Links 5/1/2017

The Coffee–Songbird Connection Scientific American

A 130,000-year-old archaeological site in southern California, USA Nature. Alters the timeline

U.S. Tech’s Self-Feeding Digital Money Machine on Show This Week Bloomberg

Facebook targets ‘insecure’ young people Australian Business Review. Interesting:

A 23-page Facebook document seen by The Australian marked “Confidential: Internal Only” and dated 2017, outlines how the social network can target “moments when young people need a confidence boost” in pinpoint detail.

By monitoring posts, pictures, interactions and internet activity in real-time, Facebook can work out when young people feel “stressed”, “defeated”, “overwhelmed”, “anxious”, “nervous”, “stupid”, “silly”, “useless”, and a “failure”, the document states.

After being contacted by The Australian, Facebook issued an apology, and said it had opened an investigation, admitting it was wrong to target young children in this way.

I’d want more verifiable technical detail on the actual targeting — this is, after all, a sales pitch — but regardless of what Facebook is actually doing here, should they even want to?

Employees at this Swedish company can get a microchip inserted under their skin World Economic Forum. “The process lasts a few seconds, and more often than not there are no screams and barely a drop of blood.”

Modi’s India: Rising and Reshaping The Diplomat

ASEAN Summit: An exercise in omission Lowy Interpreter

Chinese economy cools as key sectors continue to slow Guardian

Japan Labor Shortage Prompts Shift to Hiring Permanent Workers Bloomberg’


France’s Le Pen on offensive with vote a week away The Local. Good wrap-up.

Macron takes on Le Pen at Whirlpool tumble dryer plant, wins spin cycle France24

France election: Macron says EU must reform or face ‘Frexit’ BBC

Pollsters Look for Clues in French Success With More Votes Near Bloomberg

Once a Lace Capital, Now Riven by French Politics NYT


Jean-Claude Juncker says Theresa May is ‘deluded’ in scathing call with Angela Merkel after Brexit talks Telegraph. See also this 30-tweet tweetstorm (RS) on Theresa May’s dinner with Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker at No. 10 from The Economist’s Jeremy Cliffe; it summarizes this FAZ article (only in German; partial translation; and another summary (“a caricature of Brexiteer amateurism”)).

EU calls May’s Brexit stance ‘completely unreal’ FT

The Brexit slowdown begins (probably) Mainly Macro


Arab Winter Buzzfeed

In Translation: al-Qaeda goes glocal The Arabist

Imperial Collapse Watch

Tomgram: Nick Turse, The U.S. Military Moves Deeper into Africa TomDispatch (GF)

The Attritionist Letters: the Marines shackling their field-grade officers, & losing wars Fabius Maximus. Fun rework of the central trope of The Screwtape Letters.

High-Value Target Disappointed To Be Raided By Rangers Instead Of Navy SEALs DuffelBlog

North Korea

Donald Trump: N Korea’s Kim Jong-un a ‘smart cookie’ BBC and Trump leaves door open for military action against North Korea CNN. Trump on Face the Nation.

White House: China ‘starting to do something’ on North Korea Axios

The $3 trillion ‘catastrophic’ cost of a North Korea-US war An enormous refugee problem, and Korean unification.

As Economy Grows, North Korea’s Grip on Society Is Tested NYT

Pentagon: We’re Closer Than Ever to Lasers That Can Stop Iranian, North Korean Missiles Defense One. From 2016, possibly relevant today.

Trump Transition

FULL TRANSCRIPT: President Donald Trump’s interview with “Face the Nation” CBS

Lawmakers seal deal on $1T plan government-wide funding bill AP and Congress Inks Spending Deal That Jettisons Trump Priorities Bloomberg. No shutdown.

The End of Trump’s Revolution? The American Conservative

Democrats give up hope on striking a deal with Trump Politico 04/30/17 07:05 AM EDT and Schumer on Trump: ‘If he changes, we could work together’ Politico 04/30/17 10:38 AM EDT.

Mexico calls on Trump to reuse TPP deals to reanimate Nafta FT

Baltimore developer Reed Cordish has big job in the Trump administration: Fix the government Baltimore Sun

Health Care

How Economic Incentives have Created our Dysfunctional US Medical Market Elisabeth Rosenthal, Medium

Health Care Reform: Commercial Multi-Payer vs. Public Single-Payer Health Insurance Common Dreams

Wall Street Wellness Programs Are Now Used to Drive Sales Bloomberg. I don’t recall studies showing that “wellness programs” deliver heatlh benefits, despite (or because of) being subsidized by ObamaCare. Readers?

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

NSA Kept Watch Over Democratic and Republican Conventions, Snowden Documents Reveal The Intercept

In pursuit of WikiLeaks The Economist

Trump says China could have hacked Democratic emails Reuters

Our Famously Free Press

Dumb And Vile – Independent Falls For Prank, Smears Other Journalists Moon of Alabama. The “prank,” from 4chan, p0wned several liberals on my Twitter feed.

Confirmed: the crucial role of Chilean media mogul on US plan to overthrow Allende Unbalanced Evolution of Homo Sapiens

The secret lives of Google raters Ars Technica

Guillotine Watch

Hard times for Whole Foods: ‘People say it’s for pretentious people. I can see why’ Guardian (Furzy Mouse).

Class Warfare

May Day protests expected nationwide The Hill

Low-wage African American workers have increased annual work hours most since 1979 Economic Policy Institute

American Airlines gave its workers a raise. Wall Street freaked out. Vox. Yglesias: “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

America’s two-track economy MIT News (MS). “In Temin’s terms, updated, America now features what he calls the ‘FTE sector’ — people who work in finance, technology, and electronics — and ‘the low-wage sector.’ Workers in the first sector tend to thrive; workers in the second sector usually struggle. Much of the book delves into how the U.S. has developed this way over the last 40 years, and how it might transform itself back into a country with one economy for all.”

Trade, Jobs, and Inequality: CUNY Grasping Reality. Conference transcript. The trade situation has develped not necessarily to our (well, your) disadvantage.

25 Years After the Riots, Economic Conditions in Many L.A. Neighborhoods Are Worse LA Weekly

Can unions rebuild the labor movement in the US south? Guardian. Things will be easier because Obama passed card-check. Oh, wait….

Economics, not identity, is key to reviving American liberalism FT. But is it key to reviving the fortunes of the paid-to-lose Washington Generals liberal nomenklatura?

A Tough-Love Letter to the Left Tne New Republic

The Rule of Law Won’t Save Us Jacobin

Strategies for resisting right-wing populism Understanding Society

Democracy on the Brink Foreign Affairs

The five universal laws of human stupidity Medium

Antidote du jour (via):

Canada Warblers returning to the eastern US.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. JTMcPhee

    Can I encourage anyone who troubles to read the piece on human stupidity to scroll down to the next item on the link? People of the credentialed and tech persuasion toss out that “Luddite!” pejorative at the drop of any questioning of the “unquestionable virtue” of “Progress” and “innovation.” Maybe gaining some context on the real Luddites might reduce some quantum of the Stupidity that Cipolla talks about?

    “Luddites have been getting a bad rap for 200 years. But, turns out, they were right,”

    1. Carolinian


      Definition of Luddite

      : one of a group of early 19th century English workmen destroying laborsaving machinery as a protest; broadly : one who is opposed to especially technological change The Luddite argued that automation destroys jobs.

      It means what it means according to common usage–has nothing to do with “stupid.”

