Links 12/21/15

Seismology of elephants investigated BBC

Bet on Your Marriage – Company Pays Couples $10,000 to Get Married, Charges Money Back with Interest if They Get Divorced OddityCentral (resilc)

2015 Lists

The Year in Guilty-Pleasure Movies: The Most Delightful Flops and Worst Trainwrecks of the Year Salon

20 Best Lists of 2015 Rolling Stone

Daffodils in bloom, the warmest ever December: how worrying is the world’s strange weather? Guardian (resilc)

Could You Have Prevented Your Worst Sleep Nightmare by Sleeping on Your Right Side? Alternet. Junk science alert!

Anti-weed campaign ad features ridiculous ‘Stoner Sloth’ that has entire Internet laughing Raw Story

Biofuels Move From Lab to Frying Pan Wall Street Journal

Why medicine costs so much in America Vox

U.S. Probes Theranos Complaints Wall Street Journal. Your humble blogger had said when the WSJ broke this story that we had a funny feeling when the New Yorker ran a fawning profile of CEO Elizabeth Holmes, but in the absence of evidence, there wasn’t much to say.

Telekom Gets Smartwatch Maker To Change All Its Logos Because Magenta Techdirt

Apple crashes into bear market Sydney Morning Herald (EM)

Every missed opportunity during the Apple puff piece on “60 Minutes” Quartz (EM)

Tim Cook: Apple products aren’t made in China because it’s cheaper MarketWatch. EM: “Shorter Cook: ‘Like most American multinationals we have done everything we could over the past to decades to offshore manufacturing jobs and training … of course now we’d dearly love to bring those jobs back, but just consider the dire state of domestic manufacturing! The lack of skills and headcount are shocking, just shocking.’ What a tool – as in the not-followed-by-‘and die’ metaphorical sense.”

Spanish Elections

Spain heads for turmoil after poll count Financial Times. Subtitle: Rajoy declares himself winner but path to majority remains fraught

The (not so big) political earthquake in Spain eventually occurred failed evolution

Confusion reigns as Podemos profits from Spain’s fissures Financial Times

Tsipras urges IMF to quit Greek bailout Financial Times


Military to Military: Seymour M. Hersh on US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war London Review of Books (Moon of Alabama via margarita)

Minority killings by IS ‘should be recognised as genocide‘ BBC. So what about Turkey and the Kurds?

VIDEO: ‘Days of Revolt’ With Chris Hedges: The Militarism of U.S. Diplomacy Truthdig. Margarita: “An astute analysis – and not at all what one would expect.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Time to Cut America’s Nuclear Triad National Interest (resilc)

Meager Prospects for the Muslim Counterterrorist Alliance National Interest (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

It’s the ‘Clock Kid’ All Over Again: A 12-Year-old Sikh Boy Is the Latest Victim of Racist Terrorism Paranoia Salon

It Must Be Christmas Time, Because Target Is Losing People’s Personal Information Again Techdirt (Chuck L)

The Firewall Awakens: ICANN’s exiting CEO takes internet governance to the dark side The Register (Chuck L)

Social media sites don’t need government to shut down terrorists Washington Post

InterApp: The Gadget That Can Spy on Any Smartphone Softpedia. Chuck L: “Yet one more reason to ditch your smart phone.”


Why You Probably Shouldn’t Trust This Week’s Political Polls Wired (resilc)

Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush brutally mocked in SNL GOP debate as all 9 candidates get skewered Raw Story (furzy)

How Berned Is Bernie Sanders By The DNC Data Breach? FiveThirtyEight (resilc)

Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s DNC has been incompetent Slate

Las Vegas Strip: Driver plows into sidewalk, hits dozens in ‘intentional’ act CNN

Martin Shkreli Says Drug-Price Hikes Led to Arrest Wall Street Journal. The fact that that is almost certainly correct is no defense. Con artists should know better than to get their names in the paper.

Nursing Homes Are Struggling to Care for the Obese Elderly Atlantic

Class Warfare

Car-Based Meth Lab Found At Walmart In (Of Course) Florida Jalopnik (resilc)

Cheer Up, Obama’s Legacy Can Be Erased Wall Street Journal. From the alternative universe of the op-ed page. In fairness, the Journal actually does run some good articles once in a while. And notice that this piece treats Obama as a liberal.

Le Cordon Gone: Chef training school shutting down KVUE. GlobalMisanthrope: “The money lines are at the end.”

Antidote du jour (Dan F):

deer links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. cnchal

    Marketwatch article on Apple, Tim Cook says:

    “The U.S., over time, began to stop having as many vocational kind of skills,” Cook explained. “I mean, you can take every tool and die maker in the United States and probably put them in a room that we’re currently sitting in. In China, you would have to have multiple football fields.”

    Just for that, he’s a fuckwit.

    1. RabidGandhi

      Also, orientals have more nimble fingers, more suited for making ipods. And besides, life is cheap over there. Here, Americans are more sturdy, good for temporary restaurant work and driving the Über graveyard shift.

    2. Vatch

      Gosh, the Chinese managers at Apple’s supplier Foxconn care about their workers. That’s why they have those nets to prevent people from committing suicide by jumping from the top of the factory buildings. How many American factories have suicide prevention nets? Obviously, the managers in the American factories care less about their workers!

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What’s next?

      Americans are not good enough (don’t have the skills necessary) to buy and use their hi-tech products?

    4. A Farmer

      That tool and die line got me too. I was thinking there are hundreds and hundreds of tool and die workers in Dayton, Ohio alone.

    5. different clue

      He is wrong on the niggling details, but he is probably right in the basic outline. And the reason the skills are mostly gone from America is because the International Free Trade Conspirators arranged that outcome on purpose as one of the endgoals of Free Trade. It was subhuman scum such as Reagan, Bush Senior, Mulroney, Clinton, Pelosi, etc. who conspired to create the incentive structure whereby the Tim Cooks of the world would find removing America’s thing-making capacity to China to be more profitable.

      American skills will take as many years to restore as they took to destroy. And they can’t be restored until Free Trade is abolished and Protectionism is restored so that alien products can be kept out of our country while our own skilled thingmaking cadres are restored, and places for them to thingmake things are restored to them, and to us all.

