Links 6/19/2017

The botanists’ last stand: The daring work of saving the last samples of dying species Quartz

Power Causes Brain Damage Atlantic. Hmm. Obvious clickbait headline….

Ohio woman reunited with lost tortoise after two-week search AP

Lead Detected In 20% Of Baby Food Samples, Surprising Even Researchers Kaiser Health News

Entertaining the masses: The Uses of Literacy 60 years on New Statesman

Silicon Valley to Liberal Arts Majors: We Want You Boston Review

The Air Force Is Getting a Space General Motherboard

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

The smarter the home, the more online risks you face San Francisco Chronicle

Build an Internet Kill Switch Makezine (resilc)

What does it mean for a journalist today to be a Serious Reader? Columbia Journalism Review

Starbucks cups are not recyclable, which means 4 billion go to landfill each year Treehugger


Who’s who in the Brexit talks Politico

Drop the Target: May’s ‘tens of thousands’ immigration cap would cut labour supply and deepen existing shortages, report says Independent

EU leaders fear that fragile state of Tories will lead to brutal Brexit Guardian

Britain’s Brexit jam is Brussels’ too Politico

The City should not overpay for a euro-clearing deal FT

Grenfell Tower Inferno Aftermath

A firefighter who attended Grenfell tower has written this: Michael Rosen Blog (Richard Smith). If you can only read one link today, make it this one. Harrowing.

Corporate manslaughter: what is it and could it bring justice for Grenfell Tower victims The Conversation

Council sidelined in Grenfell Tower response as leader refuses to quit Guardian (Richard Smith)

U.K. official says material in deadly London high-rise fire was illegal MarketWatch

How a crippling shortage of analysts let the London Bridge attackers through Guardian. Although a week old, worth reading.



Course Correction Foreign Affairs (furzy)

New Cold War in the Indian Ocean Asia Times. Not what we usually think about when we read the words “New Cold War”.

New Cold War

‘The Putin Interviews’: An Excerpt Truthdig. Readers may not yet have seen this excerpt, posted on Saturday.

Our Famously Free Press

From the Pentagon Papers to Trump: How the government gained the upper hand against leakers The Conversation

I learned the hard way why non-competes are bad for journalists Columbia Journalism Review

When AP Spreads #Fakenews – A Forensic Appraisal Moon of Alabama


U.S. warplane downs Syrian army jet in Raqqa province Reuters

Afghanistan: It’s Too Late NYRB

Analysis: The implications of the Qatar-Turkey alliance Al Jazeera


Kill Me Now

What Does an Independent Huma Abedin Mean?

Class Warfare

Amazon Eats Up Whole Foods as the New Masters of the Universe Plunder America Daily Beast

French Elections

Macron completes electoral grand slam amid record-low turnout AFP

Health Care

Single-payer health care would have an astonishingly high price tag WaPo. WaPo’s editorial board weighs in. Readers will have lots of fun shredding the feeble thinking in this piece.  And, the appearance of the editorial itself  suggests to me on that on scale often misattributed to the Mahatma– “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”– the debate’s at least moved along from the first stage.

In an Aging Nation, Single-Payer Is the Alternative to Dying Under Austerity Truthout. Part of a series

The disappearing ACA insurance market Axios


India’s wells are running dry, fast The Conversation

In Urge to Control Narrative, Modi Government Shows Weakness for Fake Images The Wire

Class Warfare

Cuba travel policy may favor the well-heeled tourist San Francisco Chronicle


Clinton Email Tarbaby

Senate GOP shifts focus to Lynch The Hill

Breville Shooting

Congressman to push bill that lets lawmakers carry guns NY Post. What could go wrong?

Trump Transition

Trump nominates Dodd-Frank opponent to police Wall Street FT

White House meetings add to tech’s awkward dance with Trump Politico

Hurling 4,000 U.S. Troops into a Strategic Void American Conservative

White House Officials Push for Widening War in Syria Over Pentagon Objections Foreign Policy

Scott Pruitt vows to speed the nation’s Superfund cleanups. Communities wonder how. WaPo

Guillotine Watch

He owns a dozen Ferraris and has loads of cash. Why can’t he buy the elusive $2.2-million LaFerrari Aperta? LA Times

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. efschumacher

      Single-payer health care would have an astonishingly high price tag

      If corporate cost accounting can remorselessly grind costs down on every other thing we buy, why can’t they apply that analytical skill to health _care_ costs?

      WHY does single payer cost half the US price-tag, or less, in dozens of other countries, and yet produce better outcomes?

      1. voteforno6

        Obviously you’re a shill for Putin. America is already great, don’t’cha know?

      2. jrs

        a lot of those countries don’t have single payer is my understanding, but they do have universal coverage and very tightly regulated markets.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I decamped to Australia in 2005, where we have single-payer. Yes, you want it, regardless what the billionaire monopolist corporo-fascist’s blog WaPo says.

          1. hidflect

            I’m in Australia and got excellent private health insurance anyway. But it only costs me $4000/year for the whole family. Somehow the provider survives OK.

    2. leftover

      Well…he hates Bernie’s version, (as analyzed by the Urban Institute), which comes off as more universal insurance coverage than universal healthcare.

      WaPo coverage of HR 676 (brief summary pdf) and Gerald Friedman’s detailed funding proposals (executive summary pdf) is essentially nonexistent. Likewise at the Urban Institute.

      But it’s probably safe to assume that the last thing Bezos, his house organ, and the Urban Institute, (and probably most Democrats in Congress…including HR 676 sponsors), want anyone to seriously consider is changing to a nonprofit healthcare system funded through progressive taxation.

    3. Pat

      Did anyone expect anything else.

      As I keep saying to people who tell me that Americans will not accept higher taxes in order to have health care, I point out they already pay higher taxes in the form of fees/taxes/ and fines. And that most of that gets them little in return until they age out, and even then it is not near what it should. Instead they get the right to spend every penny they have ever made in their lives and more all to pay three or four or more times as much to go to the doctor, the hospital or buy their medications. This so that a small portion of the population which does not provide any health care or make any medical breakthroughs can live in luxury, fly private jets, and retire in comfort. Few of the ‘profits’ of medicine provide any health care whatsoever. Especially as most research anymore is either funded by charities through donations and the government through taxes unless there is some windfall in it – like erection dysfunction. So they don’t even get that for being overcharged. Meanwhile most of the people who do provide real health care are largely underpaid and being squeezed left right and center. Better slightly higher taxes, with better overall outcomes and the knowledge you never have to go bankrupt because you get sick.

      That or we can see how far everyone will empty their pockets for others through go fund me, as our broken system breaks even further.

      1. fresno dan

        June 19, 2017 at 8:57 am

        The current debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act is obscuring a more pedestrian reality. Just because a person is insured, it doesn’t mean he or she can actually afford their doctor, hospital, pharmaceutical, and other medical bills. The point of insurance is to protect patients’ finances from the costs of everything from hospitalizations to prescription drugs, but out-of-pocket spending for people even with employer-provided health insurance has increased by more than 50 percent since 2010, according to human resources consultant Aon Hewitt. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that in 2016, half of all insurance policy-holders faced a deductible, the amount people need to pay on their own before their insurance kicks in, of at least $1,000. For people who buy their insurance via one of the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, that figure will be higher still: Almost 90 percent have deductibles of $1,300 for an individual or $2,600 for a family.
        “Reform” in this country is always making sure the providers, suppliers, i.e., the ones who make campaign contributions, are guaranteed to make ever more money.
        So, I am extremely fortunate to have good insurance….but I paid 350$ at the hospital for my recent unexpectedly visit, and more little things not actually fully covered are being sent to me by the hospital as well as by my insurance company daily…
        Its like Disney land – the fee lets you into the park…getting on a ride costs more….

