Links 12/29/16

Cat flats: designing human apartments for feline friends CNN (David L)

Canadian man punches cougar in the face to save his dog Guardian

29 incredible close-ups of snowflakes shot with a homemade camera rig Business Insider (David L)

The Divisions of Cyprus, by Perry Anderson Defend Democracy

The world’s largest hedge fund is building an AI engine to manage the company Business Insider (Robert S). Personality tests? Has Dalio forgotten the concept of “garbage in, garbage out”? Hardly any are well validated.

Google adjusts algorithm after neo-Nazi site gains top search result for ‘did the Holocaust happen’ Daily Kos (furzy)

Facebook Safety Alerts Like Bangkok to Be Triggered More Often Bloomberg

Scientists have developed a breathalyzer to diagnose 17 diseases with one breath from a patient Quartz

‘She’s now with Carrie’Hollywood star Debbie Reynolds dies of suspected stroke after saying she wanted to be with her daughter Carrie Fisher Telegraph. One often reads about bereaved spouses dying of natural causes within hours or days of the death of their partner. I can’t think of a case of it happening with a parent.


China Fault Lines: Where Economic Turbulence Could Erupt in 2017 Bloomberg

Why Politicians Are to Blame for Most Terrorist Attacks Patrick Cockburn, Counterpunch

New Cold War

Obama administration is close to announcing measures to punish Russia for election interference Washington Post (furzy)

McCain: Russia Will ‘Undermine Democracy’ If Action Not Taken Daily Beast. Resilc: “Give him another plane to fly and crash. His 5th then?”

Indian banks warn against lifting cash withdrawal limits Financial Times


John Kerry warns Israel over peace deal with Palestinians BBC

John Kerry just delivered the sharpest attack on Israeli settlements of any top US official Vox

Secretary Kerry Remarks on Middle East Peace C-SPAN (Kevin C)

Bibi Netanyahu Makes Trump His Chump New York Times. UserFriendly: “​Friedman has a fit of clarity on Israel; than mixes metaphors like no other.”

Netanyahu is out of control Haaretz (furzy)

Obama’s Dive into the Syrian Abyss Gareth Porter, Consortium News (YY)

US Slams Claims of Turkish ‘Evidence’ Backing Islamic State Voice of America (furzy)

The Pathologies of War: Dual Propaganda Campaigns in Reporting on Syria Counterpunch (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Tor and its Discontents: Problems with Tor usage as panacea Medium. Bill B, from the article: “Download and run this and you get a free proxy / VPN; oh, yeah, but you’ll stand out like a fucking glow stick and you have no good reason to use it except as an evasion tool against state authorities. Good luck explaining that when they ask uncomfortable questions”

Popcorn! Peanuts! Iris Scan! NBA, MLB Teams Enter Biometrics Age Bloomberg. I know I should know better, but I can’t believe how readily people give up biometric information.

Trump Transition

Donald Trump’s trade policies become more shocking by the day Ambrose Evan-Pritchard, Telegraph

Trump’s Transition Team Is Stacked With Privatization Enthusiasts David Dayen, Nation

Trump Considers Moving VA Toward Privatization Wall Street Journal

Trump’s EPA Pick Rouses Suspicions Over Ties to Koch Brothers EcoWatch

John Kerry to Andrea Mitchell: U.S. Allies ‘Won’t be Swayed’ by Trump’s Tweets NBC

Trump Seeks Credit for 5,000 Sprint Jobs SoftBank Touted Earlier Bloomberg

Donald Trump wants a record crowd for his inauguration, but he may be disappointed McClatchy (resilc)

Sanders, Democratic leaders announce ‘Day of Action’ to preempt health care cuts Washington Post (UserFriendly)

Bernie Sanders is leading the Democrats into battle against Donald Trump on Jan. 15 Quartz. If they can’t get people to turn out in large enough numbers, the idea of rallies will backfire. The turnout for the protests immediately after Trump’s election was underwhelming.

Hospitals in Safety Net Brace for Health Care Law’s Repeal New York Times (furzy)

The Congressional Budget Office has some bad news for Obamacare repealers Vox (furzy)

Is #TheResistance an Effort to Re-Brand Democrats? John Laurits (martha r)

My President Was Black Ta-Nehisi Coates Atlantic. Hagiography.

TPP: How President Obama Traded Away His Legacy Lori Wallach, Huffington Post

President Obama Signs Water Bill With Big Ag ‘Poison Pill’ Rider Counterpunch (furzy)

Obama names new national monuments in Utah and Nevada despite possible legislative war Business Insider (David L)

U.S. appeals court revives Clinton email suit Reuters (furzy)

Will Obama pardon Clinton? And if he does, will she accept? The Hill (UserFriendly)

Judge orders preservation of ‘torture report’ Politico

Women’s March on Washington: a guide to the post-inaugural social justice event Guardian (furzy). Needs to have over 100,000 show up in DC to register. Organizers say they’ll have over 200,000.

Another Native-led pipeline battle bubbles up in New Jersey Grist (fruzy)

Results of Gloucester ANGEL Initiative Studied in New England Journal of Medicine Article PARRI (Chris M)

SEC’s Use of In-House Courts Unconstitutional, Appeals Court Rules Wall Street Journal

Nearly 1,000 City staff at four big US banks given €1m in pay deals in 2015 Guardian

Manufacturers With No Employees Are on the Rise, and Thriving Wall Street Journal

Class Warfare

More than one-third of schoolchildren are homeless in shadow of Silicon Valley Guardian

Fix Immigration. It’s What Voters Want. New York Times

Prying Eyes Are Watching Airbnb Users as Tenants Fight Back Bloomberg

The 2016 Progressive Honor Roll Nation (resilc). Has some good picks, such as acknowledging Lori Wallach and the National Nurses Union, but loses all cred with Van Jones.

‘Duck Dynasty’ vs. ‘Modern Family’: 50 Maps of the U.S. Cultural Divide New York Times. No maps for those who don’t watch TV.

Waiting for the Payoff: How Low Wages and Student Debt Keep Prosperity Out of Reach People’s Action Institute. From October, but has useful data, such as a computation of living wage by state, with an adjusted amount to reflect student debt costs.

Why Are We Doing This to Ourselves?’ Readers Respond to the Threat of Automation New York Times. José M: “First highlight: ‘Some readers questioned capitalism, and whom it’s supposed to serve:’ *gasp*”

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):


And a bonus (furzy). Yes, this is a commercial, but good commercials are not common.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Jane

    Funny how Netanyahu being Netanyahu has suddenly become a problem for the US, just as antisemitic white-supremists are about to take over the reigns of power….and it’s being framed as Obama giving Trump the finger. Democracy in action with a smooth transition.

    1. nechaev

      antisemites taking the reigns [sic] of power? … like Jared Kushner?
      a lot of things can be said about trump and his cohort at this stage, but antisemite is a bit of a reach, no matter how much you may salivate over applying that label

      1. Leigh

        How quickly we forget…the shouts of “Jew-S.A., Jew S,.A.” at his rallies?
        I hardly salivate at mentioning something so embarrassing. Yes, it was his supports at the rally – not trump – however, think about it, he could have stopped them and done the right thing – but these people’s votes were more important than their beliefs.

        1. Carolinian

          How quickly we forget the thing we never knew? Care to produce some credible reporting on those particular shouts?

            1. Jim Haygood

              Had to google it. The alleged chant that none of us ever heard of rhymes with “U.S.A., U.S.A.”

              1. clinical wasteman

                I very stupidly took it for a reference to the Sturm Abteilung (S.A.), the Nazi paramilitary/gymnastics faction wiped out the S.S. in the “Night of the Long Knives”. Which obviously makes no sense whatsoever, which led me by an absurdly convoluted route back to the starting point, i.e. presumption that the “chant” report is spurious unless proved otherwise.

            2. Leigh

              CNN, Salon, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC, The Hill –

              do a google search on “Jew S.A.” Get it” instead of “U.S.A.” – “Jew.S.A.”

              1. River

                CNN, Salon, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC, The Hill

                All trustworthy, fact checked and above all unbiased news sources. /sarc

            3. Optimader

              Thanks for the unintentional chuckle this morning!

              SA … Ill go with

              Leigh , just to unpack the thought process a bit more, how would you “stop” someone(s) from chanting at a public political rally? Ask them?
              Then when that demonstratably fails to work? (Next news cycle:Trump feins to stop chantting from antijewish supporters at political event)

              Any evidence it wasnt hecklers, considering both his daughter and son in law are Jewish?

          1. fresno dan

            December 29, 2016 at 9:10 am


            I actually found quite a few examples. I almost brought this point up the other day, as I thought there is this faction of anti Semites in the Trump camp, but didn’t because how many of Trumps supporters are actually antisemitic? 1%? 10% I think proposing 50% is ridiculous. Does the anti Semite constitute a faction big enough to change an election? And yet again, the media displays qualitative information without even trying to address perspective – how many antisemitic supporters are there and how does that in fact affect ACTUAL policy?
            One gets in the rather preposterous position of saying Trump is antisemitic when he is mindlessly pro Israel (IMHO). I guess it is theoretically possible to be mindlessly pro Israel and antisemietic at the same time (How?) – will Trump propose expelling all American Jews to Israel??? (except his son in law….because….).
            I remember Reagan saying when confronted with John Birchers as supporters that ‘they vote for me, I don’t vote for them’ or something to that effect.

              1. Optimader

                Whether Soros or not, I have that suspicion.

                Or plausibly deniable HRC campaign stooges. It does have a low road thumbprint consistent with the venial way the Clintons operate.

                And what if there are ppl that want to push back on American Jewish foreign policy intervention? Is that wrong?

                I see the intolerance of criticism somewhat analogous to the thin skinned beauty pagent contestant taking offense to being called fat in the public forum. She decided to be in the game and therefore subject to scrutiny.

                Are there ANY other religious or ethnic groups in the United States that are so explicitly aggregated to advance a (non-democratic) agenda in the USG? Using private sector funds all for the purpose of the perpetuation of a violent foreign apartheid regime?

                News flash, not all Jews support Zionism, but their dissent is smothered with USG and US private sector resources

                Is it wrong to oppose this sort of agenda.? What if another Soveriegn Nation’s government with private sector influence set out to advance an apartheid agenda in the US?? Would that be Ok?
                I think not.

                If a doe ial interest group decides to be in the Political influence game, they. Etter be prepared to tolerate critisism.

                If there are any similarly focused ethnic groups in the US with the financial and political influence to profoundly interefere in US foriegn policy, someone please provide a link

                1. Optimader

                  … If a special interest group decides to be in the Political influence game, they better be prepared to tolerate criticism…

                2. different clue

                  The Miami Cubans delayed normalization of relations with Cuba for several decades ( and possibly counting if the meter is set to ticking again).

        2. Ignim Brites

          Quick google search indicates it was one, 1, supporter chanting the term. This trope that every political posture that is not identifiably liberal/progressive is necessarily anti-semitic has its origins in the international socialist (marxist) popular front. It is just a shibboleth these days – a marker of a fossilized mentality.

          1. Optimader

            Fossilized mentality. No kidding… I like that

            At a higher level In these debates is often the tactic of conveniently framing anti-zionism with racial/ethnic intolerance of Jewish ppl. This debate tactic is slowly becoming recognized as a droll straw-man

          2. clinical wasteman

            You’d have to ask someone who remembers 1936 about Popular Frontism, but I can assure you that internationalist marxists and black activists are liberal-progressives’ favourite target for the ‘anti-semitism’ slur. Card-carrying ‘rightists’ sometimes try to put the boot in (as the anglo-English like to say) too, but they something seems to dampen their enthusiasm…

    2. ambrit

      Netanyahu being Netanyahu has always been a problem for the US. Now though, the Russians, yes, them again, have clipped his wings in Syria and shown the US ‘refusniks’ that it can be done.
      Anti-semitic white supremacists? Netanyahu and his Ultra fellow travelers in Israel can be charged with both crimes. First, properly speaking, all Arabs as well as Hebrews are Semites. So, keeping “down” the Palestinians qualifies as anti-semitism. Second, Israel’s treatment of the Black Jews of Ethiopia is a continuing disgrace to all Israel. Not to mention the Sephardim, Ashkenazim, and other “races” of the Hebrew faith.
      Finally, Obama giving the “finger” to trump is almost tradition whenever the White House changes possession from one party to another. Now, imagine if it had been Sanders taking control of the Executive. What kind of “finger” would Barry be flipping then?

