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Links Christmas Day 2016

Italy Eyes Exemption to Spare Monte Paschi Bond Holders WSJ

Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse settlement calms investors FT

New York Rewriting Cybersecurity Rules After Banker Pushback American Banker

China’s Dodgy Data: A Rational Response to a Skewed System, Report Says WSJ

In American Towns, Private Profits From Public Works NYT

I was behind the wheel when a self-driving Uber failed — here’s what happens Business Insider (DL). “When the car goes back into manual mode, it doesn’t automatically stall but begins to slow down. That means you have to be aware the entire time you’re behind the wheel in case you’re sharing the road with other vehicles.” So what’s the point?

Uber’s robot cars move in, and the homeless must move along CNet. I’m noticing that “robot cars” is become in term of choice, as opposed to “self-driving cars” or “autonomous vehicles.” From a public relations standpoint, not full of win.

Syraqistan

Russian aircraft disappears from radar near Sochi en route to Syria Weekend Australian

U.S. forces embedding more to help Iraqis retake Mosul: commander Reuters. Apparently, Groundhog Day is a Christmas movie…

Damascus water supply cut after rebels pollute it: authority Reuters

Erdogan Seeks to Join Forces With Trump Against IS in Syria Bloomberg

Don’t fight sober LRB

Our Famously Free Press

What to do when the ‘truth’ is found to be lies FT. “The algorithm of Facebook’s news feed determines the selection of news viewed by hundreds of millions of people every day.” So, the problem isn’t “fake news” at all. It’s Facebook’s algorithm. Why not, as Atrios suggests, get rid of it?

False News By Omission Misinforms – Pointing Such Out May Soon Be Censored Moon of Alabama

This Is What Happens When Millions Of People Suddenly Get The Internet Buzzfeed

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

JOHN BRENNAN, DOING THE HOLIDAY FRIDAY NEWS DUMP WRONG Emptywheel. Read all the way to the end!

How I Came to Understand the CIA Counterpunch

Police’s secret cellphone-surveillance tool can also block calls by the innocent McClatchy

Trump Transition

Preparing for President Trump Moyers & Company. “A 10-point plan for activists, politicians, the press and everyday citizens,” consisting almost entirely of Inside Baseball. “Everyday citizens” clones focus-grouped Clintoninte bafflegab, so it should come as no surprise that the closest this plan comes to advocating a simple platform of concrete material benefits for the working class is — allow me a moment while I reach for my bucket — “4. Focus on Real People.” As opposed to?

Roaming Charges: the Russian Game Jeffrey St Clair, Counterpunch. Fun round-up, besides the discussion of Petrov’s Defense,

Kissinger, a longtime Putin confidant, sidles up to Trump Politico. For “sidles,” read “slithers.” Fixed it for ya.

Putin Says Russia Was Alone in Believing in Trump’s Election Bloomberg. Putin and Trump give a master class in trolling. Subtweeting, too!

Trump’s Nuclear Boast Is Obama’s Modernization Plan Bloomberg

Trump says he will dissolve foundation amid NY investigation McClatchy. Note how the “conflict” narrative pushed by liberals normalizes a cabinet of oligarchs. So, in the 2020 Booker administration, look for Musk, Zuckerberg, maybe Bloomberg and Soros…

Jason Miller quits as newly named White House communications director after Trump staffer hints at sex scandal NY Daily News

Trump adviser wishes mad cow death for Obama, first lady to be ‘let loose’ in Africa Chicago Tribune

David Friedman, the Peace-Wrecker Counterpunch (CL).

America’s Biggest Labor Group Has a Fascinating Relationship With Trump’s New Anti-China Staffer Mother Jones

How to Make California Great: Secede, With a Little Help From Putin Bloomberg. I believe this would be called “sharpening the contradictions.” Much more interesting than the kneejerk headline.

Mayor Bragged About Eliminating Health Care, Plus More #RahmDump Revelations Chicagoist. #RahmDump is ugly as it sounds. If you’re looking for one more reason why the Democrat FailBoat sailed…

2016 Post Mortem

Consider The Elector: Moral Courage In Maine Michael Tracy, Medium. “It’s hilarious to me that Bright might not have taken his stand but for the concerted effort by Lessig and others to convince Electors to ‘vote their conscience.’ These people’s aim was to get Electors to abandon Trump, but what they ended up doing was convince a bunch of Democratic electors to abandon Hillary.” And “these people” are the brainiacs who want to lead the “Resistance,” after lighthing a billion dollars on fire and throwing it into the air losing to Trump.

The Lists Told Us Otherwise n+1. So Putin forced Clinton to deploy a horrid ground game? One more for an already large pile of anecdotes:

“We hit the same voters in the same houses time and again, whether they were the right houses or not. “How come,” a voter, late-twenties guy in a wool Celtics hat, middle-class neighborhood, asked me, “you always come for her”—was “her” a sister, maybe?—”and never for me?” They voted, he said, about equally often, and always for Democrats. I smiled and said that I was coming for him, but had no good answer. How badly, as I made my way through the smattering of addresses in public housing in my packet, I wanted to do a blind pull and knock every door in the Whittier Park Homes, and then on Election Day, assemble a big team for knock-and-drag, and walk voters directly to the polls. But the lists told us otherwise. “How did your packet go?” the staff at the return table asked—only to then ignore our answers. Those answers collectively contain the answers to what works on the doors, but nothing happened to them; we were, bizarrely, warned not to write notes on the packets. (A friend who came up for the day violated the rule to warn future canvassers off the voter who tried to run her car off the road.)

How the Obama Coalition Crumbled, Leaving an Opening for Trump Nate Cohn, NYT. Interesting, but try reading it without taking Cohn’s categories at face value.

