Links 12/10/15

Lifeline for elephants: Ivory price halves in China after Xi pledges ban Washington Post (furzy mouse)

An engineer built the ultimate machine to fight squirrels on his bird feeder Business Insider (David L)

Suspected Burglar Hides In Lake From Police . . . Alligator Eats Suspected Burglar Jonathan Turley (Chuck L)

‘Mona Lisa’: Hidden portraits ‘found underneath’ CNN (EM)

Sliced Chocolate For Sandwiches Is Now A Reality – Life Will Never Be The Same Again Bored Panda. This is vile. Good chocolate should not be diluted by bread, and lousy chocolate should not exist. But this does show some more acceptable uses for the product.

Harvard Business School: Talented assholes are more trouble than they’re worth Boing Boing. JPMorgan shareholders have not gotten the memo.

The Paris Climate Accords Will Cause the Planet to Burn Counterpunch (Alan C)

Google’s Plan for Faster Mobile Web May Reshuffle Search Rankings Fortune. Great. Google is out to kill sites like ours, and we don’t have a high percent of mobile traffic to begin with. And how is not not an antitrust violation for Google to dictate business models via its dominance in search?

ADHD Drugs Make Big Money, But We Still Don’t Know the Risks Wired

Megafunding Drug Research Project Syndicate (David L)

China?

Chinese devaluation is a bigger danger than Fed rate rises Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

What will China do about its zombie companies? Andrew Batson

Refugee Crisis

Thousands of Migrants Stranded in Greece as Route North Is Narrowed New York Times (furzy mouse)

Syraqistan

A German official becomes one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent critics Washington Post (furzy mouse)

Angela Merkel’s War for Europe New York Times

Turkey and Mosul Sic Semper Tyrannis (resilc)

U.S. struggling over what to do with Syrian rebels once tied to al Qaida McClatchy. Resilc: “How about stay home and use the money to fix infrastructure here?”

The Vast Majority of Muslims HATE ISIS and Terrorism George Washington. Sad but predictable that Americans need to be told this.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

‘The illusion of security’: no-fly list draws scrutiny from left and right Oregoncharles

FBI head: terror fight requires open backdoors to encrypted user data Guardian

Imperial Collapse Watch

One Year After the Senate Torture Report, No One’s Read It and It Might Be Destroyed Intercept (Dr. Kevin)

Discharge Of Soldiers With Mental Health Issues Questioned Here & Now (resilc)

Mercenaries in Yemen: the US Connection Counterpunch (resilc)

2016

It’s Too Late to Turn Off Trump Matt Taibbi. I have to admit I was sure Trump would be done by February at the latest, particularly given his unwillingness to spend his own money in a meaningful way. But the Republican party has been surprisingly craven about taking him on, and the lack of any credible pretender in waiting is a big problem too. But despite all the noise, he appears to top out at 30%, say max 35% of the Republican vote. So it is very hard to see how this plays out.

The Internet’s Loop of Action and Reaction Is Worsening New York Times. Another cultural take. I think Taibbi is closer to the mark. Fox News is at least as big a contributor to this devolution as “the Internet”.

Fascism, Style and Substance American Conservative (resilc)

Only One Thing Can Stop Donald Trump New York Magazine

Trump attended fundraiser for Sinn Féin before London terror attack Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

Netanyahu to meet Donald Trump in Israel this month Washington Post (furzy mouse)

U.S. Senate Votes to Replace ‘No Child Left Behind’ Law Wall Street Journal

Divided Supreme Court Confronts Race-Based College Admissions Wall Street Journal. The problem is the underlying pervasiveness of bias, and how to compensate. For instance, studies have found that when the exact same resume is sent, one with a white-sounding name on it, like “Caitlin Morris” or “Luke Howell” versus one that is almost certainly black, like “Lakisha Jones” or “Jamal Douglas”, researchers found that the resumes with black-looking names were not even read. The recruiter stopped at the name.

Planned Parenthood shooting suspect’s courtroom outburst: “I’m a warrior for the babies” Vox

My run-in with hate speech at a Minnesota Vikings game Star Tribune (Chuck L). Sadly, we can expect a lot more of this.

‘One of the Most Important Indian Law Cases to Go Before the High Court in Half a Century’ Pacific Standard (Chuck L)

Watch people react to hearing violent Bible verses they think are from the Quran Daily Kos (furzy mouse). I suspect the reaction to being caught out would not be at all the same in the US.

Police State Watch

Chicago’s Mayor Demands Sweeping Police Reform New York Times

Police Chief Gets $260K Golden Parachute After Covering Up His Own Drunken Hit and Run Free Thought Project

Gunz

The Assault Weapons Ban the NRA Couldn’t Stop Rolling Stone

VW says ‘mindset’ tolerated rule breaking Financial Times. Notice the lack of agency, as if top executives aren’t responsible for corporate culture. And get a load of this:

“We are talking here not about a one-off mistake but a chain of errors,” said Hans Dieter Pötsch, chairman of VW’s supervisory board.

But he did not indicate who was responsible, nor how high up knowledge of the matter went, saying only that a “comparatively small number of employees were involved”.

Financial War over Oil Reshapes World, Will End with Much Higher Prices Wolf Street. Why the Saudis will win.

New Study: Illicit Financial Flows Hit US$1.1 Trillion in 2013 Global Financial Integrity (furzy mouse)

Bank Crimes Pay: Under the Thumb of the Global Financial Mafiocracy Truthout (RR)

Hedge Funds Leave U.S. Pensions With Little to Show for the Fees Bloomberg (Li)

Puerto Rico looks to stave off default Financial Times

Class Warfare

The Evolution of Work Dani Rodrik, Project Syndicate

I was suspicious of the Zuckerbergs’ $45bn donation – and I was right to be Guardian (resilc)

Walmart’s Imports From China Displaced 400,000 Jobs, a Study Says New York Times (resilc)

Retrotopia: Economics by Other Means Archdruid

Is Uber Making NYC Rush-Hour Traffic Worse? FiveThirtyEight (resilc)

Toronto Taxi Drivers Are Comparing Uber to ISIS And Hanging on to Moving Vehicles in Protest VICE (resilc)

What Do I Expect from Elementary School? Not this. The Synapse

Antidote du jour:

keith dog links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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155 comments

    1. Jim Haygood

      If we build them, they [Isis] will come.

      “I do believe it’s working, good” — Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You have to look at where the money for any of that is from and if it’s becoming easier to get.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Marketwatch is reporting that the Islamic State got $500 million from oil sales.

        And that’s what we have the ability to out spend them. We can just print more.

  1. fresno dan

    An engineer built the ultimate machine to fight squirrels on his bird feeder Business Insider (David L)

    I find the twirl a squirrel much more hilarious
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIp7V7VcCX8

    A bird flew into my window with such force that it killed itself – it made me terribly sad. I would have thought me sitting at the computer would have kept it from trying to fly into the room. I taped strips of newspaper to the glass and hopefully that will dissuade the birds from thinking they can fly threw the glass…

    1. jagger

      Brightly colored strips of cloth might help. Apparently birds have excellent color vision. There are cat collars out now made of brightly colored patterns which make cats easier to spot by birds. Studies have apparently shown the collars as highly effective in reducing cat kills of birds. So maybe brightly colored cloth will also help birds realize something is not quite right with window reflections.

      http://www.birdsbesafe.com/collections/all

      1. fresno dan

        Yeah, thata right – great idea, Thanks! yesterday a commenter told about the cat “collar of many colors”
        I will use the comics to make my paper strips!

        1. Jagger

          In late January of 2015, the report entitled “Birdsbesafe? Can a novel cat collar reduce avian mortality by domestic cats?” appeared in the Global Ecology and Conservation Journal. Led by Dr. Susan Willson, a field study of our product was conducted over two seasons (spring and fall). The researchers found that users of Birdsbsafe® cat collar covers could expect an 87% reduction in birds caught when cats wore the colorful neckwear that makes them more visible to songbirds.

          Hopefully it works. Very interesting idea but my one concern would be whether the collar makes the cat vulnerable to predators.

          1. Ignim Brites

            Why not employ genetic engineering to make cats red, blue, green, etc and then use social engineering to make it unacceptable to own non-GM cats?

    2. Gareth

      In my experience, birds fly into windows because they see a reflection of trees and sky in the glass. Usually they are panicked by a cat or hawk. A thin netting is probably the best solution, or moving feeders further away from the house.

      1. Gaianne

        Yes. The reflection looks like open space and open sky.

        Anything that breaks up the reflection will work. A simple window screen might work. Or, more extreme, a fine trellis–too small to fly through, bright on the outside, for them, dark on the inside, for you–will surely work.