      1. justanotherprogressive

        I just read a book this weekend by Svante Paabo, “Neanderthal Man”. He points out that Neanderthals used the same technology for 250,000 years without change. They weren’t stupid, far from it, and there is evidence in the areas where they mixed with the modern humans, they did start using the new technologies that modern humans brought with them. But it was too late……they couldn’t keep up.

        So perhaps instead of using the term Luddite, perhaps Neanderthal would work better?

        Sorry, but modern humans have always embraced new technologies – that isn’t going to stop because there are those who can’t or won’t adapt……the thing is not to fight the new technologies, it is to control the new technologies…..

        1. s.n.

          modern humans have always embraced new technologies – that isn’t going to stop because there are those who can’t or won’t adapt

          well that’s one way of spinning it. Another might be that there are sustainable societies and then there are unsustainable societies. The neanderthals kept it going for 250,000 years, and could probably have kept at it for a further few hundred thousand more. There are caves in spain which were in continuous use as cult centres for over 20,000 years. Scandinavians were producing elegant stone tools well into the Bronze Age. Meanwhile post-Industrial Revolution western social advances seem to have brought us to the brink of ecological destruction of our planet in slightly more than two centuries, Perhaps that quaint Victorian concept of “Progress” needs to be re-evaluated? And perhaps those hunter-gatherer or early agriculturalist ancestors of ours have something to vital teach us today. (One of my favourite essays back in the day was Marshall Sahlin’s “The Original Affluent Society” in “Stone Age Economics”. Give it a try, perhaps. I’m going to track down the Paabo book).

          1. justanotherprogressive

            A word of warning about the Paabo book – it is more about his career in Neanderthal genetics than about Neanderthals themselves. There are better books if you are just interested in Neanderthal culture, like “Neanderthals Rediscovered” by Papagianni and Morse, for example. There are many others. Just get a book written after 2013 because advances in DNA technology have turned what we used to think about Neanderthals on its head…….

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            New technologies to gain victory on the battlefield.

            History is then written by the victor.

            The bias for technology is built in.

            “Yes, we need more powerful bombs. Where is my technology guy (or gal)?”

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              If you didn’t adopt the newfangled technology of the age called “bronze” you got well and truly screwed, yes we could have full employment building canals and dams using teaspoons but modern excavators make more sense (though building with nuclear bombs probably doesn’t)

              1. JTMcPhee

                Build canals and dams (and other infrastructure, like more superhighways) to channel declining things like water to places where they can be rented and wasted… yeah, we should be all so happy that there are “appropriate” technologies to do stuff that maybe one might ask, is this ripping up of the earth either necessary, or appropriate, or I should choke on the word, “wise?”

                And of course “Atoms for Peace” (sic) was all about stuff like Operation Plowshare, mentioned in your Wiki article on the Russian mimicry of “our” stupidity,

                For more on this grandiose Innovative Technology Explosion, here’s video from Livermore,, and a book on the subject,

                One wonders how what should have been a laydown for the tech enthusiasts, engineers and politicians and bureaucrats who were all over this “initiative,” made possible by nuclear “progress” and “innovation” and “disruption,” got forestalled, and had to find other “good paying middle class” things to do — orbiting laser platforms, “innovative” poking at nucleic and related biological material, autonomous killing robots ‘n stuff… There was serious consideration given to using nukes to “replace teaspoons and earthmovers of the petroleum-fueled kind to blasting a new bigger canal across the isthmus joining those little countries down there in Monroedoctrinia…

                “Pave paradise, put up a parking lot…”

        2. LT

          Modern humans have embraced technology as tools. Great. We don’t have to worship all “technology” and stop questioning the long term effects.
          But on another note…nobody needs to be marketed to, quantified, and sold on a daily basis.

        3. Mac na Michomhairle

          Wait a minute….You are telescoping very different historical processes in a a way that clouds the issue big time.

          When a new technology is developed and then introduced in a social and economic context in which one social group–industrialists and factory-owners in this case– controls and steers this development, and then imposes it on society in order to advance their specific interests–in this case in order to increase their profits–but at a big cost to many other individuals–skilled self-supporting textile workers in this case, then we are not talking about an inevitable “natural” process of evolution.

          Is globalization and transfer of jobs from America to other countries an equally an inevitable process that just sort of happened?

        4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Perhaps among Neanderthals, there were Luddite Neanderthals, and non-Luddite Neanderthals, if we assume they were diverse as us Homo Not-So-Sapiens.

      2. JTMcPhee

        “Stupid is as stupid does,” offers Forrest Gump.

        Of course Webster is the authoritative source on everything, much as Twitter conveys nuanced information…

        I believe the link I pointed to, eliding from the article on stupidity, gives a better view, as does other scholarship studying the Luddites. Not destroying “jobs,” but destroying the value of skilled individuals and the meaningfulness of “work.” Interesting that Credentialed people displaced by neoliberal invention often turn, as pointed out in a comment the other day, to “craft” work, “artisanal pickles” or “craft beers” or weaving the old-fashioned way, or if they accumulated enough loot while still employed,, buying a winery somewhere. Often, of course, with the intent of building a new “disruptive” and personally profitable meme.

        Common usage rules, of course — as with the definition of “liberal:”

        Definition of liberal
        1 a : of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts liberal education
        b archaic : of or befitting a man of free birth
        2 a : marked by generosity : openhanded a liberal giver
        b : given or provided in a generous and openhanded way a liberal meal
        c : ample, full
        3 obsolete : lacking moral restraint : licentious
        4 : not literal or strict : loose a liberal translation
        5 : broad-minded; especially : not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms
        6 a : of, favoring, or based upon the principles of liberalism
        b capitalized : of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism; especially : of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideals of individual especially economic freedom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives
        liberally \ˈli-b(ə-)rə-lē\

        ““When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
        ’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
        ’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

        ― Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

        Any thoughts on the discourse in the “Bad Rap” article?

        1. justanotherprogressive

          I can’t say I disagree with anything in that Quartz article…….and it does point out my thesis that larger swaths of society, and not just the few, should control the new technologies…..and yes, the original Luddites have gotten a bad rap.

          However, language changes too, and if I want to communicate an idea to the general reader, I have to use the language that exists now – I doubt I could make my thoughts clear to anyone using Old English, as an example. So, just as “liberal” has changed meaning over the years, just as “conservative” has changed meaning over the years, so Luddite has too and people understand it to mean those who oppose technology. I can’t change that……

          Arguments about linguistics, etymology and semantics are awfully deep subjects for a comment section, but I always enjoy your comments – they do make me think!

          1. JTMcPhee

            As do yours.

            Interesting link above, today, about the pwning of the “Independent” by the creation, via the intertubes, of a neologism, that the “OK” hand sign is really a secret dog whistle gang sign indicating racist white power affiliation, Now the “right” (so wrongly named) may be adopting the gag as a real “thing,” if you read the MoA thread… One of many ways that “the language” changes.

            And of course let us not forget that “the language” is constantly under manipulation by “our” state security apparatus —, and the many and various other “operations” that have been performed by those with power on those of us without…

            SOMEbody, or a small set of somebodies, decides what outcomes “we,” the mopes who at root generate all that wealth, get from what we (foolishly, maybe) think of as “our” political economy. I don’t see any functioning mechanisms that spread over more of “us” any power or part in deciding what “progress” is to be imposed on the rest of us — military missile-destroying lasers that would be disruptive and destabilizing behind that “defence” BS screen aiming for more complete hegemony, Facebook and Google, etc., “interventions” (aka manipulations) of content and vectors of political discourse and enthusiasms, eg…

    2. mpalomar

      Yeah I think the Luddites have been misrepresented specifically to undermine and delegitimize their early revolt against the concentrated capital control of the industrial revolution.
      They were not anti technology, in fact they were skilled technicians. They were however definitely concerned about who benefits from controlling the means of production.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Yes, important, partly for the degree to which the Luddites were misrepresented.

