Links 9/18/15

‘Universal urination duration’ wins Ig Nobel prize BBC (Dr. Kevin)

New Evidence The Nazis Didn’t Come Close To The Bomb Forbes

Researchers just discovered a massive body of water under China’s biggest desert Inhabitat (furzy mouse)

US commander backs challenging China over disputed islands Reuters

Finland Faces Biggest Strikes in Two Decades Amid Austerity Ire Bloomberg. Swedish Lex: “Greece of the north.”

Migrant Crisis

Croatia ‘cannot stop migrants’ – PM BBC

Europe Lacks Plan as Migrants March On New York Times

Corbyn Panic

Queen records Jeremy Corbyn diss track Daily Mash

Threat of defections for Corbyn as Labour MPs approach Lib Dems Telegraph

Meet the next leader of the Labour party (sorry Jeremy Corbyn) Telegraph


Greek election 2015: Golden Dawn rises on austerity-driven despair Guardian (Sid S) Not clear if Golden Dawn is likely to beat its old high water mark.

Greece election campaign ends as polls show no clear winner ekathimerini


Ukraine Multiplied by Zero on the Eve of Maidan Squared Fort Russ (Chuck L)


Putin’s Line in the Sand: No Regime Change in Syria Counterpunch

Finger-Pointing, but Few Answers, After Syria Solution Fails New York Times

Rogue States and Diplomacy: a Conversation With Noam Chomsky Counterpunch. Important.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Book Review: Abusing the Internet of Things Slashdot

DOJ Threatens to Invoke State Secrets Over Something Released in FOIA Marcy Wheeler

TSA Doesn’t Care That Its Luggage Locks Have Been Hacked Intercept

Police Stase Watch

How officials use a dubious medical condition to explain stun gun deaths Guardian

‘I think he’s still hungry’: Florida cops allegedly order gruesome K-9 attack on graffiti artists Raw Story

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Secret Arms Deal Behind America’s Syria Fiasco BuzzFeed (Chuck L)


Trump’s Bad Morning After Politico

US rightwing populism ruffles business Financial Times

Clinton lawyer balked at first effort to delete classified email Politico

California wildfires threaten wine vineyards at start of harvest season Guardian

Black Injustice Tipping Point

North Carolina Police Chief Forced To Resign After ‘Shoot First’ Anti-Black Lives Matter Rant Alternet

Police “Training” is the Problem: They are Trained to Oppress Blacks Glen Ford


Mohamed El-Erian: Fed must now work harder to shift market focus Financial Times

Despite Concerns, Yellen Still Sees Rate Increase This Year Wall Street Journal

Dovish Tone of Fed’s Monetary Policy Statement Surprises Economists New York Times

Markets Still Don’t Agree With the Fed Mark Whitehouse, Bloomberg

US interest rates: still time for another drink … or even two Guardian

Critics Rip GM Deferred Prosecution Agreement in Engine Switch Case Corporate Crime Reporter. So much for that DoJ pledge to target individuals.

Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Survey “Something Very Wrong” Michael Shedlock

From All Sides, Pressure Mounts Over Private Equity Fee Practices Chief Investment Officer

Criticized by Trump, Carried Interest Tax Loophole Is Vulnerable New York Times (resilc)

Class Warfare

Why the Rich Are So Much Richer James Surowiecki New York Review of Books (resilc)

Across the South, Many Jails Are Illegal Debtors’ Prisons Truthout

Jury Awards Farm Workers $17.4M In Sex Harassment Case Law360. From last week, still germane.

Antidote du jour (martha r). An NC first, a Portuguese man of war:

portuguese man of war links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Sam Kanu

    TSA Doesn’t Care That Its Luggage Locks Have Been Hacked (Intercept)

    Over the years, with all the theft I have experienced from checked luggage when flying – and a great deal of that theft occuring in domestic US travel – I have always wondered about the theater involved in having criminals not just operating with impunity in “secure” areas, but actually being the ones tasked with “securing” the integrity and safety of the people flying…

    1. diptherio

      Coming back through LAX customs–made sure to open the luggage lock on my bag before it went through inspection–TSA still made sure to rip the (open) lock off the bag, ensuring that the bag couldn’t be closed again. Gee did I ever feel safe!

