Links 1/3/16

Giant squid makes rare appearance in Japanese port PhysOrg (Chuck L)

The tale of a mysterious mound of Iraqi cash seized at the border and the oddball cast thats fighting for it National Post

Game of Thrones author George RR Martin misses last TV deadline for new book Guardian (furzy)

Four elements earn permanent seats on the periodic table Science News (Chuck L)

Big Oil braced for global warming while it fought regulations Los Angeles Times. Important.

How the Internet changed the way we read DailyDot (Chuck L). For the worse, of course.

At C.D.C., a Debate Behind Recommendations on Cellphone Risk New York Times (Chuck L)

Amazon starts offering loans to customers with pay monthly option Guardian (resilc)


Row over China’s Spratlys plane landing BBC

China manufacturing continues to shrink Financial Times

Crash Course: How China’s Turbulent Year Derailed Reform Wall Street Journal

EMERGING MARKETS-Most EM currencies, stocks ending with double-digit 2015 losses Reuters

INSIGHT: Communities displaced by 2011 disaster deprived of rights to vote, live Asahi Shimbun (furzy)

After Paris: Unify Fights Against Austerity/Climate Change Social Europe (Sid S)


Greece’s tax arrears amount €11.83 bn for Jan-Nov 2015 Keep Talking Greece. “According to Kathimerini,’“when this is added to debts from previous years the money the state is owed rises to 83.6 billion euros, of which the Finance Ministry says only 9 billion euros can be collected.’”

The contribution of the Greek shipping industry: I agree with Reuters LOL Greece


The greatest challenge for Putin failed evolution

Russia sues Ukraine over $3bn debt Financial Times

Recession, retrenchment, revolution? Impact of low crude prices on oil powers Guardian (resilc)


Iranian Protesters Ransack Saudi Embassy After Execution of Shiite Cleric New York Times (Scott) and the latest story: Iranians Burn Saudi Embassy After Execution of Shiite Cleric New York Times

Iran says Saudis face ‘divine revenge’ BBC

Mexican mayor killed hours into job BBC

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Looking Beyond the Internet of Things New York Times. Depressing.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Fantasies of a Liberal Interventionist National Interest Blog (resilc)

We Must Cut the Military and Transition to a Science-Industrial Complex Motherboard

Trade Traitors

TTIP: the key to freer trade, or corporate greed? Guardian. Margarita: “‘Japanese trade unions supported the TPP deal, and unions in Europe are expected to follow suit with TTIP.’ Who knew…”


Somali extremists use Donald Trump clip to recruit followers Associated Press (furzy)

Skywriters over Rose Parade plead: ‘Anybody but Trump’ Reuters (furzy)

Abrasive Cruz tries to use personality to his advantage Associated Press

Hillary Clinton Now Says She Has “Concerns” About Deporting Migrant Children Intercept

Insiders give their top predictions for 2016 Politico. Given that no one would have predicted Trump and Sanders would have gotten to their respective positions in the polls, I’m not sure how useful insider predictions are save re inside baseball.

Devils, Deals and the DEA ProPublica (resilc)

The Sudden but Well-Deserved Fall of Rahm Emanuel New Yorker (margarita). Remember how residency rules were bent to allow him to be a candidate? Par for the course.

Baltimore ex-cop discusses police violence toward young black men. Slate


A Militia Has Taken Over A Federal Building In Oregon Huffington Post

Value of gun manufacturers’ stocks almost doubled in 2015 Guardian (resilc)

Class Warfare

Cities look at subsidized housing to stem teacher shortages Associated Press (furzy)

Antidote du jour. From Pamela A, who sent a raft of photos of her favorite animals, along with some nice comments about the blog and the commentariat. Re this handsome feline: “The cat is a full-figured gentlemen named Shaka, who, despite a low-carb diet, and multiple toys, resists slimming efforts.”

shaka 2 links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. fresno dan

    Like others in the industry, the company arranges to make life-saving cures available in some parts of the world for far less; laws and pressure introduced so-called tiered pricing after expensive anti-HIV treatments became available in the ’90s and reduced deaths in rich countries and not poor ones. In exchange for a 7 percent cut of sales, Gilead gave companies including Mylan NV, Cipla Ltd. and Natco Pharma Ltd. rights to make generics for distribution in 101 developing nations where hepatitis C is often untreated and $1,000 is more than people might earn in a year. The company wants to “foster competition in the marketplace” in low-income areas, according to spokesman Nathan Kaiser.

    “laws and pressure introduced so-called tiered pricing…”

    Funny how Indian government manages to influence pharmaceutical companies more than American government….

    “The state’s Medicaid program rations access to Sovaldi and other blockbuster Hep C drugs to only the sickest patients. Even with those limitations, the drugs will likely cost the state an estimated $140 million this year. At various points since Sovaldi became available last year, Bush said, Medicaid has required her to perform risky liver biopsies on patients to prove how sick they are, or wait until patients have late-stage liver disease before they can be eligible for coverage. Each day, Bush juggles seeing patients with writing appeal letters and filing pre-authorizations that are often denied.”