Hillary Clinton Really Shouldn’t Have Told Voters That Trump Wasn’t a Normal Republican New York Magazine

Democracy Is Dying as Technocrats Watch Foreign Policy

A Quarter of Florida’s Black Citizens Can’t Vote. A New Referendum Could Change That. The Intercept

Class Warfare

Almost all the US jobs created since 2005 are temporary Quartz. Crapification, as the NC commentariat has consistently said. Summary of this study from earlier in the year.

These hotel workers just took on Trump — and won WaPo. Thanks to the unrelenting focus the Clinton campaign placed on their struggle. Oh, wait…

From the WWE to the White House: The Anti-Worker History of Trump’s SBA Pick In These Times

Pensioners to be charged £26 ‘falling fee’ to be helped back to their feet by local council Mirror

The Scandal of Vast Inequality in Retirement Pay Portside

Nobel economist Angus Deaton on a year of political earthquakes FT. Asking whether inequality is bad for economic growth is, Deaton says, a “simple-minded question”. Yet inequality manifested in wealthy people or corporations buying control of government is a different matter. “That surely is a catastrophe. So I have come to think that it’s the inequality that comes through rent-seeking [the use of wealth to influence politics for selfish gain] that is the crux of the matter.”

Some States Create Lots of Jobs But Lose People Bloomberg

Xmas

Yiwu: The Chinese city where it’s Christmas every day Reuters

A Christmas Peril (podcast) Outer Limits (diptherio).

The economics of Christmas, a holiday satire CNBC.

Christmas: Embattled From the Beginning WSJ

Why just four seasons? Ancient Japan had 72 microseasons Boing Boing. In Maine we have mud season. It only lasts six weeks or so, but it feels like six months….

Antidote du jour (via):

xmas_dog

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

124 comments

    1. Pat

      Arrogant and stir crazy or not amazing that he has less of a bubble than many of our elected and not elected political figures.

    2. katiebird

      I really liked this interview. One of the few that didn’t make me snort in disgust at anything. What did you find arrogant?

        1. sleepy

          Honestly, from reading the interview that wasn’t my take. I think he overstated the importance, or “effect”, of the leaks. I guess I’m quibbling over what arrogance means.

          When I say he overstated the importance or effect, I mean that imho the average voter whether dem or repub already had assumed for years that the process is rigged by the professional pols in smoke-filled rooms and so forth. That the dem primaries were rigged in favor of Clinton had already been widely reported months before the wikileaks releases.

          In that context the releases were a non-event in terms of affecting the election. Yet they were still important in terms of letting the pols know that people are watching.

          1. hunkerdown

            Wikileaks showed that such deals don’t happen in smoke-filled back rooms, but in smoke-free office parks (Democrats, remember). The banality of the business was the shock to me. In a way, it’s more reprehensible than sucking down vices in said smoke-filled room. For one thing, without the vices, intent is a lot harder to shirk…

    3. Kurt Sperry

      I liked this from the last answer,

      “My conclusion is that most power structures are deeply incompetent, staffed by people who don’t really believe in their institutions and that most power is the projection of the perception of power. And the more secretively it works, the more incompetent it is, because secrecy breeds incompetence, while openness breeds competence, because one can see and can compare actions and see which one is more competent.”

      The penchant and need for ever increasing secrecy and over-classification in US government becomes understandable when one considers its primary purpose is to conceal incompetence and corruption and to create an ever-expanding “safe space” for incompetence and corruption without accountability within government. Ultimately, the biggest perk of raw power/wealth isn’t simply the power itself but the ability to wield that power incompetently and to survive in power. Power plus accountability is ephemeral and tenuous; power minus accountability is stable and dynastic.

      1. Robert Hahl

        I was about to quote the same section of the interview and say that the same effect operates on private enterprise. Secrecy in a corporation breeds incompetence, while openness helps people who actually know what they are doing stay in power.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Incompetently, measured against what standards and by whom? The Rulers appear to be doing a great job of looting and protecting their immunities and impunities, no? While the inchoate “we” talk earnestly and informedly about what ought to be done…

        Nice thought, that comforting somewhat condescending maybe a little supercilious notion “they” are incompetent, but just who owns everything, again? And that notion is maybe a little technocratic in its own manner?

        1. Ray Phenicie

          The implication, from all that Assange and his allies have said, pertains to the Art of Politics as it is supposed to be used to assist in directing the workings of a constitutionally based, representational form of democracy where the rights of citizens (to make just one point here) are protected and prolonged by the actions of the government. The aspect you point to where the Federal, State and local governments are actually part of the captive government and where we are occasionally given new gatekeepers -that aspect of our society is a phenomena of reality we, at least most of us, here at NakedCapitalism, work to dismantle. The crux of what you speak to is the movement to destroy politics by moving all governmental structures under the tent of the FIRE sector so as to generate rent taking opportunities for those who control the continually evolving new, corrupt structures.

          Matt Taibbi has drawn a picturesque but highly accurate picture of giant vampire zombie squids, the cells and nerves of which are populated by those you reference.

          I envision a future where we don’t have to reside much longer in the land of zombie squids but have little real hope left.

          Also, the supposed power of the rent takers over other people is akin to that of slavery. No real power exists in forcing people to give up ownership of material goods. The real world of the person remains intact as long as we hold on to the vision of lifting the weight of oppression off the shoulders of those who are least able to bear it. This is not unlike a religious struggle, or the seeking of enlightenment where the seeker constantly moves away from entangling insufficiencies to a space that is freer and filled with light

      3. Gaylord

        One of the key means of projecting power, corporate media by its fealty to the oligarchs and their minions, thankfully has been undermined by Wikileaks and the Internet. This proves that “you can’t fool all of the people all the time.” Nevertheless, the heroic leakers and facilitators like Manning, Assange, Snowden and others have paid a terrible price to enable our enlightenment.

