2:00PM Water Cooler 1/11/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Thanks to reader TedWa, we find that the USTR has solicited comments at regulations.gov on the “Employment Impact” of TPP (and not on anything else, apparently). Here’s the link, which includes the submission procedure. “Written comments are due by Wednesday, January 13, 2016.” So far, there aren’t any.

“The US concluded secret negotiations on what may turn out to be the worst trade agreement in decades, the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)” [Joseph Stiglitz, Guardian]. On ISDS: “While the language is complex – inviting costly lawsuits pitting powerful corporations against poorly financed governments – even regulations protecting the planet from greenhouse gas emissions are vulnerable.”



“Key Segments of Bernie Sanders’ Speech on Wall Street Reform Disappear” [Wall Street on Parade]. I don’t know what to make of this.

The Voters

“Citizens and Security Threats: Issues, Perceptions and Consequences Beyond the National Frame” [British Journal of Political Science]. “[G]overnment attempts to manipulate perceptions of threat in order to sway public attitudes may not be quite as straightforward as previously thought: depiction of the ‘global’ threat of terrorism, for example, would have different consequences than framing terrorism as a threat to the ‘homeland’.”

And Sanders keeps hanging around…

The Money

“The Sanders campaign doesn’t have a finance team” [Daily Beast]. “In those last three months, Sanders raised just four million dollars less than Hillary Clinton, despite having zero staff dedicated to fundraising. And according to the site p2016, which tracks campaign staff hires, Clinton has upwards of thirty finance team staffers. It’s a factoid that seems to be giving Team Clinton a little agita.” And so it should.

The Trail

Sanders: “If people are concerned about electability — and Democrats should be very concerned because we certainly don’t want to see some right-wing extremist in the White House — Bernie Sanders is the candidate” [ABC]. Headline: “Bernie Sanders In Striking Distance.”

On January 20, 2017 Bernie Sanders Will Be Sworn In as America’s 45th President” [HuffPo]. Nice compilation of talking points.

Vic Berger on Jebbie: “I see this painful look in his eyes whenever he is interacting with everyday Americans. That’s when his nervous blinking starts. I always think he is on the edge, seconds away from freaking out and punching people to escape the situation” [Vice].

“Donald Trump is above all a salesman. He is, as he constantly reminds us, the ‘Art of the Deal.’ Trump would adapt, pivot, and do anything to make his next deal; winning the general election” [Alex Castellanos]. “The Trump whom we see today would not be the Trump in November. Mr. Trump is not opposed to more big, old, top-down government in Washington. He is a corporatist who thinks the only thing wrong with Washington is that losers and morons, not Donald Trump, are running the place. Trump is little constrained by party or ideology. Unlike Senator Cruz, Mr. Trump would run left of Hillary Clinton when he found an opening.”

“More than any political candidate in memory, Donald Trump’s value proposition to voters is simple and crystal clear: He’s a winner” [Vox]. Ergo, the first time he loses, he’s toast. I’m not so sure; after all, Iowa has a lousy record of picking winners, as Trump will be the first to point out. Correctly.

Then again, Trump: “‘We’re going to win so much — win after win after win — that you’re going to be begging me: ‘Please, Mr. President, let us lose once or twice. We can’t stand it any more.’ And I’m going to say: ‘No way. We’re going to keep winning. We’re never going to lose. We’re never, ever going to lose,” Trump said to cheers. “Register and vote. I love you all” [WaPo]. That will work. Until it doesn’t.

“Economists savage Trump’s economic agenda” [Politico]. Apparently, that’s a negative.

“Among the people Trump’s business depends on—the consumer making over $100,000 a year—the value of the Trump name is collapsing” [Politico].

“With Trump and Cruz atop the polls in South Carolina, the race in this influential primary is shaping up to be a question of which candidate can drive more voters to the polls. Will it be Trump’s unique blend of brashness and fame already attracting thousands to his rallies, or Cruz’s tactical, more traditional political operation that could help him catch fire throughout the South?” [Bloomberg].

“Marco Rubio is poised to dominate Iowa’s television airwaves with about 7,000 ads scheduled to run from Jan. 1 until caucus day” [Des Moines Register].

“‘Despite Sen[ator] Cruz’s repeated statements that the legal/constitutional issues around whether he’s a natural-born citizen are clear and settled,’ [Lawrence Tribe] told the Guardian by email, ‘the truth is that they’re murky and unsettled’ [Guardian]. “Murky” because an “orginalist” would claim that Cruz needed to be born on US soil, and a “living constitutionalist” would not, but the Supreme Court hasn’t ruled on the question.