      But not real encouraging.

  2. Marco

    Awesome Cliffe / FAZ / Brexit tweetstorm. I don’t understand how Labor under Corbyn is unable to turn any of May’s dull-headed bumbling into election gold.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I like Corbyn, but I find the political incompetence of Labour about Brexit to be appalling. The Tories shot themselves in the foot, repeatedly, and Labour just stood by and asked for a lend of the gun so they could shoot their own toes off. May will get away with almost any level of stupidity over Brexit because she has no real opposition.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Amen. The Tories, with an historic Brexit fiasco looming, have handed Labour and Corbyn a once-in-a-lifetime golden opportunity to destroy their brand for years or even longer and he and the party have utterly failed to position themselves to take advantage. All Labour had to do here was to take a strong position, unambiguously and definitively pin Brexit on May and the Tories, then sit back and watch as the near-inevitable trainwreck swallowed them in flames and black smoke. Even if he isn’t personally enthusiastic about remaining within the EU, you don’t see chances like this to destroy your political opponents often.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Isn’t the real problem that Labor is just as divided on the subject as the Tories?

      2. Marco

        But is Corbyn to blame? Or is Labour so hopelessly inept at ALL levels that they’re incapable of an offense?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I don’t see how you can avoid blaming the leader. I know of course he is facing internal spoiling tactics by the Blairites and others (not least universal hostility from the media), and he faced the problem of the many Labour voters who voted Brexit, and not least the anti-EU feeling among many on the left of the party. But as Kurt has pointed out, all he had to do was ensure that the Tories ‘owned’ Brexit entirely. Because of incoherent messaging he has ensured that there is no coherent opposition, its all about ‘competence’ and the Tories will always win when there is an argument about ‘competence’.

          1. Pat

            I do have to wonder if making the Tories own Brexit was even possible as frankly it wasn’t just Tory policies that led to this. The policies that Blair and the party under him endorsed and expanded contributed to an atmosphere where so much of Britain went screw this.

            But if it was, was it even possible for Corbyn to do this in the current situation. Not just because of the constant attempts to sabotage him within his own party but because of the state of Media coverage. I don’t follow it enough to navigate the rabbit hole that is media coverage of both Corbyn and Sanders to figure out if this was impossible, his failure or due to misrepresentation of his message and what he was aiming to do, as it is so often in Sanders case.

          2. DJPS

            What would you suggest he could have done to facilitate that?

            Easier said than done.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              I’d suggest a speech that said:

              ‘We respect the vote of the British people, but the Labour Party opposed Brexit and we have not changed our view that it will be highly damaging to our country. We will oppose any measure by the government to leave the common market or to interfere with the free movement of people or to weaken environmental and labour protections. We will seek a mandate in the next election to negotiate the closest possible relationship with our European neighbours, short of rejoining the EU, which we will only do with a vote of the people.’

              1. Marco

                Clearly I don’t follow British politics closely enough because the fact Corbyn has NOT made a speech like that shows he may as well be Blair.

              2. Nax

                From what I recall a big majority of Labour’s constituencies voted for Brexit. Estimates are that roughly 70% of them voted Brext, 30% Remain. There were Labour seats with very significant Remain wins, but they are definitely a minority.

                (It’s inexact because the referendum didn’t release results based on constituencies, instead using the larger Council.)

                This makes it very difficult for Labour to come out as pro-remain.

                1. Anonymous2

                  The problem is that most labour voters voted remain. Yes there were many constituencies where the majority voted Leave but these were preponderantly tories who voted against their own government. Labour have been judged to have hedged between the two camps, thus pleasing neither really.

                2. Marco

                  Scratch my comment above. So a tightrope Corbyn has to walk if that 70% for Brexit is correct. Unfortunately voters don’t reward nuance especially when it comes from the Left.

                3. Kurt Sperry

                  Labour voters opposed Brexit by a huge margin, 63% to 37% while the Tory voters favored Brexit 58% to 42%*, it would have required little political courage for Corbyn to rightly hand the stinking mess of Brexit over to the Tories as being theirs.


                4. vlade

                  This is at best a misdirection.

                  A majority of Labour seats voted Leave, that is true. But it doesn’t mean majority of Labour voters voted Leave.

                  Basically (from what little analysis I did on this), the UKIP voters + Tory rural voters were the deciding factor. Labour seats that voted Leave generally had large UKIP population or were not so safe, so a few Labour voters + a lot of Tories generally got you Leave.

                  And now Labour is going to melt, because why quite a few people like Labour policies, few believe that Corbyn can actually implement them – in a large part because on Brexit he’s absolutely unreadable.

                  And competency matters, and at the moment the totally incompetent May _looks_ much more competent than Corbyn – who doesn’t even look able to set up the Tories for the fail they are likely to suffer.

  3. allan

    Nevada coalition seeks unprecedented insulin refund law [AP]

    Aiming to rein in soaring prescription drug prices, an unlikely Nevada coalition is trying to force pharmaceutical companies to disclose how they set insulin prices — and issue refunds to diabetics or their insurance companies if annual price hikes surpass inflation.

    Las Vegas casino owners have banded together with their employees’ unions of cooks, servers and other resort workers to support the unprecedented legislation in their effort to control their own medical insurance costs.

    The bill expected to face its first vote in early May would attempt to cap how much employers, insurers and corporate middle men pay for insulin, which is injected to manage blood sugar levels. Lawmakers also hope the bill would cap what diabetics pay out of their own pockets near their current cost levels — typically between $50 and $600 per month, depending on diabetics’ insurance coverage.

    It remains far from clear that the bill, if passed, would survive legal challenges or have the intended effect. But it would make Nevada the first U.S. state to force detailed release of drugmakers’ proprietary information and effectively establish a price control on prescription drugs via the refund plan. …

    No mention of identity politics or Russia. Weird.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Another example of stupidity? Or a talking point for all those bandits who insist that “the market” and “reputation” work, as checks on greed and gouging?

      And for sure, this proposed legislative remedy would create another layer of credentialed people to determine whether drug makers have actually disgorged their true pricing information, what that “real” price is and ought to be (like determining “reasonable profit’ in utility regulatory rate cases?), and managing a “refund plan” to supposedly cap the cost of life-sustaining insulin at current “out of pocket” $50 to $600 levels.

      And this initiative will divert a lot of righteous anger at the gouging and looting behaviors of the monopsony and oligarchy into fussing over the details of the bill, maybe?

      Smart, all around. /s

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      From today’s Health Care link: How Economic Incentives have Created our Dysfunctional US Medical Market Elisabeth Rosenthal, Medium–

      A lifetime of treatment is preferable to a cure. Medically this sounds crazy. But financially this is a no-brainer: Type 1 Diabetes is a lifelong serious disease — as well as the basis of an industry worth billions, providing pumps, monitors and ever-more-expensive versions of insulin. Pharma has little incentive to finance research for cures to a disease that has created such a lucrative market. The book outlines the travails of Harvard Professor Dr. Denise Faustman, whose lab is researching a cure using a generic drug. Pharma declined to fund her work. “They said, ‘It’s really interesting but we’ve got a problem: Tell us how it will ever make us money?’” From the manufacturers’ standpoint, if diabetes could be cured there was no need for insulin, pumps, and monitors — all extremely lucrative products.

