Links 6/17/15

Households flee as Alaska wildfire mushrooms in heart of sled dog country Japan Times :-(

Global water supplies are ‘in distress’, scientists warn Financial Times. I have been saying for years that water is the natural resource for which we will hit supply constraints first. This was based on research in Australia in the early 2000s, so this should have been recognized as a major problem long ago (as in the research in Oz was unlikely to be the first to make this observation).

Renewable energy from evaporating water PhysOrg (Robert M)

GMOs and the Neoliberal Apologists Counterpunch

Sovereign debt needs international supervision Joseph Stiglitz, Guardian

North Korea hit by ‘worst drought’ BBC

The Le Pen Factor Politico


Divorce in haste, repent at leisure, says Martin Wolf Financial Times. Lead story.

Greece’s pension paradox: Many elderly are broke, despite government’s costly spending on system Financial Post

Austrian chancellor sides with Greece in debt row Reuters. If this is what support looks like, it’s not much different aside from the friendlier packaging; “Faymann, a Social Democrat who has taken a relatively lenient line with Greece, told broadcaster ORF that Athens had to live up to commitments under its current bailout plan but needed support to keep it from leaving the euro zone. ” So that means Greece is to take its austerity medicine, as in stick with the current memorandum, but it gets a couple of pieces of “support” candy. And Eurozone officials are making clear that this is not an authorized visit: I’m not quite sure what the Austrian chancellor is doing in Athens,” says senior #EU official. #Greece @SpeigelPeter

Greek travails turn spotlight on Spanish defences Financial Times

Drip Feeding Greece Will End in Default Real News Network. NC gets a shout out at 19:30 on Nathan Tankus’ work on a Grexit. Also confirms our fear that there is no Plan B.

Greece blames everybody but itself for its economic woes Harry Theoharis, Guardian

Europe Asks the Impossible of Greece Bloomberg. Note that Crook is pretty conservative and this is crisp and very well put. But he ignores the other side of the impasse: that having made such a big issue of the pensions (as in broadcasting it as a focus of the fight, so it is a heightened issue domestically and in the international media), it’s also impossible for the Eurozone countries to concede, since Greeks actually have (in cases like Slovakia) or are perceived to have better pensions than their citizens do.

Hydrocarbon block tender still on ekathimerini

U.S. Treasury Secretary Lew Urges Greece to Reach an Agreement NASDAQ

ND doubts Tsipras is searching for agreement ekathimerini

Tsipras misleading Greece, says EU commission chief Juncker DW. This probably does not matter in terms of outcomes, since the ECB and the IMF are the power players, but alienating the EC, which has been trying to find ways to square the circle, wasn’t necessary and can’t help.


Russia to increase nuclear arsenal as U.S. plans more firepower in Europe Washington Post

Upsides for Steel Industry in a Russian Downturn, Despite Sanctions New York Times (reslic)


Offering Services, ISIS Digs In Deeper in Seized Territories New York Times

Imperial Collapse Watch

As Stress Drives Off Drone Operators, Air Force Must Cut Flights New York Times (Lambert)

Bombing the Arctic: US Navy War Games in Gulf of Alaska Threaten One of World’s Most Pristine Areas Democracy Now. Glenn F: “This is incredible.

Trade Traitors

House Moves to Delay Action on Trade Bill for 6 Weeks New York Times

Failure of Obama’s Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Could Hurt U.S. Influence in Asia New York Times. This is the new sales pitch.

2 shocking polls show a Democratic challenger picking up steam against Hillary Clinton MSN (Kevin C)

Issa escorted out of Benghazi deposition The Hilln (furzy mouse)

Surviving the Drought in California: Farm Workers Struggle to Put Food on the Table TruthOut

The Shockingly Racist Contrast in How the Media Describe Black Protests and White Riots Alternet

Fremont woman loses bid to learn why husband denied a visa SFGate (Fred A)

Judge in A.I.G. Case Rebukes Davis Polk Law Firm New York Times

Why Janet Yellen sounds more like a hawk Wall Street Journal

Housing advocates: FHFA won’t reduce principal, offers discounted NPLs Housing Wire (Deontos). The report cited is much more to the point: “Do Hedge Funds Make Good Neighbors?”

Hedge-Fund Bet Hits Pensions Wall Street Journal

After 25 Years of Losing to Wall Street, Left-Wing Democrats Are Winning The Nation (furzy mouse)

Class Warfare

Walmart Accused Of Using Its Charitable Foundation To Build More Walmarts Consumerist

In Turnabout, Disney Cancels Layoffs of Tech Workers New York Times (Lawrence R)

Antidote du jour. Gary O: “Here’s a link to photos and story about six four-week old wolf cubs, from The Local: German news in English, “Hand-raised cubs to boost wolf numbers: Nearly 135 years after the last wolf in the Hunsrück area of Rhineland-Palatinate is believed to have been shot dead, six baby wolves are being nurtured by hand.”

wolves sleeping links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. diptherio

    Our fire season was just officially announced here in MT…about 30 days ahead of schedule…this is bad…good thing climate change is a hoax :-/

    1. cwaltz

      The question has never been about whether or not the climate is changing but about how much of it is a result of man and how much of it is a natural part of being on a planet comprised of 75% water since water vapor is the largest greenhouse gas. Don’t get me wrong I believe we all have a responsibility to be stewards of the planet however, people should remember that even without humans polluting the planet our planet was able to warm up enough to end the ice age(which coincidentally they also believe was a result of rising CO2 levels.)