      Tim Cook is an effect, not a cause. The people who passed MFN for China, NAFTA, WTO, the GATT rounds, etc. are the cause.

      1. cnchal

        The skills are not gone. Let me rephrase Tim Cook.

        . . .“I mean, you can take every tool and die maker in the United States that works for $4.17 per day and fit them in a pill box

        Tim Cook exploits slave labor, and the idea that tool & die makers don’t exist outside of China is off the wall. Tim Cook is a cheap fucker, that slathers himself in looted sweat.

        1. PQS

          The 40% margin is what gives the whole game away. I bet WE could make 40% in my business if we paid people $10/day and made them work 60 hours a week and eliminated every single worker regulation.

          Good God, these people. I hardly even want them as members of my species.

        2. different clue

          If the skills are not yet gone, then we still have time to save them by abolishing Free Trade, restoring Militant Belligerent Protectionism, and rigidly excluding foreign alien products from the American Market . . . while the skills are still left here to preserve.

          Because one endgoal of the International Free Tradists is to destroy every trace of those skills within America so that there will be no hope of recovery or restoration, ever.

          Tim Cook is still a symptom, not a cause. If it weren’t Tim Cook, it would be Cim Took or Mic Koot or some other operator taking advantage of the arbitrage opportunity very deliberately written into permission-to-exploit law by the Free Trade Agreements and Laws.

  2. Clive

    Re: Stoner Sloth (unfortunately, loathed though I am to give this more attention but in mitigation I have a point to make)

    This reminds me of something which I thought that the agencies which promote (not sure if that is the right word really) an anti-addiction message had learned long ago. But it would seem that, if it was learned, it’s been completely forgotten about now. (sigh).

    When I used to volunteer in the field of treating addicts, those who provided our funding initially adopted, unfortunately, this bizarre “business case” approach to treating addiction. They made grants, donations, research money and so on available to the treatment centre I assisted with. It was a community based outpost, always badly in need of cash to support its continuing operations; we seldom had the luxury of turning down income and unless the source was so outrageously dubious, we took it.

    Typically, in those early days (well, they seemed early days to me as it was when addiction started to be recognised as a disease process rather than a personal failing of some sort or another), the funders allocated their donations on the basis of linking money given to specific outcomes. We might get, perhaps, a £50k grant to cover 10 patients who couldn’t afford the cost of the stay at the centre on condition we’d follow them up and come back to the grant giver with a series of stats on relapse rates which “proved” that out of, in my example here, a study sample of 10, X-% were clean and sober after 6 months of being discharged, Y-% after 12 months and Z-% after 24 months (the exact follow up measure and “success criteria” differed, but this kind of pattern was the sort of thing specified). If the measure was “achieved” then the funder was happy and often continued funding. But if not, then that was usually the end of their support.

    This placed the professionals, clinicians, volunteers and – worst of all – patients in an impossible position. By adopting this consumerist attitude to the treatment of addiction, by which it was supposed that funders “paid” to “treat” those suffering from addictions who were then “fixed”, it ended up reducing the centre’s attempts to help the addicts we were trying to care for to a crude transactional basis. It was like, I’ll give you £1, you go to the café and buy a sandwich, then you’ve had your lunch provided – “we’ll give you £50,000, you get the addicts into treatment, then they’ve had their cure provided”. Most of us professionals, clinicians and volunteers knew it simply did not work like that. We refused to falsify recovery stats but of course the temptation was huge to play that game. I wonder how many other – similarly desperate for funding – treatment centres and service providers couldn’t resist that siren call.

    For the addicts in treatment, the effect was, on reflection even worse. They knew their “place” was paid for. They knew that the centre relied on the donation to cover the cost. They also almost certainly realised that their recoveries were being monitored for “successes” and “failures” and that “failure” would not look good on the treatment centre and would not exactly help with getting funding in the future. It was impossible for them to not appreciate that, if they relapsed, then the temptation would be to not readmit them to another attempt at recovery. This is the last thing that an addict attempting the long and difficult journey into recover needs. Threatening, pressurising, coercing or similar simply does not work in the face of addiction.

    Our own, admittedly limited, follow up research strongly suggested that, where an addict was subject to the additional influence from this sort of paid-for treatment where those paying for it wanted to “buy” prevention or “cures” for addiction was that it played up the addict’s natural tendency to try to look good in recovery. We suspected that slips were under reported or even not reported at all. We also noticed that even if a primary chemical addiction was “cured”, behavioural addictions like compulsive spending, eating or gambling tended to increase or the former chemically-dependent addict now chain smoked which was, arguably, far worse in the long terms than the initial chemical dependency was, once we were able to provide an alternative to the risk of street drugs.

    In the end, it was the well-meaning (hmm… maybe well-meaning, maybe not) but hopelessly misguided attempts at agencies like the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet to “prevent” addiction and to impose strict definitions of “cures” for addiction which led me to end my volunteer work at the treatment centre. They were doing more harm than good. And as a proxy for them and their actions, so, I concluded, reluctantly, was I.

    1. Steve H.

      – …tended to increase…

      Doing good is harder than it seems. This is a well-nuanced comment, thank you.

    2. three eyed goddess

      It was clear to the addicts who came to the local methadone clinic, and we nurses who served up the doses, that the addicts were set up to fail. We nurses did the best we could: we treated every single person who came up to our windows with respect. You’d be amazed how far a simple thing like that can go.

      1. Clive

        Yes indeed — and I do agree so much with what you say there. People who are addicted do not need endless advice, lectures, propaganda (even if it is from totemic furry animals), guilt-trips, criminalisation, more or different big-pharma novelty drugs, ka-ching “programmes” from for-profit “healthcare” “providers” or similar.

        You’re spot on — respect is needed and goes a long, long way. To which I could add “compassion” and “dignity” along with simple advice, given once then available on request and well-signposted but not dispensed in the form of hectoring after that. But these, I think, all start from an entryway of “respect”.

        1. JohnnyGL

          You mean there’s no funding to provide recovering addicts with full-time jobs that give them a sense of dignity and pay a decent wage??? Heck, you don’t even need a decent wage sometimes as a lot of staff at clinics and shelters get by on knowing they’re providing a good service to society and survive on terrible pay.

