Links 12/28/2016

Anthrax in the Arctic: why wolves are the least of a reindeer’s worries this Christmas New Statesman

What’s Happening to the Bees and Butterflies? NYRB

What will all the ‘stuff’ you own mean when you’re older? The Conversation

Panasonic to invest over $256 million in Tesla’s U.S. plant for solar cells Reuters (EM).

Trans-Siberian Railway: a view from Moscow to Vladivostok – a photo essay Guardian (JH)

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Can an Amazon Echo Testify Against You? Selectall (resilc)

An update on all the legal cases we thought would be huge in 2016 Ars Technica

The Crisis Manager’s Cheat Sheet for 2017 Foreign Policy

Black Lives Matter

KING: Black family brutalized by Texas police when trying to report a man assaulting their child  NY Daily News (guurst)

2016 Post Mortem

Why People Vote for Counterproductive Policies Why People Vote for Counterproductive Policies The Atlantic (resilc)

Economists versus the Economy Project Syndicate

Health Care

More Doctors Demand Payment Upfront Truthout

To Stop Price Spikes on Prescription Drugs, a Widening Radar NYT. Gretchen Morgenson on pharma price gouging.

Ohio Democratic Star, Nina Turner, To Keynote Single-Payer Conference Plunderbund (Phil U)

Fights, disturbances shut down malls across U.S. Reuters

Did a US Firm Use a Doctor-Industry Nexus in India To Push Through an Untested Drug? The Wire

Report: Netanyahu Threatened New Zealand Daily Beast (resilc)


Turkey Pledges to Work for Syria Cease-Fire in Mediator Role Bloomberg

Erdogan says he has evidence US-led coalition has given support to Isis Independent

Are India, Iran and Russia Parting Ways on Afghanistan?  The Wire

Syria Roundup: Aleppo Liberated – Turkey’s Problems Increase Moon of Alabama (Chuck L)

What went wrong? A withering West Al Jazeera

Traveller’s tales TLS

Stun guns and male crew: Korean Air to get tough on unruly passengers Reuters


Brexit, pursued by a fear New Statesman

Brexit a real opportunity for Britain, says King The Times

Corbyn hits back after Obama suggests Labour is disintegrating Guardian

Class Warfare

Beyond Bread and Butter Jacobin

Election Losses Don’t Stop Corporate Efforts to Block Voter-Approved Minimum Wage Hikes Truthout

Outrage Over the Economy Doesn’t Explain Surging Global Populism Bloomberg

New McCarthyism

Berlin in Lockstep with US — Planning ‘Center of Defense Against Disinformation’ Ahead of Elections Free Thought Project

Innenministerium will Abwehrzentrum gegen Falschmeldungen einrichten Der Spiegel

US anti-propaganda law ‘may set stage for war of ideas with China’ SCMP


As China Pivots, Trump Risks Fighting an Old War WSJ

China is on a massive bitcoin buying spree Boing Boing (resilc)

Israeli Police call for criminal probe into Netanyahu Corruption Veterans Today

Trump Transition

Henry Kissinger has ‘advised Donald Trump to accept’ Crimea as part of Russia Independent

Donald Trump’s Cabinet Picks Disagree With President-Elect on Some Key Issues WSJ


California, at Forefront of Climate Fight, Won’t Back Down to Trump NYT

Will Trump Break the Special Forces? The Atlantic (resilc)

Americans Want Foreign-Policy Restraint The American Conservative

US Russia Relations: Rex Tillerson’s ExxonMobil Could Restart Russia Operations If Trump Cancels Sanctions International Business Times

‘The Wealthy Would Never Steal’ — A Credo for Trump’s Party New York magazine (resilc)

Who Will Do What Harry Reid Did Now That Harry Reid Is Gone? New York magazine

The Fed has given Trump cover to unwind a key Wall Street rule Business Insider

Fighting Mass Incarceration Under Trump: New Strategies, New Alliances Truthout

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. jim A

      At first I misread that as “Sten guns and male crew” and I thought that they were getting REALLY serious

      1. MtnLife

        A pilot friend told me some of them carry fully automatic BB guns (fully legal, no background checks, not going to kill anyone). They may only be coming out at 400 fps but 30 of them in 3 sec to the facial region is really going to mess up your day without seriously endangering passengers, the envelope of the plane, and not needing to be all that accurate.

    2. Cry Shop

      Meh, Air Marshals (and pilots with some airlines) in the USA carry pistols as well as other less than ( effectively 100%) lethal weapons.

  1. Jim Haygood

    ‘Netanyahu reportedly called New Zealand’s foreign minister before last week’s United Nations vote on the settlements and threatened that “Your actions are a declaration of war,” according to a new Haaretz report.

    How comforting that this volatile little man commands an estimated 200 state-of-the-art nuclear weapons, completely free of any IAEA verification. Thanks, America!

    p.s. Where is our $3.5 billion check?

    1. Bugs Bunny

      I think you meant $38 billion. It’s over ten years though and will be used for weapons that the US will sell them. Hopefully not against lovely New Zealand.

      1. Jim Haygood

        A legal challenge to U.S. aid to Israel was filed in August and amended in November:

        Legal history was made last week in Washington D.C. federal court, in a suit filed over America’s ongoing illegal aid to Israel.

        The billions of dollars of “aid” which the U.S. provides to Israel is illegal under a 1976 law which forbids aid to any nuclear-armed state which has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

        Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but is a known nuclear power and recipient of U.S. aid.

        Submitted by Grant Smith, director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRMEP), a D.C. nonprofit organization, the lawsuit says that the United States has given Israel an estimated $234 billion in foreign aid since Congress passed the “International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act” of 1976.

