Links 6/20/17

Dear patient readers,

In a further proof of America’s descent into third world status, my internet service was down multiple times last evening, thanks to a merely normal thunderstorm. I haven’t had this sort of thing since I lived in Sydney in 2002 and Telstra had just rolled out its broadband service.

Cat domestication: From farms to sofas Nature

The Epic Shared Journey of Bison and Grizzly Bears Counterpunch (Darius)

Nasa just discovered ’10 new planets like Earth’ Independent (J-LS)

Thin ice: Vanishing ice only exacerbates a bad, climate change-fueled situation ars technica. Chuck L: “A primer on the impact of diminishing ice.”

A third of the world now faces deadly heatwaves as result of climate change Guardian

a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Montreal opens first mobile supervised injection clinic in North America Guardian

M&S says labelling avocados with lasers is more sustainable BBC

Cable lobby tries to stop state investigations into slow broadband speeds ars technica (Chuck L)

North Korea

US student sent home from N Korea dies BBC

US tries to use better China relations to press North Korea Asia Times

North Korea accuses U.S. authorities of ‘mugging’ its diplomats at NY airport Reuters (EM)

One Nation morons power ahead in polls MacroBusiness

Mandatory Aadhaar and Bank Accounts: How Much of This Is Legal? The Wire (J-LS)


Britain’s €100bn Brexit bill in context Financial Times

Two-thirds of Europeans believe EU should take hard line on Brexit Guardian

Britain and Europe lock horns over ‘Brexit bill’ on day one of talks Telegraph

Grenfell Tower


After the London Inferno, a Question For Laissez-faire Zealots: Is a Human Life Worth No More Than $100? Counterpunch

UK Election Aftermath

Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill: How civil servants lived in fear of the terrible twins at No 10 The Times. Tolstoy was wrong: “…every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” does not hold true in political families.

New poll puts Labour ahead of Conservatives – but Theresa May still backed to deliver Brexit Telegraph


Barclays, Four Former Executives Charged Over Qatar Fundraising Bloomberg. This is a big deal. The former CEO John Varley is one of the four charged. The story up as of now does not go into the details, but as I recall the 50,000 foot version, Barclays gave Qatar a loan and then Qatar made what was presented as an equity investment to regulators. Qatar got a fee for going along with the ruse and Barclays avoided a bailout. All are charged with fraud; Varley and another exec are also charged with “provision of unlawful financial assistance.”

Weyts: “De EU brengt onze frietcultuur in gevaar” HLN. Translation: Belgians may lose their frites, at least as currently formulated.


Syria and Our Illegal Acts of War American Conservative

Russia vows to shoot down all ‘flying objects’ in Syria after US guns down first regime warplane Independent. Reslic: “No fly zone. Did Clintoon get elected after all?”

Russo-US dog fights over Syria? Juan Cole (resilc)

Trump’s Afghanistan Policy Is Clever and Unwise Bloomberg

Russia Announces It Will Target US Planes Over Syria: UN Investigates US War Crimes for 300 Civilian Deaths Michael Shedlock (EM)

Sabha in the spotlight: the city where migrants are sold as slaves Guardian (resilc)

Imperial Collapse Watch

True Motive Behind Global War on Drugs/Terror Counterpunch

Exclusive: Lockheed nears $37 billion-plus deal to sell F-35 jet to 11 countries Reuters. Resilc: “Buy our priceless Edsel.”

Trade Traitors

US in trade talks with Asian nations to replace TPP, commerce secretary says South China Morning Post (J-LS)

Snap AV: A globalisation Rorschach test FT Alphaville

Trump Transition

Flynn Didn’t Disclose Middle East Meetings, House Democrats Say Bloomberg

Trump allies hit Mueller on relationship with Comey The Hill

Trump Triumphantly Tweets 50 Percent Approval Numbers from Rasmussen Poll Vanity Fair. Resilc: “And soon he will get 99% of the vote like in African elections.”

Battle Over Sanctuary Cities Pits California Against Texas Bloomberg

Budget cuts threaten forests’ roads, hunting, fishing McClatchy (resilc)

Why So Many Critics Hate the New Obama Biography Politico

Sanders to GOP on healthcare bill: ‘What are you afraid of?’ The Hill

Supreme Court Further Curbs Plaintiffs’ Venue Shopping With Bristol-Myers Ruling Wall Street Journal

It’s My Party: The Democrats struggle to rise from the ashes Andrew Cockburn, Harper’s (Jennie)

Here’s the Real Lesson of Georgia’s $51 Million Special Election Mother Jones (resilc)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Seattle woman killed by police while children were home after reporting theft Guardian

Guns kill 1,300 US children every year, study finds BBC (resilc)

Illinois at Risk of Being First State Cut to Junk Bloomberg

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos may be single-handedly killing inflation CNBC

Man Stabs Customer After Getting Wrong Drink At Starbucks CBS Chicago (resilc)

At Alibaba Gateway ‘17 in Detroit, China’s e-commerce giant is building its brand with US small businesses Quartz (resilc)

Wells Fargo Is Accused of Making Improper Changes to Mortgages Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times. From last week. Important.

Parents’ Time Spent on Paid Work and Unpaid Housework and Child Care Combined Angry Bear

Class Warfare

Transit Riders Unions vs. Climate Change, White Supremacy and Disaster Capitalism Counterpunch (Darius)

I Spent 14 Months in Jail Because I Couldn’t Pay My Way Out Truthout

Conglomerates Didn’t Die. They Look Like Amazon. New York Times. Only when they start threatening the upper middle class do people like Andrew Ross Sorkin take notice.

Antidote du jour. Ann M: “Penny and Emmett getting their hair all over the clean laundry”:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’ve long believed the shoot down of NATO aligned planes would create a major psychological crisis in the respective nations as the magic of wunder weapons was lost and we might have to face consequences for our actions.

      A few of the countries are operating under even flimsier ground than we are. A disaster caused by hostile forces would demand sacrificial lambs especially for less than popular conflicts. After all, Australia is no where near Syria. They need the army to defend themselves from lizards and other critters.

        1. integer

          I had a look at the linked Wikipedia page and found this article among the references:

          Foes now friends: US stealth pilot and the Serb who shot him down

          A former US Air Force pilot and the man who shot his stealth plane down during Nato’s operation in Serbia have struck a remarkable friendship.