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Excellent article, and glad to see the debunking of insurance as “healthcare” finally getting some traction.

          Recommending patients experiencing trouble with their bills give crowdfunding a try has turned into all but a personal-finance trope. “Do you need money for unexpected medical and long-term-care expenses, funeral costs, or a local charitable endeavor? Maybe it’s time to turn to one of the growing number of personal ‘crowdfunding’ sites and ask the public for small donations,” chirped Kiplinger’s last fall. Newspaper articles about successful campaigns are a staple of what remains of the local press and heartwarming articles about the practice abound.

          The truth is more than a bit darker. A few years ago, Ethan Austin, the co-founder of Give Forward (which recently merged with YouCaring, another crowdfunding site), one of the first sites to realize that crowdfunding could be as useful for people facing medical bills as those seeking to fund an independent film or fund a business venture, spoke to a group of students at New York University’s Stern School of Business about his site. He was blunt about one of the reasons he believed this segment of the online fundraising [me: begging] world had taken off so dramatically. “Our health-care system is shit and it’s trending shittier,” he told the group.

          As far as the wapo “opinion” on the extreme expense of single-payer, my money’s on “political feasibility” as the first element of that flimsily constructed defense of the status quo to go by the wayside.

        2. MSusan

          My adult children have deductibles on subsidized plans through the exchanges that are in $2,000 range. My husband and I, however, were offered no subsidy and the lowest cost bronze plan for 2016 had a $12,700 family deductible with a premium that was 14.4% of our gross income. We would be putting 33% of our take home pay towards our health insurance/care before the insurance kicked in and then we would have to put 40-50% toward co-insurance. We still had to pay the “individual responsibility” penalty even though technically our premium was above the affordability threshold. I keep reading about the premiums/deductibles available on the exchanges, but reporting appears to be confined to those plans that are subsidized and everyone that isn’t subsidized and can’t afford the coverage are not included in the stats.

          1. Tom

            Amen to that — there’s a whole cohort of people that most articles about the ACA and alternatives skim right over.

            I’m in similar circumstances to your family in that we buy our own plan with no subsidy. At a monthly ACA premium of about $900, however, this year my spouse and I decided to opt out and get a non-compliant plan for half the cost.

            Will it backfire horribly if a serious illness or injury occurs and we’re done in by some fine print we missed? Could be, but that’s the fun of having the freedom to shop and roll the dice on unknown future health events.

            Our system isn’t so much health insurance, it’s more like a health lottery. And there’s nothing like having skin in the game (and a heart, lungs, liver, nervous system, etc.) to really feel invested.

          2. MtnLife

            Sounds roughly equivalent to our situation. Something in the range of $9-10k for premiums and approx $12500 for deductible for a bronze plan, no subsidy, but no penalty. So we basically self insuring up to $20k!

    4. Olga

      If he had any brains, he’d realize that with MC for all, his customers would have a lot more $$ left to buy his drone-delivered merchandise.

      1. voteforno6

        On the other hand, his workers wouldn’t be held hostage to whatever insurance he provided to them.

          1. LifelongLib

            I don’t know about major corporations, but the small business owners I talked to were so convinced government can’t do anything right that they figured they’d end up paying more in taxes than they would save from not having to provide health insurance in a single payer system.

    5. Benedict@Large

      So Bezos doesn’t like the cost of healthcare, and he’s decided the solution is to simply not let the people have it. That is what he’s saying right here after all. Because the alternative is for him to go out to his rich buddies in the industry and tell them to lower their prices.

      But Bezos is not about to do that.

  1. witters

    Listen to this:

    -Asked if the government would implement a ban on the type of cladding used in Grenfell Tower, a 24-story building consumed by a blaze early Wednesday, Treasury chief Philip Hammond on Sunday said: “My understanding is that the cladding in question, this flammable cladding, which is banned in Europe and the U.S., is also banned here.”

    “So there are two separate questions. One is: Are our regulations correct, do they permit the right kind of materials, ban the wrong kind of materials?”, Hammond told the British Broadcasting Corp. “Second question is: Were they correctly complied with?”-

    Maybe the regulations are incorrect and the right kind of materials were let in?

    I think this is Neoliberalism Rule #2

    It has to stop.

    1. oho

      I know this may sound like hearsay to some here—–

      Grenfell Tower was council housing a/k/a “public housing” for us Americans. If I was in that situation, I’d prefer a housing voucher or straight up non-taxation versus the alternative of being housed in a government-run facility.

      The housing projects from UK’s 60’/70’s (like Grenfell) have been plagued w/regulatory capture, self-dealing, mismanagement and cut-corners construction since the beginning.

      Adam Curtis, “Great British Housing Disaster”

      If I was in need of housing, I’ll take my chances with a voucher + private landlord and the tort system (which definitely is not a panacea—just arguably less bad)

      1. JTMcPhee

        So the “fix” is to create a most assuredly privately organized and administered “voucher program,” which can you cite any examples of a voucher program for mopes and ordinary people that has not been gamed into neoliberal foktification? As you say, You’d take your chances — how about that 80-year-old whose pension was stolen by PE practices and bankruptcy scams that ordinary people no longer have any “right” to seek the protection and fresh start from?

        Yes, “less bad,” and the tort system might generate some payday for your family if you get incinerated in private “substandard housing.” And “houosing court” ought to be called “eviction and collections court,” most places. I’d rather work on throwing some barstids out, and leveraging off the horror of events like Grenfell etc. to reach people how to make the “regulators” do the job the mythology of the “social contract” says they ought to be doing (and there are some who actually, even in totally oppressive bureaucratic environments, try to keep doing good work to “promote the General Welfare…”)

        Of course that is just the “progressive pipe dream.” The only “rights” anyone has are the ones that have remedies attached to them. The Grenfell dead are already slipping out of the public consciousness and the full Bernays BS machinery is cranked up to provide cover and deniability and obfuscation for the people, the INDIVIDUALS, who gain places of power (see today’s link on on “power causes brain damage changes. I learned the fundamental duality of human group relations way back when — there are those who have “authority without responsibility,” and those who are saddled with “responsibility without authority.” And then there are the many (fortunately) mopes who struggle to make systems of all kinds “work” in spite of the sh!tes in charge…

        Nurses, I would offer, from my own work and “health” experiences, are among the set of mopes who struggle in a perverse system to provide actual ‘health care’ (not, of course, uniformly — this, from my “continuing education” package for renewing my nursing license: Another source from that CE package says lateral/horizontal violence is most present in the categories of “health care, education and government service…”

        Assuming you meant “:heresy,” not “hearsay,” of course…

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Government run housing?

        Why can’t the people who live there own and run it themselves,with help from the government?

        Better yet, those who will live there should be engaged in the design itself (this is for the future).

    2. Jim Haygood

      My understanding is that the cladding in question, this flammable cladding, which is banned in Europe and the U.S., is also banned here.” — Philip Hammond

      This is not some kind of freaking mystery. US building codes are posted on the web. You can look it up, chapter and verse, to support theological discussions with your building inspector.

      I can’t be arsed to look up the UK building code, but unless it’s some kind of obscure fudge like the UK’s “unwritten constitution,” it ought to take about five minutes to find the specific cite to clarify Hammond’s “understanding.”