        Of course, the US federal courts will punt this political hot potato. But the discovery process could be highly interesting if allowed to proceed.

        The US policy of head-in-the-sand ambiguity toward Israel’s “open secret” nuclear arsenal is really untenable — not to mention recklessly dangerous, with the unhinged Netanyahu verbally threatening war against US ally NZ.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          No aid, but perhaps we can gift them.

          And before we start gifting them from now on, we Jubilee the past.

            1. John Zelnicker

              @cnchal & Tom_Doak – IIRC, 75% of the $38 billion is required to be spent on American made arms.

          1. human

            Which is the ends of the transfer of wealth and treasure from the US taxpayer, however, the means of further supplying such a regime, constantly, with the latest in military firepower is the (absurd) justification.

          2. Edward

            This is true for the latest $38 billion only. In the past, unlike other foreign aid, the money given to Israel did not have to be used making purchases from U.S. firms. In fact, it subsidized Israeli competition to U.S. companies. The Israelis would also trade U.S. military secrets with countries such as China, which also hurt U.S. military contractors. Finally, the Israelis have successfully blocked U.S. military sales to Saudi Arabia.

            On the other hand, the Arab-Israeli conflict has increased military spending by the region.

    2. clinical wasteman

      The very idea of NZ foreign minister Murray McCully ((“outgoing” but apparently still there: []) declaring anything except allegiance to the Pacific storefront of the Atlantic Alliance (or semi-sorriness for one misadventure after another) is somewhere out there beyond ridiculous. Netanyahu probably expected — not without reason — that ‘NZ’ (the postcolonial oddity-state, not the Māori, Pasifikan and Pākehā, i.e. colonist-descended, population) would fall into line with Palau, Kiribati and the rest of its peers among South Pacific tax havens [see Richard Smith at NC passim]. Or else he assumed that it’s diplomatically speaking part of Australia, which has also been more or less the case since the ‘anti-nuke’ orators of the Lange/Palmer/Roger Douglas/Mike Moore Labour governments handed the neoliberalizing torch to the settler (“King Country” = Māori sovereign territory) Latifundista Jim Bolger in 1990. What Bibi pretended not to see was that ‘NZ’ was following the usual instructions this time too: the official line just happened to involve a harmlessly different rhetorical spin [].

  2. Jim Haygood

    Venezuelans bail for … the Dominican Republic?

    About 170,000 Venezuelans are expected to arrive in the Dominican Republic this year, triple the rate of five years ago. Most come on tourist permits that last 30 days, but many stay longer and pay a fine if they leave.

    While Venezuela has the worst-performing economy in the western hemisphere, the Dominican Republic has the best. Its predicted 5.9 percent expansion this year will make it the fastest-growing economy in the Americas for a third straight year. Venezuela’s economy is forecast to contract 10 percent.

    “I started to see them in the last six months,” said Louis Joseph, a Haitian who first came to Santo Domingo 15 years ago and sells bottled water and candy to motorists and university students. “They can’t survive in their country. They’re in the streets now with us.”

    On paper, Venezuela’s GDP per capita is double the Dominican Republic’s ($12,000 vs $6,000, roughly). But if you need a job, a less-developed growing economy beats the hell out of a richer economy in outright free fall.

    Last I heard, Maduro’s mandatory exchange of 1,000 bolivar bills (70% of the circulating currency) is still on for next week. Still time to buy a holiday in Santo Domingo with the old currency.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’ was about 15 or 20 years I visited the Dominican Republic. I recall seeing some clothes manufacturing plants owned by Taiwanese or Asian companies. I wonder if there was some free trade deal between the US and the DP that those corporations were taking advantage of.

      I also remember the US embassy down was like a fortress.

      1. Carla

        My late husband’s company sent us on a trip down to the DR in the early 90s, to a fancy resort called Casa de Campo. Luxury villas, two 18-hole golf courses, polo fields and stables of polo horses, beaches of course, altogether totaling 11 sq. miles if memory serves. All surrounded by barbed wire fencing with guards armed with automatic rifles at every entrance/exit. Very creepy and intimidating.

        BUT, there was a deaf-mute child who had the run of the place, and insinuated himself into the hearts of many tourists. He was looked after and cared for with great affection by all of the resort employees. My husband and I agreed from what we saw of him, and our interactions with him, the people of DR may well treat those with disabilities and afflictions with more humanity than we do in the U.S. I know, not a high bar to meet.

    2. Alejandro

      In the long established tradition of phantasmagorical extrapolations from dubious data;
      note the source of the graph in your cherrypicked link-“Dominican Republic central bank and National Statistics Office”.

      Can these “arrival” stats be corroborated with departures, and consequent “return” to country of origin?
      From the “report”–“Most come on tourist permits…There are no official figures for how many stay.”

      According to the “report”, more than 850k [ k means 1000] “arrivals” since 2007, and “Immigration on Dec. 14 rounded up and arrested more than a dozen [THAT MEANS 12] Venezuelans who officials said were working illegally in restaurants and hotels around the Punta Cana tourist zone”…has Venezuela confirmed them to be Venezuelan? From the “report”–” Calls to the office for comment were not returned.”

      Is ” worst-performing economy” v. “best”, “on paper”? And of course, “best” and “worst” performing for who?

      I don’t think anyone could deny their(Venezuela) crisis, but to distort the context to fit the lopsided narrative, is almost as contemptible as black market profiteers…ALMOST!

