Links 3/21/16

Glass SLIDE is installed on an LA skyscraper 1,000 feet from the ground Daily Mail. What could go wrong?

Wandering Jupiter could have swept inner solar system clean Science News

Cat Tracks Cat Tracker (via). “Browse through the interactive maps of our first participating cats.”

New Zealand ‘cat burglar’ caught stealing men’s underwear BBC

Meet the National Parasite Collection’s most fascinating creepy-crawlies WaPo. Now entering an irony-free zone….

86% of active equity funds underperform FT

Exclusive: SWIFT to advise banks on security as Bangladesh hack details emerge Reuters. Hmm. I wonder if SWIFT has a back door?

Recent moves in oil prices Econbrowser

As Coal’s Future Grows Murkier, Banks Pull Financing Dealb%k, NYT

Obama lands in Cuba amid protests, detentions McClatchy

Obama Visits Cuba NYT

Inequality curbs enthusiasm for Obama visit among Cuba’s poor Reuters

Tiny Vermont Brings Food Industry to Its Knees on GMO Labels AP


Russia Started Shipping Weapons to Kurds in Iraq South Front (Re Silc).

Beirut trash clean-up begins as critics cry foul AFP

Israel loses its grip on democracy Le Monde Diplomatique

From the Banlieues to the Bataclan: A Trip on Samy Amimour’s Bus Route Der Spiegel

Refugee Crisis

Migrant Deal Demands Huge Logistical Undertaking From Greece WSJ

Latest Poll Shows 71% of People Do Not Trust Tspiras; Greeks Want Change in Government Greek Reporter

Germany: Reaping What You Sow Inter Press Service

David Cameron’s ‘passionate and powerful’ fightback against Iain Duncan Smith in Tory party’s deepest crisis for two decades Telegraph

Iain Duncan Smith thrusts dagger at chinks in the Tories’ armour FT


China Markets: Beijing’s Support for Margin Trading Is Reborn WSJ

A plea for help: How China asked the Fed for its stock crash play book Reuters

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Plagues That Might Have Brought Down the Roman Empire The Atlantic


How the Merrick Garland nomination explains the rise of Donald Trump The Week

Historically, liberals and the Left have underestimated the Right. Today, they overestimate it. Corey Robin

Voting In Arizona And Utah Isn’t Until Tuesday But The Stop-Trump Movement Has Already Decamped For Wisconsin Down With Tyranny. “About the body of Saruman a grey mist gathered…”

The Great Divide The New Yorker. “[I] is unusual for a presumptive nominee and some of her current and former aides to be under investigation by the F.B.I.”

Amy Goodman rips CNN for airing Trump’s empty stage instead of Sanders’ speech Raw Story

The system is just this rigged: Dark money, Citizens United and the secret story of how big money stole our democracy Salon

Class Warfare

The new class warfare in America Edward Luce, FT

We’ve Been Measuring Inequality Wrong The New Republic. “Our study focuses on lifetime spending inequality because economic well being depends not just on what we spend this minute, hour, week or even year. It depends on what we can expect to spend through the rest of our lives.” Hmm. Wealth implies political power. Spending does not.

The Lesson of Carrier: America Needs a Real Socialist Agenda Econospeak

Study Reveals 95% Of Filipino, Indonesian Helpers In Hong Kong Exploited Or Forced Labor Forbes

Rise in minimum wage to bypass 1.7m self-employed FT

When Older People Do Better Than Those of Working Age WSJ

The Forgotten Shale Boom Towns Oil Price. That was fast. Destroying the Rust Belt took a lot longer.

Capitalism’s Capital LRB. Robert Moses

What Americans Don’t Get About Nordic Countries The Atlantic (DS).

Google Self-Driving Car Will Be Ready Soon for Some, in Decades for Others IEEE Spectrum. Bezzle, bezzle, who’s got the bezzle….

Amazon Leans on Government in Its Quest to Be a Delivery Powerhouse NYT

How Corporations Will Use Artificial Empathy to Sell Us More Shit Motherboard

What is the real reason we sleep? BBC

Life Is Complexicated The Mulitiverse According to Ben. 2015, still interesting.

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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.


    1. Ulysses

      Another quote from the singer from the same article:

      “I seldom do this, but I’m really casting my lot with Bernie Sanders,” Baez said. “I also think young people are supporting him. Young people are not paying attention to what goes on in the media, but kids are donating to his campaign once a month or once a week.”

    1. Dino Reno

      It is over. Sitting with three late middle age Jews at lunch the other day and all three are voting Hillary because Bernie is “unrealistic.” Pretty sad to see that canned label has stuck even among those who should be his most ardent supporters.

        1. GlobalMisanthrope

          Whoa. Jewish = Israel supporter/apologist? What’s that smell?

          No chance that, like many Catholic, Protestant, agnostic and atheist boomers I know, the Jews referred to just think Sanders’ goals are unrealistic? That view is admittedly a problem. But it’s not a Jewish problem.

          1. Bunk McNulty

            Just so we’re clear about odor: AIPAC exists to convince Americans that Israel=Jewish and that to be anti-Israel is to be anti-Jewish. I’m married to a Jew, and she says Bernie is just the guy to tell AIPAC to go to hell.

          2. Bunk McNulty

            Just so we’re clear about odor: AIPAC exists to convince Americans that Israel=Jewish and that to be anti-Israel is to be anti-Semitic. I’m married to a Jew, and she says Bernie is just the guy to tell AIPAC to go to hell.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              If he want to tell them to go to ****, he can

              1 refuse to appear before them
              2.go and tell them with an in-your-face rejection

              The latter is more forceful and I don’t think they do anything physical to him.

      1. HopeLB

        I would guess that if you dug deeper, you would find these three are upper middle class and that this has more to do with them liking the status quo than the actual “realism” of Bernie’s agenda. It is a damn shame that in this election those who are comfortable are quashing the dreams of this country’s youth/down trodden and won’t even vote for trying to achieve this “dream” of saving our Republic from the oligarchs. Why! Because they suspect their taxes will increase somewhat? Because they lack the necessary will/incentive to fight for a better future for others?

        1. sleepy

          The congressional republicans have voted to repeal Obamacare dozens of times, despite it having absolutely no chance of passing. They have also continued to push that program front and center as a campaign issue, despite it being law for at least five years.

          Realistic? No, but it has roused the base for at least the possibility of change.

          Now, along comes Bernie Sanders who wants to replace Obamacare with single-payer. Realistic with the probable makeup of Congress? Probably not, but keeping the issue alive as a goal and as a viable alternative to the present mess is absolutely worthwhile, and the more that possibility sinks in with the public, the more likely it will happen with the public.

          Setting “unrealistic” goals works for the repubs.

          1. diptherio

            The end of slavery was unrealistic, as was the ending of child labor. Gay marriage was unrealistic not too long ago, as was women serving in combat roles in the military. As someone once said,

            “Common sense” is just the set of prejudices a person has acquired by the age of 18.

            1. HopeLB

              Upvote! (Maybe, occasional reading of Thomas Paine’s Commonsense could ward off this conflation?)

          2. hunkerdown

            He gets two House elections, not one. Setting up unrealistic institutional constraints favors the right wing.

        2. jhallc

          I tend to think you are right. I’ve run into quite a few Hillary supporters here in MA from the upper 10% who ask me “what’s wrong with today’s economy? They seem to have a blind spot for what’s happening in places like Ferguson, MO.

          1. JohnnyGL

            Also in MA, agree that this is the mentality. Policing for profit is a completely foreign concept. Working class employment troubles are seen as something that results when people don’t pursue education. They also have really ingrained the ‘lowered expectations and aspirations’ line of thinking that was featured here on a post recently. Lots of older Dems no longer dare to dream….hence the age split seen in exit polls.

            I think it’s key that there’s a clear split in each of the parties, but the Republican Party is much more desperate than the Dem base.

            I also think Trump’s rise (both real and as media phenomenon) has had two effects 1) stolen away the disaffected, possible Sanders voters and 2) frightened minority Dem voters into sticking with the ‘safe’ option of Clinton.

            Trump may have bought the Dem elites another 1-2 elections cycles, but the contradictions will only sharpen in coming years.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Maybe Trump will blow up the Republican party.

              And the Democratic party will be spared of being blown up, or may also get blown up 1 or 2 election cycles later.

          2. lylo

            A rather high-income acquaintance of mine voted for Clinton in the OH primaries.
            Because Sanders would raise her taxes, with all those programs for the under-privileged.

            Summed it up for me quite well, frankly.
            And good luck in the general with those supporters, to all those holding any fealty to the Democrat banner; you’ll desperately need it.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              The response to the fear of higher taxes is

              1. MMT
              2. shifting money from the MIC to domestic programs.

              But Sanders does’nt say much about MMT, even with Kelton on his staff, risking, I believe, burying many new progressive programs/initiatives for a long time to come.

              “Sorry, no money. We talked about this before.”

            2. tegnost

              As I have pointed out to high income acquaintances, there’s more of us than there are of you. Not surprising really that your friend is for hillary, but I would carefully point out that if they’re really afraid of trump then bernies their man, but yes, the greed vote is hillary for sure.

