Links 6/13/15

Deep Learning Machine Beats Humans in IQ Test MIT Technology Review

Evgeny Morozov on digital addiction EXBERLINER (martha r)

Rise of robotic killing machines has a cautious world talking SFGate

Video: How to spot an American Washington Post

Canal ‘an option if geopolitical factors change’ Nation (Thailand) (Jim D)

Osborne plan has no basis in economics Guardian

Fed tantrum sets off biggest exodus from emerging markets since 2008 Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph


Greece defies creditors’ demands for decisions on reform Financial Times

Greece running out of time to avoid default, leaders concede Guardian

Greek deal ‘unimaginable’ without departed IMF, warns Jeroen Dijsselbloem Telegraph

Brewing Conflict over Greece: Germany’s Finance Minister Mulls Taking on Merkel Der Spiegel (Swedish Lex)

Jetzt plant auch Angela Merkel mit dem Grexit! Bild

Eurozone has discussed Greek default scenario: sources France24

IMF has made €2.5 billion profit out of Greece loans Jubilee Debt Campaign UK (furzy mouse). From April.


U.S. House Admits Nazi Role in Ukraine Consortiumnews (Chuck L)

IMF to Ukraine: take the red pill FT Alphaville


Likely Courses of Action in the Syrian Civil War: June – December 2015 Institute for the Study of War (furzy mouse)

ISIS Is Winning the Social Media War, U.S. Concludes New York Times

Obama Administration Transfers 6 Guantanamo Detainees to Oman DefenseOne

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Fake mobile phone towers found to be ‘actively listening in’ on calls in UK Independent (furzy mouse)

You’re being watched, online activists told by police South China Morning Post

‘The Art of Dissent’ New York


More Obamacare Sticker Shock: HMO Rates Up 20%, EPO Up 18%, 12% Overall; Death Spiral for Insurers? Michael Shedlock (furzy mouse)

Trade Traitors

A Divide for Obama and His Own Party in Trade Defeat New York Times. Lead story.

House Democrats Defeat TPP For Now CTuttle, Firedoglake

How Pelosi broke with Obama – Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan and Lauren French Politico. Gag me re the attempt at “principled position” for Pelosi, but otherwise revealing.

A Big Win for Big Labor Atlantic (furzy mouse)

Business Leaders React With Dismay to Defeat of Trade Bill New York Times

Chris Lehmann: Scott, Rick, Ted, Marco and Jeb London Review of Books

Obama Cries Uncle on Shielding 5 Million Immigrants from Deportation Fiscal Times (furzy mouse)

Republicans Put Net Neutrality in Jeopardy New York Times (furzy mouse)

Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Audition New York Times

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Baltimore prosecutors refer to lack of seatbelt, probable cause in outline of Freddie Gray charges Baltimore Sun (furzy mouse)

In Minnesota, high employment and weak wages show Fed’s quandary Reuters. EM: “Better title: ‘Fed officials puzzled that the same looter elite they serve unwilling to share fruits of recovery with hoi polloi’.”

Rachel Dolezal Tried Really Hard to Be Black—But Why? Alternet

Exclusive: Two Zodiac aero plants in U.S. show why delays persist Reuters (EM). Much more important than the title suggests. Reveals the end-game of the hollowing out of US corporations. Notice in particular the labor angle.

NY Rent Laws Expire in Three Days NYC Communities for Change. Link to e-mail Cuomo. Or you can tweet #TenantEmergency. Please voice your opposition. When I first came to NYC, a lot of middle class and lower income people lived in Manhattan, and the city was much better for it.

This Is the Housing Chart That Keeps One Economist Up at Night Bloomberg

Class Warfare

5 Ways Powerful People Trick You Into Hating Protesters Cracked

Los Angeles Confronts a Spike in Homelessness Amid Prosperity New York Times

Our interactive view of debt across the planet Jubilee Debt Campaign UK (furzy mouse)

New York food banks running out of food: Report PressTV. From last week, sadly still germane.

Antidote du jour (‏@lawansuwannarat):

pretty bird links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Manny Goldstein

      Indeed it is a painted bunting. I finally saw an indigo bunting at my backyard feeder a few weeks ago. The shade of blue was stunningly beautiful.

      1. EmilianoZ

        Beautiful indeed. Makes one think of those German expressionist paintings, Franz Marc or Campendonk … Nature is the ultimate artist.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          As you say, beautiful indeed.

          I wonder if there is any myth or legend about this particular bird. Is it a sacred bird to some people, like the Quetzal bird?

      2. Pepsi

        When I walk on the trails and see impossibly vivid plants and animals it’s sometimes frightening, or a little painful, I can’t quite handle something so beautiful

      1. craazyboy

        I looked it up, hoping I could find where to go look for one. But relative to my SW, they are in Texas and Louisiana.