      To paraphrase Pogo-” I have seen the enemy, and the enemy is the parasitic rentier, usurer and sycophantic apologist in me”…

    3. Doug

      It is the 100 bolivar notes being cancelled – the highest denomination they have, yet worth only about 3 U.S. cents.

      The 100’s will be replaced by much larger denominations which didn’t arrive from over-seas printers in time, creating the disturbances of the past several weeks. Apparently, the lessons from Zimbabwe haven’t been learned.

      The new bills didn’t arrive in time because Venezuela didn’t have the foreign reserves to pay for them.

  3. tgs

    US Russia Relations: Rex Tillerson’s ExxonMobil Could Restart Russia Operations If Trump Cancels Sanctions

    Maybe, but there will be more sanctions to cancel by the time Trump gets to office. The Obama regime is about to announce its plans to punish Russia for hacking our election. The punishment apparently includes more sanctions and cyber attacks.

    Obama administration is close to announcing measures to punish Russia for election interference

    I like this passage from the WaPo article linked above.

    Criminal indictments of Russians might become an option, officials said, but the FBI has so far not gathered enough evidence that could be introduced in a criminal case.

    So, Russia hacked our election (whatever that means) but we don’t have the kind of evidence needed to bring a criminal case against specific individuals. I remember and I am sure many others do that a few weeks back we were told by the NYT and WaPo that Putin actually directed the hacking.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps they are distinguishing between evidence needed to bring a case, versus just evidence.

      I don’t know how that works, but I can imagine one or two circumstances…illegal wire tapping, or exposing our source(s).

      1. tgs

        I don’t know but it seems to me that if you are going to punish another nation and/or individuals in the government of said nation, then the evidence should at least meet the standards necessary to bring criminal charges.

        What I get from the article is that Obama’s advisors are try to modify the laws so that Obama can order the punishment, including cyber attacks, by executive order. If I understand this correctly, Obama wants the legal grounds to order punishment without having to get congressional approval. It seems highly unlikely, given the current hysteria, that congress would object. But there may be some Republicans and maybe a Democrat or two who might ask about evidence. And apparently that is what Obama is trying to avoid – actually giving evidence.

        1. different clue

          The only “Democrat” who would ask for any such evidence is Sanders. The rest are all Clintonites-against-Trump on this issue and will look for any tire iron, however illegal, to beat Trump with.

        2. Edward

          If Obama actually were given this authority it would soon be in the hands of political bogey man Donald Trump. It would be interesting to watch the hand-wringing over that if Trump used the power in a controversial way.

          Even if Obama doesn’t gain this authority he can still order a drone strike against Putin. I wonder at what point other countries decide to punish U.S. officials?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I could also use a good explanation why it’s Tillerson’s ExxonMobil. His? Does one own the market when one buys a few shares of an S&P500 index EFT?

      Moreover, presumably, he will divest his shares in ExxonMobil. And if he does a good job at the State Dpt, he might move on to bigger and better things. Does he necessarily care or have a direct and immediate personal motivation to bias his acts towards Russian in his new job?

      1. Leigh

        ” move on to bigger and better things” – guess the millions he is making at Exxon won’t cut it in a year or two – with inflation and all.

    3. Daryl

      What would indicting a Russian even mean, considering the Russian gov’t is unlikely to extradite people to further US political causes?

      Perhaps a little fundraising by seizing Russian assets in the US?

  4. cocomaan

    The article on Amazon Echo is bizarre. I can’t tell if the author is serious or not.

    Amazon’s Echo (and its main competitor, the Google Home) works by passively recording everything you say. None of this information is actually sent to Amazon. Think of it more like taking notes in class — as if you’re listening but not writing anything down until your professor actually says something important.

    First, the tortured analogy. Next, the idea that none of the information is sent to amazon. Says who? Amazon? Unless someone has gone in and unpacked the (black box) code, the fact of the matter is that YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT ECHO IS RECORDING. Amazon’s Echo FAQ should not be trusted.

    My wife and I know people who have multiple Echos in their home, including in their bedroom. These are very smart, otherwise very successful people. My only consolation is that the first whiff anyone has that Alexa is recording you other than with the key word, people will probably ditch the device and we can be done with this awful experiment in surveillance.

    Best part of the article:

    Still, if any of this has you feeling uneasy about your Amazon Echo, you can always head to, find your Echo, and delete out all of your old voice recordings.

    Hahaha, sure, buddy, deleting your files off their UI definitely gives you full control. Good grief.

    1. diptherio

      Tortured analogy is right!

      Amazon’s Echo…works by passively recording everything you say…Think of it more like taking notes in class — as if you’re listening but not writing anything down until your professor actually says something important.

      So it’s recording everything, but also “not writing anything down.” Interesting…I wonder if the author knows what the definition of recording is.

      Seems like these would be great devices for blackmailers to hack…just sayin’

      1. Leigh

        “…works by passively recording everything you say…”

        The word “passively” cracks me up – “They were lined up and passively shot dead”.

        1. Lemmy

          “…works by passively recording everything you say…”

          Wait, but isn’t that better than actively recording everything you say?

      2. fresno dan

        December 28, 2016 at 9:46 am

        What I’m concerned about is whether is can read lips…..

        (the scene where HAL reads lips)

        ECHO: Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that. I’ve seen your …uh, thingy, and ordering the new sexdoll 6000 would only cause disappointment… the doll.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      You have to have a serious fear of turning on/off your own lights or to buy one of these.

      Has everyone forgotten about “The Clapper?”

      Come to think of it, this is the first xmas season I haven’t seen wall-to-wall commercials for The Clapper. amazon and / or google probably bought the patent and shelved it for good.

