Links 5/17/15

How to speak HORSE: Researchers find equines express emotion through their whinnies – and reveal the frequencies used Daily Mail

Unicorn sugar crash Pando Daily

Wall Street Just Got More Pessimistic About the U.S. Economy. Will the Fed Follow Suit? Bloomberg

Fed, data take center stage as earnings dwindle Reuters

Don’t Be So Sure the Economy Will Return to Normal Tyler Cowen, NYT. Crocodile tears.

Pension Funds Lose Money On Salesmen, State Retirees Pay, Study Shows International Business Times

The Piggly Wiggly way The Economist. Shifting work to the customer.

L.A. getting no Owens Valley runoff for first time since 1913 Los Angeles Times

Amtrak ordered to make tech fixes at dangerous curves WaPo

Objects Hit Trains So Often There’s Term for It: Getting Rocked NYT

America’s economic arteries are becoming sclerotic The Economist


Big Pharma’s Unlikely Allies: Labor Unions Support Strong Intellectual Property Provisions In Trans-Pacific Partnership International Business Times

Elizabeth Warren Misfires on Trade Noah Smith, Bloomberg

The tribes are locked in battle over trade deals FT


IMF leak signals ‘progress’ with Greece, but threat of default in June Channel 4

Greece debt deal elusive as Alexis Tsipras says solution won’t come at any price Australian Financial Review

New proposals on way, focus on five key areas Ekathimerini. “The government is proposing the scrapping of early pensions as an alternative to introducing the ‘zero deficit’ rule, which would mean stopping public subsidies to pension funds.”

Greek PM warned lenders of not repaying IMF debt in May: report Reuters

Tsipras mandate main barrier to Greek deal, Minister Scicluna says Independent (Malta). Pesky voters!

Greece pays public sector wages to avert fresh economic crisis Guardian

Greece’s pinched pennies Politico


A Diplomatic Victory, and Affirmation, for Putin NYT

Vladimir Putin calls Ukraine fascist and country’s new law helps make his case Reuters

Questions Raised Over Poroshenko’s Role In Valuable Kyiv Land Deal Radio Free Europe

Ukraine economy shrinks 17.6 percent in Q1 as government struggles to cope with conflict US News

UPDATE 1-Ukraine says creditors must accept debt proposals Reuters

The wars that inspired Game of Thrones – Alex Gendler YouTube

WATCH: How the CIA Helped Make “Zero Dark Thirty” MPBN

China’s not building islands for mere economic gain Marketplace

Nepal Suffers Another Earthquake On Saturday, Four Days After A Major Aftershock From Quake That Killed Thousands International Business Times

Black Injustice Tipping Point

What Is Racial Domination? [PDF] Du Bois Review

Dozens of Ferguson-related reforms were proposed in Missouri. Just one passed WaPo

‘I Put in White Tenants’: The Grim, Racist (and Likely Illegal) Methods of One Brooklyn Landlord New York Magazine

US cited for police violence, racism in scathing UN review on human rights Al Jazeera

Boise police go back to walking a beat AP

Class Warfare

The Tory victory and the class cleansing of London Nick Cohen: Writing from London

For the Highest-Paid C.E.O.s, the Party Goes On NYT. “I don’t think those folks are particularly ashamed.”

Judge: McDonald’s workers can sue over costly payroll cards

Kansas could lose millions for limiting welfare recipients to $25 at ATMs McClatchy

Myanmar’s workers of the world New Mandala

Talent versus Capital in the Twenty-First Century Project Syndicate

Silicon Valley Is Letting Go of Its Techie Island Fantasies Wired. Now the Seasteading dudes are looking for “cost-reducing solutions within the territorial waters of a host nation.” Leeching off the state while whining about it. Typical glibertarian squillionaire.

Fear and loathing in Shagaluf: the Brit scholar abroad Times Higher Education

World’s First ‘Solar Road’ Is Generating Even More Power Than Expected HuffPo

The vegan carnivore? Aeon

Disputes Emerge on African Ebola Drug Trials WSJ

The Last Day of Her Life New York NYT

The Era of Pretense The Archdruid Report

Antidote du jour:


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.


  1. abynormal

    “…we were increasingly becoming Consumers; perhaps even as opposed to Citizens.”
    Norman Lear comment about Mad Men

    “Take off your hat,” the King said to the Hatter.
    “It isn’t mine,” said the Hatter.
    “Stolen!” the King exclaimed, turning to the jury, who instantly made a memorandum of the fact.
    “I keep them to sell,” the Hatter added as an explanation; “I’ve none of my own. I’m a hatter.”

    Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

  2. rjs

    i am going to write Noah Smith and explain what he’s missing on the trade agreements….everyone else here should too…

        1. rjs

          thanks…Noah is an influential young economist with an open mind…if we point out what he’s missed, he’ll investigate…

      1. rjs

        here is what i sent him, under the subject line “Noah Smith Misfires on Trade”

        in re: Elizabeth Warren Misfires on Trade

        Noah, you completely missed what the movement against these trade agreements is all about..  our concern is about the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions, which give international investors sovereignty equivalent to national governments…
        eight weeks ago, wikileaks relleased the draft of the investment chapter of the Trans Pacific Partnership, with the NY Times acting as their media agent in the US… the Wikileaks page to access the document is here, and the purpose of this chapter is to establish the means by which a multinational corporation can get compensation from a signatory government if one of that government’s laws interferes with the corporation’s profits…it sets up a supra-national court under the World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body, whereby foreign firms can sue governments and obtain taxpayer compensation for whatever “expected future profits” that the government’s law encumbered…the adjudication of these disputes would not be by elected officials of any of the signatory governments, but by a tribunal of international trade attorneys representing the multinational corporations….in effect, this trade agreement, and the similar trade agreement that we are negotiating with Europe, gives these world trade tribunals trump power over federal, state or local financial and environmental regulations, patent law, labor laws and worker safety rules, public health, anti-smoking legislation and drug laws, or any law that could be construed as interfering with corporate profits… 

        similar investment protection mechanisms have been applied under other trade agreements, so we know this is not just a red herring…under a trade agreement between Hong Kong and Australia, Philip Morris Asia successfully sued the Australian government over a law mandating plain cigarette packaging; under a Netherlands / Czech trade agreement, the Czech Republic was sued for refusing to bail out an insolvent bank that a Dutch investor had an interest in, Eli Lilly sued Canada for $500 million under NAFTAafter the latter had refused to grant a patent for a drug that was no improvement over the existing drug, and Lone Pine Resources, a mostly Canadian fracker incorporated in Delaware, sued the government of Quebec under NAFTA for potential profits lost when they banned fracking under the St Lawrence River

      1. rjs

        no, he’s an economist…that leads him to reflexively believe he knows everything about everything without researching it…

      2. JerryDenim

        I think the later is correct. His article is a bit too facile and obfuscating to suggest simple naiveté. Bringing up South Korea and Japan while ignoring dirt-poor cheap labor signatories like Vietnam and the Philippines? This little weasly propagandist knows what he is doing. He is spreading disinformation and attempting to muddy the waters. The whole piece is one giant Red Herron to divert attention away from the national sovereignty issue and the kangaroo trade tribunals. I say still let the dirty bastard hear from you. Maybe he has a conscience buried deep behind that pudgy face. It can never hurt to call out crap like this when you see it.

        1. Procopius

          I have to say I was very puzzled by that piece. I usually enjoy Noah’s articles, although I understand there is actually a group of economists who take turns writing. This one, though, was written by a junior White House staffer, not one of the regular bunch.

  3. Demeter

    I congratulate Putin, but I am confident that US “diplomats” and political hacks will manage to screw it up yet again. There will be no peace in our time. Or justice, or any of the other intangibles. Or money. Or power to the People.

  4. LEO

    good on Al Jazeera

    Shorter Freedom House/US official propaganda: Dictators!!1!

    You can get it from the horse’s mouth here states

    And as a searchable database here (previous cycle only for now, but shows the consistent message)

    The unmentionable treaty in the ‘slew:’ the ICESCR. What is Saint Elizabeth’s position on fast-tracking that? Best defense is a good offense.

    1. Marko

      The big MSM mentions on the same day were from Fox and the NYT , and both had nearly identical headlines and text :

      Fox : “US defends excessive force by police claims before UN human rights body”

      NYT : “US Defends Record Before Top UN Human Rights Body”

      The Fox piece was displayed in the “World” section , in the NYT it was under World – Europe , in both cases to shield it from American citizens who might otherwise , you know , notice and inquire further , which would be bad for the Empire.

  5. Ned Ludd

    The CIA and Robert De Niro

    Robert De Niro – a man whose relationship with the CIA spans two decades. We looked at four films – Wag the Dog, Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers and The Good Shepherd, the latter three of which have documented CIA assistance in their production.

    – Episode 2 of the series “The CIA and Hollywood”.

  6. Ditto

    The more I learn about the Amtrak crash, the more I’m shocked we have not had more accidents.

    For example, the speed of the train that Conservatives keep using to deflect from safety measures?

    I read that it took only 65 seconds to accelerate from 70 mph to the 105 mph. On top of that , many of the turns such as this are supposed to be based upon the engineers memory of the route.

    We don’t have all the facts yet. Like was the engineer distracted by his own actions like drugs or cell phone

    But what I do know is the system in place sounds dangerous

    That is even if there was no negligence or intent , it sounds like all it would take is a momentary error or distraction of a minute to result in derailment

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      This could change, of course, but initial reports say no issues with the phone or intoxicants.

      I wouldn’t say so much “dangerous,” as “19th Century and dangerous.” Engine driving is a skill, and the details remind me of the stories I read in railfan magazines about driving steam engines.

      Another way of saying “safety” is “de-skilled,” but this looks to me like a case where deskilling might not be such a bad thing; I like it that airplane flights are dull, for example, instead of affording pilots the opportunity to demonstrate their metier on a daily basis.