        1. frosty zoom

          don’t give up hope! two years ago i saw a scissor-tailed flycatcher (a gulf coast native) all the way up here by lake erie.

          some birds just fly a little farther.

          1. craazyboy

            These winter in SE Mexico and Central America, then summer in Texas and LA. Not your typical snowbird.

  1. Ian

    if reality is changed by observation alone? What happens when we empower AI with perception that can observe independent of human beings?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I dunno what will happen, but I hope AI with perception will ask that we also empower them with AL (Artificial Love).

      By the way, every time I observe myself, I feel I change myself a little, by the simple act of self-observation.

      “Honey, I know you say I have to change. And I have changed.”

    2. Praedor

      Patently silly. I do not have to observe my dog for him to exist. He doesn’t case to exist when I look away. Same with the trees, birds, insects, etc all around. They do not require a human to observe them to exist. Just a modern version of placing humans on special pedestal since religion can’t put us at center of existence anymore.

      1. Ian

        I mean about observation effecting the very structure of reality. I had a couple of links, but they got stopped. This is a very deep rabbit hole. Kinda hoping someone with a more thorough understanding commenting in regards to the physics and what it might mean.

  2. Andrew

    From the piece on George Osbourne :
    “These plans tie the government’s hands, meaning it won’t be able to respond appropriately to constantly evolving economic circumstances, good or bad. The plan actually takes away one of the central purposes of modern government: to deliver a stable economy in which all can prosper.”
    I thought the central purpose of modern government is to serve the rich and powerful (corporations). Since when has this Conservative government given a damn about most people prospering? Their policies are sure to throw more poor working people on the scrap heap. Continuing privatisation, gutting what remains of the welfare state, pissing money down the drain on renewing Trident.. you can be sure that only their rich chums in the finance & banking sectors will be the ones prospering in the next five years.

  3. Kokuanani

    Oh, thank you for correctly using hoi polloi. [Without “the.”]

    Since “hoi” = “the,” saying “the hoi polloi” is like saying “the les miserables.”

    Things [besides the TPP] that make ex-8th grade English teachers crazy.

  4. Kokuanani

    Yves, I’m wondering if you, Lambert, Gaius Publius or someone else will be preparing a TPP for Dummies: a short, handy statement that we can forward to friends & neighbors, urging their continued vigilance.

    In my efforts at rounding up “citizen participation,” I’m astounded at the complete ignorance of the general public. Yes, I know: I shouldn’t be, given the crappiness of the media and the secrecy of the documents, but I’d say 80% of the folks I contact say, “what’s the TPP” or “what’s so bad about the TPP.”

    I had put together my own e-mail, consisting of links to a number of NC articles, but I feel that even that is too long. Something with 5 or 6 quick bullet points would be more effective.

    In addition, I think a “parliamentary explanation” is needed. The headlines [and stories] in major media seem to imply that yesterday’s vote means that TPP is dead, when instead the effort now moves to figuring out how to reconcile bills for passage. “They’ll be back,” and we all know Dems are horrid in such situations.

    Finally, any TPP For Dummies should include an explanation of the TAA. Congress-folks are I’m sure scared of voting against something portrayed as “aid to workers,” although when you add “but they’ll be taking the money for that out of Medicare,” things look a little less rosy.

    Thanks to everyone for all their efforts, and let’s continue working this weekend.

    1. Brindle

      A big part of the problem in discussing TPP with those who know little of it is the language used.. Most people have a positive response to the word “trade”, TPP is not much about trade, it is more of an Investor Rights Agreement or Corporate Rights Agreement—changing the word associations used to define TPP is a good stating place.

      re: Politico—How Pelosi Broke With Obama

      This piece is revealing mostly as far as the embellishment the reporters throw onto basic nuts and bolts democracy in action and the denial of the role of citizens taking action and contacting them—this aspect gets nearly zero mention.

      “The Pelosi-Obama relationship hit a low point on Friday.”

      Who the f*** cares about their relationship other than inside the beltway types—most Americans have more important concerns than the soap opera angle.

      “The Democratic debacle made the House Republican Conference – which has lurched from one to mishap to the next over the past five years – look like the model of stability. And some party officials are worried about the political fallout.”

      No, this was not a “Democratic debacle” , it was Reps responding to their constituents concerns.

      Here “political fallout” means big donors perhaps withholding monies.

      “This is just a huge black eye to the entire party,” a Democratic aide said, arguing that setbacks like this for the Obama White House could hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances of being elected in 2016.

      Not a huge black eye but one of the Dem parties best moments in recent years.

      Read more:

      Read more:

      Read more:

      1. Gio Bruno

        re: Politico—How Pelosi Broke With Obama

        This piece is revealing mostly as far as the embellishment the reporters throw onto basic nuts and bolts democracy in action and the denial of the role of citizens taking action and contacting them—this aspect gets nearly zero mention.