      1. participant-observer-observed

        Yes but not at exponential hockey stick rates!

        Actually, in terms of metaphysical, faith-based obstacles to sustainable, healthy, climate stewardship, the most serious is failure to believe in reincarnation. (Whether phylogenetic or otherwise).

        If people realized that they could not escape the consequences of their actions after death, that they will be reborn life after life right here on planet earth, that THEY will be living with tree stumps burned out by decades of drought and famine, and the ‘warring states’ that ensue (and are already here), selling future generation’s welfare for the sake of another minute of self-cherishing, temporary, unsustainable consumption would fall out of fashion much more quickly.

        From an evolutionary perspective, the species that is willing to gamble the death of its future generations is not likely to endure. That’s the game we are playing, but it is easier to re-write high school “science” books than accept the empirical evidence of evolution (or anything other than mobile phone technology and gravity)!

        North America would appear to be worst off, isolated by oceans and historically belligerent to all abroad; unable to make and sustain friends.

        1. cwaltz

          I actually believe in reincarnation(instead of hellfire and brimstone.) I like to consider myself a pretty decent steward. I recycle and use thrift stores. I don’t drive. I plant trees and love animals. I think most people assume that because I say that I’m uncertain how much damage is a result of us that I think that people should heedlessly and recklessly consume. I don’t. I’m a fairly strong proponent of the planet. That being said, I wish scientists would admit that there is still a lot we don’t understand about our planet or our effect on it.

      2. Gio Bruno

        …and that process (Ice Age thawing) took thousands of years. The current change in temperature is occuring in a couple hundred years. Umm, and we know how much CO2 was in the atmosphere 18,000 years ago versus how much is in the atmosphere today. It didn’t all come from volcanoes. Fossil fuels are the culprit.

        1. Praedor

          AND, the process of climate warming over geologic times is known to have vulcanism as driver. Now, it is possible to trace the origin of the CO2 causing warming and the vast bulk IS derived from human sources. So, you can identify the source of CO2, it has been done, it is found to be predominantly from human combustion sources rather than vulcanism. That’s game, set, match.

        2. ewmayer

          No — while melting the bulk of the accumulated ice may have taken on the order of 1000 years, the temperature swing at the start of the Holocene was very rapid — the better the climatologists dissect the historical record, the more rapid it appears to have been. Similarly for the several-thousand-years-later relapse/remission episode known as the Younger Dryas. AGW is likely real, but ignorance of the actual historical record does not help in debates about the matter.

      3. binky J. Bear

        In point of fact it may have been the rise of agriculture and the spread of farming that increased CO2 in the atmosphere through field burning and increasing methane production from animal husbandry and soil management that increased atmospheric temperatures enough to cause glacial retreat at the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary.

        Human use of fire was uncontrolled even into recent memory; wildfire suppression is a relatively new practice, and only since WWII have phalanxes of surplus bombers been turned to the task of spreading water and fire retardant on “valuable” timber crops on public land. Vast stretches of land used to burn until they burned out or were rained out, across taiga and grassland and forest. Another practice was tree girdling, where a circle of bark was removed from trees in wetter soils and the root system of the dead tree used to wick water out of the soil sufficient to burn off the land for cultivation.

        It was always us.

        1. Robert Dudek

          There were so few humans then that I doubt the efforts were more than a pinprick.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Hillary’s presidential run kicks off the fifth decade of the Clintons’ quest for federal office, which began in 1974 with Bill’s run for Congress in Arkansas. Will their eternal campaign ever end? In a word, no.

    After their passage from this world, the Clintons fully intend to work their way up the political hierarchy of the underworld, from fire pit boss to Viceroy of Hades under the watchful eye of Mr. D himself (with whom they are already well acquainted).

    From this exalted position they can implement badly needed social reforms, such as limiting roasting temperatures to 450 °F in summer, and 350 °F for children and puppies.

    “Hell is for children,” Hillary will announce with earnest officiousness, as Mr. D beams avuncularly. On the dais, Bill and his new good-time girl, Mae West, will leer and snicker.

    1. neo-realist

      Prescott and George HW Bush sit along side Bill and Mae chortling through their oxygen masks. George W. chortles through his nitrous oxide mask.

        1. participant-observer-observed

          His appearance seemed sort of innocent; maybe he will go to purgatory?

  3. Carole

    New IMF report on equality discusses why Reagan’s “trickle down” economics was wrong:

    “… if the income share of the top 20 percent (the rich) increases, then GDP growth actually declines over the medium term, suggesting that the benefits do not trickle down. In contrast, an increase in the income share of the bottom 20 percent (the poor) is associated with higher GDP growth. The poor and the middle class matter the most for growth via a number of interrelated economic, social, and political channels.”

