Links 5/4/15

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Intense video captures skateboarders speeding down a road in the Alps Business Insider (David L)

Oxygen-starved ‘dead zones’ with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean Independent (subgenius)

2015 will be a remarkable year for periodical cicadas [locusts] Magic Cicada (Dr. Kevin)

Whisky Island 60 Minutes. EM: “This was apparently the last story on which legendary CBS reporter, the late Bob Simon, was working. If it’s yer time, laddy, may as wayll go oot doin’ something ye love, d’ye ken?”

The Truth About Smartphone Apps That Secretly Connect to User Tracking and Ad Sites MIT Technology Review (David L)

Hacking the US Prescription System Slashdot (Dr Kevin)

IMF on verge of declaring yuan fairly valued: CNBC

We’re hurtling towards another hung parliament – will the parties adapt or die? Paul Mason, Guardian (billmon via Lambert)

All British parties are eurosceptic now Wolfgang Munchau, Financial Times

Political Economy: British Voters See Through Their Politicians New York Times

Pirate Party surges in polls to become biggest political party in Iceland Independent (subgenius)


Costas Lapavitsas: The Syriza strategy has come to an end Verso (Roger E). Important. We posted on this but wanted to make sure readers did not miss this.

Greece, creditors still far apart despite intense negotiations Globe and Mail

Greece Says it Won’t Request New Bailout Voice of America. I was gobsmacked when I read various accounts over the weekend of Varoufakis saying that Greece didn’t need a bailout if the creditors would restructure the debt. Huh? That conversation was closed months ago. The Troika and Eurogroup have made it very clear that the “bailout” negotiations come first (which include Greece agreeing to structural reforms), then the restructuring talks.

Greek PM to Meet With Creditors after Obstacles in Brussels Greek Reporter (Santi). More shades of self-delusion. Eurogoup head Jeoren Djisselbloem said at the last Eurogroup meeting that there was no way they’d be in a position to release funds at this upcoming meeting. And even if there were a miraculous change of heart, some countries, most notably Germany, require Parliamentary approval for any deal. That involves lead time, also making it pretty much impossible for Greece to get the bailout funds released at the Eurogroup meeting on May 11.

100 days of solitude: Syriza struggles as Greeks once again stare into the abyss Guardian

Athens mayor guards city’s cash from government Financial Times

Official: IMF admits the failure of the Greek program unbalanced evolution

Trading in Greek Government Bonds Slows to a Trickle Wall Street Journal


What does Putin want? A major analysis by Rostislav Ishchenko (must read!). Vineyard of the Saker (Chuck L). From last month, still important. I think it paints the picture in overly bright colors (as in it assumes a deliberate strategy in the US, as opposed to a noxious mix of inertia, bad ideology, and bad incentives) but is still directionally correct.

Russian Economy May Be Stumbling Back To Its Feet OilPrice

The Haunt Of History In Eurasia Vineyard of the Saker (margarita)


Monitor says strike by U.S-led forces kills 17 civilians in Syria Reuters (furzy mouse)

Arab-Israel peace talks ‘dead’, says Carter Financial Times. Not news per se.

Trade Traitors

Critical Alert’: Jeff Sessions Warns America Against Potentially Disastrous Obama Trade Deal Breibart (curt e)

Republicans push Obama on TPP vote Financial Times

Budget plan calls for $194 billion in unidentified cuts to federal workforce Washington Post (furzy mouse)


Rawlings-Blake lifts curfew, effective immediately Baltimore Sun (furzy mouse)

King Billy; or, The Way Of All Democrats Michael J. Smith (Carol B)

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer Pushes To Give Wall Street More Pension Cash International Business Times

‘Killing Jews is Worship’ Posters to Appear on NYC Subways and Buses? Peter Van Buren, Firedoglake (furzy mouse)

Three shot outside Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas Los Angeles Times (furzy mouse)

Why The Powers That Be Are Pushing A Cashless Society George Washington

Grantham on the US stock bubble deadlineb MacroBusiness

SEC backlogs delays whistleblower awards Wall Street Journal (Adrien)

Will the Politics or Economics of Deflation Prove More Harmful? Intereconomics (Kevin C)

Class Warfare

Potential trailer park investors attending Mobile Home University told, “Don’t make fun of the residents” Crane-Station, Firedoglake (Carol B)

America’s trailer parks: the residents may be poor but the owners are getting rich Guardian (furzy mouse)

Orange County Family Paid $72K to Keep Son in Upgraded Jail Cell After he Killed Girl While Drunk Driving Alternet (Dr. Kevin)

Sustainable parking and the tragedy of the commons Frances Coppola (Brent C). These people and Coppola are far too nice. There is a very simple solution. Let the air out of one tire of the offending cars. Do it late at night with gloves on. A few incidents like that and the offending car owner will presumably get the message. One could vary tactics for tire ruination, like putting a large piece of broken glass in front of and behind one tire, or shoving a very large tack in a tire to create a slow leak and more plausible deniability.