        –Gaianne

      2. Oregoncharles

        A client had a terrible time with a small bird fighting with its reflection in a window; made an awful mess of the window. She put cheesecloth on it, which helped.

        A dark-colored fiberglass screen would probably work, too, and easier to see out of.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Another option: the flash tape sold for keeping birds out of grapes, etc.; it imitates fire. Hang it outside so it moves; quite decorative.

    3. bob

      I have that same problem with one window in particular. Chances are, it’s acutally two windows, the bird thinks it can fly through the house and exit the other window.

      Blinds work. Even open. Just not drawn up, and out of the way.

      I’ve had a few people visit and open the blinds, almost immediately there’s a bang, and a dead bird. Very sad.

      Look from the outside to see what they see. Chances are that they are seeing a “clear path”, only there are two windows in the way. I was only able to put blinds on one, smaller window, but it worked. As long as they can’t see straight through, they won’t try and fly through.

    4. Elliot

      Mimic the center zigzag of a big spiderweb (even a pinked-edge strip of newspaper will work) and tape it on the window where the bird hit. Birds recognize that pattern as a warning not to get entangled, and will avoid the window. I’d had grouse break their necks and my big kitchen window, and the spider web thing works great. I bought a window-cling version, which is more innocuous to human eyes (from the Droll Yankees bird feeder people I believe) and it has prevented collisions for nearly 20 years.

  2. financial matters

    An interesting opening paragraph from the book The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy by Daniel A. Bell.

    “”In October 2013, a slick cartoon video of mysterious provenance went viral, with more than ten million viewings in two weeks. The video, released at the time of the U.S. federal government shutdown, contrasts the selection of leaders in different countries. It depicts the meteoric rise of President Barack Obama, aided by hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign financing, with victory coming in the form of a countrywide national election on the basis of one person, one vote. This process is labeled “democracy.” It also depicts President Xi Jinping’s decades-long ascent to the pinnacle of Chinese power: his promotions from leadership in a primary-level office to the township level, the county division, department levels, the province-ministry level, the Central Committee, the Politburo, and then the leading spot in the Standing Committee of the Politburo, with rigorous and ultra-competitive evaluations at each stage meant to test his political leadership abilities. This process is labeled “meritocracy.” The clear implication of the video is the Chinese-style political meritocracy is a morally legitimate way of selecting top political leaders, perhaps even better than democratic elections.””

    How to Be a Leader

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From a BBC article, Oct 17, 2012:

      And the public perception that some bureaucrats are more concerned with their own fortunes than that of the country is leaving an “increasingly sour taste” according to Jonathan Fenby, author of a History of Modern China.

      “A local newspaper, magazine, did a survey of what primary school children wanted to be when they grew up,” he says.

      “So they all said a pop star, or a rich person, or a footballer, or whatever it might be, and one six-year-old girl said, ‘I want to be an official.’ And the reporter said, ‘Oh that’s wonderful, yeah, finally somebody wants to serve the State. What kind of official?’ And she said, ‘A corrupt official, because they have all the nice things.'”

      When six-year-olds start talking like that, any mandarin knows the system is in trouble.

      http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-19962432

      The quality of bureaucracy fluctuates. Hopefully it’s improving now.

      1. Christopher Fay

        “some bureaucrats are more concerned with their own fortunes than that of the country” just like our American bureaucrats

  3. Bill Smith

    Financial War over Oil Reshapes World, Will End with Much Higher Prices

    Some good points but:

    “Texas, Colorado, and Alaska might muse about wanting to join OPEC”

    ?

    1. allan

      Actually, there already is such a big-budget Polish film: Warsaw 44 (2014).
      For some reason, it makes no mention of the Ghetto uprising and there is only one scene involving Jews.

      1. guest

        Ah well, there are even more super-productions glorifying the heroism of Poland against evil adversaries:

        Battle of Warsaw 1920 from 2011.

        1939 Battle of Westerplatte released in 2013.

        We could put money and acting talent to better uses than shooting yet another testosterone and hemoglobin laden military fresco with questionable nationalistic messages.

      2. sid_finster

        That’s because the Warsaw Ghetto was liquidated in 1943, in part with help provided by elements of the Polish Resistance.

        Yes, you read correctly. Do not adjust your screen.

        1. OIFVet

          Much like any other Euro country during WW2, Poland had its share of collaborators. It also had its share of people who actively helped to protect jews. Unfortunately anti-semites seem to be a sizable contingent these days (see the Center for Research on Prejudice at Warsaw University’s 2013 report (PDF)), and quite loud too. My advice if you ever hitch a ride from a Polish cabbie in Chicago: avoid the topic altogether.

          1. ambrit

            I sort of knew, through my Dad, a Polish Jewish man who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. He was a medium sized hotel to condo renovator in South Florida. He and some friends escaped from Warsaw, he said through the sewer system, at the end and later made it to the Baltic coast. They then stole a large rowboat and rowed over to Sweden. He had two Wehrmacht bullets in him, ie. the scars to prove it. His recollections of Poland in general were not good. Anti Semitism seems to have been the norm there. His wife had been in Auschwitz when the Soviet Army liberated it. She had the tattoos on her wrist and never tried to hide them. “God has granted me a new life. I will not be sad.” was what she said.
            All this, now that I think about it, is to give testimony to the pure evil that the normalization of hate can lead to.
            Rest in Peace Koppel.

  4. vidimi

    the rise of trump, and le pen and far right candidates in general, is a symptom of a radicalising white population. we focus on islamic radicals, but white radicals have been the elephant in the room and have been allowed to take over zithout anyone noticing.

    1. Skippy

      I was talking to someone recently and they past an article by me, which argued Trump isn’t even a man, more so than the reality TV persona reflecting on his viewers, and by association, their reflecting it back on him.

      1. Ron

        There is considerable hand wringing about Trump by the media but its becoming clear that the majority of the Republican voter base approves of his positions which means an end to the illusion that the Republican Party can nominate someone other then a hard right wing candidate now or in the near future. So called moderate Republicans have already left the party in most cases either registering as independents or Democrats leaving a hard right wing base which is looking for leadership that reflects its point of view.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No, Trump does not have a majority. He is the leading candidate but he’s never polled at close to 50%. The problem is that no other contender (since Carson faded fast) comes close.

          1. Ron

            Take Trump+Carson+Cruz combined percentage of the base equals a heavy right wing Republican base that is looking for leadership that reflects its values.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Do we have to be as careful or more careful with candidates who are not so verbal as Trump?

              Will they do something more drastic while sounding less?

        2. cwaltz

          Don’t worry though, the moderate Republicans have the Democratic Party! It’s those of us that are liberal and progressive that are screwed. We pretty much have no representation.

          1. meeps

            cwaltz: Thank you. The conversation should long ago have shifted from concern over splitting the Democratic Party to an admission that the Democrats transmogrified into the ‘moderate’ wing of the Republican Party. Acknowledging this clarifies the position of and, therefore, the appropriate response from, the unrepresented among us; party building. If a suitable one is not extant, build one! It’ll be no harder to accomplish without imaginary friends, no?

            1. cwaltz

              In order to be representation you have to actually govern.
              For the record, blaming the electorate is passe’ and something the legacy parties do.

              I get that third parties are David facing Goliath. However, I’d argue that they don’t seem to understand that means that they can’t just use legacy party formula and expect there to be an even competition. They definitely need to be organizing better(and I say that as someone whose voted third party for at least 2 cycles thus far.)

      2. abynormal

        The How & The Why

        “Most Americans didn’t distinguish fame from accomplishment.”
        Douglas G. Brinkley, Cronkite

        “People hate these shows, but their hatred smacks of denial. It’s all there, all the old American grotesques, the test-tube babies of Whitman and Poe, a great gauntlet of doubtless eyes, big mouths spewing fantastic catchphrase fountains of impenetrable self-justification, muttering dark prayers, calling on God to strike down those who would fuck with their money, their cash, and always knowing, always preaching. Using weird phrases that nobody uses, except everybody uses them now. Constantly talking about ‘goals.’ Throwing carbonic acid on our castmates because they used our special cup and then calling our mom to say, in a baby voice, ‘People don’t get me here.’ Walking around half-naked with a butcher knife behind our backs. Telling it like it is, y’all (what-what). And never passive-aggressive, no. Saying it straight to your face. But crying…My God, there have been more tears shed on reality TV than by all the war widows of the world. Are we so raw? It must be so. There are simply too many of them-too many shows and too many people on the shows-for them not to be revealing something endemic. This is us, a people of savage sentimentality, weeping and lifting weights.” John Jeremiah Sullivan, Pulphead

      3. ambrit

        @Skippy: That’s how ‘Leaders’ become ‘Caudillos.’ Find a fear, work with it, and you can pass as many ‘Patriot Acts’ as you like.
        The fascinating aspect of that phenomena is; how much does the “Leader” in question believe his or her own ‘Press.’ (“True Believers” are the most dangerous people of all.)
        @ vidimi: I’ve noticed over the years that definitions of “White” vary significantly by group. The term “Mestizo” from the Latin cultures of America are an example. An analogue from America of the North would be the “Brown Bag Test” in regards to the Black American cultures.
        I still assert that the underlying driving agent here is class based.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          In China, there are the Bai People or the Bai tribe, one of the 56 ethnic groups recognized by the PRC.

