Links 2/12/17

“A Ballerina’s Tale” Documentary about Misty Copeland PBS (Judy B)

CIA files reveal how US used psychics to spy on Iran South China Morning Post (J-LS)

Feds delay endangered bumblebee’s protection engadget

New Zealand whales: Hundreds refloat on high tide at Farewell Spit BBC

Man dissolved after fall into Yellowstone hot spring Edmonton Sun (frosty zoom). :-( but also a Darwin Award candidate

Experiment Reaffirms Quantum Weirdness Quanta (David L)

Could a £400bn plan to refreeze the Arctic before the ice melts really work? Guardian (J-LS)

Boundary Waters visitors spent $57 million in nearby communities last summer Quetico Superior Foundation. Chuck L: “This study will be critical to us opponents of the proposals now being floated to allow the mining of sulfide ores of copper and precious metals on the edge of and upstream from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. As noted at the link, this is the first such study ever for the BWCA and the first one for any USA wilderness area since 20 years years ago. Shameful! The area also gets considerable winter visitors for XC skiing and snow shoeing. And there’s pretty good downhill skiing not far away in the hills on the north shore of Lake Superior.”

As sea levels rise, vital salt marshes are disappearing Associated Press (David L)

Should we just stop shaking hands already? Treehugger (J-LS). I dunno. Clinton and Trump not shaking hands at the top of the final Presidential debate conveyed information.

North Korea conducts ballistic missile test BBC

A Look At Why ‘Crime Pays’ In Indian Politics NPR (Dan K)


After Brexit: the English question surfaces? LSE

Trump U.K. Visit Delayed to Avoid Snub in Parliament Bloomberg. Bloomberg reports this tidbit more prominently than the Guardian, which broke the story.

Refugee Crisis

Women and children ‘endure rape, beatings and abuse’ inside Dunkirk’s refugee camp Guardian

‘Get out of France’: Paris police tear gassing refugees and stealing blankets in freezing conditions, report reveals Independent (J-LS)

Germany Picks Anti-Trump President as Trans-Atlantic Bonds Fray Bloomberg


The European Central Bank is about to do something very stupid The Week

Tsipras warns IMF and Germany over bailout talks Financial Times

Outrageous Malevolence Ilargi (Chuck L)

10 years later, Putin’s ‘Munich Warning’ has proved frighteningly true Fort Russ (Chuck L)



CIA honors Saudi Crown Prince for efforts against terrorism Al Arabya (Micael)

Trade Traitors

TPP is Not Dead: It’s Now Called the Trade In Services Agreement Counterpunch (Robert H). As regular readers know, this headline is totally misleading. TISA is an independent deal with far more prospective signatories than the TPP had. But despite that, better that someone call attention to it than not.

Trump Transition

The Vulnerabilities in the Ninth Circuit’s Executive-Order Decision New Yorker

Democrats, advocates question ICE enforcement raids after hundreds of arrests CNN (David L)

If you thought Trump’s travel ban was bad, what he has planned next for American Muslims could be devastating Independent. Note that this is Cruz’s bill…

Mexican Migrants Signal They Prefer Detention to Deportation Wall Street Journal

Being desi in Trumpland The Hindu (J-LS). Note this mentions body shops in passing. Many of those are illegal and abused workers.

Trump Team Leery of Having Too Many ‘Goldman Guys’ in Top Posts Bloomberg

Trump Nixes Plan to Appoint War Criminal to State Department New York Magazine (resilc)

Does it matter if Trump doesn’t like economists? The Conversation. FWIW, Soros doesn’t like economists either.

Trump’s Budget Bluff New Yorker (resilc)

Elizabeth Warren probes Goldman Sachs’ ties to Trump White House CNN (David L)

Scientists across the US are scrambling to save government research in ‘Data Rescue’ events Business Insider (David L)

Americans Aren’t as Attached to Democracy as You Might Think Guardian

State G.O.P. Leaders Move Swiftly Under One-Party Rule New York Times

How one political outsider picked a cabinet The Conversation. J-LS: “From December but interesting nonetheless….”

Sears, Kmart Dump Ivanka Trump Products From Online Stores New York Magazine

8 retailers that are shrinking across America Business Insider

The Watchdog Protecting Consumers May Be Too Effective Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

QUANTITY OF CARE: A SPECIAL INVESTIGATION Seattle Times. A must read. Martha r: “Great investigative piece. Neoliberalism chews through hospital care–in detail. Maybe the horror of this will compel the majority who want single payer to insist on it–no more excuses.”

Class Warfare

Union Workers Continue to Disappear in Most States Governing (UserFriendly)

What story will we tell our grandchildren? Will it be this one? Stories made us human.

The Coming Class Wars Charles Hugh Smith (Lawrence R)

Inside the Uber Side Hustle The Ringer. Who on Uber’s PR team is pushing this line? As least no one in a mainstream pub has dignified this exercise in porcine maquillage.

Mercedes A-Class Production line YouTube. John L: “Jobs for the robots.”

“CONSIDERATIONS ON COST DISEASE” Slate Star Codex (Brant). More interesting than the title. Plus I didn’t realize that Tyler Cowen was trying to rebrand the word “inflation” for price increases driven by things like oligopoly behavior and other forms of rent-seeking.

Antidote du jour (Robert H). An albino cardinal:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. fresno dan

    “CONSIDERATIONS ON COST DISEASE” Slate Star Codex (Brant). More interesting than the title. Plus I didn’t realize that Tyler Cowen was trying to rebrand the word “inflation” for price increases driven by things like oligopoly behavior and other forms of rent-seeking.

    But things like college and health care have still had their prices dectuple. Patients can now schedule their appointments online; doctors can send prescriptions through the fax, pharmacies can keep track of medication histories on centralized computer systems that interface with the cloud, nurses get automatic reminders when they’re giving two drugs with a potential interaction, insurance companies accept payment through credit cards – and all of this costs ten times as much as it did in the days of punch cards and secretaries who did calculations by hand.

    It’s actually even worse than this, because we take so many opportunities to save money that were unavailable in past generations. Underpaid foreign nurses immigrate to America and work for a song. Doctors’ notes are sent to India overnight where they’re transcribed by sweatshop-style labor for pennies an hour. Medical equipment gets manufactured in goodness-only-knows which obscure Third World country. And it still costs ten times as much as when this was all made in the USA – and that back when minimum wages were proportionally higher than today.

    And it’s actually even worse than this. A lot of these services have decreased in quality, presumably as an attempt to cut costs even further. Doctors used to make house calls; even when I was young in the ’80s my father would still go to the houses of difficult patients who were too sick to come to his office. This study notes that for women who give birth in the hospital, “the standard length of stay was 8 to 14 days in the 1950s but declined to less than 2 days in the mid-1990s”. The doctors I talk to say this isn’t because modern women are healthier, it’s because they kick them out as soon as it’s safe to free up beds for the next person. Historic records of hospital care generally describe leisurely convalescence periods and making sure somebody felt absolutely well before letting them go; this seems bizarre to anyone who has participated in a modern hospital, where the mantra is to kick people out as soon as they’re “stable” ie not in acute crisis.

    Considering all the child labor used overseas, big screen TVs should cost 10$. So for all the stagnant and declining wages all our outsourcing has “bought” us, we still are spending exorbitant sums for crappy services.
    All our “reforms” seem to be designed to assure ever higher profits. I’m old enough to remember when anti-trust was a thing….

    AND I remember that I quite a lung infection after my heart surgery (coughing after your chest has been split is quite an experience) ….they deigned to let me stay in the hospital another 16 hours. The rationale for getting you out quick being that it is so easy to get an infection in the hospital….(apparently, reducing the infection rate is not “cost effective”)

    1. freedomny

      When I had a hip replaced a couple of years ago – they wanted me out the next day. I ended up staying two days. The total cost was 100K – just a stay at the hospital for two days was 68K….mind boggling.

      1. bob

        A friend of a friend works at a hospital, doing billing-

        “it’s 10k a night for a bed, that’s our cost”

        For 10k a night? No room service? Can I buy the doctor, and a then get a GOOD hotel room? Keep your room.

    2. UserFriendly

      Great comment from the article.

      Hi Scott —

      I think many of your points make sense. But I want to extend your second, fifth, and sixth points to show how markets, risk tolerance, and insurance (which I’m going to use instead of ‘regulation’) are connected.

      One way to do this is to point out that, if you believe economists and actuaries are capable of doing a good job of assessing and evaluating risks, that certain things aren’t more expensive today: it’s just that past costs were hidden because they weren’t identified, enumerated, quantified, and incorporated. So, what was, decades ago, a significant but invisible risk borne by, say, a single patient in a hospital somewhere, is now spread out across the population; or rather, the risk borne by a patient has been shifted to the doctor, and then spread across the population of doctors. Ditto colleges that used to not be required, by sheer financial prudence, to employ campus medical and mental health staff, VPRs, HR professionals, and so on.

      Now: the question is *why* has this tendency toward capture emerged. Above, I read you to suggest it is because we have become less risk-tolerant through some emotional or moral change in character, which aligns with the usual (and usually grossly inaccurate) parables about e.g. hot coffee lawsuits. I would instead claim that it is because markets are working, just not in the way that people think they do.

      The trend toward regulation (if you want it to sound bad and scary) or insurance (if you want it to sound prudent and technocratic) is driven by the same force that drives many things in the economy: it’s big business! The financialization of the economy, and of possible derivative economies, is the market at work, seeking new ways to extract surplus value now that the old ways (for example, starting a war with a foreign nation so they are required to buy your exported opium without you being required to give them much in return (or, if you prefer something more current, enforcing near-slavery conditions of rare earth mining that produces smartphones sold back to the miners for more than they made for mining its components)) are seen, to a greater or lesser degree, as abhorrent, along with the general tendency of the rate of profit to fall. Meanwhile, finance capital is abstracted from physical and labor capital, meaning it can be generated and manipulated and derived more quickly than traditional forms or within traditional markets.

      In other words, higher costs, as the result of more regulation/insurance, and concomitant with lowered risk tolerance, is not because markets are breaking down, but because markets are working as they are supposed to work: to expropriate value from the holders of capital, particularly this case financial capital, to the economic detriment of those subject to its actuarial terms, analogous to how more primitive forms of capital accumulation relied on the expropriation of value from slaves or the captive earth.

      Cost disease is a symptom of advanced capitalism working as expected/predicted. It is only a disease to those afflicted by it; to those who benefit from it, i.e. the broader finance-insurance-regulatory regime, it is the engine of profit itself.

