2:00PM Water Cooler 1/07/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“A new interactive map made by Dutch journalists, with all known ISDS cases in the world, shows that ISDS is mainly used against developing countries. Sometimes because they clearly behaved badly towards an investor, but in other cases it’s more likely that it is used as a bargaining tool and a threat by multinational companies for better deals” [Bilaterals.org]. Which sounds remote, until you put the flyover states into the “developing countries” box (along with states that don’t really get flown over all that much, like Maine).

“Respondent countries to ISDS claims” [OneWorld]. “On this map you can see all 629 public ISDS claims submitted until 2014” (and remember that many ISDS suits are secret, even after a settlement has been reached). And here are the claimants.

“Calgary-based TransCanada said in a statement that it would initiate an international arbitration case against the U.S. under the North American Free Trade Agreement, calling the Obama administration’s November denial of a presidential permit for the pipeline ‘arbitrary and unjustified'” [Wall Street Journal, “TransCanada Starts Legal Actions Over Keystone XL Pipeline Denial”].

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce formally endorsed President Obama’s Pacific Rim trade accord Wednesday, becoming the third major business association to support the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership this week” [WaPo].

“[Business Round Table] President John Engler told The Hill on Monday that the group wants a vote as soon as possible this year and as early as the April-June quarter — before the presidential primaries ramp up and Congress leaves for the summer” [The Hill]. It would be fun to watch Clinton squirm… But I hope this doesn’t happen.



Sanders: “Do I think Hillary Clinton or many other senators have shown the courage that is necessary to stand up the Wall Street power? The answer is no” [The Hill].

“Bernie Sanders: I Oppose Charter Schools” [Diane Ravitch].

At a meeting in New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders said the following:

I’m not in favor of privately run charter schools. If we are going to have a strong democracy and be competitive globally, we need the best educated people in the world. I believe in public education; I went to public schools my whole life, so I think rather than give tax breaks to billionaires, I think we invest in teachers and we invest in public education. I really do.” – Bernie Sanders (Quote begins at 1:48:32)

I’m not sure what the Teach for America faction in #BlackLivesMatter is going to think of that…

The Voters

“Not a single person asked Mr. Rubio about his plans to combat Islamic State militants, though he used several questions as opportunities to reiterate his foreign-policy platform” [Wall Street Journal, “The Questions Iowa Voters Are Asking Marco Rubio”].


[Wall Street Journal, “Hank Greenberg Gives $10 Million to Super PAC Backing Jeb Bush”]. I love the lead: “Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg, who built American International Group Inc. into a world-wide financial powerhouse before its controversial government bailout…” Beautiful pirouette on “before,” eh?

The Trail

“Two years before the public learned of Hillary Clinton’s private server, the State Department gave an ‘inaccurate and incomplete’ response about her email use when it told an outside group that it had no documents about Clinton’s email accounts beyond her government address, according to a report from the State Department’s inspector general to be released Thursday” [WaPo]. Oopsie. “The secretary’s office lacked any written procedures for handling records requests and had no senior official in charge of overseeing the work, the report says.” Wait, what? I thought Clinton was famous for her administrative competence. Did I not get the memo?

Stats Watch

Chain Store Sales, December 2015: “Chain stores are reporting rising rates of year-on-year sales growth” [Econoday]. But: “Macy’s to slash 4,800 jobs and close 40 stores after disappointing holidays” [Los Angeles Times]. Maybe J-Yel forgot the punch bowl in the fitting room at Macy’s?

Challenger Job-Cut Report, December 2015: “Challenger’s layoff count fell sharply” [Econoday]. “The results are yet another confirmation of full employment.” And: “December was not only the lowest job-cut month of 2015, it was the lowest job-cut month since June 2000, when employers announced 17,241 planned layoffs. Last month also represents the lowest December job-cut total on record, since Challenger began its monthly tracking in 1993” [Econintersect].

