the other way, my countrys gone

  5. Foppe

    Re: “Want Great Longevity and Health? It Takes a Village”
    The amount of exercise mentioned may be hard to attain, but a whole foods (which automatically means low fat, since oils aren’t ‘whole’, even if they are wholly unnecessary nutritionally) plant-based diet can be adopted pretty much anywhere, and that takes care of the most important thing.. Here’s a good book; if you prefer eating more greens, try this approach.

      1. subgenius

        Our results revealed that a vegetarian diet is related to a lower BMI and less frequent alcohol consumption. Moreover, our results showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with poorer health (higher incidences of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), a higher need for health care, and poorer quality of life.

      2. subgenius

        For a bit of clarity – Sterols (cholesterol) are essential for many hormones (steroid hormones like testosterone) and also nerve function (particularly important in repair of myelin sheaths).

        The most available form is in fact from animal products…though of course dietary requirements are pretty low.

        1. Foppe

          The human body is perfectly capable of producing ask the cholesterol it needs in order to function. See
          As for that plos article, it refers to a study that wasn’t longitudinal, which talks about lacto-ovo-vegetarianism rather than a low fat vegan diet, which does not contain information about the health of the participants prior to entering, which did not mention how long the participants had been following that diet and for what reasons (a lot of people switch to l-o-veg after a heart attack, which is kind of important to know),and only 0.2% of the participants followed the diet that is totally different from a whole foods plant based diet. Lastly, it speaks of people following a carnivorous diet, which means a diet consisting of whole animals, including organs, stomach and intestine content, etc. Needless to say, I have my doubts as to the rigor.

          1. subgenius

            …and the American Dietic Association (now AND) – author of the paper you cite, is known for being in bed with industrial farming, junk food and gmo corps, claims “there are no bad foods”, and is responsible for plenty of misinformation over the years.

            I mentioned the paper because I have seen numerous cases of vegetarian and vegan individuals who have poor nutrition. They all tend to think they are in fact healthy (until reality proves them wrong) and it is generally difficult to convince them diet is the issue.

            I know this is not a popular position, but apparently it is actually moderately difficult to be successfully vegetarian in the real world. Do agree beans are a very useful & important dietary component…

            1. subgenius

              …I personally suspect the issue with vege/vegan is actually a combination of poorly chosen dietary mix combined with poor quality plant material from industrial farming (soil quality being a major factor – microbial cultures being destroyed by combination of monoculturing, soil compression by machinery, and the simplistic use of fertilizer and pesticides….and the relatively small range of vegetables available in the average store.

            2. subgenius

              Also is actually pretty high quality as far as published material goes. Not academically sexy, maybe, but the ARE rigorous in their peer review.

              1. Foppe

                I said nothing about “” generally; I offered a few specific criticisms of this study, none of which you have addressed. This study is crap.

            3. Foppe

              …and the American Dietic Association (now AND) – author of the paper you cite, is known for being in bed with industrial farming, junk food and gmo corps, claims “there are no bad foods”, and is responsible for plenty of misinformation over the years.

              You are missing the point, and I can cite a whole slew of similar professional bodies (and health insurers, e.g. Kaiser Permanente) who say the same; namely that a — balanced, so no diet consisting of 100% coleslaw — vegan diet is nutritionally adequate for all people, during all phases of life.

              I mentioned the paper because I have seen numerous cases of vegetarian and vegan individuals who have poor nutrition. They all tend to think they are in fact healthy (until reality proves them wrong) and it is generally difficult to convince them diet is the issue.

              Yes, a lot of vegetarians and vegans are unhealthy. So what? Most omnivores are at least as unhealthy. Half of the people who die of a heart attack in the US have a “healthy” cholesterol level, because the “healthy” level is based on a population average. If meat and dairy consumption are so “healthy”, then why is 30% or more of the US population overweight, when they get something like (a historically unprecedented) 40-50% of their calories from animal products? Do you really want to keep telling yourself that it’s the “sugar, salt, and refined grains” that’s the problem? Or that it’s “red” meat, when the meat that is consumed most is chicken? This is tunnel vision.