      1. PlutoniumKun

        UK Fire Regulations will not specify or ban particular products or materials. They focus on technical requirements – it is up to the developer to demonstrate that the design/materials meets that requirement. The relevant section is on page 93 here. I’d be very surprised if the manufacturers of the material didn’t specify where and in what circumstances it could be used to satisfy the Regulations.

        1. jsn

          Manufacturers, like our American gun manufacturers, aren’t responsible for how their products are used: Owners, Architects and Engineers are. The manufacturer will have referenced on their product data sheets what tests have been performed.

          Products that do not have testing certificates for Code reference standard tests (like the one mentioned in the Code excerpt I copied below) cannot be used. First and foremost this is a building Owners’ responsibility which is normally contractually delegated to an Architect or Engineer. Thanks to Lady Thatcher, as I understand it ( if someone knows better, please fill me in) in the UK anyone can act as an architect, but only an RIBA Architect can get insurance, so god knows how this plays out but someone or some significant group was criminally negligent to my eyes.

      2. jsn

        2010 (current and in effect) HMG Building Regulations, Fire safety Code:

        B4, 12.7 In a building with a storey 18m or more above ground level any insulation product, filler material (not including gaskets, sealants and similar) etc. used in the external wall construction should be of limited combustibility (see Appendix A). This restriction does not apply to masonry cavity wall construction which complies with Diagram 34 in Section 9. (this is not such a masonry cavity wall)

        Appendix A defines “limited combustibility” as, a. Any material which when tested to BS 476-11:1982 does not flame nor cause any rise in temperature on either the center (specimen) or furnace thermocouples (describing here the results as measured in the specified test above).

        This is not hard to figure out: combustible materials are not allowed in high rise construction unless encapsulated in fire rated assemblies.

      3. optimader

        This building veneer fire is nothing new.
        Combustible veneer wall construction has set ablaze a number of high rise residential buildings like candlesticks across the world.

        This is all about obsolete building code, not “public/low income housing” if you consider the history.
        Similar fires in residential high rises in
        Untied Arab Emirates
        etc ect

        Why does this insulated Al clad remain an approved construction material, that’s the deeper story.

          1. optmader

            Certainly the insurer shouldn’t like it

            aptly named

            I am surprised at this point in time these aluminum clad products are not considered radioactive when they show up on a set of drawings.

            Problem is this veneer is on a lot of buildings and should be removed. future applications prohibited by code and past application should be uninsurable.


      4. Anon

        First, the UK instituted a 1 in, 2 out regulatory process and second privatized the research so that it is the responsibility of the corporation to determine, verify and self report. Finally, the council’s outsourced their oversight of the properties.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      1. Are the regulations incorrect? Incorrect since when? Since Blair? Since before Blair? Since Brown? Since Cameron? Since May?

      2 Are the regulations correct? Is it banned? Was the permit incorrectly granted? Was it correctly permit, but inspectors did not catch the non-compliance?

    1. nycTerrierist

      “If British reports are to be believed, the Grenfell Tower inferno in central London might have been averted for a cost of a mere $6,000 — or a little more than $100 for each of the 58 unfortunates who, on the best estimate available this weekend, perished in the disaster.

      According to the London Daily Mail, when the tower was recently renovated, builders opted for a cladding material so inappropriate that it is rated “flammable” in Germany and its use in tall buildings in even lightly regulated America is banned. The attraction was a saving of a mere 10 percent. On the Mail’s numbers that added up to a total saving compared to a safe material of £5,000 — equal to a little more than $6,000.

      Such is the dystopia that deregulation, British-style, has wrought — a dystopia whose excesses are now finally coming to be widely recognized by voters and elected leaders alike. Indeed the Grenfell disaster may prove nothing short of a watershed in the history of deregulation. Certainly the implications are likely to go far beyond merely tightening fire safety laws.”

      1. Altandmain

        Eamonn Fingleton is one of the journalists I respect the most. Read up on his works on manufacturing and outsourcing if you have the time.

      2. Olga

        I guess the real question is how many such tower fires will it take before the somewhat comatose British public finally rebels and floods the streets?

    2. Baby Gerald

      It was definitely a harrowing and eye-opening read. What most struck me was the difference in the way firefighters are treated, at least in the media, in the UK versus the US. If what this firefighter wrote is true, it seems they take abuse from the public and in the press for being lazy and greedy. After a tragedy like this, one hopes that the public would better appreciate the potential dangers these men and women face every day on the job.

      In the US, most professional firefighters have a union representing them. My dad was a firefighter in our city and belonged to the union and it was the union that negotiated contracts and compensation. It appears that the UK firefighters have no similar protections or support. How ironic would it be for UK firefighters to unionize in order to dispel the appearance of being lazy and greedy?

      1. Darn

        FBU, Fire Brigades Union. Had a big strike before the Iraq war that required the army to be used, I sorta hoped it would prevent them from mobilising :(

        1. Baby Gerald

          Ah, ok. Thanks for correcting my perspective. If the FBU is demonized for defending its members, isn’t that sort of what it’s there for? Maybe they can share notes with the firefighters union here in the US to see how you get nothing but praise for bravery in the media. It’s the teachers union that gets labeled lazy and greedy over on this side of the pond.

      2. jsn

        There has been a non-stop NeoLiberal chorus on the “excessive” costs of public servants wages and benefits since Thatcher and Reagan set out to destroy public institutions to bolster private economic power 40 years ago.

        The NeoLib effort has been so successful in poisoning or starving everything public that someone like oho above has completely internalized the message. Bad government is bad: this is nominally a democracy, get involved and fix it. Government is only as bad as we let it be.

        Private power, as we see here, in no way has oho’s interest at heart. Human life isn’t worth $100 to a business if the business can avoid the cost, which as we see here it can. Good government is the only entity with the power to stand up to private, commercial power and to the extent we continue to demonize “government” as the problem, we will continue to be the victims of increasingly concentrated private power.

        There are plenty of corrupt people currently in our NeoLiberal governments that are the correct target for blame, disgust, opprobrium and prosecution. The issue is not “government” but corruption.

        1. tongorad

          Government can potentially benefit and be controlled by the people, therefore it is portrayed as the enemy by the Masters of Mankind.
          “I’m from Mr. Market and I’m here to help.”

    3. andyb

      It’s interesting that manslaughter charges may be brought against the building managers and the Council. I often wondered why charges were never brought against the VA officials in Phoenix that rigged appointments to such an extent that 27 veterans died before receiving any treatment. I found a definition of Manslaughter in the 2nd Degree (the least onerous):

      ” occurs when a person continues with a reckless act that they are aware of committing, and they consciously disregard the potentially fatal risks involved to others”.

      I leave it to the lawyers to comment if the VA bureaucrats could have been charged. To my layman’s view, they should have been.

      1. Carl

        Now now, let’s not open the floodgates. Our jails would be full in no time, if all the decision-makers were prosecuted for the harm they cause.

        1. perpetualWAR

          No, our courts are so corrupt, they would rule to protect the lawmakers criminal activity. Guaranteed.

  2. Ignim Brites

    “Hurling 4,000 U.S. Troops into a Strategic Void”. It seems possible that Mattis could order complete withdrawl from Afghanistan in order to prevent the military from being blamed for failure. He has to know that 4K additional troops is not going to make a long term difference. Additionally, he has to know that elite opinion is now turning decisively against the war. And finally, he has to know that mainstream Republican leadership, having lost the Presidency once over a mideast war, is highly unlikely to commit to another major effort.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Assumes all kinds of facts clearly, as I see it of course, not in evidence.