      1. Lemmy

        I think the ultimate goal of all these high-tech gizmos is to render it unnecessary for a person to ever leave the bed, or even to sit upright. Merely state your need (or soon, just think it), and your AI-enabled domicile will instantly fulfill your desires — entertainment, communication, food, bathing, lighting, heating and cooling — the riches of the material world delivered instantly, without effort or concern, like a thirsty Roman emperor who requests a cool drink containing crushed ice from the Alps.

          1. clincial wasteman

            Or you run out of Appropriate desires. As for running out of money: yes, quite, but a lot of people seem to think they can “put their money to work” for them, so perhaps that’s the (target) mark(et). Hard to know which of those people’s eccentricities to gasp at first: the confidence that the bet will pay off, or the failure to notice that “money” — in the context of their daydream — is a polite way of saying “other people somewhere else”.

            1. clinical wasteman

              apologies to moderators for mistyped username above (by-product of exaggerated auto-complete aversion). Neither socks nor puppets involved: wouldn’t dream of trespassing on the ground of Tony Millionaire [].

    3. PQS

      I was paranoid about the Roomba…and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have any connectivity, nor does it record anything.
      Personal assistant connected to both the ‘net and Large Corp? No. Way.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      I’d wager that most people know that cell phones can track their location, hoover up their personal info, record their conversations, etc, etc but that doesn’t stop most people from owning one anyway. The populace has been convinced that owning the device that constantly spies on them is a necessity.

      Don’t think learning that Echo is doing the same thing would deter most people from using it. ‘Convenience’ and all…

      1. cocomaan

        Fortunately, I can barely hear the person I’m talking to through my smartphone, so I am not optimistic that it can actually hear me from someplace else in the house, especially compared to someone’s Echo I have experience with. But point taken.

        1. hunkerdown

          The microphoneS (often there is an extra mic to cancel ambient noise) in a phone are exquisitely sensitive. The losses you’re hearing are those from crushing that comparatively high-fidelity signal into a few thousand bits per second for transmission to/from the base station.

          I’ve often wondered whether the relatively high difficulty in buying a smartphone with less than two cameras has something to do with the SIGINT Enabling Project. (Not that I’m foily…)

    5. carycat

      Wonder if Mr. B gave Mr. T and all the other attendees an Echo at Mr. T’s tech summit. ATT and all the other big telcom players all said, scout’s honor, they don’t listen in on their customer’s phone calls, so no worries because Fortune 500 companies are such ethical people. That may even be technically true because the 3 letter agencies and their minions (human or otherwise) are doing the actual listening. So if you are too lazy to go to to delete your idle chit chat, I can sell you a cloth to wipe it with (maybe I’ll even list it on Amazon’s marketplace).

    6. Daryl

      It should be fairly simple to determine whether it’s sending everything home by analyzing network traffic.

      Of course, just because it doesn’t right now, doesn’t mean that Amazon or your local three letter agency cannot alter it to do so in the future.

  5. cocomaan

    One thing lost in all the hullabaloo about Russian hacks is that the Obama administration’s record on cyber security has been terrible. Off the top of my head I can think of several compromising cases:

    * Anything having to do with HRC’s bathroom server, of course
    * The Sony hack that Obama said was North Korea, but other experts say was probably just Trump’s 400 lb fat guy on a bed.
    * The alleged Chinese hacking of OPM
    * And undoubtedly the “CYBER 911!!” of the alleged Russian interference in the election.

    I don’t see anyone talking about the fact that cyber infrastructure looks like it’s been hit by birdshot. All the while, Obama’s intelligence teams are mining information on Americans as extralegally as possible.

  6. ex-PFC Chuck

    re: ‘The Wealthy Would Never Steal’ — A Credo for Trump’s Party

    They just pay their lobbyists and Congress critters to tilt the playing field. Thus they don’t have to steal. And if they get too greedy, like the FIRE sector, they don’t get prosecuted.

    1. Bunk McNulty

      I suppose it should not come as a surprise to learn that Lawrence Kudlow has never read Le Père Goriot.

      “The secret of a great success for which you are at a loss to account is a crime that has never been found out, because it was properly executed.”

    2. David Carl Grimes

      I bet that quite a few of them got rich in the first place by stealing from their investors (unexplained fees), employees (wage theft), or pensioners, or homeowners (foreclosures).

      1. LifelongLib

        No, because as far as they’re concerned everything is rightfully theirs. It’s we who stole or extorted it from them with things like income taxes and labor unions. They’re just getting their own back.

  7. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Can an Amazon Echo Testify Against You? Selectall (resilc)

    So, I’m not sure which of these quotes is creepier:

    Amazon’s Echo (and its main competitor, the Google Home) works by passively recording everything you say. None of this information is actually sent to Amazon. (Sure, I really believe that.)


    And, according to Bates’s defense attorney, police are actually focusing more on the data collected from his smart water meter than his Echo. Police say an abnormal amount of water was used when they believe Collins was killed, allegedly an indicator of Bates having washed away blood.

    You’re pretty much forced to have a water meter that can rat you out, but actually choosing to buy an echo that can corroborate it’s story sounds like sheer lunacy to me.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Does anyone know the Amish positions on all these new gadgets like Echo, smartphone, robots, etc?

    2. jrs

      Also how useless it is. Your computer may be spying on you (or at least the NSA is) but it’s also an extremely useful device, so that’s a hard trade off, even a cell phone is rather useful (smart or dumb). But an echo? Really getting into diminishing returns here ….

    3. Lambert Strether

      > a water meter that can rat you out

      In Maine, there was a biggish reaction against electrical meters that didn’t need to be read, because they send the information directly to the home office (and could be controlled from there). Your comment makes me wonder how much of the reaction came from growers….

