Links 1/31/15

We had some serious WordPress issues overnight which took my and Lambert’s time and undermined my posting. As a result, the Grexit posts are very light given the bombshell of the Yanis Varoufakis statement rejecting the tender ministrations of the Trokia in a press conference with Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chairman of the Eurogroup of Eurozone finance ministers. It appears that Varoufakis had presented his position privately before the conference, but it is simply not done to show such disagreement publicly. As we’ll discuss longer form tomorrow, we were concerned from statements made during the campaign that Syriza was not taking a bold enough stance relative to its financial overlords. That concern has certainly been put to rest. But also understand what Varoufakis meant. He is not rejecting negotiating with the Troika on a restructuring. As he stated in later interviews, he is rebuffing having Troika bureaucrats come to Greece, inspect progress, and act as unappointed administrators.

Zombie Cat: Buried Kitty Believed Dead, Meows Back to Life ABC (OIF Vet). OMG, I’d feel SO guilty for having buried him!

Reuters (EM)

FiveThirtyEight

BBC (David L)

MIT Technology Review (David L)

Pando (furzymouse)

y Business Insider

Digital Journal (martha r). In Germany.

Grexit?

Financial Times

Keep Talking Greece (Nikki)

Project Syndicate (David L)

David Bollier (martha r)

Syraqistan

David Swanson

Buffalo News (Andrew S)

Public Citizen (Deontos)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Reuters (EM)

Michael Krieger

New York Times (David L)

Vox

Police State Watch

Filming Cops (martha r)

Partnership for Civil Justice Fund

Project Syndicate (David L)

Reuters (EM)

e International Business Times. Article questions the logic of the decision.

Bloomberg

Class Warfare

OregonLive (martha r)

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

David Cay Johnston, Aljazeera

Antidote du jour:

dirty-monkey

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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112 comments

  1. Llewelyn Moss

    Speaking of Pallets of Lost War Cash

    The United States Congress has appropriated nearly $65 billion towards training Afghan security forces since 2002 — but how that money is spent just got a lot more difficult to track.

    The American command in Afghanistan has decided to classify details on how money is being used, according to a quarterly report released on Thursday by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

    1. Classification makes all the graft a whole lot easier to cover up. I’m only surprised it took them this long to get around to doing it, the scumf**ks…

      1. Llewelyn Moss

        Yup. Fascists do luv their secrets.
        Obama: “This is the most transparent administration in history.”

        1. “Transparent”….hmmm…I don’t think that word means what he thinks it means…

          Although, if by transparent, he means see-through, then yeah it is utterly transparent how this Administration works for the wealthy and powerful at the expense of everything else.

      2. James Levy

        My guess is: this is where the bribe money has to come from to hold down attacks this summer as we start to scamper home. What once would have been considered unthinkable and unconscionable–especially among conservatives–that we would pay our enemies not to fight us, has now become clever and respectable since the magic “surge”. People who 35 years ago would have gone around quoting “millions for defense, not one cent for tribute!” went on to promote Patraeus and that very strategy as some kind of “victory” for the good old US of A. What a pathetic bunch of twits.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      $65 billion here and $65 billon there, pretty soon, we will need more deficit spending, that quenches no domestic drought but will be very satisfying for our proconsuls and ‘global partners.’

  2. Beth Destefano


    B4 u can have a discussion of macro-deflation/inflation & mmy-u have to know the hx, meaning & purpose of what money is between asset& productivity(labor) &asset(savings) & debt.

  3. ex-PFC Chuck

    The English-speaking world needs a translation of by Udo Ulfkotte. When will we get one?
    From the link:

    “No German mainstream journalist is allowed to report about [my] book. Otherwise he or she will be sacked. So we have a bestseller now that no German journalist is allowed to write or talk about.”

      1. Enquiring Mind

        Can you add the 200 Years book by Solzhenitsyn? That is another variant of Gekaufte Journalisten.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Under capitalism and free market, everything has a price, just a matter of supply and demand, I believe.

      So, one hour, out of your 80 or minus life span, can be bought and sold, for anywhere from the min. wage (legally) to $1 billion or more a hour.

      It is not surprising, then, that you can buy journalism.

    2. Jackrabbit

      In English, we several terms but they are not mainstream (blogese or academic):

      > pressitutes . . . . . . . . . . probably closest to translated meaning of the German

      > access journalism . . .. somewhat academic and refers to an indirect corruption

      > M$M . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . attacks the corporate press as a whole

      There are more. For example “corporate media” – but that term is quite a bit understated.

      =
      =
      =
      H O P

      1. different clue

        I will claim to have invented myself the word Presstitutes before I knew that others had independently invented it long before I ever did. I can’t prove that, of course.

        Anyway, here is another word which I claim to have invented. And I haven’t yet seen that word anywhere else. Journaliarist. Journaliarism. If anyone likes them, feel free to use them.

        But always remember, some journalists view journalism as a craft and a calling. They don’t seem to have been bought, sold, or even to have placed their interpretation-for-hire on the market. We should remember that.

        1. Ex-PFC Chuck

          Paul Craig Roberts has been using “prestitutes” for quite a while. As for precedence I have no idea.

  4. User

    A new multibillion-dollar market for Microsoft Windows is about to go crazy

    people already use linux servers so it won’t be great problem
    The major problem is there is simply no alternative to MS windows OS.I am using ubuntu 14.04 and it is most user unfriendly OS i have used.I used zorin,linux mint,open BSD. It seems Open source movement takes pride on complexity and user unfriendliness.I had great hopes from react OS but i think it is never going to be operational.
    Now i am being forced to Windows.There is simply no alternative to Windows OS
    I don’t think a business where time is money can use open source OS.I would rather pay and get something that always works.