          It might help if they could erase personal memories (theirs and their family and friends) of all the bad stuff they did and relationships they trashed which often bring addicts back down into a depressed state again.

          1. Clive

            I’m certainly not arguing for “no funding”. I am arguing for supportive, as opposed to demonising, funding. As for providing employment, that might be appropriate but only once the addict is clean and sober. Giving an addict money, however it is done, would be highly likely to be counterproductive as it could simply provide a way of indulging in the patient’s addiction.

            This may sound very harsh. But in the treatment of addition, so much of what I observed taught me that an awful lot of the reactions we think might treat an addict in the process of recovery are wrong. We want to help, or we want to punish. Sometimes, confusingly for both ourselves and the addict, the addict gets both in turn. The sloth ad was an example of the tendency to punish or induce guilt. The suggestion that we give an addict who is still practicing their addition a job (and, by implication, an income) is an example of trying to help.

            Both reactions are co-dependent. Our first and only concern is, as three eyed goddess said, to respect both the addict and their illness. While an addiction is a disease, the addict does have choices. It is hard to stand idly by, both as individuals and as societies, and watch someone, apparently inexplicably, make “bad” (as we see them from our vantage point) choices. But we must honour the path they have chosen. The function of government should be to provide support for addicts who want to become sober and information on how best to go about becoming sober for those addicts who are starting out in seeking recovery.

            1. Clive

              I would add, as a footnote, that in response to the question (which I have been asked) whether one should — purely as an individual and in one’s own by necessity limited capacity to make the best judgement you can of the circumstances in play — give to those who are street begging.

              My answer is always yes, if at that moment in time it seems the best thing to do. Perhaps the beggar will go and get a hot meal, find some shelter, go some place they can get washed or similar. Perhaps, more likely, they’ll buy liquor, meth or whatever. You really can’t say for sure.

              And that’s the point — and that’s why I suppose it is so hard for governments to be able to get a sensible approach when trying to resolve problems where addictive behaviour may be present. To give, as one would have to do to a street beggar, and be entirely free of need in terms of demanding this- or that- specific result of your giving, is one of the hardest things we can do. All to often, our concern for our fellow humanity comes with strings attached.

              1. cwaltz

                You can give without feeding an addiction. I never pass someone with a sign without at least buying a meal or giving a gift card for a meal. If I have time I take them shopping for food and grooming items(although the last person I met was a Romanian immigrant who I ended up paying for a room for her, child and spouse at the hotel across the way after she assured me that she had a housekeeping job lined up for the following day). I also make sure I give the number to the local community action group because I know they have access to resources that I don’t.

                I rarely give MONEY to individuals unless I know them and the circumstances well enough to know that giving money isn’t going to make things worse.

                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  We could try not forcing people to hate themselves in our comprehensively narcissistic culture

            2. different clue

              Why do you even care about “not feeding an addiction”? Why not just make the addicted-to substance legal and available at supply-points where the addict can go and get injected with one maintainance dose at a time? If the addict can do that and maybe even hold a part-time job, why do you even care if the addict remains addicted? Is this just a holdover from Puritanism?

              I would have thought the priority is to re-legalize the drugs in order to break the price of those drugs and dry up the drug cartels’ revenue streams. And then just keep the addicts on maintainance-dosing at dosing dole-out centers.

    3. RabidGandhi

      Not to detract from Clive’s truly crucial point that the corporate model cannot be applied to social services, but as a total side issue it drives me up a wall when I see marijuana lumped together with addictive drugs. Just plain silliness.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The only similarity I see is between tobacco second hand smoking and marijuana second hand smoking, if there is to be any lumping.

        They are both bad.

      2. cwaltz

        I think some people have addictive personalities and for them many things become addictive and destructive. It isn’t like shopping is technically “addictive” either but there definitely are people who struggle with compulsive spending. The spending lights up part of their brain and I could definitely see that happening with cannaboid receptors.

        What you see as silliness I see as a potential problem, we’re not all wired the same.

        1. John Zelnicker

          @cwaltz – It’s not just silliness. Humans have a cannabinoid system throughout their bodies that mediates a wide variety of processes. The truly addictive drugs don’t have such a system with which to interact, they simply overamp dopamine production and help the addict feel better.

          This is not to say that no one ever has a problem with overusing cannabis, rather that it’s a different kind of problem than addiction, strictly speaking.

    4. Elizabeth Burton

      Shall I tell you something sad? This is exactly what is being passed off as “education reform” in the US, and the results are exactly the same. The business-centered obsession with “outcomes” is destroying human beings, and now it’s being applied to 4-year-olds.

  3. PQS

    Apple: then, of course, rather than showing actual vocationally educated workers doing “tool and die” work; we were shown assemblers and qc people….and did you catch the casual way Charlie Rose told us Apple agreed to 60 hour work weeks as a CONCESSION to workers?

      1. PQS

        Agreed. And I’m so old I remember when Mike Wallace, microphone in hand, was a fearsome sight to BSers everywhere.

        1. Steve Gunderson

          The way they refused to refer to Chelsea Manning as Chelsea last month (as the Army now does) was disgraceful.

  4. Anon

    Re: DWS story

    There’s a missing letter in the link – clicking on it as is takes you to an empty page. Just add an “L” at the end, and it will load fine. If anyone has it, there was a nice rundown of things either yesterday or over the weekend, because this story (from Friday) says that the data was downloaded, yet a number of places say that it wasn’t able to be downloaded.

  5. Eureka Springs

    Seymour’s article is all over the map this time. Dizzying. And I know enough to be able to follow quite clearly. Although the Pat Lang crowd likes the fact some Joint Chiefs/DIA types went rogue on the commander in chief…. I find it potentially treasonous. The rogue actors were quite possibly doing the better thing…. but refusal to follow orders by resigning and saying why loud and often should be the way these things work rather than operating in direct opposite manner of their orders, imo. Yes their orders are mad and yes Obama et. al. should be prosecuted for war crimes, but….

    I’m really surprised I could find no others saying this… what am I missing?

    1. ambrit

      What you might be missing is that the “resign in protest” method may be fine from a personal honour perspective, but eventually leads to a Military filled with a predominantly extremist policy making ‘caste.’ By remaining inside the troubled system, countervailing action is still an option. Remember, many coups and revolutions are carried out by the junior officer cadres.