      Walking away from the thing called “Afghanistan” (I call it “NOTAGAIN?istan,” but that’s just my Viet PTSD talking) would in fact confirm the whole exercise, from a military operations-war conduct standpoint despite all the lipstick in Walmart, as a complete failure. Not sure that even a long hot bath in a tub of Bernays juice could put a :winning smile” on that particular pig.

      Of course from a wealth transfer and endless-conflict-self-licking and career-advancement and Game of RISK! (TM)-level Great Game Geopolitical Board Game standpoint, the whole thing to date is a massive WIN for the Rulers. “4,000 more troops” means nothing, a tiny signal of martial virtue. The operable unit in my war seems to have been “only 50,000 more troops and a few million more tons of bombs and defoliation and Phoenix Programming* and invasion and bombing of sovereign neighbors and all that…” It’s just easier to keep the mopes in line by adding risk to the troops slowly, building a backlog of “casualties” to “our boys (and now enthusiastic “feminist” girls seeking the combat experience and the “right” to kill “unlawful enema combatants and nearby Wogs”) sent on the feckless task of patroling-to-draw-fire-and-trigger-IEDs-in-places-where-“we”-have-only-the-self-proclaimed-“right”-to-be, so the mopes at home, blind to the realities, can swoon patriotically over and justify sending

      Maybe it’s just where I personally look, too, but I sure don’t see much of anything but crickets and limp flags when it comes to “elite opinion turning decisively against the war.” And did the Reds “lose the presidency,” that hedged seat of certain kinds of power, over a mideast war? Which one was that, which president and party got the boot over it? And Congress has pretty much opened the Treasury to, and abandoned any pretext of effort at civilian control of, the Imperial military-industrial-security “force structure,” carefully crafted by greedy and vicious and self-serving people over a century or so of effort. Lest the mopes forget::

      Guys like [Suskind] were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”,

      *On the Phoenix Program as a template for what’s up with “US” global “security” practices today, here’s a nice summary:

      1. Dead Dog

        Thank you JT, well, well said.

        The former Soviet Union ‘collapsed’ after it fled the country….

        As you say, too much money being made from the war on terror and everything else.

    1. integer

      Here’s the relevant text for those who prefer to avoid facebook*:

      Statement of the Russian Defence Ministry concerning downing of the Syrian Su-22 near the town of Resafa

      On June 18, 2017 the American fighter F-18A belonging to the international coalition shot down the Su-22 aircraft of the Syrian Air Force, which was performing a combat mission supporting the government troops, which were conducting the offensive against the ISIS terrorists near the town of Resafa (40 km to the south-west of the city of Raqqa).

      As a result of the attack, the Syrian aircraft was destroyed. The pilot baled out over an ISIS-controlled area, his status is unknown.

      The destruction of the aircraft of the Syrian Air Force by the American aviation in the air space of Syria – is a cynical violation of the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic.

      Numerous combat activities of the US aviation carried out under the cover of “fight against terrorism” aimed against the legitimate Armed Forces of a UN-member is a blatant breach of the international law and is in fact an act of military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic.

      Moreover, at that time the aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces were also performing combat missions in the air space of Syria. However, the Command of the coalition forces did not use the existing channels of communication between the Command of the Al Udeid Air Base (Qatar) and the Hmeymim Air Base Command to prevent air incidents in the air space of Syria.

      The Russian party considers those actions of the US Command as an intentional failure to fulfill its obligations within the Memorandum on prevention of incidents and providing of flight security during the operations in Syria dated October 20, 2015.

      Since June 19, 2017, the Russian Defence Ministry has stopped the cooperation with the American party within the Memorandum on prevention of incidents and providing of flight security during the operations in Syria and demands a thorough investigation of the incident by the US Command with further providing of information on its results and the taken measures.

      In the combat mission zones of the Russian aviation in the air space of Syria, all kinds of airborne vehicles, including aircraft and UAVs of the international coalition detected to the west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets.

      * I do too, but decided to make an exception this time.

      1. OffgassingWaddler

        So, what happens if war is declared via Facebook and Zuckerberg decides to suppress the post??? Does everyone shrug and go home?

    2. financial matters

      The US seems to want to continue its destructive actions in Syria. It seems pretty clear that Russia and Iran are not interested in letting Syria go the route of Libya.

      U.S. warplane downs Syrian army jet in Raqqa province Reuters

      Military Advisor‏ @miladvisor 1 hour ago

      US-led coalition didn’t use the deconfliction channel with Russia to avoid an incident during an operation in #Raqqa

      Military Advisor‏ @miladvisor 40 minutes ago

      Any flying objects of US-led coalition west of Euphrates where Russian Air Force operate will be treated as targets -Russia MoD.

      “”The prominent alternative source Moon of Alabama urges us to make no mistake in our judgment, as the fight against ISIS is not the real purpose of the move. It would note that the US wants NATO support to invade Syria from the north in Idleb as well as from the south near Deraa and from the south-east starting at the al-Tanf border station to Iraq. Syria and its allies will now be fought under the disguise of “fighting ISIS” which factually can no longer be the purpose.

      Thus, NATO together with Wahhabi Gulf forces, will now be engaged in an expanded war not only against the Syria government but especially against its Russian and Iranian allies. Trump’s endorsement of anti-Iranian rhetoric on his visit in Saudi Arabia served the same exact purpose.””

      1. jsn

        Yes, and lets see how well the Democrat Party mobilizes its’ “anti-war” forces to prevent this abuse by the Trump Administration. I look forward to joining hundreds of thousands on the streets of New York tomorrow.

      2. Dead Dog

        Jeez, am I the only one thinking there are some mad, truly mad people with their fingers on the buttons of war

        They will surely kill us all

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      This just in from AP:

      Russia’s defense ministry says it will treat U.S. led coalition planes in Syria, west of the Euphrates River, as targets after the U.S. military shot down a Syrian Air Force jet on Sunday.

      Moscow has condemned the U.S. downing of the Syrian government fighter jet after it dropped bombs nears U.S. partner forces.

      The Russian Defense Ministry says in a statement that, starting Monday, it will track all jets and drones of the U.S.-led coalition west of the Euphrates and treat them as targets.

      The ministry also called on the U.S. military to provide a full account of why it decided to shoot down the Syrian SU-22.

      Russia, a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has been providing an air cover to the government’s offensive on the Islamic State group since 2015.

      Mission almost accomplished.

      1. Bill Smith

        “it will treat U.S. led coalition planes in Syria, west of the Euphrates River, as targets” doesn’t mean much unless they actually fire on the U.S. led coalition aircraft. The Russians are already tracking them on their radars when able.

          1. Plenue

            Yeah, not actually sure what it means. Maybe that they’ll keep them permanently locked as a target at all times, with the missile literally just a button press from firing? I guess any American pilot with have to get used to their cockpit alarm blaring at them at all times they’re within range of a Russia or Syrian AA site now.

        1. Skip Intro

          I think a pilot getting a ‘missile lock’ warning after being to being targeted by a SAM battery will serve to ‘focus the attention’ much more than the standard radar tracking of everything by everyone. The Russian message stopped short of saying the targets would actually be fired upon of course.
          Unfortunately it seems likely that the whole neo-con ‘deep state’ is desperately hoping for a US plane to be shot down, to give them a really juicy casus belli. That is the reason for these provocations in the first place.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            This is key. We don’t know what Invincible pilots who bomb goats and weddings will do when faced with a credible threat (no one ever really knows). The Gulf War was 25 years ago. This is a whole generation who have joined since the Wunder Weapons were aired on CNN.

