Links 11/20/15

Bird’s lightning ‘tap dance’ revealed BBC

FDA Approves AquaBounty’s Genetically Engineered Salmon Despite Widespread Opposition EcoWatch


China’s Turn Toward Regional Restructuring, Counter-Intervention: A Review of Authoritative Sources Jamestown Foundation

Shadow Banking in China: A Morphing Target EconoMonitor

Bosses, regulators and politicians blamed for HBOS collapse Telegraph

An HBOS curiosity… FT Alphaville


Thrashing Not Swimming Craig Murray (Tam)

France Beefs Up Security as Debate Grows Over Liberties New York Times

If I #PrayforParis, Who Will Pray for the Victims of French Colonial Aggression? Counterpunch


The Doomsday Scam New York Times

Why U.S. Efforts to Cut Off Islamic State’s Funds Have Failed Bloomberg (resilc)

Overconfidence and the War in Syria Political Violence

Glenn Greenwald on “Submissive” Media’s Drumbeat for War and “Despicable” Anti-Muslim Scapegoating Democracy Now

The Economics of Syrian Refugees New Yorker

Imperial Collapse Watch

Department of Defense Head Ashton Carter Enlists Silicon Valley to Transform the Military” Wired. Bill B: “Crypto war? What crypto war? Feel free to help yourself to some Bacardi Mr. Cook, and please accept this complimentary DoD kimono… ”

Secret US drone whistleblowers say operators ‘stressed and often abuse drugs and alcohol’ in rare insight into programme Independent (resilc)

WHOA! EMBARRASSING! US State Dept Reps Caught in Obvious Lie (Video) Russia Insider (DF)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Track censored content on Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social media BetaNews


UnitedHealth Group cuts outlook, warns it may exit public health exchanges StarTribune


Ted Cruz Is Pretty Hot As a Cartoon New York Magazine (resilc)

Clinton Campaign Spokesman Brian Fallon Says Healthcare Insurance Premiums Aren’t Paid by Families and Employers, Because They’re Paid to Private For-Profit Insurers. Seriously. Angry Bear

Hillary Clinton Unveils Her ISIS Battle Plan New York Magazine (resilc)

Senator Bernie Sanders on Democratic Socialism in the United States Bernie Sanders

Coal Industry Cash: Lawmakers Working To Block Clean Power Rules Get Big Money From Mining Industry International Business Times

Police State Watch

Nothing to See Here, Just a Spy Agency Funded by Paranoid Billionaires Charles Pierce, Esquire

Cops Claim LSD Killed This Dad, but Autopsy and Video Confirms They Hogtied Him to Death Free Thought Project

Reasons to worry as Fed rate rise looms Financial Times

After raising record $3.4M on Kickstarter, UK drone startup collapses ars technica. We warned about Kickstarter!

From HBoS report – the @bankofengland epically trolls Northern Rock’s ghost with a line on this chart: Faisal Islam (Richard Smith)

Capital Destruction Rages Beneath S&P 500 Tranquility Wolf Richter

Auto Originations Hit 10-Year High, Subprime Loans Fuel Growth; Party About Over? Michael Shedlock

Goldman eyes $20 oil as glut overwhelms storage sites Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

As Investors Shun Debt, Banks Are Left Holding the Bag New York Times. As we’ve said for years, banks are structurally long and have limits on how much they can skinny down their balance sheets in a rising rate environment.

Private equity accused of behaving badly Dan Primack, Fortune

PE Deal Volume Falling As Funds Struggle To Compete Law360

Guillotine Watch

Airport commission approves a private LAX lounge for the rich and famous Los Angeles Times

Class Warfare

Do Charter Schools Cherrypick Students? Cathy O’Neil

Women and Blacks Make Little Progress at Big Law Firms New York Times

Oscar Landerretche on Inequality Angry Bear. Important.

Antidote du jour. From meeps: “My submission for antidote du jour is the Brevicipitidae black rain frog; its expression is appropriate in a wide variety of circumstances. (;”

brevicipitidae links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Jess

      That is NOT an antidote. I wanna do over. Maybe Lambert can provide a cute little critter as a bonus on Water Cooler.

  1. craazyboy

    “Ted Cruz Is Pretty Hot As a Cartoon”

    I have to say, a Trump-Cruz ticket is getting too bizarre to contemplate.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I have a dream about that ticket.