    3. Erika

      Were hospital stays more pleasant back then? Because with the experiences I’ve had with friends and family members who had prolonged hospital stays, I can’t think of a worse place to recuperate than the hospital. Even in the early ’90s, when my mother was in and out of the hospital for two years, it was pure misery for her. Between disruptions caused by roommates and by medical staff, she’d hardly get any sleep. And this isn’t taking into account hospitals being vectors for disease, especially antibiotic resistant ones.

    4. run75441

      Fresno Dan:

      What are you selling here?

      Doctors quit making house calls in the fifties as I remember them. I used to take the CTA to see my doctor when I was ill in the sixties. There is no reason to stay in the hospital longer than a week after open heart. It is not a vacation spot and I hated when the nurse stuck a suppository up my butt. I sneezed the day after my triple and I barely got the heart shaped pillow to my chest with an awww sh*t. Moms having babies are better sent home than hanging around a hospital. You are not getting kicked out, you are safer at home.

      Labor costs wee never the issue silly person as they are the smallest ratio of manufacturing. Even Yves will tell you this and I as a manufacturing person live it. Look to the Overhead. Automation, advances in throughput process, etc are you devil. Labor intensive manufacturing when to labor intensive and capital intensive jobs stayed here . . . Heckscher–Ohlin theorem.

      You and many others got what you complained about. The PPACA/ACA/Obamacare could meet its demise and you will get what Price/Ryan/Trump wants to give you through free enterprise. Dan Fresno’s complaint lacks merit.

  2. fresno dan

    QUANTITY OF CARE: A SPECIAL INVESTIGATION Seattle Times. A must read. Martha r: “Great investigative piece. Neoliberalism chews through hospital care–in detail. Maybe the horror of this will compel the majority who want single payer to insist on it–no more excuses.”

    In its ambitious rise to become one of the largest hospital systems in the country, Providence Health & Services struck a deal in 2011 to claim a Seattle-area rival, Swedish Health.

    Providence added five hospital campuses in the process, including Swedish-Cherry Hill, an institution with a storied history and a budding reputation as a global center for neuroscience research, treatment and clinical trials.

    Just a few years later, Providence and Swedish had overhauled the way Cherry Hill’s neuroscience program approaches the business of medicine, enriching the nonprofit institution and its star surgeons.
    I’m not gonna say my comment on how there used to be anti trust and the link “CONSIDERATIONS ON COST DISEASE” proves my point……
    Perhaps the biggest “innovation” in the last forty years is that the rich figured out how to harvest all the money

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “….and star surgeons.”

      So, it’s not just the MBA administrators, but doctors (who are likely professors) as well, who are being enriched.

      A side note – the word ‘enrich’ is often associated with radioactive elements. When these elements become ‘rich,’ they are more lethal.

      1. allan

        ” doctors (who are likely professors) as well, who are being enriched. ”

        In the Seattle story, yes. But that’s not what’s driving healthcare costs nationally.
        See the charts on doctor salaries in the the Considerations on Cost Disease link.
        Since the late 80’s even surgeons have seen their incomes trend downward.
        And being both a doctor and a professor probably won’t help – your guaranteed
        salary as a clinical assistant professor of surgery (the most likely title) is minimal.
        And if you’re on the tenure track you will be spending so much time overseeing a lab and
        applying for grants that any clinical income won’t be that great.

        If you want to drain the swamp in health care costs,
        look to the executive suites, Big Pharma, EHR and the insurance companies.

        Medicare for All with negotiated drug prices deals with at least two of these.
        Surely Tom Price and Paul Ryan are already on the case.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Reading Laruse’s comment below (12:26PM), I wonder if physician incomes would have been even lower without resorting to being unscrupulous.

          And my best guess is that, like all fields populated by human beings, in this one, you also get a variety of characters, distributed in some fashion (maybe the bell shaped one).

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          I recently had to engage the services of a small branch of our Medical Industrial Complex. There I saw evidence for a trend I believe medical doctors should greatly fear for their futures — to say nothing of its imports to the the rest of us. The medical group which provided services to me is organized as a partnership — or so I inferred from a conversation I overheard between a doctor checking me and the nurse assisting him. I also got the impression this medical partnership had structures and a reward system similar to those common in legal practices. I have no idea how extensive or how recent this form of medical practice might be.

          Before my retirement I worked for a large scale partnership of engineering consultants contracting for work with the government. In this era of too much money chasing too small returns the partners in our firm quickly saw the advantages they could accrue from cashing out their positions through incorporating the firm and its cash flow — selling the package to a large venture capital firm. The partners did very well. Those of us working for the firm did less well and less and less well … and I believe our company did less and less well in serving the best interests of our clients. Medical doctors — and their patients — should fear this potential future for what is the last profession remaining.

          1. duck1

            so incentives are not positive for the patient maybe, it’s always sell one Bentley rather than provide the rabble

        3. Karen

          Note the mention of distortions created by Medicare’s fee for service RVUs. Single payer is no panacea with these kinds of incentives. The whole concept of “production” in medical care is lunacy.

    2. Dead Dog

      The very day you allowed the for-profit-health corporations to provide the bulk of health care in the US was the day you lost your ability to control the costs.

      And the increases in costs have mostly been born by those that need health care. Crappy health care at that.

      Our original hospital system was funded by governments or charities/churches. There was an absence of willing private capital.

      In the UK and Australia, elsewhere too no doubt, there continues to be extensive public hospital systems, with no charge to patients. We have allowed private hospitals into the system for the wealthy and insured to bypass the queues in the public system. But, we haven’t (yet) thrown out the public system which the taxpayer (we are led to believe) funds.

      I understand this is not the case in the US? Corporates, seeking profits, now dominate hospital health care?

      I don’t know the history and will do some research, but I suspect that the modern day hospital system in the US arose because providing health care became increasingly expensive and, in the absence of being able to pass on these costs to consumers or taxpayers, many of not-for-profit hospitals were sold to corporations.

      The economist in me says, the system is broken, nationalize those hospitals. The for-profit insurance industry is broken, scrap it and fund public health care through medicare, where the government sets the prices and consumers are not charged.

      Yet, once a public utility is sold, it becomes politically and economically impossible for the assets to return to public ownership.

      I think things are only going to get worse, here in Australia as well…

  3. Optimader

    Re: Ivanka Trump clothing line being dumped

    I think these retailers are targeting the Transvestite Community, where is the Progressive outrage?? ( I enjoy the opportunity to use the term Community where I can).

    I think I might go protest at the local Nordstroms….if the weather is nice

    1. Pat

      I somewhat understood the Nordstrom decision, considering their probable customer make up. But this could really be a loser for Sears KMart. And they are struggling already. They could face a backlash. Still there was likely no winning.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Followed a link from the Sears/Kmart article entitled “14 Things You Can Buy at Nordstrom That Donald Trump Will Really Hate.”

        Translation: Buy these things so no one will think you’re “deplorable.”

        The list includes a $37 bar of men’s soap, a $150 pair of the most unflattering sweat pants you’ve ever seen (and that’s sayin’ something), and my personal favorite: Eugenia Kim ‘Caterina’ Genuine Mink Trim Beret $189, Nordstrom which is described as “very chic.” (Pink mink pussy ears.)

        So now wearing real animal fur is not deplorable? What the hell–did PETA support Trump?

        1. jrs

          I found this more offensive:

          “Because Nike’s CEO, Mark Parker, spoke out strongly against the Muslim ban.”

          Oh yea a company that exploits 3rd world sweatshops to make their shoes (hence why they had to push the TPP) because they are against a Muslim ban. If they were against a Muslim ban and also produced shoes under humane sweatshop free conditions then maybe you’d have a case. But until then [obscenity]

      2. jrs

        Sears and Kmart selling it would probably offend a lot of people as well, I mean I do think dislike of Trump getting smeared to his daughter etc. is somewhat unfair (but then they are only in the position they are as “entrepreneurs” because they won the lucky sperm club anyway), but a lot of minorities etc. find Trump offensive. Poor people voted for Clinton more than Trump afterall. I think the stores would prefer not to get dragged into partisan politics at all, but since it’s inevitable, you are going to alienate someone at that point.

        1. aab

          Sears has been targeting Latino consumers for years. It’s a big and (last time I checked) growing customer demographic, that wasn’t being well-served by retail chains.

          That’s probably true of KMart, as well.

    2. oho

      >>>Re: Ivanka Trump clothing line being dumped

      Streisand Effect. Did you know the Trumps had a home goods line?

      I didn’t until it was pulled from Sears/Kmart.

      Boycotting Ivanka only rallies conservatives and gives free advertising to something 98% of people had no idea existed.

      How about mobilizing for, at the very least, drug importation instead?

      oh wait—that would actually hit the pocketbooks of DNC donors and NBC/CBS advertisers.

      this message brought to you by the makers of Trollvida and Trollvida XL.

      1. John Parks

        @ oho
        “How about mobilizing for, at the very least, drug importation instead?
        oh wait—that would actually hit the pocketbooks of DNC donors and NBC/CBS advertisers.”

        You can probably remember when the public was so outraged at the alcohol/beer/wine/cigarette advertisers that their advertisements were eventually banned from television. (THE KIDS!!!) Now we have seemingly non-stop drug advertising and it is no big deal. When the drug pushers run out of ideas a new malady is “discovered” for which they, of course, have a magical cure. The public has been deluged with those ads and we, adults and children both, now know intuitively that for every problem, real or imagined, there is a pill or a shot that will take care of it.

        The affects of that marketing barrage have never, and perhaps will never, hit the MSM. “The dollar.”

        1. Robert Hahl

          The on ban on TV cigarette advertising was supported by the tobacco industry, as a way to end the anti-smoking public service ads that were being aired with public funds and were reducing cigarette sales.

  4. fresno dan

    CIA honors Saudi Crown Prince for efforts against terrorism Al Arabya (Micael)

    The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, received a medal on Friday from the CIA for his distinct intelligence-related counter-terrorism work and his contributions to ensure international peace and security.

    The medal, named after GEORGE TENET, was handed to him by CIA Director Micheal Pompeo after the Crown Prince received him in Riyadh on Friday in the presence of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.
    In related news, chickens present The Fox with a lifetime benevolence award….

    1. Carolinian

      M of A has something to say about this.

      The medal, named after George Tenet, was handed to him by CIA Director Micheal Pompeo after the Crown Prince received him in Riyadh on Friday in the presence of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

      So it was Trump’s new director of the agency who presented the award. The very idea of the spooks giving out awards seems kind of bizarre.

        1. cwaltz

          I’m pretty sure the field agents aren’t the ones presenting the awards. So yeah, the assets are probably good.