              I know this is not a popular position, but apparently it is actually moderately difficult to be successfully vegetarian in the real world.

              Yes, it’s difficult to find the right information, because at least 90% of the information out there is misinformation. But no, it’s not at all difficult to eat healthily.

          2. Optimader

            I am considering the merits of this thread while eating a heaping coleslaw and pulled pork, fresh off out of smoker, samwich. Now i do have a deep and abiding affection for the coleslaw and the warm crusty bread, but the pork shoulder is what makes it all worth living. We’re are all evolved as omnivores. Keep those canines sharp and embrace your genetic legacy.

            1. Foppe

              What’s your point? Because you can’t think of more tasty and nourishing vegan meals, you think life as a vegan isn’t “worth living”? Stop kidding yourself.

              Sure, we are capable of digesting meat and dairy products, but a. that hardly means it’s optimal, and b., until the 1950s, most people got most of their calories from plant-based nutrition. It is only since the 1950s, and the invention of factory farming, that the eating of meat and dairy products was “democratized”; with the obesity, heart disease and diabetes epidemics as results.

              1. Optimader

                I encourage you to eat what you like to eat.
                Regarding the disease processes mentioned, I’m thinkin more likely the center of gravity is more related to highly processed plant derived food products/portion control/sedentariness ( self reinforcing due to obesity and other disease process symptoms–).

    1. jrs

      “Instead, they lived in cultures that made the right decisions for them”

      Only they don’t. Greece and Italy joined the EU. A worse decision could hardly be made. No culture survives neoliberalism. Are those long lived Greeks really so long lived now, still, even in present conditions in Greece? Italy isn’t quite Greece yet I guess so …

    2. Jack

      Does WSJ realize they’ve written an article essentially arguing in favor of socialism?

      1. Demeter

        Socialism, yes, but only for the 1%.

        WSJ believes we 99%ers should be protected from the evils of Socialism.

  6. diptherio

    From the wage theft article:

    In a 2008 study, the Center for Urban Economic Development surveyed 4,387 workers in low-wage industries in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City (the three largest cities in the U.S.), and found that some 76% of full-time workers were victims of wage theft. Based on a yearly minimum wage salary of $17,616, this amounted to an estimated average of $2,634 in lost wages — nearly 15% of each worker’s salary.

    Or, stated another way, 76% of low-wage workers in our three largest urban centers are employed by criminals.

    While the article focuses on the losses from the workers’ perspective, it had zip to say about the theives/employers. Who’s engaging in all this wage-theft? It’s almost like we’re being led to think about the crime while ignoring the criminals. Anyone who steals wages from their employees is a criminal and a thug, and we shouldn’t be afraid to say so.

    And why is it that a worker who’s had their boss steal from them has to get a lawyer? Shouldn’t they be able to just go file a police report like any other victim of a crime? If I get mugged do I have to hire a lawyer to sue the mugger? If the mugger turns out to be your boss, the answer is ‘yes.’

    As Adam Smith put it, “The law exists in order to protect those who have much from those who have little,” even when those with much insist on stealing from those with little.

    1. Carolinian

      Yes after the great post WW2 disconformity (isn’t that what Krugman calls it?) we are back to business as usual for relations between the owners and the underclass. Balzac said it best. “Behind every great fortune a great crime…”

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Re: The Irish equal marriage referendum.

    I’ve mixed feelings about this. Not about my vote – I cannot ever remember being genuinely happier in a polling booth to put my ‘X’ beside a ‘yes’. But there is a lot going on behind this referendum.

    First off, some background – the current Irish government came to power promising fundamental Constitutional Reform. Nobody really believed it, but they did promise. They set up a commission of ‘ordinary’ people to make recommendations. This committee, despite being ‘guided’ by politicians, did genuinely come up with some radical suggestions to increase democracy and provide constitutional guarantees behind, for example, the provision of social housing. All ignored of course by the government. What they choose to go for instead was a meaningless proposal to reduce the minimum age for a President, and the equal marriage amendment.

