Links 6/5/15

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DNA saves NSW north coast dog from death row ABC (YY)

Go Ask Alice New Yorker (furzy mouse)

US scientists: Global warming pause ‘no longer valid’ BBC

The Emerging Science of Human Computation MIT Technology Review (furzy mouse)

Uber’s French Resistance New York Times

The South China Sea Word War Pepe Escobar, Counterpunch

Chinese expansion calls for firm challenge China Spectator. Note the Australian navy consists of about all of six ships. I’m exaggerating but not by much.

Abe wants G-7 to spell out opposition to muscle-flexing by China Japan Times. This plus Greece is going to make for a higher-stakes G-7 than usual.

PM’s EU negotiations of no significance – Lord Lawson BBC

Incoming Barcelona mayor wants to introduce tourist cap Telegraph. I really like Barcelona and I can see the basis for his concern. The few times I’ve been there in the summer, the tourist areas were awfully busy.

The rewilding plan that would return Britain to nature BBC. Does that mean getting rid of Tories first?


Agreement on the Economic Policy, Reforms of the Period 7/2015-31/3/2016 and Completion of the Current Agreement. Published by Tagespiegel (TF). Greece’s proposal.

Greece misses IMF payment in warning shot as showdown with Europe escalates Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Greece to delay IMF repayment as Tsipras faces backlash Financial Times

IMF payment put off as lenders wait for new proposals ekathimerini

What happens if Greece defaults on its International Monetary Fund loans? Telegraph

Greece delays IMF payment, PM to brief angry parliament Reuters

Greece determined to stay in eurozone, says economy minister Guardian

Greece Defers IMF Payment as Merkel Says Resolution Far Away Bloomberg

Credit market is virtually dead due to the uncertainty ekathimerini


RUSSIAN REALISM – PRICE OF PAINTING COOLS John Helmer. An economic indicator.

Weakening Russian Ruble Cause For Concern Forbes


In ISIS, the Taliban Face an Insurgent Threat of Their Own New York Times

Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence meets Obama aides in Washington Haaretz

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The World Says No to Surveillance Edward J. Snowden, New York Times. Op ed.

It’s Time to Let Edward Snowden Come Home New Yorker (furzy mouse)

Snowden documents show how the NSA expanded domestic spying — and shared this data with the FBI Pando

ISIS Doesn’t Use Apple Products Anymore, But The FBI Is Still Concerned About Their Encryption Technology International Business Times

NSA Phone Data Curtailment Won’t Stop Communication Surveillance MIT Technology Review. In case you hadn’t figured it out already.

Trade Traitors

Congress Can — and Should — Declassify the TPP FPIF (furzy mouse)

Rivals show sands shifting under Clinton Edward Luce. Luce is very connected, so when he’s not doing hackery on behalf of Summers, he’s worth listening to.

EPA says no evidence that fracking has ‘widespread’ impact on drinking water CNCB

Millions of US government workers hit by data breach BBC

Cancer Clusters In Florida: The Silence Of The State Counterpunch

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Mass Protests Trigger Washington Post Study of Police Killings Black Agenda Report

Black America is getting screwed: Shocking new study highlights the depths of economic disparities Dave Dayen, Salon

How the Red Cross Raised Half a Billion Dollars For Haiti ­and Built 6 Homes ProPublica

Mr. Market Has a Sad

Trading the global bond market panic CNBC

Gross Says Bond Turmoil Scary as Hell Even Without Bear Market Bloomberg

OPEC expected to stay the course, pressuring rivals to cut costs Globe and Mail

Is the takeover surge a sign of trouble? Gillian Tett, Financial Times

IMF’s Surprising Message to Yellen on Interest Rates Fiscal Times

Stand with Elizabeth Warren: Tell SEC Chair Mary Jo White to implement the CEO Pay Rule now Democracy For America. Better if you write a letter to Mary Jo White (address here), but this is a fallback.

Class Warfare

Graduating to an Unequal Economy American Prospect

St. Louis’s mayor wants a $15 minimum wage. That’s probably way too high Matt Yglesias, Vox. Gabriel: “I’m probably the last person to have noticed this, but Vox really just Slate 2.0, right? Down to personnel, as in this case. Oh, and don’t miss the “pleasingly alliterative” bit–condescending prick.”

Turn Left on Main Street Bill Moyers (furzy mosue)

Pink Slips at Disney. But First, Training Foreign Replacements New York Times. H1-B visas. Time to boycott Disney. That means Disney movies too. Glenn F points out:

This is a pathetic story of unadulterated corporate greed. The entire H-1B visa program is a ploy to allow low wage workers to immigrate to the US and take jobs from highly skilled US workers so that corporations can increase executive pay. Absolutely disgusting. The truth is though, many corporations are doing it as they cry to Congress to increase the numbers of slave laborers allowed into the country through the program. Truly an awful situation as the jobs lost are high paying.