          From Wiki:

          Baip people literally means ‘white people’ in Chinese.

          Americans would probably say they are yellow or brown.

          At least they don’t look pink though.

          1. optimader

            At least they don’t look pink though

            A friend’s parents were on vacation in FL a few years back. They are English as a second language first generation Europeans.
            The hotel they were staying at apparently had a burglary. In a follow-up interview of guests that may have seen the perps, the local police were beating around the bush on an ethnic description of the perps . They basically asked wcan you describe their complexion. , fair enough if your trying to ascertain a description of someone.

            My friends Mom, the literal and precise retired engineer that she is, reflected for a moment and said: “well… they were kinda Pink!”

            Cop: Pink!?! What do you mean Pink??

            Friends Mom: Yes, Pink. I think he might have been out in the Sun too long today!

        2. Skippy

          There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility.

          Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason (link is external), says in an article in the Washington Post, “Dumbness, to paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been steadily defined downward for several decades, by a combination of heretofore irresistible forces. These include the triumph of video culture over print culture; a disjunction between Americans’ rising level of formal education and their shaky grasp of basic geography, science and history; and the fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism.”

          There has been a long tradition of anti-intellectualism in America, unlike most other Western countries. Richard Hofstadter, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his book, Anti-Intellectualism In American Life, describes how the vast underlying foundations of anti-elite, anti-reason and anti-science have been infused into America’s political and social fabric. Famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov once said: “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

          Mark Bauerlein, in his book, The Dumbest Generation (link is external), reveals how a whole generation of youth is being dumbed down by their aversion to reading anything of substance and their addiction to digital “crap” via social media.

          Journalist Charles Pierce, author of Idiot America (link is external), adds another perspective: “The rise of idiot America today represents–for profit mainly, but also and more cynically, for political advantage in the pursuit of power–the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they are talking about. In the new media age, everybody is an expert.”

          “There’s a pervasive suspicion of rights, privileges, knowledge and specialization,” says Catherine Liu, the author of American Idyll: Academic Antielitism as Cultural Critique (link is external)and a film and media studies professor at University of California. The very mission of universities has changed, argues Liu. “We don’t educate people anymore. We train them to get jobs.”

          Part of the reason for the rising anti-intellectualism can be found in the declining state of education in the U.S. compared to other advanced countries:

          After leading the world for decades in 25-34 year olds with university degrees, the U.S. is now in 12th place. The World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. at 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010. Nearly 50% of all graduate students in the sciences in the U.S. are foreigners, most of whom are returning to their home countries;
          The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs commissioned a civic education poll among public school students. A surprising 77% didn’t know that George Washington was the first President; couldn’t name Thomas Jefferson as the author of the Declaration of Independence; and only 2.8% of the students actually passed the citizenship test. Along similar lines, the Goldwater Institute of Phoenix did the same survey and only 3.5% of students passed the civics test;
          According to the National Research Council report, only 28% of high school science teachers consistently follow the National Research Council guidelines on teaching evolution, and 13% of those teachers explicitly advocate creationism or “intelligent design;”
          18% of Americans still believe that the sun revolves around the earth, according to a Gallup poll;
          The American Association of State Colleges and Universities report on education shows that the U.S. ranks second among all nations in the proportion of the population aged 35-64 with a college degree, but 19th in the percentage of those aged 25-34 with an associate or high school diploma, which means that for the first time, the educational attainment of young people will be lower than their parents;
          74% of Republicans in the U.S. Senate and 53% in the House of Representatives deny the validity of climate change despite the findings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and every other significant scientific organization in the world;
          According to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 68% of public school children in the U.S. do not read proficiently by the time they finish third grade. And the U.S. News & World reported that barely 50% of students are ready for college level reading when they graduate;
          According to a 2006 survey by National Geographic-Roper, nearly half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 do not think it necessary to know the location of other countries in which important news is being made. More than a third consider it “not at all important” to know a foreign language, and only 14 percent consider it “very important;”
          According to the National Endowment for the Arts report in 1982, 82% of college graduates read novels or poems for pleasure; two decades later only 67% did. And more than 40% of Americans under 44 did not read a single book–fiction or nonfiction–over the course of a year. The proportion of 17 year olds who read nothing (unless required by school ) has doubled between 1984-2004;
          Gallup released a poll (link is external) indicating 42 percent of Americans still believe God created human beings in their present form less than 10,000 years ago;
          A 2008 University of Texas study found that 25 percent of public school biology teachers believe that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth simultaneously.

          https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201407/anti-intellectualism-and-the-dumbing-down-america

          Skippy…. it has a name mate…. neoliberalism

          1. Chris Williams

            Good writing and links, Skip.

            A potential truth emerges here and it’s not good. It’s nastier than we ever could’ve imagined.

            If we were talking about anywhere but the US, there’d be a few comments, eh?

  5. Steve H.

    : The Internet’s Loop of Action and Reaction Is Worsening

    The cited study was looking at identifying different attitudes to defining what a troll is, particularly by focusing self-identifying trolls. This was not practically useful when dealing with a particular person who didn’t think he was a troll, but was impacting personal, social and business interactions. Cheng et al. looked at commentors that had been banned, a more objective approach with practical results:

    : [Trolls] wrote differently than everyone else, often going off-topic, scribbling posts that were more difficult to read, and saying more negative things. In addition, trolls made more comments per day, and posted more times on each thread. They often had the most posts in a particular thread, and made more replies to other comments.

    See: Antisocial Behavior in Online Discussion Communities

    1. Gaianne

      “Self-identifying” trolls! Wow!

      Someone is not spending much time in reality. Too busy writing papers, I guess.

      –Gaianne

      1. jrs

        Well I guess trolls by definition may self-identify out of the medium they are trolling, like tell their friends “today I trolled NC” or something, but to self-identify within the medium kind of ruins the trolling experience. And if they don’t even know they are trolls at all, are they really trolls or just really dense annoying rude people?

        So yea it seems kind of by definition trolls don’t generally self-identify within the medium as trolls.

    2. Massinissa

      Whats interesting to me is that Naked Capitalism basically doesnt have any by those definitions. We have some people who are a little… Contrarian, like I dunno, Jgordon, or eccentric, like Craazyman, but no trolls or anything even remotely similarly malicious. Its nice.

  6. Ron

    “ultimate machine to fight squirrels on his bird feeder” funny and very true, nice to see that tech has limits. My solution was to install cheap 3/4 10 ft PVC poll to hang the feeder on in a location that the squirrel’s could not jump onto from other location such as a fence etc which was the middle of the yard, I also purchase squirrel food and put it out on a regular basis. Best solution I have tried to date gives the squirrel some food but keeps the bird feeder out of reach….

    1. Carolinian

      Bears are also fond of bird feeders is you have bears. My intown neighborhood did have one amazingly enough. Fortunately it eventually retreated to a nearby watershed without harm.

      I put a long metal guard on my bird feeder pole. From time to time a genius squirrel will figure out how to bypass it.

      1. MikeNY

        I have bears, too. My feeder hangs on a pulley about 20 feet off the ground. It has a pivoting ‘cap’ on top of thin PVC pipe right above it, so that, in the event a squirrel shimmies down the wire, it hits the cap and falls to the ground. Kind of funny to watch, but they learn quickly not to do it again. Still have to bring it in at dusk every night from May – September because of the bears.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Hadn’t occurred to me that Dr Hussman and his bearish clients were hungry enough to be raiding bird feeders.

          But it all makes sense now that you mention it.

        2. bob

          I don’t currently have a feeder, but remeber the problems.

          The most clever, or daring squirrel would, after all the above remedies, tilting slippery top, guards on the pole, etc, would make a running jump off the roof, a good 10-15 feet.

          It drove me nuts for a minute, I couldn’t figure out how he had gotten to the feeder. Then I saw his tracks on the roof of the house, and actually saw him do it once. He missed, but he was very persistent. He’d hit the feeder 2 out of 3 times.

          He earned his meal.