      1. Eureka Springs


        Well Col. Lang himself in a thread on Seymours article (whom Seymour quotes in the article) says he and others of like mind were blacklisted anyway.

        But to go so far as to share intel and such with Assad while the COC is saying clearly Assad must go? That’s far beyond disagreement/dissent.

        There has to be chain of command and rule of law.

        Look I think it’s all nuts and we should be outta there, closing 90 plus percent of all foreign bases and reduction of the budget by the same. That said, perhaps limiting my questions to such a narrow field falls right into their trappings… war, insurrections, hubris and crimes continues one way or another.

        1. ambrit

          You bring up a very thorny issue. When at war, the chain of command is vital for an efficient conduct of the operations at hand. Peacetime? Then, policy arguments have the luxury of time and peace to spin out in their many directions. By declaring “Permanent War,” the Powers have technically closed off all policy debate. The dissenting forces are building up a head of steam.
          As for sharing Intel with Syria, well, wasn’t it Reagan who “legitimized” the circumvention of Congressional Oversight with his ‘Triangle Trade’ betwixt America, Revolutionary Iran, and the Contras in Central America? Even when caught out, Reagan stonewalled and was never taken to account. In short, when there is no “Rule of Law” in Washington, why expect “Chain of Command” to rule the Army?
          Finally, the “narrow field” argument is in no way defective, nor disqualifying. Using Nixon and the Watergate breakin as an example; the guard who started the ball rolling was doing his job. He caught some inept burglars in the Dem office. Someone above him in the chain of command could have suppressed the story. They did not so suppress. What if the imaginary functionary had been influenced by the White House to suppress? The process here becomes important; the minutiae count.
          I suddenly ‘flashed’ on the Reich’s method of demoralizing and neutralizing the people being deported to the Camps. The Brain Buster it was called. Simply put, give the victims an impossible choice to make. Both potential outcomes are bad. By making any choice at all, the victim has implicated his or her self in the crime. That is a lot of guilt to overcome. Just as it is today.

          1. Steve Gunderson

            The Army no longer re-examines strategies of the past to determine whether or not they worked. They are doomed to repeat strategic mistakes over and over again.

            1. ambrit

              That would indicate either; (1) laziness (which is guaranteed to get people killed in this game,) or (2) ideological constraints on thinking, (which does the same thing, only slower.)
              In either event, eventually the nation supporting the dysfunctional military program runs out of available resources and either reduces it’s liabilities and adapts, or doubles down on the disfunctional strategy and collapses.
              Towards that end; there are always some sane and rational people in any Military hierarchy. Being heard and taken into account by the Top Brass (which includes the Civilian Authorities,) is the hard part. Sometimes one has to be ‘creative.’ One such clear eyed creative endeavour was the book “The Betrayal” by LtCol Corson. Published in 1968, it was by a man who was in Vietnam at the time and dared to speak out. I’ve mentioned it in the past here.

            2. cwaltz

              I don’t think that is necessarily true. In the 90s we were supposed to be able to engage in a two front war, that’s no longer the case. They revamped the policy to deal with the “war on terror.”

              I think some of the reasons why people think they aren’t revamping policies is there is no longer public discussion on how war is waged. However, the military is political so by keeping things within the chain of command you risk having bad policy in place simply because criticism for those above you means you are risking your advancement track.

        2. different clue

          There has to be a chain of command and rule of law. Even when the Commander in Chief is a closet nazi? Even when the Commander in Chief supports neo-nazi coup-makers in Ukraine and risks nuclear war with Russia to keep those banderazis in power over all of Ukraine?

          Its an interesting question. Is there a line to be drawn? If so, where?

    2. Anon

      Yes, something could be said for the indirect path that the JCS are taking, but the rationale behind it is simple enough: Protect Israel and avoid full-fledged destabilization in the ME. This is the craziest case of “frenemies” I’ve ever read. Of that nearly 7,000 word article, there were three parts that stuck out to me:

      1. Putin feeling regret over not making a stronger case for not killing Gadaffi(sp?)
      2. The fact that it was implied in the article (if not outright stated) that there are no moderate rebels in Syria.
      3. The one Democratic Senator from Hawaii calling out our intervention strategy as a failing one and not (so far) suffering blowback.

    3. Carolinian

      Since Obama doesn’t seem to have a clear policy toward Syria it may be stretching to say the military was insubordinate. Hersh report seemed more like bureaucratic infighting to me. Obama himself does spend a lot of time playing golf.

    4. Mark P.

      @ Eureka springs & others —

      What ambrit says about what you’re missing. Note that the former DIA chief did go the honorable route of speaking up and consequently lost his position (and is prepared to go on record for Hersh).

      I used to do journalism and sometimes intersected with this beat. Hersh’s report jibes with the history of maneuverings of Joint Chiefs under Dempsey, who’ve been ‘equal opportunity resisters’ and also ‘potentially treasonous’ in obstructing efforts by the pro-Israel/Republican mob in Washington to instigate a U.S. attack Iran/Hezbollah.

      In the bigger picture, Hersh’s account also accords with much recent reporting by J. Risen and others, and particularly a detailed Alexander Cockburn piece in HARPERS, Jan 2015 (“Game On”) all of which point to how the MIC’s push for big-platform spending is driving braindead policy at the White House and at State towards a revival of Cold War-style anti-Russian confrontation — and thus spending for MIC. See, obviously, Ukraine and the efforts by various Washington pols to expand that into a fuller confrontation.

      And the consequence if such efforts by those pols succeed — as a rejoinder to the “potentially treasonous” accusation — and if the honorable route of speaking up fails — and it will — is that many thousands and, maybe, millions die and incalculable damage — maybe even a major war — occurs.

      And the pols will not care because they’re irresponsible, stupid, and incompetent — empty shirts and narcissists and outright psychopaths bought and put in place by Wall Street and corporate interests.

      1. Mark P.

        Now that I think back a few years, I want to stress something. Though I didn’t want the very peripheral interaction that I had, it strikes me that I’ve had a little more contact with these people than most.