          I think it’s funny that people didn’t know that bureaucracies hand out awards. The military pretty much had an award or medal for everything. Served overseas? There’s a medal for that. Complete 4 years of service without NJP? Medal for that too. You completed a course with a huge degree of proficiency? Let’s give you a ceremony and hand you a charming letter telling you how wonderful you did.

          I do think it’s interesting that the Saudis are getting this award when we’ve stated that our intelligence shows that a good portion of ISIS support is coming from within the Saudi kingdom. *shrugs* My guess is this is the equivalent of a military participation award and meant to encourage the Saudis to continue to work with us.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Didn’t the soviets once give the US embassy in Moscow a special plaque award in honour of WWII friendship that turned out to have a bug in it? Just sayin’

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, received a medal on Friday from the CIA for his distinct intelligence-related counter-terrorism work and his contributions to ensure international peace and security.

        And barack obama won the nobel “peace” prize.

        I’m sure anyone who bothered to take note of this award “news” would not characterize themselves as particularly impressed or persuaded.

        1. human

          Or, as Tom Lehrer said in ’73, “Political satire became obsolete when they awarded Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize.”

          1. Dead Dog

            And then doubled down with Obomba.

            Bit like the Nobel for Economics, you just know the recipients are the most undeserved.

            Should be call the Irony Prize…

            Corruption, you know…

    2. integer

      In case anyone is wondering, George Tenet was the director of the CIA from 1997 – 2004, which means he served under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

      1. Pat

        And helped make sure most Americans do not realize that 9/11 was largely planned and executed by Saudis. Makes this medal even more appropriate in its attempt at duplicity.

        1. Eureka Springs

          U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels

          When President Obama secretly authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to begin arming Syria’s embattled rebels in 2013, the spy agency knew it would have a willing partner to help pay for the covert operation. It was the same partner the C.I.A. has relied on for decades for money and discretion in far-off conflicts: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
          direct financial support
          American officials have not disclosed the amount of the Saudi contribution, which is by far the largest from another nation to the program to arm the rebels against President Bashar al-Assad’s military. But estimates have put the total cost of the arming and training effort at several billion dollars.
          kept afloat on a sea of Saudi money

          1. cwaltz

            What? You mean the CIA didn’t come up with the idea of funding the Syrian rebels on their own?

            (tongue firmly in cheek)

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          I wonder if this was done with the lawsuit by 9/11 families against Saudi Arabia in mind.

          Maybe somebody felt a little “evidence” needed creating.

    3. Chief Bromden

      At first glance I thought it was an Onion piece. Coffee spit everywhere…

      Headline should read “Largest Terror Organization Gives Terror Prize to Other Amazing Terror Organization for Successful Joint Terror Campaigns”

      If you help cultivate the right regime change mercenaries, you too can win the WahabbiZionist Humanitarian Award.

    4. Olga

      Great irony in having the prize named after Tenet… and giving it to a Saudi seems awfully appropriate.

  5. allan

    While hundreds of non-felons are swept up and deported by ICE …

    U.S. refuses to apprehend ex-Peruvian president wanted on corruption warrant at San Francisco airport

    A former Peruvian leader, who has a $30,000 reward looming over his head for a corruption probe, will not be detained by U.S. authorities at a San Francisco airport, according to a report.

    Ex-President Alejandro Toledo was slated to board a United Airlines flight scheduled to leave San Francisco International Airport at around 8 p.m. for Tel Aviv.

    The Peruvian government implored the U.S. to change its mind and apprehend Toledo on an international arrest warrant, but a source told Reuters that authorities declined to honor their request. …

    1. Optimader

      So isn’t that a quick buck for a bounty hunter that owns a sailboat and is up for a leisurely cruise?

    2. Kurt Sperry

      $30k? They mustn’t care much. That’s like putting up posters in the neighborhood offering a penny for your missing cat.

      1. hunkerdown

        “Sorry, what was that name again? Julie de Santo? ¿Como? Julia Sanchez of Wikipedia? ¿Como? ¿Como…? Hello…?”

    1. broadsteve

      Because it’s in the Daily Mail. You may have seen Wikipedia has just decided it is not a reliable source for citations.

        1. broadsteve

          Humour failure eh?

          Why don’t you Google the Daily Mail Song. Not only will it cheer you up, it might help you appreciate my comment.

    2. different clue

      Reading the article makes it very clear. It isn’t fat. It’s elephantiasis and extreme water retention. I remember reading about elephantiasis once. Little parasitic worms infect and infest the lymph system, both nodes and ducts. Lymph normally circulating just pools upstream of every obstruction.

      So the headline was a lie. “Fattest” was a total lie-word.

  6. fresno dan

    CIA files reveal how US used psychics to spy on Iran South China Morning Post (J-LS)

    The dozens of American diplomats taken hostage by revolutionary students who seized the US embassy in Iran in 1979 may have had some secret company during their 15-month captivity: US intelligence agencies had a squad of military-trained psychics using ESP to watch them, according to declassified documents in a newly available CIA database.
    Army officers supervising Grill Flame hotly contested the Air Force colonel’s evaluation, claiming 45 per cent of the psychic reports contained some accurate information. And, they argued, “that was information that could not be obtained through normal intelligence collection channels. The degree of success appears to at least equal, if not surpass, other collection methods”.
    The army never believes air force guys….

    I used to watch the psychics drill when I was working at NSA and stationed at Ft.Meade. I remember the cadences of the drill instructors voice yet: Left, right, left, right, predict which foot to put down next!
    I could tell you which foot the psychics predicted next….but as it is still classified, I would have to kill you….

    1. Optimader

      Why I wonder haven’t psy-chics aggregated all the wealth and power in the world by now? Maybe that other 55% percent of the time when they are wrong, they are spectacularly wrong?
      If that’s the case, it is an extrasensory capability that practically speaking is of no advantage.
      It also begs the question of how much of my tax monies are spent of “other methods”?

      1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        It doesn’t work that way. Have an open mind and look into it and you’ll find there’s something to it. The problem is, as you correctly point out, these things are not yet predictable enough to be useful in the way the Intel people would like.
        It’s like the MK Ultra program. Because during the war, the various sides realized various things about remote mind manipulation they started to think that controlling the human mind generally was just an engineering problem. Thankfully we are (enough of us anyway…) much more complicated.
        If an Imperial state elite believes there is the slightest chance they can enslave everyone, it’s a cinch they’ll pour any funds necessary into the project.

        1. witters

          “Have an open mind and look into it and you’ll find there’s something to it.”

          Knew you were going to say that. I’m ready for action, guys.

      2. Propertius

        Why I wonder haven’t psy-chics aggregated all the wealth and power in the world by now?

        Maybe they have. Maybe Carlos Slim, George Soros, and the Koch brothers are infallible clairvoyants and precogs exploiting their powers to the detriment of ordinary humans everywhere. It’s unlikely, of course (I myself tend to espouse the mouse-eating Reptilian alien hypothesis).

        My question is why they haven’t explained to everyone what “begging the question” really means?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is that right – in our embassy in Tehran, in 1979, dozens of American diplomats were being secretly watched by a squad of military-trained psychics, even before they were taken hostages?

      Or did we smuggle the psychics into that embassy after the it was overrun?

      1. fresno dan

        February 12, 2017 at 11:24 am

        Saw the movie – pretty good. My only problem was that it was not nearly realistically surreal enough…

    3. Propertius

      If the psychics were really so good, why didn’t they predict the hostage-taking in advance and prevent it?

      They could have spared us Reaganomics!

  7. Maturin

    With regards to shaking hands: my custom seems fairly common among everyone I know. A fist bump for casuals, a pound with flourish and embrace for fam, a reverse nod in crowds. A handshake is essentially on the level of a kiss of the lips outside corporate environments. It’s a conspicuous display of trust and familiarity not a formality. The fist bump fulfills the formality function. In the event of a convention such as PAX where PAX Pox or PAX Plague is a well known issue, the reverse headnod becomes standard. This is not a show of deference, but more “I see and acknowledge you, friend” and is performed by locking eyes and giving a quick upward nod of the head. An extended hand at PAX will be left hanging. Basically, this is already a solved problem as far as I can see. The author just doesn’t get out much I suspect.

    1. Propertius

      None of these alternatives really fulfills the original purpose of the handshake (proving that you’re not carrying a weapon in your right hand). With the general rise of contentiousness everywhere, it might be wise to consider that (not that it does much to protect against a leftie such as myself or the biblical Ehud).

      Perhaps we’ll all return to the Roman/Fascist/Nazi salute as an alternative. Now there’s a thought.

  8. Marco

    I’m late to the Jennifer Palmieri kerfuffle about the marches NOT being about $15hr jobs but rather Identity. She’s getting flak but her perspective seems to align with the view here at NC even while we disagree about ID as a core electoral strategy. At least “they” are being honest now.

      1. cocomaan

        My wife just said, when I read this to her, “The government can’t help you with self actualization. You have to get there yourself, because it’s self actualization!”

          1. cocomaan

            “DIY self actualization directions:

            Open only when twitter memes fail to construct a personality for you.”

        1. clinical wasteman

          Yes, and the base is the condition of possibility for doing that. Which is why politics, i.e. collective activity, should always stay on that level.
          ‘Apex’ politics implicitly tell people without adequate food and shelter that poverty is their own faut: they should have worked harder at self-actualization!
          ‘Culture’ and ‘identity’ are ‘apex’ matters: all personal or group feelings about those things are valid, but their mobilization to destroy the base for other people is not. That’s why identity beliefs should never be given police powers and why ‘national’ sentiment should have nothing to do with the workings of states (if states there must be). And why — in super-respectful disagreement with some other commenters here — I still see a Federal USA (or future federated North America?), a federated Europe, secular pan-Arab federation, federated Africa and whatever broad arrangements the people of Asia and Oceania, South America and the Caribbean care to invent (a literal USSR?) — as preferable to a ‘balkanized’ world of autarchic microstates under one or two global hegemons. With the proviso, of course, that none of those federations should look anything like those currently existing or tried in the past. Because the alternative — the post-WW1 geopolitics of borders, passports and standing armies largely in place today — promises nothing but perpetual war. Inside any microstate there will always be another ‘national’ group arming itself and demanding its own border and police force, and/or Anschluss with part of a neighboring enclave. And hegemons are expert at playing these groups off against one another in the universal interest of class exploitation.

          1. jrs

            culture an identity are only apex matters under one definition, in another definition black lives matter is “identity politics”, but the issue is of course life and death. Or how much good does a job do you after a cop has killed you?