    1. Antifa

      What on earth are you mate? Crikey — if Ubuntu challenges your fingers or your brain, perhaps you’d better stay away from toasters and kitchen blenders as well.

      Ubuntu for the desktop and Linux servers are more the norm around the world every day. Meanwhile, Microsoft is having to give Windows 10 away for free all this coming year just to try to hold on to desktop share. And it’s still a useless OS without constant anti-virus updates and patches. If you took a boat with this many holes in it upriver, you’d never get to Oz.

      Windows Server is already a lock for big corporations. They’d have to rebuild and retrain everybody to upgrade from Windows to Linux, and they don’t generally have the courage or vision to do it for the long term good of the company. So they keep stuffing dollars into Bill Gate’s pockets.

      1. Agreed about the ease of using Ubuntu (though I still prefer Ubuntu 12.04 to 14.04). I had a friend who got a new computer and went from Windows 98 to Windows 8 with nothing in between. He couldn’t figure W8 out for the life of him, and he’s not the tech-savviest either, so I put Ubuntu 12.04 on his machine and he was using it comfortably within 30 minutes.

        If you can figure out how to make a comment on NC, you should be able to figure out Ubuntu. just sayin’…

        1. Oregoncharles

          I’m using Ubuntu this moment – and if i can, anyone can.
          I hardly noticed the switch (which my son carried out), though some buttons are different colors. Granted, I don’t try to do anything very complicated.

      2. Jack

        “And it’s still a useless OS without constant anti-virus updates and patches. If you took a boat with this many holes in it upriver, you’d never get to Oz.”

        Hah.

    2. different clue

      I remember reading somewhere that the open source software movement and all its software expressions are/were designed with the do-it-yourself software-readjuster in mind. I suspect I too would share your dismay
      with open source hobbyist-software aimed at digerati-snob types rather than at lost analog refugees such as myself. So I suspect Antifa’s cute little insult just below would apply to me too. And I don’t even care. I don’t care what the digeratti think of me as I rock on with my analog bad self.

    3. ProNewerDeal

      IIRC Dell is heavily selling Ubuntu laptops/desktops in China and “other emerging markets”.

      I wondered why isn’t Dell or some existing big computer company trying to do that here in USA? Especially the likes of a HP, whose “strategic” “visionary” clueless CXOs just keep doing pointless mergers, divestitures, etc, while using any such event as an excuse for another massive layoff. Alongside undoubtedly much financial engineering, Enron-ish questionable accounting, & short-term quarterly profit seeking. Why not actually serve a wide-open screaming customer need, like mass-marketing decent-quality Linux laptops?

      1. inode_buddha

        Thje reason why they don’t is a holdover from the days of MS hegemony, before the antitrust trial… they don’t want to piss off microsoft. Its amazing how capitalists don’t actually believe in free markets because competition might happen, and thats a bad thing! Dell actually does sell stuff with Linux pre-installed in the USA – but you have to ask for it, they don’t advertise it conspicuously.

  5. The Derivative Project

    Yves, in response to your Link yesterday to Matt Taibbi’s “Why Deflategate and Chaitgate Rage, America Quietly Robs its Elderly”—the real story—Matt endorses Bloomberg-lite coverage? Say it ain’t so,….Matt.

  6. Looking for some reading material? Well, it’s your lucky day! In the interests of public education, these eBooks on economic democracy have been made available free of charge (which doesn’t mean you can’t pay for them, if you choose):

    1. JEHR

      I’m a little worried over Tsipras’s “balanced budget” idea. Otherwise, these are words that should have been spoken long ago and by all the European countries now in deflation. Bravo to Syriza!

      1. Here’s the question though, given that Greece is not a monetary sovereign: is it (or will it be) possible for the Greek government to run large enough fiscal deficits to allow the economy to start functioning again? (which is separate from the question of whether they will use whatever resources they have in a way that actually benefits the real economy)

        The Germans have a complementary currency system (the WIR, iirc) for their industrial sector, perhaps the Greeks should implement something similar. The TEMS system of alternative currency is already being used in at least some places in the country. I think expanding these alternative currency schemes might be a way for Greece to take advantage of some MMT ideas moving forward, without having to leave the currency union.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          Tspiras seems to be saying that a substantial renegotiation of the debt burden and cleaning up government corruption and tax avoidance together would–or could–do the heavy lifting. Am I correct in thinking that a substantial debt renegotiation would in principle help counter deflation as well?

          1. Am I correct in thinking that a substantial debt renegotiation would in principle help counter deflation as well?

            Only if it is accompanied by increased gov’t spending. On its own, I don’t see how a debt-write down would directly influence price levels.

        2. Marko

          Weisbrot et al at CEPR show how relatively modest increases in gov’t spending can make a significant difference in employment and growth over the next 5 years , also resulting in a lower debt/gdp than is currently projected by the IMF :

          “This paper argues that prolonged mass unemployment and reduced living standards, brought about by years of recession and budget cuts, are unnecessary, and that a robust recovery is feasible. It presents an alternative macroeconomic scenario with a moderate fiscal stimulus, which brings the economy much closer to full employment over the next five years, with a lower net debt than currently projected by the IMF. This alternative is just one of many possible scenarios, some of which might include debt cancellation, or more help from the European Central Bank in maintaining low interest rates, especially in light of its recently announced quantitative easing program. The current program, which forecasts a weak recovery with many downside risks, as well as continued mass unemployment in the years ahead, should be replaced with policies that offer a much stronger and faster recovery.”

        3. Carla

          The WIR bank is in Switzerland, although with some German roots: .