          Breaking bread with the enemy is one thing. Making it together is a step that former foes do not usually take.

          But in Zoltan Dani’s kitchen, that is exactly what is happening. Once the commander of a crack Yugoslav anti-aircraft rocket unit, the former colonel has swapped his camouflage for an apron and now runs a successful bakery.

          Even more remarkably, kneading the dough beside him is former United States Air Force pilot, Dale Zelko.

          The pair hope their story will send a message of tolerance and understanding around the world.

          Emerging from another hug with the man who came to bomb his country but whom he now calls brother, Zoltan Dani is happy to be viewed as an example.

          “We found a solution to this problem and we’re showing other people how to do it. We’re saying to people that peace is much better than war. The most important thing is that we communicate and become very good friends – share emotions and feelings.”

          He smiles, and glances over at the oven.

          “And besides apple strudel, we make chocolate cake.”

    2. Burritonomics

      Don’t worry; regardless of who’s shooting at who, you’re covered! I saw this on Bloomberg last week…

      Yeah, it’s a real ad. :/

  1. Terry Flynn

    In operationalising all kinds of government policy and prosecuting those who put cost savings before lives to an excessive degree, the “value of a statistical life” is the much more fundamental, but under-explored issue.

    For example, the British government doesn’t even value lives consistently in its own “policy realm”: in my original field of health economics, it is now known that British governments tend to use a broad rule that a (quality adjusted) life year is “worth” £30,000 – £50,000 when it comes to new health interventions. (The process which got to this range is deeply suspect, but that’s another issue.)

    Meanwhile, using cost-benefit analysis (rather than cost-effectiveness / cost-utility analysis) in transport, the value of a life is vastly different for (for example) train safety. I believe, IIRC, that the value of a life works out as being much higher, though don’t quote me if I have them the wrong way around. The point is, the numbers are radically different – by an order of magnitude.

    Now, it is perfectly acceptable that people might have different values for a life, depending on context – for example the health range is routinely violated for interventions in “key areas” (like orphan drugs in new areas, rather than a “me too” drug). NICE tries to make such deviations transparent, at least.

    But I can’t help wondering if a more fundamental public consultation exercise is required to find out how much a human life is worth in monetary terms depending on context etc….though, of course, ultimately we’d want to value a life not in terms of money, but in terms of “real resources” needed to save it, with a MMT-consistent approach.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      I don’t think it matters what economic or monetary system you choose. As long as you can put an arbitrary price on a human life, that human becomes a commodity, and can be “traded” as a commodity.

      I know “realists” say that we have to have some monetary measure of what a human is worth so that we can, among other things, render justice. But that kind of justice only comes from a system where money is the arbiter of all things, i.e., money is the power in the universe that determines all things and can replace all things. Is that the kind of world we want – where money takes the place of ethics and morality? I would assume so, since that seems to be the system we have (and yet, all that anger about the unfairness of it all……..). Time for a new Jesus to show up……

    1. polecat

      I know how you feel Fresno Dan, as I just yesterday quipped to the Mrs. polecat how it was all downhill from here on out spinning and gyrating towards winter !! ‘;(

      ….. but I have to say that, due to what was a more normal if but wetter than usual winter, our perennials are busting with color & bloom like nothing I’ve seen before !

  2. MoiAussie

    Montreal opens first mobile supervised injection clinic link is missing tags.
    One Nation morons power ahead in polls link should be here.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Clive, and well said.

      Just a few observations / comments about my former employer:

      It’s puzzling that the former counsel (and a Spurs supporter) escaped a charge.

      Kalaris runs a wealth management firm in Mayfair. Diamond and his former lieutenants from the blue eagle’s nest are investors. Some of the staff are ex Barclays. The plan is, or was, to integrate that firm with Diamond’s other ventures into a mini full service institution.

      Varley married into one of the Barclays founding families, the Pease clan. His wife’s sister is married to Crispin Odey. Odey made a mint shorting bank stocks from 2007. Varley is an adviser to the Vatican bank, IOR.

      Jenkins was involved in other activities that are of interest.

      Mervyn King must be enjoying. Have a look at him at Wimbledon’s royal box on Monday week.

      1. vlade

        I wish MK was still the governor (he wasn’t perfect, but compared to THE CANADIAN.. ).

        Odey also lost a mint after 2012 IIRC, but hey, fees are from AUM, so why should he care?

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Vlade.

          Good point about Odey’s performance after 2012 and the fee model.

          Odey’s offices are near UKIP HQ in the west end. He “asked” some staff to go there and help out part-time. After a few days, the Odey staff were begging to be let off from duty at the funny farm. Why? UKIP staff would often decamp to the pub by mid-morning and not return. Some would strip to their underwear soon after arrival. There was a board at the reception specifying who wanted to sleep with whom. This was just the London / central HQ. Apparently, the provincial offices were worse.

  3. Ignim Brites

    “Trump’s Afghanistan Policy Is Clever and Unwise”. Assumes Mattis will not order complete withdrawl.

    1. a different chris

      But Mattis is a general, a military man, and if you are a hammer well all you understand is banging on nails. Now generals at least used to be good for picking up and leaving when “their boys” are taking enormous casualties, but that doesn’t happen to the USA anymore.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Speaking of $1200 hammers and $500 nails: We got to understand that “war” is “operated like a business” any more, all procurement and logistics and supply chains, with corruption and profit for all..

        And Generals and other senior “line” officers are referred to as “battlespace managers,” sitting in their vastly expensive ergonomic chairs, in front of all those Real-Time Consoles, that let them maneuver their players in the vasty electonic war game down to the individual helmet-crammed Trooper level, in one “command area” or another, all part of the “Great Global Interoperable Battlespace Management Full Spectrum Dominance Imperial Thingie.”

        They got doctrines and protocols aplenty, more being drafted in that cock-fighting pit where they fight to achieve primacy in that gets to say what the operable rules and practices are (an ever-variable mess, per “events, my dear…”) Interesting that “counterinsurgency” always seems, in one guise or another, the best they can come up with for tactics.