Jobless Claims, week of January 2, 2016: “Initial jobless claims fell back in back in the January 2 week, down 10,000 to 277,000 and cutting in half the prior week’s rise of 20,000. Despite the drop, trends are edging higher with the 4-week average” [Econoday].

Gallup Good Jobs Rate, December 2015: “The good jobs (GGJ) rate was 45.3 percent in December, up slightly from November’s rate” [Econoday]. “Gallup’s measure of underemployment in December was 14.0 percent, down 0.6 points from November and in line with the rates measured in October (13.8 percent) and September (14.1 percent).”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of January 3, 2016: [Econoday].

Shipping: “Oslo: As the depression in shipping continues into 2016, the quality of the global fleet is likely to come under pressure, a leading name in marine insurance warns” [Splash247].

Shipping: “Rail Week Ending 02 January 2016: In Contraction for the Week, Month, and Year” [Econintersect].

“Chipotle has also been subpoenaed and will be subject to a criminal investigation related to the norovirus outbreak at an outpost in Simi Valley, California” [New York Magazine]. Now if only we could do the same with the banksters…

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 34 (+7); Fear [CNN]. Last week: 47 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).


“A miffed group of Trader Joe’s shoppers has filed a class-action lawsuit against the popular grocery chain, claiming it’s underfilling tuna cans by an amount that violates federal standards” [Grub Street]. It’s a phishing equilibrium. You can’t look into the can in the store, so of course they underfill it.

Dear Old Blighty

“The former head of MI5[, Eliza Manningham-Buller]’s evidence to the Chilcot panel is a savage indictment of the Blair administration and its advisers” [Guardian]. Not all that savage; she blames “fragmentary intelligence” when the Downing Street Memo says “the facts and the intelligence” were “fixed around the policy.”


“Nation Shudders To Think How Mad NRA Would Be If Obama Actually Proposed Meaningful Gun Control” [The Onion].

“After Mass Shootings, Some on Wall St. See Gold in Gun Makers” [New York Times]. I believe an NC reader suggested that Obama muscle the gun makers by threatening to take away their contracts. If that’s possible, and a good idea, it shows up Obama’s proposals for the weak tea they really are.

“Families of three people killed in Pennsylvania last year are suing Wal-Mart, alleging the retail giant sold ammunition used in the slayings to a man who was underage and drunk” [AP]. Darwin at work…

“America should regulate bullets” [WaPo]. “[U]nlike gun limits, Americans generally support restrictions on ammunition — 80 percent of them in one 2013 Fox News poll.”

“Gun Control is One Thing, But What About Bullets?” [The Marshall Project]. “‘If I buy a firearm, I take good care of it, it can last a lifetime,’ says Garen Wintemute, an emergency physician and Director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis. ‘The larger share of the market is in the consumables, like ammunition.'”

Our Famously Free Press

“[J]ournalism’s real original sin: Keeping reporters, writers and editors in the dark about revenue and the business they are really in” [Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism].

Health Care

“The CMS said all ACA-compliant health plans sold on the federal exchange in 2017 would have to abide by new quantitative network standards. Specifically, all plan networks would have to include hospitals and doctors within certain travel times or distances from members. There would also be minimum provider-to-member ratios for some medical specialties. The CMS wanted to make sure consumers had access to enough healthcare providers as more insurers moved to narrow-network products” [Modern Health Care]. The insurance companies are whinging, of course, but they’ll find new ways to game the system. That is, after all, the business they’re in.


“Scientists at the University of Nottingham say they have discovered that a 1,000-year-old Anglo-Saxon treatment – used for eye infections and recorded in the medieval Bald’s Leechbook – has an extraordinary ability to kill MRSA, a drug-resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus” [Al Jazeera]. “The 10th century remedy – which includes garlic, wine, and cow bile – has yet to be tested on humans, but it has showed promising signs that it could contribute significantly to the fight against the deadly bacterial infection, researchers say.” Eye of newt…

“The United States posted its second hottest year on record in 2015, government scientists reported Thursday, extending the streak of warmer-than-average annual temperatures” [Politico].