            Throw in aging planes and pilots who aren’t there for any particularly reason other than thuggery and greed on behalf of the elites, and there is a real recipe for pilots to not fly to their targets.

            Conversely, the Russians are under siege by Western elites. Given Iraq and Libya, both countries that disarmed. They will fight back.

    4. rjs

      the key to understanding what’s going on in Syria was in the first para of the linked Reuters article

      A U.S. warplane shot down a Syrian army jet on Sunday in the southern Raqqa countryside, with Washington saying the jet had dropped bombs near U.S.-backed forces and Damascus saying the plane was downed while flying a mission against Islamic State militants.

      both statements are true.

    5. philnc

      No, it _always_ ended badly, especially for ordinary people.

      Given that the President promised during the campaign to avoid this kind of situation, the only thing I can assume is that the coup by the neocons is complete and Mr. Trump is now just a figurehead with no real power to resist our military’s surge towards war. Bismark had predicted that the conflict we know as the First World War would come as the result of “some damned foolish thing in the Balkans”. Although a professional soldier, he was not at all happy about it. Likewise in our time it appears that the Third World War now may come as the result of some damned foolish thing in Syria, caused mostly by the damned fools running our foreign policy and leading our military in Washington, DC.

      1. Anon

        and Bloomberg 2014.

        [That seemed like the least that Starbucks — which sells 4 billion disposable cups a year — could do. The coffee giant has the financial wherewithal to install gold-plated recycling bins in all of its stores, if it chose to do so. Yet last week, Starbucks said in its 2013 Global Responsibility Report that it wasn’t going to meet its recycling goals in 2015 — if ever. In fact, five years into its program, the company had only managed to implement customer recycling at 39 percent of its company-operated stores.]

        1. Optimader

          Seems to me most people walk out holding their cup of coffee(there is a Starbucks in my office lobby).
          How should the retailer influence the clientele to stick around drink the product then dispose of the cup in the gd pjated receptical?

          So assuming 4B cups i would estimate tha to be on the order of 470x470x470 cuft of paper. So how does a retail coffee vendor reaggregate them for recycling–practically speaking?

    1. j84ustin

      I just listened to the latest one you reference this morning on my way to work. For many months now I have made sure to never miss an episode.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      I listened to 15 min during which I learned nothing (oh, newsflash the Resistance is about not accepting that HRC ran a bad campaign) but heard a bunch of young coastals yucking it up over everybody else’s stupidity (they probably subscribe to coupon books ha ha) while making the throwaway assertion that of course there’s something there with Russia trying to interfere with our election.

      This is fire?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I don’t think it’s about distraction for the little people from Hillary’s campaign but the failure of Hillary primary voters to recognize the Inevitability of the poor Clinton campaign despite the warnings.

        If Hillary was as bad a candidate as “Bernie Bros” and “unicorn chasers” said she was, what does make smug liberals?

      2. Romancing The Loan

        Smug laughter from the comfortable has long since passed its sell-by date in the service of any ideology.

        From John Stewart to John Oliver to the edgy boyz at Chapo, the ruling class’s attempts to safely veal-pen their leftists always end up sounding the same, and overall not much better than their counterparts on the right.

      3. UserFriendly

        Yeah my main beef with Chapo has been their willingness to placate #Russiagate. But they did do an AMAZING skewering of Harvard and all the evil that hell hole has produced while on campus in front of students. Very long but it’s at least worth skipping around through parts of it to see how they do a march madness type bracket to discover the most evil person associated with harvard.

        1. Quanka

          ehhh B.S. easy targets, easy audience. The Harvard skewering episode was a waste of time. Did you learn anything? This is from a certified grey wolf. Chapo: step up your game. Great year 1. Year 2 is leaving me unsatisfied.

    3. FluffytheObeseCat

      “There’s also a lot of yelling at the Megan McArdle article on her saying that the London high rise fire was A-OK.”

      I’m continually impressed by the ability of our elite punditocrats to ‘re-introduce’ themselves to the news stream whenever they fall off the radar for a bit. McArdle’s a real pro at it. Over the past 2 decades she has frequently re-invigorated her brand by belching out some piece of amoral vomitus at…… just the right time in the cycle.

      You’d think by now that even the most insider, Clinton-esque #Resist-ers would have caught on to it, and cease giving her free publicity. And now we have poor little Bret Stephens following in her well-trod path, ginning up a frenzy of high volume stupid every time he writes something that should be forgotten before the sun sets on Montauk.

      There are plenty of opinion-makers who should not be ignored when they pump out hate. Guys who have large, non-elite, non-credentialed bases. Guys like Alex Jones or Glenn Beck or Hannity. However. Arch, middlebrow, middle-aged bullshitters who are published by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, etc for their “edgy, contrarian wisdom”. The best medicine for them is a decoction of 9 parts ignore to 1 parts deride.

  3. integer

    Iran fires missiles at ISIL positions in eastern Syria

    Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says it has fired several missiles at ISIL positions in Syria’s Deir Az Zor province in retaliation for two deadly attacks in Tehran earlier this month that were claimed by the armed group.

    “Medium-range missiles were fired from the (western) provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdestan, and a large number of terrorists were killed and weapons destroyed,” the Guard said in a statement published on its Sepahnews website on Sunday.

    It said the attack targeted “a command base .. of the terrorists in Deir Ezzor”, using a different version of the name for the province in eastern Syria.

    “The spilling of any pure blood will not go unanswered,” it added.

    Apparently this is the first time in 30 years that Iran has launched a missile attack on a target outside its borders, and was done in response to the terrorist attack in Tehran, which Iranian officials have officially blamed on the Saudis. Things are heating up in the Middle East.

  4. David

    Quick guide for anyone trying to make sense of yesterday’s French election results.

    • Less than 43% of the electorate voted, by far the lowest turnout in the history of the Fifth Republic.
    • As expected, Macron’s party (REM) and Bayrou’s party (MoDem) have a comfortable absolute majority (350 seats out of 577). But 42 of the seats are MoDem, and Bayrou is a notoriously awkward individual, who is quite capable to taking his toys home if he’s unhappy.
    • A number of REM deputies are refugees from other parties, come to save their political skins. Many others are complete political novices. Macron, a dictatorial figure by nature, has yet to show that he can keep such a disparate group together.
    • The victory, though comfortable, was considerably less decisive than the pundits and the polls were suggesting. Figures of up to 470 deputies were being quoted last week.
    • The Socialists were almost wiped out. Valls, the ex Prime Minister who tried to jump ship to Macron and was refused, barely kept his seat. With 29 seats, the Socialists are simply the largest of the fringe parties of the Left, not that far ahead of Mélenchon’s LFI (17) and the Communists (10). Notable victims include Najat Vallaud-Belkachem, the widely discredited Education Minister and Miriam El-Khomri, given responsibility for the controversial law to weaken employment rights last year. Both were part of Hollande’s attempt to use identity politics to disarm criticism of neoliberal measures, a policy which has failed catastrophically to mobilise voters.
    • The Right (about 120 depending on how you count them) was pushed back into its strongholds among the wealthy and among the provincial lower middle-classes. They are by far the largest opposition bloc, but have no obvious leader, and may be too busy sticking knives into each other anyway.
    • The main parties of the Fifth Republic are in pieces, but have been replaced by a party which is in effect a gigantic protest vote. Few of its supporters have much idea what it stands for, and there are likely to be tears before bedtime.
    • French elites have succeeded in keeping the reins of power for the moment, by a sleight of hand and the vagaries of the French electoral system. The populist parties of Left and Right have the support of perhaps a third of the electorate, but only a handful of parliamentary seats. A good comparison is with the first round of the Presidentials in May, where there were four candidates within a few per cent of each other. The candidate who came second on that occasion (Macron) won almost forty times as many seats yesterday as the first-placed (Le Pen).

