Links 1/3/17

Everyday phrases Shakespeare made up Business Insider (Chuck L)

Open sourcing Lucy, the world’s most famous fossil ars technica (resilc)

The Most Terrifying Weapons of 2016 Motherboard (resilc)

Scientists Loved and Loathed by an Agrochemical Giant New York Times

China smog: millions start new year shrouded by health alerts and travel chaos Guardian

Economists gloomy on prospects for 2017 Financial Times. A UK survey.

Only the guilty will cheer curbs on the press The Times

Migrants storm border fence in Spanish enclave of Ceuta BBC

Building Totalitarianism in Europe – The Last Coup of Victoria Nuland Defend Democracy

New Cold War

U.S. Intelligence Got the Wrong Cyber Bear Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg. A great piece. Some key bits (pun intended):

The “Russian hacking” story in the U.S. has gone too far…..The U.S. intelligence community is making a spectacle of itself under political pressure from the outgoing administration and some Congress hawks. It ought to stop doing so. It’s impossible to attribute hacker attacks on the basis of publicly available software and IP addresses used.

Archive: NYTimes pushed “Iraqi hacker threat” propaganda shortly before Iraq war… @@WLTaskForce (martha r)

The Russian Hacking Frenzy in 200 Words Bill Blunden, BelowGotham (see the original here)


ISIS Will Lose the Battle of Mosul, But Not Much Will Remain Counterpunch (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Superhero Snowden Trashed In Absurd WSJ Op-Ed Michael Shedlock (EM)

Fridges and washing machines could be vital witnesses in murder plots Telegraph (resilc). Recall that yours truly said I didn’t like the idea of my refrigerator spying on me?

Algorithms: AI’s creepy control must be open to inspection Guardian (resilc)

Trump Transition

Defying Donald Trump’s Kleptocracy Chris Hedges, TruthDig

Many in U.S. Skeptical Trump Can Handle Presidential Duties Gallup

GOP Agenda Faces Difficult Path Wall Street Journal. Notice difference between front-page headline and one on the story proper: Republican Congress Promises to Move Quickly Toward Goals.

Republicans Face a Dangerous First 100 Days Bloomberg. Notice how the Dems are perceived to be a non-issue.

Trump: North Korea intercontinental missile ‘won’t happen’ BBC

Inside Trump Defense Secretary Pick’s Efforts to Halt Torture New York Times (Dan K)

Trump to name Lighthizer as trade representative, tap Pence adviser for West Wing Washington Post (furzy)

Tension in GOP Rises Over Russia Wall Street Journal

Donald Trump’s team says more focus should be on ‘punishing’ Hillary Clinton than on Russia election hacking Independent (resilc)

This Congress filled the fewest judgeships since 1952. That leaves a big opening for Trump Los Angeles Times (resilc)

Here are the eight Trump Cabinet picks Democrats plan to target Washington Post

This Is the Year Donald Trump Kills Net Neutrality Wired (furzy)

Maine tried allowing the sale of health insurance from other states. It didn’t work. Bangor Daily News

“Alan Dershowitz has threatened [promised?] to leave the Democratic Party if Keith Ellison becomes chair” Mondoweiss (Judy B). And this is a negative?

The White House’s dirty campaign against Keith Ellison The Week (martha r)

Republicans Have No Choice But to Repeal Obamacare — No Matter the Cost American Prospect (resilc)

House Republicans Fret About Winning Their Health Care Suit New York Times

U.S. judge blocks transgender, abortion-related Obamacare protections Reuters (EM)

Foreign sales of US government debt are largely irrelevant Bill Mitchell (furzy)

‘So So much for draining the swamp’: Pelosi blasts GOP for gutting Independent Office of Congressional Ethics Raw Story (furzy)

Texas looks set to follow North Carolina with push for ‘bathroom bill’ Guardian (resilc)

New York tale: a century-old subway dream becomes reality Reuters (EM)

Threat of New Year attack in U.S. low but ‘undeniable’: agencies Reuters. EM: “Sure, but one can change ‘attack’ in the headline to ‘deadly asteroid strike’ and have it still be true. So should I stay huddled in bed or not, guys?”

Study finds more extreme storms ahead for California MIT News (martha r)


The Fires of Standing Rock: How a New Resistance Movement was Ignited Counterpunch (martha r)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

8th Grader Uses Real $2 Bill For Lunch, School Immediately Calls Cops For Her Arrest AWM (Timotheus)

U.S. stocks riding a bull market in corruption MarketWatch (JTM)

The Ugly Unethical Underside of Silicon Valley Fortune (Li)

Guillotine Watch

This restaurant is serving 24K gold pizza for $2000 because why not? Guardian (J-LS)

Class Warfare

The way to a better work-life balance? Unions, not self-help Guardian (Sid S)

Identity politics and class solidarity: it’s not as simple as “doing both”; the difference between identity politics and wokeness culture Reddit. Martha r flagged this via e-mail:

The core of the disagreement between the two factions isn’t that one side cares more about poor people than about minorities and the other side cares more about minorities than about poor people. That whole frame is wrong. Both sides, for the most part, care sufficiently about minorities and about poor people. The core of the disagreement is that one side is doing actual politics and the other side is doing cultural criticism but thinks it’s doing politics.

The End of Progressive Neoliberalism Dissent Magazine (martha r)

Immigration, Democrats, Republicans and the NY Times Angry Bear

Harvard’s George J. Borjas American Conservative (resilc). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “Nymph grasshopper on a flower in my front yard.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Jim Haygood

    Remember last February, when crude oil plunged to a low of $26.21/bbl? Doom for the oil patch, cried the naysayers. Here on NC, we were debating whether oil would crash to $15, or pop back to $50 (the latter, as it turned out).

