Links 5/25/17

This is what it’s like to be struck by lightning Mosaic (J-LS).

Feds probing psychiatric hospitals for locking in patients to boost profits Ars Technica. Because markets.

Magellan’s Hamish Douglass says Uber is a ‘Ponzi scheme’ Sidney Morning Herald (PU). Hubert Horan:

While the substantive comments in the article are all valid (“one of the stupidest businesses in history,” 99% chance of bankruptcy, etc.) I would quibble with the “Ponzi Scheme” characterization, which I’ve seen pop up a number of times recently, but isn’t really accurate.

In a Ponzi Scheme, cash from later investors would be used to provide returns to earlier investors, and management’s main focus would be to keep the stream of new investment coming in.

Yes, there was an investment shift after 2015 from mainstream Silicon Valley VCs to dumb(-er) foreigners (Russians, Saudis). None of that later money went into the pockets of the earlier investors. And new investment pretty much stopped after the Saudi investment. Raising dumb money after you’ve created a reputation as a hot investment is a clear signal of underlying issues, but it isn’t a “Ponzi Scheme.”

Playing the Shell Game in the Mediterranean Der Spiegel. Malta.

“Is Inflation Understated” in Canada? You Bet: National Bank Wolf Street

Bloodshed, fires and chaos as thousands march in Brazil to demand president’s ouster Los Angeles Times. Hmm. I guess defenestrating Dilma hasn’t worked out so well.

The struggle to put Venezuela back on the path to economic health: Don Pittis CBC

Syraqistan

Are the U.S. and Iran on a Collision Course in Syria? Foreign Policy

U.S. and Russia boost dialogue about Syria operations to include generals WaPo

Manchester

The Manchester Attack – A Blowback From Britain’s Terror Support In Libya, Syria And Beyond Moon of Alabama

Found at the Scene in Manchester: Shrapnel, a Backpack and a Battery NYT

Manchester attack: Police ‘not sharing information with US’ BBC

May to confront Trump on Manchester bomb intel leaks FT

Manchester attack: police raids continue in hunt for terror network – live updates Guardian

Terrorism fears, terrorism hysteria, terrorism facts. Fabius Maximus

China?

Moody’s China downgrade ‘illogical’, overstates debt: People’s Daily Reuters

China’s Bill Will Have to Be Paid Bloomberg. Follow-up to Moody’s downgrade.

India cancels plans for huge coal power stations as solar energy prices hit record low Independent

Brexit

The UK’s Epochal Election Counterpunch

Boost for Jeremy Corbyn as 90,000 young people register to vote in just one day Telegraph

History points to a convincing Conservative victory FT

Between Victoria and Vauxhall LRB

Why Jeremy Corbyn has the best long-term plan for tackling terrorism on British soil Independent (J-LS).

The City plans for a tough Brexit divorce LSE

Greg Gianforte: Fox News team witnesses GOP House candidate ‘body slam’ reporter FOX (!).

Republican candidate charged with misdemeanour assault of reporter CBC. This might net out positive for Gianforte: “Stopped for gas & snacks en route to Bozeman and told a clerk about Gianforte allegations. Her response: ‘my kind of politician.'”

Behind the Montana special election “bodyslam” story is an important point about AHCA Vox

Health Care

H.R. 1628, American Health Care Act of 2017 Congressional Budget Office. “CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the American Health Care Act would reduce federal deficits by $119 billion over the coming decade and increase the number of people who are uninsured by 23 million in 2026 relative to current law.”

Republicans’ health-care bill just claimed its first political victim WaPo. “On Tuesday, Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) told members of the 50-ish center-right lawmakers that call themselves the Tuesday Group that he is resigning as one of the group’s co-chairs.” MacArthur was last seen in this video (which you should watch in full if you have not; most mainstream versions of it edit out the single payer advocacy).

Donald Trump And Health Care: Firm Run By Trump’s Top Adviser Sounded Alarm About Obamacare Repeal International Business Times

Will New York and California Take the Plunge on Single-Payer Health Care? New York Magazine. Not if the Democrat Establishment can help it….

Another Obamacare insurer just quit, leaving 25 Missouri counties with no options Vox

Dental Care Presents The Highest Level Of Financial Barriers, Compared To Other Types Of Health Care Services Health Affairs

Health care or Russia? Democrats divided on 2018 focus Politico

Ukraine Factions Vie for Lobbying Edge Counterpunch

Fighting Corruption, Ukraine Starts to Judge Its Judges US News

The Hunt for Ukraine’s Toppled Lenin Statues Atlas Obscura

New Cold War

How a dubious Russian document influenced the FBI’s handling of the Clinton probe WaPo. (This is the Kos rewrite: “Comey was duped by the Russians into bypassing the Justice Department and attacking Clinton.” Wait, now Comey isn’t a Hero of the Republic?) Anyhow, “officials say” is WaPo’s sourcing. That is the sourcing. “Current and former officials.” That is where we are with the sourcing.

Trump’s Go-To Lawyer Kasowitz: A Pit Bull Loyal to the Boss Bloomberg. But will Kasowitz be able to get his boss to button his lip?

GETTING JULIAN ASSANGE: THE UNTOLD STORY John Pilger. A compilation.

Trump Transition

On trip abroad, Trump stays on script, but will it last? Reuters

Trump has done what Obama didn’t: Scare NATO into closer tracking of defense spending McClatchy

A Freedom Caucus Republican says the foundation of the Trump budget is ‘a lie’ WaPo

Exclusive: McConnell frets about healthcare, hopeful on tax overhaul Reuters

Will President Trump Make Rust-Belt Manufacturing Great Again? Dean Baker, CEPR

Class War

The New Class War Michael Lind, American Affairs (KF). “Managerial elites.”

The unprecedented expansion of the global middle class Brookings. From February 2017. Everything averages out, in this best of all possible worlds.

Economic dynamism falls across the US FT. Top five for “dynamism”: Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, and Florida. From the Economic Innovation Group

Arrest made in discovery of opium poppy plants in Catawba County WBTV (Re Silc). An acre of opium poppies is worth $500 million, says the Sheriff. Better than Walmart or lottery tickets, I suppose. Anyhow, I got yer dynamism right here. It’s just not being measured.

Your Addiction to Social Media Is No Accident Vice (Re Silc).

Football: A deep dive into the tech and data behind the best players in the world Ars Technica

The Challenge of Flying Below Sea Level Avgeekery.com

New TSA procedures target electronics, food ABC

Outsmarted Rick Perlstein, The Baffler

Why Economists Have to Embrace Complexity to Avoid Disaster Steve Keen, Evonomics

Antidote du jour:

Bonus antidote (Richard Smith):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

149 comments

  1. Jim Haygood

    Before it can do anything else, [U of Guelph professor Kurt Annen] says, Venezuela must stabilize its currency and get its hyper-inflation under control. He says it has been done in the country’s neighbour, Bolivia.

    It’s been done in Zimbabwe too:

    Zimbabwe has started retiring its almost worthless local currency in favor of the US dollar. Today, 35 quadrillion Zimbabwean dollars are equal to US $1, as a result of hyperinflation which hit the country in 2009.

    The demonetization process will run till September 30, 2015. People with accounts of up to 175 quadrillion (175,000,000,000,000,000) Zimbabwean dollars will be paid $5. Those who preserved bills at home will receive a rate of 250 trillion to $1 for their 2008-issued notes and 250 to $1 for their 2009-issued notes.

    Zimbabwe has been using the US dollar since 2009 when the use of the Zimbabwean dollar was abandoned. A multi-currency system has been in operation for the last six years, with the South African rand and US dollar in use since 2009 and the Chinese yuan, Australian dollar, Japanese yen and the Indian rupee joining the list of accepted currencies in 2014.

    https://www.rt.com/business/267244-zimbabwe-currency-compensation-hyperinflation/

    Z$250 trillion to one … sounds legit!

    Mr Maduro … meet Mr Mugabe. :-)

    Reply
  2. Darn

    Lambert due to all the Labour and Manchester stuff here I would be grateful if you would add this from Monday. Published only 6 hours before the bombing, it was the statement I’ve been waiting for a year for Corbyn to make (I’m a Labour member and live in Northern Ireland). It’s got almost no attention that I can find (not on the BBC, mentioned in the Daily Torygraph) unlike his dreadful interview the previous day where he ambiguously condemned “all bombing”. The public needs to know otherwise the party can’t win, especially now, so I’m tearing my hair out. http://metro.co.uk/2017/05/22/jeremy-corbyn-has-finally-called-the-ira-terrorists-6653633/

    Reply
    1. makedoanmend

      Agenda much?