        Hilary can counter it by divorcing Bill and marrying a Hispanic.

        Bill confessing to still loving her, reluctantly marries a Saudi Princess.

        Chelsea adopts a greed-card-desperate Chinese billionaire’s son.

        Then, they have their existing domestic funding, plus Chinese and Saudi money plus the Hispanic vote.

        (End of sarcasm)

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I have no idea.

            It’s one of those Cultivating Creativity exercises I do every morning. I just write what comes in my head.

        1. Massinissa

          Marry a Hispanic? Thats a thought. She would probably choose Carlos Slim or El Chapo Guzman. They have more $$ than Bill does so she could try self financing her campaign like Trump is doing.

          Or she could just murder Marco Rubio’s wife and marry him instead. That would lock up the Florida Cubans. No more Florida 2000!

      2. craazyboy

        Then Bruce Jenner would make a fine Supreme Court appointment. She’d look great in a nice tasteful long black dress.

        1. fresno dan

          I’m praying for a Kardashian/Jenner ticket – I will settle for a Carson/Jenner ticket however.
          Of course, I’m a pastafarian, so by not supporting Chef Boy-ar-dee, I am apostate…

    1. DJG

      One of the things I keep wondering about Ted Cruz: He’s a dumpy man with unhealthy-looking skin who looks like he isn’t going to make it to 50. Or is it the resemblance to Joe McCarthy? (Dead at 48.)

      The cartoon is a represenation of his id, which is interesting in a clinical kinduva way.

      1. jrs

        I think he’s made to look super muscular just because he’s drawn as a boxer, the whole theme of the cartoon. It’s a certain style of drawing mostly I think, a person drawn as a sumo wrestler would also be pretty distorted in most cases. Though he may like the profile.

  2. Steve H.

    Turkish Socialist party member Gursel Tekin has established that Daesh’s smuggled oil is exported to Turkey by BMZ, a shipping company controlled by none other than Bilal Erdogan, son of “Sultan” Erdogan. At a minimum, this violates UN Security Council resolution 2170.

    There’s yer problem…

  3. allan

    Not Just UnitedHealthCare: Has the Great Commissioned Insurance Broker Purge begun??
    (emphasis in original)

    Dear Valued Agent,

    The 2016 Federal Exchange has introduced many healthcare benefit options to the Arizona market. With the rate increases, benefit changes and plans exiting the market, many Arizonans are looking for affordable healthcare coverage. As a result of these market conditions, Phoenix Choice has experienced robust enrollment, more quickly than expected.

    Going into OEP, Phoenix Health Plans set enrollment targets, including a goal for a substantial proportion of the enrollments to come through the broker channel. As of November 19th, 2015 that goal has been met. In order to continue to provide high quality health coverage at an affordable price and to sustain our market position, we must make changes to our sales strategy and commission model.
    After much consideration, Phoenix Health Plans, Inc. has made a difficult decision to discontinue Phoenix Choice broker commissions for new Marketplace enrollments as of November 19th, 2015. We will pay commission and renewals in accordance with the agent agreement for all Phoenix Choice applications received on or before November 19th, 2015. This decision does not impact commission payment for any of our plans in other states.


    Phoenix Health Plans

    As smart health consumers, the citizens victims who were planning on signing up
    after Thanksgiving can now just move out of Arizona, right?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What I understand is that to be a smart health consumer in choosing a health insurance plan, one would need to know what treatments one would require in the future.

      Otherwise, it seems to be like flipping a coin.

      But the Health-God doesn’t play dice!!!

  4. ChrisFromGeorgia

    That state department guy getting taken apart by reporters on the hospital bombing lie in the Russia insider link is pretty incredible.

    I wish it was on every network and the front page of the NY Times and WashPost. The fact that it isn’t tells us everything we need to know about how the 4th estate has fallen down on it’s job.

    Not to take anything away from those two reporters who are doing an excellent job.

    1. different clue

      No . . . . it tells us what the 4th estate’s real job is. The 4th estate’s real job is to keep stuff like that out of the papers and off of the TV. That’s why the MSM 4th estate makes so much money.

  5. optimader

    After raising record $3.4M on Kickstarter, UK drone startup collapses ars technica. We warned about Kickstarter!
    What was the warning?