    Well, wouldn’t you know — for calendar year 2016, the energy sector (symbol XLE) was the best performer of all sectors, up a sparking 25.43%. The booby prize went to health care (XLV), which lost 5.15%.

    Contrarianism 101: the best bargains are when they laugh at you.

    1. divadab

      Yup, Jim – the most profitable businesses, best dividend yield, capital appreciation to the max – are those that are bad for the planet and/or for people. I know because I’m invested in pipelines, breweries, oil majors, petrochemicals – and it eats me up…….sometimes. I mean, I drive a car, and that’s the foundational carbon sin. Ya gotta live.

      1. different clue

        What’s wrong with breweries? Why do you include breweries in with all that other stuff? Beer brings cheer. How is that bad for people or the planet?

  2. Katharine

    Thank goodness you’re back up! I hope you get a much-deserved cup of coffee and time to breathe.

    1. katiebird

      Yes. Get some rest!! And (if I need the proof) now I know I am actually addicted to Naked Capitalism.

  3. Synoia


    Everyday phrases Shakespeare made up Business Insider (Chuck L)

    Made up, or the first to write down?

    Was Shakespeare just chronicling the vernacular?

    1. Steve H.

      I shall not bite upon that porcupine, but rather note author James Shapiro, and to questions of Will and his knowledge, of noble ways and means and mannrisms. With Spain and England negotiating, to the end of a long and bloody war, Shakespeare’s patron King James brought his Kings Men and arrayed them, well dressed and important, at least to the foreign eye of Spain’s men. As they were seen, so the King’s Men could see, the ways and means of such diplomacy, that few nobles were given privy to. Will Shakespeare’s insight was therefore first hand.

    2. Lee

      I often have a similar thought about crediting ancient authors such as Homer et al. Written language is a very recent development, predated by many millennia when humans spoke but did not yet write. We owe a great deal to our preliterate and nameless forbears.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Many ancient texts were works of multiple nameless co-authors, over many years.

        Like the Pentateuch, I-Ching and the Book of Songs.

        Many more ancient works of art were also made jointly, by artists/artisans whose names are unknown to us.

        Even so, one can reasonably deduct that the person who invented the wheel had an IQ well over 300…at least.

    3. Carolinian

      As it happens I’m currently reading a book about the bard by Peter Ackroyd and he says Shakespeare borrowed freely from his fellow playwrights and was very much a man of his time (assuming Shakespeare wrote the plays at all, which he does assume).

      My college Shakespeare prof said that the most commonly used expression in the plays is “is it possible?”…not too inspired.

    4. nippersmom

      From the article (emphasis mine):
      William Shakespeare wrote a lot of great plays, but he also coined and popularized a lot of words and phrases that we still use to this day.

    5. NotTimothyGeithner

      It could be, but…

      “Alea acta est” is supposed to be a play on a line from a Greek comedy. Caesar ate military meals, wrote plainly for Latin, and rode a mule. He probably wasn’t above popular culture.

      Politicians quote movies today.

      The “high five” was created by Dick Shawn for “The Producers.” For whatever reason, it became a greeting among African Americans in Detroit afterwards.

      1. Katharine

        Jacta, not acta; but that’s interesting if true. Have you got a link to more information, like which play?

        1. vidimi

          iacta, there was no j in latin.

          also, caesar spoke greek with his fellow patriciants, not latin

    6. JEHR

      When I began to read Shakespeare’s plays, what galvanized me were the many sayings that I had already heard from my mother (“dead as a doornail,” “eaten me out of house and home,” “milk of human kindness”) who only went to grade 8 and never read Shakespeare.

  4. Jim Haygood

    In other economic news, the ISM purchasing managers report came in strong at 54.7%, a level which ISM says is consistent with 3.6% GDP growth based on past correlations.

    Most interesting subcategory is Prices Paid, which leaped from 54.5 to 65.5%. Espying an imminent inflationary threat, J-Yel and her sidekick Stanley Mellon Fischer are licking their chops over the prospects for more lovely rate hikes. It’s gonna be beautiful.

  5. Synoia

    Study finds more extreme storms ahead for California

    We who live in California know, and do not care. Please enjoy your freezing and suffocating climate on the East Coast.

    Please send more water!

    1. Vatch

      Please send more water!

      First, please try to enforce water usage limits on California frackers and agribusiness.

      1. Synoia

        Ag is the highest water user, and the most wasteful. Grow your own damn fruit and veg, and eat seasonal foods.

        1. Katharine

          >Ag is the highest water user, and the most wasteful.

          Regulate your ag, then. It’s your state. (And barring a few dried fruits I could give up without too much regret, I haven’t knowingly bought any of your produce in years.)

          1. Praedor

            California (and Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado) also must outright BAN LAWNS. Most wasteful (and unnatural) landscaping choice possible.

        2. Vatch

          There’s nothing wrong with growing food in California. The problem is that they grow a lot of alfalfa (most of which isn’t even eaten by people, because it’s hay), almonds, and rice. Rice, as in rice paddies! Stop growing those three crops, and you may solve your water problem.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Gee, who happens to own the land on which the water theft crops happen to be grown, again? Do they happen to own large parcels in regions where it might make greater “ecological” sense to grow such items (if at all) or give a sh@t about alternative uses that might be better “ecologically” than the stuff that currently lets them loot what used to be “the commons” for externality-generated “profit”?

            How much does the public have to pay the Ags NOT to suck off all the stealable water? Infinity dollars? Oh, I forgot — that would cause the Business to Lose Anticipated Profits, thus subjecting the rest of us to some huge judgment from some Authority for all the “future value of Ag-gregated aquifer and surface water…”

            At some point it might become apparent that these people and their corps are killing the rest of us — does “Stand Your Ground” apply in such circumstances?

            1. CRLaRue

              While traveling by bus from LA to Oakland a passenger commented that, “Good gosh, their growing rice in the desert” . Being from the Arkansas delta I knew a rice patty when I saw one! However, from this vegetarian to the Cali farmers, Keep up the wonderful job!