      (Not to mention a lifetime of a “pre-existing condition” that can be used to justify all manner of medical “insurance” coverage overcharging and restriction.)

      When I lived in Washington State, I was surprised to find that the only place to buy hard liquor was at state run liquor stores. No retail sales. Rather than trying “to force detailed release of drugmakers’ proprietary information and effectively establish a price control on prescription drugs via the refund plan,” Nevada should establish state run insulin stores, setting the price for all insulin sold in Nevada, and letting the upstream grifters fight the profit distribution out amongst themselves.

      Any profit could be used to fund Dr. Faustman’s cure, making the whole exercise moot in the future.

    3. kgw

      Aiming to rein in home and rent prices, an unlikely hostile coalition is trying to force bankers and landlords to disclose how they set prices — and issue refunds to home buyers or renters if annual price hikes surpass inflation.

      Who’s with me! ? Muahhaha…

  4. LT

    Re: Wall Street Wellness Programs

    They feel they’re subsidizing the health of the economy. THAT health. They believe the wellness programs help sales. The question of exactly how it will all play out for the actual people is a secondary concern – kind of like the rest of the ACA. It’s pretty clear it’s designed to protect profits.

  5. Dan

    Re: “American Airlines gave its workers a raise. Wall Street freaked out. Vox.”.

    I sent AA a nice note – indicating that I would go out of my way choosing AA in the future.

    1. Katharine

      Nice idea! They should get positive reinforcement when they do the right thing, especially if they have to listen to nonsense.

      I was flabbergasted by the Wall Street reaction, especially this:

      “This is frustrating. Labor is being paid first again,” wrote Citi analyst Kevin Crissey in a widely circulated note. “Shareholders get leftovers.”

      Imagine paying first the people who are generating the revenue! Why, if this keeps up, they might even go on generating revenue.

      1. Dontknowitall

        When Kevin Crissey gets his paycheck I wonder if believes he’s getting paid before or after the shareholders…

        1. Ivy

          I lost a year working for a guy who kept telling staff that shareholders get paid first. He neglected to mention that his board compensated him even more than admitted for looking after their interests. He retired and the sulfur smell diminished slightly.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          The entire “equity analyst” business is rotten to the core, analysts are paid handsomely to analyse stocks (as if THAT matters in our age of ridiculous orgiastic central banking), those “reports” then get offered in return for order flow, paid for in soft dollars, actually paid for by Mom and Pop when their fund buys IBM shares at $150 1/4 instead of 150, and nobody’s the wiser (except of course the entire bought-and-paid-for financial “regulators”).

      2. curlydan

        BTW, American Airline’s stock price was $2.50 in July 2008. Now it trades near $43 for a compounded annual growth over that time of 35%–guess that’s what Wall St considers “leftovers”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Happier workers —-> fewer traumatized passenger-customers…hopefully.

  6. Brian

    Worksite wellness programs, empirically, do not work as advertised. Less than 1:1 ROI, no material benefit in improving health and well-being of employees or their families.
    As a $6B+ industry they do, however, succeed handsomely in shifting more of the costs prevention, health services, time, effort, and precarity from the emoyer onto the employee.

    1. LT

      A wellness program from a business is about health alright – the health of the business.

    2. Pat

      Not only that, I would bet there is quite a bit of information gathered in those programs that can be used to better the insurance companies bottom line. Sure they don’t have preexisting conditions to bat around anymore, but how much will they be able to do with exact/real numbers on how many people start and fail diet programs, exercise programs, giving up sugar based drinks, giving up smoking, weekend drinking binges, etc…
      I also wouldn’t be surprised to see it used down the line to try to screw around with Medicare.

  7. ambrit

    Have a glorious May Day Comrades!
    Much as the American “nomenklatura” may wish its meaning was “global business friendly,” the real meaning of May Day is that other version of Internationalism.

    1. alex morfesis

      Tovarish…victims of the world unite…or maybe rentiers of the world unite…or kleptokrats of the world unite….since the criminals write the history books…or because those evil greedy capitalists…an 8 hour work day, how dare they not approve…funny that though….

      maia (May) day has some ancient history to it, but the walpurgis crowd has absconded with that meaning…

      the second international, in solidarity with the workers attacked and killed by the haymarket in chicago on that bloody may 4th of 1886…decided that workers day would be may first and in most countries around the world, that day is set as a national holiday…

      except of course the country where those folks actually died…


      but chicago is such an anarchist and union kinda place so there are annual events at the site, and statues and plaques and speakers…and…well…

      actually not….

      oh there are plenty of unions that burp out some little nonsense on a faq or about page…and some members of “the approved opposition” who use it to sell tickets to a bar-b-que…but not even a plaque…that plaque people refer to is not actually at the site…

      but the idea of real warm blooded carbon based life forms actually going ahead and standing where the rolling stage platform had been or walking on the street where someone took their last breath in the name of freedom…nah…

      heck, most people think the haymarket riot and killings were on the west side of Halsted…probably due to the ramblings and failed and failed and failed until no longer failed marketing by one sue ling gin (mcgowen) who put up signs calling the area west of halsted “Haymarket Square”, and…well…sue was always real good at hiring pr people, especially carol, who could cook up all types of great spin from sue gins perpetual failures…(dont buy the fluff in her obit)…but that is another story for the woman who married bill mcgowen and had met him when he was in chicago doing his corporate microwave communications thingee…hard work and marrying well…

      but back to our story…

      yup tovarish, the symbol of the workers of the world is…well…was…in chicago…first the federal highway ran thru and killed off the actual market, or most of it…but the sight where the stage was and the events happened is still sorta kinda there…

      and as to “may day” in omerica, one of those “national security” veteran organizations quickly grabbed may 1st as “americanization day” to keep it from being Labor Day in omerika…when the paperclip types showed up in omerika, even that was too much for them so in 1949, may 1st in omerika became loyalty day in many local communities and officially federally changed in the 50’s…
      cant make this kinda stuff up…

      and no this is not something I was going to cut and past to dufflebag…

      but…some one who might sorta look like me may have had a small hand in the actually finally getting the location at 151-191 Des Plaines Street in Chicago designated as a landmark…the Crane Building…funny how a few people under their breath called me a communist…too funny that…I am sure raul castro would probably not advice he and I be in the same room…one of us would be soon dead from the event…(probably me since he has a few friends with guns who are always around him for some reason and i dont like guns)…

      and so at least for future generations they will be able to go there and at least look at the building that was in the background in all those famous…what…oh…the landmarking of the bulding…well…that was hard to get a symbolic vote on may 25th, 1992 with daley in office and michelle and val doing their white house apprenticeship in the department of planning…but…at least as a landmark it would…oh…well, since we live in the age of doublespeak…the address of the designation was switched over to 154-166 North Jefferson Street, and the historic landmark designation was reduced to a c level designation and a whole new reason for the landmarking was rewritten into the books…turns out Crane company did not burn up in the great chicago fire…(as if the whole city actually burned down) and had gotten some contracts to help “rebuild chicago after that fire”(as if getting a contract is something of historical significance) and…well…there are gonna be some great views from that building they are going to build one day…

      yup tovarish…building is gone…they have not yet “abandoned and sold” the alley to the developers…at least no yet…

      so in theory, someone could walk over to the spot and leave a flower or a candle today…but…

      not gonna happen since all those “activists and anarchists” in chicago are probably busy taking selfies of themselves in auntiefa and unclefa poses and posting to their accounts for their fellow “approved oppositionistas” to thumb up and down their photo framing capacities…gotta make sure that bandana is leaning properly…

      now mind you, the good folks at Gerding Edlin have all types of wondrous LEED designations (75 at last count) with their projects and in their principles of place section they are very happy to spout out that they “preserve symbols that matter”…and on paper, they kept the other side of the building that had nothing to do with the landmark designation…and the paperwork at the landmarks commission has been changed to reflect the new and improved history lesson…

      but whats a little detail among friends…

      we have always been at war with…

      1. barefoot charley

        To be fair to radical Chicago, the official Haymarket monument for generations was a chunky bronze 19th century cop with arm upraised, standing against anarchy and the mob; he was blown up so many times he was moved, in the 1970s, to the courtyard of Chicago’s cop school a few blocks away, behind a 12-foot fence protecting its parking lot and front door. You can glimpse him as you pass but stand back! Safety first.