      …If not for those other nasty people not accepting their lot in life within the exceptional country, all things in the six counties would have been peachy keen? Whitewash much?

      And tell us exactly how many local councillors, MEPs, Stormont officials and MPs (Westminster) in the six counties does UK Labour have?

      Oh, that’s right none, zero, nada. 0

      There is, of course, an existing Labour party in the six counties called the SDLP. They have seats.

      And you’re trying to peddle the bullocks that your little crusade will affect the outcome the UK election?

      jingle bells

      Reply
      1. paul

        But scottish labour can claim one westminster member of parliament:

        Murray tweeted: “Often asked why I resigned from Shadow Cabinet. Ladies & Gentlemen I give u Jeremy Corbyn. “He’s destroying the party that soo many need. “Independence would be disaster for Scotland and my constituents. Supporting another Indy ref goes against wishes of Scots. Wrong then & now.”

        If I was in england, I would vote labour, but I’m not, and morons like this are evidence why.

        Reply
  3. Jim Haygood

    The US has seen a long-term decline in business births, less migration between states, and a growth in the economic power of incumbent companies, sounding alarm bells in Congress.” — FT

    “Alarm bells in Congress” … AH HA HA HA. Maybe the FT meant “dinner bells.”

    If such grand macro trends have indeed penetrated the two-neuron minds of solons, their concern will be how to accelerate them, so that America’s greatest companies can thrive without the annoyance of small start-up gnats swarming round them and eroding their franchises.

    A 350-ship navy oughta do the trick. Let’s roll!

    Reply
    1. Optimader

      Business births??? Incumbent companies??
      Hmm maybe the incumbent companies are post menopausal so the birth rate is going down?

      Hokey Smoke Bullwinkle, the pilot house is full of morons
      Who has missed rhat fact that “Industrial Parks” have been largely supplanted by “Business Parks” catering to distribution bigboxes with zoning prohibitions disallowing real manufacturing business?

      Reply
    2. CD

      bigger corporations = more monopolies and duopolies = bigger political contributions and worse inequality = busier ALEC

      See how nicely the merry-go-round runs.

      Reply
  4. fresno dan

    https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-05-24/trump-s-go-to-lawyer-kasowitz-a-pit-bull-loyal-to-the-boss

    In 2006, Kasowitz represented Trump in a $5 billion defamation suit against Timothy O’Brien, who wrote “TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald,” claiming the author had misrepresented Trump’s net worth by placing it at an estimated $250 million rather than more than $5 billion. A judge threw the case out in 2009 in a decision that was later upheld on appeal.

    ================================================
    There are a number of other dubious suits listed in the article, as well as others I have read about. I assume Kasowitz gets paid hourly, so going ahead with suits that have no chance of success (just to get the fees) – I think that would be unethical – which I guess means Trump’s lawyer specializes in...poetic justice.……

    I’m sure Trump was adamant about pursuing these suits – which sure argues that this Lawyer will not be able to restrain Trump in any way. (AND assumes this lawyer is an advocate for calm, rational restraint to begin with…)

    Reply
  5. Jim Haygood

    Stopped for gas & snacks en route to Bozeman and told a clerk about Gianforte allegations. Her response: ‘my kind of politician.’

    Heh heh. If we’re ever going to import Asia’s exciting parliamentary brawl culture, we’ve got to elect representatives who are willing to get physical and slam chairs onto the thick skulls of the dimwits across the aisle. Arm the witless!

    Reply
    1. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      May 25, 2017 at 8:01 am

      From the descriptions of witnesses, it just doesn’t seem like a true Jesse Ventura body slam, wrestler/governor of the other Canada bordering state….
      We don’t want wimpy parliamentary brawls, ‘Mericans want the exciting world of WWE brawls! As well as the fact the fureign brawls lack beautiful buxom ring girls…

      Reply
      1. allan

        Maybe more Brokeback Mountain than WWE:

        … Gianforte has also contributed at least half a million dollars to the Montana Family Foundation, a conservative nonprofit that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, and has positioned himself as a fierce supporter of so-called religious-freedom measures. Emails sent by Gianforte to Bozeman officials, and obtained by National Journal, show he personally lobbied against a citywide LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance in Bozeman in 2014.

        In one January 2014 email sent to Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss and Bozeman city council members, Gianforte wrote, “Homosexual advocates try to argue that businesses are leery of locating in towns that aren’t friendly to homosexuals. I believe the opposite is truer.” …

        Gianforte also advocated for the right of religious organizations to “make employment decisions consistent with their faith,” while noting that such protections should not allow “non-expressive” businesses to deny services to LGBT customers. …

        To paraphrase Peter Thiel, a single-digit billionaire doesn’t have effective access to conversion therapy.

        Reply
        1. Jim Haygood

          Gianforte could help ensure that Montana’s pension funds are invested in sodomite-free securities:

          Inspire, the Hollister, California-based firm with two ETFs that target companies with so-called biblical values, plans to launch the first religiously focused fixed-income fund within the next few weeks.

          The holdings of these funds are determined by the “Inspire Impact Score.” The gauge evaluates securities based on what the firm sees as their “alignment with biblical values and the positive impact the company has on the world through various environmental, social and governance criterion.” The methodology in particular removes any company that participates in certain activities, including support for abortion and “the LGBT lifestyle.”

          “LGBT is one of the many areas that we screen for,” CEO Robert Netzly said.

          https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-23/religious-etfs-expand-to-bonds-as-values-investing-catches-on

          Netzly thinks The Handmaid’s Tale is a blueprint, not a dystopia. :-0

          Monstah raving loony …

          Reply
          1. fresno dan

            allan
            May 25, 2017 at 8:48 am
            &
            Jim Haygood
            May 25, 2017 at 9:24 am

            Are you guys implying that Gianforte uses a “Wide Stance***” ???

            *** apologies if “Wide Stance” has been trademarked….

            Reply
              1. allan

                Awesome update:

                Update: Duško Marković of Montenegro is the person Trump pushed. Quite the welcome to the alliance. Montenegro becomes NATO member on June 5 @SteveKopack

                Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I believe this was a case of a store clerk not wanting to rock the boat. The clerk likely isn’t even registered. Not everyone is as chatty as Tom Friedman’s cab drivers. I suppose he hypothetically ubers these days.

      Reply
      1. Montanamaven

        It could be a Montana safe way of expressing humor. My husband joked, “That gd foreigner must of had it coming.” Or ” I guess now the reporter guy has got a pre-existing condition.” As you say, it’s a way of not rocking the boat while also trying to defend Montanans sense of independence and general skepticism about the media. I haven’t run into anybody that likes Gianforte in my husband’s conservative crowd. But they are still wary of do gooder bunny hugging latte drinking Prius driving snobs.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          It’s late in the game, but the issue at hand is what kind of rumors floated around about Gianforte’s temper prior to this.

          Back in ’06, I had heard many stories about then Senator George Allen of Ole Virginny (and some you didn’t ;) ) before his public hiccup. Then there was an avalanche of related stories spoken about in public. The incident in a vacuum could have been explained away, but anyone remotely connected had heard stories about Allen.

          It’s not the shock but the potential confirmation of a rumor that could be the issue.

          Reply
    3. Arizona Slim

      Or we could return to such niceties as the Sumner caning, which put Senator Sumner out of action for years.

      Reply
      1. Darius

        Story goes Lincoln was polishing his boots when Sumner walked in and said, “Mr. President! Why do you polish your own boots?” Lincoln responded, “Whose boots should I be polishing?”

        Reply
    4. sleepy

      The media self-pity is, as usual, over the top. Threats to the free press! And it’s all Trump’s fault! He’s just like Putin!

      Where was the media during the real threats brought by Obama and others in killing and jailing journalists?

      Reply
      1. WeakenedSquire

        Yes, Josh Barro has a particularly sniveling piece in which he resorts to the ultimate chestnut of those on the losing side of an argument–blame the public. Media folks and reporters don’t get it. Why are they surprised at the lack of sympathy for Ben Jacobs? They are less trusted than Trump is. That’s a pretty amazing accomplishment.

        If they want to save the free press–and it does need saving–they should reflect on why they have become so hated, and why so many ordinary people will defend the actions of a Gianforte. Maybe even try some reporting on the subject, if they can do it honestly, without being smarmy or hand-wringing. Because right now they are empowering people like Gianforte who are seen by many as heroes as willing to take on the hated press.

