Links 7/15/15

Great photos of Earth from world’s smallest satellites CNN (Chuck L)

Scientists discover new kind of particle: the pentaquark Agence France-Presse (EM)

A Biodegradable Computer Chip That Performs Surprisingly Well MIT Technology Review

Conspiracists Concur: Climate Change Is a Colossal Cover-Up MIT Technology Review (resilc)

Amid angry scenes, ruling parties force security bills through Lower House committee Japan Times

Beyond Greece, the world is filled with debt crises Guardian (resilc)

DSK rides comeback trail — through Cuba Politico


Greece: Revolt over austerity deal grows, PM vows to stay on ahead of key vote Associated Press

Greece: The Struggle Continues Jacobin (Peter M). A must read. You can see how chaotic and divided Syriza was. There’s amazing stuff in here, and much of it contradicts what Varoufakis has been saying. I had tended to believe the “we want to lose the referendum” story both because Tsipras looked terrible in videos the night of the victory. But the source on that is Varoufakis, via Ambrose Evans-Pritchard and Jamie Galbraith. Story also says everyone in Syriza leadership wanted Varoufakis out as Finance Minister with only a few exceptions. And it stresses an issue we’ve been concerned about: “ of the biggest difficulties that Tsipras has to face now after the surrender of yesterday’s agreement is the very dubious political legitimacy of this move after the referendum.” And this bit reveals how utterly confused the Tsipras strategy was. We has called out at the time that Tsipras was bizarrely forming a coalition when he’d just won landslide support. The bold is the interviewer’s remark to Kouvelakis:

The first immediate impact of this massive victory of the “no” vote was to increase the disintegration of the opposition parties.

On the very evening of the result, these people were completely defeated…

And then, only hours later, this entire camp was resuscitated and legitimized by Tsipras himself when he called for the “council of political leaders” under the chair of the president of the republic, an open Yes supporter, who had been appointed by the Syriza majority in parliament in February.

At that meeting you saw an extraordinary thing happen — the head of the victorious camp accepted the conditions of the defeated camp. This, it has to be said, is something that’s unique in political history. I don’t we’ve ever seen this before.

And this is key:

More generally, Syriza implemented almost nothing of its electoral program.

Total failure in Greece: It threatens the rapid crash Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (guurst)

La France veut un allègement de la dette grecque BFM (Swedish Lex)

IMF stuns Europe with call for massive Greek debt relief Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

I.M.F. Demands Greece Debt Relief as Condition for Bailout New York Times

Brussels proposes using EU-wide rescue fund to help Greece Financial Times

No mercy for Greece in Angela Merkel’s Europe: The ‘mental waterboarding’ of Greece. CBC (Sid S)

France’s Sapin says on same line as IMF on Greek debt relief Reuters (Swedish Lex). Damage control.

EC-UK row over rescue funds for Greece to deepen Financial Times

Greece’s Latest Bailout Deal: What Could Possibly Go Wrong Now? Bloomberg

How the Olympics rotted Greece Politico


Ukraine PM calls on Canadian investors to help displace oligarchs Globe and Mail. Lambert: “By privatizing.”


Wasserman Schultz: Donors dubious about Iran deal Politico

The New York Times just went completely bezerk ‏@blakehounshell

That Time Ronald Reagan opened Iran and Illegally sold Khomeini Weapons Juan Cole (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Launch of $200 device to access Wi-Fi anonymously mysteriously stopped in its tracks ZDNet (Chuck L)

Security News This Week: The Crypto Wars Ain’t Over Wired. From a few days ago, still germane.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Joint Chiefs Nominee’s Alarms About Russia Have An Unaffordable And Wasteful $1 Trillion Pricetag Forbes (resilc)

Why Bernie Sanders Got Twice as Much Applause as Hillary Clinton When He Spoke to La Raza Alternet

Boy Scouts committee approves allowing gay adults as leaders Reuters (EM)

The Debaucherous Secrets of the Goldman Sachs Elevator Are Better Left to Twitter New Republic (resilc)

How Sensitive Is Housing Demand to Down Payment Requirements and Mortgage Rates? Big Picture (resilc)

More Mediocrity Tim Duy. On the Fed.

Bank Of America, Wells Fargo Top List Of Most Complained About Mortgage Issuers Consumerist

The Semi-Return of Clintonomics Esquire. Resilc: “Citibank and/or Chase, who wins more this time with Clinton LLC?”

Class Warfare

The world eats cheap bacon at the expense of North Carolina’s rural poor Quartz (resilc)

These 20 schools are responsible for a fifth of all graduate school debt Washington Post

Immigrant Refugees Farm Food From Around the World Atlantic

Antidote du jour. I have to confess, in the entire history of our antidotes, I can’t recall ever having a caterpillar. We have now remedied that oversight, thanks to reader resilc. From the Guardian: “Alypia octomaculata on a grape vine found on an old stone wall along a country road in Medfield, Massachusetts.”

pretty caterpillar links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. IsabelPS

    Weird world: Portugal just issued debt at lower interests (12 months) than in June last year (6 months was higher).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Here is an option, borrowed from corporations in the private sector, like IBM:

      One hundred year (100 year) bonds.

      I think it’s more likely a people (the Greek people, for example) can outlive a corporation.

      Why not 200 year bonds?

      Can’t we spread Greek debt over 1,000 years?

  2. MikeNY

    Re the Fed.

    The “output gap” seems to me the economic equivalent of the scientific hypothesis of the ether. Yet, this is the bedrock on which our superfabulicious Central Planners construct the magnificent edifice of their Policy.