            You maybe have to run a campaign to appeal to the broadest possible base, that’s politics. But don’t confuse politics with morality, ie can whites even admit minorities might have problems they don’t? I sometimes wonder.

            1. aab

              Except “identity politics” doesn’t touch problems of violence in a practical sense. Did electing the first black president help reduce violence against black citizens? No, not at all.

              Reducing militarized policing and the police state’s targeting of black people is a complicated problem. I’m not sure if addressing it through the lens of racism and identity is most effective at this point. That’s one of my takeaways regarding the differences between things that really helped people who are vulnerable in this hierarchical capitalist system, and things that backfired. An offshoot of BLM (one I believe unsullied by the TFA Trojan Horses like McKesson) had some cool, practical ideas for making progress, but they can’t be implemented without a real, not faux, left wing party. That means first we have to get that left wing into power by offering universal material benefits to build a broad enough coalition to support that left wing approach. And by being universal, they can’t then be used as a cudgel against minority groups.

              To be clear, since I’ve written a lot about this issue here recently, I think misogyny and racism are serious problems, with specific, deleterious impacts that are structural in nature. I am not saying that a package of universal benefits and gently socialist reforms (like Post Office banking) would eliminate those problems by themselves. But they have to be Step One. Because the left is crawling on its knees right now, most of the country is suffering, and we have to rebuild the left by rescuing the citizenry broadly, and showing that it’s possible. We also have to find new ways to think about, talk about, and structurally address these problems through policy, because the targeted approaches of the second half of the twentieth century seem to have backfired spectacularly.

            2. Oregoncharles

              I think identity politics misled BLM. They would have done better to call themselves “All Lives Matter,” thus pre-empting the name. (Unspoken qualifier: “even ours.”) As a slogan, it has the big advantage of being obviously true (or at least righteous); those who use it now are being dishonest, since they really mean “Blue Lives Matter.”

              Emphasizing “black” implies that whites are safe, which is untrue and self-defeating politics.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                I beg to differ.

                BLM was specifically calling attention to persistent police lying and coverups about routine killings of blacks by cops. Yes, it happens to whites too, but this really is overwhelmingly a black and person of color problem. There were some great tweets (I forget the hashtag) but the theme was “Things I did to the police while white,” like throwing up on the hood of a cop car with police in it, where the white kid just got a reprimand while a black kid would have gotten his head cracked open.

                And the stalling out of BLM had nothing to do with the police sloganeering back. It was the result of successful Democratic party infiltration which rapidly put and end to some of its most effective tactics, such as die-ins, which were getting substantial participation of people of all colors.

                1. aab

                  I agree with Yves, and it gets at my earlier point from another direction. Actual movement action focused on specific marginalized groups gets undermined by this Democratic Party, not supported. That’s yet another reason it is vital to purge the leadership of the party.

                  Identity politics as currently practiced by the Ds is used against marginalized groups. This is probably self-evidence to a lot of people that read this site, but it’s so toxic I figure I had to keep stressing it when I’m also strongly advocating for universal benefits as the current policy focus. I’m not advocating for universal benefits because that’s all that’s needed. It’s what needs to be prioritized now, for numerous reasons.

  9. Ulysses

    Ilargi asks an important question:

    “Do these people really want to risk peace in the eastern Mediterranean, or inside Greece itself (which will inevitably explode if this continues), just in order to keep Commerzbank or BNP Paribas out of the trouble they rightfully deserve to be in?
    No, it’s not Tim Malloch’s ‘statements that reveal’ “outrageous malevolence” towards “the values that define this European Union”. It’s the actions of the European Union itself that do.”

    The sad answer to this, and to many similar questions, is that the cruel psychopaths who dominate our world are more than willing to risk any number of disasters– for other people– if it keeps them and their kleptocratic friends on top. Wars, floods, famines, they care not at all if they think they can ride atop their apocalyptic horses to luxury retreats protected from the chaos.

    “In private Facebook groups, wealthy survivalists swap tips on gas masks, bunkers, and locations safe from the effects of climate change. One member, the head of an investment firm, told me, “I keep a helicopter gassed up all the time, and I have an underground bunker with an air-filtration system.””

        1. Optimader

          Seems like there would be more fundamental issues at hand than a helicopter type rating or who was doing maintenance before one decides things are deep enough in the weeds that one needs to evacuate oneself by helicopter, no?

          Practically speaking, are things likely to be significantly more stable ~300 miles away when one would need to make a decision where to land or crash with no fuel?
          I occasionally puzzle, but not too much, on the “bug out” crowd thought process when the subject comes up.
          Where do they all intend on going to?
          Then what?

          1. John Wright

            If they all cluster together in a “safe” zone, they will find themselves in a truly unfamiliar territory, as they may find they only have neighbors that identify with the “exploiter class”.

            It will be difficult to find good help when everyone around you wants to be top dog and expects to control others.

            Hunger games of the rich.

              1. John Wright

                There is a good movie about the rich/poor role reversal when circumstances change.

                It is the Lina Wertmueller film “Swept Away” from 1974.

                Fictional, but perhaps foretelling.

          2. Tom

            Yes. Not just who cooks, cleans, does laundry. Who repairs the home and appliances? Where does the fuel come from to power everything? Who provides security and defense for the enclave? Who educates the kids? Who cares for the elderly? Who provides dental care and medical services from dispensing antibiotics to major surgery? Who creates art, music and dance? Wow — turns out it really does take a village, although maybe not exactly like Hillary meant.

            1. allan

              Lending new significance to the Davos refugee camp theater-in-the round.
              Not just informational, but useful prepping.

              …US Ambassador to Switzerland Susi G Levine called it “an intense, powerful way to build empathy”. Her workshop group, which included the Turkish prime minister’s wife Sare Davutoğlu, had to “use ID cards, cover our hair (for women), experience abuse, ensure sensory overload, feel humiliated and more”, she wrote on Facebook, adding “I highly recommend doing it”….

              Irony died and moved to Switzerland.

            2. Ulysses

              This is where kleptocrats also turn out to be silly, magical thinkers, every bit as deluded as the poor sod who wastes time on scratch tickets.

              I guess their hope is that they and a handful of faithful retainers will only have to ride out a few months of gilded captivity. What do they expect will be their welcome from any post-apocalyptic survivors when they venture outside?

              “Oh, I see that you’re freshly showered, blow-dried, manicured, and wearing expensive clothes from Nordstrom’s. I, and my machete-wielding mates here, have lived through unspeakable horrors! Yet now we are happy, and can relax, because we finally have a sartorially splendid squillionaire from Silicon Valley to boss us around. Please tell us how we can serve you!”

              1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

                As Mark Blythe loves to point out, The Hamptons are not a defensible position. Same for New Zealand.

          3. WheresOurTeddy

            The ones who can do physical labor and happen upon homesteaders who take pity on them will get to eat. Those who are useless will be treated as such.

            Based on their economic policies of the last 40 years, not sure how many kindhearted homesteaders they can realistically expect to find.

            Better not roll up my mountain road in your Range Rover.

        2. DanB

          A really vital question: where do you refill? They think the system will reboot or -even more looney- not fail in any meaningful way relevant to the elite. They’ve got lots of money, after all.

    1. Dead Dog

      I guess these guys think they can escape to their underground bunkers and, once the masses have all died off, emerge to restart the human race.

      ha fucking ha

      They may have air filter systems, but the intakes have to be somewhere and it won’t take Einstein to work out how to flush the rats out of their nest.

      And once their stocks of champers and foi gras are depleted, oh yes, they’ll have googled how to grow food and be self sufficient.

  10. integer

    The Origins of the Overclass

    The wealthy have always used many methods to accumulate wealth, but it was not until the mid-1970s that these methods coalesced into a superbly organized, cohesive and efficient machine. After 1975, it became greater than the sum of its parts, a smooth flowing organization of advocacy groups, lobbyists, think tanks, conservative foundations, and PR firms that hurtled the richest 1 percent into the stratosphere.

    The origins of this machine, interestingly enough, can be traced back to the CIA. This is not to say the machine is a formal CIA operation, complete with code name and signed documents. (Although such evidence may yet surface — and previously unthinkable domestic operations such as MK-ULTRA, CHAOS and MOCKINGBIRD show this to be a distinct possibility.) But what we do know already indicts the CIA strongly enough. Its principle creators were Irving Kristol, Paul Weyrich, William Simon, Richard Mellon Scaife, Frank Shakespeare, William F. Buckley, Jr., the Rockefeller family, and more. Almost all the machine’s creators had CIA backgrounds.

    During the 1970s, these men would take the propaganda and operational techniques they had learned in the Cold War and apply them to the Class War. Therefore it is no surprise that the American version of the machine bears an uncanny resemblance to the foreign versions designed to fight communism. The CIA’s expert and comprehensive organization of the business class would succeed beyond their wildest dreams. In 1975, the richest 1 percent owned 22 percent of America’s wealth. By 1992, they would nearly double that, to 42 percent — the highest level of inequality in the 20th century.

    1. integer

      I should have included a description of the author of this article. My apologies for the oversight. Here is the information contained at his Wikipedia page:

      Steve Kangas (Steven Robert Esh, May 11, 1961 – February 8, 1999) was a journalist, political activist and chess teacher known for his website Liberalism Resurgent [1] and highly political usenet postings.[2] Until 1986 he worked for military intelligence. His stay in Berlin turned him from a conservative into an outspoken liberal militant.[3] His writings were sharply critical of business propaganda of the overclass[4] and CIA.[5]

      He died of a gunshot wound under unclear circumstances.[6][7] He was found on the 39th floor in the restroom of the offices of Richard Mellon Scaife[8] inside One Oxford Center, Pittsburgh. It was ruled a suicide by local police.

  11. justanotherprogressive

    I watched “A Ballerina’s Tale” on Netflix a way back. It is worth viewing just to see Misty Copeland dance – what an amazing talent, but mostly I cried for all the other talented and hard working dancers who will never get a chance…..
    It is a sad commentary on today’s “class” society. We are all told that by working hard and being the best, we will rise to the top, but that’s just not true any more. As “A Ballerina’s Tale” points out, you need all those things AND you need someone from the top to pull you up – your efforts alone just won’t do it any more. If you are fortunate enough to attract someone who is willing to give you a hand up – great! But if you are not that fortunate, not all the hard work and talent in the world matters …..

    1. Optimader

      …”But if you are not that fortunate, not all the hard work and talent in the world matters”……
      That is a pretty extraordinary claim!

      1. ambrit

        We’re not all cut out to be Nijinskiis. Imagine all the Nijinsky level dancers twirling, twirling away on barren hillsides whilst watching the flocks, or skipping about on the street while trying to panhandle tonight’s supper. Chance plays a huge part in life’s unfolding.