    1. theinhibitor

      I think what they meant was:
      “We warned about dubious projects whose only proof of concept is a clearly faked video”

      1. Optimader

        Ah! Lol ic. Take the 90% mortality rate of “traditional” startups then multiply by the likelyhood of being struck by lightning and you probably have a pretty good surrogate for success on the investor side of the equation.
        Like considering lottery tickets as an investment strategy.
        On the brightside, aggregating loose change into a slipstream contributing to the velocity of money ex-MIC.

        1. theinhibitor

          Lol. Very true.

          Also, I feel like kickstarter is only for what I would call ‘tier 2’ products. That is, products that have no significant technology and are simply ‘cool’ or ‘good looking’ and usually perform a very minor function (like in this case, taking a selfie with a drone). Not in every case, but definitely the majority.

          1. Massinissa

            So basically toys, like action figures or video games or miniatures.

            Kickstarter is fun, but I highly doubt anything made there is going to actually change the world.

            Theres talk of doing stupid shit like trying to kickstart asteroid mining projects and shit….

          2. hunkerdown

            Good point. Kickstarter wants to be Bed Bath & Beyond. If you want products with significant technology and function, you gotta go to Indiegogo or that other one something street whose name I totally can’t remember before coffee that offers manufacturing too.

          3. optimader

            One possible niche I see for kick starter is for indie film funding, but even in this case it is overwhelmingly likely to be a not for profit endeavor.

            1. hunkerdown

              The magic of crowdfunding is getting other people to pay your non-recurring expenses for your enterprise, in exchange for some artifact that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. The producer would still hold the copyright and can continue to sell through any channel to their heart’s content (pun intended).

              Speaking of, if you’re into this sort of thing, Joel Hodgson’s MST3k reboot has tipped for three new episodes as of a couple days ago… stretch goals include a full season.

  6. flora

    re: Private Equity Accused of Behaving Badly.

    Thanks for the link. Very interesting read. So PE firms and general partners have over overlapping lawyers and know what each PE firm has sold to the various limited partners. So there’s no confidentiality on PE general partners’ side of the deals. Then the PE general partners, citing confidentiality, demand the limited partners not compare notes with other limited partners in order to get a better deal. Why do pension funds sign on to these lopsided and opaque investment “opportunities” ?

  7. financial matters

    I thought this was an interesting interview of Varoufakis by Max Keiser.

    After the oxi vote when the ECB tightened the screws and Tsipras folded, Varoufakis said he wanted to call their bluff.

    He saw Greece as collateral damage in a power struggle between Germany and France in that Germany didn’t want France to get any ideas about debt reduction. Varoufakis didn’t think Germany would go through with expelling Greece from the EU.


    from a 4/29 link

    UPDATE 1-Bundesbank head: euro state insolvency possible without system collapsing Reuters

    “”Turning to France, Weidmann said the euro zone’s second biggest economy after Germany had a particular responsibility to put its public finances in order after repeatedly missing deficit targets.

    “A currency union… can only reach stability when its member states run solid budgets…France is an important role model in this regard,” he said.

    Last month, the European Union gave France two extra years until 2017 to cut its budget deficit to within prescribed limits, extending the deadline for the third time since 2009. “”

  8. craazyman


    Today is the day Adele releases her first album in 4 years.

    I know the NC staff hates assignments, but YOUZE GUYS HAVE TO COVER THIS!!!!! Especially you Yves. You think too hard about economic nonsense. It’s time to rise your up your eyes to see the light of the universe. Mostly that’s on Youtube.

    No more wasting time on asteroid sightings and wretched Doom and Gloom despondency that fails every conceivable standard a thoughtful mind can apply to the train wreck of irrationality that parades under the sobriquet (“market analysis”). At least for one special day. Sorry to quote French on youze guys but most of yuz are reasonably edukated.

    Even the MIT mathematical economist Ed Bucks up in his tree in the New Hampshire woods studying deer through binoculars in hopes of salvaging his differential field equations that map the flux and divergence in an economic multi-dimensional multi-factor vector field map of quasi-Newtonian money flows in an micro-agent model that self-assembles into formal macro structures guided by the math — even he’s got his internet connection going via satellite and he’s put his binoculars down for one day.

