Friday, December 9, 2016

From the Water Cooler of Russian Fake News

“What was on the ballot was plutocracy, complacently stupefied and transparently corrupt at the top of the Republican and the Democratic ticket. Two gold-plated names on the same boardroom door, both candidates representative of and privileged by a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich that for the last thirty years has been arranging the country’s political and socioeconomic affairs. The election campaign was the struggle for control of corporate management, Hillary Clinton seeking to fend off a hostile takeover by Donald Trump, the lady and the lout both standing four square and true blue for the freedom of money, steadfast and vigilant against the freedoms of movement and thought” [Lewis Lapham, Counterpunch (RH)].
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“America’s ruling elite is so wonderful and our prosperity is so fantastic that domestic dissent is impossible. Any dissent must be the work of foreign devils” [Of Two Minds]. “And that’s why we’re now swimming in the raw sewage of The Washington Post’s ‘fake news’.” With handy charts proving that the U.S. Census Bureau, I.R.S., and St. Louis Federal Reserve are Russian stooges.
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“A Clinton Fan Manufactured Fake News That MSNBC Personalities Spread to Discredit WikiLeaks Docs” [The Intercept]. Greenwald in fine form. But no surprise here, after Jon Ralson manufactured the Nevada chair-throwing incident, which the Clinton campaign immediately used to smear Sanders suppporters as violent. Oddly, there was never a retraction from Ralston.
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Every crisis starts with a pile of debt that can’t be paid back, and shady accounting to hide that debt. When one big one goes under, everybody starts to question the shady deals they’ve invested in, the extend-and-pretend game ends, heretofore simple rolling over of short term debt suddenly ends, and the run starts. Governments bail out. Really big crises happen when governments run out of bailout power or will and you have a sovereign debt crisis or inflation” [John Cochrane]. ” So, where around the world is there a lot of debt that might not be paid back and really shady accounting? Well, duh, China, right?”
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“As of June, 32 publicly traded Chinese banks had a total of $2 trillion in investment receivables as of June, up from $334 billion at the end of 2011, according to a tally by The Wall Street Journal of the latest available information from data provider Wind Information Co” [Wall Street Journal, “China’s Banks Are Hiding More Than $2 Trillion in Loans”] “[A]n ‘investment receivable’ [is] a loosely regulated category of assets that allows bank officials to set aside little or nothing for potential losses.” I dunno. Wind Information? That said: “‘All banks are trying to move [loans] off balance sheets,’ said an official at Bank of Nanjing, nodding to a common belief in China that Beijing always will stand behind the country’s banks. ‘The only risk we have is sovereign risk.'” So that’s alright, then. What makes me a little leery of this story is the “stuff” aspect; we’ve been hearing about empty apartment blocks or empty lots in China for years, and it never seems to come to anything, so I wonder if we’re projecting something in the American experience onto China. Personally, I’d be more worried about the CP losing the mandate of heaven because an abused and ticked off labor force decides to take it away.
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“Descendants of West African slaves in South Carolina are fighting to prevent their land from being confiscated and auctioned. Can they save a traditional way of life that has survived for the one and half centuries since emancipation? [BBC]. Really appalling. The Gullah are coastal, and we know how developers feel about coastal land:

The first Lillian Milton knew about it was when she arrived at the local council offices to settle her tax bill.

She was told her home had been sold because she had not paid a $250 levy for a sewer service. She was shocked – at that point she had not even been connected to the sewer system.

“They had sold everything, the property, the house and all and when I offered to pay them with a cheque, they told me I couldn’t. I had to get cash money – 880 some dollars that I had to pay them to get my place back. Many of her friends and neighbours in Jackson Village, one of three black communities in Plantersville, South Carolina, face losing their homes in a similar way if they don’t pay the tax for a sewer they say they didn’t want and don’t need.

Last week 20 homes were put up for auction.

“The only people we see are the developers,” says the Rev Ben Grate, gazing at the empty road that snakes through Jackson Village.

“We call them ‘strangers’ and we are afraid of them. Because they come to take your land.

“They are millionaires, in big cars, driving slow, staking out property, dreaming on what it would be like to have a motel on the river right here.”
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“Corporate welfare has been a bipartisan boondoggle for decades. That these tax giveaways have largely benefited hugely profitable companies like Carrier, at the expense of workers and their communities, has failed to garner much media scrutiny until now.”
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“Airlines could let passengers make in-flight phone calls using Wi-Fi under a proposal from federal regulators” [AP]. Recipe for airline rage. Six hours in a metal tube next to somebody yammering about the details of their last operation? No thanks.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/12/200pm-water-cooler-1292016-2.html

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