        Reply
      2. Procopius

        … the real threats brought by Obama and others in killing and jailing journalists?

        I’m sorry, I missed the memo. What threats were those? Do you have a link? I rarely remember to save them myself. Maybe just describe a couple of instances and the approximate date and I can google them?

        Reply
  6. fresno dan

    Antidote du Jour

    Kittens raised near rabbits learn to jump like rabbits
    I imagine the bunnies are wondering if the kittens learn to be vegetarians like rabbits as well….

    Woody Allen: The lion will lie down with the lamb, but the lamb won’t get much sleep

    Reply
    1. Montanamaven

      My thoughts exactly having seen my cat lug home a cute little bunny in it’s teeth. Living in Montana has made me see things I’d rather not, but that’s nature. And I better just “Cowboy Up”.

      Reply
      1. fresno dan

        Montanamaven
        May 25, 2017 at 10:00 am

        Hearing news about Montana has made me hear audios I’d rather not, but that’s politics….

        The Untouchables:
        You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That’s* the *Chicago* way!

        The Montana way:
        Don’t be a kitten, be a Gianforte Lion and grab a journalist around the neck in your jaws and eat them alive! That’s the Montana way….

        Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        But C- students raised near A+ students learn to become A+ students.

        That is why elite universities must not take only A+ students.

        On admission essay to Harvard:

        “I am a C- student. I am willing to let Harvard show its greatness. Imagine: even a C- high school can go to Harvard and become a top international scholar. I consent to be influenced positively by your already abundant A+ students. You need to admit me.”

        Reply
        1. McKillop

          Clever; I heard that some scholars from Harvard stayed “C” students but became Presidents. I’ve a friend who refused to apply as a legacy student because of costs and personal respect. He’s now o.k. but not credentialed.
          I barely graduated from high school myself but was accepted (I believe as a bum to fill a lecture hall seat) with less than the minimal requirements of most universities. Once away from the stultifying controls of high school I managed to achieve honours and some career success – which was a horror to maintain- and learn that university was a class gateway that printed out tickets.
          No world success, I, but I think that those seats are overbooked. I would rather have been a guy working.

          Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      Actually, the kittens will probably learn to regard bunnies as fellow kittens. Youtube is full of videos of similar odd playmates. You do wonder how long that will last.

      At one point, we unwisely had both a ferret and a rabbit, which was in a cage on the floor. The rabbit couldn’t get out, but one evening we realized the ferret could get in – where it proceeded to eat the rabbit’s alfalfa pellets. Apparently it didn’t know that rabbits are its natural prey, but the rabbit certainly did.

      On the other hand, it was sudden death on mice and hamsters (another mistake).

      Reply
  7. Foppe

    Intriguing look into the world of contemporary corporate-controlled academic book publishing:

    I could hear how he momentarily drifted off, probably to reply to an email, and when I was done with my terrible pitch, he simply said: “Great!”

    “The best thing now,” he continued, “is if you could jot down a few pages, as a proposal, which we could then send out to reviewers.” He paused a second, then added: “If you have any friends who could act as reviewers and who you think could sign off on the project, then that’d be great.”

    I was intrigued by the frankness.

    “How much would the book be sold for?” I inquired, aware this might not be his favourite question. “£80,” he replied in a low voice.

    “So there won’t be a cheaper paperback edition?” I asked, pretending to sound disappointed.

    “No, I’m afraid not,” he said, “we only really sell to libraries. But we do have great sales reps that get the books into universities all across the world.”

    “So how many copies do you usually sell?” I inquired.

    “About 300.”

    “For all your books?”

    “Yes, unless you would assign your book on your own modules.”

    I was growing fascinated by the numbers so I asked how many of these books they published each year.

    “I have to…” he started (inadvertently revealing that this was a target that had been set) “…I have to publish around 75 of these.”

    Seventy-five books, £80 each, selling on average 300 copies. That’s £1.8m. And he’s just one of their commissioning editors. What’s more, these publishers are not known for hiring talented illustrators to come up with nice covers – and you rarely see their books advertised in magazines.

    Reply
  8. Ulysses

    From Michael Lind’s article linked above:

    “Managerial elites are bound to dominate the economy and society of every modern nation. But if they are not checked, they will overreach and produce a populist backlash in proportion to their excess. By a misguided policy of suppressing wages and thus throttling mass consumption, unchecked managerial elites may inadvertently cripple the technology-driven productivity growth responsible for their rise and accidentally cause the replacement of managerial society itself by a kind of high-tech rentier feudalism.”

    This makes a lot of sense to me, but I would argue that the future tense used is incorrect. The managerial elites, who are spending huge sums to educate their spawn at neoliberal temples of indoctrination like NYU, or Wharton, are already not buying what they think they are buying. Their children’s credentials will be even more obviously useless as we descend further into neo-feudalism.

    The primary value of going to Wharton, Princeton, etc., for the managerial elite isn’t really to gain mastery over (increasingly obsolete) skills, required to compete in some sort of technocratic meritocracy. While a small number of people with such skills will always be required to manage the wealth-extraction activities of kleptocrats; the best hope for advancement, for sons and daughters of the merely wealthy, is to rub shoulders with the obscenely wealthy.

    In other words, drinking martinis with Ivanka and Chelsea is already a more logical method of advancement than studying hard at Harvard Business School.

    Courtiers outrank bailiffs and clerks, now as before.

    Reply
  9. RenoDino

    China?

    Is bitcoin, in heading to $3,000, telling us that money will soon become worthless and algorithms are the only real store of value? China’s central bank is the Big Fat Canary in the coal mine of the world’s grand experiment to monetize all assets and debt. Can they pull it off is the question and do it on a scale never before attempted and, at the sometime, preserve the value of their currency? Bitcoin says “no.” Other central banks, who followed them down the rabbit hole, are holding their collective breath.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Bitcoin may say no to the Chinese currency, but a bag of apples says no to Bitcoin (one day in the future), which depends on complexity which may not exist in a simpler world, even as economists rush to embrace complexity.

      Reply
    2. a different chris

      Currency comes out of the barrel of a gun, you know. How many divisions does the Bitcoin computer have?

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You can’t bribe Afghan war lords with bitcoin money, can you?

        The CIA would probably prefer cash money for color revolutions than bitcoin.

        Reply
  10. justanotherprogressive

    Re: “The unprecedented expansion of the middle class”

    This reminds me of those previous “poverty is dropping worldwide” reports, where the authors decided that if you made more than $2/day, you weren’t in poverty any more, never mind whether that $2/day was actually enough to adequately feed and house you……Those analyses looked good on paper but they didn’t have much to do with reality…..
    But the neoliberals keep trying to convince us, don’t they?

    Reply
    1. Kurtismayfield

      Followed shortly thereafter with the “If you don’t agree with raising the rest of the world out of poverty then you are a racist” line. Without even supporting their premise that the poor are being lifted out of poverty.

      Reply
    2. funemployed

      From the report itself: “This implies an annual income for a four-person middle-class
      household of $14,600 to $146,000” (PPP). So a four person household in the US earning $14,600 is “middle class.”

      For some reason the failure to define “middle class” in an article about the middle class made me suspicious.

      Reply
      1. justanotherprogressive

        Just looked up the poverty level in the US for a family of four – it’s $27,950…….
        $14,600 making a family of four “middle class” in the US is just a neoliberal wet dream……

        Reply
    3. nobody

      On the “poverty is dropping worldwide” stats and stories, and the situation looking good on paper, Ian Welsh shared some thoughts on that in an interview on the podcast Virtually Speaking last January. Here is the bit from 30:19 to 32:55:

      I don’t want to spend too much time on India but I want to point out that here is what is known about India that is an absolute fact, is that the per capita consumption of calories is lower than it was 30 years ago. So there’s your Indian miracle, you can take it and stuff it, you know, where the sun don’t shine. Now, this is why I don’t believe the… People say that everything is the best it’s ever been and they have stats to back it up. But every time I look into these stats I always find out that they’re BULLSHIT. So for example the US poverty stats aren’t bad, but if you look into them you realize that the US poverty rate has not been increasing at the rate of inflation and the rate of inflation is a crock to begin with, you know, and so forth and so on, and you go, this has to be understating inflation. Comparatively somebody 30 years ago who would have been considered in poverty is not considered in poverty now, and yet we’ve got a poverty problem. When people say well Africa, blah blah blah, I say, ‘I don’t believe these numbers.’ But I’m not willing to prove it, because frankly (a) it’s very hard, and (b), you know, if somebody wants me to prove it they can pay me $50,000 in order to do the work that other people should have done that’s not my damn job. But I don’t believe all of the stats, because every time that I find a little stat that hasn’t been finagled, it always says something like India, which says: yeah, this is bullshit.