      1. craazyman

        alot of old guys would like to be 25 again. this might be good news for anybody with any money left after all the asteroid alerts. thank fully I was too lazy to lose all my money so maybe it’s 4 bagger time, riding oil from 25 back to 100.

        I found at least one new Adele song on Youtube. I’m sure there’s more.

  9. BillF

    Nobody can possibly understand what is going on in Syria without reading this or any number of similar articles):

    And just in case anyone thinks this guy is some far-left nut bag, here is supporting analysis from an unlikely source:

    Of course, its not ALL about oil, natural gas and the Great Game, but that’s what is driving the mess. Current US policy can’t possibly be based on some new-found humanitarian-based antipathy toward the Assad regime that, a relatively short time ago, hosted our Arabic language trainees in Damascus for year-long immersion training, and also cooperated with the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. Can Assad possibly be worse than the House of Saud?

  10. Jim Haygood

    Instead of fixing their broken markets, the NYSE and Nasdaq take away small investor features instead:

    The New York Stock Exchange, in a statement, said it would no longer accept what are called stop orders, beginning Feb. 26, joining the Nasdaq in barring them. Another order type called good-till-canceled also is being axed.

    Without GTC (Good Till Cancelled) orders, a patient investor wanting to buy or sell a security at a price a bit distant from the current quote will be obliged to re-enter their order every morning … or pay a broker to do it as a premium service.

    Probably the plan is to bulldoze annoying little people out of the way of robotraders and HFT algos.

    1. craazyman

      fkkk i had put a stop in a few years ago and thought it was GTC.

      I got distracted and forgot about it. Then the stock cratered and I thought “Glad I’m outta that sucker”. Then weeks later I realized I still owned it! Evidently it was a Day Only stop order. That was frustrating. Is it any wonder I haven’t gotten rich yet in the market?

    2. fresno dan

      I put in an order to stop losing my money and they paid no attention to it AT ALL! It almost seems like they speeded up how fast I lost money…

    3. Screwball

      I’m surprised we haven’t read more about this. Nothing from my broker either. I’m not in the best terms with this market to begin with, but this may be the straw that finally is enough for me to pack up my chips and go home. It’s bad enough it’s already a rigged casino, but now they are pinching the retail guy by snipping away the tools that help us. WTF?

      What’s really going on here, or what is behind it? Some of the stuff I have read (not a lot to be found) makes little to no sense.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Likely NYSE and Nasdaq are tired of the bad PR and claims resulting from stops that get executed at bizarre prices, such as on August 24th when some ETFs traded at 30 to 50% below net asset value.

        Not that claims are actually any problem for them — claims are adjudicated in an industry-friendly mandatory arbitration. Feel free to file early and often. DIS-missed!

        Market makers used to be responsible for using their own capital to maintain orderly markets. But that plug was pulled a long time ago.

        Certainly they realize that at stratospheric valuations, another “illiquidity event” will occur within the next 2-3 years. Vaporizing stops and GTC orders clears the field for the big boys to play.

        1. Screwball

          Maybe we retail peeps need to pay a latency premium so we get a little nibble of HAL 9000’s advantage. Shame on us for being cheap bastards. :-)

          I was looking forward to spending my retirement days in the trading room playing Gordon Gekko. After this, I may take my chips out of the casino, buy a table saw, and build miniature windmills. Instead of trading e-mini’s I’ll make w-mini’s.

        2. craazyman

          so true. i’d never trust a stop in this fraud filled casino. i don’t know when this thing finally blows but when it does the asteroid will seem like a pebble from the sidewalk thrown by a child into a puddle after a gentle rain compared to what will come. it could be something like Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD. I don’t know iif anyoone has noticed but nearly everyone in the world seems to be going insane and it may be something relating to outer space and other dimensions. but nobody would believe a theory like that so you just keep these things to yourself.

          1. ambrit

            Yes, oh well accoutered one, but if Jung is correct, the information will filter across to everyone through that singular dimension; the Human Common Sub Consciousness. (I don’t recall if Jung ever approached the idea of Animal Common Sub Consciousness. I do suspect that dogs and cats dream.)

      1. craazyboy

        Doesn’t have a tail! But I’m willing to have a Kickstarter to add a tail if everyone is interested.