      1. BondsOfSteel

        Yea, the locks suck.

        The solution is to take valuable luggage through the TSA security checkpoint and check it at the gate. Once you get through the checkpoint you can lock it again, and the airline will put it directly on the plane. They’ll even skip the $25 checked baggage fee ;)

  2. allan

    “Mohamed El-Erian: Fed must now work harder to shift market focus”

    Oh, so the dual mandate is actually a triple mandate. With some mandates being more equal than others. I’m so glad that Mr. El-Erian clarified that for the little people.

    1. craazyboy

      They get about 100 times the press coverage Obama gets. Whatta they gonna do. Run for president so the market ignores them?

  3. Ditto

    UK Politcs

    1 If an MP changes parties, how does that work as far as elections by the voters? Would Labour have to wait until 2020 to replace them?

    2. Reading about the Lib Dems, it sounds like the Blairites would be worse off electorally. So, is this just posturing?

    1. paul

      1.Yes, 5 years of gravy guzzling and then ignominious oblivion.
      Labour’s eric joyce was derecognised for constant fights and piss artistry but he held true to his seat for the full term.
      2. Joining the rightly disgraced fourth placed party (with just 8 out of 650 seats) ,led by the heroically underwhelming Farron, would be an unacceptable risk for such serious minded lads and lasses.
      The conservative and unionist party would is the natural home for them. It’s not like they’ve disagreed with anything the tories have done in the last 5 years.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The UK’s party discipline is higher than here. Anyone who switches parties will become an immediate pariah. Tory voters won’t want a former Labour member, and younger Tory back benchers don’t want another obstacle to overcome. As far as jobs outside of Parliament, no one wants a pariah.

      For all of Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller’s bluster, they were loyal caucus members. The only way switching makes sense is paid you were dialed in on one committee where the major lobbyists wouldn’t want to lose you and you held standing in your home state. Virgil Goode springs to mind. The dude worked tirelessly for both small farmers and big agriculture at the same time. He had leverage to switch and was beloved in rural Virginia. What is Alan Grayson’s (an impossible case) leverage if he wanted to switch?

        1. Strategist

          Churchill crossed the floor of the House of Commons twice, in 1904 from the Tories to the Liberals, and in 1924 from the Liberals to the Tories.

      1. Carla

        “The UK’s party discipline is higher than here. Anyone who switches parties will become an immediate pariah.”

        I don’t know what you mean. We don’t actually have parties here. We have a couple of brands that are both owned by the one percent.

        I would think that having a party would have to precede having party discipline. Of course, discipline is pretty much a foreign concept in this country, too.

    3. Ed

      See this:

      If there is party switching, it will probably be straight from Labour to Conservative this time. For Blairites, the Conservatives are more ideologically compatible than the Liberal Democrats, who like Labour moved to the left after the election. The Conservatives can offer more safe seats, possible posts in the cabinet, steering projects to the MPs constituencies, and the fact that it is just better to be a politician in a party that got 36% of the vote last time than 8%. Other than the publicity, Blairite Labour MPs crossing the floor to the government helps Cameron both pad his majority and to make it easier to deal with awkward Tory MPs, both of which he badly needs to do and in both cases where losing the Lib Dems winds up hurting him.

      The other big problem with “SDP version 2” is that the first version wasn’t that successful. It may be worth looking back on the history. In 1979, the Liberal Party got 14% of the vote and 11 seats, as opposed to 8% of the vote and 8 seats in 2015. They had taken a big hit in popularity for being the junior partner in a coalition arrangement with the governing party, in this case a confidence and supply arrangement with Labour. Labour, by the way, polled 36.9% of the vote in 1979, the exact same percentage the Tories got in 2015. This did mean that potential Labour defectors had experience in working with the Liberals.