      Now I do believe there’s been some real gains in China, but when you look at China… And I believe that there have been some real gains in China but one of the things that for example, you look at China and… Here’s a little stat that you find. People who have left their villages in China are less happy than people who stayed in their villages. Here’s another little thing. There have been multiple armed confrontations between villagers who do not want to leave their villages and the, you know, state police and military forces in many cases, that are trying to push them off their land, bulldoze it, and, you know, build…build stuff. I mean, so are they REALLY better off? Well they have more stuff. They have more pollution. Some of them have more food, cuz there was a lot of real poverty in China. But it’s not a clear win-win situation that everybody makes it out to be. Um, and…and it’s also based on some things that I suspect are not sustainable. I mean I’m hearing rumors about the northern aquifers being much worse… rumors that I believe from people that I trust, you know, that…that the real figures are much worse than what we’ve been told. And this is potentially catastrophic if it’s true. Where’s the water gonna come from?

      Reply
  11. MoiAussie

    With Manchester pushing everything other than Trump bashing to one side, this story, supposedly from an emergency surgeon who operated on Seth Rich, is not going to get much exposure. The piece is by a very imaginative “opinion journalist” and it’s based on a 4chan post, but make your own assessment if you care to, as the piece is mainly direct quotation of the post.

    D.C. surgeon who operated on Seth Rich: ‘The DNC staffer was alive and well after surgery, before a group of LEOs showed up to the ICU’

    A 4-year resident surgeon at Washington Hospital Center claims that Seth Rich was alive and recovering well in facility’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after being treated for a total of 3 routine gunshot wounds — that is until a number of law enforcement officers arrived eight hours later kicking most everyone out of the ICU and physically barring doctors and others from attending to Rich.

    What is very clear this last week is that considerable effort has been expended to hose down any public discussion of Rich’s murder.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      I don’t even want to touch the Seth Rich story, but um, 3 “routine” gunshot wounds? Man I don’t want to live there!

      Reply
      1. Skip Intro

        The major difference being concrete evidence from an actual body to a missing laptop, and a conspicuous lack of fabricated stories in the media cartel echo chamber.

        Reply
    2. WeakenedSquire

      This account was posted anonymously by someone claiming to be a medical resident to 4chan and at least one other other right-wing forum. Why would you drop information there if not to feed trolls? Smells like a hoax.

      Reply
    3. howard nyc

      The 4chan post doesn’t pass my smell test. (I’m a doctor, have some experience with surgery and ICUs, but not a specialist in either). The medical jargon is just a little bit off, a lot of pertinent detail is missing, I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what. But to murder an ICU patient via several hours of neglect, and to silence every witness except this poster sounds silly. And for a poster to risk exposure via an internet message equally silly. I love a good conspiracy story, especially about the Clintons, but I’d bet heavily this is fiction.

      I had to come to grips with the powerful evidence that the Clintons don’t actually murder; the fact that Anthony Weiner survives to this day.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I recently watched a Frontline documentary, Putin’s Way.

        It referred to a series of 1999 bombings in various Russian cities and alludes to Putin and the Russian government complicity (more conspiracy theory, I suppose. More more knowledgeable can comment).

        And I thought to myself: Surely Putin wouldn’t just sit there and take this from Frontline. They’d probably make up their own fictions, their own conspiracy theories about us.

        That’d be what a bad guy would do.

        Reply
      2. Romancing The Loan

        Agreed and thanks for your expertise – makes no sense, too many witnesses. You’d just let him be cured and go home and then take a “turn for the worse” later on. He might well be the DNC leaker (and have been murdered) but the disinfo eagerly embraced is going to discredit it.

        Also I thought it was the Podesta emails that were supposed to have been “hacked” by “Russia” not the DNC ones. Contrary to what everyone is saying Rich being the leaker doesn’t put the kibosh on the cold war nonsense.

        As to Weiner, he’s still very much in the public eye. Wait a few years; they have long memories.

        Reply
        1. Pat

          No it was also the DNC emails, the company that the DNC hired to examine their servers reported what ‘tools’ had been used and determined they were of Russian origin (all the cyrillic keyboard and Russian holidays and server used by Russians in the past thing). Our exceptional intelligence services took that at face value, since the DNC refused to allow them to examine the server, and have attributed the hack to the Russians. Where the intelligence community diverts from the Democratic Party ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse for Clinton’s loss, is that they have always maintained that the election itself (as in counting the votes) was never hacked by the Russians.

          Reply
    4. Dead Dog

      Thanks Aus – definitely fishy that Rich story. If you saw it on House of Cards, you’d say ‘where do they get their ideas from’

      Everyone keeps saying that the US is not exceptional. I have to disagree

      Reply
    5. Oregoncharles

      The trouble with that story is that there’d be lots and lots of upset witnesses. I can imagine “LEO” (WHICH LEO?) doing that, but the people they kicked out would be raising a stink. This could also be a surgeon trying to excuse their own failures.

      IOW, it remains mysterious that he died in the hospital, as well as who shot him. Granted, bad stuff does happen.

      Reply
      1. craazyboy

        ‘Cept that the report I read said Seth had two gunshots – so the third had to come at the hospital!

        hahaha. Couldn’t resist.

        But the part that the family, and their single DNC media interface, want the case to go away so gossip reporters stop harassing them is rich.

        Reply
    6. Vatch

      Doggone it! What does Low Earth Orbit (LEO) have to do with this? Oh, Law Enforcement Officers. . . . okay, I get it now!

      Reply
  12. RabidGandhi

    A bunch of real howlers in that CBC Venezuela article; here’s a few at random:

    Venezuela under the military-backed government of President Nicolas Maduro

    How often do we hear this formulation applied to other countries allied with Washington? “Germany under the military-backed government of Angela Merkl”… “Canada under the military-backed government of Justin Trudeau”… Hint: the answer is “never” because the only purpose of writing such a sentence is to play into stupid prejudices about Latin Americans being predisposed to military dictatorships.

    Rather than blaming the country’s troubles on the pro-business opposition, [CCA President Ken Frankel] points to the undermining of the business sector first by the charismatic socialist leader Hugo Chavez and then by his successor Maduro.
    Oil production actually declined sharply as the government chased foreign companies away and replaced qualified managers at the state oil company PDVSA with regime loyalists.

    Except it didn’t. Since the 2002 PDVSA boycott and the subsequent renationalisation of the Venezuelan oil industry, crude production has remained constant at around 2500 bpd, varying annually by less than 5%.

    Food riots descend into looting as families go hungry. Surrounding countries are being overwhelmed by refugees.

    “Overwhelmed” as in “can’t find a significant number of Venezuelans living there”. And this meme is of course 100% back-asswards, as over 250,000 Colombian refugees are now living in Venezuela. Perhaps CBC means there is a silent majority of Venezuelan refugees overwhelming Guyana that the Guyanan government has yet to discover?

    Before it can do anything else, [Economics Prof. Kurt Annen] says, Venezuela must stabilize its currency and get its hyper-inflation under control. He says it has been done in the country’s neighbour, Bolivia.
    There, the government’s first step to slash the the budget deficit, in Bolivia’s case by cutting gas subsidies, resulting in a tenfold increase in pump prices. That is certainly an option for Venezuela where gas sells for pennies a litre.

    How odd, an economist proposing austerity. That always works out splendidly, just as it did in Bolivia… except for the minor detail that Bolivia continues to offer some of the world’s highest gas subsidies. Morales did attempt subsidy cuts but he promptly reversed course in 2010 in the face of mass protests. And those subsidies led neither to hyperinflation nor to fiscal disaster.

    But these are just mere details from the fact-based world, which when it comes to reporting on imperial enemies need never apply.

    Reply
    1. sleepy

      This tweet I ran across seems apt:

      Mark Ames Retweeted
      Mike Prysner‏ @MikePrysner 13h13 hours ago

      Working-class Venezuelan on “help” from the United States: “Wherever the US goes, half becomes a graveyard, and the other half a madhouse.”

