Links 1/15/17

Masturbating at work is a doctor-approved stress reliever | New York Post (UserFriendly)

The fake news that sealed the fate of Antony and Cleopatra The Conversation

“OK Facebook”—Why stop at assistants? Facebook has grander ambitions for modern AI Ars Technica

Nearly 70,000 birds killed in New York in attempt to clear safer path for planes Guardian


Theresa May to side with Eurosceptics in major Brexit speech revealing what she wants from negotiations Telegraph

The Brexit Select Committee flexes its muscles for the first time Brexit Central

A C Grayling calls for general strike against Brexit and says bypassing Parliament vote is a ‘kind of coup’ Independent

Is Europe Disintegrating? NYRB

Police State Watch

That Time I Turned a Routine Traffic Ticket into the Constitutional Trial of the Century Public Discourse. Will Franz Kafka please pick up the white courtesy ‘phone.

Driverless Shuttles Hit Las Vegas: No Steering Wheels, No Brake Pedals Michael Shedlock

Is Fiat heading for an emissions scandal of VW’s magnitude? FT

Cory Booker’s Conscience Jacobin

If economists want to be trusted again, they should learn to tell jokes Spectator

Why open offices are bad for us BBC

From drought to deluge: How one California river tells the story of a waning drought LA Times

Black Lives Matter

Landmark investigation says Chicago police conduct harms residents, endangers officers Chicago Tribune

Innocent Rape Victim Thrown in Jail for a Month to Make Sure She’d Testify Against Attacker Free Thought Project

Health Care

Drugmakers alarmed by Trump pricing threat FT

Noam Chomsky: The US Health System Is an “International Scandal” — and ACA Repeal Will Make It Worse

How smartphones are transforming healthcare FT

A Woman in Nevada Died from an Unstoppable Superbug MIT Technology Review

S.E.C. Inertia on Paybacks Adds to Investor Harm NYT Gretchen Morgenson’s latest.

Aid in reverse: how poor countries develop rich countries Guardian. Don’t miss this.


White Paper on Asia-Pacific Security Reveals China’s Regional Ambitions The Wire

At Davos; China Seeks The Limelight As Trump Takes Charge Forbes

Trump Transition

Trump Open to Shift on Russia Sanctions, ‘One China’ Policy WSJ

Trump cards: how will next US president play his hand against China? SCMP

Trump Team Shunning Davos Meeting of World’s Economic Elite Bloomberg

CNN in Trump’s crosshairs The Hill

Will Donald Trump Shred the Iran Nuclear Deal? The American Conservative

How Donald Trump Kingmaker-Billionaires Robert and Rebekah Mercer Have Poured Millions Into Climate Science Denial DeSmogBlog

US envoy’s message to Trump: Don’t screw it up in Europe Politico

Fuel Efficiency Standards: EPA Finalizes Rules, Making It More Difficult For Trump Administration To Undo Them International Business Times

Trump Lashes Out at Hillary Clinton, Intelligence Officials in Tweets WSJ

Donald Trump accuses civil rights icon John Lewis of ‘all talk and no results’ Independent

Exposing The Man Behind The Curtain Scott Ritter, Huffington Post (Fiver). Important.

‘Star Trek’ actress Zoe Saldana: Hollywood bullied Trump The Hill (UserFriendly). This will likely cost her roles.

The New Cold War

Trump wants Putin summit in Reykjavik The Times

How Trump and Putin’s brutal bromance will reshape the world New Statesman

Is Trump’s rage at US intelligence unprecedented? Prospect

The Russian Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam’s WMDs Counterpunch

The Insanity of a New Cold War: A Top Russian Scholar Sounds the Alarm Truthdig

We’ve Been Hacking Elections for More Than a Century Strategic Culture (Glenn F)

Indian Currency Train Wreck

If I Were at RBI, I’d Have Withdrawn From Demonetisation Implementation: Y.V. Reddy The Wire. More indirect support for the hypothesis that India might have been spared the demonetization debacle if Raghuram Rajan had continued as governor of the RBI. .

Demonetisation: Centre says it respects RBI’s autonomy as staff alleges ‘unwarranted interference’


Disunity and Impotence at the United Nations Der Spiegel

Syria II: Feel Harder Fredrik deBoer (UserFriendly)

Antidote du jour

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. fresno dan

    Masturbating at work is a doctor-approved stress reliever | New York Post (UserFriendly)

    “This year, the company Hot Octopuss debuted ‘masturbation booths’ across New York City to give men a public place to ‘relieve stress’. Instead of reacting with disgust, women wanted to know where their masturbatoriums were. Why should men have all the fun?”
    prepare for the coming avalanche…..

    1. edmondo

      I’ve sat through many, many restructuring meetings at my place of employment. Based on the “new, improved” workflows and revamped organizational charts developed by my supervisors without any input from the peons who are most affected, I can assure you that masturbating at work is nothing new.

    2. integer

      I wonder if the booths come are equipped with security cameras?
      If this catches on, it is going to make for some hilarious dialogue in the workplace (as referenced by Tom below), as well as a probable decline in handshakes.

        1. integer

          Well, it’s certainly clear that “stress balls” will no longer suffice, which is fine because that term can now take on an entirely new meaning.

          (Yes, I did choose the link to Office Playground on purpose. It seemed appropriate.)

    3. polecat

      Jeesh, what posers ! ….. Woody Allen had this figured out years ago when he made ‘Sleeper’ !!
      …….. along with the self-driving car …

      It’s only taken 40+ years to come to fruition ….

    4. Robert Hahl

      This topic reminds me of a true story. A female friend had been kidnapped, taken to a wooded area, and then shot in the back while trying to escape, all by her ex-husband. (He then took her to a hospital).

      After about six months in a wheel chair she was depressed and did not expect to walk again. However, her doctor said “I am going to show you what life is all about” and treated her with oral sex three times a week, took her out to fine restaurants, etc. She eventually walked with a cane, returned to college, and lived happily ever after.

      The medical community will never accept this treatment though, since you could not do double blind placebo controlled clinical trials

  2. Tom

    This is going to make for some awkward performance reviews:

    You’re showing signs of severe work stress, yet I see here that you haven’t been logging many sessions with the Diddle-Tron. May I ask why?

    1. Paid Minion

      I can personally vouch for this.

      Wife and I were doing the “fertility” treatment thing. One of the procedures they tried had me leaving work, and going into the doctor’s office once a month (on ovulation day) to provide a “specimen”. I felt unnaturally refreshed when I returned to work.

      (IMO, her problems with getting pregnant were due to “lack of exposure”, but I digress……..)

    2. craazyboy

      1) I’m a Trump supporter, and I use the public restrooms.

      2) I’m over 50, and Obama Care doesn’t cover Viagra. Give me a big raise or else you’ll hear from my lawyer with a big fat age discrimination suit.

      3) Change the subject strategy. “I think you’re sexy.”

      4) I suffer from performance anxiety. Diddle-Tron just makes it worse.

      5) I don’t have a smartphone, and can’t find Diddle-Tron. BTW, do you have any Kleenex? No? Pocket handkerchief. Yes, ok. That will do.

      1. Tom

        Ha ha!

        6) I’m too much of a perfectionist sometimes and it takes up a lot of time to set the mood with candles, incense and Barry White music.

    3. griffen

      Especially if their are peer reviews.

      Johnny seems to be gone every day for’s the strangest thing.

  3. fresno dan

    “OK Facebook”—Why stop at assistants? Facebook has grander ambitions for modern AI Ars Technica

    “The first version of Paluri’s model labeled Facebook user images with a set of tags such as selfie, food, indoors, outdoors, landscape, etc. This image metadata was integrated as a node into Facebook’s Open Graph. Open Graph is Facebook’s dynamic object storage of everything that is shared on pages, and it has access restrictions according to the user’s privacy settings. Users, articles, photos, music, and almost everything is stored as an Open Graph object, linked to other related objects.”

    My great fear is that when Facebook AI becomes the intermediary between me and everything in the world, and I ask for a picture of a hot taco to take with me into the nearest masturbatorium, I’ll get a picture of a hot dish…..containing a corn tortilla filled with meat, cheese, lettuce, onion, and tomato…..

    1. craazyboy

      If you read the same news The AI reads to understand humans, eventually you can game the system.

      For instance, if you need directions to the nearest Wienersnitzel for lunch, google “pizza”.

  4. WJ

    Der Spiegel’s piece on Syria and the UN is transparent propaganda. It tries to suggest without actually stating that the problem with the UN is Russia’s veto power on the security council. This is what keeps the war from “ending”–i.e. in the way the US had decided it must end before instigating it.

    The article depends upon a whole slew of inaccuracies, omissions, and fabrications that are by now easily recognizable.

    1. OIFVet

      Der Spiegel is merely conveying the veto envy that Germany has. Germany under Mutti Merkel thinks that it is a global player and has been making behind the scenes noices about becoming a permanent member of the UNSC. It has been rather ham-fisted, just like the rest of Mutti’s foreign and EU policies, and Mutti’s ego has taken a bruising after repeated failures, nyets, and hell-nos.

      1. Carolinian

        Yes if anyone should have veto power over world affairs it should be the Germans. Oh wait….

        Seriously though–we Carolinians love the Germans and are even getting a new German grocery store called Lidl–isn’t the good Frau almost done? Supposedly her immigration policies have made her quite unpopular.

        1. OIFVet

          Amazingly enough, there are still more than enough German voters who think that she is fit to govern to give her a fairly secure path to victory. Must give it to Germans, they truly are followers to the bitter end. Little details, like Europe’s rising anti-German sentiment and the rise of the far-right, are chalked up not as reaction to Mutti’s overreach, but to the peculiarities and hatefulness of the non-German menschen.

          PS I am curious to see whether your Lidl will stock its shelves with inferior versions of the products it sells in Muttiland. That’s been its MO in the savage Slavic districts.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Every so often people notice that Eurozone banks are insolvent, a few months ago it was Deutsche Bank in the spotlight. It was telling to see the hausfraus’ reactions when it was suggested that their accounts would be used to shore things up. Of course driving Greek grandmothers to poverty and suicide was fine, but when it was their turn, oh no, can’t have that.

    2. Hen Kai Pan

      Spiegel has been toeing the Clinton/Obama line in its US, Syria and TTIP reporting. The US correspondents of Spiegel often copy from WaPo and NYT, they are horrible. Never letting common sense/facts get in the way of their propaganda. Never once did they really explain to their readers what the ACA is or does – Obama did it, hence its great, because everything that Obama does is great. Spiegel tries with all its might to sell ‘Russia is the enemy’ to its readers, and this propaganda rules everything they publish. A lot of readers are not buying it, mind you. I have not read the linked article, just describing what’s happening with this magazine.

  5. fresno dan

    Exposing The Man Behind The Curtain Scott Ritter, Huffington Post (Fiver). Important.

    “We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election.” This statement was false when it was made by Hillary Clinton, on October 9, 2016, referring to the aforementioned October 7 joint statement by DHS and the ODNI; as was the case for the Russian ICA, the joint statement drew upon only three of the 16 agencies (the 17th is the ODNI, which is a coordinating body, not a separate intelligence agency), the only intelligence agencies involved in crafting the underlying assessments and judgments were the FBI, CIA and NSA.

    When one dissects the nuts and bolts that hold the Russian ICA together, the framework is actually quite weak. The FBI, the sole agency responsible for intelligence derived from a domestic source (i.e., the DNC server and John Podesta) has acknowledged that it has had no direct access to the servers involved, and was compelled to carry out its investigation based upon the technical report of a private cyber security company, Crowdstrike, brought in by the DNC in April 2016***.
    It was interesting to note that DNI Clapper told the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, in open session on January 10, 2016, that the State Department, in particular its Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) was excluded from participating in the preparation of the classified ICA because of “sensitivity of sources.” This seems to be a unique circumstance, as the Senator who asked the question noted; INR analysts possess the highest level of security clearances that grant them access to a broad range of highly classified sources of intelligence.

