Links 1/17/17

How Does Big Ben Keep Accurate Time? YouTube (furzy)

Kangaroo attacks Melbourne jogger ‘like a damn truck’ Guardian :-(

Prehistoric shrimp emerge from Australian desert after heavy rain TreeHugger (resilc)

ISIS is dropping bombs with drones in Iraq PopSci. Tony K: “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, wonder where they got that idea from.”

Contrary to decades of hype, curcumin alone is unlikely to boost health MedicalXpress. Dr. David flagged this as fake news, specifically the claim: “No double-blinded, placebo controlled clinical trial of curcumin has been successful.” This is the underlying study. His observation:

A quick review of the literature turns up numerous counterexamples to that statement.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3998827/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4202229/
http://www.cghjournal.org/article/S1542-3565(06)00800-7/abstract?cc=y=
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/037887419190167C
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032714003620
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b00975

HSBC: These are the 21 countries where expats have the best lifestyle Business Insider. Canada is higher than Oz, which surprises me. Wonder if this has to do with how expensive Oz has become.

Press releases you hope you never have to issue, Indian central bank independence edition FT Alphaville

Trump broadside stuns Europe The Times

Trump attack on Merkel rebuffed by French president BBC

Brexit

Theresa May to Seek Clean Brexit From EU Wall Street Journal

Theresa May to set out 12-point plan for Brexit as she vows a clean break that does not leave the UK ‘half-in, half-out’ Telegraph. Says she wants out of the single market. Does she have the foggiest what that means?

Work permits at heart of UK’s Brexit immigration control plan Financial Times

Europe’s message to Theresa May: Play by the rules — or else Politico

Brexit and the EU Budget: Threat or Opportunity? Jacques Delors Institute

Rolls-Royce to pay £671m over bribery claims The Register (Dan K)

Syraqistan

Top UN official: 10,000 civilians killed in Yemen conflict Associated Press. Bill B: “Another Obama legacy to ponder while he builds his billion dollar library in Chicago.”

Likud MKs hail beleaguered ‘King Bibi,’ who pans graft probe Times of Israel

Imperial Collapse Watch

The US Dropped Bombs Every Three Hours In 2016 Care2 (resilc)

The United States Has Allowed South Sudan’s Government to Utilize Child Soldiers TruthOut (resilc)

Trump Transition

Trump’s Team Is Shaping Up to Be Dangerously Incoherent New Republic

Abe’s No. 2 brands Trump ‘hysterical,’ urges him to lay off threats Kyodo News

Trump and Gorbachev Global Inequality (MA)

Donald Trump Warns on House Republican Tax Plan Wall Street Journal

Trump’s Wall Low-Ball: A Persuasion Tactic ExtraNewsfeed

Trump to Meet Boeing CEO a Second Time Over Air Force One, Says Source Bloomberg. He’s also squawking about the F-35 but doesn’t look like he can do much.

Trump’s Washington hotel could trigger early test of conflicts Financial Times

You Thought This Was Rock Bottom, America, But the Russians Are Knocking From Below Moscow Times (resilc)

Inauguration boycott grows as Donald Trump meets Martin Luther King III Guardian. IMHO, a pox on both sides for the John Lewis-Trump row. The Dems almost certainly put Lewis up to challenging Trump’s legitimacy on MLK Day and on Russia, an area where Lewis has no expertise. Trump then acts like Trump, is unable not to take the bait, and acts like a jerk. And how much did the media talk about Martin Luther King yesterday as a result? Way less than usual, as far as I can tell.

How Pure is Your Hate? Counterpunch (resilc). Not a fan of what Lambert calls “strategic hate management” even though the detail is good.

That Free Men May Live: Martin Luther King, Jr. Thirteen Video (Kevin C)

Barack Obama: a noble failure Angry Bear. I am sure most readers will find this to be far too charitable. Obama was a neoliberal and successfully sold a lot of people on the idea that he had to make big concessions to those nasty Republicans. Anyone who watched him would see Obama repeatedly go 75% of the way to the position of the other side as his first move, a clear signal he was never even slightly committed to his original position. He even traded away deal points and got nothing back, as when he gave up on single payer.

Obamacare

The “thermostat” returns: w/boost from low-income GOPers, support for gov’t-ensured health care rises to highest level since Bush presidency ‏@Patrick_J_Egan (UserFriendly)

Trump vows ‘insurance for everybody’ in Obamacare replacement plan Washington Post. In case you missed it…wonder what he defines as “insurance”?

The economics of corporate crime Washington Post (Dr. Kevin)

Big Apple Circus Assets Going Up For Sale In Bankruptcy Auction Consumerist

What Oxfam’s misleading stat gets wrong about inequality Felix Salmon, Fusion (J-LS). I’m glad Felix did the heavy lifting. The annual Oxfam study always reaches screechy conclusions based on an indefensible methodology and refuses to clean it up (I assume because Oxfam gets headlines that then help in fundraising). Income and wealth inequality are already extreme, yet Oxfam seems to feel the need to make stuff up.

Class Warfare

Building the Institutions for Revolt TruthDig (RR)

The Coming Crusade Against Public Education Nation (resilc)

Most of the world’s largest companies promise to retrain staff even if robots replace jobs Business Insider

The economic effects of migration Bruegel

Survival in the Face of Scarcity: The Undocumented Immigrant Experience Arizona Law Review. Based on extensive interviews

This MIT website makes you decide who a self-driving car should kill in an accident Business Insider. I don’t like this at all. It is designed to acculturate people to the fact that driverless cars will kill people. Moreover, the claim that driverless cars will kill fewer people than drivers is a stretch given the fact that they cannot handle a considerable range of driving conditions, such as rain, snow, and certain types of poor lighting.

We don’t talk anymore, San Francisco San Francisco Examiner (Joe H). FWIW, we do in NYC.

My cat Blake died a year ago today. I still miss him.

Antidote du jour (Robert H):

And a bonus because so many readers have been sending Antidotes (but don’t expect extras!). This from Tracie H: “Sir Winston the cat, asking why I’m disturbing his rest.”

And a bonus video. Bob likes the raccoon feint.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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238 comments

  1. Foppe

    John Pilger, today:

    There is something both venal and profoundly stupid about famous writers as they venture outside their cosseted world and embrace an “issue”. Across the Review section of the Guardian on 10 December was a dreamy picture of Barack Obama looking up to the heavens and the words, “Amazing Grace” and “Farewell the Chief”.

    The sycophancy ran like a polluted babbling brook through page after page. “He was a vulnerable figure in many ways … But the grace. The all-encompassing grace: in manner and form, in argument and intellect, with humour and cool … [He] is a blazing tribute to what has been, and what can be again … He seems ready to keep fighting, and remains a formidable champion to have on our side … … The grace … the almost surreal levels of grace …”

    I have conflated these quotes. There are others even more hagiographic and bereft of mitigation. The Guardian’s chief apologist for Obama, Gary Younge, has always been careful to mitigate, to say that his hero “could have done more”: oh, but there were the “calm, measured and consensual solutions…”

    None of them, however, could surpass the American writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates, the recipient of a “genius” grant worth $625,000 from a liberal foundation. In an interminable essay for The Atlanticentitled, “My President Was Black”, Coates brought new meaning to prostration. The final “chapter”, entitled “When You Left, You Took All of Me With You”, a line from a Marvin Gaye song, describes seeing the Obamas “rising out of the limo, rising up from fear, smiling, waving, defying despair, defying history, defying gravity”. The Ascension, no less.

    One of the persistent strands in American political life is a cultish extremism that approaches fascism. This was given expression and reinforced during the two terms of Barack Obama. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Obama, who expanded America’s favourite military pastime, bombing, and death squads (“special operations”) as no other president has done since the Cold War.

    Following the public relations disaster of George W. Bush, Obama, the smooth operator from Chicago via Harvard, was enlisted to restore what he calls “leadership” throughout the world. The Nobel Prize committee’s decision was part of this: the kind of cloying reverse racism that beatified the man for no reason other than he was attractive to liberal sensibilities and, of course, American power, if not to the children he kills in impoverished, mostly Muslim countries.

    This is the Call of Obama. It is not unlike a dog whistle: inaudible to most, irresistible to the besotted and boneheaded, especially “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics,” as Luciana Bohne put it. “When Obama walks into a room,” gushed George Clooney, “you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere.”

        1. fosforos

          The role of the messiah is to inaugurate the kingdom of God. His mission will have been accomplished by Friday afternoon. All Hail To The Obama In Chief!

    1. OIFVet

      “rising out of the limo…” Good lord!!! Is Ta-Nehisi trolling the detractors, or is he having a Freudian moment?

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          The pair of antidotes: definition of the difference between cats and dogs.
          And squawk – perfect!

          Take some time out today for yourself and Blake.

          Weird, this was supposed to be a stand-alone comment.

      1. craazyboy

        I believe “Ascended from his chariot” is the consensus term of choice in these cases. These guys are getting sloppy. Probably all a product of the public school system. One can hope they will someday pony up a few more salary bucks and get some Ivy Leaguers on the team!

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        I wonder what the likes of Coates will do without “Dear Leader” to devote themselves too.

        Jackson has always been a self promoter and will move on easily enough as he tries to explain why his silence during the last eight years was important, but Coates is plain creepy.

      3. Mel

        “Rising out of the limo” — Orson Welles in the opening scene of A Touch of Evil. Maybe I don’t get out enough; more likely I get out just enough. Seems like it’s more fun this way. Is this about the “Noble Failure” article? I wouldn’t have used the N-word there myself. Way back when, Russel Baker wrote a column entitled Why Being Serious is Hard. Following Baker, I would say a Solemn Failure. Krugman missed a bit of a good thing when he settled on “Very Serious People” for his ironic phrase.

    2. Clive

      Related — I really can’t be bothered to link to it, I’d rather drink tepid weak tea, it’s easy enough to find for those who are gluttons for punishment — the ever-inspiring (inspiring me to throw my head forward with great force in the direction of my desk) Jesse Jackson piles in in another Guardian piece along the same lines.

      Jesse, wrapping his self-appointed cloak of black leadership warmly around himself with all the authenticity of one of those made-in-China founders’ patchwork quilts I see hawked around on QVC, congratulates (what were you expecting? criticism? doubt? there being perhaps the merest modicum of uncertainty? dream on…) Obama on improving race relations in the US. Apparently, he managed this stupendous feat by, if I may be permitted to parse the Rev. Jackson (parsing is all I have the strength for alas; if I had to recall the whole article, I’d need to go and fetch an entire packet of biscuits to get through the endeavour) being a) black, b) being able to tie his own shoelaces and c) not bumping in to the furniture in the Oval Office.

      The best retort comes from the comments (noticeably fewer Obama-bots than you saw in such pieces only a mere four or five years ago):

      No he didn’t. He failed to deliver on much, betraying the hopes of millions. He’s African-American in name only. Both in terms of privilege and of background he cannot conceivably be considered compared to the ‘real’ Black America. And his playing Pontius Pilate during the race riots did not help one bit.

      1. craazyman

        the one good thing about all these dudes is they show what every conscious person already understands — that black people can be every bit as vainglorious, mendacious, manipulative, incompetent and corrupt OR as capable, virtuous, conscientious, intelligent and dignified — as white people!

        It may be that’s what it takes to move beyond race as a signifier of any worth or note. To have that go mainstream as a point of view. Women too! They can be just as bad as men. hahah. But no worse! They’re not better at being worse, just equal.

        If you want truth you have to go to the comedians, because the politicians — and their media sycophants and Ken & Barbie doll news readers — don’t have it in them.