  1. Pavel

    To any other NC non-croyants out there, a merry “bah humbug” to you all. :)

    I have recently discovered The Jimmy Dore Show on Youtube and on his last episode he provided a funny and fascinating history of “Christmas” from 2014, including:

    –its original pagan origins (known by many of course) as Saturnalia
    –how the Christians co-opted it
    –celebrating Christmas was banned for a while in Massachusetts (late 1800s I believe) because of the pagan origins
    –for a while it was “celebrated” in Rome by forcing Jews to run naked down the streets whilst they were pelted with stones… what fun. (/sarc)
    –Our contemporary image of Santa Claus (fat, jolly, bearded, red suit) was created by Coca Cola in the 1920s.
    –The Saint Nicholas story celebrated e.g. in The Netherlands with the controversial “Schwartze Pete” character

    Jimmy Dore on History of Christmas and Santa Claus”

    1. clinical wasteman

      When I saw that link about Roman “celebrations” I honestly thought for a second it was referring to the Alemanno giunta (2008-2013) [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gianni_Alemanno]. Then I remembered that his city-sponsored boot boys preferred to go after “gypsies” (or … Roma) and extracomunitari.

  2. Kokuanani

    Re those sterling suggestions for “Preparing for President Trump”

    “4. Focus on Real People.” As opposed to?

    Why robots, of course.

    1. Massinissa

      Including those damn Car Robots. The elites will probably start caring more about their Car Robots more than the lives of the working class as soon as the Car Robots no longer need drivers.

  3. cocomaan

    Merry Christmas NC! A good day to remember to be kind and compassionate to your fellow human being.

    “Don’t Fight Sober” was a great book review on two books about the use of drugs in warfare. I’d heard about Hitler’s meltdown being fueled by drugs but not about the use of the drugs among common soldiers.

    But I wonder what kind of designer pharmaceuticals the 1% take that aren’t available to us plebes. You can bet off label compassionate use cases are all over the place among the powerful, letting them dabble in performance enhancement.

    1. katiebird

      Merry Christmas, cocoman — and NC friends wherever you are!!

      Hot coffee and Links & NC commenters …. it doesn’t get better than this. I actually look forward to morning as I fall asleep. Thank you all so much!

      1. johnnygl

        Yep, all that stuff you just said!

        Of course, the kids diving in the wrapping paper is pretty cute, too.

        Happy holidays to all!

      2. cocomaan

        As far as I’m concerned, I have a newspaper subscription here, with Yves and her gang as editors. It’s a great thing to accompany your beverage of choice, like the mimosas my wife made this morning.

    2. UserFriendly

      They would never keep the best drugs just for themselves, because profit. All the new drugs are coming out of china and being sold on the dark web nowadays anyways. The blanket prohibition on most drugs has the effect of hiking up the price on things that are best understood and then they less tested compounds are 10 to 100 times cheaper. It’s just the black market’s Phase II / III trials.

  4. Pat

    I love today’s antidote. Although most of the dogs I have had, or taken care of through the years would never be still enough while helping decorate being decorated to get the shot! Or be so happy about it.

    1. Oregoncharles

      But is gaining so many rentiers really a good thing? And hasn’t Ireland already had a grim experience with being over-banked?

  5. Pat

    So Rahm loses, his emails get dumped without Putin or WikiLeaks and we get to see yet another example of Public versus Private positions.

    I’m pretty damn sure that if we got a glimpse into Andy Cuomo’s private positions we would no longer have a coincidence but a full pattern of deceit among our Democratic leading lights. One where there is gloating over screwing people and in the process making their usual advisors and campaign donors happy, or intending to do so while professing regret or denying the attempt. Funny how that works.

    1. katiebird

      Wow… this set of private policy was particularly stunning. I am taking a day off from hammering my friends with links and quotes but I can hardly wait for tomorrow to see what is said about this story.

    2. timbers

      You said full pattern.

      How many VIP of Democratic Party have recently gloated about taking healthcare away from workers? Kos now Rahm, anyone else? Not the same thing but Obama did say we’d be “pleasantly surprised” with ACA rate increase after we do all the work to enroll.

      I’m inclined to go with the theory that Hillary tanked in the polls just after the release of ACA rate increases. Her fall more closely matches that date than Comey’s reopening FBI email investigation. Getting an establishment Dem to see that and consider the possibility that ACA is huge vote getting fail will “never, ever happen” to turn the words back on them Dems.

      1. Skip Intro

        A recent post here showed that high ACA participation at the county level correlated strongly with Trump victories.

    3. Skip Intro

      As long as they don’t use the N-word or the C-word, everything will be oK. IdPol is all that matters.

    1. JaaaaayCeeeee

      At 4:24, when the bird starts to cheep for 20 seconds and then the camera cuts to the whistler doing it, I was so enchanted that I had to find the English translation. Sublime, thank you.

  6. Disturbed Voter

    Loved the book review on the CIA … but it is confirmation bias for me. It is necessary for the government to commit crimes, to ensure its own survival, if not the survival of the general populace. A deeper analysis would have covered the acidic erosion of character, this produces in patriots.

    1. Plenue

      “It is necessary for the government to commit crimes, to ensure its own survival, if not the survival of the general populace.”

      Says who?

  7. Don Midwest USA

    Dem power structure in MI repel Bernie supporters

    Jimmy Dore, a comedian and a regular on The Young Turks covers the attack on change agents to the dem party in MI

    As he says in the end, Hillary should have won the state, but the same leaders continue to expel the youth and other change agents.

    Bernie Delegates ASSAULTED By Hillary Supporters at Michigan Democratic Meeting

    The 7 minute video was posted yesterday.

    The major issue was the selection of 4 delegates to the DNC for the next 4 years and to vote for the head of the DNC

      1. katiebird

        I always assume that anything Obama says is a lie — or at least designed/crafted to hide the truth. And he is VERY successful at that.