  7. kj1313

    Yves what is your verdict on Nutella? So many in Europe use it on bread. In Belgium they do use chocolate to make different spreads that they use on their freshly baked breads/rolls. FYI I really miss bread from Europe.

      1. Gaianne

        That the Swiss put chocolate on bread is a cliche’ of many years standing. I don’t know that they really do it but the cliche’ is that they do.

        –Gaianne

        1. optimader

          Swiss put chocolate on bread is a cliche’
          Cliché or not, , as a minimum 3 months ago the Swiss were still doing chocolate fondue w/ stale bread. Maybe they’ve stopped now?

          1. meeps

            Yves Nutella is good on bread but higher in sugar than necessary, IMO. Justin’s makes a chocolate hazelnut butter blend that is lower in sugar than Nutella and delicious on bread with a few slices of banana or fresh strawberries to top it off. The drawbacks are ‘all natural’ which can mean GMO and palm oil (though the claim is ‘sustainably sourced’). Of course, there’s no substitute for truly fabulous chocolate like Scharffen Berger, which can be sourced in baking bars, melted and blended to consistency with milk (nut/soy/coconut milk for vegans) and sweetened to one’s taste. It’s good on anything!

    1. susan the other

      about delicious European bread. when I first started eating health food i learned to bake bread and i used only flour from freshly harvested wheat – not silo or warehoused wheat that is sometimes stored for years (i was told). The difference in taste was amazing. I’m not sure if the stored-wheat story was true, but it seems possible.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Some of the smaller mills out here have taken to stamping the milling date on the packaging instead of the expiration date. Fresh flour makes a big difference. If you use stone ground, even more so. I have heard that the main reason commercial mills grind the flour so finely is that it really “extends the shelf life.” As long as one doesn’t care about taste, I guess.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I suppose if you grew up with Nutella, then maybe you get a chocolate on bread waiver, particularly if you eat the chocolate with Nutella. Hazelnut-pretty-much-anything is generally good.

      I suppose I am a purist. If bread is good enough to eat, you ought to be able to eat it plain or without tarting it up too much (butter, olive oil). If it was good bread but is now stale, there are also lots of thing you can do with it (croutons, stuffing, bread pudding, French toast). And you saw my views on chocolate.

  8. abynormal

    re: MegaFunding Drug Research…”Emerging-market countries should take note. Most are chasing the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. China has established hundreds of life-sciences research parks and committed billions of dollars in national funds for drug development; comparable programs are under way in India, Singapore, and South Korea.”

    tending bloody scalp, again…aren’t these the countries directly benefiting from drug counterfeiting? could this be an avenue to get in front of counterfeiting? wouldn’t these governments be biting the hands that feed Huge local profits…thereby and fueling their own demise?…Seems So, Yes.

    from 2010: “A recent WHO report[11] also gives shocking figures regarding the origin of counterfeit drugs in Asian countries, including India and Pakistan, as shown in Figure 2. The data are based on samples that have been found to be counterfeit and do not take into account the likely distribution of undetected counterfeits. According to this study, India leads in counterfeit drug production, with as much as 35% of the world production originating there. Nigeria is second, responsible for 23.1%, followed by Pakistan, with a 13.3% share. Additional Asian countries account for 14.6% of the counterfeit drugs produced.”

    recently: http://www.c-span.org/video/?295894-2/counterfeit-prescription-drug-profits
    (FUCKINGHUGE)

  9. Jeff Lovejoy

    Trump reflects the unpleasant fact that the U.S. government has become like a dysfunctional family member let loose upon the world. The country has reached the point where only two options are left. Either the U.S. government goes through a crisis that turns it around, or that the government is finally abandoned by the country entirely.

    Everything Trump says, in one way or another, is perfectly in sync with where an exasperated country is on the fiascos of current U.S. government policies. Trump doesn’t mind that his presidency might take democracy and turn it into an American fascism, and most Americans don’t mind either. Most Americans believe we are already there, and have been since long before 9/11 and the callous cynical indifference that repeatedly peddled a “hope and change” that it never had any intention of delivering.

    What amazes most Americans is not the fact of Trump but the reaction the entrenched (nee “establishment”) government. The American people are outraged at this whole thinly veiled outrage of a government, one that long ago abandoned any principals of decency, integrity, honor and character, and attachment to the Rule of Law, in favor of a fully rigged, manipulated and controlled financial system that controls everything.

    The German people knew who Adolf Hitler was, in the same way that the American people know what kind of country they will be getting with a Trump presidency. The American people of 2016 are the same as the German people of 1933. In one very important way the American people, like the German people of 1933, seeks to punish a government and a world that has failed them in every way possible and now looks to abandon them fully, with the only weapon left: Trump.

    1. wbgonne

      It is interesting watching the Corrupt Corporate Media and the GOP Establishment impotently flail about and handwring at their inability to squash Trump. If only there were a similar uprising within the Democratic Party, then we might get somewhere.

      Since Hillary Clinton appears to be the only sane and viable Republican running for president, I suggest that the Republicans and the CCM unite around her to defeat Trump, leaving Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee. Sanders vs. Clinton in the general election is the purgative we need.

      1. tegnost

        my thoughts exactly! Trump is just a sign of the ridiculous imbalance, and plenty of elite dems are simply pro choice republicans…

        1. cwaltz

          Yeah, about that pro choice thing. It was the Democrats, not Republicans that codified Hyde during the health care kabuki in Congress(while the WH simultaneously conspired behind closed doors with health care industry officials.)

      2. rusti

        Wow, this idea is brilliant! A win-win for both parties.

        The Republicans get their establishment candidate bankrolled by the usual special interests, Hillary doesn’t have to bother pretending she’s against “trade” deals or Keystone and can go back to being against gay marriage and being tough on crime.

        And the Democrats would regain a shred of respectability by nominating a candidate who didn’t vehemently oppose the advertised values of the party.

      1. Vatch

        That’s a little harsh. I have trouble believing that the people of North Korea deserve their government, or that the people of Cambodia during the late 1970s deserved the Khmer Rouge. We could come up with many more examples. Just because we might be able to understand what causes a particular government to take power, doesn’t mean that the people of that nation deserve that government.

        1. ewmayer

          Since both the staying-in-power of the Stalinists in North Korea (uniting around hatred-of/paranoia-about the US has mch to do with the massive casualties caused by US carpet bombing in the Korean War) and the rise of the Red Khmer in Cambodia (US carpet bombing again, at behest of a worthy Nobel peace Laureate) can be directly tied to US pink-misting of the populace, perhaps the apt compromise phrase here should be “Every nation ‘democratized’ by the US gets the government we deserve”.

        2. Ignim Brites

          It is a kind of truism of democratic theory that in the end all governments rest on the consent of the governed since the power of the majority could easily overwhelm an oppressive minority. And also by virtue of this truism (axiom, paradigm), might makes right. Therefore all governments are in some sense beyond good and evil.

      2. Massinissa

        So wait. When Mao killed people its because they were terrible people who deserved Mao?

        Did the Jews in Germany deserve Hitler? Or for that matter the Roma or Socialists who he also killed?

        This is a dangerous argument. It reminds me of the ‘Just World Fallacy’.

    2. Faye Carr

      Well said, Jeff. It’s like Trump has turned on the bright lights in all the roach infested kitchens in America. Except the cockroaches aren’t running for cover. Just feasting on the validation.

      Kinda nice to not have to parse everything a candidate says (ala Obama & Hillary) if it wasn’t for the horror of it all.

    3. Chauncey Gardiner

      As today’s linked New York magazine article said, not a single primary vote has yet been cast nor a single precinct caucus reported in (along with the related “counting” by the legacy party nomenklatura and announcements of winners by corporate media, of course). That will not occur for another couple months. But Trump with his raw, unsanitized, politically incorrect, impulsive and disruptive rhetoric has clearly reinvented early stage campaigning, which has always been about inspiring or inflaming the tribal base. Ironically, this fascinating nexus of entertainment and politics is occurring in the final 18 months of Roger Ailes’ contract with Rupert Murdoch at Fox News.

      I think that Trump’s campaign will culminate in either “The Art of the Deal” in exchange for his exit, or he falls into the Orchestra Pit along with most of the cast, taking the presumptive heirs down with him. In the meantime, though, amidst the yet unrecognized but perhaps intentionally divisive and destructive fallout from this walking, talking embodiment (and perhaps unwitting parody) of Ailes’ Fox News, great television
      ratings… and another diversion of public attention that benefits the usual suspects.

      But as reported in other NC links today, upcoming international travel and the Republican primaries and caucuses lie ahead. So I c/b wrong.

    1. fresno dan

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday turned down an invitation to meet privately with Senate Democrats next week during his visit to Washington, saying the session “could compound the misperception of partisanship” surrounding his trip.

