Links 12/18/15

Lagarde to stand trial over Tapie affair FT

1MDB Sent $850 Million to Entity Set Up to Appear Owned by Abu Dhabi Wealth Fund WSJ. That’s real money! Or not!

Volkswagen Loans Investigated by E.U. Anti-Fraud Office NYT

California’s New Self-Driving Car Rules Are Great for Texas Wired

Fed rate rise is first step to rebalance US financial system Gillian Tett, FT

Bank of Japan Takes Fresh Action WSJ

“Sticky” sales Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Why don’t retail prices change continuously?

How Pfizer Set the Cost of Its New Drug at $9,850 a Month WSJ


U.N. Security Council meets on Syria’s civil war USA Today

Iran: ‘No Agreement’ Seen in Key Issues Before Syria Talks ABC

On regime change in Syria, the White House capitulates to Russia Editorial Board, WaPo

Russia open to Assad’s ouster after Syria transition: diplomats Reuters

Vladimir Putin Says Russia’s Economic Crisis Has Peaked WSJ


EU summit: ‘British problem’ unresolved but deadlock broken FT

What I learned about Greece’s year from hell Politico. Nobody could have predicted…

Refugee Crisis

Record Breaking 60 Million Forcibly Displaced Worldwide VOA. Crisis? Or new normal?

Denmark passes law to seize jewelry from refugees to cover expenses Daily Sabah

Riots erupt as Dutch protest against refugee centre Lebanon Daily Star


Canadian company sells cans of fresh air to China WMUR

OP-ED: The Chinese elite at Columbia Columbia Spectator

Exclusive: Japan’s far-flung island defense plan seeks to turn tables on China Reuters

Tibet’s Potemkin economy Andrew Batson

Imperial Collapse Watch

Augusta County Schools Closed Due to Calligraphy Assignment Reaction Newsplex. Arabic calligraphy.

Irradiated: The hidden legacy of 70 years of atomic weaponry: At least 33,480 Americans dead McClatchy

Los Angeles and New York Differ in Their Responses to a Terrorism Threat NYT. “Mr. Bratton, in New York, suggested that the writer might have been inspired by recent episodes of ‘Homeland.'” We’re gaslighting ourselves to death…

A Friend of One of the San Bernardino Shooters Planned Attacks With Him in 2011 Vice

The San Bernardino Complaint Emptywheel


Bernie Sanders Just Got Two of His Biggest Endorsements Yet The Nation. Democracy for America and the Communications Workers of America. The one the closest thing to a “movement” I’ve seen yet, and the other union muscle, to the extent unions have muscle. Impressive.

Bernie Sanders Becomes the First Presidential Candidate to Reach Two Million Individual Campaign Contributions: In 2008, Obama Had Just One Million HuffPo

For Republicans, bigotry is the new normal Editorial Board, WaPo. As opposed to blowing faraway brown children to pink mist with drone strikes.

The GOP’s Foreign Policy Fantasy Problem The American Conservative (Re Silc)

Putin Praises Trump As ‘Absolute Leader’ In GOP Presidential Race Talking Points Memo

US-Cuba aviation deal allows 110 scheduled flights a day AP

Lurking Within That Ominous, Omnibus Spending Bill Bill Moyers

I, For One, Welcome Our New Monopolist Overlords

Revealed: how Google enlisted members of US Congress it bankrolled to fight $6bn EU antitrust case Guardian

Why Are Drug Monopolies Running Amok? Meet Deborah Feinstein David Dayen, The Intercept

The Limits of Schadenfreude America. On Martin Shkreli:

But we lose something in our enjoyment of his comeuppance, because it distracts us from noticing the system he’s embedded in. It took a lot of people willing to cooperate in immoral decisions to get us here, and that ought to raise questions about how willing we are to demand that people engaged in the market are also concerned with moral values.

Class Warfare

Would you live in a shipping container? (video) Reuters. Life imitates Snow Crash. In so many ways…

Which inequalities matter and which taxes are appropriate? Kenneth Arrow, Crooked Timber

Sheldon Adelson Said to Be Buyer of Las Vegas Review-Journal NYT

The science myths that will not die Nature

The Scientific Limits of Understanding Complex Social Phenomena Institute for New Economic Thinking

‘Gross institutional failure’ by U.N. found on child sex abuse Japan Times

Marx’s theory of the state: a test Stumbling and Mumbling

A White-Hot Christmas Wraps Up Earth’s Hottest Year on Record Bloomberg

How a ‘thoroughly depressing’ Joni Mitchell song became a Christmas classic WaPo

Antidote du jour:

links kits

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. allan

    Sanders Campaign Is Disciplined for Breaching Hillary Clinton Data

    The Democratic National Committee has told the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont that it was suspending its access to its voter database after a software error enabled at least one of his staff members to review Hillary Clinton’s private campaign data.

    The decision by the party committee is a major blow to Mr. Sanders’s campaign. The database includes information from voters across the nation and is used by campaigns to set strategy, especially in the early voting states.

    What better way to inspire the base?

    Deep question: will DWS be the last chair of the DNC?

      1. allan

        Sanders has been completely invisible in the MSM for days. (Actually, to be fair, Clinton hasn’t had that much coverage either.) This will give our top horse-race journalists a chance to strut their stuff. SCANDAL!!!!

        1. ambrit

          This purported MSM ‘blackout’ will give us a real world test of the ‘Internet Age’ campaign method. I get irregular Sanders Campaign e-mails concerning events, fundraising and grassroots organizational efforts; “host a campaign debate watch party!” I may not be a part of the campaigns’ optimal demographic, but the campaign is trying very hard to involve as many individuals in a collective effort as it can. How do the younger cohorts see this?

          1. uahsenaa

            I’m around college age students quite a bit, so I can speak anecdotally, at least, that I see many backpacks around with Bernie patches and buttons on them, and have yet to see any Hillary ones. I did see one woman with a Ted Cruz sticker on her laptop. I wonder what her deal is.