        The “story” of Pat Tillman has mostly been about his “patriotic” enlistment and heroic death and the post-death coverup and fraud by the War Department. Very little is said about the idiocy and incompetence of command that first put US “boots on the ground” in the Graveyard of Empires, then went about managing “missions” that were mandated by adherence to bureaucratic doctrines but were just the endpoint of long chains of folly and corruption and idiocy. The bits about the doofusness of “command” are buried way down in the lists of searchable writings, and even buried deep in the articles that do try to put it all in context. Here is one that gives some useful context for the whole thing, but you ave to read well into it to get to the “root causes:”

        A lot of “troops” are fokked up and killed by IEDs in the idiotic “deployments” decreed by the Battlespace Managers as part of the Great Imperial Global Project. So the obvious and usual solution was to throw money and tech at the “threat,” leading to the creation a decade ago of the Joint IED Defeat Organization [JIEDDO], known colloquially as the “JIEDDO Knights.” Billions of dollars passed through to Really Smart People, who have generated tons of documents and studies and all kinds of interesting innovative ineffective war toys, and after all that, concluded that the only even partially effective way to “detect and defeat” IEDs (which are often made from US-sourced artillery shells, demolition explosives and unexploded or “diverted” bombs) is to have “troops” use their six senses to “detect” telltale signs of devices. Or either drive over or walk over said devices and trigger them. Which defeats the particular device, and generates casualties that can then the the casus idiodicus to keep doing more of the same. The JIEDDO was so unsuccessful at coming up with Tech Tricks to detect and defeat that the power brokers in the Pentagram have redirected those billions to other stuff, as described here in a flood of milbabble at note the vastly different take on the event in the URL, as opposed to the bland massaged headline, “Pentagon’s New Role for JIEDDO Counter-IED Agency.”

        As intended, it gets ever harder for us mopes to keep track of the idiocy and fraud and stuff, let alone work up enough outrage to “resist…” Of course the Hated Taliban Al Quaeda ISIS Tribesmen seem to be very effective at “resisting” the efforts at Full Speculum Dominance of “our” anal-gazing military thing…

        “Futile” needs to be made a verb…

        1. Susan the other

          I, you, he/she/it; we, you,they all futile, hubris, and asinine all the time. But it’s all so deceive and forget ;-)

        2. DJG

          And so it is:

          footle |ˈfo͞otl|
          verb [ no obj. ] chiefly Brit.
          engage in fruitless activity; mess about: where’s that pesky creature that was footling about outside?
          ORIGIN late 19th cent.: perhaps from dialect footer ‘idle, putter about,’ from 16th-cent. foutre ‘worthless thing,’ from Old French, literally ‘have sexual intercourse with.’

      2. uncle tungsten

        Mattis is the same as that Brittish General Elphinstone who led the ‘withdrawl’ from Afghanistan in 1841. Twelve thousand set out from Khabul and one arrived at Jalalabad. Mattis along with Trump and the fool Obama never got it that the Afghanis do not tolerate foreigners.

        1. darthbobber

          No. There was only one Elphinstone. The list of elementary blunders required to produce that particular debacle is unbelievably long. That may still hold the record for worst single campaign ever.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Who sent Elphinstone there, again? And Mattis? to do what? Where does the blame for Folly lie?

  4. Eureka Springs

    Sanders to GOP on healthcare bill: ‘What are you afraid of?’

    And where is your promised bill, gate keeper, I mean Senator? I haven’t heard of any transparent process in your penning of it, if it exists at all. And since you dance with the D’s, sometimes, as a D, let us recall, despite all those pre Obamacare/ACHA committee hearings by the very end of the process, Pelosi still had to tell the nation – we will have to pass the bill to see what’s in it. [family blog] hypocrites!

    1. katiebird

      I am also wondering what is Bernie’s plan….

      Also, we wouldn’t be going through this now if the Dems (including Bernie) had used their historic opportunity to shove Expanded and Improved Medicare for Everyone through the Reconcilliation process. If they had, we would be almost completely through the implementation period.

      This entire mess is their fault.

    2. craazyboy

      The cynic in me thinks the Ds want it to pass, by a narrow margin, as it really is a nuclear bomb that will blow the Rs right into the Empty Universe. The Ds assume of course there would be no collateral damage and we will love our leaders even more.

      But at least Bernie got the discussion on the table. That’s a little something.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Rotating villains.

        Sanders voted for that unknown content (Obama, not care) too. Among a myriad of “falsehoods” (politifact article here) he claimed credit for helping write Obamacare.

        I’m of the opinion an expanded and improved tri-care system/bill could be better than H.R 676 Single payer. However I see 676 as the kind of ‘incrementalism’ worth supporting. What I don’t understand is why Sanders doesn’t support and wave/handout copies of 676 everywhere possible since he claims to be a single payer for all kind of guy? If he wont write his own bill as promised and there is no time like the present, at least he could say what problems he has with 676.

        1. Toolate

          How many times does this need to be debunked? That Sanders took the lead on strengthening provisions in ACA for FQHCs is not in question.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Did he not know that many people would pay premiums but not get health care, unless they could afford to pay the deductible as well.

  5. Emorej a Hong Kong

    A few more months of May’s present course should further change the following poll figures:

    “Mrs May … trusted to negotiate the best deal … by 52 per cent of people [vs] 39 per cent … Mr Corbyn

    [if] another EU referendum … 51 per cent …. Remain and 49 per cent … leave”

    The only way May might change this trajectory would be to try to put Corbyn on the spot by proposing the following:

    “Six out of ten of those polled said they thought a coalition of all political parties would be best to negotiate a good deal for Britain leaving the EU”

  6. Terry Flynn

    Off topic but wondered if the NC guidelines on moderation might be updated? (A comment I spent time composing is gone into moderation hell.) I’ve mentioned elsewhere the problems some of us have if, through no fault of our own, an IP range gets blacklisted by a particular anti-spam company with aggressive rules and happens to be the one that (apparently) triggers NC to send our comment to moderation hell. (I am working to get the IP range I use delisted but easier said than done.) I think comments with more than x paragraphs (with x=3?) get sent there in my case – frustrating, as I contributed to the fundraiser in current round (as well as in the first round, years ago) – kinda hoped money would be used to help address this issue – since I know NC has problems with spam and I didn’t want to send moaning email, given the warnings Yves has spelled out in the posting guidelines. I consciously contributed in part to avoid a “chicken and egg problem” whereby NC didn’t have the money to address this but people withheld funding because of it. I’d be sad to have to use the site less (I already now just check in via the web when work is quiet and don’t have it listed in Feedly anymore but go directly to other sites/aggregation sites). Fairly sure I got no confirmation/thanks for my contribution as the personal email address I used is now blacklisted by NC so no grudge there. But I’d hope that “safe lists” or something might be instituted for those of us who have contributed financially or something?