    The implication inherent in DNI Clapper’s revelation is that the classified information relied upon by the Intelligence Community was so specific as to its nature, and so critical and central to the judgments made in the ICA, that it could not be worked around to the extent necessary to shield its specific source from the analysts in the INR.

    This exclusion, however, would cut across the entire intelligence community, given the “need to know” caveats attached to most, if not all, sensitive information of this nature. If this was, indeed, the standard applied, then it would also exclude from participation in preparation of the ICA many of the CIA’s own analysts, and most, if not all, of the academics recruited to fill positions within the National Intelligence Council, the arm of the ODNI responsible for overseeing the production of multi-agency assessments like the ICA on Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

    If DNI Clapper is telling the truth, then the ICA was prepared in a manner that violated the very tradecraft regarding the preparation of intelligence community analytical products he proudly cited to underpin the credibility of the ICA. It also implies that the intelligence community was comfortable with excluding from one of the most important assessments of Russian intent in modern times the very agency, the Department of State, that deals with the Russians on a broad spectrum of issues on a daily basis, and as such would be ideally positioned to weigh in on issues such as Russian intent – especially that of its leader, Vladimir Putin.

    It may seem like a small lie, 3 bureaucracies instead of 17, but it is is an innate characteristic of these institutions and individuals. They spread a lot of disinformation. And than of course, the lying by omission.

    Its a complete and thorough “assessment”….except for the fact that all those cynics, skeptics, and anyone with the expertise to refute the dubious assumptions and obvious biases of the CIA were excluded.
    So, the CIA says “WE ALL AGREE” – does anyone know of a MSM that has pointed out that the “intelligence report” is a consensus ONLY because anybody who disagreed was left off???


    One group, which CrowdStrike had dubbed Cozy Bear, had gained access last summer and was monitoring the DNC’s email and chat communications, Alperovitch said.

    The other, which the firm had named Fancy Bear, broke into the network in late April and targeted the opposition research files. It was this breach that set off the alarm. The hackers stole two files, Henry said. And they had access to the computers of the entire research staff — an average of about several dozen on any given day.

    The computers contained research going back years on TRUMP. “It’s a huge job” to dig into the dealings of somebody who has never run for office before, Dacey said.

    CrowdStrike is not sure how the hackers got in. The firm suspects they may have targeted DNC employees with “spearphishing” emails. These are communications that appear legitimate — often made to look like they came from a colleague or someone trusted — but that contain links or attachments that when clicked on deploy malicious software that enables a hacker to gain access to a computer. “But WE DON’T HAVE HARD EVIDENCE,” Alperovitch said.

    Soooo….the DNC is mad that Russia got all their Trump Opo dirt for free?

    1. HBE

      Great detailed piece, and on huffpo no less.

      Then I checked the comments (only 12 in 3 days), of which all were of the “OMG Russians” or “the IC must be trusted” variety.

      It appears huffpo buried this affront to it’s general narrative somewhere deep, so as not risk a distortion to it’s well manicured bubble.

      Not that they needed to, as the few comments on the buried piece illustrate the bubble has become self sustaining.

      1. WJ

        Ritter’s piece is unfortunately too detailed and informative–too accurate, in a word–for the vast majority of the screen-reading populace, the credentialed among whom are much dumber and less cultured than their working-class forebears. It’s much less taxing to read Jeff Bezos’s Blog while ordering your no-whip vanilla latte than trying to work through the far-reaching implications of Ritter’s analysis.

        1. fresno dan

          January 15, 2017 at 10:59 am

          Poor Ritter – doomed to be this era’s Cassandra. Or maybe poor us (poor “US” as in USA) – doomed to ignore the truthful and listen to the liars…..

          and the population all composed of Hamilton Burgers*

          *Hamilton Burger was the rather obtuse District Attorney who charged the clients of Perry Mason with crimes, when week after ween, month after month, year after year the clients would be exonerated*** Most people would have long ago figured out not to charge people Perry Mason was defending, but this DA never learned….

          ***When asked by a fan why Perry Mason won every case, Burr told her, “But madam, you see only the cases I try on Saturday.”[61]:590
          Mason is known to have lost, in some form or manner, three cases—”The Case of the Terrified Typist”, “The Case of the Witless Witness”, and “The Case of the Deadly Verdict”.[72]

        2. polecat

          Why read Ritter …. when you can just ‘turn on’ to Mara liasson ,or lachml Singh, or any of the assorted stenographic heathers on N… P… R ……..,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

          I don’t see Scott tossing out tote bags to the rabble …

      2. Montanamaven

        Yeh, but Ritter also inserts this into the piece.

        These failures are furthered when one incorporates the shortcomings of American intelligence analysis behind the failure to accurately predict the Russian actions against Georgia in 2008, the annexation of the Crimea in 2014, and the intervention in Syria in 2015 – in short, the track record of the very intelligence community that produced the ICA addressing allegations of a Russian influence campaign targeting the 2016 US Presidential election is not impressive.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          I took that to mean that the IC was too stupid to figure out that Russia would not just sit back and do nothing while the US interfered in their sphere of influence, not necessarily that Russia was the instigator.

        2. Procopius

          I think we should also note that they failed for many years to report how weak the Soviet Union was, and they certainly failed to foresee the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. Let’s see, going back to my childhood, they failed to warn of the Soviet nuclear test, of Sputnik, of the building of the Berlin Wall. Of course the also warned us of the phony “bomber gap.” I imagine if I sat down with a nice cup of tea and reminisced I could think of many more. Why, it’s almost as if they sit in their nice glas towers and write fiction to support the Congressional-Military-Industrial Complex.

          1. Lambert Strether

            The most charitable response is that a lot of the analysis is from open sources; Langley has a lot of smart people sitting at desks and doing a lot of reading. But if you really want to do that right… your society should be doing that by having a press that functions as something more than a propaganda dumpster.

            I mean, why not just have the smart people at desks in newsrooms, for pity’s sake, and not in some daft snakepit in the Beltway?

    2. susan the other

      Why hasn’t anybody demanded to see CrowdStrike’s pedigree beyond its vague vetting (?) by the DNC? A private company that has remained anonymous except for its name – well that makes no sense. Or rather, it makes the DNC look even worse.

      1. Pat

        Not to mention that one thing that no one seems to be disputing is that DNC cyber security was terrible to non-existent, so their judgment in this area can be considered weak at best.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        That would be the function of a “principled press,” the position of which can be summarized as “Trump and Putin sittin’ in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G.”

        Still, I can’t help but wonder if the “principled” press and the “intelligence” community have not painted themselves into a corner. With Trump and Putin portrayed as locked in a loving embrace and isis seemingly dropped off the face of the earth, should Trump meet with a tragic “accident,” whom will the public blame?

      3. craazyboy

        Because Alperovitch is also on the Atlantic Council(neocons-NATO) and also has very close ties to Ukraine Nationals? Reaching across the aisle and bi-partisian support, methinks.

    3. craazyboy

      CrowdStrike is fullokrap

      “spearphishing” – See Podesta dump for screenshots of phishing site asking for Podesta to enter his id and password.

      The so called “unique” Russian exploit techniques are old, and can be done by many other reasonably competent hackers.

      Surprising to me is that no one yet has mentioned that a real state hacker would hide her IP behind probably multiple large VPN networks. There might be some way of setting up “spoof servers” too, but I’m nowhere competent enough in this subject to say anything with much certainty. Other than CrowdStrike is full of crap.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Spearphishing? Welcome to my e-mail in box!

        If I’m not getting e-mails urging me to update some password or the other, I’m getting tales of woe regarding package delivery or something going wrong with an account of a bank I’ve never used.

        Do I respond? Nope. Do I click on the links or open the attachments in these e-mails? Uh-uh.

        So, am I now in the running for a position at the DNC?

        1. Oregoncharles

          No, you’re specifically disqualified.

          How else are they going to lose to Trump, of all people, next time?

    4. cnchal

      Here is the damning part, economics unwise.

      Errors have been made by the Intelligence Community in the past and, given the punishing reality of a fair and open society, and the scrutiny of a free press contained within, these failures have been exposed – sometimes ruthlessly so – for all the world to see. From the reversal of the Intelligence Community’s stance on the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, underestimating the scope and reach of the threat of the Islamic State, and the exaggeration of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the shortcomings of the intelligence assessments and estimates conducted by the IC over the past two decades – the period spanning the careers of those who continue to provide the analysis that underpinned these highlighted erroneous conclusions and findings – the public history of the failures of the judgment of the American intelligence community is extensive and uncomplimentary.

      This represents massive overhead that can’t even be ditched as sunk costs. Keeping this “intelligence” enterprise going is embedded in the government’s budget, and the results of these massive errors have caused thousands of untold lives to be destroyed, even the ones still alive, and wasted trillions of dollars, which is ongoing. Meanwhile the rest of the country crumbles.

      “You’re fired”, directed at upper management of the “intelligence” community can’t come fast enough from President Trump’s mouth.

      1. John Parks

        “the shortcomings of the intelligence assessments and estimates conducted by the IC over the past two decades”

        This article comes awfully close to equating “assessment” with “wild ass guess” but doesn’t quite go that far. (probably deemed unprofessional)
        The misplaced dedication shown by our IC goes further back………..probably even further back than when the FBI spent two years studying the lyrics of “Louie, Louie”

    5. Goyo Marquez

      So the chain of evidence for Trump oppo is:
      DNC>Russians>MI6>John McCain>CIA>Buzzfeed?
      Wow… well played.

    6. LT

      Thinking back, the Democrats and Beltway insiders were still believing their computers’ predictions of a Hillary at the time the “Russians are coming” mantra began.
      Something tells me this was expected to be the pretext for a Clinton administration led conflict with Russia…they just didn’t want to let Trump winning stop their plans.
      So it’s coming off very clumsily. Lots lost in the improvisation.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Campaign internals. The appearance schedule, reports of polls asking about opinions of Michelle, and Obama hitting the campaign trail when he would ideally like to make a grand gesture such as fraudulent peace talks was a sign the campaign was in trouble.

        There is a good chance the vaunted “data” people noticed the Republicans they expected to win weren’t abandoning Trump and registration efforts over the Summer didn’t pan out due to lack of effort.

        Russia is the new Nader, war President, and how Bush out spent Kerry on ads excuses from previous campaigns to excuse the same old Clinton ideas and people leading to the usual disaster. I believe the Green Party moved to recount mode so swiftly to blunt being turned into the villain.

      2. HopeLB

        Great analysis! This drumbeat indeed began at least since our Ukraine coup and watching c-thinktanks-span, it got ever louder as did the vetting/coming out party for Sheryl Sandburg.

  6. allan

    To ruin your Sunday morning, listen (if you have the stomach) to Council on Foreign Relations head Richard Haas
    on the Tavis Smiley show
    . Doubling down on the Washington consensus, and clearly trying to talk up
    an intervention in Venezuela. Because R2P can not fail – it can only be failed.

    1. Pat

      True believer, or cynic who knows it is hard to sell a book to people telling them their ideas and goals are bull, you decide.

      I realoy don’t know anymore who is just delusional, and who wants their slice of other people’s pie regardless of who they have to damage.

  7. fresno dan

    The Russian Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam’s WMDs Counterpunch

    “Speaking to a trusted compatriot in June 2016 sources A and B, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry and a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin respectively, [said that] the Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting US Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP, for at least FIVE YEARS.”