  8. Tom_Doak

    I was intrigued to read how Harry Reid would be missed on Capitol Hill, considering how much great legislation he’s pushed through as the Democrats’ leader in the Senate. But apparently he is thicker-skinned than most of his peers. The money quote:

    “We as public servants would be better off not worrying about everybody liking us, because it’s easy to be around here and get reelected and reelected and reelected and not take stands on much of anything.”

    It’s too bad Harry can’t take every other incumbent home with him. Meanwhile, my Congressman’s opponent this year was the same woman who’d lost to him the last two times.

    1. a different chris

      >my Congressman’s opponent this year was the same woman

      Well YMMV but .I don’t have a problem with this in general. It would be nice to have behind every Senator and Rep a person who really wanted the job to stay around and telling anybody who would listen (the other problem, unfortunately) why they would have done something different at any and every given moment. Like the Shadow Cabinets in Britain.

      We instead have people like Faux News to take the shots, who tell us what’s bad with our representative, but nothing about the putative replacement that shows up from nowhere in election season.

      Doesn’t mean youth shouldn’t be served, doesn’t mean failure should be rewarded, just saying that “the same woman” is not near enough one way or the other.

  9. Jim Haygood

    Trump mocks Obama’s “Thanks, Obama!” exclamation at a Sep 13th Hillary rally:

    The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index for December surged nearly four points to 113.7, THE HIGHEST LEVEL IN MORE THAN 15 YEARS! Thanks Donald!

    Poor square-headed Keith Olbermann doesn’t get the parody:

    This guy @realDonaldTrump is out of his mind. “Thanks Donald!”? Seriously? Not “Thanks – Donald” or “My thanks” – HE’S THANKING HIMSELF

    Thanking your own self — B-B-B-A-A-A-D-D-D!!!

    High-fiving and fist-pumping is prohibited until further notice.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Fist pumping is like exaggerating the number of jobs you have just saved in a plant.

      You get your opponents to react emotionally. “He’s pulling numbers out of his ***hole!!!!” “Yes, he’s right,” says the leader who endorsed Hillary. The visual is just bad, for workers worrying about job security.

      It’s tough enough Trump bluffs plenty in this poker game. Now, you are falling for this trick to lose it emotionally.

    2. Steve C

      Don’t normally defend Obama, the Underemployment President, but he was parodying the meme where Republicans blame every little thing going wrong on him. Like a guy getting his car washed and it starts pouring down rain and he says, “thanks a lot Obama!”

      Of course to me whenever Obama makes a joke, it just comes off as smug.

  10. Jim Haygood

    Post mortem bonanza:

    The unusually high number of deaths of iconic musicians in 2016 — and the rush of fans to scoop up their albums — will likely boost the bottom lines of the major record labels, Neilsen said Tuesday.

    “This was different from other years,” Dave Bakula of Neilsen told The Post. “The news cycle is very viral. I’ve never seen a year like this before, the number of big- name artists passing away.”

    “The music industry is getting an extra boost from the celebration [of artists’ lives],” he added.

    Let’s hope the record companies don’t go proactive with this phenomenon … until we get the chance to celebrate THEIR demise. :-)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The people (and animals, plants…for rock collectors, rocks) that we grew up with, grow old with – they (hate them, love them or indifferent towards them) – they make up our world.

      When one’s 85, living in a nursing home, one has little in common with the 20 or 30 yr old workers there. They are not part of one’s world, which drifts away little by little. Death gets a little closer….

      1. Jim Haygood

        From Marketwatch:

        Social commentators argue that mourning friends and family online has also gone too far. Once considered outrageous, funeral selfies are passé.

        Social networkers are trampling on cultural taboos by taking and posting open-casket photos of the dead, writing long tributes to friends and loved ones in the past tense (before they’ve passed away) and setting up Facebook photo albums of the trip to a friend’s funeral — including airport check-ins, photos of pre-funeral drinks and, as the piece de resistance, photographs of themselves holding the coffin.

        Good taste, comrades: it ain’t what it used to be. Hit back at ’em with a garish graphic headstone.

        1. fresno dan

          Jim Haygood
          December 28, 2016 at 11:37 am

          It won’t be worthwhile unless you show me (when I’m the corpse) decomposing (educational). as just pictures of the mourner is rather self absorbed…..
          and maybe with some audio of the maggots munching…..

    2. Susan C

      On my way to finding out that the singer who I thought had the name George Michael was actually Robert Palmer – really took hours for me to find who that singer was as I recalled the video so perfectly in my mind – next learned that Robert Palmer passed away a few years back from cardiac arrest and that both Emerson and Lake died this year. It is just sad. Just to be clear, Robert Palmer was not in ELP.

      1. Pat

        Wow Robert Palmer has been dead for over a decade and somehow I missed it. Addicted to Love was such an iconic video.

        I do have to say that 2016 has run a deep swath through pop/rock musicians I have spent many hours enjoying.

    3. tongorad

      Reminds me of one of my favorite Smith’s songs, “Paint a Vulgar Picture:”

      At the record company meeting
      On their hands – a dead star
      And ooh, the plans they weave
      And ooh, the sickening greed
      At the record company party
      On their hands – at last a dead star
      The sycophantic slags all say:
      “I knew him first, and I knew him well”
      Re-issue! Re-package! Re-package!
      Re-evaluate the songs

    4. clinical wasteman

      The record companies are dead already, and good riddance. The pretence that music is capital-intensive to produce crumbled at least a couple of decades ago, and now the myth of ‘distribution’/’marketing’ cost has gone the same way. Hence huge unmarketed ‘hits’ — inasmuch as that even still means anything — for Stormzy and Skepta over the last couple of years, with the ironclad Awful Records of Atlanta sure to do the same in North America soon.
      But now we need a second definition of “dead”, because the record companies can’t be allowed to share a post-mortem condition with Lemmy (pre-NC incarnation), Alan Vega, Prince, Roddy Pain, Bobby Hutcherson, Leonard Cohen or Bowie.