    2. heresy101

      Please send a new non-corrupt Governor who doesn’t support fracking and the horrible tunnels to hell:

      The two mayor Browns (Willie and Jerry) have already stuck us with a horrible Bay Bridge design that will fall into the Bay when the big one hits. The bolts that are holding the single tower together are already corroding and coming apart.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          In 18 weeks?

          That only means the new bridge’s ‘safety’ will scare, or actually impact, users earlier.

          I prefer delay in that case…even if it costs more money (upfront).

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A little rain every day is better than dumping a whole year’s worth of extreme rain in 3 days.

      Extreme = No Good.

    4. Kim Kaufman

      This person who lives in California cares. Fires and then extreme rain causes much damage to people and property. And rain doesn’t always go where it’s supposed to go to accommodate humans.

    5. nippersmom

      “Please enjoy your freezing and suffocating climate on the East Coast.”

      The same climate that gives us the rainfall that you covet? Sounds like you want to have your cake and eat ours.

      1. JTMcPhee

        …and so it begins… the war of all mopes against all mopes… Gee, I wonder which “Class,” maybe “the rich class,” will come out on top?

    6. kareninca

      “Please send more water!”

      So we can waste it? Basements are a status object in the Bay Area. In order to put in a basement at a site with ground water, the site has to be “dewatered.”

      “Dewatering is an issue of an individual property owner consuming a disproportionate amount of a community resource to the detriment of the larger community. For example, the dewatering for a basement at 736 Garland (Palo Alto) pumped out 38.8 million gallons (Staff report). That is as much as the average annual usage of 400 residences. Or about the average annual irrigation usage of 1300 residences. If you put that 119 acre-feet of water in a column over that 0.24 acre property, it would be almost 500 feet high. Or almost 400 years of rainfall on that property at our long-term average of roughly 15-inch annually (for visualization: not all rainfall goes into the aquifer).” (

      Yes, that’s right. To create one basement, they wasted the annual water use of 400 residences.
      Rainfall in Palo Alto averages about 15 inches a year. As a comparison point, rainfall in Connecticut averages about 50 inches a year.

      The people I know take short showers – no baths – put in special low-use toilets or just don’t flush any more than truly needed, water their house plants with reused sink water, give up garden projects, replace their lawns with wood chips or low-water use landscaping. In an attempt to save a limited public resource. Unfortunately that is not a universal approach.

    7. Anon

      Please send more water!

      Actually, globally warmed precipitation is the bane of California’s water storage system (30% of storage is in the Sierra snow pack). Rain on snow events are not good and overwhelm the man-made reservoir storage system in Cali.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That Trump is a lucky person (and gambling, you bet with one favored by Lady Luck).

        Foxconn was going to do it, regardless of Trump.

        GM was going to do it, regardless of Trump.

        Ford was going to do it, regardless of Trump.

        THE GOP congress was going to do it, regardless of Trump, although on this one, I have to say, public reaction never did much before to the R or D party.

    1. Waldenpond

      Aren’t the Ds the ones who created the OCE? We must spend additional millions to outsource ‘ethics’ investigations simply because it’s rude dahlinks for House members to report each others known criminal activities to the actual inhouse ethics committee.

    2. wilroncanada

      We don’t need no ethnics watchdog in our new great America. Our new King, er, President is going so send all those ethnics back to Mexico, or Montreal, or Montana, or Montezuma, or wherever the hell they came from!

  6. Waldenpond

    I have been making small changes over the years…. trying to imagine a life with less electricity and consumption. Started gardening, composting, had a year without plastic, coop and three chickens (room for several more) do experimental hunts for a product as buy local or go without. Trying to decide where to put an outside drying line and how to use a vent inside for drying. One thing I had been pondering was living without a refrigerator…. what would I put in the space, what items do I refrigerate, are they better canned or dehydrated and what are decent substitutes. Dry milk, dry buttermilk, eggs seasonal fresh from the chickens, hard cheese stores on the counter, buy soft cheese for same day use, greens from the garden (is it possible to can soup with kale without it falling apart?), carrots/peas/beans can well, zuccini dehydrates well (so do raspberries)… etc

    Planning for when the non-spying appliances break down…. time to get creative and start researching for a pie safe type design or hit the thrift stores to convert a piece. …. I think I will try to find a vintage hope chest that I can drop a cooler/ice into for when needed.

      1. Waldenpond

        Coastal temps too moderate for that. I believe it needs to stay under 36-40 degrees? I tried a batch of carrots, parsnips, potatoes etc… we rarely get frost in the winter.

    1. Katharine

      Regarding eggs, the old Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cook Book (2nd edition about 90 years ago) talked about storing them in damp sand in a cool place. Obviously this entails buying only what you can expect to use up fairly quickly, but you might experiment to see what you can get away with. There might be other storage hints there, if you can find a copy.

        1. Waldenpond

          I recommend chickens first…. eggs are straight run and as roosters aren’t allowed in the city here, you’d be butchering the roosters and that is usually more than a person is willing to start with.

          I read up on butchering before getting chickens so I would be prepared in case of injury etc. After one of my chickens was attacked by yet another cat my neighbors have dumped in their backyard, I thought I was going to have to cut off the comb (it’s large) but she stayed in a dog kennel (you have to have a spot to quarantine or be prepared to kill) for a couple of weeks w/meds and neosporin and healed up.

          1. Praedor

            I don’t kill my little boys and girls. Sucks getting roos but so far I’ve been lucky to get a few more hens than boys. Multiple roosters get along (mostly) naturally once the dominance hierarchy is determined (easier when they grow up together…problematic for a while if you just dump a new adult rooster in with others). The main problem with too many roosters is how hard they are on the hens. Too much humping and fighting each other off the backs of hens leads to hens losing feathers on their backs. I’ve had to buy “aprons” for my hens when that is a problem (little cloth blankets that cover/protect their backs). Right now I’m down to 2 roosters and one of them is gimpy so the problem doesn’t currently exist.