        1. craazyboy

          Thomas L. Friedman signals agreement:

          “The Woman Race tempts the moustache of metaphor in me. If races could cross the barrier of virginity, co-mingle and multiply, so would people. The next 6 months are critical.”

          1. integer

            The world is like a piece of paper. Butter the toast and it will return non-linear higher order differential equations for the masses. On the other hand, we all must act like plastic containers, lest we forget the meaning of technological progress or the excellence of Friedman’s metaphors.

              1. craazyboy

                Beer is like the Nectar of the Gods, and attracts buzzes to the head like flies in the face of seriousness.

                BTW: I have brewed many a batch of homemade ale using Coopers ale yeast.

                1. integer

                  I have brewed many a batch of homemade ale using Coopers ale yeast.

                  I’m speechless. In a good way. I do expect, however, that this is at least partly due to the fact that I am by myself and concentrating on typing at the moment. I have a friend who is pretty serious about brewing and I have tried some of the batches he’s made using various Coopers homebrew kits. Pretty good imo.

          2. Jim Haygood

            Engels claimed that the “world-historical defeat of the female sex” resulted from men inventing bronze tools — a claim that the eminent Friedman may want to take up with his signature mastery of the mixed metaphor.

          3. Eleanor Rigby

            OMG. Did he really write that the “next 6 months are critical”? He wrote that all the way through the Iraq WMD period and Iraq’s supposed move to democracy. That’s exactly why I stopped reading him. No credibility.

            1. craazyboy

              hehe. The whole thing is a joke. I wrote it. We have an ongoing bash friedman contest in comments.

        1. polecat

          ‘And if you order NOW, you’ll get the obama ginsu Absolutely NOT free ……… along with Extra serrations ……’

          … Don’t miss this deal of a life-line !

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Thanks, just read it. Fantastic piece!!! (with the exception of the unnecessary Bernie diss)

    3. Sandy

      We can criticize Obama without mocking blacks (and indeed other minorities) for expressing how much Obama meant for them.

      1. vidimi

        i think there’s nothing wrong with expressing how much obama meant to them, it’s all the whitewashing of his actions that’s the problem.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Agreed. And I think “blacks” were not mocked as a group, specific individuals whose hypocrisy is remarkable were (Coates).

      2. armchair

        Agreed Sandy. A few liberal writers feel a wave of sentimentality and virulent criticism follows. Probably most of the commentators are unable to understand how this moment feels like Flowers for Algernon.

      3. Katharine

        Thanks, Sandy! Anyone is entitled to an opinion, and even to one based on personal experience nobody else could share. (I have a hazy recollection that Stalin’s daughter found him a good father.) You can’t deny an opinion: it is what it is, whether you agree with it or not. What we need is not to censor those opinions but to ensure that others based on hard unpalatable facts are also given space, and realistic commentary about their importance.

      4. Pat

        So am I allowed to mock white older liberals who “love Obama”? Especially the one dependent on Medicare and Social Security to have a roof over their head and an ability to go to the doctor?

        Just wondering where the line is for mocking people who still revere someone who openly ignored their issues and even actively tried to sell them out.

        1. Katharine

          Allowed? It is free speech. But why would you want to mock other people? It accomplishes nothing except to increase the distance between you, when better communication depends on finding ways to bridge that distance.

          1. Pat

            Fine I’ll speak freely. I’ll admit I missed the mocking referred to in the original comment as oftentimes I apparently do especially when what is being referred to is pointing out the fantastical illusions used to describe mere humans, deeply flawed or not. But even if it really was “mocking” why is the restriction to ‘blacks and other minorities’? Do they need special protection from rhetorical argument styles? Or could Obama’s race mean only they could have deeply held emotional connections to the man, no matter how misguided? As for communication and bridging the gap, not for nothing but I’ve got a lot of years of living with various forms of denial, others and my own. Enough to know that when people’s only response to calmly stated facts is “That isn’t true. I love….You’re wrong.” that bridge is closed until they chose to open it. You don’t overcome denial with communication. It is overcome only when their own situation means they can deny it no longer.

            And very often the constraints on modes of speech are NOT about better forms of communication but about shutting it down.

            1. Katharine

              That last observation is certainly true! I particularly dislike the “civility” line, as it privileges one style of speech, but courtesy is another matter, grounded in good will.

              I do know what you mean about the people who won’t hear anything against their pet ideas or people, and there are limits to what you can do. But I do try to maintain connections, however tenuous, in the hope of more fruitful communication some other time, on some other topic of concern.

        2. Elizabeth Burton

          Why is it necessary to mock people for making (and clinging to) perfectly human mistakes at all? Does it make the situation better to pummel the victims, even if they are victims of their own choices? Isn’t that what the Right does constantly—blame the poor for making bad choices because otherwise they wouldn’t be poor?

          Has it occurred to those whose immediate reaction to anything they consider foolish is snark that they’re part of the problem? Probably not, because I recall vividly a furor some years back when two young women were totally clueless why anyone would be offended by their offensive photo because it was “all in fun.”

          We already have more than ample sources driving wedges between us, and doing so with more money than God. I’m delighted those who choose to tear into others for being “stupid” are so perfect they’ve never made a bad choice, but given that level of perfection one would think they’d find a way to help the rest of us attain that same level of perfection.

          To put it another way, it’s one thing to attack a mindset and quite another to attack those who hold it. The former, done properly, can lead to that mindset being changed. The latter will only result in battened hatches, barred doors, and fingers in ears. Worse, if it continues, those continuing it are, frankly, doing exactly what those “elites” they are so fond of sneering at do.

          I read this today, and I think it bears sharing: 10 Theses for Fighting Right-wing Populism

          1. witters

            “Why is it necessary to mock people for making (and clinging to) perfectly human mistakes at all?”

            The urge to mock what is eminently mockable is itself (obviously) “perfectly human”.

            Are we trying here to “drive a wedge” between elements of the “perfectly human”?

          2. hunkerdown

            For the same reason Democrats presume to mock Republicans: “moral betterment through insufferable nagging”. Clinging to mistakes is a liberal mistake, and liberalism isn’t very welcome to those outside the MacArthur Fellowship class right now.

            Anything and everything that breaks the Democratic Party is good. Even if their clients get burned in the process — they shouldn’t have been competing to exclude others in the first place.

            1. Elizabeth Burton

              So, they did it so we can do it, too. This is one of the saddest things I’ve observed in my nearly three-score-and-ten—that apparently not enough mothers told their kids “If John jumped off a bridge, would you jump off, too?”

              1. hunkerdown

                Elizabeth Burton, please re-read the last sentence of my comment. I have no sympathy for people who support playing needless zero-sum games to deny others access to abundance. In that light, might you reconsider your response?

      5. marym

        I don’t blame ordinary people of color for the hope and pride they invested in Obama, nor for many of them closing ranks and not publicly criticizing him. They had a decision to make about solidarity vs dissent, and I can’t say I would or wouldn’t have made a similar decision if I shared their history. I do blame the black mis-leadership for not demanding better on policy when they had a forum to do so; and privileged white people for acting as though they were somehow fighting racism by not demanding that he do better.

    4. Binky

      Shorter version: white person unmoved by significance of a black American president and resentful of the typical post game show of a presidency that didn’t end in complete economic disaster or criminal proceedings and pardons.
      Haters gonna hate.

      1. integer

        – a presidency that didn’t end in complete economic disaster

        For who? I imagine NC commenter crittermom, as well as the many other victims of illegal foreclosures, would strongly disagree with that statement.

        – a presidency that didn’t end in … criminal proceedings

        Well, the Wall st. banks didn’t face any criminal proceedings either.

        – a presidency that didn’t end in … pardons.

        You may be correct, and I imagine Clinton is quite concerned about this. I’m guessing Snowden and Manning have also noticed this.

        – Haters gonna hate.

        And sycophants are going to grovel*. Pilger is a very experienced and honest (imo) journalist who is worthy of the title, which can’t be said for many who pass themselves off as journalists these days, though you are certainly correct that he is white.

        *This is a general statement and is not directed at you personally.

        1. integer

          I’m guessing Snowden and Manning have also noticed this.

          Fyi I wasn’t aware that Manning’s sentence had been commuted when I wrote the above. Still, as pointed out by other commenters here, a pardon it is not.

  2. Donald

    The story that says we did an air strike every three hours is wrong. 26,000 air strikes a year and 8000 hours in a year means three air strikes per hour.

  3. nycTerrierist

    Love the first two antidotes.

    That guy with the raccoon had bad energy.
    It was as if he wanted to provoke a scared animal. I thought he was showing it the way out
    (of the container) so it could make an escape and then he terrorized it.
    I hope there weren’t babies in the container.
    Whatta guy showing his kids how to be mean to animals.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I infer there were baby raccoons in the bin and that’s why the adult (presumably the mother) went after him rather than just running off.

      1. nycTerrierist

        Yes, that’s what it looked like.

        I hope the mother and babies were able to re-locate safely and the outcome
        was ok for all.

      2. burlesque

        A juvenile racoon came after me in a most aggressive way after I rescued it from a half-full rain barrel that apparently it had fallen into. I rescued it by tipping over the rain barrel which I am sure was stressful, poor thing.

        1. Parker Dooley

          We have rabies in the raccoon population in our area. Healthy raccoons generally will run away from a person. The behavior of this one makes me wonder if it was infected. We have had a number of instances in the past few years of people attacked and bitten by rabid raccoons, requiring treatment costing thousands of dollars, to prevent acquiring an infection that is 100% fatal.

            1. Parker Dooley

              Sorry, I stand corrected. Should have said “virtually” 100%. Apparently somewhere between 3-8 known survivors without vaccine and immune globulin. I don’t know what the denominator is — this report suggests 50,000 cases annually — so the difference is hardly significant. Note that the 11 yr. old in the above case developed symptoms 2 yrs. after exposure and died despite the same protocol used for the girl you cite. Bottom line — don’t bet on being the lucky duck — get postexposure prophylaxis immediately if there is any doubt.

      3. bob

        If you watch to the end, you can hear the guy ask-

        “are those babies?” before he picks up and turns off the camera.

        The human survived.

    2. Sam Adams

      That dog has one big happy, contented smile surrounded by the bunnies and chick. It made my day.

      1. Steve C

        Contrary to their fearsome reputation, I’ve never known a pit bull that wasn’t a big sloppy adorable mess.

        1. Robert Hahl

          I have fostered many pit bull mixes. They are always very nice to people, and most of them are always nice to other dogs. But there are just a few that will, e.g., grab a dog by the ear and not let go until you come to break it up; with no real harm done, but try explaining that to the person walking such dog.

          Still, I agree with you. The difficult ones are easy to spot, and the sweet ones are wonderful pets. The uglier the better because they actually start to look good after a while.

          1. Gareth

            “The difficult ones are easy to spot”

            Not really. I was attacked in a public park by a pit bull that was on a leash and seemed totally relaxed until it made a sudden leap for my neck. The owner jerked back on the leash and I was able to dodge reflexively so that when the dog’s jaws snapped shut it just missed my jugular but I could still feel the exhalation from it’s nostrils on my neck. Quite an adrenaline rush.

            Now whenever I see a pit bull I cross the street because you just never know.

            1. Robert Hahl

              The owner probably knew e had a difficult one but didn’t care for some reason, probably over confidence. I didn’t mean to say that it is easy for people on the street to spot.

              1. Ancient1

                To Robert Hahl:

                Send your comment to the woman in prison in California, whose two pit bulls mauled a young woman to death outside of her door in San Francisco. Send your comment to the dog walker who was attacked by three pit bulls and was saved only by three neighbors who beat them off also in San Francisco. This breed is only doing which comes natural as humans bred them to do what they do.