        1. Alex Morfesis

          Ah the famous woody allen radicals, the weathered under wear…hard core baddies…and brilliant like alex hidell…many things they claimeth…as an example, the destruction of the police statue about Haymarket…but for some reason they did not “admit it” until 4+ years after the fact and in that 1974 book…

          but they were baddies…and daring to…

          they broke into an “armory” & came away with all of 400 rounds of ammo…worth about $2.50 back then…yes that is two dollars and fifty cents…2 hours at a minimum wage job back then…

          and this was to help arm the black panthers…because it is hard to walk over to a seven eleven and get ammo when you are black…and america makes it so hard to get guns…

          The statue was not set at the actual site of the events…near but not at…

          Don’t really buy the story and narrative but it makes a nice tale for children…

      2. Ancient 1

        A Morfesis
        5/1/17 at 11:26 am
        Always admire your comments. Keep doing it. we need your voice.

  8. George Phillies

    So why did Trump win? The “secret” Democratc Party report of course is leaking — a wise move if deliberate.

    Answer: Obama voters voted for Trump in adequate numbers. Tripling down on mobilizing Democrats is unlikely to work in general. The article notes that the Times figured this out. (So it appears to me did Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics; Trende predicted the mechanism that could lead to Clinton winning the popular vote and losing the electoral vote…in 2010.).

    1. djrichard

      I’m shocked at how the conversation admits that working class white voters simply aren’t looked at as the dem party base.

      Much of the debate over how to move forward has centered on whether the party should try to win back working-class white voters – who make up the bulk of Obama-Trump voters – or focus instead on mobilizing its base.

      Anyways, wonder what working class issues would appeal to their base? You know, issues that could have made a nice bridge to working class whites. I guess there mustn’t be any, otherwise we would have heard about it. Oh yea, free college, how could I forget?

      1. Katharine

        It makes me wonder a little whether they ever grasped the relevance of math to real life, or just went through all those classes to get the grades. They have helped to decimate the middle class and still think they can win elections without the working class? Truly strange.

        1. McKillop

          The comments pf justanotherprogressive, J T McPhee and alex morfesis might help us to go figure. “Language changes”. and the power of words and those who manipulate the damn things change our understanding and our emotional response to the thingees the words are working to explain.
          Why would anybody who believes that effort and ambition should be devoted to escaping the working class – and being encouraged to believe that a bit of loot and education, a gawd-awful house in the subs and the rest of other thingees- want to be caught consorting with the working class? Years ago, in ’66, at university, a professor of Socciology asked students crowded into a first year course to raise hands to acknowledge their social position. Six or so confessed to thinking of themselves as working class; the other hundred or so claimed to be middle-class. Hell, that was the whole point of their future efforts and they never looked back.
          They were the ones who became teachers and middle managers and white collar employees.
          I don’t imagine that those who work -sorry,engage- in the political effort want to stoop to appealing to workers. They are due their just desserts,

      2. CD

        It’s interesting that the Dem Party has a tough time admitting that Hillary lost because the Dems and she gave up the working class.

        My guess is that the Dems found it convenient and cash-worthy to ask money of Wall Street and well-off suburbanites. These are folks glad to send money to support their interests, rather than the working class.

        How much money does the working class have? It looks like the Dems haven’t found an answer to this dilemma. A presidential campaign costs over a billion dollars, I’ve read.

        Maybe the answer is campaign reform. Shorten the permitted campaign period to six months. And limit contributions to $100 per person and corporation, and the working class will become a much more attractive voting bloc.

        Doing this may increase the Dems voting popularity and relieve them of the burden of saying one thing but voting the opposite.

        I know, sounds impractical.

  9. Ulysses

    From Jordan von Manalastas’ Jacobin piece, linked above:

    “In past administrations, the legal order was the medium of power and cruelty, but also their limitation. Trump has peeled back this façade to reveal the ugly, rotten germ of authoritarianism that was latent all along — the impulse for a strongman who gets things done, no matter what. Trumpism is what happens when the best the ruling class can vomit up is the sniveling face of a petty billionaire.”

    This potential for the emergence of tyranny– from within organized, “balanced” systems of government– is why I feel more comfortable as an anarcho-syndicalist than a Fabian socialist. What really matters in human affairs is power: who has it and who doesn’t.

    For thousands of years, in societies that have developed stratification, based on power distinctions between owners/managers and workers, the former’s interests have always been paramount in legal and governmental arrangements.

    Adam Smith understood this quite well:

    “Laws and governments may be considered in this and indeed every case, as a combination of the rich to oppress the poor, and preserve to themselves the inequality of the goods, which would otherwise be destroyed by the attacks of the poor, who if not hindered by the government would soon reduce others to an equality with themselves by open violence.”

    1. LifelongLib

      Thanks for the Adam Smith quote. Good to be reminded that he wasn’t the total enthusiast for capitalism and authority he is often portrayed as, especially by people who haven’t read him.

    1. cnchal

      It’s also an extortion racket.

      When I owned a small business they kept hitting me up but I refused to deal with them for this reason. Finally I had to give in because my competitors were already in bed with them and were beating me. On my Yelp page were advertisements promoting my competitors, I asked the Yelp rep if the competitor ads would disappear if I gave in and paid them, her answer was yes that is essentially how it works. She couldn’t even lie. Fucking cocksuckers the lot of them. Yelp is a giant fucking scam if you’re a business owner unfortunately they hold too much sway with the consumer.

      Yelp’s business model is extortion. If you use their reviews to make a purchase decision you’re an idiot. For me, when I google a local establishment I simple do this “company -yelp“. Works like a charm.

      Thanks for the link. Now I know that yelp is just another internet scam, which is in some way amusing as I have seen their ads on this site, where there is an image of a man with arms folded and grinning mouth claiming that they are “engineers” and can engineer some money for you.

      Personally, I don’t consider code scribblers to be “engineers”.

    2. Adam Eran

      Interesting. Yelp empowered us as consumers.

      A tradesman did defective work on our house, and agreed to reimburse us for what we paid someone else to fix the things he broke. Then we asked for the money. Foot-dragging and lies were what followed. Yet when we entered an unfavorable review in Yelp, the money arrived the next day.

      So…in the grand scheme of things, I’d still prefer an organization that supports consumers over the predatory businesses out there, even if they are predators themselves. Hmmm. I’m starting to sound like a Trump voter (“OK, he’s a psycho, but he’s our psycho!”)

      1. jrs

        They may help consumers in one-off cases like this, but once you realize many (maybe even most) of the reviews are gamed, they aren’t a net asset to consumers or potential consumers at all. They are noise at best and straight out deception at worst. The only good thing is the pictures (of food for restaurants, or the inside of a store etc.) or in finding a type of store.