        3. NotTimothyGeithner

          Tribalism. Hillary is the leader of the tribe. Being Jewish isn’t relevant. They say “unrealistic” because “woman President” is clearly shallow while we have so many issues. Democrats are as infected with the authoritarian mind set as Republicans.

          1. Brindle

            For myself I don’t think Trump would be much worse than Hillary——this tweet from
            at billmon1 :

            —Someone feels they HAVE to vote for Hillary Clinton in November to stop Trump, I can understand that. But my God what a tragedy.—

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              This is different than the “woman hurrah,” “omg Hillary is the superest qualified,” and “pragmatism! Because I say so” excuses. I don’t see them as being particularly different, but Trump is definitely more outlandish on the surface.

              The fatal flaw is Democrats need transients to vote for them, and outside of Sanders, no voter registration has been done since 2012. The basic registration deadline is Oct. 15 or earlier which is a disaster in a fear election because no one will care until the end. No, the Republican suburban women are just plain nasty Republicans. They aren’t voting for Hillary over Trump.

              In 2014, I saw the Democrats at the University of Virginia were going apple picking during the second day or third weekend in October. Mark Warner, the Democratic Senator, squeaked out a win, but he didn’t do well in student or urban areas outside of Nova when he once ruled the Commonwealth. Against a stronger candidate or campaign, he might have lost. If the University Democrats can’t be bothered to work during an election for Mark Warner who is a regular visitor, Hillary will be a joke of epic proportions.

              Fear of losing the Senate and a “Hillary is supporting female candidates” push did not drive turnout.

            2. neo-realist

              Have some of these Hillary supporters ever thought about the possibility that the GOP elites will broker him out of a nomination at the convention? And also that some of the GOP possibilities appear to be worse, particularly on MIC, trade policy, health care and reproductive rights. They’re getting distracted by this corporate media notion of Trump as a 21st century Hitler w/o considering what’s behind the GOP’s curtain.

            3. Synoia

              Umm no:

              —Someone feels they HAVE to vote for Hillary Clinton in November to stop Trump, I can understand that. But my God what a tragedy.—

              —I feel I HAVE to vote for Trump in November to stop Hillary Clinton. Especially because I do not want her to sign TPP, TTIP, and TISA. —

        4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Very little talk about taking money from the $600 billion (or is it $1 trillion) military spending.

          It seem defensive to start talking about, at this time, shifting military to domestic programs.

          That’s why you had to confront the MIC from the beginning.

      2. Llewelyn Moss

        BTW it may be over for you, but not for the Berners.

        Local teevee news reporter in Spokane WA.

        Melissa Luck @MelissaKXLY4
        13 yrs in Spokane, I’ve never seen people turn out like this. Politics aside, #BernieSanders’ base is engaged.

        Best case scenario, Bernie decides to leave his mark on history and walks away with the Berners to start the revolution with a third party.

        1. andreww

          Better best case: Rick Perry/Koch (NYT today) start a third party. Bernie starts a fourth. Vote comes in 30-25-25-20%, no electoral majority. House of Representatives splits 40-40-20 for months. Supreme Court is 4-4. And then, umm….

          1. GlennF

            Robert Kennedy Jr. would be a great 4th paty candidate. Very articulate and knowledgeable about issues facing America.

          2. Kurt Sperry

            If Sanders started a third (or fourth) party, he’d likely get, what maybe a third of probable Democratic voters to defect–just to start. If the Kochs fire up a third party in response to Trump, Sanders’ team would be crazy not to have gamed out that scenario and have a plan drawn up to leverage that by creating their own fourth party. Even just deniably floating the idea that they do would increase their political leverage. Does anyone doubt that a Sanders inspired party couldn’t raise hundreds of millions of dollars to do so using the same donor base he has now? I don’t know how much it might cost to start a viable new party (I suspect nobody does) but I don’t think money is necessarily a critical constraint any more.

            An actual moderate left party based on Sanders’ platform would, looking at demographics and political trendlines, if it gained any initial traction, within maybe eight years overtake the DP in voters. The problem for the DP machine–which is essentially a similar one to what the Republican Party faces–is that they can’t change their positions on a number of core issues where the electorate clearly wants change to happen simply because the people who own them won’t allow it–and everyone with internet knows that. Every one of those populist issues is power laying in the street waiting for someone to pick it up. And the power pile grows bigger every day.

        2. perpetualWAR

          The crowds in Seattle yesterday were BY FAR way larger than Obama’s first campaign. I have never seen anything like it. It was pouring rain yesterday, but people just waited and got wet. And the rain didn’t curb the enthusiasm.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I hope Sanders does well in the state of Washington.

            On the other hand (putting on my skeptically cynical or cynically skeptical Cassandra’s hat for a moment), let hope it’s not a case where most voters who will voter for Bernie all showed up last night (amounting to 30,000) – like the rabbit in the fable, alternating between being excited and oblivious to the race or any race (young they are) – and Clinton voters (old they are) – like the tortoise in the same fable – don’t do gathering/parties/rallies (almost invisible, you may say), but just grind it out every step of the way, voting once very 2 years or 4 years, on every election.

            To succeed, one has to prepare for the worst and not take the other side lightly.

            1. Kurt Sperry

              Ah, the “silent majority” :^) As ever, the young are replacing the old, and the new old are always a little different than the old old. Progress again advances one Hearse at a time…

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Battlefield intelligence is critical.

                But it is has to be age-adjusted.

                Senior tortoise Clinton supporters reserve their energy (once a month outing) for that special trip to the voting booth only.

                We have to take that into consideration.

            2. perpetualWAR

              It appears from reports that Washington has sent in a disproportionate amount (i.e. larger) of the small donations to Bernie’s campaign.

              In addition, I went to the first Obama rally (2008) and there was double the attendance at the Bernie rally yesterday. The arena filled to capacity by 3:00. Bernie wasn’t speaking until 5-5:30. By that time, the campaign scrambled to assemble an outdoor viewing for the thousands unable to be inside. Keep in mind, it rained all day yesterday. Yes, we are used to it, but no one likes to be cold and wet, yet we all stayed for hours.

          2. John

            I get to see sanders tomorrow in San Diego at convention center! Only problem is my Bernie hat hasn’t arrived yet.

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          A bungling candidate like Hillary is leading today, largely due to inertia, certain voter loyalty, endorsements, super delegates, media (let’s say) friendliness, etc, but also in no small part, due to years of self-driven, self-motivated pre-planning and organization work.

          A last-minute insurgency has a lot of overcome, even more if it is to be something to be built upon in the future, not the least of which is to sustain that ephemeral youth excitement.

        4. MojaveWolf

          No, best case scenario is Bernie wins.

          Talking as if he can’t basically makes one an ally of the pro-HRC/pro-DNC/pro-plutocracy shills & their efforts to propagandize him out of the race, whether one means to be or not.

          Even having to come from behind w/a few iffy states in the NE Bernie’s chances of beating Hillary are way better than Trumps + he is a real populist as opposed to a fake one, plus he is a decent person as opposed to a disgusting one.

          Not saying it doesn’t make sense to have a backup plan, but talking as if the race is already depresses turnout among Sanders voters making it less likely him for him to make up the gap. Since it sounds as if you’d like him to make up the gap, and since it is still possible IF his supporters turn out in droves (and only if; should Bernie win states he coulda won by 20 or 30 pts by 1 pt instead, and lose states that shoulda been toss-ups by 10, we have a a problem, people have to show up or you get Ohio), it makes sense to frame your discussion in a way that doesn’t risk deflecting needed voters away from the polls.

          Apologies for taking out my frustrations on this particular comment, but this has become ridiculously common lately, frequently even among the same people who used to retweet “it will look darkest on the 15th then we start coming back.” The 15th is over. Tomorrow he should win at least 2 out of 3 & Saturday is Washington. THAT should provide momentum to boost the campaign going forward.

        1. Katniss Everdeen


          The February fundraising totals are in: Bernie $43.5 milliion, hillary $30.1 million–Bernie almost 50% more! And the “media’s” take? Well, Bernie is spending more so he doesn’t have as much cash on hand as she does. ??????

          Not to mention the crowds he continues to draw, and she apparently doesn’t, since we never see them in video of her appearances. The camera seems always to stay tightly on her. I’m sure those crowds would be shown relentlessly if they were the least bit impressive.

          That she continues to be represented as the overwhelming front runner is more than a little fishy.

          But more importantly, I think, Bernie seems to be convincing HIMSELF that he is the better choice, even though he may have initially entered the race only to steer the conversation toward issues he considered important. His rhetoric has become more strident, and the crowds remain enthusiastic as well as generous. His message is resonating.

          As time goes on, it may become harder for him to betray his supporters by turning them over to clinton. And it may become infinitely harder for those supporters to swallow such an endorsement should it come. And she is going to need them.

          1. Ulysses

            “That she continues to be represented as the overwhelming front runner is more than a little fishy.”

            Yep. The MSM sticks to the narrative agreed upon in the corporate boardrooms, no matter the actual facts on the ground. They will surely keep telling us that global warming is no big deal– from a studio on the 30th floor of a building in Manhattan as the water is lapping at the 11th floor windows!

      3. dcblogger

        “unrealistic” is code for we can’t do what is necessary to fix our society, so I will accept the decline.

        1. RP

          I got mine, how dare you ask me to pay more tax to make society better for the useless eaters!