And while we are at it: Disney policy requiring character confidentiality comes under fire Orlando Sentinel

Black America is getting screwed: Shocking new study highlights the depths of economic disparities Salon

‘Chipping Away At My Soul’: Insiders Detail The Decline And Fall Of Corinthian’s For-Profit College Empire Dave Dayen, Huffington Post

Amartya Sen: The economic consequences of austerity New Statesman (Swedish Lex)

Antidote du jour. Chris A: “The Honeybee is on my raspberries. Both my blueberry and raspberry bushes are audibly buzzing with them. They aren’t all dead yet!”

bee from chris links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Steve He.

    re: EPA says no evidence that fracking has ‘widespread’ impact on drinking water CNCB

    “In its report, the EPA notes that its findings could have been limited because of an insufficient amount of data and the presence of other possible contaminates that made it impossible to conclude fracking’s effects on certain areas.
    “The study was undertaken over several years and we worked very closely with industry throughout the process,”

    In other words, by being in the regulators ear, industry could practice the ‘cigarettes and cancer’ strategy: claim there is no evidence until there is so much clarifying data that the conclusion is unavoidable. Then use the variance in data to claim there are confounding factors that can’t be untangled beyond a reasonable doubt.

  2. Steve H.

    re: EPA says no evidence that fracking has ‘widespread’ impact on drinking water CNCB

    “In its report, the EPA notes that its findings could have been limited because of an insufficient amount of data and the presence of other possible contaminates that made it impossible to conclude fracking’s effects on certain areas.
    “The study was undertaken over several years and we worked very closely with industry throughout the process,”

    So industry is in the ear of the regulator, allowing them to practice the ‘cigarettes and cancer’ strategy: claim there is not enough evidence until the data accumulation makes the conclusion unavoidable. Then point to the variance and claim confounding factors mean the sole correlation cannot be established beyond a reasonable doubt.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      There ya go Obama, Frack Baby Frack. This study, which it is almost guaranteed that it was paid for by industry shills, gives you the cover you need to continue the wholesale destruction of the massive underground aquifers.

      Extra irony: CA which is in a historic drought is also fracking the sh1+ out of itself.

      And of course ‘mericans are too ignorant to be bothered.

      1. Gio Bruno

        There is substantial opposition to fracking by the citizens of California. However, Governor Brown (4th & last term) is reticent to upset oil interests (and the money obtained by the state), yet. It is disconcerting that Brown has called for 25% reduction in water use by cities, while continuing to allow fracking.

        Brown probably thinks he gets a plenary indulgence (he’s a former Jesuit seminarian) for increasing statewide goals of Green Energy use from 33% to 50%.

  3. Disturbed Voter

    On Disney H-1Bs … “It’s a small plantation after all, it’s a small plantation after all …”

    1. Dan

      This Disney H1B (aka screw the natives) story broke a bit ago. Apparently a new CIO that is Indian. This story has repeated itself countless times her in Santa Clara. 70% of my kids fellow classmates are Indian, most working for an Infosys or one of that ilk.

      We had a plan to visit Disney on the bi-yearly visit back to see the grandparents. Substituted SeaWorld instead (enslaving animals is at least a step above screwing the natives). Wrote to Disney, told them last time we step in one of their parks.

      1. diptherio

        Barron’s just did a cover story not too long ago on what a good deal Disney stock was, even at 18Xs annual earnings…their stock went from $35 to $115 in three years and will apparently (according to Barron’s) continue on in this manner indefinitely. They focused mostly on the ability of Disney to buy already existing franchises (Star Wars, Pixar) and pump out endless money-making sequels. Lovely company to have swallowing our entertainment sector…NOT!

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I would suggest visiting the Byzantine-Latino quarter in Los Angeles.

        Do some shopping there and help support the Greek people.

    2. different clue

      It ‘scans’ better if the words go . . .

      ” It’s a salt mine after all, it’s a salt mine after all . . . “

  4. docg

    re: Global Warming Pause No Longer Valid

    The latest in a long line of similar attempts to finesse the “hiatus.” Move along, folks, nothing to see here.

    From the recently published book, “The Unsettled Science of Climate Change” (

    “But this situation is nothing new, as so much of the considerable effort devoted to “explaining” the hiatus has been enacted independently, with little or no attempt to reconcile methods or results with anything that’s come before. If all the various explanations offered over the last 5 years or so were to be combined into one grand scheme, the upward trend would be so extreme as to break the thermometer. Any hope of establishing a correlation would be lost in the opposite direction: too much, rather than too little warming.”

    The book came out before this latest report, but the same point applies nevertheless. While “warmists” might be rejoicing at this latest in a long string of “hiatus explanations/ corrections,” in fact each new one calls all the older ones into question, and with it climate science itself, along with the myth that “the science is settled.” As for the famous 97% consensus, that notion is thoroughly debunked in chapter eight.

    1. DJG

      Your link is to a vanity book published by the pseudonymous Polar Vortex. You have to be kidding, right? Because you are no Galileo.

      1. hunkerdown

        You’ve been well-programmed by liberalism to believe giving your right name to billion-dollar enemies is some sort of duty. Stick to the science… which, in denial land, is often sophistry anyway.