“NH staff at pro-Carson super PAC quits to volunteer for Cruz” [WMUR].

The Hill

“For Ambitious House Democrats There’s Nowhere to Go But Out” [The Hill]. Pelosi, Hoyer, and Clyburn have held the top spots for a long time, and shown no signs of leaving, and unless you’re the lead dog, the view is always the same. (Hilariously, the article touts the odious Steve Israel as a one-time “rising star”).

Stats Watch

Labor Market Conditions Index, December 2015: “[T]he labor market conditions index is picking up steam. December’s 2.9 reading is moderate compared to long-term trends, but it is the eighth straight reading over zero and the third month in a row that the rate of improvement has increased” [Econoday]. “Adding to strength are large upward revisions to November, from an initial plus 0.5 percent to 2.7, and to October, to 2.9 from 2.2.”

Employment Situation (from Friday): “The jobs report looks suspect to me. For one thing, with GDP growth way down, and little if any top line corporate growth, why the hiring? That is, if the numbers are not revised, it means productivity is running negative- more jobs for the same output” [Mosler Economics].

Shipping: “For the first time in known history, not one cargo ship is in-transit in the North Atlantic between Europe and North America. All of them (hundreds) are either anchored offshore or in-port. NOTHING is moving” [SuperStation95 (Furzy Mouse)]. The post is as of January 8, and it looks like some movement now. But not a whole lot. Do we have any marine traffic geeks in the commentariat?

“A Saudi billionaire prince, famous for employing a team of dwarves, is now Twitter’s second largest shareholder” [BBC]. “Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and his investment firm now owns just over 5%, which is more than Twitter’s new chief executive Jack Dorsey. His cash injection comes at a critical time for Twitter, which is struggling to attract new followers.”

“This is what half a billion dollars in failed startups looks like” [Daily Dot]. Froth. It looks like froth.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 17 (+8); Extreme Fear [CNN]. Last week: 46 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“In 1970 the black-white dissimilarity index for Chicago was above 90, meaning that more than 90% of blacks would have had to move in order to become integrated with whites. By 2000 the figure had fallen to 81. William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, calculates that it now stands at 76” [The Economist].

“Thanks in part to the devastating impact of mass incarceration as a result of America’s war on drugs, HIV/AIDS has become a plague in poor communities of color in the United States” [Vice]. “In effect, at the moment that HIV was making an unannounced but significant appearance on the American scene, the country was also pursuing a set of policies that resulted in the imprisonment of a population at the greatest risk for exposure to HIV: intravenous drug users, and later, in the 1980s, those caught up in crack cocaine-related sex work.”


“5 of 11 Traders don’t turn up to U.K. Court on Euribor charge” [Bloomberg].

Our Famously Free Press

“On Wednesday, ProPublica became the first known major media outlet to launch a version of its site that runs as a “hidden service” on the Tor network” [Wired].


“The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare” [New York Times]. Gripping. A must read on a lawyer discovered how harmful PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) is, through a lawsuit he brought on behalf of farmers who had sold some land adjoining their cattle farm to Dupont for use as landfill. The cattle didn’t do well. DuPont makes Volkswagen look like choirboys; they’re horribly corrupt, just as corrupt as the big banks. Maybe worse:

Where scientists have tested for the presence of PFOA in the world, they have found it. PFOA is in the blood or vital organs of Atlantic salmon, swordfish, striped mullet, gray seals, common cormorants, Alaskan polar bears, brown pelicans, sea turtles, sea eagles, Midwestern bald eagles, California sea lions and Laysan albatrosses on Sand Island, a wildlife refuge on Midway Atoll, in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean, about halfway between North America and Asia.

‘‘We see a situation,” [PFOA class action lead plaintiff] Joe Kiger says, ‘‘that has gone from Washington Works, to statewide, to the United States, and now it’s everywhere, it’s global. We’ve taken the cap off something here. But it’s just not DuPont. Good God. There are 60,000 unregulated chemicals out there right now. We have no idea what we’re taking.”

Well, hopefully the Supreme Court will gut class action suits. So that will be that.

“Flint, Mich., neighbourhoods to receive bottled water amid lead crisis” [CBC].

“Flint’s drinking water was contaminated with lead, and an unknown number of children were poisoned while the city was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager in 2014 and 2015. The emergency manager, to cut costs, switched Flint’s water supply source from Lake Huron, supplied by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, to the more polluted and corrosive Flint River” [Detroit Free Press].


“Getting To 100% Renewable Energy In the US” [CleanTechnica (Paul Tioxon)].