      1. JerryDenim

        Airline travel is dull because the pilot’s skill allow them to make it look easy. If you think an unskilled person can hand fly a Cat II ILS to minimums and land smoothly on an icy runway in near zero visibility conditions with gusty crosswinds I would like to see you do it. The myth that flying a modern jet liner is so easy is yet another bit of corporate propaganda trotted out to make the flying public think pilots are overpaid and unnecessary. It’s certainly not like World War II when very low-time pilots with almost no experience went into combat rubbing rabbit’s feet flying machines they could barely understand, but believe me airline pilot’s still demonstrate their “metier” even on good days more than the flying public ever knows.

          1. Jerry Denim

            Seems that way to me as well but I know nothing of trains. The damn things are on rails for Christ sake and can only go forward or backwards. Seems straightforward enough to me aside from the switches, signals, and whatever type of modern, high-tech propulsion systems those things have these days. Modern train engineers would probably take exception with my characterization though.

    2. cwaltz

      Cell phones have been illegal to operate on trains for YEARS(if you get caught with one it’s a $10,000 fine for you personally and probably your job since it’s an FRA no no.) Drug testing is random(sure I guess you could do it but you’re rolling the dice you won’t get your number drawn every time you pull a train.) Believe it or not trains are pretty regulated(at least freight service is.) I’m actually kind of surprised though that they didn’t have a conductor with the engineer(it’s required on all freight trains for the very reason you point out a distracted engineer can cause a derailment, conductors call the signals) or that there isn’t something the engineer is required to hit like they have for freight(there is a button required to be hit by the engineer every few minutes so that they know someone is awake and paying attention.) I do find I interesting that they are saying there may have been a projectile launched at a train. Trains hit stuff all the time(not just stuff hitting trains) I would think the train, including the windshield, would be built with the ability to withstand a rock(with the idea that rocks do dislodge from mountains. , etc, etc.)

      Dislosure: My husband is an engineer for NS who started as a conductor.

  7. Jim Haygood

    ‘SolaRoad … generated enough energy to power a one-person household for an entire year, the Associated Press reported. The path had generated an excess of 3,000 kilowatt-hours.’

    Good or bad? Let’s do the maff: at 20 cents per kWh (on the high side, for parts of U.S. northeast), that’s a whopping $600 worth of power annually. What does a 70-meter long path with embedded solar panels protected by centimeter-thick safety glass cost? Many times $600. Maybe even a hundred times.

    Put solar panels on the roof where they belong, ditch the costly in-ground installation and thick glass. Doh …

    1. afisher

      Please ignore the process of improvement as this is a kickstart process and also please ignore any economy of scale when used in replacement process rather than an experiment.

    2. Propertius

      It seems to me that your “maf” is based on a few assumptions that may not be quite correct, Jim:

      1) You’re implicitly assuming that the cost of conventional paving is zero
      2) You’re implicitly assuming that the lifetime of the SolaRoad is one year
      3) You’re also implicitly assuming that the maintenance costs of both conventional paving and the SolaRoad are zero.

  8. Ned Ludd

    The Archdruid Report:

    …the immense treasure trove of concentrated energy embodied in fossil fuels, and that alone, made possible the sky-high levels of energy per capita that gave the world’s industrial nations their brief era of exuberance…

    Our entire food system depends on wasting massive amounts of cheap energy. In 1910, the U.S. food system consumed one calorie of energy for every calorie of food output. By 1970, the U.S. food system consumed nine times more energy for each calorie it produced (Figure 4).

    Figure 2 of “Energy Use in the U.S. food system”, published in Science in April 19, 1974, shows energy input continued to rise while farm output leveled off. The increased energy use appears correlated to automation (Figure 3). As The Archdruid Report discussed earlier: “what makes a change qualify as progress, he suggested, is that it increases the externalization of costs.

    1. cnchal

      From decades ago, a warning from Al Bartlett, Professor Emeritus, Physics.

      Forgotten Fundamentals of the Energy Crisis – overview

      A couple of quickie excerpts:

      8) Many economists reject this sort of analysis which is based on the assumption that resources are finite. A colleague in economics read the paper and later told me that “It is all wrong.” When I asked him to point out the specific errors in the paper, he shook his head, saying, “It is all wrong.”

      9) The original paper dealt more with resources than with population. I feel that it is now clear that population growth is the world’s most serious problem, and that the world’s most serious population problem is right here in the U.S. The reason for this is that the average American has something like 30 to 50 times the impact on world resources as does a person in an underdeveloped country. (A.A. Bartlett, Wild Earth, Vol. 7, Fall 1997, pp. 88-90)

      For those not into reading, here is a link to his lecture.