        1. aab

          But it plays too much of a part now — chance benefits a small handful, while most opportunities go to the well-born yet less talented and competent.

          If ballet companies matter, then they should be populated mostly by talented dancers and choreographers.

          The scam of ballet training in this country and how it is used to enforce gender norms and elite privilege while destroying bodies and lives is no joke. It’s also quite racist. (One of the most brilliant male dancers I ever saw washed out because his calves were thin. They worked great — he was, among other things, a fantastic leaper — but his biological background meant they were innately, unchangeably leaner than you tend to see in dancers of “white” European descent. And the type of ballet that the upper class has supported economically so that it continues to exist is hierarchical, exploitative and deeply conformist. Hmmmm…)

            1. aab

              Ballet gets funding from the wealthy. That is why it persists. I could go on a long, long rant about why that is and why current ballet culture is so destructive, but its connection to political economy and capitalism, while strong, is probably not closely enough connected to Yves’ focus or that of the commentariat to warrant my indulging myself in writing it up here.

              Dance (including ballet, which does not have to be the destructive physical and cultural force it so often is) is a profound and beautiful art form. I’m glad Misty Copeland wasn’t chewed up as so many now are by the system. I remember when she was a kid, and it wasn’t at all clear she’d make it through.

              1. ambrit

                Reading your comments on this makes me think of the film “Gigi.” Who else would make a tuneful romance about a young girls training to be a courtesan? Those who would benefit from that system of course. Then there is or was the “corps de ballet,” which had the cachet of “easy virtue” attached. Stories about “Gypsy” dancers on stage productions abound, and for good reason I surmise. Body type norms hide an exploitative layer of meaning. The “Can Can” was banned for a reason, and that banning wasn’t based on esthetics.

  12. juancito

    Mercedes A-line video. The factory parking lot looks to be less than half full. I guess those robots didn’t drive to work. Maybe they car pooled?

    1. Bugs Bunny

      The Socialist Party candidate in France has proposed a “robot tax” based upon the number of human jobs replaced by each robot. Tax will cover things like automated grocery checkout as well.

      Benoît Hamon.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Will they tie immigration to unemployment?

        The higher the labor participation —-> more legal immigrants.

      2. Dead Dog

        Yes, the self checkout.

        They are ubiquitous and governments have permitted them, even though we can all see, in plain sight, how they have replaced millions of jobs. A tax would be one way to discourage them, like an annual ‘payroll tax’ – say 50% of their cost each year.

        I go to Maccas, sometimes, and I wait at the counter until a human serves me. I recall one time, I waited five minutes. The manager had seen me, but was hoping I would go and ‘construct my own burger’ at the screen.

        Similarly, at Woolies early one morning, there was no-one staffing the checkouts. So I said ffs or something similar and dropped my intended purchases on the floor.

        I will queue for a human to serve me and when those companies go full self serve, well they won’t get any of my money.

        Who will buy the hamburgers when none of us have a job and an income?

    2. Dead Dog

      A responsible government would tell Mercedes to f off, can’t sell those robot produced cars here.

      Where do we go to find one of those?

      Bit like our govt saying ‘can’t afford the 500m to prop up the car industry’ (we used to have Ford, GMH, Toyota and Mitsubishi – only Toyota and GMH remain, but will close in October 2017), but we can afford 300bn for useless new submarines’.

      But, but, those 3000 new jobs…

      The reality is, nearly all carmakers are subsidized, but our government’s decision will likely cost 200,000 jobs, by the time all those wages are pulled from the economies in Victoria and South Australia.

      What would I do? Tell them they can’t sell their crappy cars here anymore.

      Na, not gunna happen

  13. Bill

    Americans Aren’t as Attached to Democracy as You Might Think

    All of us who grew up in the Jim Crow South (including IIRC our esteemed Yves Smith) know this already. It clearly has not changed in my 70 + lifetime.

    1. Bullwinkle

      Well, as it’s been said, the New South is the same as the Old South but with central air conditioning.

      1. Propertius

        Ever lived there? I’m just wondering (as a Massachusetts native who was primarily raised in the Deep South) whether you have direct experience or are basing your observation on MSM caricatures that might be a bit out of date? All I know is that NYC is just about the most segregated city in the United States (particularly in its school system)* and that the last time I heard a person of primarily European ancestry use the “n” word was in the Northeast. My observation is that there is no more effective way to combat bigotry than the use of the court system and (occasionally) Federal troops, coupled with the passage of time.

        * See:

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          From Northern California (near Oregon, north of Bay). Lived in Missouri. Lived in Georgia.

          Some parts of the South have not joined this century yet.

          A few parts of the South have not joined *last* century yet.

          One man’s opinion.

          1. ambrit

            Surprise, surprise! The New Old South is the template for the Neoliberal Twenty-first Century! Instead of share cropping, we’ll all be share starving.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      No I did not grow up in the South. I go there because my parents moved there after I started college.

      I don’t have a home town, we moved way too often.

  14. Dirk77

    Re: Experiment Reaffirms Quantum Weirdness. I’m confused. If you are going to entertain the possibility that the state of the photon to be measured is somehow correlated with the choosing of the modulator settings, what is stopping you from thinking that the photon state is also correlated with the _present_ determination of the state of the 500 year old photon used to choose the modulator settings?

    1. Ruben

      Right, I didn’t think of that, it’s a very good observation. It seems they are assuming the 500 yr old photon hasn’t changed since it’s determination at its origin, and in particular not changing when getting close to the modulator and the crossing-Vienna-windows traveling photon.

    2. craazyman

      Not only that, but what if they did this in Italy?

      Would an Italian photon work the same way as an Austrian photon? No way. Now think what if they did this in Berlin! Vienna is probably closer to Italy so you may have a higher correlation, but Berlin, absolutely no way. That’s like totallly impossible, for it to work in Berlin like it would in Italy.

      Speaking of advanced math, I saw — through random movement of my head — that Yves friend Cathy O’Neil (Mathbabe) made Drudge with a new book. That’s awesome PR!

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is that quantum weirdness weird because it is weird, or is it because the human brain can not comprehend in some other way such that it is not weird?

      “The weirdness, Brutus, lies not in those star-born quantum particles, but in our faulty brains.”

    4. Jake Mudrosti

      This is not your confusion. This is a problem with the presentation of the material. That’s why I’ve always advocated that quantum mechanics be deemphasized in NC links.

      Does the following, torn from my past lectures, make anything strike you in a different way?

      A bank account is accessed at 9 am from a machine in New York. At 3 pm it is accessed from a machine in New Jersey. Question: where was the bank account at noon? Answer: it wasn’t anywhere, and certainly not traveling along at the midpoint. It was a question devoid of meaning. If the rejoinder is that there must certainly be computer memory in some room somewhere, then the reply is that you’re no longer talking about the bank account itself but rather its attributes which can be distributed anywhere or everywhere without affecting your measured interaction.

      A moment of reflection makes it clear that our words “bank account” obscure the fact that we’re talking about a mere construct — a representation of a thing, rather than an actual thing. (It’s a representation that is useful in letting us make sense of the physically real, measurable ATM transactions.) The word “particle” is analogous. And that’s the key right there. Any “weirdness” in quantum mechanics only means that we insist on poorly-chosen human-constructed mental representations — Democritan particles — and naively think that they “really” are there. Successful modern quantum field theory (QFT) takes as its starting point the idea that they are not. To imagine that they “really” are there would be like insisting that clusters of “bank accounts” huddle like stray dogs around ATMs.

      Schrodinger wrote this all up very well for the lay reader, all the way back in the 50s, during the early stages that became modern QFT. At that time, it was already perfectly understood that the Fermi-Dirac statistics were incompatible with naive Democritan atom concepts/representations (without introducing piles of “weirdness”).

      1. Katharine

        Thank you! I love your bank accounts huddled like stray dogs around ATMs.

        Which is why I think they should go on posting these links, because it gives us a chance to read corrections like this.

        1. Dead Dog

          Yes, my own head was full of knowledge, but is much richer for coming here and having an inquiring mind and reading the thoughts of the many intelligent people contributing to NC.

      2. Aumua

        Oh, everyone thinks quantum theory is so cool.. until your staring at the math I’m looking at in my current coursework. Most people wouldn’t think that was very cool.

      3. craazyman

        I would say that bank account at noon is probably someplace over the Hudson river? That would be a Maximum LikeliHood Estimate.

        There’s no reason to suppose it goes to Connecticut or Lon Guyland after New Yawk and then, affter that, to New Jersey. Or even out in the Atlantic Ocean and then west.

        Parsimony and elegance are essential aspects of theorizing! Let us honor them even in our speculations. As long as I can get cash though, I donm’t care where it is. So it’s kind of a moot point. It could be in South. Dakota, as long as there’s an electrical connection.

        This is complicated stuff. It’s amazing to me the world works like this, I mean really. Who thought of this? It wasn’t a physicist because it was already there before they started. It wasn’t there before the Big Bang, probably. So it must have started right at the Big Bang. They needed cash and there it was. Let there be cash! And there was cash. And it was good. And the hand of God moved across the ATM and the machine produced 10 twenties and 5 tens. And on the 7th Day the Lord had a beer and said “Fuk. This is Good stuff I did.” (Except it was complicated_)/

      4. Propertius

        Or, as a physics professor explained to my introductory class back in my misspent youth:

        “You might think that an electron can’t be on both sides of solid barrier – but that’s because you’re not an electron. Stop telling the electron what it can and can’t do.”

      5. ewmayer

        Shorter Prof. Mudrosti (if I may) – It’s all about the *information*. Taking QM and ‘spooky interaction at a distance’ (i.e. quantum entanglement) into account, the proper statement of Einstein’s famous special-relativistic ‘speed limit’ is “information cannot propagate faster than the speed of light in vacuum”. Similarly, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is really a statement that information cannot be gained without effort (energy expenditure), entropy being a kind of thermodynamic inverse measure of information content.

        Taking into account the inherent noisiness of the quantum fields underlying our universe, the conclusion is that decoherence is inevitable and that, without expenditure of work, information is always lost over time. Photons may propagate endlessly, but signals invariably degrade.

      6. ewmayer

        Shorter Prof. Mudrosti (if I may) – It’s all about the *information*. Taking QM and ‘spooky interaction at a distance’ (i.e. quantum entanglement) into account, the proper statement of Einstein’s famous special-relativistic ‘speed limit’ is “information cannot propagate faster than the speed of light in vacuum”. Similarly, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is really a statement that information cannot be gained without effort (energy expenditure), entropy being a kind of thermodynamic inverse measure of information content.