      1. susan the other

        is Bibi in deep doodoo now that he will be investigated for fraud and corruption? and who allowed that to transpire now at this point in time… must wonder if it involves his skimming the black market oil shipments during the Syrian war… and now he is persona non grata.

        1. ambrit

          Bibi is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m wondering if he will be the Judas Goat, (oh what irony,) or this will expand into a serious political fight.

      2. Brad

        Yes, there is no contradiction in neonazi antisemites and Avigdor Lieberman being found in the same political bed. Don’t both agree that all Jews belong in Palestine? The basic Nazi complaint is that Jews “pollute” the Aryan or White Christian bloodstream. How to filter them out of the bloodstream is a secondary matter of tactics.

        Collaboration has a long history. See Lenni Brenner’s “Zionism in the Age of Dictators”.

      3. Damson

        Netanyahu on 9/11 ‘ It’s good for Israel.’

        What the Zionists never acknowledge is that the largely East European Israeli colonists are the most genocidal anti-Semites of all.

        Just look what ‘Israel First’ so-called ‘foreign policy’ has done to Palestine and a large swathe of the Middle East.

    3. Jim Haygood

      Framing all criticism of Israel as antisemitic is a tired and obsolete meme. US critics of China don’t get slimed as “anti-Asian,” nor are opponents of Russia jeered as “anti-Slavic.” But Israel and its supporters insist on complete immunity from criticism, no matter how extreme their behavior.

      Next year, Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank reaches the half century mark. It’s a running sore that the whole world has gotten tired of. The cheap and nasty resort of sliming critics of the Israeli occupation as anti-semites, to avoid having to address the unpleasant facts, doesn’t work anymore. Your “Holocaust free pass” has expired.

      1. Carolinian

        Here’s suggesting that “progressive except for Palestine” is not progressive at all. A parochial view of the world is inconsistent with true humanism. One reason Trump is going to be president is that much of our current left has an authenticity problem.

        1. neo-realist

          Also, the left isn’t organized enough to go after power nor does it own significant media infrastructure which, if it did, would enable the left to manufacture more consent to their views and get more of them elected.

      2. Ignim Brites

        Is the whole concept of the “peace process” just a subterfuge to enable Israel to pursue a one-state, Greater Israel, solution? Israel is in such strong position now that it seems ridiculous to describe an independent and even hostile Palestinian state as an existential threat. The US should just recognize an independent Palestinian state and withdraw its military support for Israel. Only when Israel stands on its own will it ever be accepted in the Middle East family of nations. As for a Greater Israel, one can believe in this concept just not its applicability in the present.

        1. Jagger

          Israel is in such strong position now that it seems ridiculous to describe an independent and even hostile Palestinian state as an existential threat.

          If Israel accepts peace, then Israel can’t steal anymore land. Ummm…Lebensraum, funny, now the last half century actually makes sense.

        2. fresno dan

          Ignim Brites
          December 29, 2016 at 10:41 am

          My view is that Israel is essentially the same as South Africa was. I think white people living in Africa (contingent upon complying with local laws and customs) is fine – but “white/non-indigenous” people colonizing and taking over the government is something that has passed its time.
          And one point – the idea that “Israelis” of 2000 years ago justifies modern Israel is equivalent to saying that since all humans started in Africa, we are all actually Africans and therefore Afrikaners get to keep south Africa.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Perhaps we test who has more Natufian genes for ownership of the land.

            And if Palestinians are semites, are they self-hating anti-semites?

            Another question – are there some stone-throwing Palestinians who are direct or indirect (through his brothers or cousins) descendants of the historical Jesus of Nazareth?

            1. LifelongLib

              Well there was that book a few years ago (haven’t read it) that argued the Roman diaspora didn’t really depopulate Palestine, so today’s Palestinians are probably descended from people who were living there then. And as my sister-in-law discovered when she visited the holy sites, there are a lot of Christian Palestinians.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  It would be weird to read any headlines like “Jesus’s relatives throwing rocks at Israelite tanks in the West Bank today.”

                  1. Cojo

                    He would probably be proud. Reminding him of the days where he overturned the tables of the money changers.

                    Ironic how his image has been hijacked by TPTB to subjugate the faithful.

            2. ambrit

              There have always been questions about the historicity of Jesus. If he was real, he was supposedly a Rabbi living in the Sea of Galilee area. That region has been overrun and “colonized” by so many groups, I would venture to say that the present inhabitants are the “Heinz 57 Variety” of human being.
              When we go testing for gene s in a population, watch out. I can see some demagogue proposing that anyone with more than two percent “Neanderthal” genes should be subservient to the rest.

              1. polecat

                ‘Humm’ …. Furrows prominent brow .. grabs atlatl & clutches spear bundle .. leaps out of cave ..

          2. Ignim Brites

            I certainly do not question the right of Israel to exist within the pre-67 borders. The question is whether or not the Palestinian right to a state within the “occupied” territory should be contingent on a comprehensive peace treaty. I think not. The aim of US policy, to the extent that the US should even have a policy goal, should be a minimal peace treaty of a recognition of borders, recognition of the civil rights of non-Palestinians living within the Palestinian state, and withdrawal of Israeli forces. Additionally the US should cease military support of Israel so that Israel can demonstrate that it can stand on its own. The idea of a Greater Israel might be a noble idea. I have no position on that. But it should not be advanced under the protection of Israeli troops.

            1. Optimader

              I question the right of an imperial third party entity to exapropriate someone elses property, then give this stolen property to someone else. What is the Case Law on that???

              Fruit of the poison tree.

              As a minimum displaced Palistinians (and anyone else ?) should be fully compensated financially and or with equivalent property value to that which was stolen AND be accorded full rights as citizens in a country formerly know as Israel, renamed or not by popular vote.
              Simple. An irony would be considering all the blood , treasure and human potential that has been squandered to date defending the right to retain stolen property.

              I wonder what the theoretical $/acre valuation of Israel-Palestine would be just considering the to date accrued monies squandered on weaponization/ conflict there?

              1. Ignim Brites

                Yeah. This seems to be a secondary issue to the main question of whether or not a Palestian state should be recognized. Making the recognition of a Palestinian contingent upon resolution of this and other problems means de facto the recognition of a Palestinian state is off the table.

              2. Ursine Qua Non

                I expect you, as an American, will be willing to do the same to/for the Native Americans, who REALLY know a thing or two about genocide(?)…as opposed to the deeply unpleasant national struggles over a tiny patch of real estate in the Med that generates SO much more vitriol than Cyprus next door, also unresolved after decades, but regarded as less troublesome because the ethnic cleansing was more thorough and timely. I note the Palestinian population continues to grow rapidly- but that’s right, “genocide” has suffered from Progressive lexical deflation to now mean anything one wishes…in this case to mean “displacement and intermittent unequal armed clashes.”

        3. Damson

          The Likud fascists want the Gaza Strip because it fronts one of the largest gas-fields in the Mediterranean – the Leviathan.

          Hence Netanyahu screaming lately about ‘Jewish massacres’ by the impoverished, blockaded Palestinians as a pretext for another round of genocidal extermination.

          1. Ursine Qua Non

            Any evidence at all? Or does that no longer matter here at NC when we discuss Israel? Just because the country is a Trumpian fantasy, Bibi an “armour-plated bullshitting machine”, and, yes, the Tea Party fringe now wagging the dog, messianic over land-grabs, doesn’t mean we can just make shit up. Or does it? I see we are making reference to Lenny Brenner, who has NO academic support at all for his position, which is basically to imply that negotiations with Nazis to try to get Jews out of Germany pre-Holocaust somehow made the early Zionists moral equivalents.

            By the way, Bibi, foul as he is, is correct in pointing out that the ancient established Jewish community of Hebron was massacred and ethnically cleansed by the Palestinians in the years before Israel was founded. That IS an established fact. Both sides have blood on their hands and crypto-fascists in their midst.

            Btw, I’ve been pro two states, or a Pal-Jordanian federation, for decades. But I feel getting there will be faster by not making shit up on the part of all sides involved. But hey, that’s just me…

        4. Plenue

          Israel wants a one-state solution even less than it wants a true Palestinian state. If they made millions of Palestinians citizens the Jews would suddenly be outnumbered and the entire concept of a Jewish state for Jews, which was the whole point of Israel, would be completely ruined.

      3. fresno dan

        Jim Haygood
        December 29, 2016 at 9:06 am

        I often wonder how Americans would react to a claim made by American natives to have their lands returned to them – 300 or so years is a lot less than the 2,000 or so that passed in the mideast.
        I guess some lands are more equal than others…

        1. Carolinian

          One problem with the “America did it too” defense is that you are defending 21st century behavior by pointing to 19th cent mores. Of course the Palestinians aren’t going to get their land back any more than the Indians will. But even in the USA we don’t still pretend that what was done to the native Americans was just. Zionism is an idea hatched in the 19th century and it’s still stuck there.

          1. fresno dan

            December 29, 2016 at 11:11 am

            I certainly didn’t intend that as a defense of either the US or Israel. I meant to point out the hypocrisy of American Israeli defenders who think Israelis have a right to get back land that was lost thousands of years ago, when Americans would have a conniption at the thought of giving back even a fraction of the land ceded to American natives in LEGAL treaties.

          2. susan the other

            It only became a reality after WW2 with American backing. Looking at that enablement now makes me wonder about the long-range vision of our MIC – knowing that the war would always need to be fought, again and again, for oil – ergo Israel made a great and useful outpost for our “foreign relations”.

        2. Norm

          The too-many-to-count crimes like Wounded Knee or the Trail of Tears cannot and will not be undone. The Israelis will not give back Israel to the people they drove out. We don’t live in that kind of world. Nevertheless, I still hold on to the hope that some day members of the “defeated people” class have a shot at a decent life in a society that respects their rights, their culture, etc. We owe that much (and more) to our native Americans and that goes as well for Israel and the Palestinians. Is that still too much to ask? Of course, but one still has to hope.

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s thorny and messy.

          Look at, for example

          1. The Maori and New Zealand. Do they want their world back?
          2. The Thai people who used to live as far north as Shandong in China.
          3. The aborigines, who share the same ancestry as native Hawaiians, in Taiwan. They want their fertile plains on that island back.
          4. The Rig Veda Aryan invaders of India. How do we un-do that?
          5. The Anglo-Saxon-Jute occupiers of Great Britain. “Go home to Saxony?”
          6. Perhaps the Yoruba people came from around Egypt. Can they reclaim their ancient home land?

          1. susan the other

            good question. land was the original bone of contention. isn’t it time to do a trust? put the planet in trust more or less. because nobody can stake a claim anymore.