      1. Terry Flynn

        hehe. Jokes aside, I’m not expecting a “blank cheque” on postings – e.g. I have realised my main line of work is outside what is of interest on here – it’s Yves’s site after all so will lay off there. However, I hoped my comments on other topics (like the moderated one on the value of a life) – based on my earlier career expertise would get through. A lot less informed comments do, after all. It’s just a bit dis-spiriting when you choose a site to support financially and have such difficulty. I do recognise NC has enormous problems with spam etc but just wondered if there was any way to use the funding drive to construct a more flexible moderation policy. Lots of people get hamstrung by problematic IP ranges through no fault of their own….

        1. Anonymous2

          I value your contributions Terry, as I am sure do many others. Here’s hoping your problem can be fixed.

          But yes, I am sure there are all sorts of problems Yves &Co. have to deal with which we know nothing about. They do a fabulous job IMO.

          1. Terry Flynn

            Thanks. Yeah – my original post has now finally appeared, which I’m thankful for. I agree they do a great job – it’s why I didn’t want to sound like a whinger in a specific email to them. I just wondered if there were any constructive suggestions to help sort the wheat from the chaff. As it is I can (sometimes) post on here if VPN is active, but sending potential links etc on email is impossible – they all bounce, failing NC spam filter.

            1. dontknowitall

              Terry Flynn

              I would just like to say that I have found your contributions informative. Thank you. Don’t give up.

            2. Oregoncharles

              I believe Outis is in charge of responding to lost, orphan posts. His email should be available under “contacts” – he posted it a while back. Don’t want to post it here without protection.

              And a subversive note: you may be able to get a new IP from your ISP – unless all of theirs are in the “range” you mentioned. But this depends on how cooperative your ISP is. Ours is local – now quite rare.

              1. Outis Philalithopoulos

                Terry, in case you see Oregoncharles’ message first, I responded to your comment on this same thread, and provided my email.

                1. Terry Flynn

                  Got an “incorrect email address” error from google on the email addy you provided elsewhere but when correcting it for your “real name” it didn’t bounce…..hope one of my two replies got through.

        2. JTMcPhee

          My comments often “go to moderation” or just disappear into bitspace too. One wonders what the algos react to, whether it’s uniform, and I consider it an act of grace that I am not cast outside the tents for some of my less thoughtful comments. It does seem that there are a few trigger words, like my preference for Is realites over Israelis, that can result in disappearance, but not uniformly. I don’t know about urls and other identifying marks and tattoos…

          And sometimes the complex and burdensome-to-the-site-owner moderation process (that seem eminently reasonable and fair to me, and that is not a suck-up) seems opaque. Not a surprise, in the complex soup of “news” and commentary content…

          An aside — While I worked at the US EPA, I got peripherally involved in (and as a “troublemaker,” then deleted from) an ongoing project to actually evaluate the value of human lives (proposed differential treatment, in the Reagan era, for “better class of people,” of course). All that was part of the budding neoliberal infestation of the whole “regulation” sphere, claimed inter alia to be mandated under the various environmental laws that Congress drafted to include consideration of ‘economic impacts [mostly on the regulated corps and government entities]’ of proposed regulations. All part of that “run government like a business” mentality that is already (pace Jared Kushner) well in place, in this case via “cost-benefit analysis.”

          Turns out we mopes are “statistically worth” a few million each! But of course industry and lobbyists are well versed in the techniques of “proving” that the “costs” of regulation are infinite, hence always vastly outweigh the “benefits” which are also always under attack as chimaerical by the same forces of profit…

          1. craazyboy

            I have never had spam problems. I figure it’s because the censor ‘bot figures I’m an independent contractor Marketing exec with a targeted ad campaign at Zorg, Commander of Hegemony Practices, c/o the Grand Planetary System of the Glowing Orb.

            Or, I’m a pimp for Madam Bandersnatch at the Haus of the Risen Sohn.

            I have a few recent comments go into moderation, probably because I’m kinda an immoderate dude. But they are fished out pronto, probably so as to not be a bad influence on the wayward, misunderstood comments.

            1. craazyboy

              Then I have fun figuring out which word caught the ‘bot’s attention. I think it was “pimp” this time. hahaha.

        3. Outis Philalithopoulos

          One thing to keep in mind is that sometimes comments get swallowed by Skynet without anyone having made a conscious decision to suppress the comment. If something like that happens, and you suspect that a filtering issue may be involved, try emailing me ( Sometimes when commenters have mentioned specific incidents, it has become possible for us to fix our protocols so they produce fewer false positives.

          1. Mike

            OK, me too on the disappearing comments. However, to be fair to websites of any political stripe, often words can come across as inflammatory without contextual place. It would be good if the author received a response regarding editable items, but that is costly and, for many screening algorithms, another unreliable coding problem that worsens an already cumbersome issue.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              If the comment disappeared, as opposed to you getting a moderation notice, the most probable cause is the comment was tagged as spam. The problem is that is not a process we control. See my comment further below.

          2. Mike Mc

            Suggestion for those like me who like go on and on in print (saves me prattling on verbally… most of the time):

            If your golden prose is getting eaten by moderation, Skynet etc. – use a simple text editor (TextEdit on the Mac, used to be NotePad in Windows) to knock out your post or reply, save it then copy and paste.

            Prolly most NC folk know this, but it’s quite handy. (Of course I have to do it at work to strip formatting out before our !@#$ repair ticket system can accept it, so there’s that…)

    1. barrisj

      Old story…a few years ago got into a slagging match with both Lambert and YS over seemingly incautious remarks re: “moderation” and posts shot into the aether. Also, must second the comment about lack of acknowledgement for fundraising contributions…last two from me went unremarked (sniff-sniff). Oh, well, could just be too many incoming messages, etc., for a small staff to deal with…but contributions?