    1. abynormal

      funnee, during that time the IMF had no problem with Destruction(s):
      According to UNICEF, over 500,000 children under the age of five died each year in Africa and Latin America in the late 1980s as a direct result of the debt crisis and its management under the International Monetary Fund’s structural adjustment programs. These programs required the abolition of price supports on essential food-stuffs, steep reductions in spending on health, education, and other social services, and increases in taxes. The debt crisis has never been resolved for much of sub-Saharan Africa. Extrapolating from the UNICEF data, as many as 5,000,000 children and vulnerable adults may have lost their lives in this blighted continent as a result of the debt crunch.
      Ross P. Buckley, The Rich Borrow and the Poor Repay: The Fatal Flaw in International Finance, World Policy Journal, Volume XIX, No 4, Winter 2002/03
      Under a plan devised by President Reagan’s Secretary to the Treasury, James Baker, indebted countries were offered World Bank and IMF “servicing” loans in return for the “structural adjustment” of their economies. This meant that the economic direction of each country would be planned, monitored and controlled in Washington. “Liberal containment” was replaced by laissez-faire capitalism known as the “free market”.
      John Pilger, Hidden Agendas, (The New Press, 1998), p.63
      stacked deck:
      Not surprisingly, the World Bank and IMF are directed by the governments of the world’s richest countries. Combined, the “Group of 7” (U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan) hold more than 40% of the votes on the Boards of Directors of these institutions. The U.S. alone accounts for almost 20%. (The U.S. holds 16.45% of the votes at the World Bank, and over 17% of the votes at the International Monetary Fund.)Ann-Louise Colgan, Hazardous to Health: The World Bank and IMF in Africa, Africa Action, April 18, 2002

      1. abynormal

        apologies for the repost…zippy slow’n down this morning
        (the pg is a good read with plenty links)

      2. MikeNY

        Debunked? Whaddya mean, debunked?

        — Yellen, Bernanke & Greenspan, LLC, Superfabulicious Economists on the Cutting Edge

      3. Jackrabbit

        ‘Trickle-down’ and other bad policies play into larger myths that are promoted in many, and often subtle, ways. ‘Trickle-down’ makes sense to those who believe in myths like: rugged individualism (greed is good), free markets (the regulate themselves!), consumerism (money as speech), etc.

        Yves has written of myth-making before (and maybe should revisit).

        1. Ulysses

          Speaking of myths, Chris Hedges does a good job pointing out that the myth of genuine participatory politics in the U.S., at a national level, is preventing people from living in reality:

          “I intend to devote no more time to the upcoming presidential elections than walking to my local polling station on Election Day, voting for a third-party candidate…
          Any further energy invested in these elections… is a waste of time….
          There is, however, a new, emergent consciousness. It has not reached the majority. But it has reached enough of the minority to make resistance possible. It is a consciousness grounded in truth and the bitter reality of our age. It sees through the myths and self-delusion. It understands the configurations of corporate power. It knows that, as the ecosystem unravels and the most terrifying security and surveillance apparatus in human history holds us hostage, revolt has become a moral imperative. The state, too, is ready. It has its spectacles, including its political theater, and it has its goons. It will use whatever tools work to maintain power. Asleep or awake, we will all pay a heavy price.”

    2. Praedor

      Jesus H Fucking Christ. I don’t even have to belong to the religious cult called “Economists” and I could have told these asshats this. The rich CAN’T drive the economy. Only the real people, the poor and middle class can drive an economy and only when THEY have the money. A (relative) handful of bazillionaires can only buy so many mansions, so many Mercedes, so many yachts. Can’t make an economy on that. MILLIONS of poor and middle class is where ALL the demand is, ALL the real spending is. The single best way Obama could have spurred economic recovery after 2008 was to give money directly to the PEOPLE of the middle class and lower. They would have IMMEDIATELY started spending on all sorts of things and driven a huge economic push upward. Bailing out rich guys and banks cannot do anything at all.

      1. susan the other

        Greece. Brave little Greece. Stiglitz above in the Guardian article. We cannot rely on the IMF because they represent the creditors. Well, duh. We certainly saw this evisceration happen with Argentina. And didn’t those same vultures write the TPP et al? Etc. I am very impressed by the dedication of Tsipras and Varoufakis to point out, repeatedly, the idiocy of free market debt slavery without any national sovereignty to offset it. Stiglitz, above, says just this. We need a mechanism that goes OVER the IMF. Goes to the UN and then decides how to re-establish sovereignty. Screw the Vultures. To death.

        1. susan the other

          And today’s honorary antidote: Romulus and Remus. They were way too smart to ever commit slow suicide by IMF – they became IMF! And now, we know all this… and we can fix it.

          1. Alejandro

            What I’ve always found interesting is that remus is sumer spelled backwards and that it was he that ended up dead. In Sumer, clean slates were periodically decreed. Whereas in Rome, this ancient wisdom of real economic stimulus was eventually discontinued. Which many attribute to the decline and fall of the Roman Republic…

            1. Alejandro

              Excerpt from THE BUBBLE AND BEYOND- by Michael Hudson
              “All the major Roman historians  —   Livy, Plutarch, Diodorus, followed by modern writers such as Arnold Toynbee  —   blamed the decline and fall of the Roman Republic on creditor intransigence leading to a century-long Social War (133– 29 BC) that polarized society between creditors and debtors. A quarter of the Empire’s population was reduced to debt bondage and hereditary slavery, plunging economic life into a Dark Age. The dynamics of debt worked much like radioactive decay, ending at the point where economies finally stabilized in a leaden state of serfdom. Economic life reverted from cities to the countryside, centered largely on church estates, leaving only subsistence production throughout most of the land.