          2. j84ustin

            As a 31 year old millenial, I suppose I am in his target demographic. I see Bernie related posts/stories/appeals everyday via Facebook. I have a handful of Facebook friends who are enthusiastic supporters, and as a result, my “news feed” has Bernie news everyday. I know that this must reach many of these friends’ friends on Facebook, so he may be getting more exposure than many think.

            Sadly, I get no such daily posts of Jill Stein. THERE’S a real media blackout.

            1. ambrit

              I’ll ask Lambert, due to his past experiences with ‘mainstream’ politics; would this disparity between the Sanders campaign and the Stein campaign have anything to do with their past experiences, or lack thereof, with ‘retail politics?’ (Ie. Bernie is farther along the learning curve in Politics than Jill?)
              Extra credit question: Where in all of this is Howard Dean?

              1. j84ustin

                It might also have something to do with not wanting to root for a losing team; Sanders has a shot at winning, Stein does not. But I imagine you’re not too far off the mark.

              2. NotTimothyGeithner

                There are two problems with Stein that Sanders doesn’t have to face.

                One Sanders is visible to people with a passing interest in politics. He filibustered the extension of the Bush-Obama tax cuts for the wealthy when Team Blue showed it’s true colors. Sanders also HAD access to certain platforms such as msnbc and npr. I try not to listen to garbage and imagine they are in the tank for Hillary. Stein lacks this.

                The other issue is the direct experience with the green party was a Republican supported plot. There are localities where the green party is little more than a gang of cranks who just want to twist Democratic noses. Naturally, the Democratic excuses for the 2000 debacle were directed at the Greens and Nader for so long that people internalized a visceral reaction to the Green Party instead of holding friendly faces seen on TV responsible for the crummy campaign and post election process such as Al Gore, Donna Brazille, Warren Christopher, Joe Lieberman, and so forth.

                And a third issue, now that i think about it, is experience with the Democratic Party. I used to be a Democrat. I have a straw hat. Many of the younger Sanders supporters like Sanders be cause they hear from him what they pretended they heard in 2008 from Team Blue.

                1. neo-realist

                  The Greens have done a crap a** job of promoting their brand. They’ve never tried to get serious about mainstreaming their party to the populace by running candidates for local and state offices; All they do is their once every four years hail mary for the White House. As a result, they look about as fringe as the RCP and the SWP to the average voter.

              3. Lambert Strether Post author

                The real problem is that the Greens, and I think this could be by design, are not a serious national party capable of waging a national campaign. A few states have strong parties, like New York, but most do not.

                In Maine — and this after the GP ran a good gubernatorial race just a few years ago — I subscribed to the Green Facebook feed. They were still talking about Ralph Nader. I’m really not kidding. The national Greens managed to get a designer to do a reasonably professional looking brand identity, but the locals argued against using it — and I know awful graphic design when I see it, and that’s what the locals produced. The whole thing reminded me of working at a dysfunctional non-profit, and I know from dysfunctional non-profits.

                Most of the campaigning was basically “Democrats suck.” There was virtually no discussion of the Green platform, and how Green policies might be superior. The basic proposition seemed to be that a new party was needed to break the two party duopoly, but there seemed to be no further justification than that.

                I tried, I really did, but whole thing was a horror show, and I gave up and unsubscribed.

                Again, not to take away from the work that Howie Hawkins, say, is doing. But that’s at the state level in New York. And the Greens are not a national party. Sad but true.

                1. Unorthodoxmarxist

                  I’m an active member of the NY State Green Party; I work with the state party leadership and know Jill Stein and Nader. Much of your criticism of various state parties is warranted; there are serious state parties like California, New York, and Minnesota, and less serious states as well. I know some of the Maine Greens, especially in Portland, and at least Asher Plaats and those Greens seem from afar to be doing an ok job promoting the party, but I can’t speak for the organization as a whole.

                  It’s unfair to say the GP doesn’t run local and state candidates. We do – and there are and have been many local Greens elected to state office – they just tend to be elected in non-partisan elections. Most of the country has non-partisan elections at the local level, and therefore it can be hard to know if a person *is* a Green or not. At the state level – and I’ve run for State Senate in NY – we get almost no coverage at all, so good luck knowing we’re running.

                  It’s partly a problem of campaign finance, the media, our electoral system, and the role of the American voter (and non-voter). We had a great candidate for Congress in the Adirondack Park last year: Matt Funiciello, a well-known bread baker (in that area of the world) and activist. He got into all 3 TV debates and was endorsed by multiple papers. We raised $30k (which is a princely sum for a Green candidate), and we managed 11% of the vote in a race with a terrible Democratic candidate. Dems simply refused to break with their party and nonvoters stayed home.

                  Given the utter malaise of the system and how the Democratic Party and multiple nonprofits suck up mildly committed activists and their monies, we are often left with either the most ideologically committed or the most politically isolated. If the people in the PDA or MoveOn broke even partially and were willing to support a Green candidate, or build the party, things would change almost overnight, but they don’t, so it’s a long slog. Here in NY we have had success with Howie Hawkins running on a class struggle platform, but I remember a decade ago having a committed African-American activist named Alice Green run for mayor of Albany, NY against an odious Democratic machine mayor. The Dem activists in the community love her, but absolutely refused to come work with us to help elected her. In the end she received 25% of the vote – and the Greens are regularly the 2nd party in upstate NY urban elections – but the silence was deafening from the Demo-non-profit activists and voters.

                  The slog on the independent left in the US is real and it’s going to take a long time or a radical upsurge like an extended Occupy to make serious change.

                  That being said, Jill Stein’s campaign is incredibly important and she will be on ballots in November, which is more likely than Sanders (who claims he will back Clinton if he loses). Will you support her/us then?

                2. lyman alpha blob

                  You nailed it RE: the Maine Greens.