    2. Jef

      docg – Total denialist BS!

      There is ZERO science in the book just messenger shooting and ludicrous polemics like; “If all the various explanations offered over the last 5 years or so were to be combined into one grand scheme, the upward trend would be so extreme as to break the thermometer.”

      What is happening with GLobal climate is complicated, nothing is linear in climate science and that is deniers greatest weapon. Both poles are melting. ocean and air currents are shifting creating havoc.

      But hey when you lick your finger and stick it up in the air you know for certain that climate change is BS right?

      1. docg

        Just about everything written in this book is based on legitimate research by legitimate scientists, published in peer reviewed journals. The book does not pretend to be the work of a climate scientist, but a critical thinker with the ability to sort logic from illogic, legitimate science from confirmation bias. If you understand Occam’s Razor well enough to tell the difference between Ptolemaic Earth-centered epicycles and the sun centered solar system of Copernicus, Kepler and Newton, then it shouldn’t matter who wrote this book, but what it has to say.

        1. Gio Bruno

          …could you mean that excerps from scientific studies of legitimate scientists have been compiled by a non-scientist into a book of “critical thinking”?

        2. hunkerdown

          Peer review adds little to no value, as has been documented. Funding audit or gtfo.

          Occam’s Razor is a theological principle, and not even an argument.

          Just hang it up, please.

        1. jrs

          I don’t know if you were an Indian that had a chance and the training to get an H1B wouldn’t it make you want to leave? Just another climate refuge …

          “The searing heat has pushed residents to find any means necessary to cool off. They’ve gone swimming in rivers, slept on their roofs and taken shelter in the shade to find relief from the high temperatures.”

          Well it’s not India here in Cali, and there’s plenty of power for A/C (and fuel to burn and roads to drive), but that’s why when people say don’t plant trees for the shade because they take too much water I have to laugh. People will do what they must to survive in a harsher climate and darn if I’m not going to plan first for immediate survival preferably in a way that doesn’t use the most fossil fueled energy possible (like A/C does), collective immediate survival in the immediate environment.

  5. timbers

    Bit off topic, but you sometimes ask for personal examples of how things are on the ground and have a few recent news items in my small Boston area universe:

    1). Many co-workers where I work have one or more part time jobs at other establishments. Word is Granite Links (Quincy, Ma) just cut wages for all their staff because they feel the gratuities they get were higher than they thought. They are not high based on what I’m told which is about $100/month.

    2). Friend working in medical billing for a direct employer was making about $22/hr and had to leave the job to return to Brazil for an extended period. He is back now, working at a temp agency (ergo no benefits) in same field making $14/hr, says can’t pay all his bills and will return to Brazil with is family if things don’t change in 3 months.

    Also my neighbor just lost her job and is borrowing money from her ex boyfriend to pay rent and car.

  6. Swedish Lex

    If there is one country where the taxi monopoly deserves to be crushed, it is France.

    The ruling political class all have cars with drivers and do not have to worry about transportation (using bus lanes, bien sûr). Taxi service is almost impossible to get, costs a fortune and is utterly poor. As described in the article, the taxi profession takes entire city hostages whenever the possibility of market openings are discussed.

    Sweden was like France 25 years ago, then opened the market completely and now, guess what, it is working well. And the taxi profession and the (social democrat) politicians in Stockholm are welcoming Uber:

    Should also be pointed out that, as far as I understand, a few taxi companies own vast quantities of medallions and that the people driving the cars are employed and not earning much. The big monopoly profits thus go to a few families.

    1. Swedish Lex

      Regarding the last pargraph above; the vast quantities of medallions in the hands of a few of concerns France.

    2. OIFVet

      a few taxi companies own vast quantities of medallions and that the people driving the cars are employed and not earning much. The big monopoly profits thus go to a few families.

      The taxi drivers’ direct actions would seem to be strong indication that the earnings are not as bad as you think.

      1. Swedish Lex

        French people instinctively oppose anything and everything which they believe may change status quo the slightest. Compare with the totally opposite mindset of the Swedes in the article.

        1. OIFVet

          French people instinctively oppose anything and everything which they believe may change status quo the slightest.

          Given the gradual elimination of the social-democratic model (i.e. the post WW2 ‘status quo’), I can’t say that I blame them. Matter of fact, good on them! What is particularly perverse is the capture of “socialist” and “social democratic” parties by the neoliberals. Including those in Sweden. So giving me the example of Sweden’s “social democrats” is hardly the way to convince me that Uber’s regulation avoidance is a net social positive.

    3. vidimi

      i’ve never had a problem getting taxis though, admittedly, i don’t usually go to areas more deprived than gare du nord.

  7. Pwelder

    Was pleasantly surprised – and I have to say, impressed – that NC would link to an account of EPA’s study of hydraulic fracking’s impact or lack thereof on drinking water. This is a subject that I know something about. For years NC has been enthusiastically retailing every superstition that has grown up around the subject, beginning a few years ago with earthquakes far away from the well site.