          2. clinical wasteman

            Yes it’s messy and thorny, and this is not intended as a sarcastic/dismissive answer or a remotely adequate one. I hope I’ll have time to answer in more detail later (though I should really turn it over to my nephew Wiremu, not just because he — at 16 — is the better writer, but also because the Māori part of my family is related to me only by marriage(s), and whakapapa (a complicated social/memorial, rather than strictly biological, conception of genealogy) is seen as all-important).
            But for now:
            1. Please note the many hundred years’ distance between example 1. above and all the others.
            2. Therefore it’s not an abstract question in Aotearoa/NZ because the Māori are still there, constituting something like 13-15% of a population of 4+ million, speaking a language that’s very much alive, in part because they fought the British Empire and the Settler militias more or less to a standstill in the 1840s-60s (inventing trench warfare in the process — thanks a lot, Te Ruki Kawiti), and in part because of a formidable political/educational/artistic tradition that’s entirely modern, i.e. it only really got going well into the 20th century. What they don’t have is very much of the land that was grabbed (although it would be even less but for the two things just mentioned) or the collective form of landholding whose incompatibility with European-style ‘property rights’ was the pretext for most of the grabbing. What they also don’t have is the even greater demographic strength and the much greater share of local wealth that they might have held onto if the political movements of the 20th century had followed immediately from the military (and religious) ones of the mid-19th. Instead the colonial and later ‘Dominion’ administrators used the intervening decades to try to engineer fulfilment of their own prophecy that this ‘primitive race’ would ‘die off peacefully’, especially with the help of conscription for a couple of world wars. But it didn’t work out that way, and missionary benevolence has nothing to do with the reasons. The Māori don’t “want their life back”: they have their life by virtue of making it right now: it’s both absolutely modern and historically aware in a way that England’s certainly isn’t, and it’s neither assimilated into nor isolated from the life of the Pākehā (“white NZers”, or — my preferred term if someone insists on asking me — Scottish Pacific Islanders) or that of the rest of the world. But cultural recognition is not reclamation of generations’ worth of stolen wealth. And unlike some other indigenous societies expropriated if not exterminated by Europeans around the same time , the Māori — thanks to their own efforts alone — are collectively in a position to claim a lot more of it back.

          3. Plenue

            I don’t think it’s a complex issue at all. The theft of the past should never have happened, but it did. Now neither those who stole nor those who were robbed are even alive anymore. It isn’t any more just to take back the land than it was for it to have been stolen in the first place. Being the descendent of a thief should not be just cause for you yourself being robbed, and being the descendent of the robbed does not entitle you to take a currently living persons home ‘back’.

            Israel however, is continuing to steal additional land from the currently living, while also refusing to accept the ‘Arabs’ it’s displacing as citizens, or to compensate them and give them support. Instead it forces them into exile elsewhere in the middle-east, or it contains them inside a giant ghetto.

            1. clinical wasteman

              If (in the case of NZ) it doesn’t sound complex, that’s my fault for over-simplifying. (Omitting eg. Tino rangitiratanga/Kawanatanga — the still disputed question of what kind of ‘sovereignty’ was ceded by which Iwi in the Treaty of Waitangi of 1840 — and the ever-shifting alliances/hostilities and balances of power between various groups of Māori and ‘The Crown’.)
              I agree that individuals can’t be held morally or materially liable for the ‘sins’ or expropriations ‘of the fathers’. Perhaps I should have stuck to the main point, i.e. that the historical time-frame has more in common with Israel-Palestine than with the Anglo vs Saxon vs “The Norman Yoke” or the mysterious displacement of the “Egyptian Yoruba”. That and the way it’s not just a matter of competing claims to property ownership as understood in some agreed sense, but a conflict between conceptions of personal/collective ownership/custodianship of resources. An unusual one inasmuch as it’s not over yet.
              The ongoing disputes are never between individuals, but always between legally defined collectives on one side and institutions on the other. Haplessly born physical persons aren’t and shouldn’t be the bearers of ancestral debts, but the same is not necessarily true of state- and property-forms, which don’t physically die and can at least be argued to be the continuation of those they grew out of. Or rather: it’s possible to make that argument if you have the socially disruptive force to back it up.
              All of which might still not matter if the ‘die-off’ longed for by the Dominion governments had occurred, but it didn’t, with the consequence that here too (though less brutally than in Palestine) the displacement is still going on, eg. with every resource privatization since 1984 and in the general conversion of the economy from an outlying (and unlamented — it’s hard to describe what a wretched colony it was) British sheep farm to a giant real estate fund with China-dependent dairy farms and tourist facilities attached.
              No-one seriously proposes sending Pākehā ‘back’ to the UK, and I can confirm first-hand that ‘Britain’ — that Heath Robinson police state — would do everything in its quirky but tooled-up power not to take them. None of the land claims currently contested concerns a Pākehā population centre, but even if the freehold on all of Akaranga/Auckland were suddenly transferred to the local Iwi (i.e. broad and subdivided groupings misconstrued by missionary explainers as ‘tribes’), the occupants could hardly be worse off than they are under their existing landlords-of-last-resort, i.e. Australian banks.
              So the emotionally impulsive point of the previous post was to insist that Māori are not some hypothetical ancient society or a few defeated survivors of the sort of colonial massacres/assimilations seen elsewhere; the additional reason for saying so here is that I thought their current relative strength — which makes this conflict of conceptions of wealth and use-value, property and history, a live rather than a theoretical question — might be of broader interest on one of the only sites that takes these matters seriously.

        4. Brad

          I wonder how Americans would react to the announcement by Israel that it was going to re-introduce the institution of chattel slavery in Palestine. In the name of “equality”.

          Yeah, we did that too. But past barbarisms are no excuse or apology for barbarism in the present, whose reproduction in the present renders them even more barbaric than in the original.

          Genocidal extermination and enslavement of indigenous peoples by settler invasion was pretty much a norm of human history until comparatively very recently. That’s the case against Israel.

          1. different clue

            The Palestinian population numbers of the people Israel drove out in the 1948 war have gone steadily up. The Palestinian population within the borders of 1967 Israel, descended from the Palestinians who were not driven out, has kept going up. So where is the genocidal extermination?

            Making stuff up detracts from the credibility of an argument. It may get one not-listened-to when one presents real facts. And that would be unfortunate when the real facts deserve to be known.

  2. bwilli123

    Private tax is the great unspoken of neoliberal philosophy. And the rich are the winners

    ….When we hear talk about taxation, it is naturally assumed to refer to those taxes which are levied by the government. After all, no individual or business can charge anyone else a tax, right?
    From the 1980s onwards in the neoliberal era, there has been an effort by policymakers globally, including Australia, to reduce both the total public tax take and marginal tax rates. The standard arguments revolve around promoting economic growth and investment, and reducing disincentives to work.
    The debate in Australia is curious given what is not discussed: private taxes. These are sanctioned by government policy (implicitly or explicitly) and levied by market participants upon others. Private taxes come in three forms: intellectual property rights (IPRs), rising asset prices and negative externalities. Unlike public taxes, they are not labelled as taxes, even though they have the same economic welfare effects…..”

    1. a different chris

      This is really, really good framing. If the Dems were an actual opposition party they would start every conversation with this and refuse to be dissuaded from it.

      The word “private” is a sword that can cut either way, on the one hand everybody likes their “privacy”, but they are suspicious of other, especially economic, actors hidden behavior. Mix “private” with “taxes”, that is grab the sword, and you will get attention.

      1. Montanamaven

        Great idea. I like these ideas from the article:

        Solutions are readily available to us; the trick is to convert inefficient private taxes into efficient public taxes. Doing so would allow for the removal of many inefficient public taxes which penalise competitive, productive labour and enterprise. The Ken Henry Tax Review estimated Australia has 419 tax and tax-like fees!

        Inflating asset prices can be reduced via hefty capital gains, land value and Tobin taxes while extensive “Pigovian taxes” mitigate negative externalities. For IPRs, there has been much discussion in recent years into alternative mechanisms for funding R&D and creative arts without resorting to monopolistic pricing.

    2. Cry Shop

      negative externalities. Can you expand that item and define it for me. Does that include non-natural monopolies / closed markets / government impediment to new entrants to a market place?

      1. jsn

        Confusing question, markets don’t exist in nature so there can be no such thing as a “natural monopoly”. Anything that could look like one under NeoLiberalism should be run as a utility to ensure equitable distribution and sustained tech improvement. “Closed markets” and “government impediments to new entrants” can either be poor market design or good policy depending on the circumstance.

        Dead oceans, toxic air, species extinctions and market collapse in the face of demand destruction when vast majorities experience fixed costs with dwindling income for too long would all be “externalities” because they are market costs borne primarily outside the market: even in the last case, while sellers suffer in the market, the real suffering is that of those excluded from the market by lack of money.

        1. Michael

          A “natural monopoly” is a market in which there are ever-increasing returns to scale, so any larger entity will be a more efficient provider than a smaller one.

          Think sewer systems. How would it possibly make sense to lay out multiple sets of pipes so that multiple sewer companies could compete? Same goes for, for example, electricity systems and some others.

          “Natural Monopoly” is referring to a specific idea of returns to scale.

      2. Bugs Bunny

        How about Climate Change? That’s a pretty darn negative externality. The private tax would be the expense of coping with it sans gov’t action to do so.

        1. a different chris

          Yeah, like Cheney chirping about how everybody will need to buy (and power and maintain) air conditioners.

      3. shargash

        It is a standard term in economics. Here is Wikipedia’s article on externalities:

        Basically, negative externalities are the costs to society of actions by private corporations or individuals. The costs of air pollution, for example, don’t fall mainly on the producers of the pollution, they fall on society as a whole.

    3. fresno dan

      December 29, 2016 at 7:20 am

      Great point bwilli123!!!
      And I would add one thing – it is always curious to me how the bugaboos of borrowing and deficit spending aren’t all that onerous when it is to fund war or keep the rich from losing their money.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Does private tax imply the plausibility of private currency (that will be given value by the private tax)?

    5. Brad

      AKA rent. Per Ricardo or Marx, not neoclassical “economic rent”, a catch-all for “imperfect markets”. The classical concept posited the inevitability of rent arising precisely on the assumption of perfect markets.

      Will we see the return of Henry George’s Single Tax movement?

  3. Mark Gisleson

    Ihlan Omar is another mistake on The Nation’s list. She defeated a long-time progressive incumbent w/party’s blessing. I don’t know Omar, but I know MN Somali community, and it’s not progressive. This is intersectionality run amok, stabbing the Left in the back to create a more diverse image for an ineffectual party.

      1. Cry Shop

        I have to take back the +1 above, because it was based on twisted information.

        There was homophobic literature distributed in that election against one of her competitors, but after reading the other comments I did some more research. It seems the literature was not distributed by Ihlan Omar’s staff. I still can’t find a clear statement from her on the issue itself, and the websites who promoted her election have tiptoed around the question in their Q&A, but I can’t find anything where she’s been homophobic.

    1. UserFriendly

      You should really do your research before you start claiming she’s not progressive. She’s not a fan of identity politics and has a community organizer background:

      And her responses to Southside Pride’s ‘Do you Stand With Bernie?’ Questionnaire:

      And there summary of the race:

      I don’t have any objections to Phyllis Kahn, but Omar isn’t a catfood dem.

    2. Katharine

      Judging without knowing Omar, and solely on your ideas about the Somali community, is not useful. Kahn, gracious in defeat, provided better perspective:

      “Ilhan obviously ran a very good campaign and mobilized a lot of people that we didn’t see before in previous elections,” Kahn said after the results were in.

      That there were so many people who had not been motivated to vote previously says something important. Effective representation needs to be broad-based. Kahn’s recognition that, whatever she has accomplished in the past, Omar may be good for the district now was intelligent and magnanimous.

    1. craazyboy

      That’s what HRC supporters look like, after they die of grief and go to heaven – only to be cast back down to this Hell on Earth. It’s just not fair!

        1. different clue

          Trump was one of the Pied Pipers elevated all through the Republican Primaries by a sinister conspiracy of the Clintonite Democratic Party and the Clintonite Mass Media. The Clintonites thought they were playing a Nixon’s CREEP 2.0 game by elevating what they thought to be the Republicans’ very own most-defeatable-“McGovern”. It turns out the Clintonite MSM pied-piper conspirators elevated the MOST electable Republican. It turns out that Trump was the her-own-petard upon which Clinton was hoist.

          You don’t want Trump? Perhaps your Clintonite leaders should have thought about that before elevating Trump’s exposure and profile as part of the Pied Piper Strategy. Trump is quite literally Clinton’s gift to the nation. You Clinton supporters will have decades to mull that fact over at your leisure.

  4. Terry

    Two big (but not exclusive) problems with personality tests:
    (1) They are based in psychometrics, which originates in between subject modelling (which we are notoriously bad at doing properly);
    (2) They use rating scales (discredited 15 years ago if not before).