    5. hunkerdown

      The artist is dead. Why am I paying these dead weight firms again? I’ll send $5 to the next of kin (5x what they would have made) and torrent the thing.

  11. Kniseley

    What should we think about globalization, really? It seems like capitalists are patting themselves on the back for bringing “workers in developing countries” out of poverty (with elephant graphs to prove it), while also rapaciously enriching themselves. Do they deserve any praise for this “lifting” of workers in the global south and east out of poverty? This seems like bullshit–wasn’t it just a deft relocation of the Satanic Mills to formerly colonized worlds as a new colonial strategy? Second, how does this relate, if at all, to the new populisms emerging in the global northwest? How do we explain this? Is it that global trade left the professional and nonprofessional working class in more precarious positions, or did it create a crisis of recognition for a subgroup of this class which historically benefited from racially supremacist policies as residents of the center of empire? What’s the relationship between globalization and the fact that “these people” (whom we haven’t adequately characterized–white working class? White males without education? these categories aren’t that helpful…) are so pissed off and voting for neofascists?

    1. Ranger Rick

      If I remember my Bad Samaritans correctly, Chang suggests that value-added exports combined with rigid capital controls are one of the the only ways a developing economy will ever improve — but does not indulge in the modern “white man’s burden” of globalist capitalism’s assuming a responsibility to intervene in these economies (and frequently, governments as well). But even he admits that “beggar-my-neighbor” policies have political ramifications.

      World trade undoubtedly helps somebody. But we are constantly reminded that in order for someone to win, someone else has to lose. In the case of the United States, the first sign globalism was going to crush the economy was the import of Japanese-made cars in the 60s for rock-bottom prices. The effect on industry was devastating — great for Japan, though! Then all that money that got shipped to Japan in exchange for those cars (and soon, consumer electronics) came roaring back in the 80s, and investors, especially foreign ones, became The Great Satan to the American blue-and-white-collar worker: you can actually watch this dawning on the popular consciousness by seeing the Robocop films in chronological order (and Wall Street, American Psycho, Die Hard, Glengarry Glen Ross and especially Rising Sun).

      1. Michael

        That’s part of the problem, though — those cheap, reliable Japanese cars really were very good for the people who bought them, too. As with so many things, some trade is a fantastic idea that really does make life better; hungry Japanese manufacturers gave Deming a place to go, and Deming mattered.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        All that global reserve money going out, as we binge on imports, don’t just end up in Treasury issues.

        In the 80s, the prodigal money returned, and it was used to buy real estate, among other things.

        Imports keep inflation down (inflation, what inflation, as we print money to buy imports), but when the holders of that money decide they fancy a certain product here (and it can be anything, but I will keep it simple here), for example, a medical drug made here, when, patients here will experience their ‘local’ hyper-inflation.

        Or maybe those holders of global reserve money fancy rhino horns, elephant tusks, shark’s fin, bird’s nest soup, elite college education, top school-district houses, whatever., and you will see localized hyper-inflation again.

  12. Steve H.

    Why People Vote for Counterproductive Policies

    : Rather, it seems people have difficulty predicting a law’s “equilibrium effects,” or how it will change future behavior for the better. That, or they don’t trust it will actually work.

    That word, ‘trust’. Lotta ambiguity there. By the subject being ‘a law’ you might say ‘trust how it will work’. But it could also be framed as ‘trust whom it will work for. Or should that be ‘trust who‘?

    1. jrs

      Well people don’t generally vote for policies AT ALL. Except state referendum and state/local tax/bond measures if their state has them, and sometimes in countries that have national referendum (Brexit etc.). That is voting on policy. Everything else is not. And I can tell you why people vote for bad referenda from what I’ve seen, it’s when the big money AND the establishment (all the newspapers, both political parties) all favor it, big money alone isn’t always enough.

      But usually in “representative” democracy people vote for people who may have dozens of policies they are presumed to stand for (though people may not even agree on what they are!) and even if some of it ends up being “bad policy” it may have been the “good policy” parts they voted for. Then in turn in a country with some level of democratic accountability this voting for “representatives” may produce some policy in accordance with public preference, and in a plutocracy it only endlessly reproduces plutocracy.

      I agree with the article that people seem bad at long term political thinking, but that’s the rope that’s not connected to anything that people are pulling on, or a button the rat keeps pushing that isn’t actually tied to anything. Even if it is counterproductive for the rat to keep pushing the button it thinks leads to a drug being released as the drug just leads to it being passed out in the corner of it’s cage all the time, it doensn’t really cause it’s release.

  13. olga

    On the signing of the “anti”-propaganda law – it occurs to me that this may just be a bail-out of the MSM. If one of the MSM’s problems is declining revenue – and ceasing operations is not an option (who else would publish the official line?) – the next logical step is for the govt. to help beef up the bottom line so that MSM continue to function. Makes perfect sense…

    1. Altandmain

      They are probably desperate to keep a servile media because they know the rise of the alternative media on both the left and right has left them without a monopoly on world information.

      The other is that people know that the mainstream media is a corporate stooge. Trust in the media is at record lows. I think they must be trying to stuff it down people’s throats.