        Taking into account the inherent noisiness of the quantum fields underlying our universe, the conclusion is that decoherence is inevitable and that, without expenditure of work, information is always lost over time. Photons may propagate endlessly, but signals invariably degrade.

      7. Ruben

        Very nihilistic and metaphorical, you didn’t actually explain what is there really if not the particle, but that would be way off-topic I guess.

        “A moment of reflection makes it clear that our words “bank account” obscure the fact that we’re talking about a mere construct — a representation of a thing, rather than an actual thing”

        This error -called reification- is at the heart of politics. Look up Max Stirner.

  15. flora

    re: the Refugee Crisis and Greece’s debt

    The northern Eurozone countrie are trying to expel refugees and stop new refugees from entering. Greece is sheltering 10’s of thousands of refugees. Warning… bad thought ahead.
    The northern Eurozone members, the ECB and the IMF are crushing Greece with debt and unreasonable demands. If I were the Greek govt (and be glad I am not) I might consider helping all the refugees within my boarders to move north as quickly as possible, once the spring warm weather arrives, unless the ECB and Germany and the IMF agree to renegotiate my debt on reasonable terms.

    1. The Trumpening

      Greece has been trying to ship their migrants north but have so far only met with failure. Unfortunately geography has not been kind to Greece. They have a northern border with Kosovo, Macedonia, and Bulgaria. For some unexplained reason the mostly Muslim refugees avoid Muslim Kosovo like the plague. They also avoid Bulgaria since they will have to register and stay in Bulgaria. But this doesn’t work for the refugees whose ultimate goal is Germany or Austria, so they attempt to break through the border at Macedonia. Even if they manage to get across this border most are quickly rounded up by the Macedonian police and sent right back to Greece.

      At some point Greece did indeed threaten to unleash a wave of refugees on Europe if their debt was not settled. So far Greece has been unable to accomplish this and are stuck with all the refugees who were enticed to come to Greece in the hopes of being sent to on Germany.

        1. dbk

          The border crossings are all closed, and all the EU countries leading through various routes to Germany are closed, too. As in, truly closed.

          The refugees aren’t going anywhere – 70,000 (official number), probably closer to 100,000.

          Friends in the refugee field here tell me they anticipate nearly all will remain, barring a peace settlement in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq.

          Reflecting on this, it has occurred to me that Greece’s role in the EU henceforth seems to be destined to be that of: (a) bailing out northern European banks; (b) providing through forced privatizations sources of mineral wealth to multinationals (natural gas, gold, inert minerals); (c ) serving as a permanent “holding area” for war refugees from the ME-NE, and (d) offering a summertime playground and resort to the rich. Greece has 2,000 islands, a number of which are on offer at bargain-basement prices. The resort area near where I live has been purchased by Russians (10,000 properties in the past five or so years); entire villages in Crete have become home to Swedish, German, and British colonies.

      1. OIFVet

        They also avoid Bulgaria since they will have to register and stay in Bulgaria. But this doesn’t work for the refugees whose ultimate goal is Germany or Austria, so they attempt to break through the border at Macedonia.

        Wait, I thought that these poor “refugees” were simply running to safety, not to a plump welfare situation in a rich Euro country?!?! In any case, this validates my insistence to call these people migrants rather than refugees. They ceased being refugees once they entered the first safe country, in most cases Turkey and Iran.

        Also too, Bulgaria has not exactly rolled out the red carpet for migrants who are not willing or able to pay up smugglers and bribe the border police: Bulgaria Welcomes Refugees With Attack Dogs and Beatings. Vigilante right wing groups have began to patrol the border with Turkey as well, and they seem to be getting well-funded by extreme right and neo-nazi groups from the rest of Europe, getting money and equipment from groups as far away as the UK.

    2. OIFVet

      Actually, the reverse is far more likely to happen: Greece will get paid to take back a huge amount of migrants who first entered the EU through Greece. Bulgaria and Italy will likely be subjected to similar demands and blackmail. That way Mutti will be able to blunt some of the appeal of AfD by claiming to be tough on the very migrants she invited to come in large numbers, and thus shore up her troubled reelection bid. Thinking cynically is the only way to avoid being unpleasantly surprised by the neoliberal US and EU elites…

        1. witters

          It’s A.
          Day after Day.

          Reminds me of climate denialists I know. Always coming up with new factoids from nowhere land.

    1. Alex Morfesis

      That trump/russia dossier is looking less and less dodgy and more and more fabricated…every day…

      ok, so deripaska and manofort had some deal for a cable company in the ukraine…deripaska is married to yeltsins granddaughter…since when is Yeltsin considered a systematic problem for association ??

      Based on “association” with deripaska, shouldn’t BofA have its fdic insurance yanked at a minimum??? Didn’t they help book his hong kong float ?? John Paulson bought into the deal…wasn’t he in bed with steve munchkin in the countrywide bank smash and grab commonly known as onewest ?

      And what exactly can “agent” trump do for the commissars ?? How can they force him to do anything now that he is “el queso grande” ?

      Who has a book they are trying to pitch ??

      1. EndOfTheWorld

        If Trump did something against the law, sue him in a court of law or try to impeach. But this attempt to convict him with the tribunal of Yahoo News, CNN, and MSBS is growing more and more absurd by the millisecond.

        BTW, Trump is often accused of being “isolationist” but if he’s using informal back-channels to talk to an important foreign country that would be the OPPOSITE of isolationist, would it not? The MSM feels that the US President has no powers himself and should do only what the “real” powers tell him to do. Whoever the “real” powers are. That’s what this criticism is all about. They are aghast at the “unmitigated gall” of The Donald trying to do some do-it-your-self diplomacy, but they might as well shut their pie-holes because this is a do-it-your-self prez who is not lazy and is trying to have some fun.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      John Helmer already debunked it in detail, as did a Russian expert (famously hostile to the Kremlin) in German in FAZ.

      Helmer’s version here:

      Helmer’s comment:

      Here’s the original:

      It’s a publication designed by CNN’s lawyers and intended to deter lawsuits. CNN is preparing its “public interest” and “allegations in wide circulation” defences; demonstrating due diligence in research; showing credible if hidden “official sources” and avoiding the “animus” which is required to make libel stick. Thus, “CNN has not reported any of the salacious allegations”. By contrast, CNN can now show repeated animus on the part of the President – “White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, “We continue to be disgusted by CNN’s fake news reporting.”

      All I see that’s new is: “some of the conversations described in the dossier took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier.”

      1. A

        I didn’t find the debunking convincing at all.

        First, it doesn’t even mention the name Manafort. The campaign manager who was dropped/left the campaign after his Russian connections came out. Helmer doesn’t discuss at all the fact that the only input Trump’s people had into the RNC platform was the softening of the stance on Russia’s Ukraine incursion. Why were Trump’s staffers so adamant about this? That was July 18th. And July 22nd, Wikileaks publishes DNC emails, what do you know! The dossier has an explanation for this, what’s an alternative one?

        About Page, Helmer says “In Moscow Russian sources say Page has made a record of wishful thinking and hustling for a job in the new administration; in Washington Trump’s announcement of one has yet to be made.”

        That is not true; from Trump’s conversation with WP on March 21st discussing his foreign policy team:

        “TRUMP: Well, I hadn’t thought of doing it, but if you want I can give you some of the names… [some names]; Carter Page, PhD; ”

        And then, just like with Manafort, Trump distanced himself from Page when his Russian connections started gaining attention, e.g. the Yahoo report. From the article I linked:

        “It’s unclear what he did or who he met with before and after giving the speech, but Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff, citing a Western intelligence source, reported in September that Page met with Igor Sechin during his trip.”

        And the ad-hominem attacks on Steele and his motivations (how would anyone know what they are?) make the whole debunking seem less credible. Either what someone says is true or it isn’t, their agendas/motivations don’t change the facts.

        1. EndOfTheWorld

          What crimes were committed? If there were any, sue the guilty party. Anything else is just hot air.

        2. integer

          How do you explain the fact that the dossier had been circulating for months yet it has been documented that no news agency, including those that clearly have anti-Trump agendas (eg. NYT, Wapo, and CNN), was willing to report on it because they could not find any evidence to back up any of its claims? With the amount of resources these organizations have at their disposal, including channels to communicate with numerous intelligence officials (you know, the ones that always speak to them on the condition of anonymity), it is highly unlikely they would have failed to find any supporting evidence if it actually existed.

          I remain skeptical, to put it mildly.

  16. Laruse

    The Quality of Care article is pretty timely for my family. My 77 year old mother in law has been scheduled for a torn rotator cuff surgery this week. Mind you, she has a heart condition, early stage dementia, her spouse has mid-stage moderate Alzhiemers with bad Sundowning issues every day), and she does not and has never been athletic or sports-inclined, and her shoulder only hurts when she tries to raise it behind her. With no golf or tennis in her future, we cannot understand why anyone would recommend such a challenging surgery to someone whose quality of life will not significantly improve.
    The article does provide some enlightenment.
    As for my MiL, no amount of counseling, discouragement, or even outright yelling by my husband yesterday, can convince her that the doctor might have his bottom line more in sight than her long term well being; surgeons only have to see their patients for the consult, the OR, and the immediate aftermath and everyone else manages the long term effects.
    It’s a real mess for families to manage this kind of stuff as it is without having unscrupulous doctors lining up patients as meal tickets (or student debt loan payments).

      1. Oregoncharles

        PT made my frozen shoulder into rotator cuff injury, with swelling clear down to my hands – both of them.

        I wasn’t impressed. Frozen shoulder goes away after about a year, regardless of what you do to it- and that;s what the physical therapist told me!

  17. crittermom

    Great photo of a gorgeous bird today.

    Thanks, Yves, for understanding that such beauty as you post in antidotes is needed, as you help to educate us on the often times, ugly truths.

    Antidotes. A small thing that is much appreciated by this reader. (Not to disregard the excellent information!)
    Thank you.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Hear, hear, we shouldn’t let a heightened awareness of the ugliness of our socio-politico-economic structures sour our whole worldviews, the human mind in its quest for aesthetic ecstacy must land from time to time on a branch and ponder on something beautiful

  18. LT

    Brazil: exhibit A of how wealth can warp minds or exhibit A of how the Olympics can warp a country?
    Temer govt would rather sow chaos rather than raise taxes for any type of social contract with its citizens.
    So hard to let go of that old colonial mindset.

  19. bob

    “Inside the Uber Side Hustle The Ringer”

    Wow. All you need to do is create a “viral video”, and then you’re well on your way to… what? More Uber?

