Links 1/8/16

Saudi Executioner Thinks He Pulled Something In Shoulder During Last 10 Decapitations Onion (David L)

North Korea Successfully Harvests Wheat In Show Of Growing Strength Onion. Two Onion links in one day is another sign of “too much news flow.”

The Anthropocene: Hard evidence for a human-driven Earth PhysOrg (Chuck L)

I Went Back to a Dumbphone Atlantic. See? It is now becoming cool to be a stupid phone person.

How Mickey Mouse Evades the Public Domain Prime Economics

Apple Acquires Emotient, a Startup That Can Read Human Emotions Fortune (EM)

Human-Animal Chimeras Are Gestating on U.S. Research Farms MIT Technology Review (Titus Pullo)

Another reason fracking sucks: Study links fracking to even more health problems Gristmill

Massive bushfire destroys Western Australia town BBC

To End North Korea’s Nuclear Program, End the Korean War Nation

UN Urges Thailand to Make ‘Forced Disappearance’ a Crime Khaosod English (furzy)

Man screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ with FAKE explosives shot dead in Paris on Hebdo anniversary Express (furzy)

Mr. Market Has a Nervous Breakdown

Dow Tumbles Nearly 400 Points on China Worries Wall Street Journal

China markets motor higher in choppy trading Financial Times. As a result of intervention.

Why Emerging Markets Are Melting Down, and Why It Matters, in 10 Charts WSJ Economics

China’s Insolvable Problems; Watched Pot Thesis; Roll the Dice Michael Shedlock

Brussels not quite ready to punish Warsaw Politico

Refugee Crisis

Cologne sex assaults test the limits of German tolerance Financial Times

‘Frau Merkel invited me’ Politico

Turkey not challenging traffickers, says minister ekathimerini

In the bleak midwinter Frances Coppola

Saudi Arabia Has Bigger Problems Than Iran Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia considers Aramco share sale Financial Times (furzy). Wow.


He’s made the Middle East worse: Let’s be honest, Obama bears as much responsibility for this mess as predecessors who shaped them Salon

Execution of Nimr al-Nimr, Saudi Arabia and Iran: religious or political conflicts? Salah Lamrani, Sayed Hasan. Important.

How the Saudi king benefits from a cleric’s execution Reuters (resilc)

Saudi Arabia and Iran are playing a winner-take-all game Reuters. Resilc: “Saudis are punks and have USA USA backing. Iranians are tough and have Russians. I bet on Iran.”

Iran Has Banned Its Citizens from Making Pilgrimages to Mecca VICE

Original Sin: the sexual motivation of religious extremists Quilette (Chuck L)

Coalition Airstrikes Killed 2,500 ISIS Fighters in December: Pentagon Why does this remind me of the Vietnam War body counts, which we’d seen IIRC weekly on Walter Cronkite?

Sunnis and Shia: Islam’s ancient schism BBC

Pentagon Rejects Charge of Delayed Response to Gunfight in Afghanistan

Imperial Collapse Watch

US Hellfire missile mistakenly shipped to Cuba Guardian (PlutoniumKun)

Empires (Like the U.S.) Fall When Corruption Becomes Rampant George Washington. Not news, but a useful list.

TransCanada Sues the US for Rejecting Keystone XL; Will This Be the New Normal Under TPP? Truthout (Judy B)


Why Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Want Your Vote Bloomberg (Left in Wisconsin). Wow, this is a very flattering piece.

The Problem With Hillary Clinton Using a Progressive Hero to Attack Bernie Sanders Intercept

Donald Trump grew increasingly frustrated as hecklers repeatedly interrupted his Vermont rally Business Insider. And he thinks he can handle Putin? Plus his speech was lousy.

Poor People Really Get Screwed By Ben Carson’s Tax Plan Mother Jones (furzy)

The Clintons’ Paid-Speech Bonanza Consortium News (RR)

The Obama administration is quietly trying to make it harder to study public officials Vox (resilc)

Vermont Governor Shumlin Calls on Pensions to Divest $4.02 Billion Portfolio from Exxon, Coal Common Dreams

LA methane leak firm denies catastrophe BBC. Quelle surprise!

Angry White Men

The Dumb and the Restless Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

Hey Oregon “Militia”: Here’s the History Lesson You Missed Robert Bateman, Esquire

How the West Wasn’t Won Bloomberg (resilc)


Calm yourself, boys. Obama ain’t coming for your guns Jay Bookman (furzy)

Bill O’Reilly and GOP Candidates Out of Step on Guns Washington Monthly

Obama Faces Questions on Gun Policy at Town Hall Wall Street Journal (furzy)

Class Warfare

Software putting lawyers’ jobs at risk New York Times

Companies in the Gig Economy Are Growing, but Where Is All the Job Creation Atlantic (resilc)

In east Buffalo, drug addiction’s grip is tightened by decades-long cycle Guardian. Arresting opening sentence: “Dropped in any new town in the US, I know where to buy heroin, crack or marijuana in a few minutes: near the McDonald’s in the poorest section of town.”

Making the World Safe for Predatory Capitalism Dean Baker, Counterpunch

The “white-slaver” awakens: It’s not Disney to whom George Lucas should be apologizing Mark Ames, Pando. Unlocked for now, so read pronto. More on George Lucas’ hypocrisy…

Antidote du jour. “Starlings make a sky whale picture” @FacesPics:

whale birds links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Timmy

    Re: Flip Phones…I was with a large group of middle-aged NY finance types last night discussing the job market and career issues. The observation was made that there has been a turn in the generation who is now dominating the middle ranks of many organizations and these are now the folks conducting hiring interviews. In regard to this, it was remarked and widely agreed that 1) wearing a watch; and 2) having a dated phone (even post flip but still old) were both stigmatized as signs of being deeply out of touch and likely to negatively impact perception of a person’s “fit” in an organization. Someone said that you could wear a tie and not hurt yourself with this crowd (yet) but don’t let them see your phone and you should try to remember to not wear a watch. Obviously a small, narrow sample but my intuition is that this is a widely held perception.

    1. James Levy

      My wife warned me about this. A surprising number of jobs in academia now go through the HR department or Dean’s Office before the applications get to the Chairs (I’m talking adjunct and instructor jobs, not the rare pearl of a tenure-track position). My wife has stressed that the style of my letter and the tenor of my essays (yes, they now ask you inane questions about classroom management and educational philosophy) is deeply out of synch with the 30 year old women who are going to be weeding through the applications and dismissing most out of hand. I feel powerless, however, to change my presentation of self. At 51, I’m too young to retire and too old to get a job. You’d think with two books and seven refereed journal articles I could get a community college gig. But I’m a naval historian, and no one in American academe could give a shit about naval history. So I work as a delivery man and pick up the odd course from time to time. I still find teaching fun.

      1. Dear Sir;

        Dear Sir;
        In response to your missive of the Eighth last, allow me to reassure you that the conditions described in your correspondence are now encounterable at most levels of the career enhancement process. Academia is no longer a ‘special case’ in regards to the processes governing the acquisition of ones’ career goals. At the base levels, infrastructure, maintenance and supply, et cetera, careers start at low monetary renumeration and rely on increasingly disappearing ‘fringe benefits’ for added allure.
        The phenomenon you cite, the basic bureaucratization of the process of hiring has homogenized not only the personnel enacting the process, but also the expectations imposed upon the prospective employees. (I recently encountered a “job opening” that required the possession of a ‘smart phone’ so as to enable instant communications between the ‘office’ and the field workers. Nowhere was the possibility of the company supplying the useful appliance suggested.) Thus is conformity to a rather, if so ordered, esoteric set of social rules enforced. (Why this state of affairs reminds me of English Restoration Comedy, I’ll leave to the reader to ken.)
        Be that as it may, we here wish you a Merry Prankster New Year and success in your career maximization program.
        Yours; ambrit
        cc: every f—ing HR department on Earth

      2. Titus Pullo

        Do you listen to Dan Carlin’s podcast Hardcore History?

        Start a podcast, ostensibly about naval history. There are lot of sailors in the world. Not that a podcast will pay the bills, but you will at least be sharing your knowledge and passion (I’m assuming this is a passion, what with books written, etc.).

        1. Steven D.

          Would love a podcast about the interwar period or about how wars start. Don’t do the history of pirates, though. It’s being done.

        2. lambert strether

          I agree, start a podcast. Google Mike Duncan.

          Has to be a market for a naval history podcast; look at how popular te Aubrey-Maturin novels were!

      3. ilpalazzo

        Hat tip to you sir. I’d argue that knowing some naval history even in popularized form is important for understanding the world we live in. I’m Polish (so from the far province of the Empire), and some of my most important lectures that helped me understand “Anglos”, state capitalism/imperialism were C. S. Forester’s Hornblower series. A real page turner too. And then there are the Greeks etc. Great stuff.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Want the skinny on the BRUTISH Empire? Fictionalized of course, but another great series of reads? Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin books, starting with Master and Commander. Full of good stuff on naval and political corruption, the motions of empires and “trade,” wonderful story of the defeat of one “enclosure” of a Commons…

      4. JerryDenim

        You sir are not alone, it’s not just academia, they (HR departments, or thirty-ish females from middle class backgrounds with masters degrees in psychology) run the world now. They are in charge of hiring for highly-specialized, technical professional fields they know nothing about and if you want a job you better figure out what it is they like. Experience, know-how, professional accolades, and technical knowledge be damned, its all about attitude and image mister. Super positive, happy-dappy, team-player, super-social extroverted, ultimate frisbee league, homeless shelter volunteer, youth mentor, etc. etc. is your meal ticket. That and being appropriately young, happy, agreeable and willing to always follow orders and never question your superiors. Good luck!

      5. Ulysses

        “So I work as a delivery man and pick up the odd course from time to time.”

        Adjuncts are paid so abysmally that it only makes sense to do something else besides. You are an excellent writer, if I may be so bold. Have you considered working as a freelance editor/writer?

      6. Skippy

        James Levy…

        Philip Mirowski – Science Mart covers this terrain aptly imo…

        This trenchant study analyzes the rise and decline in the quality and format of science in America since World War II.

        During the Cold War, the U.S. government amply funded basic research in science and medicine. Starting in the 1980s, however, this support began to decline and for-profit corporations became the largest funders of research. Philip Mirowski argues that a powerful neoliberal ideology promoted a radically different view of knowledge and discovery: the fruits of scientific investigation are not a public good that should be freely available to all, but are commodities that could be monetized.

        Consequently, patent and intellectual property laws were greatly strengthened, universities demanded patents on the discoveries of their faculty, information sharing among researchers was impeded, and the line between universities and corporations began to blur. At the same time, corporations shed their in-house research laboratories, contracting with independent firms both in the States and abroad to supply new products. Among such firms were AT&T and IBM, whose outstanding research laboratories during much of the twentieth century produced Nobel Prize–winning work in chemistry and physics, ranging from the transistor to superconductivity.

        Science-Mart offers a provocative, learned, and timely critique, of interest to anyone concerned that American science—once the envy of the world—must be more than just another way to make money.

        Skippy…. just another manifestation of Corporatism as arbitrated by neoliberalism.

    2. fresno dan

      “I don’t think about it. I even accidentally leave the house without it sometimes”

      I never carry a cell phone with me. I always find it astounding that people tether themselves to it. I find it rude that people will stop a conversation with someone who is there with them for someone on a phone. Or the number of people who will surf the net with their phones when they are with someone.
      Of course, that is because a number of people have lost all conversation skills – and the “smart” phones only exacerbate the problem…

      It very much reminds me when I worked of all the time wasted in email strings.

      As far as the idea that “someone may have died”
      A – why are you so anxious to find out sooner than later that someone has died?
      B – You can’t bring them back

      1. Pavel

        I use a mobile in Europe but don’t have one when I’m in the US… it’s oddly liberating (and people are amazed when I don’t have a mobile number to give them). Somehow humans managed to survive for generations without walking down the street doing skype videoconferences on their smartphone!