                1. Robert Hahl

                  My comment was not clear. I was trying to say that it is possible for an owner to select a good pit bull and they are not rare.

        2. ChrisPacific

          I was going to say it looked more like a Staffy to me (based on the smile). But I see that ‘pit bull’ is a blanket term that encompasses that breed among others.

    3. HBE

      Showing kids how to be mean to animals.

      This story from near where I grew up is horrible and according to first hand accounts they made hiding the animals a fun family affair for the kids.

      Latest news from people back in the area is that they may have started back up after an eagle was found poisoned recently.

      https://www.fws.gov/midwest/news/RingOfDeath.html

      1. nycTerrierist

        I’ll skip the horrible story right now.
        For anyone like me who wants to see cruelty busted, there’s a great new series on Animal Planet:

        “The Guardians features a dedicated group of volunteers which includes ex-cops, ex-gang members, ex-military, ex-private investigators and more. All members of actual organization Guardians of Rescue, these “normal everyday people” with a passion for helping animals use their assorted talents and common interest to investigate abuse cases overlooked by swamped agencies tasked to keep animals safe.

        The Guardians employ unusual methods, like drones, surveillance and old-fashioned gumshoe door-to-door interviews to follow leads and peel back malfeasance and shady dealers.”

        They do an amazing job. With street smarts, tact and persistence, they gain the trust of various shady characters and either negotiate for the animals’ safety (providing comfortable dog runs and dog houses – and security cameras – in two cases of dogs chained up for ‘security’) or sting perps (like puppy mill dealers with legal followup).

        An inspiring grassroots organization of regular people pooling their skills to defend animals from cruelty.

        Last spring, I saw a guy from my neighborhood hitting his dog twice.
        ‘Please don’t hit the dog,’ I said in as pleasant a way as I could and got the distinct impression he thought I was hilarious. (he didn’t seem to speak english).
        I hadn’t seen the dog for weeks and was concerned. An adorable squat little pitbull mix. I asked a young woman leaving the dog owners building about her neighbor’s pup. She said it ‘died of a heart attack’. The dog couldn’t have been much more than a year old. It must have died of stress or worse.
        I had wanted to report the dog-beater but didn’t and now I will never again do nothing if I ever see abuse like that. I’d call the Guardians of Rescue for advice on how to proceed.
        https://guardiansofrescue.org/

        1. Katharine

          Most areas have laws against that kind of thing, so you ought to be able to start with local police, if it’s a crime in progress, or whatever your municipal or county animal rescue squad is called if it’s something you saw once and were concerned about.

          1. nycTerrierist

            Thanks. Alas, not sure there are laws against dog-beating since dogs are considered ‘property’. I would love to be mistaken here.

            For a crime in progress, I would certainly report, but short of a smoking gun, I hear police don’t consider these cases priorities and for results, one would need a plan B.
            That’s why a group like the Guardians fills a much-needed niche.

            1. Katharine

              Animal cruelty has been illegal in many areas for over a century. Better to do a little research than assume you have no resources.

              Animal Law in New York State ( pdf | 108 KB )
              http://www.nysba.org/www.nysba.org/animallawpamphlet.aspx
              New York State Bar Association

              “This pamphlet gives an overview of animal law in New York state.”

              I also found:
              http://aldf.org/resources/advocating-for-animals/animal-protection-laws-of-the-united-states-of-america-and-canada/

              This eleventh edition of the Animal Protection Laws compendium contains the general animal protection and related statutes for all of the states, principal districts and territories of the United States of America, and for all of Canada….

              The compendium is organized into separate documents for each jurisdiction. Each begins with a detailed overview of the provisions contained in these laws, followed by the full text of the statutes themselves. The various provisions are organized into categories. Within the first thirteen of these categories, the relevant part of each statute is italicized. The last category provides a non-italicized version of each of the previously referenced statutes, in numerical order. The penalties and related provisions for categories 12 and 13 are generally located within each of those respective sections.

              The government website for your city probably would turn up information about animal control, or you could contact your council member’s office and ask what the best procedure is for reporting and getting prompt results in cases of cruelty.

              Government is there to provide service. Sometimes it actually does.

              1. nycTerrierist

                Thanks for the reference, will keep for future reference.

                I will certainly report, if the occasion arises. However,
                I wish I could share your confidence for results, prompt or otherwise, unless I can provide evidence of extreme ‘aggravated cruelty’ or torture.

            2. Romancing The Loan

              Animal cruelty is illegal everywhere. Often it can carry jail time. At least here in MA, they will definitely investigate any complaints.

    4. bob

      That guy was an idiot. When any animal gets itself cornered, watch out.

      The safest bet is to remove yourself, and let the animal find it’s own way out. Then, after the animal is gone, make sure it can’t get back in.

      “do something!”

      No, don’t. Leave.

      It was all about the baby raccoons. That’s why mom wouldn’t leave. She probably got her kids cornered in the box. There’s no video of what led up to this, but I’d bet he kept going after it, then went for the broom that he broke.

      You’ve got to give it some way out. You’ve made it known you don’t want it there. Walk away. Mom isn’t going to parade her kids out of hiding and expose them to a jerk with a broom.

      The outfit of the human is also laughable. Hiking boots and shorts? Nothing like giving her a good, clean shot at your legs.

      I just loved the posture of the raccoon on the way back at him.

      “you’ve got a broom? All I have to do is close the distance. Fast!”

      1. Anne

        Not to mention that raccoons are – hello? – nocturnal animals, and disturbing them during the day probably isn’t the smartest thing to do.

        1. polecat

          Ahem ! ….

          last fall … I woke-up to a bunch of racket just outside our bedroom window (2:00 AM, moonless night) …. pulled up the blinds … couldn’t see sh!t !. but heard LOUD growling in the grapevines 5 ft away ….

          twas a passel of … raccoons …. with only window glass between them … and my .. uh .. ‘soft parts’. It was ‘disconcerting’ to say the least !! …’;[

    5. Bob

      I no longer think of raccoons as cute & cuddly. They are one of the largest reservoirs of rabies in the US. Within the last 6 years one large colony of rabid raccoons lived in New York’s Central Park. And according to this article, there continue to be rabid raccoons in the NY metropolitan area. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/14/nyregion/raccoons-in-central-park-draw-crowds-and-warnings-to-stay-away.html?_r=0
      That raccoon may have crawled in to snack on garbage.

      1. bob

        They are cool, but from a distance. The youtube videos of people keeping them as pets are a huge problem. Watch a few, the whole time the human is “playing” with the raccoon, the human is usually trying to pretend they aren’t being eaten. They are being eaten. Those teeth are sharp.

        The most amazing thing about raccoons, which doesn’t get enough attention, is that they have THUMBS.

        They are two giant hands and a huge ass. Fun, from a good distance.

        There was a local story last fall about a couple hiking in a state park who were “attacked” by a racoon. They were bit on the hands. The raccoon was rabid.

        I think it’s much more likely that the humans tried to pet the raccoon. How were their hands the closest to the raccoon?

        “look, it’s so cute!”

        1. polecat

          There’s and overlook, with parking, as one begins to enter our little ‘downtown’ district …. people … tourists, as well as locals, park to take in the view … and often eat something as well, while stopped ….. many, however, feel the need to feed the resident raccoons, cuz they’re sooo cute and all !!
          Sigh ..

          You know, the LAST thing I want, whilst eating lunch, or a snack, or whatever …. is having an overly ambitious raccoon leap into the open window of my vehicle … and duke it out with the human … for a scrap of food !!

          Maybe Thomas Paine should have written an addendum to Common Sense …. regarding interaction between man and wild animals !

  4. timotheus

    The “coming” (!) crusade against public education?? I suppose it is inevitable that the Demo privatizers will blame incoming loony-bin Repubs like Betsy deVos for dismantling what’s left of it, but have people really not noticed that Obama, Cuomo, the Gates Foundation, and tons of chin-stroking liberals of all stripes, have long been enthusiastic boosters of this process? If so, the country is due an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

    1. Uahsenaa

      Indeed, the assault on public education has been bipartisan and ongoing for some time now. Charterification happened under both Bush and Obama, and had been floated under the Clinton administration as well. Sure, DeVos is terrible, but so was Arne Duncan.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Bingo.

      Pretty tiring watching all of these clowns trying to deflect blame from themselves and pin it on Trump for any number of issues that they are responsible for.

      The Dems have had the PR Wurlitzer blaring for the last eight years. A good friend of mine who is normally quite politically astute forwarded me a similar article about deVos and I mentioned to him that Arne Duncan hadn’t done the public school system and favors was also an ardent privatizer. He didn’t believe me until he looked it up – funny how the Dems didn’t make an issue of it under Barry’s watch.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      Agree. I’m delighted Nation has discovered the war on public education, but just the headline tells me not to waste time reading the article. Public education activists have complained loudly regarding the quality (or lack thereof) of education reporting, which all too often is biased totally toward the “reformers.”

  5. EndOfTheWorld

    “Abe’s #2 brands Trump ‘hysterical’, urges him to lay off threats”. “Trump broadside stuns Europe”, as well. Trump has a different idea of what “effective diplomacy” is. They might as well get used to it. Not much chance of getting him to be more “gentle”, as urged by the Japanese guy.

    1. HotFlash

      “Abe’s #2 brands Trump ‘hysterical’, urges him to lay off threats”.

      This sounds very uncharacteristic for any Japanese to say. Any nihongo readers here have an actual translation?

  6. kk

    Was Obama any different from Trump? Yes, Obama said the right things but didn’t do them. Obama all talk and no action, l imagine Trump will be the same.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        See Carolinan’s comment below for a different “perspective.” Or some different “facts.”

      2. HopeLB

        Trump said some correct things too;rigged system; No TPP, undo de-industrialization, build infrastructure,end corrupt banksterism (“Goldman. They own Hillary!”), Obamacare is terrible.

        1. craazyboy

          His batting average has been real good on the yuuuge things. Hopefully it’s not just lip service. However, his cabinet-admin choices do not give one confidence in that. However again, he does have to make it past inauguration day. Maybe “you’re fired” episodes to come? However again, I feel liked I’m wired to a Nielson Box being feed teasers to make me stay tuned forever. Gonna unplug the box this AM and go to my flying field and fly my toy flying machines for a break today.

        2. cwaltz

          Obama “said” some correct things too.

          It’s ultimately what they DO that matters. Trump may talk mean about “corrupt banksterism” but the fact that he has so many Goldman Sachs folks on his transition team really supports the position this is all talk. Especially if you consider the fact GS paid 5 BILLION dollars to settle it’s part in MBS behavior prior to the Great Recession. You can’t be against corrupt banksters AND have them on your transition team.

            1. cwaltz

              I suspect not.

              I think Trump’s choices make him look like a closet libertarian. I think we’re going to see more efforts to privatize and more deregulation under him. Can I prove that? Only time will tell.

              It’s hard to know if his deregulation and gutting of federal government is going to be better or worse than the trajectory we’ve been on where essentially we have regulation written largely by big business and enforced by a “smaller” government essentially in cahoots with them. Either way this election cycle (Clinton or Trump) went we were going to get government by and for the 1% so it was a matter of picking your poison once the rigged primaries were over.

        3. Anne

          Well, he does have the best words, after all…that has to count for something, right?

          Anyway, here’s one of the problems I have with Trump: his great words are completely disconnected from the views and history of his Cabinet nominees.

          After repeatedly saying he had no plans to touch Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, in what world does it make sense to nominate someone whose mission appears to be the privatization – or elimination – of those programs?