    “So naturally he began plotting the makings of a viral video. When he came up with the idea of rideshare karaoke, Gaurano bought a camera and a GorillaPod, attached the setup to the dashboard of his silver 2014 Nissan Versa, and started asking his passengers to sing along to music.

    And viral he went.”

    I don’t speak English anymore, apparently. The present and future tense are all mixed up. Plan for a viral video? That seems…hard.

    “Two weeks after that, he got a call from the Weeknd’s management: They wanted to fly him out to Toronto to see a concert and meet Abel Tesfaye himself. He asked Tesfaye what he thought of the video.”

    Any word on an income yet? The driver had to buy a car, lots of tech and then gets an invite to hang out with rockstars! What about an income?

    “which earned Gaurano more than 1 million views on YouTube. Less than six months into his time as an Uber driver, he’d found a way to parlay his driving gig into the beginnings of a veritable side hustle.”

    Is a side hustle anything like an income?

    “According to Harry Campbell, who occasionally drives for Uber and Lyft but has transitioned into running a blog called The Rideshare Guy, it’s common for new drivers to see these jobs as a means to an end, rather than a career path.”

    So, no? Get your own F’ing blog.

    ““If you are a young, single guy or single girl, you can share a room,” he said. “Your expenses are very low; you only need to make a few hundred bucks a month. You can make that on Uber and then pursue whatever it is you’re passionate about.””

    You have your passions! Only at Uber are you allowed to have your passions! *Passions are strictly limited to cute and viral, as per your Uber non-employee contract.

    “His work thus far has landed him a side gig growing Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube feeds for “influencers.” While he’s no longer driving for Uber, Gaurano is still driving for other rideshare services and looking for new ways to get noticed — and eventually graduate to something different.”

    Growing! Graduating even!

    ““I don’t want to be one of those normal Uber drivers who always brag about all the other side things that they’re doing in their life,” he told me before he quit in protest. “Like, ‘I’m not really an Uber driver, I’m also this, this and this and this.’ I think the reason why they do that is because it can be a little bit embarrassing to go to a party and say, ‘I’m an Uber driver.’ I’m very much in that camp.””

    Maybe not? Not the strongest conclusion. But who reads the the end? We’re talking viral, baby!

    1. LT

      Love the question…”Is a side hustle like an income?”

      Guess that depends if listing the side hustle would in any way help you get an apartment (proof of employment) or loan…

      1. bob

        It seems much more like a way to spend money, not make money, as described in the story.

        “We’re a tech company! All the rules have changed! Costs are now payments, income is loans. Up is down and in this universe, you want to be a virus. Disrupted!”

        1. Nakatomi Plaza

          I have to believe Uber will eventually prohibit their drivers from promoting and selling their side-businesses to passengers. Aside from annoying passengers, that’s not the image Uber is after.

    2. ChrisPacific

      “There’s some people who just want to get to where they’re going as quickly as possible, and I respect that,” he said. “At that point I just customize the music experience with my vast library of songs.”

      Remember, folks, that while singing karaoke with your drivers is technically optional, encouraging their pitiful and futile dreams is actually part of their compensation package. They don’t earn enough to make minimum wage without it! Help us to preserve their illusions so we can exploit them on your behalf.

  20. LT

    $400 billion plan to refreeze the Arctic…

    Based on Arctic research when the planet has two poles working together to create climate.
    Shouldn’t more data from the Antarctic be allowed to develop before making such a decision?

    1. Marco

      “A new life awaits you in the [Polar] off-world colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden [frozen] land of opportunity and adventure…”

      1. ambrit

        Those “polar off world colonies” will need a lot of Roys and Priss’s to staff and run. Cyborgs, here we come?

  21. LT

    Mexican migrants signal they prefer detention to deportation.

    The article had a pay wall, but that’s a lot of “faith” in who their future jailers will be.

  22. ex-PFC Chuck

    Re: “Man dissolved after fall into Yellowstone hot spring Edmonton Sun (frosty zoom)”

    If the Trump administration privatizes the national parks maybe we could buy the acreage surrounding that hot spring and start a business to disrupt the cremation industry!

    1. Aumua

      The article says there is a video of the accident that his sister is not releasing. I know it’s wrong but I kind of want to see it..

      Ugh Internet, what have you done to me?!

  23. redleg

    BWCA-Quetico copper:
    Elimination of carbon based energy, a global hazard, requires mining of copper, silver, and REE, a local to regional hazard. The Duluth Complex is one of the 5 largest copper deposits in the world, mined or not. One of the mining companies intends to use sulfur as an energy source (in a closed process) to refine the copper. Sulfide converted to sulfate, which can be sold for use as plaster or drywall, and is carbon negative.
    Water flows north from the ore bodies, away from the great lakes.
    I love the BWCA/Quetico, but continued emission of CO2 and CH4 is more destructive to the region than mining. It’s a difficult trade but one that needs to be made.

  24. ChrisPacific

    Re: Trump Team Leery of Having Too Many ‘Goldman Guys’ in Top Posts

    So, we are starting to see the details of how Trump plans to get tough on Wall Street. At least one finance-related post in his administration will be filled by someone who isn’t a Goldmanite! Possibly even several of them! (The lesser ones, of course). Fight the power, Donald.

  25. UserFriendly

    Boundary Waters visitors spent $57 million in nearby communities last summer Quetico Superior Foundation. Chuck L: “This study will be critical to us opponents of the proposals now being floated to allow the mining of sulfide ores of copper and precious metals on the edge of and upstream from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

    Tell that to all the people being laid off in the Iron Range who see a new mine as the only economic opportunity they have. That community is one of the few rural DFL hold outs. Dems opposing new mining any stronger then they already have been will be the final straw with them. Those chemicals are going to come from somewhere, would you rather it be in MN where there are strong environmental protections or should some other community that isn’t as well off be forced to deal with the consequences?

    1. Toolate

      Without question i woukd rather they mine somewhere other than one kf the last pristine wilderness areas jn the country

    2. redleg

      Gold mines already operating north of Quetico.
      One dirty secret of Minnesota Iron mines: the ore has significant arsenopyrite (arsenic plus sulfide for you non-geologists) that’s left in the tailings. Arsenic and acid drainage are not a problem in NE Minnesota after 100 years.

  26. Foppe

    Here is a very long op/ed, written by a former IC rent-seeker turned “war college prof” and “news analyst”, writing about how the “spy revolt against Trump begins“. Intro:

    In a recent column, I explained how the still-forming Trump administration is already doing serious harm to America’s longstanding global intelligence partnerships. In particular, fears that the White House is too friendly to Moscow are causing close allies to curtail some of their espionage relationships with Washington—a development with grave implications for international security, particularly in the all-important realm of counterterrorism.

    Now those concerns are causing problems much closer to home—in fact, inside the Beltway itself. Our Intelligence Community is so worried by the unprecedented problems of the Trump administration—not only do senior officials possess troubling ties to the Kremlin, there are nagging questions about basic competence regarding Team Trump—that it is beginning to withhold intelligence from a White House which our spies do not trust.

    That the IC has ample grounds for concern is demonstrated by almost daily revelations of major problems inside the White House, a mere three weeks after the inauguration. The president has repeatedly gone out of his way to antagonize our spies, mocking them and demeaning their work, and Trump’s personal national security guru can’t seem to keep his story straight on vital issues.

    But note especially this:

    In truth, it may already be too late. A new report by CNN indicates that important parts of the infamous spy dossier that professed to shed light on President Trump’s shady Moscow ties have been corroborated by communications intercepts. In other words, SIGINT strikes again, providing key evidence that backs up some of the claims made in that 35-page report compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence official with extensive Russia experience.

    As I’ve previously explained, that salacious dossier is raw intelligence, an explosive amalgam of fact and fantasy, including some disinformation planted by the Kremlin to obscure this already murky case. Now SIGINT confirms that some of the non-salacious parts of what Steele reported, in particular how senior Russian officials conspired to assist Trump in last year’s election, are substantially based in fact. This is bad news for the White House, which has already lashed out in angry panic, with Press Secretary Sean Spicer stating, “We continue to be disgusted by CNN’s fake news reporting.”

    That is hardly a denial, of course, and I can confirm from my friends still serving in the IC that the SIGINT, which corroborates some of the Steele dossier, is damning for the administration. Our spies have had enough of these shady Russian connections—and they are starting to push back.

    What’s going on was explained lucidly by a senior Pentagon intelligence official, who stated that “since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM,” meaning the White House Situation Room, the 5,500 square-foot conference room in the West Wing where the president and his top staffers get intelligence briefings. “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point,” the official added in wry frustration.

    More at link, for those who are entertained by nonsense.

      1. Foppe

        It doesn’t matter much that there’s no actual evidence; what matters is that they believe it, and that they’re apparently doing these things because they believe it. Institutional power is dangerous.

  27. altandmain

    The defense death spiral continues…

    Currently, 53 percent of Navy and Marine Corps aircraft are unfit to fly. That rises to 62 percent of strike fighters and, as we reported yesterday, 74 percent of Marine F-18 Hornets. Overused, under-maintained, and not replaced, the aircraft are simply wearing out.

    Unfortunately there’s more to this madness.

    The USN isn’t spending money on maintenance. They are instead spending all funds on acquiring more F-35s and Super Hornets.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If a household or the private sector won’t look at efficiency, productivity, or return on investment, the public sector should lead and show them.

      It seems these guys (and gals) are wasting money and mis-allocating funds.

      1. ambrit

        The case could be made that most Military budgets are misallocations. How many times over do we need to be able to destroy this world after all?

    2. aab

      I am no longer surprised to discover we’re late stage Soviet Union.

      Is this how our military decline finally happens? If we don’t have functional aircraft, instead having a lot of incredibly expensive planters (that’s right, isn’t it — the F-35 can’t do any tasks actually needed?) we can’t even pretend to wage war, can we? Can the MIC really get away with no jobs program element and just dropping drones and building things that don’t work?

      I guess we’re about to find out.

    3. Dead Dog

      As someone who knows the cost of maintaining thirty year old cars, it is not surprising the F18s are becoming more expensive to maintain and keep operational. And, the problem with 30 year old cars, they can’t quite keep up with the modern machines on the road today.

      All that money and none for thee

  28. allan

    Not draining the swamp, one robo-signer at a time. Not news, but further confirmation:

    Records here dispute Treasury nominee’s denial of mortgage-crisis ‘robo-signing’
    [Seattle Times]

    A bank founded by Steven Mnuchin, President Trump’s nominee for Treasury secretary, engaged in ethically questionable foreclosure practices in Washington state — including so-called “robo-signing” of documents.