    Talk about gullible? If you want to understand how truly bad this aspect of NC has been, try this: Hold your nose, grit your teeth, and read over a half-dozen or so Wall Street Journal editorials on Dodd-Frank rulemaking.

    Of course, Yves’ reporting on finance and political opportunity is and remains a national treasure. This being the case, we should politely pretend not to notice the occasional brain burp related to hobby horses in domains outside management’s experience and competence.

    1. Pwelder

      “political opportunity”? That’s a brain burp of my own. Meant to say “political economy”.

      1. binky J. Bear

        EPA knuckled under to extreme political pressure from both parties, who operate at the pleasure of the oil and gas oligarchs. Fracking is an uncontrolled and uncontrollable experiment upon uninformed test subjects conducted for profit and leaving the consequences for others to pay, justified by a variety of unsupportable self-serving rationalizations.

        Pavillion. Earthquakes. Burning faucet taps. Good enough for the little people who can’t afford to bathe in Fiji water.

    2. Steve H.

      In general NC often posts links they don’t agree with. The links section is where they usually put items they don’t claim direct knowledge of.

      In particular what are you particularly talking about in reference to hydraulic fracking?

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I think we should always post important news stories, and yes, we also sometimes post things we don’t agree with because they are still important and readers should know about them or the line of thinking they represent.

    3. frosty zoom

      as far as fracking goes, nobody really knows the true story. ¿have you gone down the tubes to see what really happens? didn’t think so.

      fracking is the gmo of mining.

      1. theinhibitor

        Yes they do know.

        And a bunch of others if you even did a simple google search….

        Fracking residue essentially drains off into the aquifers. They found petroleum by products, and byproducts of shale fracking ‘blends’.

        Its relatively easy to understand unless of course, you’re being paid not to understand. If you are churning thousands of tons of rock with water and petroleum byproducts, and pumping the waste directly back into the ground, some of it gets filtered naturally through the rock, but when you drill deep enough, this natural process is greatly stressed.

        Also, this will have long term effects that will be more easily seen over time. By pumping contaminated water back into the ground, your essentially increasing the concentration of contaminants in a specific area.

        Who would ever think that mining would somehow be ‘ok’ to the environment?

        One only needs to look at Borneo to see how destructive mining is to its surrounding environment. Fracking is mining, but with MORE water.

        1. frosty zoom

          oh, we think we “know” and, of course, i can very easily find information like you did.

          but really, we are just scratching the surface* of what’s going on down there.

          500 years ago we “knew” the world was flat.

          and one not need to go as far as borneo to see the destruction mining causes. sudbury is a lot closer.

          *pun intended.

            1. frosty zoom

              indeed. like the mayans and stuff.

              and “we’ve” known fracking is nutso for a while.

              the problem is weaving enough people into one’s “we’ve”.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I read Steve He.’s comment above at 7:24AM, quoting the report, and I don’t see the EPA make anyone feel safer about fracking’s impact on drinking water.

  8. Anon

    Re: Salon piece

    Not sure if it’s intentional or not, but you have it listed twice.

  9. JM Hatch

    Australia’s population (23.9M) is less than just Shanghai’s (24.1M). If we take out recent economic immigrants from China, Australia population drops down below 23M. Also, Australia already has it’s hands buying off Indonesia’s government. They need to keep land poor, over populated Indonesia from taking over by simply loading every boat in Indonesia’s archipelago full of immigrants and pointing them in the right direction.

    I think the PRC has this situation fairly pegged, and like the USA taking Texas from Mexico, it’s a simple: ‘Who’s going to stop us? Ah, I thought so.”

    Disney truly believe 0.1%, that the common man needs a master class to rule it – just look at the cartoons they use to train kids to start falling in line.
    BTW, I started boycotting Disney quite some time ago, the day I found out they offered fast track tickets..

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That 0.9 million economic immigrants to Australia, that’s nothing.

      China can send out a lot more. And just not to down under.

      In fact, it’s EZ for her to secure South China Sea, just by sending hundreds of millions of economic immigrants to Vietnam and the Philippines. Eventually, they will become sympathetic neighbors.

      1. JM Hatch

        Sympathetic? Maybe, but more likely apathetic. Hong Kong is hardly sympathetic to the CCP, but then again it’s fully of migrants who hated either the KMT or the CCP, and in many cases both.

    2. JTMcPhee

      My grandson loves the “Thomas the Happy Blue Tank Engine” franchise. I watch these videos with him, and read these books to him, over and over at his insistent request, books and imagery full of stories where Thomas and Gordon and Percy and the crane trains and proud carriages and naughty freight cars all mostly do their duty, often after painful and embarrassing lessons in the costs and wrongness of excursions from just running on time, not too fast and not too slow, because “safety is our most important consideration,” in all weathers, in exchange for lumps of coal and washing and oiling and repair by dutiful humans, all to make the benevolent Sir Topham Hat pleased with their labors. And also to render him presumably the richest and most important man in the Island Political Economy of Sodor. All of which obedient and dutiful labors of the working parts of the rail system also go to maintaining the consumptive habits and bourgeois lives of the residents of Sodor, which somehow appears to maintain a livable, sustainable equilibrium. Very popular mythology, ever since its inception in England during WW II.