                  Having been involved with them myself at one point in time, they were far more interested in demonizing the Democrats and willing to collaborate with Republicans when they felt it necessary to get rid of a particularly reviled Dem.

                  Of course I’ve seen the Maine Dems spend more effort demonizing the Greens and other 3rd parties than going after clay-footed Republicans too.

                  Perhaps that combination explains Paul LePage’s two terms…

                3. cwaltz

                  The Green Party in Virginia is really hard to figure out. We have a Green Party not affiliated with the national Green party that is a conservative party and then the more liberal one. Anyone care to guess which one has more success getting itself on the ballot?

                4. Unorthodoxmarxist

                  Tried to reply earlier but it doesn’t seem to have worked. I’m a NYS Green who’s been a long term state party leadership member. I’ve run for office and have managed campaigns, worked with Stein and Nader. Much of what you say is true though the Maine Greens I know in Portland seem to have it together.

                  In fact there are plenty of Greens who run for local and state offices – myself among them. Many even win, though the majority of local offices we win are in nonpartisan races. It’s also the case some states are more organized than others (CA, NY, etc.) I find the problem of organizing the party to be complex:

                  – electoral laws keep us off the ballot in many places without arduous petition work and hidden on the ballot when we are.

                  – hereditary voters and nonvoters make it difficult to persuade people to vote differently.

                  – campaign finance laws make running ads almost prohibitively expensive. It also makes access to lit, databases and the like difficult too.

                  – media blackouts are pervasive. When we are invited to debates it is seen as a random or one time occurance. Editorial boards rarely interview our candidates either.

                  – Left activists are either ensconced in the Dems or with nonprofits, or wary of joining. That leaves ideologically committed folks and alienated politicos. Hence the chaos of the message board you discussed.

                  That being said I’ve seen wonderful organizing and campains in my time. Stein is one of them and deserves to be taken seriously. In many states we have ballot lines and could easily help people who align with us run for office -the party is waiting for activists to join us.

                  The point us we are trying in many places to affect real change as a party.

                5. Linda J

                  I think it was the “safe states” strategy that killed them. David Cobb running around protecting friendly Dems does not make for the sharply focused effort that would be required for going up again the corporate duopoly.

                6. Oregoncharles

                  Are you sure that doesn’t say as much about Facebook as it does about the Green Party?

                  Personally, I minimize my involvement with the former, but that might be because I’m old.

                  1. Lambert Strether Post author

                    No. If you want to grow the Green Party, you do that. The medium isn’t the issue. And there were plenty of committed Greens on the threads (including one former mayoral candidate, very smart and effective, who swore off politics after his run). Understand, please, I wanted this to work. It very clearly wasn’t.

                    Adding… By “if you want” I mean “if one wants.”

          3. optimader

            This purported MSM ‘blackout’ will give us a real world test of the ‘Internet Age’ campaign method.
            No kidding. Whomever makes voting decisions based on the literal content of MSM, based on the sampling of what little I am exposed to anymore, I think is getting about what they deserve.
            I consider making an informed choice a responsibility, whether or not I agree with it..

            When I am in public places like airports, restaurants or the like and I see what is presented in cable/network media/ hear people BSing about it, it is all comes off as vintage Pravda, apparently ALOT of people are too disinterested or stupid to get it for what it is.

            Saving bandwidth here, yes in large part I do blame the victim.

            1. participant-observer-observed

              Ah, but unfortunately the msm think is more subtle if not subconscious.

              There are still way too many people who think msm is normative. It is a self fulfilling prophecy for all who fail to challenge that idea, at least in their own heads.

            2. jgordon

              Spot on. I don’t own a tv personally, but recently when I was out at a venue where Fox News was on in the background, everyone in the room suddenly stopped and turned to the tv with a gaping, vacant expression. So, being a bit prone to suggestion I looked myself and winced when I saw a live car chase scene on tv. I was like, “ah, no wonder they put such dumb trivial crap on tv; Americans love it!”

            3. Ed

              I actually saw some of what Soviet TV was presenting as news in the early 1980s, PBS rebroadcast some of the clips on their main news program. I was struck, once the Soviet Union went away, how American broadcast networks adopted the same propaganda style in their own broadcasts. And it keeps getting worse.

        2. Llewelyn Moss

          Bernie gets much larger crowds than Trump, but gets no airtime. The MSM would rather spend its time giving legitimacy to the Batsh1t Crazy Donald.

            1. RWood

              Ask not for whom the agents toil…
              Who could devise a good Chinese finger puzzle?
              (crinkling peaked skullcap)

      2. Inverness

        I wonder if these accusations will have much impact. . I have a hard time believing that many Americans will place much credence in these accusations, since mistrust of the establishment candidates and the MSM is at an all-time high, across the electorate. This works in Bernie’s favour, quite frankly. Besides, if so many people are williing to overlook “her damn emails”…

        1. yints

          It feels like this is the DNC’s attempt at fabricating a negatively perceived event like the Dean Scream. The outcome is hard to predict. Who would have imagined a one second clip from a passionate campaign speech could completely derail Dean’s campaign?

      3. flora

        Hmmm. And right before the next Democratic debate.
        Manchester, N.H., on Dec. 19, a Saturday. It will be sponsored by ABC News.
        Timing, indeed.
        Is Don Segretti working for H and the DNC?

          1. ambrit

            Ohhh! Those were the days! Marching in the streets and making fun of ‘Tricky Dick.’
            It might be me getting older, but, todays’ youth seem much more quiet and desperate. Being older though might steer me to hanging out in less ‘edgy’ venues.
            As to ABC, well, as the mouthpiece of the Mouse Kingdom, isn’t their propensity for fabulation understandable? As the avatar of mice everywhere, it figures that they promote fraternization with the Rats on Wall Street.