              The relevance is that what blocks a reversal of toxic creditor power today  —   or even write-downs of more than a “haircut”  —   is that wiping out debts on the “liabilities” side of the balance sheet also wipes out savings on the “assets” side. The most politically problematic savings are those of the 1% that take the form of debts owed by the 99%. The 1% have achieved such great political influence in today’s that they are able —   and willing —   to sacrifice the economy at large, and even to bring on depression rather than relinquish their financial claims.

              This is what makes today’s financial situation a political as well as economic crisis point in the global economy. Creditors never like to take a loss —   and what makes the situation so different today is that they have achieved a political ability to drive the economy into depression in order to maintain their financial claims.”

    3. Praedor

      Once again, what I so “love” about the IMF. It produces studies and documents that are tied in to reality and reason but then, in all cases without exception, promotes the precise opposite with its de facto policies. The IMF needs to be FORCED to abide by its own damn studies in its policies.

  4. timbers

    Someone posted in comments here a few days back that the easiest way to pass TAA/TPP was simply pass a clean TAA/TPP. No add ons, no TSA, no “comprise” for our “liberal pro-trade Dems”, no nothing.

    Looks like that might be correct. And look at this quote:

    “He added that Pelosi is “not at all” on bad terms with Obama, saying that the president “has had no stronger and more reliable ally than Nancy Pelosi” during his six and a half years in office.”

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      They still have to deal with the Senate on reconciliation. For some reason, my insiders tell me the Administration was afraid to do that, hence the machinations of last week (“splitting the question”).

  5. Jeff

    Re: Renewable energy from evaporating water
    You need tons of energy (ie sunshine) to evaporate water.
    For this thing to work you need water and sunshine, things that rarely go together.
    And if you have so much sunshine, a PV system is probably easier & cheaper to build and maintain, and does not require water. I don’t know whether it would generate more or less power per unit surface as this thing.

    Nice plaything and nice idea,though.

      1. weevish

        For today’s homework assignment, calculate or look up the vapor pressure of water at the temperature earth would approach in the absence of sunshine.

        Withe the exception of nuclear fission (stolen from someone else’s star long ago), all of our energy ultimately comes down to sunshine. I’m with Jeff. It does look like a cool toy.

        1. twonine

          I’ll certainly acknowledge the sun keeps tap water above freezing most of the time.

  6. Torsten

    Deported Haitians.

    Finally, the deportation of Haitians from the Dominican Republic has received some mainstream media attention (e.g. NYT) following the recent Harper’s article.

    This trainwreck has been unfolding for two years, and the silence of diplomats and businesses has been deafening. It’s time that governments and the companies doing business in the Dominican Republic need to be called out for their inaction.

    Corporate foreign investment is way off my beat, and on the web the only corporate predators I could readily find doing business in the D.R. were Philip Morris, Unilever, and Carnival. Who else is sitting on their hands while this tragedy unfolds?

    I know, it’s hard to shame anybody for abusing Haitians, but I, for one, am going to try.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When I visited over 10 years ago, I thought I saw some Asian garment factories.

    2. David

      Who else is sitting on their hands while this tragedy unfolds?

      The NGOs that raised money to rebuild Haiti after the earthquake?

      Driving business out of the Dominican Republic just causes more misery for both Haitians and Dominicans.

      1. Torsten

        Philip Morris is a Certified Predator. Driving their “business” out of existence will alleviate misery world-wide.

        There is nothing wrong with bringing well-paid jobs to Hispaniola or to people anywhere. Unilever and Carnival can claim at least a fig leaf of innocence. Their shame is that they have apparently failed to lobby the seats of power in their empire (the White House and the U.S. Congress) to alleviate the misery on Hispaniola. That is their shame. They are not alone.

        Our shame is that we excuse these corporations and their captive governments from labor practices and civil rights standards that we would not approve for people of our own alma mater.

  7. Dino Reno

    Offering Services, ISIS Digs In Deeper in Seized Territories

    Hilarity ensures every time I hear NPR call ISIS the “so-called” Islamic State. Holding territory and providing services is more than a state of mind, but National Propaganda Radio has its marching orders.

    1. RabidGandhi

      Democracy Now! calls them “the self-proclaimed Islamic State”

      Holding my breath to hear “the self-proclaimed United States of America”

      1. Praedor

        That latter name for the USA is more accurate given how things have gone completely pear-shaped in the ole Oligarchic States of Murika.

        1. RabidGandhi

          From our perspective elsewhere in the Americas, it’s the Country of the Nameless.

          What shall we call them: Americans? No that includes all of us, not just folks in USA. United Statesians (estadounidenses in Spanish)? No that could be someone from the united states of México, Venezuela or Brasil. Yanquis? No, that’s just the northeasterners.

          Very cruel of the founders not to give their subjects a moniker.

  8. Swedish Lex

    Clive Crook’s column is the final evidence, if one needed more, that Syriza has managed to turn the global debate on Greece 180 degrees since it was elected. At the time of the Greek élections, Syriza’s position was ridiculed at totally crazy left. The creditors’ version of the truth was the only thing in town.