  2. Clive

    Re: “Looking Beyond the Internet of Things” — this (and similar, there’s no end of IoT boosterism going on at the moment) is all too symptomatic of an underlying problem of too much supply desperately seeking too few customers. Coming up with product development followed by inventive new ways for suppliers to figure out what we might like is the easy bit. Solving the more intractable and fundamental issue of not enough people actually able to buy it is altogether more difficult. Because we’ve no bloody money.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Why am I reminded of all the “dark” fiber optics cable that was laid during the 1990s. ISTR reading that a lot of it is still dark. As in, never been used.

    2. Jon

      The creepy element they mention in passing will probably love to subsidize this technology. The extra collected sensor data could be a boon for advertisers and nsa types. The first in roads for this tech I would imagine will be things can be dual use along these lines as manufacturers seek to profit off of multiple fronts with one product. (Why not I dont think we have any disclosure laws really yet and EULAs are so vague they are effective free reign):

      They could even subsidize product cost. This toaster is only 5.99 if you opt in to receive streaming ad ticker and product jingles.

    3. Llewelyn Moss

      No bloody money.

      There was a thread here yesterday re: comparison on 1929 to today.

      In 1928, the top 10 percent of earners received 49.29 percent of total income. In 2007, the top 10 percent earned a strikingly similar percentage: 49.74 percent. — from NYT 2010

      Point being when no one has any money to spend the economy grinds to a halt.

      And anyway, how did humans ever survive 50 years ago when the refrigerator could not order more milk? File it under the category: Should we do it just because we can do it.

    4. Brooklin Bridge

      I’m confused as to your point (though I hope you are right). Granted we the consumers have little money, but many of these “projects” don’t require that we express any consumer choice in the matter. To the contrary, the “sensors” will be built in to what ever we buy regardless of choice (particularly things we can’t do without such as cars, home heating, stoves, etc., as well as to major parts of infrastructure (such as all public/private transportation right down to escallators, traffic lights, even jurisprudence) that we don’t buy but pay for – and are (largely) required to use.

      Big Brother (industry more than government) has realized that the joy of “being controlled” is a hard sell in itself, even in our pavlovian society , so it’s using hidden mandates by giving “the potential to monitor” away in some instances or making it non optional in others. Try and find an automobile that doesn’t track every movement you make in the next ten years. Ha, and by then for that matter, try and find an automobile you can even buy! You’ll be renting them – along with all their bio-metric data gathering gadgets and their 6000 page privacy policy you can find on the net if you have a week or two to read it with a team of lawyers – unless you are truly of the .01%.

      The model seems designed to be like the internet; a fait accompli before legislative bodies even require bribes, and too influential once in place to bust monopolies which appear out of nowhere. The pied piper never mentions anything about price until it’s far too late.

      So it doesn’t seem to be solely about what we can afford or be manipulated into buying regardless of what we can afford, but more about a non democratic structure of control that is being built around us silently. Perhaps, I misunderstand and you are talking not so much about the consumer as about the economy in general but unless we go into permanent depression, that will only slow the process down. Imperial collapse might also do the trick, but the subheading to the link, added, by Lambert or Yves: “Depressing” remains valid.

      1. armchair

        So much of the new stuff is based on what the technology is capable of. It is really easy to slap sensors on things and crunch data with it. It goes forward, because it is easy to do. Speaking of authoritarian technology, has anyone been to the bathroom lately? Your paper towel comes in prescribed amounts, you must try 8 different hand positions to get the water to run for five seconds, the toilet flushes for you and the soap is dispensed by sensor. Has this made going to the bathroom easier? Hell no. Granted germ-o-phobes are a lot happier, but the time spent petitioning the sensors and the humility of being denied water are not improvements. We really need to demand more from technology. Stop trying to improve the light switch!

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Excellent point! Indeed, much of this stuff is absolutely worthless, if not actively frustrating or even danagerous, beyond a very transient cool factor. It adds nothing beyond the loss of personal control via the illusion of getting more personal control.

      2. Clive

        One of the clichés proffered in the NYT piece was that old chestnut of how if you get more and/or better data on what your consumers are doing, you can use that to design and sell new and improved products. You can also sell them in a cleverer — more “targeted” — way because you’ll understand which people are more susceptible to being tempted by your product:

        Consumers could see a vast increase in the number of services, ads and product upgrades that are sold alongside most goods. And products that respond to their owner’s tastes — something already seen in smartphone upgrades, connected cars from BMW or Tesla, or entertainment devices like the Amazon Echo — could change product design.

        This suggests to me that commerce is finding that it is getting harder to persuade consumers (or hoped-for consumers) to actually part with their cash. Business is interpreting this, perhaps understandably because that’s how it’s always been historically, as signifying that they aren’t communicating with their target market effectively enough or that their products aren’t able to carve out niches in what has become a very granular and highly segmented field.

        Put more colloquially, it’s like they’re thinking to themselves “gee, if only we could find the people who are just yearning to buy our stuff and tell them we make it and here’s where they can get it” or “what we really need to do is produce more bespoke products and pre-configure their specification based on what we know customers need” then we’d all beat a hasty path to their doors.

        That’s one explanation.