      In the event, 28 Labour MPs defected to the SDP, and 4 former Labour MPs won re-election running for the SDP (in alliance with the Liberals). This is not a very high success rate. I think the options of either staying in the caucus and pushing Corbyn out later, or crossing over to the Tories will be preferred.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        One problem with party switching is Cameron and the other Tories have no reason to accept defectors. They are no longer in a coalition.

      2. paul

        The gang of four were, at the time, established and largely respected household names.
        The blairite jetsam such as reeves,cooper,umanna etc are pretty much non entities. A week or two in the anti (ie all) corbyn press would be the most they could expect.
        Cameron could take them on as novelty petting zoo specimens purely for shits and giggles.

    1. Vatch

      I noticed that, and that’s what I guessed that you said. “Finland of the North” is almost as redundant as “North Pole of the North” or “Antarctica of the South”!

  4. Steve H.

    – Researchers just discovered a massive body of water under China’s biggest desert

    I’m a water resources guy, clicked the link:

    – thought to contain up to ten times more water than all the Great Lakes combined


    – The combination of the alkaline sands on the surface and saline water deep beneath create the perfect conditions for carbon capture.


    – These desert waters may contain more carbon than all the plants on the planet combined.

    That’s rather a lot…

    – “It’s like a can of coke. If it is opened all the greenhouse gas will escape into the atmosphere”.

    Unyay! Unyay!

    Oh, well. At least I can enjoy the period at the end…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I believe the word “Taklamakan” means ‘You go in and you don’t get out,’ in Uighur or some other local tongue.

      Basically, it’s a one way journey. Once the carbon is released, there is no going back.

      In this case, their ancestors have proven to be more accurate than the Mayans and their End of the World prediction.

    2. prostratedragon

      Unyay! Unyay!

      Fellini’s dream? A scene from Roma (1972), which is a series of vignettes of contemporary life:

      You might find that you realize what is going to happen before it does.

  5. diptherio

    Here’s some inspiration for your weekend: prisoners in Puerto Rico started their own worker co-ops and discovered the rehabilitative power of cooperation

    After about 15 years, Rodriguez and several fellow inmates used that experience to organize something liberating for themselves and others, something that could potentially and significantly change the way prisoners are incarcerated around the world. Rodriguez helped organize the world’s first worker cooperative composed solely of prisoners in Puerto Rico – Cooperativa de Servicios ARIGOS. […]

    The prisoners started out creating gifts for their families. “They were amazingly beautiful pieces,” Rodriguez said. Then they wanted to sell them. In their search for business options, the prisoners asked that Liga De Cooperativa y Fomento Cooperativo (cooperative league) for information on how a co-op works. When the inmates heard the presentation, they fell in love with cooperatives because it allowed them to work together and help more inmates. The prisoners requested education to learn more.

  6. Frances

    “Researchers just discovered a massive body of water under China’s biggest desert”

    Huge story. Thanks, Yves. Reports that if the carbon captured in this body of water were released, we’d be in “big trouble.”
    I hope others who can fathom this will comment on the implications of this discovery.

    Then there was this a few weeks back:


    BEIJING—China’s government is offering private companies the rights to explore six oil-and-gas blocks in a small step toward opening the nation’s energy resources to private investment.

    The Ministry of Land and Resources said Tuesday that the pilot program would offer access to onshore blocks in China’s far northwest Xinjiang region, which has ample reserves but where commercial extraction is difficult due to its remote location and complex geology.

  7. JCC

    The Chomsky interview was a good historical review of our relations with the Middle East. It immediately brought to mind the recent Republican Soundbite Fest, commonly known as the “debate” and the constant mentions by all of how important it is that we protect our 51st State, Israel.

    The question is, of course, from what?

    1. craazyboy

      Iran and their crazy, furry, mullahs, of course. Which sorta remind me of republicans, except for the long beards. And nuclear arsenal.

    2. dk

      From itself?

      Be sure to read the article linked second above the Chomsky interview:

      This is the basic plan: To seize major cities and large parts of the countryside, disrupt supply-lines and destroy vital civilian infrastructure, and to progressively undermine Assad’s ability to govern the country. The ultimate goal is to break the state into a million disconnected enclaves ruled by armed mercenaries, al Qaida-linked affiliates, and local warlords. This is Washington’s diabolical plan for Syria. It is strikingly similar to the Zionist plan to “effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states.” (“The Zionist Plan for the Middle East”, Israel Shahak) In fact, it is virtually identical.