    The reason for going for the equal marriage amendment was pure electoral calculation by the minority, Labour partner in government. In enthusiastically getting behind austerity, they ensured that they would be wiped out in traditional working class areas. So they need a new electoral base – the only one available is youngish, urban professionals. So they needed a banner to fly. Equal rights for gay people seemed ideal. Even more ideal is that this was ‘corporate friendly’ – there was already a lot of US cash coming in to back gay rights in Ireland, in particular via Atlantic Philanthropies. So it was perfect for them. Or at least it was, until the two centre right parties in Ireland decided they wouldn’t be outflanked on the liberal left, so enthusiastically joined in support.

    The campaign was run superbly. As the satirical magazine Phoenix reported (it doesn’t have an online presence), at least $20 million dollars of US money was (arguably illegally) put behind the campaign. It was upbeat, modern and positive. The religious right were completely outflanked – their usual negative ads were spiked by the Yes campaign and a friendly media. For once, the ‘liberal’ side was ruthless in how it deal with opposition. They raised the issue of US religious money going to the No campaign as an issue, knowing a friendly media would not point out that any such money was dwarfed by US liberal money going to the Yes campaign. They successfully spiked any attempt at negativity before it had a chance to get rolling at grassroots level. Articulate ‘No’ campaigners simply weren’t allowed on the media, instead the media handpicked some obliging religious nut cases to put their side on TV.

    The result was a triumph for corporate liberalism. A focused campaign, get the centre right on side (in this case quite easy, as the centre right parties saw the perfect opportunity to get one over on centre left and left parties). Aggressively attack before you are attacked. Look youthful, urban and modern. And most of all, swamp everything with money and worry about the legalities afterwards (it is illegal in Ireland for referendum campaigners to accept foreign money).

    I’m very happy the amendment passed. I’m happy to see a model of how a ‘progressive’ cause can steamroller right wing conservatives, even well funded ones. But I’m deeply conflicted about how easy it is for corporate ‘liberalism’ to steal the thunder of real progressives.

    I do think that while its wonderful for Ireland to be seen to be the first country in the world to adopt gay marriage by popular vote, in the longer term it will be damaging for the left wing. The centre right, in particular Fine Gael (traditionally the most deeply conservative party, although they’ve managed to keep their nuttier wing under tight lock and key for quite a few years), will benefit the most, as they now have a ‘liberal, modern’ quiver to their bow. The centre left Labour party will be devastated. They hoped this would save them seats in urban areas, but I don’t think they realise how comprehensively they were outplayed by their rivals in this. They won’t get any credit for it, but it will convince even more working class voters that they are only interested in social liberal causes, and not in economic justice. Sinn Fein, which has been campaigning for gay rights since long before it became electorally fashionable, were more or less side-lined, although it will contribute to their target of more young female voters (they’ve traditionally been a party of radical working class and rural younger males). It will be seen as a triumph of the type of non-military interventionism promoted by certain US NGO’s (Atlantic Philanthropies being the most prominent). And no doubt Irish castle wedding venues will thrive even more.

    1. petal

      Thank you very much for this. I have a friend in Roscommon but I didn’t want to ask them about what was going on as we try to stay away from politics and the hot button issues, and the parents are pretty conservative. I was quite curious but didn’t want to upset anyone by asking.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Petal, Roscommon, as you may well know, is a very poor, almost entirely rural area (along with Leitrim, the same electoral constituency/district), with a population that skews heavily to older people due to emigration. The fact that 48% or so of that constituency voted ‘yes’ is quite amazing.

        1. petal

          Yep, hear all the time about how rural/poor it is and lots of older folks. I, too, was amazed that the yes vote reached 48%.