        Another is what I was suggesting — the problem isn’t one of inadequate communications and product awareness nor is it that we desperately need products which are more pre-customised to our ever-more demanding whims. It’s that, though we might like those sorts of things, we’re too concerned with feeding meters on the other toll booths which have been allowed to establish themselves in housing, healthcare, education, energy, retirement provision and so on to have anything left over to lavish on gewgaws.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Thanks for the clarification, Clive. It seems more and more plausible that part of the thrust of new technology is that corporations and the world of finance have come to believe they can get around the problem you describe (already robbed blind) by manufacturing and even mandating “demand” via macro/micro social control which includes physical control.

          Corporations seem to have a hard time understanding that once people are broke and maxed out on credit, loosing their place to live and their means of movement, they have a difficult time spending money and credit they don’t have even if it is for the exciting experience of having their brains, bodies, and homes (or what’s left of them) directly wired to corporate head quarters under the illusion of “cool stuff”.

          Our beloved financial community also wants control in the old fashioned authoritarian sense which is an age old phenomenon (hunger for power) but they find a new promise or potential in technology to achieve it in it’s fullest sense (corresponding very much to Orwell’s descriptions).

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            BTW, I do get your point that this is mainly corporate/financial frustration -assumption they aren’t connecting – with consumer lack of interest/ability and agree with that to a considerable extent. But I think in addition there is something more at play here.

            1. Clive

              Oh, yes, definitely; there is a wonderful irony in that, like you say, Big Finance would dearly like us to all be trapped in its (not so) tender embrace. It’s trying — the “everything is smart/connected” is just one amongst many entry points. The “cashless society” is another to name but one.

              Unbelievably, it would be a lot happier if we all went out and paid for our own surveillance, monitoring and handing of control in our lives over to a corporation or corporations.

              But because of the lack of disposable income, it will have to decide on whether it wants to have to pay up itself to do that, or allow labour to achieve higher real incomes in order that we might pay for it ourselves (assuming we’re dumb enough, collectively, to fall for it). It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

      3. different clue

        Until analog sensor-free items are outlawed, there will be a “protest” market for them. There will also be an after-market market for ripping the sensors out of things.

        1. Lord Koos

          I find “the internet of things” to be a bit scary — the possibilities for hacking and spying are endless. I predict that at some point we will see a healthy market for second hand, soon-to-be-collectible, non-connected “things”, such as cars, appliances etc.

    5. flora

      MS-Apple-Google battling for the cloud and revenue stream is driving them to the brink technically and, I think, financially. They’ve based their stock price push on their hoped-for cloud technology revenue streams. Yet customers are less than eager to buy (everyone loves Windows 10, right?) , and MS has even had to jail break the switches it uses for its cloud storage to install its own version of Linux. heh.

  3. fresno dan

    How the Internet changed the way we read DailyDot (Chuck L). For the worse, of course.

    We now skim everything it seems to find evidence for our own belief system. We read to comment on reality (Read: to prove our own belief system). Reading has become a relentless exercise in self-validation, which is why we get impatient when writers don’t come out and simply tell us what they’re arguing. Which reminds me: What the hell am I arguing? With the advent of microblogging platforms, Twitter activism, self-publishing companies, professional trolling, everyone has a microphone now and yet no one actually listens to each other any more.

    Perhaps….but when I first donated to NC a few years ago, I noted that by reading it I had had an epiphany, and that I had had quite a change in my ideology – I am not as famous as Alan Greenspan, so my road to Damascus wasn’t reported in the MSM.

    I know in my self, that I have a bias to believing that books are more “truthful” “factual” “careful” “deep” “thorough” – etcetera. But although books are more detailed and longer, they are just as subject to the biases and blind sides as shorter written pieces. And as far as listening, I have read arguments on NC against gun control, and even though I am for it, the arguments presented against it (here and on other sites) are logical, well crafted, and the people making them have very good points that I am unwilling to dismiss simply because I have a contrary view. As an aside, NC is one of my favorite sites simply because you have commentors that have not been put through an ideological strainer.

    Confirmation bias existed long before the internet. Dogmatism existed long before the internet. All of the various errors in thinking can often be summarized as the inability to admit one is wrong on a matter… or not even to consider an opposing viewpoint.

    The fault lies not in our writers or our media, but in ourselves. Maybe everybody else wants to be blue or red, but I want to be a rainbow and include the ultraviolet and infrared as well.

  4. fresno dan

    Looking Beyond the Internet of Things New York Times. Depressing.

    Imagine if almost everything — streets, car bumpers, doors, hydroelectric dams — had a tiny sensor. That is already happening through so-called Internet-of-Things projects run by big companies like General Electric and IBM.

    All those devices and sensors would also wirelessly connect to far-off data centers, where millions of computer servers manage and learn from all that information.

    Those servers would then send back commands to help whatever the sensors are connected to operate more effectively: A home automatically turns up the heat ahead of cold weather moving in, or streetlights behave differently when traffic gets bad. Or imagine an insurance company instantly resolving who has to pay for what an instant after a fender-bender because it has been automatically fed information about the accident.