“Brown declares state of emergency at Porter Ranch amid massive gas leak” [Los Angeles Times].


“Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Finally Decides Flint Residents Drinking Lead Not Such A Great Idea” [Wonkette]. I thought these Emergency Managers were supposed to solve problems, not create them. Is this another memo I didn’t get?

Militia Watch

“If It Happened There: Armed Rebel Faction Occupies Government Building” [Slate]. “Political power is often passed down through families in this heavily patriarchal society, and while the Bundys are not yet as powerful as well-known clans like the Bushes, Clintons, and Kochs, they have amassed a sizable arsenal of weaponry and gained a substantial number of loyal followers after another armed confrontation with the central government in 2014.”

Class Warfare

“Evaluation on Nutritional Value of Field Crickets as a Poultry Feedstuff” (PDF) [College of Forest, Northwest Sci-Tech University of Agriculture and Forestry, Shannxi Yangling]. “When corn-soybean meal diets were formulated on an equal CP percentage and TMEn basis, up to 15% Field cricket could replace control diet without any adverse affects on broiler weight gain, feed intake or grain:feed ratio from 8 to 20 d posthatching.” Sounds great, until you realize this won’t stop with chickens.

“I WAS transported recently to a place that is as enchanting to me as any winter wonderland: my local post office” [New York Times, “Why the Post Office Makes America Great”]. “My first time in a library in the United States was very brief: I walked in, looked around, and ran right back out in a panic, certain that I had accidentally used the wrong entrance. Surely, these open stacks full of books were reserved for staff only. I was used to libraries being rare, and their few books inaccessible. To this day, my heart races a bit in a library.” Of course, neoliberalism seeks to destroy all these institutions because markets.

News of the Wired

“The most fundamental knock against [Facebook’s] Free Basics is that by providing access to some services and not others, it violates the principle that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally” [Buzzfeed]. You can’t call something that a regression from the Internet of 1995 “Basics.”

“Chinese drone-maker Ehang has developed the 184, a prototype of the first autonomous drone that will fly humans” [CNN]. At the same time we’re developing robot cars…

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (tiabee):


This is before, and lovely it is, too…

Also, I’m still a bit short on winter plants. In fact, plants in general! Readers?

* * *

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter has come, I need to buy fuel, keep the boiler guy and a very unhappy plumber happy, and keep my server up, too.


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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. diptherio

    A friend just posted this on Facebook:

    Wow, I got a $14.84 rebate on my student loans! And it counts as taxable income! Thanks SAF. Thanks. Really, THANKS. THANK YOU.

    Adding insult to injury…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Personally, I believe academy degrees are depreciable assets*, or they could be liabilities.

      Maybe they can use that to offset the $14.84 taxable income.

      *Outdated degrees can be depreciated to zero value. Many degrees are like new cars – once you drive off the campus with it (cap and gown in hand) , it loses half its value.

      1. nofreewill

        academia (my whole family) is retreating into it’s shell instead of sticking it’s neck out. even protestors don’t realize just how good they have it, debt or no. we are up flaming shit creek without a paddle because liberalism is not enough….. even Bernie is not enough. throw the book at them and leave!!!

    2. jrs

      The rebate may be tiny, but if the payment for student loans was originally deducted from taxable income (?), it only makes sense it’s taxable. So it’s not really insult to injury, it’s just one of the least complex and more sensible features of an insanely complex tax code.

  2. diptherio

    Here’s a different take on the Bundy sideshow:

    The 2013 Pautre Fire in South Dakota burned over 10,000 acres, about 3,000 of which was federally owned land and the rest was privately owned land. The U.S. Forest Service has refused to pay any damages and no employees have been charged with wrongdoing. Private landowners and ranchers affected by the blaze filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service last week after their claims for damage compensation were denied. The U.S. Forest Service ruled that the agency was not responsible for damages even though they intentionally set the fire, against recommendations from local ranchers and weather forecasters.