“Radioactive contamination from a St. Louis-area landfill containing nuclear-weapons-related waste likely has migrated off-site” [Wall Street Journal].

Militia Watch

In contrast to Cliven Bundy, “Western Shoshone National Council Chief Raymond Yowell had no such luck in 2002 when he tried to prevent armed BLM rangers from confiscating his cattle. Chief Yowell had quit paying grazing fees in 1984, after the BLM could not produce any proof that the lands in question were ‘public’ rather than Western Shoshone” [Indian Country]. “After auctioning Yowell’s cattle, the BLM sent him a bill for unpaid grazing fees and fines. When Yowell told them he was retired and his cattle were his only income, the BLM garnished his social security check.” It does seem like there are a number of double standards going on, eh?

Class Warfare

“AI in a post-capitalistic world” [Jane X. Wang]. I’m more interested in the source than the article itself; Wang is a “research scientist at Google DeepMind.”

News of the Wired

“… In the interests of saving time….” [Overheard in New York].

“This petition is to name element 117, recently confirmed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, as ‘Octarine’, with the proposed symbol Oc (pronounced ‘ook’), in honour of the late Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series of books” [Change.org].

“[Email is an] old-school protocol that renders gorgeously on new-school devices. ‘While the mobile web is a rusting scrapheap of unreadable text, broken advertisements, and janky layouts, normal emails look great on phones!'” [The Atlantic (Furzy Mouse)]. There’s a lot to be said for those old-school protocols…

“In the end, sharing data, software and materials with colleagues can help an early-career researcher to garner recognition — a crucial component of success” [Nature]. Hopefully, that doesn’t come down to being paid for “exposure,” which works very well for incumbents.

… like a fish needs an epicycle:

“David Bowie dies of cancer aged 69” [BBC].

Bowie’s acceptance speech for an honorary doctorate of music at Berklee College of Music [Business Insider].

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Inverness):


I’ve got a soft spot for Montreal. And I bet that plant basket looks different now!

* * *

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter has come, I need to buy fuel, keep the boiler guy and a very unhappy plumber happy, and keep my server up, too.


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About Lambert Strether

Lambert Strether has been blogging, managing online communities, and doing system administration 24/7 since 2003, in Drupal and WordPress. Besides political economy and the political scene, he blogs about rhetoric, software engineering, permaculture, history, literature, local politics, international travel, food, and fixing stuff around the house. The nom de plume “Lambert Strether” comes from Henry James’s The Ambassadors: “Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.” You can follow him on Twitter at @lambertstrether. http://www.correntewire.com


  1. Paper Mac

    “Shipping: “For the first time in known history, not one cargo ship is in-transit in the North Atlantic between Europe and North America. All of them (hundreds) are either anchored offshore or in-port. NOTHING is moving” [SuperStation95 (Furzy Mouse)]. The post is as of January 8, and it looks like some movement now. But not a whole lot. Do we have any marine traffic geeks in the commentariat?”

    … it’s almost as though there aren’t any AIS reception stations in the middle of the North Atlantic!!

      1. Paper Mac


        There are all kinds of ships in transit to and from the coasts, where these websites have AIS receivers. They’re probably not paying for satellites, so when, for instance, ships headed from Europe to USA get much west of the Azores, they drop off the map. The big zoomed out map image that’s been going around with the breathless “SHIPPING LITERALLY STOPPED” articles, depicting no ships tracked in the middle of the atlantic, just shows that the websites don’t have any AIS base stations in the middle of the ocean, which isn’t that surprising or interesting.

      2. TerraFirma

        The fine print might be of some assistance here. From the FAQs on marinetraffic.com:

        “AIS signals are transmitted by each vessel via VHF radio frequencies with a range that is limited to some tens of nautical miles. MarineTraffic is, therefore, using an extensive network of shore-based or vessel-based AIS-Receiving stations to cover the most possible. ”

        Also note there don’t seem to be any tankers, personal craft etc., transiting the Atlantic. Seems likely that we never see much mid-ocean traffic.

  2. Jim Haygood

    The Law closes in:

    The FBI has expanded its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of State to determine whether her Clinton Foundation work violated public corruption laws, according to Fox News.

    The report is based on accounts by three unnamed sources.

    “The agents are investigating the possible intersection of Clinton Foundation donations, the dispensation of State Department contracts and whether regular processes were followed,” one of the sources told Fox.

    One of the Fox sources also said that the FBI is especially eager to pursue a high-profile public corruption case in the wake of what they believe was overly lenient treatment of former CIA Director David Petraeus.