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Unfortunately, the anti-spam process isn’t moderation and therefore is not something we control. It’s a separate process using software by a company called Akismet which does this for thousands of sites. And we get 800 to 1200 spam comments a day, more than double the number of bona fide comments, we can’t turn it off. The comments section would become unreadable. We don’t have another solution, because it requires using software where the developers are on top of new spamming tricks. Unlike other features, we don’t begin to have the ability to do this adequately on a customized basis.

      And as for not thanking you, this is a source of embarrassment. I apologize to people during the fundraiser that I try sending out thank yous but I get too far behind and never get through them. It would wind up cutting into posts and that isn’t what readers want after having donated to the site.

      1. ewmayer

        Re. flagged-as-spam-by-Skynet comments vanishing down the memory hole, here is what I do: after posting, pay attention to what appears on page auto-reload, and the 3 possible results:

        1) Comment appears sans moderation message, you’re good;
        2) If you get a ‘moderation message, you’re also OK, just need to wait for one of the mods to clear out the queue;
        3) Nothing appears, but you get a URL-with-added-comment-number in the URL bar of your browser – you’ve been disappeared by Skynet.

        When [3] happens to me, I usually ask myself “was it a substantive comment?” If no, I either move on or – if the comment contained a link – consider retrying with a text-ified rendering of the link. If It was a comment I spent appreciable time on, I fwd the URL to Lambert, who usually can use the comment-number in the link to retrieve it from the memory hole before it gets incinerated.

        I don’t know how the look-for-the-resulting-URL deal would work in a smartphone/tablet setting – I’m strictly a laptop-browser user.

      2. Terry Flynn

        Thanks Yves – it appeared eventually – using VPN when commenting to a site page means my moderated comments usually eventually appear. I recognise the problems you have regarding the auto-feature and so why I refrained from emailing – it’s why I wondered if there were any ways to introduce “safelists” or somesuch, since I can’t generally send an email to you with a link for consideration in links or water cooler without it getting auto-tagged as spam. But I’m no internet-whizz and largely pick up stuff from having to go through laborious reading concerning how these anti-spam lists work and what was triggering the problems with my IP address range.

        Thanks for the acknowledgement of my fundraiser support. I’ll continue to work on the one or two offending sites that (unlike others) don’t appear to “reinstate you” after a fixed period of no further malware/spamming behaviour apparently emanating from your IP range. I’ll contact Outis in the meantime to see if anything can be done at your end.

        Thanks again for explaining the issue.

      3. darthbobber

        Have you looked into any of the honeypot plugins as a partial alternative to Akismet? I’ve always manually configured all my wordpress forms to use a honeypot system, but I see that there are now several plugins to automate that process, though I haven’t yet tried one of them to evaluate it. (and as you undoubtedly know, WP plugins are of highly variable quality.)

        It gets rid of pretty much all bot-generated spam for me, but it of course does nothing against the use of actual human spammers. Basically it relies on a hidden text field which no human using a browser will ever see, but which bots invariably see and attempt to fill out.

        Apologies if I’m just telling you what you already know.

  7. craazyboy


    I wonder if the firedogs are wearing Edward Green Fire Booties?

    I don’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed that the dogs are wearing metal toe footwear. I think a boots on the ground video of these events would be a public service.

  8. a different chris

    Um, who in god’s name thinks that cats have been domesticated? Would come as news to my cats.

    1. Oregoncharles

      There was a PBS nature show a while back on a spectacular park in the former Yugoslavia. It included “wild cats” – that looked exactly like your average tabby (the wild type, I think).

      While cats go feral readily, I think you’d know the difference if you had an actual wild cat. And they’d all be gray tabbies.

  9. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: Cable lobby tries to stop state investigations into slow broadband speeds

    Well, of course they are.

    The scorpion after stinging the frog:

    “it is not my fault; it is that of my nature”

  10. fresno dan

    Russia vows to shoot down all ‘flying objects’ in Syria after US guns down first regime warplane Independent. Reslic: “No fly zone. Did Clintoon get elected after all?”

    Washington said the (Syrian) jet had dropped bombs near US-backed forces but Damascus said the plane was downed while flying a mission against Isis militants.

    Written as if US backed forces and Isis are two different things….
    Will/IS Trump mix(ing) it up with Russia in Syria to prove he is not soft on Russia?

  11. JTMcPhee

    Re Is mandatory “linking” of personal ID/Adhaar numbers to bank accounts, with virtual confiscation as penalty for non-compliance, “legal”?:

    So the way it works, in this instance as in so many others (see, e.g., US environmental and food and drug and FIRE and other health and safety matters), is that the legislature can “repair” the problem of “illegality” by just amending “the law” to render the doubtful actions fully “all nice and legal, see?” And there is always the Artful Dodge of “enforcement discretion” and other non-feasance to hide the real transactional stuff, and lack of “regulation,” behind…

    Yes, indeed, as we blog participants say, “Fixed it for ya.”

    Another phrase from my Chicago youth pops to mind, too: “The fix is in…”

    And of course which Big Kahuna Rich Person will be affected by present or proposed “regulatory practices” to restrain “money laundering,” which is largely, apparently, outsourced to Dark or Bright Light Laundries far beyond the reach of the Indian central or state governments?

    And as with “asset forfeitures” in our “Constitutional” system, who gets to grab the loot? Stays on the bank’s balance sheet? Or is it subject to “escheat,” or the ancient principle of “deodand?”

    And you Brits, under your “transparent” constitution, do any of you think you “own” the land your businesses and homes and stuff are built on? Maybe not — there apparently is this fiction called “fee simple absolute,”, but that of course is “trumped” by absolute monarchy/oligarchy:

    We people who pay the bank or “mortgage services” every month to be allowed to live in, maintain and improve their properties, we think, under illusion, of ourselves as “homeowners.” Recent events prove that is just a pile of booollsheeeet…

    And of course, here in the US, there’s the wonderful processes of power known as “eminent domain” and stuff… “secure in their persons and property?” I think not…

    No “right” without an effective “remedy…”

    1. Keep the Noise Down

      The obvious problem is that guns make noise which panics people and makes them want to flee instead of shop or eat, which is bad for business. Issuing silencers will solve that problem so that people will be able to go about their normal business blissfully unaware that nearby people were shot.

  12. timbers

    Russo-US dog fights over Syria? Juan Cole (resilc)

    Just a heads up:

    Cole says the U.S. downed Syrian plane attacking the Kurds. That is also what the U.S. claims.

