Links 1/21/16

Evidence grows for giant planet on fringes of Solar System Nature

Into the wood: America’s first modern tall timber building rises in Minneapolis Minnesota Post (Chuck L).

US bull market era on borrowed time FT

Markets’ Panic Incongruent With Economic Reality—For Now WSJ

One Gallon of Milk Is Now Worth About Two Gallons of Oil: Chart Bloomberg. Good thing the market is composed of rational actors. Otherwise, we might really be in trouble.

Why Are Corporations Hoarding Trillions? NYT

Red-Hot Property Markets Cool as Rich Investors Retrench WSJ

Property investors highly exposed to interest rate rises Macrobusiness

Lagarde wins backing for new IMF term FT. That was fast.

Today’s Slaves Often Work For Enterprises That Destroy The Environment NPR


Davos Mood Dimmed as Markets Continue to Slide WSJ

Davos leaders look beyond 2016’s early market mayhem Reuters

With Inequality Rising, Billionaire Steve Schwarzman Expresses Surprise That American Voters Are Unhappy International Business Times. Blackstone’s CEO….

Here come the robots: Davos bosses brace for big technology shocks Reuters. The bosses?

Seven ways technology has changed us Martin Wolf, FT. “[T]he new technologies have reinforced tendencies towards greater inequality, in at least three respects. One is the rise of ‘winner-takes-all’ markets in which a few successful people, businesses and products dominate the world economy. Another is the rise of globalisation. A last is the explosion in financial trading and other rent-extracting financial activities.”

Signals of an unsustainable future coming from Davos the unbalanced evolution of homo sapiens (ChrisSp).

Three business leaders on how capitalism and the 1% can help fight inequality Ford Foundation. Not The Onion!

In Davos, a Chance for Entrepreneurs to Network With Top Leaders NYT. “Top leaders.”

I really should have just filed all this under Guillotine Watch…

Imperial Collapse Watch

Who Runs the Pentagon? The Nation

Emails Show That Even Military Commanders Have to ‘Vent on Occasion’ at Guantanamo VICE. “We are the good guys.”

Navy SEAL Turns Over Picture of Bin Laden’s Body, Faces Investigation of Business Ties The Intercept

Julian Assange will be questioned at Embassy of Ecuador in London over Sweden sex attack allegations Telegraph


Syria – Some Preliminary Positioning For An Endgame Moon of Alabama

China wades into the Iran-Saudi swamp Pepe Escobar, RT (Re Silc).

Why Western attempts to moderate Islam are dangerous Al Jazeera


Bernanke: Don’t Worry, China’s $28 Trillion Debt is an “Internal Problem” Global Economic Analysis (E Mayer).

Chinese officials discuss bitcoin and their own digital currency Sidney Morning Herald

China’s dream of rail link to S-E Asia coming true Straits Times


‘We will come to Athens and burn them’: political protest returns to Greece Guardian

Greek anarchists organise for refugees as ‘state fails’ Al Jazeera

Italy’s Lending Recovery at Risk as Renzi Bad Bank Plan Stalls Bloomberg


Wall Street isn’t worried about Hillary Clinton’s plan CNN (IG). “‘We continue to believe Clinton would be one of the better candidates for financial firms,’ wrote Jaret Seiberg of Guggenheim Partners in a note to clients analyzing her plan.” From October; still true.

Goldman Sachs contributions surge despite attacks Politico

Donald Trump Hits Ted Cruz, Says ‘Goldman Sachs Owns Him’ Bloomberg (Re Silc).

Sanders prepares to challenge Clinton on Super Tuesday and beyond WaPo. So Clinton realizes she can’t knock out Sanders in the early rounds. Hence, Clinton flails, tries random combinations.

Clinton campaign accuses Obama appointee of trying to smear Clinton McClatchy. So Obama’s untouchable, except when Clinton does it? More flailing.

What Agency Is Claiming Hillary Received SAP Emails? emptywheel

Are Planned Parenthood and other groups part of ‘the establishment’? Clinton scoffs: ‘I wish it were’ WaPo

Poll: David Jolly and Alan Grayson lead their primaries Tampa Bay Times. With 45% undecided, however.

Florida’s Presidential-Politics Bubble Looks Ready to Burst New York Magazine

Ted Cruz is not eligible to run for president: A Harvard Law professor close-reads the Constitution Salon. Not Tribe, this time.

Oregon governor calls on feds to act against armed group AP. Of course, if #BlackLivesMatter occupied a lemonade stand, the DHS Fusion Center switchboard would light up like a Christmas tree, and SWAT teams and armored vehicles would be on the scene in a heartbeat. #JustSaying.

Where has this Barack Obama been? If Obama had governed like this in 2009, he’d be a transformational, historic president Rick Perlstein, Salon. Opportunity utterly squandered. I mean, who could have predicted that the party that shut down the government and impeached a sitting President over a ******* wouldn’t accept the proffered right hand of “bipartisan fellowship”? Either Obama is a fool, or he wasn’t acting in good faith (as Perlstein assumes he was). And Obama’s not a fool.

Flint Water

How government officials failed the people of Flint, Mich. Editorial Board, WaPo. “What started as an attempt to save money….”

No, Gov. Snyder, Flint’s water wasn’t poisoned by “Government”: It was by your Appointee Juan Cole

As Water Problems Grew, Officials Belittled Complaints From Flint NYT

Class Warfare

Race, Class, and Social Reproduction in the Urban Present: The Case of the Detroit Water and Sewage System Viewpoint Magazine.

Naked Self-Interest is a Recipe for Social Dissolution (a response to Branko Milanovic) A Blog about the Evolution of Civilizations

Race Without Class: the “Bougie” Sensibility of Ta-Nehisi Coates Counterpunch (WAB)

Inter-group violence among early Holocene hunter-gatherers of West Turkana, Kenya Nature. I.e., war.

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. Carla

    Re: Davos — “I really should have just filed all this under Guillotine Watch… ”

    You can say that again, Lambert.

    Gorgeous antidote!

    1. MikeNY

      Steve Schwarzman is ramping up his campaign for “Tin-eared Baby-eating Capitalist of the Year”.

      1. Optimader

        Seems to me a curious person would be trying to understand why not expressing surprise. No less, isnt it poor form for a ceo to ever express suprise??

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Not even at his own surprise birthday party.

          “Everything under control here. I knew you guys were planning on this surprise birfthday party. I saw it on the surveillance camera in the coat room.”

      2. polecat

        he’s one of those davos men pulling oars on the trireme i was opining about in a previous thread a day or so ago………….

        1. ambrit

          I like to paraphrase Kipling and describe it as “Shouldering the Rich Mans’ Burden.”
          A trireme suggests that these are the members of a fairly stable and civilized society. I prefer to think of them as Vikings, in a single oar deck, sweeping out to raid and pillage. (That actually happened on the Seine River in what is today France. Later, those reivers landed in England, and took over. After that, the World.) Davos man does have a pedigree and history behind him.
          “Behind every great fortune there is a crime.” Attributed to Balzac.

          1. polecat

            I guess what i’m trying to convey is a visual of retribution for what the policies of these very wealthy & powerful humans are doing to the rest of us….like what the morlock are to the eloi (to use a literary reference)…………and I DO want to see retribution done to these people for what they continue to do to their presumed lessors !!!