          And diptherio, just curious: are you so sure that Greece shouldn’t leave the currency union? Perhaps I should put it another way. Are you convinced that the currency union is a good thing and should continue?

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If he means to take from military spending and use it for the people of Greece, he can balance it a little.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      The World Socialist Web Site is pointedly critical of Syriza, saying that its “radical posturing” masks a “thoroughly establishment and bourgeois” party and agenda, and that its alliance with ANEL signals a feint to shift right. Maybe the WSWS is incurably cynical; but the worst possible omen:

      That same day, President Barack
      Obama congratulated Tsipras on his
      election and said the United States
      “as a longstanding friend and ally,
      looks forward to working closely with
      the new Greek government to help
      Greece return to a path of long-term
      prosperity.”

      Syriza’s pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist policies ensure that it will,
      in the near future, come into direct
      conflict with the working class. Its
      role, backed by the collection of
      political frauds and pseudo-socialist
      charlatans who have promoted it
      internationally, is to prevent the
      emergence of an independent
      political movement of the working
      class and to confuse and disorient
      workers and young people, while the
      most reactionary layers within the
      state prepare for such a conflict.

      1. Carolinian

        My old fave Michael Smith says the syriza/rightwing populist alliance is a move sure to put the troika’s knickers in a twist.

        Tsipras’ “open letter” to Germans may just be words but they sound like words one could have read here at NC. This could get interesting.

      2. Bene

        Why are everyone’s knickers in a wad over Syriza’s alliance with ANEL? I get it; they’re not particularly nice guys, but Syriza needed to move QUICK to form a government, and ANEL doesn’t get access to the economic platform Syriza ran on. It’s got nothing to do with a political shift or showing true colors. It’s simply pragmatic politics.

      3. Marko

        This title in the links above carries the message that progressives never seem to get :

        ” As Neoliberal Forces Lash Out, Solidarity with Syriza is Needed ”

        Plug in “Piketty” , “progressive gov’ts in S.America” , “Bernie Sanders” , etc, for Syriza and the message is the same. The enemy of your enemy is your friend. Save the backbiting for conversations held in private. Backbite the backbiters who violate the above rule in public , however – and do it aggressively – if you want this movement to ever get off the ground , that is.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      My small concern, perhaps unfounded, is that the new Greek finance minister, Mr. Varoufakis, is a game-theorist, and a good one at that, while many politicians, European or otherwise, play games, sorry, practice games all the time, 24/7. They live it, game-theory every waking and sleeping moment.

      1. craazyboy

        Today, or last night, the ECB announced the Troika is really alive (kinda like the buried kitty that meowed), and that Greece VILL be negotiating vith the Troika. Ozervise funding for Greek Banks is cut off und Greek financial system goes kaput in a kitty litter box.

        Time to see who’s bluffing. Can a MMT KungFu Master dazzle us with fancy footwork? Will Russia buy the most expensive Naval Base in human history? Will we ultimately have a Greek Missile Crisis? Whom will play JFK? Will MAD still work if Europe does it?

        Stay tuned for the answers to these questions and more…..

        1. susan the other

          It was apparent from the video of the handshake that both Varoufakis and Dijesselbloem were of a mind. Both of them were satisfied. Trust me. Both unable to hide their pleasure for their accomplishment. It appeared that the EU was destroyed because the EU could no longer rely on the Troika ( you just killed the troika ). But in fact, the part of the Troika that was killed was the IMF. In other words, the USA. Both the EC and the ECB are able to adjust to political necessity – the IMF is a dinosaur. Why do we let our country go so rogue as to screw up the entire planet. There is something wrong with us.

          1. craazyboy

            I haven’t been following the blow by blow extremely closely over the last 6 years, but my recollection is Europe has been trying to stick the IMF with the bill. So if we are not careful, we may end up owning Greece, tho we wouldn’t get free vacations or anything like that.

            The latest news off the press is Varoufakis has a boss, and his boss called Draghi to
            clear up any misunderstanding and state they most definitely do want to talk to the troika, or any of it’s surviving entities.

            It looks like Varoufakis attempted using the Voice to destroy the troika. Didn’t seem to work.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            You need to see the BBC interview with Varoufakis. He clearly states he was not rejecting negotiating with the Troika. He fully plans to negotiate with the Troika.

            What he rejected was Troika bureaucrats coming to Greece and acting in an official capacity, basically telling the Greek government what to do. He clearly stated was talking about two levels of the Troika, and what he was rejecting was a lower, administrative level.

            1. blowncue

              Acknowledging your update at the top, I am still wondering how coordinated Tsipiras and Yanis are in public or whether the former and latter are good cop/bad cop – and so far i might put Moscovici/Merkel as their opposites? Reports of Lazard coming back on board has me wondering does Michele Lamarche emerge as negotiator or coach? Clearly Yanis is done with “the program” but is Tsipras wanting the result of the 1953 London Debt conference but he will talk with Troika members or does he want to convene his counterparts and change who sits opposite him?

            2. blowncue

              Follow up re: Keep Talking Greece…”You just killed Troika” doesn’t make sense. I bet what was said was “You just killed your chances with the Troika”

          3. Yves Smith Post author

            Yours is a minority reading. Varoufakis and Dijesselbloem did not speak before the meeting which is not at all normal and a sign that they were already at odds. Varoufakis looked pleased as punch with what he said and gestured to Dijesselbloem as if he should make a remark too. Dijesselbloem took his earphones off and looked non-sed at best and left. Someone at Dijesselbloem’s level, when presented with something out of left field (even if Varoufakis said the same thing in private, it is a completely different matter to commit yourself to a position like that in public) is tantamout to ambushing Dijesselbloem. A pro stays cool and regroups with his principals.

