Links 6/30/15

Dear patient readers,

I am behind the eight ball again on Links. I’ll have the full dose up by 8:00 AM.

Japanese women go ape over surprisingly handsome gorilla CNN

‘Leap second’ set to delay midnight BBC (David L)

McDonald’s first “self-serve” being tested now Bits and PiecesBits and Pieces (furzy mouse)

Study Suggests That Google Has Its Thumb on Scale in Search New York Times. Quelle surprise!

Bitcoin Is Unsustainable Motherboard (reslic)

Fed rates hike raises issues for emerging markets Nouriel Roubini. Guardian

How one driver is helping rip off Uber in China Sydney Morning Herald (EM)

Radical Buddhism heightens tension ahead of Myanmar election Bangkok Post

Is this the beginning of the end for Chinese stocks? Here’s what 11 top analysts have to say Sydney Morning Herald. EM:

I always enjoy the twits, erm I mean ‘highly-paid experts’, who try to pretend that this is more than an exercise in blind dart-throwing by trotting out precise-sounding numbers, e.g. ‘Mainland A shares could fall as much as 18 per cent before bottoming, Michael Shaoul, Marketfield’s chief executive, said’. Not 17% or 19%, or godforbid the further 50% which would merely take the mah-jongg parlors back to where they were 6 months ago … nope, 18% is the hard cap on the remaining selloff, and such is Mr. Shaoul’s confidence that he is willing to put your money where his mouth is.

Iceland Just Jailed Seven Bank Executives for Market Manipulation Nation of Change


Alexis Tsipras Lost His Cool! Observing Greece (IsabelPS). Be sure to read the comments. This bit is striking:

On June 17, Tsipras was saying during Austrian PM Faymann’s visit: ‘I am not the type of man that who, when in difficulties, throws the ball back to the people. If there is an agreement, it will be the goverment that will lift the weight of the decision and the same in case of non-agreement’. In 2011, Tsipras was accusing George Papandreou that his referendum would be like ‘playing dice with the country’.”

And this from comments:

Yes, it is preposterous. It is just a fig leaf for SYRIZA to cover its inability as a party to deal with the conseguences of their negotiations. You can say that they framed them, that they wanted to crush them, yes, everything. But this is what you wanted. Nobody forced Tsipras to bring down the previous goverment in December by violating the spirit of the Constitution about the presidential election. It was Tsipras’ choice, because he was eager to become PM. Now that he has trapped himself, between a plan that he fears will demolish his goverment if implemented and a default for which he hasn’t mandate, he throws the ball to the electorate, while changing the law about referenda 6 days before the referendum itself. Normally, there should be 2 committees formed, one for a “YES” and one for a “NO” campaign. Now this is a parody. What sort of campaign for YES or NO can you do in 6 days, with a question that is misleading and the people running to the gas stations and banks? Who will follow this campaign to get informed? This is parody of democracy at its best. Always fear parties that spout the word “democracy” every 30 seconds.

The referendum change seems stunning. Can any readers provide confirming or denying information (with links)? Update: here it is.

Pour un fédéralisme européen Le Monde (Swedish Lex)

Europe’s dream is dying in Greece Gideon Rachman, Financial Times. This all goes back to Dani Rodrick’s trilemma: you cannot have economic integration, national sovereignity, and democracy all at once.

Crisis-Ready Europe Urges Tsipras to Step Back From the Brink Bloomberg

Europe’s big guns warn Greek voters that a no vote means euro exit Guardian (furzy mouse)

No vote means isolation, Europe warns Greeks Financial Times

Alexis Tsipras must be stopped: the underlying message of Europe’s leaders Guardian

As it happened – Yanis Varoufakis’ intervention during the 27th June 2015 Eurogroup Meeting Yanis Varoufakis

Deutsche Bank: A Grexit isn’t as big of a deal for the eurozone as everyone thinks Business Insider

‘We refuse to accept it’: Greece set to sue as it faces euro exit Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph (EM). This only gets more surreal. Many commentators have advocated a Grexit as the only way out for Greece. We had said a default in the Eurozone was probably better, but now that relations between the two sides have gotten so toxic, renegotiating Greek debt in default will be ugly, and the creditors could conceivably not play ball (as in leave Greece stuck with no ability to finance itself except at very high cost, if at all, and a primary deficit, which will force it into severe austerity to keep the government going, even if it starts issuing scrip for domestic use only). But the Greek government objects vociferously to the idea. So the election per them is not a mandate on a Grexit either. So what is it on? To have Syriza try again at the same failed strategy to get the creditors to relent, when it’s already clear that they are not moved by the views of Greek voters?

Grexit: The staggering cost of central bank dependence VoxEU. The remarks on most of the legal and political issues are sound, but the article is incorrect on a key issue: who bears the losses of the credit extended through the ELA. It’s not the citizens of Greece, as the article mistakenly claims. See here for details. But the piece is correct is that no ELA increase will kill the Greek banking system. That is also why the reaction of the Greek government, at least as reported by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard above, is so odd. The government seems to be acting as if the words said by the Eurozone leaders are a threat of future action, and Greece similarly is threatening back that it may go to the European Court of Justice to stop it. But the threat is in the action that the ECB has been taking all along, that of bare minimum increases in the ELA, and what is has already done, not making further increases. Does the government not get what is going on? Why is it not filing a case at the ECJ now if it wants to forestall what the ECB is doing?