    MOA, Syria, and Russia say otherwise, that no Kurds were in the area, and it was the Al-Qeada terrorists the Syrian plane attacked…the Al-Qeada (or rename of the month) that we, Israel, and Saudi Arabia are supporting.

    I’m waiting for Syria and Russia to begin establishing military bases in Texas and Quebec and commence bombing of any national government efforts to stop a Texan/Quebec succession from the union.

      1. cocomaan

        He really went downhill. Not sure what happened, he used to be really discerning. The blog now is an embarrassment of anti Trump news.

        I think it was Libya. He was a cheerleader of that invasion. The suffering that came from it really made him become unhinged. I remember when he went to Libya and talked about how great everything was in Tripoli. Much of N Africa and lots of the Sahel (particularly Mali, even as soon as yesterday) has been in a meltdown ever since, but he has his head in the sand about it.

        Time to retire.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          He’s a pseudo intellectual. He knows the terminology of international relations, but he doesn’t grasp those terms represent real paradigms on the ground.

          Cole had an article about how the “real” problem with the Iraq War was that it was illegal. The “legal” war in Libya of the very serious people undermines his whole magical view of the legality of war. War is the end of legality, and the turn to “might makes right.” The difference between Cole and his neocon brethren is one of scale. Iraq was stupid by any measure except people who make money off war contracts. It served no national interest. “War” by its very nature is representative of the normative being tossed aside. Much like the Romans elected a dictator for times of crisis, war is not just emblematic of shooting between soldiers but a breakdown of the old order where even non-combatants cease to be seen as civilians. I happen to believe Libya burst his bubble.

          Its particularly galling for an American as well…um…none of the Founding Fathers would have made a, “but its legal” argument to avoid the gallows if they lost.

          This is insane. The problem wasn’t the mass slaughter, refugee crisis, dead soldiers broken homes, no national interest. Nope, it was not a “noble war.” What war is?

        2. witters

          Anyone who, like Cole, thinks the category “the young people” is a useful and applicable analytical terms for understanding ME and Northern African politics – as in “the young people of Libya will construct a vibrant democractic nation respecting human rights” – should not merely retire, they should never have got started.

    1. efschumacher

      But can you imagine an 18 year old today with that kind of physical wealth and personal enterprise?

      1. JohnnyGL

        1) It’s not clear what the guy started with, let’s not assume he started from scratch. There’s a good chance he got help.
        2) small farming today is often a fast-track to bankruptcy. The massive subsidies go to big agri-farms for staple crops (wheat and corn). Those agri-farms are, and need to be, very capital intensive, with cheap land. It’s hard to compete with the low prices they’re able to sell their crops at.

        Small farmers today need to sell high value added, boutique types of products in farmer’s markets if they’re going to survive. It’s not something you’d ever expect to get rich doing. If you do it, it’s probably out of love.

        1. perpetualWAR

          Big Agra stole the family farms during the credit event between 1970-1980. Wall Street repeated this land grab between 2008-today.

          It’s all about fiefdom now.

          1. justanotherprogressive

            And that land grab by Big Agra happened most in flyover country – something that we tend to forget when talking about their politics….

    2. JTMcPhee

      Bitter sort of joke:

      As Minnesota was settled (like West Bank and Gaza) by rough men often fresh from Europe, there was a dearth of females in the demographic. So the farmers in one area pooled their resources and took out ads in East Coast newspapers, seeking eligible women as brides.

      So a trainload of women arrives at the station, and here are all these men, in various degrees of dirt and raggedness, lined up with their wagons, waiting with the pastor right there to officiate. The weddings are performed. One New England lass, of some breeding, is paired up with a particularly laconic and hirsute fellow. She has to get her own trunk onto the wagon and help herself up onto the seat. The fella cracks the whip, and the horse, all skin and bones and head down, trudges off down the path.

      They go a ways along, and the horse just stops. The farmer says, “That’s one,” cracks the whip on the horse’s neck, and off they go a little further, when the horse stops again.” That’s two,” mumbles the farmer. On a little further, and the horse stops again. The farmer says “That’s three,” pulls out his pistol and shoots the horse dead.

      His new bride, aghast, asks “Why did you do that?” Replies the farmer, “That’s one.”

  13. Tom Finn

    Re: NASA
    When I was a child it was described there were “as many stars in the Milky Way as there were grains of sand on all the beaches”.Later it was said there were “as many galaxies as there were grains of sand…”. Soon the same may be said of planets and then, when technology allows, life bearing planets. For humans though, as I see it, it’s fairly moot. Just as one must be one’s self because everyone else is taken; we get this ball of water and rock to exist upon. Running away is not an option. Peace

    1. Jef

      Agree! I just wish NASA and other orgs would spend more time and space on explaining some of the thousands of ways that Earth is unique, how all of it comes together in a delicate balance which is what makes it habitable for humans, and how we would have a better chance of winning the lottery…every month for a year… than we would finding another planet that could support humans like Earth does.

      Then maybe, just maybe we would begin to have a little more respect for it.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        Remember in the 60’s and 70’s when NASA was in its prime and we were “doing things” and how proud we all were and how we all wanted to be engineers and scientists so that we could go “up there” too? The US accomplished a lot then……

        Now all that optimism and pride is just for a few who make those $$$$ you so want – and you think this is better?

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Q: If every grain of sand on all of the world’s beaches was a water molecule, how much water would that be?
          A: About ten teaspoons.

      2. craazyboy

        Yeah, we’d have gotten nowhere without CO2 in the ozone layer!

        hahahahahahaha. Actually, that was a depressing joke, when you think about it.

    2. Annotherone

      Carl Sagan once wrote, or declared, that we are “star stuff” –
      (“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” )

      Our exact Earthian mix of starstuff is peculiar to us though. We have potential as tourists to other planets, eventually, but hardly more than that.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        Seriously? You think we are so unique that we have our own special mix of “star stuff”? And like all the other explorers before us, we won’t know what is out there until we look…….I can imagine all those people telling Prince Henry of Portugal how he was wasting all his money……

        But the attitude I see about space from most people these days reminds me of that Tom Waits song: “God’s Away on Business”……..