    OneWest Bank employees robo-signed numerous foreclosure-related filings in the Seattle area, documents show. The bank also was sanctioned in 2013 by a Seattle federal judge for obstructionist tactics in a foreclosure lawsuit. …

    During Senate confirmation hearings, Mnuchin explicitly denied OneWest engaged in robo-signing.

    But his denial has been picked apart by numerous media reports pointing to a 2009 deposition by OneWest vice president Erica Johnson-Seck, who testified to robo-signing hundreds of foreclosure documents a week, spending no more than 30 seconds on each.

    That included paperwork in Washington. A Seattle Times review of King County Recorder’s Office filings discovered Johnson-Seck’s signature on dozens of recorded real-estate documents. The assignments of deeds of trust — generally filed to establish the lender’s legal authority to foreclose — bear her hastily scrawled “E.”

    Numerous other foreclosure-related papers in King County were signed by a small group of Johnson-Seck’s colleagues operating out of a Texas office. …

    Seattle attorney Melissa Huelsman argued that OneWest’s adoption of robo-signing and other aggressive tactics was especially egregious because the mortgage industry already was under a cloud at the time of the bank’s formation.

    “They were later in the game. They acquired those assets and immediately started mirroring the stuff that was the subject of litigation,” said Huelsman, who specializes in foreclosure and mortgage-fraud cases. “That’s a reason why I think it’s somewhat more offensive with OneWest.” …

    Another solid for the back row kids.

  29. allan

    New South Wales smashes February statewide heat records two days in a row
    and is the hottest place on the planet

    Residents of Richmond saw the mercury climb to 47 degrees on Saturday, placing the town on the north-west fringe of Sydney within less than a degree of the title of global hot spot – Ivanhoe Airport recorded a maximum of 47.6 degrees. …

    47 degrees? That sounds downright cool. Oh, wait ….

    …Walgett is also among towns vying to break the record for the number of days in a row above 35 degrees that now stands at 50, at Bourke Airport in 2012-13. That tally will be broken within days on current forecasts.

    Temperatures above 47 degrees were also recorded in NSW on Friday and Saturday. White Cliffs’ overnight low temperature on Saturday morning of 34.2 degrees also broke the 102-year-old record for the highest minimum in NSW for any month. …

    94 degrees F for the overnight low. Is there a problem?
    Have these troublemaker “journalists” not heard of central air?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think the prediction is the weather will be more extreme – drier and wetter, hotter and colder.

      Probably some place in the northern hemisphere is experiencing record winter weather.

    2. Dead Dog

      Yes, mate. But it’s only hot weather, not evidence of climate change.

      40 degrees used to be the sort of upper limit in these towns, but 47? Sheesh!

      Also, causing disruptions in power, just when people need the ability cool themselves. And, there are about 80 bush fires making things even peachier.

      At least most towns opened their swimming pools for free…

  30. Vatch

    A Look At Why ‘Crime Pays’ In Indian Politics NPR

    “Crime pays” — that reminds me: the nomination of Steven Mnuchin to be the next Secretary of the Treasury will be considered by the Senate on Monday, February 13. The many problems associated with him have been discussed here at Naked Capitalism and elsewhere. To refresh your memory, here are some articles:

    David Dayen’s article begins:

    TREASURY SECRETARY NOMINEE Steven Mnuchin lied in his written responses to the Senate Finance Committee, claiming that “OneWest Bank did not ‘robo-sign’ documents,” when ample evidence proves that they did.

    Mnuchin ran OneWest Bank from 2009 to 2015 in a manner so ruthless to mortgage holders that he has been dubbed the “Foreclosure King” by his critics.

    The robo-signing scandal involved mortgage companies having their employees falsely sign hundreds of affidavits per week attesting that they had reviewed and verified all the business records associated with a foreclosure — when in fact they never read through the material and just blindly signed off. Those records, in many cases, were prepared improperly, but the foreclosures went ahead anyway because of the fraudulent affidavits.

    Do we really want someone like Steven Mnuchin to be the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury? If you are a U.S. resident, and you have a Republican Senator, please call on Monday morning to express your opinion about Steven Mnuchin! He lied to the Senate!

    1. Dead Dog

      He didn’t lie, he misspoke.

      All those illegal foreclosures and the personal devastation to people’s lives. All to enrich a small few, who should have taken a loss on their underwater investments.

      Can’t see no moral compasses anywhere…

  31. NerdOfBird

    That cardinal is actually leucistic and not albino; albiinism affects only melanin and is basically an all or nothign condition. Leucism affects all sorts of pigments and can be total, leaving you an all white animal, or partial as in this specimen where patches or patterns are white while other areas retain normal pigmentation.

  32. allan

    The Thin Blue Budget Line: NYPD vendors receiving nearly $390M from budget shrouded in secret [NYDN]

    Nearly $390 million of the NYPD’s budget is shrouded in secrecy — and even the department says it’s not sure why.

    About 92% of the Police Department’s $4.87 billion budget goes to personnel costs — salaries and benefits for the 36,000 cops and 18,000 civilian members of the nation’s largest police force.

    The remaining 8% – $389.6 million — is vetted and documented by Controller Scott Stringer. But when each expenditure appears on the city transparency website,, the name of the vendor getting paid is listed as N/A, or “ not available.” …

    After all, disclosing those white water rafting trips would expose sources and methods.

  33. allan

    Evacuation ordered for Oroville; dam spillway expected to fail
    [SF Gate]

    Butte County officials ordered residents in low-lying areas of Oroville to immediately evacuate on Sunday afternoon due to a “hazardous situation” with the Oroville Dam emergency spillway.

    The Butte County, CA, Sheriff’s Office said a failure of the spillway may cause “uncontrolled release” of flood waters from Lake Oroville.

    The state Department of Water Resources did not elaborate on the emergency, but said just before 4:45 p.m. that the “auxiliary spillway at the dam was predicted to fail within the hour.” Officials have increased water releases out of the primary spillway to 100,000 cubic feet per second. …

    Yikes. This seems to be getting serious.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Hasn’t collapsed yet and they’ve managed to lower the water level enough to stop the flow over the emergency spillway.

      This drama might go on for a long time.

      I take an interest because we live in the floodplain. No dams upstream on our little river, though. Some on the Wilamette, that could affect us. Dams are dangerous.

  34. political economist

    The article by Charles Hugh Smith (The Coming Class Wars” on “the protected class” versus the “unprotected class” led me to his source for this distinction, the WSJ article by Peggy Noonan (
    “The protected” versus “the unprotected”…hmm. A not-so-clever attempt by Peggy Noonan to build an interpretation of the current historical juncture as one of 2 opposing groups of people in capitalism. Undoubtedly praised by many in the most “protected” group!! (how ironic). [see for example, , where Charles Hugh Smith blogs about the “Coming Class Wars”.]

    But, who are the members of the protected class? Here is PN’s definition: “The protected are the accomplished, the secure, the successful—those who have power or access to it. They are protected from much of the roughness of the world. More to the point, they are protected from the world they have created. Again, they make public policy and have for some time.” Confusing right? People who are secure and successful could be say physicians or even nurses or many teachers or plumbers but none of these people “have power or access to it” nor do they live in a “world they have created.” On the other hand they likely “are protected from much of the roughness of the world.” So, let’s start clearing up some of PN’s confusion. Let’s call this first group, the people who are “the minimally protected.” It is true they are”protected from the world” or, more correctly, currently well protected from the vagaries of capitalism. (This is the group that Smith uses as the paradigmatic “protected class.”)

    Returning to PN. Members of “the protected class” are those “who have power or access to it.” Using THIS definition, the protected by and large are simply people like Noonan herself and other experts who serve the ruling class. It makes sense to call them simply, “the experts.” This group is very different from the first group, the minimally protected. At times she refers to the experts as “the elite” but this seems unfair, they are simply the most highly regarded servants. I suppose we should include most members of Congress in this category as well. Not that they are experts at anything but potentially they must be controlled because they have potential power given their formal Constitutional powers. Controlling the DNC and the RNC are important for the ruling class. But, a task easily achieved at this moment in history but one that (importantly!) must be continually achieved.

    Finally, there are the people who are implicated in living the most protected bubble of “the world they have created.” Of course, not even the ruling class actually creates the world they live in. But, PN, I believe, wants to confuse her readers by lumping together people who are functionally very different. Actually, not surprisingly, the ruling class is not mentioned by name at all in her article. The better to make her political points in service of the 1% of the 1%? Probably, but perhaps she is herself so indoctrinated she is unaware of what she is doing. It doesn’t matter.
    The most hilarious part of PN’s “influential essay” (Smith’s term but I’m not saying it is not influential and certainly it is meant to influentially misdirect anger towards those of the least influential of “the protected class” is her heavy-handed attack on teachers rather than say the obviously entitled blood-sucking, highly-self-regarding, unproductive, truly-protected class (at least currently) of Wall Streeters. From PN we learn that members of “the protected class” (the experts in my clarification) “are careful to protect their own children from … failing schools, they choose not to help [“the unprotected class”] through the school liberation movement—charter schools, choice, etc.—because they fear to go up against the most reactionary professional group in America, the teachers unions. They let the public schools flounder. But their children go to the best private schools.”
    Of course, PN must know that this is EXACTLY FALSE. That is, it is the experts who want to privatize and charterize and ruin public education and teachers with the support of their local communities who want to save it. It’s not just DeVos and Gates, it is Obama, Clinton, and Duncan as well.

  35. uncle tungsten

    The management of the Oroville dam looks mighty odd. There is a balancing act in managing dam levels between leaving sufficient capacity to allow for a major flood event and holding sufficient capacity for hydro, irrigation, urban and environmental consumption. From the images I have seen there was scant consideration for keeping the dam low enough to absorb and respond to upstream flooding. I guess the return for electricity generation and “selling” water was mesmerizing the decision makers.

    I have only ever seen an emergency spillway without a concrete seal in the poorer nations of this planet. To see that in the USA just made me laugh. What a disgrace!

  36. rifki

    BWCA-Quetico copper:
    Elimination of carbon based energy, a global hazard, requires mining of copper, silver, and REE, a local to regional hazard. The Duluth Complex is one of the 5 largest copper deposits in the world, mined or not. One of the mining companies intends to use sulfur as an energy source (in a closed process) to refine the copper. Sulfide converted to sulfate, which can be sold for use as plaster or drywall, and is carbon negative.
    Water flows north from the ore bodies, away from the great lakes.
    I love the BWCA/Quetico, but continued emission of CO2 and CH4 is more destructive to the region than mining. It’s a difficult trade but one that needs to be made.

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