European Court of Justice effectively rules that Eurozone is a shambles Bill Mitchell. In links yesterday but has new significance in light of the Greek government saying they’ll go to the ECJ if the ECB cuts or puts a ceiling on the ELA. Given what we understand to be Eurosystem rules (and no reader has disputed the information we’ve posted twice from a Jeffries analyst on this topic), it appears that the ECB has to cut off Greece in the event of an ECB default. But even if not, or there is arguably a conflict among ECB rules that needs to be resolved, this ruling indicates that the ECJ is even more strongly inclined than the US Supreme Court not to clip the wings of powerful players. (Separately, the ECB might choose not to lower the boom on Greece but tighten its choke chain even more…but whatever stance it takes, even if it might look on the surface to be less Greece-unfriendly, merely means it thinks the surest path to success is a war of attrition rather than frontal assault). Also notice this about our ongoing discussion of how EU/Eurozone membership means surrendering certain elements of national sovereignity to EU/Eurozone institutions: “From an Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) perspective, Germany abandoned its sovereignty when it entered the Eurozone and surrendered its capacity to issue its own currency.”

How British universities helped mould Syriza’s political elite Guardian (IsabelPS)

Many Greeks Still Want a Deal New York Times

Greece Rattles but Doesn’t Panic Markets Wall Street Journal

Greece Has a Long History of Debt and Bankruptcy VICE

Greece’s IMF payment: When is a default not a default? Financial Times. Another boundary constraint: “Anything that could be perceived as special treatment for Greece is likely to prompt even more anger among emerging economies.”

Syriza is asking Greece’s voters to endorse its own failure Guardian


U.S. Lifts Ban on Bahrain Aid New York Times (reslic)

Trade Traitors

Fight against TPP not over Bangkok Post (furzy mouse)

So-called ‘free trade’ agreements should be strongly opposed Bill Mitchell

Davos Woman American Conservative (reslic)

NBC and Carlos Slim to Donald Trump: “You’re fired” Quartz (furzy mouse)

Insurers’ arguments key to Supreme Court decision Center for Public Integrity

Tech giants celebrate gay marriage, continue to fund anti-LGBT politicians Pando

Supreme Court Allows Use of Execution Drug New York Times

Sen. Jeff Sessions: Confederate Flag Represents “Fabulous Accomplishments” Intercept Reslic: “TPP was his broken clock moment.”

Puerto Rico Has No Easy Path Out of Debt Crisis Wall Street Journal

What Happened After the North Dakota Oil Boom Went Bust Atlantic (reslic)

Have the Saudis miscalculated the impact of lower crude prices on US production? Walter Kurtz (furzy mouse)

Class Warfare

Slow-motion tragedy for American workers Center for Public Integrity (furzy mouse)

Are Uber drivers employees? New Yorker. One huge issue missed in Uber discussions: most Uber drivers don’t analyze what they make correctly. They don’t’ allow for the depreciation of the car. If the vehicle isn’t pretty old, that makes a big dent in their real earnings as opposed to their cash flow.

How Technology Is Destroying Jobs MIT Technology Review (David L)

US rules on overtime pay to be shaken up Financial Times

A Hard Day’s Work Deserves a Fair Day’s Pay Barack Obama, Huffington Post

Antidote du jour (Tim F):

swans links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Yep, no Black Swans! And thanks for the link to the Wall Street Journal article that “Greece Rattles but Doesn’t Panic Markets”. Relieved that this is over now, that “the broader impact on financial markets was limited because Greece is no longer so enmeshed in the region’s financial system,” and that we can now move on.

      Left wondering if Money, Money, Money… boatloads of digital money… along with all the futures tricks, are being shoveled into propping up the prices of financial assets this morning. Here’s looking atcha VIX, the euro, price of Brent crude, and the stock indices… all contained… er, “benign”.

      Anyway, there’s clearly nothing to see here, People… move along! Oh yeah, and we’re also running another massive short squeeze. Did you remember to “Buy the Dip”? The precious primary trend remains intact, never mind the real economy.(/sarc)

    2. JEHR

      The swans seem to reflect the average progeny: one is paying strict attention to mom; two are listening but not mindful; and one is in his own little world. Neat!

  1. ProNewerDeal


    What would be your estimated probability of the current Greece crisis leading to a 2008-ish Global Financial Crisis which causes a recession (or worse) in the US this year?

    I trust your world-class competence, knowledge, intelligence, and earnestness infinitely more than what the often incompetent, often non-earnest “experts” might be saying in BigMedia. I understand if you do not want to venture such an informed estimate, but big thanks in advance if you do.

    Thanks again to you & Lambert for your excellent reporting at NC.

  2. kimyo

    Fluoridation may not prevent cavities, scientific review shows

    “Frankly, this is pretty shocking,” says Thomas Zoeller, a scientist at UMass-Amherst uninvolved in the work. “This study does not support the use of fluoride in drinking water.” Trevor Sheldon concurred. Sheldon is the dean of the Hull York Medical School in the United Kingdom who led the advisory board that conducted a systematic review of water fluoridation in 2000, that came to similar conclusions as the Cochrane review. The lack of good evidence of effectiveness has shocked him. “I had assumed because of everything I’d heard that water fluoridation reduces cavities but I was completely amazed by the lack of evidence,” he says. “My prior view was completely reversed.”

    “There’s really hardly any evidence” the practice works, Sheldon adds. “And if anything there may be some evidence the other way.”

    three up, three down (fluoridation, dietary cholesterol, sodium). next inning: sunscreen, dietary fat and statins?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I have to tell you, I need to read this but I have trouble believing it. The drop in cavities from people in the pre-fluoridated water era to the post is so dramatic that it completely changed, as in greatly shrank, the dentistry business in the US. And I know the plural of anecdote is not data, but even though most people of even my advanced age grew up at the critical time (when your permanent teeth are growing and erupt) with fluoridated water, I was in a small town that didn’t treat its water. My two younger brothers did have fluoridated water. I have so many fillings, crowns and root canals that it is embarrassing as well as costly (fillings are never the same as original teeth, so even with very vigilant maintenance, fillings wind up needing to be replaced eventually due to decay at the margin or other issues). My brothers, with similar genetics, same diet, same dental care, have had only a couple of superficial cavities each.

      1. hidflect

        I have read that fluoridation is only effective up to a certain age (about 11) which may account for its effect. Also, more people brush and floss now than before so perhaps just the physical activity is also a big contributor?

