Links 6/12/17

If you wrong a raven, it will remember The Verge

Israeli Court Rules Banks Can Deny Service to Bitcoin Firms Finance Magnates (Richard Smith). Richard comments: “I wonder how many more banks will make this argument.”

Amazon loans just the start for ‘techbanking’ FT

Meet Zerodium, the company that pays $1 million for Apple hacks CNN

Uber Weighs Leave of Absence for Top Executive NYT (Hurbert Horan). Hubert comments: “The Uber Death Watch has officially begun.” And:

As I write this, The Uber Board Meeting is apparently still in progress. I assume the Kalanick leave/Michaels out story would not have been leaked unless they were not going peacefully. I am still guessing that Plan A for Holder and Huffington was a whitewash but that the Recode story about the Indian rape victim made that untenable, and they rushed to produce Plan B.

There is no one in management or on the Board who can exercise decisive control at this point and articulate a clear explanation about how the company can ever make money going forward. There are people on the board who could be seen as “credible CEOs” by the outside world (Gurley, Bonderman, even Huffington) but none of them could possibly articulate a path to profitability that anyone in the company would believe.

We’ll see what happens but I’m guessing that either Kalanick doesn’t leave, or there is the monther-of-all-PR efforts to convince everyone that this was totally a “bro/cultural” problem that had nothing to do with the actual business.

Pass the popcorn. And since it would be irresponsible not to speculate, it wouldn’t be surprising if Kalanick or others withheld the rape victim story from Holder, rendering his investigation and recommendations moot. That wouldn’t make the Board happy at all, especially if they ended up finding out about it from the trade press.

How being ‘coin-operated’ at Uber led to a top exec obtaining the medical records of a rape victim in India Recode


The danger of ISIS will remain even after the liberation of Syria and Iraq: why? Elijah J. Magnier (via).

The U.S. Uses Illegal Chemical Weapons … Again Washington’s Blog

Qatar, in regional crisis, hires former US attorney general WaPo. Paying John Ashcroft $2 million to “audit its efforts at stopping terrorism.”

Fixing Trump’s Qatar Blunder (He’s Not Helping) Blooomberg

Manchester attack: Bomber Abedi ‘built device alone at flat’ BBC. “[A]ll 22 people arrested in connection with the attack in May have now been released without charge.”

UK Election Aftermath

A Brief Thought: And the Tide Rolled Back Nina Illingworth

An Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn: Labour needs to act fast and Our “Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn”: we respond to comments Prime Economics

Newspaper headlines: May backs Gove, Boris backs May BBC

Election 2017: Michael Gove appointed environment secretary in cabinet reshuffle – as it happened Guardian

Theresa May confirms Brexit negotiations to start this month Politico

Philip Hammond is the politician to salvage a Brexit deal FT

Half of UK employers unprepared for immigration changes – think tank Reuters

New economic woes put Theresa May under fresh pressure Telegraph

Jeremy Corbyn vows to oust Theresa May ‘within a matter of days’ after spectacular election result The Mirror

Thread on Brexit and Northern Ireland (NI):

French Elections

Macron’s party on course for landslide victory in French parliamentary elections The Local

Macron, the 39-year-old strongman Europe needs CNN


White people wanted: a peek into China’s booming ‘rent a foreigner’ industry South China Morning Post (J-LS). Wow, a career path!

An inside view of Hong Kong’s hidden rooftop farms BBC

The New Cold War

Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War The New Yorker. John Helmer comments:

1. What is new in this account seems of little consequence — a new FBI source complaining he wasn’t listened to; numbers research on tweet-sharing of falsehoods, etc. Pop guns, not smoking guns.

2. Even if true, they don’t go to the heart, or even the surface of the truth — Clinton was a thoroughly corrupt character, the extent of which was more suppressed than exposed by the media, but still, there were enough voters distributed by state to distrust Clinton so much that Trump, being the only alternative, won the election by a whisker.

3. The evidence is that Trump is a thoroughly corrupt character, and also a mental defective. There is nothing in the excerpt which adds or subtracts from this. And we’ve learned this without Russian help or hindrance.

4. If the Russian side was employing 1,000 cyber specialists according to a “retired KGB colonel” that means (a) they aren’t employing anywhere near enough to match the US, British, Israeli, Chinese sides; (b) the source is lying; and (c) to retire from the KGB the individual speaking in an open source medium is now at least 16 years gone from active Russian intelligence, so he can’t be relied on for anything, except for empty boasting.

5. Even if the Russian side employed 10,000 or 100,000 cyber agents, and they came up with evidence of the truth, the truth would still be the truth, and that’s what was convincing in Clinton’s defeat. It still is the truth, and it still is convincing.

6. Now, because Putin has also made a public statement of something similar, does that mean that the statement, “the truth is the truth and should be believed because it is so” is a Russian fabrication? We have reached this point with the likes of Applebaum, Weiss, Lucas, Pomerantz, and others, all of whose livelihoods depend on state money for such guff. However, this point is the point of insanity. So as disappointing as it is to be alive in a world of insane people, we must accustom ourselves to it.

7. Consider the result of the UK election. So far as I can tell, not a single of the usual suspects, and not a single mainstream media outlet has yet reported a Russian role in May’s defeat, or Corbyn’s gain. May is hanging on only because the Tory alternatives are weaker and worse. Her staff is beginning to resign, and the moronic Australian who knighted himself before running the disastrous campaign, ought to follow. So should all the mainstream media, starting with the Murdoch press, the Guardian, and the Financial Times. So far as I can tell, the BBC has been attacked for “rigging” the audience at the TV “debate” at which I was convinced that May had lost it. However, the “nurse” who asked the question which killed May on the spot has yet to be exposed as a Russian cyber puppet. What she revealed was that May and the entire Tory government cannot explain or justify the destruction of economic opportunity which they are inflicting on the population, old and young alike. The 14%+ swing among university students and the massive Corbyn vote in the university towns proved decisive. There they worked out that May blights their current lives and dooms their future. How many of them read RT or Dostoevsky to find this out? The only positive thing to be said about May, unlike the sleazy hypocrite across the Channel, or the one north of the US border, is that exposing the truth in an election campaign is the purpose of the election, and when it happens that isn’t a Russian plot.

The verdict on the stories of Russian hacking in the 2016 election Fabius Maximus

Against Neo-McCarthyism The Nation. From August 2016, and still relevant.

Sessions says he will testify Tuesday to answer questions about Russia raised by Comey Los Angeles Times

Trump Transition

Removing Trump Won’t Solve America’s Crisis The American Conservative

Melania Trump, son Barron move into the White House AP. Message: “I’m staying put.”

Trump gives Priebus until July 4th to clean up White House Politico

Trump holds fundraiser for lawmaker who helped save GOP health care bill CNN. Tom MacArthur; see video here. $800,000 is the kind of payday that makes being eviscerated by a constituent worthwhile.

Trump’s Support Drops in Military Communities NBC. Trump ran a policy-oriented (though Trumpian) campaign, and the military had every right to think national security policy would become more sane, especially in the Middle East. Now he’s not delivering. (One of the many reaons that Clinton’s “deplorables” comment was such a self-own was that she implied Trump voters weren’t capable of reflection and change. But they are.)

When a liberal power lawyer represents the Trump family, things can get ugly WaPo

Louisiana records give insight into thousands of businesses that utilize prison labor MuckRock

Indiana voter group registered a felon, non-U.S. citizen and a dead person, police say Indianapolis Star. Small numbers in the great scheme of things. But look at the incentive structure: “Canvassers told detectives they were pressured to collect 10 applications per shift or risk losing their jobs, according to the affidavit.” There really ought to be a way for Democrats to avoid debacles like this by institutionalizing voter registration. If they actually wish to expand their base, of course.

Will Chicago Become the Epicenter of Charter School Unionization? In These Times

Binghamton mayoral candidate pulls out of race following series of threats

Kansans consider the corpse of Sam Brownback’s tax plan: ‘It needed to happen’ Kansas City Star

Puerto Ricans back full US statehood but vote marred by abstentions AFP

Health Care

Healthcare policymakers home in on goal of universal coverage FT

Opioid Crisis Complicates GOP’s Health-Law Push WSJ

Can Democrats Save Themselves? Frank Bruni, NYT (Re Silc). Not by Betteridge’s Law…

Democrats in Split-Screen: The Base Wants It All. The Party Wants to Win. NYT. Well, the Party certainly knows how to do that, given its record [snort]. Oh, and Ossoff opposes “any move” toward single payer. No wonder the DNC loves him. Not only does he kick the left, he hates the base!

For Democrats to Succeed, Both Pragmatists and Progressives Must Work Together David Atkins, Washington Monthly. “Like conservative radio shock jocks, some progressive pseudo-activists build their brand on being purer and more ‘of the people’ than the many who have spent years getting their hands dirty within the party before them.” It’s interesting that Atkins doesn’t name or at least categorize those “pseudo-activists”; since he doesn’t, there’s no way to assess his claim. Moreover, the “progressives” who are trying to “get their hands dirty within the party” are the ones that the Establishment Democrats hate and fear the most; hence Obama standing up Perez to defeat Ellison, for example.