Labor Market Slack and Public Policy Dartmouth

Antidote du jour. Frosty zoom’s phydeaux sun bathing for the camera:

phydeaux links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. tomk

    I don’t understand your idea that the community in the parking article are “too nice”, and hope you’re attempting humor. They have a complex problem, (the offending household doesn’t have its own parking, as do the other households, and they’ve become multigenerational), and have managed to come up with a proposed solution that everyone is on board with. Your proposal would inflame tensions and create dangerous (broken glass embedded in mud, vans driving on partially deflated tires) situations. I agree that there is a place for direct action, but it doesn’t seem useful there.

    1. alex morfesis

      they are probably being too nice…
      or too dull witted…the solution is simple enough….there are parking bricks that come in different designs…the grass grows around them…they are cinder-blocks with patterns and are laid out horizontally as against vertically…the grass grows over it leaving a flat surface to mow. designating only a portion of the green commons for overflow parking would work. Thus there would still be a portion for viewing or lounging…although one would hope that there were some form of fencing/barrier to protect children if they are indeed running around in the greens at times…

    2. diptherio

      Yeah, after reading the article, Yves comment kinda bugs me. I hope she’s joking, but I fear all that New Yawk living may have had an effect. Property damage is no way to solve these sorts of problems…gotta use your words. On a more constructive note, here’s Lin Ostrom’s 8 Design Principles for managing common-pool resources:

      1. jefemt

        “that’s what you get living near a park!” was my fathers rejoinder as I carped about parking overflow at a chronically over-subscribed annual festival near our home. My wife, ever the sharp cookie, pointed out that letting air out of tires, or parking transgressors in, just means they will be there longer. As the world gets smaller, maybe the answer is a bit of patience, empathy, a longer view that the cars will be gone and the grass will bounce back. Expecting a broke municipality to improve the landscaping with ‘growing paver systems’, or the event promoter who is causing the impact, to make the improvements, is digression into the realm of magikal thinking.

        1. diptherio

          I don’t have any suggestions for your festival conundrum (well, maybe set up a table and sell over-priced beer to festival goers), I do believe that a lot of these issues can be mitigated through improved communication. And it’s important that it be face-to-face. Just through talking over the problems, solutions will sometimes present themselves. For instance, I wonder if any of the neighbors with off street parking might be willing to share a spot on their driveway? At any rate, better group communication never hurts.

          Since we’re talking “tragedy of the commons,” here’s a great video clip of Lin Ostrom absolutely destroying Hardin’s paper…gotta love that delivery.

          1. bruno marr

            Umm, we had a “brewer’s fest” in my coastal town last week. The solution to parking? City mandated valet “bicycle parking”. The fest was located along the coastal beachway (bike path) and that’s how most folks arrived.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      Well, I think Yves was a bit tongue in cheek, but having been involved in this sort of problem in the past, some people are so self-righteous about their right to park wherever they want, that vandalism is probably the only realistic way to stop them. I lived in London for a few years and it was quite common for local residents to use paint or non-erasable pens to write ‘please do not park here’ or words to that effect on errant parkers, especially in those places where the rules were ambiguous but there was an unspoken ‘residents first’ rule. Its one think that persuaded me to sell my car when I moved there.

      One thing the Coppola article does not say is that the corner houses with fewer parking spaces almost certainly had a market value less than the ones with large spaces. I am very surprised that the other residents did not bring this topic up. They are either particularly polite people, or they were a little afraid of the family in the ‘problem’ house – in my experience the latter is more likely.

      I should also note that this is one reason why in the UK in particular, Councils will never if possible allow shared spaces within estates. Unless there is a management company set up, its always a recipe for disaster. The popularity of such spaces in the 1960’s and 70’s may have been due to idealism among architects at the time, but they almost never work. While I’m obviously aware that Hardin’s ideas have been largely discredited in the context he set them out, within housing estates lacking a strong management company, the Tragedy of the Commons still very much applies.

      1. Clive

        My two pence worth on this one (and despite being about as archetypical a Brit as you can hope to find — I always apologise to people who don’t get out of the way and bump into me even if it’s 90%+ their fault and so on) I’ve in the past seriously considered the approach Yves commented on in a very similar situation.

        Where I live now, as you rightly say PlutoniumKun this unusual with how local authorities grant planning permission typically, there are 16 houses which are built in parkland that is the joint responsibility of all the owners. Most of the parkland takes care of itself being mature trees, impenetrable copses and shrubs and so on. But there are a couple of areas where you can squeeze a car if you’re so inclined. One such area was adjacent to a small patch of grass which I and the neighbouring couple of houses mow, more-or-less taking it in turns. A year or two ago, the adult son of one of the households decided to park their company car (which is in addition to their own car, the extra vehicle tipping the offending household’s car ownership from three — which could easily be parked — to four which can still be parked within the curtilage of their property but means that one car has to be moved to allow another to get in and out) in this “parking space”.

        Similar in details to Frances’s reported debacle, once it because obvious that this situation was going to be regarded by the household’s son to be one that they didn’t see a problem with and he would effectively treat this part of common land as his own to use as and when he pleased, after a few months of muttering and chuntering amongst the other neighbours, I (being regarded as “good with words”) was “volunteered” to go and speak to the offending household.