    1. Sam Adams

      DWS will be the last chair of the DNC. She has rigged and continues to successfully rig the Democratic nomination for H.Clinton. It will be H.Clinton, however whose coattails will finally lose the Congress for Democrats and during the next presidential term sceed the Supreme Court to conservatives and neoliberalism. Those losses will be the Democrats death knell.

    2. Llewelyn Moss

      I’m actually glad this happened now — early enough for Bernie to consider a run as Independent. Clearly the Dems will never let Bernie have the nomination over the Anoited One, Hellery. And I will never vote for Hellery.

      1. optimader

        Nor will I. At this juncture, I’d sooner vote for someone more likely to be impeachable :o/
        HRC and her toxic rot would just be imbedded like a tick.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        In several religions, you are born into greatness.

        1 born into a certain caste.

        2 born with past karma that will anoint your future.

        3 born to save mankind.

        4. born into an exceptional, great religion

        But you don’t have to be in a religion.

        You can be born with

        1. lots of money, wealth
        2. a beautiful face
        3. a hard throwing arm
        4. a pair of long legs
        5. 40 in vertical jump
        6. a great voice

        Inheritance tax can tax wealth. Should a fair society also tax long legs or a beautiful face (born, not through hard – or painful – work, like plastic surgery)?

        Fortunately, wisdom is earned. Not something one inherits…except when some old monks select you, believing you’re the reincarnation of someone they remember.

        “We are a party of beautiful people. The other side have to pay for their girls.”

        1. ambrit

          Unfortunately, we are living in the debased dregs of a religion that teaches that man and woman are born into sin. America, indeed, the West in general, are busily living down to their reputations.

        2. participant-observer-observed

          believing you’re the reincarnation of someone they remember.

          No need to believe so long as one is willing to go along with it.

          Shunyata rules, k.o. The rest is convention

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’d want to know if ballot access rules, at this late date, would allow a Sanders run as an independent. They don’t for Trump (he’s already missed Texas and Ohio).

        1. Brian

          If you vote by machine, how do you write in someone?
          I would like to propose the following simple idea, get your paper ballots back and record the counting of every vote.
          otherwise, your vote will be hacked, as they have been for decades.
          why is simple so reviled?

        2. Unorthodoxmarxist

          It varies state by state. Could he get on enough to theoretically win 270 electoral votes? Probably, and in the states that he hasn’t he might be able to get another party with ballot access to give him their line.

          The best resource on this is a work called Grand Illusion by Theresa Amato, Nader’s former campaign manager.

      4. cwaltz

        If the DNC decides to ignore voters and go with Clinton than I suspect they are thoroughly going to get what they deserve.

    3. Vatch

      I suspect that if Clinton campaign data was visible to people outside of their campaign, then it’s likely that Sanders campaign data was visible to people outside of the Sanders campaign. It’s also likely that a few Clinton campaign people availed themselves of the opportunity to inspect the Sanders data.

      Or maybe the problem was that the Clinton data was on a less secure private email server.

      1. optimader

        Or maybe the problem was that the Clinton data was on a less secure private email server.
        ouch, indeed.
        It’s either the DNC/HRC expressing their professional interest in the value of secure databases, or a case of leaving a fake security barn door open on purpose as a honeytrap allowing some inconsequential data leakage as a plausible justification to airbrush the Sanders campaign off the DNC’s kremlin wall?
        Either way, nothing to be proud of if their wasn’t the undelaying sociopathic tendency to not give a sht about things normal humans would consider to be prima facie embarrassing incompetence. Providing fake plausible deniability to rigging the game is all the justification that counts in the end. It’s a primitive version of House of Cards plot scripting.

      2. dk

        NGP VAN’s VoteBuilder, the DNC-branded version of their VAN software, shows auditing for every user access and many operations performed by users, at the campaign, state, and national account levels. In other words, you can see who accessed your account, or who joined their data to yours in a search, and so can the national committee.

        I’ve been an administrator on the system in the past (at the state level).

        BTW FWIW, due to poor update procedures at the state level, more and more campaigns are opting for alternative voterfile management products. Although the service quality at the DNC has improved significantly, data quality is even more important, and that has suffered due to compromised state party organizations.

      3. Strangely Enough

        Or maybe the problem was that the Clinton data was on a less secure private email server.

        Past performance as best predictor of future behavior?

    4. Anon

      This, to me, is the most telling part:

      “The D.N.C. was notified on Wednesday by its data systems vendor NGP VAN that as a result of a software patch, all users on the system across Democratic campaigns were inadvertently able to access some data belonging to other campaigns for a brief window,” said the committee’s communications director, Luis Miranda.

      “The D.N.C. immediately directed NGP VAN,” he said, “to conduct a thorough analysis to identify any users who accessed the data, what actions they took in the system, and to report on the findings to the party and any affected campaign.”

      I see that punishments only work in one direction now. The more prudent thing would be to block all contenders from the data as opposed to punishing one person. Plus, with the way the headline is written, it makes it seem as if Sanders was doing something wrong, as opposed to the software company who screwed up patching.

    5. Skippy

      Okay, apparently for the Hillary campaign and the DNC it’s an all out, gloves off war.

      So, the Bernie campaign discovers a security flaw in the DNC software that left the campaign data files of BOTH candidates unlocked, and reported it to the DNC.

      Then, the DNC uses that to smear the Sanders campaign with an insinuation that it accessed Hillary’s data, when in almost the same sentence they say they will investigate further “to see who accessed data and what data was accessed.”

      SO, with absolutely NO knowledge yet of who all accessed information from which campaign, the DNC has decided to accuse AND convict the Bernie campaign, and hand down a “punishment” of suspending it’s right to access the 50 state list, just weeks before the first primaries…… How convenient for the Hillary campaign….

      PLUS, the DNC has demanded that the Bernie campaign prove that it does not have data. How do you do that exactly? The only way would be for Bernie’s campaign to have to give total access to all its computers by the Hillary campaign, I mean the DNC. Right.

      The stink on this runs deep.