      1. James Levy

        It’s hard to penetrate the staggering array of unarticulated, unmentionable assumptions that lay behind what passing for thinking in modern Economics, but one seems to be that modern industrial capitalism is simply so different and superior to all that came before it that all of natural and human history simply does not count in considering how it operates or where it is going. The past is irrelevant. Nature is irrelevant. All that matters is our “genius” and the inherent operations of the infallible market and all will be the best in the best of all possible worlds. Any attempt to bring nature or history back into the discourse is met with either derision or stony silence. Therefore, the answer to any invocation of human or natural history is ipso facto “it is all wrong.”

    2. PhilK

      Here is the story of M. King Hubbard, in cartoon format, by Stuart McMillen. Lots of stuff in there I was totally unaware of.
      Peak Oil

    1. optimader

      No where near the efficient cycle time of a typical motivated Costco quality checkout person and “boxer”.

      1. OIFVet

        It may be nationwide. There are no self-checkout lanes in any Chicagoland Costco I’ve been to (5 or 6 of them), and there haven’t been any for quite a while now.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Awesome. I never go to “self-checkout lines.” If they were more convenient, I might be seduced by the glamour of evil… but they aren’t.

          1. OIFVet

            Indeed. The self-checkout lines I remember at Costco were longer than the cashier lines, and that despite the fact that Costco used to station an employee there anyway to help the customers. I refuse to use them at any place that has them. And given that they are all that CVS has, I go to alternatives. My neighborhood has a great locally owned pharmacy, so there is a perfect solution for those of us who hold certain beliefs and principles.

    2. diptherio

      The local Safeway just sold-out to a local guy. They’ve kept the self-checkout, but they’ve been far better about keeping three or four regular checkout lanes going as well. I’d prefer they got rid of the self-checkouts altogether, but I’ll take what I can get.

      1. NYPaul

        One of the problems that cause manned/(womanned) checkouts to get backed up is most company’s policy of requiring the current transaction be completed, even when problems occur and the line grows longer. When I was (much) younger, and worked a checkout register, if a problem occurred with a customer at hand (rejected cc, price dispute, etc.) I was instructed to void the current transaction, and go on to the next customer, while a Supervisor came and fixed the conflicted customer’s problem.
        That is no longer permitted, and the unfortunate folks backing up behind the “problem” customer simply, must wait, regardless of how long it takes to fix the problem. So, if you have relatively few items, a vacant self-checkout stand next door begins to look pretty attractive.

        No one questions the public’s empathy for working men and women, just saying the Company also needs to display some empathy for the customers who, needlessly, are forced to stand and wait due to, IMO, an arbitrary, unnecessary rule.

    3. Chris

      My Maccas here in Cairns are putting in the touch screen displays that interact wirelessly with smart phones. Instead of a person taking your order…well you get the drift and a machine tells you when your order has been fulfilled, less people needed

      The long term is clear – pretty soon, you will order your meal and it will be delivered by machines with a few people out back and out of sight keeping them serviced.

      Maccas used to be an employer of choice for many young people. The company kept labor costs low through paying them less, the kids got a good job and money – it was win win imho

      The company tries to connect with the community and puts in a lot through its Ronnie Mac Houses, but I don’t think they do this for altruistic reasons – it’s good business and deflects people away from the reality, that the company is a destroyer of jobs – and cares eff all about the communities in which it serves.

    1. ambrit

      Er, grey is now part of a balanced breakfast? Makes me feel like one of those Hippodrome guys during a Games.

        1. Procopius

          Yes, I noted that in passing. I wondered if the guy has a second, secret, business plan he isn’t telling the investors about yet. That, or has a weird sense of humor.

  9. JEHR

    Re: Horsespeak. Every morning in my walk around my neighbourhood, I talk to about 6 horses. One group are eager listeners and come to the fence each time to see what I have. They allow me to pat their velvet muzzles and they hope for a treat of a handful of grass. My other horse group always turns to look at me when I pass. Horses are great!

      1. subgenius

        Horses are great…loved riding as a youth…

        …but if you like dogs, and ever have the chance, learn to mush. It puts you in a whole new relationship…to succeed you quite literally have to join the pack.

        A side effect of the process of truely joining a pack is that you discover the alpha-meme is utter bollocks.

        1. subgenius


          …also, the closest approximation to an alpha in a team of huskies is almost invariably a female. And she owns it.

          1. diptherio

            addendum to the addendum: having attended the start of the Iditarod a number of years ago, and knowing a few people who run dog teams, almost no sled dogs are “huskies.” Most all the ones I’ve seen are mutts of indistinguishable ancestry…and smaller than you’d think too.

            1. diptherio

              but yeah, the alphas are usually ladies. Kali Baba has a whole pack of dogs at the ashram in Nepal. The hierarchy is pretty obvious, and all the top dogs are female.

            2. subgenius

              Tru dat..
              I learned in arctic Scandinavia (Lapporten ftw! also…be very careful opening a bottle of single malt a day from the nearest road – an unbelievable number of people appear as if by magic, to the point it probably makes sense to carry a bottle in case you have an emergency!) where they use ‘alaskan’ huskies as the siberian husky (beloved of Hollywood’) is a poor choice in real-world conditions…but the ‘alaskans’ were somewhat more mutt than pure…and easily outpace the siberians in any conditions..particularly as siberians are very picky about when they will work!