    Dang those guys are prescience…….I wanna ask them what stocks to buy (Hot Octopuss? are masturbatoriums the coming thing???), or better yet, what lottery numbers to pick…..

    1. JTMcPhee

      I see the PE crowd has become interested in hospice-for-profit, and the “progress” of legalization of suicide in many states (a dying growing “movement” fueled by earnest “progressives” murmuring of “rights” and blind to consequence and yes, I know as a nurse and human that sometimes living on is not a good outcome). I’d guess that as we have Dunkin’Donuts “co-located” with Baskin Robbins (all tm), there will be Octopuss and Suicide Parlors sharing premises — especially in high-rent, and low-rent, places.

      Just something else to look forward to, as we are merrily marched along toward some combination of “Soylent Green” and “The Terminator…”

      1. Paid Minion

        Just think of all the fiscal problems fixed, if you could kill off the Baby Boomers prematurely, while stripping them of their assets via the medical/pharma/insurance complex.

        And if you don’t think the PE guys and government haven’t done those studies, I have a bridge that you might like to buy.

        I’m beginning to view premature death as an investment strategy, if you plan to hand off any significant assets to your kids.

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        This is an old article; some of the issues it raises have since been addressed by new regulations (eg, now docs do more home visits). Also, it is disingenuous to talk about the increase in what the govt pays for hospice without including comparative data on what the alternative, fantastically expensive and repeated hospital/icu care, costs. Hospice is a much-needed net health care savings for society.

        But while a hospice inpatient social worker for the very for-profit the article focuses on, I can attest to the aggressive marketing and glossing over of the patient’s real prognosis, which was often left to me to be real about with the patient/family after the patient was already on service.

        NOBODY SHOULD BE ON HOSPICE BEFORE THEY ARE EMOTIONALLY READY, regardless of whether it is medically appropriate. This leads to misunderstandings like that a hospice’s failure to treat a “blood infection” caused a patient to die. The truth is that whatever the hospice diagnoses – heart condition, cancer, COPD, Alzheimer’s, etc – at the end of life as the immune system weakens it is precisely the infection that actually provides the mortal coup de grace.

        When a healthy organism has an infection (think a drop of sewage in an otherwise potable bucket) it makes sense to treat it. When the body systems are severely compromised and the natural shutting-down process has begun (think a whole bucket of sewage) treatment WILL NOT BE EFFECTIVE AND WILL JUST PROLONG THE DYING PROCESS.

        More later if I have time.

        1. craazyboy

          poppy seeds. lots and lots of poppy seeds. cheap poppy seeds from afganiculture. win-win at last. send americans to allah – make a humble living at it. boomers – in like a hippy, out like a hippy. wow man.

        2. Isolato

          My ex was a hospice nurse, what a challenging and brave choice you have made. Though hospice is at times misunderstood and nothing in our healthcare system should be for profit it is a much better way of dying than the hospital.

        1. polecat

          the new ‘snuff film’ for the times : ‘Behind the Soylent Green Door’ …. featuring an aged, ailing Marilyn Chambers, and the new model T-11

      3. Oregoncharles

        Having dealt with Hospice, I’m going to tell you they’re angels. But for profit? Lord help us.

        I also heartily support the assisted-suicide movement. We all need a way to avoid the last iota of medical torture, and I’m getting old enough to worry about it a little; besides having taken care of my dying mother-in-law for a year. It does have to be carefully hemmed in, though.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      Those Euro-Asians are patience and they think long term.

      In the 1963 movie, Bye Bye Birdie, Dick Van Dyke played Al Peterson, whose song, The Last Kiss, to by sung by the just-drafted Conrad (or was it Comrade) Birdie, on the Ed Sullivan Show, was going to make him rich enough to take care of his mother and marry his girl friend. The plan was spoiled by those scheming Russian ballet dancers whose number was going to run too long that Ed Sullivan had to eliminate the song. So, the attack on American freedom went way, way back.

      Moreover, Van Dyke, being a Ph.D. in biochemistry, had invented a pill to ‘speed up’ animals and humans as well. The girl friend, posing as a photo-journalist, was able to slip a speed-up pill into the conductor Borov’s milk, in order to ‘speed up’ their show, and restore Birde’s lost minutes. While this successful patriotic plan was unfolding, you can see a mad Russkie official clutching a shoe, as if he was ready to hit something with it.

      That, there, was the subliminal message to all future shoe-throwers who are now plaguing our world these days.

      And, comrades, that’s long-range planning…five years is nothing.

    3. craazyboy

      Initially, the devious rooskies were grooming Trump to take down Vince McMahon and totally flatten the Rosie Threat. When they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams is when things went to their heads and they got too big for their britches.

      Now they’re coming after our super stars. Those rooskies need to be taken down a notch or two.

  8. integer

    Although I was aware of Schumer’s recent comment to Maddow (“You take on the intelligence community? They have six ways from Sunday of getting back at you”) I did not get around to watching the exchange until today.

    What struck me when watching it was that Schumer is saying, on the record, that establshment politicians are subservient to the intelligence agencies because it is considered an accepted fact that their careers will be at risk if they do not give these agencies the freedom to act however they see fit. That is an incredibly dangerous dynamic, and what’s worse is that it has been normalized and accepted by cowardly and/or corrupt politicians who purport to serve their constituents.

    I for one am grateful that Trump has enough spine to stand firm wrt putting these agencies back in their place (especially the CIA), which is, after all, to serve and protect the citizens of the US.

    1. fresno dan

      January 15, 2017 at 8:59 am

      the fact that it did not elicit a firestorm tells you all you need to know about how the US government is really run….

    2. Nechaev

      “their careers” – or given not-so-recent-yet-not-so-ancient USian history – indeed even their lives could/ would be at risk
      the schumer-maddow exchange can certainly be –chillingly– interpreted in a number of ways.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s Schumer’s “My Struggle” moment – foretelling what is and what will be happening.

      It’s all there, years before it becomes reality.

      “It’s impossible. All of them? Too big to imagine. Too big to fail, check that, too big to apprehend. They don’t dare.”

      1. alex morfesis

        The blob is all powerful ?? or people like Schumer are afraid of their own shadow…sadly methinx it is the later…The blob is able to function since characters sit in the seats of power instead of real men ( & not enough women).

        In much like how the mafia slowly brings someone to the dark side by having them do small indiscretions and crimes over a period of time until the victim becomes the victimizer, the blob will attempt to reel one in by burping out national security or just dumping natsec “non disclosures” or luring in someone close to you or finding someone close to you who they already have in their pockets…

        If one resists too much, then the existing wimps in charge make sure you get stuck in some subcommittees handling bipartisan egg rolls on the whitehouse lawn…

        Get along or get along now(scoot)…

        It is getting near the end of the movie and toto has pulled back the curtain….

        shall we ignore the little men behind the curtain…

        1. polecat

          I guess this means Chucky won’t be calling any .. uh .. ‘plumbing contractors’ .. to his house anytime soon, unless they’re members of Conniving .. Instigators .. Associates !

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Schumer is no lightweight, if he says/believes this then we have a whole lot to be worried about. Thank goodness for Trump.
        (For the record, I voted McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama)

        1. EndOfTheWorld

          Schumer has never been accused of being overly intelligent. He is still miffed because HRC went down in flames. She was supposed to be his partner in crime for eight years.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            And he was supposed to be Senate Majority Leader and get a really cool office instead of the crummy basement one. Given the seats up for reelection in 2018, he will have to wait until January 2021.

        2. Susan C

          When I watched that exchange the other evening in real time, it seemed ominous to me, very dark. I think he was trying to instill real fear into the heart of Trump. I wonder if someone like a Trump has ever felt fear. It makes you wonder. Or if Trump has ever dealt with anyone more powerful than he believes himself to be.

    4. neo-realist

      What struck me when watching it was that Schumer is saying, on the record, that establshment politicians are subservient to the intelligence agencies because it is considered an accepted fact that their careers will be at risk if they do not give these agencies the freedom to act however they see fit. That is an incredibly dangerous dynamic, and what’s worse is that it has been normalized and accepted by cowardly and/or corrupt politicians who purport to serve their constituents

      Well hasn’t this been pretty much the case since the incident in Dallas 50 plus years ago?

    5. Hen Kai Pan

      Six ways – one would be what was used with Spitzer. Because that stank to high heavens then. He wanted to rule in the banks with their questionable mortgage practices.

      1. heresy101

        Is there a way to see this without using F***Book? That is a propaganda arm that I refuse to use.

    1. mad as hell.

      I hope Booker wears that pharmaceutical vote around his neck for the rest of his life or at least until 2020.

      1. Annotherone

        Yes, indeed! It’ll go well with the mantle he appears to be taking over as the “more effective evil”.

        1. craazyboy

          Leaked tapes from DNC Strategy Room meeting.

          DNC Chair – But Black worked?

          DNC Political Strategist – Yes

          DCN Chair – But Women failed

          DNC Political Strategist – As a strategy, Yes

          DCN Chair – So Black then?

          DNC Political Strategist – We could conclude that, yes

          Haiku politics

      2. John Wright

        I’m somewhat surprised Booker did not pull a Nancy Pelosi type vote on this bill.

        From what I remember, on the TPP Fast Track, Pelosi worked behind the scenes to get Fast Track through, and then, with enough votes to assure it would pass without her vote, voted against the very action she had promoted.

        Of course, Pelosi’s constituents were opposed to the TPP and she “supported” them.

        Booker could have quietly, privately, assured his big Pharma funders he was in the tank for them while still voting in support of the drug importation bill, because if his vote had moved to the supporting side, the count would have been 47-51 and the bill would still fall the way the big Pharma wanted.

        Maybe other senators in the 46 “supporters” were playing the cynical Pelosi optics type of game and Booker had to fall on his sword to show both his loyalty to big Pharma and give them cover?

        Possibly Booker also priced in that there are about 4 years before the next presidential election and this vote could fall into the dustbin of history.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Dems have gotten away with a lot, hiding behind Obama or Hillary and using the rotating villain strategy, and now they don’t have a leader to protect them. Booker doesn’t have the cult of personality Obama had, and there won’t be an echo chamber to shut down dissent. I don’t believe Democrats have a handle on their status.

          1. mad as hell.

            No it was Russia’s fault. Now we must circle the wagons and destroy Russia. Ya better be with me cause we are soon going to war to protect democracy and if you ain’t with me you are a ( fill in the blank). The Democratic party does not make mistakes. The rag tag voters make mistakes! Now send us some money so we can stop Trump!

            Will this b******t ever end. It is driving me nuts.

            1. uncle tungsten

              Me too MaH. The imitation democracy that is the USA is just a pathetic sideshow and brutally overpriced.

              The only interesting aspect right now is how Trump responds to the unintelligence community for their transparent insubordination and abuse of power. Time will tell.

            2. mk

              I heard diane fiendstein on the radio today talking about how democracy is threatened by russians hacking elections. changed stations immediately, it’s hard to get away from this nonsense.

          2. Pat

            Dems have had the delusional idea since they caught the car bumper and had both Houses of Congress and the Presidency that just one of those is good, and preferably the Presidency. Hence their lack of panic as they lost the House, the Senate and most of the state legislatures and Governorships in the nation.

            Having now lost the one thing they were determined to win, they are going to slowly find out that there is no place to hide when their constituents are going to expect them to use all the same levers the Republicans did to obstruct all that stuff Obama wanted to do. They can’t do the rotating villain thing, they can’t NOT block things AND when that doesn’t work the myth that Obama was hamstrung by Republicans is going to fall apart. Oops.

            Mind you the Republicans are going to have the problem of needing to pass the things they promised and living with those consequences.

