May 31, 2015

Bits Bucket for May 31, 2015

Post off-topic ideas, links, and Craigslist finds here.

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Comment by rallying the base
2015-05-31 00:46:52

Senate showdown in 12 hours

Time to end the era of governing by FEAR

Comment by rallying the base
Comment by Ben Jones
2015-05-31 06:13:59

What bugs me is this spying is treated as if there is no downside. It’s just the sensibilities of a few libertarians. After all, the government would never abuse it, right?

‘The three are among at least 385 people shot and killed by police nationwide during the first five months of this year, more than two a day, according to a Washington Post analysis. That is more than twice the rate of fatal police shootings tallied by the federal government over the past decade, a count that officials concede is incomplete.’

‘Dozens of other people also died while fleeing from police, The Post analysis shows, including a significant proportion — 20 percent — of those who were unarmed. Running is such a provocative act that police experts say there is a name for the injury officers inflict on suspects afterward: a “foot tax.”

‘Police are authorized to use deadly force only when they fear for their lives or the lives of others. So far, just three of the 385 fatal shootings have resulted in an officer being charged with a crime — less than 1 percent.’

Does the media not remember?

‘Hoover had particularly good relationships with at least two presidents he served under: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. Of the others, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon all considered sacking him, but, files aside, they had good political reasons for keeping Hoover. Even in the 1960s, he had a strong public image as an honest, competent law enforcement technocrat. While his relationship with John and Robert Kennedy was often tense — yes, it was Hoover who, through wiretaps of Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana, discovered President Kennedy’s affair with mob-connected socialite Judith Campbell Exner — Hoover also could have been covering up embarrassing secrets for Camelot.’

‘Still, Hoover built his FBI files into an intimidating weapon, not just for fighting crime but also for bullying government officials and critics and destroying careers. The files covered a dizzying kaleidoscope — Supreme Court justices such as Louis Brandeis and Felix Frankfurter, movie stars Mary Pickford and Marilyn Monroe, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, physicist Albert Einstein, Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller III, among others — often replete with unconfirmed gossip about private sex lives and radical ties.’

‘By 1960, the FBI had open, “subversive” files on some 432,000 Americans. Hoover deemed the most sensitive files as “personal and confidential” and kept them in his office, where his secretary, Helen Gandy, could watch them. Today, with few exceptions, Hoover’s FBI files are open for any American to see at the National Archives. They make fascinating reading and paint a stark portrait of power run amok.’

“Truman called in his military aide, Brigadier General Harry Vaughan, and, after introducing the two men, told the FBI director that from now on if any especially important matters came up that needed his immediate attention he should route them through Vaughan…

That same day Hoover sent Vaughan a memo beginning, “I thought you and the President might be interested to know…” He then went on to report some partisan political intelligence.

Vaughan responded by asking for more: “future communications along that line would be of considerable interest whenever, in your opinion, they are necessary.”

Hoover also sent confidential reports to other presidential aides, including Matthew Connelly, Sidney Souers, E.D. McKim, and George Allen…

Within thirty days after Truman became president, the FBI was carrying out secret investigations for the White House.

Within sixty days the FBI was wiretapping and conducting surveillances for the White House. One tap, on the office and home telephones of the attorney – and political fixer – Thomas “Tommy the Cork” Corcoran, remained in place three years, generated over 175 summary logs and 6,250 pages of transcriptions, and resulted in the monitoring of many of the most prominent people in the government.”

This can change our futures in terrible and never to be known ways. If any person can be ruined or forced to make decisions under coercion, our entire political system is at risk.

Comment by Ben Jones
2015-05-31 06:23:08

Who about this? Why isn’t this being mentioned on the Sunday talk shows?

‘The Church Committee was the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church (D-ID) in 1975. A precursor to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the committee investigated intelligence gathering for illegality by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after certain activities had been revealed by the Watergate affair.’

‘By the early years of the 1970s, a series of troubling revelations started to appear in the press concerning intelligence activities. First came the revelations of Christopher Pyle in January 1970 of the U.S. Army’s spying on the civilian population[1][2] and Sam Ervin’s Senate investigations produced more revelations.[3] Then on December 22, 1974, The New York Times published a lengthy article by Seymour Hersh detailing operations engaged in by the CIA over the years that had been dubbed the “family jewels”. Covert action programs involving assassination attempts against foreign leaders and covert attempts to subvert foreign governments were reported for the first time. In addition, the article discussed efforts by intelligence agencies to collect information on the political activities of US citizens.’

‘In 1975 and 1976, the Church Committee published fourteen reports on various U.S. intelligence agencies’, formation, operations, and the alleged abuses of law and of power that they had committed, with recommendations for reform, some of which were later put in place.’

‘Among the matters investigated were attempts to assassinate foreign leaders, including Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, the Diem brothers of Vietnam, Gen. René Schneider of Chile and Director of Central Intelligence Allen Welsh Dulles’s plan (approved by President Dwight D. Eisenhower) to use the Sicilian Mafia to kill Fidel Castro of Cuba.’

‘Under recommendations and pressure by this committee, President Gerald Ford issued Executive Order 11905 (ultimately replaced in 1981 by President Reagan’s Executive Order 12333) to ban U.S. sanctioned assassinations of foreign leaders.’

‘Together, the Church Committee’s reports have been said to constitute the most extensive review of intelligence activities ever made available to the public. Much of the contents were classified, but over 50,000 pages were declassified under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.’

‘The Church report found that the CIA was zealous about keeping the United States Postal Service from learning that mail was being opened by government agents. CIA agents moved mail to a private room to open the mail or in some cases opened envelopes at night after stuffing them in briefcases or coat pockets to deceive postal officials.’

‘On May 9, 1975, the Church Committee decided to call acting CIA director William Colby. That same day Ford’s top advisers (Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Philip W. Buchen, and John Marsh) drafted a recommendation that Colby be authorized to brief only rather than testify, and that he would be told to discuss only the general subject, with details of specific covert actions to be avoided except for realistic hypotheticals. But the Church Committee had full authority to call a hearing and require Colby’s testimony. Ford and his top advisers met with Colby to prepare him for the hearing.[6] Colby testified, “These last two months have placed American intelligence in danger. The almost hysterical excitement surrounding any news story mentioning CIA or referring even to a perfectly legitimate activity of CIA has raised a question whether secret intelligence operations can be conducted by the United States.”

‘The Ford administration, particularly Rumsfeld, was concerned about the effort by members of the Church Committee in the Senate and the Pike Committee in the House to curtail the power of U.S. intelligence agencies. Frontline quoted U.S. diplomat and Nixon assistant Robert Ellsworth, who stated: “They were very specific about their effort to destroy American intelligence [capabilities]. It was Senator Church who said our intelligence agencies were ‘rogue elephants.’ They were supposedly out there assassinating people and playing dirty tricks and so forth… Well, that just wasn’t true.” Rumsfeld and Ellsworth prevented the committees from dismantling the CIA and other intelligence organizations.’

‘On August 17, 1975 Senator Frank Church stated on NBC’s Meet the Press without mentioning the name of the NSA about this agency: “In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.”

“If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.”

“I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

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Comment by Oddfellow
2015-05-31 06:41:21

“If any person can be ruined or forced to make decisions under coercion, our entire political system is at risk.”

Exactly. These guys can get private info about anybody, top political, law enforcement, business people. Anybody. Heck, they were shown to be snooping on their ex-lovers, just for kicks, or worse.

The opportunities to blackmail or coerce people, and to get insider financial information ahead of the markets, are immense.

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Comment by Ben Jones
2015-05-31 06:58:36

‘The opportunities to blackmail or coerce people…’

When I studied auditing in college, we were looking a lot at human traits. One of the things that struck me was that if you have a system that makes it easy to steal, you make it possible that a person who otherwise might never steal to be tempted to do so. It’s very similar to this situation. This kind of power, left in the dark, in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats, will eventually be abused if it hasn’t been already.

Comment by scdave
2015-05-31 07:47:17

will eventually be abused if it hasn’t been already ??

Nothing eventual about it…We know its happening…..

Comment by phony scandals
2015-05-31 08:26:10

“One of the things that struck me was that if you have a system that makes it easy to steal, you make it possible that a person who otherwise might never steal to be tempted to do so.”

Posted by Ann Althouse
May 26, 2012

“The locksmith told him that locks are on doors only to keep honest people honest.”

“One percent of people will always be honest and never steal. Another 1% will always be dishonest and always try to pick your lock and steal your television; locks won’t do much to protect you from the hardened thieves, who can get into your house if they really want to. The purpose of locks, the locksmith said, is to protect you from the 98% of mostly honest people who might be tempted to try your door if it had no lock.”

We’re only relatively honest. So don’t tempt us!

Lots of great material at the link, various studies and so forth. Also this joke:

There’s a joke about a man who loses his bike outside his synagogue and goes to his rabbi for advice. “Next week come to services, sit in the front row,” the rabbi tells the man, “and when we recite the Ten Commandments, turn around and look at the people behind you. When we get to ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ see who can’t look you in the eyes. That’s your guy.” After the next service, the rabbi is curious to learn whether his advice panned out. “So, did it work?” he asks the man. “Like a charm,” the man answers. “The moment we got to ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ I remembered where I left my bike.”

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 09:45:24

“This kind of power, left in the dark, in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats, will eventually be abused if it hasn’t been already.”

At a Scheme’s Inception and Destruction, the F.B.I.
Tim Weiner
Updated June 14, 2012, 2:21 PM
Tim Weiner, a former New York Times reporter, is the author of “Enemies: A History of the F.B.I.”

There never would have been a Watergate without the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The F.B.I. had always done the president’s bidding — until J. Edgar Hoover said he would not carry out the president’s dirty tricks. Then the F.B.I. took Nixon down. It almost came down with him.

Hoover had schooled Nixon for years in the bureau’s techniques of political warfare — wiretapping and bugging and burglary. President Lyndon B. Johnson had advised Nixon to depend on Hoover, and Hoover alone, to protect his power. “I will warn you now,” L.B.J. told the president-elect in December 1968, “the leaks can kill you.”

But Hoover refused to lead Nixon’s scorched-earth campaign against leaks, starting with the Pentagon Papers case. He was afraid the bureau would be caught in the act. So the president set up the Plumbers — his team of washed-up F.B.I. and C.I.A. agents — to do what Hoover would not. And six weeks after Hoover died, they got caught breaking into the Democratic Party’s headquarters at the Watergate.

Then Nixon refused to name Hoover’s No. 2, Mark Felt, to lead the bureau — and with reason. He knew Felt was the biggest leaker of all: the man they called Deep Throat.

The big newspaper scoops on Nixon’s obstruction of justice often came straight from Felt and his close aides. When the Senate investigated Watergate, the bureau steered its hand. The F.B.I. guided the prosecutors who brought indictments against the president’s men.