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Strategies for resisting right-wing populism Understanding Society

    Bo-ring. So much pseudo-“academic” head-scratching over what should more accurately be considered “intuitively obvious to the most casual observer.” Start here:

    The McKinsey Global Institute recently reported that over 80% of US households had seen their income stagnate or decline in the period 2009-2016.

    (A time period, they might remember, that the u.s. was helmed by a virtually unassailable democrat.)

    And the concluding question is particularly galling in its deliberate obtuseness:

    And is the underlying suspicion voiced by Rothstein above actually correct: that the Democratic Party is so beholden to large corporate interests that it is incapable of adopting these kinds of platforms?

    A far better question would be, “Why is the democrat party even referred to as the “left” at all?”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You ask, is the D party left at all?

      Question 2, by resisting right-wing populism, the left, the real left, evolves and gets better. If that is the case, is right-wing populism necessary for the world to evolve, to improve and become a better world? Do we properly acknowledge the debt then?

    2. polecat

      ‘helmed in by a virtually unassailable ‘pseudo’ democrat ….. wearing peacock plumage.

  11. JCC

    The facebook story link was messed up in my browser and sent me to a Chrome browser blocking page (and I’m not using the chrome browser). i ended up have to plug in “The Australian” + the title of the article to get there.

    As to “should they even want to?” question, based on the article I read, of course. They are doing it to sell advertising algorithms to advertisers and make big profits… and probably for other nefarious reasons, too.

  12. allan

    Why did Trump win? New research by Democrats offers a worrisome answer. [WaPo]

    … Skepticism about the Democratic Party was echoed rather forcefully in the focus groups that I watched. In one, Obama-Trump voters were asked what Democrats stand for today and gave answers such as these:

    “The one percent.”

    “The status quo.”

    “They’re for the party. Themselves and the party.” …

    Apparently the Brock/Daou Ministry of Truth messaging was unable to insult
    these people into submission. Go figure.

    1. NeqNeq

      Glad someone linked that one. The take away of the focus group testing:

      To win back cautious Trump supporters, we should tie Trump to GOP policies that put the interests of the wealthy/businesses before the middle class and programs they rely on,” the polling memo concludes.

      DNC 2020: Listen Horribles, Trump hates you just as much as we do. Now go vote for our candidate you hypocrites!

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Facebook targets ‘insecure’ young people Australian Business Review. Interesting:

    Older people are not infrequently emotionally vulnerable too.

    It’s self-policing at this time. Tomorrow, who or how are those selected be targeted?

    One possibility – suggest who to vote as the next president. That ought to exclude some people from running, being in that position to influence voters.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      zuckerberg sightings–digging in community gardens and screwing screws on factory floors–have lead to speculation that he is eyeing a second career in “public service.”

      As far as I’m concerned, this secret mind control, war on fake news shit is the clearest indicator yet. In terms of “conflicts of interest,” we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

      1. Roger Smith

        He was just at my place of employment… on the down low… only meeting with Muslim students. If I had known I would have gone to ask him about that land he is hoarding/squatting from the Hawaiian natives.

        Another pathetic turd. Money For Nothing.

      2. Pat

        About the only thing I see in the future about this I am looking forward to is the inevitable conflict between Zuckerberg and Booker over the disaster that was the money donated to the Newark school system. Sadly, while I know there is no way Booker comes out of this looking good, Zuckerberg will probably be able to skirt on his contributions to this failure, perhaps even be able to portray it as a step on his education of why he is needed. But it will still be fun.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Charter schools will be an issue. The teachers unions will kill him.

          Zuckerberg has avoided scrutiny. Hes one billionaire out of many, and hes not charismatic, short too. He doesn’t have celebrity appeal, and the kinds of people who would be impressed by Zuckerberg are too few or don’t vote. There is a reason billionaires don’t simply run for office periodically. They are fairly repulsive. Can you imagine him answering questions on policy?

          Voter: Whats your stance on the minimum wage?
          Zuckerberg: Facebook will…

          Hillary could kind of get away with it, but she still needed to cheat to beat a 73 year old from Vermont.

          Trump could get away with behaviors for two reasons:

          -one, he is actually charismatic. Wheeling and dealing so to speak is his in wheelhouse.
          -two, he is a Republican, the party of John McCain and Sarah Palin. The Republican voter (especially those nice suburban moderates) has no standards.

          Except for the height and charisma problem, Zuckerberg would do better in the GOP.

          1. ambrit

            Actually, Operative “Z” would do best resurrecting the Whig Party. It’s a more natural “fit” for him.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    As Economy Grows, North Korea’s Grip on Society Is Tested NYT

    Learning from that Swedish company, not secretly importing Swedish ladies – and insert the right stuff, microchips.

    That helps with your tested grip..

  15. Montanamaven

    I find that any article like the New Republic one on political movements that use Occupy Wall Street as an example of failed tactics that does not mention how they were brutally and physically driven from the Occupy parks all over the country is disingenuous at the least.

    1. scotty_mack

      Amen. The author has to ignore that the Dems coordinated a violent crackdown on Occupy, or the article’s whole central thesis would be exposed as tosh.

      1. John k

        Typical neolib.
        I subscribed to TNR for years until they did a Class not race’ issue, based on there being far more poor whites than blacks, they caved next month on the pushback. Never renewed after that.

    2. jrs

      I suppose one could argue that any successful left movement MUST expect violent crackdown by the U.S. government and have plans to deal with it and that Occupy didn’t to a sufficient degree (although honestly some of the not having leaders seemed like a good strategy to try to deal with potential oppression or undermining – no leaders to co-opt, jail etc.).

      But this is a radical position indeed to expect oppression (though it seems to me fairly accurate).

  16. JohnnyGL

    The budget deal reached to avoid shutdown doesn’t look too horrific from what details are available in this link. I noticed this little bit:

    “It also includes money to permanently extend health benefits for retired miners, a top priority of Senate Democrats facing re-election next year such as Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio).”

    If you watched the Town Hall with Bernie in W. Va. you will recall how many locals praised Bernie for his work to get this legislation approved. So, I’m left wondering, did Bernie help get a deal done that the media wants to avoid giving him credit on? Anyone got details?

    By the way, on a somewhat related note, Bernie’s money for the Community Health Centers as part of the ACA was a much bigger deal than people realized and that includes ME! The CHC close to where I live has expanded massively and serves primarily Medicaid recipients.

    1. Spring Texan

      Yes, that’s what I love about Sanders is he really works for stuff that MATTERS – has eye on ball.

      1. polecat

        ‘stuff that matters’ …

        Don’t forget those fabulous F-35s …. and .. HEY ! the conniving Russians …. !!!

        Blind-spots indeedy.

    2. grizziz

      Extending the health benefits to 22000 retired miners may be a tactical win and assuage moral feelings. Funding the union benefit fund separately instead of offering the miners subsidies under the ACA or Medicare will likely leads to a group of 22000 persons who will not support any single payer system because the miners benefits will change and presumably not to their betterment.

        1. grizziz

          I can cheer for John Conyers yearly attempt at Medicare-For-All which has been presented every year to Congress since 2003, however the likelihood of passage remains low with support of House Democrats of about 40%.

    3. Pat

      I kept pointing out the community health centers during the primary to people who wanted to berate Sanders for his support of ACA (as in it was good enough before but not now). Sanders knew ACA was deeply flawed, but it was clearly that or nothing. He negotiated the the inclusion of the Community Health Centers as the cost of his vote, one of the few things outside of the Medicaid expansion focused more on providing health care throughout the nation rather than funding insurance companies in the bill.