      4. perpetualWAR

        So, 30,000 Seattleites wait in the pouring rain to see Bernie, yet you think 3 jews’ negative opinions mean Bernie’s contest is over?
        Better rethink that.

        1. James Levy

          People exactly like that lost MA for Sanders. A disproportionate number of upper income people vote. Jewish people vote. And Jews have not come out for Sanders the way Blacks have come out for Clinton. Identity politics may suck but they also might have won MA, FL, and Illinois for Sanders. And if Sanders can’t mobilize Jews in NY and CA, he’s absolutely doomed.

            1. James Levy

              That’s of the entire US population. Jews are concentrated overwhelmingly in a few states. There, like blacks, who are also a small (but bigger) minority, they can sway an election.

      5. Benedict@Large

        Anyone who says Bernie is “unrealistic” already has good healthcare, a college education, a decent job (or a secure retirement), etc.

        “Unrealistic” is simply neoliberal dogwhistle for, “I’ve got mine; you get yours.”

  1. Cry Shop

    The Lesson of Carrier: America Needs a Real Socialist Agenda: Econospeak

    Besides being prescient on all the problems of capitalism Karl Marx was right on at least one part of the solution. What the world really needs is an international workers community. Trying to address these issues at the national level without an effective tool to counter act Capitalism ability to go international is doomed to fail. Seeing this as us against the Mexican workers, rather than all of us against the capitalist is just playing the game they want us to play.

    “I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half.” Substitute “nation” for “working class” and Jay Gould could be Obama, Congress & the Supreme Court’s paymaster.

    How will we live in this new world? Not where borders no longer exist,
    but where they have become, ever increasingly, the impediment to
    safety of our health and wealth? This is going to be one of our real
    challenges in the future!

    1. HopeLB

      Upvote! A TPP for global workers! Maybe even negotiated in secret. The Multination Corp.’s can read its 2000 pages in a dark basement with no recording devices.

    2. cnchal

      . . .What the world really needs is an international workers community.

      Canada now allows it’s fishy capitalists to import an unlimited number of foreign workers to work in their Atlantic fisheries processing plants. The capitalists claim is that no Canadian will work in the plants because the working conditions are so poor and the pay is so low, that only exploitable foreign labor will do it.

      Labor never has a chance to be on the “demand” side of supply and demand.

      1. Follow The Money

        You got it backwards. It’s because the plants can access (both) exploitable labour (and still get to the markets), therefore they can pay poorly and pocket more profits.

        It’s mostly a myth than Unions won much of anything by controlling labour supply, It has always been to easy to bust any labour program by using scabs and police violence. Labour real power was in publicity, in shared values, that in it’s hey day helped control access to the market, control the market, control the money; which is always key. No store, no car dealer, no airport terminal wants the threat of labour unrest keeping customers away, no shipper want’s their parcels kicked to the curb and urinated on before delivery to a doorstop.

        Nixon, Reagan, Thatcher and their paymasters spotted a great chance to use nationalism and racism to help kill this unity. At one time US and European Labour Unions were going international, looking after every man’s safety and getting every man a decent salary. Then they turned protectionist to win the short term battle, but they lost the war.

        It’s been downhill thereafter.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Workers are not capital, not money.

        You bring foreign workers to compete with domestic workers, and capital benefits. Only people’s lives are ruined.

        What happens when you bring foreign money to compete with domestic money? One scenario is foreign money buys out and destroys local money. Here, money is not some living beings. Only money is destroyed, and the domestic elites who own that money lose out. Will the new foreign boss be nicer? Who knows.

        But only one source of foreign money has unlimited fire power to compete with domestic money anywhere in the world. That one source is very exceptional, under the present world order. It’s always arguing for deregulating the financial market of every country.

        Because unlimited fire power.

        1. cnchal

          . . . Will the new foreign boss be nicer?

          Perhaps we can ask those nice folks somewhere in rural down south that work for the Chinese owners of a copper tube manufacturing plant, which is ironic, since one of their potential customers, Carrier, is moving to Mexico. Fucked up, eh.

          Workers are capital. Pay a person $20 per hour and charge $50 for their effort and it’s a money machine. Now it’s supercharged with even cheaper labor.

  2. allan

    Judge wants US to protect Trump associate’s secret history [AP]

    A U.S. judge is urging the Obama administration to protect from public disclosure federal court records related to the once-secret criminal history of a former Donald Trump business partner.

    In a highly unusual order prompted by The Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan said that unless the Justice Department acts before April 18, he will decide whether to make the court files public under the assumption that federal prosecutors don’t care. …

    Lawyers for the AP had asked the judge to justify sealing a five-year criminal contempt proceeding in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

    Not only did Cogan seal all documents in the contempt case, he also initially sealed the AP’s request that he unseal his justification for their sealing. When The New York Times asked the judge to unseal the AP’s request to unseal the sealing order, that request was sealed, too.

    Seems legit.

    1. perpetualWAR

      I believe that sealing cases should never be done. In my case, the opposition wanted the unredacted communication with JPMorgan sealed. Thankfully, the judge declined their request. What was in the unredacted communication? Only evidence that all Chase’s declarations should be questioned. Oh, and this nice little tidbit “it appears we have an overly zealous borrower-friendly judge on this one.”

  3. Bunk McNulty

    A marvelously disingenuous op-ed in the NY Times this morning. Repealing Citizens United won’t change anything, because super-wealthy people contribute more than corporations. Brought to you by New America, headed by Mrs. Clinton’s Director of Policy during her tenure at the State Dept. and endorsed by everyone’s favorite old grump, McCain. And smelling very much of Silicon Valley money.

    Will A Liberal Supreme Court Limit Money In Politics?

    1. Carla

      They’re right. Overturning Citizens United (the symptom) won’t cure the disease (corporate personhood AND money being considered speech). For that, we have to pass this constitutional amendment:

      Is anybody here old enough to remember life on Jan. 20, 2010, when money in politics and government by multinational corporations supposedly were not problems at all? I am old enough, but that’s not what I recall.

      On Jan. 21, 2010, the Citizens United decision was announced — changing not very much at all — but making the real political landscape somewhat more visible to the hoi polloi.

      The United States of Amnesia indeed.

      The reason so many politicians back overturning Citizens United is that it wouldn’t have much effect on their gravy train.

      1. diptherio

        There’s a reason that we passed a citizen’s initiative here in Montana to ban corporate spending on citizen initiative campaigns (in a bit of meta-politicking) a few years before Citizen’s United was ruled on. So CU was definitely not the start of the problem, although it did have an impact, since it resulted in overturning our state ban on corp. money in CI campaigns.

        We’ve had problems with corporate malfeasance (typical m.o. being suborning politicians a judges) since the days of the Copper Kings, when places like Butte, MT’s “richest hill on earth” was being turned into copper wires to electrify the cities of the Eastern seaboard (you’re welcome) and corporate profits for the likes of Daley and Clark — all the while creating massive environmental disasters like the Berkeley Pit (i.e. what replaced the aforementioned “richest hill on earth”).

        Citizen’s United was just confirming, overtly, what has been true in this country since it’s very beginnings. We’ve always been subject to the Golden Rule: those with the gold make the rules.

      2. nippersdad

        This is true; all CU did was confirm longstanding conventional wisdom. It is, literally, the symptom not the disease and getting rid of it will cure nothing. It does make for a good rallying cry, though.

        1. Carla

          Yeah, a great rallying cry for those who don’t want to do anything. Toledo, Ohio, voters just passed a ballot initiative supporting a constitutional amendment stating that corporations are NOT people and money is NOT speech. 64percent voted in favor. More at

          1. nippersdad

            That really is what it is going to take. Good job Toledo! Hopefully we will be seeing a lot more of those in the future.

            1. Carla

              Toledo is the 8th city in Ohio to get it on the ballot and the largest so far. We’re getting signatures to get on the Cleveland ballot. It’s a LOT of work! Anyplace in the country we’ve made it on the ballot it has never failed to pass.

  4. Veri1138

    Regarding We’ve Been Measuring Inequality Wrong, there seems to be a factor missing:


    Two Examples:

    For instance, if I am poor and I go to Wal-Mart and buy shirts, I’ll invariably end up buying more shirts as they are poor quality and ruin faster. If I am rich, I buy one nicely made shirt that lasts as long or longer than nine Wal-Mart shirts.

    Nine Wal-Mart shirts for a total cost of $50 versus one quality shirt for a total cost of $50. Everyone still has a shirt. It is just that the poor person can only afford the cheap shirt and must constantly replace it. The rich person only buys one. Therefor, everyone has a shirt and there is no inequality.

    Or Chained CPI. The price for meat doesn’t reflect inflation. If I could buy steak at $3/lb and the price goes up to $9/lb, substituting Spam, at a cost of $3 for a tin, means that there is no inflation. Just that an inferior and lessor quality byproduct of meat and other ingredients is substituted for steak. There is no inflation.

    Everyone eats meat. Sort of.

    In both the article and my examples, spending inequality is measurable, but reduced. The article does not measure quality, indicated by health effects (Steak vs Spam, for instance), etc. It is suggested that the eggheads eat Spam or McDonald’s for a month to figure out the difference. Forgoing steak and finer meat products, of course.