    1. optimader

      looks good, nice and steady , indexes position on its rotation. One thing, I needed a glass of water after looking at the terrain

      1. craazyboy

        We have another bigger park w/ manmade lake and it’s next to a watered golf course. I’m headed there one of these days for a shooting session there.

        At this park they water the soccer field, but only in summer.

        1. craazyboy

          The “indexes position” thing is because the flight controller has an option where if the frame rotates up to 5 degrees on it’s yaw access, the controller will correct it back to where it was. You basically have to keep pushing the control stick to force it past 5 degrees if you really want rotation.This improves directional flight, because the wind can cause it to rotate while you want it to fly around and sometimes go straight. So that isn’t such a good situation when filming. In this shot I put it in “position hold” mode where my GPS holds lateral position and the barometer holds altitude. You then can still make it yaw(pan) to point it where you want. So in position hold mode, I can probably get smoother motion if don’t use “axis lock” in that mode. This is one of the many tuning issues I’ve been working thru. Then I need to work on my film/flight technique. But it beats watching TV.

          1. optimader

            flight control -> 3D vector accelerometer -> differential prop rotation? Is there a feedbackloop using motor amps or shaft encoders to rpm?

            1. craazyboy

              Differential prop rotation is all a quads got!

              The flight controller uses what they call 14 point Inertial navigation. It uses input from 3 axis accelerometers ( tilt angle, surprisingly), 3 axis gyros (rate of angular change) and then barometer (altitude) and GPS (position).

              Then the flight controller crunches the stabilization logic, pilot command input, or autopilot navigation logic. The way RC stuff works is there are electronic speed controllers driving brushless motors. Everything is open loop PWM, which works pretty well. The flight controller is basically a digital controller that ends up spitting out the proper PWM number to each motor electronic speed controller (the ESC handles battery power to the motor – voltage – they don’t do current control, yet). But there is overcurrent protection.

              1. optimader

                handles battery power to the motor – voltage – they don’t do current control, yet). But there is overcurrent protection
                so it’s like a 0-12 vdc variable speed drive

                The flight controller uses what they call 14 point Inertial navigation. It uses input from 3 axis accelerometers ( tilt angle, surprisingly), 3 axis gyros (rate of angular change) and then barometer (altitude) and GPS (position).
                Bell or North American Aviation would have paid a bajillion for that back in the 60’s. Now its all on a burner phone chip.. craaazy

                1. craazyboy

                  1) Except digital control – Pulse width modulated input controlling the power parts. PWM is the high level language in the digital world that conveys much more info than “ON” and “OFF”. You look at leading edges of a PWM stream and compare to processor clock frequency and get a digital analog to analog frequency or DC voltage level.

                  2) Ya. But I paid $90 for a 32 bit processor on a board with the rest of the sensor bits (GPS/compass is an extra module – $30) and the firmware is an open source project with a bunch of geeks doing it for fun!

    2. ambrit

      One suggestion, classify anyone wearing a uniform as a “potential Terrorist” and you will have everything covered.

  11. subgenius


    Once again proving that

    hacks =/= production design

    I have a lot of experience with hacks. I also have a bit with production design and engineering. The path from hack solution to a viable product is huge – and a great way to lose beaucoup money while failing to produce a viable design and tooling.

    1. theinhibitor

      It felt like it wasn’t even at the level of hack.

      From what ive read, no real evidence exists that the minidrone ever flew, or if it did, in a stabilized manner. I called bullshit 10 seconds into the video, when the guy and his wife are hiking and pose for a selfie. First of all, stabilizing a tiny little drone outside in any wind is impossible. Most have trouble doing so even in the big 3-4ft. span drones and cheat using post processing software.

      Also, how would the drone know where to point the camera? Is it GPS or Bluetooth enabled? How does it orient itself?

      The LED display was hilarious & useless. Adds more weight and battery reqs to the drone just to have barely readable numbers displayed for delayed photos? Seriously?

      Then there was the whole “fly back to your box thing” that was equally as ridiculous. Once again, is the box now GPS enabled? Does it have a short range IR sensor? Bluetooth? How does it map the surrounding geometry? How does it know to miss the entire hill that guy is biking down?

      And here’s the translation for the CEO left due to “unresolved differences”: an engineer told him it was impossible at the necessary target price.

      This reminds me of the Kickstarter for the watch that projects time onto your wrist.