    2. Carla

      Thank you so much for this comprehensive assessment of how gay marriage can be, and has been, used to obscure and foreclose perhaps more fundamental and more universal civil rights.

      I completely support the right of gay people to marry, and would vote for it at any and every opportunity. Of course in the United States we have no right to hold a national referendum on any issue… that would be a little too–uhm, democratic, for this “democracy.”

      Yet something has been nagging me. A few weeks ago I realized what it was (I’m a little slow). It was that gay marriage in no way threatens the economic power structure — so of course our overlords have silently assented. It’s Okay! We can vote for it (and we DO) and we can all feel so good about it (and we DO). In the meantime, while celebrating all this progress, more and more of us slip farther and farther behind, sliding toward the social, political and economic oblivion that is our lot…

      A bitter pill

  8. timbers

    “WTO Orders U.S. to Gut U.S. Consumer Country-of-Origin Meat Labeling Policy, Further Complicating Obama Fast Track Push Eyes on Trade. Still useful.”

    Fast Forward:

    “TPP Court orders U.S. to allow child slave trafficing”…”TPP Court orders U.S. to sell cigarettes and nicotine candy to minors”…”TPP Court orders U.S. to abolish Dodd-Frank, Volker rule, and all regulation of Wall Street”…”TPP Court orders U.S. to abolish Clean Air and Water Act”

  9. Jim Haygood

    From ‘Municipalities Ticket for Trees and Toys’:

    When Vincent Blount, fed up, misses court he is charged with failure to appear. Not only has it added to his bill, it has also landed him in a Pagedale holding cell — four times, for a day or two each.

    The couple say they can’t afford to move because they are putting two kids through college. Their son is at University of Missouri-St. Louis, pursuing a career in criminal justice.

    Two possible futures: either having their son working as an insider can get their many petty offenses ‘fixed.’

    Or, if the son is a true believer in ‘criminal justice,’ he will personally arrive in the squad car to cuff his scofflaw dad and frogmarch his decrepit ass to jail.

    Amerika, f*ck yeah! Freedumb ain’t free …

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Cleveland Cop

    Discussed yesterday on MSNBC was the fact that the cop “waived” his right to a jury trial and chose to have the case decided by a judge only.

    Both the defense attorney and cop apologist agreed that this is only done when the defense is certain of the judge’s eventual decision–acquittal. “Judicial wink” is the way they referred to this “common” courtroom practice.

    Apparently this “prosecution” was “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

    1. diptherio

      Seems like the victim (or the victim’s family) should also have a right to a jury trial, not just the perpetrator.

      1. hunkerdown

        The state gets first crack at the defendant. The civil suit by the family generally comes afterward.

        1. bruno marr

          … but, in fact, the state (the people) didn’t get first crack. The “judicial system” (Judge) and all its’ resources did. The civil court system will require paid investigators, paid jurors, paid attorneys (likely on %) and will be a long time comin’.

    2. fresno dan

      The judge on page 16 reasons that 12 police were shooting at the victims (people? criminals? choose whichever word you like). The judge reasonably concludes that he (the judge) can’t determine which police bullets from which police actually caused the death. On page 20, the judge talks about the criteria from Judge Scalia that voluntary manslaughter demands enough evidence to “break the camels back”

      So far, so good. But after that, the judge’s defense of the use of force (essentially a defense of his own ruling) is what is disturbing to me. The judge fails to mention (in this section of the decision) two relevant, and very IMPORTANT FACTS – there were no actual gunshots fired at the police AT ALL that instigated this police chase , and neither person shot to death by the police was armed.
      The judge also fails to consider (indeed, seems purposefully oblivious) what is reasonable from the standpoint of the people killed. If the police are so afraid of black people that they shoot first and ask questions later, is fleeing your best chance of survival?
      (for those who would say if they had just stopped and submitted to the police everything would be hunky dory….I say …..Freddie Gray)
      Also, what is exceeding disturbing is that the police perception of danger is caused by their own misinterpretation of backfiring autos, that is than compounded by their own hail of bullets. People with such a terrific inability to perceive reality correctly should not be given carte blanche to carry guns and shoot unarmed people.