    In the letter, President of the Association, Bill Kluck stated, “The kind of unchecked decision-making authority and lack of accountability from federal land management agencies as seen in the Pautre Fire, can and will be applied to other situations and likely at the expense of independent livestock producers and private property owners.”

    SD Stockgrowers drew comparison to current situation in Oregon where a father and son have been sentenced to five years in federal prison after a prescribed burn on their private property burned less than 140 acres of federal property. The family is required to pay $400,000 in damages and was prosecuted under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which carries a minimum 5-year sentence.

    Tri-State Livestock News

    Didn’t know the Hammonds were being prosecuted under the Antiterrorism statute. Kind of a stretch, even if they were covering up poaching activity, as has been claimed. I mean, the deer might count that as terrorism, but I don’t think ungulates are contemplated under that law…just sayin’ And that fine seems a bit steep…

    1. Carolinian

      They have made death threats against the refuge manager. This could be trash talk but it still seems to be asking for a “terrorism” indictment. They also monkey wrenched (disabled/damaged/destroyed) some refuge earth moving equipment. Tree-hugger type environmental groups have received terrorism indictments and stiff sentences for this kind of (Edward Abbey inspired) activity.

      Which is to say terrorism charges are also a stretch when applied to left wing groups but there aren’t many powerful money interests backing them up.

        1. Andrew Watts

          Additionally, the right-wing judge in Oregon who initially sentenced them didn’t apply the mandatory minimum law as they’re exempt for some reason. Upon the appeal the mandatory minimum sentencing law was upheld. That’s why the Hammonds have to go back to prison.

          The mandatory minimum sentencing law were passed into law with strong right-wing support. But I guess they aren’t supported by right wingers when they apply to white people.

        2. montanamaven

          From the Village Voice article by way of Counterpunch:

          In an affidavit, Earl M. Kisler, a Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement officer, said that rancher Dwight Hammond had repeatedly threatened refuge officials with violence over an eight year period. On one occasion Hammond told the manager of the federal refuge that “he was going to tear his head off and shit down his neck.”

            1. optimader

              Indeed, Utterly misinterpreted. it’s an old school backwoods term of unrequited endearment–traditionally accompanied w/ a freshly trapped opossum for the stewpot.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I posted a Counterpunch article about that under Water Cooler yesterday.

        However: it was in the 90’s, so hardly makes current behavior “terrorism.” Use of that law looks like prosecutorial overreach to me, but I don’t want to defend the Hammonds after reading that CP article.

      2. jgordon

        But the real question is, does the government have enough legitimacy, ie moral authority, to make such claims and then be given the benefit of the doubt? I don’t think so. Just as a general principle, at this point if the government came out saying that the sky was blue I’d seriously have to do some empirical fact checking before I’d believe it, and even then I’d still have doubts.

        That’s less about me having something against government, and more about having just good common sense. These people in the government demonstrably have no problem with lying, harassing, or burgling the public whenever it suits them–and consequently anything from the government and its owned apparatchiks in the media should viewed in that light. No, not everyone who works for the government is evil, but certainly enough people are that being cynical and suspicious is completely reasonable.

        1. polecat

          I agree completely jgordon. Some commentors on this site banter on about the big, bad, cattle ranchers, but seem conveniently cognitively disonant when it comes to the government pulling dirty tricks & malfeasance to achieve it’s ends….classic ‘do as I say, not as I do’ behavior. it stinks, and some people on this board should look at the bigger picture!

        2. Carolinian

          Sorry but I have no sympathy with these people who whine about the government that makes their lifestyle possible. If anything agencies like the forest service bend over backwards to support private interests with roads, timber sales, fire suppression in favor of the ever encroaching housing developments. MIning interests extract from BLM land while returning a fraction of the value in fees. Whole cities like Phoenix couldn’t exist in their present form without Federal water projects.

          Federal lands belong to all of us so those who abuse them are not just sticking it to the bureaucrats in Washington but also to everyone else. The are also showing no respect for the amazing natural environment they are privileged to live in. Europe has palaces and cathedrals and we have the West. If these wackos can’t appreciate that then the hell with them.