    1. craazyboy

      But it is an alluring and easy to understand concept. Just subtract two hypothetical numbers and the Fed knows if they are Utility Maximizers, or not.

      If not, then the policy logic is:

      If OutputGap > 0 then “create cheap money in copious amounts for banks.”

      What’s not to love about this, if you want to be a powerful technocrat? Or a bank.

    1. Cugel

      This is why I have been making the historical parallel to the government of Germany’s “Hunger Chancellor” Heinrich Bruning of 1932 for months. Bruning tried to implement Austerity and rule by executive decree without real parliamentary support. The only winners were the Nazis. Now, Tsipras is trying to do the same thing. It simply cannot last.

      Such a government purged of the left, who represent the 60% who voted “no” in the referendum, cannot last because it has zero popular mandate. Because of the split in Syriza, the government must call for new elections, but no new elections can deliver a mandate for implementing the Memorandum. That attempt and that failure was what doomed New Democracy and all other pro-austerity parties back in 2014. Austerity has not grown more popular in the interim, and the Greek economy will only decline from here. Schäuble still wants Grexit and he’s going to get it.

      Key passage: “Already the leader of To Potami behaves like a minister in waiting and the Right discusses quite openly the possibility of joining the government.”

      So, after being totally crushed in the referendum, the right wing is revived by Tsipras who then moves to join a coalition with the right and expel the left of his party.

      OF course this is hopeless, because those right wing parties have just proven to have zero credibility. “They had regrouped and mobilized all their forces but still suffered a devastating defeat. They didn’t win a single county in Greece.”

      That deep unpopularity remains, and the need for elections will only highlight it. Tsipras may attempt to postpone elections and rule by decree, but we see from history how that must end – either in the victory of the left opposition, or the Nazis.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I know it’s wrong to project one country’s politics onto another, but when I heard Tsipras ran on hope, I was instantly reminded of Obama, and when I hear “the right wing is revived by Tsipras,” that’s exactly what Obama did in 2009. The right was flat on their back, Obama had a mandate, and he used it to give them a hand-up, dust them off, and let them right back in the match in 2009. Sounds exactly like what Tsipras did, albeit on a more compressed timetable (like the morning after the referendum (!)).

        1. Mark P.

          I don’t compare Obama and Tsipras at all.

          Obama was always clearly a banker-built and funded candidate — an empty shirt, one of several set in place to forestall the FDR option coming round again. And he knew it and acted accordingly.

          Tsipras, on the other hand, strikes me only as a breathtakingly naive poser.

        2. James Levy

          Ruling from the Left means cutting in the masses at the expense of the oligarchy that dominates almost every individual nation on Earth. Societies tend to be governed by and/or for a small clique of people (almost always men) who, for want of a better term, own and control the means of production, finance, distribution, and information. In Georgian England that was about 2000 families and it probably isn’t more than twice as many as that today although the population is now 10 times greater. In “classless” America the number may be as much as 100,000 people total by whom and for whom the nation is run. I have no idea how many people in Greece actually count for anything, but you can bet Tsipras knows and he’s not going to do anything to permanently anger that group. If it means selling out his voters and jumping into bed with the Right, he’ll do it. Same as Blair. Same as Obama. Same as Hollande. How we break that pattern I don’t know.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Tsipras and Syriza really were outsiders. They don’t have ties to the oligarchs. Varoufakis is the big exception, he did advise IIRC Nee Democracy. Many of the members do come from upper middle class backgrounds but they are overwhelmingly academics.

              1. IsabelPS

                Yes, but it’s not the same thing. Obama and Clinton, I believe, climbed up the social ladder in politics. Tsipras will not have time for that. Which does not mean that he, and Syriza, will not fall into the clientelist trap (some, like Guy Verhofstadt, say they have already started).

                But there is an interesting thing that I realized yesterday while looking at a picture of Lafazanis: quite a few members of Syriza are in their sixties and remain committed marxists. I find that interesting because I would be hard pressed to find the equivalent in Portugal. The vast majority of the people that were very active in the left and the far left in the 70’s and are active in politics nowadays gravitated towards the centre. Off the top of my head I can’t remember any exception, although they might exist. I think that all the preeminent politicians in the PT sister-party of Syriza are in their thirties or forties. But then again, I was told that Syriza is a political patchwork.

                1. norm de plume

                  ‘Which does not mean that he, and Syriza, will not fall into the clientelist trap (some, like Guy Verhofstadt, say they have already started)’

                  Well, Guy Verhofstadt certainly knows of which he speaks.

                  Follow the money. Their money, that is. Not ours.

            1. ambrit

              I hate to oversimplify, but ‘academics’ come in two flavours, the boffins, who are so engrossed in their disciplines that they’ll work for anybody, and the careerists, who will essentially follow power, hoping to be let into the ‘insiders’ club. (I’ll concede a third group of ethical academics, but what effectiveness do they have?) Given that, the career paths of the second group can be predicted.
              On another note, how do Oligarchies survive over time? I’ll suggest that they survive through the cooption of the most efficient ‘outsiders’ over time. This will explain much in the way of ‘ethical slippage.’
              As for Mr Levys question about breaking the pattern; I would rephrase the question into “How do we realign the distribution of power?” For some arcane reason, whenever an older pattern of social organization has been broken, generally violently, a remarkably similar pattern of control, but with different actors, takes its’ place. I suspect that this is a question for the savants investigating cognition.