    1. Optimader

      I heard on france24 that the bho admin originally turneddown a Flint request to be declared a disaster area in order to enlist federal assistance as this is a man-made disaster.
      So if the old nuke plant in Bridgman Michigan started dumping contaminated reactor coolant into the largest body of fresh water in the world, would that be left to the local municipality and the state of michigan to sort out, maybe with the assistance of the nrc and epa to calculate fine?

      I do puzzle on what the water testing policy is in Flint, and who was not responding accordingly? Right offhand seems like criminal negligence as a minimim or am i missing something?

        1. Optimader

          I was referring to the Great Lakes..

          The Great Lakes — Superior, Huron, Michigan, Ontario and Erie — make up the largest body of fresh water on Earth, accounting for one-fifth of the freshwater surface on the planet at 6 quadrillion gallons. The area of all the Great Lakes is 95,160 square miles (246,463 square kilometers).

      1. JohnL

        Here’s the quote that addresses your question directly – one opinion at least:

        The same day, the governor accepted the resignation of Dan Wyant, the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Both Snyder’s apology and Wyant’s resignation came on the heels of a letter to the governor from the state-appointed Flint Water Advisory Task Force. The task force blatantly blamed MDEQ for Flint’s water problems, MLive reported, writing to the governor, “We believe the primary responsibility for what happened in Flint rests with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).”

        It’ll probably take a court case – I hope criminal – to get to the bottom of it.

      2. zapster

        The Michigan State Department of Environmental Quality is responsible for testing. It’s run by a Snyder crony, and it engaged in fraud in it’s testing procedures, requiring residents to *flush the pipes* before taking the sample. Predictably, the tests showed no danger. Go figure. The real condition of the water was uncovered by a team of researchers from MIT.

    2. drb48

      The damage to the lives of Flint residents, and to their trust in government, is beyond measure.

      Of course, properly placed, the damage should not be to trust in government per se but in Republican government. This is how conservatives govern, people. And what they’ve done for Flint they’ll gladly do for the rest of the country – where they haven’t already – given the chance. Don’t give it to them.

      1. theinhibitor

        So I’m gathering no one bothered to read Snyder’s willingly revealed emails about the Flint water fiasco? Because everyone on this site and in what I will call, politically motivated media, sounds asinine.

        Flint has had a long string of absolutely corrupt and despicable mayors. There last mayor was a convicted felon who had counts of tax evasion. These ‘politicians’ depleted Flint’s funds and put no effort in rebuilding the infrastructure of the town.

        Snyder knew that any ‘elected’ major would be disastrous. So he appointed an emergency official who had no ties to Flint, but had major financial experience. Because, lets face it, all of the Detroit area is in a fiscal mess. This was upheld by the supreme court of Michigan.

        Now, the events played out like so:
        1. The city officials voted to move the water source from Detroit (which was over-charging them) to the Lake.
        2. The cost was set at 60 million for the new pipe.
        3. They decided to setup an interim measure, and use the water in a local river. The appointee upheld this decision and signed off on it. Snyder then signed off on it.
        4. The groundwater-pipe infrastructure had many lead pipes in them. However, the water at the time wasn’t as corrosive as the water from the river. Thus, no one knew that the water from the river would be a problem.
        5. A PhD water expert was called in to verify that the river water wasn’t going to be a problem. Unknowing of the many lead pipes STILL IN USE he signed off on it. Snyder then signed off on it
        6. Then the water analysis results came in that the water had higher than anticipated levels of lead, but that the levels of lead were still BELOW THE FEDERAL LIMIT.

        Let me say that again, to those that think Snyder is at fault: the federal water regulations actually show that Flint’s water is NOT above the limit deemed harmful to human life. The media craze is because the slightly-more-corrosive water also removed the rust in many pipes, leaving the water discolored.

        But of course, everybody here plays the blame game without taking the time to actually read the pertinent documents. The fault should lie with the previous city officials that saved a buck by not removing and replacing the lead pipes. Snyder has no play in this whatsoever. Everything he did was in everyone’s best interest at the time. This isn’t a racial issue. It also isn’t a state department issue. This is a local government ripping off its citizens for YEARS and now putting the blame on the governor because he’s Republican.

        Unbelievable how people form such strong opinions without primary sources.

        1. YankeeFrank

          You wrote:

          “4. The groundwater-pipe infrastructure had many lead pipes in them. However, the water at the time wasn’t as corrosive as the water from the river. Thus, no one knew that the water from the river would be a problem.”

          So the more corrosive river water caused the lead pipes to leach more lead than the original water. It sounds like a failure at multiple levels of government including the “PhD” they brought in who should’ve studied not just the water itself but what potential interactions it would have with the existing infrastructure. You admit that Snyder signed off on the plan, so he failed as well as the local government. How could such a huge, potentially serious change be based on the admittedly flawed opinion of one “expert”? It also sounds like the lead pipes were not a serious problem when they were carrying the “less corrosive” water. All that said, I’m not sure how the media reported story is so off. The government, both local and state, failed to protect the public, and many people were poisoned with lead and other toxins.

          1. Cwaltz

            My favorite part of this screed is “Snyder knew any elected mayor would be a disaster.” You’d figure with his psychic abilities that he’d be able to have known his OWN choice would be a disaster as well.

          2. theinhibitor

            You clearly don’t work in a scientific profession. You’re essentially saying that the PhD should have some superhuman powers to realize that the pipes in a largely unknown water distribution system contain lead that would react to a PH difference of .3.

            He did what he does everyday: go to the water distribution center, test the water, run an analysis, and compare results. He found that it was OK. You can’t expect him to go into 100,000 residents homes, who all have, btw, the potential to have lead in their own pipes, to find out whether the water would be okay. You do understand the whole crux of scientific investigation, namely limiting the variables involved so you CAN make a logical decision.

            I also like how you disregarded the main point: which is EVEN NOW THE LEAD CONTAMINANT IS BELOW FEDERAL LIMITS.

            So please, tell me how Synder is at fault for following the fed’s regulations? I don’t hear anyone blaming Obama’s administration in the media.

        2. Darthbobber

          “Flint has had a long string of absolutely corrupt and despicable mayors. There last mayor was a convicted felon who had counts of tax evasion. These ‘politicians’ depleted Flint’s funds and put no effort in rebuilding the infrastructure of the town.”
          Since you’re so big on the “facts” (at least as you see them) perhaps I should mention that of all the mayors to serve under the current city charter, (all mayors since 1974), exactly ONE was ever convicted of anything at all. That would be Don Williamson (mayor 2003-2009), whose felony conviction was from 1962 (41 years before he became mayor) and seems to have involved mainly bad check scams.

          The people who handled the samples sent to Virginia Tech
          also found it “odd” that the EPA testing had come in at levels below the cutoff for drinking.

          Of course, the system-gaming “pre-flushing” method that Snyder’s boys insisted on may explain some of that. I suspect your “defense” on this is ultimately going to lead to another smoking gun.

          You also seem to blithely ignore the fact that those primary sources you love so much also make it clear that Snnyder’s people circled the wagons, ignored all results that didn’t fit the “all is well” narrative, and attempted to pooh-pooh the citizenry’s mounting concerns.

          If they can’t come up with a better apologia than the one you’re trying, they’re in trouble.

          So the governor appoints the person who makes the decision, backs them to the hilt every step of the way and tries to stiff-arm and deflect all concerns until the crisis becomes undeniable. And it has nothing at all to do with him. “Tell it to the Marines.”

        3. zapster

          Actually, the city officials did not vote to switch to Flint River water. In fact, it was never discussed in any city council meeting. It was entirely the decision of the city manager.