    1. Deadl E Cheese

      I know centrists inherently have a turnout problem — witness the Clintons and post-Blair Labour — but WOW that is bad. Also, WRT the collapse of the Socialists; didn’t Macron used to work for Hollande in a Timothy Geithner-style role.

      No matter! Here’s the thing about voting for centrists when fascists are around; you don’t really get a choice to not have a fascist. You’re just voting for whether they take power NOW or next electoral cycle.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        “Centrists” are simply polite fascists. They are the types who gave chocolate to the little Jewish kids as they made their way to their news home in Madagascar. Except for the more exaggerated drooling, I’m at a loss to find many differences.

    2. Alex Morfesis

      The end just passed us all by…living our own homage to catalonia…
      thankfully most don’t usually notice the changes, clinging onto subsistence by a melting thread…

      No mass panics…no collapse of civilization…just a different hue…the end of the end of the world industry.

      the new conquerors will not notice they have moved up the cue until they are standing with no one to struggle against…

      never has mankind been so close to freedom and never have the overlords been so afraid…

      The wars will fall flat repeating the christmas truce of 1914 requested by Benedict 15…there wont be some failed Austrian painter calling in artillery strikes to disrupt the soldiers’ peace…

      The darkness has lost…

      Not in any way to suggest macron is some form of light…the exact opposite…simply the pasoking of the political machinations in france is the end of the beginning…

      the last gasp of the bernaze glaze

      As the vcr helped kill the soviet union, cellphone cameras will turn on their progenitors…

      6-19-2017…a beautiful drizzly day…

      nothing would ever be the same again

      1. mpalomar

        In another part of a small world water resources are disappearing for 1.3 billion people India’s wells are running dry, fast. Collapse sans bearnaise sauce may yet proceed but instead with an unmistakable fiery curry and the panic of the rapidly approaching beginning of the end may accompany, with tugging urgency, hand in hand, the dalliance of the end of the beginning.

        1. Alex Morfesis

          It’s always darkest before the dawn wakes up and asks you to give her a foot rub before making her an espresso

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The future is in selling fuel to robots.

      “Come charge yourself at Whole Foods…foods for humans and robots. We don’t discriminate.”

  5. Ed

    “Drop the Target: May’s ‘tens of thousands’ immigration cap would cut labour supply and deepen existing shortages, report says Independent”

    The crops will rot in the fields!

  6. Toske

    “It is never about the money in Silicon Valley. The fact is: they have plenty of it.”

    And when exactly was the last time that already having plenty of money caused a greedy person to stop wanting more? If anything, the more you have the greedier you get.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There is always another person richer than you for you to catch up and surpass.

      And if you’re the richest, you have to be forever vigilant lest another one takes the title away from you.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Is this Great General a graduate of the Space Cadet Academy? with a Masters in “Full Speculum Dominance”?

  7. Tertium Squid

    “I’ve discovered that reading is actually one of those skills that increases exponentially the more of it you do, and it doesn’t stop improving the older you get, which is an encouraging fact,” he told me. For work, he now reads the average book, preferably with Mozart or Haydn playing, in one and a half, maybe two hours.

    Huh. The older I get the slower I read, but I gain a lot more from the experience.

    1. nycTerrierist

      I’m a fast, voracious reader.

      Call me cranky, but a book that can be read ‘in one and a half, maybe two hours’ doesn’t sound v. substantial.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It is not about what is scanned and how fast, but what is retained and for how long.

      And most importantly, what is put to used by the reader.

      “Master, what is the secret?”

      “Love one another.”

      “The real secret, master. Please.”

      “Love one another.”

      “I’ve heard that a thousand times.”

      “Still, love one another.”

      “Master, it’s got to be very mysterious, very esoteric, only those really, really smart can comprehend. So what is it?”

      “Just this, love one another.”

      “I beg you, master. The real hard stuff…stuff that only by reading 1,000,000 books can one get a glimpse of… What is it? I want to be the best, the most learned, the intellectualest, the smartest, the greatest.”

      “Love one another.”

      “But everyone knows that. That doesn’t make me special.”

      “Love one another.”

  8. Jef

    My favorite part of the Putin interviews is when he says something like, “Once elected the president is taken into a room and told thiings that only the president can be told then he changes on just about everything, they all do”.

  9. Tertium Squid

    Not all Ferraris cost a fortune, but even the regular, non-limited models aren’t cheap. The lowest-priced vehicle in the current lineup is the California T, at about $210,000.

  10. Treetop

    This seems the most likely. The idea that the US was at all in Syria to help combat ISIS feels like a joke.

    1. Marco

      One of the last photos with the cockatoo and the Sydney skyline in the background was stunning! What a beautiful setting for a zoo. The sugar gliders are my favorite!!

  11. jfleni

    RE A firefighter who attended Grenfell tower has written this:

    The only possible comment is the pithy Americanism: The Tories could even ****up a Box lunch!

    1. Alex Morfesis

      Why does the world still use 19th century technology to fight fires…efficiency…in my moment of madness trying to help build up a marine archeology company(ok…ok…treasure hunter)

      insisting on extra gear and tanks sitting at diving depth and an escape emergency pod at 15 feet to allow decompression safety stop was met be blank stares…why bother…no one does it…

      Firefighters with Useless communication systems that flake out at a distance of 200 feet ??

      In a world with long range Bluetooth ?

      Firefighters not having back up oxygen in place ? No one sending a team up to provide harnesses to zip up equipment or zip down people ?

      And the beat goes on…

      1. philnc

        A firefighter’s full load out, even with only one Air Pak, is already at the limit of what anyone should be required to handle. Resupply lines make sense in theory, but in the real world aren’t going to be usable in most places, too many obstacles to negotiate. As for the radios, well, Bluetooth of any kind would be way worse. The PowerPoints on that tech are all lies. Current radio technology has some severe physical (as in physics) constraints, especially at the higher frequencies in the spectrum that are now allocated for public safety use. Forty years ago the lower frequency radios could penetrate further, but they were big, bulky and didn’t last long on a single charge. Even if you could claw that spectrum back, those factors would still be a problem. Part of the answer would be making some kind of passive antenna system _inside_ all buildings mandatory, but once you figure out how to make it work you’ll have to fight every property owner in creation to deploy it.

        1. Alex Morfesis

          Forgive me…did not mean to imply the answer was long range blahtoothless…simply the world offers many practical resilient solutions…a person running into a fire should have heat sensored visionware to allow them to differentiate in the dark and also focus in on the source of the problem…running up the stairs to figure out who in the top floors need help instead of a modified over the counter consumer drone with camera to get there amd scope out the situation…there is a firm “selling” some purported “new” technology claiming the “modern” capacity to force a flow of water or fire repellent 120 ft(40 meters)…take a look at a photo of the fire depr in nyc fighting the triangle waistshirt fire 100 years ago…120 foot blast of water working against gravity…same old same old…

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Starbucks cups are not recyclable, which means 4 billion go to landfill each year Treehugger

    Dishwashers are too expensive?

    Just how did those fin-de-siecle cafes manage to serve their coffee, this Luddite wonders.