      My money is on the corrupt DNC as being up to its armpits in setting this up, along with the Hillary campaign, and the CEO of the NGP-VAN, the software company that created the glitch, who happens to be a personal friend of the Clintons and who worked on her 2008 campaign.

      There’s REALLY BIG money behind Clinton and it is also probably involved in the effort to silence Bernie. That SHOULD be a warning sign to the Hillary supporters, but so far, they seem to not want to look at it.

      Read the link on NGP-VAN and see if you think from their massive credentials, that they would just “accidentally” leave a flawed patch on a system that leaves all the campaign data of the candidates exposed and unprotected. This is a company that is the largest partisan provider of campaign compliance software, used by most Democratic members of Congress, as well as the Obama 2012 presidential campaign. That is NOT going to happen. I call bullshit.

      Skippy… h/t Alan Jennings

  2. craazyman

    wow. sounds like bad news for social scientists over there at the Institute for Neglectfully Evaluated Transcendentalisms (INET). I guess math isn’t what it’s cracked up to be when social scientists get their hands on it, or vice versa. It”s always hard to tell what direction causation goes in, or if it just goes in circles

    This is what mathematical economist Ed Bucks at MIT was worrying about before he flipped out and ran off to the New Hampshire woods to sit in a tree all day watching deer through binoculars. He said he lost faith in all his equations and wanted to see “laws of nature” and “the face of God”. If it was possible to start over from scratch, he said he wanted to do that, but he realized the office and the blackboard weren’t cutting it for him. He said he thought direct observation would be his best bet.

    I got a rambling letter from him last week and I think he’s in bad shape. The “face of God” is too much for him and he wants to go home and go back to the library where his equations make sense, on their own and by themselves, but he’s too incapacitated to get out of the tree. We’re going to have to go get him. I’d thought about the bigfoot suit and throwing rocks to scare him down but his nerves are so shot that would be cruel. He needs some xanax and he needs to forget about truth. If his equations get him tenure or an office at some think tank, that’s enough at this point.

        1. flora

          If Gladys were still here she’d probably know what’s his very favorite homemade food. Yankee pot roast? Tamales and sopapillas? Blueberry blintzs or apple pie? Make that and take it out on a TV tray and leave it at the base of the tree, piping hot with wafting aroma. That’ll give him a strong incentive to climb down even in a weakened state. The “face of God” is one thing. A good meal is something else. I do hope Ed Bucks can be rescued.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Craazyman, tell him to survive, we all need to forget about truth.

      This is the sad fact of modern life.

    2. Skippy

      FYI in studying ancient literature and the crafting of narrative, it is objective to understand that 90%+ of it is an attempt to suspend belief aka lower ones critical thinking. In order to allow the craft’er of the narrative to manipulate the audiences mind. Then the subtle process of framing the – chosen reality – can begin.

      Totality of Thought… eh.

      What they do is they embed narrative in mathematics. Then they start manipulating the symbols and suddenly the narrative is lost to the symbols. In the meantime the narrative becomes weird and absurd. But because it is now translated into the symbols all they come to know are the “answers”. There are some good quotes from Keynes and Marshall on this.

      Skippy…. staring at fiction…. with the expectation that reality will occur…. can make humans crazy… been doing it for some thousands of years now…

  3. Chris in Paris

    On Madame Lagarde, this is good news. I thought that like so many of the incontournables she would avoid any confrontation whatsoever with the courts. It’s fairly clear that she signed off on using an illegal arbitration procedure that would end up doing a big favor for Tapie and leave the French taxpayers holding the bag (once again). That said, I don’t think she’ll end up with more than the usual suspended sentence, if that.

    1. perpetualWAR

      What’s interesting is that Madame Lagarde is the HEAD of the IMF and obviously also an asshole. I’m so discouraged that the international community isnt outraged over this. What will it take for outright revolt?

      1. Inverness

        Well, the elites are going to stick up for another elite. They will package this scandal the right way. Unless the French people take their outrage out on the street over this, it’s hard for me to see much happening.

      2. optimader

        Yes well she will retire with her overly generous pension , get anointed w/ a few honorary BOD positions and will have more time to lay out and cultivate a leather handbag tan.

          1. optimader

            Now you got me wondering about what John Boehner is doing these days
            I’m guessing gin & tonics, ciggs and dialysis .. maybe that’s a bit harsh? nahh

    2. ambrit

      Au contraire mes amis! Remember what happened to Martha Stewart? A powerful woman daring to do what many of her male peers were doing? They were never prosecuted while she went to prison. Male chauvinism is part of our G– given rights! To the Bastille with her!

  4. David


    A source involved in the case has confirmed to IAReporter that the tribunal has dismissed the investor’s claims of breach of the Australia-Hong Kong bilateral investment treaty.

    Subsequent to this, Philip Morris issued a press release confirming the result, and lamenting that the case was decided on the basis of “… a procedural issue that Australia chose to advocate instead of confronting head on the merits of whether plain packaging is legal or even works”…

    …The tribunal’s detailed reasoning for rejecting jurisdiction is not yet known. The award will not become public until the parties agree on the redaction of any confidential information contained in the award….

    …Notwithstanding dismissal of the BIT claim, a separate claim against Australia at the World Trade Organisation remains pending, with a decision expected ‘not before the first half of 2016’, according to the WTO’s website.

  5. DJG

    Is that article about the Augusta School System and calligraphy for real? The site looks real-ish, but the article is like something from The Onion (our nation’s greatest news site).

      1. John

        I also live near Augusta County. Lack of common sense is certainly an understatement.
        “Recitation of the shahada in front of witnesses is also the first and only formal step in conversion to Islam.[9” from wikipedia.
        Stoke wingnut paranoia and put a bit of gasoline on the fire in a very conservative area.
        A good religious war is just what we need.
        Although I must note I am seeing a good number of Bernie stickers for such a conservative area.