          I heard this morning that Trump isn’t going to release the details of his plan to replace the ACA until Tom Price is confirmed as his nominee to HHS. Now, why wold that be?

          In what world does is make sense to nominate someone to the Commerce Department with a history of off-shoring jobs if Trump’s big issue is keeping jobs here?

          Can you picture Bernie Sanders nominating a Steve Mnuchin to Treasury? Then what kind of sense does it make for Trump, who railed against the the insiderism of Hillary Clinton, and Wall Street, to nominate him for the post?

          If you’re selling yourself as someone who cares about jobs and the American worker, why are you nominating someone to the Labor Department who clearly has no respect for workers?

          Betsy deVos has no experience with public education, other than she wants to implement policies that will lead to its demise – and increase the influence of religion in the schools.

          Are we to believe that Trump expects his nominees to stand down from their positions on these issues, and take up the positions Trump espoused during the campaign? Or was Trump just selling snake oil at the carnival and his nominees represent what Trump actually believes?

          I, at least, cannot believe any of the nominees accepted the opportunity to serve in a Trump administration on the basis of not having the opportunity to shape policy consistent with their documented positions. Maybe they did it on the basis that they don’t expect Trump to be president for too long, in which case, Trump will have set up pretty much the perfect Cabinet for President Pence.

          1. Vatch

            In addition to your valuable comments about Tom Price, Steven Mnuchin, and Betsy DeVos, we can’t forget the shockingly anti-environmental Scott Pruitt.

            http://www.chem.info/news/2017/01/critics-slam-pruitts-environmental-record-ahead-epa-confirmation-battle

            A portion of the article:

            The New York Times this week particularly highlighted a spat over manure runoff from Arkansas poultry farms that floated into Oklahoma and resulted in algae blooms throughout the Illinois River watershed.

            Drew Edmondson, Pruitt’s predecessor as attorney general, sued Tyson, Cargill and other poultry companies over the contamination in 2005.

            The dispute lingered as Pruitt took office in 2010, and the Times reported that instead of continuing to press for financial damages or changes to the companies’ waste practices, he negotiated a deal to study “the appropriate level of phosphorus in the Illinois River.”

            He also allowed a previous waste agreement between Arkansas and Oklahoma to expire and shut down an environmental unit within the attorney general’s office.

            Critics in Oklahoma pointed out that the deal came after Pruitt received thousands in campaign contributions from poultry executives — just as Senate Democrats questioned his ties to the oil and gas industry.

            Edmondson, meanwhile, told the paper that “the filing of cases alleging environmental crimes … has largely disappeared.”

            Pruitt is more than just a climate change denier; he also allows water supplies to be poisoned. People really need to contact their Senators about the worst of Trump’s nominees, such as Mnuchin, Price, and Pruitt.

            1. cwaltz

              Environmentalism is the one area he’s been pretty consistent. His position during the campaign was global warming isn’t real and that business is too regulated. I’m not even a little surprised Pruitt made his list. Trump ran as a Republican but his transition choices make me believe that Trump will be governing as a libertarian. He’s going to privatize and deregulate if allowed to- let the looting continue.

            2. Anne

              Pruitt is actually a bigger threat, because I don’t think there’s any ideological or regulatory tension between his views and Trump’s; I think we’re going to see immediate efforts to eliminate regulations designed to protect the air, land and water; I expect more fracking, pipelines, offshore drilling, and much dirtier air.

              I wish I felt better about the Dems’ ability to push back, stonewall and stymie these efforts, but I am very pessimistic.

              1. Romancing The Loan

                So far it’s been 90% Russia, maybe 10% air/water/schools etc. Needless to say it could be bode-ing better.

                1. jrs

                  Well part of the problem is the Dems pretty much have NO actual power at this point. But at least they could put up a rhetorical and minority party fight on something that mattered, rather than the nonsense they are consumed with. They would still have no actual power though so bit of a problem for them.

                  1. Vatch

                    You are correct. That is why I hope that people who live in swing states where there is one Republican Senator and one Democratic Senator will contact their Republican Senator about the worst of Trump’s nominations. If a few Republicans decide to placate their constituents by voting against Mnuchin, Pruitt, etc., those nominees will be defeated. It’s a long shot, but it’s possible.

            3. Isolato

              Truly it is as if the Oligarchy decided to dispense w/the middlemen (The Clintons) and just “get ‘er done” all by them selves.

          2. marym

            +1 to this, and other comments here, that the cabinet appointments are what matter.
            He seems to be choosing either public people or people from his business and social world who promote lowering taxes, deregulating, and privatizing; and will take their advice on further personnel and policy.

            Even if one imputes to him some measure of caring about health care or jobs, etc., where in his world of Fox news, entertainment, business deals, and gala gatherings would he ever have gotten any ideas that suggest public resources, publicly funded and managed for the public good?

            It will at least be interesting to see if the “good deal” allure of drug price negotiations takes precedence over the “deregulation” argument.

            1. Vatch

              the cabinet appointments are what matter

              Thank you. For all of you who haven’t yet contacted your Senators about any of Trump’s nominations, you still have time to call their offices. It’s easy, it only takes a couple of minutes per call, and you don’t have to call long distance to Washington, DC. All Senators have one or more offices in their home state.

              http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

              The DeVos hearing is today at 5:00 PM EST.

              The Price hearing is tomorrow, Jan. 18, at 10:00 AM EST.

              The Pruitt hearing is also tomorrow at the same time.

          3. clarky90

            I believe that Trump’s nominees were chosen because they swore that would FOLLOW Trump over the ramparts and into the waiting storm. There is a ideological war raging right this moment. Trump is picking soldiers who can take on the Trotskyist (Neo libs/Cons) Barbarians, (who are already through the gates, and entrenched in seats of power). This is a real battle. The CIA (NKVD) have left a trail of death and destruction around the world. IMO, Trump is picking brawlers who will leave their own Points of View behind, and fight for their Commander in Chief (for his very life!) This is not a metaphorical battle. Many people believe that there is a real threat of an assassination of Trump.

            Many rabid, nocturnal DC raccoons are freaked out by light. They bare their teeth and growl menacingly!

          4. jrs

            “After repeatedly saying he had no plans to touch Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, in what world does it make sense to nominate someone whose mission appears to be the privatization – or elimination – of those programs?”

            “If you’re selling yourself as someone who cares about jobs and the American worker, why are you nominating someone to the Labor Department who clearly has no respect for workers?”

            Meanwhile with all the focus on Trump (progressives have gone bonkers with their anti-cult of personality) Congress moves to get rid of overtime pay increase (already stayed by a judge anyway I think) and poses and ever present threat to Medicare and Social Security. What Trump will do in response I don’t know and he has to sign off on legislation. But maybe Trump ain’t driving the bus here … and how he will react to an oncoming bus is anyone’s guess.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Re:

    The economic effects of migration Bruegel

    To add to the above Breugal list of papers on the impacts of migration, this is an interesting paper about migration to Ireland.

    https://ideas.repec.org/p/ucd/wpaper/201701.html

    With a further discussion on this blog.

    It argues that the Irish recovery post the 2007 crash was primarily down to FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), but not, as is usually assumed, due to low taxes, but due to easy access to European labour markets. Many of the US IT companies based in Ireland recruit widely in Europe and elsewhere. From the abstract:

    In this paper we argue that Ireland’s post-crisis economic recovery in Europe was driven by foreign direct investment (FDI) from Silicon Valley, and whilst this growth model was made possible by Ireland’s low corporate tax rates, it was also a result of these firms using Ireland to directly access the European labour market. We evidence this contention via sectoral and geographic analyses while simultaneously showing that Irish fiscal policies have not redistributed gains from the recovery to the broader population. As a result, the economic recovery has been most actively felt by those in the FDI sectors, including foreign-national workers from the EU and beyond. We suggest that this experience indicates that Ireland’s FDI-led model of capitalist development has created clear winners and losers, with significant distributional implications. The FDI growth regime been made possible by inward migration and European integration, but given the unequal distribution of the economic benefits that this generates, it is unlikely to be politically, or electorally, sustainable.

    I’ve heard many times over the years from people working in the IT industry in Ireland that Irelands low tax rates are simply the icing on the cake for companies coming here, and as such a waste of money for the Irish government. The number one attraction is the availability of qualified labour. Its not just EU workers, the Irish government gives a fast track for visas for workers from Asia and Russia too.

    The paper argues that this is creating a dual-tier society, with well paid migrants and less well paid locals in the service industry. This isn’t quite true, as its as likely to be an Italian or Pole serving coffee to a Czech data analyst as an Irish person, but the basic point matches up with the widespread perception here.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I ran this by someone who must not be named because he has a day job at an investment firm, but he’s an Irish economist and up on this topic. Reaction:

      Wooly.

      1. There is no evidence presented that the boom in IT FDI is driving the recovery. All that we are shown is an FDI boom. We are not shown any evidence that it is driving the recovery.

      2. No evidence is shown that this FDI boom is causally linked to EU passporting. If you asked me to prove this I would not know how. I doubt that it would be possible beyond engaging in complex surveying. And even then I probably wouldn’t trust the surveys.

      The paper makes big claims and then backs them up with ‘thin gruel’ data.

      On my reading the Irish recovery is in part overblown by dodgy intellectual property data — as Cillian showed using Pilkington’s data — and in part driven by a major recovery in exports:

      http://www.tradingeconomics.com/ireland/exports

      The export recovery is due to the recovery in the US and the housing boom in London.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thanks Yves, I must admit I came across the paper this morning and didn’t have time to read critically. From the discussions in the Irish Economy blog some of the critics (mostly from the right) pick up this aspect too. Oddly enough there is no mention of the paper in the more left-wing oriented progressive-economy.ie blog.

        But in general terms I would say:

        1. Yes, the figures are a little woolly, but the openness of the Irish economy (especially the flows of money through foreign owned companies) makes identifying drivers for growth very difficult. Ireland has notoriously the biggest miss-match between GDP and GNP for this reason.

        2. The evidence is mostly anecdotal. I’ve known quite a few people who work in sector and they almost all say that its the ease of getting suitably qualified staff which is crucial to their decision to set up in Ireland. Major investors are given (quite literally) a hotline to the Irish immigration service to get non-EU visas for staff. Most of the big silicon valley names (FB, Google, Yahoo, etc) base their foreign language sections in Dublin. A friend used to be a HR person for FB and meeting her for drinks after work was like being in an English language school party – her colleagues were an almost random selection of European nationalities, all in their 20’s.

        3. My reading of the Irish economy for the past 7 years is that the initial driver for recovery was the drop in the euro relative to sterling and the dollar, leading to a boost to domestic industry, tourism and agriculture. The FDI sector contributed next. But despite a recovery in job numbers, wages have been held down, so domestic demand is weak (small to medium towns and rural areas are struggling). Dublin is booming, mostly because of FDI so far as I can see (the banks are crippled so aren’t feeding the boom). The main driver for income growth previously was the construction industry, but while this has recovered strongly, its not strong enough to drive wage increases. Its a very ‘peculiar’ recovery – a huge boom in Dublin (rents and property prices going through the roof, 8.5% inflation in property this year), but much patchier through the rest of the country, with small to medium towns hit the worst – the latter depend more on domestic industry and construction jobs.

        Anyway, I just linked to it as it gives another side to the immigration/economy debate, although I agree that the notion that the inequality it is driving in Ireland is unsustainable is dubious – I think the distortion between the high tech industries wages and other sectors is a growing political problem, but immigration probably isn’t the major cause.