Premiere of the Nina Turner Show with Bernie Sanders Real News Network

Guillotine Watch

Mom reveals she spent $25k on her son’s Arabian-themed prom send-off with supercars, a camel and THREE dates as a reward after he nursed her through cancer while keeping a 3.76 GPA Daily Mail

Class Warfare

It’s not just the 1%. The upper middle class is oppressing everyone else, too Guardian (Re Silc).

Drug crisis is pushing up death rates for almost all groups of Americans WaPo

Capitalism & Mental Illness: Reflections on the Human Costs of Profit The Writings of John Laurits

The Internet is changing civil wars. Watch out for these five trends. WaPo

Soul and ice: finding P.K. Subban’s Nashville Scalawag

Antidote du jour:

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. allan

    Is “progressive pseudo-activist” more or less damning than “sanctimonious purist” or “professional leftist”?

    Still hippie punching after all these years.
    Times change. Apparently the Democratic Party never will.

    1. PhilK

      Agreed. And “the many who have spent years getting their hands dirty within the party” might command more respect if their last 30 years of dirty-handing had resulted in more than a bucket of warm spit.

      1. Skip Intro

        The progressives get their hands dirty, the ‘pragmatists’ get their knees dirty.

      2. Allegorio

        As in getting their hands dirty in accepting legalized political bribery to curry favor with their wealthy donor class and pursuing their interests over the rest of the society. The Democratic party establishment as always making the world safe for billionaires.

    2. DJG

      “Progressive pseudo-activist” is also the kind of straw man (and, inevitably, it is a man) who turns up in Rebecca Solnit’s essays. The Democratic Party establishment is widespread and corrupt, and corrupting. That’s part of the job, to keep corrupting the democratic (small D) process.

      1. Kim Kaufman

        David and his brother Dante are those currently “getting their hands dirty” working inside the Democratic party. Their careers and income is dependent on keeping a certain status quo. And what he omits to mention are the many corporate Dems “the party” keeps trying to push while disenfranchising viable progressive candidates. This article is disappointing from him but not surprising.

    3. different clue

      David Atkins is the little creature which Digby brought onto her blog to co-ordinate the stealth purging and stealth censorship and stealth banning of commenters who would not clap louder for Obama. I don’t know if Atkins was part of Digby’s decision to eliminate comments and eliminate all archive records of past comments, or if Digby did that all on her own.

      David Atkins is a perfect expression of everything Digby stands for.

  2. bwilli123

    Saudi Arabia is destabilizing the world.
    Via the Boston Globe.Perhaps the message is starting to get through.
    “The Saudi campaign to radicalize global Islam also shows that earth-shaking events often happen slowly and quietly. The press, focused intently on reporting today’s news, often misses deeper and more important stories. Historians of journalism sometimes point to the northward “great migration” of African-Americans after World War II as an epochal story that few journalists noticed because it was a slow process rather than one-day news event.
    The same is true of Saudi Arabia’s long campaign to pull the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims back to the 7th century. We barely notice it, but every day, from Mumbai to Manchester, we feel its effects.”

    1. Synoia

      The same is true of Saudi Arabia’s long campaign to pull the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims back to the 7th century.

      Bring back Charles the Hammer, aka: Charles Martel or Charlemagne.

      He had a “je ne sais quoi” relationship with the Muslims trying to conquer western Europe.

      1. Massinissa

        What Vidimi said. Charlemagne was a different person.

        Also, the Wahhabists financed by Saudi Arabia are more interested in conquering the Muslim world rather than Europe.

    2. TK421

      Wow, I wonder what it would be like to live in a society that believes it is the seventh century…Oh well, back to life in America, a country where the vast majority reject evolution, believe we should treat the environment as out dominion, and settle almost every kind of dispute with violence.

      1. Vatch

        Young earth creationism and dominionism are very disturbing. Fortunately, I don’t think the vast majority in the U.S. accept those doctrines. Far too many do, but it’s not the vast majority, fortunately. See this:

        Only a minority of Americans fully accept evolution through natural selection. Roughly six-in-ten U.S. adults (62%) say humans have evolved over time, according to data from Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study. But only a little more than half of them (33% of all Americans) express the belief that humans and other living things evolved solely due to natural processes. A quarter of U.S. adults (25%) say evolution was guided by a supreme being. The same survey found that 34% of Americans reject evolution entirely, saying humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.

        It’s bad, but it could be a lot worse.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Of those who believe humans evolved due to natural processes, not a few also believe, going forward, humans can evolve via un-naturall processes.

          Many of those unnatural evolutionists are scientists, genetic engineers.

          And often, they think of themselves as gods..

          (It’s already a lot worse.)

        2. witters

          “It’s bad, but it could be a lot worse.”

          After all, its only, what, 400 or so years since the New Science kicked off, and 160 or so since Darwin? These things take time.

      2. Allegorio

        Likewise, the resurgence of slavery, both debt and otherwise as in prison labor, in re the article about how many Louisiana businesses use prison labor. Our beloved perennial presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, admitted to using prison (slave) labor as first lady of Arkansas. They may not believe in evolution by natural selection, but they do sure believe in social Darwinism, as in the great Amerikan meritokracy, not what you know, but who you know. As always making the world safe for the ethnically privileged.

    3. Vatch

      People who drive SUVs, muscle cars, and any type of big luxury car spend more on fuel than other people, and they also provide more indirect support for radical Islamic proselytizing. I shudder to think about how much support is provided by 0.01 percenters who have private jets.

  3. Linda

    Chicago Tribune
    A property tax system that harmed the poor and helped the rich.

    An unprecedented analysis by the Tribune reveals that for years the county’s property tax system created an unequal burden on residents, handing huge financial breaks to homeowners who are well-off while punishing those who have the least, particularly people living in minority communities.

    The problem lies with the fundamentally flawed way the county assessor’s office values property.

    From North Lawndale and Little Village to Calumet City and Melrose Park, residents in working-class neighborhoods were more likely to receive property tax bills that assumed their homes were worth more than their true market value, the Tribune found.

    Meanwhile, many living in the county’s wealthier and mostly white communities — including Winnetka, Glencoe, Lakeview and the Gold Coast — caught a break because property taxes weren’t based on the full value of their homes.

    A caseworker for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Bates purchased her two-flat in 2009 for $119,000. According to state law and county ordinance, her property tax bill should be based on her home’s market value.

    Yet that same year, the assessor valued the property at $210,500, and the office continued to overestimate its value for years afterward.

    Widowed and living alone in a four-bedroom home near Melrose Park, Barbara Garner decided in 2010 to downsize.

    She swapped her 2,000-square-foot, two-story house — one of the biggest in the area — for a nearby single-story home built just after World War II. Her new place is smaller than 800 square feet.

    So Garner was shocked when she learned her new tax bill would be nearly the same amount she’d been paying for her old home, more than $4,000 a year.

    Garner’s tax bill was higher than she expected because the assessor overshot the price she paid for the house by a factor of two, the Tribune found. The county had valued the home at $164,640, just months before she bought it for $75,000.

    1. ambrit

      Oh yes. Watch local county and city council meetings. Often a business owner speaks for lowering his or her property tax. They keep an eye on this as part of running the business. Home owners aren’t quite so sa’avy. Prop 13 in California was the Ur property tax “revolt,” and history suggests that it was a politically orchestrated movement. (Who paid the bills?)
      Thank who ever that some states, like ours, have homestead exemptions.
      Applying some MMT goodness here, it can be argued, since the State doesn’t really need the taxes, that said taxes serve as “enablers” for social policies that demand the “useful exploitation” of resources, of which buildings certainly are a class. Thus, in our town, rental properties pay around $100 a month in city taxes. (A real world figure from conversations with small scale rent lords and ladies.) If the home is the primary residence of an owner, that tax is significantly reduced. (We would not be able to live in the City environs except for the tax exemption.) The businesses endure the tender ministrations of city, county, State and Federal tax burdens.
      Look into those who set the tax levels by region. One reason for higher tax rates in a region is to “encourage” gentrification of an area. Those pesky “deplorables” can be forced out by, as the character in “Gone with the Wind” asserts; “He done made a brag that they goin’ to raise the taxes on Tara sky high!” All so that a carpetbagger can buy a choice property out from under the former owners.
      Time for work. Gotta pay those taxes.

      1. Brian

        In a state called Oregon, property tax is king. It is so revered that anything that prevents the flow of money has been stopped dead in its tracks. There is no sales tax, so both income tax and property tax have to cover the gap.
        In the era of collapse and foreclosure, no Oregon resident has ever benefitted from a settlement by the fed, the application of US code in real estate law, or the act of the courts to prevent one fraudulent foreclosure. The courts do not honor US code, saying that certain requirements such as owning or holding the promissory note are not required at all. It is only enough for the attorney for a bank to “claim” to hold the note, and the court will ask no other questions, brook no defense, and always allow foreclosure. This is true even if the alleged promissory note is shown to be a forgery.
        In fact, the bank wrote the Brandup and Niday decisions to protect themselves, and the supreme court pretended they wrote the decision. This “decision” eliminated any and every defense, restricting evidence to zero, no discovery, no challenge, and the court now makes decisions ex parte so that the homeowner’s attorney can not interfere.
        There is a rumor that the court and attorney general’s office have been warned that to protect the homeowner from Wall Street is to destoy Oregon. Oregon has refuted the law of the land to protect its tax base. Collapse is guaranteed.