  7. BobW

    Class Warfare / Deflategate: When I had a retirement account, I found that it would have been better to put the money in a coffee can and bury it in the back yard – it would not have lost nearly as much value.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Yesterday I submitted back to Bloomberg, asking them to bring back ‘/quickview.’ Their answer:

    Hello:
    Thank you for your comments as we have forwarded to our web design team. Please continue to visiting Bloomberg while we add new features and enhancements throughout 2015. If you are seeking a similar page to QUICK, please visit

    Sincerely,
    Bloomberg Website Feedback Team

    ‘Please continue to visiting Bloomberg.’ Odd syntax, no?

    Trouble is, the new Markets page lists seven headlines pertaining only to markets, taking up a whole screen with all the excess space. The old /quickview listed dozens of stories in all categories, line by line for scanning with a minimum of scrolling.

    It’s another formerly functional site, broken by designers who thought lots of irrelevant, brightly-colored photos would break up all that yucky type and maybe attract more 15-year-old readers. But where are the comic strips?

    1. ambrit

      I’d wager, which statement already places me square in the centre of the Bloomberg readership demographic, that all the charts proving how robust the “recovery” is could be considered the equivalent of comic strips. (Strictly for entertainment purposes.)

    2. Marko

      “‘Please continue to visiting Bloomberg.’ Odd syntax, no? ”

      I’ve seen this sort of garbled English on Verizon’s slooooow-loading website multiple times. One of the biggest and most important cogs in the internet machinery has an incredibly crappy site , no doubt designed in an offshore boiler room by a guy who , if you got him on the phone , would swear his name is “Chip”.

      You couldn’t make this stuff up.

  9. Jim Haygood

    Bank financing is Greece’s Achilles heel:

    Greece has a special dispensation from the ECB at the moment because it’s complying with a bailout program. That means its debt can be used in central bank refinancing operations even though it is rated junk.

    “There will be no surprises if we find out that a country is below that rating and there’s no longer a program that that waiver disappears,” ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio said at an event in Cambridge, England, on Saturday.

    Three days ago, Bloomberg reported that an estimated 14 billion euros were withdrawn from Greek banks in the weeks before the election. That’s approaching 10% of deposits. Given the leverage used by banks, it implies that Greek banks are not merely illiquid, but insolvent.

    From Greece’s soaring bond yields on Friday, one can infer that capital flight likely is accelerating. A WSJ article pegged it at perhaps 1 percent per day, a figure which is likely to go exponential in a hurry. If the ECB stands firm on its threat to stop financing Greece after Feb. 28th, then March 1st is Grexit day.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Greeks can lease military bases, Hong Kong/Macau style, to Russia or China, it was mentioned the other day.

      The alternative is to sell the Parthenon to the Germans.

      Is this like being between a rock and a hard place?

      1. Antifa

        Renting bases, selling the Parthenon, even building oil or natural gas pipelines really means dealing with oligarchs and transnational vulture capital.

        Any sign of the Icelandic model, where bankers get arrested and them and their debt tossed out the door? This model works, ya know.

        1. norm de plume

          Russia has made noises about considering both backstopping Greek debt and lifting their Euro food embargo for Greece should the Troika leave them starving. The (eventual) Syriza decision to run with the sanctions on Russia is a jarring note in that scenario, but may have been taken as a sop to Europe while a decent outcome was still in play and in a crisis might be revisited.

          Given the long term NATO push eastward to Russia’s door and the current Ukraine puppet state dramas, a Russian overture to Greece, especially if couched as part of wider support from the developing BRICS/Iran axis, would seem not only advantageous but fair, and a problem for European energy given Russia’s agreement with Turkey.

          Although Syriza has strenuously insisted on its commitment to Europe, the prospect of bank runs and associated social disaster that can be sheeted home to Troika/bankster intransigence is the best solvent for such commitments, especially if that blame can be loudly accompanied by clear statements such as:

          that Germany is guilty of historical amnesia given what arose from German poverty in the wake of the myopic greed and revenge of Versailles, and what is ripe to recrudesce in Greece with Golden Dawn,
          that Germany is guilty of obscuring the fact that most of the funds wrung out of the skins of the Greeks go to the balance sheets of its own (and French and Dutch) banks, who were foolhardy/greedy enough to invest heavily in Greece,
          that Germany is guilty of vicious hypocrisy given the forgiveness/modifications of their own war debt in 1953, let alone the reconstructive assistance lent to it,
          that Germany is guilty of a criminal lack of proportion given that in the examples above it was guilty of stoking world war, in the second case with the added brutality of the Nazis who looted and almost destroyed Greece,
          whereas the Greeks are relatively blameless – they did not invade and wreck and murder, they simply got into a crazy agreement to join the Euro without understanding the lethal bind it would eventually place them in,
          and were in any case assisted by finance capital in the form of Goldman Sachs to hide debt so that they could join;
          and in any case these negotiations were conducted not by ‘Greece’ but by card-carrying (if not fully paid up) local members of the global financial vulture elite,
          who had for decades been denuding Greece of its wealth and productivity via tax evasion and profit offshoring, putting it into a ‘basket case’ condition,
          that much of that those ill-gotten gains were siphoned into untouchable and untaxable Swiss banks, swelling that country’s wealth at the expense of ordinary Greeks,
          and also that Germany and France themselves broke Maastricht debt percentage rules several years ago and had it swept under the carpet.. hypocrisy and amnesia both!