    How credible is a story based on ‘three unnamed sources’? Maybe they’re just three guys the reporter met in a bar last night.

    But one can harbor a tiny spark of belief that maybe, just maybe, the FBI wants to take down Hillary, who is notorious among LEOs for making the Secret Service carry her suitcases.

    Sometimes the help bites back.

  3. allan

    Preet Bharara absolves Cuomo’s office in Moreland Commission probe

    U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Monday that there is “insufficient evidence to prove a federal crime” after his office investigated Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to shut down a corruption-busting panel in 2014 and alleged tampering by Cuomo’s aides into the panel’s work.

    Bharara, who has led a crusade against corruption in Albany, issued a two-sentence statement that appeared to absolve Cuomo and his staff of any federal wrongdoing in potential meddling with the Moreland Commission, which Cuomo set up in 2013 to investigate misdeeds at the Capitol.

    Clearing the way, just in case S.S. Clinton runs aground.

  4. Rex

    “USTR has solicited comments at regulations.gov on the “Employment Impact” of TPP:”
    Posted to FR on Dec. 28, 2015, Deadline Jan. 13, 2016. Over holidays, New Year–it’s as if they really don’t want any comments.

    Certainly some groups out there who want to preserve standing should comment, or at least ask for extension of comment period.

    Most transparent administration evah….and not in a good way.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Commodity crash claims another victim:

    Arch Coal, the second-largest U.S. coal miner, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday with a plan to cut $4.5 billion in debt from its balance sheet in the midst of a prolonged downturn in the coal industry.

    Arch Coal, saddled with debt since its 2011 acquisition of International Coal Group, has been suffering from a sharp drop in coal prices, stricter pollution controls, falling demand from China and increasing competition from natural gas.

    Shares of leading U.S. coal producer Peabody Energy Corp hit a record low on Monday and were still down 18.7 percent in afternoon, after Arch warned that 2016 pricing is expected to be weaker than initially feared.


    Lots of gov agencies gonna be sorry, when their coal-fired mainframes shut down for lack of fuel.

      1. Jim Haygood

        It was tongue-in-cheek, Vatch. Though dirt-cheap oil wrecks the economics of much clean energy.

        Crude earl fell another 5.3% today, rewinding to its Dec. 2003 level.

        Sh*t is gettin’ real, not only for energy companies, but for several countries. Saudi, Venezuela …

    1. Synapsid

      Jim Haygood,

      A fall in coal consumption is good news, and it has fallen in the US, the EU, and China.

      What is to be watched is the trend in new coal-fired power stations, and there are a lot of them: 80 in Turkey alone, though money may not be available for them all; and China building 92 outside China (that brings in money and maybe supply agreements), in 27 countries. India alone has a population of one and a quarter billion people and is looking to increase power generation as are many of the countries in the Asia/Pacific region. Still a long way short of Chinese consumption but a worrying trend.

      The US is increasing export capacity of coal from the Gulf Coast, with the EU the big customer. Poland and the Czech Republic, in particular, resist the idea of cutting consumption.

  6. giantsquid

    Team Clinton appears to be about to enter all out freak mode as indicated by supporter’s attacks on Sanders in the corporate media (Felix Salmon, Greg Sargent). If these attacks continue, mirroring those made upon Corbyn in the British press after polls indicated that he was in position to become leader of the the Labour Party, Sanders will be in very good ship indeed. Moreover, Clinton’s attacks on Sanders over guns are sure to backfire. They won’t gain traction in rural states such as Iowa and New Hampshire and are likely work to Sanders advantage in Southern states like South Carolina. I lived in Augusta Georgia for six years, just across the Savannah River from Aiken South Carolina and I can say that even my most liberal friends there owned guns, usually multiple guns. So if the Presidential election ends up pitting Trump against Sanders will we have the unusual spectacle of a Mitt Romney or Jeb Bush running as a third party candidate? Would that even be possible? And who would Pravda on the Hudson and others of their ilk tacitly endorse?

    1. jgordon

      I rather admire Sanders for his position on guns. It’s a bizarrely sensible position for a Democrat to have and I can’t possible see how it could hurt him anywhere. Most people in America will respect him for it, and the few who have some kind of a weird hang up about guns will grin and bear it–simply because he’s the only non-corrupt candidate running this time.

      Actually I think it says something important that probably the most corrupt candidate to ever run for president is championing gun control while the relatively honest candidate isn’t.