      Angering the White House and Democrats, Netanyahu accepted an invitation from Republican leaders to address a joint meeting of Congress on March 3 and speak about Iran. The GOP leaders did not consult with the Obama administration, which the White House called a breach of protocol.

      http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/02/25/netanyahu-turns-down-meeting-with-senate-democrats.html

      =============================
      An American is (pretend) represented by 2 US senators. An Israeli prime minister is represented by 98? 99? or was it all 100??? (I’m just talking the senate – of course the Israeli PM is represented by all US representatives and the President)

      To even breach, in the slightest, most obscure way, that perhaps US and Israeli interests may diverge leads to a real quandary:

      If the NRA thought there could be the POSSIBILITY of a potential AMMO shortage under highly unlikely and bizzare circumstances because of some stockpiling of ammo by the Israelis, and a bill was introduced called “Minimal amount of ammo to be on hand for American patriots to defend their wives, children, apple pie, the NFL, and the Constitution from Radical Jihadi transgendered liberals and IHOP terrorists” but the Israelis wanted that Ammo shipped ASAP….who would win?????

      By this one act, Trump is more independent than….well, everybody in the US government.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Every candidate should visit all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and Guam), meet with their heads, before making pilgrimages to important foreign capitals.

      You can say it’s saving the best last or slighting the international community by putting them last, I don’t know.

      I just know we need to be aware of the global consequences of our domestic decisions.

    3. Jim Haygood

      From the linked WaPo article:

      Netanyahu said late Wednesday that he “rejects Donald Trump’s latest comments about Muslims.”

      That’s rich. Under Israel’s demographically engineered immigration policy, Israeli Arabs can’t obtain residency visas for muslim spouses, even those from next door in the occupied West Bank.

      As ol’ Lester Maddox (segregationist governor of Georgia) used to say, “That’s part of American greatness, is discrimination. Yes, sir. Inequality, I think, breeds freedom and gives a man opportunity.”

      Netanyahu, as prime minister of the world’s last apartheid state, doubtless agrees.

  10. lylo

    Ugh. As much fun as it is to wax poetic on Trump (and I will acknowledge my own guilt here; god it’s fun) it is time for everybody on the left to just move on.
    1. It’s still actually early, though it really is starting to not feel like it. We are many news cycles from even the first primary, let alone anything like decision time.
    2. He’s running as a Republican. Are you going to be voting in Republican primaries? No? Then don’t worry too much about it. You have little say, and the only say you have may not be what you want, which leads me to:
    3. The more vitriol the left hurls at Trump, the more legitimate he becomes to the right which is the group that actually matters right now. If you actually are not interested in there even being a chance of a Trump presidency, then just don’t worry about the Republican primary right now. It’s the biggest favor the left could possibly do the right.
    4. The biggest favor the left could do for the country is worry more about their own primary. While much of the left has written off Trump as unelectable and a joke, much of the right and many independents (and from the non-scientific anecdotal feeling I get from people) feels similarly about both Democratic front-runners.
    Sanders seems to have had a little steam, but that seems to be being drained by Trump among independents, and actual education among the left. Seriously, some of the his vote choices and ‘no shows’ reek of sell-out. If I recall, he couldn’t even bring himself to pick a side in the recent O-care vote, and that type of hedging for political expediency I think hurts him more than people realize. It’s going to be hard to run with an Obama-type record (boy, he poisoned the well) against the Clinton machine in this moment of history.
    And no matter how much she wants it, no one else seems to want another Clinton presidency.
    Seriously, do not make this country pick between Hillary Clinton and whatever crazy the right decides the left hates the most. I don’t think you’d be happy with the choice right now… (Again, it’s still early; draft more people for heaven’s sake!)

    1. jrs

      Well I think one of the articles is indirectly making the point one *should* vote in the R primaries to stop Trump. Not that I care, my state doesn’t matter for primaries, but for anyone in a state where their vote may count.

  11. OIFVet

    Merkel’s war for Europe. “More clearly than ever before, we see that sharing common values held only until it was tested.” I guess herr Bittner still hasn’t realised (or more likely, it’s hard for the man to see that which he is paid not to see) that the myth about ‘common values’ was always just that: a myth. Sure, various NGOs spend a ton of money to convince the Euros that they all share “common” values, but the migrant crisis revealed just how superficial such paid-for values are bound to be. It didn’t help any that the same tolerance crowd that admonishes Easterners about the discrimination of gypsies did its level best to make it hard for Eastern European gypsies to travel freely (looking at you Germany, Netherlands, and Denmark) or engaged in large scale deportation of gypsies (vive la France!). The very concept of tolerance on the EU level is nothing more than a conceited attempt to hector those savage Eastern Europeans, and they are sick to death of it.

    And FWIW, Merkel’s war is for herself and for the continued dominance of Germany, per Bittner’s non-admission admission. For all the pretty talk about confronting common threats to Euros’ liberty and safety, Merkel’s Germany has done quite a bit to erode these through its austerity policies and the public economic lynching of Greece. Merkel may well succeed in preserving the EU in its present for for a while longer, but it will prove to be a Pyrrhic victory. Her groveling to the ottoman sultan has already seen to that.

    1. Carolinian

      I’ve been reading that Merkel is in political trouble. Ironic therefore that she has just been lionized by Time mag. Or maybe that’s the reason she has been lionized. Don’t all those Time people end up working for Obama or the Clintons?

      1. OIFVet

        If one believes that US and Euro interests have begun to diverge and that Euro elites are US patsies, as I do, then Merkel being “honored” by Time makes perfect sense. It’s particularly telling that the rise of Euro nationalism is the recent cause for EU and US establishment fainting spells. Just yesterday Vaclav Klaus again went on the attack against EU elites, accusing them of seeking to destroy the very idea of nationality and national belonging in favor of a homogeneity that benefits US and EU globalist agendas. So Merkel doing her level best on the issue is “praiseworthy,” indeed.

  12. Stephanie

    Re: Daily Kos and random Bible verses – where is Jack Van Impe when you actually need him? (1Timothy 4:1-2)

  13. Carolinian

    Trump says he’s in til the bitter end.

    link

    While his stream of consciousness spiel seems a bit kooky (or more than a bit), it’s worth reading what he has to say. He is without a doubt an egomaniac but fascist, no. In fact I’m beginning to think that whatever happens the Trump phenomenon is entirely healthy. By exposing his own naked id to view he is exposing America’s naked id in any number of ways. We are, after all, a country that worships success and money, view ourselves as the pinnacle of liberty (“they hate us for our freedom”), revel in our isolation from a wider world we know little about. It’s rather rich watching the NYT and the Post attack Trump for xenophobia when it’s the very thing their neocon owners have been preaching for the last 14 years. Trump’s great sin is that he says it all out loud.

    Justin Raimondo has more including how Trump’s supposedly unprecedented proposals have more than a history.

    http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2015/12/08/trump-americas-funhouse-mirror/

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The rise of Trump is a symptom of radicalizing white population, as vidimi mentioned above, or also a failure of all of us to curb neoliberalism? Or is neoliberalism radicalizing everyone?

    2. Ron

      Good article:
      “The fear-mongering and war hysteria that has dominated the American political landscape since 9/11 has come back to haunt our Establishment – and they don’t like it one bit. This is “blowback” with a vengeance,”

      all the heavy conservative talk radio pushing nonsense and looks what happens...the Republican base becomes radicalized!

    3. JTFaraday

      I agree. Massively hypocritical. Could have foreseen this when the press shut down dissent over making war on Iraq as if it were responsible for 9/11. That’s transferring guilt from some particular Arabs to all Arabs. I also like how we only use religious terms now to describe people who preponderate in a particular geographical region.

      I’ve always figured that at some point, the neoconservatives most responsible for attempting to prosecute a genocide would look to pin it all on the racist right. We went to war in the era of the “crazy evangelical Christian” meme in the “liberal media” that the populist right so despises.

      I don’t know if Trump is too much of a wildcard to be trusted with that.

  14. Jim Haygood

    The long national nightmare is over — for Argentines:

    Mauricio Macri has been sworn in as president of Argentina, in a ceremony boycotted by his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

    Ms Fernandez boycotted the inauguration in a row over the venue. This is the first time since the end of the military dictatorship in 1983 that a president has not attended the inauguration of a successor.

    Late on Wednesday Ms Fernandez had bid farewell to supporters in an emotional speech, urging people to take to the streets if they felt betrayed by the new centre-right government.

    After Ms Fernandez declined to attend the ceremonies, Mr Macri’s party sought a court injunction affirming that her term ended at midnight on Wednesday.

    Ms Fernandez told her supporters on Wednesday evening: “I can’t speak long because at midnight I turn into a pumpkin.”