      2. Vatch

        One can appreciate the aesthetics of Arabic calligraphy without becoming a Muslim. Will there be another news story like this in a month or two when the students practice some Chinese calligraphy? Anyhow, at least one of the area schools is illegally promoting Christianity, and nobody is shutting the school down for a day:

        Separation of church and state is supposed to apply to all religions, not just the other guy’s religion.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        Isn’t Augusta County horse country? Staunton and Waynesboro are independent cities, I believe, so the sane people would probably congregate there with non-county public schools.

    1. Daryl

      Here in Houston, Texas, the idiots are protesting an Arabic immersion school. An Arabic immersion school, mind you, it’s right in the name and concept that the kids will be learning Arabic.

      1. Vatch

        One would think that people in Houston, where there are petroleum professionals, might appreciate the need for some people to learn to speak Arabic fluently. Maybe not…

  6. Dino Reno

    The article on California’s autonomous driving rules leaves out a couple of major details that are making me more crazy than I already am. First, these cars can’t be bought, only leased. Second, the cars must be certified as good by an independent third party. That means the driver is responsible for a car he doesn’t own and can be cited for a driving violation in car that is certified by a manufacturer, a dealer and an outside third party who are not responsible any mishaps. Nothing is mentioned about insurance, which seems to me to be the most important question in the equation. It seems like the big manufacturing car lobby wrote these rules to shut Google specifically out. They want to keep the driver in the loop instead of just being a passenger in a pod.
    That way they can continue to make cars with emotional appeal that command high price tags. I’m as shocked as the author of the article that California went down this road. They must have done the math and seen what
    pod cars would do to their huge transportation tax structure.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      First they put the brakes on trolleys.

      Now, they will just have to make sure that, in the future, people don’t remember there was the passenger-in-a-pod option, instead of having to be responsible for a self-driving car that is certified by other parties.

  7. Inverness

    As a teacher, I continue to be floored by how many education professors, as well as school boards, persist in pushing the learning styles myth (“The science myths that will not die.”). What is disappointing is how science-proof and dogma-prone graduate schools of education are. There have been actual studies which debunk the learning styles myth, but this hasn’t changed how teachers are trained, at all.

    Why? The learning styles myth has already promoted a publishing and consulting business bonanza. Also, culturally, it is quite appealing: my child can learn, provided the teacher determines his learning style, not his or her limitations. Finally — and this may be an indirect effect — it is a way of draining your teaching staff.

    I agree the teacher must try to vary her methods, and not just teach one way. However, the learning styles myth means that teachers are expected to invest endless hours coming up with individual, and class learning profiles, which is incredibly time-consuming. This also doesn’t include the indivdually-created assignments for the different kinds of learners (a political cartoon for the visual learner, versus the paragraph for the strong readers, and a recorded text for those who learn better through listening…the list goes on) Also, teachers are often expected to produce multiple versions of a reading assignment (a more challenging version, an intermediate version, and an easier version). Tired yet?

    Teaching has become much more labour-intensive, but not better at reaching individual students. So you end up with high levels of frustration from overworked teachers, who wonder “why aren’t I reaching all my students…after all of this effort?” Also, it makes it that much easier to blame teachers, who are too “lazy” to make sure their teaching is sufficiently inclusive. Yet it’s all based on pseudo-science.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Then they threaten you, first with robot teaching assistants, and then, robot teachers.

      More efficient. More productive. Multi-task enabled. Polyglot (like a native in each language).

      Unless they go the H1B visa route.

    2. neo-realist

      Would a one size fits all teaching approach work better then? More intensive pre-kindergarden education to possibly give kids the ability to better absorb education in whatever style comes at them?

      1. Inverness

        I think what is most sorely lacking is a more rigorous research in education, before certain approaches are mandated. I have found in my own practice, that a mix of teaching approaches keeps students more interested…however the whole “differentiation” (individualized learning plans for all students) is a waste of time, unless you are teaching special education. You mentioned kindergarten and pre-kindergarten programs: since I haven’t taught early childhood, I would rather not make recommendations for that age group.

    3. Jake Mudrosti

      Yes, the stance of that Nature article was a much-needed corrective for the types of attitudes (“Yeah!!!! Science, bitches!”) that masquerade as pro-science while weakening science.

      As an example, Sam Harris grew in popularity together with public interest in fMRI brain scans. Other researchers with unfamiliar names did the actual work of documenting the widespread misuse of fMRI scans in published papers. Lots of bad brain science, weakening anything good.

      And there’d be a whole book to write about the utterly botched approach to conceptual knowledge in the new Common Core materials appearing in classrooms. It’s as though the very real and very useful term “conceptual knowledge” is a magical incantation to be intoned rather than understood.

      1. Inverness

        Glad you brought up the common core which was adopted before any kind of field testing. Now you have a political backlash from both the left and the right.

  8. Vatch

    Tibet’s Potemkin economy Andrew Batson

    I notice that the provinces with the most central government spending are mostly in the non-Han periphery. Two exceptions are Beijing, which as the national capital, naturally has a lot of government spending, and Liaoning in the north east, which has very little spending. Maybe the government is still upset about the Japanese puppet Manchu Guo, which included what is now Liaoning….

    1. participant-observer-observed

      Even if it is state owned enterpries ruling, there are definitely many more TAR resident Tibetans doing small inport export business than ever before. Ive seen them more and more over the years in Nepal, Taiwan, and Beijing. I expect it will increase much more.

  9. Kurt Sperry

    I’m quite skeptical of the polls published about Bernie vs. Hillary. I don’t know a *single* person who has expressed any support for Clinton or her campaign, either face to face or online. Now you might suppose I might disproportionately know people who I am more likely to agree with, but the group in question contains quite a few unabashed conservatives, it’s not like I avoid people with political differences from me. I’ve *never* seen a Clinton campaign sign or bumpersticker either. Obviously we’ve all seen tons of Bernie stuff.