        1. perpetualWAR

          This is exactly what happened in Washington State as well. The only difference, it was the Brown v. Dept of Commerce decision that virtually eliminated all homeowner defenses to foreclosure here.

          As a side note…..I was just informed by a WA homeowner that an unknown entity has come forward to collect on his purported debt to a property that had been reconveyed. So, there’s no longer any collateral, the homeowner never received the original note back stamped “paid in full,” and yet some new creditor is now moving to collect the debt.
          Let that sink in…..anyone ever hear about multi-party liability????

        2. Oregoncharles

          Can you point me to documentation on this? Would make a good political ;issue, if true.

          Note: Oregon judges are elected.

          Which reminds me; I know whom I can ask. But I’d still like to see where you get this.

        3. different clue

          At what point will home-dwellers in Oregon subjected to this sort of thing begin to learn and apply the ways of slow-motion delayed-onset sabotage? Hiding raw shrimp in various inaccessible parts of the house? Figuring out how to wet down the space behind certain walls so as to trigger and feed the slow steady growth of black mold? etc.

      2. Synoia


        Applying some MMT goodness here, it can be argued, since the State doesn’t really need the taxes, that said taxes serve as “enablers” for social policies that demand the “useful exploitation” of resources, of which buildings certainly are a class.

        Only true if the “state” is sovereign in its currency, which is true at the Federal level, but not true at the US State level.

      3. craazyboy

        I hear it’s an art form in Nawlins’. They designed the floodwater control system to protect the better neighborhoods, and due to a lack of empty land or alternatives, flood out the bad neighborhoods!

        Much of the post Katrina FEMA and special funds went to “shore” up the system too! (“shore” – ha! pun candidate for today.)

      4. Jess

        Not quite sure what you mean by, “Prop13 in California was the Ur property tax “revolt,” and history suggests that it was a politically orchestrated movement.” But if you’re implying that it was motivated by the business community, then you’re at least 50% wrong. I saw firsthand how older people, and blue collar types who had bought their homes many years before, were being priced out of their homes by reassessments based on what similar properties sold for to younger professionals with money.

        My own mother feared losing her 900 square foot 1948 home and was an eager backer of Prop 13. (Can’t remember for sure, but believe that she volunteered to collect petition signatures to get it on the market.) And I was able to buy my house shortly after Prop 13 passed partly because the lender could forecast my property tax bills, and therefore my ability to service the loan, with great accuracy.

        Even today, Prop 13 is the only thing that keeps me in the house I’ve owned outright since 1990. I bought it for $82,500. Now it’s worth around $850-$900K. With the true effective tax rate (assessed value rate plus various voter-approved special district add-ons) of 1.25%, my property taxes without Prop 13’s protections would be about $12,000 a year. Guess what? My Social Security net after Medicare premium comes to about $16,500. You do the math.

        So, whatever the benefits to businesses there are from Prop 13, it’s a small price to pay for the protection of actual working, or retired, families.

        1. Adam Eran

          Maybe the motivation came from the catastrophically-large tax bills following the ’70’s inflation — that certainly got fixed income peoples’ attention. Nevertheless, the big, and continuing scam is that commercial properties aren’t re-assessed when they are sold (as long as no more than 50% changes hands), unlike residences.

          So when Michael Dell (the Dell computers guy) buys a Santa Monica hotel, he splits ownership with his wife and son (33% each), and the property remains assessed at its 1978 value plus a pittance, rather than at current value. (See this for the “split roll” campaign)

          The cost of this little loophole: an estimated $5 billion a year. … coincidentally that’s only slightly less than the recently-passed $5 billion infrastructure tax that the Republicans are whining about now.

          …AND … any new business or building is penalized by this setup. Wow! A two-fer for the oligarchs!

        2. downunderer

          Ditto in my family, Jess, and thanks for pointing this out. Prior to Prop 13, my widowed and retired Great Aunt had to give up the 5-acre country place with the house that her husband had built in the 1930s, and live with her sister in a city apartment from then on.

          This showed me the extreme injustice of taxing something that brings no cash flow and was purchased and lovingly cared for with quite different purposes than monetary profit.

          Taxing transactions works, because the liquid money is there to divert, and the whole transaction can be examined in advance by those making the decisions.

          But who knows what forces will act on lifestyle property like a home, for all those hoped-for years to come? And where do the actual expenses of local government actually rise as fast as those taxable values do in a real-estate bubble? Talk about an unearned bonanza for government!

          And what kind of soulless “economist” equates the dollars in a family home with those in an intentional, liquid, for-profit investment? Surely we can do better when looking for government revenue.

    2. andyb

      So there are no procedures in Rahmland for redress? In SoFla, if you disagree with the assessment, you can petition for a hearing and you will get one. During the housing bubble burst in 2009, I was assessed the same as the previous years even though homes similar in my neighborhood lost 50% of value through foreclosure or abandonment. The assessor said that the County’s values were essentially a year behind (by necessity) and sure enough, my tax bill for the following year was cut in half.

    3. DJG

      “Unprecedented” because the Chicago Tribune has always been clear about who it serves: The propertied class, which has a major cluster from Evanston to Lake Bluff along Lake Michigan.

      And this article illuminates a major factor in the population drop that Chicago continues to endure. The city’s population dropped 10 percent between the 2000 and 2010 censuses. What a surprise: Forcing black people out of the city is part of the plan.

    4. ChiGal in Carolina

      Thanks for this. I never understood why the assessed value was different from the market value. My condo is in Hyde Park, and the assessed value did not seem to keep pace with the market value, which since I bought in in the mid 90s, seems to have doubled, judging from recent sales in the building.

    5. optimader

      interesting article. Cook County is (remains) broken.
      Mike Madigan and his daughter need to be put out on an iceberg.

    6. dao

      Expensive houses are almost always “under assessed”. If you look at listings in your area and take a look at the assessments of the really expensive houses versus what they’re selling for, you’ll see this for yourself.

      What adds insult to injury is you get much more for your money at the higher price ranges. If you look at houses priced at twice the median, you get a house that’s many times bigger and nicer than a median priced house.

  4. Bill Smith

    Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War

    “Seventeen federal intelligence agencies have agreed that Russia was responsible for the hacking.”
    Not correct… only 3 agreed that the Russians’ did it.

    Here is Clapper:

    Last year, the intelligence community conducted an exhaustive review of Russian interference into our presidential election process resulting in a special intelligence community assessment or ICA as we call it. I’m here today to provide whatever information I can now as a private citizen on how the intelligence community conducted its analysis, came up with its findings, and communicated them to the Obama administration, to the Trump transition team, to the Congress and in unclassified form to the American public.

    Additionally, I’ll briefly address four related topics that have emerged since the ICA was produced. Because of both classification and some executive privilege strictures (ph) requested by the White House, there are limits to what I can discuss. And of course my direct official knowledge of any of this stopped on 20 January when my term of office was happily over.

    As you know, the I.C.A. was a coordinated product from three agencies; CIA, NSA, and the FBI not all 17 components of the intelligence community.

    From here:

    1. mpalomar

      Further from Clapper’s testimony, “The two dozen or so analysts for this task were hand-picked, seasoned experts from each of the contributing agencies. ”

      Is hand picked like cherry picked?
      “Any intelligence expert will tell you, if you “hand-pick” the analysts, you are really hand-picking the conclusion.”

    2. JEHR

      Re: Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War: As I read this article, I thought that no Russian espionage or hacking could shake a United States that still maintains healthy democratic institutions. It seems that a lot of US democracy has already been undermined by the money that freely flows throughout the government by lobbyists, PACs, the revolving door going both from government to private institutions and vice versa and billionaire cabinet ministers. If money weren’t such a corrupting force internally, the US could more easily deal with foreign hacking and outside interference. The rot of corruption starts from within first, which weakens and makes government most vulnerable, I think.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          We have faux Vichy opposition that is nothing but one big fat exercise in cognitive dissonance, just try reconciling “We’re for people” and “We’re for corporate oligarchs”, you can’t do it. So the soi disant “Democrats” make their second-order decision: “Do I want to stay employed?” versus “Do I want to do the right thing?”. The rent is due and Junior needs new shoes. Then comes the critical error: they believe corporate money is the only way to stay employed, so they suck on the tit and practice the lies and the phrasing that will keep the plebes believing. How they manage their consciences has always been a complete mystery to me.

  5. Anonymous2

    Gove rejoining the British Cabinet.

    The best remark I have seen so far: a rare instance of a rat rejoining a sinking ship.

    1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      Very good – could you please provide attribution as it would be only right in terms of sharing.

        1. Anonymous2


          I wish I could remember.