        I spoke to the lady of the household and the son immediately was dispatched to move the car. It wasn’t parked in the same spot again although it was to a much more limited extent replaced by a slightly different problem of the son’s girlfriend parking in the same place when she spent the night at the house. However, the girlfriend typically leaves early in the morning, usually as I’m only just getting up, so this is a sort-of compromise I’m happy with. The problem I’d created was though with the gentleman of the house, who I am informed by those who have lived here longer as a rather volatile character, “hot head” being the phrase the most readily springs to mind. One day while I was gardening out the front, the man took it upon himself to call out to me that he didn’t welcome being bothered by his next door neighbour telling his wife that this- or that- should or shouldn’t happen and that he didn’t want me speaking to him or his wife again. So that told me. Fine, you can’t get on with everyone, not in this life.

        But why this reaction to what is clearly a case of “the commons” being just that — owned in common and not for one party to simply decide to appropriate for their own exclusive use ? An explanation came from another neighbour later on who is more friendly with the lady of the house with the selfish son (oh, you wouldn’t believe — or perhaps you would — the complex power plays and intrigues which go on in an English residential road) — the household with hazy ideas about property rights is in a state of despair about their sons. One has proved to be unable to hold down a job of any description for any length of time and makes a few quid now and again casually labouring on construction sites.

        The other (with the extra car) is a hard worker but is only interested in doing the work he likes rather than any sort of career aspirations. He barely earns minimum wage. The car comes with the job and employees are expected to use this provided-for vehicle and provide parking for it out-of-hours. Effectively, it transfers a cost from the company to the employees (parking not necessarily being easy to come by here in the congested south east of England). The prospects of any of their children being able to leave home anytime soon are remote (one bedroom fixer-upper apartments go for £160,000+ and there is very little to rent for less than £1000pcm.) and, more galling for the parents, neither child apparently shows any sign of thinking there is a problem with remaining living at home for the foreseeable future. Even more curious is that, while very unhappy about this, the parents are completely unwilling to discuss this with their children, deny them anything or in any way act in a fashion which would lead their children to “feel uncomfortable”. When I came along, then, and in effect rubbed their noses in the fact that they have, as parents, not exactly imparted the best set of life-skills in their children, even Freud would have a job to unpick the psychological impact of that one on their senses of self.

        Given the “adults” in this household (even though they are all actually adults) seem unwilling and/or unable to impose any sort of limits on their offspring, it may well be only a matter of time before the issue of parking on common land rears its ugly head again.

        So, all the other neighbouring households are in a dilemma if further problems arise. Speaking to the errant household will only tread on already sore corns and may not result in a resolution. Legal action is certainly possible, but we’d all have to agree to take it and cough up the cost of doing so. And that would hardly make for congenial relationships in the area.

        Thus I reluctantly concluded along with Yves that in this event, a few well placed carpet tacks, nails, glass or similar might very well be the least-worst “solution”. One thing I can say though is that “maximising utility” wouldn’t have much of a part to play in it !

        I can usually figure out most problems and come up with workable solutions. But this one — precisely because there are so many unwritten “rules” is incredibly vexing. And it’s shown me that it’s pointless trying to apply logic or rational thinking to it. And what the next move will be, and how the various parties will react, is completely impossible to predict.

        1. JTMcPhee

          People who used to spend their invention and energies figuring out how to live within the commons now bend their intellects to figuring out how to enclose and dismantle that “quaint notion.” How the species dies…

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Interesting Clive, but I think you might be far too nice to the family – yes of course sometimes an aggressive response is because of some sort of deeper family issue, but its still an aggressive response.

          I’m on the management company for my apartment building – its so much easier when there is a formal agreement – if someone is breaking the rules, its the Agents job to enforce it, simple as that. It keeps everything at arms length, and if things get bad, a lawyers letter is involved. Its not perfect, but so much better than when its left to social pressure or persuasion. The latter can work very well, up to the point where you meet a sociopath (or ‘problem family’, or however you want to put it).

          1. Irrational

            Which is why law is the place to be for a future career, however it also adds immensely to costs, which is why I have quite a bit of sympathy for Clive’s approach.

  2. Disturbed Voter

    On hacking prescriptions. When all the data is in countless disconnected databases, a breach is limited. When all the data is interconnected or loaded into one giant databases, a breach is unlimited. The reason why this risk has developed, is because of state and Federal desire to control prescription abuse … and to have data on all citizens. This isn’t a technical issue, it is a crime and political issue. Networking of computers should be done very carefully if at all.

  3. SubjectivObject

    When I find nails or screws in my tires, I wait to see if they are leaking. 90% of the time not, and I run out the tread on the tire. I suspect there is an applied film on the inside of the tire that promotes sealing at the penetration. The only civil way to sabotage a tire is to make it obvious that the tire is irreparably damaged, otherwise a failure while driving is possible. Maybe first cut at the valve stem, and when all the air is out, cut it full off.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Hmm, ‘…a failure while driving is possible’ – wouldn’t that make the saboteur responsible, with the intentional act, for any accident involving the vehicle afterwards?