    Pants? Was the reference to food rations being cut in 1984 or in Brave New World due to flatulence – or was it some other novel? (I imagine the novel would be updated nowadays – monitoring is done to curtail greenhouse gases) Anyway, I am afear that government Big Nose (Pannasalcon) will curtail my morning egg, cheese, and bean breakfast burritos…..

    1. tongorad

      Those servers would then send back commands to help whatever the sensors are connected to operate more effectively.

      Danny Thomas Spit take!

      1. fresno dan

        The project consists of two modules:

        The emitter located on the chair and the receiver located somewhere else (e.g. on your desk).

        The project consists of two modules:

        The emitter* located on the chair and the receiver located somewhere else (e.g. on your desk).

        Here is what you need to make a Fart-O-Meter:

        1 x large protoboard PCB
        1 x ATMEGA168/328 arduino chip with bootloader
        1 x LM117 – 3.3V regulator (Sparkfun sku: COM-00526)
        1 x 7805 – 5V regulator
        1 x 1N4148 diode
        1 x 16Mhz crystal
        5 x 0.1uF decoupling capacitor
        1 x 220uf 16V capacitor
        1 x Green LED
        1 x Bi-Color LED (or two separate green and red LED)
        3 x 220Ohm current limiting resistor for LED
        1 x 10K resistor for reset of the Arduino
        2 x 100K potentiometer – one for gas sensor calibration and the other one for debugging
        1 x Audio Jack 3.5mm use to connect the methane sensor
        1 x 3.5mm audio jack (Sparkfun sku: PRT-08032)
        1 x 8 x AA battery holder
        1 x 9V power clip – It connects to my 8 x AA battery holder
        1 x Plastic enclosures
        1 x FTDI Basic Breakout – 5V ( Sparkfun sku: DEV-09716)
        1 x MQ-4 – Methane Gas Sensor (Sparkfun sku: SEN-09404)
        1 x nRF2401A Transceiver with Chip Antenna (Sparkfun sku: WRL-00152)
        * LOL – I though the emitter was the person on the chair…

    1. afisher

      Did everyone here miss the news that Rachel Whetstone hire by Uber, in MAY, 2015? Or is this just another of the ” it has to be xxxx because Plouffe”? HNY.

  5. Sam Adams

    Re: ‘Cities look at subsidized housing to stem teacher shortages’
    You knew it wouldn’t be long before the slave cabins were returned to the slave street on the plantation. Smh

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Sounds a lot like Section 8 to me.

      From Wikipedia:

      Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. § 1437f), often called Section 8, as repeatedly amended, authorizes the payment of rental housing assistance to private landlords on behalf of approximately 4.8 million low-income households as of 2008[1] in the United States. The largest part of the section is the Housing Choice Voucher program which pays a large portion of the rents and utilities of about 2.1 million households. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development manages the Section 8 programs.

      So, how many of these teachers work at privately-run, publicly-financed for-profit charter schools?

      Reminds me of the fast food “entrepreneurs” who can’t attract employees or make a “profit” unless the taxpayers step in and cover an ever-increasing portion of the overhead costs.

      1. craazyboy

        Well, first you have to spend $500K to a million for a franchise to learn how to make a taco or a burger. You’ve gotta cover that cost somehow. Bidness people aren’t stooped.

        1. hunkerdown

          A million bucks to learn how to make the same taco, again and again, day in, day out, year in, year out, to ±1/4 oz standards, is a decent deal. Especially when it includes use of the heavy equipment required to make those industrial-strength tacos. Not that industrial-strength tacos are any stronger than the Mexican taqueria version.

          I imagine it’s just a matter of time before, like cars, tacos become a means for microcontrollers to get around.

      2. Oregoncharles

        We owned a duplex and accepted Section 8 tenants. They weren’t the best tenants (one was the worst), but the rent does get paid. It was intended as a Socially Responsible investment, so accepting Sect. 8 seemed like part of that.

        That was before we got into a dispute with the local housing authority, which administers it. (A long story I’m trying to abbreviate.) They conned my wife into signing something she shouldn’t have, then threatened to send the “debt” (completely out of line with normal rental practice) to collection. Eventually, one of their workers actually investigated and decided the claim wasn’t legitimate, but not before I’d threatened to sue their accountant – who sent the collection threat.

        We never dealt with them again. Turned out we couldn’t trust the blasted social workers. Weird, and hard on their clients.

      3. sd

        Early 20th century, in New England, rural public school teachers were provided with apartments as an incentive to teaching in small towns. The local school district couldn’t necessarily pay well – but they could provide housing.

        So much of what is happening (labor issues, real estate, stock speculation, corruption, etc) is a repeat of the 1920’s that I am often left wondering if everyone just fell asleep in their 8th grade history class…

    2. Lord Koos

      Have people noticed the endless hype for “tiny houses” on the web? Not that I’m against saving energy and all, but it seems we are being prepared for an extremely scaled-down future.

  6. jefemt

    re: Occupy National Wildlife Refuge HQ: I’m amazed the Ranch family in Oregon was only charged with Arson, and not Terrorism.
    In the Post 9/11 GWOT, another group (ELF!) of protesters, who also only destroyed property, no lives, for intentional fires (Arson) got Terrorism charges. If you haven’s ever watched these, they are worthy of the time: If a Tree…(ELF) Bidder 70 (Tim DeChristopher)

    Bundy’s family in Utah controls essentially grandfathered below-market value leases to graze cattle on Federal lands, that no one else has an opportunity to compete for, outbid, and step in to obtain the benefit. Apparently, Bundy’s haven’t paid their annual lease fees, for years.