          I have looked – but without success so far – for where I found it. Stockport County Supporters have it on their website if you want to attribute to someone – though that is not where I saw it first.

          1. MoiAussie

            Sorry for missing the point, it went right past me the first time.

            It’s not original. Someone called Carter said it here in 2008 when Peter Mandelson rejoined Gordon Brown’s cabinet.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you.

              It was also said when Northern Ireland born and Australia raised cricketer Martin McCague opted to play for England.

    2. Emma

      So he’s clearly not the ‘Marshall’ you pined hopes for here a day or two ago Anonymous2?! It’s as if Brexit has stymied the potential for any audacious thought at all, let alone achieving a popularly (et vraiment du jour….) appealing vision of the future. At this crucial point in time, just look at what is being done to decide the fate of an entire nation for generations to come!

      As the UK remains mired in a Brexit mess, Osborne is attempting to impose a new one. Gove, Britains Oxbridge Maoist, is charging the stage hell-bent on picking the EU to pieces to avenge the alleged wrecking of his father’s 1970s fishing business (and still ignoring the crucial evidence the UK was poorly served by the City and its financial institutions prioritizing short-term profits and overseas investment causing a balance of payments crisis….not forgetting Heaths’ relaxation of the Bank of England’s competition and credit control rules which resulted in rampant inflation…. or Thatchers’ misuse of North Sea Oil revenues which lead to years of recession as opposed to national economic recovery)

      Anyway, a tip of the hat however to Gove for being so picky-minded he prefers fine-wine and Murdoch to fish n’ chips now, and goes on dirty weekends with Lord Rothermere to his pied-a-terre……in France! Quite frankly, Osborne and Gove should go pound sand elsewhere. Elsewhere like Lands End. And take Murdoch with his setting sun and Rothermere and his naily mail with them. Lord Buckethead and Fishfinger will suffice thankyou very much! The UK requires hope. That means a team who Help Other People Evolve. That is what LIFE is.

      So the Brexit process ought to be skillfully managed by a suitably competent and experienced political team who represent at the very least, the major yet diverse electoral voices within the United Kingdom. An “A-Team” who are more than capable of making judicious decisions and accepting accountability for those decisions. Brexit is, beyond question, an unique and momentous undertaking which will have lasting impact. So, take heed Mrs May and “Mind the Gap”! For there presently appears to be a huuuuuge gap between the challenge Brexit poses and the make-up of the government tasked with Brexit negotiations. Do you think this newly proposed team have what it takes to make the decisions required on behalf of the United Kingdom?

      As it is the BREXIT Instigator-in-Chief, David Cameron, is now nowhere to be seen. May has been unreasonably expected to make a success of the outcome to Camerons’ referendum gamble. And by all appearances, Camerons’ game plan has failed. This has been Mays’ backdrop ever since becoming PM. She shouldn’t necessarily go, but could instead seize what is a rapidly disappearing opportunity to burn that backdrop down. If the UK is presently expected to ‘think out of the EU’, then why not ‘think out of the box’ in dealing with it?!

      In addition, the UK cannot simply acquiesce to the undue pressure coming from Frau Bundeskanzlerin Merkel and her Brüder ‘Grim’ negligently expressing an alarming lack of goodwill and understanding for the difficulty Brexit presents. Not just to the British hoi-polloi but to those affected elsewhere across Europe. Without the necessary and suitable preparation, frantically racing into Brexit negotiations increases the likelihood of a massive balls-up, doesn’t it?! Hasty decisions made to satisfy the disingenuity of others who can’t see beyond a short-term advantage or irritating inconvenience simply runs the risk of putting what democracy nations in Europe do presently have, into real danger. Surely it’s Besser ein Täubchen in der Hand, als eine Drohne auf dem Dach?!

  6. MoiAussie

    As noted here recently, Pat Lang is withdrawing from his Sic Semper Tyrannis blog, though it may continue with guest author posts. Apparently he’s burned out by moderating the comments.

    Although there have been many enriching “comments” there has also been a lot of dross that I spent many hours weeding out. A lot of people entertain fantastical conspiracy beliefs that while entertaining are distractions that are often maintained with considerable heat on the part of the believers. SWMBO and I are agreed that the principal benefit of SST has been its “salon” quality and that this derives from the quality of the guest authors and their interaction. there is also the problem of the army of trolls, an army of the darkness, who march behind various banners but who always have the same goal which is to make wounding personal attacks that will destroy a willingness to expose oneself through publishing something as personal as a small blog.

    Fortunately it looks like he’s planning some kind of successor blog.

    1. different clue

      The Guest Posters have also been quite good, and they ( and the commentariat) may continue on. And Colonel Lang himself may come very somewhat back in a careful way if new tighter burden-lighteners and troll-filters can be crafted. Some commenters have offered to “be okay with that” if he ( or others) decide to publish a hard limit of 10 comments per day . . . with whole days going by where no comments are published at all. That might frustrate a lot of trolls and lightweights into giving up and going away right there.

  7. YY

    The New Cold War
    Russophobia and crediting Russians with more than minimal hack/intrusions is convenient to those that truly are interested in manipulating the US political/electoral process. Common sense dictates with the possible exception of Israel (which may as well be politically the 51st state) there can not be other states with such high and ridiculous ambitions as to controlling the US political/electoral process. Whereas it is not difficult to see there would be multiple actors in the United States (particularly in the intelligence community) that would seek to test and refine, for the future, the hacking of US democracy. If they can not credit their efforts as that of Russia, and are found out they will be in deep trouble (well maybe not so deep, given JFK etc). I would guess that the reason they can not go much beyond the falsified signal (data) intelligence is precisely because there is no directive that can be found in Moscow.
    Seriously who but Americans would be interested in voter registration in Samoa, or for that matter in any US electorate? It would be nice to see the whole narrative blow up and show the snake eating its own tail. It will be sad to see it just sort of peter into nothing.

  8. MtnLife

    While Treiman didn’t report the incident to police, he said two Binghamton police detectives showed up at his home Wednesday morning. He said the investigators said they were told to check on the condition of him and his family.

    Yeah, just here to check on your well being…

    Not at all surprised. Binghamton is my hometown and, yeah, the cops are corrupt AF. Don’t forget this is the home of the NY State Trooper Troop C scandal. One of those acquitted was the neighbor of my best friend at the time. He used to tell us stories and let’s just say he shouldn’t have been acquitted. There’s a reason I don’t trust cops.

    1. Bullwinkle

      Seems to me there’s more to the Treiman story then the local media are reporting. Perhaps they don’t dare to. Binghamton had a fairly liberal mayor for eight years so it seems there’s something more than just politics going on. Personal vendetta?

  9. David

    For anyone wanting to make some sense of yesterday’s French parliamentary elections, here are a few pointers that go beyond the recital of percentages won.
    – The Abstention Party won a smashing victory: fewer than 50% of the electorate voted, for the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic. So Macron’s party scored about 15% of the popular vote. Abstentionism was highest among the young and the poor.
    – The Socialists have been wiped out. They are projected to lose some 90% of their deputies (some have joined Macron remember) and some high-profile ex-Ministers fell in the first round. This means that the major identity politics lobbies have been annihilated – Macron will have no need of them.
    – the Right is in better shape mathematically, but still stands to lose most of its seats in the second round. (Again, some of its luminaries have run off to join Macron).
    – Le Pen and Mélenchon’s parties risk having only a handful of seats each, which will not reflect their national support.
    – The Parti animalier actually got enough votes to qualify for state funding. Must have been the poster I linked to yesterday.
    – Macron is on the way to installing a dictatorship if that’s what he wants. Rather than Parliament providing a counterweight, he will control Parliament totally, changing Prime Ministers and governments as he sees fit. If he can get a 60% majority of the two Houses he can change the Constitution (e.g. to install a permanent state of emergency or even grant himself longer in power). He has certainly noticed the opinion polls showing that many French people want an authoritarian leader after the drift and fecklessness of the Chirac and Hollande years, and he may well decide to offer himself in that role. The fact that his programme is pretty vague (apart from taking away the little employment protection French workers still enjoy) is a strength. he’s not really committed to anything, and if he wants to change his policies overnight he can do so, such will be his domination of Parliament.
    – But we’re only in the first round. These projections assume for the most part that parties in the lead will win in the second round, which doesn’t always happen.

    1. Anonymous2

      Thanks David

      What are the chances he will introduce proportional representation?

      I will confess I am a fan of PR as it seems to me the fairest approach and IIRC the best governed countries (Scandinavia, Netherlands, Germany) all have it. I doubt this is a coincidence.

      1. David

        Macron has made positive comments about PR, and I suspect it’s an idea whose time has probably come. Since the 1980s it has been seen by the major parties as dangerous because it might let substantial numbers of National Front deputies in. The game has changed a bit now, and various people (including Macron if I remember correctly) have talked of having 15% of deputies elected that way. But of course full PR would stop his party having an overall majority …..

        1. David Carl Grimes

          So Le Pen’s party is not as popular as we thought? Especially if they couldn’t get people to get out and vote for them?