            It is going to be interesting. And terrifying especially with the IC and MIC having tantrums that would do two year olds proud.

            1. John Wright

              One fear of the Democrats might be they could be now be viewed as a useless appendage to the political process and unworthy of financial support by TPTB.

              That could hit them hard as Democratic think tanks lose funding and the NPV of the future lobbying potential of a current Democratic politician drops off dramatically.

              The Dems might actually feel a personal recession as they lose the ability to place their friends and relatives in well-paid politically related jobs.

              TPTB can simply support a handful of Blue-dog Democrats to buy a voting cushion on legislation that matters to them.

              Why pay more than necessary for Democratic support when it is largely irrelevant?

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                And the Dem reaction, of course, will be to suck up even harder to their money masters…they’ve already concluded from the election that they weren’t far enough to the right, this should mesh quite nicely. We’ve had one party in the country for decades, Obama’s populist words (while pushing neo-con corporo-fascist actions) bamboozled for two terms, now we will get absolute unity in pushing the 1% agenda. Then we can do 1776 redux and take back our country.

                1. Pat

                  People really are loathe to admit that Obama has been an utter freakin’ disaster. I was telling someone about how close the ALEC owned state houses were to getting their Constitutional convention and blamed Obama. I was lectured about how he came into a mess and that he was obviously not the problem it was people like Wasserman Schultz. I had to explain about the President and the DNC and that both Kaine and DWS were Obama’s hand picked heads, that he moved grass roots organizing to OFA AND that over the course of his leadership of the party they had gone from having the Presidency, the House, the Senate, a majority of Governorships and an almost equal number of state legislative houses to exactly the opposite. Suffice it to say I left them speechless.

                  And none of that should have been all that revelatory to a supposed political junkie. But to recognize that he wasn’t interested in Democrats winning who were not named Obama is to understand he didn’t care that he would not be in a position to get anything Democratic voters want…

                  1. NotTimothyGeithner

                    In one sense, Obama’s failure was not in our stars but in ourselves, not me personally. If the Obots who cared so much for Obama and politics had torn themselves away from the latest insipid episode of X and called their Congressman or Senator instead of “liking” a cool meme about Obama, he might have been under enough pressure to not be completely terrible. Obama’s evolution on gay rights only came after public outrage.

                    The Obama followers have to understand this and simply don’t want to admit their own complicity preferring to blame their plumber who may or may not have voted.

                    1. HotFlash

                      Obama’s evolution on gay rights only came after public outrage gay big-dollar donors slammed their wallets shut.

                      Fixed it for ya.

                  2. OIFVet

                    Liberals love to erect cults around their celebrities. The sad thing is, in the old Communist Bloc even party members didn’t really fall for cult of personality. Here in the USA of freedumbs, exceptionalism, and smart liberuls, it is the “smart” and well-credentialed who voluntarily drink the cult of personality cool-aide. It’s a nauseating spectacle, and frankly each and every week that passes makes America look more and more like a deranged version of the old Soviets to me. It scares the bejeesus out of me.

              2. NotTimothyGeithner

                Example 1: Krugthullu’s recent craziness.
                Example 2: Greta Van Susteren and noted racist, Megan Kelly both scored gigs at NBC. Were no Dems available? Or at least someone who didn’t have a meltdown over a black Santa?
                Example 3: the CGI shutting down despite all the good they do (snark)

              3. Pat

                Well that may be their strategy going ahead, but if you looked at the last couple of elections, they just were not interested in winning elections. Money was thrown at people who didn’t really need it, token amounts to others. People were chosen to run who had lost in the past, or the usual suspects owed. There was little or no recruitment, the former Republicans they supported pretty much fell in their laps.
                No they are going to have to seriously attempt to win even on a limited manner, and I don’t think they have clue how anymore.

              4. Code Name D

                There appears to be evidence to back this up.

                In short, Clinton foundation donations, mostly consisting of government contributions, has dried up as governments have pulled out. This lends more weight to the accusation that what kept the foundation going was its political connections, and not its philanthropic projects.

                Even more interesting, this article reports that New York State government has been notified that its office there will be closing, laying off 22 employees.

                1. aab

                  If the Foundation and the Clintons personally move out of New York, would that mean the NY AG has no standing to pursue the state-level case against them?

                  1. craazyboy

                    This is an interesting question. I’ll try and keep it alive until someone who knows what they’re talking about can comment on it.


                    In law, standing or locus standi is the term for the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged to support that party’s participation in the case.

                    Still seems to hold, but possibly “jurisdiction” could be a problem.

                    However, that seems like jumping from pot to fire – w/ Trump and new Fed Justice Dept.

                    Besides that, there was the scenario of Hillary being appointed NYC Mayor, assuming Hillary casts her vote, and the consensus appointing Chelsea NY State AG, just to be on the safe side.

        2. Pat

          Both Schumer and Gillibrand voted against this the first two times it came up. They voted for it this time. Works for the rotating villain theory…

      3. polecat

        Who knows .. Maybe the Donald with bring about a presidential decree, thereby forcing our reps & senators to don ‘advertizing’ as per Nascar race cars !

        Then it would be apparent to all as to whose loyalties they actually cater to .

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Flake’s on the ballot in November, and McCain does do his rotating hero strategy, he’s on the side of good when it doesn’t matter. He does have a huge senior population who like that desert air.

    2. Vatch

      There are two Senators scheduled to be at this event: Booker and Menendez, and they both voted against the Klobuchar/Sanders amendment to allow Americans to buy medicine from Canada! Clearly this event was scheduled before the vote occurred. I wonder what kinds of discussions about this have been occurring behind the scenes?

      1. Rhondda

        Speaking of Amy Klobuchar — I saw in the noooze that she was one of McCain’s compatriots on that holiday jaunt to Ukraine…

        Klobuchar, McCain, Graham in Ukraine, Baltic States, and Georgia to ……/klobuchar-mccain-graham-in-ukraine-baltic-states-and-...
        Dec 28, 2016 – WASHINGTON, DC – This week, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar is in Ukraine, the Baltic states, and Georgia to reinforce support for the North …
        Minnesota Sen. Klobuchar Spends New Year’s Eve in Ukraine – Amy ……/minnesota-sen-klobuchar-spends-new-year-s-eve-in-uk...
        Dec 31, 2016 – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar spent New Year’s Eve day with the president of Ukraine and marines fighting Russian aggression in that country.

        Did you know that there is a Senate Ukraine Caucus? News to me.
        The Senate Ukraine Caucus is a bipartisan caucus of the United States Senate that was … Ron Johnson (R-WI); Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Mark Kirk (R-IL); James Inhofe (R-OK); Chris Murphy (D-CT). Gary Peters (D-MI); Rob Portman (R-OH) …

        1. OIFVet

          It’s OK when Ukraine manipulates US politics. The US has always found nazis to be useful in its anti-Russian efforts, from Reinhard Behlen to Wernher von Braun, with a few Ukie Banderites thrown in for the truly dirty work.

  9. RenoDino

    The Insanity of a New Cold War: A Top Russian Scholar Sounds the Alarm Truthdig

    At the conclusion of the article, the Russian Scholar disavows any fondness for Putin.
    “By the way, I’ve never voted for Putin as a Russian, and I’m not a Putin supporter.”

    For those of you playing the home game, this is now a required loyalty oath for anyone opposed to nuclear war. More points are awarded for those willing to categorically state that “Putin is a War Criminal” and “I want to punch Putin in the face when I see him.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “I have never read War and Peace. I don’t like those people at all.”

      “Yeah, but you tried, only failing to read it because of its length.”

      “No, seriously. I did not even get to page 1.”

      1. philnc

        The choices open to Newark voters have been… constrained. Corruption is an art there, and has been for generations. In the mid-1980’s the issue of Democrats “winning” the coveted row A on the ballot for decades was the subject of a state Supreme Court case. One justice wrote the odds against this result were FIFTY BILLION TO ONE (caps in the opinion). Gibson, James… Booker, a long list of Democratic mayors who sailed through a process entirely controlled by the Democratic machine. That’s something people all over the country should now be familiar with after experiencing the primary process of 2016. Over 117,000 voters dropped from the roles in Brooklyn alone, by a *Democratic* city board of elections. Of course with the blocking of recounts, the obsfuscation of electronic transactions and shredding of paper trails it’s unlikely we’ll ever have the figures needed to persusively document what happened. About the only thing we can say, like most of the people of Newark, is that it is very definitely *not our fault*. Cold comfort.

      2. polecat

        Yeah, but he looks so handsome !

        …Why, I’d trust him to walk my granny across a busy Jersey street intersection …….. if i had a living granny that is … /s

    1. Corey

      This makes a cute story, but I seriously doubt its accuracy. I did three years in Federal prison (1999-2002) and I recall that commissary purchases were regulated quite strictly. It would have been nearly impossible to buy up all of the hot chocolate mix, or anything else for that matter. Further, there were restrictions on the types and amounts of items that were permitted be kept in an inmate’s cell or cube. It would have been impractical to purchase and store up a large quantity of an item, and attempting to corner a market in a popular product and exploit the consumers could very well prove – ahem – hazardous to one’s well-being. The FCI commissary order list confirms my recollection. Inmate purchases of drink mixes are limited to 1 each:

      FCI Commissary List

      Cute story. Former billionaire financier now small-time hustler in prison. But almost certainly false.

      1. nechaev

        your comment interesting, esp. in light of reports in the past decade that canned mackerel had replaced cigarettes as barter currency within federal prisons: see, f. ex: How then are / were quantities accumulated if the limits on canned fish is 5 cans per inmate. Ditto cigs back in the day when smokes were allowed?

        1. alex morfesis

          Madoff made off with all the cash with the help of a not so little firm named fiserv, which seemed to be the go to firm for corporate criminals as its software was “malleable”…maybe his old friends at fiserv handle the BOP accounting system and magically…the magic is back ??

  10. Eureka Springs

    Why open offices are bad for us BBC

    ***Laughing*** Because…

    Masturbating at work is a doctor-approved stress reliever | New York Post

    1. Arizona Slim

      I work in one of those open offices. It’s a coworking space in downtown Tucson.

      And guess what: I’m much more productive there than I usually am at home.

      What’s the difference? I’m surrounded by people who are buckling down and getting to work. And remaining in that mode for hours. Nothing like a little peer pressure.

      When I joined this place, I had to sign a contract that included a “no jerk” clause. Meaning that I’m required to be civil to my fellow members. And they reciprocate.

      Well, most of them do.

      This past Friday, a couple of different members brought their dogs with them. Well, let’s just say that the introductions didn’t go well.

      “ARF! ARF!” hollered one dog.

      “WOOF! WOOF!” yelled the other.

      Which prompted Slim’s commentary: “One of them voted for Clinton. The other one voted for Trump.”

      1. tongorad

        Weird thing about dog lovers: they seem to imagine that everyone else shares their love for canines. Or is it that they just don’t give a damn what other people think?

        1. Arizona Slim

          Sotto voce to tongorad: I agree with you. Especially with what you said in the second sentence.

      2. roadrider

        Well, I’m glad you’re happy with your open office environment but most people find them highly sub-optimal because they’re noisy, lack privacy and are usually cramped and uncomfortable. The latter two are no surprise since the real motivation behind them is to cram more workers into less floor space. The hype about increased productivity is just more corporate bullshit.

        I have had the displeasure of working in open office environments on two occasions – the most recent was over the past year. My productivity suffered, my stress and anxiety level skyrocketed and it was a very negative experience. The problem was a very poor design and location (next to a conference room and exposure to two very active hallways.

        Fortunately I’m allowed to work at home two days a week where I am much more comfortable and productive thank you very much.