But in the end the bureau had to investigate its own dark history of warrantless taps, bugs and black-bag jobs. For the F.B.I., Watergate’s bitter denouement was Felt’s federal conviction for breaking into the homes of the friends and families of antiwar radicals. He was following Nixon’s orders in a futile search for ties between the American left and international communism. President Reagan finally pardoned him in the name of national security.

It’s a long tradition. The 1917 Espionage Act, which took effect weeks before Hoover first joined the government, was used against thousands of citizens who opposed White House policies. When the Supreme Court outlawed wiretapping, President Franklin D. Roosevelt told Hoover to keep tapping, the court be damned. Today the F.B.I. and the Justice Department are still trying to use the Espionage Act to send leakers to prison.

Yet, as Nixon’s fall revealed, the long arm of justice will tug presidents back to the rule of law — and that’s one reason we survive as a free republic. Though the F.B.I. still bends the law in pursuit of secret intelligence, its leaders now know that if they are caught breaking it, they will suffer the same deep disgrace. 

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 12:29:59


How many clandestine organizations does it take to run a country?

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 05:59:13

How could ordinary citizens ever possibly verify the end of a secret surveillance program?

Comment by rallying the base
2015-05-31 06:08:39

Ask Sharyl Atkisson

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2015-05-31 06:22:16

How could ordinary citizens ever possibly verify the end of a secret surveillance program?

Ordinary citizens have shown overwhelmingly that they don’t care.

Comment by Ben Jones
2015-05-31 06:24:53

I’m an ordinary citizen, and I care.

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Comment by Ol'Bubba
2015-05-31 07:13:42

Nope. You’re extraordinary.

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2015-05-31 09:16:23

The 5% of the electorate who voted for Ron Paul cared, and still care. But there’s not a lot they can do about the zombified 95% who fell for hope ‘n change or the even worse GOP “alternatives.” How do you protect yourself against tens of millions of stupid people casting votes?

Comment by rms
2015-05-31 06:26:44

“Ordinary citizens have shown overwhelmingly that they don’t care.”

They elected representatives to protect their constitutional rights.

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Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2015-05-31 06:38:33

No, by a 95% margin they voted for Republicrat corporate statists who trampled on the Constitution.

Comment by Ben Jones
2015-05-31 07:35:03

US: NSA Surveillance Restricts Press Freedom

Comment by Ben Jones
2015-05-31 07:37:51

Briefing on the Technological Impact of NSA Surveillance

“The choice isn’t: ’should the NSA spy or not?’ The choice is: ‘does everbody get to spy or do we make a secure internet?’” — Bruce Schneier on the impact of NSA surveillance.’

Comment by Oddfellow
2015-05-31 06:30:06

They’re too busy cheering on the militarization of the local police. Because those criminals are so scary, just like those terrorists.

Two sides of the same coin.

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Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 06:42:23

As the soaring murder rate shows the criminals are scary. NYC’s murder rate is between 1/6 and 1/7 of what is was in 1990 due to aggressive policing. Take it away it will become a sewer like it was and people will flee it in droves. As I predicted innocent people in Baltimore are dying due to the nonsense of the liberals and it is primarily innocent black people.

Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 07:12:57

Strangely enough, black people hold police to a higher standard than white people, according to a study. They know what kind of people the police have to deal with in their neighborhoods, but they expect the cops to be professional. They want the crooks gone more than anybody, but they don’t like being lumped in with the bad elements, and there are way too many dumb redneck cops who can’t tell the difference.

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2015-05-31 07:13:07

Dirty cops scare me even more than the criminals.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2015-05-31 07:21:39

Urban environments are loaded with plain clothes. They’re everywhere. They and the thugs are a distinction without a difference. Keep one eye on each.

Comment by Blue Skye
2015-05-31 08:07:50

“As the soaring murder rate shows… NYC’s murder rate is between 1/6 and 1/7 of what is was in 1990″


How does contraction = “soaring”?

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 08:21:31

The soaring is in the last few months, it certainly has not reached the levels of 1990 but if it continues it certainly will not be 1/6/ or 1/7 of the rate of 1990.

Comment by scdave
2015-05-31 08:31:16

Dirty cops scare me even more than the criminals ??

Yep….Because, your common sense says, if one got caught, how many don’t…And how many cops know of a dirty cop but won’t say squat because of the “brotherhood” and the fact that if you say something you are toast…And, how many lives are ruined because of it…

Cops are granted & trusted with the ultimate power…The abuse of that power & trust should be a sentencing accordingly…Life in prison…Not death because I want that dirty cop to live for the remainder of his life with people some of which are there because of dirty cops…

Comment by Oddfellow
2015-05-31 08:51:34

“due to aggressive policing”

What’s the difference between aggressive policing and violating the Constitution?

And doesn’t it involve, like the NSA spying, the 4th amendment?

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 09:01:52

Many courts have upheld stop and frisk and found it does not violate the 4th amendment including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 09:57:47

How does contraction = “soaring”?

China’s economy provides an excellent case in point.

‘Like an ocean liner without lifeboats’: HSBC’s dire warning for global economy
4 days ago May 27, 2015 2:59PM
“We will carry on sailing across the ocean in a ship with a serious shortage of lifeboats.” Source: AP

THE world economy is in serious danger of falling into another recession — and if it does, governments have few tools left at their disposal to combat it.

That’s the dire warning from HSBC chief economist Stephen King, who describes the situation as like being on an “ocean liner without lifeboats”.

With interest rates at near zero across the developed world, record levels of public debt and little room for further stimulus spending, the conventional “monetary ammunition” that has been built up following previous recessions is all but non-existent.

“In effect, the world economy is sailing across the ocean without any lifeboats to use in case of emergency,” he writes in a new report, ‘The world economy’s titanic problem’.

That’s bad news. As the UK’s Telegraph points out, the United Nations has cut its global growth forecast for this year to 2.8 per cent — only slightly above the 2.5 per cent which used to be regarded as a recession.

The biggest danger comes from China. If the Chinese economy weakens so much that the authorities have no other choice than to let the renminbi slide, it will have severe knock-on effect.

[In this situation, collapsing] commodity prices lead to severe weakness elsewhere in the emerging world,” Mr King writes. “The dollar surges, but the Fed is unable to respond via interest rate cuts. The US is eventually dragged into a recession through forces beyond its control.”

And the situation in China is already worse than authorities are letting on, experts have warned.

China accounted for 85 per cent of global growth in 2012, 54 per cent in 2013, and 30 per cent in 2014 — that figure is expected to fall to 24 per cent this year. “If there is only one statistic that you need to know in the world right now, this is it,” RBS economist Andrew Roberts told The Telegraph.

In every recession since the 1970s, the US Federal Reserve has cut interest rates by a minimum of 5 percentage points.

“That kind of traditional stimulus is now completely ruled out,” HSBC’s Mr King writes. “Meanwhile, budget deficits are still uncomfortably large and debt levels uncomfortably high.”

Comment by Clubber Lang
2015-05-31 12:09:33

The indoctrinated progressive: “Local police should be disarmed.”

Someone with a brain: “hmm.”

The indoctrinated progressive: “Law abiding citizens should also be disarmed”.

Someone with a brain: “What?”


It’s ok with me if goofy progressives are suicidal, just don’t take the rest of us with you. Without armed, sane law abiding citizens and police, the animals would kill all of us and then turn on each other down to the last man.

Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 14:48:26

I don’t know anyone who says cops should be disarmed. Where did you come up with that?

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 14:49:36

“That’s the dire warning from HSBC chief economist Stephen King…”

How much scarier can an economic warning get than to come straight from Stephen King’s mouth?

Comment by Clubber Lang
2015-05-31 15:14:29

“Where did you come up with that?”

Here’s one example, you can google the rest.

March 12, 2015

“Ed Schultz suggested on his MSNBC show Wednesday night that police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, should be disarmed in order to effect real change following a Justice Department report that accused the department of being rife with racial bias.”

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 18:10:21

Check out the effects of the War on Police:

Opinion Commentary
The New Nationwide Crime Wave
The consequences of the ‘Ferguson effect’ are already appearing. The main victims of growing violence will be the inner-city poor.
A police investigation under way in Baltimore, May 20. Photo: Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images
By Heather Mac Donald
May 29, 2015 6:27 p.m. ET

The nation’s two-decades-long crime decline may be over. Gun violence in particular is spiraling upward in cities across America. In Baltimore, the most pressing question every morning is how many people were shot the previous night. Gun violence is up more than 60% compared with this time last year, according to Baltimore police, with 32 shootings over Memorial Day weekend. May has been the most violent month the city has seen in 15 years.

In Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% by May 17 over the same period the previous year. Through April, shootings in St. Louis were up 39%, robberies 43%, and homicides 25%. “Crime is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said St. Louis Alderman Joe Vacarro at a May 7 City Hall hearing.

Murders in Atlanta were up 32% as of mid-May. Shootings in Chicago had increased 24% and homicides 17%. Shootings and other violent felonies in Los Angeles had spiked by 25%; in New York, murder was up nearly 13%, and gun violence 7%.

Those citywide statistics from law-enforcement officials mask even more startling neighborhood-level increases. Shooting incidents are up 500% in an East Harlem precinct compared with last year; in a South Central Los Angeles police division, shooting victims are up 100%.

By contrast, the first six months of 2014 continued a 20-year pattern of growing public safety. Violent crime in the first half of last year dropped 4.6% nationally and property crime was down 7.5%. Though comparable national figures for the first half of 2015 won’t be available for another year, the January through June 2014 crime decline is unlikely to be repeated.

The most plausible explanation of the current surge in lawlessness is the intense agitation against American police departments over the past nine months.

Since last summer, the airwaves have been dominated by suggestions that the police are the biggest threat facing young black males today. A handful of highly publicized deaths of unarmed black men, often following a resisted arrest—including Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., in July 2014, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014 and Freddie Gray in Baltimore last month—have led to riots, violent protests and attacks on the police. Murders of officers jumped 89% in 2014, to 51 from 27.

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, before he stepped down last month, embraced the conceit that law enforcement in black communities is infected by bias. The news media pump out a seemingly constant stream of stories about alleged police mistreatment of blacks, with the reports often buttressed by cellphone videos that rarely capture the behavior that caused an officer to use force.

Almost any police shooting of a black person, no matter how threatening the behavior that provoked the shooting, now provokes angry protests, like those that followed the death of Vonderrit Myers in St. Louis last October. The 18-year-old Myers, awaiting trial on gun and resisting-arrest charges, had fired three shots at an officer at close range. Arrests in black communities are even more fraught than usual, with hostile, jeering crowds pressing in on officers and spreading lies about the encounter.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2015-05-31 19:14:34

“The New Nationwide Crime Wave”

Realtors on the loose?