      I’m sure it’s all very innocent and fortuitous…

      1. Eclair

        Finally! Someone else thinks Thomas the Tank Engine is insidious propaganda foisted on innocent children. I about gagged when I read about Sir Topham Hat’s arrogant upper-class tough love towards the strong, but dim, lower class engines. Unfortunately, my grandson loved Thomas and his friends. Thanks for the validation, JT!

        1. hunkerdown

          Oh gods, the aristocratic paternalism is *everywhere*. Digital billboard for new TV series (?) “The Profit”, tagline “My Millions. My Rules.”

          It’s getting to the point that anyone still plugged into the mainstream is joining the tar babies.

        2. JTMcPhee

          My grandson has certainly internalized the message…Am working to subvert it…

          More validation of the real nature of reality: “Chrisley Knows Best,”, which is set in a meme-space so very many parsecs from whereI was propagandized as a kid — “Father Knows Best,” e.g.,, “The Waltons” (from Virginia, not that other place) , “Leave It To Beaver,” all that genre. Cigarette ads and flagrant puffing in the shows were part of it, MadMen we thank you, Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco, 4 out of 5 Doctors Smoke Camels, , all that stuff, now reduced to new soap operas like “MadMen.” Still profit to be extracted from that Motorola Black and White Bakelite-Cased TV oeuvre, “in syndication.”

          Is there hope in the proliferation of self-help shows like “Dexter,” “Dark Blue,” “Leverage,” and so forth, or is that just an MSM market extrusion to help dissipate and displace the rage?

          1. JM Hatch

            Just act out that Percy is the hero, when he gums things up. Any book written by a Church of England/Episcopal minister is going to be all about keeping the class lines in good order.

  10. fresno dan

    Go Ask Alice New Yorker (furzy mouse)

    One of my favorite quotes:

    When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
    ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

    Words – and what they mean.
    Whether “enhanced interrogation” or “quantitative easing” or “collateral damage” or “preemptive strike”
    What’s your favorite???

    1. ambrit

      “Cracks me up.” This will mean something completely different to Humpty from what it means to us.

  11. fresno dan

    NSA Phone Data Curtailment Won’t Stop Communication Surveillance MIT Technology Review. In case you hadn’t figured it out already.

    Speaking of words: curtailment = enhancement…except when the word “enhancement” is used in conjunction with “constitutional rights” in which case it means “curtailment”

    “But security experts have said any system designed to let in the U.S. government when authorized could also, in theory, become subverted by others.”

    U.S. officials said hackers in China launched a massive cyberattack on the federal agency responsible for collecting background information on, and issuing security clearances for millions of government employees.

    “The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) said Thursday as many as 4 million current and former federal employees may have been affected. It said that number could go higher as the investigation continues.

    Law enforcement officials said they believe China-based hackers, possibly with links to the Chinese government, were behind the attack, believed to be the most extensive breach of federal employee data in years.

    Were there “back doors” written into the software so that the US Federal government could hack its own networks??? NO????? Soooo, would encryption have been a good thing or not???? Or encryption for gubermint stuff only????

    As I said when I worked at NSA, my job is so secret even I’m forbidden from knowing what I’m doing….

    1. lord koos

      This hack is a pretty major score for the Chinese, I would think. If they can figure out how to impersonate federal employees with stolen credentials, get security clearances etc it would make spying on the US government child’s play.

      1. hunkerdown

        In a cost reduction sense, sure. Curious if anyone can speak to the matter, how is US black-budget payroll usually handled, anyway?

    2. Andrew Watts

      “As I said when I worked at NSA, my job is so secret even I’m forbidden from knowing what I’m doing….”

      I’m guessing it was something so terribly mundane that you almost volunteered yourself for frontline duty. Until one day a superior came to your desk and told you your time was finished and threatened you that if you spoke about what you saw and did that a secret band of super killer ninjas would kidnap you at night and disappear your candy ***.

      In the interests of transparency and merriment I’m going to give you some options to the question you can’t answer. “How many dirty conversations / pictures / videos did you view and how often did it happen?” Was it >1000 dirty articles of lady parts or a man’s junk on 100 occasions or 1000+ – on a “I DONT KNOW HOW MANY BUT AHHH MY EYES/EARS!” on a similar basis?

      This kind of optical and audio rape is a serious condition for those brave souls who work in an intelligence agency. We all need to do our part to put a stop to it.

      1. fresno dan

        The people who look at the “dirty” pictures are referred to as “lifers.”
        Actually, I was in circa 75-1980, so I don’t think there was the modern capability to send naughty selfies back in those days. But who knows – I was too low to see any of the ?good?/?bad? stuff.