          1. jgordon

            That’s not really the point. In fact, I do have sympathy for the need to have public lands for public benefit. And it’d be a wonderful thing if we had an honorable and decent government who would enforce such. Hell, I even have some sympathy for the argument some modest restrictions on gun rights wouldn’t be a bad idea, among other things.

            But instead of a government filled with honest people, we have instead a government filled with bullies and liars, with a pervasive culture that says that corruption and malfeasance isn’t just OK, but expected. And people are trying to use this corrupt vehicle to enforce their agenda? Uh, no. That just doesn’t work.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              “I do have sympathy for the need to have public lands for public benefit”

              Ergo, you support government in principle.* So it would seem logical to push to fix the vehicle. But I don’t see you doing that.

              * Unless you’re argument for these lands as common pool resources, which I don’t see you doing (and I don’t know enough about these lands to know if that’s possible.

              1. jgordon

                I have never said that I don’t support government in principal. Any time you get a group of people together some type of government is bound to arise–although we can argue about what the scale of said government should be.

                My basic argument would be that much like the too big to fail banks, the current governments of the world are simply at the wrong scale, and can only exist in their current form due to the fantastically rich surpluses of fossil fuel energy that humanity is currently gorging itself on.

                I don’t think the current vehicle can be fixed. Our mental models, culture and social arrangements are just too out of touch with reality for us to be able to fix this thing in a rational and proactive manner. But that’s not the end of the world. The current system will naturally end of its own accord whether anyone does anything about it or not. Rather than futilely trying to prop it up, a more useful use of the limited amount of time and resources we have left we would be to figure out what we’re going to do after the current arrangement collapses.

            2. LifelongLib

              I’ve been a government employee in various agencies for 40 years.

              I’ve never made a penny at it above and beyond my salary. Nobody else I’ve met on the job ever did either.

              Everything I do and have done as a government employee is/was mandated by law. I have/had no discretion about it.

              The government IS filled with honest people.

              1. perpetualWAR

                The government, our government, is filled with bullies and liars. Just walk into a courtroom when the judge is deciding a foreclosure case. You will have more than enough evidence of the deceit and corruption displayed.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  “Filled with” begs the question of distribution. I would bet that the bullies and liars are not at all evenly distributed.

                  We see power curves everywhere — in corporations and government, indeed, any organization — and “the scum also rises” to the top of the curve.

                  In any case, this is all an argument for checks and balances. “What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” as Madison asks.

                  1. perpetualWAR

                    Lambert, one can assume that the average government worker simply just “does his/her job.” That, in and of itself, is not deceptive. However, I’ve spent 7 years now fightimg unlawful foreclosure. I’ve talked to city, state and federal employees and elected officials. After all this talk, it is my belief that the employees are covering up just like the elected officials are.

                    Therefore, from my perspective the distribution of corruption is far reaching.

              2. jgordon

                No doubt the most dishonest and sociopathic people gravitate towards positions where they can lord it over on the public. I’m guessing that you’re not with the police or the court system then, nor in the legislature or any regulatory bodies?

                1. LifelongLib

                  I’m a computer guy maintaining a crime information system. So I at least facilitate to some degree things that you probably disapprove of. But they’re also things that to some degree almost any government imaginable would have — police, courts, legislatures, regulatory bodies. I haven’t personally encountered the kind of corruption that you speak of. But even a system where well-meaning people just follow the rules (which is true of the vast majority of people in government) can do harm and injustice if it comes out of a deeply flawed political and economic process. Like ours.

        3. Oregoncharles

          Around here, the sky is mostly gray, when it isn’t black. I’ve also seen it pink and orange, including at night.

    2. Waking Up

      The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association must have a very interesting definition for “prescribed burning”.