      1. craazyboy

        The consumer market gold standard is the DJI Phantom III. $1500 w/ the options, and if you want to do FPV(First Person View) flight – viewing a real time video stream from the quad cam to fly by – then you need goggles to see the image (only way that works in sunlight – tablets don’t) and those cost $250 to $350. The Phantom does have a GPS autopilot for GPS assisted modes. You can have it fly waypoints, or just put it in “position hold” and hold a spot in the sky while you point the camera gimbal with your RC transmitter. The autopilot frees you up to point the camera. “Return to Home” works by recording the GPS position at takeoff. If you push the Return to Home button on your RC transmitter, it will do that, provided you are still in transmitter range. Some people are working on “Follow Me” flight modes where the drone can follow a moving target. I think they are using another GPS on the target and transmitting the position to the drone.

        But you are right about size. The Phantom is 350mm span, and that is about as small as you can go without getting buffeted around too much by even light wind. The guys that are doing professional video are using big rigs, like 3-4ft, both for stability and they are lifting bigger, higher quality, cameras so they need more power. The weight vs battery life is a diminishing return game, and the battery pack gets huge too.

        But you can check out the DJI Phantom website for lots more detail on the state of the art. Especially before getting involved in any kickstarters.

    2. hunkerdown

      I can’t remember which campaign it was — an iPad stand for the bed, maybe? — who all but admitted that he spent the campaign money on hookers and blow.

      Indeed, a hack is not a production design. It’s empowering to see people traversing that rocky path from clever hack to production more or less successfully (a remote flash trigger, an espresso machine, and a couple of other NSFW products). Western society doesn’t put every person through MIT’s “How To Make (Almost) Anything” course as a high school graduation requirement. If we did, there’d be a lot fewer people using iPhones for crucifixes or putting faith in magic sufficiently advanced technology.

  12. marym

    re: insurance companies getting out of Obamacare by 2017

    A key federal program designed to cushion health insurers’ risks in the Obamacare exchanges has a massive shortfall, which could throw some insurers into financial turmoil

    edit: reply to JohnnyGL

    Under the three-year program, insurers whose premiums exceeded claims pay into the fund, while their peers who didn’t charge enough premiums to cover claims could draw from it.
    But too many insurers miscalculated when they set their rates for 2014.

    Obamacare insurers have already set their premiums for 2016 and can’t adjust them now. The shortfall in risk corridor payments could prompt insurers to raise premiums in future years or exit the program.
    The administration said the remaining 2014 risk corridor claims will be paid out of the 2015 and, if needed, the 2016 collections.

    1. Benedict@Large

      But too many insurers miscalculated when they set their rates for 2014.

      Sorry, but that’s a crock of crap. I worked with those guys for many years, and actuarial mistakes like this simply don’t happen. What is far more likely is that too many of them underbid deliberately, seeking market share over profits, and figuring that (as in similar cases in the past) Uncle Sam would make good on the shortfall. Watch for that announcement next.

  13. barrisj

    Nick Turse, writing in The Intercept, continues his stellar reporting on the US military’s divers African “anti-terror” campaigns, all very hush-hush, and a huge windfall for expansion of US military influence on a continent that several years ago saw only the former French base on Djibouti – later rebadged as “Camp Lemonnier” – as the principal US redoubt in Africa.

    In Mali and Rest of Africa, the U.S. Military Fights a Hidden War

    THE GENERAL LEADING the U.S. military’s hidden war in Africa says the continent is now home to nearly 50 terrorist organizations and “illicit groups” that threaten U.S. interests. And today, gunmen reportedly yelling “Allahu Akbar” stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital and seized several dozen hostages. U.S. special operations forces are “currently assisting hostage recovery efforts,” a Pentagon spokesperson said, and U.S. personnel have “helped move civilians to secured locations, as Malian forces clear the hotel of hostile gunmen.”

    In Mali, groups like Ansar Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa have long posed a threat. Major terrorist groups in Africa include al Shabaab, Boko Haram and al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM). In the wake of the Paris attacks by ISIS, attention has been drawn to ISIS affiliates in Egypt and Libya, too. But what are the dozens of other groups in Africa that the Pentagon is fighting with more special operations forces, more outposts, and more missions than ever?