          Millions of us in the West would applaud a Russian ‘rescue’ in the context of the Greeks reminding us of what democracy ought to mean, not only to save the Greeks from starvation but also to further cement a strong counterweight to the increasingly scary Atlanticist hegemony we find ourselves a part of. It would put ‘our’ behaviour in a spotlight no amount of media spin could shift, and make Hillary’s stated aim of ‘winning the information war’ even more of an uphill battle than it would otherwise be.

          1. gordon

            It seems to me very important that the new Syriza Govt. in Greece should make a big effort to explain to the world the situation they are in and the stance they are taking. If Syriza goes publicly silent while they wrestle with Brussels and Frankfurt the MSM will crucify them. I don’t know where Varoufakis and his cohorts will find the time – they must already be working 24-hour days – but somebody in Greece needs to take this on and start putting out the Syriza position over and over again, via whatever media they can reach. Boring and repetitive – yes, but absolutely necessary.

          2. alex morfesis

            to the victor go the history books…

            there is so much in play here…no way the hellenes have any real thought of dealing with the russians…

            from the “naughty document” of churchill and stalin, to the selling out of the spaniards and poland in 1939 to the collapse of the Marx Cabinet in December of 1926 when Scheidemann exposed the collusion between the Reichswehr and Stalin to rearm germany…

            to the real problem for the russians….if it were not for the greeks (more specifically that crazy thespian, Metaxas) whispering Alois C’est…on October 28, there is almost no way the Russians survive the Nazi attack…but the Russians don’t see it as such, and they will fail in any attempt to pull a tito pivot, since Vlad “Raz” Putin will never understand the deep hurt most greeks have to the near complete erasing of that moment which changed history…as Hitler’s Chief of Staff, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel admitted during the Nuremberg Trials:

            “…the unbelievably strong resistance of the Greeks delayed by two or more vital months the German attack against Russia; if we did not have this long delay, the outcome of the war would have been different in the Eastern Front and the war in general.”

            The Hellenes from both sides of the aisle feel that even more than europe, Russia owes them big time and has never paid a dime towards the ledger…Unless Raz Putin just opens the vault and says take what you need…his attempts at “negotiating” with Athens will create a permanent dent and wedge between moscow and the children of apollo and artemis…

            but forgetting all the noise about who is cooking which books or if derivative and CDS position ISDA arbitration settlements should be described as “debt forgiveness”, might there be something much more simple going on here…

            talking down the euro by making certain member state appear to be in worse shape than they are is a wonderful way to make your exports much more profitable if you are a german…and if you are someone who is a big enterprise…lets say

            Seimans AG and gosh darn it…us bribe someone in greece to get a contract ???…we have never done anything like that before (oh…yeah…that thing in Japan in 1914…well…WW1 started and everyone forgot that…)…and suggesting that the evasion of an arrest warrant by our man Christoforakos and the extradition requests in germany and how magically all the problems occured for greece at that magic moment…and then when no one was watching, the German courts ignored the law and told greece to get lost…oh and then the magical escape of Volker Jung…mister…you are way too cynical…I mean, next we might see you bringing up the fact Erkki Liikanen was the Chairman of that Stainless Steel company that got nailed for price fixing and illegal sherman act type violations in Finland…look, just because he was the finance minister just before the Crash in Finland in 1990 is no reason to suggest he has some nerve in insisting Athens pay its debts in full…people from Northern Europe have a different set of EU rules they have to follow…

        2. sd

          The “bankers” of Iceland amounts to less than a handful of guys who were basically let off the hook. I don’t know where the whole Iceland jailed its bankers mythology comes from. The current government is right wing and is privatizing just as fast as they can.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Can they ink a deal this weekend?

        If a 1% per day withdrawal rate doubles each day, how many days till deposits hit zero?

        Greece faces a very, very serious risk of a bank run next week.

  10. cripes

    On another note, I
    found a good takedown of the push for outcome-based
    medical payments coming to all of us soon. Medicare,
    Medicaid, Accountable Care Organizations, etc.
    The data-driven idiots have captured medical “reform”
    now metastasizing across the nation, the main feature
    being cherry-picking by doctors seeking to avoid bad
    outcome measurements, and doctors treating severely ill
    patients getting bad scores because of it. Another thing
    we can blame on Obama, who does every stupid thing his
    handlers tell him to do. This will not end well.
    Worth a read:
    When Health-Care Reforms Don’t Add Up

    when-health-care-reforms-don-t-add-up

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Sounds to me like there is no way to “reform” this out-of-control system until we get “better” providers.

      Not “better” technicians employing “better” procedures or “better” drugs, but “better” PEOPLE doing the providing.

      Money-grubbing providers are, apparently, just going to grub for money. Great group to put in charge of “healthcare.” Not so different from bankers, politicians or cops as it turns out.

      1. cripes

        Yes, but good providers are penalized by caring for the sickest patients. Good providers will not fix a perverse scoring system.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          For profit health care is–like for profit prisons, for profit military, for profit education, private for profit roads or parks or water systems and much else that properly belong only in the public sphere–a bottomless snake pit of perverse incentives. There is no correct way to do any of these things privately, no way to reform or regulate them adequately, no private-public partnerships that will undo those perverse incentives.

          I’m not even anti-business, I don’t want have publicly owned restaurants or barbers or grocery stores or bookstores or art galleries or a million other similar services, but there are a critical class of services that properly belong only in the public sphere. And I’d put health care near the top of that list.

    2. [email protected]

      Here’s the fixed link:

      I almost have to laugh when I see some group, government or otherwise, coming out with the latest and greatest new gadget to fix the healthcare payments system. None of these people seem to get that tens of thousands of trained professions (called insurance company employees) have been working on this stuff for 40 years. There are no new ideas left. Just variations (like this one) on old ideas that didn’t work.