    By refusing to negotiate on the terms of the creditors and, also by engaging in pro-active media, the Greeks have completely changed the perception of things. This may not be obvious to NC readers since the views here all along has been what mainstream is just discovering.

    I am not defending Syriza’s other track record. But without having first engineered this change in perception, it would have been impossible for Syriza to make ambitious demands at this point.

    1. Fool

      After the tragedy, Europe is one big fart; the reflexivity of Germany’s shame will always bubble to the surface. Kudos to Syriza for this recognition. In the end, though, Germany can’t forgive itself, even after it ultimately forgives Greece’s debt.

      1. Swedish Lex

        Freshly out from German news paper Die Welt, via the Guardian:
        Are the Greek prime minister’ negotiating skills perhaps paying off? The leader has been the butt of rare praise … in no other than the German Die Welt. And perhaps that has not been lost on the Greek media, reports Helena Smith.

        The posturing, foot-dragging and sheer brinkmanship that the Greek government has displayed may not be the work of “hot-heads” but two very level-headed men who may well be Europe’s most successful politicians. So says, Germany’s leading newspaper Die Welt of the Greek leader Alexis Tsipras and his finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. The paper writes that the Greek duo are deliberately drawing out the process so that Tsipras can eventually arrive at the higher-level “political solution” he so publicly wants. The paper says the two men may have pulled off the feat of deconstructing the German psyche. “They are soberly observing the fear that is eroding Germans and drawing their conclusions. What we have been continuously reading in recent months, that Tsipras and Varoufakis have been pushed in a corner, is wrong. Right now, they are probably the most successful politicians in Europe.”

        1. Swedish Lex

          This must be added:

          That is not, of course, how many in Tsipras’ own Syriza party see things (Varoufakis intriguingly has never become a member).

          Earlier today I spoke to Stathis Kouvelakis, the London University professor, who accused Syriza of retreating to the point where it was now on the brink of suffering a mighty defeat.

          Speaking from Paris, Kouvelakis predicted that the “Syriza project” would endure a huge existential crisis if it agreed to apply the reform proposals it had made to creditors. “Either Tsipras commits political suicide and accepts these measures, or he says the big ‘no’. What is sure is that after five months of so-called negotiations the outcome is worse than the starting-point which is absolutely absurd. The government waited five months, when its coffers were empty and its position extremely weakened, to delay payments to the IMF,” said Kouvelakis who sits on Syriza’s central committee. “It should have done that earlier, just as it should have made clear to lenders that if they don’t change their attitudes, there are alternatives solutions.”

          1. Swedish Lex

            Conclusion; a risky bet that brinkmanship – and credibly threatening the rest of the EU with an exit – will work.

            1. Praedor

              Brinkmanship should ALWAYS be conducted with FULL intent to go over the brink if your “bluff” is called. Never EVER fall back from the brink, go over, when push comes to shove.

              1. JTMcPhee

                And is that not a wonderfully useful exhortation and encouragement, as our effing rulers work up the return to the good old days of the notsoCold War, “placing heavy weapons in Poland,” and “upgrading the US nuclear arsenal” and the Rooskies are in it too, their effing revanchist generals must be just squirting testosterone and adrenalin and stuff just like ours are doing, now that the Rooskies are reportedly adding 40 new ICBMs “capable of penetrating any existing missile defense shield” to that side of the Death Before Dishonor ledger…

                C’mon, assh___es — get it effing over with, you numbnuts t__ds! I personally am getting real tired of waiting for you pinpricks to drop the other shoe that we ordinary people have paid so much, in blood and treasure, to cobble up for you…

                1. Praedor

                  Which is why their “brinkmanship” isn’t real. Sure, there are SOME whackos that really do want to nuke Russia but, in reality, they are seeking to gin up a cold war without any real risk of exchange of mushroom clouds. I daresay that if it really did come to look like that might be what they really were about to bring down upon themselves, they would suddenly see cooler heads come forward.

                  How eager do you think Germany today is to be THE front line again of nuclear destruction? Merkel may be cool with it but I suspect the people would be violently opposed to this. Moreso now than they even were during the original Cold War.

                2. Praedor

                  As per the Russian announcement that they are going to acquire 40 new missile systems…I just LOVE (sarcasm) how it was presented: the Eastern European countries were worried because of Russia’s (re) acquisition of Crimea, neglecting the actual background. The US spurred an illegal coup against an elected government in Ukraine, then appointed the replacement government, THEN immediately made a deal before the anyone had even rearranged office furniture for US corporate access to Ukrainian farmland AND oil/gas fields. The add-on bonus (it was thought) was that the US would then be able, via its puppet government in Kiev, to kick the Russkies out of their base in Crimea and, by extension, kick them out of the Black Sea. Oops. Instead Russia reclaimed their Crimean territory that was inappropriately and unceremoniously handed over (illegal by all modern “standards”) to Ukraine by Kruschev back in the 50s.