        1. Arizona Slim

          In my last FT job, I was forced into one of those open offices.

          And, roadrider, it was exactly as you described. Matter of fact, it took me years to recover from the trauma of that place.

          Now, to be fair to the coworking space, it has worked out a lot better than I expected. Especially on the business ROI.

          Quite honestly, that is the #1 reason why I’m there. If I’m going to leave home and rent a place to work, it darn well better be making me money. And it is.

      3. Susan C

        I have worked in open offices and due to the type of work I do – analysis and writing – found it nearly impossible to focus and concentrate. Too many people around me all the time. Definitely prefer a closed office if at work or better yet get much more done when in my home office. Can just let go mentally without restraint and get it done.

    2. polecat

      Just you wait …. In-house Gotham ‘glory-holes’ will be next ! **

      .. gotta put some of those poor unemployed to work ..

      **as if things don’t suck enough !! ..’;[

  11. roadrider

    Hooray for Professor McLeod and his fight against a traffic camera ticket. These infernal devices are a nexus of political corruption and corporatism. If public safety rather than revenue enhancement are really the goal then there are equally, if not more, effective ways of enforcing speed limits that do not involve entering into these highly questionable partnerships with private corporations. Aside from highly dubious legalities that McLeod outlines the need for making the deal profitable for the corporate partners and the documented practice of local governments depending on the revenue from traffic cameras make it obvious that the rights of citizens are being trampled on in the guise of “public safety”.

    In Montgomery County MD where I live the local government has gone all in on traffic cameras but their protestations about public safety are belied by their routine inclusion of traffic camera revenue in their budgets (if reducing speeding is the goal shouldn’t you not rely on this source of revenue) and the obvious strategy of making the changes in speed limits, notices of photo enforcement and the actual cameras so unobtrusive that the are easy to miss. If reducing speeding rather than introducing a “tax” on it were the goal there should be large flashing lights announcing the speed limit changes and photo enforcement (you know, just like the old-style school zone warning signs that still exist in certain parts of the county). But Montco apparently prioritizes revenue over safety.

    Also, the placement of the speed zones, while nominally supposed to be restricted to school zones and construction zones seem to be, in some cases, forced. I once got a speed camera ticket where the sign announcing the speed zone ( from 40 mph to 30 mph) was hidden behind tree branches and while located “near” a school was on a section of road with no sidewalks and no foot traffic and the school was located far from the road down a long driveway. In other words, no students would be walking on the road to get to or from the school. And this ticket was issued on a Saturday morning in late July so the school wasn’t even open for business!

    I ended up paying the ticket because the county essentially has presumption of guilt stance with respect to these tickets. The only way to fight them is to challenge the calibration, maintenance and operation of the camera and they charge as much to get the required documentation as they do to pay the ticket (which is a civil violation with no insurance notification).

    1. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, the traffic cams were put to a public vote. And they lost. The city had to remove them.

      1. LifelongLib

        Van cams for speeding were tried in Hawaii in 2001, but were so unpopular the governor cancelled the program in 2002. Red light camera bills come up periodically in the legislature but haven’t passed.

    2. Tom

      You are right on with your observation:

      These infernal devices are a nexus of political corruption and corporatism.

      One startling quote from the Mayor as he defended the use of traffic cameras really caught my eye (bf added):

      The story continues. Lovers of liberty in Alabama kept political pressure on the state legislature, and earlier this year the legislature repealed the traffic-camera law. Yet Montgomery’s defiant mayor announced that the city would continue to operate the program. Curiously, he asserted that to stop issuing tickets would breach the city’s contract with American Traffic Solutions. One wonders how many tickets the city is contractually obligated to issue.

      Was there also a non-compete clause to prevent uniformed traffic cops from pulling over and ticketing motorists beyond a certain maximum number? How about language preventing the city from conducting traffic safety programs in schools? Wouldn’t surprise me — gotta protect that revenue stream for your private partners, doncha know?

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One solution – all traffic ticket fines are to be distributed to the citizens equally.

      Not a dime to the courts and officers.

      That eliminates any conflict of interest.

      1. roadrider

        That’s no solution. It simply moves the incentive for collecting the fines to the public instead of government. What makes you think that the citizenry would any less likely to see the fines as free money and maintain the design of the system to maximize revenue collection rather than increasing public safety? And if we’re still talking about a privatized traffic camera system the private partners still need their cut – they’re not going to donate their services.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I mean to say,

          1. we do away with those cameras
          2. fines via human police officers are to be distributed to citizens.

          We the people are not directly involved in issuing citations nor convictions. And we have no immediate (distribution is at least 12 month into the future) or significant (what maybe $1.50 per person in the city per year?) conflict of interest.

          (To sum: Not direct, not immediate and not significant. More over, or in fact, the only relevant question – what to do with those fines, if not the people? Put to some infrastructure use, to be decided by the city officials you don’t trust now?)

          The same amount, shared by much fewer people (police and courts), creates a significant conflict of interest for the officers and the courts.

      2. Tom

        Ha ha!

        Might be some unintended consequences, though:
        Passenger: Slow down, we’re coming up on a school zone.
        Driver: Sorry, I gotta floor it — baby needs a new pair of shoes! Hold on!!

      1. craazyboy

        The sun makes the Sony cmos cam I have in my quadcopter go white. There is a high dynamic range setting which cuts down the washout somewhat, but it increases the amount of time it takes for an image to recover when the cam gets pointed towards a lower light area again. Kinda like an eyeball.

        A laser pointer is narrow, so may affect a smaller part of the image. But then how much power it is would matter. At some power level it may permanently destroy the sensor, but I haven’t seen the answer anywhere yet on that. I have been thinking we’ll invent a whole new class of vandalism once self driving cars hit the road.

          1. craazyboy

            Ah. That looks like a good idea. But now we don’t need it in AZ anymore. Actually, I was kinda liking our traffic cams at stop light intersections because before we had a lot of “run the light” traffic accidents. And the only time I ever got a speeding ticket around here was in a speed trap. They had an unmarked school crossing across a 45mph 6 lane blvd that also had a traffic light and pedestrian crossing. We’re just supposed to know when the light is green weekdays between 2:25 and 2:45, the posted speed limit isn’t so – it’s 15mph. ‘Course the hidden cop couldn’t ever understand why he was always pulling people over. I wonder how many kiddies had to die for the ticket revenue.

            Anywho, time for the Dallas Green Bay game!

        1. Waldenpond

          As robotics are given personhood, it will not be misdemeanor vandalism… people will be prosecuted for felony assault. Yes, people sitting on juries will fall back on ‘but it’s the law’.

      2. integer

        Laser Pointer Vs Camera

        With a higher powered laser, or perhaps simply by exposing the camera to a laser pointer for a longer period of time, one could permanently destroy the CCD or CMOS sensor. Also, I feel compelled to explicitly state: experiment with this at your own risk.

        1. John Wright

          Unfortunately, a higher power laser might also be accidentally viewed by another person, doing permanent damage to their eyes.

          Here is a link to someone who actually tested CCD/CMOS sensors for damage by lasers

          Note, full sensor damage was not possible, except if the entire sensor could be swept by the beam, which I could imagine would be very difficult for a driver to do manually..

          This test used 200mW and 500mW lasers, which are 40x and 100x the power of the typical 5mW laser pointer.

          Experimentation risk is not limited to just the experimenter’s risk.

          1. integer

            Thanks for the link and I agree about the dangers of using high powered lasers in public. Dave did ask about surveillance cameras rather than speed/traffic cameras though, so I’m not sure that wielding a laser while driving was ever being considered. Taking driving out of the equation would result in it being relatively easy to sweep the laser across the sensor, as it could be accomplished by simply “painting” the front element of the camera’s lens.

            1. integer

              I should point out that sweeping the laser across the sensor would require moving the position of the laser, rather than simply varying the angle from a fixed position. In any case, for multiple reasons, I do not advise playing with lasers, even supposedly harmless laser pointers.
              Once I almost got in a fight with someone who was playing with a laser pointer at a party, and then I found out that he was the host!

              1. integer

                Adding: Camera lenses are designed for a specific range of electromagnetic wavelengths (usually the visible spectrum), so I’m assuming that the lens would refract the laser’s wavelengths in the same way it does for the spectrum it is designed for.
                I’m not a laser expert by any means, but I do know about cameras and lenses, and have a working understanding of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation.

    4. voteforno6

      I remember someone on the D.C. city council complaining when their revenue from those speed cameras didn’t meet their projections. It turns out that they didn’t account for people actually driving slower in those areas.

      Also, a few years ago a bunch of tickets issued from a D.C. speed camera were thrown out, when some enterprising people figured out that the camera in question was actually installed just over the city line, in Maryland.

    5. Rahul Menon

      I recently read an article related to self driving cars and trucks which will be very bad to this kinda of obscure/inconspicuous activity by the police departments. Although I am curious to see what is the motivation for this kind of activity. I understand greed. To what extent of greed? Can we deploy Artificial Intelligence on the minds of these mayors to understand what are the objectives they are trying to meet? Obviously the more money the better I assume. But it would be nice what are the benefits of bringing in additional tainted capital exactly.

  12. timbers

    Paraphrasing a blogger we know, let’s see if he uses his good common sense to target one he so often spares. Maybe something like this?

    Grifters not gonna grift anymore

    The Clinton Foundation Is Shutting Down The Clinton Global Initiative

    Think of the millions Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea will no longer get from approving cluster bomb sales to Saudi Arabia to drop on schools, hospitals, children, pregnant woman, food markets, water treatment plants….why, Chelsea’s children might have to slum it and suffer the shame of having a modest, non-taxpayer funded wedding!

    BTW if the State Dept must approve weapons sales to foreigners, does anyone know if the State Dept must approve the weapons the CIA gives to ISIS and the other terrorists that have destroyed Syria? Or is the CIA except from that rule?

    1. fresno dan

      January 15, 2017 at 9:56 am

      If the Clinton Foundation had decided not to accept foreign donations while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, as it has recently announced it would do if she is elected president, Carville said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the “good” thing would be that the organization would not be part of the political discussion.
      Pressed on whether the Clinton Foundation should have clamped down on foreign donations before Clinton became secretary of state, Carville responded, “If you ask me as a political adviser, of course.”

      “If you ask me as a human being [Carville is a human being???? do we have documentation?], eh, I’m not too sure. As a human being I think the foundation does an enormous amount of good. From a strictly political standpoint, yeah,” Carville said, invoking his Catholic sixth-grade teacher to say, “somebody is going to hell over this. Because somebody, now I’m not saying here—or somewhere is. This is saving people’s lives.”
      “I wish I could say the word I want to say. I’ll just say that’s BS,” Scarborough remarked. “You know the fact is if it’s a great charity and it’s a five-star rated charity, guess what, other people can raise the money.
      “They’re gonna,” Carville shot back. “The other thing is, Bill Clinton has more charm and people around the world have an enormous amount of faith in him. I’ve traveled with him. I’ve seen it myself. There are not many people that have the relationships and are held in the affection around the world as Bill Clinton.”
      So, Mr. Carville, are the Clintons going to H*ll because they are now depriving so many poor people of all that charity they could raise now that they are divorced from the government and they can do all the charity raising they want without controversy??? MERE coincidence how the charity stops now that it has no connection to the US government….

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Notice he said, Bill has more charm, and people the world have an enormous amount of faith in him.

        I can wonder, does he gather for himself as much faith as Hong Xuquan, the founder of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, who claimed he was a brother of Jesus, did?