    Do you guys know any committed Hillary supporters? I’m not sure they actually exist, I’ve never met one. Anyone else seen public any signs of support for Hillary?

    1. Vatch

      I have a family member who insists that she likes Hillary. I’m not sure why; maybe she just wants a woman to be President. My family member readily acknowledges that Hillary’s use of a private email server was stupid. I’ve send a couple of email messages to her about the Clinton foundation, and other messages about the TPP. So far, to my knowledge, her opinion has not changed.

      1. optimader

        I also know some brainstem voters that are HRC advocates. I wouldn’t hazard a guess on a % though.

        Common sentiments are “well, who else would you rather vote for?” and “are they STILL talking about that email thing? jeeze. None of it was secret! and she said she made a mistake, move on already!”

        I’m think’in I’ve never seen a single HRC bumper sticker though. Might be fun to have a handful to put on cars owned by inconsiderate drivers/parkers! Could have used one last weekend actually, some clown parked diagonally across two spots in a full and tight quarters parking lot.

        1. Vatch

          I haven’t seen any Hillary stickers or car magnets. In addition to my own car, I have seen two cars with Sanders magnets or stickers. “Feel the Bern!”

          1. James Levy

            Here in Western Mass Bernie stickers are all over the place. I saw one car with a 2016 Hilary bumper sticker.

            1. optimader

              I think I’ll be breaking out the color copy of my God Bless Spiro Agnew bumper sticker for the rear window corner over the holidays. Ive never seen another online, I don’t dare UV degrade the original.
              Sufficiently ambiguous and old to elicit the occasional puzzled chuckle at a traffic light.

              1. ambrit

                I still have my signed copy of “The Wit and Wisdom of Spiro Agnew.” The man was an original. Remember those speeches? Mainly written by White House speech writer William Safire. Nanderthal erudition it was.

                  1. ambrit

                    “If a tome has badly explained ideas, it mayhaps is as if the pages were blank.” B-ristotle.
                    You’ve described the “essence of Veep.”

            2. Jim Haygood

              ‘I saw one car with a 2016 Hilary bumper sticker.’

              A GMC Denali with a dark paint job and blacked-out windows?

              Prolly just HRC’s Praetorian guard, protecting her from the Secret Service who are ‘all on Bill’s side.’

        2. Dave

          Picture the colors of the Shepard Fairey Obama “Hope” poster.

          Now picture the same color scheme and style used with a picture of Hillary. Underneath it, a large “Nope”.

          Here are various versions of it. No commercial endorsement implied.

    2. Titus Pullo

      Here in the red hinterlands, I see more Bernie stickers and even yard signs than I do for Clinton. Though I have seen a few HRC bumper stickers. I live in the main city, so I imagine her support is deeper the more rural you get.

      Will those voters be motivated to vote in the primary? Possibly. Though I imagine many will be indifferent. I have a feeling that most African Americans will stay home on primary day since no there are no real Democratic primary contests in this state for Senate or the House seats, or even for seats on the state legislature (thanks the forward thinking DNC).

    3. Stephanie

      Yes. Almost all the DFLers I know personally in St. Paul are pro-Hillary, usually on the basis that Sanders “has no chance”, or they’ve been waiting for it to be her turn since 1992, or because they think Sanders only appeals to New-Deal Democrats (who in their minds are a bigoted and dying breed). These are for the most part not people who are not going to put bumper stickers of any kind on their cars.

      The folks who do have been sporting Bernie bumpers. Of course, I remember seeing more Kucinich stickers than anything else in winter 2007. Bernie definitely seems to have a bigger draw than Dennis did, but I don’t think many Dems I know are willing to call him a contender yet.

    4. cwaltz

      I know of at least one site that supported Hillary in 2008 that is still swooning over the idea of her in 2012. The women there are smart and educated. That being said, I do think they remind me of Obama supporters in 2004 and seem to be blind and engage in excuse making for Madam Secretary. I’m not sure anything will convince them she’d be a horrible President.

  10. Vatch

    Canadian company sells cans of fresh air to China WMUR

    This is bizarre; it’s just like the movie “Spaceballs”!

    1. optimader

      Ive seen bottle of “fresh air” on top of minibars in higher altitude hotels. More stupidly expensive as you might expect.

  11. Jim Haygood

    ‘Moscow is still insisting that blood-drenched dictator Bashar al-Assad remain in power.’ — WaPo [linked above]

    This is the familiar ‘Saddam is Hitler’ trope, beloved of neocons now advocating ‘regime change’ in Syria.

    As we now know, the real blood-drenching in Iraq started after Saddam was gone, and continues to this day.

    Where is our regime change from 160 years of Depublicrat rule?

    1. Uahsenaa

      I watched an armed services committee hearing on C-SPAN the other day as I was flipping through channels, chaired by none other than that illustrious warmonger John McCain, who said, regarding what can be done about Daesh/ISIS, “I get what you’re saying about hearts and minds, but first you gotta kill ’em.” It wasn’t even contextualized. The witness, from Tufts, I think, finished speaking, and then he blurted that out. Later, they showed him speaking in the well of the Senate and it was “bloody dictator Assad” this and that. At one point, he fumbled the papers in front of him, and the tirade stopped. He was literally reading what was on the page in front of him, and once her lost his place in the text, he could no longer recall his supposedly deeply held convictions about what ought to be done in Syria.

    2. Daryl

      Coming soon, haven’t you seen the Republican debates? Lots of civic-minded moderate reformers in this country.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The scientific limits of understanding complex social phenomena.

    First of all, if you think it’s complex before you proceed, you are not going forward with an open mind.

    “In Zen, or in anything, a phenomenon is just a phenomenon.”

    Second of all, everything can be complex.

    That is, with anything, you see scientific limits in understanding it.





  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Record breaking 60 million forcibly displaced worldwide. Crisis? New normal?

    The Chinese elites understand in every crisis, there is opportunity.