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            The change in the amount of dentistry have is dramatic, and can be tied directly in terms of when it happened to the adoption of water treatment in the 1950s. The trends you mention did not start kicking in until later.

      2. Colin

        If this were so, Europeans should have terrible teeth, as they stopped fluoridating water in Europe decades ago. Here in Holland where I live, that was in 1973. The younger generations here all have terrific teeth.

              1. JerseyJeffersonian

                Both of my parents had problems with their teeth – cavities, fillings, extractions.

                I grew up drinking well water, hence not fluoridated water, but as a kid, and on into my adulthood, I have used fluoridated toothpaste. I did learn to brush my teeth, yet have never been fully compliant with brushing right after a meal.

                I had one “cavity” filled many years ago, but I am still of the opinion that that “cavity” was spurious; the dentist was frustrated because I never had any visible problems with my dentition, and jumped on a dodgy problem to justify that one filling. NO subsequent problems.

                Personally, I attribute my track record insofar as lack of dental caries to early and ongoing fluoridation via my toothpaste in combination with a fairly regular practice of brushing. I indulged my taste for sweets anyway.

                If the cited studies failed to factor in matters of dietary exposure, or other issues such as smoking that introduce risk, then I remain skeptical. And even if some attempt to take account of these factors was made, if self-reporting was relied upon to provide data, that is a mighty weak reed to be leaning on; people know what they are recommended to do, and as often as not, report behavior at odds with their actual practices so as to be seen to be in compliance with expert-recommended advice, thereby avoiding the pursed lips of disapproval. Cavities, root canals, extractions you can’t fudge, but self-reporting of risk factors which are introduced through one’s own actions? Ah, a different matter indeed.

      3. DJG

        Yves Smith: Agreed. We just saw what the anti-vaxxers have wrought. If it isn’t fluoridation, then what has produced the decline in dental caries? Ask any dentist. It certainly hasn’t been changes in the American diet, which in the last 50 years as introduced even worse stuff such as endless amounts of soda and high-fructose corn syrup.

        1. Chief Bromden

          The “scientific” evidence for vaccinations is becoming more and more exposed as fraudulent every day now. On the other hand, the damages that the current absurd vaccination schedule are now unleashing are coming to light. Of course, the pharmaceutical industry is exempt from vaccine injury compensation which is picked up by the tax payer. They do thank you for using their trope though. “anti vax” = “conspiracy theorist”…. conversation ender.

          As for fluoride, I wonder how anyone could believe that industrial byproduct dumped into their water supply would be good for any aspect of their health. Nothing like non-consentual drug dosing…

          “In the process of converting phosphate rock into soluble fertilizer, two very toxic fluoride gases are released: hydrogen fluoride and silicon tetrafluoride. In the past, the phosphate industry used to let these two gases vent freely into the atmosphere. This, however, caused severe environmental damage among downwind communities, including widespread cattle poisonings, scorched vegetation, and various human health complaints.

          Eventually, as a result of both litigation and regulation, the phosphate industry installed “wet scrubbers” to trap the fluoride gases. The collected liquid in these scrubbers (hydrofluoroslicic acid) is entered into storage tanks and shipped to water departments throughout the country. In 1983, an official at the Environmental Protection Agency stated the agency’s support for this process:

          “In regard to the use of fluosilicic acid as the source of fluoride for fluoridation, this agency regards such use as an ideal solution to a long standing problem. By recovering by-product fluosilicic acid from fertilizer manufacturing, water and air pollution are minimized, and water authorities have a low-cost source of fluoride available to them.” [See letter]

          ……..”If this stuff gets out into the air, it’s a pollutant; if it gets into the river, it’s a pollutant; if it gets into the lake it’s a pollutant; but if it goes right into your drinking water system, it’s not a pollutant… There’s got to be a better way to manage this stuff.” [See interview]

          Forget the choppers. What are pollutants and neurotoxins doing to the rest of you?

          1. Yves Smith Post author


            1. There are all sorts of minerals found naturally in water.

            2. There’s NO evidence that fluoridation of water has adverse effects, and TONS of evidence that it helps the formation of tooth enamel, as in when permanent teeth are forming and erupting in children. You are insane and vicious to seriously argue that people should be relegated to having teeth like mine. I would give my entire net worth not to have the teeth I have.

            3. Hydorgen fluoride is a completely different compound than the fluoride uses in water, which is sodium fluoride or a sodium fluoride silicate. Your comment is tantamount to treating dry ice as being the same as gasoline because they both are carbon compounds.

            1. gordon

              “There are all sorts of minerals found naturally in water”.

              That’s true in some water sources but not all. I read somewhere (sorry, it was years ago and I’ve got no idea of the source) that people whose infant/childhood drinking water is glacial meltwater suffer from bad teeth because that source is too pure – just H2O and no minerals.

            2. Chief Bromden

              “There’s NO evidence that fluoridation of water has adverse effects…”

              That simply isn’t true. Check back with NSF findings and published papers in the journal Neurotoxicology- amongst many others- showing elevated lead and arsenic blood levels in those drinking water laced with fluorosilicates. Hydrofluoric acid (HF) is rated as highly toxic according to the report of the European Union’s chemical categorization, and in any event is highly corrosive, so that if any HF remains in water treated with fluorosilicic acid, this would automatically be a sign of highly toxic effects not found with sodium fluoride. People should have a better understanding of what we are dealing with when we add toxicologically untested man made synthetic fluoride chemicals into our drinking water.

              The truth is that more and more evidence shows that fluorides and dental fluorosis are actually associated with increased tooth decay. The most comprehensive US review was carried out by the National Institute of Dental Research on 39,000 school children aged 5-17 years.18 It showed no significant differences in terms of DMF (decayed, missing and filled teeth). What it did show was that high decay cities (66.5-87.5 percent) have 9.34 percent more decay in the children who drink fluoridated water. Furthermore, a 5.4 percent increase in students with decay was observed when 1 ppm fluoride was added to the water supply. Nine fluoridated cities with high decay had 10 percent more decay than nine equivalent non-fluoridated cities.