    For the most part, the Pentagon won’t say.
    The secret of whom the U.S. military is fighting extends to Africa. Since 9/11, U.S. military efforts on the continent have grown in every conceivable way, from funding and manpower to missions and outposts, while at the same time the number of transnational terror groups has increased in linear fashion, according to the military. The reasons for this are murky. Is it a spillover from events in the Middle East and Central Asia? Are U.S. operations helping to spawn and spread terror groups? Is the Pentagon inflating the terror threat for its own gain? Is the rise of these terrorist organizations due to myriad local factors? Or more likely, is it a combination of these and other reasons? The task of answering these questions is made more difficult when no one in the military is willing to name more than a handful of the transnational terror groups that are classified as America’s enemies.
    A continent relatively free of transnational terror threats in 2001 is — after almost 14 years of U.S. military efforts — now rife with them, in the Pentagon’s view. Bolduc said the African continent is “as lethal and dangerous an environment as anywhere else in the world,” and specifically invoked ISIS, which he called “a transnational threat, a transregional threat, as are all threats that we deal with in Africa.” But the Pentagon would not specify whether the threat levels are stable, increasing, or decreasing. “I can’t get into any details regarding threats or future operations,” Lt. Col. Baldanza stated. “I can say that we will continue to work with our African partners to enable them in their counter-terrorism efforts as they further grow security and stability in the region.”

    After the infamous “Blackhawk Down” episode in Somalia, and subsequent retreat from military actions (i.e., “boots on the ground”) in and around The Horn, the Americans have since doubled down and extended their writ continent-wide. And, with destruction of Muslim states such as Libya, Iraq, and Syria by “Western” military intervention, the US has virtually guaranteed a constant stream of “jihadis” and “terrorists” flowing into African countries with sizeable Muslim populations, creating yet another “opportunity” – more like make-work – for further entrenching and embedding of its counter-terrorism operatives and ramped-up drone activity. First, create the problem, then bring “solutions” that only expand the original problem, and cycle through repeatedly the same formula. What’s not to like if you’re a military planner and strategist? Huge jawb opportunities await.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      Only last year, they had to deal with the Ebola virus.

      That’s the other hidden war waiting to happen.

    2. BondsOfSteel

      This has little to do with the US Military. If you’d like to blame some Western power.. blame France:

      OTOH, France only intervened in 2013 after the radical Islamists captured Timbuktu and started destroying cultural relics. You could argue that the conflict was a spillover from the Libyan Civil War… which the US did take a leading role.

      The French are also involved in fighting radical Islamists in Chad, Niger, and the Central African Republic..

  14. Oregoncharles

    “Clinton Campaign Spokesman Brian Fallon Says Healthcare Insurance Premiums Aren’t Paid by Families and Employers, Because They’re Paid to Private For-Profit Insurers. Seriously. Angry Bear”

    OK, I”m prepared to believe it, but the post does absolutely nothing to substantiate it. It’s just a claim in the title, of all places. Very frustrating.

    And incidentally: I don’t approve of payroll taxes, because they penalize employing people (and yes, I’ve been an employer, in a small way). There is both the direct cost, administrative cost, and a tax-on-time. All, especially the last, have a greater effect on small businesses.

    A surtax on the income tax would be much more fair – or more precisely, precisely as fair as the income tax. At least it wouldn’t penalize hiring people.

    I can live with payroll taxes for SS and unemployment insurance because they’re directly related to employment – though the SS tax is very regressive, something that should be fixed. But piling on yet more is bad policy.

  15. gordon

    This is rather delicious. Our Rightist Australian Govt. is pushing the privatisation wagon by offering incentives to State and Territory Govts. which privatise stuff:

    So the Govt. of the Northern Territory privatised the Port of Darwin. They sold (well, it’s a 99-year lease, but I’m not going to argue) it to a Chinese company called Landbridge. Trouble is, there is a US base in the Northern Territory, and it’s supplied partly through the Port of Darwin, so the Chinese will own part of the US military’s supply infrastructure. This hasn’t gone down well with the US Govt.:

    And that public rebuke has caused significant flutters in Canberra:

    It’s sort of like the teacher’s pet being suddenly and publicly told to wipe his nose and tuck in his shirt and behave better in future. The embarrassment is palpable. Will the Australian Federal Govt. step in and cancel the sale to placate Washington? We don’t know at this stage.

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