  17. Jim A.

    On stupidity:
    People can be stupid about some things and smart about others…. Just because somebody is proficient at computer programming does not mean that they are good at investing. Somebody who is good at making speeches may not be a good judge of character. And vice versa. Don’t believe that just because somebody is good at one task it implies that they’re not stupid enough at another to make trouble for you.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Many smart people I have encountered believe they are smart about everything.

      It’s quite intimidating, really…at least for me.

      1. LifelongLib

        I always thought part of being smart is knowing when you’re not smart enough…

    2. MLS

      Excellent comment!

      I believe it was Einstein who said “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”

  18. Jim Haygood

    From Trump’s Saturday night rally in Harrisburg:

    ‘The media,’ he said, ‘deserves a very, very big, fat fat failing grade’ for its coverage of his first 100 days in office.

    He singled out ‘the failing New York Times,’ saying its poor financial management has forced it to shrink its print edition past the point where ‘pretty soon they’ll only be on the Internet.’

    ‘The paper’s getting smaller and smaller. Did you ever notice? It’s starting to look like a comic book.’

    Like a comic book” — AH HA HA HA

    Comrades, I broke down upon reading this, shrieking with laughter till tears ran down my cheeks.

    Then I was saddened by a photo of a young woman captioned “A protester wearing a t-shirt with ‘Love Trumps Hate’ written on it pleads her case before she is ejected by law enforcement.”

    If only the president and LEOs understood that it would be far more dignified and presidential to affirm that her free expression of her opinion is what he was elected to defend.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      She would have been OK with a ‘Hate Trump Love.’

      “I hate his love.”

    2. RUKidding

      That quote about the NYT is good.

      However, I heard a number of the rally attendees on the radio all spouting out about how Trump is doing the BEST job, and that he’s accomplishing what he said he would, and that he’s really “cleaning up” Wash DC,and that he’s implementing all the changes and programs that he said he would.

      So I had a sad, frankly.

      What was that article about stupidity?

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Funny how, having spent several decades pretending to keep their campaign promises and managing to convince their voters that it was true, the democrats are now surprised to see that two can play at that game.

        1. RUKidding

          That’s true.

          A friend this weekend got really angry with me when I disputed her claim that the “only reason” why Obama didn’t pursue Single Payer was bc the Republicans “wouldn’t let him.”

          Egad. I said we’d have to agree to disagree. That while Obama talked a good GAME about Single Payer on the campaign trail, he simply NEVER TRIED to implement it once in office. That was my beef. If I had seen him fighting for it, and it genuinely failed, I might have been slightly mollified. Instead the Barackstar immediately went behind closed doors and had a hand shake with BigIns to do the rightwing Heritage Foundation plan. Then he took Dennis Kucinich up in Air Force One and apparently hung him out the door by his feet until Kucinich agreed to vote for that POS (my speculation, but why Air Force One??).

          But many D voters have drunk the Kool Aid and firmly believe that Sainted Obama really really “worked” for them. I didn’t dare ask about the recent spate of Wall St speaking fees.


    1. LT

      For $1000, I’ll throw mud on someone’s pair of jeans at their request. Then they can brag to the person who only paid $425 for their look.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I’ve got LOTS of assorted jeans with ground-in, irremovable mud on the knees. If anyone wants to fake being a gardener (and who wouldn’t?), they’re available, only $100 apiece. A real bargain. If you want a few holes (suddenly fashionable again, i note), we can manage that, too.

        This might be a real 10-bagger!

        1. funemployed

          I’ve got it! Lets wifi enable LT’s mud and your jeans! Your jeans can notify LT’s mud-service when they have dropped below the optimal muddiness for hipness. I’ll get some drones to then drop mud in fashionably authentic seasonable/regional mud colors on the customer for a small monthly fee of 19.99/mo!

          Silicon valley, here we come. We’re gonna be soooo rich.

        2. funemployed

          Of course it should go without saying that the jeans will be unwearable without an internet connection, and will gather data on the customers’ nether regions for marketing purposes. The possibilities are endless. I’m feeling so entrepreneurial right now.

  19. Katniss Everdeen

    Uh-oh. So will it be Russia or North Korea who gets the blame for this one? My money’s on North Korea. The “armada” is already in the area, and if the world’s most powerful military won’t defend the honor of Netflix and Orange is the New Black, what does that say about us as a force for planetary good?

    Good on Netflix for refusing to negotiate with terrorists.

  20. Pat

    Regarding Wall Street’s fit about American Airlines choosing to give their workers a raise, or in better terms to pay their workers a wage closer to commensurate with the service they provide the company, it is just SOP.
    Besides my realization that the inordinate joy that analysts and commentators always show whenever a company announces large layoffs (ignoring that such an action either says the company has been mismanaged and is in trouble OR will be mismanaged henceforth as they try to do too much with too little) proved that Wall Street has little or no interest in the actual operations of a company and how well run it is, there was their reaction to Costco. Consistently downgraded by the same analysts and commentators because they actually paid their employees, these brilliant analysts had to ignore that the company was stable, well run and had far less expensive employee turnover than other companies who followed their dictates regarding employee compensation.

    IOW, so what and today is Monday, this is and has been Wall Street’s reaction to the people who actually do the work in any company. Only figureheads and top management deserve pay days according to this brain trust (once again ignoring facts on the ground that much of top management pay is inflated and provides little or no shareholder value as it has no basis to company value and even when the shareholders recognize incompetence or malfeasance they get screwed – see poster girl Carly Fiorina.)

    I will also posit with no evidence that those bemoaning this the most will have a fit when an underpaid and overworked check-in desk or steward doesn’t hop to their wishes usually before others ahead of them in line.

  21. JEHR

    Re Stupidity: At any one time, about one-half the stupid in the world exist to make the other half miserable.

  22. Antifa


    My tribe of six canines are all chipped. Chips have some medical records advantages, but their real value is indisputable proof that each of these dogs is absolutely and uniquely mine. I get an automated phone call, and an email, every time one of them is scanned, and their database record is updated.

    They are so owned.

    So who cares if some Swedish employees want to be treated like dogs, and get microchipped? For what? So they can magically open doors, and pay for latte with a French wave, like wizards. Feh. Bunch of scenesters who know not what fire they play with. But we’d all better care about these idiots because — just like my collection of mutts — their microchip definitively answers the question, “who owns me?”

    These chips are RFID tech. They don’t record data; they’re simply a unique identifier that can respond to scanners. The data collected is currently limited to who you are, where you are, and any financial transaction you wave through. This list can change and expand almost to infinity, though. Each scan feeds an ever growing database of whatever info your chip offers. The problem is that scanners can and will be anywhere and everywhere.

    Currently, scanners can be handheld, built into doorways, into your refrigerator (so your personal trainer, doctor, life coach and health insurer can all see exactly how often you snack every day), into your car’s ignition, into bridges you cross, or into any intersection. They can also be found in the cash register of whichever liquor store or strip club or opium den you choose to frequent. Under your desk at work, in the bathroom at work, or throughout your workplace. You aren’t invisible or incognito.

    The chip ain’t the question. It’s all the scanners out there. It’s what data gets collected on you, by whom, and who sees this permanent record — ever.

    When the FDA approved RFID chips for pets, the company gave about 700 scanners away — for free — to veterinarians around the US. This was the camel getting its nose inside the tent. Two years later, over 50,000 scanners had been sold. We can expect the same pattern if people begin chipping themselves — scanners will be everywhere people go. You won’t necessarily be out of their range even on the tourist route up Mt. Everest. In fact, that’s an excellent place to put some. No need to wonder if those are your mortal remains frozen to those jagged rocks over there. The scanner confirms it.