        Having said that, they are undoubtedly useful in many situations, so I’ve gone back to a dumbphone which lasts for days without charging, does what I need, and doesn’t tempt me into browsing the web when I’m on the bus (I listen to music or podcasts instead on an iPod).

        I spent some time with my 17 y.o. niece over the holidays; her iPhone was almost glued to her hand, and at a (very fine) restaurant dinner she couldn’t help herself glancing at it in her lap during the meal. They truly are a new form of addiction.

        1. Optimader

          I almost always have one, im typing on a smartphone right now on a train… In my opinion, fantastic and liberating tool.

          The fact that ppl got along w/o them is a fact, albeit a pretty irrelevant one at the moment. Humanity got along w/o novocaine and efficacious wisdom tooth extractions as well.
          Most any meaningful innovation can be trivially used, the fact that i can sit in a train, type, read sort out an accurate piece of information that informs me in the moment i consider nothing short of miraculous.

          I recall the early days of “personal computers” when there were essentially no useful canned applications and very modest memory. The concept was trivialized in my dad’s generation of some pretty kick ass engineers that didnt get it. These guys even scorned the first digital hand calculators. My HP-50A (which i still have) was a harbinger of technical degeneration! PC’s were being marketed for “putting in the kitchen to store recipes.
          Curiously, the most ardent proponent of freezing at sliderulers in my dads posse was a savant EE that was given 1 of the first 20 digital wrist watches made. A clunky thing with red led display…He threw it in the back of his pencil drawer with healthy dose of skepticism and derision.

          So, could i get along without a smartphone? Sure probably better than most, but whats the point?

          I’ll quietly enjoy my unfashionableness now and check to see if i should bother to pull a raincout andumbrella out of my pack!

          1. JustAnObserver

            “… whose ape-descended life forms were so amazingly primitive they still thought digital watches were a good idea …” -HGTTG

            As always Douglas Adams nailed it.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            Novocaine and early personal computers did not geolocate and track your every movement and spy on you all the time. I’m amazed how cavalier people are about this.

            1. optimader

              Well… short of pulling the SIM card on a 2g phone, even the most modest flip-phones signal can be geo-located, so if that aspect of the technology is a privacy concern, no phone would certainly be the best policy.

              Personally, on balance being locatable is not really a concern to me. In fact some day if I get myself into some seriously fkdup situation, I hope my phone is dry and has a signal. I don’t envision a circumstance, but if I ever do feel compelled to be untrackable, I guess I’d just pull the card out of my phone? Not difficult to do.

              1. bob

                Why not leave the phone at home?

                And what use is the phone if you take the sim card out and turn off/disable any of the other com chips?

                Not so smart phone afterall. Brick.

      2. Ed

        My family members insist that I carry a phone around with me at all times, basically so they can control/ harass me, but I am seriously considering just telling them to get stuffed. The latest thing I’ve found is that telemarketers and telescanners have discovered how to call mobile phone numbers. This may wind up being an encouraging development, if it makes the thing unusable.

        One thing I’ve noticed in the past two decades is how much alot of people’s social behavior has deteriorated, and how much that has been tied to mobile phone abuse (and not just smart phones). Alot of people walking on the street have just stopped looking out for and avoiding foot traffic, they rely on the remaining few considerate people to do it for them. Adults used to have actual conversations with strangers in public spaces, those days are pretty much gone. I’ve noticed an increasing aversion to actually coordinating with people in advance to arrange some sort of social gathering, after all you can just contact someone at the last minute. I don’t know if the phones have prompted all of this, or if they have just enabled a deterioration in public manners that would have happened anyway.

        1. PQS

          Those of us who do construction in public areas have a new Safety Orientation note to add: barricades are simply not enough to keep people away from dangerous overhead situations. Now we have to either have a tunnel or a flagger because EVERY pedestrian is totally distracted by their electronics. At least the Walkman let you poke your head up while it operated….

          With that said, the mobile phone with email and web applications has been a total boon to construction, because jobsites and workers are so often not connected to an office. It is very convenient to be able to provide an RFI answer or sketch immediately to the field, and we have cut down on paper by a factor of probably 80% in the project administration end of construction. The downside, of course, is all this convenience leads to yet more pressure to finish earlier. It is astonishing how quickly all these changes came about. I’ve been in construction 20 years, and it is 100% different than when I started.

          1. tegnost

            Texting photos of the days progress (on my flip phone, $25/month) has made the customer/worker interface much better, if I have a question it’s easy to send a picture and question, then go about other things and get a more thoughtful response without having to interrupt. Also eases the customers mind as to what I’m doing for the money they’re shelling out. Related to pedestrian innattention is the sad tale of the young man in san diego on christmas day who, to horror of onlookers, walked off a cliff while looking at his phone…

            1. optimader

              My comments abt people bitching about cellphones went into the moderation bag this morning,
              Suffice it to say real technological innovation has its valuable applications, people that don’t perceive that value should be happy enough to not engage it rather than bashing it because they observe some part of the population using it for (perceived) trivial reasons.

              As well, people that whine about someone having the temerity to try and contact them on their cellphone should consider just shutting it off? That’s a pretty easy quality of life solution, no?
              People that will begrudgingly accommodate flip-phones, burner phones, analog brick phones, phonebooths..whatever… but feel smartphones are some philosophical Rubicon that they are uncomfortable crossing should just stick w/ what they feel good with and let it go!
              Personally freezing communication technology at some level you are comfortable with is not in and of itself a badge of honor..

        2. Optimader

          Is not answering it an option on your phone or does it automatically connect and force you to talk?

          1. john

            I found out today mine (apple) automatically capitalizes Mountain Dew.

            My immediate reaction was I had to see if it automatically capitalized Jesus Christ.

            It did. Mixed emotions.

            More phone thoughts, the Ipad was almost certainly developed for the military (they really do get things 15 years ealier.) Therefore, EVERY WORD about the “visionary” Steve Jobs is crap.

            I also heard someone note the similarities between the old AOL interface and windows 10 are amazing.

            Why learn programming principles and system architecture when you can just press a few icon buttons?

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I take my monitored phone with me when I go out, just in case I need to call the triple-A or perhaps, when the surveillance state needs to contact me.

        1. Ulysses

          “when the surveillance state needs to contact me.”

          If only they would start asking your advice!! What a better world for all of us :)

      4. neo-realist

        I always take the cell phone–a dumb flip phone–to work primarily because I’m in a city where a major earthquake can happen today, tomorrow, or 5 to 10 years from now, and if we get the big one during the workday, while stuck in a tall building in a downtown area, I need to have the ability to contact family and friends, if possible, to say that I’m ok or good bye. If I’m driving, I take it in case of an accident, or a car breakdown to call the insurance company or a tow truck and if I go out to see some live music and have something happen to me such as a robbery or an assault, I can contact a friend to tell them what condition I’m in and if I need help.

        That being said I rarely use it: I don’t really like talking on the phone and texting on the flip is rather convoluted in the ability to switch between numbers and letters.

        However, I am open to buying a smart phone when the dumb guy dies because—-I would like to have easy internet access out of town to find out what events are happening on short notice–music, theater, political stuff, book readings, etc. Also, I think the smart phone driving directions feature when I’m out of town or in an unfamiliar neighborhood would be more convenient than the written driving directions on paper I read on the passenger seat. Furthermore, family members tend to communicate much more via text than pc/mac email or calling, so on the spot communication with them may be easier.

      5. jrs

        What about if they have to be on call for their job? I guess you’ll find out you’re fired sooner or later anyway …

    3. edmondo

      Why would you need a watch? Seriously, I haven’t owned one since I acquired a cell phone in 2001.

      They ought to identify us by our phone numbers instead of SS#s.

      1. ambrit

        Have no fear: ‘they’ already do identify us by our cell phone numbers.
        I personally wish that the City Parents everywhere would reinstitute the practice of building Public Sun Dials in the Community Square. (I often tell the rough time according to the bells of a local church.)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think you can identify the time by the shadows roof corners or other building parts cast on the ground…if you are familiar with the area of course, and if not, ask a stranger.

          Maybe you find a life long friend.

          1. JTMcPhee

            If you are Rich, you have PEOPLE to keep track of minutiae like “time.” Il Douche’ does!

            1. john

              Citi has a new ad for their new phone-integrated physical payment system.

              It features the asian woman who heads the Kung Fu Panda 3 series, and starts all smiles.

              Then she spills coffee on some dull looking white subordinate… ruining his shirt.

              The payment ap to the rescue! She uses the phone to pay him 80$$ (presumably he has to go buy the new shirt on his own time.)

              Of course, we also have cash for that. For now.

        2. Propertius

          We have one of these here in Boulder. Actually we have two – one downtown and one on the University campus. Unfortunately, the one downtown doesn’t tell the correct time because (in the words of the sculptor who designed it) “the sun is in the wrong place.”

          1. ambrit

            I’m glad I wasn’t drinking my spearmint tea when I read that; “..the sun is in the wrong place.”
            It was cool enough when the Cubists deconstructed the image and reconstructed it to their liking. To try and do it to the ‘real’ world! I can barely imagine Cezanne or Braque as architects.

      2. rodrider

        Well those of us who choose not to own cell phones still wear watches.

        Identifying people by their cell phone numbers is a really dumb idea even if everyone did have a cell phone. What happens when you get a new number – do you really want to have to update all the companies and government agencies that use your phone number as an identifier? Furthermore, all the folks that have your phone number would now have a way to impersonate you.

      3. Michael

        One has a wristwatch for the same reason one has always had a wristwatch during my lifetime — to check the time and date easily and to set alarms that cannot be disrupted by power issues.

        The advent of smartphones has made it harder to check time/date easily, and their finicky power usage makes rock-solid alarm setting even more useful. Shrug.

      4. Lord Koos

        I have an older smart phone but I also have a Swiss Army watch, which I love to wear. It looks good and keeps time. I like having the hour split up into pie slices on an analog dial, which for me gives me more information than simply reading a number.

      5. roadrider

        They ought to identify us by our phone numbers instead of SS#s.

        So I guess you won’t mind everyone who has your phone number being able to impersonate you with all agencies and companies who now use your SSN to identify you.

        And I guess you also won’t mind having to update all those agencies and companies when you get a new phone number.

        1. ambrit

          Sorry roadrider, but I think that the “Cerebrus” agencies do the updating automatically. How? Well, I recently tried to do some business with the Social Security Administration over the internet. I had a ‘freeze’ on my data. The “friendly” functionaries at the FedEnd told me that they used my credit record at Experian to verify my identity. So, a public entity relies on a private for profit company notorious for errors in their data to determine who they are dealing with. Now, have you ever had to try and get useful data or services from Experian? Sorry to say, but Experian makes the Feds look good. (That could be the ‘hidden agenda’ in all this.)

    4. Uahsenaa

      I recall when I was in high school (mid ’90s), I read a profile of Ray Bradbury, which made much of the fact that he didn’t own a car and rode everywhere on his bicycle. The “obvious” implication of this was supposedly the extreme disconnect between his “backward ways” and his career as an SF novelist. Fast forward 20 years, and the very same behavior would make you cooler than cool.

      It boggles my mind that people accord so much status to things that have existed for less than an adult lifetime and have only been widely available for a decade. I told someone the other day that I never use Facebook (for a slew of reasons), and they looked at me like I had a horn growing from my head.

      1. Brian

        Ray was not confortable being called a scifi author. He wrote very few scifi tales in reality. He wrote future fiction, but it wasn’t always science based. Perhaps that was the beauty of them. It is often short stories that are stretched into movies becuase of the amazing premise he created.

        Maps; Many people never learn about maps and the passage of the sun. People suggest to me that I need a phone to find out how to get somewhere. I tell them I use a map. They don’t always understand, even when their phone provides them a map, or worse, a GPS instructs their every turn (past starbucks) to get somewhere. I heartily suggest learning about maps and the motion of the sun. With very little work you will never be lost again.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It sounds like, with a GPS, a human can testing the ‘Is he/she a robot’ test.