  3. Bill Smith

    “How the Olympics rotted Greece”

    Got to laugh at this stuff. Everyone knows what a waste it is to host the Olympics.

    The IOC owes Greece nothing. The elected government of Greece knew it would be a waste – they just wanted the prestige that went along with it at the time. And they knew they would be gone when the bill really came due.

    This is true for any publically financed stadium – just on a smaller scale.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We have to discover our own greatness* within.

      Fitness is about ALL citizens eating health, having freedom from stress caused by our overlords, time for family dinner, living an active lifestyle and getting plenty of sleep, all within an unmolested Nature that nurtures us as ‘one among many.’

      Fitness is not about the 0.01% superhuman medal winners and watching them doing what they do on TV, hoping to crush/smash other nations.

      This, and trickle-up money creation…you can do it; we can do it.

      *The greatness is already there. Tathagata, the meaning of which is not known and many interpretations exist, to me, refers to ‘one who has thus arrived,’ or more precisely, one is already and in fact has always been where one is to be’ — i.e. no striving to be something else, but to discover one’s one divine nature (of Buddha nature, in their lingo) through quite contemplation, by calming one’s mind…navel gazing, if you will.

    2. Tertium Squid

      In the case of Greece isn’t it a little different? The IOC appropriated a piece of Hellenic history and they were renting it back to recreate the glory days.

      1. Ivy

        Russia had oligarchs and resources in play for the $50B Sochi Winter Olympics. Athens didn’t have much of either. Rio costs and games execution should be up next. In retrospect, Tokyo seemed to make the leap to first world status around the time of the 1964 games so much easier.

  4. financial matters

    I thought the Jacobin article was interesting also. Stathis Kouvelakis points out that ‘So we have to stress the continuity of the line of Tsipras. ‘

    When he called the referendum he wanted to strengthen his negotiating stand. He didn’t think the troika would respond so harshly by cutting off funding. Interestingly the Greek people were offended by this and turned out a strong no vote. But Tsipras was concerned that they didn’t have the breathing room to follow through with Grexit.

    It was mainly the ‘right’ wing of Syriza that wanted Varoufakis out as they were more in favor of a bailout from the beginning.

    The Left Platform, and now probably with support from the recent IMF document, wants to proceed with rejecting the current program.

    The outcome may be determined by some of the new funding which may become available through the ESFM.

    How this vote turns out may determine the future makeup of Syriza and if it tends more towards its right or left leanings.

    The strong arm capitalism coming out of the troika isn’t playing very well.

    Kouvelakis ends with:

    “From that perspective, which is the perspective of the reconstruction of the anticapitalist Left, without pretending that we are the only force that will play a role, we recognize how major the stakes are, which puts a very high responsibility on what we will be doing in the here and now.”

  5. Benedict@Large

    Greece: The Struggle Continues || Jacobin

    Note that if Tsipras won the referendum (which he did) and then immediately folded (which he apparently did), then what other explanation is possible other than that he wanted to lose? Because he not only folded, but he also quickly sabotaged the victory so no one else could use it.

    1. financial matters

      Gunboat diplomacy. The troika significantly upped the ante between the time the referendum was announced and when it was voted on.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        He didn’t think the troika would respond so harshly by cutting off funding


        Know your adversary.

        Be prepared for all contingencies…all scenarios.

        Don’t start something without a plan B.

        1. Bryan

          But that’s extremely shortsighted if true. I’m not saying it’s false, but it was clear to outside observers this would happen.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            They obviously failed to read Naked Capitalism.

            For months, Yves wrote about what the ECB did to Cyrus…the nuclear option. In fact, they knew, I read it somewhere here recently, I believe, about defending why they could not have gotten a better deal.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Hahaha, yes, the fact that this happened in Cyprus…right next door!…and the Greek branches of Cyprus banks were sold to Greek banks for super cheap prices (as in Cyrpus depositors helped shore up crappy Greek banks)…how could they not have known about it? !?

              Or that the reason Ireland bailed out its hugely underwater banks despite having no deposit guarantee, was that the ECB threatened to cut off the ELA and similarly tank their banks overnight.

              I keep being stunned by what amounts to criminal negligence, or a bad case of self-delusion: “Greece is different so this won’t happen.” Different how? Bigger? More visible? If anyone had bothered reading statements by ECB board members and bank presidents, you could see they were not happy to be funding Greek banks and would love to have an excuse to get out of that business.

              1. IsabelPS

                Yes, Greece is different. It is the Cradle of Democracy.

                (They are voting now. The French have already voted yes)

        2. EmilianoZ

          Fundamentally decent people can never quite imagine what unscrupulous people are prepared to do. Maybe that what we have called Syriza’s “naivety”.

          1. James Levy

            I think there is some of that in this story although the hyper-cynical modality around here is to simply assume we are oh so smart and the Greeks are idiots, fools, and naves. I simply could not believe that the Germans et al. didn’t want to come up with a measured plan to grow Greece out of her debt position. The idea that the creditors would, when presented with a rational picture of how you can’t get blood from a stone and that further austerity would simply kill the patient and lead to a default down the road say “fuck you–pay me!” like the gangsters in “Goodfellas” was beyond my ken.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              The Germans subscribe to a super retrograde school of economics called ordoliberalism. They really believe in austerity as well as rules. It “worked” in Latvia, so what is Greece’s excuse?

              Schauble’s nickname is Ayatollah Austerity.

    2. Cugel

      If he wanted to lose, then why did he win? There’s no answer to that question!

      That’s why I never believed it. Tsipras could have easily lost the referendum, simply by telling the Greek people the truth.