    Hammond family in Oregon is not directly analogous, although I imagine that no other rancher, or US citizen, in the area (or based anywhere), ever would have an opportunity to compete for the leaseholds and agreements for use of Federal commons, presently beneficially held by Hammonds.

    BOTH are fascinating in terms of being yet another crack of discontent of the rabble with “their” government.

    Cynically, my bet is that either family and their supporters decry and revile government entitlement programs, conceptually and generically. Rugged independent self-reliant hardscrabble cowboys- without mirrors, apparently. They can’t seem to see the paradox or irony that they directly benefit from below-market leases that they, at the exclusion of all others, claim as their own property.

    Not sure I’d want to be a State or Federal field agent in the west these days… the purported gunmen that tragically killed so many in San Bernardino were (gasp!) said to have over 1,400 rounds of ammunition stockpiled. I am amused by that number, and the shock it elicited… I imagine most blue collar males of ANY color and creed who own more than one gun average at least that amount for each caliber of gun owned- and in many ‘cases’ tenfold or more.

    Its a powderkeg— by this time next year, the anointed leader of the Free world? Al-Kasel Zur

    1. Lord Koos

      It sounds like what the Hammonds actually did was not that egregious…

      “Dwight Hammond, 73, and Steven Hammond, 46, said they lit the fires on federal land in 2001 and 2006 to reduce the growth of invasive plants and protect their property from wildfires.” I’m not sure how big the fire was that they set, but as a westerner myself I can sort of relate to their actions.

      “The two were convicted of the arsons three years ago and served time — the father three months, the son one year. But a federal judge ruled in October that their terms were too short under U.S. minimum sentencing law and ordered them back to prison for about four years each.”

      The Hammonds were not looking for any help from the Bundy brothers, and do not wish to be associated with the group occupying the facility.

        1. Gio Bruno

          Yes, these yahoos are not protecting the land, but their self-interest.

          And the land doesn’t belong to the BLM. We’re talking about the Malheur (River) Wildlife Refuge (it’s under the management of the US Fish & Wildlife Service). Grazing animals are not allowed in wildlife refuge.

          I’m quite familiar with this area from my travels between California and Idaho (using the scenic route), and ranching does more to destroy the ecological balance in this Basin geographic region than the small towns that occasionally appear on the landscape.

          1. Aumua

            It’s our land, and these bullies (not protesters) want to steal it. For one of the most wasteful uses (cattle grazing), for their own personal profit.

            As far as I can tell, they were able to lease the land for that purpose, and that’s all good I suppose. But when we say you have to give some of it back now, or pay more, the only appropriate response is OK.

            I mean correct me if I’m wrong, I’m just spouting a bunch of stuff off the top of my head. I don’t like these people. They weren’t even paying their lease. PAY YOUR BILLS you deadbeats, cowboy .. jerks.

            1. Aumua

              Talking about the Bundy’s of course. The Hammond’s are a more complex situation it seems. But these Bundy’s I equate to an Old West style family criminal gang. They got a real rush pointing their guns at the feds and seeing the feds back down, and now their back for another hit.

              Honestly I hope the feds come down a little harder now. I’m ambivalent about it, I mean I hate to see the word terrorist tossed around casually. And I wish there was a way for no one to back down without anyone getting killed. Maybe one of these allegedly nonlethal new sonic, or microwave weapons?

              Once again I don’t like the very idea of those weapons, so I don’t know.

    2. tony

      “Cynically, my bet is that either family and their supporters decry and revile government entitlement programs, conceptually and generically. Rugged independent self-reliant hardscrabble cowboys- without mirrors, apparently. They can’t seem to see the paradox or irony that they directly benefit from below-market leases that they, at the exclusion of all others, claim as their own property.”

      Markets, leases, property rights and market value are all government creations. If they consider the government to be an illegitimate, there is no irony.

  7. edmondo

    To be filed under (Continued) Class Warfare?

    President Barack Obama is returning to the nation’s capital after two weeks of fun and sun in his native Hawaii, saying he’s “fired up” for his final year in office and ready to tackle unfinished business.

    Is it really “warfare” when only one side has the weapons?

    1. Nigelk

      Jack London’s “The Iron Heel” comes to mind. Perhaps a re-imagining is in order. We could call it “The Velvet Gauntlet”

  8. alex morfesis

    Grexhit…that kathi chik has not recovered from the jamie dimon rooftop new years eve party…ktg just rebarfed what amounts to an unattributed…un referenced…and apparently non findable statement from a finance ministry…maybe they interviewed the person from last february who gave the wsj the exact same 9 billion dollar number…

    And folks should read that DEA piece nice and slow…and absorb how prosecuters undermine the few law enforcement types who will do more than just mail in an honest days work…former mexican drug lord hitman doing security at us military base…

    Amerikkka…what a concept…

  9. Carolinian

    Apparently the Oregon ranchers–who did spend time in jail for illegal burning and are fighting an order that they spend still more time–have disavowed the involvement of the Bundy wackos. There are big money forces with a larger agenda driving incidents like this. It’s worth remembering that Newt Gingrich and his crew once wanted to privatize all federal land

    1. jefemt

      Liquidating Federal and State School Trust lands to pay National and State debts… an idea inevitably coming back into vogue sooner than later

      “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool to his folly…”

      1. Lord Koos

        Out west they are sometimes shot. If you ever have been a gardener and have had raccoons around, you learn to hate them…

    1. bob

      Yeah, not really cute at all. I respect them, but don’t want them near me.