        I’m sure the AFL-CIO let Pelosi know that her congressional district (San Francisco) was easily canvassed by “grassroots” campaigners in a Primary election (No need for vast amount of TV promo dollars.)

        1. kj1313

          Thank Yves or Lambert or someone else in this fine website, his original graphic novel a while back. Now I follow whatever he writes. :)

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Furzy mouse actually has created a slide-show MMT for Toddlers that I have not had time to review due to Greece, but Joe Firestone said it was good. If there is a quiet day this week, I’ll look at it an probably upload it.

  5. Antifa

    What is any military unit but a humanoid robot? No individual human within it is permitted to question goals, strategy, or rules of engagement. Maybe they can decide on immediate, tactical things like taking out this machine gun before taking out that other one, but deciding to be there, fighting for whatever reason their commanders told them is not up to the individual. They follow orders.

    Where is human intelligence and initiative and creativity in a kamikaze pilot, or a grunt told to hold this line at all costs? They’re both going to die, and know it, but they’re “following orders” so they get to it and die.

    The kamikaze may sink an enemy carrier. The grunt may hold the line for precious hours. Though dead, they each won their tactical situation. But what about when, years later, historians write that that entire war was a silly and unnecessary mistake concocted by politicians who sought to economically dominate trade in the region. Does that make their tactical victories and personal deaths silly and unnecessary?

    Hell yes it does. Every young man in WWI who went over the top to march into machine guns was thinking, “This is too stupid to even find the words to express how stupid it is.”

    It’s very much needed to examine why war is still okay with us.

    If we’re going to have lethal autonomous weapons rolling and flying about, perhaps their Prime Directive should be to never, ever harm a human being, or a human beings property.

    And we could try following that simple rule ourselves. It’s a short journey from burning down the village in order to save it to burning down the planet in order to save it. Neither one works in the long run.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Having participated as a tiny unit in the “military unit” that was the imperial Army in Vietnam, let me offer that the Troops, or a large number of them, retain a humanity and ability to revolt and mutiny and frag their idiot officers that autonomous machines would not. That’s why our Rulers are shrinking the number of troops and dumping our wealth into building a Terminator military that will indeed “follow orders” (though cyberscientists are apparently concerned that like the Skynet in the movies, those robots may very well set up on their own account.)

      1. craazyboy

        Why should anyone be concerned about automating killing?

        Besides – it wouldn’t lead to an “arms” race, now would it?

  6. Dino Reno

    Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Audition

    Walker is the guy I fear most. He has the banality of evil thing down pat. As the article indicates, he will find a problem where there is none and scapegoat an entire segment of society to correct it his way. His calm, understated demeanor is a perfect contrast to his radical antisocial ideas. He is an ideologue on a mission and he is extremely clever at manipulating public opinion in a serpentine manner. If he runs for President, he will probably win and that scares the pants off of me.

    1. PQS

      Really? He seems to me to have the charisma of a coffee table. So did Mitt Romney, but Romney is a billionaire, which many people in America admire. Plus, he’s been around a while, and name recognition is important on the national stage.
      Walker seems like a good candidate for an early flameout, due to a ham handed misstep and/or just general dullness. He does not seem like the type most Americans would be drawn to.
      I know he’s a bitter partisan, but he also seems like a guy who is transparently on a grifting mission (like so many others in that camp). Most Americans don’t really respond to that.

      Now, if the GOP could find a truly evil billionaire, who was, say like 45ish and maybe some kind of techie with lots of smooth ideas, I’d be scared. Walker seems like a Tulsa pool salesman (as an “Onion” headline said once of Alberto Gonzales….)

      1. neo-realist

        I also don’t see how Walker’s coffee table charisma carries outside of Wisconsin and possibly another mid-western state or two. His grasp of foreign policy that is ever so slightly above that of Sarah Palin should also doom his Presidential chances, e.g., Reagan’s firing of the air traffic controllers was the most significant foreign policy decision of his lifetime. A man who says he’s the most qualified person to lead on foreign policy because he visited six countries while Governor!

        1. Lambert Strether

          Because Walker stomps Democrats. Also too evil unions, protesters, and pointy-headed intellectuals. The base eats that up with a spoon. Plus, as a preacher’s kid, he’s got weapons-grade dog whistle capability.

          I like “coffee table charisma,” though.

        2. tegnost

          I think the field is weak all around, so the sky’s the limit for what we’ll wind up with

      1. different clue

        Well . . . he could get the majority Republican House and Senate to pass a law selling all the National Parks to private investors. Then he could sign it. For example.

        Any president can do even more damage until there is no more damage left to be done.

    2. barutanseijin

      He has a few skeletons in his closet, like why he never graduated from Marquette and the funding shenanigans during his tenure in Milwaukee county. I wouldn’t be surprised if he cheated on his merit badges along the way to becoming an Eagle scout, too.