        I remember things like having a shouting match with Newt Gingrich over a one-on-one breakfast. Had George Schultz put the phone down on me. Had a former Democratic FCC chairman buttonhole me in early 2007 about a ‘bright new star’ he wanted to push called Barack Obama. Had Joe Leiberman go out of his way to write an editorial praising an article on biological weapons I wrote — one of my triggers for getting out of journalism was thinking about that. Observed figures like HRC and Lindsay Graham from a dozen feet away.

        And what struck me about most of these people was that in many cases they weren’t merely venal scum. They were venal, stupid and incompetent scum. I cannot stress this enough.

        1. ambrit

          Zounds. You make the fictional MP Hacker from “Yes Minister” sound like a paragon of virtue and wisdom. I will put money on there being an entire alternate universes’ worth of Sir Humphreys in the Beltway.
          You need to write your memoirs, and then publish them. I hear Venezuela still hasn’t an extradition treaty with the U.S.

    1. David

      Say goodbye to country of origin labeling (COOL) for meat

      Not all meat, just beef and pork. Lamb, vension, goat, fish, shellfish, perishable agricultural commodities, peanuts, chicken, ginseng, pecans, and macadamia nuts are still under COOL laws. Haven’t you seen the COOL labels at the supermarket?

      Also, COOL requirements do not apply to processed foods and food intended for food service establishments. Only supermarkets and grocery stores have to comply. Remember when it was cheaper to buy and cook your own food.

      Why do people think that meat/fruits/nuts can be judged safe by knowing the country where it was born, raised, or slaughtered? Are all Canadian animals unsafe? Are all Mexican animals safe?

      It’s a silly law.

      Also, WTO panels will continue with or without TPP.

      1. grayslady

        Clearly you don’t prepare your own food or you might be more concerned. Mexico has always been notorious for payoffs as a way of life. I even had a butcher tell me he would never buy Mexican beef. Canada is less of a concern.

        Yes, consumers have a right to know what goes into their food, whether it was grown in a part of the world that still uses dangerous pesticides or has inadequate safety controls in its harvesting or processing. The U.S. isn’t perfect, but, I assure you, the women in this country–who still prepare most of the food–absolutely care about the food they feed themselves and their children.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Why are country of origin labels silly? They convey information that many consumers would like to know. What’s wrong with that and why should an un-elected panel be able to circumvent it? Is GMO labeling also silly and why should your opinion of what is and isn’t silly be what democracies should use when in doubt?

      3. Vatch

        This is the proverbial camel’s nose in the tent. Now that the Congress has buckled under pressure, there is a strong possibility that there will be additional complaints in WTO tribunals. And you are correct, some types of food have always been exempt from CoO labelling. Instead of reducing the scope of the law, it should be extended to include processed foods.

        “Also, WTO panels will continue with or without TPP.”

        This is a good point. The U.S. should withdraw from the WTO.

          1. David

            I don’t believe that knowing the country of origin of food under COOL tells me anything about the safety of the food. All imported meats are supposed to be inspected by the FDA. If they are doing their job, it shouldn’t matter where the animal was born, raised, or slaughtered. Do you believe that food from the US is safe? It’s not. Is xenophobia an appropriate tool for food safety?

            Also, COOL has no safety requirements for commodities. It’s just a bookkeeping and segregation tool. The original WTO panel had no issue with the idea of country of origin labelling requirements. Their issue was with how the law was implemented. Congress is/was too lazy to amend the law to comply with the panel findings. As you pointed out, they couldn’t even cancel the law effectively and we’ll have to pay for further panels to remove each covered commodity from the law.

            I prefer the EU’s PDO, PGI, and TSG system. I have more confidence in the safety and quality of foods I buy under a PDO or TSG label.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Lordie. It must be nice to choose to be ignorant.

              A lot of US food comes from China, which has very high levels of pollution, higher levels of hormones in the water than the US (and we are already seeing health effects of that) and also uses much higher levels of pesticides than here.

              You can readily find many stories on this issue, for instance, warning consumers not to eat tilapia because 70-80% comes from China:


              And this:

              A 2009 study conducted by the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited some alarming facts about Chinese farm-raised seafood. Researchers noted that “many of China’s farms and food processors are situated in heavily industrialized regions where water, air and soil are contaminated by industrial effluents and vehicle exhaust.” The report also stated that it “is common practice to let livestock and poultry roam freely in fields and to spread livestock and poultry waste on fields or use it as fish feed.”

              The USDA report was based on documents obtained from the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees seafood inspections.

              After the study was released, news organizations, including Bloomberg and, reported the rampant use of animal feces as food in Chinese aquaculture – specifically calling out the practice on tilapia farms.


              1. David

                Lordie. It must be nice to choose to be ignorant.

                From your policies,

                Our Goal is Conversation…
                4) Insulting your hosts: The conversation takes place in Naked Capitalism’s space. So don’t throw your drink in your host’s face, whether Yves, Lambert, or any poster.

                Is there an exemption for the hosts?

                From the same Fox News article,

                So what do you do if you’re looking to avoid tilapia, or tilapia that comes from certain countries? It’s not always easy with current labeling standards.

                Since 2005, country of origin labeling (COOL), which is overseen by the USDA, requires seafood and shellfish retailers to label product origins. But labeling exceptions and a lack of enforcement make it hard to know exactly what’s on your plate.

                Processed seafood such as fish sticks or other prepared food sold at supermarkets and seafood retailers is exempt from labeling. Whole fish sold at grocery stores is required to have a country-of-origin label and to indicate whether the fish has been farm-raised or caught wild, but not everyone does it. The USDA conducts supplier inspections, and stores in violation have a mandated timeframe to correct the problem.

                The best way to know for sure is to ask a fishmonger directly.

                Except fishmongers are exempt from COOL requirements.

                The point I’m trying (and failing) to make is that COOL doesn’t; in my, Canada’s, Mexico’s, and the WTO panel’s opinion, add additional consumer information regarding the safety or quality of the covered commodity.

                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  This same logic applies to accepting ratings from rating agencies, or to that matter, to SEC enforcement. I have a close colleague who started out at the NIH and now works for a law firm that is one of the handful of heavyweights in FDA matters (many of her partners are former commissioners). She has been telling me for years how diminished the FDA is as an agency, and how it allows practices that she regardless as reckless experiments on the public with no consents or controls. And she is not a food or health neurotic; she happily eats burgers and will get M&M from the vending machine when working late at night.