        Sorry for rambling thoughts, posting on the run here. Thanks for giving the link such thought.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    Re:

    Trump to Meet Boeing CEO a Second Time Over Air Force One, Says Source Bloomberg. He’s also squawking about the F-35 but doesn’t look like he can do much.

    The irony of course is that if Trump is serious about a fiscal expansion and can’t get an infrastructure based one through Congress, the easiest way to do it would be to turn around and order an extra 3,000 F-35’s. I can’t see the Republicans turning that down. Due to the geographical spread of manufacture (to make sure every district has a slice of the pie), it would probably be as effective a helicopter dump of cash around the US as any.

    Of course, the question then is what use the Air Force could find for them. Maybe they’d make good flood protection reefs.

    1. alex morfesis

      Trump could create a few million jobs overnite by:

      1. adjusting funding via gnma, fnma & freddie…

      2. honest enforcement of just half the mandate of the community reinvestment act(dont believe the noise on cra…not even 25% enforced)

      3. Force back customer service jobs that went overseas as almost every job in many foreign jurisdictions are in locations where there are weak or no protections against identity theft or illegal review of credit information…in total violation of the “red flags rule” for I.D. theft protections via ftc

      4. Enforcememt of the americans with disabilty act which would create construction work, jobs and fill up empty retail spaces as the current layouts of most businesses and retail operations are too illegally cramped and as such, do not begin to conform the the now 25 yr old laws and rules of the ada…

      5. Stop the regulatory nonsense of banks rolling over debts of businesses at the end of the year at the same time the holiday season is upon us…and make loans at least two years in endurance…the insanity of wasted time and energy with yearly roll overs is a huge competitive disadvantage…it seems from my limited knowledge, the usa is the only oecd nations that actively works to make it hard for small business to export and just handle the day to day business of banking…
      Trade credit finance ?
      Funding to complete an order ?
      No quicker way to send your local banker into a fainting spell…

      1. Lee

        3. Force back customer service jobs that went overseas as almost every job in many foreign jurisdictions are in locations where there are weak or no protections against identity theft or illegal review of credit information…in total violation of the “red flags rule” for I.D. theft protections via ftc

        Yes! For the reasons you stated plus, I frequently encounter difficulty in understanding the accents of ESL customer service reps and they often give wrong or even harmful advice. I was recently encouraged by one such to repeat an order for an online transfer of funds that as it turned out would have doubled the amount transferred and would have really screwed up my accounts. I asked to be transferred to an American rep who correctly advised otherwise. When calling for customer service now, I pretty routinely ask to speak to an American and encourage others to do likewise.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I ran into this – years ago – with the “local” phone co., back when we still had a landline. The “customer service,” I think in the Philippines, was considerably worse than useless. The problems were with our internet DSL connection. Once when I called, the operator on the other end said he’d try something – and cut off our phone service, as well. After a time or two beating my head against the wall, I started asking for someone in the States. They were able to help.

          It was quite a relief getting wireless service, via a dish mounted on the tallest tree on the property – the transmitter is in the neat time. Faster, cheaper, and the service is very good.

  9. Carolinian

    The above Times link is subscription but here is a Bloomberg summary of what he said to the Times and to Bild. The bullet points

    –Trump on Russia

    “They have sanctions on Russia — let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia,’’ Trump said, according to the Times. “For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it.’’

    –Trump on NATO

    “It’s obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago,” Trump said in the Bild version of the interview. “Secondly, countries aren’t paying what they should” and NATO “didn’t deal with terrorism.” The Times quoted Trump saying that only five NATO members are paying their fair share.

    –Trump on Brexit

    Trump praised Britons for voting in 2016 to leave the EU. People and countries want their own identity and don’t want outsiders coming in to “destroy it,” he said. The U.K. is smart to leave the bloc because the EU “is basically a vehicle for Germany,” the Times quoted Trump as saying.

    “If you ask me, more countries will leave,” he said.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-01-15/trump-calls-nato-obsolete-and-dismisses-eu-in-german-interview

    And re the to be announced health plan mentioned in links, he or his spokepeople said it will definitely include government negotiated drug prices. Pretty amazing stuff.

    1. craazyboy

      He also said everyone will have beuuutiful insurance and that he’ll give the plan details in the near future once it’s ready. Then it goes to Congress.

      We can only stay tuned and hope for a happy ending to this episode. Another season to follow.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Paraphrasing joe scarborough this morning on GM’s announcement of a $1B “investment” in u. s. plants expected to create 1000 jobs:

      “You’re running lockheed and Trump starts tweeting that you’re overcharging for the F-35. Your stock value goes down a couple of billion dollars. That sends a chill through corporate america. Like it or hate it, you don’t want this guy tweeting that you’re sending jobs to other countries.”

      Pretty amazing stuff.

      Meanwhile, the boycott by corporate owned and operated people’s “representatives” of the inauguration of despicable, unpresidential Trump grows.

      Pretty amazing stuff.

      1. Carolinian

        I believe his previous statement was a bit more nuanced than that and just favored modernizing the nukes rather than an “arms race.” In any case this is what he’s saying now and in a few days he will be president with a great deal of power to make it happen. Here’s an analysis piece on the interview

        https://consortiumnews.com/2017/01/16/trumps-remaking-of-us-foreign-policy/

        In the interview, Trump changed entirely the metrics by which sanctions on Russia would be lifted. Instead of fulfillment of the Minsk Accords over Ukraine’s ethnic Russian Donbas region–which nationalist hardliners in Kiev had the power to block–Trump conditioned the relaxation of sanctions on progress in curbing the nuclear arms race and moving toward significant nuclear disarmament, issues that are fully within the power of the Kremlin to implement.

        To be sure, these issues today are more complex than they were in the heyday of disarmament talks. The recent obstacles include the U.S. anti-ballistic missile installations in Poland and Romania, the forward stationing of NATO human and materiel resources in the former Warsaw Pact countries, and the standing invitations to Ukraine and Georgia to enter NATO. So any negotiations between Washington and Moscow will be very complex.

        But Trump’s statement shows that he is focused on the big picture, on the triangular relationship between Washington, Moscow and Beijing that he believes to be of vital importance in keeping the peace globally, rather than on some amorphous reliance on expanding democracy globally on the unproven assumption that democracies among themselves are peace-loving.

        1. cwaltz

          There is very little nuanced about Trump or his statements.

          Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, caused alarm on Thursday on Twitter, saying the United States “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

          He went even farther off air with a reporter:

          On Friday, he had an off-air phone conversation about the tweet with MSNBC TV host Mika Brzezinski, who said Trump told her: “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” MSNBC did not play his comments on air.

          There’s absolutely nothing nuanced about either of his statements when it comes to nukes and his belief that Russia will draw down after making them is almost as ridiculous as his absurd position that Mexico was going to pay for his wall.

          1. alex morfesis

            Making mexico(or more properly mexicans) pay is easy…go try to sell some real estate in certain states without handing off a social # and withholding moneys for future tax liabilities…20% “withholding/excise” tax on all funds sent overseas via non business wire tranfers will hand off about 4-5 billion per year from mexico and if my numbers are correct…about 20-30 billion per year from total global transfers…

            As to nukes…

            “spend to bend” is not a bad gambit

            the russians already seem to have said nyet to reduction of nukes…

            so he gets a postive with the peacenyx and now the russians begin to get boxed in…

            the stratagem is simple enough…

            you give the other side more than they could reasonably expect…

            upfront…

            with limited or no strings attached…

            knowing in their own twisted stupidity they will waste time when trying to negotiate better terms, giving you the license to walk away and be able to say…

            “I gave them more they they ever wanted upfront…and they still would not move forward…..leave them behind”

            It is the ultimate “take away”…

            Tsipras seems to have pulled it off with his Metaxas stratagem in his “surender” & resist…the Metaxas move was not just to say no…but molon labe…the pyrric victory in the april-may 1941 conquest of greece forced barbarossa back 90 days…sealing the fate if ww2…

            By showing how cruel despite “surrender” the schauble kyffhauser post-westphalia krewe of northern europe can be, the myth of mutti and the stern but loving uncle has been shattered…

          2. Carolinian

            You seem to be quoting from an article but with no link. When did he say that? Wasn’t it awhile ago?

            In any case look at what he said. We “must greatly strengthen” until “the world comes to its senses” is a statement that does not contradict seeking nuclear disarmament with Russia as that would constitute “the world coming to its senses.” Hence the nuance. As always with Trump there’s what Trump said and what people say Trump said.

            As to your comments about Russia this seems to be based on nothing other than assertion. According to those more expert than yours truly–Steve Cohen for example–the whole focus of Putin’s foreign policy re the US is to block the stationing of ABMs in Eastern Europe which constitute a first strike threat. It’s quite likely Russia would welcome a de-escalation in nuclear tensions and whether they would or not doesn’t invalidate Trump making the offer. One could remember when moves toward nuclear disarmament were considered a good thing, not something “liberals” would scoff at.

            1. Vatch

              A web search implies that Trump said it on December 22, 2016, so maybe he has changed his mind by now.

              1. cwaltz

                Entirely possible- The guy appears to change his mind quite often. It’s almost as if he says things first and then thinks about them AFTER the fact. It’s a pretty dangerous trait for a President IMO. He should be considering his words.

            2. Aumua

              Boy, we’ve certainly become an optimistic bunch here at NC, at least when it comes to Donald Trump. Always look on the bright side, eh? Refreshing to see such an upbeat outlook on the future, to contrast all the “doom & gloom” types out there pooh-poohing and hating on the Donald.

              1. alex morfesis

                NC krewe always looking @ brytesyde of trump..?? My nose will be in the federal register everyday to see what new and improved nonsense his band of pyrates will try to plague this country with…his merry band of marauders will work double time to strip mine the american taxpayer…but…it seems obvious he likes to do things he can see physically come to fruition…

                He is not a “financial engineer” for the purpose of looking at some computer screen billions…

                I actually expect him to help double the mexican car industries capacity but demand they reduce imports to usa by 80% & instead export their capacity south…and build roads throughout central america…

                He has surrounded himself with some giant egos…

                For me, giving him and his krewe 9 months to see what they can get going is not unreasonable…

                but by Halloween…

            3. cwaltz

              There were numerous articles on these comments but if this makes you feel better….

              http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-nuclear-idUSKBN14B1ZZ

              Here’s a link.

              As far as Russia goes if you think they are going to disarm while we proliferate our own nuclear weapons then I think you are the world’s most naïve person in the world. They aren’t. It would make them idiots and quite frankly Putin doesn’t strike me as an idiot.

              1. Carolinian

                Once again you assume Trump intends to proliferate and confront Russia. He said he would do so only if they don’t bargain. There’s really no indication that Trump wants an argument with Russia. In that he’s fairly consistent. Less naivite than reading comprehension.

                A lot of people are making assumptions about what’s going to happen. I’d say keeping an open mind is never a bad idea.

                1. cwaltz

                  I am not “assuming” anything he STATED he intends to proliferate. “Greatly expand and strengthen” means exactly that. If he didn’t mean that then he certainly shouldn’t have said it or should have thought about what that statement might mean to places like Russia who ALSO have nuclear arms.

                  1. Carolinian

                    “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes”

                    (Quoting from your own comment.)

                    Looks like there’s a conditional in that tweet that he probably dashed off in five minutes. The Times/Bild interview on the other hand is a sit down discussion taking place a few days before he may be talking about the same things in his acceptance speech. If Trump now says he wants to negotiate nuclear reductions with the Russians then perhaps we should take him at his word. The fact that he is also–still–dissing NATO seems to suggest that overseas entanglements are not his priority. But even if none of that were true the worst that could be said is that Trump intends to pursue the same lunatic policies toward Russia as Obama (who refused to rule out a first strike) and Hillary. One wonders why the left–on this issue at least–is so determined not to take yes for an answer.