          “I can follow instructions blindly.”

          Why does a human want to pass as a robot?

          It’s easier to get work…that’s my best guess.

          1. Michael

            I use maps just fine, but when I’m tired or in a hurry or in an unfamiliar place, it’s nice to have a navigator. Person or computer, either way, just remember that the map is not the territory no matter what.

      2. fresno dan

        I can’t remember for sure (old and swiss cheese brains) but I think it was Bradbury who came up with the short story about in the future pedestrians being considered criminals (UPDATED: today they are considered terrorists….)

          1. fresno dan

            Ok, I googled it – a few, very few, neurons are still firing….it was Bradbury


            In this story we encounter Leonard Mead, a citizen of a television-centered world in 2053.[notes 1] In the city, roads have fallen into decay. Mead enjoys walking through the city at night, something which no one else does. “In ten years of walking by night or day, for thousands of miles, he had never met another person walking, not one in all that time.” On one of his usual walks he encounters a police car which is possibly robotic. It is the only police unit in a city of three million, since the purpose of law enforcement has disappeared with everyone watching TV at night. Mead tells the car that he is a writer when asked about his profession, but the car does not understand, since no one buys books or magazines in the television-dominated society. The police car or its occupants struggle to understand why Mead would be out walking for no reason and so decides to take him to the Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies. He is forced to get in the car. As the car passes through his neighborhood, Leonard Mead in the locked confines of the backseat says, “That’s my house”. There is no reply.

            walking for no reason….that’s me

    5. Katiebird

      I have never had a smart phone. I do carry a cell phone but calls are forwarded to the home phone with an answering machine.

      If someone has to get ahold of me my phone vibrates when I get a text message. I have no idea why I should be answering phone calls no matter what I am out trying to do (drive, shopping, business.)

      I do keep it with me so I can make calls when necessary (they don’t have this doggy treat, would Tommy eat this other one?)

      I did get an iPad so I could use a Knitting app that isn’t available on any other platform. But it is not conneced to anything but WiFi

    6. trinity river

      Flip phone. I have my second nokia flip phone. Love it! But the punkt phone costs $300. What is that all about? Is it made of platinum or titanium?

      One would assume that it is only the young who are addicted to smartphones, but last night I went to an Elvis movie. The theater had 3 notices asking people to turn off their phones, yet two men near me repeatedly used their smartphones anyway. One quit when I asked and the other went ballistic when, after at least 6-7 different times flashing his phone, I asked him to stop.

      1. 3.14e-9

        But the punkt phone costs $300. What is that all about? Is it made of platinum or titanium?

        My read is that the cost is part of what makes it cool. Carrying a cheap dumb phone, as others noted above, creates an image problem. Not so with a $300 Swiss design “hip phone.”

        1. Pavel

          Hmm… I read the article on the Punkt phone then looked at their website. I confess I do rather like that design… but not enough to spend $300! I’ll stick with my $30 Nokia for now.

          Punkt also sell a minimalist alarm clock (designed by the UK’s Jasper Morrison) for about $150, so you get their target market.

          Still, a further sign that the kool kidz are using dumbphones again, I guess.

      2. cyclist

        My Nokia is so old it is not even a flip phone. I have no temptation to text or read and write e-mails on a tiny screen. One nice thing about a really old phone is that it has no GPS function built in. This means that when you power it off, it really is off and you can’t be located; I don’t think this is true with newer phones, even the simple ones, unless you remove the battery. In light of the NSA revelations in recent years, I have decided it wasn’t a bad idea not to ‘upgrade’.

        I’m also glad I’m not giving the scum US telcomm carriers any more of my money in the form of a data plan. It would be nice to have a smartphone to occasionally summon up a map or make a reservation, but I can live without it.

        1. Pavel

          Bravo! re the GPS. I find it frightening that so many people are willing to have their location known at any time by almost anyone (including the NSA of course). Apple has a “Find My Friends” app which, if enabled, shows other people exactly where you are (or where your friends are). Goodbye privacy and anonymity. And goodbye fake alibis to the police or a spurned lover…

          In London I believe one woman used her husband’s Oyster card (for the Underground, which tracks all usage) in a divorce trial to prove he had been visiting a girlfriend. Sign of the times.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          On the old phones, I believe you can’t be geolocated when you aren’t calling on them. I read recently of a case where a guy who had a stupid phone was charged with a crime. He talked on it a lot. They could determine where he was only when he was calling. It was not definitive enough to locate him at the scene of the crime, so he was acquitted.

          You might be locatable (via triangulation) from cell phone towers, but my sense from the case is that this isn’t done routinely and the data isn’t stored. So my impression is the difference is with a stupid phone you could be tracked all the time but because this ins’t data that is routinely recorded, the officialdom would have to tell your phone co to track you, which would take a court order.

          1. optimader

            On the old phones, I believe you can’t be geolocated when you aren’t calling on them.
            I think it’s more a case of resolution than inability.

            StingRay devices are often used in combination with Hailstorm towers that jam the mobile phone signals forcing phones to drop down from 4G and 3G network bands to older, more insecure 2G bands.

            Ultimately if you have a signal likely a tower has done a handshake w/ you phone, so if you are somewhere you want kept private best not do it w/ a phone in you pocket with a card and battery installed.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Read this WSJ article:


              It’s very clear that its geolocation is approximate if the phone does not have GPS and even then is usable only when the tracking truck is chasing a PARTICULAR user. This is consistent with my view that you are actually pretty safe on a stupid phone. They can’t geolocate you based on historical (stored) data and they can locate you only approximately even when they are targeting you specifically, as in they have to drive a truck around sorta chasing you.

              1. optimader

                I’m w/ you on general principles, but I’ll admit, my travels at least in the US are pretty damn boring of late.
                I turn GPS off generally– more on the premise of conserving battery power beyond that intrinsically consumed searching for towers which is latent tracking data by design. I’ll turn it on for mapping/direction apps If I want to.
                I admittedly have little concern about a tracking history. Or stated another way, if my tracking history ever became an issue doing what I do, I would have probably already have punched out of the US.
                As a rule, I do not want geo-locating data on photos I take with my phone so that is off as a default, that is probably my biggest practical concern w/ cell phone tracking data.

                1. cyclist

                  From what I understand, the GPS feature was mandated in the US for all phones after a certain date. This was for your ‘safety’: you drive off a cliff with your dumb phone and go missing – you can still be located. Of course, there are many uses for this technology. This feature is supposed to be engaged, even if you turn off the phone – the only way to stop it is to remove the battery.

                  My phone is so old it predates this: when it is off, it really is dead.

                  1. bob

                    Also, if your phone is using GPS, it’s battery will be dead in an hour, tops. Huge power draw. Most people might notice that.

                2. bob

                  What you are “turning on” is location services, not GPS.

                  It turns every single comm chip in your phone on, and sends all the data they are seeing back to *somewhere else*, via a data stream, to determine your location.

                  Your phone has no ability to do that on its own, aside from the GPS chip, which most “smart phones” don’t even have anymore. They completely rely on 2 way communication, with a remote resource, to determine your location, and send it back to you.

                  Those chips also send out their location, to every single thing they “see”. The MAC of the chips could be (and is) recorded by any receiver during what you call “handshakes”.

                  Handshakes from tower to phone might narrow your location down to a few square miles. Handsakes from wifi, narrow it down to a few hundred square feet. Bluetooth, a few dozen square feet.

                  Leave any of those chips “on” and you leave a trail (mac address) on every other receiver, and phone, that you pass.

          2. bob

            Most “location” these days is done via everything but GPS.

            Wifi being the biggest. The main point of google street view was to map and use as radio location beacons Wifi hotspots. Yes, even the one in your house. That’s why they were “hacking” them to get the mac address to use as unique identifiers.

            Using actual GPS is a huge battery draw. But, it’s also only one-way communtincation. No need (or ability) for the phone to send anything to the satellites. They just have to receive the signal from the sats to figure a location.

            It’s even more troubling that most people still refer to a phones ability to locate itself as “gps”. Most are completely dependent on 2 way communication with some remote network resource to take what your phone is currently “seeing” via phone tower, wifi and bluetooth. What your phone is “seeing” is then sent to *someone else* and then your location is computed and then sent back to the phone.

            The phone itself has almost no ability to do this. Completely dependent on being networked, and to be told where it is.

            I’ve had to call 911 a few times with different phones. The phone drops into a very high power mode to use the GPS chip, if it is there.

            But, GPS is useless indoors, and in most large cities.

            LSS- a phone without wifi or bluetooth or other non phone comm chips is going to have a lot harder time reporting your location, if it even can.

            And “turing off” wifi and, pretty much everything else on those phones these days is all software based. Is it really turned off? Like the nest cam, probably not. It might say it is, but it’s still sending data.

            Hardware switches and lens caps. The only way to ever be sure. Surprise- no one offers that. I’m also surprised that some phones still allow the batteries to be removed. Apple realized early how useful non-off phones, that were turned off by the users, could be.

            1. cyclist

              bob – thanks for clarifying the current state of the art. I realized the GPS chips used a lot of power, but didn’t realize the location data really mostly comes to the phone via the network. As you might guess from my alias, I ride bikes a lot and cyclists are smitten with Garmins and or phones to follow routes. The Garmins do use GPS and burn through the batteries really quick. I still like maps and sometimes stuff a few in a plastic bag in my pocket – others think I’m some sort of Luddite, but I learn a lot about the backroads in the process.

              1. bob

                True GPS units can’t really track you. They might be able to be used to track you in the past, if someone were to get hold of the unit.

                They are not capable of SENDING info, just receiving the GPS signal from the satellites, and then using those signals to figure a position.

                They use so much juice because they are trying to amplify the very weak signals from space..

    7. Oregoncharles

      I find it remarkable that people have gone back to using pocket watches. Very inconvenient. I also find it amazing that people are willing to carry a device that is smarter than they are. What could go wrong?

      As it happens, I have to wear a watch, because as a landscape gardener, I bill for my time and digging in my pockets with muddy hands just isn’t in it. It also has to be shockproof and waterproof – I managed to damage a very fancy mechanical watch by digging with it on.

      Besides which, my pockets rapidly degrade any exposed glass – like most smartphones. Not quite sure how some people, like my contractor stepson, manage that.

    8. lyman alpha blob

      Purity troll alert –

      Never owned a smart, cell, flip or any type of portable phone and yet somehow I still manage to communicate with everyone I really need to be in touch with. Top that! :P

        1. ambrit

          Does he or she still send out “Q”sos cards? (My Morse skills are so bad, I’d probably have sent back “Enjoy your trip” to the Titanic.)

    9. craazyman

      what about a Joseph A. Bank suit and a plastic watch?

      Wow that’s a grim picture.

      “I wear a plastic watch just to fukk with people’s heads for amusement and in case I need to see how long it is ’til I can go home.”

      “No I don’t have a phone. Why would I want an idiot to interrupt my stream of thought?”

      That’s like the South Sea Polynesian tribal chief who looked at a telephone and was unimpressed. “Who would I call?” he asked skeptically.

      Time is passing. Soon it’ll all be over and then you’ll look back and you’ll think, “Well. I sure wasted a lot of time. It was the best thing I ever did!”

      If there was an “air conditioning app” I’d carry a smart phone in the summer

      I’ve very very lucky to work with a bunch of “old people”. I could never get this kind of a job anywhere, probably. That’s why it’s easier to go for the 10 bagger and then start your own company.

      did you ever notice somebody’s age doesn’t matter if they have lots of money or lots of political power? Even people like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Shumer. They seem ageless. I saw a photo of Nanci Pelosi and she looked kind of hot! How could that be? But it is. It looks like she has big tits, although maybe that was just the way her Power Pants Suit folded,.. It’s only if you want a job someplace, then your age is a problem.