                  I’m sorry, I prefer to be better informed on all fronts and to buy local or from vendors I trust whenever possible. I buy meat only directly from the producer, for instance (yes, I have it shipped frozen to me). don’t see a sound case on any front for less transparency.

                  And as for your attempt to cite the rule, if you read our comments policy in full, we make clear this is not a democracy. This is private, hosted space that I run as I see fit. I can and will call readers out, in less than polite terms, when they advocate positions that walk and talk like defense of corporate interests. You can tell me all day that you came upon your views independently, but it does not read that way, and I’ve read nearly 700,000 comments and my judgment on these matters in generally sound.

                  And another hint: trying to argue with me on how the site is run only earns you troll points. I suggest stopping before you accumulate more.

                2. Vatch

                  The problem with COOL is that it is too limited. It should be extended to processed foods; actually, all foods should be covered by COOL. But now it has been restricted even more, thanks to the WTO, the U.S. Congress, and President Obama.

            2. Skippy

              David if your unaware the FDA has downsized and privatized.

              Adulterated grain products from China slip through Humvee-sized holes in America’s regulatory safety net and proceed to sicken and kill thousands of pets. Counterfeit and toxic ingredients poison thousands of people worldwide and continue to threaten America’s food supply. And tubes of toothpaste laced with the antifreeze diethylene glycol actually wind up on store shelves around the country before someone with authority can order them pulled, but not before the public learns that the scientists and analysts at our Food and Drug Administration are so underfunded, and stretched so thinly, they can inspect only 1% of imports, if that.

              All of which make recent revelations–to civilians like me, at least–that much more shocking, that much more illogical. For not only have the powers that be who control the FDA been shrinking its staff–today, the agency has over a 1,000 fewer scientists and analysts than in 1997 (despite the number of imported goods having skyrocketed during that time) and management wants to let go even more of these specialized personnel–they have also been furtively closing laboratories and setting forth plans to close yet more.


              Skippy…. file under ideology before science based risk assessment…. or EMH…

      4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        For those into localism, it helps to know if they are from this country, or another continent or hemisphere.

        And if you are into fresh, seasonal produce or fruits, you want to know whether those fresh looking apples are down under or not.

    2. grayslady

      This has been in effect for awhile, even without the tribunal case. One of my local grocery stores used to tell consumers in its ads if the beef on sale came from Mexico. That information has been missing in the ads for most of this year. Beef is generally too expensive for me to have very often, but, when I do buy it, I buy only Black Angus, since the majority of Black Angus beef is still raised in the U.S. I also buy only Amish chicken. Pork is more difficult, but occasionally there are sales on pork that hasn’t been inundated with antibiotics.

      1. polecat

        Just last week the wife and I ordered a pork share from a local grower/purveyor of organically grown/raised vegies, grains, legumes, fruits, and pork. The pork comes out to about $6.00 per lb. In light of what I see as astonishing fecklessness of our corrupt overlairds, we will continue grow and raise what we can ourselves, while being evermore discerning of the food we buy elsewhere, and yes, it takes work, physical work to achieve even a moderate amount of the food we personally grow/raise ourselves. THAT’s YOUR future, boys & girls. just haven’t realized it yet……living simpler, and in many cases HARDER than in the past!…. Better to initiate some semblance of self-sufficiency NOW, as events/things will only get progressively worse!

        1. ambrit

          You’re right about the hard work part. I learned that whilst helping my late father-in-law on his small farm. He milked several cows, “to keep his hand in” as the joke went, every morning and evening. Learn the gentle art of canning too. For those times between crops. That or safe drying. There’s a good reason for ‘jerky.’

    3. different clue

      If the US were to withdraw from the WTO, then after some decent interval we would no longer be under its jurisdiction. Which means we ( or our corporations ) could neither “sue nor be sued” under such dispute mechanisms. And at that point we could re-legislate COOL for MexiCanadian beef back into law and there is not a damn thing MexiCanada could sue about it.

      But that would require us to withdraw from WTO first to be able to do that.

  6. GlobalMisanthrope

    Re: Le Cordon Gone: Chef training school shutting down

    Here’s Le Cordon Bleu Atlanta’s 2014 tuition and fee schedule if anybody wants to do the math.

    What readers may not know is that even Exec Chefs only make between 50 and 60K on average (which, btw, is less than many waiters make). But in some of the biggest markets, we average a lot less. Here in Texas we mostly make under 50K.

      1. ambrit

        Hey MLTPB. I’ve been a waiter, at an ‘upscale’ restaurant in the French Quarter to boot. The income is in no way guaranteed, and most definitely fluctuates wildly. That $50,000 figure might be possible in some locales, but my idea of ‘wait staffing’ is at a small mom and pop eatery or in one of those chain outlets where ‘service’ is subordinate to ‘function.’ I got pretty good at making Bananas Foster at the table, but how many venues promise that level of ‘service?’ As the saying goes, waiters are a dime a dozen. A good chef though, can make or break a place.

    1. sd

      The better the restaurant, the lower the pay. In addition to working as an extern, cooks are expected to stage (stash) for free after they finish cooking school. Think about it. $55,000 a year salary after 20 years of practical experience. And that’s at the top.

      In case you are wondering why so many young chefs take the risk opening their own restaurants and food trucks…

      The best well paying jobs are in private service.

  7. Vatch

    Minority killings by IS ‘should be recognised as genocide‘ BBC. So what about Turkey and the Kurds?

    Not just Turkey and the Kurds; what about Turkey and the Armenians? Here’s what Erdogan had to say a few months ago about Turkey’s genocide against the Armenians in 1915:

    Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has said Turkey will ignore any decision by the European parliament qualifying the 1915 killings of Armenians in the first world war as genocide, saying such recognition would go “in one ear and out from the other”.

  8. rjs

    i imagine everyone knows that a provision to repeal the 40 year old ban on US oil exports was included in the bipartisan budget bill that passed this week…not many know that at the same time our oil imports rose to 8.3 million barrels per day, the most since September 2013…that, and all the other trivia from the past week in the oil & gas patch, here:

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Pay $10,000 to get married

    Timing is the issue here

    Pay them $10,000 after they get married (and not before nor immediately after), but just before they are thinking about getting divorced.