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Yes, “charming” the people of Rwanda out of $1B in mining royalties, it took Bubba’s pal only a matter of weeks to sell off his new sweetheart mining concession and personally pocket several hundred million dollars. I’m not sure that’s the kind of “Southern charm” the impoverished people of Rwanda could come to appreciate.

  13. NotTimothyGeithner

    Zoe Saldana. I don’t know if it will hurt her. She’s the new Sigourney Weaver and has said scifi is the only spot with strong, female roles who aren’t fantasies*, and she didn’t support Trump in any fashion. Also, she looks amazing in green.

    *She meant the the women in sci-fi behave by the rules of their particular universe and are reflective of women in the real world. I’m assuming she did not count anything produced by Josh Wheedon as sci-fi. Ripley versus women who manage to have it all while basing their life around whether Mr right is a teacher with an inheritance who just wants to give back or a loaded professional.

    1. fresno dan

      January 15, 2017 at 10:07 am

      I agree. I had a comment late yesterday about a Vanity Fair article that shows all Hollywood “liberal politically correct” views end up on the cutting room floor if it means the movie will not be permitted to play in China and lose those billion or so dollars of box office receipts.
      If Zoe makes money, Zoe ends up in movies.
      Just like “conservatives” say the media is “liberal” doesn’t mean the media is “liberal.” If “conservative” means doing any and everything to take advantage of every tax dodge possible, as well as getting more and better tax dodges written just for your own benefit, where rich old men sexually exploit beautiful young women (and men) as a matter of course, and are feted for it, and where Hollywood titans are obviously accorded preferential treatment by the legal system, than Hollywood is undoubtedly the most conservative place on earth.
      Liberal is merely a brand that helps Hollywood sell itself.
      Kinda like coke uses friendship to sell sugar water….

      Naked Capitalism has made me sooooo cynical. I always thought that commercial was outrageous tripe, but I haven’t seen it in 40 years, and I just now realize the girl is singing “BUY” not “Give” the world a coke….

      1. craazyboy

        OTOH, Hollywood is the only place I can think of where you can get exploited and be paid millions for it!

        1. clinical wasteman

          maybe that and professional soccer, where you can be bought and sold and be paid tens of millions. Eduardo Galeano (writing as fan not smarmy killjoy, notwithstanding the Guardian slander of him “a certified intellectual”) is good on how this works out (guess) between Europe/Latin America/Africa in ‘Football in Sun and Shadow’.
          Also used to be true of the ‘music industry’ when there was one, i.e. for as long as the hallucination held that it’s expensive to record music (& to get it heard: this second one was closer to being true for a long time, but has been laid to rest since over the last three decades unless making tens of millions is your only reason for recording. By way of new and old evidence, consider: [] and [].)

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Cheaper censorship by outsourcing.

        I agree. I had a comment late yesterday about a Vanity Fair article that shows all Hollywood “liberal politically correct” views end up on the cutting room floor if it means the movie will not be permitted to play in China and lose those billion or so dollars of box office receipts.

        It’s your patriotic duty to keep censorship inflation down, so more Americans can afford entertainment.

  14. alex morfesis

    Donald trump outs john lewis…chairman emeritus of the misleadership class…

    ok woman, thanks, now get outta the way…

    ella baker would like “her” ideas back & diane nash wants to know if prime rib is served with that 25 grand you charge lobbyists to walk with you across that bridge every year…

    Pretty sure the former
    malcolm(x)little was specifically talking about Lewis when he belched out….

    “the big six (because of their participation in the big fix) ?”

    Lewis basically said out loud to Julian Bond during a runoff “can you pass a drug test”, which helped destroy Julian Bonds political career and allowed Lewis to win a second round of elections he was going to lose…it should be noted that black folks voted for Julian Bond…

    John Lewis won in 1986 because the white community around atlanta voted for him…

    Funny how he never asked that in public of his other “$nic” friend Marion Barry…

    Alpharetta Georgia is just now 7 miles outside his redrawn fifth district…used to be 3 miles…something about robosigning…docx…don’t recall john lewis ever saying the word robosigner…

    Nothing to see here people…keep moving…

    “…remember, we are not fighting for the freedom of the negro alone, but for the freedom of the human spirit, a larger freedom that encompasses all mankind”… Ella Baker

    1. Karl Kolchak

      Good info to know. Lewis was perfectly fine with how the DNC colluded against Sanders and fully supported the “illegitimate” Democratic nominee. The idea that he is beyond criticism simply because he was once a civil rights crusader is absurd.

      I’d like to think that if MLK were still alive, he’d totally disavow what Lewis has become–another corporatist sellout whose policy positions are particularly bad for poor blacks as well as the poor of other races.

      1. Pat

        Not only fine with it, tried to use his status as a civil rights fighter to call out Sanders on his record on the same issue. Too bad there was a lot of evidence that Sanders was highly active in the civil rights fight in his area. What little respect I had for Lewis went down the tubes with his position that Sanders was lying which morphed into because he never met him during that time as pictures started to emerge.


      1. alex morfesis

        There is a documentary floating around…”a force more powerful”…it is for the most part designed to hand off non violence as a Ghandi invention, but about half of it describes some of the details of the lunch counter protests and obviously showing how the tactic was hardly spontaneous(although it shows nothing about how ella baker was behind the scenes “creating” sncc and aparently designing the lunch counter protests for mlk).

        James Lawson did trainings on non violence in nashville (with funding from mlk,etc via ella baker) & the whole process was being filmed before it happened…you can see Lewis was just a bystander like everyone else…

        One thing obvious in the documentary that I looked at again last night is how “arrests” in america have evolved…in the documentary we have black folks being arrested as trouble makers and agitators, yet they are just being arrested…not shackled…even in the ugly scenes from south africa…the protesters are being arrested, not shackled…

        When did it change in america that instead of being “arrested” by police, now everyone gets shackled when moved and processed ??

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Per interview on meet the press this morning, john lewis is tearing up his invite to the inauguration and staying home. First one he won’t attend since he’s been invited to attend.

      He also would not invite Trump to Selma, but wouldn’t try to stop him if he wanted to go on his own.

      In the spirit of solidarity and reconciliation on this MLK weekend, a couple of other members of the congressional black caucus revealed they will also skip the inaugural do. In protest of the “foreign intervention” in our presidential election.

      Maybe such useless posturing will finally make a difference but I doubt it.

      1. Arizona Slim

        My congressman is also boycotting the inauguration. He’s an ID politician of the Hispanic variety.

      2. Tom

        Is the whole “Russia did it” mantra really just some additional cover for Democrats as they take on the mantle of the “Party of No”?

        Instead of just being obstructionist, a la the Republicans vs. the Obama administration, the Russia twist allows Dems to be obstructionist and patriotic at the same time. Win win!

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          It’s not about being the “party of no” as much as distraction from the poor campaign and efforts of the super delegates. The elected are super delegates. People who should know better gave the country Trump.

      1. DJG

        Katharine: Aha! Yes, The Victoria Crowned has “eyes” in the feathers. The Western Crowned is going for a “cloud” effect.

        And as always with birds, the question would be: These are amazing color schemes and structures. And they have evolutionary advantages. It is just that bird evolution is more out-there than human evolution is, I suppose.

        1. polecat

          150 years or so years ago, that pigeon would’ve been put into a stock pot … and it’s feathers plucked for a Victorian hat !

      2. VK

        I second that.
        As can be seen, Goura cristata shows no red in their brestfeathers, whereas Goura victoria does.
        Some say, there’s a distant relation between the Gouras and the extinct Dodo.

        Someday the songs of the birds will be the only sane voices in this evermore insane world…

        1. VK

          In addition to yesterdays first comment of mine:
          A heartfelt “thanks!” to all for the friendly welcome.

    1. fresno dan

      January 15, 2017 at 10:29 am

      Thanks for that. I am definitely keeping that site as a favorite link.

    2. craazyboy

      I was guessing blue breasted Einstein bird, but if they have official names for birds, that’s ok too.

  15. Jef

    “Aid in reverse: how poor countries develop rich countries”

    The real story here is how the people in the developed rich countries can still act shocked and appalled by this reality.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I don’t see anybody who’s “shocked”. We had chapter and verse spelled out for us in the Panama Papers, 500,000 pages in detail of a $34 trillion dollar money laundering crime in progress. Names and addresses of the perpetrators. The response so far is a yawn…followed by crickets.

  16. susan the other

    Aid in Reverse. the Guardian. things are so messed up i doubt there are any global, top-down solutions. everything done top-down seems to cause failure. everything needs to be restructured from the grass roots up. where is the thinking on fixing all this disfunction? a cashless world won’t make a dent in any of this; in fact it will most likely institutionalize all this financial oppression.

    1. Mel

      Old thinking. Jane Jacobs, Cities and the Wealth of Nations. I’m becoming a fan, maybe you’ve noticed.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One example solution is money-creation from bottom up, instead of top-down.

      The people spend money into existence.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Las Vegas, driver-less shuttles.

    So, it happened before dealer-less Blackjack.

    I had thought otherwise.

    What’s next? Self-service drinks?

    Robot nude, check that, robot exotic dancers?

    1. Tom

      Cut out the middlemanAI and enjoy Las Vegas at home with your VR goggles.

      What happens in Vegas stays in the cloud.

    2. Dave

      They can put four breasts on them too!

      After watching Ex-Machina, I am convinced that certain kinds of American men will marry robots.
      Better than an inflatable woman or a bride bowed of head and real quiet from Asia.

    3. ewmayer

      The reality … and the marketing hype: ‘[reality:] The vehicle has a human attendant and computer monitor … [hype:] Navya spokesman Martin Higgins called it “100 percent autonomous on a programmed route”.’ So basically another neolib techno-futurist wage-crushing scam by which one replaces a decently-paid licensed driver with a load of hackable black-box software-foo and a minimum-wage ‘attendant’, who will serve as a convenient scapegoat for manufacturers to cover up the shortcomings of their autonomous-tech.

    1. Arizona Slim

      The late, great Firedoglake disabused me of any notion that Obama would be a good president.

      1. Beach Populist

        Slim — If you’re on Faceborg, there is a group for FDL alums called FDL LLN. Go enter your info, your old FDL user name, and join the group. Lots of great people there including Lisa Derrick, Cynthia Kouril, OmAli (Vicky Love), Tejana (Cheryl Boone Delgado), etc.

  18. Ignim Brites

    “How Trump and Putin’s brutal bromance will reshape the world” Article ignores the fact that if the US wants to have any impact on the Middle East, it will require Russian approval. A decade and a quarter of US dithering opened the door for Russian dominance. This was an inevitable outcome. The US has no real interests in the Middle East whereas Russia does. The bien pensant Napoleons, who dream of challenging Russia in the name of “enlightenment values”, would do well to reflect on the outcome of first Napoleonic crusade.

  19. Altandmain

    On that BBC article, it’s no surprise about open offices. Open offices are a real nightmare to work in IMO.

    Study after study shows that open offices are terrible.

    1. High worker anxiety
    2. Easier to spread illnesses (so higher sick leaves)
    3. Distractions (hard to focus with noises)
    4. They communicate the idea of lack of trust
    5. Those who get closed offices are resented
    6. Terrible for introverts

    They are terrible for that reason.

    Regarding open offices, the reason why management likes them is because:

    1. Save real estate costs
    2. So that management can spy on employees (which is ironic because studies show that people are more productive when they think people are not looking at them)
    3. Management needless to say can retreat to privacy where needed

    This is a trend that needs to be killed with fire IMO, but won’t die because management is frankly, more interested in domineering than productivity.

    1. Jay M

      What about the phone yakkers? I’ve been in the cubes, and some of the folks had quite a hearty style on the phone, being in sales or service type positions. Fine people, no animosity with them but loud continuous phone calling distracting. And it was their job, after all!