      “The negotiations have failed. We must stand up to the Troika and face Grexit, and this is what it will mean; the ECB will immediately cut off the ELA and force a complete collapse of the banking system. We will need to re-introduce some kind of alternative currency, for which we are not prepared, etc. It’s going to be hell on earth. If you think things are bad right now, wait 6 months and see how bad they really can get!”

      And then Tsipras says: “Now, let’s see if they give us a mandate for that!”

      See? Now the “no” vote would lose. If he wanted to lose, it was dead easy to do. He could then resign and go into opposition.

      Only he didn’t WANT to resign. He’s shown he desperately wants to stay in power. So, the story was clearly FALSE.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Tsirpas looked dreadful the night of the referendum when he should have looked happy.

        His feelings about it appear to have changed after the ECB cut off the ELA which it did specifically in response to the announcement of the referendum. The Jacobin piece says only a very few people in Syriza leadership thought the ECB would do that; most rejected that as a possibility. Recall that he did the bizarre move of pitching what amounted to a capitulation to the creditors on June 30, the Wednesday before the referendum and after the ELA was frozen.

  6. timbers

    Did you leave out Iran because you’d throw up if you read headlines like these at Huffington Post?

    7 Years Later, Obama’s Worldview Realized… His Boldest Foreign Policy Initiative… 3 Years Ago, War Appeared Unavoidable… ‘Finally, The Bush Era Of Foreign Policy Is Over’…

    Earlier the headlines included something about how Obama has now earned the Nobel Peace Prize he was given. And to think it’s mostly to do with getting non-Russian gas to Europe.

  7. cirsium

    thanks for the link to the Jacobin article, Yves. It gives a look behind the curtain. Given the scale of the incompetence, the last sentence is hard to take. “which puts a very high responsibility on what we will be doing in the here and now.”

    “More generally, Syriza implemented almost nothing of its electoral program. “ What an epitaph.

    1. Faye Carr

      From yesterday: Regarding Lamberts cucumbers… if the neem oil doesn’t resolve the problem on it’s own, a rotation with Safer Soap should help. We are seeing resistance already

      If that doesn’t work, try making a mixture of 1tablespoon neem and 1 of Safer soap (or similar*) in 1 gallon of water. It makes a good combination spray to knock most pests back.

      And if that doesn’t work an upgrade to Triple Action Neem might be necessary.

      At the end of the season, make sure to remove all the debris (pests lay their eggs in it) and burn it. Putting it in the compost won’t necessarily kill all the eggs. (Integrated Pest Management IPM, UF IFAS)

      *don’t use Dawn, there are other chemicals in it that aren’t considered organic.

  8. Brindle

    re: Bernie Sanders/ La Raza

    Sanders is for the $15 hr. minimum wage, Clinton is fuzzy on it, sorta like how she was on TPP. I think that Bernie’s gaining in the polls will force Clinton to come out in favor of $15/hr in the next few months.


    “When we talk about the problems of America, it is not only jobs; it is income. We need to raise the minimum wage, which today is a starvation wage of $7.25 to $15 an hour, so that anyone who works (applause) in this country does not live in poverty.” (applause)

    1. grayslady

      Clinton isn’t fuzzy on $15 per hour. She has never said she supports it; therefore, she doesn’t. Even Bernie isn’t in favor of an immediate $15, although he should be.

      More importantly, I think, is that Bernie’s speech to La Raza just wiped out any perceived advantage Hillary had with Hispanic voters. Bernie’s story about being the son of a poor immigrant, and being able to relate directly to the experiences of other poor immigrants trying for a break, was Bill Clinton’s “I feel your pain” on steroids.

    2. ChipOnly

      Not so much responding to any particular comment above as much as I am trying to keep today’s link topics organized for others reading the comments.

      IMO, there’s too many people who view the issue of illegal immigration as purely or mostly a racial one, when I think instead much of the vilification is motivated as much or more by economic reasons. Of course people of color experience terrible discrimination, but what brings immigrants, legal or illegal, here in the first place (and potentially exacerbates what racial hate is too often directed at them) strikes me as fundamentally motivated by economic factors and the desire for a better life. Can’t fault anyone for that, certainly.

      The huge pool of inexpensive labor has not, and IMO will not, result in climbing wages for the US’ lowest-paid workers, because of course labor is a market. It seems to have, however, resulted in increased profits for the low-wage employers and industries that typically employ illegal labor.

      Personally, I’m in favor of raising the federal minimum wage. I’m in favor of helping people world-wide, too, but getting a decent standard of living to my working poor fellow Americans (native or naturalized) of any national background is my priority. Which seems something of an opposite to an org like La Raza, who Bernie was addressing in, let’s face it, a campaign speech. La Raza as you might be aware translates to “The Race,” a bit of a misnomer I think given their focus on ethnicity-based goals and advocacy for illegal immigrants in the US. And I’m also in favor reform to IMO senseless US immigration policy – almost exclusively family preference – along with illegal immigration policy.

      I should mention somewhere here that I hold a Master’s in labor studies (M.H.R.I.R) from a top school in the field, so despite how it may sound to some, I have a clue on these topics. I’d encourage those who think I am without a clue to give an hour to this excellent talk by Harvard Prof George Borjas, and see if it doesn’t expand your understanding of the issue of immigration, illegal and otherwise.

      Thanks for reading and considering my thoughts. Great Blog Yves and Co! I check it every day (though it took awhile yesterday for me to get around to it).