      Up to now he’s been coddled by the Milwaukee & state media which is overall pretty conservative. The guy was a DISASTER for Milwaukee and hasn’t done shit for the state. Jobs, jobs, jobs he said in his gubernatorial campaign. He hasn’t come close to delivering. I wouldn’t expect the national media to be as kind to him. Last but not least, he’s got that McCarthy/Nixon problem in that his five o’clock shadow makes him look as untrustworthy as he really is.

      Dangerous? Sure. But i’m not so sure he’s a shoo-in.

  7. mad as hell.

    “Chris Lehmann: Scott, Rick, Ted, Marco and Jeb London Review of Books”

    An insightful article or scorecard on today’s Republican best of the best presidential hopefuls. I ain’t finding no American statesman or principled American politician in this bunch. It’s beginging to look like more of a line up of the usual suspects. If this is the best that this party and country can offer to it’s citizens then it won’t be long now before a complete total breakdown of America!

  8. docg

    “Greece has less than a week to strike a deal with its eurozone creditors”

    Last I heard, it was 24 hours. “I’ll count to three: one, two, two and a half, two and three quarters, two and four fifths . . . .”

    Yes, folks, it’s deja vu all over again. We’ve been hearing about the same “deadlines” since January. If the “institutions” were actually willing to allow Greece to default, they’d have cut bait months ago. As long as the Greeks hold firm, they will get their bailout, disguised, of course, as something else. Sadly, it won’t help them much. The real problem goes much deeper — and it’s a European problem, not a Greek problem. The Ponzi scheme is about to blow up.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if it’s like approaching the Big Crunch, and time slows down – as issue-matters get squeezed tighter and tighter.

    1. DJG

      Rachel Dolezal: Indeed, more interesting. The question here is whether blacks in the USA are a “race” or an oppressed economic group. Skin color and descent haven’t always made one “black” in the USA. If we start to think of black people as permanently economically oppressed and separated off (like Indian “Scheduled Castes”), what does that lead to in race relations?

      As someone of Italian descent, I know there is always a lingering question among Italian-Americans: Just when did we become “white”?

      1. coboarts

        It was in the 80s with the influx of immigrants from around the world – at least in SoCal.

      2. MikeNY

        Yes, FWIW I think it breaks wide open the argument over the ‘social construction’ of race…

    2. DJG

      Guantanamo transfers to Oman: Surprised not to see the name Mohamedou ould Slahi, who just published the memoir of being tortured. No reason at all to hold him.

  9. Antifa

    Business Leaders React With Dismay to Defeat of Trade Bill.

    Read this NYT piece about 15 times. Masterful misdirection here. Pretty slick how it leaves you with the impression that something wrong happened with the House voting NO on the TPP treaty, but that it’s inevitably going to pass at some point so any objections the article lists are therefore just background noise.

    The article doesn’t mention at all that very few of our elected Representatives have ever even seen any portion of the text of the TPP, or that all they are voting on is whether to approve it without even reading it, no matter what it says.

    What kind of representative government is that?

    Would you sit down to dinner with a blindfold on, and agree to eat whatever arrives in front of you, no matter what? It might be ‘possum found out on the road, with tire tracks running right across its back, but you’ll eat it, right?

    You won’t? Why do you hate America?

    What if your Representative said it was good for you and good for our country, and a dangerous mistake to not eat what’s on your plate, sight unseen? You know, like when Hermann Goering said the people can always be led by telling them their country is in danger and they have to follow right now because the nation is being attacked. You’ll follow then, right?

    You won’t? Seriously, why do you hate America?

    I’ll only ask what is meant by the glib phrase, “Business Leaders” in the headline. What is a business leader? No, it is not obvious. Take a second look. It is not an elected office, so how is it a business leader has any say in what our political representatives decide? What is special about a business leader that gets their opinions recited in The Grey Lady as opposed to Joe Schwartz of Staten Island? He’s a voter. How come we aren’t hearing from him?

    A business leader is an owner or executive of a corporation. Like the corporation itself, he or she is legally disallowed from doing anything not aimed at maximizing dollar profits for the company, no matter what. Overseeing this implacable, relentless pursuit of profit above all other considerations is what a business leader is paid the big bucks for. He or she runs an organization that operates as a functional psychopath within the nation which we the people claim to self-govern.

    A business leader is Milo Minderbinder from the novel and movie, “Catch-22.” Business doesn’t have to do good or make sense. It just has to proceed as planned, no matter what it puts on your plate, citizen.

    Why would a politician listen to a business leader over any random citizen? Because business leaders provide all the money our politicians need to get elected and reelected. We, the people don’t provide diddly compared to what big businesses and wealthy people contribute, so we don’t count for diddly except as rubes to be driven to vote this way or that for pre-selected candidates the psychopaths like.