        1. timbers

          Dore (paraphrased): “Obama said we’re in Syria because Assad used gas to gas his own people. And we know a lot about that because we sell the gas to a lot of people.” Of course after “anonymous sources” at the CIA said “with high confidence” that Assad used the gas, the CIA later released it’s “official” opinion that the rebels we’re supporting used the gas, not Assad.

          Like WMD in Iraq/Putin hacked the emails. Same movie, different actors.

          1. katiebird

            Thank you for the details. It’s hard for me to watch videos once the family wakes up. (Putting on headphones is a signal for people to start talking to me… And I don’t want to get in the habit of telling them not to talk to me)

            1. Oregoncharles

              And sleep is a good thing.

              OTOH: keeping quiet is a useful skill that small children should be learning, in moderation. Think about wild hunter-gatherers: their kids had to know how to be silent, or they might get eaten.

              But you’re right not to cut yourself off from them.

              I resist watching videos for information – it’s very slow compared to text.

              1. oh

                Good on ya. Google wants you to watch Youtube so they can collect info on you. Unless you use anonymous browsing, your ip address will be logged and mapped to you one way or the other. Later your data will be sold to other including the govt.

          2. Plenue

            Just how much of a lie has become extremely apparent in light of all the weaponized gas workshops the SAA keeps finding in East Aleppo. The evidence is overwhelming that the only ones who used gas in this conflict are the ‘rebels’ the US supported.

        2. Cry Shop

          Yes, everything was a lie, Obama was born and raised in upper middle class family to a World Bank wonk and then raised by a grandmother who was a vp at Hawaii’s largest bank, with a stay at home grandpa. Yet he has the audacity to tell people to suck it up with times are hard, like he did…

          I know starting careers in troubled times is a challenge, but it is also a privilege. Because it’s moments like these that force us to try harder, dig deeper and to discover gifts we never knew we had. To find the greatness that lies within each of us. So don’t ever shy away from that endeavor. Don’t stop adding to your body of work. I can promise that you will be the better for that continued effort as will be this nation that we all love. Arizona State Commencement Speech (2009)

          Maybe he somehow thinks privilege, ie: private law (loop holes) for members of the elite, is a hardship.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How is Hillary still attracting or keeping supporters?

      Countries have stopped giving money to the Foundation, for example.

        1. hunkerdown

          How cute, she’s repeating Mandy Grunwald’s famous “socialist Jew” line.

          If we must religiously have this thing called “free speach”, at least let the people call those speakers to account on it in such a way they can’t weasel out.

      1. Plenue

        Whatever money they still have access too (which is probably a lot) and a whole lot of desperate inertia. We’re talking about a political dynasty that has been around for decades; many people and entities are invested in them. Just look at the insane lengths Clinton supporters have gone to try and somehow still pull out a win, even if it means risking Civil War 2. Things won’t be settled until Trump officially takes the crown next month. Then I expect the Clinton apparatus will really start to die, rapidly.

  8. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Almost all the US jobs created since 2005 are temporary Quartz.

    In other words, nearly all of the 10 million jobs created between 2005 and 2015 were not traditional nine-to-five employment.

    Krueger, a former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, was surprised by the finding.

    So this is what it looks like when you run an economy with the “experts” you have, and not the ones you wish you had.

    Until we get some good experts, “we’ll have to muddle through somehow. So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.”

    It’s mimosa time. Merry Christmas, NC.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It should be required that such Very Important Persons take driving tours through towns Trump or Sanders visited earlier this year.

      Stay in the local motels and eat at the local cafes…incognito.

      “Your mission, is to spend the next 3 months touring Rust Belt America. No more time to publish fancy papers nor meet with bankers or lobbyists.”

  9. Marco

    “How I came to understand the CIA” was my favorite link (xmas present) for today. Had no clue Morley Safer was such a pathetic little whore for American warmongering. I guess his perch at 60 minutes explains everything.

    1. NYPaul

      From the, “never ceases to amaze,” file:

      1. Democrats can’t put to bed their unending mantra, “Trump won because Republican voters are uneducated, uninformed, woman hating Racists.” Yet, “unprecedented’ upswing in donations after US election,” settles, once and for all, the debate regarding which Party is stocked with more, “Stupids.” After tens of billions of words had been published exposing Clinton’s various frauds, deceptions, and, hypocrisies, her donors still believe she’s a “progressive.”

      2. “It’s going to take SO much more than money!” For starters, how about, a soul, a smidgeon of empathy, a lifetime of therapy, a divorce, a miracle………….”

    1. different clue

      BernieCratic activists and DemParty wannabe-reformers need to make up handy lists of Clinton-supporting Democrats at every possible level. That way, those BernieCrat wannabe-reformers who want to start decontaminating the DemParty can see whom to vote against, whom to donate money against, whom to sabotage and obstruct in every way . . . . every single time . . . . until every last Clintonite is purged from the Party. Or until the Party itself is purged from existence.

      I would certainly never vote for any Clintonite for any office no matter how small and local . . . if I had a handy tool to see who the Clintonites are. Who were the Happy Clinton delegates from Michigan at the Convention? Defeat them! Every single time! Even if the only way to do that is to vote Republican.

      Clintonites delenda est.

  10. jfleni

    RE: How to Make California Great: Secede, …

    The obvious conclusion that “DoggiePatch DC is getting nuttier
    by the day” is certainly food for thought here.

    1. different clue

      As Global Warming makes California ever-less inhabitable, a Peoples Democratic Republic of California will become ever-less great. And if California has secceded, Californians will be much less welcome as refuges back into the United States of America.

      Independence has its costs, as well as its benefits.

      1. Oregoncharles

        They might be able to talk the whole West Coast into going with them. There is literary precedent for that idea. We’re already getting climate refugees from Cali, but then we’ll soon be growing their crops, too.