  9. RT

    Not directly relevant, but this quote from Herbert Spencer’s1859 essay The Morals of Trade strikes me as evergreen:
    It is not true, as many suppose, that only the lower classes of the commercial world are guilty of fraudulent dealing. Those above them are [to] a great extent blameworthy. On the average, men who deal in bales and tons differ but little in morality from men who deal in yards and pounds. Illicit practices of every form and shade, from venial deception up to all but direct theft, may be brought home to the higher grades of our commercial world. Tricks innumerable, lies acted or uttered, elaborately-devised frauds, are prevalent; many of them established as “customs of the trade”; nay, not only established, but defended . . . .

  10. Jim Haygood

    From the European Commission report on Greece’s request for ESM financing:

    [Greece’s] debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to reach 165% in 2020, 150% in 2022 and 111% in 2030 in the baseline scenario. The respective debt/GDP ratios in the adverse scenario are: 187% in 2020, 176% in 2022 and 142% in 2030.

    Both these projections are delusional. As an economist stranded in a country with closed banks might say, ‘Assume a recovery.’

    This is your Europe on drugs [hopium + bath salts].

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Turning Japanese?

      Googling ‘Japan debt to gdp,’ you get:

      Average CIA, IMF ratio of 174%
      Public debt to GDP (CIA) of 226%
      Gross government debt to GDP of 237
      Net government debt to GDP of 134

      The difference of course is Japan likely owes most of it 1) to Japanese entities and 2) in Yen (a great lesson in finance here for any future totalitarian dictator to ensure funding for his/her evil schemes. Try to do that to anyone who can fight back, who can’t be coerced, i.e. another sovereign nation, things will get ugly soon).

      For Greece, it’s not so, and here are some outcomes I can see:

      1. default and drachma – hair cut % vs. drachma/Euro % will determine whether debt load heavier or lighter to service in drachmas.

      Cheaper drachma will help to service the debt – i.e. line the pockets of bankers/creditors.
      Cheaper drachma also means bad news for a country not food self-sufficient. More expensive souvlaki. And more expensive drugs, for seniors, the weak, and the sick.

      But hey, we will be earning Euros with the cheap drachma to service those loans.

      2. extension by 50 years, 100 years or 1,000 years (let’s call this one, A Thousand Year Wreck).

  11. nobody

    I know lots of conspiracists, and I can’t think of a single one who concurs with the claim that “climate change is a colossal cover-up.” I’ve also read enough about the events of November, 1963 to know that the Warren Commission report has not (in its “888 exhaustive pages”) “demonstrated conclusively that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating President John F. Kennedy.”

    Michael Parenti’s conclusions about notable events in recent history may well be false much more often than they are true, but I know that the following description is on the mark (and, in the context of Occupy, have personally experienced some of what is described), and I understand how the rhetoric of conspiracy denialists like Richard Martin functions to make frank and deeply informed discussion about “finance, economics, politics and power” taboo:

    Today in the much vaunted western democracies there exists a great deal of unaccountable state power whose primary function is to maintain the existing politico-economic structure, using surveillance, infiltration, sabotage, judicial harassment, disinformation, trumped-up charges and false arrests, tax harassment, blackmail, and even violence and assassination to make the world safe for those who own it.

    There exists a state within the state, known as the national security state, a component of misgovernment centering around top officers in the CIA, DIA, FBI, the Pentagon, and policymakers in the Executive Office of the White House. These elements have proven themselves capable of perpetrating terrible crimes against dissidents at home and abroad. National security state agencies like the CIA, in the service of dominant economic interests, have enlisted the efforts of mobsters, drug traffickers, assassins, and torturers, systematically targeting peasant leaders, intellectuals, journalists, student leaders, clergy, labor union leaders, workers, and community activists in numerous countries. Hundreds of thousands of people have been murdered to prevent social change, to destroy any government or social movement that manifests an unwillingness to reduce its people to economic fodder for the giant corporations that rule the world’s economy.

    I also know about CIA Dispatch 1035-960 (1967), released in 1976 after the NY Times made a FOIA request.

    1. Vatch

      Conspiracies exist, although theories about them have various levels of validity (and occasional absurdity, e.g. David Icke). I think there are climate change conspiracies, and they are controlled by deniers such as the Koch brothers and the fossil fuel industry. That so many people reject the reality of anthropogenic climate change shows how successful these conspiracies are. That’s quite different from what Mr. Martin is writing about in the MIT Technology Review.

    2. tiresoup

      The term conspiracy theorist, like denialist, terms of contempt and derision, are not about discrediting the conclusions these groups reach. Use of these terms is to stop the questions. To forestall doubt. As you point out, any disinterested examination of the facts of the JFK matter leads inevitably to doubt of the official story. Now we are vociferiously discouraged to doubt that currently scientists have all the correct and necessary answers on climate. Or one is in “denial.” That is just absurd and has no place in scientific inquiry. It leads one to question whether there may be political or economic reasons for discouraging doubt about climate change. It is the questions, not the answers, that are feared. Who the hell really knows how JFK was done? But the minute you stray off the lone gunman reservation you are an alien “conspiracy theorist.” Horrors! Perhaps the conspiracy theorist meme is getting a little tired these days, mostly serving as confirmation – as in, you can’t really believe it until officially denied.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Contempt and derision fully earned, I might add.

        * * *

        Personally, I think the word “conspiracy” can be replaced by “faction” where found, with considerable advantage both in accuracy, and via the removal of massive accretion of hairballs, priors, disinformation, digital malpractice, etc.