                  I do so wonder what would happen if, say, Russia instigated a coup in Mexico, selected the replacement government and IMMEDIATELY secured military basing rights and rights to oil/gas from the new government. Hmmmm, I wonder if the US would stand idly by the way it apparently thought that Russia should? No, the entire basis for Eastern European countries wanting NATO troop buildups in their territories was due to an illegal coup by the very people they now want to “protect” them. They fear “aggression” from Russia that, in fact, behaved predictably and justifiably given the backhground circumstances. All they get now is continued forced privatization, forced austerity, and enhancement of the 1% oligarchs in their own countries.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Posturing…foot-dragging…level headed.

          The stories about Greek hospitals without money, without medicine – it’s all part of ‘short term pain , while we foot-drag, but long term health.’

          It’s all a matter of degree, I suppose: Let a recession, for example, run its natural course (on its own), to the extreme end of “let them liquidate, liquidate, liquidate (a crisis which can be an opportunity?).”

          Perhaps a safety net for those Greek hospitals or maybe not taking money from cities and other institutions to pay the creditors, somewhere along the path as they foot-dragged??? Or are these Greeks part of the ‘level-headed’ (as the Guardian puts it) price to pay with the strategy of ‘short term pain, long term gain?’

        3. Yves Smith Post author

          We pointed out that driving things to the political level has not achieved the results that Tsipras and Varoufakis wanted. They assumed that dealing with Merkel and Hollande would 1. secure a more sympathetic hearing and 2. would amount to a deal (as in Merkel was The Decider).

          In fact, what has resulted is:

          1. Positions hardened against Greece after Tsipras forced the discussion. The critical meeting occurred when the lenders were frustrated and alarmed at where the deal stood and huddled to make their own proposal on June 1. This was also AFTER Tsipras’ Le Monde article, which slurred Merkel. Syriza submitted its proposal Monday evening, while the creditors were working on theirs and submitted it Wednesday (almost certainly without looking much if at all at the 47 page doc, the purpose of it was to present their joint position). Merkel had already hardened her stance against Greece the previous Friday. Her statements previously had been equivocal. As of that Friday before (May 29), she threw her weight behind the IMF and I have not see any sign she has changed her position since then.

          2. Tsipras also assumed Merkel could deliver the creditors. She can’t, or at least can’t as of now. Her own party trusts Schauble more than her on the subject of Greece. And you’d expect to see way more efforts to move German public opinion to the “We must hold our noses and save Greece for the sake of the Eurzone, which is ultimately for the best for us.” Other countries have also toughened their stance versus Greece, and again, there isn’t the lead time for Merkel to beat them into line (even assuming she could).

          In other words, their success at achieving their objective has not led to the outcome they sought. Looks at the level of open animosity. How can you possibly call that a success? Negotiations have broken down multiple times and are not even underway now. Germany would have to call an emergency session of the Bundestag next week (it’s scheduled to be on holiday all week) to pass needed legislation (either a bailout or a bailout extension) and I see no sign that is happening either.

          1. Robert Dudek

            The only way for the Greeks to have avoided animosity from the troika side is to have fully capitulated along the lines of “yes Master, how high should I jump?”. After all, they were and are dealing with the enemy.

            The fundamental mistake they have made is in not taking a MORE defiant stance from day one. Their best tactic was and still is what the Brits call sheer bloody-mindedness. From day one they should have said plainly- austerity is done, if you/troika can’t accept that we will burn the m-f-er down.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I hate to tell you, but Crook is in the minority. You’ve seen moderates harden against Greece, like the head of the party that was Greek-supportive in Germany as well as the Slovaks. And the finance people have been unimpressed with “extend and pretend” for years, even as they have profited from it, and naively call for a Grexit (as in thinking Draghi now has things under control). I see very few who have changed their priors.

  9. steviefinn

    Yes & at least everybody else in the sheep pen that is the EU knows what they are up against & hopefully will be able to develop some effective resistance against it from hard lessons learnt.

  10. afisher

    Walmart has been hiding it’s wealth in off-shore accounts – here is the Luxemborg connection again.

    “A groundbreaking report released Wednesday, June 17, by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) reveals that Walmart has built a vast, undisclosed network of 78 subsidiaries and branches in 15 overseas tax havens, which may be used to minimize foreign taxes where it has retail operations and to avoid U.S. tax on those foreign earnings. These secretive subsidiaries have never been subject to public scrutiny before. They have remained largely invisible, in part because Walmart fails to list them in its annual 10-K filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Walmart’s preferred tax haven is Luxembourg, dubbed a “magical fairyland” for corporations looking to shelter profits from taxation.”

    Nice graphics!

    1. vidimi

      yeah, french tv did a special on how mcdonald’s used luxembourg to pay only 16m€ on 3000m€ of profit in France in 2014.

      free trade for the win…if you’re a multinational

    2. Toschek

      So, even though Walmart was recently discovered to have squirreled away billions in off-shore tax havens their “charitable” arm gives away less than 0.1% of that? And the donations they do give are mainly to grease the skids for Walmart’s expansion? Why am I not surprised by this at all? Charity is one thing, breadcrumbs are another. Fuck Walmart.

  11. Ned Ludd

    One big problem with Facebook as a platform for news: It deletes things

    There’s the influence of the news-feed algorithm, for one thing, which is poorly understood—primarily because the company doesn’t really talk about how it works. But there’s also the fact that Facebook routinely deletes content, and it doesn’t talk much about that either.