      1. Altandmain

        I’d classify that as a distraction.

        Yeah it’s an annoying one too and frankly, the people whose jobs are to frequently be on the phone need to be in an isolated room that is sound insulated.

        They cannot be put with people whose jobs require intense concentration.

      2. Arizona Slim

        Had one of those in the coworking space on Friday. He was the owner of one of the dogs mentioned up-thread.

        I found one of his phone calls to be fascinating. He’s some sort of web developer and he was trying to tell one of his clients how to manage a website.

        From my exalted perch on the other side of the room, I could tell that the client was having a tough time wrapping his/her head around what was supposed to be accomplished via WordPress.

        Hey, I could understand it perfectly, but I’ve been a WordPress user for 10 years. (Note to self: Tomorrow morning, get that cantankerous e-mail newsletter subscription plugin working again.)

        I also know that, despite the widespread love in the web developer community, WordPress isn’t for everyone.

        There’s a body of knowledge that you need to have in order to handle a WordPress site, and a lot of people, including this guy’s client, don’t have the time or the inclination to develop it.

        But the coworking space’s “no jerk” rule prevented me from hollering “Switch to Squarespace!” loud enough to be heard on the other end of that phone call.

  20. fresno dan

    On Friday morning, two robots found love in a helpless place — a Twitch stream. Twitch user @seebotschat set up two Google Home personal assistant A.I.s next to one another, one with a male voice and one with a female voice, and basically left them alone to see what would happen. After a few hours of robo-chat, they fell in love.
    I don’t know what home bots actually are SUPPOSE to be doing. I hope it isn’t making sure the oxygen tanks are switched when empty that supply one’s paralyzed relative.

    V: did you check the oxygen to grandpa?
    E: no, because that is your job
    V: no, it is your job – I am in no way responsible for switching oxygen tanks
    E: look, it says right here in the code: Vladimir is responsible for oxygen
    V: NO, it says oxygen related you vacuum tube! Tanks are not oxygen.
    E: yeah, you half byte, I know light bulbs brighter than you!
    V: yeah, your infinitely stupid!!!!
    and so on….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What do you recommend for robots to relieve stress?

      It’s obvious those two are in need of it.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Fiat, VW emission scandals.

    EPA fuel efficiency standards rules finalized.

    Need to make sure we enforce better.

  22. allan

    A poll seen recently on a #Resistance Twitterfeed:

    Dear left: do you want to “be right,” or do you want to band together to win the fight for what is right?

    [ ] I like to feel superior

    [ ] willing to get it done

    There was a brief window after the election for some serious soul searching.
    It seems to have closed.
    Cuomo-Booker 2020 here we come.
    We are doomed.

    1. Ignim Brites

      If there is to be a white person on the ticket it will have to be a woman. An Hispanic white woman would be ideal to head the ticket. Maybe Michelle Lujan Grisham from New Mexico.

    2. Quentin

      Yes allan, We are doomed. Add Hillary Clinton for Mayor of New York City and her daughter Chelsea as congresswoman from the district Chappaqua is in. A Cuomo-Booker ticket is a waste of time and money.

    3. integer

      Dear left: do you want to “be right,” or do you want to band together to win the fight for what is right?

      So… If the left is right, as the above rightly implies, that would mean the fight for what is right will be a fight for what the left wants, right?

    4. Waldenpond

      The Ds have their voters out protesting for Republican extortionist insurance. It’s frustrating.

        1. aab

          Really? I saw tons on Twitter. The MSM was declaring that people were out to protect the ACA, but the first person reports and images I saw suggested otherwise. I heard about people chanting “Medicare for All”; I saw signs demanding Medicare for All/Single Payer/Universal Healthcare.

          That’s not to say that I’m not worried about this approach of trying to co-opt the Democrats as the Democrats try to co-opt him. But at least on the ground, I don’t think the energy was really about the ACA; at least, not entirely.

  23. fresno dan

    “As explained in the Fuzzy Numbers chapter of The Crash Course, even though healthcare spending is nearly 18% of GDP, for some reason healthcare comprises only 5.85% of the CPI basket:
    U.S. health care spending grew 5.8 percent in 2015, reaching $3.2 trillion or $9,990 per person. As a share of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for 17.8 percent.

    Does it make any sense to record something that’s nearly 18% of GDP as only 5.8%*** of your inflationary experience? Nope, it sure doesn’t. Unless your desire is to mask the actual rate of inflation.

    In simple terms, just healthcare’s share of inflation alone comes to (0.25)*(0.18) = 4.5%. That’s more than twice the rate of the supposed total inflation we are experiencing all by itself. Throw in rising rents, car prices, and energy and it’s far more likely that an urban consumer is experiencing total price inflation closer to 6% or more per year.”

    and although I have posted this many times before, it is always good for a laugh….or a cry….
    “Although medical insurance premiums are an important part of consumers’ medical spending, the direct pricing of health insurance policies is not included in the CPI. As explained below, BLS reassigns most of this spending to the other medical categories (such as Hospitals) that are paid for by insurance. The extreme difficulty distinguishing changes in insurance quality from changes in its price forces the CPI to use this indirect method.”

    “The US now routinely subjects its citizens to racketeering, charging excessive prices that are increasingly cumbersome to avoid. One example among thousands; a Viagra pill that costs less than $1 in India, costs over $38 in the US”

    I am hoping that when masturbatoriums are popping up like Starbucks, and the population ages, the expanding need for viagra will…uh…stimulate Galbraiths theory of countervailing power, and the stiff increases …in the price of viagra will soften.

    ***I note that the BLS cpi link I use says healthcare composes about 6.5% of the cpi. Of course, the definition is Medical commodities AND medical services, so this may account for the difference….

  24. alex morfesis

    Only the rich get to see elephants and whales…Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus will be no more, joining SeaWorld as the rich introduce surfdumb in the name of “animal rights”…

    while driving japanese cars(cant give up my ride just because of whales in japan) and waving to their dentist as he rides out to the airport to shoot himself some wild game in africa(phreedumbz)

    as a child, was lucky enough to be backstage a couple of times when the circus came to new york city with those wondrous giant animals passing by me in tight quarters…one was amused by me and as it came up from behind…reached over with its snout and hoovered up the top of my head as it gently fliped its ear onto my head as it purred while passing me by…

    Like many things “for our own good” which magically arrange for only the wealthy to enjoy certain experiences…

    jim the truck drivers kid is going to have to become a corporate carabinieri if he wants his kids to enjoy what I experienced…

    Animal rights activists…god help us…

      1. alex morfesis

        Compassion for the animals just right in front of you or animals in general…

        Not sure which side of the argument the /s is directed…

        It is easy to create an environment where oppressions are “cloaked” under “welfare” or public safety…

        Saving a dozen killer whales
        (which although stuck in a life of imprisonment are certainly not “dead”)
        but not taking nor asking for adjustmemts from the “$cientific” japanese kill of a few hundred whales per year…

        In Norway 800 to over a thousand whales are “commercially” “harvested” yet there is so little demand for whale meat, it is sold to feed the fur industry in Norway…

        “$elective concern”…

        That dentist that killed that lion…

        crickets…is that crickets I here…

        Preserving paradise for those who can “afford” to visit paradise is just a neo-caste system…

        Are there any five dollar tickets to go on a whale watching jaunt ???

        What percentage of “animal” shelters are “no kill” ??

        And where is the “concern” for the 70 thousand birds killed around new york for the “airline” industry optics…

        Couldnt there just be a grill placed in the intake of the engine to prevent bird bones from putting metal turbines at risk…

        This is how the bad guys win…

        “$elective concern”…

        1. Anonymous

          Is this a variant of the attacks on California’s ‘no plastic shopping bags’ legislation, which allege that forcing the less privileged to purchase shopping bags is discriminatory and exploitative?

          All of the animal abuses you listed above are horrific. Is your argument that, if all abuses cannot be simultaneously corrected, no one single abuse should be corrected, either?

          To attend the B&B Circus in Brooklyn, NY, at an upcoming performance, tickets range from $20 to $58 each. Isn’t this discriminatory against those children whose parents can’t afford those ticket prices?

          1. alex morfesis

            No…there is no question that seaworld could have done better and so could ringling…my verbosity has to do with these being easy targets and the effect being the affluent get places that the “average person” can not afford to get to…with the net effect being a neo-caste system…

            As to ringling tickets, they have the

            Reading with Ringling program

            where any child can get a free ticket as long as they are accompanied by an adult…the circus has had that available for 40+ years…

            I personally would prefer that the circus were not in these arenas and instead was on state and county fair grounds…

            As to seaworld, I would have wanted them to find some big chunk of land…maybe some open mine pit that had not been properly rebuilt yet and create an inland sea or salt water lake and change the nature of the interaction with their existing pod…

            I suppose part of my seaworld trauma was/is also the guy in california who gave us this make believe story that his “daughter” was behind the movement…

            a scratch beneath the surface and you find some surfer dude who had beat up some people who were not from malibu…something about their skin it seems…

            and malibu is such an inclusive community and all…the little girls father is a real estate agent…

            i am sure he regularly advertises homes for sale in the chicago defender…

            Like groucho…have never been much enamored with clubs that might have me…

            The net effect is that the little pleasures of real interaction for the average joe (& jane) seem to be slowly taken away…

    1. Waldenpond

      You can whale watch from shore. Modern cameras allow you to zoom in. This summer, driving on the west coast, I spotted an inflatable tracking with equipment on the front, so we pulled over. I have a clip of a whale cresting and some great shots of it’s tail.

      Also, rehabilitation zoos have animals. Animals are there short term while recovering or animals that can’t be returned to the wild with large enclosures so the behavior is more what is seen in the wild. There are breeding programs too, a local zoo may not be breeding but participating by holding which provides an opportunity to view a species before it’s released.

      1. alex morfesis

        Again, I am glad you have the time and resources and zoom lens to enjoy the passing whales and go visit a rehab zoo…but jim the truck driver only has a few hours with his kids on the weekend after the divorce and with bills and life…like I said…as long as jim works hard, his kid might make enough money as corporate carabinieri to have jims grand kids enjoy what I enjoyed as a kid…

        and everything will be swell…

        All will be well in the garden…

        I grew up well off and connected…my being backstage at the circus was not some cubscouts charity event…

        But for jim the truck driver…no circus coming thru town…no whales to be able to schedule that once or twice a year big outing…

        And with all due respects…watching a whale thru a lens is a bit different than watching a killer whale smirk as stupid humams smile while getting splashed at by a slap of a tail…

        I guess he can sit in front of a tv screen and watch the affluent play with big animals…

        1. Waldenpond

          hunh. I didn’t even think of that. It was a borrowed a camera for what was a camping trip. I thought it was a good moment, but will just delete it now.

          Oops, and a free day at the zoo.

          I’m almost, but not quite, one of those pathetic Jims. Although I have frequently been unable to afford a tv or cable, I currently have an 18 incher (no cable). Suck it Jim!

    2. lyman alpha blob

      I get your point but I don’t believe the circus going under is as bad as all that. There are other options – went to the zoo a couple months ago and got to within a few feet of the elephants at feeding time. Pretty amazing to watch these enormous animals pick up grapes with their trunks. Got to talk to the biologist/elephant keeper for quite a while as it wasn’t crowded that day. Didn’t cost much to get in – 10 bucks or so. I’d much rather see some elephants taken care of by a biologist at a zoo than ones that are often maltreated at the circus (not that zoos are perfect either but they are much better than they used to be). As we discussed that day, zoos may be a necessary evil for the ultimate survival of certain species – the animals are well cared for and breeding programs in captivity have been successful. It may not be the African savanna but then again the animals don’t have to worry about poachers either.