              A number of my teams have been about the size of a spaniel. You wouldnt believe how strong these are…or their insane levels of endurance.

              Have you seen “poodleman” race the Iditarod?

              1. Procopius

                “Mutts” usually are superior to “purebreds” by almost any metric. Makes me wonder why the eugenicists and aryan nation types don’t understand that there’s no such thing as a “pure” race, and if there was they would be inferior. I first started noticing this when my grandfather started planting hybrid corn, because the mixed strain had a significantly higher yield and needed less weeding.

        2. optimader

          Gee and Haw, the new terminology for neo-right and neo-left.

          My friends & I used to all get together for a New Years day picnic at a local Forest P Pavilion. One year that had bodacious snow a frmr H.S classmate who moved to Alaska showed up w/ three or four sleddogs and a kicksled. I have no idea or don’t remember how or why he brought them to this area but wow that was blast.

          Some of the most wild Huskies I’m aware of are on Greenland.
          Barely not wolves.

          I am very good w/ dogs and they seem to know it, but the ones on Greenland –you do not mess with unless they know you. It’s an immediate mutual understanding.

          1. subgenius

            Once accepted by the pack, gee and haw are almost entirely irrelevant…it becomes what can only be described as a psychic connection. It is absolutely amazing. Cannot recommend it enough as an experience.

  10. Santi

    The Maltese falcon (Malta FinMin Scicluna, the Independent link) has something of a dove deep inside:

    “If we had followed the rules of the commission with the structural effort to the decimal point as they were, we would have flunked and depressed the economy,” he said. “This is the secret of letting the economy grow, which produces the revenues and allows you to consolidate in a less painful way. Somehow this is not understood. It’s understood at the political level but the technical rules have not changed.”

    One can see how profoundly “extended and pretended” is the current EZ econopolitics in this single paragraph, said just after trying to explain how the Greeks should forget their mandate and saying that “you have to find a balance between the moral hazard and also being realistic.”

  11. Andrew

    That Nick Cohen article about London is spot on. How anyone who earns London minimum wage (about £7.50/8 ph) can afford to live there anymore, especially central London, is beyond me. It seems that now, more than ever, the big city set (London, New York, Paris etc.) are run by the rich, for the rich, and everyone else can go hang. Or get out, if you’re lucky, and reside somewhere more affordable.

    1. Ulysses

      Here in NYC quite a few working poor are actually homeless, dependent on shelters, couch-surfing, etc. to have a dry place to sleep at night. A few bicycle courier acquaintances of mine share a squat, but its a rough existence, to say the least.

      Then there are many thousands who endure nightmare commutes from somewhat more affordable places far afield.

  12. docG

    A note on “black injustice” from a white man who spent 11 years teaching in a ghetto community and has interacted pretty closely with black students (and colleagues) throughout a long teaching career. What got my attention most in all that time was one day after discussing the Iraq war, a very young black student approached to inform me that “America has its war in Iraq — and we have our war in Homewood.” Simple as that. And no, he wasn’t talking about the cops. He didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but the stark simplicity and deep truth of that statement hit me like a lightning bolt.

    This young man and so many others like him were living a life radically different from what I’d been used to, with the fear of violence, intimidation, poverty and death hovering over their heads on a daily basis. Little wonder this school had the reputation of being “impossible.” How do children concentrate on schoolwork when victimized in this manner on a daily basis?

    The real abomination as far as “racial justice” is concerned, is not police brutality — though that can be bad enough — but the benign neglect of black neighborhoods, black children and also black adults caught in a trap that is not of their doing and attempting to survive any way they can. So I’m sorry, but I have little patience for all the righteous indignation being expressed these days by liberals, all to happy to divert responsibility to the latest scapegoat, the police — who as far as I’m concerned are also victims of the same injustice. (The previous scapegoat was the teaching profession). What “ghetto” neighborhoods need most is not some sort of crusade against police who, for the most part, are trying to do their job under impossible circumstances. but meaningful (rather than bullshit) training programs (ideally apprenticeships leading to actual jobs), job programs and other incentives to make young black men and women feel as though they have a place in society.

    And I’m sick of hearing that there’s no money for such programs, because there is tons of money as we all know. There is more wealth in this country than in the entire history of the world. If we don’t have to guts to go after it to address serious problems such as this then we don’t deserve to live in a democracy.

    1. cwaltz

      Ghetto neighborhoods? AAs are being killed whether they are in the ghetto or are in a more affluent environment. That’s kind of the point. The problem is not that AAs don’t feel like they have a place in society(let’s not blame the victims) but that they’ve been stereotyped to the point that even those that do have good jobs get harassed by other members of society. You may say that the problem stems from lack of jobs but when police admit that they profile and when an AA professor from Baltimore gets ARRESTED for trying to enter his own house the problem isn’t his lack of a skill set or the belief that he isn’t part of society, it’s a system that assumes that because of his skin color that he must be up to no good.