      Except for single payer. But that only works for old folks apparently.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    California smoking age 21.

    Marijuana or tobacco smoking age? Or both of these medicinal herbs (per Native American tradition)?

    1. ambrit

      Medicinal? You should try some pipe tobacco with a variety called Louisiana Black in it. It’s called perique and is quite a mouthful. It’s considered too strong to smoke pure, and is used in blends, usually 1 to 5.

        1. ambrit

          You have the advantage of me there. I had to look moxibustion up. It is fascinating. The combination of the moxibustion with acupuncture looks promising. As far as the perique goes, the primary action is from the absorption of the active ingredients, generally through smoking. I’m not so sure high nicotine levels will be useful in promoting blood flow, quite the opposite in fact. So, combined, the two will probably give you a reaction somewhat similar to an Eight Ball.

  12. Marianne Jones

    Last weekend, was driving along the Columbia river out near Astoria Oregon and there were sooooo many transport ships lined up heading towards Portland. I noticed maybe a half dozen.

    The Hanjin article explains why!

  13. fresno dan

    While Deflategate and Chaitgate Rage, America Quietly Robs Its Elderly Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
    ==========================================================================
    That’s the scene where Leo’s whacked-out boss talks about the three keys to success on Wall Street: jerking off, cocaine and “revolutions,” i.e. keeping the client on the investment Ferris wheel indefinitely, while you burn him for fees. On and on it goes, the park is open, 24/7, 365 days a year…

    “He thinks he’s getting rich, which he is, on paper,” McConaughy says. “But you and I are making cold hard cash – on commission, motherfucker!”

    A graphic demonstration of that scene, and the financial-services industry ethos it describes, just hit the news in the form of a wild new report on the wide-scale scamming of ordinary investors. The “Ferris wheel” of conflicted payments, unnecessary fees and other shady practices apparently beats retirees for up to $17 billion a year, according to an internal White House memorandum.

    Bloomberg’s Dave Michaels and Margaret Collins did an excellent report on the topic. They wrote that back on January 13th, Jason Furman, the Chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, issued a scathing memo about shady broker practices and how they impact ordinary savers, especially working people who use brokers to manage their retirement funds.

    =======================================================================
    I would ALMOST never believe what is espoused in a Hollywood movie as fact, but this is the exception that proves the rule. What I would NEVER believe, is what the business press espouses….
    Of course the business press can’t ask critical questions about fees because that will cause the gravy train of adverts to dry up.
    Is the reason there is no campaign reform because….big media makes too much money from campaign commercials?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “….shady broker practices and how they impact ordinary savers…..”

      Probably the biggest scam of all is that “investing” in the wall street casino and involving any commissioned “brokers” at all is considered “ordinary saving.”

      “Saving” is depositing your “extra” money in a safe, heavily-regulated bank that pays a reasonable rate of compounding interest that exceeds an honestly calculated rate of inflation, and is guaranteed because the banker custodians know that their asses will be in a seriously tight sling if they even THINK about cheating.

      Anything else is just gambling.

  14. tgs

    Nothing on Ukraine/Russia today. Here are some sobering words from Gorbachev to via the World Socialist Website.

    Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union, accused the United States Thursday of initiating a new Cold War with Russia and expressed fears that the conflict could escalate into a nuclear Third World War.
    Gorbachev made his comments as fighting escalated in Ukraine between forces directed by the US- and European Union-backed government in Kiev and pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbass region.

    “Plainly speaking, the US has already dragged us into a new Cold War, trying to openly implement its idea of triumphalism,” the former Soviet leader told Interfax. “What’s next? Unfortunately, I cannot be sure that the Cold War will not bring about a ‘hot’ one. I’m afraid [the United States] might take the risk.”
    He criticized the US and the EU for continuing to press for more economic sanctions against Russia. “All we hear from the US and the EU now is sanctions against Russia,” he continued. “Are they completely out of their minds? The US has been totally ‘lost in the jungle’ and is dragging us there as well.”

    I was sorry to see the new Greek government agreed to extending the current sanctions regime until September. I also noticed that one of the ministers said in connection with the sanctions extension that Syriza are not ‘bad boys’ – for sure there is at least a grain of truth in what the their left wing critics are saying.

    1. Carolinian

      How about this latest wrinkle: a scholarly organization questions $400,000 donation because one of the names on the bequest would be NYU’s Stephen Cohen. Cohen’s thought crime is that he has gone on television and expressed doubts about the U.S. policy on Ukraine. What’s particularly cheesy is that the objectors still want Cohen’s money but just want his name detached from it.

      This is controversy is discussed in a long backgrounder from Robert Parry who says

      In the 1990s, Professor Cohen was one of the few scholars with the courage to challenge the prevailing boosterism for Russia’s “shock therapy.” He noted even then the danger of mistaken “conventional wisdom” and how it strangles original thought and necessary skepticism.

      “Much as Russia scholars prefer consensus, even orthodoxy, to dissent, most journalists, one of them tells us, are ‘devoted to group-think’ and ‘see the world through a set of standard templates,’” wrote Cohen. “For them to break with ‘standard templates’ requires not only introspection but retrospection, which also is not a characteristic of either profession.”

      The Times story does point out that some of Cohen’s fellow academics think this politicization of research is deeply wrong. But the episode is yet another example of the cost of dissent among our so called elites. Say the emperor has no clothes and it may just be off to the tower for your reputation if not indeed for your career.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        The link today to the Digital Journal piece about Dr. Udo Ulfkotte, the editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, suggests that the lack of introspection and retrospection among journalists is not just a matter of laziness.