      1. Cynthia

        to Optimader at 2:31 pm
        Not limited toStarbucks but here are some pretty frightening stats re coffee and disposable cups:
        In Canada we have both Tim Hortons and Starbucks contributing to the waste problem. I work in a community college with Tim Hortons and it astounds me how many staff and students buy their coffee in a disposable cup rather than a reusable thermos. I see lots of folks with their own water bottles, we seem to have made progress with regard to disposable/recyclable plastic water bottles but not coffee. One colleague complains that there is no sink in her ‘cubicle farm’ where she can wash a coffee thermos. Maybe we need to add a hot water option to our drinking fountains that are now set up to easily fill our reusable water bottles.
        But we must never forget that the most important R of Reduce, Re-use, Recycle is the first one: Reduce! There is a reason that Recycle is last in the list.

        1. optimader

          In Canada we have both Tim Hortons and Starbucks contributing to the waste problem. I work in a community college with Tim Hortons and it astounds me how many staff and students buy their coffee in a disposable cup rather than a reusable thermos

          I am sure this issue is represented by more than Tim Hortons and Starbucks, so it is not necessarily productive to bash them in particular.
          As for me, other than perhaps when shanghaied at an airport I virtually never buy to-go coffee, I roast my own and carry in a thermos if I want more than I have at home.
          That all said, the post consumer scrap is a problem bigger than Starbucks (and Hortons). these are chains that are successful due to public demand for their product. They buy the cups to a performance spec, and IMO it is a market opportunity to provide a better delivery system, be it a superior cup or other.

          I will push backbit on these cups not being “recyclable” in so far as I am pretty much sure they can compost. Presently there will be a poly membrane that will ultimately break down, even if it take a few decades. Inert in soil ultimately

          The BIG issue is as a “composite” material, they represent another bifurcation in the post consumer scrap segregation.

          This is where retail post consumer scrap waste “recycling” breaks down –when trying to engineer a solution at scale.
          Once composite are in the mixed waste pile, the expedient thing to do is landfill it.
          Unfortunately this is probably true even if they were 100% compostable paper product unless it can be segregated at the time of consumer disposal to a pure cellulose (paper) waste stream.
          Believe me, I worked on the engineering of waste municipal waste segregation ( waste to energy plants) back in the 1990s. segregation into uniform waste streams was the undoing of some seriously ambitious projects.

          The retail coffee vendors I am certain would love a simple product delivery solution that must also limit there exposure to huge liability claims for failed coffee cups. No joke.

          Interestingly Styrofoam cups are not mentioned!

          1. Cynthia

            I wasn’t bashing Tim Horton’s and Starbucks…Starbucks was mentioned and I was actually pointing out that they are not the only problem, guess I could have done a better job on that. I often bring coffee from home too and when I don’t I fill my thermos at the student run coffee shop rather patronizing Tim’s (their coffee is terrible) or the corporate (Chartwells) run cafeteria, neither company needs my money… But all 3 do offer a discount for use of a thermos, you’d think that’d be an incentive for some. In the end though I agree, seems that it shouldn’t be that difficult to come up with a compostable cup that will hold hot liquids.

            1. Optimader

              I expect they could be readily composted in their current form, just making them a dedicated waste stream is the real trick. Cant be mixed with other paper products like kraft paper/cardboard.
              I compost most paper packaging, i am going to try some coffee cups for my curiosity

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Drop the Target: May’s ‘tens of thousands’ immigration cap would cut labour supply and deepen existing shortages, report says Independent

    Will it cause the mother of all inflations – wage inflation?

  14. mpalomar

    The War on the Rocks piece Toxic Movement … London Bridge was focused on the trees not the forest. The article dissects and analyzes operations within extremist Shariah law groups but fails until the last few paragraphs to put a finger on the crux and even then fails to identify the source problem.
    “Observing them in action, one soon picks up on the comradery and sense of brotherhood offered by being part of a something like this. They are a tightly knit band of brothers willing to fight for each other while being assailed on all sides by a Western secular culture they believe is trying to destroy Islam.”
    If they feel Islam is under assault by Western secular culture there is good reason, Western interference in sovereign countries and involvement in endless war-making in the mideast leaves that impression and creates the conditions driving diaspora. More critically leaving the flow of money from Saudi Arabia and Western complicity with Wahhabism out of the discussion is baffling or did I miss it?

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    How a crippling shortage of analysts let the London Bridge attackers through Guardian. Although a week old, worth reading


    Money to put every British citizen under surveillance, and to install cameras everywhere…maybe even to spy on candidate Trump, but not enough people to track someone profiled in a TV show as a potential risk?

    1. David

      The article and the people being interviewed both confuse analysis with prediction. No amount of analysis will tell that a given individual in the privacy of their skull has decided to drive a lorry into a group of people. You’d need teams of policemen following thousands of suspects around on a 24 hour basis, and even then you wouldn’t spot everything.

  16. Jim Haygood

    Dr Hussman on the Fed’s balance sheet runoff:

    Last week, the Federal Reserve issued a set of Policy Normalization Principles and Plans, by which the size of its portfolio of government securities would “decline in a gradual and predictable manner until the Committee judges that the Federal Reserve is holding no more securities than necessary to implement monetary policy efficiently and effectively.”

    The monetary base would have to decline from its current level of $3.8 trillion to a range between $2.2 and $2.6 trillion in order to establish a 1% target rate (without IOER); between $1.9 and $2.3 trillion to establish a 2% target rate; and between $1.7 and $2.1 trillion to establish a 3% target rate.

    Nice maff exercise, Doc. But the notion that the Fed could slash its balance sheet in half to crank short rates to 3 percent — while the economy keeps affably trundling along — is certifiably insane.

    What Dr H’s terse linear equation actually describes is 1929 squared: a smoking black hole of deleveraged asset prices. One hundred dollahs buys this pristine Stutz Bearcat. [true story]

    In reality, though one can empirically model short rates as a function of the monetary base, the size of the Fed’s monetary base is POOTA (Pulled Out Of They Ass).

    Accordingly, the only prudent procedure is simply to freeze the balance sheet, and carry on toying with the policy rate (which, as Dr H correctly points out, can be set using IOER (interest on excess reserves) even when excess reserves are large).

    1. JohnnyGL

      Maybe monetary velocity will rapidly increase and make up for the money supply shrinkage??? :) Maybe not??? :)

        1. ambrit

          Since Greenspan is a True Believer, he should throw himself voluntarily into the Velocity Gods’ volcanic mouth.
          That he doesn’t is a sign of heresy and backsliding. A few months of “re-education” in the Austrian Alps at Gelts’ Gulch should get him back on the “Square and Level.”

        2. WobblyTelomeres

          Perhaps velocity has been sinking since the Clinton/Gingrich welfare reforms? Nobody spends money faster than the hungry/homeless/unemployed/poor.

    1. Synoia

      The D’s are firmly focused on their constituency – Rich Donors. They have their priorities correct.

      They also have all the privileges of being elected, without having any responsibilities. (cf Obama’s excuses for inaction).

      Nice work if you can get it.

  17. Synoia

    EU leaders fear that fragile state of Tories will lead to brutal Brexit

    Perhaps the EU leaders should look in the Mirror, and stop the S&M parade. To err is human, to forgive divine; punishing people when they decide that your club is not for them in no way to keep them amiable.

    The continuing example of subjugating the Greeks, followed by the dual standard of the treatment of the Greek and Cypriot vs Italian and Spanish Banks is a clear object lesson to all.

    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?

  18. Anonymous2

    The problem, it is suggested, is that the UK is so hopelessly divided and disorganised that it will be unable to agree anything with the EU. In what way does this state of affairs represent the EU punishing the UK?

    The UK is responsible for its own problems.