      I was living in boston and saw one walking down the middle of the street in the middle of the day. I called 911 immediately, it was very obviously rabid. After about 15 minutes of pleading my case to a 911 operator, the raccoon was gone and I was pretty sick of being told that it was “perfectly natural” for a raccoon to start foraging before dark. It wasn’t dark, and it wasn’t foraging. It was rabid, and looking for a fight.

      Finally, a few months later, the state enviro cops admitted that there was a problem with rabid animals within the city. No shit!

  10. efschumacher

    Re: Insiders Predictions for 2016.

    I’m sorry I can’t give any credence to any predictions for year N+1 when we don’t see the same chicken-entrail-readers prognostications for the years N-m to N, and their relationship to what actually happened.

    This lack of reality-checking is especially irksome with economists and their predictions for a cautiously rosy forthcoming year.

  11. jgordon

    Regarding the Fantasies of a Liberal Interventionist article–there is no such thing. Liberal intervention is a facade.

    1. jgordon

      Reading this article brought to mind a Paul Craig Roberts interview I listened to the other day. It really put everything in perspective: where the neocons came from, how their pervasive infestation of the Obama regime’s government is, and why American foreign policy has been such a disaster for the past several decades. It’s really awesome!

      The contrast between the liberal intervention myth and the reality of the situation that Dr. Paul Craig Roberts illuminates is pretty disconcerting.

    2. hunkerdown

      “Liberalism” refers to the profit system, not the ideals of the effete bourgeoisie (no matter how much the latter might wish it were so). In that light, “liberal interventionism” describes the post-WWII period accurately. Perhaps we ought to quit pretending gangrene is a weight loss and beauty product.

    1. OIFVet

      Most pet food is just as bad as the “food” for humans. The industry uses the same techniques to addict our pets to unhealthy “food” as it does on humans. My two ladies are quite plump, and they turn up their noses at the healthy alternatives. They had become addicted to crappy food at the shelters. It’s cheap so shelters don’t have much of a choice given limited budgets.

  12. GlobalMisanthrope

    Re: Baltimore ex-cop discusses police violence toward young black men

    I looked at this when it was first posted. It’s weak tea and not about young black men at all. Headline: “Why Police Are So Violent Toward Black Men,” a question the video explicitly does not answer. But click bait aside, it’s a crappy interview both in terms of the quality of the questions and the lack of insight on the part of the ex-cop.

    Looks like Mike’s got himself a pretty cush gig, though.

  13. Carolinian

    More on Game of Thrones

    What if, for whatever reason, Martin never publishes another novel in his “Game of Thrones” series? That would be a drag, but it would not be the end of the world. It wouldn’t even be the end of that world.

    As he has noted in various interviews, he has told David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the executive producers of HBO drama, where the story goes and how it ends. Of course, the show and the books have diverged, so they were always going to be different animals (and should be viewed as such). But whatever Martin’s output, that show is such a winner for HBO that presumably the Westeros saga will keep trundling along until Benioff and Weiss want it to stop.

    Some of us would contend that the show is actually better than the books–bringing them to life in a way that Martin, the story giver, does not. George RR himself was once a less than Homerian tv writer. One might not want to get too carried away with all that garment rending.

  14. JTMcPhee

    We already got a “science-industrial complex.” A whole lot “science” has morphed and mind-melded into the enormous industro-policy-armamentarium Thingie that is living off the reality that MMT is right about you can spend as much as you want, right up to the point that your science, CRISP-R and autonomous war machines and nanobots and interSkynetted Everything and it’s too depressing to run the whole catalog and certainly not the idiot details, finishes the species off.

    Frame your wishes very carefully, mi compadres, the fokking Genie is not only puckish but very literal-minded…

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      We just need a different mission for the Science-Industrial Complex, other than figuring out new ways to kill people or new ways for one company or another to extract rents. JFK tried this by re-purposing the Cold War into the Space race (before he had his frontal and temporal lobes excised by E. Howard Hunt)

    2. barrisj

      Indeed…every golly-gee article about the latest “scientific breakthrough” invariably contains a mention of “the Pentagon’s interest in…”, or that “the US military is also looking closely at…”. It seems inevitable that whatever “breakthrough” is achieved that can help mankind has as well a potential “military application”, and that funding for the latter will soon attain primacy over civilian or “peaceful” utility. Such is the way of the world in these parlous times, and I say this as one who has spent a career within the research community.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We need more science-research dividends like, hugging friends and family members is proven scientifically to be healthy for you and those you hug.