  2. aet

    If Mr. Cruz is in fact a natural-born American, then any person born anywhere on this planet to an American mother would also be a “natural-born American” for this phrase of the US Constitution. Including those so born on or in Israeli-occupied territory, right? Seems similar to how they used to determine race for “legal purposes” in the antebellum US South – so that “natural-born American” actually means “of American Blood” as determined by the race/nationality of one or the other of her parents.

    Seems wrong to me, but I’m not American, so what do I know. I had thought that being born in the territories of the US was all that that condition required – silly me! Foreign born “Americans” naturalized by virtue of an Act of Congress of 1790s also qualify, eh?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      George Washington was not born an American.

      There were only British colonies at the time. So, he wasn’t natural born, and a host of other presidents and founders of the nation.

      But I think this was an exception covered in the Constitution.

      The other question is, if the baby was born with his/her American mother straddling the border, say between Canada and the US, what happens then?

      Are we talking about fractional citizenship?

      Is that concept for more advanced people, smarter people, people who have at least grade school education to grasp? Will they look down on those who insist on integer citizenship?

      1. craazyboy

        It’s not a problem if they’re twins and the mother is Canadian, but if not, that does present a perplexing problem. I imagine Congress may debate that one for decades.

    2. andyb

      Just the fact that the Founders used a distinctive modifier is proof enough that there were at least two classes of citizenship. A letter from John Jay, Chief Justice written to President Washington reveals that many were concerned about any hint of foreign influence on a future President; thus both parents had to be born on US soil. What I find interesting is that the Harvard Professor skirts the issue, rather than spelling it out. Apparently he doesn’t want the dots connected that Obama’s Presidency is illegal.

    1. aet

      So it seems the left’s “protest/abstention vote” of 2010 against the Democrats in Congress for not moving quickly enough to implement reforms after Obama was elected blew up in their faces, huh? And now they blame Obama, not the Republicans or their own failure to “get out the vote” in 2010?

      Incompetent whiners. Get out and vote next time .

      1. Lambert Strether

        Ah, yes. “Fire the voters.”

        Who did vote. They just voted “No.” In pure party terms, 2010 cleared out a lot of the DINO deadwood. So did 2014; even the vile Steve Israel is gone, now. Perhaps Wasserman Schultz will be next, who knows?

        When the party leadership figures out that kicking the left is no longer adaptive behavior — your comment exemplifies this attitude — they will change. Or else, as a party, they will die, like the Whigs. And good riddance.

        1. polecat

          cuzz we’re all just f#ckin retarded, is that right aet? who are you ….the Chicago Ballerinas’ apprentice?!

      2. Kokuanani

        I don’t recall Obama embarking on a “get-out-the-vote” tour in 2010, or using ANY media to remind folks that 2010 was a census year, which would lead to redistricting by state legislatures. As a result, many governorships and state houses were lost, and we’ll be stuck with the results until 2020.

        But Obama was too busy following Rahm’s advice to kick the hippie re****s. Once he was in the WH, he just didn’t give a shit.

        1. Steven D.

          Remember Obama’s spokesman ridiculing the “professional left”? Even so, it wasn’t “the left” that stayed home. It was the working class, the poor and the young. They vote when they’re motivated and Obama and the Democrats made sure they weren’t.

          The big tell the Ds didn’t know what they were doing or intentionally fumbled the ball was that they didn’t pass omnibus budget reconciliation. They had the votes and could have gotten the public option, a jobs program, raising the payroll tax threshold, Wall Street taxes, all in one bill. It’s how Bush got all his tax cuts for the rich. It wasn’t the big bad Wepubwicans that stopped them from doing that.

          1. Steven D.

            Then there was Obama’s “pivot to the deficit” in 2010. Idiotic economics and idiotic politics. Either he is powerfully delusional or a saboteur. Take your pick.

          2. nippersdad

            Not to mention Obama, himself, calling out his activist base as a lot of “sanctimonious purists that just need to eat their peas”. Yeah, that is a good way to motivate the troops/s.

        2. Propertius

          I don’t recall Obama embarking on a “get-out-the-vote” tour in 2010, or using ANY media to remind folks that 2010 was a census year, which would lead to redistricting by state legislatures.

          Quite the contrary, in fact, starting with the 2008 election itself. Unlike other campaigns, where the DNC sunk considerable effort into a “combined campaign” that tried to help state and local Democratic candidates, the DNC (newly moved to Chicago) ignored pretty much everything except the Presidential campaign. It was, as many state party officials (myself among them) ruefully observed, “all about the ‘O'”.

      3. nippersdad

        When the dogs won’t eat the dog food, it may be time to look into changing brands. Any competent person would know that. Forty five percent of the electorate claiming to be independents cannot be wrong.

      4. cwaltz

        The people we elect are supposed to represent us, the electorate, not the other way around. The onus is on representation to show how and why they should represent people. If they fail to make a good case for themselves(by essentially not being much of an alternative to the GOP) that’s on THEM, not the left.

        Part of the problem, is people like you, who seem to think and have encouraged the Democratic Party to think they own the vote of those on the left, even if they ignore them or their views when it comes to discussions on single payer, Social Security expansion, austerity, foreign entanglements, etc, etc. I have no responsibility to vote for someone who I feel does not represent my interests. If the discussion is going to be a discussion on austerity or austerity and HOW MUCH to cut retirees income(or raise the retirement age) so that the rich don’t have to pay more no matter how I vote than that’s not on me. If the question posed to me is HOW MUCH to cut school lunches so we can continue to interfere over in the ME, whether I vote Democratic or Republican, then that isn’t on me. That’s on Democrats for failing to provide me with an alternative and adequately providing me candidates that represent my views and make me feel represented. My vote isn’t an entitlement, it’s meant to be earned.

      5. Oregoncharles

        So democracy is not your bag, then?

        The voters in 2010 and 2014 delivered a judgement on the “Democrats'” performance, in way our system gives them: they voted for the Other Guys, or they didn’t vote. I wish they’d voted Green instead of the latter, but apparently that’s a bridge too far.

        And after that, the Democrats continued their performance, and apparently blamed the voters for getting it wrong.

        Life is tough.

      6. Darthbobber

        The trouble with this brilliant line is that, for all the noise made, there was, turnoutwise, no measurable abstention/protest dropoff effect among those fun-to-demonize leftists/progressives. Who basically held their noses and marched to the polls in the usual numbers. The horrible democratic performance was down to other factors, not the least of which was the sticking to the “Summer of Recovery” narrative for months after the numbers were making it clear that that was a pipe dream.

    2. nycTerrierist

      Great piece by Rob Heger, thanks. Ultimate parsing of the propagandist-in-chief.

      I was disappointed by Perlstein. Expected more from him…

    3. Oregoncharles

      A slander on weasels. We’ve had several, and they’re great fun if you’re not a rodent or a rabbit.

      The wording of your link is hilarious, though.

  3. abynormal

    re: Planet 9…”Alessandro Morbidelli, an orbital-dynamics specialist at the University of the Côte d’Azur in Nice, France, who has reviewed the paper in detail, says he is “quite convinced” that the planet exists. Others are not so sure.”