    Over time, journalists will learn to only report news that conforms to Facebook’s constraints.

    1. Ian

      I noticed that as well. I was also in the middle of a debate on Bill C-51 and well after I had made 3 separate entries, one of the persons I was debating with somehow managed to bypass the time line and interject into the main thread a comment in between those comments disrupting the flow of my argument.

  12. abynormal

    The 2015 Long-Term Budget Outlook

    To put the federal budget on a sustainable path for the long term, lawmakers would have to make major changes to tax policies, spending policies, or both – by reducing spending for large benefit programs below the projected amounts, letting revenues rise more than they would under current law, or adopting some combination of those approaches.

    And here are the troubling numbers in question, numbers which would put the Greek austerity to shame, because according to the CBO if the US wants to return back to its long-term debt/GDP average of 38% of GDP, it needs to boost revenues by 14% or slash spending by 13%. Alternatively, if it wants to keep debt/GDP at its current level of 74% of GDP, the US will need to boost revenues by 6% of cut spending by 5.5%.

    “You start with a darkness to move through
    but sometimes the darkness moves through you.”
    Dean Young

    1. Praedor

      Easy to do. Tobin Tax of 0.1% would more than pay the bills. It would also allow for tax cuts for real people (the middle and lower classes – but increase upper income taxes for income inequality alleviation). The answer is, technically and in practice, simple.

      Also, change corporate tax system so that all corporations that pay its top compensated exec more than 60x the pay of their average employee (INCLUDING temps so you cannot game the system by dumping permanent staff and only going with temps) gets a punitive corporate tax rate. Corporate tax rate hits minimum only when top paid exec makes NO MORE than 60x average worker pay.

  13. david s

    Not “shocking” in the slightest that Hillary isn’t polling especially well.

    She’s inherently unlikable, didn’t set herself apart as a Senator or SoS, and represents to many what they don’t like about the mainstream, corporate Democrats since Reagan.

      1. Andy

        No shit.
        Look at the last days coverage of the “Donald”.
        ALL cable networks, and they’re still covering it.
        About as news worthy as a couple guys breaking out of prison. Maybe a headline, not non-stop coverage.

  14. spooz

    Adding to the spin control, the NYT TPP story doesn’t have a comments section, which would have demonstrated, again, that readers are overwhelmingly against the trade agreement. Also, interesting that Bernie, the “democratic challenger”, doesn’t rate enough to get his name in the headline on MSN.

    1. Chris in Paris

      Re NYT, your point is well taken — look at the comments on the pro-TPP Friedman screed this morning. I usually have a hoot toggling between “Reader’s Picks” and “NYT Picks” but for some reason, there’s no “NYT Picks” on this one…

      1. RabidGandhi

        Totally agreed about the toggling; best [unintentional] function on NYT.

        Especially on all of the comment-enabled TPP articles, the ‘Readers’ Picks’ are inevitably 40-1 against TPP, but the NYT editors always tip their hand by making it 50-50 pro/con mix in the ‘Editors’ Picks’.

        A close parallel is climate change, where 98% of scientists agree, but it makes it into the media as a raging 50-50 debate.

        1. JoeK

          I was getting nauseated by paragraph 3 but this choice bit of gorge-inducing hyperbole by a (safely-assumed) just-right-of-Reagan Japanese “expert” was the last bit of this propaganda I was willing to sully my mind with:

          ““If this collapses, Pacific Rim countries will be aghast,” said Shunpei Takemori, a professor at Keio University in Japan, the largest economy in the would-be trade zone after the United States. “China is pushing, and if the U.S. just stands aside, it would be a tragedy.””

          Who amongst you can visualize whole countries “being aghast”? What utter bollocks. And just where is China “pushing?” Right up there with Putin raising his head over the Alaskan bush (pardon the string of unintentional naughty puns).

          I’m rather disappointed that the NYT’s propaganda is so transparent; methinks they’ve a need to thumb through their Goebbels and Bernays one more time and try again with feeling.

          1. Praedor

            Each country’s oligarchs will be “aghast” but the real people will be happy and contented.

    2. Brindle

      Nice article on Obama’s collusion with Big Pharma regarding TPP:

      —“What’s especially galling about TPP support by pharma and its government lackeys is their blatant hypocrisy. Proponents of the treaty routinely accuse those that oppose it of trying to suppress free trade, yet the invulnerability to patent challenges pharma is seeking constitute a government granted monopoly that is an insidious form of protectionism”.—

      1. marym

        This deal for PhRMA supportiness was floated as an excuse (along with 60 votes, Blue Dogs, President doesn’t have a magic wand, etc.) for drug-price related failures of the ACA including no price negotiation or re-importation as referenced in your link, the defeat of a fast track for generics, and the implementation of the donut hole program that transfers public funds to drug companies with no price controls.

        Another way of thinking about this is not as the TPP as pay-back for drug companies [getting rich from] not opposing the ACA, but as the ACA as a first step to what was being planned for the TPP, with a few George and Martha ads as a fig-leaf for what was a long-range plan. The Obama administration wasn’t likely to dilute the ACA with any features that serve a public purpose, if those purposes would later be undermined by the TPP, and planning for the TPP had already started during the Bush administration.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Stress drives off (human) drone operators.

    Don’t worry.