        The biggest problem would be that both Oregon and Washington have a much bigger east side – Washington even has a major city on the east side, which is much more conservative. Might have secession movements of our own.

        Of course, the whole discussion is silly; barring complete collapse, this was settled in 1865. (“Ecotopia Rising” depends on the secessionists having nukes of their own, which they had hidden in key points of the East – a measure of how extreme the situation is.)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Hope everyone is healthy, poor or poor, Merry Christmas.

        As they say in Zen, the moon shines for everyone.

        And the poem at the UN building:

        And still, after all this time, The sun never says to the earth, You owe Me. Look what happens with love like that, It lights the Whole Sky.

  11. ambrit

    The “Ruling Class” takes it’s information control campaign to the next level. Accuses “Fake News” of fomenting nuclear sabre rattling on the part of Pakistan against Israel.
    See: https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/351bf725-76ac-33fa-9191-94ade0fee2ab/ss_pakistan-defence-minister.html
    Now the elites can point to “real and credible dangers” from “fake news” to legitimize the suppression of “alternative news sources.”
    If Orwell had envisioned the Internet, he would have anticipated this.
    Here is the elites Christmas present for us; “Official News.”

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Uber car

    “When the car goes back into manual mode, it doesn’t automatically stall but begins to slow down. That means you have to be aware the entire time you’re behind the wheel in case you’re sharing the road with other vehicles.” So what’s the point?

    The point, I am just grasping in the dark here, your right foot is now free to do what it has always wanted to do (and the right foot being like any rebellious teenager, we don”t ask it about the ‘what’ part).

    Or perhaps it’s a free bonus gift from Uber: Zen awareness training – to be aware all the time. And no more excuse about being distracted by your wife or kids, when you are alone inside a self-driving car to be aware all the time.

    1. ambrit

      MLTPB;
      Uber has handed us a ready made business opportunity.
      First, a book, “The Zen of Crashing.”
      Second, the multi media explication of above. Podcasts of Uber crashes. Videos of same.
      Third, the spin offs. “How to Enjoy the White Light While Waiting for the Uber Ambulance.” “The Zen of First Aid.” “Exploring the Mind Body Interface While Under Stress.” And, of course, “After the Crash: Do Not Commune With the Police.”
      Finally, considering how arrogant and hubristic “they” are, “Uber vs. the Cult of Reality.”
      Somehow, I do not anticipate Uber promoting an Eight Step Program. More likely, they’ll push a proprietary Twelve Step Program. “Hi, I’m THX 1138, and I’m a big proponent of Taylorism.”

    2. Ignim Brites

      The zen will have to be embedded in the cars themselves. Only when the cars communicate among themselves will the automobile become a true unit of mass transportation. Just as the internet became the computer so too will the traffic become the car. This is why “borg” enabled cars will be mandatory in CA within a decade. You will be …..

    3. Titus Pullo

      The illusion of progress is much more marketable than actual progress. As in fake robot cars are so much better, cooler, awesome than viable public transportation (you might have to ride around with the dirty poors). Even though increasing public transportation is the sane response to climate change and limiting emissions, but there is no profit in it, or the expectation of profit (which is the Uber/Amazon game) so our visionary politicians choose the least sane and rational option.

      If humanity survives to 22nd century, there will surely be some great economist who will eviscerate capitalism’s ability to routinely and grandly misallocate resources, in between his or her time spent harvesting and growing the O2 producing algae keeping him or her barely alive.

  13. Now relax and take your giant suppository

    Aha. That Bloomberg article is starting to reveal what passes for electoral interference among Democrat losers. The Anti-Globalist Movement invokes rule of law and human rights and promotes self-determination of peoples. Kind of rings a bell, huh? It’s R2P, suck it. Democrat whiny babies can dish it out but they can’t take it.

    What we have here is Pillar III of the Responsibility to Protect, as stipulated in the Outcome Document of the 2005 United Nations World Summit and formulated in A/63/677. Also known as the law. Russian civil society is complying with peremptory norms of international law, assuming its share of an obligation erga omnes to protect humans from US state crimes including inter alia aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria, systematic and widespread torture in secret death camps, and illegal mass evictions. The Government of the United States has forfeited its sovereignty with domestic repression and serious crimes of concern to the international community. The international community is obligated to intervene in this failed state. It must engage with the US regime and the public to support a culture of peace.

    Here is what the world must do to stop US crimes and mass atrocities:

    – Dialogue, education and training on human rights and humanitarian law to inform national agendas for institutional reform.

    – International development assistance based on human rights as an alternative to predatory US regimes based on corporatist central planning, elite looting, trading in influence and abuse of function, coercive control of peoples’ natural wealth and resources, and private debt imposed for social control.

    – Concerted international suasion, education, and assistance, reinforced by parallel and consistent diplomacy, including measures in conformity with UN Charter Article 41 or Rome Statute Article 13 (b).

    And that is what the outside world is doing. Calexit, like Sovereign Vermont and other self-determination movements, recognizes that the inevitable outcome of responsible sovereignty is dissolution of the USA as regional cultures of peace break with criminal state conduct. So try all you want to make this look like enemy subversion, the USA is going to take its medicine. Like the USSR did.

  14. Wyoming

    Perhaps what was meant was that if you have to pay that much attention to what the car is doing there is ‘no’ point in having a robot car?

    Or the point was that a car which slows down for no reason is a hazard to other drivers as it breaks the human driving paradigm. Humans after all don’t make their driving decisions based upon what the law says but rather on what their expectations of what is reasonable to do and what other drivers ‘should’ be expected to do.

    I expect that a great many of the robot/human car accidents, which all the robot car manufacturers attribute to human driver failure, are actually because the robot did not do what a human driver would have done and thus essentially triggered the accident. Humans routinely ignore the rules of the road in a consistent way. How are they going to program that into a robot?