      1. diptherio

        I’d say you’re both right…you’re pointing out two aspects of one self-reinforcing process. Probably best to attack both problems simultaneously.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Hmm. Is there a conceptual model, do you know, for energy flows between nodes of two distinct networks? I don’t mean metaphorically (that would be an easy layup) or narratively but formally, using the tools of network theory.

    2. hunkerdown

      People who keep trying to sell beauty pageants as self-government are liars or orators (the difference depends mainly on economic class), both of whom ought to absent themselves entirely from the discusssion since their only purpose in it is to corrupt it. How about the self-reinforcing lie that democracy has anything to do with authoritarianism?

  13. docG

    (Forgive duplicate posting — not sure if this one got lost or not) A note on “black injustice” from a white man who spent 11 years teaching in a ghetto community and has interacted pretty closely with black students (and colleagues) throughout a long teaching career. What got my attention most in all that time was one day after discussing the Iraq war, a very young black student approached to inform me that “America has its war in Iraq — and we have our war in Homewood.” Simple as that. And no, he wasn’t talking about the cops. He didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but the stark simplicity and deep truth of that statement hit me like a lightning bolt.

    This young man and so many others like him were living a life radically different from what I’d been used to, with the fear of violence, intimidation, poverty and death hovering over their heads on a daily basis. Little wonder this school had the reputation of being “impossible.” How do children concentrate on schoolwork when victimized in this manner on a daily basis?

    The real abomination as far as “racial justice” is concerned, is not police brutality — though that can be bad enough — but the benign neglect of black neighborhoods, black children and also black adults caught in a trap that is not of their doing and attempting to survive any way they can. So I’m sorry, but I have little patience for all the righteous indignation being expressed these days by liberals, all to happy to divert responsibility to the latest scapegoat, the police — who as far as I’m concerned are also victims of the same injustice. (The previous scapegoat was the teaching profession). What “ghetto” neighborhoods need most is not some sort of crusade against police who, for the most part, are trying to do their job under impossible circumstances. but meaningful (rather than bullshit) training programs (ideally apprenticeships leading to actual jobs), job programs and other incentives to make young black men and women feel as though they have a place in society.

    And I’m sick of hearing that there’s no money for such programs, because there is tons of money as we all know. There is more wealth in this country than in the entire history of the world. If we don’t have to guts to go after it to address serious problems such as this then we don’t deserve to live in a democracy.

    1. diptherio

      Black Co-ops Were A Method of Economic Survival

      JESSICA:…African Americans, like all other groups, were involved early on in cooperative and collective economic activity. Even when we were enslaved and didn’t own anything, not even our own bodies, we were saving up money, made on the side say from selling a crop that we planted in the back of the slave quarters or from outside work some of the skilled artisans performed, to buy our freedom. We also pooled our savings to help each other.

      So once you bought your freedom, you would save up money to help buy your Mom, or your Dad, or your sister or your brother or your wife. So we were using pooling mechanisms from the very beginning. And then slowly making it more formal through churches and fraternal societies, the mutual aid societies, and then through unions so that by the time that Du Bois did his study in 1907 he had identified 154 co-ops.


      AJOWA: You know it’s interesting too when you talk about that, when you think about economic development, I remember reading a book called The Covenant with Black America where key Black thinkers addressed the subject areas of Black advancement and social upliftment. In the chapter on Economics, there was not a single reference to co-ops; there was a discussion of Black capitalism, but nothing about co-ops. I was so disappointed. It seems like from what you’re saying that co-ops were a critical part of our survival in the past — Du Bois had come up with this analysis about the economic crossroads being a critical point in our history. Even today we have not clearly understood or recognized what he was saying and moved in that direction. It seems like it is as key and relevant today to our advancement because we have such economic issues.

      JESSICA: That is one of the reasons that I wrote the book, because I think it is crucial for any of us who care about economic inequality, about poverty, about community-based economic development, about economic justice — that we understand how co-ops can be an important viable economic strategy. And why is it that so many people who need co-ops the most either don’t know about them or afraid to try them or use them? A lot of it is because of the hegemony of capitalist ideology. Even as kids we’re taught about the Horatio Alger6 myth — that we just have to work really hard and then we can own our own business or get a great job and become millionaires. We’re not taught about how the millionaires even needed government, and needed other people to help them, and that they didn’t do it on their own. We’re just taught you do it on your own, you work hard and then you’re done.

      Cooperation Jackson, down in Mississippi, the Southern Grassroots Economies Progect, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, the Fund for Democratic Communities, and others are working currently along these lines.

      1. JTFaraday

        I thought this article I read in Counterpunch the other day was interesting:

        Other Economies Are Possible

        I also thought it was interesting to learn– I think I read it in something you posted– that many of the New Deal programs big government liberals subsequently took credit for (and then rode on politically for decades) were modeled on local cooperative responses to the depression. Perhaps then some of the credit also lies in the agrarian cooperatives of the 19th century that Laurence Goodwyn outlines in Democratic Promise: The Populist Movement in America, a decidedly self organized and eventually quite extensive response to banker abuse.