            You can buy your chicks online sexed for you so you can get all hens, hens and ONE roo, etc (you just need to ignore what is done with the majority of little male chicks…)

      1. polecat

        If you don’t rinse-off, or ‘wash’ the eggs, they will keep for a while unrefrigerated, because the natural coating on the egg’s surface extends the integrity of said egg, to help in keeping it from drying out, thus preserving it for a longer period of time.

        … I however, refrigerate our eggs, and rinse off any that are ‘soiled’ ….. because the hens don’t always ‘wipe’ their cloaca … or their feet, for that matter ! …… ‘;[

        1. Chief Bromden

          Yes. The bloom or “cuticle” keeps the pores from letting in the nasty. Our farm has being doing laying birds for 4 years now. I wipe down eggs that are going to customers but never clean my personal stash. They don’t refrigerate eggs in Europe. A little poopoo on the outside doesn’t scare me as I maintain a farm-built immune system and never get sick. I haven’t refrigerated an egg since day one. I eat 2-3 eggs a day so I never go longer than a week with the huevos on the counter and never think twice about it. The shells go into the compost, the compost into the garden beds. The birds are raised on open pasture in mobile chicken tractors and fertilize the fields.

    2. clarky90

      Hi Waldenpond
      I am very interested in fermented food- Primarily because of the amazing health benefits of having a diverse/vast gut micro-biota (the bugs that live inside us).

      Dr David Perlmutter (all over the internet) is a good place to start.

      As well, fermenting food is a brilliant way to lessen our dependence on refrigeration. So, you get two good results from one action (fermenting food).

      My garden suddenly has 7 ripe cabbages and a myriad of cauliflowers, garlic, broccoli. What should I do? What should I do?

      I know! I will make a huge bucket of sauerkraut/kimchi! I use Himalayan Pink rock salt.

      I am learning to love (not fear) the inhabitants of the microscopic world

        1. clarky90

          This is such a great site (NC). I eat natto as well!

          It is very good for us.

          Natto is the food they pull out as the “grossest food to eat” on teenage radio challenges. “I dare you to eat THAT (natto) ewwwwwh, gross!” It is right up there with insects.

          “Vitamin K2 is essential for bone strength and the health of arteries and blood vessels
          Vitamin K2 deficiency is also associated with insulin resistance, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and may increase your risk of certain types of cancer
          Foods high in vitamin K2 include raw dairy products such as certain cheeses, raw butter, and kefir, as well as natto and fermented vegetables like sauerkraut”

    3. lyman alpha blob

      My buddy from Madawaska, Maine came for a visit this weekend. He doesn’t have a lot of money and just moved into some new digs up there and has been keeping his groceries on the back porch until he can get a refrigerator. So it’s possible to do without if you don’t mind living in the frozen middle of nowhere ;)

      1. aletheia33

        and you don’t have to cook three meals a day, do laundry, etc. etc. etc. for a hard working husband and three kids

        before you go to your night job

        1. craazyman

          Food delivery works too. No spying since you can always pay for the food in the hallway with your door only slightly open. :-)

          I don’t know how people do it where they can’t lay around and waste time all day.

          It seems ridiculous to me, all that fuss & bother when you can just pick up the phone and order something whenever you want — while you drink wine and watch youtube.

    4. Isolato


      You ARE really doing it. I lived in Rome for at least a year w/o refrigeration but that was easy, there was a sprawling street market right outside the portone. They also had milk that would last w/o cooling, “latte di lunga preservazione”. Here on the island we use a propane powered fridge and freezer. It isn’t huge (about 8 cu. ft.) but it does the job. On board the sailboat a well insulated ice chest can stay cold for several days w/ 10 lbs. of ice. Think top-opening, otherwise you are just letting the cold spill out every time you open it.

    5. Oregoncharles

      A pie safe is a cabinet with holes in the doors (top and bottom might help, too.) Not a refrigerator; it really just keeps the flies off. A screen enclosure would work.

      Or: solar cells on the roof and an old-fashioned “dumb” refrigerator. Aside from root cellars, it’s a hard function to substitute. Arguably a genuine modern advance.

      1. Waldenpond

        Yes, my option is a pie safe. Too temperate for any type of cellar storage so I am experimenting with the food preservations substitutes of canning/dehydrating. If I did this (I would like my next experiment to be a year without a frig) I am thinking of taking out the panels on some type of antique or vintage piece and replacing with screen would work.

        Also, the organic/natural food stores here are shifting to boxed milk (organic food in plastic containers is weird to me) and we took some on a trip. OK for cooking but I didn’t like it in coffee etc. I make the vast majority of my bread products now and dry milk works well.

      2. Praedor

        I have no interest in “smart” refrigerators and don’t buy them. I imagine the day will come when it will be near impossible to buy NON-“smart” fridge but just because you have one doesn’t mean you have to network it.

        I’ll NEVER network thermostats or household appliances OR “smart” TVs (main problem is their camera and mic that can be remotely and secretly turned on without your knowledge). I KNOW what items I need to get at the store, I KNOW the level of milk, number of fruit, etc, left. I don’t need the fridge to tell me that crap.

        Plus, all that networked crap IS the biggest source of compromised hardware involved in DoS attacks and other hacks. VERY non-secure…and the ability for the govt or corporations to spy on you in every detail of your lives is enough to NOT connect them to the intertoobs.

        1. different clue

          There will be a market for appliance craftsmen who know how to disable the smartness chips and dumm that fridge right down.