      1. Pavel

        I ranted about this the other day and then stumbled on this piece by Garry Leech on Counterpunch which makes the same point:

        President Barack Obama took to the stage last week to announce the latest initiative in his crusade to make it more difficult for Americans to purchase firearms. He even shed some tears for American children killed in mass shootings. But there is a blatant hypocrisy in Obama’s position on domestic gun control given that he has bombed more countries during his time in office than any president since World War Two. Where are his tears for the innocent Afghan, Iraqi, Pakistani, Libyan, Syrian, Somalian and Yemeni children who have been killed by his use of drones and other weapons?

        Don’t get me wrong, I believe limiting the access to deadly weapons of potentially dangerous people is a good thing. I just don’t think it should apply only to individual US citizens. After all, the US government poses a far greater threat to innocent children and other civilians around the world than all of the crazed gunmen in the United States put together.

        The Hypocrisy of Obama’s Gun Control Crusade

        Shorter Obama and Hillary on “gun control”: we don’t think Americans should have guns because they kill kids. However we’re happy to drone, cluster bomb, and cruise missile innocents to death throughout the Mideast.

        Does Sanders have the guts to make this the issue?

        1. jgordon

          I had exactly the same thought as soon as I saw the photos of Obama “crying”: This MFer is going to shed tears for all the people who die in random gun-related fatalities, yet he’s super cool with randomly slaughtering wedding parties and funerals with drones every day?

          Like Fing hell that makes sense. Where do these great lovers of justice and humanity get off saying such bizarre BS? This is utterly infuriating. I’m genuinely seething whenever I think about it.

          1. Pavel

            My final diagnosis as it were: Obama is yet another sociopath or borderline psychopath, just as W and Bill Clinton were while in office. They each caused huge destruction on foreign innocents, and never for justifiable reasons. Remember when Bill bombed the “chemical weapons factory” in the Sudan, that really was just a pharmaceutical factory producing lifesaving drugs? Of course the fact that it was the Monica “blue dress” week had nothing to do with it.

            Apart from the current Saudi actions in the Yemen — apparently they are using cluster bombs supplied by the US, which 98% of the world has labelled a war crime — the other most shocking demonstration of this hypocrisy was during the Israeli attack on Gaza (including schools, hospitals, and journalists), killing 1500+ civilians. Not a peep from Obama.

            The blood boils.

        2. jrs

          kids being killed by guns are dying in vain for nothing. Whereas kids killed by drones etc. die in the name of empire and maintaining the current world order. Some things are worth it …

  7. jgordon

    That story about Raymond Yowell seems pretty significant. Apparently the lesson should be that resistance to illegitimate government actions is futile, unless one is armed and organized? At any rate, that’sbb what most people are going to take away from this.

    The Archdruid’s latest post does briefly touch on this topic. It’s well worth a read for the broader context of the situation:

    Meanwhile the political context of American life is heating steadily toward an explosion. As I write this, a heavily armed band of militiamen is holed up in a building on a Federal wildlife refuge in the deserts of southeastern Oregon, trying to provoke a standoff. Clownish as such stunts unquestionably are, it bears remembering that the activities of such violent abolitionists as John Brown looked just as pointless in their time; their importance was purely as a gauge of the pressures building toward civil war—and that’s exactly the same reading I give to the event just described.


    1. Oregoncharles

      And how many Shoshone showed up toting guns?

      Sounds like Yowell didn’t have decent legal representation, either.

      Nobody says the BLM are interested in justice; they’re just interested in not getting shot, and don’t care enough to take any risks. They may also be corrupt, at least in Nevada .

      A little more to their credit: this policy is a reaction to the disasters at Ruby Ridge (which cost the gov a cool $3.2 million) and Waco. They simply refuse to risk shootouts. Again, not because they’re interested in justice, but because it makes them look bad. And federal agents were killed at both of those confrontations.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      So far as I can tell, the Bundy crew can’t organize themselves into a paper bag. Three brands of cigarettes, plus chewing tobacco, on their gift list?

      Just not equipped to be warlords, I guess.

      1. jgordon

        Then… you are saying it does not take much arming and organizing before the government will cave? Well that’s an interesting point you’re making; it’ll certainly go a long way towards justifying such activity in the future.

        Although come to think of it, a band of lightly-armed cavemen in Afghanistan did manage to defeat the entire military might of the United States. It seems that whether domestically or internationally the gov is just not that good at dealing with these kinds of situation. Good to know, good to know.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          No. I’m saying that considering the Bundys* as sort of harbinger of organized armed resistance is (a) delusional and (b) if not delusional, culminates in warlordism.