      1. polecat

        it won’t work … the fake-fake news meme cat is out of the bag … and ‘enough’ people will not forget how phony and deceitful the legacy press** has become, to regain their trust … ever !

        ** includes GOOGLE,Twitter, Facebook, Huffpost, …. and yahoo .. .and other poison !

        1. different clue

          We should help it along with the meme-upgrade: MSM fake news.
          NyTimes fake reporter Judith Miller. etc.

    2. Chief Bromden


      The ACA is to the Health Insurance Oligopoly

      as the

      The NDAA is to the Establishment “Journalism” (Narrative) Oligopoly

      When all natural demand evaporates, get Uncle Sammy to mandate a permanent customer base and exterminate the competition. Free Market Corporatism 101.

  14. PQS

    Re: Fights at the Malls:
    Now that my kid is 12, the mall is in our entertainment/shopping plans. Trust me, not my choice.

    I’ve noticed that the mall in my less-than-wealthy city is almost always packed. Like to the gills packed, with families, teens (of course), and lots of young couples, many of whom do not appear to me to be actually buying anything or even able to afford to shp at a lot of the higher-end stores (like department stores or those god-awful expensive purse stores.)

    I figure it’s the weather, which is terrible in the winter around here, but also, it’s FREE to just wander around the mall. There are so few public places that are like that in America, if there ever were. No wonder they’re getting overcrowded and ripe for disturbances.

    1. polecat

      Re. ‘public spaces …’

      You know what’s also free ?? …. NATURE ! ..not ‘The Nature Store’ … but the real deal !

      .. but for our current hyper-consumer society …… that does not compute !

      …. and quite frankly, if the malls in this country implode, due to a combination of ever larger profit losses and all the idiotic, moronic ‘consumer vandals’ killing each other off …. I would miss any of them !!!

      1. polecat

        To watch a hummingbird flit around the yard, say, …. or the bamboo culms poking out of the ground …. eventually to attain their mature height & spread, to use but two examples, ….. means waaaay more to me than ANY … ‘mall’.

        1. footnote4

          @polecat, did you even read PQS’s insightful comment about the role of malls as public spaces? Obviously not their preference if they could have been watching hummingbirds flitting and bamboo culms poking:

          “the mall is in our plans … Trust me, not my choice”
          “I figure it’s the weather around here, which is terrible in the winter”

          See @Chris_arnade on Twitter for more on the topic PQS raised – but thanks for sharing your disdain.

          1. polecat

            Yes I did, and it was not a reflection on PQS, or his family … however, my point still stands ..

            i mean really …When did people have the right to act like mindless thugs …. tearing up property and hurting others, just because …. !?!?

            Now if, on the other hand, you, or he, were referring to Congressional or House Chambers, ….. well … that’s entirely different ball of wax …’;]

      2. vidimi

        there is no nature in the suburbs. they are hell: none of the culture of the cities and no nature. i commiserate with those who only have the malls for commons.

        1. polecat

          People can do things/make changes, even small ones, that can be of personal benefit …even in the burbs, believe it or not ! … But for many, it easier to not imagine bettering one’s own immediate environ ….. and instead prefer to act like stupid, boorish, uninquisitive thugs … or thuggetts … not just the ones from the ‘getto’ .. but .. the vaunted ‘snowflakes’ as well !

          1. PQS

            While I appreciate nature and “bettering one’s own immediate environ” through public gardens, vegetable patches, parks, and the like, of which there are very many where I live, and most of them are free, I can’t say that slogging around outside when it’s 45 degrees and pouring down rain is my idea of a great time, nor would I subject either an elderly person or a very small child to it….at least not for hours at a time…

            Besides, there’s plenty of “wildlife” in the indoors….humans are often very interesting to watch!

            1. polecat

              I quit going to malls over a decade ago, due to being subtly threatened by a group of ‘fine’ young inner-city gents, through no provocation by us … while trying to shop with my then nine-year old daughter ….. that ended the ‘mall’ experience for me, for good … !

        2. different clue

          I grew up in a suburb. We had frogs in our septic tank leach-field water-bubble-up marshlet. We had many kinds of birds in the yard. We had black widow spiders under the flower pots and in the retaining-wall weeper holes. Etc. etc. In other words, we had some nature in our yard.

          Of course, in those days, there was still unbuilt-on open-land in our neighborhood too. Woods, brushy fields, etc. Many suburbs don’t have that.
          Still, suburban yards can host as much small-scale nature as the householders are ready to permit.

          1. Lambert Strether

            > unbuilt-on open-land in our neighborhood too. Woods, brushy fields, etc

            Me too. Hard to imagine with a development of tract houses and cul de sacs, though I suppose in fifty years or so trees and other vegetation will have moved in…

    2. Lambert Strether

      Private space that is functioning like public space used to do… Sounds like Facebook.

      I remember when I was living in the high desert, and one day a Borders big box was helicoptered in. It was immediately packed with people buying books. Encouraging, actually.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump risking fighting an old war…WSJ.

    The playbook is familiar: China first welcomes foreign companies to build manufacturing ecosystems, and once it has forced them to disgorge their technology, squeezes them out.

    Thus, the author concludes:

    In the long run, the solution is to insist on more open Chinese markets, not to close American ones.

    So, we can disgorge more know-how?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More from the same link:

      Worse, such protectionist measures will do little to address the next China shock: Beijing’s efforts to seize the technologies that will drive American prosperity in the 21st century and provide future jobs.

      Will do little to address, and not lead to, the next China shock, writes the author.