    The Schwartz List of values is a measure that is passing validation tests with flying colours, particularly given its new scoring which makes it vulnerable to neither of the two problems above. Nothing wrong with more automation of personality tests per se, it’s the awful implementation to date that means they’ll fail.

    1. ambrit

      My experience with personality tests indicates that the main effect of such is that it filters the potential employee pool for liars. Whenever I have encountered personality tests, and nearly every big concern has automated their hiring process, the blogs about the hiring tests themselves are full of people giving tips on how to “game” the system. So, just as with the “New” educational model, teaching to the test produces inferior students, and now inferior employees.

      1. Terry

        That’s why the “new” (actually 90 years old and originally *also* due to Thurstone, just as psychometrics was) methods excel. You can’t game them easily if at all. Random utility theory plus statistical design theory means I can, as the analyst, spot a faker in the data a mile off.

        1. ambrit

          Do you have a link at hand? I’m curious about this since we petitioners for employment never seem to learn just what it is that the employers really want. Dumb bunnies who will follow orders? I know from experience that some employers do not like problem solvers on their shop floors or job sites.

            1. Terry

              Indeed. I have put full disclosure of my part in the reply to ambrit – I merely stand on the shoulders of giants. JEM. Steenkamp and H. Baumgartner did the hard work showing rating scale biases. Jordan Louviere and colleagues did the most work in constructing solutions that don’t involve rating scales or ways people can game the system.

          1. Terry

            Thanks for the interest. The recent work to develop new scoring for existing instruments that purport to quantify differences in personality traits has been done by Julie Lee, Geoff Soutar and Jordan Louviere (all Australia based). Quite a few of my replies have disappeared in the past so I hesitate to put links in but their work (Lee’s academic homepage for instance) appear on page 1 of my google search just now.

            Random utility theory came from LL Thurstone (1927 – “A law of comparative judgment”). It basically assumes we choose the preferred option from A and B with probability proportional to how much we prefer/agree with/identify with that option. Although McFadden got the 2000 Economics “Nobel” for generalising this model and applying it – he predicted demand for the BART in CA before it was built – Luce and Marley in math psych did so independently (and first). Marley returned to the field in his “retirement” from academia to work with those of us academics using discrete choice models – which add in experimental design which “do not allow the respondent to have their cake and eat it”: with the right design they *must* choose the trait they identify most when there is more than one potential “right” answer. Their choice *frequencies* across repeated subsets of traits, tell us what we need to know and are on a probability (ratio) scale.

            Full disclosure: I wrote the textbook on the newest variant of the method (Best-Worst Scaling – “BWS”) published last year with Marley and Louviere. I also, entirely by accident, discovered that a rather successful corporation is already using BWS in personality assessment during recruitment. They have kept this completely below the radar (because it works). It gave me a very pleasant surprise.

          2. Terry

            PS upon re-reading, my original answer probably doesn’t help you very much (sorry). My only defence is that the liars who know how to cheat their way through the system will more easily be picked out and if you genuinely are the type of person the employer wants, it’ll shine through far more clearly. *IF* there is human input, then to see what relative merits the people who “pass” the test have, at least you can be sure you won’t have to spend hours thinking up how to counter the claims of the people who gamed it and you can concentrate on your positives relative to people who may be similar to you…..not an ideal answer I’m afraid but perhaps makes things “less bad”….and the corporation I referred to elsewhere certainly seems (thankfully) not to be too blinkered….they clearly were recruiting a mix of *genuine* “problem solvers” and “dumb bunnies” to give them flexibility, so applying to someone like them might mean you’re on more of a level playing field for starters.

    2. Timmy

      It is inevitable that the AI “manager” of Bridgewater will be an INTJ.

      I wonder how they will deal with the “snap judgement” flaw? There would be a few critical decisions quickly reversed….

      1. Terry

        Can you explain what type of “snap judgement flaw” you are referring to? Sorry, bit confused, here.

        What I do exploits recent big steps forward in neurochemistry and how fast people make decisions – Kahneman’s work on “fast and slow” has a lot of relevance (though I don’t like much else of his work). It turns out that speed of response provides a remarkably good validation of people’s “stated choices” – 40 years of research going from rats through to humans in labs (psych students) and then patients I dealt with.

        I can separate choices makes “emotionally” from those made as a “cost-benefit analysis”. Which is more valid? Hmmmm, difficult issue and for society at large.

        But another, and absolutely crucial benefit concerns identifying those (small) group of people with 100% photographic memories and who are fast at mental arithmetic who might be able to game our designs. Actually we can largely spot them too based on their distribution of response times to questions – too many variable even for a Sheldon Cooper to optimise in real time. It’s a fun time to be doing what I do….but it’s also depressing because “powers that be” have, of course, used the method for their own ends.

  5. UserFriendly

    Tor and its Discontents: Problems with Tor usage as panacea Medium. Bill B, from the article: “Download and run this and you get a free proxy / VPN; oh, yeah, but you’ll stand out like a fucking glow stick and you have no good reason to use it except as an evasion tool against state authorities. Good luck explaining that when they ask uncomfortable questions

    The key is to make sure you choose a VPN that does not keep logs of when users are on so that they can not turn them over even if they wanted to. All your ISP see’s is that you go to the VPN and all you have to say is that you value your privacy. Using Tor through a VPN is optimal.

    1. Isolato

      And, I was told…make sure you download Tor through that VPN.

      We are probably ALL vulnerable but we count on the herd defense. If they arrested ALL of us…

  6. Finius T. Bluster

    McCain: this would be his sixth. Always helps to have a daddy who is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

    1. Optimader

      Define “crash” then a Link?
      McCain is a dick so i am annoyed having to “defend” him AGAIN, particularly w/ regard to such a non sequitur as “how many planes he crashed)”
      Faak, like him or not he was a 1960’s vintage USN carrier rated pilot.

      Does being the victim in a static plane getting hit by accidentally discharged ordinance count?

      How about getting hit by a SAM missle when having to fly straight and level??

      If McCain was such an incompetent pilot , why was he carrier certified and a flight instructor?

      Post WWIl my dad’s lunchmates at work were all surviving aviators:
      a USN pilot ( Bearcats/Hellcats),
      a (polish) RAF pilot (Hurricanes/Spitfires),
      a US Army recon Pilot (tweaked performance Lightnings) and notably
      a Luftwaffe pilot who survived all the way through fron the Spanish Civil war. A handful of German pilots succeded at that.

      Except for the p-38 pilot, these guys ALL “crashed” (lost) more planes than you would believe. ‘
      The Luftwaffe pilot, as i recall as a kid at a company picnics, full of beer, pointed out proudly that he survived the loss of 26 aircraft!.

      My dads best friend Roman , the polish pilot , a great dry humored gentlemen, punctured the guys ego with a quip “you crashed 26 planes? Hell, Thats more planes than I even shot down and i was good! Who’s side were you on??? ” The German as i recall went all red in the face.

      In defense of his piloting expertise, sonething like a dozen of his aircraft losses were due to missions with insufficient fuel toward the end of thr war, consequently they were intended to be dead stick gearup crash landings. He apoarently had a light touch.

      Thing is, all these guys were excellent pilots, good enough to survive to tell their stories at a picnic table 25+ years later.

      McCain had to have been a very good pilot just to be carrier based, no less giving flight instruction .

      Loosing however many airframes under what ever circumstance has no real relevance to his many flaky foriegn policy notions. Thise oilicy notijbs shiukd be his measure, and the basis for being retured out of office.

  7. ambrit

    With the cold weather, we have ladybugs all over the inside of our house. They love the light fixtures and will crawl over anything that gets in their way, including humans. We are especially careful near the computer. All that radiating heat attracts them. So, put a plant next to the window adjacent to the computer and gently move the multi spotted beasties to the green whenever possible. They do tickle when they run up your arm.
    The variety of colours and designs on ladybugs is nothing short of psychedelic.

    1. Eureka Springs

      I had them all over my house (outside and in) for years. I think it’s the Asian Lady Beetle, not the American Lady Bug. It’s remarkable just how long they live in cold winter condidtions.

    2. Leigh

      Curious – where are you located?

      We live in Illinois and the surrounding farm fields are full of Asian lady bugs – used to eat aphids and other pests. Once harvest time comes, they are flushed out of the fields and into local homes.

      We found Osage oranges work well placed on widow sills – they hate them.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Eureka Springs is in the northwest corner of Arkansas. I’m about 5 miles outside of town. About five years back I had a large batch of red wasps, those wood eating bumble bees, scorpions, and relentless fleas on the critters as frontline quit working… so I declared war and bombed from attic to underneath the house several times. Haven’t had to do so since then. This also knocked back the lady’s from Amityville Horror levels to lovely li’l friends.

      2. ambrit

        Hattiesburg is in the South Central region of Mississippi. About seventy-five miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. This years weather has been a see-saw from frosts to eighty degrees Farenheit, all in a day or two.
        Welcome to the New World Climate!

      1. a different chris

        My stinkbugs now consider me such a low-level nuisance they rarely even bother to “stink” me… I am not a very intimidating adversary, they have apparently decided.

        Because I don’t, up to this point in the year anyway, want to throw them outside b/c the (indoor) lack of hibernation kills them. This late in the year it might work as they have hopefully burned off too much fat but given the outdoor globally-warmed temperatures maybe not. Squishing them makes a mess, so I throw them in the nearest garbage receptacle from which they no doubt mostly crawl out of again.

        1. polecat

          The immature Hemiptera(s) wintering over on our cordwood … go into the woodstove when needed …. for that extra spark !

      2. Katharine

        Politely offer them the end of an envelope, and when they have boarded tilt it up (they seem to like climbing but will usually pause at a peak) and walk them to the nearest toilet and tap them off. Also, more proactively, point up any brickwork and caulk other gaps. Every little helps.

        1. ambrit

          Ye gads Katherine! Tip them into the toilet!?!? These are big time scavenger bugs. In the garden they excel in keeping down aphids and other “deplorables” bugs. We keep a plant in a pot next to a window where we deposit the traveling bugs.

          1. Katharine

            They also occasionally leave ineradicable dark orange stains. I’ll let the spiders take care of scavenging.

    3. polecat

      Yikes !! … Computer incineration via coleopteran swarm …

      …Bad enough dealing with dust build-up, but Ladybugs ??

      ‘The Ibug’

  8. PlutoniumKun


    China Fault Lines: Where Economic Turbulence Could Erupt in 2017 Bloomberg

    Money quote at the end:

    “There’s more downside risk than upside risk for China and the world in 2017,” Dollar said. “Hence risks will continue to build up and hopefully duct tape will keep it all together.”

    For nearly 20 years since I first visited the country I’ve been a China bear and for 20 years I’ve been laughably wrong. But it is undeniable that there is something duct tape-ish about how the CCP have kept growth going strong for the last decade – and there is yet another mini-boom going on at the moment (which is why air quality is so horrendous across northern China this year – all those old steel and cement plants are still pedal-to-the-metal thanks to yet another easing). The longer real reform is put off, the nastier a downturn will be.

    I do wonder if Trump will, by accident or otherwise, be the catalyst for a major set-back. Its had not to see a major correction with the dollar rising against the Yuan in 2017, and this is bound to have major implications for China, and not in a good way. Far too many moneyed Chinese are on a hair trigger to get their cash out. The CCP have proven both lucky and very skilful for years now. But it would only take one bad decision to create a major crisis, and my suspicion is that if it happens, it will occur at a breathtaking speed due to the jumpiness of the Chinese investment class.

    1. Jim Haygood

      A China analyst at Brookings Institution named David Dollar — seriously? I’m Jim Renminbi, Dave. Pleased to meetcha.

      “The longer real reform is put off, the nastier a downturn will be.”

      One historical analogy that’s been out there since China’s takeoff in the Nineties is that China will experience a Depression similar to the US crash of 1929-33, though its long-term rise will continue just as America’s did.

      If this analogy holds, the root causes will be the same: vast overexpansion of credit, followed by getting stuck as an overvalued currency island in a competitively devaluing world.