Comment by Selfish Hoarder
2015-05-31 06:31:49

We cannot. We just need to rely on whistle blowers.

Comment by Ben Jones
2015-05-31 06:42:37

‘NSA whistleblower Russel Tice – a key source in the 2005 New York Times report that blew the lid off the Bush administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping – tells Peter B. Collins: “Tice: Okay. They went after–and I know this because I had my hands literally on the paperwork for these sort of things–they went after high-ranking military officers; they went after members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees and some of the–and judicial. But they went after other ones, too. They went after lawyers and law firms. All kinds of–heaps of lawyers and law firms. They went after judges. One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court that I had his wiretap information in my hand. Two are former FISA court judges. They went after State Department officials. They went after people in the executive service that were part of the White House–their own people. They went after antiwar groups. They went after U.S. international–U.S. companies that that do international business, you know, business around the world. They went after U.S. banking firms and financial firms that do international business. They went after NGOs that–like the Red Cross, people like that that go overseas and do humanitarian work. They went after a few antiwar civil rights groups. So, you know, don’t tell me that there’s no abuse, because I’ve had this stuff in my hand and looked at it. And in some cases, I literally was involved in the technology that was going after this stuff. And you know, when I said to [former MSNBC show host Keith] Olbermann, I said, my particular thing is high tech and you know, what’s going on is the other thing, which is the dragnet. The dragnet is what Mark Klein is talking about, the terrestrial dragnet. Well my specialty is outer space. I deal with satellites, and everything that goes in and out of space. I did my spying via space. So that’s how I found out about this.”

“Collins: Now Russ, the targeting of the people that you just mentioned, top military leaders, members of Congress, intelligence community leaders and the–oh, I’m sorry, it was intelligence committees, let me correct that–not intelligence community, and then executive branch appointees. This creates the basis, and the potential for massive blackmail.”

“Tice: Absolutely! And remember we talked about that before, that I was worried that the intelligence community now has sway over what is going on. Now here’s the big one. I haven’t given you any names. This was is summer of 2004. One of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with, with a 40-something-year-old wannabe senator from Illinois. You wouldn’t happen to know where that guy lives right now, would you? It’s a big white house in Washington, DC. That’s who they went after. And that’s the president of the United States now.”

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Comment by Ben Jones
2015-05-31 06:48:29

‘One noteworthy point about this article: it relies on two new sources, one named, one kept secret, backed up by Snowden documents. That is, it appears that at least one other source (in this case, a recent member of JSOC’s High Value Targeting task force — the group that’s in charge of figuring out who to capture and kill) has come forward to Greenwald and others, calling foul on what the US government is doing. This person was privy to how targets are selected, and it’s pretty scary how little info they’re going on. The fact that the NSA was heavily involved in picking targets was revealed a while back, but this person explains how much those choosing targets rely on bad metadata from the NSA to kill people — often revealed later to be totally innocent.’

‘In one tactic, the NSA “geolocates” the SIM card or handset of a suspected terrorist’s mobile phone, enabling the CIA and U.S. military to conduct night raids and drone strikes to kill or capture the individual in possession of the device.’

‘The former JSOC drone operator is adamant that the technology has been responsible for taking out terrorists and networks of people facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But he also states that innocent people have “absolutely” been killed as a result of the NSA’s increasing reliance on the surveillance tactic.’

‘One problem, he explains, is that targets are increasingly aware of the NSA’s reliance on geolocating, and have moved to thwart the tactic. Some have as many as 16 different SIM cards associated with their identity within the High Value Target system. Others, unaware that their mobile phone is being targeted, lend their phone, with the SIM card in it, to friends, children, spouses and family members.’

‘Some top Taliban leaders, knowing of the NSA’s targeting method, have purposely and randomly distributed SIM cards among their units in order to elude their trackers. “They would do things like go to meetings, take all their SIM cards out, put them in a bag, mix them up, and everybody gets a different SIM card when they leave,” the former drone operator says. “That’s how they confuse us.”

‘The guy also points out that the metadata is often somewhat questionable in itself: ‘What’s more, he adds, the NSA often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls. Based on his experience, he has come to believe that the drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata.’

“People get hung up that there’s a targeted list of people,” he says. “It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people – we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy.”

‘You would think that someone like Rep. Rogers would be happy that we were trying to improve our targeting and to stop killing innocent people, but apparently making sure the people we target are actually guilty is just too much “red tape.” But it hasn’t stopped these killings. The source in the article notes that the “overwhelming majority” of the strikes they’re doing these days are based almost entirely on the NSA’s signals intelligence.’

‘The report also reveals that the NSA has a program in which the drone itself has what’s basically its own phone cell attached to the drone, in order to better target a particular phone (note: not person, but phone) when dropping a bomb. The report also reveals another program, this one from the CIA, called SHENANIGANS (really), that maps out WiFi networks from the sky and tries to suck up any data it can. When this program was used in Yemen, the mission was called (again, no joke) VICTORYDANCE.’

‘There’s a lot more in the article, which is well worth reading. It’s good to see more sources who are uncomfortable with what the NSA, CIA and others are doing getting in touch with Greenwald and others. It’s also worth noting that this guy claims he tried to raise these issues through the “proper channels” and was rebuffed.’

Comment by x-GSfixr
2015-05-31 11:15:33

AKA, the old “Kill them all, and let God sort them out” plan.

Can’t wait until they start using missile firing drones over the USA.

For starters, all of those nerds working for the NSA/NRO will have a system in place to deal with unfaithful wives, enemies, and guys banging their girlfriends while they are at work.

And just think of the business opportunities.

“Beat the NSA. Learn Morse Code!”

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 06:04:44

Is Mr Market in crash mode?

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2015-05-31 06:24:00

Let’s see what inventive scheme the Troika comes up with the kick the Greece can further down the road before the futures market opens tonight.

Comment by scdave
2015-05-31 08:36:44

Is Mr Market in crash mode ??

Better hope not….The world economies could not withstand it…It would make Greece look like a late payment on your utility bill…

Comment by Bring Back the WPA
2015-05-31 08:01:24

If the Patriot Act expires it will only be temporary. It will be renewed as soon as the next terror attack.

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 08:51:32

Yes, on that we agree.

Comment by Clubber Lang
2015-05-31 12:31:56

I’m with Rand on this and I think the beltway Statists underestimate the number of people on the right who also stand with Rand…they (the statists) are scared out of their minds.

Now, that being said, I have trouble believing the authenticity of progressives on this issue. How can you support the privacy rights of individuals and communications while at the same time supporting and condoning the IRS? The IRS is the collection arm of the progressive state, they use the heavy hand of government to strip citizens of their livelihoods and liberty.

Comment by Clubber Lang
2015-05-31 12:41:09

Also, I wonder how you can support dismantling the Patriot Act in the name of liberty, but also promote marxism and the spread of Sharia in our country and around the globe.

Help me out here…You either support liberty or you don’t.

Comment by Bill, just south of Irvine
2015-05-31 14:06:05

The “progressives” are likely spreading Marxism. But Sharia law?

Umm…Marxism is atheism (but atheism is not Marxism). And Sharia law ir theocratic.

So much for your theory. It don’t compute. They are either spreading atheism or thecracy Clubfoot, which one?

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Comment by Clubber Lang
2015-05-31 15:08:36

I’ll bite, even though you went strait to insult land.

Sharia (Islam) is a totalitarian political ideology masked as a religion. Marxism is a religion of worshiping the totalitarian political state masked as an ideology.

The key words are Totalitarian, Political and Religion, that is where they cross paths. Marxism is indeed a theology…progressives favor either or both.

Comment by Bill, just south of Irvine
2015-05-31 16:41:39

From your world model, there is no such thing as a theocracy, it seems. I think you are in denial.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 12:59:21

Is government even possible without subduing the governed through a reign of FEAR?

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

– H. L. Mencken

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 19:09:06

Typical government policy maneuver:

Cancel an existing program only to replace it with a virtually identical program under a new name.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 19:10:50

Technology | Sun May 31, 2015 9:33pm EDT
Related: U.S., Politics, Tech
U.S. Senate to let NSA spy program lapse, at least for now
WASHINGTON | By Patricia Zengerle and Warren Strobel
A National Security Agency (NSA) data gathering facility is seen in Bluffdale, about 25 miles (40 km) south of Salt Lake City, Utah May 18, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

The legal authority for U.S. spy agencies’ collection of Americans’ phone records and other data was set to expire at midnight on Sunday after the U.S. Senate failed to pass legislation extending the controversial powers.

After debate pitting Americans’ distrust of intrusive government against fears of terrorist attacks, the Senate voted to move ahead with reform legislation that would replace the bulk phone records program revealed two years ago by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.

But final Senate passage of the bill was delayed until at least Tuesday morning by objections from Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian Republican presidential hopeful who has fulminated against the NSA program as illegal and unconstitutional.

As a result, the government’s collection and search of phone records was set to terminate at midnight (0400 GMT on Monday) when provisions of a post-Sept. 11, 2001, law known as the USA Patriot Act expire.

In addition, U.S. law enforcement and security agencies will lose authority to conduct three other programs.

Those allow for “roving wiretaps” aimed at terrorism suspects who use multiple disposable cell phones; permit authorities to target “lone wolf” suspects with no connection to specific terrorist groups, and make it easier to seize personal and business records of suspects and their associates.

Still, eventual resumption of the phone records program in another form, and the other government powers, appeared likely after the Senate voted 77-17 to take up the reform legislation, called the USA Freedom Act.

This bill will ultimately pass,” Paul acknowledged after the procedural vote.

The Senate abruptly reversed course during a rare Sunday session to let the bill go ahead, after Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reluctantly acknowledged that Paul had stymied his efforts to extend the Patriot Act.

Intelligence experts say a lapse of only a few days would have little immediate effect. The Patriot Act allows the government to continue collecting information related to any foreign intelligence investigation that began before the deadline.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 19:14:10

Patriot Act Expiring Despite McConnell Cave on Reform Bill
At midnight, three government surveillance powers were due to expire. And it appears likely the chamber will eventually pass the USA Freedom Act instead.
By Dustin Volz
Simpler times: Then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell greets Sen. Rand Paul at a news conference on the economic ramifications of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed power plant rules outside the U.S. Capitol on July 30, 2014.(Win McNamee/Getty Images)
May 31, 2015

The Patriot Act is dying, and even a last-minute cave by Mitch McConnell couldn’t save it.

The controversial surveillance law was set to expire Sunday night, after the Senate voted overwhelmingly to move forward on debating the USA Freedom Act following an aggressive plea from the Majority Leader to clear the the surveillance-reform bill’s path. The chamber adjourned before 10 p.m. with no further votes planned.