      1. craazyman

        I remmeber the whole Peanut Gallery was about to lynch the frat boys — and I was thhe only one here saying the story made no sense — just from the ludicrouusly implausible narrative structure that organized it. I could tell, without even havving to channel it. Just from looking at it.

        I was pelted and beaten up in the peanut gallery by almost everybody who posted their comment — fortunately only by typing. Thankfully I didn’t care, since I knew I was right. Whicch I was.

        Now everybody talks about it like they never believed it. LOL.

        In this particular case I think the WaPo actually was part of the reporting that revealed the fraud the story was. It’s not that they do everything wrong, the WaPo that is. Their Redskins reporting is pretty good. Not that anybody cares, unless they’re Redskins fans. Which is a miserable thing to have to be.

        1. skippy

          A datum point does not make a data set….

          Now if the Greek system has an image problem… one would think there might be issues to be reconciled by introspection and reconciliation…

          disheveled…. sadly it seems the solution is more party’s and the occasional philanthropy…. might have something to do with party culture being a huge factor in prospective applicants choosing a school thingy… profit dictates thingy…

    1. Skip Intro

      Amazing story. Not only did the WaPoo totally skip the fact checking, they then lied about what they published and when, only to be caught by the wayback machine. At this point it stretches credulity to believe they are merely incompetent and moderately corrupt. They are intentionally spreading fake news to build fear of Russian hackers, or whatever target their masters choose. This story could well be an exhibit in a libel case against WaPo, should one exist somewhere, in the event that they claim any journalistic standards at all when it comes to the russky hacker narrative.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Schools stopped teaching civics so when Silicon Valley wunderkinds like Bezos and Zuck get into positions of great power to influence they do not even know the basics of things like the Constitution, free speech and how it got there, and why it’s so important to a functioning democracy. So they decree that their form of speech is the only kind that should be free and they think they’re saving the world. And in the world-saving mission the ends always justify the means so any critique just rolls off their backs

      2. skippy

        It used to be a part time job for mobs like WaPo and NYT, quid pro quo for access to less threatening stuff, but, now its a full time job…..

        disheveled…. the market demands it….

    2. Oregoncharles

      Off topic, but: the first thing I saw was the picture: “The control room of a power plant in Nebraska. (AP Photo/Josh Funk)” A vast display of buttons, lights, and displays – and one guy sitting in front of it, trying to look alert.

      No wonder they melt down.

  7. polecat

    Re. : Washers & Fridges, Creepy AI, and Loss of Net Nutrality ….

    They’re all CONnected, in that the SiliCON Giants are crapifying EVERYTHING .. to which CONgress defers ….. no need for the Donald’s help !

  8. timbers

    This Congress filled the fewest judgeships since 1952. That leaves a big opening for Trump Los Angeles Times (resilc)

    So much for voting Team Blue because judges. Wasn’t someone here all about their friends saying this and they didn’t have a counter argument?

    So…vote Dem for WH so Repubs can fill all the empty judgeships next term.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I always thought David Brock (Anita Hill smear) and Tim Kaine (an anti choice VP) destroyed the arguments about judicial nominations for Hillary.

    2. Vatch

      With a Democratic President and a Republican Senate, judges are nominated, but few are confirmed.

      With a Republican President and a Republican Senate, judges will be nominated, and they will be confirmed. Some of those judges will be clones of Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas.

      Which is worse, a failure to confirm nominations, or successful confirmations for terrible nominations?

      1. Praedor

        THIS only because the Democraps are useless and weak. They NEVER stand firm against GOP nominees anymore. Hell, if Trump offered up Bork again for SCOTUS the Dems would let him through because “It’s unseemly to obstruct” though the GOP is all obstruction, all the time, when the Prez is a Dem.

        From this I argue again and again that the Dem party IS GOP an IS conservative as an organization – they LIKE everything the GOP stands for (or against) and only provide faux resistance. They ALWAYS fall down and let the GOP roll over them when it comes down to the wire. They NEVER “filibuster”.

        The Rules:
        When the Dems control the Senate, the GOP controls the laws and the agenda.
        When the Dems control the WH, the GOP controls the policies and the agenda.
        When the Dems are NOT in control the GOP controls the policies and agenda.

        Therefore it is irrelevant who you vote for. Vote Dem and you vote for NEVER filibustering and NEVER blocking any judges or laws except symbolically and for brief periods. The Dems can ALWAYS be counted upon to come back with a “compromise” that gives the GOP 90+% of what they wanted in the first place so the laws and policies of the modern US government ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ratchets to the right. Tick, tick, tick. All thanks to the ineffectual and corrupt Democraps.

  9. GF

    Defying Donald Trump’s Kleptocracy

    Finally, the predictions for 2017 that will come true if no action is taken.

    1. Vatch

      So please take action! For starters, please contact your Senators, and insist that they vote against the worst of Trump’s cabinet level appointments. Senate contact information is here. The article to which you refer mentions some of Trump’s bad nominations (Tom Price, Betsy DeVos, Steven Mnuchin; missing from the article is Scott Pruitt, Trump’s nominee to head the EPA, who is another toxic choice) — let your Senators know what you think about them today!

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Suggest that the Dems need to fight their own fights first, what’s the point of stopping someone if your team will just substitute someone equally appalling. Bernie et al need to focus their guns inward for another few cycles, Dear Leader Nancy insists people don’t want change and someone needs to disabuse her of that notion first. You don’t go into battle with your generals and lieutenants in total disarray and with the soldiers and reserves you’ll need for the long fight completely demoralized

        1. Vatch

          what’s the point of stopping someone if your team will just substitute someone equally appalling

          There’s no doubt that a lot of Obama’s appointments were bad. But several of Trump’s are worse. Scott Pruitt, the EPA nominee, is horrible, and here’s what Chris Hedges says about some of the others:

          The appointment of Betsy DeVos (from a family with a net worth in excess of $5 billion) to become secretary of education means she will oversee the more than $70 billion spent annually on the Department of Education. DeVos—the sister of Eric Prince, who founded the notorious private security firm Blackwater Worldwide—has no direct experience as an educator. She promoted a series of for-profit charter schools in Michigan that make money but have had dismal academic results. She sees vouchers as an effective tool to funnel government money into schools run by the Christian right. Her goal is to indoctrinate, not educate. She calls education reform a way to “advance God’s kingdom.” Trump has already proposed using $20 billion of the department’s budget for vouchers. The American system of public education, already crippled by funding cuts, will be destroyed if Trump and DeVos succeed.

          Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican (net worth $13 million), has been selected by Trump to be secretary of health and human services. He plans to abolish Obamacare. He said he expects the House to push for Medicare privatization “within the first six to eight months” of the Trump administration.

          Steve Mnuchin (net worth $40 million), a former partner at Goldman Sachs and the president-elect’s choice to lead the Department of the Treasury, told Fox Business that “getting Fannie and Freddie out of government ownership” is one of the Trump administration’s top 10 priorities. This is also the stated goal of Trump’s choice for budget director, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (net worth $3 million), a Republican from South Carolina.

          The mainstream Democrats are bad, but the Republicans usually find a way to be worse, and these nominees are definitely worse.

          1. Vatch

            I mistakenly omitted this paragraph by Hedges, which should follow the one about Mnuchin and Mulvaney:

            The privatization of the government-backed mortgages would see financial institutions authorized to issue mortgage-backed securities that carry a government guarantee. If the mortgages failed under the privatization scheme, the taxpayer would foot the bill. If the mortgages succeeded, the banks would get the profit. The privatization plan amounts to the institutionalization of the 2008 government bailout for big banks. It could cost the taxpayer billions.

          2. hunkerdown

            But you’re affirmatively supporting evil and merely rationalizing it without transforming the moral valence of the act.

            Property can always be adjusted after the fact, takings clause notwithstanding.

            1. Vatch

              Where do you get the idea that I am “affirmatively supporting evil”?

              Trump, Mnuchin, Price, DeVos, and Pruitt do support evil, of course.

              1. hunkerdown

                Vatch, I’ll concede the first point, even though I don’t put much faith in “worse” as a sentencing enhancement, so to speak, when regular order grants us no power to undo faits accompli anyway. What de Vos thinks matters less than who’s on the local school board and how taxes are apportioned. My second point still stands: they’re horse thieves; they aren’t entitled to keep the horse.

  10. Carolinian

    This is excellent

    Hard as it is to persuade a constantly re-frightened American public, there have been less than 100 Americans killed inside the Homeland by so-called Islamic terrorism since 9/11.[…]

    And do spare the tired trope of “well, security measures such as at our airports have saved us from who knows how many attacks.” Leaving aside the idea that the argument itself demands a kind of negative logic (the “who knows” part) to even make sense, a test by the Department of Homeland’s own Inspector General’s Office, posing as travelers, showed 95 percent of contraband, including weapons and explosives, got through during clandestine testings. If a failure rate of 95 percent did not have planes falling from the sky, one must conclude security does little to affect terrorism.

    CNN on the Eve told us that almost two million people were in Times Square to see in the New Year, along with 7,000 cops and 65 giant trucks filled with sand to stop the 2016 fad (actually two cases, in Europe) of car/truck driving terrorists. More Americans died of alcohol poisoning (booze terror!) last night than terrorism.


    1. JTMcPhee

      So there’s this intense (white) guy stalking around Times Square with an elephant rifle held ready. A NYC cop walks up to him and says, “Hey, buddy, what the hell are you carrying that big gun around here for?” Says the guy,” To keep the wild elephants away, dude!” The cop says “There’s not a wild elephant within 6,000 miles of here!” Says the guy, “See? It Works!”

  11. Steve H.

    : Borjas

    Thanks for this article, I hadn’t realized there was such a controversy. The Immigration Act of 1864 was overtly to increase labor supply, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 had the same effect, while the Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924 were to decrease labor supply. Real Wages seem to map, with a lag.

    Which means Trump could increase the number of low-wage jobs available for his voting constituency by clamping down on immigration. Upcoming bad events done to immigrants (esp. Mexicans & Muslims, I’d say) were already on-line, another aspect of cowphilate Orlando nightclub Ferguson Standing Rock campus shooting political and economic polarization violence we should anticipate an uptick in.

    His other constituency, the rich-getting-richer, doesn’t seem to be losing ground neither.

    1. Altandmain

      It is looking like the political right has to face a betrayal on the scale of how Obama sold out on the left after 2008.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      To most academics, that’s heresy. To many others it might sound like common sense—and at last we can experience Borjas’s ideas in a widely accessible form.

      Common sense is how many people intuitively know there are winners and there are losers.

      It’s also with common sense that one counters the propaganda that if one’s for less immigration, one is not for No Immigration. “But your grandparents came on a boat.” “You yourself are an immigrant.”

      Borjas believes that immigration has severe “distributional consequences” for natives: those who compete with immigrants lose; those who employ immigrants benefit from cheaper labor; and everyone else enjoys slightly lower price

      Here, Borjas leaves out a third consequence:

      They don’t compete; and they don’t hire. Those in the credential-issuing industrial complex – more students means more jobs,if not necessarily to enlighten, but to make sure they receive credentials.

      Due to this potential conflict of interest, that should be a reminder.

      Going forward, we hope for peace and prosperity for all on this planet, whether they are close to oil fields or live near a proposed pipeline. Pray for less violence. Also we pray in the future, our oligarchs don’t scheme to discipline American workers by bringing over poor and hungry ones from other places. And hope Neoliberal Democrats get called out for not presenting the entire picture of immigration. From the adjacent link (Mike Kimel, Angry Bear):

      Higher wages, better benefits and more security for American workers are features, not bugs, of sound immigration reform. For too long, our immigration policy has skewed toward the interests of the wealthy and powerful: Employers get cheaper labor, and professionals get cheaper personal services like housekeeping. We now need an immigration policy that focuses less on the most powerful and more on everyone else.