      Reply
      1. UserFriendly

        No, they do. Either that or Maduro managed to annex most of the Amazon from Brazil while Temor was too busy murdering protesters to notice.

        Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      So the article is capitalist propaganda (big surprise), but that leaves the situation unexplained.

      I’ve heard stories of poor administration, particularly of infrastructure, all along, even from people I’d expect to be sympathetic to Chavez. My suspicion, without being there, is that the socialist government failed to balance its priorities.

      The big picture reality is that Venezuela never escaped petro-socialism. They failed to develop other sectors of the economy – weren’t they importing food all along? If you’re handing out subsidies, how about for food production? Gold mining, mentioned in the article, is about the worst possible alternative, even more destructive than oil production, but surely there are others. As a result, when the price of oil plummeted they were in deep trouble. One big factor was private-sector resistance; but after all, businesses are highly responsive to bribery, and funds can be used to set up new ones, maybe worker-controlled.

      A factor more or less peculiar to Venezuela (with Canada) is that much of their vaunted reserves is “heavy oil,” much more expensive to produce. I read years ago that Venezuela had the world’s largest reserves AS LONG AS the price remained above $50/barrel – which it didn’t. The article buries that reality. Still, that was known all along, even to me; it points, once again, to a failure to diversify the economy while they were expanding health care and other public welfare programs. It may have been a case of limited administrative capability, something NC has pointed to in other situations.

      In any case, again without being there, I don’t see any prospect of things getting better without new elections.

      Reply
      1. RabidGandhi

        Even though it’s sort of my “beat”, I too have a heckuva time getting a clear idea of the actual situation in Venezuela. The propaganda fog emanating from both sides is just so thick that it’s almost impossible to separate the gold from the dross. So I tend to stick to critiquing the crappy media reports we do get (which, as in the case above, is like shooting fish in a barrel: seriously, it took me all of 8 minutes to prepare the above post– 3 to read the article and 5 to write a response).

        I agree with your big-picture reality; they are still way too dependent on oil, but getting any more granular than that inevitably leads to traps like the one you mentioned: food production subsidies. In this specific case, the Venezuelan Government did try to combat the contrabanding of food, by giving locals land to farm with subsidies to promote local food production. The response from the propaganda machine was too hilarious:

        Venezuela’s new decree: Forced farm work for citizens [CNN]

        So was this programme successful? Widely implemented? Destructive to the existing food supply chain? Who the heck knows with all this fog.

        And to your last point, would elections help? They haven’t in the past. Chavéz won a referendum proposed by the opposition and the violence increased. Maduro squeaked by in a tight race, and the violence increased. The opposition united and won the national assembly, and the violence increased. So what happens if Maduro’s party wins another election/referendum (since the opposition has been constantly marking own-goals for the last 3 years)? Do we have to keep having elections until one side gets the results it wants?

        Reply
        1. Carl

          Thank you for your comments. It looks like a black box at this point. We need actual people on the ground, I guess.

          Reply
  13. fresno dan

    Outsmarted Rick Perlstein, The Baffler

    “The Great Gatsby’s intricately nested structure begins by introducing us to a narrator, Nick Carraway, who relates that his father once advised him, “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
    ….
    And then, just when you’re feeling good about yourself as a reader for agreeing with his father’s intelligent advice and Nick’s even more intelligent humility in understanding its limits, the paragraph concludes by observing that people who congratulate themselves for how intelligent they are for knowing that there is a limit to their intelligence are, well, after all, just another sort of snob.
    …..
    What finally saves this infinite regress of observations from solipsism is this hard, concluding bedrock: the bottom line here is fundamental decency.”
    =========================================
    I can’t do the article justice with a few snippets, but later in discussing Oliver Wendell Holmes, Perlstein quotes (ironic in the context of Holmes opinion) this gem, “Stupidity***, Holmes explained, was a threat to national security.”

    ***Who endangers the US more, 3 generations of imbeciles, or the best and the brightest???

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, as always with the Baffler, a very smart (yeah, I shouldn’t use that term) essay. It does seem that so much of what is good about people comes down to common decency (which of course isn’t very common), and that decency rarely attaches itself to an ideology. It was Chomsky who, when asked how decisions should be made in foreign policy said that the medical injunction of ‘first, do not harm’ should be the first instinct. It sounds as good a fundamental approach as any to me.

      Reply
      1. fresno dan

        PlutoniumKun
        May 25, 2017 at 9:18 am

        Not particularly pertinent to your point (which is a great point), but I reply just because it gives me the chance to post the following…. and I love this portion SO MUCH:

        “It’s very curious: If there were such a thing as an innate, inborn, inherent quantum of cognitive ability, and we could agree on who possessed it, why should we grant it moral value? After all, every child knows you don’t judge someone’s worth by their appearance. Why should we just because they’re “smart”?

        The experience of history suggests we shouldn’t even grant intelligence much in the way of utilitarian value. In a 2007 Guardian essay, Daniel Davies writes, “as far as I can tell, the career trajectories of nearly everyone commonly regarded as a ‘genius’ seem to be marked by one boneheaded blunder after another.” He cites former Harvard president and economics wizard Lawrence Summers, and observes, “Being extremely intelligent is rather like f*cking sheep—once you’ve got a reputation for either, it’s extremely difficult to get rid of it.”

        Reply
        1. ewmayer

          Speaking of ovine/human romance, the Aussies have a whole genre of jokes based on their neighbors the Kiwis’ supposed reputation for that form of ‘animal husbandry’. One which i recall is along the lines of

          Kiwi bloke comes home with a ewe under his arm, enters the bedroom where his wife is lazing in bed and says “see, darling – this is the pig I have to sleep with when you’ve got the shits with me”. To which the wife replies, “Darling, I thing you’ll find that’s a sheep, not a pig.” To which the bloke replies, “Dearest, I thing you’ll find that I wasn’t speaking to you.”

          Reply
  14. Jim Haygood

    From our Permanently High Plateau department:

    With a little help from President Donald Trump’s pro-business proposals, it’s not hard to see the market surging 50 percent, Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller told CNBC on Wednesday.

    Shiller’s comment came after he told CNBC in an exclusive interview that investors should stay in the market because it “could go up 50 percent from here.

    “We have maybe inspiration from the White House, a businessman president,” the professor of Economics at Yale University said on “Halftime Report.” “If factors go right and there are tax cuts for corporations, it’s not that hard to understand that that could happen.”

    http://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/24/robert-shiller-with-trump-its-not-hard-to-understand-market-going-up-50-percent.html

    Oh my. Finally we have reached the stage of “embracing the Bubble.”

    By no coincidence, the all-time record high of Shiller’s CAPE (Cyclically Adjusted Price Earnings) ratio — 43.22 in Dec 1999, according to the spreadsheet posted on his yale.edu site — is 48% above its current level of 29.19. In other words, Dr Shiller is saying that Bubble III could get as crazy as Bubble I did, with another 2 percent icing on the cake to confirm it as the greatest planetary bubble in the history of human civilization.

    Not that I disagree with the eminent professor, mind you. After nailing the top of Bubble I in January 2000 with his book Irrational Exuberance, it would be a career-topping tour de force for Dr S to call the final parabolic run-up of Bubble III, as his monster raving bearish counterpart Dr Hussman is reduced to busking for meals with a cardboard sign outside his former mutual fund office.

    Let’s just say that it’s a riskier bet than last time … and add the caveat, “Don’t try this at home, folks!” :-)

    Reply
    1. craazyboy

      I think the Fed finally moving to reduce excess reserves down from $4 trillion later this year may be the catalyst that signals the “smart money” that “Reality” cometh.

      The connection works about as well as a worn out bungee cord, but there’s gotta be a little stiction with things stretched that far.

      More important may be the psych effect – maybe forcing a chilling look at price charts. Plus after 10 years, it would Minsky Time. The real bottom in asset prices is sooo far down their, Wiley E. Coyote will need a flying car. And he just loaded up on automaker stock – a bright future, indeed! Well, plus iSpyphone, iSpyFace and Amazon Google Ears. New French [possibly Cajin] startup sighted – Bidet Expose!

      Reply
      1. Jim Haygood

        At 9:45, both the S&P 500 and the Naz 100 glamour stock index are well into record territory, as the Shiller Surge traces a magnificent arc across the sky toward its impact with the Minsky Moment.

        Reply
        1. craazyboy

          Should be lovely, as all of our “hot stocks” appeared to have jumped the shark at least a decade ago.