  4. alex morfesis

    americas trailer parks…typical florida refusal to follow the law…
    fleecing the poor…not just in mindset, but in law…mobile home parks are “legally” regulated but when you hire politically connected regulators and then fire the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for asking a few questions, then you have the ‘BOSS HOGG” state of Governor Dredd Scott.

    IT is TOTALLY illegal to just RAISE AT WILL the lot rent on a mobile home park with more than 11 units in Florida. BUT…since no one bothers to enforce the laws in Florida unless it is to protect a certain group of people….again, I will repeat myself…there is RENT CONTROL on mobile home parks lot rents in florida…BUT…governor Dredd Scott refuses to enforce the law…you can only raise the rents by showing you have had increased expenses…meaning a real time upgrade…in staff, expenses, etc…but…the state argues if the TENANT/RESIDENTS don’t file a complaint, then THEY must not care about the law, and the STATE is not going to bother doing an audit of the park or ask for any proof…cause that little signature at the bottom of the annual document filed with the state…heck, that affirmation to a government official….that don’t really mean nothin…hey you there….you being a trouble maker or something…what’s your name boy…

    so its open season on poor people in Florida…

    when are we gonna get to elmer season…

    1. diptherio

      Resident-Owned mobile-home communities are one (if not the) solution:

      10,000th home secured through resident-ownership movement

      ROC USA is a nonprofit social venture dedicated to making quality resident ownership of manufactured home communities (aka “mobile home parks”) possible nationwide. It works to provide democratic homeowner organizations with the opportunity, training and financing to purchase and manage their communities.

      The Milton Mobile Home Co-op: Interview

      1. Carla

        Thank you, diptherio, for the perfect Antidote to that dreadfully depressing Guardian story on the exploitation of trailer park residents. Really inspiring!

      2. abynormal

        damn costly to miss NC comments…i know too many hungry for this 411.
        Thank You Always DiP

    2. myshkin

      A few things that struck me about trailer park story.
      It represents the tail end of the prison industrial system that serves in lieu of a justice system, exploit the powerless underclass, discipline and punish and then exploit again.
      The sales pitch was explicit about the growing number of poor people in the country that are regarded as a resource for exploitation.
      Zero tolerance, three strikes, plea bargaining, the war on drugs and long sentencing and of course the privatization of prison and jails; the irreedemable underclass are culled from impoverished homes, herded into prisons and then finally concentrated in trailer parks to be preyed on.
      Landlords of course are able manipulate rent control laws by claiming minor improvements and raising rents; tenants without affordable housing choices or in the case of individual owners faced with the high cost of moving trailers, are trapped.
      Like representation in the political system the measure of justice served up in the US legal system is measured by money, i.e. the number and quality of lawyers at your disposal.

  5. jefemt

    Antidote made me think Durer… very nice light and pic. Thank you for the pleasant start to the week

    1. frosty zoom

      that’s all phydeaux’s choosing. when i pulled out the camera, he started purring and bathing.

  6. fresno dan

    The city’s settlement agreements contain a clause that prohibits injured residents from making any public statement — or talking to the news media — about the incidents. And when settlements are placed on the agenda at public meetings involving the mayor and other top officials, the cases are described using excerpts from police reports, with allegations of brutality routinely omitted. State law also helps to shield the details, by barring city officials from discussing internal disciplinary actions against the officers — even when a court has found them at fault.

    Its hard not to come to the conclusion that the whole system is carefully crafted, designed, and operated so as to evade accountability. Maybe someone should ask Martin O’Maley how much accountability Baltimore police had when he was prosecutor (how many cops did he prosecute????), when he was mayor (how many cops did he fire???), and when he was governor (any reform of the laws that make holding cops accountable undertaken???)

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Corinthian Colleges files for bankruptcy. Google it.

    While students can’t have their loans discharged with a bankruptcy filing, fortunately, the for-profit schools can.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      If anyone should find out about this, actually comprehend the implications and decide to protest, I hope it will be nonviolently. Those being so effective and newsworthy and the american way and all.

  8. JTMcPhee

    Looking at this thread, and comments yesterday about how “the rich” may be hearing footsteps coming down the alleys behind them and the whistle-and-thunk of the guillotine, Forbes (do they still call themselves “Capitalist Tool,” or did the snarky superciliousness get to them?) has a long occasional series on what the filthy rich fear.

    Here’s a nice summation, to start with, from Forbes, August 2011 — “We had more to fear than fear itself in 1933, when FDR gave his inspiring inaugural speech, just as we do today.

    We have to fear that the insolvency problems of sovereign debtors will wreak havoc on the European banking system, which will require a hugely expensive bail out for Deutsche Bank and the others just as took place in the US for Citigroup and the others.

    We have to fear that the stagnation in the US economy will cost us growth of even 0.5 of 1% each year for the next decade– which will add more than $1 trillion to the nation’s debt– thus spoiling the plan we have started to reduce it by more than a trillion dollars, as former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers pointed out this week. We have to fear that unemployment will creep upwards toward 10% raising the cost of unemployment insurance, which will put more obligations onto the federal government.