    Inequality is measured by Quality. It is in the word, In-e-QUALITY. Purely measuring monetary spending does not reduce Inequality. Inequality is more than the amount of money and how it is spent.

    Let’s argue the paper, the inequality is less pronounced. Tell that to someone who is wealthy and can afford college. And someone who grows up poor, and can’t afford college. There, FAFSA and other programs exist – accounting for the increase noted that the poor person receives more and spends more than they make, as outlined in the article.

    Spending inequality is less pronounced, except that nine shirts are bought vs. one shirt, in the above example. The college student goes to a cheaper college and does not receive a quality education as much as someone able to outright afford an education at more prestigious university and enjoy better employment prospects.

    A vacation to Disneyland for a few thousand dollars is in no way equivalent to a person who vacations at their private residence in Barcelona, for the same price, minus the cost of the residence that the poor person will never be able to afford.

    The argument presented in the paper is bullshit.

    1. Steve in Flyover

      Not mentioned is the fact that in most parts of the country, your only choice is the crappy Walmart shirt. The only places with the quality shirts arre the places that have enough customers whoo are willing/able to buy the expensive quality shirt.

      My visit to San Francisco was an eye opener. All kinds of healthy choices of places to eat. At prices three times what youn can charge compared to Flyover. Twenty bucks for breakfast in SFO is nothing. The wretched refuse out in BFE can pay about five bucks.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I would put free, healthy choices of breakfast before free college tuition.

        “Do something for yourself, your body, for once. College education to become rich (banking major) or failing that, to serve the System/Machine (with a competency certificate a.k.a. diploma) can come second.”

    2. nippersdad

      But there are ways around the system:

      Ever since our manufactures were outsourced to places like Bangladesh I had tried to buy American. Just about the time that that became impossible, I discovered E-Bay, and now I get to buy practically new Brooks Brothers/Ralph Lauren shirts for five bucks. It is a win/win. Once they are washed, who will ever know that they were used? Brooks/Lauren do not get their mark-up, I haven’t supported slave labor and can afford twenty for the price of one. Plus, it is the greener option and lowers my carbon footprint; no driving all the way into Atlanta to buy overpriced shirts made by slave labor to benefit oligarchs.

      I now prune trees with the chain saw in Brooks Brothers shirts that will outlast me. Not that the savings will buy me a house in Barcelona or pay for a Harvard education, but the cost/benefit is such that the grocery budget is not impinged upon.

      1. curlydan

        I buy used often as well. Love my local thrift store! If my kid wants an Under Armour hoodie, well…it’s usually coming from the thrift store.

        1. James Levy

          My wife has a genius for finding quality clothes at thrift stores and the Salvation Army (she did her undergrad degree at Pratt in Fashion Design back when they made you study textiles and sew everything you made by hand, so she knows quality). But the cost in time is enormous. Being poor means taking loads of time that might be spent sleeping, cooking, relaxing, or making money doing things like comparison shopping or going to two or three grocery stores (as I do) to get the cheapest things at each one. The rich can one-stop shop or have someone do all that scut work for them.

        2. nippersdad

          It really is the only way; I have loved junktiquing for years, so thrifts of various sorts were a natural extension of the habit. Especially if you have kids, I just don’t see how people get by on what things cost these days. And, even if you can afford to pay full price, the big question these days is: Why?

          Ode to Ralph Lauren:

          My lamps are Ming, my rugs are Persian;
          To new things I have a pronounced aversion.

          Hepplewhite and Benares brass,
          have quite freed me from taking it in the…shorts.

          Oligarchs, both small and large, I have this to say to thee:
          Your penchant for greed seems small and petty. Craigslist has set me free!

          1. Carla

            Picked up off tree lawns in my ‘hood where they had been put out for garbage collection (over the years)– several wooden straight chairs, a black wrought iron floor lamp, an ironing board, a wooden wine rack that actually matches my kitchen cabinets. All still in daily use (well, not the ironing board, but YOU know…)

    3. Dave


      Thrift stores are full of $50 shirts for $5 or less.

      There is so much used clothing and building material in America that it throws all assumptions of markets out on its ear.

      1. Veri1138

        I am aware of that. I usually wait for the sales at Ross’s or the like, also. Though, the quality at our Ross about 2 hours away just hit rock bottom.

        There is one thrift store located within about 40 miles. No Under Armor hoodies or the like. Not even in those located 50, 60, or 70 miles away.

  5. Skyburn

    “The expectations are so high that lawmakers are now being urged to scrap support for mass transit programs, which, some argue, won’t be needed in an era of ubiquitous self-driving cars.”

    That sentence explains a great deal. Self-driving cars: the charter schools of transportation.

    1. Dino Reno

      Sounds good to me as long as the cars are electric and they cancel plans for expressways as well. Self driving cars will be mass transit in some sense in that we won’t own them and we will pay by the ride or by subscription. Looking forward to the day when no knows how to drive, no is allowed to drive, no one has a driver’s license, and no one owns a car.

      1. Pat

        Unfortunately even in that scenario the elite will have cars at their disposal and the masses will fight over the ten allowed them.

        And all other cars will be stopped by a distant ‘god’ when the select few need to get somewhere. Not just limited to the President or the Pope, but probably the Jamie Dimons and the Sergey Brin/Larry Pages and yes still the Walton family.

        I see you do see the future where no one can drive, but you are missing how it can be even worse in the future crapification of life for the serfs

        1. cnchal

          . . . the elite will have cars at their disposal . . .

          Already, one can discern what is likely to come next. Autonomous driving will be a thrill ride for owners of exotic supercars, at a race track near you. That would give autonomous driving some street cred.

          Sold to us.

          1. Veri1138

            Wait for the hack that compromises an entire automated freeway system while millions are driving on it. Mass casualty event.

            Who is going to be left holding the liability bag on that one?

            It’s like flying cars. No one wants a drunk driver crashing into their 20th floor condo.

      2. myshkin

        “Self driving cars will be mass transit in some sense”
        -That is what has always struck me about self driving cars and smart highway systems. In fact they are reinventing the wheel so to speak. Subways, the light rail systems of the early and mid 20th C and inter city trains are self driving cars, the better the system the less need we have to waste time driving and money on private automobiles.

      3. Jim Haygood

        ‘Looking forward to the day when no knows how to drive, no is allowed to drive, no one has a driver’s license, and no one owns a car.’

        They’ll have to take my motorcycle out of my cold, dead hands.

        Banning cash and self-driven vehicles, coupled with monitoring all communications, is a formula for completely caging the lab rats.

        1. Craig Nelsen

          A cage called planet earth. The thought police are already here, the support system to turn them into executioners nearly so.

      4. Gaianne

        It IS good, Dino. The cars will be connected to computers that will figure out where to take you. In fact they will know better than you do yourself where you need to go, and take you there automatically.

        “Welcome, Winston Smith, to the Ministry of Love! We know you thought you were going out for groceries, but you will soon realize that this new opportunity to love Big Brother is far more important. And we know you will learn to love your stay!”


    2. Katniss Everdeen

      It will take 30 years for this ridiculous idea to even begin to take hold, since plenty of people of my vintage will need to die off or be in a home before it does.

      The day when I get in a “car” with no steering wheel and no brake pedal on a curvy, snowy, icy road with other “cars” without steering wheels or brake pedals will never come.

      1. justsayknow

        Once we get to the era of driverless cars and we of ordinary means can only avail our selves of “shared rides” we will be confronted with not only a no fly list but a no ride list as well.
        Sounds lovely.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        You left out the part about them being hackable. Even the cars we have now aren’t secure from hacking, as has been amply demonstrated. And even the security experts aren’t sanguine anything like unhackable security will be developed. Certainly, it won’t happen anytime soon, and given the self-driving vehicles are going to be used by the true owners as data collection sources…

        So, yeah, I’ll pass.

        1. jsn

          It is an interesting problem: huge gains in efficiency can be reaped with existing technology by an integrated fleet of self driving cars and delivery vehicles but at great social risk from hack-ability and political abuse not to mention the Bar Association.

          The possibilities for exponential efficiency gains are built on trust while our current NeoLib system is all about monetizing trust: finding it somewhere in society and extracting wealth by abusing it. Hard encryption would address the hack-ability problem but some kind of major democratic reform is necessary to address information ownership and human rights before a centralized system on this scale could be considered remotely trustworthy.

          Exponentially better efficiencies are possible all over the place by re-building trust, but the only tried and true way to do that over the centuries has been to fight a major war.

    3. Skippy

      I wounder if the algos will be anatomist self learning or hard code and how that reflects on moral decisions wrt ones life vs. others in complicated scenarios.

  6. Eureka Springs

    No jobs
    No spending money
    No quality
    No flavor in our gmo foods
    No delivery personnel, just drones
    No driving, just drones
    No contact with others
    No representation
    No privacy
    No law
    No community
    No debate

    Seemingly No choice

    No creativity unless it caters to the above model, including the ability to put a permanent $ meter on it.

    Who coined this phrase? –Knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing. D vs R USA Inc. in a neo nutshell.

    It’s no wonder we haven’t sorted out why we sleep or what dreams are all about for we are so busy destroying the attributes of being awake.

    Thank goddess for N.C.