          Reply
      2. craazyboy

        Disclosure:

        “Bidet Expose!” Is a Disruptive company. Capturing a fart in High Definition Audio and Video IS very disruptive, especially when played back in Church or the school cafeteria.

        Much can be done to customize and greatly enhance the sound using MIDI technology. For instance, if you can only manage a pathetic “pfft”, one can run it thru a Marshall tube amp synth, then to a overdrive and distortion control. Echo and wah-wah too! Use these in discretion to avoid the Snowflake label.

        MSFT had this technology, but apparently lost it in Win 10. Putin may have stolen it for Mother Russia.

        Not very PC, but rebellious in a way which can be condoned, privately, by our Elites and free press [editorializing explosively – no less], but deplored in public. The DNC will certainly get “behind” this new parade!

        Chelsea in 2020!!!

        Reply
        1. craazyboy

          Real Flashy News Update:

          John Podesta announces he smells a new parade he can get “behind”!

          “Bidet Expose!” The awesome new Cajin Valley startup!

          Nominates Robbie Mook as Da Man to “Lead From Behind”.

          More news on this topic will continue…incessantly and with plenty of creative and resourceful sonic spin. All in the Pentatonic scale and up to 101 Weird MIDI Effects – some of them good! Special Star Signature Mixes available – The Clapton, The Hendrix and the brand new Rapper, with doesn’t use a musical scale, whatsoever. Toot-Toot!

          Comes with “Wanna Cry” wah-wah and woo-woo output virus at no additional charge. Free download!

          Reply
  15. PKMKII

    I feel that the pro-bodyslamming reporters vote is a solidly Republican vote anyway. Doubt our clerk was planning to vote for Quist before this. Although the effect may be minimal regardless; if politics has descended into a constant circus, what’s one more sideshow?

    Reply
    1. Montanamaven

      My take on the big picture on this particular incident is that MSNBC, CNN and other liberal corporate news outlets have been pushing a particular meme of “civility” since Trump’s election. I had two clients use that word to me this week. “We need more civility from the Preslident.” To which I replied, “Like Chuck Schumer’s ridicule and snark kind of civility?” I won that round.
      Last night got a breathless call from a friend asking me if I was in Montana and what did I think? Again she wanted to tie the incident to Trump. This morning on MSNBC it was all about how it was Trump’s fault for Gianforte because of his war on the media and his being a bully.
      Next it will be Putin’s fault that the jerk punched the reporter. Because he’s a “thug”.
      I had another friend say that “We need a free press and should be appalled by this.” I said, “We need a real press and we don’t have that, but , yes, nobody should be punched, if you can help it. ”
      “Bully”, “thug”, “commie”, “devil”…. and the propaganda continues.

      Reply
      1. PKMKII

        It’s a continuation of the gripe liberals had during the Dubya years, that he was disrespecting the noble traditions of the hallowed halls of Washington (gag) by not sufficiently consulting and compromising with Democrats. As opposed to Obama, who compromised without being asked to and getting nothing of value in return.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          What is the difference between “bringing back civility” and “restoring honor and dignity”?

          Reply
  16. MoiAussie

    Paging HotFlash! You were enquiring a week ago about forced contraception in South Africa.
    That caused a vague recollection, and I’ve tracked down a starting point for your further research.

    The person to research is Wouter Basson, a doctor who led the South African government’s top-secret chemical and biological warfare (CBW) program, “Project Coast”, started by president PW Botha in response to the Soweto uprisings. The project had some “racial warfare” elements.

    Basson is famous for his involvement in drug production, particularly Qualuudes and MDMA, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Project Coast had some distinct “racial warfare” elements. To quote its wikipedia page:

    Another unusual project attempted to develop a method of sterilising crowds using a known male sterilant pyridine. This was to be sprayed onto the crowds from a gas cylinder pressurised with nitrogen gas, as pyridine is highly flammable.

    and

    Daan Goosen, the managing director of Roodeplaat Research Laboratories between 1983 and 1986, told Tom Mangold of the BBC that Project Coast supported a project to develop a contraceptive that would have been applied clandestinely to blacks. Goosen reported that the project had developed a vaccine for males and females and that the researchers were still searching for a means by which it could be delivered to make blacks sterile without making them aware. Testimony given at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) suggested that Project Coast researchers were also looking into putting birth control substances in water supplies.

    This was the same Daan Goosen who tried to get $5M and US visas from the FBI in 2002 in exchange for some of the project’s bacterial weapons.

    Reply
    1. Alex Morfesis

      You do realize that is a super secret squirrel 11-9 breathing together theory…mentioning basson and what he was doing on that day and what he testified about and who he was implicating…ist verboten…andrew maykuth at philly inquirer wrote a bit on it in 2001 before “the events” but there was almost zero coverage of it and magically after the events, pinochet and the folks at armamentos militares argentina were all forgiven their previous trangressions against humanity…just a very large coincidence…especially when former A-O members get to keep their toys as “protection” against any further attempts at “justice”…so now you know…

      goodness why are there so many helicopters out this afternoon…

      Reply
  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Moody’s China downgrade ‘illogical’, overstates debt: People’s Daily Reuters

    Where is China’s own Nobel, the Confucian award committee…sorry, wrong question.

    Where is China’s new global reserve currency, the one to replace the Dollar…oops, not this one either.

    Where is China’s own aircraft carrier…nope.

    Wait, here it is: Where are China’s own ratings agencies here? They are probably thinking a response is in order.

    Reply
  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Manchester Attack – A Blowback From Britain’s Terror Support In Libya, Syria And Beyond Moon of Alabama

    Beyond, and before.

    Before, as in about 100 years and more ago…before Lawrence of Arabia.

    Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Before him.

        Say, for example, the Balfour Declaration…actually that was around the same time as the Arab Revolt.

        Reply
        1. Alex Morfesis

          Ah yes…the arab revolt with its black green and white with red triangle flag designed by that home grown arab nationalist

          sir mark sykes…

          no one knows a tree falls in the forest until some one slaps some bernays sauce on whatever is grilling on the barbee.

          Since the ottomans were not willing to give up their oil cheap, different methods were needed…

          and Bedouins were suddenly propped up as direct descendants of this or that child of big mo with narratives fit for a newly created king and kingdom…

          Most people just want running water, some food and a reasonable place to call home…

          everything else is quasi-priests demanding obedience and submittal to some “greater cause”…

          It’s been the same old stale bread for 2 billion sunsets…

          humanity…what a concept…

          Reply
    1. Carl

      Lawrence in Arabia, guys, give it a read. It makes clear that we’ve been meddling in the ME for at least the last hundred years, with predictable results.

      Reply
  19. From Cold Mountain

    On ‘Feds probing psychiatric hospitals for locking in patients to boost profits’;

    Last year I was in a UHS hospital, for a week. I am also on medicare, I will tell you that they do make it hard for patients to leave. It is a mind frack. On top of that, I kept getting separate bills for doctors that were in the hospital. Did I have any idea I was going to be billed separately for doctors? No. I walked out “only” owing $1000. I wonder how much they got?

    Psychiatric care in this country is cruel.

    Do your children a favor, be nice to the no matter what, talk to them, don’t yell, make them feel like they can always come to you. That alone will take care of a majority of both mental and physical illness.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      H.R. 1628, American Health Care Act of 2017 Congressional Budget Office. “CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the American Health Care Act would reduce federal deficits by $119 billion over the coming decade and increase the number of people who are uninsured by 23 million in 2026 relative to current law.”

      Under current law, how many of those 23 million will have insurance, but can’t afford the deductible, i.e. no health care?

      How many of those 23 million are young, healthy people who are currently buying insurance they don’t need, just so they can help, voluntarily or involuntarily, sick or old people?

      More details will help pinpoint those people who are in need, but will have no, or less, or slower access to health care.

      Reply
      1. MLS

        Setting aside the CBO’s abysmal forecasting history, in the same report the they admit that “the balance of those losing coverage” (which I take to mean half or more) would choose to do so because the penalty for not buying insurance goes away under the proposed bill.

        Said another way, since the government won’t be coercing them into buying insurance they don’t want/can’t use/can’t afford, they are worse off as a result.

        Reply
        1. craazyboy

          The CBO claims they don’t try and forecast recessions. I guess Greenspan stepped into that role. And now Yellen knows she’s supposed to banish them permanently.

          Unlike SuperHero Ben, who can jump right thru them like a speeding bunny wabbit.

          So now, the Fed will just send us money whenever we run out for some reason.

          hahaha. I know they won’t do that. I haven’t gone crazy.