        Yep, we’d sell our futures “for a buck”……

        1. Annotherone

          Prince Henry? Not really the same argument. We should go look, yes, for sure – but not expect to be able to remain comfortably, and healthily, long-term. (IMO)

      1. justanotherprogressive

        The moon isn’t that far, Mars isn’t that far….
        Small steps…..
        But exploration really isn’t “running away” as much as seeing what we can do….
        JFK: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

        1. JTMcPhee

          The history of “exploration” by us humans always seems to be, in the end, all about “exploitation” and “extraction.” There’s a reason “we” recognize the horror inherent in those creatures we abhor in that movie “Independence Day.” The ones that single-mindedly move from one star system to another, annihilating the sentient inhabitants and taking what they damn well want.

          You think Columbus and Anson and all those spaniards and Dutch and English and Japanese and Chinese and Slavs “explorers” were off doing disinterested “exploring?” And of course Musk and even Werner von Nazi Braun were all about disinterested “exploring.” “Seeing how much we can do,” looks like Manifest Destiny, and mercantilism, and imperialism and all that. And our new ism, the “neoliberal” one.

  14. DJG

    From the review of the Obama biog in Politico:

    “To the jeers of some of the assembled, he said that the election of Chicago’s mayor Harold Washington—still beloved in his circles—had raised hopes for grand changes. But in the end, he added ruefully, Washington was “an essentially charismatic leader” whose reforms hadn’t gone deep enough to leave a lasting tangible legacy after his untimely death or to hold together his political base once he was gone.”

    Translation: People like Daley and Rahm, the conserva-Dems, were only too happy to dismantle the reforms, along with a willing city council. Washington’s base is still there, yet like much of the country, Daley and Rahm mainly lead the upper-middle class and its looting and pillaging.

    Translation: Maybe Obama should reflect on that assessment a tad.

    1. georgieboy2

      Harold Washington tried to do more than Obama ever bothered with. He was a reformer facing an obstinate racially divided city council, and died too soon to actually re-form it, or to even touch the city’s way of ward politics.

      The end result of Washington’s tenure was simply that more black politicians got wired in, so the city is now a more genuinely multi-ethnic urban Democratic party “regulars only” grift.

      Hence the easy substitution of Rahm Emmanuel for brain-dead Richie Daley (and swapping Daley’s brother in as Obama chief of staff — a most amusing quid pro quo) when Mayor Daley’s financial stupidity became too embarrassing to President Obama.

      Look at the Cook County leadership (Chicago makes up most of Cook County). That is now firmly Obama territory.

  15. diptherio

    This is not the first time Wells Fargo has blatantly and systematically violated bankruptcy laws. Remember in re Jones from a couple years back? Wells got busted for violating bankruptcy court orders then too. Their corporate culture of criminality is bleedingly obvious to anybody with two brain cells to rub together who’s been paying any attention at all. Also obvious is that the “cops on the beat” really don’t care. If they did, Wells would have had it’s entire board and executive staff prosecuted for racketeering long ago.

    If you ever find yourself thinking that we live in a society of laws, just remember Wells Fargo and banish that nonsense from your head.

    1. Vatch

      is that the “cops on the beat” really don’t care.

      No kidding. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin was the CEO of OneWest Bank from 2009 to 2015, and the bank practiced illegal robo-signing of mortgage documents during that period. If he shines a light on Wells Fargo, someone might shine a light on OneWest.

      2. In connection with certain foreclosures of loans in its residential mortgage servicing
      portfolio, the Association engaged in the following unsafe or unsound practices:

      (a) filed or caused to be filed in state and federal courts numerous affidavits executed
      by its employees or employees of third-party service providers making various assertions,
      such as ownership of the mortgage note and mortgage, the amount of the principal and
      interest due, and the fees and expenses chargeable to the borrower, in which the affiant
      represented that the assertions in the affidavit were made based on personal knowledge or
      based on a review by the affiant of the relevant books and records, when, in many cases,
      they were not based on such personal knowledge or review of the relevant books and
      records; . . ., etc.

      And then there’s the Obama administration’s perfect record of non-prosecution of senior bank executives. Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer are doing quite nicely at Covington & Burling these days.

  16. Carolinian

    Harper’s article is not by Patrick but rather his brother Andrew, father of Olivia Wilde (nee Olivia Jane Cockburn).

    As to the substance, was Ellison himself such a great pick? Some of us have given up on the Dem party. Why hasn’t the “independent” Sanders as well?

    1. Vatch

      Well, perhaps the glaring lack of success of the Green Party and the even more pronounced failure of the Justice Party are some reasons why Sanders has not given up on the Democratic Party. I understand why one would fail to support many of the Democratic phonies in the general election. But as 2018 approaches, there will be a lot of people worth supporting in the Democratic primaries. Somebody has to oppose the Republicans, who gleefully prop up people like Scott Pruitt, Jeff Sessions, and Betsy DeVos.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Or, with the glaring lack of success of the D party, maybe he shouldn’t give up on the Green Party?

        1. Vatch

          How many members of Congress belong to the Green Party? How many state governors belong to the Green Party? The Greens had a huge opportunity in 2016, when a significant fraction of the people who supported Sanders in the primary were sympathetic to the Green message. And the Greens squandered that opportunity. They had their chance, and they blew it. Now it’s time to support progressives in the Democratic primaries, because unlike the Greens, some Democrats run to win. The Democratic Party has infrastructure and experienced staff, which the Greens lack.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That’s new and a different issue (than glaring success or failure*) – quantity over quality, perhaps – which can and should be addressed as well.

            ‘Many, many members of Congress are neoliberal Democrats’ – the reason for preferring the reform of the D party over the reform of the Green Party.

            *Unless success is not about what good they do in Congress for voters, but how successful in getting themselves elected and for how many years of doing nothing or harm there. In the latter case, the Democrats are more ‘successful’ than the Greens.

        2. neo-realist

          If the Greens would get much more aggressive in running people in the down ticket races around the country, I would have a reason to start taking them seriously.

          They run their protest middle finger to business as usual candidate for the White House every four years then go into hibernation w/o engaging in any serious nationwide movement building of their party. How can one get behind that?

          At least for the dems (and this isn’t a ratification of the corrupt DNC establishment), you’ve got some offshoot organizations from the Sanders campaign that are working to get decent populist democratic candidates elected around the country. We just gotta keep finding more of them and keep plugging away.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The choice is either to take over the Green Party or the D Party.