          1. Darn

            Not much point without an FN prez. But now I wonder what this says about 2022. Does it mean if Macron fails Le Pen could win *and* suddenly get a parliamentary majority?! Or more hopefully, that Mélenchon could do it

        2. PlutoniumKun

          I wonder if its true though that PR would favour the FN and not Macron. The usual experience in countries with PR is that ‘transfer friendly’ parties (generally, Greens, centrists, etc) do better. There would be a general tendency for transfers to float to the centre of the spectrum. I would have thought that a PR system with a cut off (as in Germany) would be most damaging to FN, and would most benefit a fuzzy centrist like Macron whose drones will attract no.2 votes from the right and left.

  10. a different chris

    >The danger of ISIS will remain even after the liberation of Syria and Iraq: why?

    I guess I should read this but: why? They are right, of course, yet the headline alone speaking of “after the liberation of… Iraq” made me smile bitterly. Didn’t we do that already? That is, we are already at a point in time well “after” the liberation of Iraq. How did that work out?

  11. MoiAussie

    A question to the proprietors

    When should the “Trump Transition” section cease, and either disappear or get replaced?

    As he still hasn’t filled many posts and has lost a few staff already, one could argue the transition looks to be a permanent state of affairs. But it would be nice to have a suitable successor.

    Trump Bedlam?
    Trump Shambles?
    Trump Disorganization?
    Trump Mess?
    Trump Reign of Terror?
    Trump Empire?

    I went back in the NC archives to post-inauguration 2009 for guidance, but things were very different then, often < 10 links and no need for an Obama Transition.

    1. Carolinian

      Seems this “transition” may go on for the next four years if the Dems have their way. The Repubs were no different with Bill Clinton.

      As I think Chomsky said, the smaller the stakes the bigger the conflict.

      1. craazyboy

        The transition was very different under O. The first 100 days was staffing up, and nothing else. Except probably getting new locker assignments for the staffers golf shoes and racquetball rackets.

        The only functional things I can remember in 100+ Days was keeping the Guatmo Summer Swim Camp open and year round access to Camp Afgan For Our Christian Democratic Health Liberation funded indefinitely.

        So they emptied out the Bush memos from their predecessors’ in baskets, and probably forged Cheney’s signature on them.

        Trump made the mistake of trying to hit the ground running and re-make the country, God-Like, in 100 days.

        That never happens over even 8 years. Now he’s running for re-election already?! Tho the timing is probably not Trump’s idea.

    2. mpalomar

      The Trump dump? It has so many levels.
      Still it may be premature to abandon the ‘Trump transition’ as the possibility remains he may still be transitioning, though this time out instead of in.

    3. Paul O'Sullivan

      In the UK the BBC just changed the name of their transition coverage program. From 100 Days to 100 Days +

      It has a certain pragmatism I guess.

    4. Yves Smith

      Trump has yet to take control of the bureaucracy. Many many political appointment positions unfilled. He hasn’t even nominated people in most cases.

  12. RenoDino

    Removing Trump Won’t Solve America’s Crisis The American Conservative

    “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” George Orwell

    Trump wasn’t elected to make the trains run on time. He was elected to break things and he’s doing his job flawlessly.

    He’s taking a sledge hammer to health care, the police state, foreign relations and immigration. Demolition is the messy part of the job that comes before reconstruction. Battling the elites in both parties is a totally consuming task. Trump’s main job is the deconstruction of the neoliberal world order.

    Don’t expect him to rebuild the system once it is destroyed. That’s asking too much of one man or woman. He doesn’t care how many enemies he creates along the way. Yes, he is characterized as “unfit” for office, called a thug and an ignorant fool, but who else could or would do the job of dismantling the ship of state? He is the best man for the job–the destroyer of a “perfect” world–and the hysterical elites know it.

    The history of the twentieth century has shown us the greatest threat to peace and prosperity are the utopian schemers be they Nazis, Communists or Neoliberals.

    1. dontknowitall

      Thank you. Good comment. Unfortunately a lot of innocents in the path of the sledgehammer…

      1. jrs

        maybe the point is not that things ever will improve for anyone living in the U.S., but still rest of the world might be better off without a U.S. empire.

        But things in the U.S. will get worse before they, oh who are we kidding, how likely are they ever to get better? Trump in fact is probably the end result of a long process of degradation. I suppose our best hope is millenials … who of course never voted for Trump anyway.

    2. Alex Morfesis

      Trump was elected to make himself richer and keep hillary from the nuclear codes (and her we came, we conquered, he dead nonsense since she forgot to kill baby gaddafi who has now been released into the wild and was never executed…)

      Trump will do what he does best…shake and fake…hopefully he wont leave the economy of the usa in the same wondrous shape he left Atlantic city with his tremendous capacities…

      Fumbler in chief

      We had 2 choices…

      The evil of 2 lessors

      Incitatus and Cixi

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From Trimurti, Wikipedia:

      The Trimūrti (/trɪˈmʊərti/; Sanskrit: त्रिमूर्तिः trimūrti, “three forms”) is the trinity of supreme divinity in Hinduism in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified as a triad of deities, typically Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer/regenerator

      Are you saying Trump is a Shiva avatar?

  13. a different chris

    Can somebody help me on the Chris Baraniuk tweet (and in general, on Ireland north and otherwise) with the “unionists” and “nationalists” stuff…. I only speak one language, American English, and I can’t figure that out. Do the “unionists” want Ireland united again, and the “nationalists” not want an Irish, um, nation? Or do I have it backwards?

    What a bunch of wankers, both sides.

    1. footnote4

      Chris, say hi Wikipedia

      Unionism in Ireland is a political ideology that favours the continuation of some form of political union between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. Since the partition of Ireland, unionism in Ireland has focused on maintaining and preserving the place of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. In this context, a distinction may be made between the unionism in the province of Ulster and unionism elsewhere in Ireland. …

      Irish nationalism is opposed to the ideology of unionism. Most unionists come from Protestant backgrounds; most nationalists come from a Roman Catholic background. Exceptions to these generalisations exist: there are Protestant nationalists and there are Catholic unionists.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        Most, but not all, unionists / loyalists are descendants of settlers from England and Scotland. Most, but not all, nationalists / republicans, are descendants of the indigenous population.

        Many of the leading lights in Irish nationalism / republicanism have been Protestants of English and Scottish descent and even aristocrats like Constance Markiewicz, nee Gore-Booth, of Lissadell.

        Names don’t always signify religious affiliation. Sinn Fein leading lights Adams and Campbell have names of Scottish origin. One of the Butchers of the Shankill, Lenny Murphy, had an Irish name.

        Two Protestant paramilitaries, Andre and Ilhab Shoukri, have an Egyptian Copt father. There was also one with an African father, Louis something. He was sent by former Ulster Defence Association commander John MacMichael to England when some English neo-nazis wanted to set up links with Unionists.

        1. s.n.

          Many of the leading lights in Irish nationalism / republicanism have been Protestants of English and Scottish descent and even aristocrats like Constance Markiewicz, nee Gore-Booth, of Lissadell.

          to say nothing of Wolfe Tone.
          As wiki notes about the Society of United Irishmen, the revolutionary organisation which launched the Irish Rebellion of 1798:
          All attendees at the first meeting of the Belfast branch were Protestant. Two (Theobald Wolfe Tone and Thomas Russell) were Anglicans and the rest Presbyterian; most of whom were involved in the linen trade in Belfast. Along with Tone and Russell, the men involved were: William Sinclair, Henry Joy McCracken, Samuel Neilson, Henry Haslett, Gilbert McIlveen, William Simms, Robert Simms, Thomas McCabe and Thomas Pearce. After forming, the Society named chandler Samuel McTier as its first President.

      2. a different chris

        wow thx everybody — footnote, I am usually a Wiki, um wanker but I didn’t even know how to formulate the search… and as expected (thx for pointing my nose at it) when I did read it, it raised more questions that it answered. Perhaps anticipating this, Colonel Smithers and Plutonium Kun pre-addressed that issue quite decently.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      There is an old dictum in Northern Ireland that if you claim to understand Northern Irish politics, by definition you don’t understand Northern Irish politics.

      The terms you will hear used are:

      1. Unionists seek to maintain the ‘Union’ of Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The main Unionist parties are the Democratic Unionist Party (now completely dominant) and the more middle class ‘moderate’ Ulster Unionist Party (OUP) which used to be the main Unionist power, but lost all its seats in last weeks election. There are also a few more minor Unionist parties/groups. Almost without exception they are associated with right wing politics, with the arguable exception of the small, painfully middle class Alliance Party, which gets media attention out of all proportion to its vote, as its the only party with members who sound like the sort of people BBC producers might meet at a dinner party.

      2. Nationalists is the broad term for those who identify as Irish before being British. It is generally used to apply to catholics who don’t call themselves Unionists. The term tends to encompass the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), which lost all its seats in last weeks election, so the dominant party is now Sinn Fein. There are also a few minor more left wing groups.