    (head scratching) all that discipline…Are Their Thumbs Broke?: ” a simple trick: close one eye, stretch out your arm and slowly pass your thumb over a bright dot in the
    sky. If the dot slowly dims out when your thumb passes over it, it’s a planet.
    If it quickly blinks out, it’s a distant star.” bahahahahahaaaaaaa

    “Stars are beautiful, but they must not take an active part in anything, they must just look on forever. It is a punishment put on them for something they did so long ago that no star now knows what it was.” J.M. Barrie

    1. craazyman

      The Nibiru crowd is going to be insufferable after this news. The smiling gloating faces, the high-spirited fillips, the haughty arrogant prancing in the manner of a diva NFL wide receiver who just scored an 80 yard touchdown. Brace yourselves. I’m not sure if somebody should gloat upon news that NASA has admitted Nibiru is real, but such is the human ego.

      Ed Wood was a genus channeler but his movie making skills were raw, let us say. He had potential, but his mind was so dazzled by his genius that the craft of expressing it so that mortals could see and know, that was slightly underdeveloped

      1. Vatch

        I guess we’ll all have to learn to read Akkadian. The good news is that after we learn the cuneiform writing system, we’ll be well on the way to being able to read other languages, such as Sumerian, Babylonian, Ugaritic, and Old Persian.

        1. craazyman

          after a day in the gold mines, yes.

          let’s hope the Nibirueans permit organized labor and a 40 hour week.

          If we’re mining their gold with a “gig economy” then Katy bar the door, you won’t have time to pee.

          1. ambrit

            And we’re planning to mine the asteroids! Something not quite right here. Sounds a bit too much like a Space Opera pot boiler by “Elron” to me. (Which tome of revealed truth gat made into a movie by acolytes of The Master. A bad film, which unfortunately wasn’t bad enough to be Camp.)

            1. Synoia

              We are not “planning” to mine the asteroids.

              The cost of getting there is so great it cannot be done with rockets.

              Space elevator, maybe.

              1. ambrit

                Lots of feasible ways to get from Earth to low orbit. That’s the hard part. After that, time is the real cost. Slow orbit ‘slingshot’ path, solar sail, fission ion rocket, some yet to be perfected ‘field effect?’
                The Space Elevator waits for the perfection of super strong cable like construction materials. Then there is the Laser launch system, the ‘Sky Hook’, the piggyback launcher (being worked on now,) and unknown stuff being looked at in the New Skunkworks.
                Sooner or later, Terrestrial ecological concerns will drive mineral extraction industries offworld. I mean, what’s hidden in the Moon, much less the asteroids?
                The one thing that worries me is an Andromeda Strain. (The boffins are finding more and more complex organic molecules in the spectroscopic signatures of asteroids, comets and the moons of other planets.)
                I see it as IBG/YBG versus IGY.

                1. Vatch

                  Andromeda strain: yes, that could be trouble. We still haven’t solved malaria, and now we have the Zika virus to worry about.

                  One fact that can provide some reassurance is that an extraterrestrial pathogen would very likely have evolved to specifically infect creatures that are completely different from us. For example, their proteins (if they have proteins) might be based on several amino acids that we don’t even use.

                2. JTMcPhee

                  I recall a sci-fi story themed around the disruptive nature of superfine, super-strong fibers particularly used by the anticipated asteroid colonials to corral and feed all that hard-rock and organic wealth to the groundbounders, “Thin Edge,” A fun little read, just a short story,, part of a much longer human story of course…

                  Imagine the possibilities! Bored people stretching monomolecular invisible strands across every random opening where their fellow humans might sashay, slicing said wanderers into salami! Table legs, elevator doors, even across whole streets and stuff! Shower billions of short pieces down on “the enemy,” for true mass casualties and demolition of structures and materiel! (oops, already been sorta done, !) Murder and assassination? dare you to find the weapon, you CSI guys and gals! Monomolecular Mayhem!

                  I’m also waiting for true holographic projection, not distinguishable from real present actual spaces and people — imagine the fun our fellow humans will have! The elevator doors open, you step into what looks like the car, and whoopeeee! fall down the shaft! Whole new opportunities for special implantable detectors to see if what you are “seeing” is actually there! Maybe everyone who can afford it will be chipped and equipped, with goggles or implanted Really Cool Lenses to detect false realities? And since this is one part of the war of all against all, with opportunities for the arms/weapons/”defence” peddlers to develop and peddle threats and counter-threats and countercountercountercountercountercountercounterthreats, and charging the cost directly to your implanted Everything Chipset?

                  Effing stupid humans…

                  1. ambrit

                    Love Randall Garretts work. Thanks for this link.
                    Monomolecular filaments are used, almost exactly for what you envision, in John Brunners’ “Stand on Zanzibar.”

              2. Vatch

                But it’s fun and exciting when they do it in movies, in books, and on television! For example, “The Expanse”. When a character poured his drink on the rotating Ceres station, we could see the Coriolis effect as the water flowed at an odd angle to the cup!

      2. diptherio

        To quote @atstephenbell from the twittersphere:

        bowie leaves us and then a 9th planet appears, i don’t need to read your science article

  4. allan

    The Cowliphate goes Indiana Jones and the National Wildlife Refuge of Doom, rummaging through a Native American artifact collection at Malheur and claiming they want to restore the items to their rightful owners.
    Best watch through Twitter and then read the comments there.

  5. Frenchguy

    I wasn’t following US politics as much as I am now but I thought there was a clear consensus in 2008 that the clincher for McCain was that the Panama Canal was US territory at the time of his birth and that if it weren’t the case, he couldn’t have run.

    Now what I’d be more interested in is: who has standing to sue ? And at what point ?

    In any case, great job Trump, as always…

    1. Steven D.

      Disqualifying Cruz would set a bad precedent. One of his parents was a citizen. To me that’s end of story. No one questioned the citizenship of all those missionary kids, like Henry Luce, born in China. But of course they were Anglo Saxon and their parents were spreading Americanism overseas.

      1. bob

        Parents set the bar for citizenship. There is a high bar spelled out for prez, black letter law in the constitution- Must be Born in the US.

        He never should have been in the race.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps a broader interpretation of what US territory is would be in Cruz’s advantage.

      One could argue that even Europe is US territory or Japan.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Not only the status of the Canal Zone, but also that both parents were American and his father was there “serving the US government”. Penalizing people’s kids for that would be just too much. It’s a very old, ummm, clarification.

  6. craazyboy

    “Help Me, Janet” – Beach Boys

    Well since the market’s been down I ‘ve been goin’ outta my head
    Come in late at night and in the mornin’ I just lay in bed

    Well, Janet you look so fine (look so fine)
    And I know it wouldn’t take much time
    For you to help me Janet
    Help me get the market back up

    Help me Janet
    Help, help me Janet
    Help me Janet
    Help, help me Janet
    Help me Janet
    Help, help me Janet
    Help me Janet
    Help, help me Janet
    Help me Janet
    Help, help me Janet
    Help me Janet
    Help, help me Janet
    Help me Janet yeah
    Get the market back up

    Mr. Market was gonna be my life
    And I was gonna be rich
    But Mr. Market took a turn for the worse
    And getting rich is a bitch

    Well, Janet you caught my eye (caught my eye)
    And I can give you lotsa reasons why
    You gotta help me Janet
    Help me get the market back up

    Help me Janet
    Help, help me Janet
    Help me Janet
    Help, help me Janet
    [Repeat to the end of Eternity]

    1. craazyman

      when you’re down and falling
      and you need a helping hand
      when nothing, I mean nothing is going right

      Call up the Fed and ask for me
      and soon I will be there
      to bail out even your ____ (I can’t think of anything for that beat, it has to rhyme with “right’ and be three syllables da – da – da)

      You just call out my name,
      and you know where ever I am
      I’ll start printing, to free you again.
      Winter, spring, summer, or fall,
      Every time your profits fall
      I’ll be there, yeah, yeah,
      to bail you again

      1. craazyman

        It was bad to use “fall” two times in a row, but I have to work and I only had 90 seconds for this one

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You think it’s possible to get an all-animals (all except the human animal) band to perform this?