              The world’s largest study on dental caries, which looked at 400,000 students, revealed that decay increased 27 percent with a 1ppm fluoride increase in drinking water.19 In Japan, fluoridation caused decay increases of 7 percent in 22,000 students,20 while in the US a decay increase of 43 percent occured in 29,000 students when 1ppm fluoride was added to drinking water.21


              I wouldn’t deny the right for you to add whatever you would like to your water after it comes out of the faucet. Until I had them safely removed, the mercury fillings my western dentist put in my mouth had my health in a very compromised position. I’d rather not put anymore industrial poisons into my system if it’s all the same to you. How about people be given the choice to opt out?

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Well water has highly variable levels of minerals, including fun stuff like arsenic.

                I don’t have time to read the study you cite but I’m extremely skeptical it was done well. To do what they claim it did accurately they would need to have obtained dental records. It’s impossible to make the sweeping claims they do across cities. Moreover, there appears to be no adjustment for income level or frequency of dental visits. The samples need to be controlled for that. In other words, it would be extremely costly to do the sort of study that they profess this to be across the sample size they have without it being extremely costly. This looks like garbage in, garbage out work.

                Go talk to any dentist or retired dentist. They’ll all tell you the mouths of young people in this country are completely different from those of older people. The dentistry business in the US has had to abandon fillings as its main source of income and is now about cleaning and cosmetic dentistry. The aggregate data on the services provided across the US is utterly at odds with that study.

                1. Chief Bromden

                  I prefer my own research over most dentists (just as I prefer to control my own health vs. trusting many brain-washed, pill pushing doctors), although my mercury-free dentist doesn’t push fluoride on me.

                  Hydrofluorosilicic acid, the compound now used in over 90 percent of fluoridation programs, is a direct byproduct of pollution scrubbers used in the phosphate fertilizer and aluminum industries. I can’t believe there are still people who believe this is dumped in our water supply to actually help our health.

                  Whatever you’d like to believe about the benefits of fluoride on the teeth, there’s no reason to ingest industrial toxins. Especially now with everything we know about gut flora and its relationship to our overall health. Today the overwhelming consensus by dental researchers is that fluoride’s primary effect is topical, not systemic, and that this topical effect occurs after the teeth have erupted into the mouth (i.e., post-eruptive), not before. There is no need, therefore, to swallow fluoride, especially during infancy and early childhood. As the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stated in 1999 “fluoride prevents dental caries predominately after eruption of the tooth into the mouth, and its actions primarily are topical for both adults and children.” The National Research Council has concurred, stating in 2006 that “the major anticaries benefit of fluoride is topical and not systemic.”

                  Dr. Price, in his own words:

                  It should now be clear why isolated primitive people in the Swiss Alps and in the islands off the coast of Scotland maintained a high degree of health and a freedom from tooth decay. It should also be clear, why the modernized people in those areas, lost their immunity to tooth decay. The isolated diets contained several times the amount of water soluble vitamins, and particularly, ten times or more the amount of fat-soluble vitamins.


      4. ilpalazzo

        As far as anecdotal evidence goes. I used to have very bad teeth as a kid. I have fillings in all my upper jaw teeth and most of the lower. I used to be a frequent visitor to the dentists’ office for many years

        It all ended when I radically curtailed my hydrocarbon intake. I stopped eating sweets, cakes, cookies, chocolate bars, soft drinks of any kind. I never have any of it. I literally get sick now if I have just a sip of Coke. I haven’t been to the dentist in like eight years and I only brush my teeth once a day.

      5. Oregoncharles

        I read it. It’s a huge literature review, which analyzed studies for quality (very few were much good.)

        It’s pretty much best-case science, and with a prior study endorses fluoride toothpaste, not water. The stuff works topically, so there’s no good reason to swallow it.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          That’s not correct. The effect of topical fluoride is limited. The big effect is when the tooth structure is forming, between the ages of 4 and 6 and maybe a bit after the teeth grow in.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          I agree that fluoride toothpaste is useless. I concluded that years ago based on my own research.

          But fluoridated water when kid’s teeth are forming is another matter entirely.

      6. Demeter

        Same story between my generation and the next: same diet, same regular dental cleanings, kids have one cavity each. I have 8 crowns (from old fillings gone bad, plus two due to stress fractures from grinding teeth.)

      7. Too late

        2 large scale metaanalyses done by highly reputable groups have now reached the same conclusion: there is no reliable evidence that fluoride added to water is effective. This is not to say it is not effective. Only that we can’t know if it is.

    2. giantsquid

      This seems to be a misrepresentation of the Cochrane Review’s findings. The key results as presented in the abstract indicate that fluoridation does in fact reduce cavities, at least in children.

      “Key results

      Data suggest that the introduction of water fluoridation resulted in a 35% reduction in decayed, missing or filled baby teeth and a 26% reduction in decayed, missing or filled permanent teeth. It also increased the percentage of children with no decay by 15%. Although these results indicate that water fluoridation is effective at reducing levels of tooth decay in children’s baby and permanent teeth, the applicability of the results to current lifestyles is unclear because the majority of the studies were conducted before fluoride toothpastes and the other preventative measures were widely used in many communities around the world.”

    3. Jack

      Fluoride demonstrably works, but fluoridated water is pointless. Water dilutes; the fluoride in toothpaste is far more concentrated. And not only is it pointless to put it in water, but just on principle people in a community should have the same in what goes into their water. Many don’t want fluoride in it, and though their reasons are usually crazy, they should be listened to.

      1. Demeter

        The flouride must be ingested (eaten) to get into the developing teeth. Flouridated water is NOT pointless. It is nutrition!