    The business leaders like, I mean. They like them because they help them maximize their profits. It’s their job to maximize profits, no matter what it puts on your plate.

    So there it is. Business leaders are the money behind our “elected” Representatives, who wouldn’t get elected without mountains of business leader cash in advance, and ongoing.

    And these business leaders are not all Americans. Under Citizens United, a whole lot of dark money is coming into our elections — right down to the state and county level — from business leaders overseas. Foreign governments, foreign business leaders, selecting and electing our Representatives.

    1. jrs

      It’s gotten to the point I think maybe we should redefine business.

      Conventional definition of businesses: entities that produce goods and services (that we need or want, regardless of why) for a profit. Now how workers are treated is irrelevant to this definition, but regardless of one’s opinions and complaints on that, it’s a widespread definition: entities that produce goods and services.

      New definition of businesses: sociopathic organisms that blackmail or “force” us into participation with their all encompassing sociopathy by our need/want for goods and services.

      The shift: I’m not sure the production of goods and services is even primary anymore, the sociopathy and psychopathy IS PRIMARY.

      The goods and services are merely the means they make us ALL participate in THEIR sociopathy. Like a cancer cell has means to redirect blood to itself, but most people diagnosed with cancer don’t see redirecting blood as the main function of cancer, they see it making them waste away and killing them as what cancer is all about.

      Yes, this is mostly corporations I’m speaking of and all small businesses don’t necessarily behave this way (at least until they become large corporations).

    2. djrichard

      Speaking of “business leaders”, I’m noticing that (BI) hasn’t put out anything related to yesterday’s news yet. Embarrassing that when corporate america doesn’t equip BI with talking points, it seems they don’t know what to do.

      1. Sanctuary

        It is because they (the corporate media) do not want to draw attention to the fact that us proles were able to stop another corporate fait accompli. They don’t want that to get to our heads. Did you notice how little the cable news networks covered that and then how much they keep prattling on about 2 escaped criminals in NYC? One affects every American for decades to come, the other affects a handful of people around one city in NY.

    3. Pepsi

      “Business Leaders React With Dismay” is a headline that should be in the paper every single day

    4. craazyboy

      possums hate us for our freedoms.

      I guess we shouldn’t be shocked Biz Leaders are disappointed. But the article did note the strategic importance of lawnmower sales to Malaysia as a reason why we should care.

  10. DJG

    Re: Pelosi’s manuevers. At the very bottom of her motivations has to be a desire to salvage the Democrats in the House. Sure, she’d like to be majority leader again, but with the highly unfortunate tendency in the Democratic Party for the president to run against his own base and own members, her ties to Obama are frayed. He’s a lame duck. She wants to continue in her career.

    Maybe the Democrats should think through this business of running against one’s own base so as to appeal to Republicans and running the presidential campaigns as if the Congress doesn’t exist. Both Clinton and Obama a seriously guilty here. And now, no legacy. Boo fotut-ing hoo.

    1. Kokuanani

      I can’t figure out why Obama would care about his “legacy” when he’s got all those speaking fees to look forward to.

      1. Steve

        Obama wants to rub shoulders with the Davos crowd, the global elite, after he leaves office. That’s why he’s working harder for this than he ever has for anything else since taking office.

        Obama takes opposition from Republicans in stride but blows a gasket when the left has the temerity to oppose him. That’s because he and the left don’t want the same thing. I wish the left would realize it.

        He’s also obsessed with a naive vision of personally creating a new era of bipartisanship. TPP is his last best opportunity to do that if he can just get the Democrats to swallow it.

  11. SoCal rhino

    Don’t thinK it is correct to say corporate execs are legally required to maximize profits. Plenty of other pressures and incentives to do do, but no statutes.

  12. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thanks for the article from Reuters about product parts shortages that are causing manufacturing delays at the Zodiac Aerospace plant in California that are in turn resulting in delayed deliveries to large aircraft manufacturers of airliner seats, lavatories and galley units. The writer said the manufacturing delays were principally caused by shortages of parts manufactured by other suppliers. Wonder if those parts suppliers are foreign or U.S. manufacturers? The article didn’t say, and Zodiac Aerospace SA is itself a France-based company.

    Besides plant facility issues, delivery delays were also attributed to rapid growth in demand for labor at the plant, the workers’ lack of manufacturing skills, and labor turnover; i.e., shortage of skilled, motivated labor.

    Hollowing of U.S. manufacturing corporations indeed.

    1. PQS

      Wonder how much the “shortage” is due to low wages?

      I know up here in the Pacific NW, COL is high, but so are wages. Why would I work for $15/hr in Cal when I could come up here for twice that?

      I’m always suspicious when we have (probably) 10% UI, but bidness claims they can’t find anyone to do the work. What they mean is “we can’t find anyone for our bargain basement wages. And we ain’t training anyone to do anything. Costs money, that.”