        No corporations to profit from and it’s knowledge everyone can benefit from.

  15. Ven

    Just another recent observation on the science-industrial complex. Over the last 2 weeks I was looking online at buying an Oral-B electric toothbrush – in that period, Amazon’s price for it went up and down from £65 to £85 twice. Looking online at other sites, it became obvious that the triggers for the price-movements was related to whether another major online retailer (e.g. Boots) had cut their price to £65, or as soon as that competitor ran out of online stock the price shot up again. And then back down again when another competitor had stock and priced at the lower point. So Amazon must have automated online competitors’ price and stock monitoring to dynamically manage their pricing.

    Ah the wonders of big data make our lives that bit better!

    1. Clive

      I’ve certainly noticed that phenomenon. I think it’s some kind of well-planned and intentional yield management technique whereby stock levels on “essential” items (those that are essential to a particular group who don’t have a choice of supplier or product — replacement electric toothbrush heads are a good example of where this scam can be pulled) are deliberately run down. Suddenly, like you did, you find that a certain product isn’t available everywhere and it is either not available at all or only available at a subset of retailers which then, magically, realise they are the only game in town and charge accordingly.

      With modern inventory management this simply should not happen. Manufacturers know how many items have been imported and where they have been distributed to. They also know — especially with “consumables” which have a finite and predictable usage life — how many are sold and how often. So they can with reasonably accuracy predict when they need to make, import and hold in wholesale distribution the replacement items.

      I’ve encountered this on printer cartridges, water pitcher filters, razor blades and as you mention electric toothbrush heads.

  16. Pavel

    Lambert, no doubt you’ve seen this NYT piece on the Obamacare refuseniks who prefer to pay the penalty and go uninsured than pay out the premiums and deductibles:

    Many See I.R.S. Fines as More Affordable Than Insurance

    Some pretty damning quotes:

    Mr. Murphy, an engineer in Sulphur Springs, Tex., estimates that under the Affordable Care Act, he will face a fine of $1,800 for going uninsured in 2016. But in his view, paying that penalty is worth it if he can avoid buying an insurance policy that costs $2,900 or more. All he has to do is stay healthy.

    “I don’t see the logic behind that, and I’m just not going to do it,” said Mr. Murphy, 45, who became uninsured in April after leaving a job with health benefits to pursue contract work. “The fine is still going to be cheaper.”


    Susan Reardon, 61, of Kalamazoo, Mich., said she was leaning toward going uninsured this year. She calculated that she would have to spend more than $12,000, including premiums of nearly $500 a month and a $6,850 deductible, to get anything beyond preventive benefits from the cheapest exchange plan available to her.

    Ms. Reardon, whose husband is old enough to be covered by Medicare, said she would rather pay out of pocket for the drugs she takes for fibromyalgia and the handful of doctor appointments she tends to need each year.

    If something catastrophic happens, she said, “I feel like it’s better just to die.”

    Of course we all know it is a health insurance plan rather than a health care plan, and a flawed one at that.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Sad to see these folks getting soaked, when there are 14 ways (including the simple expedient of getting a utility disconnect notice) to skate out from under Obamacare penalties.

      The problem is all inside your head
      She said to me
      The answer is easy if you
      Take it logically
      I’d like to help you in your struggle
      To be free
      There must be fourteen ways
      To stay uncovered

      — hat tip to Paul Simon, Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover

    2. Oregoncharles

      You beat me to it – I just sent this one to Lambert.

      I still think there should be a movement to refuse to pay the fines, but I’m on Medicare, so it ill behooves me to wish trouble on others.

      They’re only allowed to take it out of your refund, so if you arrange not to have one….

  17. diptherio

    Devils, Deals and the DEA is a great article. Your tax dollars at work…so glad we’re employing people to do this stuff. Oh, and nice to know that we’re paying serial killers millions for testimony that results in a couple of years jail time for the leaders…and which only serves to empower competing criminal organizations. Go America!

  18. Jim Haygood

    “Amazon starts offering loans to customers with pay monthly option”

    Amazon is ideally positioned to handle collections in-house.

    They send a delivery drone to hover outside your window and announce in a robotic voice to the whole neighborhood:

    * Deadbeat! Deadbeat! Graaack! Graaack! *

    1. allan

      How long will it be before the Washington Post starts to run op-ed pieces
      arguing for bankruptcy `reform’ so that loans of this type should be made not dischargeable?
      Because personal responsibility.

      1. tegnost

        it’s evil genius at work! They mine your iphone traffic for things you didn’t know you need, send it to you and if you don’t return it in 1 week they start charging non dischargable debt and 18% interest…whddayameanyadonwannit? Weknowyawannit! Yawannit!
        Now pay up or we’re taking your girl, the sleeping bag AND the tent and you’ll have to relocate down to the next overpass, consumer.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If you had read the fine print carefully on the loan documents, you would see that the drone could also spray paint ‘deadbeat’ on your house.

      It frees the drone to deliver to other customers down the street.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      ” Hitachi also works with John Lewis, which offers interest-free credit on furniture.”

      Can someone PLEASE enlighten me?