      Wasn’t this the Democrat’s position not long ago? When and why did that change?


      1. If it isn’t clear, Cotton is a Republican

      2. The bolded section was part of Cotton’s piece, but I chose to bold it as I felt it was worth a special highlight.

  12. Simulated Live Burial - now with fewer bugs in the coffin!

    Heartwarming New York Times propaganda on hostis humani generis Mattis, the butcher of Fallujah, and his effort to ‘stop’ (but not punish) torture. This is a classic example of the NYT impunity propaganda. Divert attention from external pressure (in this case, the Committee Against Torture’s list of issues below)

    with a story of some random plucky protagonist trying to do something. This may be the most embarrassing NYT propaganda ever: trying to make Mattis the Oskar Schindler of the US government death camps.

  13. Oregoncharles

    “Harvard’s George J. Borjas American Conservative”
    Yes, important, and very interesting. Describes some studies I’ve seen referred to without much detail

    To my mind, it raises a crucial question: what does it mean to say that immigration has no effect on wages? Isn’t that an outright disproof of the “law” of supply and demand? Supply and demand is the foundation of economics; it it’s refuted, then the whole field starts over from scratch – which they certainly haven’t done, indicating that either they don’t understand their own field or they don’t really believe it has no effect.

    Seems like instead, we get hand-waving about other effects that counter the impact. Yes, immigrants also raise demand for goods, but not as much as they raise the supply of labor, because they make less than natives. Logically, they would offer a net benefit ONLY if there’s a shortage of labor, a condition that hasn’t applied for a long time.

    The problem for anyone not a paleo-conservative is that it’s also a humanitarian issue. Not only do most immigrants benefit by moving; when there are large immigrant flows, they’re effectively refugees, like the Marielitos (and why were working class males fleeing a newly-communist country?) That certainly applies to the undocumented Latin Americans who are the chief issue today.

    Which reminds me: does anyone know whether net unofficial immigration has resumed? It went to zero during the Great Recession.

    It’s just really hard to believe that 11 million people don’t have an effect on the labor market.

    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

      If you take “The American Conservative” as a window into modern paleoconservatives, they aren’t always deaf to humanitarian concerns, either. See, for example, this.

      1. SoCal Rhino

        Indeed. And agreed (referring to your decision to comment). Silc appears a regular reader as am I.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Maybe “paleo” was the wrong word. “Neo-conservative” might be better;

        And yes, old-fashioned conservatives now read as practically progressive. We’re in the midst of a major ideological realignment.

        1. Lambert Strether

          I’m not au fait with all the shades of conservatism. But since TAC writers aren’t crazy pants warmongers, I assume they’re not neo-conservatives. And Pat Buchanan seems to be their intellectual godfather, making them paleo.

          1. aab

            I’ve sporadically read Larison for years. He grapples with factual reality (which should not be rare, but is), and he’s clear about his biases and perspective — my sense is, first and foremost with himself, which is why he can then think and write with clarity. It was funny reading him and Corey Robin take almost the exact same tone and position regarding the election. They were both wrong, but we’re all wrong occasionally. (And I understand why betting on electoral fundamentals and Hillary’s neverending managerial incompetence would have seemed unwise in their positions.) Larison is someone I go check out when I feel at risk of epistemic closure. I suspect there are many issues about which his opinion would enrage me. But since they’re rarely addressed on his blog, they’re not relevant to my reading experience. He’s great on the brutality, incompetence and dishonesty of American foreign policy, for example.

            Breaking out of the bubble of acceptable Democratic discourse has meant that I get to recognize that sometimes conservative or Republican critiques of the Democrats are valid. I have a much greater appreciation for why the Clintons and Obama drove them mad. As an egalitarian who believes in full, literal equality for all humans — social AND economic, which means power and status equality, as well — I’m never going to align with conservatives on optimal solutions and outcomes. But it is interesting seeing where we do share some degree of common ground these days.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s hard to believe 11 million people DO have an effect on the labor market, because a sword hangs over the head of anyone who believes so.

      The sword of racist-charge demagoguery.

      And if you are for less immigration, you’re anti-immigration.

  14. MDBill

    In: Defying Donald Trump’s Kleptocracy (Chris Hedges)

    We will not have a champion in the Democratic Party’s Senate minority leadership, headed by the party’s slicked-up version of Trump, Sen. Chuck Schumer (net worth $700,000).

    Really? Net worth seems suspiciously low for a putative close friend of banking?

    1. polecat

      “ahem” … that net worth sum probably doesn’t factor in the ‘insider trading’ quotient … to which ALL CONgress folk are ‘legally’ allowed .. I mean, they’re richer than you after all !

    2. Vatch

      Also, since Schumer has been in the Congress since 1981 (House from 1981-1999, Senate 1999-present), he’s eligible for a very generous pension. So he doesn’t need to save a lot of money, and can spend it almost as fast as he earns it.

      In 2002, the average congressional pension payment ranged from $41,000 to $55,000.[4] As of November 2014, senior Members of Congress who have been in office for at least 32 years can earn about $139,000 a year.

  15. bob

    “The CIA argues that there was a sound medical reason to use “rectal rehydration” on its captives in 2004 at a secret site that the report suggests was not Guantánamo. In one instance, the CIA “rectally infused” a “food tray” of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins into captive Majid Khan. Now at Guantánamo, he pleaded guilty to being an unwitting courier of cash used to fund a terrorist bombing of a Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, in exchange for the possibility of eventual release.”