    1. NYPaul

      (Not referring to you, Wyoming)

      I hate sounding like a knee-jerk, naysayer, and I’m fully aware (and, grateful) for all the amazing advances that technology has bestowed upon on all of us………but. I just don’t see how “driverless cars,” the kind that the futurists are attempting to prepare us for, will become the universal, total-auto-drive experience some are touting. When this “auto-drive” concept first was introduced to us, I, like most people I think, got the notion that I’d be able to program my proposed trip, then take a nap, as my wondrous, “self-driving” buggy got me to my destination effortlessly, and, safely. Now we know that’s not the case as some form of, “hands on” driver attention will have to be involved.

      I’ve watched quite a few discussions between proponents, and, sceptics, regarding this, “on call all the time,” involvement that drivers will have to address, and perform. Since some driver attention will be required, the discussion usually ends up concluding that the experience will be somewhat similar to that which some dopey “texters” expose us to. Hopefully, after the hair-raising screeching of tires (and, possible cardiac arrest) the damage will be restricted to heart palpitations, bloody nose, or fender disfigurement. How do we get past this, seemingly, intractable dilemma?

      The only way I see this concept being viable is if they can make the experience similar to that of an elevator; get into your car, punch some buttons, windows get blacked out, chime goes off when you’ve reached your destinations.

      I know I sound like a dolt trying to explain my doubts regarding “driverless cars”, but, I sure would appreciate some more informed input.

      1. Chris

        Merry Christmas everyone!

        For the topic at hand, I am optimistic that the problems of driverless vehicles can be solved. I hope they are eventually as I have a number of soon to be elderly relatives who would benefit from the technology. But right now, we’re stuck with a several things that software and even hardware have a tough time dealing with. I work with similar systemic engineering problems in my job. Here’s my 0.02$ on what issues we have yet to conquer for driverless tech to really work.

        We have a wide range of driving conditions in the US: snow, rain, dust storm, urban traffic, highway traffic, rural traffic, hills, plains, areas where you can’t see around corners, mountains, etc. etc. Any one of those could be handled on their own, but when the conditions can change rapidly from one to another (crazy spring weather in Colorado or Pennsylvania anyone?) you really need some advanced and adaptable solutions. That’s especially important as the people most likely to use the driverless tech would be most interested in using it to keep them safe in difficult conditions. So if your grandma with vision problems and weak hand strength is hoping to use the uber drone to drive her around so she can do holiday shopping, and it’s going to throw the driving responsibilities back to her when it’s snowing, it’s not really a useful option.

        We have a wide variety of driving surfaces too. Different states have different standards that they implement for repairs and even initial construction of roads. Different states have different budgets for road repair. Several states are actively de-paving roads, and turning them back to gravel. So you need a system that can adapt to a road on a trip which may take it from bumpy, poorly patched residential street, to highway, to pedestrian heavy area, to gravel driveway, and back again. The changes can happen quickly, and transition with different degrees of warning (e.g. If they’re under construction). That’s tricky. The direction of maintenance budgets in this country is not going where this problem will get better anytime soon.

        We have a number of areas where the kind of high speed command and control network you need to respond changing conditions don’t work. Places in a city where signal is poor – tunnels, concrete canyons, parking garages, alleys, areas where no single tower really has strong signal strength, etc. Rural locations where signal is weak or non existent. And then there’s distribution of the network. If you prioritize Manhattan, what do you do when someone needs to drive to Detroit? Or is that just a stated limitation if the system? This all needs to dealt with before any kind of national platform has a chance.

        We have no one single customer type or single need for a car in the US. If you label this kind of service as a taxi, you might get away with keeping the loading to people and small luggage. But if people think it’s a car, you’re going to get everything from party bus requests to people stuffing the vehicles to the windows with junk. That loading variation would change suspension response, which would effect sensor tolerance to feedback responses (harder stops because of more weight which leads to more braking force being requested which would impact recommended driving speed to minimize force and suddenly your ride is going 5 mph on the highway and causes an accident because the algorithm thought it was being safe. There’s just too many inputs and variables for this to easily solve it for your average vehicle.

        The kind of constant communication needed to guide the device makes it open to hacking in a big way. Can you imagine getting in a car, and the doors lock and it takes you to a garage out of town and won’t let you out until someone pays your ransom? How about a fun little bug that makes your ride stop at every Starbucks on the way to your destination? What about something more exciting? Like a script kiddie who gets their kicks by intermittently cutting signal to the vehicle when you’re on the highway, kind of like a modern day equivalent of dropping rocks from an overpass. And of course there’s the option for a whole parking lot of cars being hacked and running en masse into a building as an act of terrorism? What about a hack that makes a vehicle target police officers out of their car, or just makes you speed whenever a police vehicle is in range, causing you to be late even if there’s no ticket? I don’t see how you reconcile the scary potential for abuse and hacking with the need for constant data and feedback from the environment. It’s worse in satellite linked systems.

        And speaking of insurance and tickets…just who is responsible for this thing if it causes an accident anyway? We’re a highly litigious society. That needs to be squared away before people develop the tech. And how would a company be able to raise funds if they had a big threat like large unknown insurance losses listed as a risk on their prospectus? Would a person use the service if they were told that their own insurance and liability applied the entire time they used the vehicle? If we ever crack real AI and use it for this, and the AI kills someone…what happens? Who goes to jail? How do you punish a rogue algorithm and get justice for the person who was killed? I think this particular bit is what will prevent driverless cars from being a reality more than th technical issues.

        I think we might get a system which works on a specific national highway with a defined minimum level of maintenance and signal repeaters at a regular interval, for cars which can accept regular safety system requirements and software updates. Cars as kindles. Then they’d travel in convoys, like schools of fish traveling across the country. And we’d spread insurance claims across everyone in the group. That might work. But it would be prohibitively expensive, and result in a massive transfer of wealth from people in states where most couldn’t use the system because they couldn’t afford the constant upgrade costs to their personal vehicles. And like most system wide things, unless enough people are in it, it doesn’t work.