                    1. cwaltz

                      No, what he wants is Russia to reduce THEIR nukes in order to get rid of sanctions.

                      His statement again is not contingent on Russia but contingent on global agreement on nukes. The idea that Russia is going to unilaterally draw down particularly after our support for Ukrainian pro democracy groups or after our behavior in Syria is bonzo.

                      You are welcome to trust Trump. I don’t. As far as better or worse than Obama or any other President for that matter , I tend to think people should start thinking like capitalists. With Trump’s policies there are going to be winners and losers. Since I’m not one of the 1% I’m going to assume, just as I did during the Obama administration that I’ll be in the loser bracket, more often than not. He’s welcome to prove differently but my intention at this point is to set the bar low and that way if he manages to get over it once or twice and do something useful for the 99% I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The trilateral relationship of America, Russia and China.

          The status quo seems to be a two-front epic struggle for us.

          It would seem 2 vs 1 is the easier way to go, than 1 vs 2.

  10. craazyboy

    it would probably be as effective a helicopter dump of cash around the US as any.
    ======

    Nay. Santa Clause is far better at distribution of this GDP.

    Santa once had a sleigh
    He wondered how much it would weigh
    Could it fly, he pondered
    Filled with gifts he wondered
    Still no F-35s in the sky

    Edit: This was supposed to connect to
    PlutoniumKun
    January 17, 2017 at 7:52 am

  11. roadrider

    RE; Obama a “noble failure”

    Well I agree with the failure part. The “noble” part? Not so much.

    1. JTMcPhee

      “Nobel failure.” Should have been the text. Probably just shitty Apple or Microsoft typeahead-ing…

  12. charles 2

    “Moreover, the claim that driverless cars will kill fewer people than drivers is a stretch given the fact that they cannot handle a considerable range of driving conditions, such as rain, snow, and certain types of poor lighting.”

    I would say that the fact that human drivers THINK the can “handle a considerable range of driving conditions, such as rain, snow, and certain types of poor lighting” is a big contributor to car accidents. At least computers will not switch into ” I can make it” mode !

    1. cocomaan

      The MIT driverless car moral choices is pretty stupid, to boot. That’s what makes Yves’ idea that it’s acculturation that much more interesting.

      My scenario was as follows: a car on a two lane road with four individuals in it has a brake failure and is headed toward a concrete barrier. Collision means all inside the car will die. If it swerves, it can spare those four people, but will hit four people obeying the law on a crosswalk. MIT then goes into great detail about how some people are old, some are young, some are law abiding, and so on.

      You get the distinct feeling that MIT lacks moral imagination (like we didn’t know that already). The assumptions made here are really dumb.

      — The self driving car didn’t detect brake failure and then take action to minimize harm before hitting the barrier? Like slowing down? Why do all four people die?
      — Why was the car in that lane? Didn’t it see the concrete barrier coming in the right lane? Why would it stay in a lane with a concrete barrier anyway?
      — How often are there four people carpooling in America? Almost never.
      — Why is the car going so fast that it would kill not one, not two, but four pedestrians in what I assume is an urban area? Why not try to hit two out of the four people?

      Instead, they go for demographics: kill two elderly people instead of two men, and so on.

      This is as unreasonable as this version of the Trolley Problem.

      1. reslez

        The idea that we’re going to unleash self-driving cars in our neighborhoods to take out innocent pedestrians is pretty unreasonable IMO. If you’re sitting in a self-driving car it should be at your own risk. Cars are equipped with safety equipment like airbags, seat belts, and steel reinforcement beams to protect the passengers inside. Pedestrians are limited to what evolution provides. Asking the car to keep track of how many people it’s transporting and calculating their demographic worth against whoever it’s thinking about murdering sounds pretty unreasonable too.

        The technology is nowhere near capable of distinguishing such situations anyway, so what we have is another case of hype masquerading as science.

        1. JTMcPhee

          If one is strong enough to take the recoil, there are .50 cal handguns that will put an armor-piercing bullet through an entire engine block. For electrics, a round into the battery space will likely result in some interesting effects. One way to take down the self-driving (sic) Zombie Cars, suited to those of us who lack the tools and talent to demolish them via the IoT ort whatever…

      2. carycat

        The elephant in the room is that it assumes a panopticon society with personal data exposed to all.
        How else does the AI (more likely artificial stupidity) in the car know who those random pedestrians that are put at risk are, and how worthy are their lives. What if that elderly person is a Big contriutor to the Clinton Foundation and that young mother in the vehicle just got laid off from her minimum wage job?

      3. Gaianne

        It is obvious that the software will choose to take out the pedestrians or riders in other cars. It’s a business decision, and as a business decision, it is a no-brainer.

        We have already had a self-driving car kill a passenger by hitting the broadside of a truck–and this was on a clear day in dry conditions!

        Safety is a joke.

        All this “ethical talk” is just blowing smoke.

        –Gaianne

  13. Tracie Hall

    Love the Pit Bull (?) so happy with all his pets!!!! And now I have to know, WERE there babies in there that made the little raccoon bravely charge Mr. Broom Man?

    1. craazyboy

      Babies or rabies. You have to be careful with raccoons. I’ve read they do have sort of a nasty disposition to start with as well.

      1. bob

        It was babies.

        I’ve seen rabid raccoons and they act very differently. It wouldn’t be hiding if it were rabid. The one I saw was strolling down the middle of the street, middle of the day. They have no fear, no retreat. What makes them very dangerous is that people think the animal is being “friendly”.

        Don’t ever approach a wild animal. Don’t pet them. Don’t try to pet them.

        After about 20 min on the phone with animal control, I gave up.

        “it’s normal”

        No, it’s not. It’s walking down the street like it owns it.

        “It’s just foraging”

        No, it’s not.

        By this time he had ambled away. A few months later and they were forced to admit that the city had a rabies problem.

  14. Bugs Bunny

    Yesterday, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, while I was reading the news, working, having conversations with colleagues, friends, etc., I kept feeling irritated by this gnawing thought that literally nobody talks about the radical egalitarian vision that MLK had. Back in the day, friends of mine had actual LPs of his speeches that we would sneak off and listen to at parties! The initial message was of course about liberating Black people from discrimination but it was also about liberation in general, a religious vision but a discourse that was recognizably socialist to anyone really listening. Also – no person we celebrate with a day of his own was so hated by so many people! I saw white people spit at the mention of his name. Nobody mentions this anymore.

    It’s almost like the man has become some kind of cipher that can mean almost anything you want to the point where he’s just another selling point for American exceptionalism. I know BLM is out there working and protesting but MLK was at another level entirely.

    I think that MLK would be disappointed that there was a holiday in his name just for it to be diluted down like this. And moreover, it took enormous organizing and political pressure to even get that holiday! I must have signed a half a dozen petitions and was even frightened adding my name. In the end we had to trade Lincoln’s birthday just to get the damn day off!

    I never make these kind of comments here so please excuse me if this is too much of a rant.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      One of the hallmarks of fascism is the appropriation of past glories but devoid of meaning. Nietzche and the “ubermensch” became logos of Nazi racial superiority despite being nothing of the sort. Ex. Kirk versus Kahn or why Spock wasn’t Captain despite being smarter and stronger than Kirk.

      King can’t be disappeared from history for obvious reasons, so he has to be silenced. “King’s dream” is touted without any description of his dream, and dreams are great because no one really remembers them. King instead of being a real person with fairly detailed views has become another “portrait of Washington on a horse” (also a real person who had four horses shot out from underneath him and seven hats shot off) or a myth, like Hercules.

      “I have a dream that one day blacks and whites from the NBA and the Big East Conference will charge ridiculous prices to watch millionaires except for the college students play basketball on a day named after me and everyone will applaud themselves for being totes woke.”

      1. Jim Haygood

        This is the part of King’s legacy that’s disappeared from the MSM narrative:

        April 4, 1967: The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, delivers a speech entitled “Beyond Vietnam” in front of 3,000 people at Riverside Church in New York City.

        In it, he says that there is a common link forming between the civil rights and peace movements. King came to view U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia as little more than imperialism. Additionally, he believed that the Vietnam War diverted money and attention from domestic programs created to aid the black poor.

        King maintained his antiwar stance and supported peace movements until he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, one year to the day after delivering his Beyond Vietnam speech.

        http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/martin-luther-king-jr-speaks-out-against-the-war

        King would not have put up one minute with 0bama’s Peace Laureate schtick, while the US remained at war every day of 0bama’s eight-year term.

        It’s King’s anti-Vietnam legacy that the War Party must suppress at all costs. Bet it’s never mentioned in public school history classes, since it undermines the “Support the Troops” narrative. Think of our boys in Norway and Poland! /sarc

    2. BeliTsari

      Bet you MLK had typically lucid foreknowledge of how history desecrates, cherrypicks & monetizes heroes, saints and prophets, he was a doctor of divinity, right? http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_beyond_vietnam/ you can speak truth to power, but they get to spin it all after you’ve been silenced.
      Yves, thanks for the article on curcumin. I think most users realize it’s no panacea, that tiny amounts of black pepper enhances bio-availability, and it’s one of many lifestyle modifications involved in any anti- inflammatory regimen; dietary, exercise and stress alleviation all likely to be a wee bit harder, nowadays? the Nicotinamide Riboside/ Pterostilbene fad seems to be a tsunami hereabouts, with a single licensed manufacturer… invest? Man, do I miss being able to fill all my dietary fetishes, on one end of Houston!

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      One point about BLM and MLK. King didn’t come down from the mountain and to tell the people not to be racist. There were decades of civil rights actions and activists out there. Whenever you see King’s inner circle, those guys are all communists and atheists.

      The sit in were organized when King had returned to full time preaching and teaching. The registration drives in the South (featuring a young Joe Lieberman) were done without King. SNCC had King available for advice, but they were independent. Of course, the NAACP was a prominent organization involved in various actions such as legal challenges and the porter’s strike. Rosa Parks wasn’t some woman with tired feet. She was a prominent member of the NAACP who hatched her own plot after a similar incident with a less sympathetic victim a few months prior (society hates single, young mothers). Parks picked the bus route and driver, not every driver would make her move.

      One problem BLM has is so much of the organizing efforts have been dismantled in favor of King hagiography and the flat out hijacking of the movement by shameless self promoters (I did take two classes with Julian Bond, and needless to say, I do enjoy Trump and Lewis dragging each other through the mud).

      The real importance of King is he represents the death of Garveyism, Booker T. Washington, and violent separation as a moral imperative for black America. King even made noises in private that would suggest sympathy for Garvey. The civil rights movement had full and low tide periods. Hiring of blacks in factories in World War I and World War II and immigration to places such as Chicago created enough prosperity and separation from Jim Crow to disrupt a century long struggle.

      BLM is just restarting and has to deal with the reality of black leadership and organizations being captured wings of the Democratic party. Without Obama’s image at stake, I think BLM will make real strides going forward.

      1. Massinissa

        It also wouldn’t surprise me if Hillary losing to trump is good for BLM as well. Harder to be a protest movement when the rest of the left is completely pacified by the dems. Hillary may not have been black like Obama was, and therefore wouldn’t have been able to pacify BLM as a third Obama term or something would have, but I’m sure it would have still had a similar effect.

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      King represents the philosophical victory of black America and its place in American society as pushed by Frederick Douglas and then W.E.B. Dubois. The melting pot dream was not a given in 1865.

    5. cocomaan

      I heard a discussion yesterday from a civil rights project about how the civil rights leaders talked about three things: freedom, equality, and opportunity.