  12. Demon Cat

    Off-topic: Have you ever considered using a serf font for the articles, or maybe increasing the line spacing a bit? I find the long ones quite hard to read sometimes, but maybe it’s just me.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Greek is now considered a serf font.

      (Sorry, couldn’t resist. Of course you meant ‘serif.’)

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      We use Optima, which is a halfway between a serif and a sans serif. FWIW, it was used as the font for The Joy of Cooking and The Joy of Sex, so it’s intended to be a visual offset to the typical grimness of our content.

      Optima renders on Macs but I don’t think it’s standard in PCs. We have a hierarchy of default fonts for those who don’t have Optima.

      I have no idea how hard it is to download Optima, but it you are on a PC/Android you might try that.

      1. Jeff W

        I have no idea how hard it is to download Optima…

        Well, poking around, it looks like Optima is available for $35.

        But, according to this comment, Belleza, a Google font, is close to it and is available for download from the Google Fonts site here. (Click the down arrow, save the font file as a .zip file, and unzip/install it on your computer.)

        On Firefox, you can create a user style sheet to override the font choices on a particular site. Essentially, you create a CSS file (which is a just a text file) in in a folder called chrome your Firefox profile folder and tell Firefox to use Belleza on this site. The directions are here. (It’s maybe even easier in Google Chrome but I haven’t tried it.)

        The single line I used in my CSS file was

        @-moz-document domain({ html, p, li, h1 {font-family : Belleza !important;} }

        which seems to be correct.

        I am now enjoying the site in all its midway-between-serif-and-sans-serif glory! It’s pretty revelatory, actually.

  13. Ian

    I have a query. I was told about 2 years ago by a lady that travels in the upper echelon circles that I befriended that the Constitution (I believe) only allows for a Democrat or a Republican to become president. I was wondering if this was accurate?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I seriously doubt that.

      George Washington was neither, number one.

      Number two, George Washington was not a natural born citizen either. He was born in some British colony. Birthers are not happy about it at all.

    2. Garrett Pace

      The Supreme Court reviewed the Constitution and found corporate personhood in there, so who knows what sorts of wonderful things it contains!

    3. Vatch

      Perhaps she was confused by the Electoral College. American voters don’t vote for a Presidential candidate; they vote for that candidate’s electors. A third party must have electors for whom people can vote. It’s an antiquated system that should be eliminated, but I doubt that will happen any time soon.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      In crude terms, our Electoral College process makes it hard to have more than two parties, by design. We have had parties die and be replaced (the Whigs, for instance) but as you can see, that has not happened for a very long time. The Progressives in the early 20th century were the recent high water mark for third parties. Although Ross Perot did get a very large popular vote (19%) as an Independent in 1992, he did not get any states in the Electoral College. And his campaign success, unlike that of the Progressives, had more to do with him than the party. BTW his campaign could have done better but he confusingly withdrew and then re-entered.

    5. Oregoncharles

      the Constitution doesn’t mention parties (I recommend reading it – not all that long, unlike the PPACA). The Founders disliked them but proceeded to start their own.

      Aside from the complications of the Electoral College, the barriers to “third” party entry are in STATE law, since states administer elections. The chief one is plurality “first-past-the-post” voting, which creates the “spoiler” effect. The others are high hurdles to ballot access, higher in some states than others.

      The extra-legal barriers are mostly sheer, blind habit and the mass media. Mere coverage, admission that you exist, is one of the biggest problems.

  14. Jim Haygood

    From the university which graduated George W. Bush and Barack Obama:

    A new Harvard study suggests it would be cost effective to treat up to 67% of all U.S. adults aged 40 to 75 with statins, expanding the pool of candidates for these cholesterol-fighting drugs beyond controversial 2013 guidelines that also increased the number of statin-eligible patients.

    Researchers sought the sweet spot where the population achieves the maximum health benefits available at a cost—in terms of side effects and drug prices—that society will willingly bear.

    It would be cost effective to expand statin eligibility to those who score as low as a 3% on the risk calculator, potentially making millions more Americans statin candidates.

    Recognize Big Pharma’s favorite theme song here? ‘You’re going to be on this medication for life.’ KA-CHING!

    How much does it cost to buy five Harvard professors, plus a journo-ho to spew their crap advertorial?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That money is better spent eradicating Greed, the number one man-made disease threatening the world right now.

    2. nowhere

      There is, also, great corporate synergy with Big Ag. Why shift our terrible food system to one that produces much greater health outcomes when you can just pop a pill with deleterious side-effects? Big business wins all around!

      1. Jim Haygood

        Yes. But then George W. proceeded to Harvard Biz School (class of 1975), where he learnt about martingales: keep doubling down till you win.

        Unfortunately, after his trillion-dollar bet on victory in Iraq came a cropper, they took away his credit line.

        He coulda been a contendah …

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      This is such horseshit. Any effectiveness in in terms of heart disease only, not all factor death rates.

      For women, a cholesterol level of 270 is correlated with the lowest all factor mortality rate (as in longest life span).

      And no one has done long-term studies on statin use. Stains mess with your liver function. I have trouble believing that that’s good for you.

      There is considerable evidence that cholesterol is important in disease resistance. In other words, to the extent you do lower your odds of dying of heart disease, you increase your susceptibility to stuff like MRSA.

  15. Garrett Pace

    The Reddit controversy maybe has faded from the news, but got a whole lot stupider in the meantime.

    The original narrative “Wicked witch CEO finally paid for her wickedness and good-guy founder comes back into the fold to save the day”

    …in a matter of hours has been replaced by “Founders hang bad decisions on good-person CEO to force her out and run the show together again.” Public opinion is a funny thing.