    We have to fear that even if the deficits come down as spending is cut, it will mean less profits for our large public companies, a reduction both in their employees and their stock price, which would reduce our national wealth. If deficits don’t come down we face a prolonged period of rehabilitation, longer than anyone on Wall Street or on cable television have the patience to master.

    All told, we have to fear that the damage to our markets and financial system will be so great that another generation of investors will be alienated from using investment as part of their survival, just as happened between 1929 and 1953, when the stock averages finally made up all their lost ground.

    We have to fear that we are out of fresh bold policy responses just at the very moment when a fiscal stimulus is necessary to create jobs and consumer demand. We have to fear that another round of quantitative easing will do no more than devalue the dollar as a paper currency and lead to more speculation in gold and other commodities.

    We have to fear that 80 years of building a middle class and safety nets for the less than well off are in the process of being demolished. And we have to fear that social unrest will spring up as a result of the growing disparity between the super rich and the rest of us, as Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff and others have been predicting….

    “Great leadership,” wrote Alter,”like great theater– is often about the suspension of disbelief, the audience’s surrender of questions, an embrace of hope and redemption.” That is the aura of leadership we need today at a moment in history not as dire as March, 1933. [Fixed 10 typos in the original article] What a lovely litany that is! So much food for thought there…

    As to what else the filthy rich are afraid of, there’s a whole lot of articles just in Forbes on the distasteful “social unrest” that’s being prompted by ‘dysparity’ (yeah, sic).

    From Forbes, April 2012: “What rich people fear most

    Once again, Washington has shown just who they work for. On matters of the economy, it is a handful of favorite industries like banking and insurance. On fiscal and monetary matters, it is the ubiquitous one percenters who rule the roost.

    On Monday, the U.S. Senate blocked the proposed Buffett rule that would set a minimum 30% federal tax rate for millionaires in a 51 to 45 vote that fell like a stone, and far off the target of 60 votes needed to tax the wealthy. Washington fears the rich. But the rich, they fear something else….

    …What is more telling than the rejected Buffet rule, however, is a report this month by luxury real estate firm Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank that confirms that what the rich fear most…is you.

    That’s right, political unrest, growing social inequality and a fear that governments will finally bend to the wishes of the 99ers is the top concern of the rich.

    Wall Street is well aware of this fact.

    “People are angry because they see that their living standards are coming down while the rich have done quite well. They are not going to stand for this quietly,” said Rudolph Riad Youness, Head of International Investments and a partner at Artio Global Investors on Madison Avenue.

    From the same author in Forbes, April 2012: “Marc Faber’s “Wealth Destruction” Fears Shouldn’t Scare The Wealthy”, And observations, a month earlier, on how it’s working for the Fewer: “The Rise And Fears Of The New Elite –On February 28, 1969, Star Trek ran an episode called “The Cloud Minders”. In it, Captain Kirk needs to acquire plague-fighting minerals from the planet Ardana, currently in the middle of a civil uprising against a super wealthy and socially elite class that live in a floating city, far above the riff raff. They are educated, and they are immune from crisis.

    To many, this narrative sounds vaguely familiar.

    “Us versus them” used to be between fiefdoms, cultures, religions and nation states. All classes joined together to hate and fear the other. Sometimes labor struggles joined one group of workers against a corporation. By comparison, though, those labor issues were microcosmic struggles. The new “us versus them” has gone big. It’s one part Ardana and one part The Hunger Games, where the beautiful ones live comfortably in The Capitol and the unlucky, the sick and the old live in the districts; policed and humiliated.

    The new “us versus them” is not like the racism of colonial times. This is starkly different. It’s the 99% versus the 1%, and the 1% is worried, according to a study released this week by Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank. They’re not afraid of fiction becoming reality. It rarely ever does to an exact extent. But what worries them is the fact that creeping social inequality, on the rise in the U.S. as much as it is in booming Asia, will have people pressuring their governments to regulate and tax the rich. They might even be successful at it.

    Call it “democracy for the few”, the rich are rising in numbers and getting their way. By many accounts, they live in an Earthly greenzone, sometimes above the law, almost always above financial crises. Although thousands of wealthy individuals lost their jobs when Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers folded in 2008, and hundreds saw their retirement accounts evaporate due to an abundance of good-times Ponzi schemes, on balance, in the eye of the global economic storm when plutonomy seemed under threat as asset values plummeted, the response to the financial crisis did more to revive the value of investments held by the wealthy than improve the position of the wider population, says Liam Bailey, head of residential research at Knight Frank in London.