      It’s not hopeless, the firm I work for hired two guys in their late 50s this past year. both are good dudes. They really are. it’s pretty cool having them as colleagues.

    10. jrs

      So leave your phone in your car for the interview. It’s not that difficult, it’s cheaper than a smart phone.

  2. James Levy

    The body count claim is really weird and stupid. First off, for all the bombing going on over there, it’s not an impressive figure, so why publicize it even if it were true. Second, it’s too round a number. If you are going to lie, make up a more convincing one–2200, or 2700 would have sounded more convincing that 2500. Third, it lacks context; how big a fighting force does ISIS command? Losses are only meaningful in proportion to the force you are fighting against. Of course, in Iraq every year they killed thousands (although they were always extremely vague about this) yet at the end of every year they announced the active insurgency at 25,000 guys. The number of enemy troops never seemed to diminish (same thing in Afghanistan–they kill people on a daily basis yet never seem to lower the figure of purported Taliban fighters).

    My conclusion as a military historian: propaganda, and lousy propaganda at that.

    1. fresno dan

      Reminds me very much of the body counts in Vietnam….and we know how that worked out.
      But, apparently, the US has gotten stubborner….It seems obvious that another 15 years would leave us….in exactly the same situation.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Another application of the “helicopter money” notion:

        If one adds up all the Evil COMMIE Gooks reportedly killed by US and allied militaries in that racket, a vastly inflated number, and divides that into even just the costs of weapons and munitions (ignore B&R’s construction ripoffs and other contractor thefts and overheads for other corruption), the McNamara spreadsheet number for “cost to kill a Gook” comes out to nearly $400,000.

        One suggestion I heard while still in the service was, why didn’t the US fill the B-52 bomb bays and cluster bomb casings with tons of the little gold ingots that were common “store of value” over there, each with a little parachute on it, and carpet-bomb the countryside and hence the Enemy Economy with those, rather than doing the patently, demonstrably, evil, ineffective, losing other thing.

        But of course that was not, is not, and as with the rape of our own body politic, never will be the goal of the game.

        On the same line, how interesting that the eaders of the sovereign entities (a gross oversimplification, of course) that combined to shut down the attempts to Achieve Imperial Military and TRADE Hegemony over the world by Nazi Europe and military-corporatocracy there, and out of Japan, are now doing their damndest to hang the yoke of subjugation to corporate-state power around the necks of us mopes who slave and starve to make the wealth that feeds their insatiable appetites for MORE… all nice and legal, granted legitimacy via the electoral legislatures and executives of those same Sovereign Nations that will disappear into insignificance except as enforcers and conduits for “expected profits…”

        Humans fiddled, while their world burned…

        1. fresno dan

          …the McNamara spreadsheet number for “cost to kill a Gook” comes out to nearly $400,000.

          One suggestion I heard while still in the service was, why didn’t the US fill the B-52 bomb bays and cluster bomb casings with tons of the little gold ingots that were common “store of value” over there, each with a little parachute on it, and carpet-bomb the countryside and hence the Enemy Economy with those, rather than doing the patently, demonstrably, evil, ineffective, losing other thing.

          Well, there is nothing worse than being a gold bug…
          But it would be a great experiment – drop (what is the biggest denomination? 50,0000????) bundles and see how many bundles it takes to actually start undermining ISIS as the foot solders start deserting for a life of leisure and safety?
          Of course, maybe they actually believe that stuff and would use the dollars to buy more weapons and bribe more “opposition” officials….
          But when one considers how much money deploying the military costs, it hard to believe that money drops would not at least be equally effective as drones – and what a propaganda coop!

    2. Bill Smith

      They are only claiming it as an estimate.

      Likely they were beat into giving out some metrics as they have come under a lot of criticism on the progress of the campaign against the Islamic State.

      Because that number is for Iraq and Syria it is hard to correlate it against what the YPG/YPJ claim. The assumption that the collation is providing a lot of air support directly to YPG/YPJ and now SDF which pretty much lack organic artillery and therefore account for a lot of the casualties those groups report.

      Another way to get some insight is to watch the weapons releases / per airstrike or sortie.

      Examining the records from both sides some years after the War of Attrition (Israel – Egypt) ended the records indicated that it took about 7 tons of Israeli bombs to kill an Egyptian soldier. Similar studies after other wars give one some background references to the downward trending line. One would assume the use of weapons that have much smaller CEP’s would have really bent that line though the clean recent data is hard to come by. Things also get messy as significant portions of subsequent campaigns where against infrastructure or where combined with artillery which would likely pollute the numbers when measured against primarily an air campaign.

    3. Vatch

      If you are going to lie, make up a more convincing one–2200, or 2700 would have sounded more convincing that 2500.

      Ha! In the 1850s, British surveyors determined the height of the mountain that would be called Mount Everest to be 29,000 feet. Since that seems like an estimate, they publicly declared the height to be 29,002 feet instead! The currently accepted height is something different.

      1. Oregoncharles

        It’s both rising and eroding, so the actual height would vary constantly.

        The same is true of the Andes; there are Inca terraces that are now too high to use as arable land. It seems unlikely they’d go to all that trouble for pasture.

        1. optimader

          Would depend on temperature as well..Taller on warmer days! Kinda like the calculating the precise the length of the coast of Norway.. A fractal dilemma.

    4. Plenue

      Which coalition is this one again? Oh, right, the United States led one. The Russians can brag about killed leadership, captured towns, and a devastated ISIS oil smuggling operation. All we have are dubious body counts, especially as so many of those captured towns were retaken from our own ‘rebels’. Pathetic. How long does Washington intend to continue this farce?

  3. allan

    About “The Problem With Hillary Clinton Using a Progressive Hero to Attack Bernie Sanders”:

    The headline could have been, “Goldwater Girl Uses Cass Sunstein’s `Surprising Validator’ Ploy”.

    Gensler will be cast aside once he’s served his purpose.

      1. hunkerdown

        For real, and from a friend of this blog no less. David Dayen needs to answer for that, I think.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Gensler did a great deal of good at the CTFC when he was expected to be a Rubinite stooge. And the battles he won were hard fought. That is plenty of reason to applaud him.

        But I agree, he’s go no track record that I know of being “progressive” beyond being tough on regulating financial firms.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Or, as an astute commenter said yesterday, he should cry bc he’s droning civilians.

      Or that ‘folks’ still can’t afford health care, college or retirement.

      He has alot to cry about imho.

    2. ProNewerDeal

      both Paul Ryan & 0bama should be crying in self-loathing; P Ryan & 0bama kill more USians than the Terist Boogeyman Du Jour TM like ISIS could ever dream of: 30K USians/yr murdered to 0bama/P Ryan/etc blocking CAN-style Medicare For All.

    3. Jim Haygood

      ‘Paul Ryan said Obama should be crying about ISIS beheadings.”

      If he did, he’d use his executive authority to implement ax control, so that beheadings won’t happen here.

      It is stunning that these dangerous tools are freely sold in hardware stores to anyone with a fistful of dollars.

  4. Pavel

    Re: Hillary’s “speaking” fees: The NY Times wrote the other day that the Clintons “had accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars” in speaking fees from Wall Street banks and other corporations. It clearly should have been “millions of dollars”. Don’t they know basic maths?

    From the link above:

    The truth is, you can’t change a corrupt system by taking its money,” says a Sanders’s television commercial. And Clinton has left herself open to that charge by profiting off her government experience, racking up $11.8 million in 51 speaking fees in the 14-month period from January 2014 to March 2015 before she became an official candidate for President, according to disclosure records.

    1. edmondo

      But she says she’s going to fight for the middle class (all 14 of them that are left) on her website. She’s going to bring Hope and Change to America again.

      1. Pavel

        Speaking of Hillary: the email server scandal has died down, and the NYE email dump from State Dept was largely ignored by the MSM except to discuss trivial, gossipy messages. But Brad Hoff actually performed some real journalism on them and found some shocking new information on the Libya “intervention”:

        New Emails Expose Hillary’s Dirty War in Libya
        The New Year’s Eve release of over 3000 new Hillary Clinton emails from the State Department has CNN abuzz over gossipy text messages, the “who gets to ride with Hillary” selection process set up by her staff, and how a “cute” Hillary photo fared on Facebook.
        But historians of the 2011 NATO war in Libya will be sure to notice a few of the truly explosive confirmations contained in the new emails: admissions of rebel war crimes, special ops trainers inside Libya from nearly the start of protests, Al Qaeda embedded in the U.S. backed opposition, Western nations jockeying for access to Libyan oil, the nefarious origins of the absurd Viagra mass rape claim, and concern over Gaddafi’s gold and silver reserves threatening European currency.

        — Brad Hoff, New Hillary Emails Reveal Propaganda, Executions, Coveting Libyan Oil and Gold

        Why isn’t Bernie’s team making more of this? The US-backed “rebels” were closely linked to AQ!

        The same intelligence email from Sydney Blumenthal also confirms what has become a well known theme of Western supported insurgencies in the Middle East: the contradiction of special forces training militias that are simultaneously suspected of links to Al Qaeda.
        Blumenthal relates that “an extremely sensitive source” confirmed that British, French, and Egyptian special operations units were training Libyan militants along the Egyptian-Libyan border, as well as in Benghazi suburbs.
        While analysts have long speculated as to the “when and where” of Western ground troop presence in the Libyan War, this email serves as definitive proof that special forces were on the ground only within a month of the earliest protests which broke out in the middle to end of February 2011 in Benghazi.
        By March 27 of what was commonly assumed a simple “popular uprising” external special operatives were already “overseeing the transfer of weapons and supplies to the rebels” including “a seemingly endless supply of AK47 assault rifles and ammunition.”
        Yet only a few paragraphs after this admission, caution is voiced about the very militias these Western special forces were training because of concern that, “radical/terrorist groups such as the Libyan Fighting Groups and Al Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are infiltrating the NLC and its military command.”

        I urge everyone to read this article — you won’t find it in the bloody NY Times.

          1. James Levy

            No, their enemies want to destroy them personally but not at the cost of exposing or overturning the rotten system that the Repubs and Dems have all bought into. Hilary’s awful, cynical objectives are those of the US elite.

              1. hunkerdown

                Under the portfolio theory of elite interests, there’s no problem there. Planned Parenthood’s objectives (outside of the local medical offices) are largely those of the Democratic Party. Recall that PP scored own goals against reproductive sovereignty in order to see Obamacare through.

                1. lindaj

                  Hyde amendment never attacked by Democrat politicians, that I know of. I escorted for Planned Parenthood but would never give them $$.

          1. ks

            Shockingly ignorant (e.g., calling Hugo Chavez a dictator), but he seems to be capable of listening and adjusting his views when pressed.

          2. 3.14e-9

            If you go over to Consortium News, it’s not just “mediocre” but ignorant, imperialist, pro-MIC, pandering to Israel, etc. etc.

            Voters don’t elect a president on foreign policy. I doubt that many even know who Hugo Chavez is (ks’s comment above), and of those who have heard of him, only a small percentage — those who don’t rely on the MSM — wouldn’t identify him as a dictator.

            I don’t think Sanders would be challenged on his foreign policy (or lack thereof) at all if he weren’t running against a former SoS. I wish he’d be stronger, if only so he could convey to voters why her foreign policy experience is a terrifying liability. But it’s probably a safe bet that right now, he’s pouring all his resources into making a strong showing in Iowa and New Hampshire.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I like Israel’s kibbutz farms. I understand some have been privatized in recent years.

              That’s one fine socialist idea (before recent privatizations).

              What we all have to watch out for, with respect to ourselves and anyone else, is to make sure we don’t make it easier for imperialism with the promise of domestic socialism. Wanton creation of global reserve currency, for circuses or for bread (when done wantonly, i.e. with more military spending attached to the bills), is one example.