      Is the author saying we are experiencing an economic Pearl Harbor right now, as in RIGHT NOW, that has nothing to with Trump’s protectionist measures, but they ‘will do little to address?’

      As a peacenik, I surely hope the author is wrong, in his economic-war mongering. He comes across as more hawkish than Navarro.

  16. bdy

    Minimum wage law in AZ:
    The challenge looks like a last ditch effort, but I’m curious to see whether the newly stacked court will sell us out.

    As concerning was the pre-election challenge to have the measure removed from the ballot. Even though it failed on a technicality, the court ruled in favor of its central argument. The ballot initiative process as recently written, stipulates that if a person who collected signatures fails to answer a subpoena, then every signature that person collected is disqualified.

    Anyone familiar with how those signatures are collected can see where this is heading. Collectors are often homeless, or itinerants who are out of state by the time the elections roll around. Of the hundred or so subpoenas sent out by the challengers in this case, enough failed to respond that the measure would have been struck from the ballot had the shit-for-brains attys gotten their paperwork together on time. Filing those subpoenas is costly enough to make this disqualification strategy difficult for grassroots orgs, but cheap enough so that business groups (here the restaurant association) can do it with relative ease. Another of the thousand cuts killing democracy.

  17. fosforos

    “Moon of Alabama” wrote: “The Kurdish YPG/SDF also wants these weapons [MANPADS] though their only potential enemy with an air forces[sic] is the Turkish NATO army.” That weaselword “potential” gives his game away. Erdogan is explicitly at war with the Kurdish people of Syria and Eastern Anatolia, whom he calls “terrorists,” shells and bombs with impunity while imposing massive arbitrary arrests within his borders, arms the jihadis across his border with Syria, and wants nothing more than a Russian green light to do in Syria what his NATO friends enable him to do in Turkish Kurdistan. It’s an actual war, an actual enemy. Nothing “potential” about it except the escalation coming from a Russo-Turkish rapprochement.

  18. fresno dan

    What went wrong? A withering West Al Jazeera

    (Iraq War) Instead of displaying Western dominance, it demonstrated the very severe limits of Western power. It cost trillions, killed thousands, left chaos, and achieved nothing. It morphed into the “war on terror”, which spread everywhere in the Islamic world.

    The latest incarnation of the West’s strategic limitations revealed itself through its military action in Libya, inaction in Syria, and its total incompetence in dealing with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) over the past three years. All of which led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees, many of whom ended up on the shores of Europe.
    There was no need to restrain greed, crony capitalism, misrepresentation, or even fraud. The ever-increasing level of income inequality had to be the fault of the less equal, for having less discipline, less drive, and especially, less education, while the concentration of wealth in the hands of the gross and the greedy, had to be the just rewards of virtue; and moreover, everyone would understand that and approve. That turned out to be wrong on all counts – correct on none.

    Americans wanted “change!” They wanted it so much they were willing, for the first time in their history, to do the unimaginable and elect a black president.

    He promised “change”. He promised to change the mind-set that brought about the Iraq war and the financial crisis. But the commander-in-speech only achieved tweaks as the US continued to move away from democracy towards oligarchy. The too-big-to-fail banks became bigger and America is now back in Iraq.
    I think Trump will change very little. But that is not to say that a lot hasn’t changed. A lot of punditoracy shibboleths of what can and cannot be said during campaigning have been obliterated (I STILL have a soft spot for Trump pointing out that ‘Bush did not keep us safe’). A lot of conventional wisdom about who and how to get nominated has been crushed.
    I suspect the next 4 years will be an eye opening experience for most Americans as they realize how little of what they want, and how much of what they don’t want, gets done by their politicians.
    Electing someone not vetted by the “establishment” was only the first part. Electing someone not of the establishment who really intends to do what he/she promises is the second part…

  19. Plenue

    >Corbyn hits back after Obama suggests Labour is disintegrating Guardian

    All Obama did was reveal just how little he knows of his own country, to say nothing of the UK.

    1. paul

      corbyn is now under msm radio silence.
      I cannot remember a day in the last year without the guardian slurring him or telling us, that in syria, this no fly zone will be different.
      …they are baffled that it did not work, no publicity is better than any publicity for their aims right now.

  20. different clue

    So . . . Erdogan wants to facilitate ceasefire negotiations to “spare more violence”?

    No. Ergogan wants to facilitate ceasefire negotiations to save his beloved terrorists.
    Just as Europe and the DC FedRegime want a ceasefire to save their beloved terrorists for future use in future efforts to topple Assad and create a Jihadi terrorstate.

    The way to bring peace to Syria is for the R + 6 to win the war and exterminate physically and in person every single jihadi and every single jihadi supporter within the borders of Syria so that the Lawfully and Legally Legitimate government of President Assad can restore order to Syria. Naturally the GAJ (Global Axis of Jihad) and the CLEJ ( Cannibal Liver Eating Jihadis) support a ceasefire now that it looks like the COLA ( Coalition Of Lawful Authority) might actually win the war and exterminate the rebellion.

  21. different clue

    And about Erdogan’s claims that the US supports ISIS . . . read the article and you will see what he did there. He claims for the headline to be referrencing ISIS, but in the body of his statement he mis-brands the Syrian Kurdish groups as “terrorist” so he can accuse the US of supporting “terrorists” by supporting the Kurdish groups when they fight against Erdogan’s own pet terrorists.

    Erdogan has “proof”? Let that lying piece of shit bastard publish every proof he has and let the buffalo chips fall where they may. And let the Erdogists lose everything they have invested in their Alphabet Jihadis and their part-ownership of ISIS.

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