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35064392

    From Black Widow to orange pumpkin — Halloween party time!

      1. Jim Haygood

        Macri’s cost to settle with NML (probably in the same $1.3 billion range of a proposed settlement that the Widow K scuttled at the last minute last July) is trivial, compared to the benefits of restoring Argentina’s credit rating and putting it back on the map of investable countries.

        Currently, despite being LatAm’s third largest economy, Argentina is absent from stock and bond indexes pertaining to the region, owing to its prolonged default. Argentina has been excluded from international credit markets for 13 long years.

        Playing the isolated, fulminating role of the “North Korea of Latin America” is no fun. “Juche with Peronist characteristics” has been tipped into history’s dustbin. We’ll certainly miss the posts by the Widow K’s vigilant La Cámpora hasbara brigade, who have fallen silent now their checks are bouncing.

        1. Goyo Marquez

          So what principle do we derive from this?

          – There is no such thing as a bad loan?

          – Loans entered into by government officials in exchange for bribes are perfectly enforceable?

          – Loans made to tyrants are enforceable against the victims of their tyranny?

          – Lenders are never at fault for bad loans?

          1. Gaianne

            Goyo Marquez–

            Four corollaries of neoliberalism’s two main theorems:

            1) Because markets.

            2) Just die.

            Good of you to spot them.

            –Gaianne

          2. Skippy

            One persons paper expectations are more important than the welfare of an entire nation.

            The paper expectations are not subject to events, past, present, or future which might effect its value, private contracts are private and as such they are fait accompli…

            If in the case of counter parties wishing to diminish any perceived value of said contracts the injured party is with in their rights to broad brush the other with superlatives depicting them as ev’bal wrong doers and petition government agency’s to force compliance e.g. intelligence agency’s, para military, or weaponized financial means.

            Skippy…. Jim might parlay his winnings and invest in some Somalian sovereign debt next.

            1. cwaltz

              What? You mean you commies aren’t cheering every time we exploit a brown person and the investment class earns an extra dollar per share off their misery?

        2. ginnie nyc

          Sorry, Jim, but I don’t appreciate the crack about ‘La Camopra hasbara’. I haven’t posted on Argentine developments because I’m sick as a dog – per usual. And most posters on this topic are NC plankholders who don’t like Singer or his nasty tactics.

        3. Vatch

          [Argentina as] the “North Korea of Latin America”

          Really? Does Argentina have a rogue nuclear weapons program? Do they have concentration camps? Do they have a heavily militarized “de-militarized” zone on the border with any of their neighbors? Have all of the country’s heads of state since 1948 come from the same family? Has an elaborate cult of personality been created for each of these 3 heads of state?

          Perhaps your rhetoric is just a bit overheated….

          1. Skippy

            Kmmao are you talking about North Korea or the USA….

            Skippy… Ohhhh tis funny…. Jim is what he decries….

          2. optimader

            Argentina as] the “North Korea of Latin America”
            An odd claim at best..

            Really? Does Argentina have a rogue nuclear weapons program?

            Well, rogue is always in the eye of the beholder. Argentina does have a “nuclear
            program” tho, ( and are members of the IAEA). But weapons? who knows for sure?

            Of historical interest, Argentina did supply Israel the Yellow Cake to jumpstart their rouge nuclear program, It was used by Israel to build the first nuclear weapons that they don’t have.

            Do they have concentration camps?
            Well no not exactly, but they did have The Desert Campaign! Basically the premise was to kill indigenous people rather than put them in camps or reservations.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Campaign_(1833%E2%80%9334)

            That said, I have an affection for the contemporary Argentine people I’ve met, and I really like the country. The political elite and the military? They all suck of course, abuse the average Argentine and hold the country back. And I wouldn’t do business.

            Incidentally I did receive inquiry for equipment used in the refining ADU cake -> UO3->UO2 Really want nothing to do with that anymore in general, let alone in Argentina..

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bariloche_Atomic_Centre
            Beautiful Place, Bariloche.. (That’s where the best chocolate in Argentina comes from. A lot of Germans… er.. make that Swiss settled there post WWII)

            1. Skippy

              Opti,

              Wrt Argentina I think you should consider the Eisenhower democracy that was being implemented in the ME [Afghanistan] and the sudden change once Regan went neoliberal [re stoke cold war fervor], which ultimately changed a Cosmopolitan capital city[s – agrarian rural state into a Narco – criminal-fundamentalist – state…

              http://www.businessinsider.com.au/before-and-after-afghanistan-image-2013-2?r=US&IR=T

              http://www.businessinsider.com.au/afghanistan-may-soon-become-a-narco-criminal-state-2014-1?r=US&IR=T

              Skippy…. Argentina got the early Chicago school treatment…. to date one has a hard time washing it off…

              1. ambrit

                Air America. Take one of our day excursions! Cam Ranh to the Golden Triangle and return.
                Then there was the Mena Arkansas to sunny tropical Nicaragua “Bible” delivery service.
                Oh, Miami? The dreaded “square grouper” was a much desired sport fish.

                1. Skippy

                  Opium and Silver…. Cocaine and C/RE or Opium and MIC….

                  Skippy…. who said we can’t innovate… !!!!!!!

  15. flora

    re: Rolling Stone story, Assault Weapons & high capacity magazine ban.

    Very good news. Sanity. I’ve often wondered, all other things being equal, how much the “militarizing” of police forces with military weapons (tanks???) has been driven by police units feeling the need to armor up against civilians who can legally carry semi-automatic high capacity guns loaded with armor piercing bullets. It has become a domestic arms race. Very glad to see sanity prevail in this case. (For those who came in late: I’m a strong supporter of both the Second Amendment and gun ownership. I do not support the NRA. )

  16. Local to Oakland

    Re Uber, their distribution of an effective phone app and the willingness of their drivers to come to the passenger was a big improvement in service here. Our local taxi dispatch system is unreliable.

    I use taxi line ups where I know I can find a ride. I will use a cab where I can. But there was a market need that Uber and Lyft fill here. We simply can’t trust that a cab will show up when called for.

    The courts here are currently litigating whether Uber drivers are employees or contractors, and what driving expenses must be paid. I’m rooting for the drivers.

  17. NeqNeq

    re: Google’s Search Reshuffle

    Yves, do a significant portion of new visitors get linked here from search engine results? I would have thought they came (mostly) from links at other blog/news sites.

    Generally, I do find it amusing that so many people who advocated the Microsoft anti-trust action in the late 90’s (early ’00s?) are so comfortable with Google. Looking back, I wonder what, if any, role astroturf-ing played back then.

    For those who might wish to move away from Google, I suggest Duckduckgo. Results have been improving steadily since I switched several years ago. Admittedly, though, it sometimes takes forethought about search terms.

  18. Brooklin Bridge

    Must disagree about bread and chocolate.

    If you take a French baguette, a good one from a good bakery, and a a bar (larger than Hershey) of good Swiss, German or French chocolate (still easily available in France), and brake off pieces of the bar and pieces of the baguette; you will be amazed at how fast that baguette disappears AND how delicious the treat as many French kids and grownup kids will attest who make their afternoon gouter mostly out of those two things (or at least used to years ago but probably also today).

    A more traditional gouter was brioche or fruit and bread or Nutella spread on bread (a chocolate and hazelnut cream mix), but even for those, a gouter on the go was often just a bar of chocolate and a baguette.

    A pretty standard breakfast and gouter treat was Le pain au chocolat, the old fashioned kind with just one line of chocolate wrapped and baked into a brioche like bread, and it was pure heaven. That incredible French simplicity where one didn’t have too much of any one thing, like their sandwich au jambon (just a baguette, butter and a thin slice of ham) and all were of excellent quality. Then the Americans got hold of it, the pain au chocolat, and put an additional line of chockolate, that is, and French kids proved they could be bribed with “more is better” and so it echo chambered back to France. It’s still delicious, but is de trop now.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        No, le gouter is “Tea Time”; often around 4pm. Pan au Chocolate is often served as part of breakfast but is not generally considered a dessert (though it would work for me).

        Note however, that le gouter, is often considered a kid’s snack time. Back in the 70’s, the chocolate and baguette combination was often indulged in by adults as well (not everyone) though more along the lines of an American snack meaning not tied to a particular time of day.

        Granted that I’m utterly hopeless in having any traits remotely related to refinement but still, I don’t think the French support the notion that there is anything wrong with combining chocolate and bread.

        1. JTFaraday

          Oh no, you sound quite knowledgeable and it sounds great. I think the problem is, they’re trying to sex up the wonder bread with kraft singles chocolate product and feed it to people for lunch.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            Having double checked, le gouter is actually quite similar to “Tea Time” meaning for adults as well as kids though the menu would vary depending on who and what they did ; somewhat of a detail but since I’m pretending to know what I’m talking about, worth clarifying.