          A wolf at the howling section and a stomping elephant for bass.

      2. craazyman

        it could be “darkest night” but that was the original James Taylor lyric and one needs to change enough of the words so it’s sort of its own thing. LOL. There is a craft to fake songs!

        1. craazyman

          also “free you again” isn’t very good. it’s too nebulous and not nearly sharp enough as a focused idea.

          this is only a very rough draft, frankly it’s not very good and wasn’t worth posting, but it’s sort of a depiction of process. the important thing is you need to stick as much as possible to the syllabic beat and pace and “music” of the words of the original. If the new words wander too far from the rhythm of the real words, it sort of falls apart

          1. craazyboy

            Whenever I get stuck getting the right number of syllables for the beat, I just expect the singer to fake it. Make believe you’re Bill Murray doing his Vegas singer act. Actually, the Beach Boys do that a lot.

            It’s like what the South Park creators say about their animation quality. They didn’t want art to get in the way of the message.

        1. craazyman

          that could work:

          Call up the Fed and ask for “Joe”
          and soon he will be there
          to bail out even your CDO

  7. craazyboy

    “One Gallon of Milk Is Now Worth About Two Gallons of Oil: Chart Bloomberg. Good thing the market is composed of rational actors. Otherwise, we might really be in trouble.”

    I’ve been working on a theory for this, but I have no idea if it’s right.

    Commodity futures traders bought too much oil, and now it all showed up.
    They didn’t buy enough milk, and this is why we need internet connected refrigerators.

  8. abynormal

    Deep Bow Appreciation Lambert for linking ‘Naked self-interest’ rebuttal…
    “It is interesting that you are right now in Moscow, attending the Gaidar Forum. Yegor Gaidar, of course was one of the most important architects of the Russian economic collapse during the 1990s. Russia provides a good illustration of the general principles that we are discussing.” (cough…EXPERIENCING)

    i remember a read from Matt Taibbi, shortly after returning to the states from Russia, where he was aghast at the resemblance of our ‘killing fields economy’ to that of his decade reporting on Russia’s economic mascara. (really freaked me out)

    Turchin: My main argument is logical, not empirical. You cannot have a well-functioning society in which everybody, or even a majority, are pursuing solely self-interest. This applies to the whole society, and to its parts, including the economy. Good institutions are not going to work in the absence of internalized prosocial values held by a sufficient number of people. Telling anybody to pursue their naked self-interest is not a recipe for greater social good. It’s a recipe for social dissolution. (imo, this is so noShitSherlock that it actually proves the Branko’s are on their last stand)

    1. Foy

      Agreed! It was perfectly articulated. A great takedown and shredding of the ‘self interest’ philosophy. Should be spread far and wide.

  9. allan

    The Fight for $15 needs to rebrand: $15 an hour isn’t enough in Westchester

    A new report from a labor-backed advocacy group claims a $15-an-hour minimum wage could be outdated in Westchester by 2021.

    The analysis from the National Employment Law Project suggests a single adult in Westchester County would have to make a $22.14 hourly wage in order to cover basic living expenses in 2021, the year Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $15-an-hour minimum wage proposal would be fully implemented.

    In truth, it’s probably already outdated in Westchester by 2016.

    1. tegnost

      As I recall. in seattle after the vote biz leaders and politicians all jumbled together in a panic making the wage not go fully into effect for 7 years. Right now I think it’s around 12 (quick check shows more than 500 employees and no health insurance 13/hr, 12.50 with insurance, less than 500 employees with no insurance 12/hr or 10.50 if insured or getting more than 1.50/hr in tips) and just like in westchester, by the time it’s 15 it’ll need to be 20+.

    2. cwaltz

      I don’t understand why there isn’t research being done. It’s not that complicated to figure out things like percentage of income that would cover rent since there are already formulas in place(HUD pegs a reasonable amount of income as 28%, many rentals will allow 33%) Why in the world aren’t the advocates using local data to make their cases? In my region, a person is required to make 3 times the rent monthly. A rental that costs $450(modest one bedroom) would require an income of $1350 a month. With a bi weekly budget I’d need to clear $675 every 2 weeks or roughly over $8.50 an hour on a full time 40 hour week basis to even be ALLOWED to rent. I can make an even stronger argument that the wages should be $9 an hour when you consider that we are looking at pre tax income and at least 8% of that wage will go to payroll taxes and won’t be seen by the worker again until they are older. I live in the Appalachian region so even $10.10 would allow workers some self sufficiency here as long as the hours offered were full time. Now mind you, many employers in the region don’t even offer the $9 an hour wage. My third makes minimum wage(and his employer wonders why they can’t find help. They’re scheduling him for 45 hours a week even though they initially hired him “part time.”) Even my second has to deal with inconsistent income(partially her own fault because she stubbornly is failing to look out for her own interests even though I’ve explained that this particular job is holding her back from being out on her own.) The oldest is the only one who financially could leave the nest(he makes $12.60 an hour) and did. *sigh*

      1. bob

        Anyone who does any research quickly finds out minimum wage isn’t close to covering much of anything. Using their own math on housing, there is pretty much no place in the US that will allow living on less than 30% of your take home pay, the general rule of thumb.

        No research needed. It’s staring them in the face.

      2. 3.14e-9

        Is this what you had in mind?

        Click on the map to get data for your state. For some states, there also is a calculator to help determine how much you need to earn to meet all basic household expenses. Taxes are factored in.

        Also check out the report by the Economic Policy Institute:

        What Families Need to Get By
        EPI’s 2015 Family Budget Calculator

        Or just do a search for “EPI Basic Family Budget Calculator,” and it will take you directly to a page where you type in your zip code and number of people in your household. You can adjust it on your own; for example, I work from home and so have much lower transportation costs than they calculate. But it’s a rough idea, in any case.

    3. Vatch

      Different locations have different costs of living. In many parts of Alabama and Mississippi, a minimum wage of $15.00 would be great. In Manhattan or Silicon Valley, it would be deficient. The federal minimum wage should be raised, and the states with higher costs of living should raise their minimum wages above the federal level. That’s already the case in many places, except the federal baseline is too low.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Certainly in areas where $250,000 a year is middle class, the min. wage needs to be adjusted to account for that.

  10. abynormal

    BestHunkerTheFuckDown…The Beast are about to eat their own: “This time last year in Davos there was a very different environment, it was quite benign. The issue was the haves and the have nots, it wasn’t: ‘are we all going to have less?’.”

    God made Man, but he used a monkey to do it.
    Are we not men? We are DEVO!

  11. jsn

    Only a few days since Univision bought the Onion and already The Ford Foundation is poaching their territory!

  12. timbers

    I have a few 401k accounts which I moved into money markets in July 2014 out of fear of asset bubbles caused by ZIRP. All of the funds I sold in July 2014 are now significantly below what I sold them at. They were Mid Cap Index funds with the lowest fee rates I could choose from.

    One of my 401k online links with Putnam’s name on it now has now has this message the moment you log in:


    “In light of recent market volatility, remember that your retirement plan is intended for long-term investment. Attempts to time the market are rarely successful. Studies show that the most effective way to manage risk over time is to maximize your contributions in a diversified portfolio that is rebalanced through up-and-down markets. Keep your individual needs, goals and time horizon in mind and consult with your financial adviser if needed.”