      It was not until 1934 that Frank Roosevelt devalued the US dollar by 41% against gold. Whereas Britain devalued in Oct 1931, sending the US economy into its final slide into 1932. China was on a silver standard in the Thirties, effectively helping it devalue since silver is an industrial as well as a (sometimes) monetary metal.

      Large-scale capital flight from China is powerful evidence that US claims of renminbi overvaluation are obsolete. Should Trump succeed in slapping tariffs on Chinese goods, China certainly will devalue in retaliation, as will the rest of Asia. Suffice it to say that the results will resemble the rejected “butchered babies” cover for the Beatles’ Yesterday and Today album:

    2. Jim Haygood

      More on China’s currency strategy:

      China diluted the role of the dollar in a trade-weighted foreign-exchange basket and added a further 11 currencies as officials seek to project an image of stability in the yuan.

      The weighting of the dollar will fall to 22.4 percent from 26.4 percent in the basket from Jan. 1, China Foreign Exchange Trade System said in a statement Thursday. Additions include the South Korean won, the South African rand, the United Arab Emirates’ dirham, Saudi Arabia’s riyal, Hungary’s forint, Poland’s zloty and Turkey’s lira.

      While the yuan has tumbled to an eight-year low against the greenback, it’s trading near a four-month high against the CFETS RMB Index.

      The dollar and currencies that are pegged to the greenback, such as the riyal and the Hong Kong dollar, will take up 30.5 percent of the new basket, down from 33 percent currently. The won will have a 10.8 percent weighting when it’s added from next month.

      All reasonable enough. After all, the US maintains its own trade-weighted dollar index (series TWEXMMTH at FRED).

      But Treasury’s currency warriors likely will focus exclusively on the bilateral exchange rate, to make a case for China being a currency manipulator.

      Irredeemable fiat currencies are inherently manipulated by every issuer, since they have no intrinsic value.

      1. craazyboy

        Currencies have intrinsic value if they pay interest, or can be exchanged for very short term paper that spells it out contractually, rather than merely trusting in the deity of your choice.

        Then, if your currency rises because you are finally paying interest instead of ZIRP, you are NOT manipulating your currency. You are undoing previous manipulation. And if China needs to do the same with the Ruan to make it keep up with the Dollar, then so be it. Otherwise it would be a relative weakening against the Dollar in our theoretically floating world.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A fiat currency measures the royalty of the subjects of the issuer. That’s its intrinsic worth.

        And the great Kublai Khan dictates, “If you don’t use it, you disrespect me, my subjects. Put away your copper coins and silver ingots. Use this paper instead. A wonderful invention, paper is.”

        So it emerged and became widespread in the realm of the Mongols.

        Not being a fool, the new caliphate today knows he can also print or create as much as he wants.

  9. Toshior_Mifune

    Bridgewater is already fairly famous (or infamous) for using personality tests on all employee candidates. This includes IT staff. I work in the market data field (IT) and was being offered to Bridgewater a few years ago as a consultant. As soon as I found out about the personality test my reaction was, I seriously don’t want to work at any place that would rely on one of these things over basic human judgement with regards to people. It spoke far more about the place, its institutional insecurities and passive aggression than anything else. I have since worked with Bridgewater via other firms and can say that that initial reaction was exactly correct. They beat out GS for being a-holes to work with.

  10. Wyoming

    “Earlier this month there was a kerfuffle when journalists noticed that the top Google hit for “did the Holocaust happen”—a popular question, as it turns out—was, due to the vagaries of Google’s own algorithms…”

    Pfft! I have it on good authority from my contacts at the CIA that it was the Russians who did this.

  11. Uahsenaa

    You can also read Tressie McMillan Cottom’s necessary antidote to Coates’ starry eyed hagiography. The nuts:

    The black president that Ta-Nehisi Coates describes is one who thinks he could have ever really “embraced” or “chosen” blackness. He seems to truly believe that he exercised some great act of charity and agency in adopting black cool. My first black president seems to think that he can raise his daughters to believe in systemic racism without legitimizing the idea of systemic reparations. He thinks that he can be his brother’s keeper without changing the world that keeps his brothers in bad jobs, poor neighborhoods, bad educational options, and at the bottom of the social hierarchy. My first black president seems to think he can have black cool without black burden.

    Some of her other points re: Obama may not get the fairest hearing here, but I thought this particular one needed repeating.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Yes, props to the Atlantic for including Cottom’s piece as a companion to Coates’s. I was completely stunned however many weeks ago to read this from Coates…he’s completely reversed himself on Obama for the great gig of serial interviews. Guess living high on the hog in France has given him a new perspective.

      1. neo-realist

        I’m sure that the dollars signs from potential lucrative book deals that the publicity of Presidential brown nosing (no pun intended) would provide influenced his perspective.

      2. Plenue

        I’ve come to the conclusion that Coates has no coherent worldview. He’s paid to write pretty, and that’s what he does. What he actually has to say frequently contradicts itself though:

        “‘It could be me’ is a fine starting place for confronting the evils of the world, but a really poor conclusion. If no broader theory of sympathy and humanism emerges beyond one’s mean particularism, then all we really are left with are tribalism and power.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, Bill Cosby and His Enablers, 12/1/2016

        This coming from the guy who wrote an entire book about how being black is some sort of universal club that inherently has meaning and creates a kind of spiritual connection being its members.

  12. a different chris

    “Bernie Sanders is leading the Democrats into battle against Donald Trump on Jan. 15”

    Ugh. Jumping the f’ing gun. Trump may be an idiot, but he may also be crazy like a fox. If he’s an idiot, you can keep your powder dry and watch him self-implode. If he’s not, you’d better keep it dry.

    Trump is famous for his love of firing people. 1/3 of the new guys will be gone within the year… Trump knows that even if they (privileged jerks that they are) do not. The firings will dominate the news, the fact the that replacements are 98% as bad just much more low-key about it will not. So if you pound on the “Rick Perry is the absolute worse guy ever” story then what do you have left when Trump replaces him with Joe Smith? Now “Joe Smith is the absolute worse guy ever”? You sound like just a whiny whiner.

    You need to have specific grievances and make sure they are tied to Trump, keeping the nation’s eyes firmly on the fact that the Cossacks work for the Czar. Can’t have “specific” grievances on freaking January 15th, can you?

    Setting themselves up to lose, methinks.

    1. JamesG

      “Trump is famous for his love of firing people.”


      I know he “fires” people on television, but in his business?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Eh.’s a tough grind with two separate seasons that overlap. Three isn’t unheard of. Certain campaigns just sideline people to avoid the appearance of weakness, but I wouldn’t say three campaign managers is unusual.

          With Trump’s lack of organization, I suspect his campaign managers had quite a bit of hands on work.

          1. jsn

            Methinks “Trump’s lack of organization” was nothing but “narrative” at the NYT: judge them by what they do, not what mini-Punch says they do.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Bernie is like the wide receiver who starts his run before he has caught the ball. He fumbles. He needs to focus on the problem at hand: killing with fire the corpus of the current Dem Party. There’s plenty of time to oppose Trump, but not with the pathetic crew from the Obama era. House in order is the order of the day.

              1. aletheia33

                i don’t believe that sanders has taken on, or will take on, “killing with fire the corpus of the current Dem Party” as part of his mission. he can do a lot, but if that particular thing is to be done, someone(s) other than him will have to lead it and/or do it.

      1. jsn

        Yes, New York construction is like that: perform or get fired. It happens all the time, not just on TV.

        a different chris is dead on on this one: Trump will fire both to control the NYT “narrative”, to miss-direct and to correct his own agenda where he sees the need.

        He is a bastard but doesn’t need a Dick Cheney in a bunker somewhere to be miss-underestimated.

    2. Vatch

      If Trump nominates someone for a cabinet level office, and that person is completely unsuitable for the job, then that’s a grievance that is tied to Trump.

      Scott Pruitt, Trump’s nominee for EPA Administrator, is a committed opponent of environmental protection. One would think that in the aftermath of the Flint water crisis, that the President-elect would choose someone who wants to protect the health of people who drink water and breathe air, but apparently not.

      Then there’s Ryan Zinke, Trump’s nominee to be the Secretary of the Interior. He embezzled money from the Navy when he was a Navy SEAL. He should be known as “Crooked Ryan”.

      Steve Mnuchin, the foreclosure king, is Trump’s pick to be the Secretary of the Treasury. I wonder how many of Trump’s enthusiastic supporters lost their homes in the past 8 years? How many are in the middle of foreclosure proceedings?

      Trump hasn’t even been inaugurated yet, and he’s already doing terrible things.

      1. nycTerrierist

        Good point. A lesson from Trump’s playbook.
        Hitherto to be known as:

        “Polluter Pruitt”
        “Crooked Ryan”
        “Foreclosure Fiend Mnuchin”


        1. Isolato

          It was Barack Obama’s Cabinet picks that took the air out of “Hope” and “Change” rather quickly. Keeping GWB’s Secty of Defense, Hillary Clinton for SoS, Timothy (tax cheat) Geithner as Secty of the Treasury and Eric (Marc who?) Holder…Attorney General. That pretty much told you it was “steady as she goes”

          1. different clue

            Gates was not GWB’s SecDef. Gates was Elder Bush’s and Baker’s SecDef forced upon Dubya to be Dubya’s “thinking brain dog” at Defense after Rumsfeld was levered out.

          2. Vatch

            Of course I (and many others here at NC) agree that Obama made some terrible choices for his cabinet. Despite this, I am convinced that Trump’s choices are even worse. We need to push back hard against them.

      2. jsn

        Smacks of “credentialism”: Kushner is so obviously not qualified to run a campaign…

        Judge them by what they do: they will generate very real grievances soon enough.

      3. Enquiring Mind

        Are some of Trump’s proposed appointments just sacrificial lambs, to give the press something to vent about while his other candidates get less scrutiny? He seems like that type of game player. Maybe Ryan Zinke will take one for the team to let someone else skate through confirmation/anointment hearings.

          1. polecat

            And I hate to give credit to G W Bush for anything … but I think he was right when he said “This sucker’s going down”

            I believe the ‘republic’ has maybe ten years (or less) left, before the country balkinizes into something else.

    3. UserFriendly

      You need to have specific grievances and make sure they are tied to Trump, keeping the nation’s eyes firmly on the fact that the Cossacks work for the Czar. Can’t have “specific” grievances on freaking January 15th, can you?

      If you read the article you would have noticed he is targeting Medicare and SS cuts that have been floated.

      1. cwaltz

        His grievance isn’t with Trump then but with Ryan and the other Republican knuckleheads. If he’s going to take aim at someone then he should take aim at the right person.

        Heck if he wants to be specific then he should make sure to mention the dude in the House sponsoring the Social Security bill(and if I were Democrats I’d be making a list and checking it twice on who can run in that district.)

        As of right now I haven’t heard Trump say anything about Social Security or Medicare cuts.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s easier if Trump is an idiot.

      If smartness is measure with a positive number, and stupidity with a negative one, and if you are used to being a +9 against an inane opponent of -3, and all the sudden one day, when you realize you’re only a +4, your ego tells you to believe your opponent is now -8, in order to keep the infection-free distance, or separation of 12 smartness-units.

      “If we are not smart enough, at least, thank God, our adversaries are idiotic.”

    5. Dave

      We fired Bernie Sanders, a man we strongly supported, after he endorsed Hillary Clinton.
      Bernie, after that, you were dead to us.
      Go away, you joined the problem rather than continuing to fight for the solution.

  13. RenoDino

    Pardon Hillary?
    Maybe a pardon for the whole country would be in order instead thanks to the super powers Obama has gifted to Trump. While the article only discusses Hillary’s problem, there is bigger issue lurking in the wings:

    Under the 2012 NDAA’s Sec. 1021, Pres. Obama agreed to give the military the power to arrest and hold Americans without the writ of habeas corpus, although he promised with that year’s signing statement that his administration would not abuse that privilege.