        “Dr. Ulfkotte says the corruption of journalists and major news outlets by the CIA is routine, accepted, and widespread in the western media, and that journalists who do not comply either cannot get jobs at any news organization, or find their careers cut short.”

        Of course the CIA wouldn’t **cough** indulge in such a crass practice here in its home country. For your convenience if you haven’t read the piece yet here again is the link:

        1. Marko

          That piece should be the front-page , hugely bold-font headline on every alternative news website in the country , for the next week , at least.

          Most Americans have no idea this is going on at this level in this country , and has been for decades. They’ve been sold a bill of goods , and they need to know about it. They won’t learn about it from the MSM , obviously.

        2. hunkerdown

          If nothing else, localizing makes it much more expensive for the masters to insinuate themselves or their shills into every protected political activity that said masters do or don’t like.

    2. tgs

      Just listened to the Greek Interior minister on France 24. He claims that the new Greek government does not support more sanctions against Russia and thinks the current ones are wrong as well. Apparently that is the view of Syriza. Another reason for the EU and Washington to do their worst.

  15. WanderingMind

    Last October the Eurogroup President (who apparently is not very pleased with the current Greek government’s decision to stop meeting with the representatives of the Troika who are assigned to Greece) At about 41:00, during the question and answer period, he said the following: “Politicians that have been given a mandate should use it. And it requires a little courageousness…If you ask the voters for a mandate and you’re given a mandate, then get on and use it.”

    Well, that is exactly what Syriza is doing in Greece. However, if you listen to Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s general comments and his answers to specific questions, it is apparent that the only mandate that he thinks ought to be acted upon is one which gives governments the power to beat down labor and diminish the social welfare state which Europe built up after World War II. As far as Greece goes, Dijsselbloem said, at about 59:00 of the linked talk, that he thinks that the debt burden on Greece is sustainable. This, of course, is the opposite of what Yanis Varoufakis says in with the BBC, and what he has been saying for years.

    So, the basic confrontation between Greece and the EC/Troika is between neoliberal “solutions” and democracy.

  16. GuyFawkesLives

    Why not Wall Street for President? They occupy every goddamn other position in our government, including the state level legislatures.

    Rather than fearing my government, I despise it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Before it was officially an empire, the Roman republic was led by the richest man, or one of the richest, in history – Crassus.

      1. James Levy

        Yes, and he thought he was a military genius who would replay the conquests of Alexander the Great. The Parthians disabused him of that conceit.

  17. ohmyheck

    I thought the US MSM was bad… this is unbelievable! This woman, Emily Maitlis, on the BBC, interviewing Yanis Varoufakis, needs a swift kick in her a$$. Firing her would help…

    The beginning of the piece…help me, someone please explain. Was it supposed to be “cute”? Because it was just infantile. It was like things I saw on Japanese tv. And the music? Are you kidding me?

    Is this a joke? Were the producers of this sniffing glue? What?

    1. norm de plume

      She won’t get fired, she did what she was told. Unfortunately for her and her masters she was outgunned.

      The intro was childish but OK for the first 2 minutes or so. The first clanger was saying Syriza wanted to get rid of ‘structural reform’ but as YV was at pains to explain, what has been implemented over the last 5 years can in no way be considered ‘reform’ if that word means (as Dictionary.com defines it): the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc. In fact as YV says, Syriza wants to ‘deepen’ reform, to actually reform rather than deform as has been the case.

      Also immediately after, the narrator explains that Germany wants a ‘competitive’ Greece, with that word accented to infer that this outcome was at odds with Syriza’s aims, then says ‘but Syriza’s voters see this as just an attack on voter’s rights’ and at that moment we move from a shot of a hurdles race (competition, a la Germany) to a violent melee (a la Syriza voters)

      Then he says ‘a deal is possible’ and goes on to outline the very ‘extend and pretend’ that YV and Syriza insist is not possible – rate reduction, extension etc. He says this is even more possible given improved tax collection in Greece so that it now constitutes 44% of GDP… but surely a strongly growing tax % of GDP indicates a dramatic slowdown in productive activity, and in any case what layer of society has been paying that tax?

      YV then combats Maitlis’s bog standard Western media talk over the top, lowest common denominator interrogation and does so with grace and perspicacity. Even the BBC is becoming Fox/Pravda… I date its descent from the Hutton Inquiry and the crucifixion of Anthony Gilligan.

  18. Marianne Jones

    Since you mentioned you had Word Press issues, I’m seeing something weird…

    On one other person’s post (from MyPrimeBeef), I see buttons to edit / request delete his post. Specifically the post where he comments “I wonder if it can be used in moxibustion.”

    It’s weird that I should be able to do this to another commenter’s content.

  19. different clue

    About that SCOTUS challenge to Obamacare subsidies . . . why is anyone surprised that Big Insura would support those subsidies before the Court? Wasn’t the whole point of Obamacare the locking into place of permanent revenue-stream bailouts for Big Insura? I always thought so, which is why I predicted in several blogs’s comment threads that Roberts would lead his court in upholding the Forced Mandate.

    And I still think so, which is why I boldly predict that Roberts will again uphold the Obamacare understanding of “state” so that taxfunded subsidies may continue to flow to Big Insura from Forced-Mandate revenue-conduit citizens in all fifty states. Roberts will bail out the Bailout. And if my prediction is wrong, I will lose just that much predictional credibility here on these threads.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Your prediction is a sure as sunrise; no doubt about it. The SCOTUS is as captive as the other two branches of the kleptocracy.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Your credibility is safe. Roberts would never, ever, screw the pooch that screws the rest of us. The decision may come in a surprising way or vote since some of those snakes need cover for their fierce pride in their own ignorance (which ironically in this case would protect us), but the forced mandate locking citizens in to the economic rape tender ministrations of profligate private enterprise is now cast in stone – better enforced than any article of the constitution, that’s for sure. More than any benefit to the insurance hustlers in the short term, it’s the precedent they are salivating over; the right to herd us into unlimited pens of mandated rent extraction for any excuse they dream up on penalty of the IRS working you over in the back room.