      At first I thought this was edging on sarcastic hyperbole, then I took a look at “The Zionist Plan for the Middle East”:

      And it reads like something G.R.R. Martin might use for source material; rationalized manifest destiny. Some significant chunk of US policy makers seem to have bought into this thinking as well.

    3. susan the other

      From something like national socialism. Resource protectionism. We have one priority and that is access to oil. So in the ME “stability” means maintaining oil supplies. In one of the many twists of ordinary meaning stability means instability for the ME; it means long drawn-out wars to establish “secular” governments friendly to us or else. The word, stability, has little to do with Israel. They just happen to be there. And they have been useful.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I was watching the movie, Zero Theorem, and luckily I had the subtitle on, and I learned this Latin phrase: ex inordinatio veni pecunia.

        Apparently, that means ‘there is money in ordering disorder.’

        “Subtitles are not just for foreign movies, if you can’t afford Holiday Inn Express, but wants to be smarter.”

      2. tim s

        [Israel] just happen[s] to be there. And they have been useful.

        I think you may have it backwards, to a large extent. Israel has the most to gain by instability in the middle east, given that they are both the ones with greatest ambitions for expansion as well as the nation with the most to lose if the other Arab nations resolve their differences and focus on opposing Israeli expansion. The idea that Israel is “just…there” does not agree with the facts of their expansionism, their nuclear weapons program, their strong (global) security apparatus, and their influence on and, more specifically, within other nations around the world. The article lays much of this out pretty well.

        Israel is no sideliner. I have seen many articles recently showing them as a main player, if not actually THE main player (maybe “driver” would be a better word choice) in much of our modern history. (I distinguish between the Israeli people and the Israeli government as I would distinguish between the citizens of the USA and the US government). They have been able to act aggressively under cover of the “victim” for the better part of a century, with the shield of a cry of “antisemitism” at every criticism, but this veneer has been worn thin, as is evidenced by the recent global reactions to their treatment of the Palestinians in occupied territories and even being included in this article as one of the actual Rogue States.

        The USA already has Saudi Arabia/OPEC as a stable source for oil. There may be those in Big Oil with wet dreams of actually conquering and controlling the ME supplies of oil, but the reality is that instability causes prices to increase, meaning that the supply is less secure. It may be good for oil producers, but doesn’t fit the model of stability.

        These wars in the middle east benefit Israel much more than they do the USA. Look at the rabid response from Netanyahoo at the deal with Iran. This deal is good for stability, which we want, right. Why does Israel not? Are they afraid of a hypothetical nuclear weapons program when they already have state-of-the-art nuclear weapons?

        I’m starting to see that the USA may just be the patsy in this global game. We’re the big dumb one with the muscles that can be manipulated by someone a bit more clever. Sure, we’re promised the carrot of OIL, OIL, OIL, for our efforts, but what’s the end result?

        Fool me once….

  8. abynormal

    LANCE FOR PRESIDENT…(HAD to share this w/yall)

    “May friendship, like wine, improve as time advances.
    And may we always have old wine, old friends, and young cares.”
    -an Irish toast

    and may you have a great day Aby (thank you Scot with one T !)

    “I’m more interested in arousing enthusiasm in kids than in teaching the facts. The facts may change, but that enthusiasm for exploring the world will remain with them the rest of their lives.”
    Seymour Simon

  9. Carla

    For a second, I thought I’d stumbled into Lambert’s Water Cooler. That man-of-war looks as much like a plant as an animal.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Encountered those in Florida, MANY years ago now. They sting – we were scared of them.

      Beautiful, though. Odd – more of a colony than a single entity.

  10. financial matters

    Meet the next leader of the Labour party (sorry Jeremy Corbyn) Telegraph

    Nice to see this 36 year old getting more of a voice.