    I’m sure that does not apply to micro second trading practiced by Wall Street.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For people in their 80s, 90s and 100s (and beyond), long term is all relative.

      Should they get out now (or have gotten out earlier)?

  13. afisher

    RE: Flint water.

    Gov. Snyder addressed the masses and stated that he would spend $28M to solve the problem…and then ranted that President Obama didn’t give him $96M – because he followed the rules of Emergency Relief.


    Apparently Snyder is afraid that Congress would turn down his plea for money?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      But Snyder APOLOGIZED and released e-mails in a show of “transparency.” He probably didn’t even need to hire a crisis manager to come up with that tried-and-true, perfectly worthless response.

      Below are the symptoms of lead poisoning according to the Mayo Clinic. It would appear that Snyder might have been able to dodge this bullet had he had a little more time and better karma. Most of the symptoms can (and probably have) been attributed to other things–poor diet, welfare dependence, not having a father in the home, ADD, ADHD, drug abuse–or addressed with charter schools, more stringent policing and longer mandatory prison sentences.

      Initially, lead poisoning can be hard to detect — even people who seem healthy can have high blood levels of lead. Signs and symptoms usually don’t appear until dangerous amounts have accumulated.

      Lead poisoning symptoms in children

      The signs and symptoms of lead poisoning in children may include:

      Developmental delay
      Learning difficulties
      Loss of appetite
      Weight loss
      Sluggishness and fatigue
      Abdominal pain
      Hearing loss

      Lead poisoning symptoms in newborns

      Babies who are exposed to lead before birth may experience:

      Learning difficulties
      Slowed growth

      Lead poisoning symptoms in adults

      Although children are primarily at risk, lead poisoning is also dangerous for adults. Signs and symptoms in adults may include:

      High blood pressure
      Abdominal pain
      Joint pains
      Muscle pain
      Declines in mental functioning
      Pain, numbness or tingling of the extremities
      Memory loss
      Mood disorders
      Reduced sperm count, abnormal sperm
      Miscarriage or premature birth in pregnant women

  14. JTMcPhee

    How the federal Safe Drinking Water Act is SUPPOSED to work, as related by the US EPA itself:

    Summary of the Safe Drinking Water Act

    The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was established to protect the quality of drinking water in the U.S. This law focuses on all waters actually or potentially designed for drinking use, whether from above ground or underground sources.

    The Act authorizes EPA to establish minimum standards to protect tap water and requires all owners or operators of public water systems to comply with these primary (health-related) standards. The 1996 amendments to SDWA require that EPA consider a detailed risk and cost assessment, and best available peer-reviewed science, when developing these standards. State governments, which can be approved to implement these rules for EPA, also encourage attainment of secondary standards (nuisance-related). Under the Act, EPA also establishes minimum standards for state programs to protect underground sources of drinking water from endangerment by underground injection of fluids.

    More Information

    The Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (OGWDW), together with states, tribes, and many other partners, protects public health by ensuring safe drinking water and protecting ground water. OGWDW oversees implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

    Water: Safe Drinking Water Act

    Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem. …and EPA staffers and SES ‘crats will carefully examine your questions, problems and feedback and smush them into paste suitable for addition to municipal water supplies or sole-source aquifers…

    The monitoring and enforcement are shared federal and state duties, and the Act like most other “environmental’ laws depends on self-monitoring and self-reporting by people whose activities might threaten or damage public health and the environment.

    The EPA public face’s statement of the agency function in this area:

    Providing safe drinking water is a partnership that involves EPA, the states, tribes, public water systems and their operators, and certified laboratories that conduct required analyses of drinking water samples collected by public water systems. EPA, states, and the tribes monitor compliance under the following Safe Drinking Water Act regulatory programs:
    Public Drinking Water Systems

    Public drinking water systems must meet health-based federal standards for contaminants, including performing regular monitoring and reporting.

    The Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) program is designed to protect public health by ensuring the safety of drinking water. The public drinking water systems regulated by EPA, and authorized states, territories and tribes provide drinking water to 90 percent of Americans. These public drinking water systems, which may be publicly- or privately-owned, serve at least 15 service connections or 25 persons. Private, individual household wells are not regulated by EPA.

    EPA’s and states’ primary means of monitoring public water system compliance with the SDWA and its implementing regulations is the review and evaluation of analytical results of water samples collected by public water systems. These reports provide the water systems and regulators with the data they need to ensure that drinking water monitoring is ongoing and that the drinking water standards are being met. When results indicate that a contaminant is present at a level that exceeds standards, states and EPA work with public water systems to take steps to prevent or remove the contaminants, and notify consumers so that they can make informed choices.

    Underground Injection Control

    Underground injection is the technology of placing fluids underground into porous formations of rocks through wells or similar conveyance systems. The Underground Injection Control (UIC) program regulates the construction, operation, permitting and closure of injection wells. It is designed to ensure that underground injection wells do not endanger any current and future underground sources of drinking water (USDWs). EPA’s and states’ primary means of monitoring UIC compliance with SDWA and its implementing regulations is by inspecting for compliance with permit conditions on-site at UIC facilities.

    See underground injection control program information for the types and purposes of injection wells and for guidance on injection well construction and operation to prevent contamination of underground drinking water resources.

    Got that? it’s a “partnership.” Self-monitoring and reporting, and VERY occasional on-site inspections by VERY-“attrited” EPA and state field personnel, and then “help the fokkers get back into compliance or whatever.”

    This is already too long and headed for moderation I bet, but I have to add one more link for anyone who feels at all comfortable that the post-Reagan, etc. regulatory structure that is supposed to protect “our” health and safety and environment is worth a fart in a windstorm, and that is a link of links for anyone interested in digging deeper into EPA’s “Water Enforcement” duties and actual activities. There are lots of little tiny pictures of the little tiny activities that EPA brags up as what the Agency dudes and dude-ettes are doing to “protect human health and the environment. Impressive, hey? Filling some dirt into a Louisiana bayou? Using cinder blocks and gravel to keep construction site runoff with its loads of silt from plugging storm drains? A $1.6 million penalty against Waikiki for a big ol’ Haoli sewage dump into Waikiki Bay?

    The people who put this stuff out in the Skynet know that there is so much corruption and degradation going on, so many different ways the greedfokkers and their minions are doing it to the rest of us, so little self-protective power left to us mopes, that they can go through the motions, collect an occasional scalp, and call it good.

    …and the wealth transfers/concentrations go on, everywhere; the Commons becomes a minor myth; and the Global Milo Minderbinder It’s All Just A Big Battlespace War Enterprise slurps up the blood and tissue and future of generations… “and everyone has a share!”

    1. Rex

      Failing to collect the drinking water samples and report to EPA also results in fines. But EPA’s tolerance is long. I wonder if Flint was reporting the necessary results based on the system service size. There should have been early indications of lead issue.

      Several years ago EPA had an enforcement action against BIA, the Interior Department branch that aids Tribes. Much of the action was on drinking water systems and sewage systems. BIA promised to do better in writing and implemented some internal audits of compliance. I worked for BIA at the time, the unit that designs and builds most of their drinking water and sewage for schools. Despite DOI promises to EPA, the agency went right on as before. Continuing violations in drinking water in new projects, Indian Schools. No decision-makers responsible lost jobs or were re-assigned–imagine. So same results from same responsible persons.