            As to Wonder Bread and Kraft type chocolate “slices” (meaning pure chemicals – I assume), it’s horrible, but no worse or better than the snacks they already extrude from God only knows what industrial waste site.

  19. Jim Haygood

    Crude Earl, comrades: after falling through $40 like a hot knife through melting butter as the week began, now he’s under $37. Chart:

    http://bigcharts.marketwatch.com/quickchart/quickchart.asp?symb=clf6&insttype=&freq=1&show=&time=8

    Falling prices? “That don’t confront me, long as I get my rate hike next Thursday,” scoffed J-Yel, as she flipped a quarter to a beggar.

    But the commentariat has moved on, already speculating about “the next rate hike” in March. Rate hikes and Trump — they just won’t go away.

  20. fresno dan

    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/09/no-fly-list-errors-gun-control-obama

    Drawn up by the FBI in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the no-fly list is widely held in disrepute. It contains 700,000 names*, according to one estimate, and has mistakenly included infants, US military veterans and politicians including Edward Kennedy and John Lewis. Critics describe it as unwieldy, unfocused and unlikely to achieve its aims – a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

    “The public can’t have any confidence in the list itself,” said Tim Sparapani, a privacy consultant at SPQR Strategies. “It should be a very small list of people with the means, motive and opportunity to create havoc with travel. It seems to have been hastily assembled and not properly scrubbed.”

    The exact number of people on the list, and the criteria used to put them there, are state secrets, although past travel to certain countries, social media postings, drug use and human error are believed to be factors.

    “It cannot be effective because there is no sense of due process for individuals to get on and off the list,” Sparapani continued. “Any list that’s had as many reported problems as this one calls into question how useful it is.”
    ….
    According to the FBI’s terrorist screening center, which maintains the list, there were approximately 16,000 people, fewer than 500 of them Americans, on the no-fly list as of September 2011. This had risen to 47,000 **people in August 2013, including about 800 Americans, a leak to the Intercept news media site revealed.
    The numbers are thought likely to be higher now but the FBI declined to comment.

    In 2012, JetBlue airline removed an 18-month-old girl from a flight before takeoff after she was flagged as no-fly. JetBlue later apologised, blaming the incident on a computer glitch.

    Getting on the list is much easier than getting off. Rahinah Ibrahim, a Malaysian citizen and Muslim, was stopped from flying in 2005 at San Francisco’s airport. It took her nine years in the courts to finally clear her name before she could board a plane again.

    In another lawsuit last year, four American Muslims accused the FBI of placing them on the no-fly list either to intimidate them into becoming informants or to retaliate against them for declining.

    The US president shifted in his usual language by targeting the spread of intolerance and extremism in some Muslim-majority countries
    In 2010 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a legal challenge on behalf of 10 (later 13) US citizens and permanent residents who were on the no-fly list. It argued that the individuals were never told why they were on the list or given a reasonable opportunity to get off it, and described how the ban had severely affected their lives.

    “The government has emphasized that it is making predictive judgments that people like our clients – who have never been charged let alone convicted of a crime – might nevertheless pose a threat,” Shamsi wrote in a blog post this week. “As we’ve told the court based on evidence from experts, these kinds of predictions guarantee a high risk of error. If the government is going to predict that Americans pose a threat and blacklist them, that’s even more reason for the fundamental safeguards we seek.”

    Obama and his press secretary, Josh Earnest, have linked the no-fly list to gun control in a series of speeches and tweets, evidently believing they have found a potential breakthrough in the long struggle for gun control. But last week Senate Republicans blocked an effort to use the list as a guideline for new restrictions on firearm purchases.
    =======================================
    Incredible as it seems, I would concede that the NRA has a point.

    I read a “liberal” editorial where the NRA member is arguing with a dispassionate lady about who could object to prohibiting terrorists from buying guns. The lady argues who would want somebody who is mentally ill from owing a gun, and the man responds that ostensibly that seem reasonable, and in the next frame, the man wild eyed and agitated screams, than the government will declare us all nuts!

    After reading the above, I would say the agitated wild eyed guy has a good point. If your “watch list” is based on arbitrary and capricious innuendo, as well as confusion about the spelling of names, and what is obvious with regard to the lack of quality control and any kind of meaningful review for appeal….well, even a supporter of gun control like me is going to say stupid laws unfairly enforced are counter productive. REALLY, the government thought that the name “T Kennedy” was a good marker for added scrutiny???? The terrorists all got to together and thought that is the name to use? It seems more logical that they would have chosen “Ronald Reagan”

    AND
    “In 2010 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a legal challenge on behalf of 10 (later 13) US citizens and permanent residents who were on the no-fly list. It argued that the individuals were never told why they were on the list or given a reasonable opportunity to get off it, and described how the ban had severely affected their lives.”
    Isn’t President Obama a supposed great Harvard constitutional scholar??? I dunno….innocent until proven guilty? Of course, the government probably has some legalistic mumbo jumbo about there is no constitutional right to fly…

    When I worked at the NSA, I used to say, “my job is so top secret, even I can’t know what I’m doing.”

    1. flora

      I agree. Obama saying anyone on the no-fly list should be prohibited from buying a gun was maybe the dumbest thing I’ve heard him say, for just the reasons you list.

      1. andyb

        Dumb perhaps but still part of the globalist agenda. Get the if no-fly list , then no gun bill passed, then all those with gun registrations will suddenly appear on the no-fly list and then the confiscations will begin, together the MSM, and numerous TV spots touting “turn in your neighbor and receive a free I-Pad”

  21. Brian

    La Giaconda; I think the story is discussing both the version in the Louvre, and the one found in England that is a younger version of Lisa. But it doesn’t say so, and the story seems to be about dating one of them, but I am not sure they made it clear which one. Who, What, Where, Why When and How got lost on CNN.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I didn’t know there was a younger version.

      Her smile – almost like the Archaic Smile of ancient Greece.

      The Archaic Smile is also found on many Gandharan Buddhist statues. Some describe it as ethereal smile and can be seen on many early (pre-Tang) Chinese bronze and stone buddhas.

    2. ewmayer

      Re. the CNN piece: Talk about burying the lede – the actual title article is way down at the bottom of the page, under a lengthy gallery of ‘famous art heists’.

      But on the discovery:

      Ooh! Ooh! I think I know this one – lemme guess, it was really a paint-by-number kit?

  22. fresno dan

    Sliced Chocolate For Sandwiches Is Now A Reality – Life Will Never Be The Same Again Bored Panda. This is vile. Good chocolate should not be diluted by bread, and lousy chocolate should not exist. But this does show some more acceptable uses for the product.

    ================================
    I have to share, even though it sounds to good to be true. We had a guy names Dave – I forget his exact last name, but it was Polish with the “ski” at the end.
    So when you would ask him how life was treating him, Dave Grobowski would say, “Life is a sh*t sandwich, and every day I take another bite.”

    For some inexplicable reason, a chocolate sandwich brought that to mind…

    1. Daryl

      He posted on an internet forum about marijuana at one point, it was most likely his exposure to the devil’s lettuce that caused the shooting.

      1. cwaltz

        People scoff, however there is a strong correlation between marijuana usage and mental illness(rather than causation it may be that they are attempting to self medicate themselves.)

        1. Jim Haygood

          This is made crystal clear in Reefer Madness (1937), where a baked weedhead at the wheel of a powerful automobile runs over the cardboard silhouette of a child and laughs maniacally.

          Disrespectfully, someone made a satirical musical comedy by the same title in 2005.

          1. cwaltz

            You might want to read some studies instead of just pointing out an idiotic movie made to scare kids straight.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                The article discusses ONLY heavy cannabis use and indicates the causality runs in the opposite direction you suggest: that some people with mental illnesses use cannabis to self-medicate.

          2. OIFVet

            That movie needs serious updating. Working title: ‘Coke Street: Trading Floor Psycho.’ It can even be based on real life characters, lord knows Wall Street and coke are in committed relationship.

  23. susan the other

    Counterpunch. The Paris COP21 “accords”. Everyone who is following this expresses the same hopelessness. And it is people who are now fed up with governments who are the loudest. Their protest are being shut down by the police. How ironic. Governments are boxed in – they can’t ignore the climate because social unrest will explode and they can’t impose restrictions and quotas because social unrest will explode. So people like Jeffrey Sachs give interviews stating how implausible it will be to achieve 1.5 degrees C, but how nice it is that everyone is in agreement that that should be the goal. Besides, when it all blows up it will take care of itself.