  3. alex morfesis

    imf “arrearage”

    in the mid 80’s (a million years ago in finance) there were over 50 countries who failed to make timely IMF payments and during bush one there were still more than ten that were over 6 months behind.

    perhaps my memory is failing but this feeble mind does not recall any discussions globally of credit rating agencies piling on back then…or maybe I wasn’t paying as much attention back then

      1. craazyman

        You’re a southern belle, sort of like Scarlett O’Hara probably. Do you have a confederate flag? Maybe for a bathroom rug? I kind of see a stars and bars on a pole in your yard surrounded by empty cans of Budweiser. Is that ludicrous? It might be. It’s hard to know what’s what. That’s for sure. I watched the whole High Plains Drifter last night on Youtube. Whoa! that was a good movie. I forgot how good it was. That was a long time ago but nothing dies on Youtube. It’s weird, how that is.

        I would think it’s a bad idea for any southern politician to support the confederate flag at this point. It’s not funny anymore. It used to be you could laugh at dumb rednecks with their confederate flags and stupid southern accents like something out of Deliverance. That was a long time ago too. Deliverance. It’s so over now. I bet even the confederate dead would say forget it, forget the flag, now we understand, now we get it, we were wrong and we couldn’t see it clearly, the earthly clay doth closed us in, we saw through a glass darkly, but now we see face to face, now we know. But then, we knew not what we did. It’s amazing how simple it all really is. Why is it so complicated?

        1. abynormal

          haaalarious! yep, i was born n raised in the city too busy to hate. great granddaughter of a kkk grand dragon, during a time we almost surpassed MS in most lynchings eva! it is not complicated…it is century’s of home cooked DEET. deliverance didn’t scratch the surface.

          I mingle with my peers or no one, and since I have no peers, I mingle with no one.
          John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces

          1. craazyman

            my brother and his wife have a beach house down in NC seacoast, a community with mixed economic fortunes and not much cultivated wealth. the next door neighbor has a confederate flag on a pole. he’s a “good old boy” who loves everybody and always is there to help a neighbor in need. I don’t know why somebody like that thinks how they do. It’s not like he’s evil. (I only met him once). It’s not even like he’s racist. He’s evidently not, due to facts I won’t relate completely. For him it’s a symbol of something that has a very precise and particular meaning — to him. It’s a private flag evidently. A flag of a tribe that exists in his mind that brings him solace and inclusion. Why he can’t feel the other minds his flag exists in, and the pain it brings, is a mystery to me. It sits up there and blows in the wind on his flagpole and you look at it and something inside deadens and grows coarse. He is reduced and shrunken to something less than human. A body and not entirely a soul. Something not fully alive, despite the good acts he’s capable of. It’s reflexive and instinctive, strange and sudden, the way it condenses someplace between your stomach and your heart, and when you look at his smiling face you think there’s a surface there that hides an illness. You’re not wrong. Ecce Homo said Fred.

            1. Carolinian

              My local paper this morning says a survey of lawmakers suggests the SC flag removal will pass but we shall see.

              As to the flag and what it means: I caught a chat on tv where one of the discussants–worked for the Southern Baptist convention–said that the flag was often more a gesture of regional defiance than overtly racist. I think there is something to this. You have to bear in mind that much of what rightwingers do is simply designed to piss off liberals. Flying the flag is certainly insensitive to African Americans, but as I’ve said before I’m not sure Southern blacks take the flag as seriously as certain out of region commentators do. The much quoted Winthrop College SC poll from last year had 27 percent of black respondents saying the flag should stay on the State House grounds. So clearly not even all blacks see it as a hate gesture.

              At any rate even before the Charleston massacre the disputed piece of cloth was increasingly hard to spot because regionalism in the South isn’t what it used to be. We are all internet babies now….more interested in the Kardashians than Stonewall Jackson. However many stereotypes do die hard.

              1. optimader

                …the flag was often more a gesture of regional defiance than overtly racist. I think there is something to this. You have to bear in mind that much of what rightwingers do is simply designed to piss off liberals.

                Yes, A case of unresolved humiliation for some that feel culturally smothered. iIt’s a symbolic way of acting out.


                “I personally take no pride in the Confederacy. Avoid wars you can’t win, and never raise your flag for an asinine cause like slavery.”
                the regional obsessions of the only defeated part of this country have grabbed Francis — a South Carolinian, remember — by the throat.

                ….In his quote, Underwood — protagonist of “House of Cards” — wasn’t teaching a moral; he was showing his contempt first for losers, and secondly for the things that occupy the small minds of ordinary humans. Frank thinks he’s so far above them, above us. In his contempt, he is contemptible. You didn’t have to be an apologist for slavery or march behind a Confederate flag to feel the profound loss when Levon Helm sang “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” You just had to be human. (You can even be a guy like me who has struggled for years to get that flag off our State House lawn — in fact, I may feel it more intensely for that. The SCV guys don’t understand where I’m coming from. I think I get them, but they don’t get me.)


              2. todde

                seems to me that lowering it to half mast would have been the compassionate thing to do.

                regardless of the law.

                But yes, it is mainly used today as either a regional ‘thing’ or an expression of dislike of authority.

        2. sleepy

          It used to be you could laugh at dumb rednecks with their confederate flags and stupid southern accents like something out of Deliverance.

          What’s wrong with southern accents?

      2. jefe

        That is 1.5 Quintillion

        Billion, trillion, quadrillion, Quintillion….

        Next up– could be sooner than we imagine… as we all ‘Turn Japanese’ …. Sextillion

        1. ewmayer

          Nah, we’ll probably soon just start imitating the chemists and using moles (6.023 x 10^23) to measure such things. Future generations – not necessarily human – will mock our self-destruction via addiction to Ponzi finance by referring to us as “the mole people” (classic 60s B-SciFi movie there) and note that we forgot the Shakespearean-tragedic injunction of father to son to “neither a burrower nor a lender be.”