    Robot drone operators are ready.

    And the beauty is that robots never sleep.

    That means, one robot can replace three human workers.

    “I work from 8 to 4, then from 4 to midnight and finally from midnight to 8, and I can do it every day, 365 days a year (366 in a leap year). Hire me. I am cheap.”

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Bombing the Artic.

    War game.

    Well, it’s not a game when we war on Nature with billions of volunteer consumers on our side…some even quite fanatic ($100 million mansion?).

    That bombing is merely the visible part.

    As it is typically the case, here, we are, again, ignoring our less visible ‘heroes.’

  17. Poison chalice jello shots

    Stress. Nice euphemism for resistance to complicity in serious crimes. The all-volunteer army was a response to the collapse of morale and cohesion in Vietnam. Buy-in and indoctrination was supposed to negate moral and legal constraints. But under the Nuremberg principles as written into US law, obeying a criminal order is still a crime, as the troops themselves point out.

    De facto impunity was the last line of defense, and now impunity is cracking. The US fought the Rome Statute tooth and nail but the US judiciary has been forced to acknowledge it. When you sit there on the bench you can’t forget that they tried judges at Nuremberg too. So like pulling teeth, despite CIA pressure, you get decision after decision like “The emergence of international criminal forums such as the … International Criminal Court demonstrate the international community’s recognition of the principle that no one, regardless of official position, should be immune from prosecution or suit for jus cogens violations.”

    21 acknowledgements and counting. This is how it works. It’s like a glue trap for criminal states.

  18. tongorad

    Smile Like You Mean It
    Individualization of happiness is related to the de-politicisation of welfare. Once our mental state becomes a choice—to pop a pill, consume some more, or simply smile because why not? —our material situation wanes in importance. Why moan about inequality, spiralling rents, cuts in welfare or service provision when improvements in your material condition make little difference to your happiness anyway?

    A short piece, but very important IMO. What do you think?

    I’m reminded of my manager at work who, after loading us down with additional expectations and duties, made the statement “Happiness is a Choice” his “inspirational” catchphrase/theme of the year.

  19. frosty zoom

    the fact that this planet is still inhabited by humans who feel this is appropriate behaviour is mind-boggling frustrating.

    [in response to beef’s artic beef]

  20. craazyboy

    “Why Janet Yellen sounds more like a hawk”

    As it turns out, it’s because the Fed may increase short term interest rates from .25% to .5% sometime this year.

    The reason for this is to keep the porridge at the proper temperature – not too cold, not too hot.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How does one sound like a hawk?

      I went and looked the list up, and found these among others (in alphabetical order):

      Apes – gibber
      Asses – bray
      Doves – coo
      Hawks? – they scream

      So, did Janet scream this time?

      1. craazyboy

        Screaming is considered unprofessional. But as far as I can tell, hawks don’t like it if their porridge gets too hot.

        Also, there are only two kinds of animals – hawks and doves. Don’t try and confuse us.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I was just trying to confuse myself.

          My apologies for my collateral-damage victims.

  21. Vatch

    “Global water supplies are ‘in distress’, scientists warn Financial Times.”.

    Here’s an article about water theft in California:

    A group of thieves broke locks guarding spigots at a shopping center in Milpitas, KPIX reported over the weekend, making off with hundreds of gallons of water. Police are still seeking the suspects, who braved surveillance cameras to access the water.

    In April, the Associated Press reported that a large amount of water was stolen from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a source of water for 23 million state residents.

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Greece’s pension paradox.

    Should they have the same retirement age for all the Eurozone countries, so they can’t play workers of one nation against others?

    Should that age be 51, 63, 64 or 70?

    Alternatively, should that age be adjusted for life expectancy – say, 20 years off. This is, if you are expected to live to 84, your retirement age is 64. Enjoy your 20 years, if boredom doesn’t kill you (which means, one must remain active and not waste it – actually this advice goes for any age of your life). This, however, would mean a later retirement age for women in many countries (I think there is one nation, maybe more, where men live longer than women).

    1. craazyboy

      I think they should ask corporations what retirement age is, just so we get a reality check on the “calculus”.

  23. GlennF

    GMOs and the Neoliberal Apologists

    Wow. No one commented on this great post. Maybe the title is misleading and people are tired of reading about GMOs. The post is not about that. This is a great explanation of how the world really works. A must read.

  24. Torsten

    After 25 Years of Losing to Wall Street, Left-Wing Democrats Are Winning

    25 years??? I count at least 70,

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I hate to tell you but this will have no practical impact. Greece will default and negotiate. If they actually try not paying at all, they will encounter the full suite of torture implements that the creditors can visit on them. And this is after the fact that a default on the ECB means either a massive depositor bail-in or a Grexit, which as we’ve discussed, would be disastrous for any country but even worse for Greece due to the lack of adequate preparation.

      1. Susan Pizzo

        I wonder. This is an unprecedented act of investigation and fact-finding by a nation state adversely affected by the 2008 meltdown. The report is thorough and carefully oriented with an eye toward litigation. The Greek commission went where Maggie Thatcher said no one could go (‘There Is No Alternative’). I would love to have Professor Hudson’s take on this late-breaking plot twist.

        Brief video below showcases the pertinent arguments in the case (from the BBC)…

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