      EPA found out about the new, widespread, flagrant disregard for the settlement agreement. I am not sure what, if anything, the agency was required to do to correct. Same people still in the decision-making level. Different result expected?

      1. JTMcPhee


        We got “political theater” in the electoral kayfabe realm, “security theater” at the airport gates and in your cell phone cams and hard drives and iCloud content, “public health and safety theater” in your ground water and public water systems and industrial and municipal outfalls and “emissions sources,” “GWOT theater” from the World’s Greatest Military Machine, “justice and law theater” every fokking place you look…

        Thanks for confirming what I hear from old EPA contacts — kayfabe and bullsheet, and a slap at the occasional mope who is not rich or connected enough to resist or scare the “regulators” and “enforcers” off the field. Same shit for SEC, FTC, DOJ, those congress critters that hold hearings and ask those softball questions and make those pandering disgusting speeches? I would imagine, given what is so readily visible if one looks even a bit.

        The Few will waft off to their effing Elysium, if they can nail a few more things down, like innovations like life prolongation or virtual immortality for themselves and “legal” imposition of corporate rule, and the rest of us? “Work hard to make us richer still so we can pleasure ourselves with the best of everything, then die quick and don’t make a fuss.” Seems to be what the programming of the species runs down to, since it’s everywhere you look. Carve out a little niche for ourselves if we can, but one can bet the brigands and thugs will strip your food forests and permaculture ecologies and leave you bleeding on the ground…

        And native American and First People social structures are just more of the same, We humans can formulate a guiding principle that if adhered to, ought to let us make a bit more of a garden of the planet — there’s one, fairly universally appearing, that goes “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” in many languages and versions, from both religious and secular sources of “moral authority” (that silly oxymoron). But operate from that ground? Naaaahhhh — that’s no fun! No ten-baggers or torture-for-the-heck-of-it or megayachts and private islands there…

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    US bull market on borrowed time – FT.

    Can the same time be hypothecated again and again?

    What if the bulls did that, to get leverage?

    Do they get infinite amount of time through leveraging?

  16. allan

    Whistleblower suit against for-profit college charges schemes against students

    A Florida campus of for-profit college chain ITT Tech enrolled a blind student in a computer networking program that required students to identify cords by color and read codes, according to an accusation by a former staffer at the school.

    The school also allegedly enrolled a student who could barely write a coherent sentence all in the name of securing more federal financial aid dollars, the former staffer added. …

    It’s not uncommon for for-profit colleges to face charges of violating the false claims act from whistleblowers. When a plaintiff files a suit under the false claims act, they’re filing it on behalf of the government. The government can choose whether or not to join and if it recovers money, the whistleblower typically gets a reward. Once government officials make their decision about whether to join the case, the claim is unsealed. In Lipscomb’s case, the government chose not to sign on earlier this month.

    It’s almost as if DOJ just wants the whole for-profit higher ed mess to fade away.

  17. susan the other

    Patience pays. Straits Times : Laos and China are building a high speed RR from Kunming via Vientiane to Bangkok. China has always wanted access to the ocean. I remember the Newsreel at the movies always with a British “reporter” stirring up hysteria over the threat that China posed as it tried to invade SE Asia over the mountains and into Laos. And reading Tuchman’s Stillwell; he was stationed in Kunming; southern China was always our special interest. And Gore Vidal stating flatly that we wanted to use Vietnam as a springboard to invade southern China – the Shan States – because they were so mineral rich, especially gold, and Hong Kong. And Sterling Seagraves references to an old secret French railroad that went from Laos into the Shan States to smuggle out the riches. And a book written by some CIA ghostwriter telling how the air strip at the Plain of Jars was busier than O’Hare in the 60s. I also read a UN document written by a Lao refugee group complaining about how Laos had been ripped off for decades because it too was a treasure trove of minerals and the colonialists were there just to mine and steal. So China finally wins. I mean, even Ross Perot was soldiering around in Laos, accepting a solid gold pistol from a local warlord. All of that intrigue is now dust.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The British went to India and up from there to Central Asia for the Great Game.

      Then they went to Burma, which at various times, was a Chinese (Yuan, Ming and Qing) protectorate. In fact, the last legitimate Ming emperor was handed over the Manchu army by the Burmese, ending practically all resistance in China against the Banner soldiers.

      From there, and from Central Asia, they then penetrated Tibet.

      The Chinese presence is everywhere in that part of the world.

      The previous Thai dynasty, before the present one, was a short one. The king, Taksin, was an ethnic Chinese from Zhangzhou, a city somewhere between Fujian and Guangdong. His military money for taking the throne came from Chinese merchants.

      In Malaysia, they still worship at temples for Admiral Zheng He, a Hui eunuch who visited in the early 1400s.

      And Indonesia, Vietnam, etc.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Over at Marketwatch today: Amazon let your washer order its own detergent.

    That begs a deeper philosophical question.

    First, do you let your bowels move freely? Do you allow them freedom of movement on their own? Or do you rely on central planning, at least in this one instance?

    The question then is this, can we come up with a free market system better than one that is based on the principles governing the human body, where, there are times and situations where freedoms must be curtailed.

  19. JohnnyGL

    Can we get an Obamacare Death Spiral watch going?

    United Health raises loss estimates from $400M to $500M on Obamacare exchange plans.

    I struggle to think of a better example of poetic justice being served than that of United Health and other big insurers booking hundreds of millions of losses on the insurance exchanges that they themselves wrote the legislation for and lobbied heavily to create.

    There’s still a good chance Obamacare is in a slow-motion death spiral. There’s just too much selection bias because of the big amounts of cash at stake for people. Lots of healthy people sitting on the sidelines just eating the fines because it’s more cost-effective and insurance companies abandoning the exchanges because they’re only managing to sign up expensive sickies.

    You’d have to raise the subsidies and the “penalties” to really steep and probably politically unacceptable levels to keep this giant failed experiment from falling apart. Bernie needs to bury this from day 1 in office!

      1. bob

        Anyone who doesn’t realize this has no idea what they are paying, or what their “coverage” is good for.

  20. dcblogger

    How do guns find their way to D.C.?

    Yet large-scale gun-trafficking cases involving neighboring jurisdictions are not all that common, and in the District, gun trafficking cases in federal court are a rarity. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office says that MPD and ATF have the most hands-on information regarding the origin of guns in D.C. Those cases, however, most often involve gun possession and do not extend to where the gun came from.

    That may change in the coming months. D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine recently hosted Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring and Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh to discuss collaborative efforts to reduce gun violence in part by limiting the availability of illegal guns. “All of our jurisdictions have to live with the consequences of the proliferation of illegal guns, and the trade in guns is regional, so we believe any solutions must be regional,” Racine says in a press release.

  21. diptherio

    PE Malfeasance from Carlyle – Montana Edition:

    In a court document filled with indignation, the city of Missoula is asking a judge to order Robert Dove and John Kappes to appear in court.

    Dove is director of infrastructure at The Carlyle Group, and Kappes is the general manager at Mountain Water Co.

    Earlier this month, Carlyle sold the water utility to the subsidiary of a Canadian company despite the order from Missoula County District Court saying the city of Missoula has the right to buy it. The buyer – Liberty Utilities of Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp. – and the seller did not wait for approval by the Montana Public Service Commission.

    Now, the city wants the Carlyle director and local manager to explain the reason “they deliberately withheld from the Court … the fact that they and Algonquin/Liberty had already consummated the transfer of ownership of Mountain Water in apparent defiance” of state regulators and the 4th Judicial District Court.