  4. allan

    “A Hard Day’s Work Deserves a Fair Day’s Pay, Barack Obama, Huffington Post ”

    That this appeared on a website famous for its exploitation of unpaid contributors
    is yet another example of a completely incompetent WH communications team.
    As if we needed more.

    1. RanDomino

      “Instead of the conservative motto, ‘A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,’ we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, ‘Abolition of the wage system.'”

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Gosh and it only took 5 and a half years well after part time work became the new black.

    3. jrs

      It’s awful, but it’s Obama what does anyone expect at this point (colored markers that’s what we expect! except that these fish in a barrel aren’t even worth it).

      Income inequality growing and growing under Obama and O asks: “Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do exceptionally well?” Uh apparently.

      And then he praises Fast Track:
      “And, Democrats and Republicans in Congress paved the way for the United States to rewrite the rules of global trade to benefit American workers and American businesses.” Well I guess it’s true once you strike out the superflous verbiage.

      And he wants “a place where more people are treated equally” and yet plays divide and conquer with the working class as he thinks it ok if workers earning 50k and above who he calls “highly paid” (wtf Obama! Adjust that for inflation and many people used to earn that in the past – highly paid my @#$#) don’t have overtime. It’s only a problem that those earning less than 50k don’t. Even if we’re talking silicon valley workers which a lot of the overtime exemptions were made for, they may be decently paid, but they don’t have bargaining power really either (duh because the tech industry rigged that labor market).

      Obama will you please go now, just go …. Don’t let the door hit your tailfeathers on the way out you lame uh .. rhymes with duck.

      1. jrs

        And the comments prove the stupid never ends (even after all these years). As the argument is between those who think Obama is a great guy fighting for the people versus those who think he’s a Marxist.

        Me I personally look forward to Bernie Sander’s great moderation. After 8 years of hard-core Marxism under Obama, I’m looking forward to someone moving toward the middle back to mere socialism again, Sander’s is like our Gorbachev. . /s

        Just another day at the huffy puff I guess …

  5. Watt4Bob

    As someone who drove a taxi for 16 years I can tell you exactly what Uber drivers are;

    Uber drivers are unwitting shock troops in the class war.

    As always, class war shock troops are dupes.

    One huge issue missed in Uber discussions: most Uber drivers don’t analyze what they make correctly. They don’t’ allow for the depreciation of the car. If the vehicle isn’t pretty old, that makes a big dent in their real earnings as opposed to their cash flow.

    The huge issue is not depreciation of their vehicle, the huge issue is taxes, as in the income taxes they are not paying because they have debt that must be serviced and expenses that must be met.

    Most people are not expert at managing the whole spectrum of issues surrounding being an independent contractor, the biggest being setting aside funds to cover their taxes.

    I would council Uber drivers to keep good books. Record every single trip, and every conceivable expense, every receipt.

    When the tax man shows up, if you cannot tell him what your income was/is, the taxman will tell you.

    1. ScottW

      You raise a good point regarding taxes. You don’t need to pay quarterly state/federal taxes during your first year of self-employment. Most Uber drivers probably don’t even know about quarterly taxes or any other tax issues associated with being independent contractors. How many of them even keep a diary of miles driven? Since they are using their personal cars for business purposes, record keeping is essential. I wonder how many Uber drivers even file tax returns on their 1099 income and if they do, how many have sufficient reserves to pay the tax bill which could be quite high.

      Since 50% of the drivers leave after a year, few will ever become fluent in independent contractor tax issues and quarterly estimated taxes.

  6. ScottW

    “Are Uber drivers employees?” Definitely yes, if any government agency cares to push the point and the courts follow the laws. Uber’s own advertising material for drivers characterizes them as “partners.” They are central to Uber’s business and Uber ceases to exist without them. Uber can terminate them without cause, controls the amount a driver chargers, and places many conditions on how drivers perform the job. Uber drivers are not independent business owners and Uber characterizes their pay by the hour. No lawyer versed in independent contractor law would conclude the drivers are independent contractors. Think about it–if all the drivers decide to take tomorrow off–a chief selling point of Uber’s worker model–Uber goes out of business.

    For anyone interested in more analysis, read the report conducted by a Princeton economist and Uber policy research analyst. This is a pro-Uber report, yet it discloses that 50% of Uber drivers quit after a year. The report also states Uber drivers make more than taxi employees, so long as their expenses don’t exceed $6/hour. So taking the IRS deduction of $.57 per mile, that means if Uber drivers travel more than 11 miles in an hour their expenses exceed $6.00. It is impossible to drive less than 11 miles in an hour and still make the average gross hourly rate of about $19.00. You have to figure in all of the non-compensated miles Uber drivers travel to pick up customers.

    Also, remember independent contractors pay the full social security/medicare tax (15.3%), saving Uber another 7.65%. Uber also does not have to pay for workers comp., unemployment insurance, health insurance, vacation, sick leave, etc.

    Some economist should calculate Uber’s valuation if it had to characterize all of its drivers as employees. The article suggests employees cost 20%-30% more. My hunch is the figure is higher. As the article suggests–Uber needs to change the law to maintain its high valuation. But make no mistake about it–this is the same old story of labor exploitation to increase profits and valuations.

    1. Watt4Bob

      … if any government agency cares to push the point and the courts follow the laws.

      ‘Nuff said!

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Insurers will kill Uber. Laws are almost irrelevant. The “high*” costs of taxis isn’t due to legal changes but insurance and maintenance. As people realize, Uber drivers have no insurance or money (if they had money they wouldn’t be Uber drivers) the market will collapse.

      *They really aren’t.

      1. Watt4Bob

        Another great point.

        Last I knew, and that was many years ago, insurance for a taxi in my town ran about $5K/yr.

        I’m sure it’s more now.

        The first millionaire badly injured in a Uber car whose owner has a $200K cap on his liability policy is going to raise a monumental stink.