          Reply
      2. Synoia

        Privatization at work. Privatizing the Federal Defect, on the backs of the poor.

        Must pass legislation!!!

        Reply
  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Your Addiction to Social Media Is No Accident Vice (Re Silc).

    Interdiction is key here. And go directly to the purveyors of the addictive substance.

    Healing should include solitude and meditation.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Since last year’s election, I have been spending more time on Naked Capitalism and less on social media. This place has done wonders for my mental health.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        What is ‘social media’ but a mob siege engine … enhanced and encouraged by the hybrid bernaysian security state !

        Reply
  21. MoiAussie

    The Manchester Attack – A Blowback From Britain’s Terror Support In Libya, Syria And Beyond

    b calls it blowback, and others suggest darker causes, but what seems clear is that the UK has given much support to islamic extremists from/in Libya, and has now suffered the consequences of that policy. According to the Grauniad, Bomber’s father fought against Gaddafi regime with ‘terrorist’ group.

    The father of Salman Abedi, the Manchester Arena suicide bomber, fought against the Gaddafi regime with a group that was designated a terrorist organisation by the US, according to a man who says he fought alongside him.

    During his time in Libya, Ramadan Abedi was also known to be part of the Libyan Islamic fighting group, which was also known as Muqtalla group.

    “This group was fighting Gaddafi in the mid-90s in the eastern side of Libya. The group were defeated in 1996. It was a group that wanted to overthrow Gaddafi but they also possibly had some guys who were affiliated with al-Qaida. Did some of these guys carry the torch of al-Qaida? Possibly.”

    The Torygraf reports Father of Manchester Arena suicide bomber ‘was a member of al-Qaeda linked militant group’ which goes a bit further in pointing the finger.

    The Home Office describes the group [LIFG] as “part of the wider global Islamist extremist movement, as inspired by al Qaeda” whose goal is to “replace the current Libyan regime with a hard-line Islamic state.”

    In a twist of fate, Britain found itself effectively allied with the group in 2011, when British and French airstrikes supported an armed uprising that led to Gaddaffi’s overthrow.

    The link with Britain and the West prompted one of Libya’s most powerful armed factions to accuse the UK of supporting the very terrorists who plotted the Manchester bombing.

    “The Libyan Fighting Group… has been recruiting Libyan and Muslim youth in the UK and Europe and sending them to Libya and other countries to deliver terrorism and death,” The Tobruk-led Libyan Government, which is not recognized by the United Nations but controls a large swathe of eastern Libya, said in a statement.

    Twist of fate, nice touch that.

    Reply
    1. RabidGandhi

      If only someone could have foreseen this! Oh wait

      Jeremy Corbyn‏Verified account
      @jeremycorbyn

      21 Mar 2011
      Voted against Government motion on Libya; what are we getting into? Only a month ago we were training Libyan military and selling arms

      RETWEETS
      458
      LIKES
      421

      Reply
  22. leftover

    RE: Gianforte’s “net positive”
    I always get a little upset when someone stereotypes Montanans based on the utterance of one ignorant asshole. Because there are so many ignorant assholes here…a diversity in the hundreds of thousands by anyone’s estimate…it just doesn’t seem reasonable to base one’s presumptions on contact with just one.

    So a conclusion that Gianforte’s assault “might net out positive,” being based on such a presumption, fails to recognize the possibility, given the sheer number of ignorant assholes being left out of the equation, that it could just as easily “net out” negative. Especially when considering most voting Montanans probably cast their ballot before Gianforte went off his meds.

    Reply
  23. fresno dan

    http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/donald-trump-nato-summit-afghanistan-us-troops-congress-paul-ryan

    Tell me your definition of victory. What is it? Street cars going down the roads that the Taliban blew up?” Jones, who introduced the bill, asked rhetorically during a recent interview with Military Times in his Capitol Hill office. “Hell, we’ve been training the damn Afghans for 16 years. You can train a monkey to ride a bicycle in three.”

    =======================================================
    I just like the line about bicycle riding monkeys….though I think Jones does not go far enough. How long does it take to train a monkey to be a CENTCOM commander….or commander in chief?

    Reply
    1. Ranger Rick

      I knew something was up when the NYT front-paged evidence photos of bloody shrapnel. Who else has that kind of access?

      Reply
  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    A Freedom Caucus Republican says the foundation of the Trump budget is ‘a lie’ WaPo

    It is, but due to a different cause.

    That US military spending should be funded by America alone is a lie.

    Afghans, Syrians, Iraqis, NATOnese, Nippon-jin, South Koreans and others should pay protection money to the US.

    “You don’t have to say ‘thank you.’ Just hand over the money.”

    Reply
    1. Antifa

      Risky business, that. Given the option of paying us protection money or going without our protection . . .

      we could find ourselves out of the knee-breaking business in a hurry.

      Reply
  25. fresno dan

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2017/05/24/jeffrey-epstein-sex-abuse-lawsuit-238793

    Virginia Giuffre alleged she was pulled into years of abuse by investor Jeffrey Epstein when she was working as a 15-year-old towel girl at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach in 1999.

    The suit alleged no wrongdoing on Trump’s part, but accused Epstein’s girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell of procuring underage girls for Epstein. She denied the allegations.
    ….
    The suit had drawn media attention as an extension of the two-decade-long saga that drew in a slew of prominent political figures ranging from Trump to President Bill Clinton to Labor Secretary Alex Acosta.

    Trump’s aides maintain he had no friendship with Epstein, but in a 2002 interview Trump said he’d known Epstein for 15 years. “Terrific guy,’’ Trump said. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

    =================================================
    NO COMMENT….other than silly me, I thought billionaires got their own towels….

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      Final graf is the important one:

      Other litigation related to Epstein’s sexual involvement with underage girls remains pending, including a suit in Florida challenging the plea deal as violation of a federal victims’ rights law and a suit another woman brought against Maxwell making similar claims that she facilitated abuse by Epstein.

      Some Very Well-Connected People including Bill Clinton have somehow induced the federal court to stonewall the case seeking to re-open Epstein’s plea deal for nearly eight years.

      If it ever reaches a conclusion, it will show that the level of corruption in America is light-years beyond what anyone imagined.

      Reply
      1. fresno dan

        Jim Haygood
        May 25, 2017 at 1:10 pm

        You look at the names….and its….incredible? appalling?? enlightening???

        “Terrific guy,’’ Trump said. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

        If that isn’t some kinda 11th dimensional chess, its kinda terrifying….

        Reply
  26. Ep3

    Yves, wanted to share this below. I watch a lot of those remodeling/”DIY” shows and they never tell the downsides of their work. They did not provide her a home to live in. They gave her something unreasonable that made losing the home a foregone conclusion.
    Also, the fact that a predator lender pushed her into bankruptcy is just your type of article.
    Usually their articles have comments fields, but these are closed off. Could be they don’t want people attacking the lady. But I would love to hear the conservatives explain this.
    Finally, Holt is a small “suburb” of Lansing that has been hit hard by the depression and loss of Lansing jobs. The city used to be a great place to live, when everyone had an auto job. Not now though. But the city has a truly expensive school with an olympic size swimming pool and a performance theater that rivals something on broadstreet. Contrast this city with East Lansing, Dewitt, and Grand Ledge, “suburbs” that are predominantly white and very wealthy communities.

    http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/news/2017/05/25/bank-forecloses-holts-extreme-makeover-homeowner/331214001/

    Reply
    1. fresno dan

      Ep3
      May 25, 2017 at 10:42 am

      I watch a lot of the DIY home remodeling shows too. Just like super hero movies, they are entertaining to watch but are completely opposite of reality.

      Hollywood never tells you how many people waste their lives trying to become celebrities.
      The home shows are never going to show the people destroyed by the “home ownership” dream…

      Reply
    2. cm

      Did you actually read the story? Her property taxes tripled and she couldn’t keep up.

      Additionally (from the article)

      In September 2016, Nickless’s home went to a foreclosure sale again and sold for about $113,000. The six-month redemption period passed with Nickless unable to pull together the needed funds.

      I wish Ocwen executives were in prison, but (for once) they don’t seem to be at fault here.

      Reply
    3. Jen

      A family in our area had the “luck” to be chosen by extreme makeover. Same deal. Instead of creating a reasonable, livable home, EM built them an overpriced house that the eventually could not afford because of the increased property taxes. The owners put the house on the market. The comments on the local listserv were as vile as any I’ve ever seen. People who volunteered on the project were livid. They felt like the family was trying to sell the house to make a profit.