              Universal fraternité.

              1. 3.14e-9

                Good point, and well taken.

                One of the arguments used by the hard left to prove that Sanders is a “fake socialist” is that his imperialist, pro-MIC stance virtually guarantees there won’t be sufficient funding for the extensive social programs he envisions. This is the same crowd who says he “never met a defense budget he didn’t like” — an assertion that is quite easily proven untrue. That he tends not to focus on these issues or challenge the “closet warmonger” narrative makes them all the more sure that they are right.

                I try to keep up with these allegations, for precisely the reason you give. And what I find, when I sift through media interviews, speeches, statements in Congress, his voting record, and other primary sources, is enough to convince me that he is not an imperialist or warmonger. Not always the position I would have hoped he’d take, and with room for improvement. But as ks says, he seems to be able to listen and learn.

                1. lindaj

                  “hard left” = principled people who remember that every 4 years there is a “bernie” folding people into the party bc they are less worse than the repugs.

                  less worse has got us more years of u.s. wreaking havoc around the globe for the enrichment of their cronies (hillary is my friend sez the bern).

                  1. Darthbobber

                    From my experience here in Philly, “Hard Left” in this context consists largely of West Philly Anarchists who reject the utility of electoral action altogether, Leninists who feel that anything short of re-enacting the storming of the winter palace and giving the Bolshevik variant of the dictatorship of the proletariat another go is an inexcusable sellout, and generally people whose list of absolute minimal preconditions includes several things that the American populace tends to quite decisively reject.

              2. JohnnyGL

                He’s made a few remarks about how he’s not so into the whole “regime change” thing. Realistically, that’s a real breakthrough on the foreign policy front, what president has ever said that since the CIA got into the gig in the 1950s?

          3. JerryDenim

            I would tend to agree with you, but you only get to make one item your top priority. I think Bernie has chosen wisely. If Bernie Sanders can get elected and then proceed to reign in Wall Street, tackle income inequality, revamp the tax code, reverse the financialization of the American economy, fix our broken trade policy/reinvigorate industry, empower unions/working class America and tackle big money’s corrupting influence in politics not only will I be very happy, I will be amazed. The country will be so radically improved it will be almost unrecognizable compared to the banana republic we inhabit today. Even if a President Sander’s foreign policy is on par with the Clinton/Obama trajectory, I will still be happy. You just can’t have it all. Let’s focus on fighting oligarchy this election, and save the MIC for latter, the two aren’t entirely unrelated. Foreign policy and the MIC will be much easier to tackle with a cleaner political system and less foreign dollars involved in our election process.

        1. fresno dan

          When one looks at how contrary to our own interests and stated “polices” our actions are, how nobody could possibly be that stupid, the only explanation that comes to mind is just human vanity – Best and the Brightest hubris that the US foreign policy establishment can “improve” the mid east.
          WE HAVE TO LEAD….even though our “leading” has screwed-up, currently screwing-up, and will most assured continue screwing-up the area. These are people who have been indoctrinated that the US is the “indispensable” nation, that we are “good” – and they buy it!
          Even Bernie pretty much buys the bull that the US is trying to make the world better – or maybe he just understands that the country is in internationalist fever and that any hint of cutting back on US interventionism means that one is a pinko gay terrorist ISIS sympathizer – therefore, best to keep a low profile.

          I won’t be around to see it, but I expect we will be in Iraq et al for another 15, 30, 50 years – unless the US economy just collapses….

          1. 3.14e-9

            Dan, have you read (or heard) his Georgetown speech? Sure, a speech is “just words,” but the words that are conspicuously absent were “greatest country in the world,” “our duty to make the world safe for democracy,” etc. Some of Sanders’s detractors have called the speech “wishy washy,” but I thought some of it was pretty strong. Here’s the link (foreign policy starts about two-thirds of the way down the page).


            It’s not a comprehensive foreign policy, but it establishes a good foundation, IMO.

        2. 3.14e-9

          Done. Thanks for the link.

          Is there really a smoking gun here, though? Wasn’t it already known that HRC was making up intelligence to convince Obama to order air strikes? And I wonder if voters are really going to care, since most of them (seems to me) bought into yet another evil dictator story.

          I spent a few hours going through the e-mails with some targeted keyword searches. The search function is actually quite good. What I was looking for — what I think many want to know — is whether she traded favors for contributions to the Clinton fund or any of the less obvious ways a transaction might have been conducted. Also, what evidence is there that she was conducting business for her 2016 campaign, including fundraising, whether directly or through close connections such as Soros or Podesta. I don’t know what the law says about that, but certainly there must be some rules to ensure that favors aren’t done “in advance” for prospective donors?

          I couldn’t spend the amount of time it would take to do thorough research, but I did see some red flags, notably e-mails that were entirely redacted, even though the subject lines didn’t indicate that these were personal exchanges and, in many cases, the senders were government officials. Also, she had an extraordinary interest in congressional activities that had nothing to do with the State Dept. but that clearly were relevant to a presidential campaign. That she is allowed to redact entire messages, on top of getting to decide which e-mails she’s going to turn over and when, should be setting off alarm bells all over the place.

    1. ambrit

      No, no no! After the initial test marketing of his family, during the earlier cattle ranchers versus dirt farmers imbroglio, it was deemed more demographically friendly to drop the initial ‘M’ from the junior Bundys’ first name.

        1. ambrit

          Gadzooks! It sure beats being, to misquote Milton; “‘I’less in Babylon, at the Mall, among slaves.”
          Ooooh! A Donner Pass allusion? Kudos!

      1. Vatch

        Good guesses. My mind was drawn to the Egyptian god Amun, which isn’t very likely because of the spelling. A little searching led me to the small Bronze Age kingdom of Ammon, which was east of Israel and north of Moab. But your theories are more fun.

        1. ambrit

          Yes, it is a shame when supposedly ‘outlandish’ theories must give way to more prosaic, and more credible, surmises.
          Since the Bundy family appears to be LDS, your theory is probably correct.

  5. TedWa

    Hi Lambert and Yves: I don’t know if this has been posted yet but the public comment period for the TPP is only until the 13th. We need to get everyone to comment on this atrocity. Please post a link daily or whatever you can do. Thanks – Ted

    “It is critical that as many people as possible write to them about this. (In 2014, millions of public comments pouring into the FCC saved the Internet)

    Here’s how you do it:

    Comments are submitted at!home or

    If you have problems, you can contact Yvonne Jamison of the USTR at (202) 395-3475.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Thanks for posting. I spit plenty of venom at them the other day. Personally, my feeling is that visceral hatred will be more effective than calm, rational persuasion. These people aren’t going to be convinced to change their views, but they might feel obligated to slow down if they get the sense that there’s full blown rage among the populace.

      In light of the Transcanada suit under NAFTA ISDS provisions, the problems are very real.

  6. FriarTuck

    RE: Disney/Copyright

    I was thinking about this the other day. There’s a general internet consensus that reboots of popular franchises in the entertainment industry have gotten out of hand (see: Spiderman franchise, Batman franchise, a horde of recent movies capitalizing on ’60s TV shows, and ’90s TV show ‘sequels’ like Fuller House), but there’s a reason for that.

    The reason: major corporations are squatting on copyrights of characters and ip franchises that will not expire for far longer than is reasonable, and they have to find ways of monetizing those ip holdings.

    Here’s another example: the original Star Trek series made in the late 60s has inspired a ton of fan shows, with the original look and feel (including the 60s retro-future technology). Most of it is original content and is actually on par for the production values in the 60s. For the most part, CBS/Paramount has ignored these efforts as viral free marketing.

    However, a popular upcoming fan film project called Star Trek: Axanar, which is taking franchise ip and producing new original work, has been sued by CBS [Variety] for copyright infringement, for a variety of reasons. CBS wouldn’t be able to squat on the franchise, supressing the passion and creativity for something that arguably should be public domain if the terms of copyright weren’t so outlandish.

  7. Dino Reno

    Taibbi is beside himself because the Cowboy Hats are winning.
    So far, they haven’t been arrested or charged, let alone disarmed.
    That’s because our legacy of Westward expansion and cowboy mythology is so deeply ingrained in the American psyche that this protest is nothing like the protests that occur in the streets around the country.

    There are only three ways to roll in America, Matt: The right way, the wrong way, and the Cowboy Way. You might want to think of this as the Extrajudicial Way because it comes from the higher power of American myth and lore. We are dealing with archetypes here.

    Westward expansion is our Manifest Destiny, five hundred years in the making. Having run out of lands to conquer, we must turn inward to claim the land owed by the government. Sure, it’s technically illegal, but it’s the Cowboy Way. Legend has it that cowboys always win in the end because their guns won the West. City slickers like Matt really need to get in touch with their inner Cowboy to understand this unique American phenomena.

    It’s also OK for Cowboys to cry with their guns just like Obama can cry because of guns. We are a gun crazy culture and that deserves a good cry.

    1. craazyman

      It wasn’t helpful for the army to suggest they eat crickets. I haven’t followed any of this except through channelling and then only very infrequently.

      It’s OK to cry if you’re a cowboy but you can’t cry like a girlyman — wantonly and with an unctuous and flailing hysteria. You have to cry with restrained, composed and determined self-mastery. You are indisputably in control, ultimately, of your method of expression and in that control you achieve an ironic and potent dialetical mastery of the full bipolaretical scope of the human emotional condition. This is true machismo. A girlyman cries with wild abandon of all composure. A cowboy cries with the precision of a mathematician solving the equations of the soul.

      I remember in High Plains Drifter Clint Eastwood almost cried but not quite. It was after he woke up from dreaming about being whipped to death in his previous life, before he became a ghost, by the buffoons who lived in the town that he painted finally with the sign HELL. But he did later burn down the town and shot or horsewhipped the same guys who horsewhipped him. He did that too with a level of expertise that was quite remarkable. It doesn’t usually work that well in real life when people try to do hard things.

    2. Andrew Watts

      They aren’t cowboys though. They’re out-of-state Mormon extremists waging a yeehad against the federal government. While attempting to form a Cowliphate from the territory of the state of Oregon.

      I don’t know whether I should be planning a Rojave in the Willamette River Valley or renewing my passport to seek refugee status in Canada. What happens if Moolah Bundy decides to invade Canada? Based upon previous territorial disputes he could order his growing yeehadist movement to liberate the country from it’s foreign and oppressive monarch.


      1. hunkerdown

        Let them have their Utah homeland and cut them out of the country. All we have to lose is Orrin Hatch, the Senator from Disney.

        1. Andrew Watts

          If the actual goal of these Mormon extremists is to re-establish the State of Deseret they’re within the old territorial boundaries. Bundy said he was on a mission from God after all. At some point local Mormons and the LDS church must’ve had an “Oh sh–” moment. The whole issue of “returning the land to the people” only begs the question which people?

          I’ve suspected that this was the original justification for occupying public property from the beginning. It only became a protest when the people didn’t rise to his call of arms.

          Uhh, that’s about as serious as I want to get about this situation.

    3. Oregoncharles

      I don’t think they’re winning; they’re being ignored, by far the worst fate. Consequently, they’re looking more and more foolish, especially since they failed bring enough provisions. Must actually have been an impulsive move.

      The heavy hand of the federal government would merely have made them martyrs, which is what they wanted.

      I’m more concerned about the Bundy Ranch events, where they really did win – he’s still running his cattle on public land without paying, and overstocking it to boot. Seeing the government back off in the face of an insurrection was deeply weird, and will cause endless trouble.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      Winning? Huh?

      They “took” a remote location (as in long supply lines) with no strategic value, no supplies, and no way they can live off the land through the winter.

      From a tactical perspective, this is as dumb as you can get. All the officialdom had to do is sit and wait for them to run out of food and fuel. They’ll leave when that happens. This is an easy and predictable win.

      They won’t last the winter. They probably won’t last the month.