    Will Trump use these powers wisely like Obi-wan Obama or will he lock up half the country if they refuse to get on board the Trump train? If I was Alec Baldwin’s attorney I would be advising him to ask Obama for a pardon for his Saturday Night Live impersonation of Trump. When Trump doesn’t like something in the future, he will have more tools than tweets at his disposal.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Wise leaders realize that a government is a good as the people running it.

      Sometimes, you get people you like; other times, you get people you don’t like.

      Always, though, be wary of the gift that is Big Government.

      1. John k

        Big gov got us out of depression by 1936, misjudged and recession 1937, then won WWII. Pretty good.
        Then messed up big time in Vietnam, killing faith in gov and bringing us Reagan. Then Clinton, bush, big o, all neolib neocons in fealty to banks ubber alles.
        Can be good or bad, depends on policies.

  14. tgs

    The Pathologies of War: Dual Propaganda Campaigns in Reporting on Syria

    Truly garbage. I doubt this would have been published at CPunch if Alex Cockburn was still around. So, al Jazeera and the Independent are disinterested news sources; Eve Bartlett is a Kremlin stooge; barrel bombs, intentionally destroying hospitals; red baiting RT etc., etc.,

    What is going on in Syria is NOT a civil war. If it had been, it would have been over years ago. It is a regime change operation funded and armed by foreign powers. Millions have been spent selling this operation to western audiences with staged videos, reports from the one man Syrian Observatory and western PR firms.

    Carla Ortiz reporting from Aleppo confirms what people like Eve Bartlet and Vanessa Beeley have said all along – the so-called ‘White Helmets’ are simply al-Nusra.

    Someone should alert that nitwit George Clooney who is planning to make a movie about those terrorists.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Strongly disagree that this article is garbage. Seems to me that this is what balance looks like.

      From the article:

      Despite the documentation of war crimes and human rights atrocities, pro-Russian, state funded media outlet Russia Today denies responsibility for the attacks… Numerous Americans I’ve spoken with on “the left” accept this propaganda, and are willing to accept any claim from countries opposing U.S. military power, no matter how outlandish. No evidence, no matter how thoroughly documented, is strong enough for them to take seriously if it threatens to harm the image of Putin and the Assadists.

      Sadly, pro-Assad and pro-Putin propagandists have suspended disbelief regarding the ugly realities of war. They appear to prefer the comforting rhetoric of Russian officialdom, which promises to rein “massive fire” down on Syrian targets, while magically avoiding civilian casualties (Rosenthal, 11/15/16). This narrative is embraced by RT, which uncritically repeats Russian government claims that it is liberating Aleppo, and depicts civilian casualties from Russian bombs as propaganda fabrications of the west (RT, 10/1/15; RT, 7/29/16; RT, 8/19/16; RT, 9/20/16; RT, 12/24/16). Of course, Russia’s vulgar propaganda about a clean war over Aleppo is no different than the Bush administration’s self-righteous announcement during the 2003 Iraq invasion that it would engage in “shock and awe” destruction of Iraqi government targets, while miraculously avoiding civilian casualties in a bloodless war. Such misinformation was rightly rejected as absurd by American progressives when it was disseminated by U.S. leaders, which makes it strange that numerous leftists would accept identical rhetoric in the case of Russia and Syria’s bombings.

      There is also a second propaganda front in the Syrian civil war. Just as Russian and Syrian government apologists are blind to the abuses described above, the American “mainstream” media commentary on Syria reveals a willfully blind, arrogant focus on Russian and Syrian crimes of war to the exclusion of criticizing U.S. contributions to the destruction. No evidence is ever strong enough for the apologists to provoke condemnations of U.S. military power.

      One can observe the ‘U.S. as a world hero’ framing at work in the nation’s ‘paper of record’ – the New York Times. With Syria, the U.S. is one-dimensionally portrayed as working toward the end of hostilities, seeking to protect regional order and stability in the Middle East. Such claims, while heavily propagandistic, are maintained by an impressive indoctrination system that demands uniformity of beliefs from the political class, “mainstream” journalists, and intellectuals. Consider some of the sordid details involving the United States’ actual actions in Syria, compared to the way they are depicted by political officialdom. First, the United States has long provided tactical support and weapons to Syrian rebel groups at least as early as 2012 to 2013, greatly destabilizing the country in the name of weakening the government of Bashar Assad.

      Second, despite longstanding claims that the U.S. is committed to fighting Islamist fundamentalist groups in the Middle East, recent reporting finds that American officials unwittingly (and incompetently) allocated military aid to such groups in their war against Assad. Wikileaks initially reported this bombshell story, relying on Hillary Clinton’s own emails, which admitted 1. “the Saudis have exported more extreme ideology than any other place on earth over the course of the last 30 years” (Norton, 10/11/16), and 2. That “we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the [Middle East] region” (Cockburn, 10/14/2016)…

      … I examined all 19 of the paper’s editorials from 2016 that referenced “Syria” alongside discussions of radical groups such as the “al-Nusra front” and “ISIS” to document the noble depictions of U.S. actions. In not even one of these 19 pieces did the Times editors ever suggest that the U.S. holds a selfish material interest in Middle Eastern oil that is motivating its heavy military presence in the region. Nor did a single piece assert that the U.S. may be making an already unstable situation even worse by intensifying the violence in Syria. No editorial mentioned the inconvenient truth that the U.S. has destabilized Syria by indirectly funding and arming Islamist rebel groups…

      Sociologists speak of the “social construction of reality” as a force that impacts how people look at the world. Clearly, this concept has significant value in terms of understanding how political leaders like Obama, Putin, and Assad – and the intellectual and media sycophants who please them – seek to mold public consciousness. These leaders designate official enemies of state, attributing all the evils of the world to these villains, while conveniently ignoring their own roles in escalating human rights atrocities and in deterring democracy. The goal of the critically thinking citizen is to stop these one-sided narratives and social constructions from defining how one looks at the world. This is no easy task, considering the dominance of “mainstream” news sources by elite forces seeking to manipulate and manage the public mind.

      1. timbers

        Despite the documentation of war crimes and human rights atrocities, pro-Russian, state funded media outlet Russia Today denies responsibility for the attacks

        What you mention are just appearances of balanced looking text.

        But what documentation of war crimes and human rights atrocities regarding Russia actually exist? I don’t go and search for them, but the so called “documentation” of Russia “atrocities” from what I’ve seen come from the West and is mostly gross lies and fabrications consisting of the USA accusing Russia of what the USA in fact did. And no documentation, but assertions.

        This is perfect example “balanced” reporting when in fact no balance what so ever exists. The USA and it’s allies have armed trained and funded terrorists while repeatedly bombing Syrian hospitals, schools, power plants, water plants, infrastructure, residential areas, apartment buildings, bridges, children, pregnant woman, doctors, patients, civilians, etc. The USA has also directly attacked Syrian forces – a violation of law and a war crime, amongst so very many war crimes committed by Obama in Syria. As the media constantly tells us it’s a “civil war” in Syria when it’s in fact American aggression and regime change.

        And Obama recently authorized that even more leathal and dangerous weapons be sold to the terrorists.

        Russia has NOT done this, save on rare occasions by accident. Further, the USA has employed deceptive “false flags” like arming the terrorists with chemical weapons then blaming it on Assad as a pretext for attacking Syria. And remember, Assad is the legitimate leader of Syrian not a “regime” as the “Obama regime” says, and Russia is the only nation that has legal authority to send it’s troops and operate in Syria.

        There is simply no possible comparison, no equivalence, of what the USA & Co. have done vs what Russia has done.

        This article may be “balanced” in a he said, she said way, but it not accurate.

          1. alex morfesis

            you are probably right…those 400 thousand syrians committed suicide since war does not by its very nature create “war crimes”…certainly it is suicide to not bow to your superior alawi’s/nusayri’s…

            assad is the jim jones of muslims…except unlike most muslims who pray 5 times a day for the return of jesus(as a muslim), assad is waiting to be appointed jesus…

            but hey, you can blame a fellow greek orthodox for having helped create this mess…like the duck in the commercial, Michael Aflaq helped create much of this ba’athist nonsense…

            ba’a(h) ba’a(h) ba’a(h)

            all who wage war for personal greed and power are war criminals…and since all war is an ego trip…all war is a war crime…

            war is almost always a failure of one side or the other to make due and find peace within themselves…

            1. Plenue

              The 400,000 dead figure is itself suspect. But even if it’s accurate, I’ve always been baffled by the bizarre assumption that in a war involving multiple factions, all the civilian deaths are ascribed to only one side (the Syrian government).

              And not to be callus, but civilians die in war. It’s unavoidable. The issue is whether the Syrian government and its allies are going out of their way to deliberately target civilians. I’ve seen no evidence of that. In fact what I have seen is an incredible amount of restraint even towards opposition fighters; thousands of whom have been allowed to simply surrender their weapons and rejoin society. At any point during the final stages of the battle for East Aleppo the Syrian alliance could have saved themselves a lot of effort and casualties by simply halting their ground advance and dropping a couple thermobaric bombs on the remaining militant neighborhoods. They refused to do that, instead setting up evacuation corridors and engaging in unilateral ceasefires that the opposition invariably violated, all in the hopes that civilians would be able to escape. In the end about 90,000 civilians escaped from the militant pocket.

              1. alex morfesis

                I am sure the non alawi muslims in syria who have attended the funerals of their family are relieved the deaths were not actually a war crime…that makes their refusal to consider the assad alawi krewe as “the chosen ones” that much easier to accept…thank you for pointing that out…now if the rest of the muslims would accept that assad is the chosen one and greater syria can rise again…he wouldn’t have to kill all those ungrateful non alawi’s…

                assad has done such a great job of acting human…

                must have attended the jim institute of public discourse

                (bakker & swaggart enterprises)

                1. Plenue

                  If Assad didn’t have the support of large numbers of non-Alawites he would have been killed or ousted years ago. And Russia has made it clear that they aren’t wedded to him remaining in power, so long as the process of replacing him is peaceful and democratic.

          2. different clue

            Where Timbers says ” USA”, I would say “DC FedRegime”. In fact, I DO say “DC FedRegime”. I say it more and more lately.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Hmm since what you say about the damage done by the US just repeats what the article already states, I went to check on the references for the damage done by Russia. Turns out they were from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch but from 2015, so about Syria (Assad), not Russia.

          Then found this in the references to the article Susan comments on below (from an interview linked by the Saker):

          Using the examples of Syria and Ukraine, I assert that the US’ new cost-saving strategy to regime change is to use embedded NGOs to orchestrate state destabilization, and if this doesn’t succeed in overthrowing the government or blackmailing it to the point of submission, then the next step is to turn the placard-holding protester into a gun-toting insurgent. What’s really astounding, I’ve learned, is that it’s actually not all that hard to do, since there are certain strategic and organizational commonalities between Color Revolutions and Unconventional Wars, both in terms of what motivates their participants and the role of the external forces guiding the campaign, for but only two such examples.

          This is post-modern warfare, the evolution of what everyone had unfortunately grown accustomed to ever since the end of the Cold War. This type of conflict is waged indirectly and via proxy, and in some cases, many people don’t even realize they’re in the middle of a warzone until it’s too late. Taking advantage of new information platforms like social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), the organizers are capable of luring thousands of unaware civilians into their “protest marches” for use as human shields against the authorities, all with the eventual intent of having professional provocateurs instigate violence so that as many causalities are caused as possible.

          The purpose behind this morbid manipulation of one’s countrymen is to engineer the conditions for a state crackdown against the “protest” movement, which will then have the ‘justifiable grounds’ to call for regime change and escalate their demands against the government. Filmed by cell phone cameras and immediately uploaded to YouTube, select scenes can be purposely presented out of context or outright edited in order to garner as much pro-“revolutionary” sympathy across the world as possible. Once the event has made global headlines (usually in preplanned cahoots between the organizers, their external patrons, and their affiliated friendly media entities like CNN), it can prompt foreign leaders to issue statements of condemnation or perhaps even sanctions against the affected country’s authorities. The point is to tactically initiate the conflict escalation ladder that foreign intelligence services had already prepared for in order to enact maximum pressure against the target state.