          I mean, come on. Surely you’re not saying that whatever it is the Bundys want — I mean, besides their subsidies — is comparable to what John Brown wanted, i.e., abolition? And last I checked, the Afghans didn’t issue appeals for four kinds of tobacco. #FirstWorldProblems, totally.

          1. jgordon

            Yes, the Bundys et all are laughing stocks. They are ridiculous clowns. They, and these other militia people are demonstrably also managing to get their way over the US government.

            And why do these people have to be comparable to anyone at all? Their existence is just an expression of the pressure cooker that America has become. They could be holed up there doing what they’re doing because they’re pissed that the government is hiding the existence of lizardmen aliens in our midst–and they’d have the exact same significance: America is primed for massive violence and eventual dissolution. The fact that the government is not competent/honest enough to deal with these clowns, both them and the ones in Afghanistan, is an object demonstration that we’re already a lot further down that road than anyone realizes.

            I think you’re going to be continually shocked and horrified by the events America will be facing that are working their way through the pipe just now. A Trump presidency would be a good start on that.

  8. jawbone

    Re: DuPont and its use of PFOAs and now follow-on replacements using some kind of PFASs and the list of number of people affected by PFOAs in their drinking water….

    Has anyone contacted their local drinking water supply officials to find out if any testing has been done for PFOAs? I have a call in to the Morristown, NJ area water control. No call back as of yet.

    NJ has the second highest number of people exposed to them, right behind California.

  9. Vatch

    “Key Segments of Bernie Sanders’ Speech on Wall Street Reform Disappear” [Wall Street on Parade]

    Ha! Down the Orwellian memory hole. This sort of thing happens elsewhere, too. Images of the Tank Man at Tiananmen Square are heavily censored in China, and few Chinese today recognize it. Or maybe they won’t admit that they recognize the image.

  10. McWatt

    As regards Trump Birther: Funny thing; as a kid growing up in the ’50’s we had two branches of our family where cousins were born overseas to parents that worked for oil companies in Saudia Arabia and Venezuela. As a group, all of us cousins, constantly commented and joked that those cousins born overseas could never be President. The cousins born overseas would often start conversations to new friends with the question: “Do you know why I can never be President? “.

  11. Carolinian

    Re BLM double standards–here’s a Counterpunch story about how the BLM has caved to Nevada ranchers time after time. There’s also this key bit.

    Appointment of Ruhs as Nevada Director, sweetheart settlement deals and toleration of overt law-breaking all have taken place under national BLM Director Neil Kornze, a native of Elko, Nevada and son of a mining engineer.


    1. allan

      And then there’s Southern Utah, where wilderness study areas and native antiquities on BLM lands are routinely trashed by off road vehicle enthusiasts, and BLM does nothing:

      After weeks of public posturing and saber-rattling, a Utah county commissioner on May 10th made good on his threat to stage an illegal off-road vehicle (ORV) ride into a southern Utah canyon full of archaeological treasures. San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman led dozens of anti-federal protesters, some of them armed, past signs prohibiting ORV use in Recapture Canyon. The BLM made no effort to stop them but, according to the agency, it had cameras and law enforcement agents there to record the event and its participants for future prosecution.

      The story is from 2014. Needless to say, there were no prosecutions.

  12. Oregoncharles

    ““Key Segments of Bernie Sanders’ Speech on Wall Street Reform Disappear” [Wall Street on Parade]. I don’t know what to make of this.”

    The key, introductory sentences from the Martens’ article:

    ” But if you watched either his official campaign’s YouTube video of his speech or the one provided by volunteers for his campaign, three key passages of what he said have gone missing from the video. We were able to reconstruct the full speech as delivered by transcribing the three missing sections from a YouTube video posted by the PBS Newshour which, notably, had no gaps”

    On its face, this implies that the CAMPAIGN censored the speech. PBS, an obvious target if it’s a hostile act, posted it in full. I think the Martens’ interpretation is surprisingly naive and not supported by their evidence.

    Why would the campaign want to drop those lines? Beats me, but he does have a long record of going along to get along, despite the sometimes-fiery rhetoric, as has been apparent in some of the debates.

    1. Yves Smith

      They could simply have streamlined the speech. A live audience is there to see the entire performance. A YouTube viewer will tune out or click away if they get bored. I see no reason to conclude anything nefarious unless there is embarrassing material in the missing sections.

  13. cm

    Interesting post featuring German’s take on the refugee situation post-New Year’s Eve.

    Also interesting to see Sweden covered up a similar situation last year.

    I believe Austria is still covering their New Year’s Eve activities.

    1. Vatch

      Isn’t the poisoning of public water supplies the sort of thing that we fear terrorists might do? It’s time to arrest Michigan Governor Snyder and send him to Guantanamo Bay.