        4. What is Signals Intelligence?
        SIGINT involves collecting foreign intelligence from communications and information systems and providing it to customers across the U.S. Government, such as senior civilian and military officials. They then use the information to help protect our troops, support our allies, fight terrorism, combat international crime and narcotics, support diplomatic negotiations, and advance many other important national objectives.

        NSA/CSS collects SIGINT from various sources, including foreign communications, radar, and other electronic systems. This information is frequently in foreign languages and dialects, is protected by codes and other security measures, and involves complex technical characteristics. NSA/CSS needs to collect and understand the information, interpret it, and get it to our customers in time for them to take action. Our workforce is deeply skilled in a wide range of highly technical fields that allow them to do this work, and they develop and employ state-of-the-art tools and systems that are essential to success in today’s fast-changing communications and information environment. Our researchers are also working constantly to help us anticipate and prepare for future developments.

        Now I can’t reveal if NSA still collects smoke signals and African drums communications, but my civilian boss spent most of his time conversing about dirty limericks he had come across or composed himself. We sat, 3 people across at gray government desks abreast, across from 3 other people abreast – that is directly facing another person. 3 of us were young USAF enlisted, 2 “senior” (i.e., 3 or 4 years older than us) civilians, and the “supervisor” (the limerick guy). This meant the vast majority of the day was spent talking (pretty much instigated by the supervisor) sports, food, bars, women in a PG manner (one of the civilian analysts was a woman, so we were mildly constrained), not to mention whatever bizarre thought crossed anyone’s mind.

        If I were to tell you what we were monitoring, and what our mission was to do with this information…you would not believe that even the US government could be that wasteful, incompetent, and stupid. But go back to my limerick boss – the more people he supervised, the higher his grade (he was a GS-15) so nobody who was a supervisor at NSA was of the mind that we needed less intelligence gathering…
        The best way to describe it is: Imagine taking the Russian phone book (this is just an example, I had nothing to do with the Russian shop), determining how many names are male, and how many are female, and than using any variety of cockeyed theories, than determining the potential size of the Russian army based on the number of males in Russian based on your phone book analysis. Higher level analysts argued why the phone book shop was completely full of sh*t, and the accurate data was derived from the high school yearbook shop….
        Almost everybody believed the most accurate information was printed in Jane’s various defense publications.

        1. ambrit

          Ah, Janes! I once got to see a copy of a spoof version titled, “Janes Extraterrestrial Weapons Systems and Delivery Options.” Some of the pages were blank. The instructions mentioned that ‘suitably advanced readers’ had to have learned to “see” into the astral plane to access these pages. All I ever saw was a white plain.

  12. Brindle

    re: St. Louis $15 Minimum Wage—Matt Yglesias

    Yglesias is a classic example of the conventional-wisdom liberal dem. He sees those not living on the coasts as not deserving of $15 per hour. Yglesias comes out for about a $9 minimum or St Louis. He should try living in St Louis for $9 per hour and see how far that gets him—basically having to get food stamps.

    This just reeks of coastal snobbery:

    —“St. Louis is no Seattle
    It’s no surprise that minimum-wage hikes have made their biggest headway in liberal cities. What’s interesting is that there’s good reason to believe coastal liberal cities are also the best place for big minimum-wage hikes as a matter of policy substance.”—

    The only time I read Vox or Yglesias is from links here at NC—so, in a back-handed way thanks for reminding me how putrid the Dem elites are.

    1. Ed S.


      This calculator ( shows that there’s a 39% difference in the cost of living between St. Louis and Seattle. So a minimum wage in St. Louis of $9 equals a Seattle wage of $12.50 (roughly).

      The BIG difference is in housing (more than double in Seattle) but while there are meaningful differences in individual items, on average the difference is roughly 10%.

      Housing (and Real Estate generally) is the primary driver of cost differences in various places in the US.

    2. Gabriel

      Further to confirm your distaste for coastal Dem elites, only reason I happened on the piece is because someone retweeted Jonathan Chait saying

      Jonathan Chait ‏@jonathanchait Jun 4
      The $15 minimum wage in St. Louis is probably a terrible idea, argues @mattyglesias, convincingly

      I don’t know much about Chait except that (like most TNR people) he went to Harvard, but Yglesias an in-the-flesh rich kid. He wrote amusingly about how his fellows at The Dalton School academy (an elite prep school of some kind) were “the best case that can be made for the estate tax” (only link I can find is the indirect one here), but, you know, he still went to the place, then Harvard, Slate, now Vox. Very little chance that he knows anything independently of the people he met along that particular trajectory.

      I don’t know when or how the mold was set for liberal journalists to treat forceful proposals from the right with ridicule (“ha ha, restricting voting rights probably means you’re worried about something…”, cut-to Republican control of two houses), and forceful proposals from the left with condescending tut-tutting, but that’s what Yglesias knows as responsible opinion journalism.

      Anyway, in case anyone wants to further rile up sans-coulotte anger among the nc commentariat, in 2013 Matty Yglesias bought a house. From the piece,

      Journalist and political blogger Matthew Yglesias bought a three-bedroom, three-bath condo on Q Street in Logan Circle for $1.2 million. In a converted Victorian rowhouse, the unit has original exposed-brick walls and a private patio. Yglesias writes about business and the economy for Slate.