    1. Torsten

      No sleep.
      There are predators everywhere.
      Our neurotransmitters have been depleted by constant vigilance.
      Will somebody please build a wall?

      1. Ulysses

        “I’d Like to feed the children/Find a cure for disease/Rebuild the cities/and Plant a lot of trees/I’d like to help the sick/Build factories/Give money to students/hospitals and galleries//But, I’m afraid of the Russians/I can’t sleep at night/So afraid of the Russians/Afraid we’ve got to fight//I’d like to go to space/Clean up rivers and lakes/Put everyone to work/ whatever it takes/But, I’m afraid of the Russians/I can’t sleep at night/So afraid of the Russians/Afraid we’ve got to fight/They’ve got ships at sea/They’ve got missiles in the air/Tanks on the border of Europe/and spies everywhere/”

        lyrics by: Made for TV

  7. Brooklin Bridge

    If you’re one of the millions of people pining to own a Google self-driving car, you better make yourself comfortable, because you may be in for a much longer wait than you ever expected.

    ¿¿¿¿ Millions of people pining to own a Google self-driving car????

    ¿¿¿¿ No need for public transportation* because these cars will take everyone everywhere (they are authorized to go)????

    (We just need to give these things the ability to fly, and feed us, (bit of elimination, too) and voila, they will become like our homes, nay, even better, more like our skin – no need to ever get out.)

    Good lord, how can we ever wait that long, up to thirty years!

    Good news; at my age, the messy shoot myself contingency will likely be unnecessary. Bad news; there is still a lot they seem to be determined to do regarding “information technology”, that nice neat euphemism for sharing other people’s data without permission as part of the rental contract for breathing.

    *No need for prisons either, but not to worry, they will get around to figuring that out.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “No need for prisons” (especially debtor’s prisons, I would add).

      Yep. They can just lock the car down in a convenient spot, and have a drone slide the once-a-day food pouch through the slot in the door.

      Not that I’m foily.

      1. Optimader

        Nah, put them all in a snow piercer trains!

        I still have a serious operational reality check on the driverless car thing, no less the thought they will ever supplant public trans.

        The driverless car notion is silicon valley’s serious case of FireHouse effect, as i believe Taleb has coined it.

        Let me know when they solve the problem of how driverless cars will get around the laconic ham sandwich eater standing in front of one. Or in my geography, deal withthe 1st generation indian or chinese drivers ( sorry folks it is what it is).

        Add somedriverless cars and the boom shot of Saturday afternoon in a Costco Parking lot would be the vehicular equivalent of the piefight at the end of Blazing Saddles

        1. Lord Koos

          Imagine you are riding in a driverless car, on your way to a huge demonstration of some kind, when suddenly the car won’t go there.

        2. Skippy

          Impact is unavoidable…. so how does the code quantify values… life – $$$$ – property rights – social status – ?????

        3. XonX

          I’m guessing (assuming) that some people will be able to buy 100% Me configurations for their firmware, priority parking, front-of-line merging, forced deferential lane re-entry by cheaper cars, etc.

          1. Skippy


            Skippy…. but will it flick a sovereign at them after the act…. direct deposit via link now days…. so much more civilized…. eh…

            1. optimader

              The spectrographic elemental analysis sensor option on vehicle bumper that can perform life form analysis and use the vehicle’s Concierge Assistant uplink to the supplemental insurance Backdater Assistant?

              1. Skippy

                Oops… are you insinuating opti that traffic flows would translate into money velocity… ????… and resulting digital capital multipliers…

                Skippy… as far as “Concierge” goes – anonymous Jones – decamped ages ago… I think he is doing a part in Hugh Laurie new adventure…

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        I think Silicon Valley techno corporatists are the ones wearing the foily hats and enjoying the Firehouse effect. It’s their tin foil dream (born of but alas not stopping at the damn commute for exec VCs between the hills Pacific side and Frisco) or nightmare depending on who’s being taken for a ride, but in terms of feasible, I don’t see it being technically all that far away from what is already being done. A million people run over by a sleepy code-head? A rounding error, shoulda used a float, and anyway, who’s counting, the record keepers at Flint? The dealerships are pushing this propaganda as if they were making as much money at it as the MSM. Probably are.

        It’s not so much the tech holding them up. It’s all the damn pesky residual social norms and institutions put in their way by can’t be forgotten soon enough predecessors. The Constipation this and the Bull of Rights that. A lot of stuff to undo before they can roll this one out.

        The real problem is they look determined to go as far with it as they can so your next car is already becoming one big data collection center and decision maker making more and more decisions that once belonged to you regardless of if and when the merry-go-round stops.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          In the last “Robber Baron” era we knew it was a bad thing to concentrate wealth and power in a tiny elite, Rockefellers and Carnegies etc, Teddy came along and busted trusts and everyone knew it was the right thing to do.
          This time around we deify Bezos and Brin and Zuckerberg and BillG and Kalanick even though they have monstrous levels of control over the economy, our health, our politics, and of our lives, way beyond the Robber Barons.
          Imagine some politician today stating it was time to break up Google..geez we have a lot of work to do. Since I’m from the hippie era I will repeat what was Step 1 back then: raising consciousness.

        2. Skippy

          Gates friction-less capitalism where like CORE the creator owns the IP code and the devise is just subjugation of ones will…. in a walled market garden…

      3. Synoia

        Driverlsess cars…

        Think of the liability (It’s not in the car, it’s in the software).

        And we do completely perfect software so well!

        Litigation futures are coming to town.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Sorry, Charlie — better re-read that EULA. All liability falls on the user, and your only remedy is binding arbitration.

          1. optimader

            It’s more than software, it is a transportation system with a user that with no operational discretion other than a go to location

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      My father always said, “The wold will someday be just like Florida, one big parking lot.”

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If my car is self-driven, self-driving, I expect it to go out and get a job for a taxi company.

      “Go make me, your master, some money, and on your way home, pick up some Made-in-America Chinese food.”

      But I shouldn’t have to say that, if my car is really self-driven, and highly motivated.

    4. craazyboy

      The future, according to Silicon Valley.

      My gas pump has a Facebook page (J.Geils – My girfriend is a centerfold)

      Does it walk? Does it talk?
      Does it come complete?
      My friendly corner gas pump
      Where I take my car to eat

      It was good as Boy Scouts
      It’s hose would never drain
      The memory of my gas pump
      Will never be the same.

      Years go by I’m googlin’ through the internet
      And there’s my corner gas pump
      On a Facebook page I get

      My blood runs cold
      My memory has just been sold
      My gas pump has a Facebook page
      Gas pump has a Facebook page

      My blood runs cold
      My memory has just been sold
      My gas pump has a Facebook page
      Gas pump has a Facebook page

      Thinkin’ ’bout my gas pump
      Can it wash my windshield too?
      My gas pump don’t do windshields
      Got a degree from Twitter U.

      Been a while since driving school?
      Your car can drive but don’t need you
      Windshield don’t need washing
      Got a degree from Twitter U

      Watched my gas pump twitter feed
      My car was logged on free
      Gas pump says gas here if you need
      My car took off without me

      My blood runs cold
      My memory has just been sold
      My gas pump is the centerfold
      Gas pump is the centerfold

  8. Steve in Flyover

    Lesson of Carrier hits the nail exactly on the head. Its not just that a deal needs to make a profit. Its that the deal has to make a profit matching what they can make compared to other investments, including monopolies and semi criminal acts. 8-9-10% is considered a good return on investment.

    Most businesses can only dream of returns like that. So, in order to get the deal done, somebody has to get shorted, usually the working stiffs.

    As long as us workers have to compete against profit margins that the banksters are capable of generating by off shoring, out sourcing, and funny money games sanctioned by the oligarchs in DC, expect more of the same.

    1. Steve in Flyover

      Relocating to cheaper labor markets is nothing new. Bell Aircraft, Convair and Vought relocated to Texas starting in the 1940s, to avoid the “commie labor unions” in New York, California, and Connecticut.

      It seems that the US business definition of “communist” should be “anyone challenging the financial and dictatorial power of business owners and management”.

      1. cyclist

        Carrier itself is just such a relocation story. The initial company was moved from Newark, NJ to Syracuse, NY in the 1930s, where it employed a large number of manufacturing workers up to its purchase by United Technologies in 1979 (IIRC). Since then all the manufacturing has been moved to the non-union south, Mexico or China. So the workers in Syracuse got the same treatment as those in Indianapolis some time ago. This story is repeated over and over in upstate NY.

        1. Steve in Flyover

          Which is why I have a problem shedding tears for the former traitors/sharecroppers who live in Confederate states, when they get off shored/outsourced.

          After all, they started the trend, by backstabbing the yankee working stiffs working Northeast and Upper Midwest manufacturing jobs

          Of course, they can’t help themselves. Polite Southern society demands that they be subservient to their “betters”; in this case, banksters and corporate suit types.

          1. cyclist

            I can’t say I don’t have sympathy for the regular workers screwed by this sort of thing. It is more a question of our laws allowing such arbitrage between states and localities to occur.

            1. Carla

              Laws? We don’t need no stinkin’ laws. And according to the ISDS provisions of NAFTA, TPP and TTIP, we ain’t GOT no stinkin’ laws, either.

              Least, we got none that can trump lawsuits launched by multinational corporations and are decided by secret arbitrators whose decisions cannot be appealed.