Sen. Rand Paul, who is demanding votes on two amendments he wants to offer, helped force an expiration by holding up further votes, making it likely the Senate won’t approve the USA Freedom measure for two or three days. That means a final vote on the measure won’t come until Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, more than a day after the lapse will occur and the National Security Agency will completely shut down its bulk collection of U.S. call data.

Amid an impasse caused by a fiercely divided Republican Party and the fundraising theatrics of Paul’s presidential campaign, Sunday’s vote marked an extraordinary turn from last Saturday, when the Senate failed to muster 60 “ayes” in favor of proceeding on USA Freedom. And it was a striking shift for McConnell, who has staunchly opposed the bipartisan measure that would renew but reform parts of the post-9/11 law and effectively end the NSA’s bulk collection program.

Just as Paul’s colleagues have grown increasingly frustrated with him, he made clear Sunday night on the floor that he was irritated by many of his critics.

“Some of them I think secretly want there to be an attack so they can blame it on me,” Paul said.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, welcomed progress on the USA Freedom Act but still criticized the Senate’s delay in voting on it.

“The Senate took an important—if late—step forward tonight,” the White House said in a statement. “We call on the Senate to ensure this irresponsible lapse in authorities is as short-lived as possible.”

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 19:16:16

Sen. Rand Paul: ‘There has to be another way’
USATODAY 9:18 p.m. EDT May 31, 2015
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky declined to provide an opposing view. He posted this statement Saturday on the website for his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

I have fought for several years now to end the illegal spying of the National Security Agency on ordinary Americans. The callous use of general warrants and the disregard for the Bill of Rights must end. Forcing us to choose between our rights and our safety is a false choice, and we are better than that as a nation and as a people.

That’s why two years ago, I sued the NSA. It’s why I proposed the Fourth Amendment Protection Act. It’s why I have been seeking for months to have a full, open and honest debate on this issue — a debate that never came.

So last week, seeing proponents of this illegal spying rushing toward a deadline to wholesale renew this unconstitutional power, I filibustered the bill. I spoke for over 10 hours to call attention to the vast expansion of the spy state and the corresponding erosion of our liberties.

Then, last week, I further blocked the extension of these powers, and the Senate adjourned for recess rather than stay and debate them.

(It came back) with just hours left before the NSA illegal spying powers expire.

Let me be clear: I acknowledge the need for a robust intelligence agency and for a vigilant national security.

I believe we must fight terrorism, and I believe we must stand strong against our enemies.

But we do not need to give up who we are to defeat them. In fact, we must not.

There has to be another way. We must find it together.

Comment by Combotechie
2015-05-31 03:08:57

For Neuromance (if you are out there).

For an excellent in-depth treatment of the greenhouse effect, go here:

Comment by Albuquerquedan
Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 06:55:03

Does Koch Industries have a list of these kinds of articles for you to post on various websites? Its funny how they both have similar formats, as if they were written for propagandists. These are talking points, not science.

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 07:04:28

No, it is actually science, what you post are talking points, George Soros talking points. What I post is the actual data in easy to follow graph and chart forms. You cannot refute them so you engage in ad hominem attacks on me and the people providing the information. You cannot have AGW until you have GW, which we have not had for twenty years and even when you have GW it does not prove it was manmade, particularly since we are 2 degrees Celsius cooler than the normal Interglacial.

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Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 07:21:57

It’s funny how these sites are aimed specifically at climate scientists and nobody else. Isn’t there some other scientific theory that conservatives have a problem with, other than evolution, and any economic theory that doesn’t give more money to billionaires?

Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 07:26:33

More funny articles please. Nothing is more entertaining than Koch propaganda.

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 07:28:14

Once again all you have is talking points, same old tobacco scientists, Koch, evolution etc. What you cannot do is find any studies to refute my three main points, the computer models are all wrong, no warming in almost twenty years and we are 2 degrees Celsius cooler than a normal interglacial period.

Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 07:50:05

Which is more likely: you have three main points about global warming due to your extensive research and knowledge of the subject, or: you are repeating arguments that have been pre-created by opposition research? Why don’t you have any opinions about sub-atomic particle theory? I forgot, Koch Industries is only into fossil fuels.

Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 07:54:44

If Koch Industries were into nuclear power, you would be posting articles that prove that radiation cures acne.

Comment by Oddfellow
2015-05-31 07:55:31

“Once again all you have is talking points,”

And 99% of climate science research studies. All you have is daily links to a climate change science denier web site run by a college-dropout weatherman.

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 08:07:39

The left is wrong and they know it. But they have made their views on climate change a key difference between them and the Republicans. Now, all they can do is hope the climate will change and become warmer. Unfortunate for them with sunspot activity falling and the oceans cooling except for the El Nino areas, cooling is more likely than warming. The desperation is evident in your posts you cannot refute my key points.

Comment by Bring Back the WPA
2015-05-31 08:13:31

no warming in almost twenty years

The ONLY source of this falsehood is a highly manipulated satellite data set from the Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville, led by Dr. Spencer, one of the very few climate denier scientists. Gee, tweaked data from deep within a red state, no agenda there eh?

All you have to do is “zoom out” to the 1960-2015 time frame to see the long-term temperature trend. There is no “pause.” The upward long term trend is intact.

Comment by Bring Back the WPA
2015-05-31 08:19:53

no warming in almost twenty years

The ONLY source of this falsehood is a highly manipulated satellite data set from the Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville, led by Dr. Spencer, one of the very few climate denier scientists. Gee, tweaked data from deep within a red state, no agenda there eh?

All you have to do is “zoom out” to the 1960-2015 time frame to see the long-term temperature trend. There is no “pause.” The upward long term trend is intact.

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 08:25:40

Even NASA’s manipulated numbers are only showing like .04 F in twenty years and the period is called a “pause” by the CAGW advocates. The satellite records are the hardest to fake and everyone knows it, your side continues to get more desperate.

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 08:27:31

Long term? No, go to Climate4U and look at 400,000 plus years and then you can talk long term and you will see no global warming.

Comment by phony scandals
2015-05-31 08:39:11

“All you have is daily links to a climate change science denier web site run by a college-dropout weatherman.”

That statement reminds me of President Obama’s Man Made Lie last month.

“In the same way I think there are families right now in south Florida who see two feet of water coming into their house every time it rains and start thinking, you know what? Rising temperatures and rising ocean levels are going to affect my property.”

All that spending on “research” and that’s all he’s got?

Comment by scdave
2015-05-31 08:40:48

The left is wrong and they know it ??

Why is it left or right Adan….Whats wrong about cleaning up the environment ?? I could say the right does not want to acknowledge it because of money…

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 08:50:09

The Democrats (left) ran on climate change in the last election funded by the green crony capitalists. They own this issue and need the continued funding of the green crony capitalists, it ends if the public understands that CAGW has been disproved. Cleaning up the environment is different from preventing co2 emissions. Many much more environmentally friendly coal plants are not being build that could displace dirty coal plants because of the co2 emission’s standards and c02 is a beneficial gas that promotes plant growth.

Comment by scdave
2015-05-31 09:21:38

Many much more environmentally friendly coal plants are not being build ??

Good…They are not needed so even if they are cleaner, they are still dirty…That is, unless you are a coal mine advocate…

Comment by Housing Analyst
2015-05-31 11:56:58

They’re needed because we’re all falling price/lower price advocates.

Comment by Bring Back the WPA
2015-05-31 08:03:01

At my local university “Watts Up With That” is not listed among the other science journals.

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 08:12:40

Neither is Skeptical Science nor the Guardian which you are always linking.

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Comment by Bring Back the WPA
2015-05-31 08:31:34

Neither is Skeptical Science nor the Guardian which you are always linking.

Oh, I can link to hundreds of peer-reviewed academic journals if you want. But “Watts Up With That” is all you’ve got. And that’s because, I’m sorry to say, is because the denier case has little or no scientific credibility.

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 08:39:02

WUWT links to hundreds of peer review article refuting that Co2 was the primary cause of the warming between 1979-1998 and demonstrating that the present models used by the CAGW are wrong.

Comment by Blue Skye
2015-05-31 08:18:16

We do not believe that you are hanging out at university.

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Comment by Muggy
2015-05-31 08:35:39
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Comment by Oddfellow
2015-05-31 08:41:55

Watts up with this?

” In the scientific literature, there is a strong consensus that global surface temperatures have increased in recent decades and that the trend is caused primarily by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases.[2][3][4][5][6] No scientific body of national or international standing disagrees with this view,[7] though a few organizations with members in extractive industries hold non-committal positions.[8] Disputes over the key scientific facts of global warming are now more prevalent in the popular media than in the scientific literature, where such issues are treated as resolved, and more in the United States than globally.[9][10]”


Comment by Bring Back the WPA
2015-05-31 08:56:39

LOL, More Scientists…

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Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 08:57:30

Just refute the actual data, Wikipedia is hardly a scientific journal and science is not a democracy. The people disputing AGW have the support of the data, the Pro-AGW just have models that are being shown to be widely inaccurate. You know Goon has figured it out, the more the pro-AGW crowd argues on this board the more they dig a hole and provide more ammunition for people not believing in AGW.

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Comment by Oddfellow
2015-05-31 09:10:01

Your data is cherry-picked and misinterpreted, as the entire non-fossil-fuel-funded scientific world agrees.

Comment by Neuromance
2015-05-31 15:05:17

Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2015-05-31 03:24:12

“Mortgages are debt traps.”


Comment by Hard Rain
2015-05-31 03:58:12

Feast for investors sells workers short
As US companies spend billions repurchasing shares, employees and economy may pay the price

“Cisco was so easily willing to let us go; it just seemed mad to me,” Ordemann said in an interview, as he recalled the “dead quiet” reaction to the layoffs.

This was not, however, the case of a company cutting back because it was struggling to make a profit. To the contrary, Cisco’s chief executive officer, John T. Chambers, this month called the California-based company a “cash and profit machine.” Cisco has a cash stockpile of $53 billion, the fifth-largest among US companies, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

Comment by azdude
2015-05-31 05:05:51

Buying stocks and homes will make u feel like a winner and part of something.

Comment by Selfish Hoarder
2015-05-31 05:47:34

Renting a deluxe two bedroom apartment that is quiet next to a quiet park and having same day maintenance will set you free.

Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 07:37:23

Not having a mortgage makes me feel like a winner.

Comment by Albuquerquedan
Comment by palmetto
2015-05-31 06:29:31

Does this mean the conflict in Ukraine can now be resolved, since he no longer needs a gig on the board of the energy company?

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 07:13:21

I think it does. Haven’t you notice it is fallen off the news radar? Putin has beaten Obama and he seems to now be willing to accept that. If you want to keep your Crimea, you can keep your Crimea and it will cost less.

Comment by scdave
2015-05-31 08:46:21

Putin has beaten Obama and he seems to now be willing to accept that ??