    Usually, finance is one big reason people get divorced. That $10,000 might save a few marriages.

    Parting is tragic enough; a divorce penalty (with interest) is doubly tragic. If the cause is money, that $10,000, at the right time, can be very helpful.

  10. Carolinian

    The Trump/Clinton Presidential Debate. Dems better hope this never happens,.

    Trump. But I think, Hillary, in fact you knew that the WMD evidence was bogus. You are a smart lady in fact. But you do things that are stupid in terms of the rest of humanity. So let me say that I think you lied. You knew damned well that there were no WMD, and now hundreds of thousands are dead. And I do not say that lightly. If I am making a deal and someone lies to me, that is the end for me Hillary. No more business with such a character. The late columnist William Safire once called you a “congenital liar.” Maybe you can’t help that. I feel sorry for you in that case. But that should disqualify you from being POTUS.

    Wild applause!


    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Paraphrasing an interview on TV:

      Trump: The amazing thing about Hillary is that she has managed to stay out of prison.

          1. Gio Bruno

            How ironic that General Betrayus is at the top of that page link. He gets two months probation for betraying top secrets while Chelsea Manning will sit in a dungeon for 35 years. Most politicians don’t go to jail.

  11. mycroft

    I recently recalled reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about thirty years ago that might tie together two comments made by Yeves. The first comment was that Mexicans live longer than Americans. The second was her decision, along with her two brothers, to stop taking statins. If my memory is correct, her decision was based on two factors: one, that there is increasing evidence that statins adversely affect liver function; the second, that there are a lot of people, especially women, who can live a very long time with high cholesterol levels.

    The WSJ article examined six communities where an inordinate number of residents reached the age of one hundred. The only thing these six communities seemed to have in common is that a significant portion of the resident’s diet was beans. If you look at the nutrition level of beans as compared with grains, all of the beans have more protein and fiber than any of the grains. Most Mexicans eat a lot more beans than most Americans.

    In light of the WSJ article and my own experience, it could be that a diet that includes a significant amount of beans produces lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

    At age forty I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Since that time I have lost the ability to properly digest any of the grains. (Nothing would make me sicker than eating a bowl of rice.) I get almost all my starch from beans and potatoes. Compared with my peers, I have low cholesterol and low blood pressure. Those of you who are being pressured by your doctor to start taking prescription drugs to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure might first want to try increasing the amount of beans in your diet.

      1. ambrit

        A good oatmeal has no gluten in it.
        Yes, we here at Nekkid Labs are working to develop a GMO oatmeal which can be patented and made available by prescription only. (Wind borne pollen cross contamination will make all oats grown proprietary.)
        Any questions, technical or financial, (we are open to outside investment,) can be sent to our academic associates at the University of Magonia.

    1. cwaltz

      Increasing evidence? When I was in the military if you were put on cholesterol protocol and placed on statins the doctors tested your liver function before renewing your prescription(annual) and that was in the early 90s.

      I wonder if part of the problem is the for profit model encourages doctor’s not to test and the drug companies like to bring goodies to coax doctors into prescribing their medications.

    2. Gio Bruno

      Let me just say that YOUR health is unique. Statins do affect your liver. That’s to be expected, since that is where most of the cholesterol in your blood stream originates. Some of the foods that encourage the liver to create substantial amounts of cholesterol are high glycemic starches and SUGAR. Reduce those items (while maintaining a strength training regime to keep the body in metabolic balance) and you’re on your way to uninterrupted coronary blood flow.

      However, that is not a casual task in a fast food society. I’m not clear about the longterm effects of statins ( they’re prescribed to me), but when the current goal for LDL cholesterol is 70 ( half of what is in a typical Americans bloodstream) I don’t see how the goal is reached without wholesale dietary change (and maybe prescription intervention).

      Let me finish with this: your personal doctor is best suited to discovering YOUR best health/lifestyle. Even then shit happens. (That’s why folks in their mid- to late fifties die from “widowmakers”—everything seemed fine, until, of course, the ultimate occlusion occurs.)

  12. Brooklin Bridge

    Polls suck and the article on them could have and should have gone a lot deeper into the issues of bias. It stopped short with coverage instead (useful but pretty well known) of demographics and technology shifts – such as decline in land line phones). Also, little or nothing said about the growing problem of specifically using polls to manipulate. At present, It’s hard to determine whether polls are more for the purpose of figuring out or influencing what people think. Are they analysis or propaganda or a clever-to-blatent self fulfilling mish-mash of both?

    Moreover, they have always been that way or at least had those weaknesses dormant or active in differing degrees at different times. It’s simply now that our entire system has been so deeply corrupted, polling naturally takes a big swig of that poison.

    The real news network has a good general interview with Ralph Nader who mentions the polls regarding Hillary and Sanders in Iowa (and elsewhere) are not at all to be trusted and that Hillary’s “invincibility” is an invaluable part of her strategy – bolstered no doubt (my opinion) by polls among the many other ways of doing so such as blatant manipulation by the DNC and in particular Debbie Wasserman Shultz. Again, nothing new here, but it would be interesting to have an in depth discussion/ analysis of these facets regarding polls and how different main stream pollsters are falling prey to or overcoming them.

    1. Oregoncharles

      A while back I stated my theory that the legacy parties rig the presidential elections, passing the office back and forth, two terms at a time. It was criticized on the grounds that the parties aren’t that coherent.

      It’s looking better all the time. Remember, it’s the Republicans’ turn.

      1. sd

        Well, if Republicans hand Trump the nomination and hence, the White House, they can pretty much kiss their party goodbye.

          1. sd

            It’s already too late for the Constitution. See: “indefinite detention” courtesy of Barack Obama. Even Cheney didn’t go that far.

  13. myshkin

    The vox artice regarding US market based health care policy on drug pricing has a quote from NYT’s reporter that makes odd policy sense for US health care.
    “Note that connection is true even if you think most innovations come from universities or the NIH rather than being hatched by Big Pharma,” she added. “There is still a pot at the end of the rainbow for the significant innovators in this process.”
    The fact that much of the outlay for initial research funding for drugs comes out of universities and the NIH and innovation results are then cherry picked by pharma to max out profit at the expense of the nation’s health care is interpreted as a benficent marketplace driver.
    There are so many negatives to that scenario including big pharma pushing drugs we may not need (like statins) and the huge expense settled on the citizenry by all this pill popping.