      Finally, in this system we almost have a situation of “Murder on the Orient Express” – if you have too many potential police perpetrators, you can’t find any one of them individually responsible, and therefore no real accountability occurs.

      I actually don’t think that any of these police should be convicted of a crime. But none of them, or their supervisors, should be police – they should all be fired forthwith. They have proven that they simply don’t have the skill or temperament for the job of policing where the judiciary seems to find more and more rationales for allowing police to shoot unarmed people. Controlling police behavior should be an administrative function of the political system. The fact that police unions so corrupt the normal governmental oversight functions says something very ominous about how government functions, or fails to function these days.

      1. bruno marr

        …well I do think Brelo is certainly a murderer. And his compatriots are likely complicit, since they all used the 5th in court. If Brelo thought he was in danger then why did he get out of his car, stand on the hood of the victims car (exposing himself to “potential” gunfire) and proceed to fire away (randomly) for 30 seconds? Because Cleveland has a long history of protecting officers from real justice. Impunity can be more powerful than a gun to the police.

      2. Carla

        “The judge on page 16 reasons that 12 police were shooting at the victims (people? criminals? choose whichever word you like).”

        I live in Cleveland. Today on the news I heard Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams referred to as “citizens.” I thought that was pretty good. Of course using their names would be fine too, since they did have names.

        Of course Brelo committed murder. Most people in the community (not just the black community) accept that as a given.

  11. Jef

    WRT the Europe economy, my son just returned from a couple months of couch surfing Europe and he was amazed by how many youngish people were unemployed but still living a reasonable lifestyle. He said the dominant source of work was buying and selling STUFF and small restaurants and food stuffs.

    WRT what it takes to get a conviction… one shot…in the direction of a cop…100% conviction rate.

  12. Brindle

    re: Matt Yglesias (Vox)—TPP

    An revealing little exercise to do when reading articles about TPP is to see if the words “sovereign” or “sovereignty” show up. In most or many pro-TPP pieces those two words don’t see the light of day.
    Yglesias serves up a zero.

    1. hunkerdown

      What would a confirmed neoliberal sympathizer care about sovereignty?

      Try counting the number of times the word “citizens” appears, vs. “workers”. We are the employees of USA Inc.

  13. Jess

    “NSA Starts to Shut Down Mass-Spying Program National Journal. Does anybody believe this?”


  14. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Why not a catch-all post:
    1. Ben Yellen: might do 25 b.p. for optics but after that QE 4,5,6 as the Crisis, now in Year 8, intensifies. Debt brings demand from the future to the present, oh look there’s no demand left.

    2. NSA will spy more than ever, since when did a so-called “law” get in the way of these fascists? And for anyone who’s keeping score, it was *Republicans* who led the way on privacy.

    3. Answer: it will take 268.2 shots by a policeman into a suspect running away with his hands up to generate an indictment. Convictions? Probably a bit more, around 339.1.

    4. Eurovision: best entry was the Hungarians, heartfelt and self-contained with little or no narcissism on parade. The rest? Ugh, more of the same over-produced selfie-important stuff that passes for pop culture these days.

    5. ISIS: Everything going according to plan. Tell Saddam’s Ba’athists to get lost, put the worst of them in Abu Ghraib to radicalize them, unleash them on Assad. Goal is to sow chaos and fear so the Military-Surveillance-Industrial Complex can expand war by squeezing Grandma’s pension payments and bank CD interest a little bit more. Mmm-K?

    6. TPP: Is the Second Bank of the United States, temporary setback. They will lick their wounds and develop a long-term plan to re-brand and get it through. Maybe they’ll meet secretly on Jekyll Island again before they roll it out. In the future we won’t be debating whether Hilary or Marco gets elected, we’ll be discussing whether the Monsanto/Exxon ticket looks stronger than the Pfizer/Apple Alliance. I heard the Apple Party is promising installation fee waivers on your iMonitor implant, and a free upgrade to iComply 6.0 shock batteries. No need to find a plug when it’s time to receive your NCRPs (Non-Compliance Restitution Penalties).