      Yes he does write about business and the economy, yes he does…

      1. Gabriel

        PS. To be (unusually) constructive, I hereby propose that whenever nc links to a Matty Yglesias piece about inordinate expectations among the laboring classes, the author information should include “[writing from his $1.2 million converted Victorian rowhouse in Logan Circle, DC]”

        Thus, today, Yves would have had, as an alternative to including my vulgar abuse about the guy to flag the piece as odious, just posting,

        St. Louis’s mayor wants a $15 minimum wage. That’s probably way too high Matt Yglesias, Vox. [writing from his $1.2 million converted Victorian rowhouse in Logan Circle, DC]

  13. Carolinian

    FCC versus consumers. The two opposing viewpoints.

    Consortiums that represent cable companies praised the FCC’s decision.

    “By eliminating a 22-year-old presumption that cable operators do not face effective competition, the FCC will save independent cable operators from incurring the large legal and data-collection costs to demonstrate to the FCC’s satisfaction that they face stiff competition from both Dish and DirecTV and in many cases from AT&T U-verse or Verizon FiOS,” the American Cable Association said in a statement e-mailed to Ars.

    Consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge argued that “the FCC has gone beyond Congress’s directive, adopting a blanket presumption that all cable operators, large and small, are subject to effective competition. Any analysis that shows that the largest cable companies face effective competition in their local markets is flawed. These companies bundle cable television with high-speed broadband and often have control over valuable programming. They are in a fundamentally different marketplace position than the small cable operators that Congress is concerned with.”

  14. McKillop

    The bee you’ve photographed is, I think, a bumblebee, ( a dumbeldore) not a honey bee (usually an Italian). Nocause for subdued optimism.

    1. lord koos

      It looks exactly like a honey bee to me. The flower is very small on a berry plant.

    2. hwallace

      Here in the heart of the ethanol belt there are almost no flying insects to be seen anymore.

      I have allowed clover to share my yard for the last 10 years. I have allowed milkweed to share the pastures for the last 5 years. The last 2 years the milkweeds raised no butterflies. This year I can walk barefoot through the blooming clover. There are no bees. There are almost no flying insects.

      1. ambrit

        We are having a similar experience here in southern Mississippi. Almost no butterflys this year, few dragonflys, and very few honey bees. The big carpenter bees seem to be trying to pick up the pollination slack, but, their populations have always been lower than honeybee populations.
        The research on neonicotinoid pesticides’ and their implication in the decimation of honeybee populations gets almost no MSM airplay.
        Rachael Carson may have the last laugh after all.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Happily, my neighbor has over 20 hives; some of them are now at our place. There is no large-scale commercial agriculture near us, and quite a bit of wild land that’s overrun with blackberries (the main honey plant here.) I can hear the bees when I walk outside.

        I haven’t seen a monarch for a long time (the milkweed died out on me), but I see swallowtails and Admirals.

      3. jrs

        You wouldn’t think so but maybe even an urban or suburban landscape would be less hostile than agribusiness. A bee hive has invaded near here – swarming in and out, just ordinary bees. Also sometimes I see great big bumblebees. I don’t know if there are as any monarchs, they do seem to be the smaller butterflies these days like Admirals, rather than monarchs, and there are less of them.

  15. grizziz

    From Ed Luce’s FT piece:

    Mr Chafee’s most original position is that he wishes to convert the US from the imperial system to the metric.

    Could Chafee move the Overton Window on US foreign policy?

  16. Howard Beale IV

    Australia has 6 Collins class submarines, and 44 surface-fleet ships. Australia had women serving on their subs decades before the US did.

    1. hunkerdown

      Hmm, shilling for SoCal content interests, or representing their own media industry’s interests? K-pop is a thing, and a high-margin one, I would imagine.

  17. Gio Bruno

    RE: Barcelona Tourism

    <blockquate="A Barcelona public sector worker, who preferred to remain anonymous, described Colau’s entry cap proposal as “pure populism”. He did admit that some central areas are saturated and suggested boosting accommodation in peripheral zones before concluding: “Trying to stop tourism in Barcelona is like thinking you can stop the tide."

    A public sector worker (City Planner?) calling community interest "pure populism" is supreme idiocy. (Guess who pays his/her salary?) It appears, in fact, that citizens of Barcelona are not " trying to stop tourism" but control the type and density of a particular type of tourist accommodation. This is a planning technique used as general planning technique in most modern cities.

    I live in a weekend tourist dominated city (SB) and there definitely needs to be limits are the number of folks who have checked out on common sense while entering the city limits.

  18. Gio Bruno

    Sorry for the hypertext failure and the poor sentence structure; NC website doesn’t accommodate editing at the moment.

  19. Jim Haygood

    ‘The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people. But the actual number of permanent homes the group has built in all of Haiti: six.’ — ProPublica

    This is a damning article. Too bad the reporter evidently didn’t bother to read the financial statements of the American Red Cross, which are audited by KPMG.