Putin has not beaten anybody but you want to trot out your neocon talking point…The American people “Will Not” tolerate intervention Adan…You should have learned that in the 2008 & 2012 election…Your likely going to learn it again in 2016…

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Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 09:00:16

It is Obama that intervened in the Ukraine. He has been beaten because he is a neo-con or at least a globalist which is most cases is a distinction without a difference.

Comment by oxide
2015-05-31 11:28:32

Well at least you’re no longer talking about the illness being fake.

I suppose that’s a step up. Stay classy.

Comment by palmetto
2015-05-31 14:37:34

I never said his illness was fake. I knew he had some issues like that stroke, and I guess his teeth needed to be replaced, but I thought the teeth thing had something to do with drugs. I guess it did, but the drugs were likely pharmaceuticals for cancer treatment.

Personally, I don’t care two quiffs what his situation was. Many people on both sides suffered horribly or even died, in Ukraine so he could have a gig on the board of directors of Ukraine’s energy company. Now that’s some class, eh?

Don’t let the door hit him where the good Lord split him.

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Comment by palmetto
2015-05-31 14:58:05

WHOOPSIE, never let it be said that palmetto wouldn’t admit to a HUGE flub. I had the wrong Biden offspring here. It’s HUNTER Biden who is the POS on the board of the Ukraine energy company. And he’s still alive and kicking. Beau, I guess, was relatively harmless, poor guy.

Mea Culpa.

Comment by oxide
2015-05-31 16:57:04

No problem… :-) I don’t know about Hunter. Beau was a veteran, and the Dems were waiting on whether he was going to run for governor of Delaware.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 06:11:49

Is China’s stock market in bubble territory?

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 06:43:33
Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 07:06:22

Chinese companies are raising hundreds of billions of dollars and a great deal of that is being used to retire existing debt just as I predicted a few months ago.

Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 07:04:41

All those ghost cities have to be worth something, don’t they? How much will the scrap metal and concrete be worth when they are imploded due to safety hazards?

Comment by Albuquerquedan
Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 07:22:10
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Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 07:34:26

Excerpt, Chinese developers have a multi decade time horizon, we don’t but it does not mean that there is wholesale overbuilding with no economic benefit. For years the buildings that are put up are just shells to be completed when the demand develops according to plan, if China was developing an oil shale field like North Dakota it would build the housing first, which this board would call a ghost town, and then the development of the field would begin and the incoming workers would fill the housing, that is what is occurring in China, the factories are being planned along with the housing:

There is hardly a single new urban development in the country that has yet gone over its estimated time line for completion and vitalization, so any ghost city labeling at this point is premature: Most are still works in progress. But while building the core areas of new cities is something that China does with incredible haste, actually populating them is a lengthy endeavor.

When large numbers of people move into a new area, they need to be provided for; they need public services like healthcare and education. Therefore, a population carries a price tag and there is often an extended period of time between when cities appear completed and when they are actually prepared to sustain a full-scale population. This could be called the “ghost city” phase.

Most large new urban developments in China eventually move through this phase and become vitalized with businesses and a population. Essential infrastructure gets built, shopping malls open, and places where residents can work are created. In many of the biggest new cities, new university campuses will emerge and government offices and the headquarters of banks and state owned enterprises will be shipped in, essentially seeding these fresh outposts of progress with thousands of new consumers. From here, more businesses are attracted — often drawn by favorable subsidies like free rent — and more people trickle in as the city comes to life.

Some of China’s most notorious ghost cities saw phenomenal population growth in recent years, according to a report by Standard Chartered. In just a two year period from 2012 to 2014, Zhengdong New District’s occupancy rate rose doubled, while Dantu’s quadrupled and Changzhou’s Wujin district increased to 50 percent from 20 percent. Though there is still an excess of vacancies in these places, when urban areas of high-density housing are even half full there’s still a large number of people living there — more than enough for the place to socially and economically function as a city.

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Comment by Ben Jones
2015-05-31 07:46:08

So is that your latest thing Dan? Sure, there are empty cites but it’s part of a master plan that only the Chinese know about! See, there are half a billion people living in cardboard boxes just waiting to move into these places. Jobs will magically appear, food will sprout.

Alternatively, these are a bunch of stupid developers and bureaucrats making one huge, dumb decision after another. I think I’ll take the latter.

Comment by Albuquerquedan
2015-05-31 08:11:01

Ben, perhaps you should read the whole story and watch the video on the other link. It is hardly a secret that only the Chinese government knows about, it has publicly announced the bullet trains to these cities and the plans to move factories to these areas.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2015-05-31 08:22:04

The Chinese economy is failing.

Comment by Blue Skye
2015-05-31 08:30:29

” stupid developers and bureaucrats ”

and a few more billionaires are born each time.

Comment by Ben Jones
2015-05-31 08:59:48

What are we being asked to believe here? Let’s take Phoenix. I’ve read that in the 1940’s, only a few thousand people lived there. Then over decades millions of people made millions of decisions. About jobs, where to live, how to live, where do they want to buy gas and food. How many auto-repair shops are needed and parks. Along the way people decide, there should be a day care facility or a bakery there. They take risks, employ capital, it succeeds or maybe fails. Growth moves this way and that. Trade-offs of commute time, income opportunities. Millions and millions of decisions, conscious and unconscious, communicated via markets, traffic patterns, central planing even!

Now you are asking us to believe that a group of men can sit around tables and do this. From scratch.

Let’s consider their motivation. A situation arises where these same men are given the opportunity to make fantastic amounts of money, if only they will presume they are intelligent enough to produce what otherwise would be the result of all these decisions made by millions of people over decades. And if it is a colossal mistake, there will be no accountability and they can keep the money. Plus, if they don’t take the job, someone else will.

Comment by Ben Jones
2015-05-31 09:17:30

adjective: preposterous

contrary to reason or common sense; utterly absurd or ridiculous.

I would add that such a notion could only be entertained in the midst of the greatest financial mass-delusion in the history of mankind.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 11:02:01

“Now you are asking us to believe that a group of men can sit around tables and do this. From scratch.”

Hayek explained a long time ago why central planning is doomed to fail.

Comment by x-GSfixr
2015-05-31 11:03:28

Master/Central plans by Commies = Always good. As long as the oligarchs get theirs.

Master/Central plans by our guys = Always bad.

Comment by oxide
2015-05-31 11:55:05

I dunno Ben, they did it in Celebration, Florida.

And it’s not hard to visualize centrally planning a city. You simply take an existing city — Phoenix, if you like — and say, “well this is what a million independent decisions came up with and it worked pretty well. Instead of making all the mistakes, let’s just copy the end product, the good stuff that survived.”

In fact, copying the end product is a VERY Chinese thing to do. They’ve been reverse engineering and copying American innovation for decades, sometimes exactly, like in their architecture.

Now, whether they can sustain it is something else again. For example, who is going to maintain all these empty houses and community centers while they’re waiting for the jobs to appear and the food to sprout?

Comment by Housing Analyst
2015-05-31 11:59:04

That’s not market driven Donk.

Comment by Ben Jones
2015-05-31 12:14:28

‘they did it in Celebration’

They built the cities. The question is why? We’re told there are maybe 3 million vacant units in Beijing alone. 40-60 million across the country. They don’t need any houses. The cities were built to meet government ‘growth’ goals and to line the pockets of those involved. It’s only afterward that these various schemes are invented about what to do with them. It like the underwear gnomes on a massive scale.

the gnomes claim to be business experts and explain their business plan:

Collect Underpants

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 12:36:53

“The cities were built to meet government ‘growth’ goals and to line the pockets of those involved. It’s only afterward that these various schemes are invented about what to do with them.”

Might they end up stimulating the economy in the future with various projects to tear down unneeded highrise housing towers?

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 12:50:54

“…well this is what a million independent decisions came up with and it worked pretty well. Instead of making all the mistakes, let’s just copy the end product, the good stuff that survived.”

Central planning cannot spontaneously replicate millions of organic decisions about jobs, where to live, how to live, where to buy gas and food, etc., which collectively represent lost utility of individual choice when Big Brother decides what is best.

Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2015-05-31 13:10:34

For example, who is going to maintain all these empty houses and community centers

No one, of course. This is one of many inefficiencies associated with central planning: if buildings are built when they are needed (due to organic demand), they don’t sit empty in need of maintenance—someone makes use of it right away, and is motivated to maintain it. If they are built in anticipation that they might be needed in half a decade or more, and then sit empty, they are naturally going to deteriorate with NO ONE motivated to maintain it.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 13:40:17

“If they are built in anticipation that they might be needed in half a decade or more, and then sit empty, they are naturally going to deteriorate with NO ONE motivated to maintain it.”

Same problem arises in the U.S. economy when a handful of Megabanks collectively decide to change the rules so shadow inventory can sit empty and untended for years on end.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 14:02:18

This article suggest big problems ahead for China’s ghost cities:

ft dot com > World > Asia-Pacific >
May 4, 2015 4:44 pm
China’s ‘migrant miracle’ nears an end as cheap labour dwindles
Gabriel Wildau in Shanghai

China’s labour force is shrinking and the “migrant miracle” that powered its industrial rise is mostly exhausted, removing the factors that propelled the country’s meteoric development, according to leading economists.

A shrinking labour force is driving huge economic change in China. James Kynge talks to Jamil Anderlini about the human cost of China’s mass migration from rural areas to the cities and why it is now beginning to slow.

The transformation will lead to slower growth, reduced investment and a loss of export competitiveness, they warn, increasing the urgency of implementing ambitious economic reforms aimed at finding new sources of expansion.

Today the Financial Times begins a series of articles on the end of the migrant miracle — the three decades of breakneck economic growth fuelled by the unprecedented migration of labour from the unproductive farm sector to work in factories and on construction sites.

Broad consensus has emerged that China has reached its “Lewis Turning Point” — the point at which the once-inexhaustible pool of surplus rural labour dries up and wages rise rapidly. Nobel-prize winning economist Arthur Lewis argued in the 1950s that a developing country with surplus agricultural labour could develop its industrial sector for years without wage inflation as it absorbed that surplus.

“Now we are at the so-called Lewis inflection point. I made this forecast in 2006, and today there is no need to change it,” said Ha Jiming, chief investment strategist for private wealth management at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong and formerly chief economist at China International Capital Corp, the country’s first Sino-foreign joint venture investment bank.

The working-age share of China’s population peaks this year at 72 per cent, then it will start to fall rapidly, even more rapidly than what we saw in Japan in the 1990s,” he added.

Cai Fang, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a think-tank that advises the government, estimates that China’s potential gross domestic product growth decreased from 9.8 per cent in 1995-2009 to 7.2 per cent in 2011-15 and 6.1 per cent from 2016-20.