    Opportunity for cheap labor.

    But, really, the ‘wisdom’ in not limited to the Chinese elites. It’s shared by all elites.

    In addition to those forcibly displaced, there are more who have been displaced less than forcibly.

    That means more opportunity for cheap labor.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Riots erupt as Dutch protest against refugee center.

    Put the refugees in 5 star restaurants, seaside resorts and fine galleries/opera houses, and let the rich show the poor how they get along with the newcomers.

    1. drexciya

      The main thing about these riots was the absolutely disgusting way the mayor handled this. The mayor had, in private, already committed herself to put a refugee center in an empty, developed, terrain, which was costing the local government lots of money. Then the people of the main village in the municipality (about 11.000 people of the 25.000 in the municipality as a whole) were given a few days to get heard about the decision to put a center, housing 1500 people in the village.

      The people in general were not happy with the number of people to be housed there (11.000 inhabitants versus 1500 people in the refugee center), a smaller center would have been perfectly acceptable for most people, and also the mayor’s motives were not really sincere (the money thing again). By ignoring the complaints by the people, the mayor was asking for it, but the media has already spun it into their usual retoric that everyone opposed to this is racist/bigot and so on.

  15. Jim Haygood

    With Argentina having scrapped its dysfunctional dual exchange rate, Venezuela now stands alone as the only regime on the planet still deliberately trying to maintain a strong currency, while the rest of world plays competitive devaluation. But it ain’t working:

    Under a cumbersome set of regulations, Venezuela maintains three state-set exchange rates: 6.3, 13.5 and 199 bolivars per dollar.

    But with the government’s strained finances making it nearly impossible to obtain dollars through official channels, many individuals and companies turn to the black market, where one greenback fetches 878 bolivars as of Thursday, according to DolarToday.

    With its back to the wall as its 140X overvalued bolivar leeches the economy, Venezuela is now suing U.S.-registered DolarToday for reporting the black market bolivar exchange rate in a third country, Colombia.

    Whether a U.S. district court will grant Venezuela standing to sue is one hurdle. But an even bigger one is the First Amendment.

  16. afisher

    I have to wonder if the writer of the article on driverless cars knows that one of the problems will be that they are programmed to follow the law. In TX, where the speed limit is more or less ignored, except for many school zones), the image of some “good ol Texan” driving the speed limit is hilarious.

    1. tegnost

      I too wonder about the interface between the pushy drivers and the requirement to maintain your place in line, but here in washington we now know the answer, tiered or congestion pricing so that the top 20% won’t have to be on the same road as the rest of us…

    2. craazyman

      Fun Fun Fun w/driverless cars!

      she programmed her daddy’s car
      sent it cruising to the hamburger stand now
      seems she forgot all about the library
      like she told old man now
      she got a burger, coke and fries and has it cruising home as fast as she can now
      and she’ll have fun fun fun till her daddy takes her remote away

      well the guys can’t stand her cause she never leaves her backyard pool now
      if they chauffer her around well she makes em feel just like a fool now
      she says “what you driviin for, or are you just somebody’s tool now”?
      and she’ll have fun fun fun till her daddy takes her remote away

      ahh the golden oldies

        1. craazyboy

          Sure ya can.

          But why, one would ask.

          Maybe they will deliver by Amazon Drone? Then send it to a burger drive-in and get a robot-flipped burger? Then have it pick up the robot waitress bringing out the burger on roller skates. Do they still have drive-in movies? Sparks could fly.

  17. James Housel

    Happy Birthday! A.A. Milne owes you a poem! You are what has replaced the NYT for me. And thanks to all who contribute.

    On today’s news I have to think the McClatchy story on the horrifying consequences of nuclear weapons production in this country (and the continuing crimes at Pantex) is Pulitzer Prize material. While it is easy to get caught up in the daily horse races…our government’s indifference to its atomic “veterans” is a bipartisan nightmare decades long.

  18. participant-observer-observed

    The Limits of Schadenfreude America. On Martin Shkreli:

    But we lose something in our enjoyment of his comeuppance, because it distracts us from noticing the system he’s embedded in

    It’s hard not to question how he and his lawyer were so stealthily taken down in an era when J Dimon could simply go for tea at E Holder’s office. Someone powerful wanted him taken down. Maybe he drew too much attention to the wealth inequality modus operandi…a moment to sympathize with what Sanders and Warren speak about regularly even when the latter are effectively censored.

    1. Stephanie

      I watched about two minutes of him pulling off his socks and tossing them behind his chair on one of his three-hour nightly live-streams before I realized that this kid probably has no idea who the actual players are, much less the rules of the game (see also the infamous “lol” tweet directed at Hillary’s criticism). I don’t think the real powers that be lost a moment’s sleep giving him up for the Particicution.

  19. subgenius

    Re. Life in shipping containers…

    The footprint is doable, but the thermal characteristics suck….I have a design/fabrication shop in a 20′ container with a yard, in a compound of numerous such units, and have spent a fair number of nights there (both working late, and when homeless!)

    It has given me new respect for anybody who puts themselves into one to bypass borders – in SoCal the container hit dangerous heat inside about 30 minutes after sunrise (cooked by infrared radiation), and this time of year it is COLD…

    steel, being a good conductor of heat, makes a terrible skin for a building. If you insulate inside you reduce the usable width to about 7′, but the insulation is effective….if you insulate on the outside you still get a heat wicking effect to any non insulated area.

    But yeah, I live a pretty snowcrash life – so its all good.

  20. optimader

    A tiny and closed fraternity of privileged men, elected by no one, and enjoying a monopoly sanctioned and licensed by government.

    Ill give him that one

  21. evodevo

    Re: Irradiated … my husband’s uncle worked for GE in Cincinnati for many years back in the 50’s and 60’s in the nuclear division. A LOT of irradiation went on there. We just now found out about the compensation program and are looking into it for his widow.

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