      3. Loyalists, aka ‘loyal to the Crown’ is usually applied to those Unionists who take on a strong pro-British identity. They are usually low church protestants (mostly presybterian), working class, and its often used as a catch-all for terrorist groups which specialised in killing catholics. The DUP has long been associated with ‘loyalism’ as much as ‘Unionist’. Loyalism has a long historic association with far right groups across Europe, although the DUP members of the European Parliament have refused to group themselves with the main far right in that Parliament, so its hard to see where they see themselves politically within a wider context. A few minor loyalist groups could be described as having left wing leanings, but they are overwhelmingly of the right. Culturally, they see themselves as having a strong association with the Scots Irish in the US, except they drink more.

      4. Republicans are nationalists are those who call for an independent Irish republic – the most prominent of those parties is Sinn Fein, and behind them the IRA (which has disarmed but never officially disbanded). While ‘nationalists’ are mostly catholics, this isn’t necessarily the same for republicans, there have always been a good number of non-catholic republicans. The strongholds for republicanism are working class and small town catholic areas. Republican groups all refuse to take up London parliamentary seats because they refuse to take an oath of loyalty to the Crown. Most, but not all, republicans would be generally left wing.

      These account for almost all political opinion in Northern Ireland judging by the last election. There is a small vibrant Trotskyist group who are pro-Brexit and explicitly against any sectarianism, they devote all their hatred for each other. There are also some more overtly socialist republican parties, who never get far electorally. The small Green Party has some local reps, but never do well in province-wide elections.

      Traditionally, the Conservative Party in England has always had a close association with the OUP (but not the DUP), hence the formal name ‘The Conservative and Unionist Party’. The Labour Party has had in the past a loose affiliation with the SDLP, although the latter in the past have also had an informal affiliation with center and center right groups in the Republic.

      1. a different chris

        I swear I am going to print this out and post it in my cube. It was exactly what I was looking for, and no I won’t pretend to understand the Problem despite this cheat sheet, but I won’t be so baffled anymore, or I at least I won’t be so surprised when baffled. Thanks.

      2. Clive

        This really should replace the Wikipedia entry, it is that good.

        The only thing I could possibly add is “Orange” politics which covers, colloquially, 1 thru’ 3 above) and “Green” politics which covers 4. NI politics, when talked about in the local media in the province, often mentions “green / orange” politics which is generally a shorthand for the sectarian based political and cultural divide. So overseas readers may encounter those terms from time to time.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Thanks Clive, yeah, ‘Orange’ and ‘Green’ add to the complications. I’d say that ‘Orange’ is very much a cultural association – its unambiguously low church protestant and Unionist and deeply conservative. ‘Green’ would be more loosely defined – plenty of protestants would define themselves as ‘green’, although historically it was the colour of catholic Irish nationalism. Hence the Irish flag, green, white and orange, the white meaning unity. Of course, just to complicate things, there actually is a Green Party in Northern Ireland, which is not green, if you know what I mean.

      3. David

        I agree. Brilliant. But just to add to the fun, do either the old Official IRA or the Continuity IRA that split off in the 90s have any appreciable political support? I’ve rather lost track.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          David – the ‘Officials’ have long gone. They were the left wing of the old IRA. They were essentially far left infiltrators who saw the old republican structures as suitable for a takeover in the 1960’s. They got a shock when the Troubles broke out in 1969, and nationalist communities looked to them for protection and they could only offer a few old copies of Das Kapital. So the Officials quickly split away to form a left wing ‘non-sectarian’ faction which in Northern Ireland quickly became irrelevant (it split again into the IRSP/INLA, which was a more ideologically left wing alternative to the IRA). The Officials morphed in the Republic into the left wing Workers Party, which then merged with the Labour Party and then finally selling everyone out in becoming part of the pro-Austerity government in 2010 in coalition with Fine Gael. Their leaders all retired with their government pensions.

          The Continuity IRA exists still – they are essentially Republican die-hards. I couldn’t tell you the distinction between the Continuity and Real IRA. They latter have become better known for becoming hired guns for Dublin gangsters. The Continuity IRA have some significant support in parts of Belfast, but seem to have been so heavily infiltrated by spies for both the mainstream republican movement and the security forces that they rarely have an impact. They will see the way things are going with Brexit and the DUP in power as a real opportunity to stage a comeback, although I suspect that there is no appetite in nationalist areas for this.

          1. Darn

            The Officials did still exist in the sense that they still had a number of weapons which they decommissioned at the last moment when the IICD was about to be wound up, they just hadn’t carried out an attack for decades. The Continuity IRA have just announced that they are calling off their “pointless” campaign.

      4. purplepencils

        Thanks PK, this is very informative. I did notice May did emphasise the “Unionist” part of her party’s name. As good a time as any.

      5. KGC

        Most excellent.

        As to Republican politics, is it fair to say both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are neo-lib, though one more than the other? And that Sinn Fein has been gaining on both? There are, of course, ID-pol differences, though not the same as those in the US: could you explain?

        Sorry for being ignorant: I try to follow the politics, but not daily. And they’re more than a little convoluted.

        Any ideas for a source to follow?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, both FG and FF would be broadly neolib, although FF still has a faintly discernible radical/populist heart that occasionally shows itself. FG is more firmly tied in with the neoliberal consensus. FG used to be a bit more independent minded and thoughtful back in the days of Garrett Fitzgerald (1980’s), who was pretty much unique as a party leader in that he openly stated he was more left wing than almost anyone in his party.

          Its a cliche to say the differences between FG and FF go back to the civil war in the 1920’s. Its not really true, they both represent different class/cultural sides of Ireland, despite having barely discernible policy differences. From the US perspective, FG would be kind of Eisenhowerian Republicans – the party of respectable urban professionals, big farmers and established businessmen. FF are descended from the Republican movement, I’d compare then to old style machine Democrats – right wing at heart, but as their base is more working class or small farmers they have tended to be more populist/left wing when it comes to economic policy, but historically more right wing on social issues, reflecting their large rural base.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Sinn Fein have indeed been gaining on both. The Irish Labour Party destroyed themselves by embracing austerity, and the more left wing alternatives continue to bicker among themselves. Sinn Fein have grown to around 20% in polls and will most likely have the balance of power by the next election. They would only likely be comfortable with FF. SF have largely taken up the available left of centre urban and small town vote, mostly at the expense of labour and the fringes of FF.

      1. MoiAussie

        I believe the basic meaning would be often understood, but as a generic insult, I’d suspect the equivalent “jerk-off” would be more common in the US.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you. I had forgotten the US equivalent.

          When I was junior schoolboy, it was a serious insult, but not any more.

  14. Carla

    Can’t get to the “Capitalism and Mental Illness” piece. All I can access on that site are comments. Don’t get it. Has anybody else tried?

    1. cocomaan

      Here’s another link:

      Fairly short article, about the direct mental health links with poverty and inequality. The ~50% number for mental illness manifestation among the US population is frightening.

      But I keep coming back to the less chart-ready, quantifiable results of society’s ills:

      Late-stage capitalist societies — like ours in the United States — clearly produce the ideal environment for mass psychological — or, if I may use a less-popular word — spiritual crisis. This analysis is not new — Marx himself predicted capitalism would result in these kinds of crises. This is called alienation.

      The older I get, the less stock I take in the raw numbers making any difference in discussions with others, and the more emphasis I put on less easy-to-pin-down measures like human and societal spirit, or asabiyyah.

      1. Ted

        The best cross-national data ever produced are from the WHO World Mental Health Survey ( It does show a lifetime prevalence of nearly 50% for any DSM IV disorder. Higher than any other country in the sample. But, two things for the data starved and numerically challenged theorist (aren’t they all after all). That’s a lifetime prevalence rate, not at time of survey, and other “late-stage capitalist” countries have a life time prevalence rate half that (e.g., Germany … Marx’s own homeland … at 25%). Now … since both Big Pharma and DSM IV are American institutions … let’s speculate as to why Americans report having had symptoms of a DSM IV disorder at some time in their life more than other countries …. hmmm, it has something to do with profit and power all right … not so much “alienation”

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef...

        When a pair of tickets to Game 5 of the NBA Finals went for over $100K, reportedly, that’s the sound of screaming spiritual emptiness.

      3. Rhondda

        Thank you so much cocomaan for that winken blinken and nod to asabiyya. It led me to the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun. Potent and perceptive! And so timely.

    2. Benedict@Large

      Actually, I thumbed through a number of articles on the John Laurits site, and had the same problem on all of them. The “bucket” for each article is there, but there is no article text.

  15. ProNewerDeal

    I occasionally discuss US politics in my 2016-election “safe state” with a local friend, let’s call him B. I agree with B insofar as he voted in the 2016 D Primary for Sanders & for Stein in the Nov 2016 election; but disagree with B in that B thinks RussiaGate is the biggest current issue & that Maddow is a skilled credible earnest politics pundit.

    Anyways B mentioned that the Congressional Ds “are getting organized” in order to impeach both Trump & Pence simultaneously.