    Gitmo- home of the brave

    From shoving shit into your head, they’ve changed tactics and are now shoving food into your ass, because- What the fuck are you going to do about it?

    1. m

      Usually in the hospital one would have a nasogastric tube inserted for a feeding, this rectal thing must be for humiliation.

  16. Bob Swern

    A truly exceptional/noteworthy collection of links, today. (On a daily basis, I read this regular feature of NC before I read just about anything else, anywhere, other than my personal email. But, today’s collection of links is outstanding!) Many thanks!

  17. vidimi

    that article on cyprus is truly terrifying and highly urgent. it needs to be stopped as urgently as obama’s other major orwellian coups, the TTP, TTIP and TISA.

    if it does come to pass, though, and Turkey is assumed to the EU, it would only accelerate the break-up of the EU and precipitate Frexit, consolidate nativist extremists in power in poland, hungary and be a boon to the far right from sofia to lisbon.

  18. JTFaraday

    re: “Identity politics and class solidarity: it’s not as simple as “doing both”; the difference between identity politics and wokeness culture Reddit.

    “The core of the disagreement between the two factions isn’t that one side cares more about poor people than about minorities and the other side cares more about minorities than about poor people. That whole frame is wrong. Both sides, for the most part, care sufficiently about minorities and about poor people. The core of the disagreement is that one side is doing actual politics and the other side is doing cultural criticism but thinks it’s doing politics.”

    Sigh. No, if I decided to add to the endless pile of near identical articles about class and identity politics, I am likewise doing cultural criticism, not politics. Meanwhile, there are any number of things I could do under the sign of my identity that would be politics and not cultural criticism.

    If this is “woke,” I’m going back to sleep. Wake me up when it’s 1730.

  19. DarkMatters

    Hard to know exactly how to reply.

    1. Politics by its very nature is meant to sway opinion; the Count of Monte Cristo is true to form. Earliest records (Sophists, e.g.) discuss how fallacious devices of rhetoric can bring people to a particular viewpoint, using psychological approaches that bear only peripherally on the actual issue. It should be no surprise that critical assessment and factual accuracy take a back seat in elections. Even “factual” reporting, especially in the NYT, is often laced with suggestive insults like “brutal tyrant Haffez Assad who gasses his own people” (evidence?), “oppressive authoritarian Vladimir Putin”, or “benefits of Western democracy”. It’s certainly annoying, but bias should be expected.

    2. The history to which Yves alludes deserves much closer attention, as it documents how the ad hoc 19th century attempts she describes have evolved into the organized operations to which we are subjected today. A few more touchstones are:

    “Public Opinion”, Lippman’s very-readable book describing deliberately psychological propaganda in WWI and democratic response.
    “Propaganda”, written by Edward Bernays, Freud’s nephew, and the man, with a cohort of 20 IIRC couples, removed taboos against, and successfully poluplarized, cigarette smoking among American women.
    “Century of the Self”, a youtube video that outlines much of this and provides further food for thought.
    Operation Mockingbird, which turned American print media into a publishing arm of the CIA post WWII.
    Activities of think tanks and foundations provide rich but lesser known examples.

    3. “In other words, the hysteria about fake news appears to be members of the officialdom realizing that their traditional propaganda channels don’t work because too many people get information on the Internet, and they can no longer orchestrate a Mighty Wurlitzer of unified opinion. “
    I agree that this is the real reason why there is so much concern over the impact of alternative opinions. Free information (the late but great “free press”) threatens the part of propaganda that suppresses contradictory information. Peripheral sources like RT, presstv, al Jazeera, or Sana discuss events and viewpoints that can weaken the MSM narrative by completing the picture in ways that expose MSM fakery. A stunning example during the NATO Libyan invasion was presstv’s coverage of resignations of some al Jazeera’s reporters: Qattar was refusing to print their reports of AlQaeda in Libya, which would have confirmed “brutal dictator” Qaddafi’s claims of terrorist involvement. None of this would have reinforced the MSM narrative.

    4. “I think it is especially concerning because powers of the far right are using it to great effect.” The geography of the Overton window isn’t a strip bounded by right and left on either side, but rather an amoeba within which discourse is allowed, but where discussion is discouraged or even forbidden outside its. The pseudopod of neoliberalism indeed extends to the right, but other extensions of the Overton extend to the left. Any person or party who has the temerity to openly examine immigration problems is castigated as a right wing extremist, and crucified by accusations of bigotry, not only in America, but all over Europe. This is in the face of severe and obvious social and religious conflict that badly need rational discussion. Critics of the IPCC are dismissed as oil industry insiders, and scientists who have doubts about the science are smeared as flat earthers. (Any who thinks that only the right engages in climate propaganda should look more closely at the origins of the putative 97% consensus figure.) There seems to be a presumption that being intellectually sophisticated and open-minded automatically inoculates the left against being blindly misled, but this complacent self-image has been turned with great effect against badly needed critical self-examination.

    5. “I do think it’s a threat, especially in an era where local trusted news is largely defunct. I think it is especially concerning because powers of the far right are using it to great effect’. Yves lawsuit against WaPo’s story has demonstrated that “fake news” isn’t the exclusive purview of the right, nor of the alternative press. No source can or should be trusted, but regarded as a flawed channel through which we obtain always-suspect information. Critical thinking and curiosity are really the only legitimate tools for deciding what if anything any story might mean. Without the ability to freely pursue controversial information, rational analysis becomes impossible. Given Jeff Bezos’ behavior as owner of WaPo, the thought of an elite like Zuckerberg conferring legitimacy is horrifying. Censorship of any kind will only “fake out” the public even more than now. I favor lifting ALL restrictions, and here I particularly include “offensive” or “hate” speech, since censorship here inculcates knee-jerk responses, and suppresses badly-needed conversation on how to deal with the most pressing issues in our society.

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