      1. ambrit

        Aside from the dubious aspects of the physical location chosen for this ‘action,’ the real value of all this is the Propaganda values. Remember how a certain budding Austrian politician in Weimar Germany parlayed a busted coup attempt and some jail time into a Mystique?

  8. Carolinian

    Good Patrick Smith Salon piece on Obama and the Middle East. One can’t help but wonder if the regime change that is really needed is here at home rather than overseas–not just our President, who barely seems to be in charge of events, but also the vast infrastructure of pundits, academics, lobbyists and analysts who are constantly preaching intervention.

    In that light here’s an interesting story on how the house of Saud was an Anglo-American project from day one (a British bureaucrat even came up with the name Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). It was about the oil of course, and the Balfour Declaration probably had a lot to do with that as well. The Brits also wanted to maintain friendly governments in charge of a region giving access to their beloved “jewel in the crown.”

    1. Trent

      “One can’t help but wonder if the regime change that is really needed is here at home rather than overseas–not just our President, who barely seems to be in charge of events, but also the vast infrastructure of pundits, academics, lobbyists and analysts who are constantly preaching intervention.”

      Only now this occurs to you? This is why i was never able to understand why yves is so against greece leaving the euro. She cites how terrible it would be in the short to medium term, tells us we don’t understand what we are talking about, but totally forgets that staying in keeps you within the system that perpetuates this to begin with.

  9. tegnost

    Re: mickey mouse and the public domain…Does this mean that if elected, he will not serve? and what about minni? Will she serve if he will not?

    1. hunkerdown

      Disney running the US by proxy through yet another licensed fictional character is JUST what the US needs! Anyone who writes in “Mickey Mouse” needs a quick chat behind the woodshed so they understand what they’re really voting for.

  10. diptherio

    From the Original Sin article (which I mostly liked):

    Movements like fundamentalist Christianity and radical Islamism are driven by the existence of large numbers of people who, for whatever reason, simply cannot adjust to modernity.

    But is it the people who cannot adjust to modernity, or is it perhaps that modernity has no place for them. Is it maybe a characteristic of modernity that it leaves many people out in the cold, so to speak, that it raises expectations but rarely fulfills them, that it is, in fact, a miserable, in-human experience for some percentage of people…and that some percentage of those people will choose to fight back in whatever way is offered them? I think modernity may be as much cause as solution, here.

    1. ambrit

      Agreed. I look at the wave of governments forcing people presently “off the grid” back ‘on the reservation’ as a systemic bid for cultural hegemony. “Modernity” has it’s benefits. The real dispute is over the costs, and who will shoulder them.

  11. JEHR

    Re: Original Sin: the sexual motivation of religious extremists
    This article is a terrifying analysis of the Daesh motivations in Iraq and Syria. We forget at our own peril the logic of the goal of our own DNA. A powerful and frightening analysis of that group’s basic raison d’etre.

    1. diptherio

      The War Nerd makes this point about what drives extremist militants all the time, and it’s always rang very true with me. If we did a better job as a society providing for the sexual needs of our young males, we’d likely have a lot less other BS to have to deal with…namely, all the BS that young horny males get up to when there aren’t any available females around to try to impress.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The logic of the goal of our own DNA.

      Not distracting from wealth inequality. Rather, I think, focusing solely on wealth inequality, we forget general inequality.

      In the post-wealth-inequality world, if we ever get there, is it possible people quarrel over and try to dominate others via other means?

      For example, maybe some people who can break eggs on the small end, more efficiently than those who are better at breaking the big end, are looked up to.

      Maybe some people who can hypnotize others with beautiful words will have legions of followers, or maybe those who score high on the IQ test.

      Instead of parents bestowing monetary wealth, to propagate their elite status, they pass along that desirable trait to break eggs on the small end efficiently and remain elites over many generations.

      Many will look up to, pay a lot of attention to, anticipate eagerly for the next appearance (in a movie, a concert, etc) of, and worship those deemed ‘attractive, heroic, better than the rest.’

      And these exceptional elites will have tremendous advantages in fulfilling the goal of their DNA.


      Unless we recognize the greatness within each of us.

      Your voice is just as good.

      Your legs are just as attractive.

      You are just as smart…or being smart is not important.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Maybe prime is forgetting, or more likely maybe invoking, that Jonathan Swiftian satire in “Gulliver’s Travels,” describing the Forever War between Lilliput and Blefescu over which end of the egg to open at breakfast. See the more re3cent Dr. Seuss “antiwar classic,” “The Butter Battle Book,”, an unresolved tale (much like the “real world” of today, escalating violence and ever deadlier mass destruction weapons).

        And with Daesh/ISISISILIQwhatever, it’s a nice business model:

        Taken together, the Anbar records allowed for a forensic ­reconstruction of the back-office operations of a terrorist ­insurgency from its local level up to its divisional headquarters. The data were handed over to the National Defense ­Research ­Institute of Rand Corp., a U.S. ­Department of Defense-funded think tank based in Santa Monica, Calif. Seven researchers set out to ­determine what the ledgers, receipts, memos, and other records meant. What they concluded in a 2010 report, written for then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, should be ­familiar to students of business management: The group was ­decentralized, organized, and run on what’s called the “multidivisional-­hierarchy form” of management, or M-form for short.
        The foundation of Islamic State’s management model is more akin to General Motors than to a ­religious dynasty

        It’s the structure that started taking root in the corporate world in the 1920s, thanks to Alfred Sloan’s decision to reorganize General Motors. After becoming GM’s president in 1923, Sloan began transforming the company by creating semiautonomous divisions ordered largely around geography, freeing him and other top leaders from daily decision-making so they could focus on strategy and overall performance. Divisions also were largely self-­financed. Scholars credit his model for the company’s extraordinary growth in the early 20th century. It contrasted sharply with what had been the dominant “unitary form” of management, where control is centralized. In a pioneering study, the late Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Harvard business professor Alfred Chandler Jr. held up the success of GM and others as a triumph of the M-form structure of corporate management, as did Oliver Williamson, winner of the Nobel Prize for economics in 2009.

        According to the Rand study, Islamic State of Iraq was set up along the lines of the best multinationals studied by Chandler and Williamson. (The researchers even cited the Nobel Prize winner’s work.) The Anbar provincial division offered ­influence, oversight, and some financing to smaller, semi­autonomous cells within the province, closely monitoring their books and their results. But it left day-to-day decisions to the local commanders. The cells carrying out the group’s daily functions were organized into units such as finance, intelligence, military, medical, media, logistics, and even a courier arm called the “mail” division. Bosses for each specialty at the headquarters for Anbar province monitored performance of their local ­divisions, sometimes relying on detailed reports from the field. But command ­decisions appear to have been left largely to the locals, Rand found.

        The seized hard drive containing 1,200 files was especially valuable. It appeared to belong to the man who was akin to Islamic State of Iraq’s divisional auditor. The group maintained strict ­accounting procedures, and its financial functions were organized in the same semiautonomous model of the M-form structure.

        The ledgers showed the group generated enough cash to create a self-sufficient organization across Anbar. During one 11-month period, it raised almost $4.5 million. More than half of that appears to have come from the sale of stolen goods, such as construction equipment, generators, and other items. The provincial organization also got cash via local cells controlling smuggling routes and extorting “taxes” in their areas. The group had an entire “spoils” division dedicated to selling property looted from its enemies, largely Iraqi Shiites. At one point, “spoils” revenue surged, suggesting to Rand researchers that leaders had specifically asked locals to seek more plunder when operations demanded more cash.

        The divisional leaders could send or redirect money to field subunits, bolstering ­operations at critical times. They sent surpluses back up to the group’s ­“national treasury.” Cash flow was also decentralized. Moneymen at all levels would hold no more than two weeks’ worth of operating cash at a time, making it harder for U.S. forces to disrupt the overall structure with ­individual raids.

        And the dudes who thunk up ISISILIQ… are serving and attracting and activating and appealing to BOTH of the DNA-coded primal urges that seem patently present in every aspect of human behavior, ancient and modern: f_cking, and killing. Check the Olde Testiclement, and GTA, and “Game of Thrones,” and what’s on offer on prime-time TV, and the floods of war- and Fokkporn on our blessed Internet…

        And I hear DARPA has many teams hard at work on produring and fielding the Utterly Sputter

    3. makerowner

      The sexual motivations for groups like Daesh and Boko Haram are evident, but tying it into warmed-over evolutionary psych/Nu-Atheist stuff about “what our genes want” is dumb.
      Can’t find a source at the moment, but the numbers I’ve seen are usually around 2-4% of men in the Muslim world have more than one wife.

  12. perpetualWAR

    Smart phones ain’t very smart:

    After experiencing the loss of my Dad, the first parent leaving this earth, I want to write a letter to all my “friends.”

    The first egregious issue with smart phones associated with his death came the night he died. His wife decided that rather than calling his children, she would send a group text. So, at 4 a.m. when my alarm rang (I was preparing to drive the 1 1/2 hour or more trip through rush hour to spend time at his bedside) I learned via my PHONE DISPLAY that my father had died!

    After getting over that (actually not sure I will ever get over that) then the more egregious behavior with “friends” and smart phones began.

    I have had ONE friend. Only one, mind you, who refused to text me. Everyone else believes that a text is the appropriate way to communicate with me that they are sorry to hear about my Dad’s death. I am so completely offended by this behavior and lack of real human warmth, my psyche may never recover.

    This is just an FYI for all of you out there: if a fellow human, whom you claim to care about, suffers a death in the family, DO NOT TEXT A CONDOLENCE!

    Side note: Also, another egregious way to communicate a condolence is through a Christmas card. Don’t say Happy New Year after you say, I heard about you Dad’s death. That also isn’t cool.

    1. ambrit

      If your experience on losing your Dad is like mine, back in the ’90s, then just roll with the myriad feelings. Time does heal this wound, but don’t be afraid to be sad in the interim. (Hang on to that one considerate friend.)

      1. Inverness

        Solid and compassionate advice, ambrit. Advising people to stay positive isn’t helpful. Don’t be afraid of the sad, darker places. Western society promotes hope and smiles way too much.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Don’t be afraid of sad, darker places.

          We humans are capable of anger and hate for a reason.

          We hate injustice.

          If there was more room (physical or psychological) in the world, the rules for expressing anger (Thou shalt not be angry with this or that) will be less strict.

          It’s about balance, not suppression.

        1. OIFVet

          I second Ambrit’s advice. When we have loves someone grief is not only natural, it is healthy. This whole “positive thinking” crap can be truly offensive at times. Eventually, the loss gets easier to handle, relatively speaking. My dad passed away six years ago, I now think about losing him every other day… He died right before the holidays, so some of what you described happened to me too. Good friends always make themselves known when one is down and suffering, let’s just leave it at that.

          1. ambrit

            When things get really tough, we do indeed discover who our “real” friends are. My Dad died on Mayday. Since he was always an old English Trades Unionist thinker, it was somehow appropriate. I do still think about him and all the unresolved ‘issues’ every once in a while. (Some of Dads ‘real’ friends gave him a proper Irish Wake. That was a party! He would have approved highly.)

    2. PWC, Raleigh

      Your experience is a bracing demonstration that electronic communication capabilities via personal digital devices have moved (distorted?) the liminal space between pro-social and anti-social behaviors.

      Technology tends to play right into that most-basic of human foibles: hubris.

      Just because one can, doesn’t mean one should.

    3. Gio Bruno

      Or , in the case of the US military in Iraq/Afghanistan killing civilians: oops, “it was a mistake”.

  13. Inverness

    People are losing their interpersonal skills, and smartphones are a big part of that. If a friend suffers such a loss, real personal contact is in order. You can start with a phone call, and ask what you can do, and really listen to what is going on in their lives.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I called my previous phone Not-So-Smart phone…didn’t want to hurt its feelings.

      And being smart isn’t everything.

      Not-So-Smart phones connect hearts…better. And that’s important.