  9. ProNewerDeal

    NC/Lambert introduced me to the concept of “narrow network” health insurance, of limited physicians & pharma (“narrow formulary) being actually available on one’s crapified ACA health insurance.

    I read H Clinton re-flip-flopped for the Xth time on her health insurance policy, noting she is now “pro Public Option”, presumably to “compete” & “sux less when compared to” Sanders’ superior MedicareForAll plan.

    I want details of this “Public Option”.

    I propose the following:
    1. The “Public Option” be called “Medicare Pt. O”, priced based on actuarial cost

    2. The network & formulary of existing Medicare for the 65+ population, must be the same for Medicare Pt. O patients.

    3. Existing Medicaid patients become Medicare Pt. O patients that do not have to pay premiums

    4. Physicians/”providers”/pharma vendors, you take the entire patient base (tradl Medicare 65+, tradl Medicaid, new paying Medicare Pt. O) or you lose ALL the Medicare business. And you take it for a calendar year at a time, no dropping out of network during the year, since that is a breach of the patients’ contracts, since they may not change insurance during the year.

    Without such an explicit definition of a “Public Option”, I fear H Clinton, if she doesn’t just re-flip-flop for the X+1th time & “Pull an 0bama 2010” & kill the Public Option, H Clinton will merely introduce a thoroughly crapified Public Option health insurance, which has a Medicaid-or-worse narrow network. This would feed H Clinton’s neoliberal “the Gov sux!” narrative, by designing the Public Option to purposely fail, even relative to the existing crapified private oligopolist ACA policies.

    What do yall think?

    1. TomD

      I think I read she doesn’t actually even support a federal public option, she just supports allowing States to offer it themselves.

      1. nippersdad

        I saw that too. Like the expansion of Medicaid worked so well on that model; too clever by half.

        She really is her own worst enemy.

    2. dk

      Clinton would protect the insurance industry, because it’s an industry, full stop.

      Most people in the US subscribe to the belief that insurance as a for-profit business can deliver high-quality and affordable health care, a complete fiction. All told, the overhead that insurance and other payment channel processing adds to health care costs is at least 60% (it’s actually more like 75%, but some added cost is inevitable if full payment is not immediate and unencumbered by any processing, as in: cash up front). A real and effective public “option” would yield at least 30% savings across the board, assuming little additional profiteering at the provider end (not a foregone conclusion).

      But there are many opportunities to weave additional charges into a large-scale program of any kind. Clinton has a long and solid record of accepting the conclusions of “experts” of industry, and has zero interest in forging any new paths, she is the quintessential regressive conservative, apple-cart tending is her metier. Best case, Clinton offers some rebranding of ACA, with some (easily compromised) promise of network reliability.

      1. just_kate

        i recently had a generic wellness exam under a PPO after having Kaiser for awhile and i couldn’t believe the billing. 5 claims over 2 months: the facility, the doctor, two lab tests submitted individually and then one lab claim that was rejected – i asked my insurance what the rejected claim was for since i knew of only two standard tests that were ordered and they said it was for a lab supervision & quality control fee (w t h ?). the retail amounts were almost $900 and the appointment lasted all of 30 minutes and only b/c i was a new patient. the system is a total racket.

        1. Dave

          Ever think of suing in small claims court? Make the company officials show up and explain their charges. If they are a no show, you win by default.

          1. just_kate

            that kind of exam is free for me, so included in the 5K premiums i’ll pay this year lol . i’m one of the lucky ones with ‘good insurance’ although i’ve never had to actually use it beyond checkups (knock on wood). but $900 retail for a wellness checkup is criminal.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Again we see how fabulously destructive the career “progressives” were when they introduced the public option concept (which was so vague and ever-shifting and -shrinking as not to constitute a policy at all).

      Now Hillary uses it for its intended purpose: To shut down single payer.

  10. JohnnyGL

    Re: Russia Started Shipping Weapons to Kurds in Iraq South Front (Re Silc).

    Main weapons system highlighted is what sounds like a good quality anti-aircraft cannon. Specifically stated to be used against ISIS…..who doesn’t have an airforce! :)

    Southfront doesn’t seem to want to point out that fact or that the Turks DO have an airforce and a military that seems to have a tendency to wander across the border into Iraq from time to time.

    I think Russia and the US have come to a quiet understanding that the Kurds in both Iraq and in Syria have become very useful as a way of boxing in all of the following….ISIS, Turkey, Syrian Arab Army, along with Al Qaeda and the other proxies of Gulf monarchs. It helps keep everyone off balance and prevents them from getting overconfident and overambitious.

      1. James Levy

        They have the defect of being direct fire weapons for the most part (you have to see what you are shooting at and can’t call in fire from over the hill or far away the way you can with conventional artillery) and they use up a boatload of ammo. Of course, if a passel of armed Toyotas come over the dunes, they’d be as effective as German 88’s were picking off Shermans (and the 88 began life as a flak gun).

      2. mark

        I remember this one….I was impressed at the time..

        “Feb. 24, 1976 Millions – between $2.7 million and $10 million – was taken from a Brink’s truck when a van carrying a .50-calibre anti-aircraft gun blocked the truck and forced the driver to open the doors outside a Royal Bank branch in Old Montreal. A Brink’s employee later confessed to be part of the plot.”

  11. Lil'D

    with regard to TNR article on inequality

    and your comment is on the nose. Wealth is not about “spending” or “income” per se

    wealth is the ability to get other people to do things for you
    You can use money to get them to work for you or in trade for something.
    You can also use political machinery. Or the power of the state.
    Or persuasion of various means.

    Money is widely accepted but it’s not the only “currency”

  12. myshkin

    From the current Guardian coverage of HC’s speechifying to AIPAC
    “Outsourc[ing] Middle East security to dictators….it would be a serious mistake for the United States to abandon our responsibilities or cede the mantle of leadership of global peace and security to anyone else.”

    Could we just drop that bloody mantle of leadership where it will do no harm and work together toward global peace and security with anyone else interested?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Another old burnt-out souvenir spouts the establishment line — spot the contradiction in his thesis:

      “Israel’s government’s steady and systematic process of expanding settlements, legalizing outposts, seizing land, is eroding in my view the prospect of a two-state solution,” Biden said in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

      “It will, without a doubt, be the most generous security assistance package in the history of the United States,” Biden said of a pact expected to be worth billions of dollars annually to [Israel], the largest recipient of such U.S. assistance.

      In the inverted world of the Depublicrat establishment, ‘He who has the gold pays the tribute.’

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’ve often wondered if the new President’s first day in office includes a visit from quiet, grey men with a severed head in a briefcase (to make clear the nature of our national security state).

        But now I also wonder if it includes a nice note from Bibi showing the Israeli nuclear targeting plan.

        1. James Levy

          They don’t have the reach. They could kill our troops in the Middle East and Germany before we vaporized their country, but Israel lacks the all-important delivery systems (ICBMs) needed to hit the continental USA.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I hope not, not something that horrible.

            Though, as an exercise to planning for it, in order that it doesn’t happen, I believe, where there is a will, there is way.

            And a civilian airplane (or several planes) is one way.

  13. ILO: Now on Google!

    “What the world really needs is an international workers community.”

    Yeah somebody oughta set up rules and institutions for that. You know what else would be good? If we had, like, round things to put under sledges, to make them easier to pull.

  14. rich

    Sunday, March 20, 2016
    Secretive CEWG Has Carlyle Group Ties

    The Intercept reported on a secretive lobbying group:

    “The Commercial Energy Working Group is one of the most active – and secret – organizations seeking to undermine energy market regulations,” Slocum told The Intercept. “The purpose of my complaint is to force the group to start identifying its membership.”

    Under the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, all lobbying organizations registered with the federal government must list the names of any business that has contributed more than $5,000 to them in any one quarter. But the CEWG “does not disclose the individual companies or entities that constitute its active membership,” according to Slocum’s letter.Carlyle is renowned for hiring politically connected people who can influence elected officials “without lobbying.” The New Yorker described Rubenstein:

    “His vision was to combine capital with politically connected people whose phone calls are accepted around the world.”

    Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein hosted Vice President Joe Biden on Thanksgiving and dined numerous times with President Obama, as did Rubenstein’s wife Alice Rogoff during Obama’s Alaska trip.

    Seeking Alpha reported Carlyle and Vitol were the first exporters of U.S. oil to Europe. Together Carlyle and Vitol have an insider on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Vitol’s Ron Oppenheimer. Besides being a regulator Oppenheimer is part of the secretive Commercial Energy Working Group.

    Welcome to the Government-Corporate Monstrosity, Eisenhower’s Military-Industrial Complex on trillions in federal steroids.

  15. diptherio

    Re: Life is Complexicated

    Well, it looks like complexity theory is maturing from when I last checked in on them. Good to see. However, their epistemology is still way off from my personal Discordian take on things.

    Why does our world consist so much of this sort of perversely complexicated system, instead of nice elegant well-organized systems, or simplistic SFI-style “complex systems” models? Because when dealing with severe resource constraints, evolutionary processes are going to make use of Any Means Necessary (well, any means they can find within the searching they have resources to do). Both self-organizing emergence and well-organized factory-style organization are effective ways of making big systems do difficult things. If they can be gotten to work together in the same system, sometimes that’s even better.