    A contextual aggregator has this useful collection of sources and observations: “Raging inequality may cause unrest and violence in the West and the rest of the world,”

    And why isn’t it going to ever get any better, short of some serious organizing by “the poor” in the face of determined and entrenched opposition? I mean, even assuming that somehow the current grab for the total hegemony that TPP-TTIP-TISA is increasingly seen to represent gets defeated, for the moment: “Why Washington’s gridlock won’t go away,”

    Of course the “high net worth” people aren’t just shivering in their boots, waiting for the torches and tumbrels. Google “high net worth security unrest” for a flood of offerings from the private-army-security complex. Here’s Forbes from 2010: “Security Concerns Of The Super-Rich,”

    What are the mechanics that generate all these threats to the Sanctified Supranationals? “Top Economic Advisers Forecast War and Unrest,” from the “protectors of great wealth,” full-spectrum threat recognition and erasure, these offerings:

    The basic PowerPoint:

    One set of “solutions,” among hundreds of offerings:

    Of course, there are any number of private armies out there that have not yet descended to the historically usual brigandry on their own account, happy to be Gunmen for the Very Wealthy, while also seeking, as mercenaries have always done, their own Main Chances. Recent background, from Salon: “Secrets of modern mercenaries: Inside the rise of private armies,” . …The private military industry has become a fashionable subject for study over the past decade, but knowledge about the industry is still thin. The primary obstacle to research is the lack of data available on the industry. The firms themselves can be more opaque than the US military or intelligence agencies, because they are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act or similar legislative tools that impose transparency. Even members of Congress do not have direct access to the contracts by which these firms are employed, even though Congress is writing the checks. Echoes down the dark, threatening halls of Power Central…

    Out of a job? Young and fit? Get a little military or police training, or a degree in “security,” and you could go to work for G4S plc, apparently the second largest private employer in the world (after Walmart): “The company has over 620,000 employes dislocated worldwide and participates in operations in 125 countries, with a focus on developing markets. G4S plc (LON:GFS), traded on the London Stock Exchange, has been named the second-largest private employer in the world, being outrun only by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT). The operations in which G4S is engaged involve: (a) the providing of security forces for private clients and government agencies, (b) intelligence, (c) land-mine clearance and (d) training.” The company has over 620,000 employes dislocated worldwide and participates in operations in 125 countries, with a focus on developing markets. G4S plc (LON:GFS), traded on the London Stock Exchange, has been named the second-largest private employer in the world, being outrun only by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT). The operations in which G4S is engaged involve: (a) the providing of security forces for private clients and government agencies, (b) intelligence, (c) land-mine clearance and (d) training. And what an Investment Opportunity! lots of room for growth!

    Other places to look for Opportunities, if you can “handle yourself well:” SCR Ltd,; Strategic Security Corp.,; and among many others, if you are more of a “sit at the keyboard” type, Deftech Logistics Ltd.,

    Some stuff one might want to consider in doing due diligence, however: “10 Frightening Facts About Private Military Companies,”

    And we of course need to remember what “top global economic advisers” are saying (see link above).

    Forbes’ thought for the day, 5/4/2015: “Many things which cannot be overcome when they stand together yield themselves up when taken little by little.” Whoa! Given discussion here about how the PTB have overpowered the huge mass or Ordinary People by controlling media content, school curricula, local and state governments, all three branches of the government we regularly re-execute the EULA for by yielding up the spurious but apparently binding legitimacy our votes confer, monetization and capitalization and control of all the elements of commerce and forcing nearly all of it into the consumption mode and its planetary endgame, it sure looks like the parasites and tumors plaguing our body politic have taken that thought to heart long since, and run with it as if their lives depended on it.

    Forbes writers, at least, not being filthy rich themselves, think it is incumbent on us mopes and muppets to “do something about it,” if anything is ever going to be done: “To Fix Income Inequality, The Have-Nots Must Become The Do-Somethings,” “Fixing” income inequality and wealth distribution, of course, ain’t gonna fix all that other stuff…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Condottieri, post-Imperial collapse, come to mind.

      But there is one fear no soldiers can eliminate – death, per Bill Gross… it frightens him, this very rich 71 year old manager writes in his latest investment outlook (see Marketwatch today).

      1. JTMcPhee

        Bear in mind that the current squillionaires may “fear death,” but that’s just one more little technical barrier to the universality and permanence of their kleptoplutonomocracy. A bunch of them are pooling their resources to figure out how to live forever…

        “Tech Billionaires Are Trying To Defeat Death,”

        “The Immortality Financiers: The Billionaires Who Want to Live Forever,”

        Some of the “solutions” involve transplanting the head onto a new, presumably “volunteer(?)” body, leaving their corporeal entity vulnerable to re-removal of the head by less, ah, surgical means. But some would move the essence into a less vulnerable cybertronic body, something like the Cloud, where it might be less vulnerable, except to that other kind of “hacking…” You would think these asshats would have been able to figure out how to hot-wire their pleasure centers by now, but maybe the need for self-gratification includes immanence of the fearful lesser breeds, and the smell of blood and fear… and other appetites, like the Kochs and Adelson and Buffett, et al., must have, unappreciable by us lesser mortals.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          And they are not the first ones to desire that. Early pharaohs and Sons of Heaven already had the idea, or more precisely, the attachment for earthly delights, forgoing any possible celestial happiness they themselves wanted their subjects to have faith in.

          Where is these billionaires’ attachment innovation?