    Deeper issue: Like all social media, reddit’s only goal is monetization, and the user community is struggling to accepting that. Adding to the situation is a variety of People Who Know Things weighing in with their opinions and narratives, like the CEO who quit some months ago, and just decided to make himself unemployable.

    Nothing this guy says may be any truer than anything else, of course.

    One thing becomes obvious about Reddit, it has not proven to be a platform for managing controversy or information dissemination very well. This will of course affect their monetization and make it harder for them to land the big endorsement $$$$.

  16. Vatch

    Has anyone read Cash Crash Jubilee? It seems like the sort of science fiction novel that might appeal to NC readers. I haven’t read the book, although I might if other people like it. Here’s part of the blurb:

    In a near future Tokyo, every action–from blinking to sexual intercourse–is intellectual property owned by corporations that charge licensing fees. A BodyBank computer system implanted in each citizen records their movements from moment to moment, and connects them to the audio-visual overlay of the ImmaNet, so that every inch of this cyber-dystopian metropolis crawls with information and shifting cinematic promotainment.
    Amon Kenzaki works as a Liquidator for the Global Action Transaction Authority. His job is to capture bankrupt citizens, remove their BodyBank, and banish them to BankDeath Camps where they are forever cut off from the action-transaction economy.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      For every action to be an intellectual property, I assume then no action is unique, but is an existing, owned property.

      And the same with thoughts and ideas beyond those actions. No idea is unique. No thought is unique.

      That, I believe, would the internally consistent with the cyber-dystopia you quoted.

      Then, one would be curious to inquire, if that is the desire of the overlords, why don’t they just go replicating the same world on Mars with robot taxpayers instead of messing around with unruly human taxpayers in post-Confucius Tokyo?

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Beyond Greece, the world is filled with debt crises. Guardian.

    “Since 2012, there’s been a huge increase in sovereign debt, in Africa in particular,” she says. Some of the countries involved were beneficiaries of the debt relief programme that G8 leaders signed up to at the Gleneagles summit in 2005. “They were given debt relief with the idea that it would give a clean slate to go forward,” Tyson says.

    I assume by ‘given debt relief,’ they mean 100% hair cut; otherwise, I can’t imagine it is ‘given a clean slate to go forward.’

    She warns that a number of countries have since “loaded up” on debt – and while some governments had invested the money wisely, diversifying their economies and improving infrastructure, others have not. She points to Ghana, in west Africa, where a sharp increase in borrowing has been spent on what she calls “pork-barrel politics. They’ve spent it in a frivolous way.”

    Reloading right after jubilee, with pork-barrel politics?

    If any government can print and spend as much as it wants, how will that play out with the discipline seen here? Keep in mind that a government is run by humans and keep in mind also what human nature is like.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Again, from the link:

      Yet new analysis by the Jubilee Debt Campaign reveals that Greece’s plight is far from unique: more than 20 other countries are also wrestling with their own debt crises.

      We can distinguish between two kinds of borrowing:

      1. Borrowing among ourselves. The net total debt of the human population should be zero.

      2. Borrowing from the future. That should be done with caution, extreme caution. There is no jubilee with unsustainable borrowing. Here, what you do before you borrow is way more important than what you can try to salvage afterwards.

    2. c (too)

      In the meantime in Ghana:

      ACCRA, July 15 (Reuters) – The Bank of Ghana’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) kept its main policy rate unchanged at 22.0 percent as expected on Wednesday, citing improvement in the West African nation’s inflation outlook as the local cedi currency rallies.

      Wampah also said the MPC had asked the Bank of Ghana to introduce additional measures to streamline monetary operations. This will include merging the monetary policy rate with the reverse repo rate within 30 days to improve transmission mechanism.

      It added that the merger of the rate would be immediately followed by the introduction of a 7-day reverse repo instrument in the money market to offer more flexibility in the liquidity management of banks.

  18. diptherio

    This is from a Solidarity Economy compadre in Greece:

    Syriza surrenders: time for renewed popular resistance

    The role of the left, broadly defined, is not that of a more benevolent manager of capitalist barbarity: after all, that was social democracy’s original purpose, a project that exhausted itself already in the 1980s. There can be no ‘austerity with a human face’: neoliberal social engineering is an attack on human dignity and the common goods in all its guises, right-wing and left-wing.

    I have argued elsewhere that the NO in last week’s referendum was ambivalent, and the struggle to give meaning to it has only just begun. Hours after the announcement of the result, Prime Minister Tsipras interpreted the verdict as a mandate to ‘stay within the Eurozone at any cost’. It is evident, however, that the new ‘bailout’ package obviously is outside his mandate: Plan A, Syriza’s only plan, envisioning an end of austerity without challenging the powers-that-be, has utterly failed.

    Plan B, promoted in various forms by Antarsya, the Communist Party and Syriza’s own Left Platform advocates a productive reconstruction outside the Eurozone. Although increasingly popular after the inflexibility of the European project has been made evident, it is still a productivist, state-centric, top-down plan that doesn’t put into question the dominant meanings of capitalism: endless capitalist growth, an extractive economy, the expansion of production, credit and consumption. Furthermore, by promoting national entrenchment it entails the danger of authoritarian deviations.

  19. trinity river

    Greece: I am trying to understand. How is it that the IMF is now saying that Greece needs a break? I know Yves has said that the research and program people in the IMF have divergent opinions. We need to parse Christine LaGarde’s leadership. For many years, some in the IMF have suggested that the austerity approach has been lacking. How to I say this politely — the SHTF.