A shrinking labour force is one of the main drivers. Since Deng Xiaoping launched market reforms in 1978, 278m migrant workers from rural villages have moved to work in the cities.

But reallocating labour from farm to factory — resulting in higher overall growth as workers’ productivity soars — is now mostly complete.

“From 2005 to 2010, the growth rate of migrant workers was 4 per cent. Last year it was only 1.3 per cent. Maybe this year it will contract,” said Mr Cai.

Comment by Blue Skye
2015-05-31 14:12:36

“Same problem” plus an order of magnitude.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 10:01:09

China’s stockmarket bubble
A goring concern
The economic dangers of China’s manic bull market
May 30th 2015 | Shanghai | From the print edition

THE slowdown in China’s property market has been cruel to makers of wooden flooring. After double-digit growth for much of the past decade, sales have slumped. Kemian Wood Industry, which used to boast of the quality of its composite floorboards, took radical steps to deal with the downturn. It switched its focus to online gaming and changed its name. After its rechristening as Zeus Entertainment in early March, its share price doubled in short order. This past week, though, its transition plan hit a snag. CCTV, the state broadcaster, accused it of being one of a series of companies that are “fabricating themes and telling stories” to inflate their share prices.

Zeus Entertainment denies the allegations. But the wider trend is clear. At least 80 listed Chinese firms changed names in the first five months of this year. A hotel group rebranded itself as a high-speed rail company, a fireworks maker as a peer-to-peer lender and a ceramics specialist as a clean-energy group. Their reinventions as high-tech companies appear to have less to do with the gradual rebalancing of China’s economy than with the mania sweeping its stockmarket.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which is full of tech companies, has nearly tripled over the past year. Even frothier is ChiNext, a board for startups that is now valued at 140 times last year’s earnings (see chart 1). A multiple of 50 would already be very optimistic for even the whizziest firms. ChiNext is supposed to be China’s answer to NASDAQ. It does indeed closely resemble NASDAQ—but as it was in 1999, just before the dotcom bubble went pop. There is no telling when the Chinese frenzy will end, but a sharp correction seems inevitable. Such a reversal would cast a long shadow over China’s economy.

As in any bubbly market, there is a debate about just how inflated Chinese stock prices are. The average price-earnings (PE) ratio on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, home to the country’s biggest firms, is 23—lofty but not much higher than America’s S&P 500 share index. That, however, is a skewed picture. Banks have the heaviest weighting on the Shanghai exchange and they have been largely left behind by the rally. (That is a warning sign in itself since bank shares tend to track the broader economy.) The median share in Shanghai now has a PE of 75. Chen Jiahe of Cinda Securities, a brokerage, calculates that nearly 85% of listed companies have higher valuations today than at the height of China’s stock bubble in 2007—which ended in a big bust. Global investors are not buying into the mania: the shares of companies listed in both Hong Kong and Shanghai are now 30% more expensive in the latter.

Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2015-05-31 10:36:42

Global investors are not buying into the mania: the shares of companies listed in both Hong Kong and Shanghai are now 30% more expensive in the latter.

That right there is WHACK-A-DOO! What is it that prevents hedge-funds from going long in HK and short in Shanghai, arbitraging that difference away?

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 13:42:49

Chinese Stocks Are Crashing
Tyler Durden’s picture
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/28/2015 22:35

The Shanghai Composite has extended yesterday’s losses and is now officially in “correction” - down over 11% from its highs yesterday.

This is the biggest 2-day drop since August 2009

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 22:44:50

Ft dot com
HSBC: China manufacturing paints less rosy picture
4 hours ago

A less rosy assessment of the Chinese manufacturing sector in May was suggested by the closely-watched purchasing managers’ index compiled by HSBC, which indicated contraction despite the official reading saying it had expanded.

The final manufacturing PMI reading compiled by HSBC and Markit was 49.2, in line with expectations and a slight upwards revision from the 49.1 estimate in the “flash” reading. The reading was 48.9 in April. Any level above 50 reflects growth.

Annabel Fiddes, economist at Markit, noted the output component recorded its first contraction of output in 2015, with weak demand from overseas playing a key role.

Furthermore, sustained job cuts, ongoing destocking activities and reduced purchasing activity all suggest that the sector may remain in contractionary territory as we head into mid-year. The latest survey data therefore suggest that more stimulus measures may be required to help boost domestic demand and recover some growth momentum.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2015-05-31 06:57:56

Oakton, VA(DC metro) Housing Prices Collapse 29%

Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 07:00:21

How can high house prices be good for the economy, when it diverts money from the economy, and instead steers it to the banks, in the form of higher house payments?

Comment by Bring Back the WPA
2015-05-31 08:17:40

Wealth Effect! This is where debt-heavy homeowners see paper equity gains as “wealth” and go out and buy that dually truck, trailer and boat… with mo’ debt, of course!

Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 11:18:57

Its more important to look good than to feel good.

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2015-05-31 07:08:45

Onward Christian Soldiers. Have you bought stock in John McCain’s favorite defense contractors/campaign contributors?

Comment by Ben Jones
2015-05-31 07:13:44

‘On Friday, May 22, I contacted the DIA Public Affairs office seeking official response to my May 19 article entitled, 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency document: West will facilitate rise of Islamic State “in order to isolate the Syrian regime”. DIA Public Affairs did not respond at that time.’

‘YESTERDAY (5/26), THE DIA CONTACTED ME via email and requested that I submit my questions. Today, May 27, DIA Public Affairs spokesman James M. Kudla contacted me via telephone at 1:37pm (Eastern Standard Time) and agreed to give an official DIA comment to my questions concerning the declassified 2012 DIA intelligence report released through Freedom of Information Act request to Judicial Watch (14-L-0552/DIA/287-293).’

‘THE BELOW IS A FULL TRANSCRIPT of the phone interview. Permission is given by Levant Report to freely copy and circulate.*

BH: Are you able to dispel some current headlines that say the West aligned itself with ISIS during 2012 or at any point during the conflict in Syria?

JK: There are a lot of headlines circulating, I cannot evaluate each one. I cannot comment on that.

BH:Would you like to take this opportunity to dispel any accusations currently circulating?

JK: I have no comment on that.

BH:Are you able to at least deny that the DIA’s analysis revealed that the West backed ISIS at some point during the conflict in Syria?

JK: No comment. I have no additional comments for you.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2015-05-31 07:38:06

Government takes my money but refuse to answer how it’s spent.


Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2015-05-31 09:21:37

‘Muricans surrendered any expectation of accountability when 95% of the electorate voted for corporate statist candidates like Obama, McCain, and Romney. The sheeple not only bent over and grabbed their ankles, they paid for the privelege of doing so.

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Comment by In Colorado
2015-05-31 15:41:13

‘Muricans surrendered any expectation of accountability when 95% of the electorate voted for corporate statist candidates like Obama, McCain, and Romney.

Since all you ever say is this, I am adding you to my Joshua Tree block list.

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2015-05-31 07:10:45

Once again, corporate money gets a ruinous trade bill fast-tracked. It is well for the elites that 95% of the electorate are docile sheep.

Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 07:34:15

And its so top secret, even senators aren’t allowed to take notes on it.

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2015-05-31 09:22:42

That way they can claim they didn’t know what was in it, as they cash their checks from Goldman Sachs.

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2015-05-31 07:15:38

While the Troika and Greece’s bon vivant “radical left” government play their silly kick-the-can games to avoid a GREXIT and keep the Ponzi markets levitated at all costs, ordinary Greeks are reaping the deserved consequences of decades of voting for corrupt politicians who promised benefits someone else would have to pay for.

Comment by In Colorado
2015-05-31 08:36:42

ordinary Greeks are reaping the deserved consequences of decades of voting for corrupt politicians who promised benefits someone else would have to pay for

The Greeks are hardly alone in this regard, as budget deficits around the globe will attest.

Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 11:22:55

I just wish Greece would grow a pair and default already. Why should average Greeks suffer to pay the bills of the oligarchs?

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2015-05-31 14:40:53

Why should average Greeks suffer to pay the bills of the oligarchs?

Because Greeks, like ‘Muricans, voted for the oligarchs’ crony-capitalist political enablers election after election, and thus share full blame for the country’s current plight?

Comment by Bring Back the WPA
2015-05-31 08:44:51

Here comes the Big Lie for 2016:

“The Committee to Unleash American Prosperity said Republicans need to stop blaming Wall Street and finance for the economic collapse of 2008. “We know what Hillary Clinton is going to say,” Moore said. “She is going to echo Elizabeth Warren and say these companies and banks didn’t want any regulation and they drove the economy off the cliff. Republicans have to say that that isn’t what happened at all. That Chris Dodd and Barney Frank and the government tried to subsidize all of these mortgages that people couldn’t afford and it led to the biggest housing bust in the history of this country, and this was done by the government, not the private sector. It wasn’t the market that failed. It was the government.””

LOL… hmmm, the government didn’t induce or require WaMu or IndyMac to write no doc, negative amortization, no down loans in 2005. The greedy banks did that all on their own.

Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 11:26:57

Repubs have been trying to pin the bubble on Barney Frank for a long time because they know that’s what the bank lobbyists will pay to hear.

Comment by phony scandals
2015-05-31 08:56:05

This Is How Little It Cost Goldman To Bribe America’s Senators To Fast Track Obama’s TPP Bill

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/30/2015

It took just a few days after the stunning defeat of Obama’s attempt to fast-track the Trans Pacific Partnership bill in the Senate at the hands of his own Democratic party, before everything returned back to normal and the TPP fast-track was promptly passed. Why? The simple answer: money. Or rather, even more money.

Because while the actual contents of the TPP may be highly confidential, and their public dissemination may lead to prison time for the “perpetrator” of such illegal transparency, we now know just how much it cost corporations to bribe the Senate to do the bidding of the “people.” In the Supreme Court sense, of course, in which corporations are “people.”

According to an analysis by the Guardian, fast-tracking the TPP, meaning its passage through Congress without having its contents available for debate or amendments, was only possible after lots of corporate money exchanged hands with senators. The US Senate passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – the fast-tracking bill – by a 65-33 margin on 14 May. Last Thursday, the Senate voted 62-38 to bring the debate on TPA to a close.

Those impressive majorities follow months of behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing by the world’s most well-heeled multinational corporations with just a handful of holdouts.

Using data from the Federal Election Commission, the chart below (based on data from the following spreadsheet) shows all donations that corporate members of the US Business Coalition for TPP made to US Senate campaigns between January and March 2015, when fast-tracking the TPP was being debated in the Senate.