    Why so many scanners?

    Because there are scads of people highly interested in knowing your movements and habits, down to the smallest detail. You, for starters. Your spouse. Your employer. Perhaps the police, on occasion. Your doctor, your insurance provider, and just everyone who’d like to sell you a consumer product. By creating a unique and indisputable record of your movements and spending, you hand over a plethora of your own life choices to all these people, since you know in advance that you will have to answer to them for your record. So you learn to watch your step.

    You are so owned. And, unlike my dogs, you’ve got no idea who owns you.

    As implanted chips become “normalized” in our culture, the outcasts will be people who don’t have one. When it becomes a barrier to employment to not have one, and to not have had one since birth, we will have arrived. Might as well tattoo your unique barcode right on your forehead. If done by skilled hands, it can be both fashionable and attractive.

    I fully expect to see Faraday Gloves for sale on Amazon within the year. Tightly woven aluminum mesh gloves with a tiny battery providing a tiny electric current that blocks RFID scans. Put it on when you leave work, and you can hit that opium den, raid that refrigerator, spend the evening with an old flame, mug strangers for fun and profit, or practice that serial killer thing you get such a kick from. Go wild — no one’s tracking you.

    Oh wait — just walking past a scanner without giving a valid RFID response will cause every CCTV camera on the street to zoom in on you. Busted. Better ditch that glove before the patrol car gets here.

    Which is why I’m sitting here trying to 3D print an RFID spoofer chip that will let me assume a new identity at will. One that lets me choose who I am. Your grandmother at Neiman Marcus. You while I’m starting your BMW. The previous customer while buying a double espresso at Starbucks. Frankly, I see no need to ever be me again.

    Damn. I almost had it working there a minute ago, but now the dogs wanna go for a walk . . .

      1. Oregoncharles

        there’s a thought: human RFID chips in dogs. “You” can be wherever your dog goes.

    1. HBE

      I highly doubt we as a species will ever make it to that high level techno-totalitarian horror.

      Ecological, environmental, and energy collapses will hit before then. Insurance companies aren’t going to want to track anyone if no one can afford healthcare, Amazon isn’t going to be tracking anyone if no one can afford to buy from them, governments aren’t going to be tracking anyone with tech when they lack energy.

      1. Antifa

        I bet you’re right. Return on investment isn’t there, as you say.

        But it’s sad to see we are making the effort. Information seized because it is information. Let’s hope thing don’t progress too far in this direction before the effort falls apart.

        Or else it will be as The Prisoner used to say, “Be seeing you.”

      2. polecat

        Perhaps this stuff is being telegraphed to the young, super-rich, trendy set …. kinda like how the Faeire Festival was promoted recently as the ‘Coachella Festival-on-the-Bahamas …

        Dumb rich kids ….

    2. Ancient1

      5/1/16 at 1:14 pm

      The best piece of writing I have read in a long time. Thank you. You have overturned a rock with a message , “In the future all enfants will be implanted with a chip at birth.” So sad that humans have become such fools.

    3. carycat

      a tatoo with your id serves the exact same purpose. slave owners and repressive governments have a long history of doing this to their undesirables. but it is modern technology (a chip!) so it must be ok.

  23. Oregoncharles

    “France election: Macron says EU must reform or face ‘Frexit’ BBC”
    Even granted that he’s campaigning and probably not sincere, the mere fact that Macron, of all people, feels the need to say that means the EU is in deep trouble.

  24. Antifa

    The Bloomberg narrative about permanent jobs coming back in Japan is certainly not describing a return to the days of “the salary man” who could never be fired or downsized.

    Anywhere in the world, permanent jobs are only permanent for exactly as long as it suits the profit aims of the employer.

  25. Alex Morfesis

    When may day meant something to the Labour party…20 years ago to the day, the tories handed tony blair a victory…and…well…maybe my eyes deceive me…but there seems to be the faint smell of a deal between corbyn and blair…

    probably reading too much into nothing…however it looks as though both factions know the other wont be going away anytime soon and it smells like under the right set of events in the next two weeks, if the blair krewe can scrounge up some solid traction in scotland and blair gives a very public “my stupidities” speech…

    a “grand bargain” might be at hand…

    1. ambrit

      Well, from where I sit over on this side of the Atlantic, the Brexit vote was the first part of the “Grand Unravelling.” Britain might end up looking like Dark Ages England soon.

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    25 Years After the Riots, Economic Conditions in Many L.A. Neighborhoods Are Worse LA Weekly

    The wealth-gradient from coastal LA inland is among the steepest you will find in the world.

    Go a short distance inland, and it’s a different world.

    It’s quite precarious for all those well-to-do Hillary voters, when the next big tectonic or social-economic-political quake strikes.

  27. ewmayer

    o ‘Employees at this Swedish company can get a microchip inserted under their skin World Economic Forum. “The process lasts a few seconds, and more often than not there are no screams and barely a drop of blood.”’ — Normalizing such practices and applauding them for their cutting-edgeness is a key step on the roadmap to the day when getting chipped is no longer optional.

    o “The Rule of Law Won’t Save Us | Jacobin” — A bold claim, given how long it’s been since any of the major developed nations actually tried hewing to the whole “equal justice for all” thing. Let’s consider a few major elite-impunity-tied issues:

    1. Permawar: No more declarations of war nor congressional votes needed! Just recycle a single legacy AUMF 4ever.

    2. The 2008 GFC: A direct consequence of flouting finance laws, allowing Wall Street crooks to drive legislation, and de facto immunizing the perps.

    3. The rise of the Stasi State: What 4th amendment?

    4. The depredations of medical-industrial complex: Directly enabled by bribed lawmakers making special carveouts to permit Big Med to ignore anti-monopoly and transparent-pricing statutes, disallow hoi polloi from legally importing cheaper meds, etc.

    Of course having a bidness-friendly Supreme Court is key in many of the above – I have no easy remedy there.

  28. Justin

    Hard times for Whole Foods

    Thank god we have several organic markets in our county, places where 100% of the produce is highest quality organic, they bake their own fresh bread everyday from grain they mill that morning, a place where nothing hot is kept overnight, if not sold, given to employees to take home so everything is fresh the next day.
    Here’s what a real organic and progressive supermarket looks like:

    Meanwhile, nearby two A**Whole Foods stores that thought they were going to put the local market out of business, sorry, they are doing better than ever, spend more time and energy pretending that they are an organic market than actually being one.
    They resell old products, sell Chinese grown ‘organics’, have put multiple health food stores out of business by lowering prices, which mysteriously rise after the competition is gone and treat their long term employees as a liability thus earning a new nickname; Walfoods.

    1. Huey Long

      I’ve never been a Whole Foods guys, but then again where I live out in Brooklyn there are plenty of alternative retail establishments for me to get my organic kale and quinoa fix.

      Whole Foods always struck me as more of a destination for the “cool kids” than as a legitimate organic market/health food store.

    2. jrs

      good for you but nothing like that in most of southern California (I do miss Wild Oats, I liked that store). We have big chains here for the most part. Maybe the rents too high here for anything else to be competitive, I suspect so, and that the surviving retailers are far more influenced by high rents for retail space than any other competitive pricing pressures (although Wild Oats was put out of business, but mostly the grocery landscape has been this way for a long time).

      Maybe the future actually IS online when stores like Whole Foods go out of business if they do. There are online natural retailers now and they do deliver, at least it solves the rent problem except for a warehouse. Online shopping may eventually have the best options.

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