      1. allan

        Gov. Snyder’s office helpfully prepared “Tips for Flint Residents” [.pdf]:

        …. To ensure safe drinking water, you can also get a free water filter. … Use only cold water for drinking, cooking and making baby formula.

        This counts more as a crime against humanity instead of terrorism.
        The Hague would be more appropriate than Gitmo.

    2. Benedict@Large

      Fix the problem? That’s lead in those kids, That isn’t fixable.

      Of course, they got rid of the guy who did it, so that’s good. Moved him to where he couldn’t do so much harm. Yeah, put him in charge of the Detroit school system.


      Snyder’s disrespect for children of color apparently knows no bounds.

      1. PQS

        Put him in charge of the Detroit school system? Good Grief, I hadn’t heard that.

        By fix the problem, of course I meant the infrastructure. The long-term damages are incalculable, of course. But then, of course, we can always take the “lead settlement” money away via a “structured settlement payout” at a later date.

        We truly have turned into the Ferenghi.

  14. Oregoncharles

    “. Unlike Senator Cruz, Mr. Trump would run left of Hillary Clinton when he found an opening.”

    As before: Trump is ALREADY to the left of Hillary on at least three issues: single payer, the TPP (let’s be real), and political bribery.

    Then there’s the other stuff….

    1. cwaltz

      I’m not sure a guy who used eminent domain to take property qualifies as being to the left of her on political bribery.

  15. Carolinian

    Re Trump, Cruz, Laurence Tribe….Sounds like Trump scores again since the question of Cruz’ eligibility is certainly not settled law (by the Supreme Court at least). The next question would be who has the standing to sue. Would the Dems have the stones?….

    1. Jess

      Wonder if Cruz might have to be the one to sue? What if some Sec of State or state election official refused to allow his name on the ballot in one of the primaries because he failed to meet eligibility requirements?

    2. Pavel

      Rep Alan Grayson was on TV yesterday stating that he was going to start a lawsuit, but who knows how far he’ll get. I remember enjoying watching him grill The Ben Bernanke and others over the financial crisis, but I gather his personal life is messy (not that that has too much to do with this) and he’s not too well liked by many fellow Dems.

      Still, it would seem a useful thing to settle once and for all.

  16. Richard Creswell

    If the government website records no comments on the labor aspect of the TPP, Is it retaining and counting any? I for one made a comment nd filled out the form. I am skeptical that I was the only one and yet that still is one comment not no comments.

    1. Ulysses

      I know of dozens in the labor and environmental communities who have also made comments. Something very fishy going on :(

    2. dk

      Look to the right column of the document page at:

      It says:

      Comments Received

      On the Docket Folder Summary page:
      The same right column area declares:

      Comments Received

      This suggests that comments have been “received” but not “posted” for public review. A longish footnote at both right column areas explains:

      This count refers to the total comment/submissions received on this docket, as of 11:59 PM yesterday. Note: Agencies review all submissions, however some agencies may choose to redact, or withhold, certain submissions (or portions thereof) such as those containing private or proprietary information, inappropriate language, or duplicate/near duplicate examples of a mass-mail campaign. This can result in discrepancies between this count and those displayed when conducting searches on the Public Submission document type. For specific information about an agency’s public submission policy, refer to its website or the Federal Register document.

      Going to the homepage at:
      I currently see that the Review of Employment impact of TPP is at the top of the “trending” list.

      Selecting Next 3 Days (113) from the Comments Due Soon section, the listing can be sorted by
      Posted (Newer/Older) to bring the TPP Review to the first page, one can also see that some documents have even shorter posting exposure. It also seems that the posting date used for this sorting is subsequent to the date on the actual document; the TPP document is dated 12/24/2015 but shown posted at 12/28/2015.

        1. Ulysses

          I’m glad they admit to having received comments! Yet, why not post them? Of course these are the same people who kept the whole thing as secret as possible (except to the corporate lawyers who wrote it) for years.

        1. dk

          That’s not impossible. TLDR; the initial 0 on the base page is fetched after page load. This is usually fast but a delay (or failure) is possible on first load. I thought it said 0 the first time I viewed the page, too; I started clicking around within a few seconds, and didn’t notice the larger numbers until later.

          The base HTML for the pages is loaded with a 0 value. The value shown on the docket folder page is subsequently fetched via XHR/AJAX POST request to:

          The value shown on the document page is similarly fetched from:

          These fetches are usually very fast, but I observed a delay ~3s during subsequent poking.