    The 2014 financial statement (page 5) shows spending on ‘International Relief and Development Services’ of $127 million, up from $92 million in 2013. Unbelievably, there is not even a footnote breaking down where this spending went.

    Nevertheless, one can extrapolate that at an average relief spending rate of $110 million (and directed to many other countries as well), the Red Cross couldn’t possibly have spent $500 million on Haiti, or even half that.

    However, they DID manage in 2014 to spend $183 million on fundraising and $116 million on ‘management and general.’ In plain words, they spent 2.35 times as much on themselves as on helping disaster victims.

    How does the Red Cross get away with deception and money laundering on this scale? Because Barack Obama is the Honorary Chairman, and the board is larded with banksters including (natch) one from Goldman Sachs.

    Several scandals ago, I decided never to give another penny to these self-serving charity scammers. They promise to reform, but they have political protection. Hope and change, bitchez … how’s that workin’ out?

    1. andyb

      I seem to recall that poppy Bush and Clinton raised $4billion for Haiti (remember the numerous ads at the time?). Hmmm. Did anyone ever do any accounting of this money?

  20. susan the other

    Pepe Escobar on China flexing. And Japan taking the role of compromiser. Japan will be well suited for this task. And Japan is also embracing their new role in both Ukraine and the Middle East. They have always straddled two worlds – theirs and the rest of Asia; then more recently as lesser partners with us. It will be interesting to watch. Much like the UK.

    I think “the heartland” is a misunderstanding – it is really many heartlands.

    And “Wild England” BBC. Wonderful bit of info. Top predators being reintroduced. And I must observe that Wales looks a lot like Yosemite. Protecting wild beavers and endangered Tories! Funny.

    1. hunkerdown

      I can’t read “wild” as a verb without thinking 1980s NYC sensationalist journalism. It’s a rather different mental image with rather different top predators and rather different prey, I know, but there’s just something really satisfying about throwing Tories to the lions that holds up even in metaphor.

    2. cripes


      Yep, i have always seen deep parallels with Japan and Britain:
      Island nation a stones throw from huge continent that looms threateningly in national psyche
      Maritime nations, mercantilists, isolationists, early industrializers,
      Viewed the world and their neighbors as barbarians
      Last outposts of monarchism
      Expansionist and militarist colonizers that dreamed of ruling the planet, the waves, etc.
      Reduced to actual size, casting about for a post-industrial role in the world.

      I’m sure there’s more.

  21. Oregoncharles

    Just in case anyone here hasn’t already gotten this message, here’s my comment on

    Is the Constitution a dead letter? It appears so, because under Article I, Sect. 6, Paragraph 1, ANY one member of Congress can declassify anything they care to, by reading it out on the floor of Congress, as Sen. Gravel did with the Pentagon Papers. They have complete Constitutional immunity for anything they say on the floor – or enter into the Congressional Record. They also can’t be arrested while Congress is in session, so ANY member can carry the text out of it’s little secret room if they care to. No risk of being thrown into a Marine brig or exiled to Moscow.

    Apparently we have elected about 500 utterly gutless wonders to “represent” us. Yes, that includes Warren and Sanders. The Trade Rep. has actually threatened to have them arrested for revealing the contents – a Constitutional crisis in itself.

    In other words, Congress, as a whole and individually, is colluding with the illegitimate secrecy around the trade pacts. At least somebody had the guts to send the TISA text to Wikileaks. So any time you interact with a Congressflunky, demand that they release the texts. Themselves, personally.

    IOW, in Lambert’s excellent word, it’s all kayfabe, all the way down.

  22. Gabriel

    The Amrtya Sen piece generally good, but this

    There can be little doubt that Europe has needed, for quite some time, many serious institutional reforms – from the avoidance of tax evasion and the fixing of more reasonable retiring ages to sensible working hours and the elimination of institutional rigidities, including those in the labour markets.

    sticks in my craw a bit.
    Quinet made a nice point, against those who justified revolutionary atrocities in the name of the victory of the revolution, by asking, “but this victory, where is it?”
    Whenever I see these “there can be little doubt” paragraphs I always want to ask, “but this defeat, where is it?” What was so uniquely horrible about Europe in, say, the 1990s, that make the at least part of the impetus for austerian policies justifiable (which is how I understand Sen’s point)? Slower growth compared to the US? That’s it?

    Anyway, if we must use this kind of language, let us advance under the banner of “reducing institutional rigidities” in the banking sector by making it possible for bankers to go to jail, the same way “reducing institutional rigidities” in the labor markets meant that everyone should be afraid of being fired. Worked for wage demands, maybe it’ll work for destructive speculation.

  23. Cal

    Re Disney’s requiring workers to “train” their replacements.
    Seems like an opportunity for some creativity to make it look like you are training them, but build in future failures and weaknesses into the system.

    Saw a great bumpersticker.
    Next to the “My child is an honor roll student at XYZ School”
    Was one that said:
    “Another Disney Free Child on board”

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