    After DSK, I had so hoped that Lagarde would understand that austerity does not work(not because she is a woman).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Anatomically, she is.

      But she lacks Yin energy, spiritually, from your disappointed perspective.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Ambrose E-P claims in The Telegraph that ‘the backdrop to this sudden shift in position is almost certainly political. It follows an intense push for debt relief over recent days by the US Treasury, the dominant voice on the IMF Board in Washington.’

      This is the ‘save NATO’ agenda in action. But NATO don’t write checks. Maybe NATO can declare war on debt, which ought to produce a lot more of it.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        My contacts in DC disagree with this “US push” reading and I’ve never seen any evidence that AEP has good Washington sources.

        The Administration has in general been very disengaged in this crisis., which is contrary to how to previous Administrations responded to the Latin American debt crisis (late 70s-early 80s) and the Asian crisis. It would represent a 180 for them to have gotten active now.

        The IMF has very strong institutional survival reasons to want out. You don’t need to look further than that for explanations.

  20. jfleni

    I like the Irish PM’s recent suggestion to Greece: Adopt the Chinese currency!

    Then stand by as Mutti and Schauble lose out to Die Linke. Germans and Greeks will both be better off.

    It’s like watching a bad late movie: Some smiling Chinaman says “Torpedo los!” and China wins and EU/Deutchland/Brussels loses.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I have to tell you that that is nuts. Greece is not monetarily sovereign in RMB, so it goes from having one party that controls and can destroy its economy to having a new overlord.

      And it does not solve any of the Grexit problems. It still has to get its hands on currency and distribute it (a task that takes months) and do the same type of IT work it would need to do to convert to drachma. The only savings would be the printing time involved in designing and printing drachma (not as trivial as you think since you need to select and procure forgery-resistant stock), but that would almost certainly be faster than cutting a deal with China (even assuming China was interested) and then getting enough currency flown in.

  21. Raj

    Facebook’s handling of your headshot is now the subject of class action lawsuits that pose the question: When someone turns your mug into data, are those digits theirs or yours?

    Filed in April and May, the lawsuits claim that when Facebook started converting the geometry of your profile picture into what it calls “a unique number,” it broke a 2008 Illinois law giving residents certain rights when their biometric information is collected.

    Facebook is disputing the claims, and fired its first legal salvos this month. That developing legal fight, plus the meltdown last month of a government effort to come up with standards for the use of facial recognition technology, suggests that the distances between your eyes, nose and mouth are hot battlegrounds in the privacy wars.

  22. NV

    Regarding the excellent interview in Jacobin, and the comment contained therein on switcheroos– it is not the first time. In The Prince Machiavelli laments Maximilian constant and unpredictable changes of position.

  23. Jerry Denim

    Thanks for the link on the Chinese take-over of the south eastern North Carolina pork industry. I found it deeply revealing that due to the odor and the pollution that CHINA (!) does not tolerate open hog waste lagoons but North Carolina (and other states) do. The extra cost involved with the more advanced hog waste management technology in China, plus the super cheap government subsidized feed (corn) here make pork production in the US 50% cheaper than in China, so China bought out Smithfield Foods, the biggest pork producer in the USA and turned Duplin County into the FoxConn of pork. In doing so China has exported their pig shit problem to the US and North Carolinians are choking on pig effluent so the Chinese don’t have to. Really makes you question the who’s who of the import-export, rich country-poor country narrative the United States has with its supposed “developing nation” trade partners. The expose claims the cost is being unduly suffered by the black and hispanic rural poor in NC and that is not incorrect, but it overlooks the fact that the ‘Murray Brown’ growers/farmers are contractors who build these lagoons and facilities on their own personal properties where they themselves usually live, often with large families. A typical Duplin County hog farmer will have several hog houses and lagoons on his property along with two or three houses inhabited by their children and grandchildren that are sometimes involved with the operation. It’s usually the aforementioned hispanics that live in proximity to the farm that are employed to assist with the dirty work. Yes the growers/contractors are almost always white and yes they reap the financial rewards of besotting their land but they too are suffering the same bad smells and the same ill health effects as their poorer neighbors who don’t have enough land or resources for a hog farm of their own. Its a sad, sick greedy race to the bottom in the name of profits and “free” markets. Alternative farming techniques and producing a lower quantity of higher value, small artisanal organic pork is not a conversation Duplin County Hog farmers seem interested in having, and understandably so. The Murray Brown-Smithfield foods juggernaut has a very well-oiled industrial system of production in place that only require growers to be a little cog in a big machine in order to receive their checks. Any other form of hog farming in Murray Brown land is seen as risky, ill-advised and will meet resistance at every level, especially marketplace entry. The USDA and government regulations are very effective at preventing more environmentally friendly farming techniques from competing with big Ag’s business model.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The problems with Smithfield were rampant long before Chinese ownership. Al Franken wrote about N.C. hog factory farms in one of his books.

  24. Foy

    Not sure if this article has been mentioned yet, but Bloomberg has a piece titled:

    “Nine People Who Saw the Greek Crisis Coming Years Before Everyone Else Did”…

    4 of them were were Wynne Godley (in 1992), Stephanie Kelton (2002), Warren Mosler (2001), Randall Wray (1998). Is there any surprise at all that they are all MMT practitioners?! Go MMT…. it’s just a description of how banking and money works today…no MMT fairy as some like to call it…just the plain facts and the result is predictable and plain to see…

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