    “Lisa tells me: “It made me realise there’s a group of people who are always shut out of power and often don’t have a voice. That’s why I got into politics – to try and change that.””

    “Energy and climate change are among our biggest global and national challenges. It’s a huge privilege to represent @UKLabour on this brief.” (Lisa Nandy)

  11. ambrit

    Boy do I feel stupid.
    Yesterday I mentioned an appearance by Bernie Sanders at Hattiesburg MS. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s an organizational meeting, pure and simple. My reading comprehension skills need a rehab. To think I really imagined any serious national politician would even drive through here on their way to somewhere else is embarrassing.
    No excuses. Shoot me now.

  12. griffen

    Short but informative column on Mr. Market disagreeing with FED. Some useful charts / graphs included. Futures market projections for year end 2016 have trended downward, of course.

    “Professional economists, for their part, are more optimistic than the Fed. Among those polled by Bloomberg, the median forecast for 2016 growth in real U.S. gross domestic product is 2.7 percent, compared with Fed officials’ 2.3 percent.”

    Supposedly they did not poll the elusive one-handed economist.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Using artistic license, some MSM commentators have expressed the Fed’s dilemma as ‘labor boom vs overseas gloom.’ (Nice hyperbole on the ‘labor boom’ bit.)

      It means that the next employment report on Oct. 2nd becomes … The Most Important Employment Report in History.

      Struggle, comrades, to meet production quotas. Or slack off, if you’re a ZIRP fan.

  13. Vatch

    Criticized by Trump, Carried Interest Tax Loophole Is Vulnerable New York Times (resilc)

    Removing this loophole is long overdue. The Congressional bill numbers are for the Carried Interest Fairness Act of 2015 are:

    Senate: S. 1686
    House: H.R. 2889

    So far, these bills only have a small number of co-sponsors. U.S. residents need to insist that their Representative and Senators co-sponsor and actively support this bill.

  14. Ulysses

    Glen Ford hits it right out of the park:

    “Under the militarized policing regime, the exercise of individual police “command” authority over civilians has been weaponized to an unprecedented degree. To be sure, cops have always extrajudicially executed Black people – although the national failure to gather such data from local police departments makes assessment of the relative frequency of past and present killings nearly impossible to determine. However, with the advent of federal funding and direction of local police, dating from the beginnings of the national Black mass incarceration regime in the late Sixties, the procedures and legal theory behind invocation of police authority have been generalized and nationalized, as well. A cop’s verbal exclamation, when characterized as a “lawful order” or “command,” becomes a license to kill. Once the order has been issued – no matter how outlandish, or even impossible to comply with – failure to obey is a crime and the basis for rapid escalation of the conflict. Individuals or groups can easily be maneuvered into non-compliance with police orders, followed quickly by death. Every cop knows this, thanks to decades of standardized police training as armed occupiers.”

    There are of course some men and women, like Frank Serpico or Adrian Schoolcraft, who honestly hope to protect and serve ordinary citizens while working in law enforcement. They are invariably weeded out of the system.

    1. heresy101

      The Glen Ford article on police oppression and the Truthout article about debtors prisons describe crime in the US better than anything recently written. The police are trained as an occupying force and the poor are forced to pay taxes the 1% refuse to pay. One solution to the occupation of the police would be for the Fed to not give money to the banks but pay to retire ALL current police (at least those with military background) and pay for them to go to school to learn another trade. Then hire an all women replacement force who would have police training to protect the populace from true criminals but not be an occupying force. Additionally, the 1% would be taxed to pay for municipal/city/county costs of government, which would cost a lot less if there were less police to occupy cities.

      Using the police dogs on the graffiti scum is cruel and unusual and the cops should be arrested and tried. To address graffiti destruction, there needs to be a $20,000 bounty – dead or alive (no police could collect). A two minute video of the graffiti “artist” painting destruction would be required; if they didn’t come with the bounty hunter willingly, they could be shot and dragged in to collect the bounty. After three or four bounties were collected, graffiti destruction would drop to nothing.