      1. craazyboy

        Lotsa times, frequently in a recovering economy, they look around a year or three after big layoffs and then say they can’t find anyone. Been happening like that forever. Just ignore them.

  13. EmilianoZ

    RE: Deep Learning Machine Beats Humans in IQ Test

    If true, this would be the best proof that IQ tests do not test for anything that can be construed as useful human intelligence.

  14. James Dodd

    On Fast Track, apparently the Republican leadership plans to bring TAA back up on Tuesday for a re-vote. Given the arcane rule used on Friday, if TAA is approved on Tuesday, Fast Track will go directly to Obama’s desk for signature.

    We need to keep the pressure on our representatives to vote NO on TAA if it comes up for a vote on Tuesday. TAA is a mere band-aid on the gushing wound that the trade deals would make for the American worker. American workers would be better off with no trade deals and no TAA than with both.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Not to mention the little detail that this so called help for the American worker would be paid for by cuts to Medicare – and if the ultra sneaky Republicans could have gotten it through they already had their campaigns all mapped out for the next election, “My hate filled rabid Democrat opponent voted for cuts to SS!!!” This little trick is what apparently “sunk in” and got those Democrats who still have at least one firing brain cell to tell Pelosi to go shove it; they weren’t going to hang themselves for TAA.

  15. PQS

    Re: TAA/TPP:
    Over the past couple of days I’ve seen more postings in other venues about the comparison between the current “deal” and NAFTA. I think this is a good pressure point on Congress. Many of them may not have been around during NAFTA, but with an election coming up next year, they can be persuaded that EVERYONE will remember a disastrous trade deal like NAFTA during 2016.

    I’ve even seen videos of crazy old Ross Perot and his “sucking sound” sound bite…good!

  16. Pookah Harvey

    The article on Obamacare is pure Insurance industry propaganda.

    Mish titles his article

    More Obamacare Sticker Shock: HMO Rates Up 20%, EPO Up 18%, 12% Overall; Death Spiral for Insurers?

    He continues to describe the huge Obamacare insurance premium increases as if they are already implemented. In bold letters he states “Premiums Jump 12% On Average ”

    The very next sentence states where he got the information, “Health Pocket reports Obamacare Insurers Propose 12% Higher Premiums for 2016”.

    See the difference? The industry PROPOSES huge increases as they do every year and every year the government approves something a lot smaller, As Krugman points out the media thoroughly covers the large industry proposed increases but forgets to cover the much smaller actual increases giving the public a false impression.

    As Krugman states
    “So each year they hear a flurry of scare stories about surging premiums, then nothing more — and the impression they build up over time is that Obamacare expenses are out of control. No wonder, then, that almost nobody knows the truth, which is that Obamacare has ended up costing much less than expected”

    For a full explanation see Krugman,

    1. Sanctuary

      Well, that’s what you get for passing a program with high direct costs (individual mandate, taxation of benefits, tax penalties), indirect/meager benefits, and absolutely no cost controls. That’s pure political malpractice. I’ve said it since 2009, this program is a slow motion, slow building disaster precisely because of that nature. It makes each and every premium increase the “Democrats’ fault” in the eyes of the general public while most of the public has nothing concrete to latch on to as a direct benefit they can attribute to Obamacare.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Insurance industry propaganda.

      I take it then that that industry wants to scare people and make them think Obamacare expenses are out of control. Maybe it wants Obamacare to go away or, more likely, intended or unintended, it wants people to get angry at the insurance companies with those huge – even though not accurately reported – ‘proposed increases.’

    3. Anon

      That might be the case, but any program where you have the poorest citizens pay 5k upfront before they can be seen/treated is terrible, exaggerated news notwithstanding.

    4. marym

      Isn’t it as likely that the purpose of the projection of much larger premium increases is to make the implementation of less large premium increases more palatable?

      In any case, premium increases and the resulting need for increased subsidies are only a part of the cost of healthcare. There’s also additional cost to people in copays and deductibles, and the necessary question of how much lower costs may be attributable to people not getting the care they need because of out-of-pocket costs, narrow networks, and narrow drug formularies.

  17. Jess

    Can somebody explain to me the reason to support Rent Control laws? At the most basic level, it’s a program to let people live where they want, rather than where they can afford. (Same with subsidized affordable housing laws.) This is has been exploited by business to enable it to conveniently locate the labor pool without having to pay sufficient wages.

    What if a person went to their city council or Board of Supervisors and said, “I would like to drive a Mercedes but I can only afford a Kia. Therefore, I want you to force the Mercedes dealer to sell or lease me a Benz at a Kia price.” Chances are, the council would ask the man to wait while they summoned the guys in the white coats with the butterfly nets.