The result: it took a paltry $1.15 million in bribes to get everyone in the Senate on the same page. And the biggest shocker: with a total of $195,550 in “donations”, or more than double the second largest donor UPS, was none other than Goldman Sachs.…/how-little-it-cost-bribe-senates-fast-tracking-obamas-tpp-bill - 164k -

Comment by phony scandals
2015-05-31 09:07:55

Beverly Grove
That’s where I want to be
Livin’ in Beverly Grove

Weezer - Beverly Hills - YouTube - 342k -

Tenants decry eviction by landlord, the chair of state housing agency

By Harriet Ryan
March 30 2015

Tenants facing eviction from Beverly Grove rent-controlled apartments took their complaints against their landlord, a developer who also serves as chairman of the California Housing Finance Agency, to his latest luxury residential project Saturday afternoon.

The group passed out fliers criticizing CHFA chairman Matthew Jacobs in front of an open house for Bento Box 5, a five-unit development on the corner of North Crescent Heights Boulevard and Romaine Street in West Hollywood, with homes listed north of $1.4 million.

“We want people to know what he’s doing to the neighborhood,” said tenant Steven Luftman, who has been told to vacate his two-bedroom, less-than-$1,800-a-month apartment by Tuesday. “The fact is he’s making his fortune by hurting people.”

About 60 tenants protested Wednesday outside Jacob’s home, Luftman said.

Jacobs did not return messages seeking comment. He told KPCC last week that he plans to go ahead with his plans for the apartment buildings on North Flores Street and Edinburgh Avenue. The buildings are to be razed and replaced with more upscale, modern residences.

Jacobs, a Democrat, was appointed to the CHFA board in 2012 by Gov. Jerry Brown. The agency provides mortgage loans and programs that “create safe, decent and affordable housing opportunities for low- to moderate-income Californians,” according to its website.

The Beverly Grove evictions are allowed under the state’s Ellis Act, a state law that permits the eviction of rent-controlled tenants if owners plan to get out of the rental business or tear down the buildings.

The law has become increasingly controversial as more and more landlords invoke it. It has been used extensively in San Francisco to accommodate the tech crowd’s demand for high-end residences. In Los Angeles, there are about 638,000 rent-controlled properties. In 2013, owners filed to remove about 378 of those from rent control.

Comment by phony scandals
2015-05-31 09:28:37

I love me some Dirty Bomb drills

A massive simulated dirty bomb attack exercise is set to take place at the end of June in Grand Rapids, Michigan

by Intellihub | Alex Thomas | May 31, 2015

Operation Northern Exposure will include over 1,000 Michigan National Guard soldiers and will be the first time in history that local authorities have worked with the National Guard.

According to, the drill will use a city landfill as the site for the simulated dirty bomb attack and a middle school for the “decontamination center.”

“The public may notice more military vehicles in the area, as well as helicopters bringing crews to and from the sites, but the general public won’t be impacted. Local officials said traffic in the area won’t be affected.”

Hoping to quell any public fears, Kent County Emergency Management Director Lieutenant Jack Stewart told WoodTV that, “It’s all off the beaten path. There are no public highways involved other than transportation to the site and away from the site.”

“They are even taking utility workers and getting them involved in what they are calling a dirty bomb scenario, or a nuclear radiation type of scenario,” reported Dahboo777 in a recent YouTube report on the training.

Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 11:33:21

We had a visit from a FEMA official and were told that it doesn’t hurt to keep supplies in the office for any number of reasons, so if I have to, I’ll be surviving on protein bars in an emergency.

Comment by x-GSfixr
2015-05-31 10:58:00

The Kansas Republicans have ironed out the details of an increase in taxes.

-Partially or totally repeal the 40-50% tax on the top tier income earners? Nope.

-Partially or totally repeal the elimination of taxes on LLC income not generated by wages? Nope.

Increase taxes on gasoline/fuel, Sales taxes on everything, including food, cigarrettes? Yep.

Supposedly throw the poor a bone, by eliminating income taxes on the 388,000 “poorest” Kansans. Yup.

(Of this 388,000, how many are high school students? The “cost” of this tax cut”? $19 million bucks a year. Probably half of which will be offset by layoffs of the people processing these returns in the Kansas Department of Revenues)


-This will put the sales taxes in most “Special Taxing Districts” above 10%.
Might be tough to get people to come to these “destination spots” when they realise that.

-Gasoline taxes are already 10 cents/gallon higher than Missouri. This tax increase will not be a problem for yours truly. Or a lot of other people.

-According to Republicans, part of the “problem” is that twice as many people are taking the LLC exemption than the KDOR estimated. They also, by admission, overestimated how many businesses would pack up and move to BFE, just to save money on state taxes.

(A cynic like me would say that if they are going to all of the trouble to pack up and move, they are going to move to China.
Or Texas, which is pretty much the same thing.)

Of course, the usual spew defending the descent of Kansas into a reasonable facsimile of a Third World hellhole continues: “Give it time to work/Stay the course/Obama’s fault”

Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 11:40:12

This is what repubs want to do to the whole country, turn it into a dysfunctional mess and then say its because government is incompetent. History has shown that government is most incompetent when its being run by republicans.

Comment by azdude
2015-05-31 12:15:18

Spoken like a true liberal.

Comment by x-GSfixr
2015-05-31 11:00:13

“40-50% tax” = “40-50% tax cut”

(Damn keyboard…..)

Comment by Muggy
2015-05-31 12:17:03

Alright, Oxide… tell us how much yard work you did this weekend.

Comment by oxide
2015-05-31 12:50:28

This weekend all I did was mow the lawn for 45 minutes, and sweep the driveway. I’ll spend another hour watering if there is no thunderstorm today. And only then because it’s been an unusually dry spring.

Most of the work is from mid-April to mid-May, planting and mulching. And that’s only because I put in several flower beds. It’s a hobby that I enjoy.

Comment by phony scandals
2015-05-31 18:43:34

“It’s a hobby that I enjoy.”

Good for you.

I have had several neighbors through the years who enjoyed working on their yards and it showed.

One who had lost a child told me it was therapeutic.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 18:51:58

Last year, Dad unfortunately lost the physical mobility which enabled him to maintain a backyard garden for two decades post-retirement. I saw his mom continue to garden up until she passed away in her early 90s.

So I totally get the gardening thing…more power to you!

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Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 12:52:55

I picked up a branch off our driveway and put it into the yard waste container.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2015-05-31 13:53:56

Planting pansies as the roof rots away.

Comment by oxide
2015-05-31 16:38:32

Pansy season ended about a month ago. And the roof has a clean bill of health.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2015-05-31 16:46:48

Except for the invisible algae eating away at it.

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Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 13:44:30

Given the greying population of the western economies, falling birthrates and shrinking cities, where is future demand going to come from for all the houses buyers are currently purchasing at a historically high premium to incomes and rents?

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 13:47:48

Germany replaces Japan as country with world’s lower birth rate
Germany saw an average of 8.2 children born per 1,000 inhabitants over the past five years
Louis Doré
Saturday 30 May 2015

Germany’s birth rate has fallen to the lowest in the world, according to a study by an auditing firm.

The country has dropped below Japan to take the lowest birth rate globally, according to the study by the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI), prompting fears that labour market shortages could damage the economy.

The authors of the study also said that women’s participation in the workforce would be key to the country’s economic future, and warned that a shrinking working-age population could have negative effects.

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2015-05-31 13:48:43

Even Deutsche Bank is now admitting the Fed has been “horribly wrong” - but the Fed’s brazen racketeering aimed at enriching it’s .1% accomplices in the financial sector will continue apace, since 95% of ‘Muricans have given their sanction to this debasement of the currency and malinvestment.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 13:50:48

Millennials’s Birth Rate Dropping
by William Bigelow
3 May 2015
A report from the Urban Institute has some disturbing implications for the future of the United States, asserting that birth rates among women 20 to 29 years old between 2007 and 2012 reached historic lows.

The birth rate among that group dropped 15 percent between 2007 and 2012. The study postulated that the reason for the decline in births was the recession. Nan Marie Astone, one of the report’s authors, said, “It’s hard to think that [the economic decline] wasn’t the reason.”

The period in question saw a “dramatic decline in birth rates among unmarried” black and Latino women and a concomitant drop in the number of white married women. Latino women’s births plummeted 26 percent, black women’s 14 percent, and white women’s 11 percent.

The report stated, “We calculate that in 2012, women in their twenties had births at a pace that would lead to 948 births per 1,000 women, by far the slowest pace of any generation of young women in U.S. history… If these low birth rates to women in their twenties continue, the U.S. might eventually face the type of generational imbalance that currently characterizes Japan and some European countries, but it is too early to predict or worry about that eventuality.

The Pew Research Center has determined that people between the ages of 18 and 34 will outnumber the group aged 51 to 69 in 2015.

Astone thought there might be a silver lining, though, stating that women in their 20s now might start having children in their 30s, changing the most fertile age group from what is presently aged 25-29 to women in their 30s. Until the 1980s, the most fertile age group had been aged 20-24.

Astone theorized that a smaller baby boom would lead to a decline in the demand for housing, saying, “The industry that probably would be concerned about this is housing. People tend to buy a house when they have a baby.”

Comment by In Colorado
2015-05-31 14:11:07

No problem, we’ll just hand out more green cards, hopefully to skilled candidates.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 13:55:35

Urban policy
How to shrink a city
Many cities are losing inhabitants. Better to manage decline than try to stop it
May 30th 2015 | From the print edition

ONE of the biggest challenges for the world this century is how to accommodate the hundreds of millions of people who will flock to cities, especially in emerging economies. Coping with this human torrent will be fearsomely difficult—but at least the problem is widely acknowledged. That is not true of another pressing urban dilemma: what to do with cities that are losing people.

They are hardly unusual. Almost one in ten American cities is shrinking. So are more than a third of German ones—and the number is growing (see article). Although Japan’s biggest cities are thriving, large numbers of its smaller ones are collapsing. Several South Korean cities have begun to decline—a trend that will speed up unless couples can somehow be persuaded to have more babies. Next will come China, where the force of rapid urbanisation will eventually be overwhelmed by the greater power of demographic contraction. China’s total urban population is expected to peak by mid-century; older industrial boom towns are already on a downward slope.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 14:04:47

At what point will Mr Market grasp that the oil glut is here to stay for years to come?

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 14:05:47

Commodities Corner
OPEC may condemn the world to an oil glut for years as big meeting looms
Published: May 31, 2015 4:52 p.m. ET
By Myra P. Saefong
Markets/commodities reporter

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries could flood the market with oil for years if it opts to do nothing to alter its output ceiling at a highly-anticipated meeting in June.

“If they don’t do something and find a way to get on the same page, we will all be floating on a glut of oil for a very long time,” warned Kevin Kerr, president of Kerr Trading International.

Questions about OPEC’s oil production are being raised as the oil cartel is set to call its first meeting since November 2014. Back then, OPEC’s vow not to cut output sent crude-oil prices plunging. Although prices have recovered somewhat in recent weeks, they are still sharply off their 2014 peak levels.