      We have a local organization that works with homeowners who can’t afford home repairs. It’s not as glamorous as reality TV, but they get the work done.

      Reply
      1. Pat

        I admit to being fascinated by extreme makeover for a time. You can think of it as a symptom during my peak neoliberal delusion period. And then the makeovers became increasingly absurd. And I suddenly had the realization that giving the family with the disabled child good ramps for the space, a spacious and usable handicapped bathroom, and a workable kitchen and a decent laundry area might not have been as awe dropping amazing for the reveal but would overall be more manageable both for maintenance and for things like property taxes. And ultimately the show was less and less about helping the families then it was about servicing its primary goal of ratings and profits for the studio and the network.

        I’m sorry to find out that my late realization was more accurate than I realized.

        Reply
  27. allan

    Lack of new launches leaves Ford playing catchup with GM [Reuters]

    James Hackett spent the last year plotting Ford Motor Co’s long-term self-driving car strategy. In his first week as chief executive, he has more immediate concerns: stopping a skid in North American sales and fending off a market share grab by resurgent archrival General Motors Co. …

    He now has to face up to a void of new vehicles, partly caused by former CEO Alan Mulally, who focused much of the company’s resources on an expensive 2014 redesign of Ford’s crown jewel, the F-Series pickup.

    That safeguarded America’s longtime best-selling vehicle, but it prevented Ford from developing other hits. Given that it typically takes three to four years for a new or redesigned vehicle to get into production, the full effect of Mulally’s narrow focus is now being felt. …

    Surely Ford’s board will claw back some of Mulally’s $313 retirement package
    (a figure that `does not include salary, bonus and other corporate perks’), amirite?

    When bemused alien historians write the tale of our society’s implosion, the day that executive
    retirement packages became large enough to found multi-generational dynasties will figure large.

    Reply
  28. Fool

    If you can do it, the best way to truly appreciate the WaPo story on Comey’s July announcement is to dim the lights, find something to smoke, and picture the story playing out as a cartoon.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Did he really close out the investigation thinking going further will lead to his boss?

      I thought I read that somewhere yesterday. That would be one scary cartoon.

      Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      Heh. I’m sure it wasn’t the WaPo’s intent, but that story sure made the FBI look like a bunch of morons.

      And still nothing as to how the supposedly fake document in question was identified as ‘Russian’, especially as they do not divulge who gave said document to the spooks in the first place.

      My guess is it was the same smartass teenager who hacked John Brennan’s email account.

      Reply
    1. cnchal

      The bureaucrats sure do have a way with words.

      When the program rolled out in December 2012, DMV director of operations Michael Smith told Seven Days that it would “not be used to identify people for other law enforcement purposes.”

      But DMV higher-ups debated, in that same year, whether to allow police to access the facial-recognition database, according to records obtained by the ACLU and reviewed by Seven Days.

      “Personally, I think it seems like a good idea,” DMV project manager Michael Charter wrote to colleagues. “However, this may be the one piece most likely to stir up the tinfoil-hat crowd.”

      Anybody that doesn’t want society turned into a police state, wears a tinfoil hat. That hat is pretty well tuned from what I can tell. Lying bureaucrats. Where is the you’re fired option?

      Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      About 30 years ago when I got my first driver’s license, the state of VT didn’t even issue licenses with pictures. Or they may have but you’d have needed to go to Montpelier to get one. And yet even with such a vague ID, the state still managed to survive somehow and not become a hotbed of terrorists and criminals.

      I used to get some weird looks from bartenders in western states when I pulled out my pictureless VT license and had to wait a little longer for a beer while they double checked its authenticity – that was about the biggest drawback I ever encountered from that policy.

      Reply
  29. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Challenge of Flying Below Sea Level Avgeekery.com

    But not before submarines diving above sea level.

    After that, flying battleships.

    Reply
  30. Altandmain

    A refutation of Mother Jones (an Establishment Democrat paper famous for first outing Mitt Romney’s 47% comment).

    Mother Jones, Nominally Liberal Outlet, on Health Care Costs: “Deal With It”
    https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/05/mother-jones-nominally-liberal-outlet-on-health-ca.html

    On the conservative website, Daily Caller, this is making waves. DWS, the former DNC chair is threatening “consequences” at the former police chief if they do not turn back evidence.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAHGsyt2kZA

    I don’t usually cite the Daily Caller, but seeing that this is a video of the former DNC Chair speaking, that does not appear altered, it seems legit.

    Oh and the Democrats need to give up on using the mayor of Chicago for advice.
    http://theweek.com/articles/700846/democrats-stop-listening-rahm-emanuel

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      Oh and the Democrats need to give up on using the mayor of Chicago for advice.

      I’d go the him for advice, and return with a list of the last that to be considered.

      Reply
    2. curlydan

      It was Kevin Drum in Mother Jones making those ASSumptions. Maybe Our Revolution could post a counter article, “Economists Can Be Simple-Minded Tools: Deal with It”

      Reply
  31. manymusings

    Please of please have we jumped the shark yet on It was the Russians! ??

    Unbelievable. At this point, we’re supposed to accept on one hand the unimpeachable judgment of the FBI/CIA/NSA that “Russia hacked our election!” and on the other hand that one of these same guardians of democracy (and his stellar staff) was so naive and unschooled in “tradecraft” that he let Russia trick him into careening way outside the lanes of authority at the Justice Department and straight to the microphones during the peak of an election season — all because of a dodgy email?

    I can’t bear to parse through the details on this one … something tells me that nowhere is it contemplated that just such an email from DWS to a Clinton campaign aid may well exist (which, let’s be clear, wouldn’t make what’s in it true, just that the hacks saying it probably thought it was true). I guess “the Russians did it!” now flies for anything, because to doubt it even once could pull a thread that doesn’t stop unraveling.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Over time, more rationale people will leave the “OMG Russia” group behind leaving only the crazies. The crazies will attempt to gain mastery over the other crazies which will lead to grander claims, culminating in “Putin puts fluoride in the water. Palin saw them!”

      Seth Rich is a fine example. The above about the police entering the ICU is ludicrous, but here we are.

      Reply
  32. Oregoncharles

    “Arrest made in discovery of opium poppy plants in Catawba County”

    I’m probably not the first, but: opium poppies, aka breadseed poppies, are very easy to grow and common in flower gardens, at least in mild-winter areas like Oregon. If you scatter the seed on the ground in fall, you’ll have 3-ft.-tall plants with huge, spectacular pink or white flowers in the summer. The leaves are edible and serve as a mild analgesic. I don’t recommend scoring the pods, as that could get you in trouble, but a pain-killing tea can be brewed from the dried pods (that’s how they produce morphine in Turkey, where the seeds are a staple.)

    Opium poppies in bloom are visible far and wide.

    An anecdote: my sister-in-law is a laboratory botanist who did her PhD thesis on the chemistry of opium poppies. She told me she was having trouble growing them (on a rooftop, for security, in southern Indiana), so I suggested she hire one of the Laotian tribal refugees then arriving in the US. She thought that might cause problems. Now she works on other flowers.

    Reply
  33. Plenue

    >The Hunt for Ukraine’s Toppled Lenin Statues Atlas Obscura

    “The nationalist group Sokil claims that all the Lenin monuments within a 60-mile radius of Kryvyi Rih have been removed. They want to sell these “trophies” to pay for the medical care of a friend who was injured while fighting Russian-backed separatists.”

    Let me fix that for you:

    “Neo-Nazis loot national monuments to pay for medical expenses for a fellow fascist thug wounded attempting to massacre his own fellow Ukrainian citizens.”

    Reply
  34. ewmayer

    o “Why Economists Have to Embrace Complexity to Avoid Disaster Steve Keen, Evonomics” — Pfffft, I’d be happy if they just tried embracing *reality* even with their dumb-as-dirt models, but I realize that’s hoping for too much, since as a profession they are paid for ignoring reality and instead spinning elite-sponsored ‘narratives’. For a perfect example of the latter, cf. Brookings’ “unprecedented expansion” piece above.

    o “Arrest made in discovery of opium poppy plants in Catawba County | WBTV (Re Silc). An acre of opium poppies is worth $500 million, says the Sheriff.” — That would value Afghanistan’s 2016 poppy cultivation (~500,000 acres) at roughly $250 Trillion. The kind of maths only an economist or law-enforcement type could love.

    Reply

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