    1. LS

      From 2004, but good on Bayh-Dole and Hatch-Waxman Acts:

      “The most important of these laws is known as the Bayh-Dole Act, after its chief sponsors, Senator Birch Bayh (D-Ind.) and Senator Robert Dole (R-Kans.). Bayh-Dole enabled universities and small businesses to patent discoveries emanating from research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the major distributor of tax dollars for medical research, and then to grant exclusive licenses to drug companies. Until then, taxpayer-financed discoveries were in the public domain, available to any company that wanted to use them. available to any company that wanted to use them. But now universities, where most NIH-sponsored work is carried out, can patent and license their discoveries, and charge royalties. Similar legislation permitted the NIH itself to enter into deals with drug companies that would directly transfer NIH discoveries to industry.
      Bayh-Dole gave a tremendous boost to the nascent biotechnology industry, as well as to big pharma. Small biotech companies, many of them founded by university researchers to exploit their discoveries, proliferated rapidly. They now ring the major academic research institutions and often carry out the initial phases of drug development, hoping for lucrative deals with big drug companies that can market the new drugs. Usually both academic researchers and their institutions own equity in the biotechnology companies they are involved with. Thus, when a patent held by a university or a small biotech company is eventually licensed to a big drug company, all parties cash in on the public investment in research.
      These laws mean that drug companies no longer have to rely on their own research for new drugs, and few of the large ones do. Increasingly, they rely on academia, small biotech startup companies, and the NIH for that.7 At least a third of drugs marketed by the major drug companies are now licensed from universities or small biotech companies, and these tend to be the most innovative ones.8 ….
      ….Many medical schools and teaching hospitals set up “technology transfer” offices to help in this activity and capitalize on faculty discoveries. As the entrepreneurial spirit grew during the 1990s, medical school faculty entered into other lucrative financial arrangements with drug companies, as did their parent institutions.
      One of the results has been a growing pro-industry bias in medical research—exactly where such bias doesn’t belong….
      ….Starting in 1984, with legislation known as the Hatch-Waxman Act, Congress passed another series of laws that were just as big a bonanza for the pharmaceutical industry. These laws extended monopoly rights for brand-name drugs…
      In the 1990s, Congress enacted other laws that further increased the patent life of brand-name drugs. Drug companies now employ small armies of lawyers to milk these laws for all they’re worth—and they’re worth a lot. The result is that the effective patent life of brand-name drugs increased from about eight years in 1980 to about fourteen years in 2000.10 …”

      And example with Solvadi:

      The first article mentions “public resistance to rapacious pricing and other dubious practices of the pharmaceutical industry” (2004). It’s 2015 and we’re no better off.

          1. polecat

            They don’t have style……they’re hackneyed parodies of you and I…with a thin veneer of a gilt crust and buzzwords to imply authenticity…nothing more

  14. Jim Haygood

    Pepsi workers who failed to meet their production quotas get arrested:

    A number of employees who were detained at a Pepsi plant in Venezuela on Friday have been released, the local PepsiCo division announced.

    Polar, Venezuela’s largest food and drinks producer and the owner of the local Pepsi division, said the workers had been “arbitrarily detained”.

    According to Polar, Venezuela’s currency control system, which restricts the access to foreign currencies, had left it unable to import the raw materials needed to keep up production.

    Speaking at an election rally earlier this month, President Maduro addressed [Polar’s CEO] Mendoza:

    “Oligarch of the devil, are you afraid of the people? Here are the people who are going to beat you, you who are evil and perverse and who hide goods from the people.”

    Hoarding soda pop, comrades: don’t even think about it!

  15. Observer

    Am behind, but just read the link to the hilarious Hater’s Guide to the Williams Sonoma Christmas Catalog from the other day. My husband’s family has family farmland that’s painfully close to a nuclear Superfund site in Kentucky. We joke about moving there, raising goats, and making artisanal glow-in-the-dark goat cheese. How might that item read in the WS catalog? “Luminous goat cheese wedges will add sparkle to holiday spreads. Individually wrapped in colorful mini Heisenberg-style Hazmat suits cleverly designed to be re-purposed as Barbie clothes. Naturally preserved. Buy now and serve in the dark next year if you want. Goats don’t last, so quantities are limited.”

  16. Oregoncharles

    An excellent, long-form companion piece to Hersh’s, by Andrew Cockburn in the current Harper’s: Paywalled, but the first one is free, and Harper’s is worth supporting.

    The central point is that not only did the US start Al Qaeda, the administration is presently, de facto, allied with them at least in Syria. There is also a lot of material on the other alliances and entanglements in the area. Indispensable.

    The nut ‘graphs:

    “The Turks and Qataris, however, adamantly refused to sign on. As one of the participants told me later, “All the countries in the room [understood] that Turkey’s opposition to listing Ahrar al-Sham was because they were providing support to them.” The Qatari representative insisted that it was counterproductive to condemn such groups as terrorist. If the other countries did so, he made clear, Qatar would stop cooperating on Syria. “Basically, they were saying that if you name terrorists, we’re going to pick up our ball and go home,” the source told me. The U.S. delegate said that the Islamic Front, an umbrella organization, would be welcome at the negotiating table — but Ahrar al-Sham, which happened to be its leading member, would not. The diplomats mulled over their communiqué, traded concessions, adjusted language. The final version contained no condemnation, or even mention, of Ahrar al-Sham.

    Two years later, Washington’s capacity for denial in the face of inconvenient facts remains undiminished. Addressing the dominance of extremists in the Syrian opposition, Leon Panetta, a former CIA director, has blamed our earlier failure to arm those elusive moderates. The catastrophic consequences of this very approach in Libya are seldom mentioned. “If we had intervened more swiftly in Syria,” Gartenstein-Ross says, “the best-case scenario probably would have been another Libya. Meaning that we would still be dealing with a collapsed state and spillover into other Middle Eastern states and Europe.””

    No wonder the Joint Chiefs are getting nervous.

Comments are closed.