          So AI and HRW are suspect?

          1. timbers

            Yes absolutely AI and HRW are totally suspect. You should read MoonofAlabama regularly if you want to know what’s really happening in Syria. If memory serves, MOA has actually written on both AI and HRW. Also, this link was posted in comments here at NC, of a Canadian journalist who actually spent time in Syria. Don’t miss the 14.00 minutes mark at Q&A she is asked how can you say this when we have “absolute facts and documentation on the ground?” She responds “You don’t have facts on the ground. How many international organizations do we have in Syria on the ground? None. There are none. You don’t have facts on the ground because their are not international organizations on the ground in Syria” and “everything you read about Syria from Western media and governments is opposite of reality.”

            Western media absolutely includes AI and HRW.


            1. different clue

              As well as Moon Of Alabama, one should read Sic Semper Tyrannis. “b” of Moon of Alabama is a semi-frequent regular commenter in many Sic Semper Tyrannis threads.

          2. timbers

            Yep, AI and HRW are not to be trusted. They shill for US warmongers. This is from a quick google:

            “In February we pointed to a Human Rights Watch tweet that showed a picture of the Kurdish-Syrian city Kobane destroyed by U.S. bombing. The HRW tweet falsely claimed that the damage was caused by Syrian government “barrel bombs”.

            HRW is at it again. Today Kenneth Ross, director of Human Rights Watch tweeted this…

            Some more links showing HRW and AI lying to serve US war interests:



          3. Rhondda

            “So AI and HRW are suspect?”

            Beyond suspect. Dept of State ‘fellow travelers’ for some time now.

          4. Plenue

            HRW is the group whose director repeatedly tweeted out pictures of Gaza after the 2014 Israeli blitz, claiming they were pictures of Aleppo after Syrian ‘barrel bombs’.

            And AI recently had a YouTube video where they had a guided tour of a CGI recreation of Assad’s ‘torture prison’, based entirely on the hearsay of people who claimed to have been kept there. They may be telling the truth, I don’t know, but do go to such effort on such flimsy evidence reeks of anything but a genuine commitment to providing documentation of human rights abuses based on hard evidence.

      2. fosforos

        This author writes: “funding and arming of radical Islamist groups [by the US and it’s Islamist allies] that have destabilized Syria and are responsible for countless deaths.” And then goes on to describe the defensive war against that aggression as guilty for some of those “countless” deaths caused by the Islamist onslaught. For some reason, he fails to mention the brutal and barbaric “march to the sea” celebrated in our own patriotic hymn, “The Battle Cry of Freedom” (“while we were marching through Georgia”). Is it that because Sherman was a brute and Lee a gentleman he’s unwilling to admit that in that hell of civil war [and unlike Syria it was a civil war–no US-supplied Saudi or Turkish weapons in Southron hands!] Sherman’s side was entirely in the right and Lee’s side entirely criminal?

        1. Skip Intro

          In the pursuit of the appearance of balance, the author has somehow neglected that one side represents the democratically elected government of the country, and an ally invited legally to render military aid, and the other side represents an external attack on the country. One side is legally right, the other is an illegal aggressor committing war crimes and acts of terrorism against civilians. That is not really open for debate. Attributing casualties in this case while ignoring this basic fact makes the article pure propaganda, no matter how careful the counting.

    2. susan the other

      the other article by Gareth Porter on how a reluctant Obama kept us out of a hot war in Syria was good… and an interesting point was that Kerry pushed him to go all in and he resisted, sending tanks instead, after which the Russians took the initiative. It wasn’t claimed, but it reads like there was a preliminary truce between us and the Russians that if we could back the opposition without heavy equipment and the advantages of a super military establishment then the Russians would stay out and let the chips fall, but the minute we got heavy handed Russia stepped in. And won the first round.

  15. Cry Shop

    Trump and the Climate: His Hot Air on Warming Is Far From the Greatest Threat

    But will a President Trump noticeably affect the globe’s climate in ways that, say, a President Hillary Clinton would not have?

    In recent weeks, a variety of consultants tracking climate and energy policy have used models to help address that question. ProPublica asked Andrew P. Jones at Climate Interactive, a nonprofit hub for such analysis, to run one such comparison.

    The chosen scenario assumes Trump’s actions could result in the United States only achieving half of its pledged reduction through 2030 under the Paris Agreement on climate change, the worldwide but voluntary pact aiming to avoid dangerous global warming that entered into force on Nov. 4.

    In this scenario the difference — call it the Trump effect — comes to 11 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide emitted between 2016 and 2030. That number is huge — it’s the equivalent of more than five years’ worth of emissions from all American power plants, for instance.

    But it’s almost vanishingly small in global context. Here’s why. Even if all signatories to the Paris pact met their commitments, the global total of CO2 emissions through 2030 would be 580 billion tons, with the United States accounting for 65 billion of those tons. The Trump difference could take American emissions to 76 billion tons, with that 11-billion-ton difference increasing cumulative global emissions by less than 2 percent.

    I’m a stuck needle, but yeah:”The goose is cooked, baring a miracle.”

    It was known the oven door was pretty well slammed shut back in 2013

    Now it’s just a bit of quibbling about when lunch will be served, but it’s hard to think of how it won’t be served.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Even when worlds collide, based on the films I saw, there will be survivors (reserve your seats on ships being in Tibet early).

      More so with a slower-paced event like Man-Made Global Warming. Surely, those few lucky ones with connection and resources will come through just fine.

      On the other hand, with less wealth inequality, less consumption is possible. And, also more likely, together we can face the coming crisis. People can easier handle hardship (war time ration, for example – here, the more-consumption-is-better more-junk-in-your-house brainwashing machine needs to reverse course) if the burden is shared equally.

      1. ambrit

        A quibble if I may. It should be; “If the pain is seen to be shared equally.” Stories about “deplorables” who pretend to share suffering, but are only out for themselves are a stock plot item in comedy and disaster “entertainment.”

    2. different clue

      And if Trump can set off a Trade War which plunges China and America both together into a Great Carbon-Conserving Depression, Trump will do more for Emissions Reduction than Clinton ever would have.

  16. DJG

    Leak the damned Senate torture report already. It is good that judges are doing their job, upholding the law and other inconveniences to the powerful, but the torture report could have been properly leaked a long time ago. Our fearful elites, as usual, are engaged in kayfabe. What is Obama going to do if a senator leaks the report? Preparing another room in the Ecuadorian embassy in London?

  17. Eureka Springs

    How a President can take a report written by the Senate and classify it, plan to tuck it away in his lie-n-bury is beyond me. That the Senate allows it says as much about them as the executive.

    Who needs ‘fake news’ when this sort of thing happens as a matter of course?

    1. fresno dan

      Eureka Springs
      December 29, 2016 at 10:47 am

      I am positive that all the bears in back yards and kittens playing in Christmas wrap reported on CNN are absolutely true…

        1. mudduck

          We had woodchucks living in the spring house outside our kitchen door in Eureka Springs. I kept hoping they’d dig into the spring and start it running again.

  18. I took a firm and well-consolidated grugq this morning

    Grugq has a thriving propaganda brand that checks all the official Glavlit boxes (Putin dictator, Assad monster, CIA really really does have proof of Russian hacking so just believe them.) So it’s reassuring to see him banging the government-issue ‘resistance is futile’ drum.

    Grugq sets you up by positing some vague repressive state, so he can play the trick of pretending that you have to explain yourself like in the cop shows. What does Grugg do when the FBI shows up? If he says anything other than “I won’t be discussing this without an attorney present,” he’s an idiot. With that loony Hulu example, Grugg has you lying to authorities when you could just shut up. His point here is a gabby version of What are you Trying to Hide? But despite his FUD, privacy is not probable cause.

    Grugq’s point about vulnerable monoculture is facile. It treats the browser in isolation. Hacks are fragile little butterflies, particularly the push-button ones used by feds, and any little quirk you have might thwart them. Idiosyncratic compilation, unexpected blacklisting or syscall blocking, the list goes on and on. His arguments hold only for victims of commercial operating systems run as black boxes. Even the newer NITs stick to Windows.

    Grugg’s bafflegab about his opsec model (say it in your deepest studly voice for extra poseur cred) is crap. If you’re a target of an overreaching state – and you are, as Snowden’s disclosures show – your choice is simple. Do you want to be the soft target? Grugg says yes, because your compliance will be rewarded, you’ll be let alone. Yeah, right.

    1. fresno dan

      Sirr Duende
      December 29, 2016 at 11:07 am

      “Still, a little over a month ago, there was no space for any but the most toothless criticisms of these highly celebrated hucksters. Despite the flaws, I welcome the realization that these people are pushing a brand of smug posturing that isn’t helping make things better for most people. But it’s not enough to dismiss these people as obnoxious jokers who are mostly stroking off their credulous true-believer fans (although they are that). The problem is that they actually do have genuine political principles, and viewers buy these toxic politics in maudlin appeals sandwiched between unfunny jokes. The bigger problem is that these centrist fakes are as responsible for peddling power-serving misinformation as any Fox News villain.”
      That is a great article Sirr Duende – highly recommend it.
      As I have harped on awhile, people who assert that the CIA is composed of a bunch of patriotic truth tellers are capable of anything and are INCAPABLE of seeing the problem

  19. LT

    Privatizing the VA…get ready for the draft in 5, 4, 3, 2…
    What better way to guarantee profits for the business plans of the companies that really stand to win big off of this?

  20. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: More than one-third of schoolchildren are homeless in shadow of Silicon Valley Guardian

    Facebook recently announced it had committed $18.5m for affordable housing in the area. Meanwhile, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by pediatrician Priscilla Chan and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, her husband, has funded programs in the Ravenswood district including literacy and leadership initiatives, Hernandez-Goff said, adding that she meets with Chan or her staff monthly.

    $18.5 million. How generous. In 2013, the zuckerbergs spent over $30 million buying four houses neighboring theirs. To insure their “privacy.” Their magnanimity knows no bounds.

    And then there is “pediatrician” priscilla chan. While the superintendent of the school district wants to put washing machines in the schools, and open the parking lot at night so families can park their “homes” and the children can sleep undisturbed, the good doctor and her foundation offer “leadership” and literacy “initiatives.” (Kinda hard to read on the toilet when you don’t have a toilet you want to use because the tank fills up too fast.)

    Tremendous generosity or mind-blowingly jaded arrogance / ignorance? You decide.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Marrying a billionaire before he was really rich is true love.

      But it’s not a scalable strategy.

      There are only so many billionaires to go around.

      But true love doesn’t care about that though.

      “I don’t care how much you’re worth.”

      1. fresno dan

        December 29, 2016 at 11:22 am

        “There are only so many billionaires to go around.”

        I imagine an economist will propose that we bring back harems… is a simple mis allocation problem

  21. ChiGal in Carolina

    One often reads about bereaved spouses dying of natural causes within hours or days of the death of their partner. I can’t think of a case of it happening with a parent.

    No, they are the living dead. See Manchester by the Sea

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It depends on how connected we are.

      Before ‘progress,’ you needed your extended family and the whole village to erect a hovel, for your new wife. And you had to be more connected, if not friendlier, with people around you.

      Also before ‘progress,’ you might have to rely on your spouse or child labor to work the farm or family business. You were more likely to wail (publicly wailing, in fact, was admired) for any loss.

      Nowadays, you go to a good school, become credentialed and work in a clean office. Your survival depends on the kindness of the stranger that is your boss, who can rationally replaced if any tragedy befalls him/her, by a higher boss. No need to mourn.

    2. RUKidding

      Apparently Debbie Reynolds suffered at least 2 other strokes this year and at least one bout of pneumonia. Reynolds was a frail 84 year old (as opposed to a neighbor of mine who’s a pretty robust 84). She wasn’t in great health. Clearly the death of her daughter possibly did contribute to the terminal stroke. RIP.

      OTOH, agree re Manchester By the Sea. wow. great movie but be prepared to be depressed by the end of it. Really tragic, especially given that one can see it happening “in real life.”