    There is nothing perverse about reality. It is what it is. To wonder why the world doesn’t match our mental models is to misunderstand what a model is.

    We look through a window, as it were, on reality. What we see outside is a riot of shapes and colors. Chaos. We place a Grid over the window, and notice that some of the Chaos seems to match up to some of the Grid. We then mistakenly assume that the Grid explains the Chaos. But later, we place a different Grid up on our reality-window and notice that now other parts of the Chaos now appear to match parts of this new Grid, parts we couldn’t match to the old Grid…

    The Normal Pink scientist will assume that this means that it is really the new Grid that explains the Chaos of reality, or that they have at least now come closer to the True Grid that explains the Chaos. The Discordian, ever protected against the snares of illusion, realizes that Order and Disorder exist only in the Grid. That the Grid is an overlay and explains nothing about the Chaos outside, but only the nature of his own consciousness. The Pink boy or girl mistakes the map for the territory, the Discordian knows better.

    And is it just me, or is this man veering dangerously close to intelligent design theory???

    The simple, uncomplicated self-organizing systems that the SFI-style “complexity science” likes to study, are not generally capable of giving rise to interesting phenomena given realistic amounts of resources. That’s a bit inelegant, but it’s a cost of living in a universe that imposes such severe resource constraints on its residents. To get interesting complex-self-organization-ish phenomena in reality, one generally needs to interweave some complicatedness with one’s complexity. Which means that one obtains systems whose behavior is a mixture of universal complex-systems properties, and highly specific properties resulting from complicated particulars. Which is either ugly and messy or weirdly beautiful or completely plainly normal and real, depending on one’s perspective!

  16. rich

    Goldman Sachs probed in alleged Treasury rigging

    Washington’s probe into the alleged rigging of the $13 trillion US Treasurys market by Wall Street banks has narrowed its focus to a handful of firms — including Goldman Sachs, The Post has learned.

    In addition, European authorities have opened up their own investigation into possible Treasurys bid-rigging, sources said.

    Investigators in the fraud division of the Justice Department have obtained chats and e-mails from Goldman that appear to implicate the company in manipulating the price of Treasury bonds, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.

    Those chats and e-mails are being analyzed to determine if traders at other banks could be involved with any possible bid-rigging of US government debt, those two people said.

    The identities of any traders in investigators’ cross-hairs couldn’t be learned.

    Goldman is said to be cooperating with the probe, one person said.

    Don’t worry lloyd….Hillary’s Goldman handcuffs,,,,,,,,,,,,Hillary Clinton is looking into it…

  17. Synoia

    Wandering Jupiter could have swept inner solar system clean

    Dirty old man, Just wanted to get his Gravity to attract Venus.

  18. Synoia

    David Cameron’s ‘passionate and powerful’ fightback against Iain Duncan Smith in Tory party’s deepest crisis for two decades

    Mr Duncan Smith resigned and accused him of putting wealthy Tory voters ahead of Britain’s working poor.

    WTF was Duncan Smith thinking? That is the Tory (aka: Whipping and Hanging) Party platform (both stated and unstated).

    It is amazing how die hard UK Tories suddenly develop a conscience and what appears to be a sudden recovery of common sense after a severe lapse, when elevated to the Lords (and now are protected for life from donors).

  19. Synoia

    Exclusive: SWIFT to advise banks on security as Bangladesh hack details emerge Reuters. Hmm. I wonder if SWIFT has a back door?

    Not when I worked there. Leased lines (encrypted) only. Now I expect it is a VPN to the Banks, and then program-to-program with strong encryption and authentication.

    The biggest risk to wire transfers in a large banks when I worked there was that the wire transfer department operated as a message transfer agency, and did not have ledgers (money in = money out) controlling the flow of funds.

    I pointed out the exposure and an attack mechanism to the Bank’s internal audit department, and then said they were glad I was working for the Bank and not against it. The did nothing.

    The Bangladesh attack appears to follow the attack mechanism I described, back in 1982.

  20. Synoia

    Historically, liberals and the Left have underestimated the Right. Today, they overestimate it.

    The Right always Trumps the Left.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Speaking to AIPAC, Hillary outdoes herself in conflating BDS with antisemitism:

      Many of the young people here today are on the front lines of the battle to oppose the alarming boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as BDS.


      Particularly at a time when antisemitism is on the rise across the world, especially in Europe, we must repudiate all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.

      We have to be united in fighting back against BDS. Many of its proponents have demonized Israeli scientists and intellectuals, even students.

      Antisemitism has no place in any civilized society, not in America, not in Europe, not anywhere.

      Poisonous. Just poisonous. Hillary is absolutely determined to delegitimize principled opposition to Israel’s apartheid state by smearing its opponents as antisemites.

      If Hillary becomes president, it’s easy to imagine her upping the ante by whacking BDS activists with felony hate crime charges.

      ‘Apartheid has no place in any civilized society: not in America, not in Israel, not anywhere.’

      1. NeqNeq

        While I have quibbles and qualms with some BDS rationale, blanket statements like Clinton’s are even more heinous insofar as they cheapen the concept of antisemitism by over inclusion.

        Not that I am surprised. US politicians are encouraged to conflate “ally” with “partner” when it comes to Israel…even though Israel’s center/right/far-right parties see no need to act like the latter.

        1. Jim Haygood

          ‘they cheapen the concept of antisemitism by over inclusion’

          Precisely. By indiscriminate use, ‘antisemite’ has been reduced to a generic term of disapprobation, along the lines of ‘douchebag.’

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            A theory that explains everything explains nothing.

            A term that explains everything explains nothing.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              But wait a minute here (I am arguing with myself).

              If everything is sexism, then, nothing is.

              And if everything is racism, then, again, nothing is.

              And here is the scary one –

              If everything Hillary does is evil, then nothing she does is.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        From Wikipedia:

        Pandering is the act of expressing one’s views in accordance with the likes of a group to which one is attempting to appeal. The term is most notably associated with politics. In pandering, the views one is expressing are merely for the purpose of drawing support up to and including votes and do not necessarily reflect one’s personal values.

        Pandering is essentially a reaction of panic in elected officials who must either tailor their views to public opinion or risk losing their existing or potential seat.[1]

      3. Sam Adams

        Hillary will have the USA at war with Iran and likely Russia on the Turkish border at the instigation of Netenyahoo.
        Say goodbye to American lives.

  21. barrisj

    The LMD article on Israel’s transition into an anti-democratic, theocratic state is completely on point. Because we’re now into the period of presidential campaigning where candidates prostrate themselves before the Zionists, and bellow their fealty to “plucky” Israel, surrounded by those nasty A-rabs and “existentially threatened” by Iran. More weapons, more aid, more political support, more-more-more, it’s never enough to assure the “security” of Israel. Radical ultra-Orthodox rabbis and settlers calling for eradication of the Palestinian presence in the Occupied Territories and stripping of citizenship and all civil and political rights of Israeli Arabs…these are the people to whom US politicians pay tribute with their knee-jerk support. AIPAC rubbing its hands in glee as the procession of feckless tools parade across the rostrum blathering on about Israel Now, Israel Forever…stomach-turning, all of it.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Hillary to AIPAC:

      Just a few weeks ago, a young American veteran and West Point graduate named Taylor Force was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist near the Jaffa Port. These attacks must end immediately…


      And Palestinian leaders need to stop inciting violence, stop celebrating terrorists as martyrs and stop paying rewards to their families.

      Palestinians: Willie Horton in a keffiyeh. /sarc

    2. Carla

      All of this, for only 3% of the votes. Seems a little unlikely.

      Unless it’s not really the votes that count, but who’s counting the votes that counts.

    3. sumiDreamer

      Good article, but not really up to date.

      The fight over the Temple Mount is taking the spotlight in Isreal, since the discovery of the bulla of King Hezekiah has been “found” – and the riots there are causing major problems.

      As the Germans used astrology to manipulate people, the Israeli right wing uses “prophecy” to manipulate jewish people and the right wing Xians who give them money. This reconstitution of the Senhedrin and making changes to the calendar with attendent sacrifice is aimed at the militant who are superstitious.

      Strange the wiki entry on this is so stale:

      Trouble’s brewing …

  22. Synoia

    What is the real reason we sleep?

    If we did not sleep, us males would have to listen to our wives nagging 7 x 24.

    On the other hand if we didn’t sleep it would solve the snoring problem.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When we know why we need sleep (to our best knowledge, best explanation, of course), that will set the stage for phase two.

      Phase two is about finding the cure for that sickness (now we know the cause).

      Then, workers can work 24 hours a day.

      “What good is knowledge, even partial knowledge, if we don’t apply it to alter Nature?”

  23. JEHR

    RE: How the Merrick Garland nomination explains the rise of Donald Trump

    I have been reading dozens of articles each having its own take on the rise of Trump and I really like the concluding paragraph of the above article:

    When your party proves again and again that it treats governing like a joke, you wind up picking a joke of a candidate to be your nominee for president. You choose someone who doesn’t know the first thing about how government works, and couldn’t care less. You push your voters to the least serious person, the one who “tells it like it is” — in other words, the one with the most contempt not just for the norms of politics but for the norms of civilized human behavior. That’s what Republicans have ended up with. And they pretend that they can’t understand how such a thing could have happened.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Just out of curiosity, which of the “norms of politics” do NOT deserve to be held in “contempt?”