        1. Antifa

          You’re right. Vehicle depreciation going unrecorded makes Uber driving a net loss over any defined period. Lack of full blown insurance makes it a risk of lifelong bankruptcy. An Uber driver is a professional gambler, and the stakes are everything you can earn in this lifetime. You’re gonna owe big time to that guy who broke his neck while inside your vehicle.

          To get around this profitability pinch, I’m experimenting with simultaneously running an AirBNB unit in a trailer towed behind my Uber car, but it brings up a whole new set of complications . . . this sharing economy is harrrd.

      2. MLS

        Don’t be so quick to assume that insurance companies will be the death of Uber. While companies are now putting explicit clauses in auto insurance that negates any payout (or cancels the policy) if the car is used in a ride-sharing program, there are insurance companies that will underwrite a policy for Uber and Lyft drivers in many states. And these are legitimate, well-capitalized companies like GEICO, USAA, and Farmers. In the case of USAA, they will add a rider (no pun intended) on to your existing policy for $6-8 a month, which is basically one extra passenger per month to cover the cost.

        That’s not to say Uber won’t be run out of business as government agencies take a closer look at their business, but insurance is unlikely to be the driving force.

        *incidentally, you missed the cost of Taxi medallions as a contributor to the “high” cost of taxis, which Uber drivers obviously don’t have to spring for. In NYC, these are currently running about $700-800k, in Chicago and SanFrancisco it’s more like $200-250k.

    3. grizziz

      The bureaucratic status quo would likely find that most independent contractors are employees. The bias is to keep the existing regulatory system in place. Worker safety and protection are important goals of the existing regulations, but are the regulations currently meeting those goals or are the regulations reinforcing cartels and providing enduring civil service jobs for the politically connected?
      In Chicago the largest taxi company, Yellow Taxi, the drivers are indpendent contractors as are most (all?) of the taxi companies. Uber has created an alternate dispatch system using smart phones and has otherwise adopted the same employee/contractor model that already exists.
      The Chicago BACP sets the taxi rates under an obscure system that is assumed to be controlled by the stakeholders with some input by the drivers. I have no proof, but I would conjecture that Uber bases its pricing on the fixed rate set by the city. This system could already be considered exploitative and abused by the consumer who wants cheap rates. If Chicago demanded or was prodded by a court in order that the cab companies employ their drivers, rates would definitely rise. At that point Uber would be advantaged if it could maintain the independent contractor model. Otherwise, it is now putting more cabs on the streets of Chicago and charging about the same rate as the regulated (medallion holding) taxis. The Uber drivers are likely to be skirting some insurance and inspection costs and putting more liability risks on themselves and their customers, however these are generally fixed costs that diminish for a medallioned cab that is on the road 50k miles per year.
      My larger point would be that labor is getting screwed out of a fair share of the national income. However, the trend is away from the employee model of hourly work and toward (back?) to the cottage industry of piece work. My preference would be to work towards a safety net and basic income outside the workplace, so that social insurance is not employer based.

    1. JohnB

      Actually, looking at discussion of the link elsewhere, this appears to have raised more than €70,000 within the last 2 hours, which is pretty incredible for anything crowdfunded (though of course, not even close to fast enough, to reach target).

      1. JEHR

        It is up to 203,838 Euros with 13,114 people participating. I don’t think it is “tongue in cheek.”

        1. JohnB

          I agree, but it might as well be (more of a show of support than serious, in my view), seeing as €1.6 billion is pretty much impossible; that would require €11 million per hour, consistently, for 6 days.

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I didn’t know about this before (perhaps not paying attention previously to the possibility of a near-midnight referendum surprise that is with us now):

    On June 17, Tsipras was saying during Austrian PM Faymann’s visit: ‘I am not the type of man that who, when in difficulties, throws the ball back to the people. If there is an agreement, it will be the goverment that will lift the weight of the decision and the same in case of non-agreement’. In 2011, Tsipras was accusing George Papandreou that his referendum would be like ‘playing dice with the country’

    Was this last minute referendum planned all along?

    Was it incompetence or by design to send incorrect proposals?

    Was it incompetence or by design not to offer too many details in their proposals, as the other side screamed ‘we need more details’ time and time again during the past few months?

    It has been apparent for a while now, and Yves has pointed out numerous times, that both sides were talking past each other, as there was no, I forgot the exact word she used, overlap in their positions. Is this their win-win game-theory solution?

    “We are a 40% coalition government and any important decision has go through a referendum. It’s a big, important decision for us, so we’re doing it. But it’s probably not a big, important decision for the other countries. Maybe their primer ministers or parliaments can just decide??? It was not my place to bring this logical conclusion (the reason for it is so simple and obvious) up in January, at the beginning, about the framework of our negotiations, about how any possible deal, difficult or easy, was to be ratified.”

    Important and not important at the same time. That’s very post modern and quantum.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, as O’Toole points out, its very important for Ireland to be a poster boy for austerity, despite the absence of any evidence that austerity helped. Ireland was shafted by the troika in much the same way as Greece, but not to the same extent and Irelands economy is much more diverse and robust than Greeces. Plus Ireland has benefited from the general slushing around of cheap money.

          The Irish economy is doing pretty well at the moment, but that recovery is highly dependent on cheap money – the Irish national debt is enormous, once interest rates start going up it will choke off any recovery, assuming all the other potential problems don’t surface first.

    1. tgs

      Thanks for the link. The author describes very well the importance of fantasy and make-believe to the neo-liberal order.

      1. Chris in Paris

        Classic truthiness. I don’t even know if I want to be on the other side of what’s coming.

    2. Oregoncharles

      And the austerity riots are finally starting in Ireland – over water rates. shades of Bolivia.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          There have been regular very large and noisy demonstrations over water charges, but no riots. there has been quite a lot of nasty incidents in local areas where people have tried to stop meters being installed in houses and protests against various politicians. The Irish media has been studiously doing its best to avoid reporting it.