    2. PWC, Raleigh

      Modernity wasn’t scaled for humanity, imo. Smartphones are just a more recent manifestation of a long running trend in which technological “advances” are adopted without anything near the appropriate humility.

      Put another way: What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?

      Put another, another way: “The people who grinned themselves to death / Smiled so hard they failed to take a breath” — The Housemartins (1987)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s very subtle, marketing-wise.

        Smart people associate with smart people (all my friends are professors, I hang out with a lot of authors, etc. something like that).

        So, naturally, if you want to appear smart (because you have been conditioned to want to be smart – only not-so-smart are vulnerable to such brainwashing, in my humble opinion), you get a smartphone.

        “When you say to yourself, I am OK with being not so smart, you free yourself. You ask questions and people call you dumb, but you remain true to yourself. You express your opinions, and again people call you dumb. Still you stay the course.”

        1. fresno dan

          I agree very much
          people, being social, which certainly has evolutionary positives for humans, also has the negative aspect of engendering group think.

          Sometimes, talking with friends entails pauses, sometimes even awkward pauses. But you can’t expect your conversations to be interesting or elucidating if one expects them to be like fast paced smart assed sit-com dialog, and every moment of one’s life entails being constantly amused.

    3. GlobalMisanthrope

      I agree with everything being said about this. But I just recently discovered that it’s really individual.

      I don’t want to hear from people who don’t care enough to call. My wife, on the other hand, was very grateful to get texts and emails expressing condolence for a recent loss. She felt in the telephone calls like she had to make the caller feel better.

      1. perpetualWAR

        I disagree. Those people who are texting your wife and myself should be dropping a REAL card in the mail.

        1. ambrit

          Better yet, bring something over and visit. If they are too far away, then OK, a real card. (We tried to teach our children to make their own cards to send to special people. All three have turned out to be artistic.)
          On another note; don’t carry around any displaced anger against those who are too clueless to respond properly. Later on you’ll actually feel sorry for their meager social skills.

    4. cwaltz

      I have mixed feelings. As an ex military member it is not always possible for communication of important information being personalized. The Red Cross often imparts information to members with telegrams. While it certainly would have been nicer to hear from my mother than my stepfather was dying, I did appreciate that SOMEONE let me know. So yeah in an ideal world you’d hear important information from people who cared and understood but in the absence of that I’d much rather hear it impersonally than find out months later I just wasn’t contacted at all.

  14. jon livesey

    There is an extensive literature on Empires, but that blog post from Washington does not deserve to be part of it. So the pretorian guard once auctioned off the post of Emperor? So they did, but that was several centuries before the Western Empire came to an end and about a millennium before the Eastern Empire was conquered by Islam.

    Honestly, Americans spend a lot of time speculating about why Empires end – tolerance of homosexuality used to be a popular “cause” of the end of the Roman Empire, but I guess times change – but they are really just taking their own prejudices out for a trot.

    And this gem “An empire falls when it becomes so self-important that it loses touch with the values that produced it.” Actually some Empires, for example the British one, don’t so much fall as decide to dismantle themselves when they realize that their domestic values of democracy were incompatible with the authoritarianism implicit in running an Empire.

  15. ProNewerDeal

    il Douche Toupee aka Trump on VT protester “Don’t give him his coat! Keep his coat. Confiscate his coat.”

    VT protestor should’ve replied “take Trump’s wig! Free that orange ferret from Chumpy’s Chrome Dome!”


  16. D. Battabong

    Trying to understand, why isn’t “Making the World Safe for Predatory Capitalism” credited to Al Jazeera, who originally published the article, instead of Counterpunch, the reprinter?

  17. Keith Howard

    I found today’s headline article (Oil Limits and the End of the Debt Supercycle) extremely interesting. Even before reading Overshoot, I’ve guessed that in complicated co-evolved systems (natural or artificial) collapse may turn out to be sudden — proceeding from the failure of an overlooked or seemingly insignificant link. Before today I had never thought much about the finite global capacity for oil storage. Thank you, Yves, for posting this article. It is indeed provocative.

    I’m puzzled that no other commenter has yet mentioned the piece. Surely I’m not the only NC visitor who has read it

    1. Oregoncharles

      I posted on it down below – probably still in moderation. I agree; it’s extremely important, and not just for the data on oil storage (which wouldn’t be important if things were going well.) Really grim, though. That last chart, the downward hockey stickon everything, is a portrait of civilizational collapse.

    2. Foy

      It’s great article, I’m a fan of Gail Tveburgs thoughts and writing on limits to growth. From her post I think these few sentences really sums up what is happening now:

      “The problem of reaching limits in a finite world manifests itself in an unexpected way: slowing wage growth for non-elite workers. Lower wages mean that these workers become less able to afford the output of the system. These problems first lead to commodity oversupply and very low commodity prices.”

      I think the oscillation in oil prices is demonstrating this now. Oil at $110+ was too expensive for the global economy – non elite couldn’t afford it at that price as their wages are flat and they are getting squeezed on all other fronts. Therefore they withdrew their demand, tanking the global economy. In 2007 the same thing happened, oil spiked above $120 triggering the GFC unwind and oil collapsed to $32. It has had three tries to break the $110 level again since 2011, all failed. It seems anywhere north of $100 global demand packs up and goes home. The world can’t afford that price.

      And now other resources limits are kicking in. I get the feeling that when the limits to growth crunch really comes things and upsets financial markets, things could go downhill extremely quickly in unexpected ways. Global trade stops fast with a financial system locked up.

  18. fresno dan

    There was such a thread about phones – well, this is somewhat related!
    Back in 2011, AT&T was on the verge of gobbling up T-Mobile, which would have turned the industry’s Big Four into the Big Three and eliminated the industry’s most unpredictable company….But then the Obama administration intervened to block the merger. With a merger off the table, T-Mobile decided to become a thorn in the side of its larger rivals, cutting prices and offering more attractive service plans. The result, says Mark Cooper, a researcher at the Consumer Federation of America, has been an “outbreak of competition” that’s resulted in tens of billions of dollars in consumer savings. …
    Antitrust law in America has been off track for decades, and it’s time to get back on. The … feds should concentrate on one simple thing: making sure there’s real competition in every industry. Then let the market figure things out. There are exceptions here and there to this rule, but not many.
    How much money is hoovered up by the squillionaries’ and so-called services? If we can’t have rising wages, let’s have reduced prices – and I mean REALLY REDUCED!
    A phone should cost a 1.50$ – its made by slave labor in Korea. And since most of the networks are run by computer centers in India, where people are paid 2 cents a year, facebook should pay the user about 2,500$ a year for their contributions and time. Zuckerberg would still be rich. And microsoft crap should cost about a quarter…. nah, that’s too much….a nickel.

  19. Ulysses

    Very refreshing to see a glimmer of sanity from the concrete canyons of Wall St. :

    “Wade Black, who runs Scarsdale Equities, a boutique investment firm in New York, and donates to Sanders, disagrees. “I think he understands monetary policy. That great harangue he gave Alan Greenspan [in 2003] shows that. He probably has a better understanding of the financial industry than Ben Carson does. He may have a better understanding of how capitalism works than Donald Trump does,” he says. President Sanders, Black believes, will make Wall Street more competitive, so the vitriol against his occupation doesn’t bother him. “It’s a metaphor. There’s not going to be a Kristallnacht in Lower Manhattan. He’s talking about regulation, not shutting down the stock exchange. People turn their logic circuits off as soon as they hear the word ‘socialism.’ ”

    [From the Joel Stein piece in Bloomberg linked above]

  20. Antifa

    The ‘Original Sin’ article — it is an opinion piece. Understood. But it would be ten times more effective if some kind of citation were given for the repeated references to established science and studies done. It is a logical fallacy to refer to an authority that goes unnamed.

    The author’s fierceness is admirable, and she definitely raises subjects not normally heard in polite company; however, she contradicts herself about whether our DNA pre-determines our rapey behavior or do we have the choice to seek and establish sexual equality? Who’s the boss — our DNA or our minds? Is the solution to become more civilized, or are these issues best solved by breeding much, much larger women who will rip your plumbing off if you get out of line? (Monsanto needs to look into this. Could be a new product line for their genetic enhancements department.)

    The author’s list of societal problems directly caused by polygyny is especially a stretch. It reads equally well as a list of problems caused by monogamy. Or as a list of America’s current headlines. I suppose there is less rape in Europe and the USA than in the Congo or Syraqistan, where they go at it wholesale, but if our police all went on strike for a week over here, I wonder how wholesale we’d become ourselves, about a lot of things. There is that rapey incident in Cologne on New Year’s to ponder, but was that because the attackers were young males, or because they were Muslim? Is society to blame, or is it the fault of the Intelligent Designer (a truly dreadful engineer.)

    For me, the single biggest problem the three Abrahamic religions each have is their Book. I’ve met many members of these three faiths who freely admit to reading parts of their particular scripture as metaphor, or to not following certain verses strictly, or who simply say ‘we don’t really hold to that rule in modern times.’ These people are soft around the edges, easy to have as friends and neighbors, because they live and let live on purpose. Their faith is like their genitalia — completely private and quite personal, thank you very much.

    But these urbane believers aren’t really following their particular Book, are they? And more to the point, they won’t, can’t, don’t change their Book. Not a jot. And because they don’t, they cannot guarantee themselves or anyone else that their son or grandson will not someday read the very same Book, the very same scripture, seize upon the stricter verses most especially, and not be soft around the edges. No, they will follow those verses to the letter and to the bitter end, and set out to convert or slaughter all the infidels. Conquer the world for Jesus. Reclaim Greater Israel.

    Dammit, there are fundie Jewish, Christian, and Muslim people in significant numbers who are actively doing exactly this right now. And raising their children to do this after them.

    We need to change the Book, in all three of these faiths. Or see the same fundamentalism arise generation after generation.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Or write a new one.

      Instead of leaving clunky stone tablets, a thoroughly modern Deity just sends texts to believers’ smart phones.

      And She accepts Apple Pay.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Not sure who “:we” is in reference to re-writing the Book to make it more, err, humane, but if one looks, one finds that there are hundreds of versions of The Book, with adherents fierce and violent, of that “inerrant God-written” Holly Bibble. Not so many, apparently, of the other abrahamic text:

      Seems Sharia law may do a better job of protecting divine copyright…

      And on that Sharia law thing, the reason a lot of Rulers hate it is that Islamic Finance would demolish the whole foolish tapeworm structure of FIRE…

      (Omitted photo of A Jordan Islamic Bank branch in Amman [speaking of yeehadic-topical nomenclature])

      While secular historians and Islamic modernists see Islamic Banking as a modern phenomenon or “invented tradition”, revivalists like Mohammed Naveed insist it is “as old as the religion itself with its principles primarily derived from the Quran”.[8][9] An early market economy and an early form of mercantilism, sometimes called Islamic capitalism, was developed between the eighth and twelfth centuries.[10] The monetary economy of the period was based on the widely circulated currency the gold dinar, and it tied together regions that were previously economically independent.

      A number of economic concepts and techniques were applied in early Islamic banking, including bills of exchange, partnership (mufawada, including limited partnerships, or mudaraba), and forms of capital (al-mal), capital accumulation (nama al-mal),[11] cheques, promissory notes,[12] (Muslim traders are known to have used the cheque or ṣakk system since the time of Harun al-Rashid (9th century) of the Abbasid Caliphate.[13]), trusts (see Waqf),[14] transactional accounts, loaning, ledgers and assignments.[15] Organizational enterprises independent from the state also existed in the medieval Islamic world, while the agency institution was also introduced during that time.[16][17] Many of these early capitalist concepts were adopted and further advanced in medieval Europe from the 13th century onwards.[11]

      Usury in Islam
      (Further information: Riba)

      The word “riba” literally means “excess or addition”, and has been translated as interest, usury, excess, increase or addition. According to Shariah terminology, it implies any excess compensation without due consideration (consideration does not include time value of money).[citation needed]

      According to Islamic economists Choudhury and Malik[18] by the time of Caliph Umar, the prohibition of interest was a well-established working principle integrated into the Islamic economic system.