    3. sleepy

      re: South Dakota fire

      I’m not sure of the exact legal status of the ranchers’ claim, but I will hazard a guess that the denied claim was filed directly with the agency as an administrative claim, which is more or less required by law prior to actually filing a lawsuit in court against the feds. It’s not that surprising that it was denied.

      I suspect the actual claim on the merits in any real sense will take place in a subsequent lawsuit in federal court.

    4. Darthbobber

      Perhaps if we were more clear about what it means to say they were “prosecuted under” the antiterrorism and effective death penalty act of 1996? The arson charges are from Section 844 of title 18 of the United States Criminal Code. The language was added as one part of the rather sweeping 1996 (post OK City bombing) legislation, but the prosecutors don’t find it in some special “antiterrorism” annex to the criminal code.

      The language in question is: “f)(1) Whoever maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to
      damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building,
      vehicle, or other personal or real property in whole or in part owned or
      possessed by, or leased to, the United States, or any department or
      agency thereof, shall be imprisoned for not less than 5 years and not
      more than 20 years, fined under this title, or both.”
      It seems clear enough from the language that its intended to apply to ANY malicious destruction by fire on federal property, whether engaged in by those thought of as terrorists or not. So it would be surprising if the prosecution didn’t do that.

      Since the jury convicted on these two arson charges (they acquitted on several others), this would mean that the jurors (who heard many days of testimony, not a summary from a third party with one axe or another to grind) accepted the government’s version of the facts relating to motive rather than the defense’s. Which also means that the jurors found the “normal, controlled burns that everybody does” defense to be unbelievable given the facts.

    5. Oregoncharles

      “even though they intentionally set the fire” Fire is a standard tool for rangeland management. Forests, too; a few years ago, an intentionally set fire almost burned down Los Alamos, which wouldn’t have been healthy for anyone downwind. And as the story indicates, such fires do get out of hand.

      This STILL raises questions about the severity of the charges. It’s a bit different if indeed they were covering up poaching (which still makes no sense to me), but the real problem seems to have been that they didn’t follow procedure. That isn’t usually arson, and it certainly isn’t terrorism. The truth is that their fires did no real damage. If they cost something to put out, that usually calls for civil penalties.

      There is some other reason the BLM and the federal prosecutor threw the book at them. The judge obviously knew that, but he should have thrown the case out instead of giving them an improper sentence, if he wanted to thwart the prosecution. We know of 2 reasons: the prior grudges described in that Counterpunch article, and their refusal to sell their land up on Steens Mtn. Both are environmental offenses, so I’m not all that sympathetic, but I’m very uneasy about the misuse of the prosecutorial power.

      None of this does anything for the idiots occupying the Refuge headquarters. Fortunately, they seem to have made fools of themselves.

  3. Jim Haygood

    As Ms Market turns up the heat, a “moderate rebel” emerges within the Fed:

    WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – The Federal Reserve should plan to raise interest rates in 2016 fewer times than the U.S. central bank’s baseline of four hikes, said Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, on Thursday.

    “I believe that policy should plan to follow an even shallower path for the federal funds rate than currently envisioned,” Evans said in a speech to the Wisconsin Bankers Association in Madison, Wis.

    Evans said he saw “downside risks” to forecasts that inflation would rise to the Fed’s 2% target, even in the next three years.


    Four is death, the Chinese believe. Evans leans toward a holy trinity of rate hikes, as copper sinks toward two dollars a pound.

    I am the One, concludes J-Yel, as inflation goes to zero.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      While the number four is death to those believing Chinese, the number eight is very fortuitous.

      Eight hikes then?

      1. Jim Haygood

        Greenspan / Bernanke did an unlucky thirteen (13) hikes from mid-2004 to mid-2006.

        And we all know what happened after that.

        Don’t tempt fate.

  4. GlobalMisanthrope

    by an amount that violates federal standards

    So exactly how much are they allowed to cheat us?

  5. Left in Wisconsin

    So I had to look up how Gallup defines “good jobs”:
    Gallup defines a good job as 30+ hours per week for an employer who provides a regular paycheck.