      1. James Levy

        An issue may be what has become normal, but cannot be what must be normal: that governments exist to protect our rights and do the people’s business. We can be snarky to a fault here. The statements above about Trump are demonstrably accurate. He doesn’t know or care how government works nor has be given any indication that he has a clue how to govern, no less protect anyone’s rights but his own. This desperate need to set up Trump as an acceptable lesser of two evils is both bizarre and disheartening, yet people who rejected that logic and held in contempt Democrats who four years ago made such arguments are now invoking them wildly in a made dash to demonstrate who hates Hillary the most. Let’s all put on our Big Boy pants and start thinking about saving this society, rather than snidely watching it go down the drain.

        1. hunkerdown

          “Adult” = “submission to the status quo”. It’s far from the first time I’ve heard (or, admittedly, swung) that sort of condescending rhetoric this primary season, though I credit you with mild, proportionate usage. Are you saying that certain aspects of the status quo should not be open to debate or modification? To whom do we owe those pacts, anyway?

        2. Massinissa

          “Let’s all put on our Big Boy pants and start thinking about saving this society, rather than snidely watching it go down the drain.”

          Does ‘Big Boy Pants’ involve voting for Hillary Clinton in order to oppose Trump? Because if so I want none of that, man. Stop playing this lesser evil shtick and don’t vote for evil. Voting for either of those people results in America going down the drain. Voting isn’t going to change the nations trajectory whatsoever.

        3. vidimi

          i think both of the above replies missed their mark as james was neither suggesting that some of the status quo was worth preserving (observing instead that governments should protect people’s rights and serve them and that trump in no way lends himself to those ideals) nor that anyone should vote hillary as the lesser of two evils (indeed, he has expressed preference for third party candidates a number of times in comments). he is only pointing out that voting trump to stick it to the system is a destructive exercise.

  24. NeqNeq

    Re: Measuring Inequality

    I have not had the chance to dig into the study backstopping the piece. They mention that they base earnings off of labor (i assume wages), but significant portions of top incomes come from rents/investments. Do they account for this?

    Also, how do they deal with sole proprietor income (which may/may not be traditional wages) and charitable donation (I assume spending to decrease tax burden)?

    Just wondering if its actually worth reading.

  25. JEHR

    Antidote du jour: Animals at play is always delightful! I have seen deer play follow the leader in a circular formation and I just know they are smiling as they go round and round.

  26. Antifa

    The Motherboard article on creating empathy in computer-driven devices is a sign of how shallow such efforts must forever be, as well as how much our economy and consumer culture depends on extracting wealth from the populace.

    Whatever a computer is capable of developing, or teaching itself about empathy amounts to sociopathy: heed all body language, emotional cues, facial expressions, words, posture, and so on to the nth degree, and then output whatever bundled responses will most likely encourage the human to buy. To a human sociopath or psychopath, “the sale” may be anything from selling you a new car to convincing you to get in the car because there’s no danger. To Ted Bundy, and to the computer salesbot, getting the human to respond as you wish is success. There’s no relationship or lasting commitment created. Quite the opposite; the sociopath is done with you: “Next!”

    Most people don’t know that human sociopaths and psychopaths actually have tremendous empathy. They feel deeply and sincerely. They just have the innate ability to compartmentalize it, to shut it off and set it aside like a power tool until it’s needed. When needed, they can be so convincing, genuine, and sincere that you will find it almost impossible to resist. It would be like turning down your best friend. You have to be around it a whole lot to see it without falling for it. The trick is remembering that there is no relationship, no friendship, no feeling whatsoever once you consent: “Next!”

    In the 1945 Bugs Bunny cartoon, “The Unruly Hare” the wascally wabbit turns a coy face to Elmer Fudd and asks, “Is you is or is you ain’t my baby?” It’s all ridiculous jest, of course, but that question has always stuck in my mind as a sterling example of a ‘crossroads’ question, the kind of ‘fork in the road’ question that comes along regularly in any human life. Like a national election, eh? Or a decision to kiss, and begin a romance. To quit your sucky job. Quit drinking. Join the Navy. Run for mayor. Move to Thailand, or back to your parents house to dig up their lawn and grow squash. A crossroads question is a major life choice, after which your life will not be what it was, and you will be a different person. A crossroads question can tie up your fate with other fates, and commit you to things way beyond the visible horizon. It is often a choice that transcends even your own existence, as when old people plant trees whose shade they will never enjoy.

    The choice a human makes for any given crossroads question may be driven by straightforward desire, or by more complex emotions and ideals that take one along the less desirable path out of a sense of duty, piety, loyalty, honor, pride, sacrifice, or love. We do not always choose what we merely desire. We all have a genetic drive toward altruism. Evolution put it there. We often choose what conflicts with immediate desire. We save for our retirement, or for our daughter’s dowry. We set aside the desires of the moment to act on principle. We resolutely pass up a Savoy Truffle in hopes of a slimmer waistline or a longer life.

    How is a computer going to assist, assess or even penetrate such complexity? What facial expression of ours will tell a salesbot that we would rather put our pocket full of money into a college fund than own a new car? There’s no doubt at all that computers can predict group human activity with absolute certainty. Hell, marketers, preachers, politicians, and other creatures of the night can already do that. But to predict what an individual human will do next? That’s always guesswork, and always will be, at least when it comes to crossroads questions.

    I have no idea what you, personally, will decide when a computer salesbot someday tries to sell you a robot spouse for a lifetime relationship, an amazing and lifelike creature exquisitely designed to suit your tastes and desires. It’s a crossroads question when a gorgeous robot asks you, “Is you is or is you ain’t my baby?”

    1. craazyboy

      The real thing to fear is when motherboards become enhanced by nanotechnology…and we become ruled by the Nannyboard State.

  27. Dave

    Slide? Who needs a slide. Anyone going up in those buildings probably isn’t aware that bedrock is over a thousand feet deep under the SkyTower in Los Angeles.

    When the big one hits, the entire building, and all the other skyscrapers around it, are going to become amusement park rides with human bodies flying through windows on the top floors as the building whip around in unpredictable arcs that leave the financiers hanging in space like Willey Coyote before they begin their ultimate ride down to the smashing pavement.

    Also, aren’t people worried about going up in tall steel framed buildings? Look what happened when WTC Building Seven had a few off-center fires burning on its lower floors–the whole thing collapsed into it’s footprint at free fall speed. :-)

    1. Plenue

      Oh yeah, totally free-fall speed. Which is why you can clearly see objects falling faster than any of the buildings destroyed that day in hundreds of pictures and videos.

      Can’t get much dumber than the average ‘truther’.

  28. Lee

    The Great Divide The New Yorker. “[I] is unusual for a presumptive nominee and some of her current and former aides to be under investigation by the F.B.I.”

    Good arguments for Sanders staying the course.

    Who is in denial? Those who think Clinton will be investigated and possibly charged or those, mostly mainstream Dems, who believe she is in no such danger. A lot of the right wing press howling for Clinton’s blood, I take with a grain of salt. What might it mean that an establishment publication like The New Yorker is giving the issue credence.

  29. cripes

    considering all the truly bad technology outcomes we know from history, and all the ones we can reasonably anticjpate from the googleplex controlling my car while I’m in it, and the internet of toilets and babycams, etc. I would sure like to know of an alternative outcome, where technology serves us, and people could realize leisure and creativity, instead of pointless accumulation as a result.

    and i dont mean hg wells.


  30. dao

    A quote from the inequality “study”: “Inequality, properly measured, is extremely high, but is far lower than generally believed.”

    So it’s “extremely” high, but not, say, outrageously high? And this is when it’s “properly” measured which means they are underestimating it.

    If they looked at spending over a more realistic and relatable range of time, say a year, we would see that inequality is beyond extreme or outrageous and exceeds the most obscene levels imaginable.

  31. Elliot

    The crowd in Spokane was so big that we waited in line for three hours (in the rain) but a couple hundred of us never made it into even the overflow room. So we missed the big speech but he came out and spoke to us after. The crowd was all ages (largely young), genders (take that Hillary), happy, enthused.

    Sanders is an energizer-bunny of a person; he’d spoken in Vancouver and Seattle before the Spokane event, all in the same day..he was a bit hoarse by that hour but vivid and going strong.

  32. Roland

    There is a corollary to the well-known Jay Gould quote. It runs,

    One half of the ruling class will eventually hire a bunch of us to kill the other half.

    How do you think Roman legionaries got their jawbs?

    Just because the people are usually stuck with a ruling class, doesn’t mean there can’t be a hell of a lot of personnel turnover among that ruling class. The people facilitate disruptive innovation and creative destruction among their rulers.

    Almost every ruling elite ends up like a royal rumble Darwin Award cage match.

  33. Plenue

    Near earth orbit could do with a good sweeping. Place is filled with junk now. It’s only fairly recently that NASA and the like seem to have woken up to the fact that the very places they want to fly through and stick new satellites in are littered with decades worth of remains from past extra-planetary endeavors. Most of that will eventually burn up from orbital decay, but that will take decades or even centuries for many pieces.

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