    1. JTMcPhee

      Beautiful personal story, capped by unhappy death. Nash , however, in one page of blinding insight 65 years ago, he turned the freaking games theorists and science-of-economics patrons loose to further mechanize and monetize and de- humanize that political-economics thing that as presently preached is helping to kill the plant and our stupid species. n-1 of us calls bullshit on the claimed ability of games analysis, however ” sophisticated and complicated,” to do anything different. Can’t begin to capture the richness and complexity, let alone meaning. But real good at reductionist pre- and pos- hoc justification s.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Given that games theory, at least in the 101 version I know, is devoid of empathy, one cannot help but feel that Nash’s personal issues found a ready echo in the mindset of our elites.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Another item game theory seem unaccountably to miss, or discount to zero, is all those silly, foist-offable externalities. And of course there’s the presumption that all affected are included as ‘players.’

          I’m sure the High Priests have added verses to their catechism to account for stuff like that.

          Have you ever played out a round of “The Beer Game,” which seems to me a perfect paradigm of what all is screwed up in the Homo Economics idiocy? B-School uses it for very limited pedagogical purposes, I understand, but its teaching is far more illuminating than that.

          I hope Varouffakis was honest when he said the current war between Teutons and Peloponnesians was not, for his part, being run as a game…

        2. Otter

          Game Theory teaches us two things. If you eliminate communication, the only communication left is the structure chosen for the game; which thereby completely determines the outcome. Game theorists structure games to produce the ideological outcomes they prefer.

          Banksters structure games to favour themselves, and supplement them with false communications.

          No beer retailer waits for the bubble to burst before talking to his wholesaler.

  15. Jack

    I have to admit that often when I see discussion about how horrible and police state-like America has become, I feel a lot of it is hyperbolic. Not because things aren’t bad, they most definitely are, but I take the Hedges position that the real worry is the precedents being set and the legal powers being put in place. Things are bad now, but the potentials for far worse future abuse are the biggest danger. The reality is that even now there are still things going on in many parts of the world that are several times worse than what happens daily in the United States.

    And here comes the ‘but’: the Cleaveland 137 bullet story is completely insane. I’m honestly in awe of it. The whole affair just screams banana republic. I fear incidents like it will become the norm.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      IIRC (too lazy to find the link) all of the cops on the scene of the shooting (who fired 137 – 45 shots between them) refused to testify. The Blue Wall of Silence looks a lot like the mafia’s omerta, to me. And I’m starting to think that the “bad apples” theory is not true, because nobody’s outing the bad cops. Are there whistleblowers here, and I just haven’t seen the reporting?

      1. fresno dan

        The cops certainly have the right not to testify (actually, is that true??? I thought with immunity people can be compelled to testify – remember Paula Jones???? So….why were they not compelled??????) . However, it is outrageous that public servants can keep their jobs when they refuse to advance truth and justice, and testify under oath. Equal justice under law, except some are more equal than others….

        I also think the judge shows the scam going on – he harps on the fact of the “fear for my life” in a profession (police work) that is far less dangerous than many, many other jobs
        while ignoring the most pertinent facts – no shots were fired AT the police that instigated the chase, and the people shot were unarmed. Judges are part of the problem, but so are politicians. Home of the brave and land of the free means that the people control the government, not that the government enforcers are exempt from justice.

  16. OIFVet

    May 24th – the day of celebration of Sts Cyril and Metodius and of the Cyrillic alphabet developed by their disciples in the first Bulgarian kingdom.

  17. Howard Beale IV

    Borders are closing and banks are in retreat. Is globalisation dead? The Guardian
    In the days before the Great Recession, the liberalisation of world trade seemed a certainty: now fears over ‘hot money’ and migration have changed the mood

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