      They then equated diversity with these three concepts. They then talked for many minutes about how important it was to have diverse corporations.

      Definitely interesting.

    6. CRLaRue

      I was sixteen when Martin was killed. His message was universal. It transcended race.
      He spook truth to the Washington establishment which made him enemy number one! If he, or someone with his stature and message appeared today he to would be enemy number one!
      His legacy has been monetized and today the highest bidder gets to claim it.

  15. Bill

    “Barack Obama: a noble failure Angry Bear. I am sure most readers will find this to be far too charitable. Obama was a neoliberal and successfully sold a lot of people on the idea that he had to make big concessions to those nasty Republicans. Anyone who watched him would see Obama repeatedly go 75% of the way to the position of the other side as his first move, a clear signal he was never even slightly committed to his original position. He even traded away deal points and got nothing back, as when he gave up on single payer.”

    Obama’s “fatal flaw” IMHO, was/is that he is far too fond of being liked, and too averse to open confilct, to engage in the “dirty politics” necessary to get things done with the GOP.

  16. Vatch

    Contrary to decades of hype, curcumin alone is unlikely to boost health MedicalXpress.

    First of all, thanks to David and Yves for the links to studies about curcumin, which invalidate the false claim about the lack of such studies.

    Also from the MedicalXpress article:

    The researchers’ review of the vast curcumin literature provides evidence that curcumin is unstable under physiological conditions and not readily absorbed by the body, properties that make it a poor therapeutic candidate.

    This is well known and easily compensated for. People should take curcumin with a meal containing fats or oils, along with some black pepper. The piperine in the pepper along with the oil assist absorption of the curcumin.

    Curcumin is a naturally occurring substance, not a drug, so it probably can’t be patented, hence the desire by people in the pharmaceutical industry to pooh-pooh its benefits.

    1. Robert Hahl

      >Curcumin is a naturally occurring substance, not a [manufactured] drug, so it probably can’t be patented, hence the desire by people in the pharmaceutical industry to pooh-pooh its benefits.<

      Correct, but that is not the whole story. Even if a derivative or combination having better absorption properties were patented, it could not be sold at extortionate prices, because people would use turmeric instead just like they do now. Drugs are priced not according to what they cost to develop or manufacture, but according to whatever price the most effective competing drug sells for. Hence Big Pharma must destroy the cheap competition, if that alternative really works.

      1. Vatch

        As far as I know, either white or black works. Both come from the same plant, the one with pepper corns. But chili peppers won’t work, since they come from a completely different plant.

        The relevant chemical is piperine, and Wikipedia says that both white and black have it:

        The amount of piperine varies from 1-2% in long pepper, to 5-10% in commercial white and black peppers.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks. I sprinkle tumeric with ground white pepper, garlic powder, onion power, curry, apple cider vinegar and olive oil with my oat meal.

          1. craazyboy

            Small amounts of turmeric will do nothing with or without pepper. In India, they eat massive amounts of it by our standards, and there is some health benefit. Also, curry recipes, probably not so coincidently, contain pepper. If you want the health benefits, you should buy Curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric, as a vitamin supplement. Almost always, the capsules come premixed with pepper.

            One exception is turmeric, if not absorbed, ends up in the intestine and there is somewhat good clinical evidence it reduces risk of colon cancer. In this case you can buy turmeric capsules, if you don’t plan on eating curried food twice a day.

    2. Dave

      “Contrary to decades of hype, curcumin alone is unlikely to boost health”
      That’s right, this is why you take it with pepper. See, that wasn’t hard. Bravo on your “it can’t be patented, therefore is maligned “comment.

      High quality organic food is the best health insurance. Worth every penny, and it tastes better, has more minerals and nutrients, therefore you eat less of it, so it pays for itself even without the medical cost calculus.

    3. JerseyJeffersonian

      A cautionary note concerning enthusiasm for turmeric/curcumin, please.

      A couple of months back, I had the distinctly unpleasant experience of kidney stones, something which I had not heretofore experienced. The horrible pain in my lower right back was a bolt from the blue, and only to be explained by a visit to the ER, and a CAT scan done by their imaging department. What was initially revealed was that a fairly large stone had exited the right kidney, and was transiting down the ureter toward the bladder, and that was where the excruciating pain had its origin. The stone was too large to exit the ureter into the bladder, and ultimately a procedure was required to reduce the stone, and simultaneously to perform similar reductions on other growing stones found to be present in that kidney, as well. A stent had to be emplaced at the end of the by then inflamed and constricted ureter to permit passage of the reduced stones out of the kidney. The removal of the stent was itself a horrifying procedure, performed with only the most minimal desensitization. All in all, an episode, from stone to stent, to be avoided at all costs.

      Now, what does this have to do with turmeric/curcumin? In the wake of this experience, and in the knowledge that diet can have a lot to do with the initial formation of kidney stones, I systematically investigated the dietary supplements that I was taking to an eye toward their possible implication in this never in my life experienced problem. As part of my supposedly helpful supplementation, I was taking a morning and and evening capsule of turmeric. Imagine my surprise when I found this:

      http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/87/5/1262.abstract

      “Effect of cinnamon and turmeric on urinary oxalate excretion, plasma lipids, and plasma glucose in healthy subjects” [Abstract from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition]

      Needless to say, I have discontinued taking turmeric supplements, and at my next visit with my urologist, I will call his attention to this study. Doctors ask what drugs you are taking on screening surveys, but perhaps these “natural” supplements may not be duly noted, or even if they are noted on the survey, the possible direct impacts on the patient’s presentation of a disorder may not be appreciated.

      Consider yourself warned by one who has had cause to regret my blithe ignorance of this possible consequence.

      1. Dave

        Interesting. I take Turmeric every day and have noted the “burnt rubber” smell of my urine from it.
        I think I’ll cut back on the daily to only before some intellectually difficult task which Turmeric seems to help.

          1. Oregoncharles

            they’re diuretics, especially tea – all kinds, black as well . This can be quite a nuisance, especially combined with prostate hypertrophy (sorry about the TMI), but we do what we must for our addictions.

            It makes sense that steady flushing would help prevent kidney stones.

        1. JerseyJeffersonian

          Well, fortunately, I don’t consume many of the items on that list. And more to the point, even those I do consume are not of the twice-daily supplementation variety as my formerly swallowed turmeric capsules.

          That last was my point. It is not possible to entirely avoid oxalate consumption, but it is wise to avoid relentlessly exposing oneself to them. Moderation, in other words. I certainly learned that, if at all possible, I should like to avoid another episode with the kidney stones, ’cause that pain is awful, and the loss of time and vitality implied in dealing with this malady are a dead loss.

  17. Vatch

    What Oxfam’s misleading stat gets wrong about inequality Felix Salmon, Fusion (J-LS)

    This article presents an interesting point of view. Because many people in the bottom half of the world’s wealth hierarchy have debts, the combination of their assets and their debts lowers their net assets, so their net wealth is quite low; misleadingly low in the author’s opinion. I’m not prepared to argue against this, but I’m not convinced. I think a lot depends on whether or not the people with debt will ever be able to pay it off. In the article, he says:

    Consider this: Would you rather have $75,000 in the bank and no debt and no degree, or $75,000 in the bank and $75,000 in student loans and a four-year college degree? As far as the Oxfam methodology is concerned, the difference is enormous: The person with $75,000 and no debt is in the top 10% of the world’s wealth distribution, while the person with the college degree is in the bottom 10%. And yet there’s a right answer to the question: You’re much better off with $75,000 in debt and a college degree than you are with no debt at all.

    A readers of Naked Capitalism know, a lot of people are having great difficulty paying off their college debt, and many are also having trouble finding good jobs for which they have been educated. So I’m not so sure it’s clear that the person with $75,000 in debt and a college degree is better off. Similarly, the impoverished Third Worlders with debt may not be experiencing any benefits from their debt.

    1. fosforos

      “Consider this: Would you rather have $75,000 in the bank and no debt and no degree, or $75,000 in the bank and $75,000 in student loans and a four-year college degree?” I do consider. I have my three degrees, but no student-loan debt outstanding. Even so, I would be delighted to sell all three for $75,000, and I doubt that very many people would hesitate at an offer that included debt-cancellation into the bargain.
      And by the way, the Oxfam nonsense depends on counting “fictitious capital” as “wealth.” How many people on this planet would be “billionaires” if their *real wealth*, the physical assets (other than land) they own personally or through corporate shareholding, were reckoned at their *real* value–the depreciated original cost of producing them?

  18. olga

    I suppose the value of the article from Moscow Times was a bit of amusement (?) – otherwise, cannot understand why yet another Russia-bashing piece would make it to NC. MT is notoriously anti-Putin and anti-the current Russian govt. (a part of the fifth column) – which could be OK, but its bias often results in something akin to fake news. I have watched the last 3-4 Putin’s press conferences – which typically last 3.5-4 hours (great while one cleans or bakes – and is there any western politician who would undertake such an effort?) – and the questions are varied, plus opposition is always represented (and invited to ask questions). The question on the Kerch bridge (Crimea) – which the MT writer uses as an example for softballs to Putin – was just one question during the span of 4 hours. Wow! For truly sycophantic press, just read the first entry in today’s comments. And btw, no worries for Russia’s opposition media – they are doing quite well (as the vet publication of the MT article confirms) and there are many of them.

    1. witters

      Might just be NC ‘virtue-signalling’, like Tabbai. (Is it to the NSA?, the Borg?, or is is just a marker of ‘real americans’?)

  19. TheBellTolling

    The “thermostat” returns: w/boost from low-income GOPers, support for gov’t-ensured health care rises to highest level since Bush presidency ‏@Patrick_J_Egan (UserFriendly)

    This has to be a tribal(race) thing right? Like they only trust it when it’s a Repub(white) person doling out the benefits? What else could explain this?

    R’s haven’t changed their messaging at all and Bush never talked like Trump on the issue.

  20. Knot Galt

    On Contrary to decades of hype, curcumin alone is unlikely to boost health MedicalXpress.

    I have naturopaths that instruct me to take ground peppercorns, or pepper, with “turmeric” or curcumin, to assist with absorption.

    1. Robert Hahl

      A friend who is originally from India, but has been in the U.S. about 40 years, likes to cook for me. He always mentions the need to use black pepper and oil with turmeric to aid absorption and get the anti-inflammatory effect. It is apparently common knowledge around the world, just not at the American Chemical Society.

  21. rwv

    “A quick review of the literature turns up numerous counterexamples to that statement.”

    More haste, less speed my precious..
    Poor statistics might shake your claims into unsterdiness!

  22. Jim Haygood

    I, too, support the weak dollar:

    In a Friday interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump said the U.S. currency, which touched a more-than 14-year high about two weeks ago, has gotten “too strong,” especially considering the China’s yuan is “dropping like a rock.”

    “Our companies can’t compete with them now because our currency is too strong. And it’s killing us,” he told WSJ.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-comments-on-too-strong-dollar-send-shivers-through-stock-market-2017-01-17

    He gets it: a strengthening currency corresponds to a tightening of monetary conditions, just as surely as a rate hike does.

    Trump tried to explain this to J-Yel and Stanley. But they were like ducks listening to thunder. :-0

    1. Ranger Rick

      Speaking of China, the trade war is still on — and so long as it does not involve the US explicitly, nobody comments on it. I find it intensely amusing that the free trade evangelists claim that protectionism is not a valid strategy while it is being deployed everywhere but here.

      1. oho

        off the top of my head, protectionism/mercantilism was a cornerstone of all the post-1945 newly industrialized countries that didn’t have oil.