    The parties met in court last Monday, one workday after the sale took place, but no one brought up the critical matter to the court, the brief said: “They all sat silent with regard to one of the most important developments in the (condemnation) case since the day it was filed nearly two years ago.”

    In a brief filed this week, the city of Missoula asks the court to appoint a supervisor who will oversee Mountain Water, arguing the recent actions raise questions about whether Liberty/Algonquin of Canada can be trusted to run the company “for the public good” until the city takes possession.

    In an email, though, Kappes, said the city’s motion reflects “continued, unfounded paranoia and deflection on the part of the city.” He also said Mountain Water will continue to run the company responsibly and abide by the asset protections state regulators put in place.

    The city is trying to turn attention away from the fact it still doesn’t have a plan to operate the utility, he said, and its legal costs “will impact citizens far more than what they’ve admitted so far.”

    “The truth is that when Missoula residents turn on the tap, they know that they can count on safe, clean, affordable water, just as they have for decades,” Kappes said. “This will remain true for as long as Mountain Water is privately owned.”

    He said Mountain will address other specifics in its responses to the court.

    Despite the assertions by Kappes, the city alleges neither Carlyle nor Algonquin will do right by Missoula water customers given their track records.

    “Consider the following,” the brief said. “Carlyle executives and the hand-picked officers of its three water companies now will pay themselves millions of dollars in bonuses for their ‘stewardship’ over the last couple of years even as they sprint for the exits, with little thought to making sure that the people of Missoula have their interests protected …”

    Kappes was among the shareholders slated to receive a bonus, but he has said he intends to remain general manager of Mountain Water. The city’s brief notes the CEO of one of Moutain’s sister companies in California left his position “immediately” following the sale.

    Now, the local water utility purportedly rests in the hands of foreign operators who disregard Montana regulations, the city said.

    “The only reasonable inference from Algonquin/Liberty’s glaring disregard of the Montana legal system is that they plan to pillage Mountain Water assets, including cash assets, with intent to defraud the city,” read the brief. “Thus, injunctive relief is appropriate.”


    1. LarryB

      And now Missoula can look forward to an ISDS lawsuit if they complete the condemnation or actually insist that the new owners, being Canadian, act in the public interest.

        1. ambrit

          All Morlocks, all the time! Sign up for our new Investment Channel today! There’s Money in Water!
          This court case could be Carlyles’ “Night Sea Journey.”

      1. ambrit

        But Bill promises that his snake will not bite. (I believe that Hillary knows better, but when the Plunderer in Chiefs’ job is in the offing…)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, step 1 is admitting you have a problem.

      So does she plan to make amends somehow? Maybe give it all back?

      (I just don’t want to hear “We spent it all on canapés for rich donors instead of organizing in primary states.” That would be bad.)

  22. Pakhet

    And Obama’s not a fool.

    No, he’s not, but those aren’t the only possibilities. He reminds me of some of my own relations who are from the “white” side of the family, meaning the ones who pass. They’re defensive about passing. It’s like they have something like survivor’s guilt.

    I think his coping strategy for having the benefits of being raised by white people has been to go hard at the meritocratic koolaid. It numbs his psychological pain and fills his head with all sorts of hubristic notions about his successes and his failures. On that level he really does remind me of my father’s cousin Hector or my aunt Aida. They’re always playing for the wrong team without realizing that at the end of the day they’re going down with the rest of us.

    As president, Obama’s actually dangerous because of it, but it’s still kind of tragic.

  23. Synoia

    Evidence grows for giant planet on fringes of Solar System

    Yes, yes we know.

    Is it Called Donald, Rush, A Subsidiary of Koch Enterprises or a ISIS stronghold?

  24. PWC, Raleigh

    re: Why Are Corporations Hoarding Trillions? By ADAM DAVIDSON, JAN. 20, 2016 —

    With apologies, that piece is a complete nothingburger.

    Because Adam Davidson.

      1. Daryl

        I’m sad S.H.A.M.E. hasn’t had much added to it. It would’ve been great to have a go-to for every major hack around.

  25. Oregoncharles

    ” Of course, if #BlackLivesMatter occupied a lemonade stand, the DHS Fusion Center switchboard would light up like a Christmas tree, and SWAT teams and armored vehicles would be on the scene in a heartbeat. #JustSaying.”

    Again, this omits the crucial difference between the Feds (FBI) and local cops. You’re right, of course, but that would be the local pigs, who are directly threatened by BLM, not the FBI, who mostly aren’t. And the latter prefer to do their murdering in private, like that friend of the Boston Marathon bombers they offed in Florida.

    That said, I’m changing my tune on this: federal inaction looks more and more like collusion. There are measures they could take that would not produce a direct confrontation, but they aren’t. And they let the Bundys totally get away with it in Nevada. No wonder the governor is getting antsy. At this rate, it’s going to land in her lap in an election year. I’m guessing that calling out the National Guard over federal property does not appeal, but eventually she has to respond to the locals.

  26. craazyboy

    “Here come the robots: Davos bosses brace for big technology shocks Reuters. The bosses?”

    What is all this crap about robots? Sure we’ll get fast food burger flipper ‘bots. I doubt that they’ll look like the robot on “Lost In Space”. More like a cross between a vending machine and a stove, probably. But it’s not all that shocking that we’d get burger flipping bots some day.

    This article doesn’t even read like good sci-fi. Davos Man is all twitterpated because industry will lay off all it’s paying customers because they bought robots to do everything. How dumb is that for a plot????

    If that were truly the case, we could have the gubmint buy these Star Trek replicator machines and put ’em at the Post Office. Then we just go to the Post Office and get all our stuff for free!

    1. ambrit

      Bernie had better stay off of small aircraft for a while. Trump has his own small jet, so, the sky’s the limit.

  27. KFritz

    Re: What finally drove Gov Brown of Oregon to excoriate the Feds

    First, assume that local and state law enforcement (LE) are deferring to the FBI in dealing with this armed insurrection (on federal land).

    On Monday night, the leaders (and public faces) of the insurrection drove somewhere between 60 and 80 miles on public roads to conduct a public meeting.

    On Tuesday the same leader/thugs attended a local meeting in Burns.

    The FBI allowed these unmentionables to do this without any attempt to intercept and arrest them. The Monday meeting was public knowledge at least 12 hours in advance.

    The Oregonian, to its credit, has covered all of this, but failed to point out this obvious fact. The rest of the mainstream media is asleep and/or absent from the scene. If the perps were Black, Pre-Columbian American, Muslim, Hispanic, Asian, etc would the media be so somnambulent?

    The latest development has the FBI negotiating with these thugs.

  28. Robert Dudek

    The situation in Greece continues to deteriorate and I don’t think a violent overthrow of the Troika lapdog Tsipras can be ruled out. Unless the Troika suddenly changes course, the protests wil grow until either Greece becomes a completely autocratic state or becomes ungovernable.

  29. Jerry Denim

    “China’s dream of rail link to S-E Asia coming true”

    I spent a few wonderful weeks exploring some of the less developed, northern reaches of Lao by canoe in 2009/2010. “Progress” marches on, but it will be very sad for me to see the beautiful forests and extremely Buddhist, laid-back, subsistence farmer supplemented by fishing/hunting/bartering lifestyle of the upland Laotians get paved over. Some of the nicest, happiest, most mellow people I have ever met. Bummer. From what I saw of Chinese construction practices while I was in the region, they’re not very concerned with minimizing impacts to the environment or the local stakeholders/community.

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