        So I guess I’m left with still feeling optimistic that the challenges can be overcome, but I don’t see how yet.

        1. Dave

          “But if people think it’s a car, you’re going to get everything from party bus requests to people stuffing the vehicles to the windows with junk.”

          I drove a cab. That was what we called the dreaded “moving job”. Almost as bad as when someone was put into the cab with bandages and splits, an “ambulance job”.

          As a 21st Century Luddite, and an ex cab driver, I’m thinking of all the innovative ways that we can vandalize, defeat and confuse self-driving cars. The roofing nail on the end of a straightened out coat hanger placed under a tire is a good one, works even for a moving vehicle. Then there’s the vehicle hitting a pedestrian who jumps in front of or off it at a low speed. Sensors, how do they respond to laser pointers? These are questions we all want answered. Merry Christmas.

          1. different clue

            Painting out the lane markers into invisibility and painting some new “lane markers” leading all the robocars over a cliff or into a bridge abutment or etc.

  15. Brian

    “When the truth is found to be lies”, ( “Somebody to Love”; Grace & Darby Slick, Jefferson Airplane) The joke is complete when the FT explains everything you need to know in a sentence. What might they do with; “There’s something happening here” “Won’t get fooled again”, “War”
    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good day.

  16. petal

    The doc I work for(I mean, boss #3) said the other day that she made a donation to the Sierra Club after Trump was elected. I held my tongue.

    Sending warm thoughts out to all of y’all, especially to aby-I hope you have a nice, peaceful day today and a better year ahead. Cheers.

  17. vandy

    Speaking of Brexit and Ireland, there is a new Occupy-type movement there bringing attention to the insidious effects of austerity, particularly homelessness and suicide. This powerful clip captures the moral outrage with simple and furious Irish eloquence: “Austerity, that con, that lie, that scam, that blood splatter.” All placed in the historical context of the Easter Rising centenary. My Irish ancestors, who fled the famine, would be cheering as this audience did.

  18. Annotherone

    Happy Everything y’all at NC, and many thanks for all the links, writings and commentary – best and sanest on the whole worldwide web!

    1. VietnamVet

      The surveillance state can’t let the knowledge that government austerity is killing underclass citizens loose in the population. But, this is exactly what Russia needs to point out to accelerate the splintering of the Atlantic Alliance to counter to the West’s attempt to destabilize the Kremlin.

      Fake News Indeed.

    2. clinical wasteman

      Thanks for the link — cheering indeed, and actually covered in the Irish Times! — and welcome, Vandy.

  19. LT

    Okay. If I had read the piece with Brennan’s quotes without it being in a publication, I would have thought it was a piece for”The Onion.”

    1. John Parks

      I reacted similarly and wondered how many times those lines and responses by Brennan had been rehearsed before he got them memorized. “Take 23!”
      Then recalled how he was merely parroting a mantra for creating his version of “CIVILIZATION”

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Vast Inequality in Retirement Pay.

    Also inequality in pre-retirement pay.

    And, last, but not least – inequality in post-mortem pay. “My tomb is bigger than you, and my room in the Mansion with Many Rooms has a view of the garden.”

    1. Arizona Slim

      And to think that l just added more rocks and stones to my father’s cairn.

      His cremation wasn’t free, but his burial was. I did that. Built the cairn too.

      DIY death rituals. I can’t recommend them enough.

  21. Oregoncharles

    “Russian aircraft disappears from radar near Sochi en route to Syria Weekend Australian”

    Current reports are it crashed in the sea, killing all aboard, apparently including a choir.

    1. Quentin

      Yes, sadly, the Alexandrov military choir, a western musical institution of the highest artistic standards. An incalculable loss to the families, friends and the Russian nation.

  22. barefoot charley

    Merry Christmas, happy hannukah, and allahu akbar to all, with great appreciation for this community of sanity.

  23. Oregoncharles

    “Don’t fight sober LRB” (which is actually about amphetamines in warfare) –
    One theory about the notorious Viking Berserkers is that they were using mushrooms – Amanita muscaria, the iconic red-with-white spots toadstool. It has a reputation for inducing delusions of grandeur and to some extent the reality of god-like powers, and is also reputed to be a major source of religion, at least in the north.

    I don’t know how the very similar “amok” phenomenon among Malays and Phillipinos is explained, though it’s clearly cultural. Another mushroom? Amanita doesn’t grow in the tropics.

    1. ambrit

      The Zulu warriors of the Empire’s Zulu wars used a powdered form of cannabis to induce a state of perceived “immunity” from dangers.
      Methamphetamine is still cooked up using the “Nazi Method” derived from WW2 formulas used in the Reich.
      There’s lots more…

    2. vidimi

      mushrooms were a source of religion in ancient greece, too. the oracles would take them. the mycenae even got their name from them.

  24. Dave

    California an “Independent state?” As far as voting for Clinton it would be more like a series of islands, like the Philippines or Indonesia.

    See this map based on the county by county results on California.

    http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org/tag/clinton-archipelago/

    The independent state of Jefferson, which includes Northern California and southern Oregon has been trying for decades to secede from their respective welfare dependent ethnically incoherent big cities. Plus there has been a movement afoot for half a century to split California into Northern California and Southern California, at an east west line following the Tehachipis, the mountains north of Los Angeles.

    1. a different chris

      My Christmas wish for Dave is to find even the slightest grip on reality in his stocking. Anybody want to spend (and no doubt waste) their time dispelling his “welfare dependent ethnically incoherent big cities” myth? I’m in too good a mood.