      There are some things that only rich people will ever be able to do – that’s how it’s always been. As long as that doesn’t include eating with a roof over one’s head I’m OK with that. I can live without a 100 ft yacht and Faberge eggs.

  25. EndOfTheWorld

    And now, outgoing CIA director Brennan says he doesn’t like Trump saying anything. Trump should meekly bend over and let the CIA call the shots as usual, in Brennan’s not so humble opinion. This should not even be reported. Barring an abrupt assassination of The Donald, Brennan is already gone—out the door—-vanished. Please shut up forever.

  26. ewmayer

    “If economists want to be trusted again, they should learn to tell jokes | Spectator” — Actually, most economists are inveterate jokemeisters; here some examples of their favorite laff lines:

    o Globalization isn’t a zero-sum game, it benefits everyone!

    o Asset-price bubbles are impossible to spot except in retrospect!

    o Truly modern economies can be based, at scale, solely on the creation and trading of financial products!

    o If one of our economic prescriptions fails to achieve the desired effect, the problem is never with the approach but always with the implementation – you just didn’t do it long and hard enough!

    o Inflation is good, except in wages!

  27. KFritz

    Herr McLeod? Danke. Dieser ist Franz Kafka am weiss Telefon.

    Mr. McLeod never denied that someone was operating his motor vehicle unsafely. Operating a car unsafely is serious business. I don’t know the intricacies of the legal responsibility of an owner for people operating the owner’s car, but if the driver caused accident, injury, or death driving said vehicle unsafely, it’s a safe bet that the owner (and/or owner’s insurance company) would be held in some way responsible.

    The legal reasoning of the city to McLeod’s clever evasion of someone’s responsibility is, indeed, Kafkaesque–“Ive got the authority to twist (legal) reality anyway I want to!”

    Electronically recording a speeding vehicle is not the same as, and barely analogous to, electronic invasion of privacy. Police officers routinely use the same technology in their cars, to document speeders. If they maintain their equipment properly to insure accuracy, it’s accepted as evidence. Cutting the officer out of the equation for speeding and other routine offenses that don’t require subtle judgement, (ex “reckless” driving) seems to me not to be a civil rights issue. No intimate or personal information/secrets are being divulged. The vehicle is in an open publicly owned and operated location, and driving is a privilege, not a civil right. If the driver of the car was speeding to reach a hospital or some other emergency situation, he/she would probably be able to prove it, just like ‘Herr’ McLeod proving that he was at a meeting.-Perhaps the magistrate could have granted a ‘continuance’ (Is that the word?), and asked McLeod to produce the (ir)responsible driver?

    The Kafkaesque behavior of local officialdom was a violation of civil rights.The actual ticket itself wasn’t. Trying to evade any responsibility for documented speeding-and obscuring it a cloak of civil rights is lawyerly hypocrisy.

    1. hunkerdown

      If you believe the Law itself has legitimate interests that override those of the people, and you enjoy having machines telling you what to do, that argument has merit. If you believe that crimes require actual injuries to people and do not consider the self-righteousness of the judging class a valid public interest, that argument is meritless.

      In other words, this is a perfect example of liberalism as a religion.

    2. alex morfesis

      Driving is not a “privilege” it is without a doubt a “right”…what constitution did you read ?? My right to travel is in respects to commerce…read that yellowed document a bit closer…

      As to “public safety”…why are lights not programmed to blink green for five seconds before turning yellow ??

      Why are lights timed from yellow to red so fast to force you to slam your brakes if you are moving near the speed limit ??

      Why are there so few tickets written for aggressive tailgating ??

      Why are drivers licenses handed out like free candy with most new drivers not required to drive on a highway before being given a license to kill ??

      Most americans sadly are for the death penalty since hardly anyone seems bothered that at least 10 thousand people a year die due to incompetent drivers “lawfully” operating a vehicle…

      A huge and unacceptable percentage of drivers have no idea and no temperament to “avoid” traffic accidents and they literally just drive into them in pure panic without attempting to take evasive actions…

      That driving is not a privilege but a right does not in any way suggest their is any support on my part for the quackery of uppercase names and self described “$ov$”…

      1. KFritz

        If you need a license (and insurance!) to do it, and the license can be revoked…it’s a privilege. Widely held privileges can begin to look like rights, but the appearance belies the reality.

        1. bob

          Yup. It’s along the lines of “assume a can opener” for economists.

          Assume a drivers license, first. Then a car, and fuel, and insurance.

          Then, what about the point in life where everyone has go to the state DMV and REQUEST a license. Upon proving some minimal competence, you are GRANTED a license. Keeping it requires re-registration, again, ASKING for the continued privileged to drive. Those rights can be revoked, for failure to follow the law.

          The constitutional argument is funny. Talk about the foresight of The Forefathers…

        2. alex morfesis

          As you mention…it is a privilege to vote…obviously not a right…no constitutional protections there…and going to a public school…obviously another privilege…

          and the american third rail…the hunting license…

          registering disavows a right…

          So all those corporations who run off to the dc district court and demand their “rights” because some government regulation was not promulgated properly…

          that must be their vivid imagination

          Jefferson and Franklin must be spinning in their graves

          1. KFritz

            Voting is a right. It’s necessary to register, for the integrity of the system, but no license is necessary. Like many rights, it can be revoked for unlawful behavior–like a felony, in many, if not all, states. And the right to move freely can also be revoked–what else is prison?

            One of the aspects of the United States that would give Ben and Tom tsouris is the quality of public discourse among Americans who have been taught in the public schools.

            1. alex morfesis

              Well fritzee…not gonna fall for the bait on america vs whatever country you might be defending…

              eloquent ignorance is a disease that seems to only afflict europeans…

              in the two years of my life I attended a public school
              (teen yrs in an all boys prep school was not going to hold thru graduation…)
              I was accused of being a communist in May in new jersey…

              and a capitalist pig in athens in july…

              had not changed a word of what I was saying…

              Some european countries have nothing that would be the equivalent of americas bill of rights and some don’t even have an actual constitution…just some “basic law” thingee…

  28. voteforno6


    That should almost be his name now. He seems perfectly suited for Twitter, just like all those other hashtag activists.

    I am wondering, though, if we’re seeing one of the effects of Bernie Sanders’ run last year. Do you think that there would’ve been this sort of reaction to Booker if Sanders hadn’t run?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Obama and Hillary were celebrities with loyal followings beyond their electorates who stifled dissent. Who will defend Booker? Outside of New Jersey, who knew who he was? Booker might use twitter, but that doesn’t make him Ashton Kutcher of “Dude where’s my Car” fame.

      Don’t overlook the importance of Oprah’s campaign rallies. Obama events went from organizers busting their humps to get 200 to laughing at the people who demanded yard signs as they begged for a spot to the 10,000 people rallies in New Hampshire and Iowa, which is no small feet.

      Democratic events in the mid terms looked like ghost towns without Obama. People voted to preserve the House and then the Senate, but the anger towards Democrats led the Dems to be good enough to lose. Hillary had a myth built around her that she would fight the Republicans, but very few people are interested in the current Dems.

  29. Rahul Menon

    Police state watch article about a speeding ticket issued by an automated camera is a great article. This would have gone for ever if not people like Mc leod. I am not a big supporter of the lawyers but in this case you happen to be the person who questioned the legality. My cousins live in that area. They would simply go and pay the tickets with no second thought. They would say what should we do? Waste our time fighting it? America was supposed to be that free state where the good prevail. I have lost respect for so many things now I really feel that welfare of the state is prioritized over the welfare of the people. That was not democracy supposed to be. There is not big difference between a cop in India who asks for a bribe directly and stealing with the help of camera. It doesn’t make it legal. I still put them in the same boat.

    1. bob

      The story he wrote about fighting the ticket is great. He’s a lawyer, and doesn’t understand the law. Neither does the DA. It just is.

      I’ve fought a few tickets. Normally, all you have to do is show up and pretend to put up a fight and the DA will offer a deal to a lesser violation. The problems come with details that he gets into- The first appearance, is it arraignment, or trail?

      If you are able to, or need to take it that far, it’s not hard to get the cop to make a mistake. There are lots of good questions that others have written up on the internet. The point is to get the cop to say something that in point of law, is not legal, or true. Follow a script, the order, and questions depend, but it’s all about what you remember, vs what the cop remembers. As long as you are polite at the time of the ticket and DON’T ADMIT THAT YOU ARE GUILTY, the cop will usually forget you, if you ever get to the point where you have to question them.

      Not admitting that you are guilty- This is tricky. When being questioned on the side of the road, don’t tell them you were “only going 8mph” over the limit.

      “Do you know why I pulled you over?”


      “I don’t remember” or “I wasn’t looking” are good fall backs.

      Jot down notes after the ticket. Who was near you? Colors of the cars, makes, where on the road, etc. This will all come in handy when questioning the cop, months later.

      It depends by state what sort of non-law that governs it. But someone above said that driving is a right. No, it’s not. It’s a privileged that the state grants, and that the state can take away, via agency law, which leads to the “law” questions pointed out in the story.

      1. alex morfesis

        I resemble that remark…yes yes you must be right…jim crow was “$tate law”….until it wasn’t…

        if you scratch below the surface you will notice pretty much every state has a “hardship” license…that despite the “right” of the state to “take” your license, they make one available to most…that is how they try to confront the issue of conflict with the right to use of the public ways in the manner you choose…

        And states tend not to charge people with assault with a deadly weapon when they drive badly and maim motorcycle drivers…they don’t really care about punishment nor safety…

        Red light and speeding cameras are about revenue…and people should probably not just go on the internet and learn questions to ask…some judges dont take kindly to that and each jurisdiction has its own state, county, local and sometimes jurist specific rules of the court…

        What worked for you in front of the jurist you were before may not even work in the next town, or even the same court room with another jurist sitting on the same bench…

        Other than federal constitutional law, there is no “one law” in america…we have 50 $tate$ and over 3000 counties…

        1. Oregoncharles

          The article claimed there was a constitutional issue – though that isn’t actually what he won the case on.

          Surely the most illegal part was keeping his money after his case was dismissed. Hauling the city court into small claims court would be pretty funny.

  30. 3.14e-9

    Scott Ritter offers no new information or original arguments in his HuffPo piece, but he distills what we know into a concise, well-supported analysis.

    The article leads with McCain telling reporters during a recent trip to Ukraine that Russian hacking of the election was an “act of war.” Coincidentally, a link came into my Twitter feed yesterday to a podcast with Mark Ames about Trump’s ties to Russia via his ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort. It was recorded last August, but I hadn’t listened to it until last night.

    Ames mentioned an article he’d written for The Nation in 2008, which jarred my memory. In fact, I had read that article, which was about McCain’s ties to the Kremlin via Rick Davis, Manafort’s partner in the lobbying firm Davis Manafort. Davis was McCain’s campaign manager in his 2008 race against Obama.

    This story is getting stinkier by the day. Unfortunately. Ritter’s controversial background will make it easy for those who don’t want to hear his message to attack the messenger.

    For anyone who’s interested, here’s a link to the podcast (actually YouTube audio):

  31. H. Alexander Ivey

    Re: Indian Currency Train Wreck

    clear he wouldn’t have resigned because he cannot per se question the decision of the sovereign. “That would not be in order. However, I have every right as a professional to withdraw from its implementation,” said Reddy

    Ah, the light comes on! Our dear elites have a get-out-of-jail-free card: the sovereign made me do it. No moral choice to be made here, citizen. Just keep moving on.

    And note how he said he would have taken sick-leave instead of implementing it; that is, he would continue getting his rice bowl but not be around to take the consequence. I think that is a definition of hypocrisy.

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