      1. Vatch

        “the poor are forced to pay taxes the 1% refuse to pay”

        See my (grammatically mangled) post on the carried interest loophole at 11:22 AM. Obviously the Carried Interest Fairness Act of 2015 isn’t enough to solve the problems that you are discussing, but it could be a portion of the overall solution.

        I’m not quite sure how to comment on your graffiti paragraph…so I won’t say anything else.

      2. Oregoncharles

        I don’t understand why the railroads would object to someone else painting their poorly maintained rail cars – for free. Seems bizarre. Main trouble is, the paint only reaches about 2/3 the way up. Still, that’s a lot less for the railroad to paint, if it ever did.

      3. low_integer

        “One solution … would be for the Fed to not give money to the banks”

        Does this seem to you like a very likely scenario?

        “To address graffiti destruction, there needs to be a $20,000 bounty – dead or alive”


    2. barrisj

      Radley Balko, among others, has called constant attention to what is now termed the “cult of compliance”, where a cop’s command to a civilian MUST require an immediate response – no questions asked – or that cop has the “right” to “take down” the person under the guise of “failing to obey a lawful order”, which then segues into “resisting arrest”, and escalates from there. “Probable cause” rarely enters into it, a cop’s command is justification in and of itself. One can, I suppose, blame police training for some of the abuse, but the plain facts show that judges and DAs let the cops get away with this business as a matter of course, and it’s only those individuals who can readily produce a lawyer to argue for dropping charges – as they usually are in the most flagrant cases – are able to extract themselves from the risible “criminal justice system”, which is far more “criminal” than it is about “justice”.

      1. PQS

        Instant compliance….thus also the use ofc tasers, chokeholds, and socalled nonlethal weapons. Which are often quite lethal.

  15. Jim Haygood

    Germany’s DAX index, comrades: it’s back below the psychologically significant 10,000 level for the first time since last August, on a nasty 3.1% decline today. Chart:

    It is also just a whisker above the 20% decline threshold which marks the popular definition of a bear market.

    Eurozone QE was supposed to stop this. But it ain’t workin’. And back in the USA, we don’t even HAVE a QE program no more.

  16. Jay M

    dateline sometime in 2016:
    First reviews in on the new crop of California Wine
    (selected quotes)
    “It was delightfully carbonized, with a hint of burnt madrone”
    “Once the ash settled in the glass it had a less gritty mouthfeel”
    “The vintner boasted that there was no need to char the oak barrels”

  17. willf

    Regarding the article “Why the Rich Are So Much Richer” by James Surowiecki in the NYRB:

    That fact that Surowiecki still defines the issue with the Luntzian phrase “income inequality” shows how far we have to go to address this problem. The wage gap is a symptom of economic injustice in this country, not a cause of it.

  18. Oregoncharles

    “Researchers just discovered a massive body of water under China’s biggest desert ”
    So the Taklamakan is a terrestrial model for Dune.

    It’s a good thing the water is saline, or the Chinese would be busily pumping it – and the carbon – out for irrigation.

  19. Oregoncharles

    “Finland Faces Biggest Strikes in Two Decades Amid Austerity Ire ”
    Payback for their hard-nosed role in the Greek crisis. Turns out the Euro is almost as bad for Finland as for Greece.
    Too bad they just had an election. Doesn’t sound like these strikes are designed to bring down the government and force a new election; that would be the only effective measure.

    1. Sam Kanu

      The xenophobic “populist” parties in the Nordic countries are little but vehicles for the ultrawealthy to spread distractions in front the baying mob while they march through an agenda designed to serve themselves – and only themselves.

      The Danish ones have proven to be useless, the Swedish one the same, Norwegian one has its greatest achievement in “freedom” as cutting taxes for billionaires while raising kindergarten costs for all – and here we see it all comes to naught in Finland too.

  20. tim s

    In keeping with the Lily Tomlin quote of “no matter how cynical you get, you can’t keep up”, I thought I was above having a reaction to anything I read or hear anymore, but this video regarding the student arrest over the homemade clock was so repulsive on so many levels that I’m at a loss for words, and it’s not just from the puke bag my head is buried in.

    Forwarded to me by my dad, no less. Sad.

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