  20. ewmayer

    Re. CA initiative to raise smoking age to 21: I propose doing the same nationally for military service, which can also have serious health consequences.

    Re. the locked-out pilot: Got drunk and left your keys in your other pants again, eh?

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Good article. I always cringe a little at the term podemos, we can, and to it’s similarity to, yes we can, which Obama has scumified as a phrase for ever and ever and then 23 and a half seconds afterwards (at least). A very very long time. Actually, I think Obama’s slogan was, “Yes we can’t” (hat tip to Alfred E Neuman), but then we heard what we wanted to.

      As for Spain and Podemos, the comparison is nuts – I hope.

      1. juliania

        Dinna greet; Obama did stray into Spanish for us southwesterners, but the term was ‘Si, se puede’ which translates ‘Yes, it is possible’. ‘Podemus’ stands unsullied!

      2. Marko

        We can still use the phrase in 2016 , with appropriate modification. Something like : ” Yes we can , still , in spite of Obama “.

        That might work on a placard , but it sucks for chants. Someone will come up with something better , I hope.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is nonsense. The rise of MMT to being on the cusp of legitimacy, as opposed to being seen as lunatic fringe, is due solely to the blogging at UMKC, which amplified their solid academic work.

      As for the departure of Andrew Sullivan being a harbinger of anything, frankly it would have been better if he had departed long ago see:

      1. JTFaraday

        You’re right. As long as the near to midterm future is a disaster waiting to happen–and it is!– the critical blogosphere can bootstrap its way into business. Criticism always better than boosterism. With the latter, one always lives long enough to regret it.

  21. hunkerdown

    (Telesur). And Gen. Alexander goes to Wall Street, and the coup in NYC ratchets slowly into place. You have to hand it to South American governments for having some degree of a handle on their “deep state”.

  22. Everythings Jake

    Jeroen Dijsselbloem showed utter derision and contempt for the Greek people in his actions.

  23. Nick Smith

    Yves, for the sake of even handedness, I challenge you at least to read this piece for educational purposes, if not to call attention to it in your Links section. The title of the article is “The Success of Russia’s Propaganda: Ukraine’s ‘Banderovtsy'” () and published by Cambridge Globalist. It’s best in clarifying the historical basis of Russian allegations of the “Fascist junta” taking hold of Ukraine.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I may get around to reading it, but I do not see how anyone can deem Russia to have succeeded in the “propaganda” category. Read any English language publication. Nary a mention of the US decision to repudiate promises not to move NATO into former Warsaw Pact countries, which cold warrior George Kennan deplored, calling it the worst foreign policy mistake the US had ever made, or the heavy US hand in destabilizing Urkaine and supporting the coup (and it was a coup, a democratically elected government was thrown out when Yanukovitch had agreed to elections that were mere months away and was clearly on his way out). The press is firmly anti-Russia and demonizes Putin.

      1. Nick Smith

        Yves, there is no reason to demonize neither Putin nor the American neocons. Thus, cool-headed analysis will suffice to resist temptation to use the former in a fight against the latter. To adequately assess Putin and his regime allow me to draw your attention to a recent article written by one of the best Russian political science scholars Lilia Shevtsova (she is currently with the Brookings Institution) “Putin the Spoiler”(). Finally, I see deep irony in a fact that American dissidents are so enchanted by Putin while he is in the midst of crushing and jailing Russian dissidents who, among other things, protest against his aggression in Ukraine.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I am not enchanted with Putin. I have repeatedly said that being critical of US adventurism, and in particular picking a fight with Russia, does not amount to being pro-Russia. In logic, “not A” is simply “not A” as opposed to “B”.

          Similarly, pointing out that Putin outmaneuvered and outclassed Obama is not tantamount to supporting him. We are well aware of his authoritarian practices at home.

          1. Nick Smith

            We may disagree whether Putin was so successful as you claim he was (actually, he painted himself into the corner and turned out be a total disaster for the country on all fronts). But I hope you do agree that being harshly critical of US involvement in the Ukrainian crisis doesn’t necessarily require depicting Ukraine as some sort of a Fascist state which astoundingly not true. And that’s what is being done, say, by Stephen Cohen and Patrick Smith whose writings on the subject are continuously advertised in the blog.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Huh? The US was preparing to move NATO into Ukraine, which in case you haven’t looked at a map, is on Russia’s borders. How pray tell would the US react to having China destabilize Quebec, and support a pro-China government whose Minister of Defense had announced a program of ethnic cleansing against Americans? Putin did not “paint himself into a corner,” he reacted to what he and the Russian public generally regards as an existential threat.

              And key members, in particular the Minister of Defense, ARE fascists. The fascists are represented in government way out of proportion to their representation among voters in western Ukraine. To say otherwise is simply counterfactual.

  24. Sam Kanu

    Are there too many social-­networking and app companies out there right now? Probably..

    Yes, but as per the reports on this very website, basically the silicon valley VCs fund what their “national security” masters tell them to fund. And they in turn are basically “defending” the oligarchs.

    So it it any surprise that devices and applications for distraction and social control are their targets right now – and for the forseeable future?

Comments are closed.