      You can buy a couch on amazon that you’ve never seen, don’t know what color it is, if it’s comfortable or even if you can flip the cushions and finance it for 16.9% interest.

      Or you can go to John Lewis and buy a couch you’ve seen and sat in with NO interest financing.

      WHO is it that thinks amazon is the better deal?

      I just don’t get it.

  19. Vatch

    Row over China’s Spratlys plane landing BBC

    From the article:

    “China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters. China will not accept the unfounded accusation from the Vietnamese side,” she said, referring to the Spratly Islands by their Chinese name.

    A quick look at a map of the region clearly shows that Vietnam and the Philippines have reasonable claims to the Spratly islands, and that China does not. China does have a reasonable claim to the Paracel islands, which are north of the Spratly islands. But if one is to compare the Chinese military to the Vietnamese and Philippines militaries, the Chinese claim to the Spratly islands suddenly becomes a lot more viable. It’s a bit like comparing the U.S. military to the independent Samoan military vis a vis American Samoa, although Vietnam and the Philippines are both more powerful than independent Samoa.

    Big rich countries often get their way, whether it’s right or not.

    1. alex morfesis

      The sultan of sulu probably has a much better claim to the spratly rockettes than anyone else but…no army, no navy…no justice…

  20. craazyboy

    Here we go. Anomalies in Fed Land. Strange things sighted as a result of Fed tightening via the new reverse repo facility. Could be something to do with tri-party repo stresses. Just guessing, but could it be “off balance sheet” financing puts a hitch in everyone’s double entry book keeping? Like there is some problem with the shadow books and they don’t reverse well and spew out money? Maybe an Accounting Adept can enlighten us.–mutual-funds-023901085.html#

  21. JTMcPhee

    Re IoT — and those Fitness Toys and probably sex toys any day now (“performance comparisons”) and Smart TVS and toilets and faucets and soap dispensers and the roads your self-driving cars will go down and yes, even fart detectors because farts are C02 and methane that can also be monetized, all of that will be connected to the electronic record that says how much credit you have and will, along with your RFIDs and implanted chips and the rest, allow the One Ring of Power that will shortly Rule The World (TPP, TTIP, etc.) to debit (or is it credit? never could get that double-entry stuff straight) your personal account for EVERY FCKING BREATH YOU TAKE, EVERY DROP OF WATER OUT OF THE FAUCET, EVERY 0.1 METER YOU TRAVEL ON THE ROADS THAT THEY WILL OWN BUT TAX YOU TO MAINTAIN, EVERY BIT OF GASEOUS EXHALATION THAT YOU AND I INERUCTABLY HAVE TO RELEASE THANKS TO OUR DIGESTIVE PROCESSES ON AVERAGE 14 TIMES PER DAY. Because as Carlin and Chomsky and so many others have pointed out, pointlessly it appears given the reality of Reality Media, THEY FCKING OWN YOU, AND THAT HOUSE AND CAR YOU SAY YOU “OWN” EVEN IF YOU HAVE PAID OFF THE DEBT, THEY CAN STILL JUST “SEIZE” IT, RAPE YOU AND CARRY IT AWAY.


    Look at the discourse about BIG vs JG too — so much about failed inapposite prior policy, so little about how one, all of us actually, might achieve a “modest sustainable competence” out of what’s left of the Commons and via the political systems that “we” have no power in and wouldn’t be inclined to ameliorate anything anyway but that now, under TPP and TISA etc., are about to merge and disappear like the “acquired company” in a big ole M&A into the Global Panopticonal Skynet-Centric Babelspace…, a pretty rich source for a Wiki article. We comment from where we sit, atop the Western Experience Tower, worried about preserving our little “competence” against the claims of others, unwilling to define the Rights of Man again in a way that “provides for” those we just know are unworthy, lazy slackers who don’t want to work 80 hours a week for The Man…

    And how wonderful it is that the killing of one Muslim cleric with a following might be as big a deal for any future human historians if there are any to try to set in their versions of What Happened as the shooting of a relatively minor member of the old European aristocracy and his wife in a place called Sarajevo…(feathered guitars — “Sarajevo, you’ve got me under your spell —
    And if you could speak
    What a fascinating tale you would tell
    Of an age the world has long forgotten
    Of an age that weaves
    A silent magic in Granada today…

    Da-MAS-cus, you’ve got me under your spell…, and down the road from Damascus, )

    What outcomes do “we” (the eternal agencyless inchoate undifferentiated unidentified “we” that everyone speaks to and for) want from our political economies, again? Is there a way to simply state a fundamental common purpose that can activate “we” to become an “us” to do something different, some silly exhortation like “treat others as you would prefer to be treated?” (Don’t think that is even close to possible — I want my swank loft and car service and workout membership and salon treatments and oeno- and foodie pleasures and sex with hot bods and every other purchasable titillation, or I want my trailer house on rented land no developer has grabbed yet, and no slacker has any claim to reduce the piles of my Fun Units by even a ha’penny… and I can tell you why every possible approach to providing anything or any way to get anything decent for others who are clearly unworthy cannot work, in part because I can think of a dozen ways to pervert and get rents from whatever “policy” survives the stilettos, razors and machetes of corporate “interests” in the first instance…)

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