        I’m sure it’s a coincidence though.

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        Don’t you get it? Protectionism is killing the Chinese. They would be so much better off with a pure free trade regime, but thankfully for us they are too stupid to realize that, which is why our economy is so strong. Or something.

  23. Jim Haygood

    Sad days for NYT stenographers:

    There will be budget cuts this year. We will lay out the specifics in the coming weeks and months. We cannot pretend to be immune from financial pressures but we view this moment as a necessary repositioning of The Times’s newsroom, not as a diminishment.

    We will be holding a series of brown bag meetings to discuss all of this and answer any questions in the coming days and weeks.

    http://www.nytco.com/from-dean-and-joe-the-year-ahead/

    Brown bag meetings? Journos all bring a fifth of vodka in a brown bag and get smashed together? Kurgman and Friedman, sloshed, do a karaoke duet?

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Will there be a vegan option?

      National Enquirer seems to be doing well. Maybe the NYT just needs a slight editorial adjustment.

      1. clarky90

        If the NYT editorial policy began including infomercials for vacuum cleaners, diet pills and Pilates equipment- in addition their present stable of infomercials for war, the DNC and class warfare, I think that they could do very well. They must become bold, innovative, passionate and inclusive in their editorial stance! Maybe they could reach out to big sugar and big alcohol?

        NYTimes, Think Outside the Bosch!

    2. ChrisPacific

      They really do twist themselves into knots to put a positive spin on this kind of thing. If I was an employee, I would be wondering:

      1) Will there be layoffs?
      2) If the answer is yes and people will be departing, but you don’t regard their departure as a diminishment, does that mean that you consider them to have zero value? (X – Y = X, solve for Y).

  24. Katharine

    I was amazed by the fake medical research news. Are we to infer that the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry is not peer reviewed, or that peer review no longer means much? The very first of Dr. David’s links refuted the claim that there had been no successful double-blinded placebo controlled clinical trial: it’s abstract starts:

    Radiation dermatitis occurs in approximately 95% of patients receiving radiotherapy (RT) for breast cancer. We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to assess the ability of curcumin to reduce radiation dermatitis severity in 30 breast cancer patients.

    and concludes

    In conclusion, oral curcumin, 6.0 g daily during radiotherapy, reduced the severity of radiation dermatitis in breast cancer patients.

    It’s bad enough when ordinary journalism cannot be relied on, but when research journals are getting that sloppy we are in even worse trouble.

  25. Expat

    Brexit:

    UK: “We are leaving the EU.”
    EU: “LOL. Well, you were never really committed to it. Good riddance.”
    May: “We’re leaving but we want going-away presents.”
    EU: “Are you still here? We thought you left.”
    May: “I am going to hold my breath until I pass out…I swear I will!”
    EU: “What? Um, okay, go ahead. Sorry, François, what were you saying? Pass the champagne, s’il vous plaît?”

    1. JustAnObserver

      Then, a few days before the A.50 trigger date, May’ll turn around and announce the UK’s not leaving after all, and Boris will be appointed UK’s ambassador to the EU, unless the EU coughs up EUR many billions. (Insert Munch’s The Scream here).

      Devious creatures these Tories.

  26. fosforos

    The “Trump/Gorbachev” comparison is scarcely worth comment, except for one colossal howler: “the USSR was led by the Communist party. And the Communist party was led by its Secretary General. So, whatever the Secretary General decided to do, the USSR did” In reality, only Stalin had that sort of authority. After 1953 the CPSU leadership was “collective,” with the secy-gnl having to answer to a “Politburo” comprising a congeries of very different self-serving nomenklatura types themselves answering to very different groups within the vast and incoherent bureaucracy on which Stalin had based his dictatorship. no Secretary General was ever secure in his leadership. Khrushchev, for instance, had his policy of detente with the US destroyed by the regime change of November 1963 and LBJ’s quick resort to massive invasion of Indochina. He was removed within two years. Brezhnev lasted by doing nothing (except invading Czechoslovakia with complete politburo agreement). And Gorbachev’s weakness was manifested in his Nov. 1987 Anniversary Speech to the CPSU congress. Leaks had promised a full repudiation of Stalin and rehabilitation for the all Oppositionists of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Instead his speech featured defense of Stalin and denunciation of the Opposition. Within three years the Nomenklatura Politburo had rendered him completely powerless. The anti-Gorbachev strong man in that politburo, Geidar Aliev, founded the dynasty still ruling Azerbaijan in stalinist fashion under his son Ilhan and enriching themselves and their gang out of the multinationals’ oil revenues. Trump, everything we see seems to indicate, has problems more like Kennedy’s than like Gorbachev’s.

  27. robnume

    On “We don’t talk:” I walk two miles 5 days a week through my neighborhood in San Diego. I live just a few blocks from a large local college. I begin my walk heading toward that college and everyday I encounter students walking to and from campus. I try to make eye contact with all and at least smile, if not say, “hello.” None of the students is willing to look up from their phones – I don’t know how they make it alive across these busy intersections that we have to cross without looking up, but they seem to manage – and only the people around 50 and above will acknowledge my attempt to engage them. It’s a brave new world alright, but humans need contact and we learn so much from that contact if we let it happen. FWIW, I still like looking folks in the eye and I love talking to people.

  28. robnume

    On the anniversary of Blake’s death: I remember how Blake’s death affected you last year, Yves. I remember you writing about his illness and thinking of my own cat, a Burmese named Chester, who will, hopefully, turn 17 this May 21. I have 5 children whom I dearly love, but Chester is my touchstone and I don’t know how I will cope without my best bud when the time comes. I’ll be thinking of you today. On a bright note, isn’t it great that Chelsea Manning will have a chance for a life after all? Barry did throw us a juicy bone before he left office. For Chelsea, I thank him.

  29. Oregoncharles

    From “Europe’s message to Theresa May: Play by the rules — or else Politico”:
    ” No threats about turning Britain into a corporate tax haven, please. Head down that path and things could turn nasty.”

    Did they really say that?

    1) I thought London already IS a corporate tax haven. Why threaten?
    2) Telling the other side what leverage they have is about the dumbest move possible, especially when it would be a way to save The City’s position as a financial center.
    3) I thought things already had turned nasty.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, Ireland is only sort of a tax haven, and it won’t be able to be one if it exits the EU.

      The US is much more of a tax haven than the UK. Read Nicholas Shaxson’s Treasure Islands.

      The EU is not telling the UK what its leverage is. That assumes a negotiation. May is trying to dictate. The EU is telling her that they have the cards and they can and will use them. This is like Greece but even more stupid. The Greeks had the correct economic analysis and were correct that the eurozone would be better served to listen to them. But they assumed they were equals.

      The Brits are not equals and have no moral high ground. They had a very favorable deal with the EU. Yet they pissed all over the EU and made it clear they thought they were racially superior (the English do this to the Scots and Irish too). They have a crappy economy and their few export industries depend on access to the EU. The US is not going to want to import auto parts or financial services from the UK, and it will not import more drugs than now. It will probably import less in financial terms since Trump will go after prices.

      They are playing a game of chicken against people in a much bigger vehicle and May just threw her steering wheel out the window. It might be possible to see this as not colossally stupid and reckless if the Tories had an industrial strategy for life after Brexit. They have none.

      The UK will be a third world country in 15 years as a result of this, maybe in as few as ten.

    2. MisterMr

      So basically people in the UK brexited as a rebellion VS the evil neoliberal corporate financial international overlords, and the first step is: turn the UK into a tax heaven.

      It’s as if the brexiters weren’t really really against the evil neoliberal corporate financial international overlords after all, they just scapegoated the EU for the consequences of policies they liked too (not that the EU is innocent, but there was scapegoating) and the good people of the UK are going to get a double dose of neoliberal medicine after all.

  30. Oregoncharles

    “Even more worrying are reports that Britain, working with President-elect Donald Trump, could seek to strike a bilateral trade deal with the United States long before Brexit talks are completed.

    “There cannot be any free trade deal for the United Kingdom until negotiations are over,” Pierre Moscovici,”

    Snort. Brexiteers aren’t the only ones who are delusional. What, exactly, could the EU do about it? And more particularly, what part of “I divorce you” do they not understand? Yes, negotiations could take a long time, if they make them take a long time. They could also be very short. The EU is essentially a treaty; treaties can be abnegated. If May decided to just do that, things would be very unpleasant for a lot of people (such as all the EU citizens living in Britain), but Britain could do it and survive. Forcing Britain to do that would be really irresponsible, a way to maximize the damage on both sides.

    Especially if they already had a deal with the US. NATO is already on shaky ground; the Eu leaders seriously think it couldn’t get a lot shakier quickly? Trump’s position on NATO happens to be one I agree with. NATO is obsolete; it makes no sense for Europe to cower under the US umbrella, nor for the US to pay for it. It’s time to retract the empire. That doesn’t necessarily affect trade, but a bilateral treaty with the US would certainly improve Britain’s position.

    This is another example of the reality: OFFICIAL negotiations may not have started, but the jockeying for position certainly has. All of this posturing back and forth is setting out negotiating positions.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The UK is still a member of the EU and therefore subject to the ECJ until it leaves. The ECJ could issue an injunction. It could fine the UK (which would be added to its exit bill), fine individual diplomats, and retaliate in all sorts of ugly informal ways (holding up various approvals for UK corporate entities, finding creative ways to make life miserable for UK citizens who’ve retired in Europe, etc).

      You don’t get the power dynamics. The UK is not an autakry. The EU is its main trading partner. The GDP hit per person is 2.5x greater per UK citizen than per EU citizen even before you assume the EU getting nasty. And as we’ve seen, the Europeans regard the politics of this as far more important than the economics. The UK has to be made to suffer to discourage other exits. The UK is choosing to make it very easy for the EU to do that and not look like the bad guy in the eyes of other EU members. The UK was already not liked, and the UK has never been willing to adhere to EU rules, when the Europeans, as civil law societies, are much more bureaucratically rigid that the UK and US as common law societies.

      The UK can’t just exit. Among other things, it owes the EU as much at 50 billion pounds. There is a lot that has to be undone, and not sorting out the matter in an orderly manner will hurt the UK way way more than the EU.

  31. Oregoncharles

    From “We don’t talk anymore, San Francisco” San Francisco Examiner :
    ” Men don’t have the courage to actually talk to women, and many women are not interested in “picking up” men.”
    How widespread is that? Or is it just her personal experience? She’s describing a severe breakdown in our mating rituals. And note the blaming way she describes men’s attitude. In fact, some men are now convinced it’s rude – which it would be, in any other context.
    Is San Fran the wave of the future? That would take care of the population problem.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’d love to get reader comment but I’ve heard/read other stuff along those lines. Men and women in public places where they ought to be mingling if they are at all serious about dating/mating instead buried in their phones. Really dulled impulses to make contact, and when they do, I would assume they are not good at banter and flirting due to lack of practice.

    2. Foppe

      Dunno, but it strikes me as an overblown worry made much of by websites that make their money off being contrarian/luddite.
      Then again, societal notions of what “dating” / “picking people up” is supposed to involve make as much sense to me as peacockry — why attempt to learn skills that have next to no value whatsoever outside the practice of dating? And why would you want to lure a mate by behaving in ways that have little to no connection to your normal behavior? (Yes, the two considerations are intertwined.)

  32. Winston

    My friend’s mother’s lymphoma knocked out by bitter gourd juice with curcumin and black pepper taken daily! Disrupted sugar from being used by cancer cells to grow. Actually it appears reason western diet and cancer are linked is because of high sugar content-consider also carbohydrates become sugar in digestive tract.

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