    I guess that includes McDonalds. And Wal-Mart. And Amazon…

    1. James Levy

      I was born in 1965. For the first 35 years of my life, no one thought of that as a good job. They can tell me “it was ever so”, but they would be lying. A good job was full-time, paid enough for food, shelter, clothing, and some luxuries, with benefits, and under reasonable safety and health guidelines. Given, that had not been the case before 1945, and it was rarely the case for African-Americans and women before 1970. But for many of us, it set the bar for what a good job meant. I still think it does.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        There is nothing in the Gallup criteria that speak to whether a job is actually good or not. The people who work the jobs know if they are good jobs or not. The people who accept (or create) Gallup-type definitions are misdefining the word, “good.”

        Good = be satisfied, your job is not as awful as it could be

        1. Steven D.

          Until wages are rising, there’s no full employment. It’s not a good employment picture when people have to hold down two jobs to make what they used to make at one job.

  6. Irrational

    Surely the Trader Joe tinned tuna is a fish(ing) equilibrium ;-)
    Btw, the Slate article on the Bundys was hilarious, thanks for linking.

  7. fledermaus

    “A new interactive map made by Dutch journalists, with all known ISDS cases in the world, shows that ISDS is mainly used against developing countries.”

    Like those that argue that the US has never lost an ISDS case (Lucas critque anyone? Bueller?) you can bet that will change once ISDS is locked in and cannot be withdrawn except with great effort and consequences. After all, Western governments have a lot more money and regulations than developing countries.

  8. Brindle

    2016 / Trump in Vermont….

    Trump is having a rally tonite in Burlington, sounds like more than a few protesters got tickets.
    I think I’d be nervous also…..

    —Hecklers and protesters have become increasingly common at Trump rallies, although the vast majority of attendees have been supporters. Videos of Trump proponents kicking, punching, and dragging protesters out of rallies have surfaced in recent months.

    Giammanco expects the anti-Trump demonstrations to be peaceful.

    “We’re not for his violent energy. We’re not going to be aggressive in rebuttal to his aggressiveness,” she remarked. Nevertheless, she admitted that she and her friends are “a little nervous about how it’s all going to play out.”—


    1. Jim Haygood

      Somebody should ask Trump (who hails from anti-gunner NYC) how he feels about “Vermont carry.”

  9. Will

    Question on the media presentation of the gas leak: I keep reading about the global warming potential of the gas, including scary-sounding stuff in the Bloomberg link, but wasn’t all that gas going to be burned anyway? It’s from an underground storage facility right, and the Governor ordered the company to maximize withdrawals from the facility – smart, smart – meaning the global warming potential is actually just shifted into the future (today) rather than being spread out over time.

    Is that a reasonable understanding? And if so, why the big emphasis on global warming I keep reading about in these articles?

    1. LarryB

      Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, so burning the methane would produce less of a warming effect than leaking the methane straight into the atmosphere. Fortunately, methane has a half-life in the atmosphere of about 12 years, so it doesn’t hang around as long as CO2.

    2. Vatch

      Unburned methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dixoide. After a couple of decades, the methane will break down into other compounds, but those compounds will eventually include carbon dioxide. So its better to just burn the methane right away. Of course, it’s even better if the methane is neither burned nor released into the atmosphere.

      Here’s a short EPA discussion of methane emissions:


  10. Synoia

    Sounds great, until you realize this won’t stop with chickens.

    Sigh. When I was a child I lived in West Africa, Nigeria to be precise, where the ground turns to sea, by way of becoming a swamp.

    The locals would sit by a termite mound in the swarming season, with a large pan of palm oil on an open fire, catch the termites as they emerged, pull of the wings, deep fry them, and then eat them.

    While appearing revolting, insects are a good source of low fat protein.

    The locals in West Africa would eat anything that moves, excluding man made machinery, and most of the stuff that didn’t move. For examples Google “Bush Meat.”

  11. Synoia

    Chinese drone-maker Ehang has developed the 184, a prototype of the first autonomous drone that will fly humans

    I hope the 1% buy many of these, to avoid the under maintained and crowded roads.