    1. Paul Tioxon

      http://climateactiontracker.org/news/253/Climate-pledges-will-bring-2.7C-of-warming-potential-for-more-action.html

      There are actually plenty of people who do not have a viewpoint of the hopelessness of COP21, and the ongoing process for decarbonization. Only a totalitarian government can force entire industries out of business at gun point overnight. But more to the point of the hopeless set, they don’t want to believe 2 things: a tipping point has already happened that is disastrous and that there is a massive change of course in energy going on from other sources of power other than what the nation state can produce by policy alone.

      The middle class obsession with legally binding treaties being some sort of gold standard for action is amusing, especially from this site so overwhelmingly concerned for national sovereignty, some treaties attenuation of our sovereignty is okay and some makes us a TPP Traitor. The US, China, the EU and India are by themselves holding the fate of mitigating the disaster that is just ramping up. Will the Bolivian president sue anyone for not meeting their targets for reduction of fossil fuels at the World Court in the Hague? Maybe a joint Armada from Costa Rica and Vanuatu will send their fleet to China to bully them into compliance? Really? Even if there was a legally binding international treaty, does that stand any more of a chance than any other attempts to get the Big 4, who are all nuclear powers and the largest economies in the world with almost half the world’s population?

      The only results will come from national interests converging and stable political and diplomatic results. That’s what this meeting is about, not coercion. The only hope is to build more factories with annual production capacity of 10 or 20 gigawatts worth of solar panels and wind turbines as well. The carbon will not stay in the ground until we replace it with the harvest of the sun’s power. And there are not right now enough factories pumping out enough panels. Hundreds of factories in N America alone built in the next 5 years would be the start to buy some time for mitigating worsening conditions.

      In the above link, is a simple to follow climate tracking website. Right now, with the conditional national commitments presented at COP21 we are on track for a 2.7C degree increase in planetary temperature. The results from the draft just publicly released has 3 options that call for 2.0 and 2.0-1.5 and 1.5C degree increases. Many smaller nations are in agreement with their targets set for 1.5C, but of the Big 4, just 1 or 2 agreeing to move either of the first 2 options would be an improvement over the current trajectory.

      A lot of the science that is the basis for this site is the Potsdam Climate Institute, which is composed of hundreds of climate researchers. Hope is a coping mechanism, and one that should not be diminished because the problem is not completely solved by the policies of the United Nations membership. It appears we will move forcefully towards a solar powered global system, but no, it is not an academic exercise in precise goal attainment. It will be better than the hysterical cries that it is all a sham, too incremental and too little too late. Perhaps if we had no industrialization whatsoever 250 years ago, we would not suffer what is coming at us, but that bell can not be un-rung. We can only reduce the worsening of those effects.
      We now need to follow the example of NY state by investing the in largest state of the art factories in the Western Hemisphere.

      —————————————————————————————

      http://siteselection.com/onlineInsider/solar.cfm

      A 1 giga-factory is nearing completion near Bufallo NY. The plant will be owned by the state of NY, paid for by them and leased to SolarCity, so, if they walk away, the plant and equipment and technology transfer will stay behind. No runaway factory syndrome here. And we need hundreds of these to replace the coal burning capacity for electric utilities. Or fewer, bigger facilities. But without the factories coming on line and producing, no treaty matters.

  24. Oregoncharles

    From: “One Year After the Senate Torture Report, No One’s Read It and It Might Be Destroyed Intercept:”
    ” The release of the full report would likely provide further ammunition with which to fight for accountability.”

    And that’s precisely why it wasn’t released. The sheer criminality of the Obama coverup of torture is horrifying. It actually means that he’s reserving Bush’s usurped powers for himself – or for Pres. Trump.

    But role of the senators, including Feinstein, Leahy, and my ow Ron Wyden, is equally craven. They, or any one of them, can unilaterally declassify and release the report, or any document they care to, simply by reading it out on the floor of the Senate – or just placingit in the Congressional Record. Unlike Manning or Snowden, they have complete constitutional immunity for any official act. This is precisely how Sen. Gravel released the Pentagon Papers.

    Worse yet, their craven behavior raises frightening questions about our government. Do they know something we don’t? Is the Constitution in fact a dead letter, as it increasingly appears? No wonder Greenwald mostly stays in Brazil.

    In this respect, it’s difficult to exaggerate, or even do justice to, the sheer criminality of the Obama administration.

    1. fresno dan

      All craven, all the time.
      You know, as an example, I read Emanuel’s excuses. And what I have a difficult time comprehending is that most of politicians can be paid off for past government experience (i.e., bribes) – Rahm didn’t have to run for mayor or be mayor. So why does he WANT to be mayor – – so, so BADLY????? If all you want to do with your time in office is screw people, or protect the people who screw people, or ignore the people who screw people, at some point you have to own that YOU really believe in screwing people ????? – – Rahm can’t claim he had to go easy on the police because of republicans – its all dems!

      “But role of the senators, including Feinstein, Leahy, and my ow Ron Wyden, is equally craven. They, or any one of them, can unilaterally declassify and release the report, or any document they care to, simply by reading it out on the floor of the Senate – or just placing it in the Congressional Record. Unlike Manning or Snowden, they have complete constitutional immunity for any official act. This is precisely how Sen. Gravel released the Pentagon Papers.”

      Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Sherlock Holmes

      So let us start
      1. They will have an “accident” if they release the report and they are afraid for their lives. As cynical as I am, I find that highly implausible.
      2. Even if personally they are opposed to abortion…uh, I mean if personally they are opposed to torture, they don’t think anybody should suffer for it…um, the people doing the torture, that is. Releasing the report would endanger that view. Part of the general view that no government employee at any level should ever pay ANY price for ANY behavior. Kinda like the Masons or some other club???? This is my second choice (hence number 2) after number 5…
      3. The “immunity” is not iron clad. Like possibility one, a democratic admin going after a democratic senator on this issue is highly implausible. Even a repub president would be loath to open that can of worms.
      4. Get the terrorists even more riled up. Hmmmm…I kinda of think the invasion of Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, droning, et al – this report would just be gilding the lily. But of course, political opponents and idiots would posit it for a reason for terrorist attacks…and people would say mean things about them, and nobody likes having mean things said about themselves.

      5. They could possibly, maybe, perhaps, perchance face a primary opponent and than a general election opponent, and on this pretty minor issue maybe, possibly, perchance lose their SEAT!!!! BINGO BINGO BINGO!!!!

      So for all the bitching about being in congress, it must be one hell of a gig, and that complaining about how tough it is, is to limit the number of competitors and is just a deflection so that they can enjoy all the blow and hookers themselves…

  25. Left in Wisconsin

    The Evolution of Work Dani Rodrik, Project Syndicate

    Holy moly. First line of second paragraph:
    For most people most of the time, work is mostly unpleasant.

    Another morsel later on (in the article and historically): Equally important, office work allowed a degree of freedom and personal autonomy that factory work never provided.
    Uh, you’re the Harvard guy, but I don’t think so.

    Maybe this explains why (many) intellectuals are so clueless. And this guy is supposed to be relatively progressive.

    1. jrs

      Work as it is known in the modern world (that is labor for an employer) is mostly experienced as unpleasant. It’s why reducing work hours would indeed be a utilitarian good, it would reduce the time people spend doing that which is experienced as unpleasant. Unemployment may be even more unpleasant than work because of the prospect of destitution, but work is still unpleasant.

      As for the later, what periods of time are we generalizing? I don’t think much office work or factory work EVER provided much freedom or autonomy. But factory work could be unionized so there could be collective representation at least, and occasionally office work could be high skilled enough (and thus valued enough on the labor market) to provide some autonomy.

  26. ewmayer

    o Re. “Trump attended fundraiser for Sinn Féin before London terror attack | Guardian” — I’m sure the author of this Schmierblatt was itching to add something to the effect of “and unnamed Ministry of Anonymous Rumours and Smears (MoARaS) officials have cited credible chatter to the effect that Mr. Trump personally triggered the blast.” Nice to see the English are as fond of feigning ignorance as to the causes and nature of asymmetric warfare as the Americans, though.

    o Re. “Divided Supreme Court Confronts Race-Based College Admissions | WSJ” — Would removing applicant names from application materials before college admissions reviewers (and corporate HR types) see them help? The trend of such anonymized reviews is spreading in the field of academic peer review, perhaps it would be helpful here as well. Of course one would need to put in place credible mechanisms ensuring no names leakage from the ‘master key holder’ to those actually charged with reviews. Fellow readers, what say ye?

  27. nothing but the truth

    ” Notice the lack of agency, as if top executives aren’t responsible for corporate culture.”

    the VW investigation is a criminal matter. People will go to jail.

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