      1. a different chris

        ahh, I can’t completely control myself — I don’t know if you’ve been introduced to Teh Google, but using it gives us a population map. Compare it to your delusions.

      1. Dave

        “Multicultural”, “speaking different languages”, “living different values”
        No common goals, other than possibly accruing as much money and stuff as they can.

        A different Chris, my reality is based on growing up in San Francisco and Los Angeles among every kind of people you can imagine, speaking three languages and having lived and worked abroad.

        And what is yours based on?

  25. a different chris

    Merry Christmas, everybody! — ignore the “Christ” in the name if you aren’t Christian (like me!), it’s actually just a very necessary midwinter holiday that the Xtians, temporarily I expect, stole.

    One on-topic note:

    >So I have come to think that it’s the inequality that comes through rent-seeking [the use of wealth to influence politics for selfish gain] that is the crux of the matter

    This is why, whether MMT is correct or not, we need to seriously tax the rich. The MMT’ers are so obsessed with the mathematics of their new toy, they seem to miss that. That’s my last deep thought for 2016.

    1. Steve C

      Excellent point, Chris. I’d be interested in hearing arguments for and against the proposition that the wealthy all are to a great extent bloodsucking rent extractors.

  26. Steve C

    Regarding the New York Magazine article about Hillary trying to contrast Trump with “respectable Republicans: Tim Kaine never once in the debate brought up what a right-wing freak show Mike Pence is. Instead, he was pushing the respectable Republicans angle in contrast to crazy Trump. I couldn’t take it. As awful as Pence was, Kaine was so annoying I switched the channel.

    Hillary etal ran an issue free campaign to make it all about crazy Trump. Next time, the Democrats should consider having an agenda.

    Ok. Rant over. I wish the NC community and the whole world happiness, health, safety and peace.

    1. Pat

      There is probably another reason why Kaine couldn’t bring up Pence’s positions as Kaine’s term as governor resembled Pence’s. I have no reason to believe that Pence is a bigger right wing freak than Kaine when he is left to his own devices. Rather that Kaine largely agrees with Pence but is more willing to hide those positions and even compromise them temporarily depending on his position.

      Clinton/Kaine ran an issue free campaign, because their real positions were largely unpopular or similar to Trump’s (he was actually further left/progressive/old school liberal many times) OR since they were going to win there was no reason to either put on a front to the public, kowtow to them, or even pay any attention to them.

    2. different clue

      Pence is the rightwing Clintonite waiting in case Trump disappears somehow. He is Clintonite on Trade Agreements, Clintonite on “standing up to Putin” and Clintonite on “Assad must go”. That’s Clintonite enough for me. It was Clintonite enough for Kaine, too. “Honor among Clintonites” . . . as they say.

  27. ewmayer

    o “Hillary Clinton Really Shouldn’t Have Told Voters That Trump Wasn’t a Normal Republican | New York Magazine” — Well, to be fair, he wasn’t a normal Republican. On all issues of actual substance, based on track record when available, Hillary was the normal Republican.

    o “Why just four seasons? Ancient Japan had 72 microseasons | Boing Boing. In Maine we have mud season. It only lasts six weeks or so, but it feels like six months….” — As invoked by Robert Frost in his poem, “Two Tramps in Mud-Time.”

  28. Jim Haygood

    Merry Christmas from Netanyahu:

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday summoned the U.S. ambassador to discuss the U.S. abstention in a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an end to settlement building.

    The envoys from 10 of the 14 countries that voted for the resolution and have embassies in Israel — Britain, China, Russia, France, Egypt, Japan, Uruguay, Spain, Ukraine and New Zealand — were summoned to the Foreign Ministry.

    Sunday is a regular work day in Israel, but most embassies are closed. Calling in envoys on Christmas Day is highly unusual.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-un-idUSKBN14E0EF

    Highly unusual‘ is a polite euphemism for ‘grossly insulting.

    Netanyahu just can’t conceal his contempt for nations that refuse to indulge the bad behavior of “the little country that never grew up.”

    1. Pat

      And my response would have been to politely refuse, and say that since this was no emergency the ambassador would be available to meet with the Prime Minister later next week.

      But then I feel no need to continue to kowtow to Israel, especially regarding their hissyfit on being called on their continued abuse of that situation.

    2. different clue

      Actually, the little country was on the verge of growing up with Rabin shepherding the Israeli public to a genuine acceptance of Camp David and the follow-on acceptance of The State Of Palestine. Left wingers may not believe it, but the Netanyahoodlums believed it, which is why Likud elements had Rabin assassinated . . . to abort the “little country grows up” process.

      Here is a link about that. http://rigint.blogspot.com/2006/07/violent-bear-it-away.html

      The assassination was a long-term success. There is no visible chance of “little country growing up” any more now.

      1. Massinissa

        Oh I believe it, ive read biographies of Rabin. When I think of center left politicians that don’t suck, I usually think of Rabin. Unfortunately, as far as the global center left goes, he was the exception rather than the rule. Good man for sure.

        Honestly the only thing that surprises me about Rabins assassination is that the Israeli right didn’t hire some Palestinian to do the assassination. All they could find for an assassin was one of their usual right wing nutjobs. Who is actually venerated by many on the right, no joke. Like the guys that attacked the USS Liberty I guess. I don’t understand why more people don’t understand how far right Israel has become, they don’t even hide it and openly venerate murderers.

  29. Oregoncharles

    ” In Maine we have mud season.”
    In western Oregon, mud season is six months of the year. We get used to it, and wear rubber boots a lot.

  30. Plenue

    >Why just four seasons? Ancient Japan had 72 microseasons Boing Boing

    Ancient is a funny word. I always associate it with Classical Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, that sort of thing.The Nara period started in 710 AD, which puts it squarely in the Early Middle Ages. Japan doesn’t really have an ancient period, in terms of reasonably solid historical documentation.

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