          But perhaps more relevant, the count on the folder page lags the count on the document page by a day. Also, this document now has more comments that any other I have checked on the site, including closed documents. It may be that TedWa or their source has unleashed a late flood of submissions.

          Interested readers may wish to examine other unexpired-comment-period documents at:
          which uses the search term “trans-pacific”, or try other search terms and filters.

          As an example, Request for Comments on Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement has some viewable comments, and they make interesting reading, as advocates from various industries make their (mostly favorable) argument, in the process giving insights on some of their own agendas. Neo-liberal truisms abound, these people appear to have never done the math beyond their own next nearest bottom line, and presume a stable/inexhaustible global consumer market that will always buy, while some (or many) of their local industries (i.e., employers) are crushed by unfettered foreign competition. Investment guarantees and global reach of intellectual property law are also touted. I have not searched comprehensively, but “small business” seems under-represented.

  17. ambrit

    The St. Louis atomic landfill story is weirder than one suspects. (I couldn’t get past the WSJ Paywall, so sorry if this is covered there.) The St. Louis landfill is full of nuclear waste from the WW2 era. Right next to it, as in 1000 yards or so away, is another landfill site that is burning underground, and has been so doing for quite a while. The two sites are contiguous and sooner or later, the fire will reach the atomic waste site. The State authority is still in “investigative” mode. The locals are very worried, as well they should be. The prevailing winds go East from St. Louis.
    See: http://www.ozarksfirst.com/news/outrage-over-landfill-nuclear-threat-in-st-louis

    1. Paul Tioxon

      There a lot of underground fires around the world. In the US, Centralia, PA has been burning since 1962. All attempts to stop it have failed and the town has been evacuated for years. It could burn for centuries. No radioactive waste present, but who knows, give it another 100 or 200 years and some abandoned mine stuffed with nuke plant waste will come together with the flames.


    2. ilporcupine

      Not only that, but areas to north & south are residential, and East of the landfill complex is one of the largest, if not THE largest, industrial park/warehouse areas in St. Louis area. This is where I spent 12 years of my life, before SHTF. The building where I worked is literally across the street from that landfill. There are tens of thousands of people, at minimum, working out there every day.
      When I was there, on humid mornings, the garbage stench would make everyone nauseated. Little did we know, there was much more going on there than even the nastiness which was apparent.
      There are some strange stories in local papers about the post war years, when they buried whole trucks with their nuclear cargo, and other bizarre ocurrences.

      1. ilporcupine

        Sorry, cardinal directions are wrong above, I got all fouled up while composing. Industrial park is West of landfill. All around this area is residential, shopping suburban area. Interstate 270 runs right past within 1/4 mile.

  18. ewmayer

    Latest from the Torygraph’s favorite monetarist: RBS cries ‘sell everything’ as deflationary crisis nears.

    Recall that as late as last November, AEP was confidently reassuring us that I’ll eat my hat if we anywhere near a global recession, and Global recession scare fades as stimulus revives manufacturing, and Roubini dismisses China scare as false alarm, stuns with optimism (admittedly this quotes another prognosticator, but AEP expresses no notable skepticism in his piece) and China’s August scare is a false alarm as fiscal crunch fades.

    Given RBS’s gloomy prediction and AEP’s volte-face, it’s a good thing that no matter how bad things get in China and the old-fogey global economy, groaf will be restored and the world made safe for bankers and exponential-econ types because we can take AEP’s word for it that Paris climate deal to ignite a $90 trillion energy revolution, eh?

  19. bob

    ” the BLM could not produce any proof that the lands in question were ‘public’ rather than Western Shoshone””

    I don’t know anything about that case, but the BLM could also, I believe, be accepting any payment on behalf of the native tribe.

    IANAL, but they seem to stand between non-natives and natives on all matters between “nation land” and their corps, and everyone else on the “outside”.

    I believe these guys are actually granted charter under the BLM-


    Again, not sure. But lots of grey area and in some cases, huge money looking for the cloudy areas.

    It’s all weird, federal law that’s quazi “international” in nature. LOTS of grey area and long ongoing legal fights between the states, feds, natives and “everyone else”.

    Lots of grey area, and many different layers of gov, who don’t always agree with each other.

  20. TedWa

    “we find that the USTR has solicited comments at regulations.gov on the “Employment Impact” of TPP (and not on anything else, apparently). Here’s the link, which includes the submission procedure. “Written comments are due by Wednesday, January 13, 2016.” So far, there aren’t any.”

    Actually, there’s 2,105 comments received – but none of them are available to peruse, which I find pretty damn strange.


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