OPEC has maintained a collective production ceiling of 30 million barrels a day since it did away with individual country quotas about three years ago, and analysts expect the oil cartel to stand pat on that target when members meet on June 5 in Vienna.

But if OPEC decides not to change its target, it’ll be a “big signal that it is determined to continue with its policy to not give away market share,” even if prices fall as a result, Bhushan Bahree, senior director of OPEC and Middle East research at IHS told MarketWatch.

Comment by Dman
2015-05-31 15:04:18

This article says that Mr. Kerr is “warning” us that we will be in an oil glut for years unless something is done. Hilarious.

Comment by Blue Skye
2015-05-31 15:54:28

About the same time that it is realized that a hundred Chinese Potemkin Cities and $28 trillion in debt will not provide a return of principle.

Comment by Blue Skye
2015-05-31 15:59:50

meant as a reply to

“will Mr Market grasp that the oil glut is here to stay for years to come?”

Comment by phony scandals
2015-05-31 16:45:34

As we approach “Gun Violence Awareness Day” when Michael Bloomberg and his celebrity friends will hit the stage with their armed bodyguards watching in the wings to tell the country how “More than 30,000 people a year in the United States are killed from gun violence and improper safety with firearms.”

I thought it might be fitting to post some facts in the links and article below that certainly will not be part of the “Betters” presentations.

Bloomberg and his high class friends certainly won’t tell you that…

FBI: More People Killed with Fists and Hammers Than with Rifles ……/ - 111k - Cached - Similar pages
May 21, 2014 …

They certainly won’t tell you about the thousands of Brown and Black lives that evidently don’t matter…

America Doesn’t Have a Gun Problem, It Has a Gang Problem…/america-doesnt-have-a-gun-problem-it-has-a-gang-problem/ - 281k -

And although I did know that about 60% of gun deaths in the U.S. were suicides, I didn’t know and they won’t tell you the U.S. suicide rate is about the same as Great Britain, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and well below France and Greenland. Not to mention that the suicide rate in Japan where there are few guns and gun-related deaths is still more than twice the United States’ suicide rate.

HBO, MTV, And A Host Of Celebrities To Join Bloomberg For Anti-Gun Event

by AWR Hawkins29 May 2015548

On June 2 HBO, MTV, and a host of celebrities will be joining Michael Bloomberg and other pro-gun control groups to watch participating mayors proclaim “Gun Violence Awareness Day” in their cities.

Those participating will “wear orange” and MTV will “change its on-air logo — as well as several of its social media avatars — to orange in recognition of National Gun Violence Awareness Day.”

According to PRNewsWire, participating celebrities–aka, “cultural influencers”–include:

Julianne Moore, Russell Simmons, Sarah Silverman, Michael Stipe, Patti Smith, Aasif Mandvi,Alyssa Milano, Padma Lakshmi, John Hodgman, Amanda Peet, Perez Hilton, Melissa Joan Hart, Tiffani Thiessen, Tunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio, Rise Against, Mario Batali, Anti-Flag, Nigel Barker, Grace Weber, Jon Foreman, Judith Hill, Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors, Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees and Thomas Roberts of MSNBC.
Putting Gun Death Statistics in Perspective

Gangs Remain Key Unaddressed Problem in Gun Debate

By Dustin Hawkins

There are roughly 32,000 gun deaths per year in the United States. Of those, around 60% are suicides. About 3% are accidental deaths (between 700-800 deaths). About 34% of deaths (just over 11,000 in both 2010 and 2011) make up the remainder of gun deaths and are classified as homicides. Sometimes the 32,000 and 11,000 figures are used interchangeably by gun control advocates. Clearly, the 32,000 figure is a far more dramatic number and it is often used for impact by anti-gun

These numbers are also regularly compared to other countries’ gun statistics. But is it a fair comparison? Here, we will examine some of the most common gun control arguments used and put those figures into perspective.

Gang/Drug Violence Driving Force of Gun Deaths?

According to the FBI, almost four in ten homicides are classified as “unknown” while arguments are, predictably, the top cause of known homicides. It is unclear what percentage of gun deaths are gang-related nationally and even from one city to the next. So while Detroit logs some 350 homicides annually, there is no hard statistic to grasp the exact percentage that is gang-related or involving gang-members. In New Orleans, between 35-55% of homicides are classified as gang-related. In Chicago, an estimated 80% of homicides are gang-related. And in Baltimore, the police commissioner states that 80% of homicides are drug-related. (But again, most of this depends on methods of keeping records, and, often, personal opinions.)

When comparing cities plagued by gun violence and looking at “the most dangerous” cities in the United States, the most commonly cited cause of violence is gangs. It is no coincidence that the murder rate and gun violence rate spikes in large cities with large gun populations. Solve the problem of gang violence, and a huge chunk of the gun homicide and violence problem is solved. And what national gun control measures would slow the gang violence problem, when local gun control laws have failed in cities like Chicago? If politicians were really worried about gun deaths, wouldn’t they be specifically targeting where a majority of the problems exist?

Gun Homicides Per Year Beyond Gangs

Most of the gun laws are aimed at a segment of the population that is mostly law-abiding and outside of the gang culture and would likely do little to stop any of the violence.

The United States is one of the most gun-friendly countries in the world. Roughly half of American households have a gun. There are almost as many guns in America as people. It’s common sense to know that, yes, the United States will probably have more gun murders than a country with almost no guns and no households with guns. I’d would also assume that Florida will have more swimming pool drowning deaths than, say, Michigan. But unlike swimming pools, guns can also be used for self-defense reasons. The reality remains that in a country of 315 million people (and almost as many guns) very few of the guns are ever used in any crime. If arguments that the mere existence of guns made people more violent, more likely to murder, and more likely to commit crime, than the gun problem in America would be much worse.

Suicide Rates

Suicide is often a secondary reason gun control advocates use for wanting to “control” guns. It is true that roughly half of suicides in America are done by use of a firearm. Gun control advocates argue that suicides are often a momentary impulse and the availability of a gun makes people more likely to act on those impulses. Japan is probably the opposite of the United States in regards to a gun culture. With few guns and gun-related deaths, Japan is one of the most heavily cited countries by gun-control advocates. But while the cultural differences between Japan and the USA (and resulting gun violence comparisons) make a gun control argument hard to realistically swallow, one thing stands out: the suicide rate in Japan is more than twice the United States’ suicide rate. The US suicide rate is about the same as Great Britain, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, and Iceland and well below France and Greenland. In reality, suicide rates seem to have little to do with the availability or accessibility of guns. It just so happens that in the US guns are the suicide weapon of choice, while in Japan it might be jumping in front of a train or poisoning. The method of “jumping” is so common in Japan that the families of train-jumpers are often charged a fine for clean-up.

Comment by Raymond K Hessel
2015-05-31 18:41:56


Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 18:36:16

The article I am about to post is completely incoherent.

First it argues that winter quarter GDP is incorrectly calculated, since reported Q1 growth comes in negative every year, which for some unstated reason is unpossible.

Next it provides myriad reasons why Q1 2015 GDP growth was negative — especially the bad winter weather!

If winter weather is so damaging to GDP, then why wouldn’t one expect negative first quarter growth year-in, year-out?

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 18:42:24

Capitol Report
Three times rotten? A recovery hasn’t seen this many dips since the 1950s
Published: May 29, 2015 2:11 p.m. ET
Everett Collection
Edith and Archie Bunker can tell you about the good old days of the U.S. economy.
By Jeffry Bartash

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The U.S. economy has fallen into negative territory three times since the current recovery began in mid-2009, a dubious feat that last occurred more than a half a century ago.

What’s to blame for the most up-and-down recovery since the mid-1950s?

Serious flaws in how gross domestic product is calculated is one prime suspect. The government’s GDP report appears to have underestimated growth in the first quarter for decades, a problem that has become even more acute. At the same time GDP probably has overstated growth in the second and third quarters, so the underlying U.S. growth rate is probably the same.

“The evidence of a seasonal quirk in the first-quarter GDP growth figures is pretty overwhelming,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

The second culprit — and evident ring leader — is the U.S. economy itself.

Bad policy, back luck or whatever you call it, the economy is no longer growing as fast as it used to. So any time there’s a temporary dip in economic activity because of poor weather, spiking oil prices or some other major event, it’s no surprise that GDP might show a contraction.

The U.S. has grown at a mediocre 2.2% annual pace since the first full year of recovery in 2010. That’s just two-thirds as fast as the economy has grown since the government began keeping track in early 1930s.

The less the economy grows, the easier it is for quarterly GDP to slip into the red from time to time, especially if some sort of “shock” occurs. The first-quarter suffered from several of them: unusually harsh weather, a dockworker’s strike, a soaring dollar that undercut U.S. exports and a drop in business investment tied to plunging oil prices.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 18:47:10

For some reason this headline tickled my funny bone.

‘Zombie’ accounts top Social Security’s many quirks
Published: May 29, 2015 5:45 p.m. ET
MarketWatch photo illustration/Getty Images, Everett Collection
Don’t forget to “reanimate” for higher payments.
By Andy Landis

Andy Landis, founder of Thinking Retirement, is an author, speaker, and consultant specializing in Social Security, Medicare, and life planning for retirement. His books include Social Security, The Inside Story and When I Retire. He can be contacted through his website,

Social Security has a number of offbeat “quirks.” Here are the top 10, including how to turn your payments into zombies.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 18:53:04

Why are Democrats cheerleading for Dan’s man Ted to win the Republican nomination?

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 18:54:43

Capitol Report
Democrats root for Ted Cruz to win Republican nomination
Published: May 27, 2015 7:38 a.m. ET
He’s our man: Democrats surveyed by the Hill are rooting for Ted Cruz to win the Republican presidential nomination.
By Robert Schroeder
Fiscal policy reporter

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Democrats hope for Ted Cruz, but fear Jeb Bush.

The Hill surveyed Democratic lawmakers, former members and strategists, and found they are rooting for Cruz to win the Republican presidential nomination. Jeb Bush, meanwhile, is the 2016 candidate Democrats fear the most. Why Cruz? Democrats think the Texas senator, a conservative firebrand, would alienate independent voters, propel liberals to the polls and give their party the best shot at picking up congressional seats in next year’s election. Bush, meanwhile, would be a tougher opponent since he is a former governor from a political dynasty who can raise hundreds of millions of dollars and appeal more strongly to women and independent voters.

Comment by Professor Bear
2015-05-31 23:30:44

What happens when you pack hordes of people from the rural countryside into high rise housing? This could be of great interest as regards the fate of China’s myriad newly built projects.

Pruitt-Igoe: From Dream to Nightmare

Comment by phony scandals
2015-06-01 16:56:54

phony scandals

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