    Is this possible? AFAIK, officeholders are impeached & convicted individually. If Trump were impeached/convicted or resigned, AFAIK Pence would immediately assume office & near immediately appoint a new VP. Is my understanding correct? AFAIK, Trump, Pence or a T or P hand-picked successor is likely to be Pres until Jan 2021, in contrast to whatever propaganda Maddow is spewing on RussiaGhazi.

    Related issue, who is the “Lesser Evil” between Trump, Pence, & Paul Ryan? B seems to think Trump is worse due to risk of foreign policy crisis related to incompetent buffoon Trump, say by twitter-beefing by N Korean leader Kim Jong Un. OTOH pundit Jimmy Dore & journalist Jordan Chariton opine Pence is even worse than Trump, given that Pence is pro-TPP & has enough competence to possibly pass a more-horrid-than-ACA health law or cut SS/MC. Personally, I am unsure, but lean in the direction of Pence being even worse than Trump.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Pence is an old fashioned Dominionist. Much like Shrub, he likely believes he was appointed by God.

      Pence doesn’t offend Versailles sensibilities and the people believe Comcast Spokesperson, Rachel Maddow, isn’t a Comcast spokesperson.

      1. Synoia

        Pence is an old fashioned Dominionist. Much like Shrub, he likely believes he was appointed by God.

        Which reminds me of a joke:

        The English believe themselves self made men, so relieving God of an Almighty responsibility.

    2. RUKidding

      Much as I dislike Trump, I believe that either Pence or Ryan would be much worse.

      With Trump, there is a slight chance that he may remember his original constituents and refuse to cut and gut Soc Sec & Medicare. Slight, but a chance nonetheless.

      With either Pence or Ryan: fahgedaboudit. They’ll race each other to see who can cut and gut the social safety net the most. Count on it.

      Anyone who believes Rachael Maddow is some sort of “progressive” or provide “real news” needs to stop drinking that Kool Aid. Maddow works for da Man now, not for the 99%.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Trump remembering his original constituents.

        It’s sort of a mind game at this stage, as he has said that he would not disclose his military plans, and presumably, that is his modus operandi, when it comes to campaign promises as well…He might not have done much, or in fact, done the opposite to suffer defeat more than once, but maybe he hasn’t shown all his cards…he keeps people guessing.

        A country can’t go bankrupt borrowing in its own currency (socialists might think that’s crazy).

        The Canadian health care system is very nice to have…

    3. Pat

      Everything is speculation. We are in uncharted territory. AFAIK, there is no way they can impeach Trump and Pence together, but could there be some obscure twisting of the laws so that that could happen? Is Pence more ideologically evil than Trump? I’m with Dore and Chariton, but even without being the bigger evil, I do believe that Pence would be the more effective evil. What little opposition we have seen from the Dems would fade in the face of calm. And since even in this disarray evil is being highly effective, without the disarray… (I fear for France. Gridlock would be their friend as well.)

      What I do know is that unless the Democrats win the House there is no bloody way anything like that is going to happen. Impeaching Trump alone is a long shot, and I don’t see Pence becoming enough of a thorn in the side of the Republicans to file the articles of impeachment against him at the same time in a truly unprecedented move. Then there is the trial, so that scenario doesn’t even address the even bigger hurdle that to finish the process 2/3 of the Senate has to convict.

      Another opinion is that despite all the rosy predictions out there about Democratic resurgence, I will be shocked if the House gets a Democratic majority in 2018. Especially if all the next year brings is more of the same. I’m pretty damn sure that Russia! Russia! Russia! isn’t making people think that voting out their Republican representative for a Democratic one is going to make their lives better or at least stop it from getting worse. What we might get is more reactionary Republican House (since their voters have been highly effective at using primaries to change the Republican candidates.) And Maddow and friends are not even considering that as far I can see.

      1. different clue

        Why would they want to impeach both together? Pence is part of the establishment. The Clintonite Democrats would be just fine with a President Pence.

    4. sid_finster

      From the point of view of Team D, Pence can be counted on to color within predictably partisan lines.

      This frees up both Teams to squabble over wedge issues while planning more wars and carving up the remnants of social security and Medicare in a Grand Bargain.

  16. justanotherprogressive

    Re: “It’s not just the 1%”…..

    or as that article should be named:

    “No, no, don’t come at us with the pitchforks – get those other guys below us first……”

    1. Vatch

      I’ve found that it is relatively easy to convince people that billionaires don’t deserve their wealth. But arguing that a person who’s just barely in the top 20% will likely fail.

      1. jrs

        those just in the top 20% aren’t even going to become millionaires, or maybe they’ll have 1-2 million when they retire or with lucky real estate investments from a lifetime of accumulation.

        So at the least there are all the multi-millionaires below the billionaires that noone can relate to either. Bottom line is a few people having as much wealth as the majority of the population is unjust and unjustifiable any way you slice it.

        Now one problem is those who aren’t the super rich who have the power to lord it over others will often do highly immoral things with that power. The small business owner can be a tyrant to his employees as worthy of that name tyrant and exploiter too as anyone. But that’s not extreme wealth so much as discrepancies in power mostly, but it sucks as badly as anything possibly can, we really need to empower ordinary labor.

  17. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, J-LS, for the link to the SCMP and (white) foreigners for rent.

    The UK’s Home Secretary (minister for law and order), Amber Rudd, was an extra in Four Weddings and set up a company providing upper class extras and guests to film productions, weddings etc. in the 1990s. Rudd may yet need to resurrect that business as she scraped in by a few hundred votes in rural and true blue Sussex.

    It’s reported by UK estate agents / realtors that Chinese investors ask about non-whites in the area where they wish to buy. Marketing materials are careful edited to ensure that whites only (slegs blankes in Afrikaans) appear. Then again, AXA (France) took a dim view of AXA UK putting non white faces on marketing materials.

    Speaking of scraping home, a Survation poll has Labour at 45 and the Tories at 39 this morning, enough for a comfortable majority IF the Blairites cooperate. 15,000 people have joined Labour since the election, taking the membership over 800,000. The party is aiming for 1m.

    If one looks at the election results, Labour won the 35 – 44 demographic (perhaps young parents, recent or aspiring home buyers, people mid-career etc.) by 50% to the Tories 30%. Under 34, the majority was much bigger. This resembles the demographics of Indy Ref in Scotland. That is encouraging for both causes.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The SCMP article reminded me of the son of a friend of mine who went to Shanghai to learn mandarin a few years ago. He is tall and quite a handsome lad and was immediately approached on the street and offered stand-in work on TV. For some reason, he is always cast as ‘evil British officer’ in historical soap operas. He did, I have to say, look quite dashing in a redcoat uniform. He made enough to stay on for another year. I sent a link for that article to my best Chinese friend and she rather gnomically replied ‘its just like white wine in China, very popular’.

      I find the Chinese almost refreshingly open on racial matters, usually opining in some detail on which ones they like and which don’t. A Chinese acquaintence in London usually sends me numerous daily text messages on whatever is on her mind at the moment and it usually revolves around her neighbours. Apparently, she loves arabic neighbours, but not anyone else, except most whites. She is undoubtedly learning local cultural norms though, she is starting to reserve her deepest dislike and fear for white ‘chavs’.

      As you say, the brightest spot of a good election for Corbyn is the demographics. The Conservative vote is literally dying, although of course there is no guarantee that Labour can hold onto those cohorts as they grow older. I think that as soon as it dawns on people in England just who the Conservatives have taken as their government partner the whole ‘nasty party’ thing is going to come back and really hit them with younger and more prosperous voters. We forget that Cameron actually did a very good job in detoxifying the Conservative brand and attracting back the sort of centrist middle class voters who had shifted to new Labour.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And Chinese women are very popular abroad (where GDP/capita is high).

        Perhaps also in Sub-Sahara Africa, but they have less money to impress.

        Ironically, during the on-child policy period, many Chinese parents didn’t want Chinese girls.

        It’s like what Yuan dynasty blue and whites used to be…People in China didn’t want it, not believing under the hated Mongol rules, something so beautiful could have been made.

      2. vlade

        The funny part on that is, that the term “nasty party” was coined by one Theresa May

  18. Jef

    Recently I have been reminded of a time when I was single in my early 20s. A group of us would get together on those days when the snow was so heavy everything seemed to slow down and we would sit down to a marathon game of Monopoly.

    The guy who instigated this activity finally made a rule where nobody could leave the table until the game was complete. It was grueling!

    Thats kind of how I feel now about capitalism.

    1. JEHR

      You know, of course, that you buy everything you land on and dicker and borrow from the bank for other properties and the one who wins will be the one with the most properties–just like real life. When I found this out, I quit playing the game (and the life).

      1. BobW

        Worst game I ever played was also the shortest: I landed on Boardwalk and Park Place very early, quickly bankrupted the other players.

    2. a different chris

      Sounds like it could actually have become a fun game when most of the players decide to do their darndest to lose, not win.

      Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the real world.

      1. hunkerdown

        > most of the players decide to do their darndest to lose

        You would be looking for the MAD Magazine Game, then:

        Each Player starts with $10,000. The board is Monopoly-like, with 2 inner tracks that can also be used. Play is counter-clockwise and you must roll the dice with your left hand. Certain spaces, and the ever present ‘Card’ cards send you elsewhere, make you pay money (good), make you get money (bad), switch seats with someone else or exchange money with another player.