        2. subgenius

          After deep consideration, meditation, and communing with Bob via a substantial quantity of pharmaceutical grade ‘alphabet soup’, it has come to my attention that it is time to unveil the new, 21st Century Subgenius evolution.

          Bob Dobbs Immortality LLC is proud to announce our new offering. Building on the straightforward standards of our religious offerings, BDI LLC will shortly be taking deposits for our Bobsicle freezing service and Lap of the Dobbs resurrection and re-youthing service (coming online as soon as our priest-scientists perfect the techniques (expected 2022).

          Basic ‘head-only’ service (the ‘Frenchy’ option) is, for a limited time, to be offered for the special introductory deal of a mere $1,000,000 (this is a ‘bring your own future body service…please remember to source the required parts BEFORE you are set up in your cold storage condo, as we cannot be held responsible for finding replacements); while the more complete fully futureproof full body ‘Pharoah’ option will initially be offered at the incredible value of only $10,000,000.

          Group discounts are available, contact your local rep for further details.

          As always, our services are backed by our legendary ‘satisfaction guaranteed, or double your money back’ warranty. But hurry, these amazing deals will only be available to the first 100 future overlords.

  9. GlennF

    “Why The Powers That Be Are Pushing A Cashless Society”
    How does holding precious metals fit into the scenario? Arizona just passed a law making it leagal to use gold and silver coins minted in the US as legal tender.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If it costs money to hold electronic cash, the only other place, when we are not allowed paper money, is government debt.

      But the government doesn’t really need to borrow. It just does it as a favor to the rich and, now, anyone who will be charged by his/her bank for holding electronic cash.

  10. JEHR

    Goldman, Sachs & Co.
    200 West Street, 29th Floor
    New York, NY 10282


    Re: “Altruistic Punishment”

    I have been judiciously and routinely giving my money to good causes—the Ebola crisis, the Nepalese earthquake victims, the environment, the Green Party, Canadian Doctors for Medicare, Council of Canadians, BC Civil Liberties, etc.

    Then it dawned on me: the people who really need my money are those who can never have enough of it. Being a squillionaire does not satisfy you who will go to any lengths to get everyone’s savings, everyone’s pension and everyone’s investments.

    So I am sending my next charitable donation to your bank and Mr. Blankfein. Spend it wisely as it represents part of my labour over many years. My retirement income was reduced by more than half when your shenanigans made it necessary for ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy). Even if I saved all the interest my pension earned, I still could not recoup my losses which occurred because of the financial crisis your bank brought us.

    Speculate in the Stock Market, you say? Well, unfortunately, it has been high jacked by HFTs, CDOs, CDSs and derivatives.

    Enjoy your additional share of my pension money!


  11. Jeremy Grimm

    My daughter was fussing at me yesterday about having to pay taxes and asked me what she gets for her tax dollars. She figures she can forget about Social Security. Other than that I couldn’t think of any particual benefit we receive from the Federal government although I could think of many things the Federal governemt provides I would rather they didn’t. Coming up with state and local government benefits proved even more problematic … roads — she mentions tire-eater potholes, police … our jails and prisons?

    There was an link to a Slashdot discussion somewhat related to my daughter’s concerns at the bottom of today’s link to the prescription hacking story:

    Submission: Ask Slashdot: Should I let my kids become American citizens?

    I’ve been told since I was a kid how important and valuable my U.S. citizenship is but at this juncture I find I’m at a loss to come up with a convincing argument of that value for my own daughter … help!

    1. James Levy

      When they are allowed to and are funded, the Food and Drug Administration and the EPA have been known to do good work, as does the Forestry Service. The Center for Disease Control is one hell of a benefit if a plague were to hit. The National Park System really is impressive, as are many of the historical sites maintained by the government, as is the Library of Congress. On occasion the FBI does more good than harm (if my kid were kidnapped or a serial killer was on the loose around here I’d be glad for their facilities and expertise). Although we could do nicely with half the military forces we have, deployed in a manner to actually protect us, it’s overall better to have some kind of effective military than none at all. The Coast Guard does save lives, and I think the work NASA and NOAA do on a shoestring is very much worth doing. I’d also like to put in a good word for Food Stamps, Unemployment Insurance, and programs for veterans.

      How much of the overall budget are we talking about? I’d say at least a third of what is spent can be seen as legitimate and/or helpful. How much of the rest is wasteful and stupid, and how much pernicious and destructive, is up for debate.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I thought of all the things you mentioned. Your caveat “when allowed to and when funded” is more than a small quibble. All the things you mention were once quite wonderful — I agree. I suppose they might be wonderful again in some future I cannot foresee. The FDA and EPA, and Forestry Service are shadows of themselves. The National Park System is very wonderful. But it’s been years since I last had the time and money to visit any of our National Parks and Monuments or the Library of Congress. Neoliberal forces are working to erode all these wonderful things you mentioned. Paying taxes may maintain them but does little to protect them from the forces driving the cost of visiting them beyond my means and certainly beyond the means of my daughter.