    Now some will argue that housing is a human right. Assuming that’s true, why does it have to be at a specific location? Others will say that housing is essential but a car is not. Works adequately in a few areas, but ever tried getting around places like So Cal or Dallas-FW or Houston without a car? Good luck living in Orange County and working in L.A. without a car, car pool, etc.

    I came to my opinion on this subject one morning sitting on the steps of the house I rented in a low-income city while I waited for the locksmith and the cops to show up. My place had been burglarized and I needed the locksmith to get me in after the lock was broken. To while away the time I read the local newspaper. There was a story about how four families with low income (lower than mine) were moving into brand new subsidized affordable condos in a very ritzy beach community that was only a mile away from where I was sitting. (One mile, and about a tripling or quadrupling of rental prices. Having a top school district will do that. Also, not allowing people to park cars in their front yards — as my city of residence at the time did and still does — tends to elevate property values.)

    So anyway, explain to me how people who work but can’t afford to live in high-rent areas should help subsidize the lucky few who hit some kind of lottery.

    PS. Twenty years ago I remember reading how the average renter in a rent-controlled dwelling in the People’s Republic of Santa Monica had a household income of $85K a year. I actually dated one of those lucky folks, a woman who made almost exactly that much annually, plus a good medical bennies plan. She paid $650/mo for a nice two-bedroom rent-controlled apartment about ten blocks from the beach while driving a top-end Lexus and vacationing in places like France, the Bahamas, etc.

    1. frosty zoom

      uh, welfare kings’n’queens we ain’t.

      thanks to the rent control regime in my jurisdiction, rent can only be increased 4% yearly, max., thus providing us with a buffer against the otherwise avaricious nature of some landlords.

      luxurious, it isn’t, but it’s stable.

    2. AQ

      So your solution to housing to let the market rule. Okay, what happens next? A mile away in California would seem to be nothing. What happens when developers decide to claim your neighborhood? Where will you go? What will it mean for you and your family if you are forced out of your neighborhood/community?

      Just curious but what are those affordable condos like? Would you lower your family’s income in order to live there? Why / why not? How would it affect you and your family’s lifestyle?

      Finally, why should the collective ‘we’ support mortgage interest tax write-offs? Property tax refunds, rent credit refunds or even initiatives like Proposition 13? TIFF business zones? religious property tax exemption? etc., etc., etc.

      ETA: Thought experiment: If Manhattan got rid of all rent control & subsidized housing but kept all of the current property tax incentives, how long before billionaire’s row became most of the city? How many people would actually live there as opposed to park their money there? (Having never been to NY, I really have no idea but I suspect that things would change based on some of the articles I read now.)

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The Permanent Residence of the Egyptian Ambassador is the entire 10th floor of the building (and it’s been there for at least 40 years). Mind you, you can get 5 ample-sized one bedroom apts out of one floor, and that includes a really large rotunda and room-sized service area as part of the public space on each floor. So in other words, yes, plenty of room for camels here!

    3. tegnost

      ah, yes …the 90’s…maybe santa monica needs “i’mabigshot” control now instead…favorite cali beach town story…guy walks into the maserati dealer at pearl and girard and grabs keys off the sales desk and drives away…i guess all those questionable characters smashing windows at scripps pier decided it’s time to move up

    4. Gio Bruno

      Those Section 8 housing units in the ritzy part of town were required to be included in the elite development by planning and development regulations. Don’t think for a New York minute that those Section 8 units are anything like the market priced units. They’re not!

      And if that is where you want to live. Go get on the list. Eventually your wish will be granted.

  18. Sanctuary

    Re: Black Injustice Tipping Point

    As I asked last night, has anyone noticed that the only cops that have been held accountable for these police incidents within the last year- year and a half, have been in the South? At least 2 in South Carolina (the Levar Jones and Walter Scott cases), the recent Mckinley case, possibly one in Florida, and now this one:

    I can’t think of any case in any Northern or Blue area where the cops have been held accountable. Can you? Baltimore is iffy since the cops haven’t been indicted.

    1. ambrit

      Baltimore is iffy because, if Lincoln hadn’t sent in federal troops and taken over the place, Maryland would have joined the Confederacy. (Short form; Baltimore is a Southern City. So is the District of Columbia, as the recent cannabis legalization fracas proved.)

    2. BDBlue

      I responded to this in yesterday’s comments (late) – but in addition to making the point about Baltimore arguably being a Southern city, I also noted that the officers in Baltimore have been indicted, at least according to CNN.

      Yes, it is interesting that Northern and Midwestern cities seem to not even get to charges, especially New York. But then New York has long been known for having its cops acquitted no matter the evidence, so perhaps the city is just saving itself the money since juries there are unlikely to convict anyway.*

      * That, of course, was facetious. Whether a jury ultimately convicts is not necessarily a sign that charges should or should not have been brought, although obviously it can be.