    Why? if something can go wrong, it will, and at the worst possible time.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Test them with flightless chickens first, I suggest.

      Better yet, our star scientists can give us self-flying chickens who will land themselves in deep fryers.

  12. TheBellTolls

    Re: Network Adequacy.

    Of course the insurers would whine.. Even though according to the CMS letter “[based on current data from plans] there would gennerally be an “overalll passage rate above 90 percent for each of these metrics with less than 10 percent remaing be addressed via the justification process or by adding additional providers”

    So this regulation will change close to nothing… So it really takes some chutzpah for insurers to complain about this stuff. Isn’t the truly slighted party the people paying ever increasing premiums?

    I suppose they are just trying to bomb all regulations so that getting only the ones they truly want reversed seem like a compromise….

  13. Oregoncharles

    ” I thought Clinton was famous for her administrative competence. Did I not get the memo?”

    “Benghazi” was a perfect example of deep incompetence combined with negligence. Just why the Republicans have focused on incidentals I’m not sure, but it has the effect of covering up the real issue. She should never be President just because of that one incident, but not because someone didn’t call it “terrorism.”

  14. Titus Pullo

    Human animal-chimeras in the US, who knew?

    Although Nakauchi was a star scientist, Japanese regulators were slow to approve his idea for chimeras—a “pig man” as critics put it—and by 2013 Nakauchi decided to move to the U.S., where no federal law restricts the creation of chimeras. Stanford was able to recruit him with the help of a $6 million grant from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, a state agency set up a decade ago to bypass political interference from Washington.

    Seems to be a combo of using CRISPR to edit out organ genes, and then introducing the gene-edited animal zygote some donor human stem cells. The stem cells will then fill in the missing parts.

    The State of California and the US Army are helping fund the research while the NIH dithers (those danged ethics). Why do I also imagine a incredibly virulent form of swine flu happening?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe it’s better all those government agencies should dither, lest we are visited by said form of swine flu.

      It’s at times like this that maybe we pray our star scientists enjoy more idleness.

      “In praise of Idleness.”

      Embrace it.

    2. craazyboy

      If the army is funding it, I wouldn’t worry about it. Gorilla warfare is just a figure of speech.

  15. JTMcPhee

    The other VIX (or it ought to be): Vulnerability Index, the sum of all human-induced threats to our own idiotic existence…

    Nukular weapons
    Biological fiddling like the link/GMO/CRISPR
    Education-induced stupidity
    Greed effects

    Add it all up and you get a negative sum…

    Stupid effing humans. We coulda been a contender…

  16. jack white

    Re: eye of newt. Again we see that the scientific wellsprings of antibiosis are not dry. Drug resistant bacteria are allowed by market failure.

  17. ProNewerDeal

    i read headline that Congress both houses repealed ACA, 0bama will veto it. i wonder what this means 4 us as patients/citizens.

    If an R becomes Pres in Nov 2016, will the Rs actually straight up repeal the ACA in Jan 2017?

    Of lesser importance: does this Jan 2016 ACA repeal vote meaningfully impact the Nov 2016 election of Pres or Congress?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Since the R party controls both houses of Congress — which has constitutional authority to appropriate funds — they could defund Obamacare subsidies today if they so chose.

      That they have not tells you everything you need to know about the Poseur Party. “More government and less freedom,” as Newt Gingrich promised.

      1. ProNewerDeal

        Thank you Jim, I was not aware of this notion of the Rs being able to defund ACA subsidies. Are the Rs are owned by the HealthIns Oligopoly just like 0bama is, & front that they’re anti-ACA as Kayfabe?

  18. kimsarah

    Now that all the washed up big cannons are coming out of the woodwork to endorse Rubio on the right and Clinton (who says she is not a socialist, but a “progressive” Democrat) on the not as far right right, it might be a good time to start asking who, pray tell, might we expect to see in a Clinton cabinet.

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