        The benefits of the Coast Guard and FBI come with two edges and the side that cuts for my benefit grows more dull each year. The Center for Disease Control could be one hell of a benefit if a plague were to hit — so long as they could predict that coming plague far enough ahead of time to get vaccines or medicine ordered from the diminishing number of suppliers for such things — and assuming they are given budget for it.

        I agree NOAA and NASA do great things with relatively little. I have been a subscriber to Tech Briefs since the late 1970’s and watched it shrink from a magazine to the thickness of a brochure. I go to NOAA’s weather site daily.

        As for Food Stamps, Unemployment Insurance and veteran’s programs — they are become pale ghosts. My daughter qualifies for and uses food stamps. They do help … some. Unemployment Insurance is better than nothing, but not by much. I worked for 21 years without a break in employment. The Unemployment Insurance I collect from my state is quite high compared with other states, but it does not even cover my rent — and I do not live very large. I am not a veteran, so I don’t know how well our veterans are cared for. All these benefits are being cut yearly to grow budgets for the 2/3s spent on things I would rather not have like endless foreign wars, a growing police state, … the Prison Industrial Complex.

        So — how do I take this mixed bag of advantages you offer me and build an argument convincing to an anxious 20 something about how important and valuable U.S. citizenship is. Many of the benefits you mention are available to the citizens of other countries. Some other developed nations seem to put our benefits to shame. You can point out that the taxes are much higher in these countries.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The US citizenship is good if the alternative is North Korean citizenship or some other similar ones.

      In addition, at the present moment, we are more likely to be the ones dishing out the conquering than receiving it. I guess that’s another benefit. “Why can’t we (Homo Wise Ones) just all get along?”

    3. jrs

      Well I think the job market in some European countries like that can be kind of tough, tougher than the U.S., so that might be an advantage of American citizenship, to work here (but is seems much better to me to groom one’s kid for whatever employment opportunities exist there …. at least you know they’ll have healthcare, a shot at a decent retirement, etc.. Yes there are sometimes better career opportunities in the U.S. but when you fall here you fall hard, straight through to total impoverishment – and you can fall even after you think you are successful, if you hit a certain age, and lose a good job etc.).

      She doesn’t get much for her taxes, not what she’d get in any other country. Even with those taxes being more at least they buy something. Or in truth she gets a military empire, this military empire does allow extreme global wealth inequality which a decent swath of the U.S. may materially benefit from. Of course many other countries get this benefit and a decent safety net. But for some reason (maybe to keep the citizens of empire to overwhelmed to criticize empire) this has been determined never to be allowed in the U.S.

  12. dingusansich

    From the interview with Costas Lapavitsas:

    What we’ve seen is that the institutional framework of the Eurozone and the ideological machinery attached to it are not susceptible to arguments that come from electoral realignments.

    Precisely. Bureaucratic mechanisms like the TPP’s proposed ISDS arbitration process, a subject of a post yesterday by Lambert, underline the point. Elections must not be permitted to interfere with business arrangements. What we’ve seen in the Grexit drama, to put it more figuratively, is the dorsal fin of the deep state.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Without electoral participation, but with bureaucrats in charge of the sustainable Magic Lamp of the Fiat Euro (can be rubbed as many times as desired), it’s a match made in Heaven.

      The thing is, it’s hard to find too many governments in the world today that have not been captured.

      So, I guess that’s ‘mission accomplished.”

  13. Doug Terpstra

    I started reading Jeff Sessions opposition to TPP with blind squirrels and broken clocks in mind, assuming that maybe he was against it because Obama was for it, or that he was extorting campaign funds. (Cough it up if you want my vote.) But I finished quite impressed and encouraged by his depth of critcal analysis and force of arguments. Clearly TPP is worse than many of us can imagine. So hooray for Senator Sessions! I hope he infects his colleagues with his clear logic and sense of responsibility. The TPP and Trade Promotion Authority represents the final coup de grace for democracy and national sovereignty. Could it be that Republicans are actually our best hope for preserving the republic?

    1. Marko

      My first thought was : ” Oh crap ! If Sessions is against it , then I should be for it. Are they reverse-psyching us ?What the heck is happening here ?! “

  14. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    “These people and Coppola are far too nice. There is a very simple solution. Let the air out of one tire of the offending cars. Do it late at night with gloves on. A few incidents like that and the offending car owner will presumably get the message. One could vary tactics for tire ruination, like putting a large piece of broken glass in front of and behind one tire, or shoving a very large tack in a tire to create a slow leak and more plausible deniability.”

    Criminal mischief – in Oregon, at least – would be a misdemeanor (or, given the prices of tires these days) possibly a C felony. Not sure I’d want to be the web site on record as advocating/inciting/soliciting criminal actions, particularly if/when the criminals get caught.

    But I’m here for the economic news, mostly, and for the most part just roll my eyes at the “social engineering” suggestions.

  15. JTFaraday

    re: “What does Putin want? A major analysis,” by Rostislav Ishchenko (must read!).

    “After that, the United States could prolong the death throes of the system only by plundering the rest of the world.”

    That doesn’t make any sense.

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