        1. diptherio

          Thanks for that link. I actually kind of know that author. It’s a reprint of an article that first appeared on the Grassroots Economic Organizing website ( in 2006 or so. Glad to see CounterPunch picking up articles from our little niche site!

  14. sd

    The Last Day of Her Life was an incredibly moving article. A Life Well Lived might have been a better title. What is the purpose of end of life machines?

  15. Jim Haygood

    ‘I’m sick of hearing that there’s no money for such programs.’

    There’s nearly unlimited funding for the biggest program of all, the War on Drugs.

    Maybe ‘programs’ are the problem, not the solution.

    1. subgenius

      Poor second to the war on terror.

      If we are going to war on the basis of dictionary entries, can we please move rapidly forward with the wars on poverty, inequality and stupidity…

      1. Antifa

        Alas, war being the stupidest, stupidest thing humans do, a War on Stupidity would instantly self-extinguish. To begin it is to complete it.

        Or is this war being waged all around us, every day?

          1. Jim Haygood

            The war situation in Iraq has developed not necessarily to our advantage:

            BAGHDAD — The last Iraqi security forces fled the provincial capital of Ramadi on Sunday, as the city fell completely to the militants of the Islamic State, who ransacked the provincial military headquarters, seizing a large store of weapons, and killed people loyal to the government, according to security officials and tribal leaders.

            The fall of Ramadi to the Islamic State, despite intensified American airstrikes in recent weeks in a bid to save the city, represented the biggest victory so far this year for the extremist group.


            And just the day after our heroes took out the ISIS ‘gas minister’!

            Have these savages no respect for our air power?

            1. James Levy

              I’m no big believer in air power but really, all you have to do is stand your ground in a half-way well chosen position and call in air strikes when the enemy shows up to engage you. When you rule the skies and the other guy has no air suppression capability to speak of, it’s brain-dead simple to monitor his approach and hammer him when he has to concentrate in order to strike a blow. Such tactics call for zero initiative and only the basest level of discipline among the ground forces. The details of this SNAFU have got to be really ugly. The American military and press will lay all the blame on the Iraqis, but if I were an Iraqi I’d be badly shaken that American air assets couldn’t handle a stand-up encounter when ISIS was making no effort to hide their objective. Heads should roll, but the good old boy network in the military will cover the asses of whoever screwed this up.

              1. Jim Haygood

                If only Van Thieu and the ARVN had been reliable partners, our flag would still fly over Saigon!

                1. James Levy

                  You forced me: when the NVA (PAVN if you want to get technical) launched their Spring Offensive in 1972 and the USAF and naval air assets pulled out all the stops in supporting the SVA (which held its ground) the NVA offensive was crushed with heavy losses. So American air power can make a difference in these situations. That said, I think the Americans must have contributed to this goat fuck because Iraq is a whole lot easier for air operations than Vietnam was and today’s technology is half way to magic compared to what they had in 1972. Ramadi should have been held.

                    1. Procopius

                      Air power has been greatly oversold since 1915. The idea is that any military activity must make use of a logistical network, and every such network has “nodes” which can be blocked. In Germany in WWII the Germans simply showed they could make repairs faster than the air guys had ever dreamed possible. In Vietnam the NVA showed that they could simply walk around the supposed obstacles. The Internet was designed to overcome blocked nodes. It’s now well understood. The hope that air strikes will win the conflict in Iraq “on the cheap” is delusion.

                    2. Lambert Strether Post author

                      @Procopious Sorry, I was being snarky on the F-35. I meant that flying tub is such a piece of crap boondoggle that using it would guarantee the other guys won.

  16. Fool

    RE racist Brooklyn landlord piece in NYMag…

    Having looked at apartments in this area, I can confirm not only this story, but perhaps on a more tragic level, this type of racial discrimination occurring internally inside these communities themselves, e.g. a Mexican broker in Bushwick (a traditionally Latino neighborhood) personally explaining to me that white tenants are better for business and that preexisting (colored) tenants better gtfo.

  17. David

    Regarding Tyler Cowen “Don’t Be So Sure the Economy Will Return to Normal”:

    Crocodile tears, indeed, Lambert.

    It sounds like the example of university adjunct faculty (low wages, employment uncertainty) has finally penetrated the ideological cocoon of a right-wing economics professor. The phenomena of outsourcing and offshoring has been occurring for decades and over that time has climbed the skills ladder from unskilled factory labor to white collar and professional jobs today, all the while economists like Cowen were dismissing the complaints of workers affected. I expect Cowen now sees that even his graduate students cannot get a decent paying job.