    3. aletheia33

      loved that movie. excruciating, real, hilarious, and deeply sad. like life.
      i loved the ending and the last line.
      “i can’t beat it.”
      says in 4 words the terrible predicament of our society today.
      also expresses in 4 words step 1 of the 12 steps.

      the movie is named after the town, i.e. the community as a whole, not anything else, which i take as a recognition (perhaps not fully conscious) by lonergan that the movie is about america and how america lives, both up till now, and now. it is a chilling, heartbreaking, true portrait.

      people in a small town with strong small-town connections yet so much disconnect.

      clueless young male heads of families just doing their best to avoid cracking up. they literally cannot speak, they communicate through sports and fighting and friendly insults, they manage to make it all work somehow–except when it doesn’t, for so many who cannot thrive in that scenario.

      the movie is full of kind, well-meaning people who make a big difference by genuinely caring about their families and their neighbors. the no. 2 main character is a beautiful teenaged boy who is going to be fine. at the end, the no. 1 main character has moved from complete to less complete emotional paralysis. there is real hope for him, though we do not know if it will be realized. it is a very kind movie, full of heart, completely unsentimental, and thus, in my book, not depressing.

      i am annoyed by its current labeling as “that depressing movie that you have to see anyway”–because americans supposedly can’t tolerate anything real. as so many of us actually are tolerating real grinding hardship and a major upswing in drug-related tragedy, i doubt that is the case. like the people in manchester-by-the-sea, we’re just not good at dealing with it when it happens to us. however, it is the media that strives at all costs to keep us all on the plane of triviality and consumerism as panacea that really cannot deal.

  22. fresno dan

    Remarkably, slightly more than one-third of students – or 1,147 children – are defined as homeless here, mostly sharing homes with other families because their parents cannot afford one of their own, and also living in RVs and shelters. The district is being squeezed from every side: teachers, administrative staff and even principals have housing woes of their own.
    Facebook recently announced it had committed $18.5m for affordable housing in the area. Meanwhile, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by pediatrician Priscilla Chan and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, her husband, has funded programs in the Ravenswood district including literacy and LEADERSHIP initiatives, Hernandez-Goff said, adding that she meets with Chan or her staff monthly.
    California….so many democrats, so many billionaires, so many homeless… many economists saying the poor should move to the vibrant, prosperous cities….
    The rain repellent properties of LEADERSHIP….why do so many poor people in CA vote against their own interests???

    1. polecat

      …the same reason people in my state of Wa., and county, vote back the same kind of feckless demrats BACK into office !!

      They look after the folk’s (MONEY) …. after all !

    2. RUKidding

      The poor and homeless are largely not voting in CA… bc when do they have the time to do it? How do they even know where/how to register and vote?

      Much as I dislike NPR, there are a few decent shows on it. There was a program prior to the General Election discussing how most of the poor – and especially those who don’t speak English well – don’t vote. It’s too complicated, esp with CA’s ballot initiatives, which are written to be deliberately confusing. They don’t always know how to register or where to vote. And if you’re homeless?? How do you register? Where do you vote?

      Ergo, most of the voters in CA are mostly middle class and above. The working poor don’t have the time and frankly are pretty cynical about the process anyway.

  23. hpschd

    Today is the fourth day of Kwanzaa. The celebration today is “Ujamaa” – cooperative economics.

    Kwanzaa is an African-American 7 day holiday of community unity, self-determination, and cooperation. I lived in Detroit for a few years and celebrated it with friends. I am not AA but I love the ideals and spirit of it.

    Joyous Kwanzaa!

    1. Dave

      Kwanzaa, the COINTELPRO holiday invented 50 years ago by a man convicted of torturing women? No thanks.
      OK, for a minute I thought you were serious…

      By the late 1950s young Ron Everett had attended some classes at Los Angles Community College. By the mid-60s he was touting himself as a “cultural nationalist,” which was Ron’s way of distinguishing himself and his followers from the Black Panthers… Ron Everett, self-described “cultural nationalist,” awarded himself the lofty title “maulana,” which means “master teacher” in Swahili, and gathered around him a following of unsophisticated young blacks. He adopted the African last name of Karenga. By 1969 Karenga’s gang was calling itself United Slaves and was gearing up to challenge the Black Panther Party gang for domination of the spanking-new Afro-American Studies Center at UCLA. Karenga’s gang and the Panthers each backed opposing candidates for the chairmanship of the Center. … Speaking of Kwanzaa to the Washington Post, Karenga came clean about its origins: “People think its African, but it’s not. I came up with Kwanzaa because black people in this country wouldn’t celebrate it if they knew it was American. Also, I put it around Christmas because I knew that’s when a lot of bloods would be partying.” The truth at last. The Official Kwanzaa Website comes closer to capturing the true purpose of Karenga’s crypto-Marxist seven-day celebration: it is to nurture “conditions that would enhance the revolutionary social change for the masses of Black Americans.”

    1. UserFriendly

      Copy the title of the story, Open a private browser window aka incognito mode, search for the title, click on it from google.

      1. mudduck

        I usually just copy the title of the story, paste it into a search window, and hit ENTER. If that doesn’t work, you can try the private browser.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think, that’s worse than Hollywood, where many acting students are probably homeless, but are there fro the chance to make it big (maybe to star in a film about how one doesn’t have to go to school to succeed in life, but can just start a personal computer business in a garage).

  24. fresno dan

    I saw a number of the specials about the JonBenet murder, and it brings up a point that I think often goes unaddressed. I frequently criticize how police fail to investigate their own. But the critique includes the fact that police/prosecutors are often as not also NOT prosecuting or rigorously prosecuting people very much deserving of prosecution. This is often assumed to be only police and white collar crime.
    In California we had the Dan White case

    Its hard to look at the handwritten note found in the Ramsey house and not come to the conclusion that Patricia Ramsey wrote it. The actions of the prosecutor are inexplicable at best. And its hard for me to come to any other conclusion that when you have money, the US legal is deeply, deeply solicitous of your sensibilities….
    It is hard to get a prosecutor to prove someone guilty when the prosecutor doesn’t want to….

  25. Vatch

    TPP: How President Obama Traded Away His Legacy Lori Wallach, Huffington Post

    While reading the article, I got a strong impression that Obama is a clueless narcissist. He refuses to believe that the Democratic Party has abaondoned white working class people, yet that is the precise reason why Trump was able to win Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

    Oh well. On January 20, 2017, we’ll get a new Narcissist-in-Chief.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      With 1/3 homeless students in the Valley of Geniuses, perhaps it was not crazy for Trump’s claim of taking California.

      Maybe he ran a bad campaign here.

      1. John k

        He ran no campaign here, devoted himself to the swings.
        Course, she was the expert. Guess he was lucky.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Speaking of clueless narcissism, Obama doesn’t get that his Russian sanctions announced today hand Trump a perfect set-up: good cop Donald extracts a few concessions from Russia to end bad cop Obama’s sanctions, and declares it a win-win for all concerned.

      Meanwhile, legend-in-his-own-mind Barry is crafting his campaign to be added as the fifth face on Mt Rushmore. Donations are welcomed! ;-)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        When you are about to perform a life-saving surgery, at the minimum, you should sterilize your obsidian cutter.

        “Get rid of all the bad things on your tool.”

    3. neo-realist

      I think Obama in a not so subtle way in a press conference after the election hinted that the election was lost due to Hillary’s poor campaigning rather than poor policies for working people—he stayed in the battleground states and went to all of the fish frys and pressed the flesh. All the dems needed were better optics and “Mission Accomplished.”

  26. TarheelDem

    Is there anyone left of the Park Service Police who actually know who to move 1 million or 2 million protesting people into and out of DC and provide the necessary logistics to make it work somewhat better than the original Woodstock? Where to you park and how do you move that many buses, for instance?

    So far, brave words about resistance and protest — an little actual planning for the large numbers needed for what’s envisioned even if they show up. If you have traffic jams and Fredericksburg, Frederick, Annapolis, and Fairfax County, how do you get that many people to the National Mall? How many Acela runs can it take?

    I think someone should start working out this problem soon or the whole resistance thing is just more hot air from the left (or the rump Democrats).

  27. voo

    This post deals with problems related to Tor usage that are not technical.

    That’s fine as long as long as you understand the technical part of it, but that author doesn’t even understand the social part of it.

    Sorry, but just because someone’s job description is itsec research, it doesn’t mean they won’t just sell you some bullshit.

    There is so much wrong in that post I’d need to write thrice as much as for a counter statement. Not gonna do that.
    In short: No educated Tor supporter claims it’s a replacement for vpn or that any browser is invulnarable. Before using tor or vpn, learn how either works.

  28. Auntienene

    Re the Pilgrim pipeline route through North Jersey from Albany. I live within one mile of the proposed pipeline in a small lake community, with our own wells for water, like many, many others in this part of the state. The whole area is watershed. Putting the water supplies for literally millions of people at risk… just how do we deal with that kind of disaster? Funny, I’ve donated to standing rock while forgetting about our own situation. I’m joining up for the cause.

    1. Jim Haygood

      As can be seen on the right hand (eastern) edge of this map, the protected zone of the NJ Highlands extends into Mahwah, right to the edge of suburbia:

      The protected western part of Mahwah is almost completely wild — woods, bears, lakes (including Bear Swamp Lake), a few grandfathered-in cabins — and that’s why it’s attractive to pipeline builders.

      Putting a pipeline through suburbia would fall somewhere between exorbitantly costly and politically impossible. But the Lenni Lenape tribe (as they used to be called until recently) has been there in the Mahwah hills since long before Dutch settlers first populated the area with a few farms.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Thank you. Now, if we can just get a few million other people to wake up and realize it IS happening in their own back yards…

  29. marym

    Sanders, Democratic leaders announce ‘Day of Action’ to preempt health care cuts Washington Post

    This will be the story of our lives going forward. Follow the D’s (or Sanders) to beg for “no cuts” or organize around real demands.

    This is just getting started (website just established this week). I recognize a couple of people pushing this on twitter as grass roots activists. The initial call is for contacting Congress on 1/20 for Medicare For All:

  30. susan the other

    Trump is going to have to come up with a massive redistribution system if he wants to give tax breaks to business because business is all big business now; the little guys are dropping like flies. I think his pandering promises about re-employment are going to be his downfall. Unless he becomes a no-trader. The dreaded isolationism.

    1. Waldenpond

      How does isolationism with oligarchy/automation work in his favor? People are still out of work, community systems/activities have been neglected, rentiers will take it all. People will still be immiserated.

  31. Waldenpond

    AI hedge fund…. I don’t think the garbage in/garbage out is the relevant issue. I think it’s a matter of there being no one to hold accountable. The ‘owners’ can blame the ‘AI’ programmer and vice versa… there will be no one for those who are defrauded to sue.

    1. norm de plume

      Dalio’s POS, making decisions by applying ‘data science principles to management, picking up on internal data points such as personality tests’ sounds eerily like Robert Harris’s The Fear Index, in which a rich hedge fund manager with a background at CERN creates an algorithm-based system which tracks herd sentiment to make not just investment decisions, but like Dalio’s system, it is responsible for ‘organising staff’s days and even hiring and firing’

      The book’s anti-tech triumphalist message, delivered by Prometheus via Darwin and Mary Shelley, is maybe a little thickly applied, but this story gives it some currency. Suffice it to say it doesn’t end well for the Dalio figure.

  32. ewmayer

    “One often reads about bereaved spouses dying of natural causes within hours or days of the death of their partner. I can’t think of a case of it happening with a parent.” — I’m sure there are lots of examples, but the one that came immediately to my mind was author Louisa May Alcott, who died of a stroke 2 days after her father in March 1888.

  33. gepay

    There are no comments on the Division of Cyprus. Well worth reading although it could have used judicious editing as it did get long Another example of what happens to nationalists who are for the good of their people and go against the wishes of the world order. It makes me wonder whether this history had anything to do with how the EU used Cyprus as its testing ground for bail-ins. Also makes me remember what Lily Tomlin said, “the older I get, the more cynical I get. But I just can’t keep up.”

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