      This interpretation of usury has not been universally accepted or applied in the Islamic world. A school of Islamic thought which emerged in the 19th century, led by Syed …Ahmad Khan, argued for a differentiation between sinful “usury”, which they saw as restricted to lending for consumption, and legitimate “interest”, for lending for commercial investment.[19]

      Not many 10-baggers in there, Allah be praised

      1. JustAnObserver

        Just on the bit about the difference in numbers of translations.

        One explanation may be that the original languages of what we now call the Old/New Testaments are Aramaic/Classical Greek respectively. Since these are both long “dead” any translation also, necessarily, involves some level of interpretation aka guesswork … leading to lots of “new” versions as both historical knowledge and political requirements change.

        Contrast the Quran written in a still extant language – Arabic. O.k. its changed a bit since then but still leaves less scope for interpretation.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Classical – well, Greco-Roman – Greek was officially the written language of Greece until the 60’s. Kazantzakis was one of the first authors to publish in modern Greek.

          Aramaic is another matter. In general, I think you’re right: both Testaments, especially the Old, are so old that no one really knows what they mean.

        2. RabidGandhi

          Greek ain’t dead yet! The NT was not written in Classical (Ancient) Greek, but rather in Koine Greek which is mostly understandable to most Modern Greek speakers.

          Aramaic is also very similar to some Arabic dialects still spoken in the Syria region (or at least before the civil war)– although it’s a moot point as there are no extant original Aramaic texts.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The cheque or sakk system, in 9th century AD, sounds a lot like the fore-runner of paper money or ‘fly money’ of Song/Yuan China (the 10th century to the14th).

        Who knows, maybe they can give China a run for her money, or Yuan, as the inventor of paper money?

    3. Lexington

      Your criticisms of the Original Sin piece are well taken, and thank you for sparing me the task. However I think you lose the thread when you start criticizing The Book. Books don’t determine the people that we are. It’s fashionable today to lay all the world’s ills at the feet of religion but strangely neither Hitler nor Stalin were religious; the ideologies they espoused in fact made a fetish of their modernity.

      I also think its interesting that Factor concludes her essay with the following comment: “That is what the world looked like before we gained the knowledge of good and evil.” Here’s the thing: once you reject the validity of some conception of the divine, you lose the right to use the language of good and evil. By definition “good” is what is pleasing to God, and “evil” what is hateful to him. To paraphrase Dostoevsky, if there is no God then all is permitted.

      That’s just a little too much of a good thing for most atheists however.

    4. Oregoncharles

      She’s making an extremely important point, but in the process she’s pretty one-sided. Not enough anthropology in her background.

      It’s true that there’s a contradiction between male and female interests, plus the danger of competing for resources. But all animals face that (plants are mostly hermaphroditic), and there are a great many solutions. The human solution, overall, is to entangle men’s and women’s lives so thoroughly that it’s difficult for them to compete.

      It doesn’t always work. Her analysis applies primarily to civilizations, a relatively new departure (5000 yrs vs. 200,000) that has proven very destructive. Civilization, with its ability to accumulate, threw off the balance that exists, in various forms, in primitive societies. Even there it varies, of course, but not with the ruthlessness it can in civilization. It isn’t an accident she references Neolithic graves – that’s the beginning of agriculture and therefore civilization.

      I actually think the new balance of power in Western society is based in our physical circumstances, not just accidents of culture. On that I’m a Marxist: our livelihood drives the culture. But she’s right that religion is a powerful reactionary force. The worst examples, like IS, are coming from very retro areas that are experiencing breakdowns. Instability brings out the worst in people (so be careful what you wish for.)

      The countervailing biology is that females are more important than males, who are disposable (because, as she points out, it only takes a few). But evolutionary interests aren’t always the same as personal ones; Nature isn’t even a little sentimental. Arrangements like combat mating (horses, lions, deer) that serve the biological interests of females, enabling them to select the fittest males, can be extremely uncomfortable for them and even counteradaptive in the short term. I think warfare is an example of combat mating run amok.

      Realistically, the recent unpleasantness in front of the Cologne train station results directly from a disastrous culture clash. It was inevitable when so many young males from an incompatible culture were admitted. Of course, they aren’t even following their own standards: definitely not appropriate behavior for guests. The police will have to be more vigilant, and quite a few refugees will have to be expelled. This is part of a much larger challenge for Europe – we’re fortunate to be much farther away.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I asked an actual, female anthropologist to read that article. Her response:

        “——-about the fairly grim article—one wonders who Janet is or more important where she got this stuff—she doesn’t offer much hope, or explain the situations where these things do not happen. I didn’t read it all as it seemed whiny and repetitive though part sounded kind of smart—but then I noticed she doesn’t give the correct definition of sexual selection——Actually it was defined by Darwin who wrote a lot about it. It is selection for features that enhance an individual’s chance of mating, irrespective of whether it aids that individual’s survival—some of the best examples are male birds who have elaborate feathers, or do mating dances that expose them to predators but may win them a chance to mate first. So he saw it as a special type of selection—one that seems counter-intuitive. Or a guy with lots of muscle and such that may lead to early mating but later leads to an early death. It isn’t about force or rape…….and sometimes he thought it worked in concert with natural selection—he wrote about different culture’s preferences for certain characteristics in the opposite sex and found that for instance in areas where, say, dark skin is favored both in attracting a mate and by natural selection because of too-much solar radiation in equatorial areas, and similarly the opposite in areas with too little solar radiation and too little Vit.D (we would say now)——Darwin was interested in exploring these aspects of natural selection. About alpha baboons siring all the offspring—that may look like the case to someone looking at baboons on the savannah, but the last 10 years or so investigators have used baboon-poop to identify genes of all the individuals in a troop and have found by testing the offspring that lots of the non-alpha males have offspring——they just sneak around to do their mating, distract the alpha or whatever they need to do. DNA testing has put a hole in lots of the old beliefs. It’s also gotten lots of wrongly-convicted people freed—and it has shown that genes of ancient people traveled around, meaning we’re all a lot more closely related than people used to think—you gotta love it.

        So, Charles again: Holes you can drive a truck through. It doesn’t really work that way.

  21. GlobalMisanthrope

    Re: Original Sin: the sexual motivation of religious extremists

    I really don’t mean to be a contrarian. I mean, I think even my employees would tell you I’m a pretty agreeable guy. But. Holy Gender and Ethnic Studies first semester term paper, Batman!

    What a bunch of florid nonsense. Fifty Shades of Gray for the geopolitical neophyte. While reading I heard a voice screaming in my head: Please support a premise. Any premise. The sexual motivation behind religious extremism would be a good place to start, but…No? Okay. You pick one. Please, just one.

    I started a list of the things of which the author appears to have no grasp. It’s a partial list because I was too addled by the overheated prose to pay as close attention as a comprehensive list would have required. Here it is:

    science, in general, and biology and evolution, in particular
    sex v. gender
    hetero-patriarchal domination
    homo-social cultures
    the Enlightenment

    Ironically, these appear to be her subjects. She should send it to Rod Dreher. It sounds like the stuff he regularly excerpts in his column for Very Serious Thinkers on Matters Religious over at The American Conservative.

  22. JerryDenim

    Guardian Story- Buffalo, drugs, poor people:

    Did anyone besides me notice the ‘journalist’ who wrote the story has a bio that says he is some kind of fancy astrophysicist that instead of a career in science or industry choose to grub money on Wall Street for twenty years as a trader?

    “Chris Arnade received his PhD in physics from Johns Hopkins University in 1992. He spent the next 20 years working as a trader on Wall Street. He left trading in 2012 to focus on photography. His “Faces of Addiction” series explores addiction in the south Bronx neighbourhood in New York City”

    Chris Arnade presumably made so much money and was so disillusioned with his work as a trader he now tours the de-industrialized, depopulated former centers of US industry taking voyeuristic, exploitative pictures of poor people using drugs or generally not doing so well. Just to make it a little more obnoxious he chooses to re-enforce negative stereotypes about people of color in poor communities by profiling drug addicts or high school dropouts who became pregnant as teenagers. To his credit his articles seem to always be littered with platitudes and disclaimers about the blamelessness of the poor, but why not take pictures of the many hard-working people struggling to get by and raise families in the Bronx but still managing to thrive? How cliche. With twenty years of Wall Street experience and a PhD you would think Arnade might be well equipped to explain how Buffalo lost almost all of it’s former manufacturing jobs, where they went and who is responsible, but no, all we get is Jerry Springer style voyeurism. “Gasp! Fly-over country sucks! There’s no Dean and DeLucas here! And oh my god, there’s black people! Using heroin!” Arnade lazily blames “the government, trade policy, technology, etc.” as vague, faceless culprits in much the same way one might invoke other timeless, natural phenomena against which mankind is helpless; ‘the tides, the weather, the passage of time’ etc.

    Better still than educating his audience with some real reportage perhaps Arnade should dispense with the hand wringing and photography and pitch in to help instead. The last three years I lived in Manhattan my wife worked at a non-profit in the South Bronx that was dedicated to making it a better place for all. She worked on housing and transportation issues, crime/safety, and fought to help bring healthy foods and good jobs to the South Bronx. She successfully worked with the NYPD to close down an illegal prescription drug ring, she worked with the community to prevent two different liquor stores from opening in areas her organization was attempting to revitalize, she helped local small business owners promote themselves and navigate bureaucratic red-tape, she oversaw a small business kitchen incubator which provided space and very cheap rents (almost free) for South Bronx residents selling food products to grocery stores and local restaurants, she also directed a city-backed green cart program in the South Bronx and a subsidized organic farm share program for families that would not be able to afford high quality vegetables or have access otherwise. I was lucky enough to volunteer to help on some of these initiatives and Arnade could do the same. A few times I was even asked to take pictures, but the other kind. Happy, positive, kind. Photos showing people from the South Bronx succeeding, overcoming, thriving.

    Maybe I’m just a jerk, and maybe I get Arnade all wrong, but there’s something that rubs me really wrong about a white male, PhD, ex-Wall Street trader who takes exploitive photos of poor minorities and writes about how bad things are outside the prosperous US metroplexes without digging a little deeper into the root causes and who’s behind the massive shift in American fortunes.

    1. craazyman

      I’m not sure it’s as bad as shooting Yosemite like Ansel for the 344,839th time or the Antarctica landscape cruise.

      The one thing this dude did right was he made the money first. If he tried to take those pictures first he might end up in the pictures not taking the pictures.

      The funny thing is any of those people in the pictures could take the same pictures with a $29 digital camera and put them on Flickr but it would never be on a newspaper’s web site. They could take pictures all week and take a bus to a library and then upload to Flickr on the library computer. They wouldn’t even need an internet connection. But it would take a lot of discipline because you could only see your pictures once per week.

  23. cripes

    Your horrifying description of thirty-something (last week my interviewer was 29) ” happy-
    dappy, team-player, super-social extroverted” college girls comports 100% with my recent experience applying for work I am “over-qualified” for. Isn’t that an oxymoron anway? I suspect that viscerally they feel i should be interrogating them, and basically are more comfortable hiring a young woman who can talk about eco-trips and shopping or maybe a cute guy. Despite all their typical blather about diversity and inclusion, there is little in evidence in their workplace, unless you consider the janitorial staff. This is what we’ve come to.

  24. ChrisPacific

    Good article on Sanders from Bloomberg, despite the horrendous one-line summary of MMT. Much better was this quote:

    Bernie Sanders is not a leader so much as a messenger. And his message can fit on a Post-it note: The rich are screwing you.

    Given that this is (a) self-evidently true and (b) denied by all the other major candidates, I’d call it a pretty powerful message.

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