    This reminds me James Goldsmith’s warning in 1994 to the deliberately obtuse Laura Tyson (and Charlie Rose):

    1. cwaltz

      It’s always the lack of personal responsibility, initiative, etc, etc until they look up and see their backsides are exposed. Conservatives amuse me with their stubborn insistence on sticking with a narrative until it’s almost too late to fix a problem because it’s become entrenched.

  18. Jill

    Torture is still US policy. We know some of that from Gitmo, some from Bagram, and some from renditions that are made by USGinc. to countries who do the torture for us. We also have torture in Homan Square Chicago. Most of our civlian prison system uses torture techniques and ICE is famous for it.

    NPR is very sophisticated in its propaganda. Usually they say: “Yes, torture is horrible, doesn’t work, illegal-thank god we’ve stopped doing that now.” Except we haven’t.

  19. Carla

    Re: Kansas could lose millions for limiting welfare recipients to $25 withdrawals from ATMs.

    This makes me so mad I can’t even see straight. Kansas and its criminally insane legislators and governor deserve to lose much more than millions.

    Just think — how nice for JP Morgan Chase and the other TBTF’s that profit from the SNAP and TANF business: since ATMs only dispense 20 dollar bills, withdrawals are actually limited to $20 each, and there’s a hefty fee deducted from EACH WITHDRAWAL that comes straight out of a poor family’s grocery basket, all for the benefit of mobster Jamie Dimon and his sociopath buddies…

    This is DISGUSTING.

    1. Jill

      Kansas, What is the Matter with you?

      Jeez, I hope it’s not on a day when you have to see the dentist, buy gas and pay a bill! Well, that never happens– so this is really a good idea Carla! And think of how much food you can buy for your family with all that money!

      Of course, if you hate people who are poor enough, they’ll just go away and everything will be so much better.

      OMG! this is truly horrible, cruel, sadistic and disgusting.

    2. cwaltz

      My favorite part is where the legislator tried to tell them that they might be running afoul of federal laws and they ignored it.

      If anyone else did their job this negligently they’d be FIRED and a company would be well within their rights for firing them. But as legislators being paid with tax dollars they get to go whoopsie and pull out the who could have imagined chorus.

    1. optimader

      RE:Siberia: This is one of those evolving big deals that has low awareness due to the inability of the organs of media that interpret reality for the masses to grasp scale. The fires have been growing y -on y , as well the rotting not so permafrost bogs.
      The OZ meteorologist have the El Nino needle wrapped around the peg. These are examples of the exogenous events that make 5 year plans silly.
      “historical data is not a guarantee of future performance” HAHAHA

  20. optimader

    ok, gotta love email..
    Кошка звонит в звонок к себе домой!
    A family in Russia had a cat that was allowed to walk by itself outside of their apartment building and get back home whenever it wanted. Thus being said, the can never failed to come back and waited in the lobby near the apartment door while somebody would notice its presence there. Sometimes the passing by neighbors rang the door bell to let the cat owners know their pet is here. However, starting from some weeks ago they started noticing that the bell rings when the cat arrives, however there is no a trace of neighbors around. At first they didn’t pay much attention to this fact, however later decided to place a camera and see how does this happen? This is what the camera revealed…

    1. Marko

      Cat : ” Drats , it looks like I’ll have to do this myself. Where’s a servant when you need one ? “

  21. kareninca

    Kansas screws welfare recipients. Meanwhile, I just managed to enrage (and I mean enrage) a number of Palo Alto, CA hausfraus, by suggesting that they clean their own homes and tend their own kids, rather than complain about petty theft by their house serfs. As soon as someone posted re an incident of theft, the replies came in thick and steady, urging calling in the strong arm of the law to grill the serf, and recommending running constant webcams. My suggestion that hiring someone for a tiny fraction of one’s own wage might cause a bit of envy or resentment, and that maybe one might get to know one’s employee as a human being, or pay them nearly as much per hour as one earns oneself, was not welcome to put it mildly (one poster pointed out that she had never had a problem when she lived in Cape Town: that her nanny, her au pair and her housekeeper there never stole).

    I suppose that the types who would respond to a “how do I deal with household help theft” post, would not be social justice types, haha. More like “I’ve got mine, and now I want to crush anyone who might take some” types.

    We’re back in Edwardian England.

  22. jgordon

    Sorry, but that “solar road” story is ridiculous. I know that links don’t always include stuff where those who post them agree with them–but this is just preying on the ignorant. Let’s do some simple accounting, which I had to hunt around for elsewhere than the deliriously ecstatic posted link… because for some reason these numbers weren’t in it. I can’t imagine why.

    The 330 foot road, when complete in 2016, will have cost 3.7 million dollars in its entirety. The expected electrical output will be enough to power three houses when it’s complete. 3.7 million installation plus ongoing largish regular maintenance costs in perpetuity. And they are bragging about this producing enough electricity to power an entire household in the HP article.


    I mean seriously, I’m flabbergasted that at least a few gullible readers of NC actually went to that link and got excited about our new solar road future.If this is what counts as a solution to our energy predicament among the progressive intelligentsia, then Jesus Christ we’re all doomed.

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