        First to lose all their money wins.

    3. charles leseau

      This is only tangentially related, but in case you ever do play Monopoly with friends again, it’s good to know that you can increase your chances of winning. Depending on the number of players, certain properties have higher hit probabilities than others. Here explained by the lovely and brilliant Hannah Fry:

    4. ChrisPacific

      Monopoly was originally called “The Landlord’s Game” and was designed to demonstrate the dysfunctionality of a winner-takes-all capitalist system. Parker Brothers kept the essential rules of the game but changed the theme, so it was still all about driving your friends into bankruptcy, but now as entertainment rather than to teach a moral lesson.

      So if everyone is angry with each other after the game, that’s by design.

  19. Jef

    About those rooftop gardens. While they are admirable and provide piece of mind for those participating and those visiting them, they could not possibly provide even 10% of the necessary dietary vegetable requirements for more than a few floors of the occupants of the building let alone the surrounding buildings.

    Articles like this imply the solution is at hand but we could grow stuff on every flat surface of the city and vertical surfaces too and not provide 1% of what it takes to feed the city. That and it would take an enormous amount of inputs from the surrounding countryside to support it.

    1. cocomaan

      Agreed, a lot of the “urban farming” stuff is either rosy pictures of rooftop gardening (retrofitting old buildings has to be a nightmare if you’re talking about maximizing yield in the small space) or LED grow houses with technologies taken from clandestine, energy-inefficient marijuana grow ops.

      It’s a good gesture, but tends to minimize the vast inputs you need to replicate land use: putting things into the ground and relying on sun and rain to get the job done.

    2. Vatch

      That’s one of the reasons why the world is severely overpopulated, even there there is a vast amount of space that is not occupied by humans. That land is needed for other purposes besides living space for people.

  20. RenoDino

    Against Neo-McCarthyism The Nation. From August 2016, and still relevant.

    We have the happy marriage of the Nation’s editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel to NYU professor and Russian expert Stephen Cohen to thank for this bit of sanity. I wrote Professor Cohen and thanked him for his views as expressed in various interviews and articles. He was nice enough to write back and express his appreciation. I can only imagine the heat he is taking over his defense of improved relations with Russia. Like that is a crime.

    Also, according to Wikipedia, Ms. Vanden Heuvel wrote her senior thesis 40 years ago on McCarthyism while at Princeton. Not so ancient history indeed.

  21. Colonel Smithers

    With regard to John Helmer’s last point, there was a tweet going around on Friday asking if the UK was not important enough for its election to be influenced by Russia.

    Further to Applebaum (Mrs Radek Sikorski) and the Lizard of Oz (Crosby), hopefully the election of a Labour government in the near future will hasten their departures from the UK. Ideally, Amanpour and Rubin, who live in a stucco georgian mansion overlooking Regent’s Park (near the residences of the US ambassador and Peter Mandelson) and have a rural property in the Chalfonts (Buckinghamshire), will f off, too.

    The Sikorski boys go to Eton. The parents probably got the idea from Radek Sikorski’s fellow Bullingdon Club members and Old Etonians, Cameron and Johnson. If one looks at the Polish parliament website, one can see how much money the Sikorski power couple make from think tanks, the MSM etc. These expensive school fees, over USD50k per child pa, don’t pay for themselves.

    1. Synoia

      The Sikorski boys go to Eton.

      I have no doubt the old money Etonians welcome these new entrants with open arms.

      As one would expect from the welcoming upper class in the UK.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Synoia.

        My old school, Stowe, needs the money and has become fully co-ed.

        There are so many Russians that boxing and ice hockey clubs have opened. The school has become a fortress as much of the new money is suspect.

        Fees are out of reach of most of the former pupils, not always old money, should they wish to send their children there. It’s the same with many public schools (preparatory or private outside the British Isles).

        The upper class pupils I came across were a mixed bunch, some jolly decent chaps.

        1. a different chris

          >The upper class pupils I came across were a mixed bunch, some jolly decent chaps

          Human apples really can fall far from the tree. I see so much wishful thinking (or at least I wish it was as calm and measured as wishful thinking) among the American religious types who think they will breed their way into superior numbers. But the kids aren’t going to play that.

          Funnily, as a lower class version of the horsey set we bump shoulders with a lot of Amish 20 somethings and older, that is ones that decided to stay with the Amish lifestyle, and even they are really, really not what you would expect.

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    If you wrong a raven, it will remember The Verge

    And not a cat?

    I think if you wrong a Deplorable, he/she will be oblivious…I think.

    “Hey, let’s just keep doing it to them.”

  23. flora

    re: Brownback’s tax experiment in Kansas

    This week, everywhere I’ve gone there has been a palpable sense of relief in the air. No discussion of the lege’s override of the veto. Just a sense of relief. Sort of like after a big storm. Relief the storm is over; lots of damage to attend to, repairs to make, work to be done, but the storm is over.

    1. Ranger Rick

      I was out picking up supplies for the weekend getaway when I happened to overhear a lively conversation with someone visiting from Kansas. “Everyone started a LLC and used it to evade taxes!”

    2. shinola

      As an “independent contractor” I paid no income tax to Ks. the last couple of years I worked but I didn’t think it was right or fair. I used/consumed state provided infrastructure & services just as much as anyone who was paid as an employee. I also thought this would encourage mis-classification of employees as independent contractors.

      Anyway I’m glad the stupid “experiment” has come to an end. I hope this can be held up as as an example of how NOT to do things.

  24. craazyboy


    “Vote For Number Six!”

    Paid for – The Rovers, for, Number Six, The Village

  25. political economist

    Re the NYT article on “pragmatists” versus “the base”, here’s the problem: the NYT cannot face reality. Recent facts (emphasis, FACTS) have strongly indicated that only a move to majoritarian positions that the base wants, like support for single payer, taxing the rich, less money for arms, higher wages, etc. will give the Democrats the victories it needs to regain the ground it has lost over the last 8 years. Despite the media blockade against Sanders and his message, Sanders consistently beat Trump in polls by double digits, Clinton by only 3%. Clinton won by 3%, Bernie would have won by at least 10% if he had been allowed the nomination by what this article calls “the pragmatists.” The media hostility towards Sanders had its parallel in Britain. There likewise even the “liberal” media warned the base to be pragmatic, to temper the Labor Party’s majoritarian platform, and finally to reject Corbyn. In response, once the people heard Corbyn’s message he gained well over 15% in the election compared to where he was polling at prior to the release of his “unpragmatic” platform. Yes, it’s fair to say that Sanders would have probably won by 20% if the Democratic Party had been truly pragmatic instead of “pragmatic” in the NYT’s conception of the word.
    of course, i am pretending that the Dem Party leadership wanted to win rather than keeping themselves employed

  26. Greg Gerner

    My comment to Charles M. Blow’s “Impeachment Anxiety” editorial in today’s NYTs: The REAL “impeachment anxiety” for the Democratic Establishment is that without the distraction of a Trump impeachment, they’ll be seen by their base to have learned nothing and done nothing since the election. They’ll be seen, rightly, as still offering no substantive alternative to Republican politics, which is what got us Trump in the first place. Republican Lite, ever heard of that? Well, sadly, 80% of Americans have been offered that choice for the last 25 years and at the local, state and national level the dogs just haven’t been eating the dog food. Why would they? Unless and until the Democratic Establishment lets go its death grip on the status quo economic, fiscal, monetary and regulatory policies that by design aid the Top 20% to the detriment of the bottom 80% of Americans, the Democrats will keep losing. Without a shift back to FDR policies—no doubt to be decried by the NYT’s Editorial Board as too radical, too militant—the Democratic Party serves no useful purpose in the US (other than to prop up real estate values in Fairfax and Loudon County and to siphon money to Brookings, centrist and “Third Way” think tanks). The abject failure of the Democratic Party to bring hope and change Americans can actually believe in is what gives me anxiety, not Trump. Indeed, until we get the former, we’re doomed to get more of the latter.

    1. Darn

      Impeachment is the equivalent of the noise machine Clinton used during one of her high-dollar fundraisers during the campaign to hide what was being said from people outside.

  27. Carey

    The authors of that NYT article “…Party Wants to Win” make the claim that the $23 million (!) that Ossoff has
    raised was primarily from small donors. Mmm. We may have different definitions of that term.

  28. Darn

    Re Chris Baraniuk’s Twitter thread. People have forgotten that in the 2010 UK general election the UUP and Tories had an electoral pact in NI, but won no seats. The UUP were in dire need of members and money since their eclipse by the DUP 5 yrs earlier. Nobody freaked out about what it would have meant if the Tories needed the UUP for a majority in the expected hung parliament.

    The DUP’s 2015 general election campaign emphasised that a hung parliament was expected and they would be kingmakers. This document is apparently what they came close to agreeing with the Tories. If it’s real, and complete, the DUP would have got exactly nothing about NI and the peace process, just some money.

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