      1. Sanctuary

        It’s especially shocking when you look at this list:

        Notice how many of these took place “up North” and/or in Blue areas? I’m sure if you research these individually you’ll find almost none of the Northern/Blue cases (except a notable famous few) resulted in charges/indictments or prison time for the cops involved.

        Update: Yep, if you look at each case, there is an Aftermath section that tells you what happened. It is uncanny how the Southern officers are held accountable but the Northern/Blue ones never even get charges.

        1. ambrit

          I’m not sure how to respond because one could argue that this disparity is a direct result of the Civil Rights legislation that has influenced the legislation and policing in the South since Johnsons day. That and that the so called “people of colour” have grabbed a larger share of the political power available since the ’60s. One interesting demographic is that, as an example, the State of Mississippi, which has the nations highest percentage of black citizens, still is majority white. (As of 2013, White 59.8% and Black 37.4%) Yet, many towns and cities in the state are majority black. Thus, the ‘offshoring’ of industry and manufacturing disproportionately affects ‘persons of colour.’ here in the South. Hence, one could reasonably argue that the neo-liberal ‘globalization’ of trade has had the effect, intended or not, of further marginalizing minority populations.
          There is a scene in the film “The Last Hurrah” where Spencer Tracys character, an embattled old time politician, is holding a quick ‘strategy’ session with his ward bosses. He turns to a well dressed black man and says something along the lines of, “You’ll be able to deliver your peoples votes this time, right?” The black man nods affirmatively. Right there you have the black experience in the North. Separate but equal. The separation is obvious, the equality not so much. When you’re needed, you’re equal. When you’re not…
          (I’ve lived most of my life in the South. I would welcome corrections from Northerners if my depiction is wrong.)

  19. cripes

    antifa: all good except, business leaders and corporations are NOT legally required to maximize shareholder profits to the exclusion of all else. This is a lie pimped by milton freidman and debunked here:
    and elsewhere.
    Also, corporate looters actually destroy shareholder value as well as jobs, in the process of control fraud as descibed by Bill Black.

    1. craazyboy

      Hence the feigned confusion between “fiduciary duty” and “maximizing shareholder profits”.

  20. cripes

    wow, jess: can you do a little more cherry-picking while you feed us poor-bashing isolated anecdotes about “welfare queens?”
    if you think you’re getting screwed, you’re right, just not too sharp about who’s screwing you.
    Affordable housing is reduced billions of dollars from 30 years ago.
    Not a big picture guy are you?
    Next, Jess will tell us not to be jealous of people who have more than us. HawHaw.

  21. NIMBY

    Red Pill: It’s simple, the earlier bank test was bogus, and Europe just calculated how much it would cost to “save” Ukraine.

    The EU can’t possibly pony up right now, and frankly never intended to do so. The whole point of messing up the Ukraine was to (a) isolate Putin and leave him with a bankrupt mess in Ukraine while (b) stripping any valuable assets that are worth the trouble (such as the farmland the IMF handed Conagra) through the IMF and putting them into Western Oligarchy hands. Loading the state with more interest bearing debt is just to make the pill that more poisonous.

    Eventually Putin has to clean up the mess, weakening Russia even further. Who cares in Washington, London or Frankfurt (or even Warsaw) how much misery they inflict, it’s going to pay off for the Oligarchy in these capitols. Lets not forget all of these western states regard the war criminal Henry Kissinger as something of a hero, and still pay him well for inflicting new suffering on the world.

  22. Deep

    Dear Bill,Sadly, I haven’t heard a peep from Brooksley Born. But when I do, I will post it here. I think Simon Johnson (economist), Brooksley Born (lawyer) and maybe a policy guy like Bob Reich (not sure about that last one maybe you guys could come up with soenome better) would make a great triple threat. I wish soenome (Mr. Kwak, are you there?) would use their estimable reputation to urge them to work together. Or some other similar triumvirate. I really worry that a failure to coordinate now will allow a much worse scenario to occur. I have been to the ANWF protests, AND the (sigh) Tax Day tea party protests, et cetera. I have honestly tried to gauge the level of support for banking reform on both sides, and it is THERE, but that support requires leadership, not just criticism. I’d also like to suggest that a failure of people like Johnson to graduate into a leadership position leaves, for example, the Tea Partiers to the wolf-like jaws of Rush Limbaugh. Please be aware that many of the tea partiers I spoke with were actually quite open to smarter ideas and better explanations they simply hadn’t been provided with any, because we hadn’t bothered to engage them. We had dismissed them, and I would suggest our dismissal of them was in part based on class divisions. That hurts not just them, but us. I know it’s a lot to ask, but this is indeed a crisis And Mr. Johnson, Mr. Kwak, please step up to the next level. We desperately need you to function at that higher level. The green room is for narcissists

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