  8. Brooklin Bridge

    The referendum change is indeed stunning, but then no more stunning than the slant the media just about everywhere outside of Greece is putting on this event. While a “Yes” vote may be in the best interests of the Greek people, that is not due to the motives of the Troika or Germany or the political motives of the other European periphery countries who may have different motives, but who share the ghastly quality of being vultures huddled around looking down at a tiny squirming worm.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, the propaganda is heavy but a lot of it is really inept. Most of the statements by EU leaders yesterday were telling, in a bad way.

      In the meantime, so much for that referendum! Just kidding!

      Greece is trying to do an 11th hour deal:

      Greece on Tuesday made a request for a third bailout amid a last-minute diplomatic push to seal some kind of agreement before the country’s current rescue deal expires and it defaults on a payment to the International Monetary Fund.

      Won’t get done, but still…..

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some families work like that – when poor, siblings get along, but when they become super rich, they fight over that wealth.

      Are nations like that too – the richer we become, the less we care about each other? That is, when under austerity, people come together more than they did when they were a little more prosperous?

      1. Lambert Strether

        Not entirely. The EU project, let’s all remember, was a response to the blood-soaked 20th Century where millions died in conflicts between nation states. Cynical and self-serving as other motives for it were, still, that was (and is) a motive. I don’t know exactly when the project went off the rails, but I’d hazard it was with the terms of the Eurozone, and I’m guessing that was the time the banksters took control and injected their brain-altering chemicals into the body politic. Banksters, after all, have financed wars for princes, kings, and states since forever. They like it.

        1. gordon

          Partly because of the “blood-soaked 20th Century”, but also partly because of European intellectuals’ feeling of being squeezed between a triumphant post-war US and the Soviet Empire. The best-known expression of that feeling is Jean-Jaques Servan-Schrieber’s famous book “The American Challenge” (1967). It’s hard for younger people to understand the tensions in the Europe of that time. The desire for some kind of United States of Europe was a response both to a fear of domination by the big US/Soviet blocs and a fear of social revolt from below. There was always a strong conservative element to it, a desire to preserve a social structure which was neither socialist nor really liberal-democratic.

          I agree that the creation of the Eurozone was a turning point. It happened after the collapse of the Soviet Empire, a time when lots of people in Europe thought that the ex-Iron Curtain States offered a free field for investment and development. That was to a large extent a renewal of the old Mitteleuropa idea, an idea which was always exploitative. As it has turned out, Mitteleuropa never worked as anticipated, but peripheral States like Ireland, Spain, Italy and Greece have been substituted.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Excellent point on the intellectuals! (But I’m vaguely remembering that the EU <-- EEC <-- Coal and Steel thingie was a gleam in the eye of Europhiles long before Servan-Schrieber.)

            1. gordon

              The European Coal And Steel Community. Yes, it was. In fact a lot of the intellectual groundwork for the EU was actually laid during the war. Ch.6 (“Blueprints for the Golden Age”) of Mazower’s “Dark Continent” is good on this.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        What dip said. But am wondering whether this movement has gained broader traction since January when the article was written?

        Also have noticed that news about anti-austerity movements elsewhere in the EU, particularly in Spain, seems to have disappeared down the memory hole.

    2. Oregoncharles

      An interesting anecdote (2nd hand, I’m afraid): During the Oakland wildfire some years ago, the casualty rate was higher in the richer areas, lower where people were poorer. the latter were more likely to help each other – and closer together, of course.

  9. Larry Headlund

    Re:How one driver is helping rip off Uber in China

    And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased,
    And the epitaph drear: “A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.”

  10. Propertius

    I hate to spoil the narrative, but reports of mass church-burning appear to be greatly exaggerated. Six fires have been cited in the media. Of those, one was caused by a lightning strike, one caused by a falling tree limb breaking a power line, and one was actually at a predominately white church. Two have been attributed to arson, but no evidence any connection has been found. See:

    1. Oregoncharles

      The FEDERAL government would have to pay them a lot of money, then, I suppose, try to get it out of the state (now THAT would be an interesting legal case…)

      I see this as an opportunity for state and local governments to practice civil resistance.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Because the Greek government was basically a conduit for bailing out private creditors, a related aspect is that if Greece defaults, someone will bear the loss. And who are those someones?… the usual patsies: sovereign governments; i.e., taxpayers. And because they are not monetary sovereigns because of their participation in the euro zone, there will be no monetization of the debt through their respective national central banks.

      Another example of the controlling and corrupt elite’s ideology: “Privatize the gains, socialize the losses.”

  11. optimader

    The subject site http is verboten here, but google the title:
    The F-35 Can’t Beat The Plane It’s Replacing In A Dogfight: Report

    We’ve heard of significant shortcomings before with the fighter jet that’s supposed to be America’s future, but this is just as bad as it gets. The F-35 performed so dismally in a dogfight, that the test pilot remarked that the it had pretty much no place fighting other aircraft within visual range…..


    1. sam s smith

      If you count success by military contractor profits, the F-35 is a major success over the F-22, followed closely by our newest super carrier, the USS Theodor Roosevelt,

    2. cnchal

      I have read that the F35 would be clubbed like baby seals in an aerial dogfight.

      When I look closely at a front view of those jets on the runway or coming out of a hanger, and notice all the intricate links and struts of the landing gear, I can imagine all the effort in design and fixtures that go onto the machine tool tables to locate and hold these parts, and the mountain of work and money that goes into these aircraft.

      The extravagant price, and irregardless of the perfection of the individual parts, with a value of being the worst new jet fighter, ever.

  12. Raj

    “The United States and Brazil pledged on Tuesday to increase their share of renewable energy in electricity generation from sources other than hydro-power to 20 percent by 2030 in an effort to show commitment to fighting climate change.”

    I’m interested in the details of the “pledge,” particularly if U.S. is funding climate change-related projects (ex. reforestation) in Brazil. Perhaps this is U.S. reciprocation for the CSEC & NSA economic espionage conducted on Brazil oil and gas companies.

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