    1. witters

      “The UK is responsible for its own problems.”

      So the EU has no problems with the UK leaving? And if it does, it is its [the EU’s] fault? Have I got the logic right?

      1. Anonymous2

        The UK’s main problems are : a serious maldistribution of wealth, poor infrastructure, an educational system that delivers a workforce which is inadequately skilled and a major shortage of housing as a result of forty years of failing to build in the South East in particular.

        Some are very concerned about the level of immigration though ironically the people who are concerned about it are concentrated in the areas where there are relatively few immigrants (with some exceptions ).

        EU rules allow member states various powers to return jobless immigrants to their state of origin and the EU offers funding to help with the assimilation of immigrants. The UK has made no use of either of these in recent years if my information is correct.

        Immigration into the UK is not greatly out of line with immigration into many other West European countries.

        This is why I hold that the UK is the source of its own problems. All could be addressed by UK government action but have not been.

        Will the EU suffer from the UK departure? Probably to some extent. However I am struck by what I have been told by UK businessmen – they are already relocating some of their current activities from the UK to EU 27 locations to be able to continue to operate within the Single Market after March 2019. This of course is a simple gain for the EU 27.

  19. McWatt

    As regards Housing Vouchers: Here in Chicago the qualifications for Housing Vouchers are so broad and the income levels for getting a Housing Voucher so high that I, as a landlord, qualify for a Housing Voucher. The Housing Voucher program here has turned into a Lottery.

    Remember when only single mothers with children could get vouchers? Soon there were tons of single mothers.

    These needed programs are soon abused and those in need don’t get help because others step in line in front them, now legally. Yet another national tragedy. As a family whose single grandmother made it through the depression with government help I know the importance of these government programs. They need to be narrowly drawn so the proper people get the help they deserve.

  20. JEHR

    In my experience, single-payer health care helps promote preventative care: part of the advantage of care that is out of the hands of insurance companies who want to make a profit is that patients can be encouraged to live in ways that can help prevent disease, such as seeking vaccinations, yearly checkups and being educated in healthful eating, exercising, etc. It is not just about being treated for a disease but also about being able to live a good, healthy life without fear of excessive charges for care. Insurance companies make more money from those who suffer than from those who live a healthy lifestyle. Indeed, paying Insurance is a conflict of interest when illness provides the profit. Health care should be about health, not just illness.

    Think about how much money could be saved from not having to pay excessive premiums for insurance! When everyone is covered by insurance, then even greater savings can be had.

  21. Jim Haygood

    When chutzpah met mania:

    Argentina will test investor confidence by offering its first 100-year bond barely a year after finally settling a protracted legal dispute tied to a $95 billion default. The notes will be sold at 90 cents on the dollar to yield 7.917 percent.

    Argentina has defaulted on its debt seven times in the past 200 years and three times in the past 23 years. During negotiations that lasted more than a decade over defaulted bonds from the 2001 financial crisis, the government of then-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner exasperated U.S. Judge Thomas Griesa so much that he described Argentina as a “uniquely recalcitrant debtor.”

    Selling such a long maturity may be part of a marketing strategy to garner attention, Guido Chamorro of Pictet Asset Management said. “This is about free advertising. It gets you onto the front page of the Financial Times.”

    What has changed to alter Argentina’s deeply-ingrained habit of repeated defaults … not to mention having knocked thirteen (13) zeroes off its currency in the past century … and serving as the planet’s lone example of an advanced economy that regressed to an emerging [or submerging, as the case may be] economy?

    This is what happens when central bankstahs buy up all the high-rated sovereign bonds and drive their yields down toward zero. Yield hunger sends disoriented investors to dumpster diving like rabid raccoons. It’s the corollary to Gresham’s law: bad debt drives out good.

    We got all the amigos that money can buy
    So we never have to be alone
    And we keep getting richer but we can’t get our picture
    On the cover of the Rollin’ Stone FT

    — Dr Hook and the Medicine Show

  22. Oregoncharles

    “Power Causes Brain Damage: –
    Jim Jones and the Kool-Aid (original source of “drank the Kool-Aid”).

    1. JustAnObserver

      I thought it was originally from Ken Kesey and the “Acid Tests” where the said psychotropic was dissolved in Kool Aid and handed out to all who participated ?

      1. mpalomar

        Drank the koolaid was in reference to Jim Jones and the mass suicide Jonestown Guyana late Seventies disco era.
        The Electric Koolaid Acid Test was a different moment. A book by Tom Wolfe about the Merry Pranksters and the hallucinogenic consciousness expanding moment culminating in the Sixties when the glendale train briefly left the tracks before silicon valley reentry in the matrix.

  23. Oregoncharles

    “Drop the Target: May’s ‘tens of thousands’ immigration cap would cut labour supply and deepen existing shortages, report says”
    Britain has labor shortages? Doesn’t that mean they’ve been doing something right? Or is it only in certain fields where they’ve neglected to educate people?

    1. Oregoncharles

      It’s in “low-skill” fields. Britain has no unemployed they could hire? Very weird.

    2. Grebo

      There are no labour shortages, of course. What there is is a large supply of cheaper, harder-working foreigners just over there.

  24. Oregoncharles

    “Britain’s Brexit jam is Brussels’ too

    ‘We wouldn’t do this to our worst enemy,’ says one EU official, watching the disarray in Britain.”

    That statement by an anonymous (clueless?) “EU official” is arrant, unforgivable hypocrisy. As the article goes on to demonstrate, the EU’s “negotiating” posture has been designed precisely to back Britain into a corner and punish them for leaving. There are multiple examples in the article, but the most obvious is focusing on the payments. The discussion here th eother day made it clear, I think, that the EU pulled those numbers out of thin air – no one could figure out where they came from. Either the amount Britain owes is predetermined by legal commitments, hence not subject to negotiation, or it’s made up on the spot. (Or, of course, some of both.) Either way, putting it first in the negotiations is deliberate provocation, an attempt to sabotage the “negotiations” off the bat.

    That’s just one issue, but it’s typical. I think the immigration/residency issue is being manipulated in the same way. It shouldn’t be difficult to agree on grandfathering the people who moved based on reasonable expectations. But asking Britain to forfeit it’s hard-won sovereignty into the future is an intentional deal-breaker.

    I’m making too much of an anonymous quote, but it is at the top of the article. The EU’s malice has been perfectly obvious, and easy to understand; as with Greece, they should not be allowed to get away with hypocrisy on the subject.

    1. Anonymous2

      I think you are being unfair to the EU here. They have insisted that discussion focus on those issues where there does need to be agreement by late 2018. The UK has now accepted the EU’s timetable. The issues which the UK wanted to discuss in parallel are less urgent as they do not absolutely require resolution before 2019. The fact that the UK has caved so quickly shows that it was not really that important to them. They were probably playing to their own domestic gallery.

      As far as I know the EU have not calculated any sums of money reflecting the value of the legal commitments that the UK have entered into. There is clearly scope for arguments between the Lawyers as to the implications of the words ‘legal commitments ‘ in this context. That will no doubt keep some people busy for a while.

      The calculations that have been made have been the work of others on the basis of the EU’s text.

  25. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    Breville Shooting

    Congressman to push bill that lets lawmakers carry guns NY Post. What could go wrong?

    Not much, based on history rather than hysteria..

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Mo Brooks is the same guy that walks around declaring that there is a “war on whites”. Claims that it is one of the reasons why he will no longer hold town hall meetings. He’s as bad as Chuck Schumer when it comes to microphones or cameras (i.e. don’t get between Mo and a reporter).

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