            The considerations:

            1. Which one is easier to take over
            2 Which one is easier to reform once it’s taken over.
            3. Which has room to grow, infrastructure wise, when it is reformed.

            Or there is another choice.

            Gorbachaev tried the not-Shiva way of Glasnost and Perestroika, but at the end, Shive prevailed.

            New beings emerged and each with its own new infrastructure.

            This is also a choice.

            1. Mike Mc

              Trying to pack various local Democratic Party organizations with unrepentant Berniecrats like myself via the DSA:


              Worth it. Have been active in local campaigns since 1980, and the Green Party has not and will not be a factor anywhere. Moving the Dems left much easier than creating a new party, and if the DNC/Clintonista/Obamanite faux libs won’t budge, then the DSA can step up and step in.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Perhaps the ‘surge’ option has never been tried.

                Infiltrate the Green Party and overwhelm with numerical superiority of quality, and organization capable, progressives.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    After I try it?

                    Me alone is not numerical superiority.

                    “It’s not about me.”

                    “It’s up to you…check that, it’s up to us to infiltrate.”

                    It probably takes fewer than 13 million to do it.

                    1. Vatch

                      You suggested it, so you should try it. Let us know whether people in the Green Party are more interested in elections or in performance art.

                    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      I suggest people together do it.

                      “I suggest Medicare-for-all. It’s not up to me. And I am not running for nomination either…not up to me.”

                      Imagine, 13 million former Democrats and Independents showing up in the Green Party. It’s no longer the Green Party of old…in name only.

                      Practically, it’s the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

                      It’s the people that make up the party.

                    3. craazyboy

                      Yeah, been wondering how to get 3 million to run in the same direction.

                      Should be possible, somehow?

                      I think Odin could do it, Norse God of Knowledge. But rumor has it he packed up Valhalla and moved to a nicer galaxy.

                    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      They showed up to vote in the same direction, many by registering in the same direction.

                      If millions of immigrants can do it, move in the same geographic direction, we can too.

                      The (small) donor list is not nothing.

                      “The party is going to be at this place. Be there or be square.”

            2. John k

              I agree.
              Choice is to reform the unreformable or take over and organize the greens.
              Consider Bernie, in a matter of months, organized enough enough Smart people to collect a hundred million in small donations and nearly win the primary, even with no chance in the southern states, all the supers, and the press arraigned against him.
              Of course the neolib are plotting to keep all progressives away from power, e.g. Big o pushes Perez, or In Ca progressives win a majority of votes but supers, including lobbyists, overwhelm the majority.
              Dem party is rigged.
              And people, including here, are starting again with how dems are the lesser evil.
              Only way forward is new party, and best option is Greens… at least they’re on ballots, a bully start.
              Easier to take over and organize than reform an organization that will resist kicking and screaming all the way. And they write the rules.

  17. Kurt Sperry

    Weyts: “De EU brengt onze frietcultuur in gevaar

    The link to this has an “a” stuck to the front of “http”, and even when that is excised, the link fails. Here’s a working link-

    I will mourn along with the Belgians if the EU takes away their beloved Belgian frites. Frites cooked in duck fat should be served at the memorial for them.

  18. Kurt Sperry

    The link for “One Nation morons power ahead in polls” has an “a” attached in front of the “http”, breaking it. Aussie politics has essentially been a neoliberal wasteland post the Gough Whitlam coup in 1975.

    1. RUKidding

      Used to be (may still be?), Uncle Sam would force newly elected Aussie PMs to fly up here for one day. I always speculated that the newly minted PM was told just this simple statement: “Remember Gough? Now off you go.”

      At least, that’s my speculation when Bob Hawk was elected way back in the ’80s. I doubt it’s necessary now. Everyone’s toeing the NeoLib party line quite nicely thankyewverymuch.

      Trump’s low attention span caused him not to read the memo before he had his infamous phone call with Malcolm Turnbull. Which is fine bc Turnbull’s a good old Goldman Sachs boyo anyway.

  19. Vatch

    Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke wants to privatize campgrounds in the U.S. National Park System. I guess he’s impressed by the “success” of charter schools. Perhaps residents of Chicago can tell Mr. Zinke how well the privatization of parking meters is working for them.,41263

    Zinke said the Department of the Interior, which oversees the National Park Service and BLM, has an $11.9 billion backlog of maintenance nationwide. He has said increasing fossil fuel extraction and privatization efforts for camping might help financially.

    The Department of the Interior’s 2018 budget proposal called for a 10.9 percent cut in funding, including decreasing funding to park maintenance by 15 percent and cutting funding for national parks by 23 percent. This proposal has drawn criticism in Congress from members of both parties.

    1. RUKidding

      Many of the Nat’l Parks already have privatized their hospitality portion of the parks. It’s unclear to me whether this provides any sort of income for the fed govt or not. Not sure how it works, but often the various hotels, motels and other accomadations, plus restaurants, markets and tchotchoke shops are privatized now. I’m not sure about campgrounds, but I believe that at least for some of them, you have to make reservations through the privatized vendor.

      Seems to be working ok in some of the cases I’ve seen. The more popular Nat’l Parks are mobbed by visitors. It’s often a nightmare visiting them in high season now. This may be one instance where privatizing works better, but as I said, I’m unclear about the financial benefits or lack thereof.

      1. Vatch

        Congress keeps reducing the appropriations, which seems to be intended to force privatization. It’s a bit like the U.S. Postal Service. They’re not allowed to raise postage rates, and they’re required to divert funds for pensioners’ medical insurance decades in the future, which no private corporation is ever required to do. This forces them to sell off assets, and well connected sharks make lots of money.

        1. Carolinian

          Well now that the Trumpmonster is joining the bipartisan assault on public land maybe the Dems will stand up and defend the funding and integrity of, not just the National Parks, but the National Forests and the BLM. Key word: maybe. The National Parks have been shortchanged in budgets for years. Seems there aren’t too many billionaires lobbying for their support.

        2. RUKidding

          Yes, that’s true. Hard to say whether/how Nat’l Parks could keep up with the present level of demand and use made of them these days. But it’s true that Congress starved them to enable privatization. No doubt someone’s making money from it, but I doubt it’s you and me, John Q. Taxpayer.

          The US Postal Service is another story. The biggest issue is the forced diversion of a giant amount of pension funds that no other organization does because it simply makes no sense. Then Congress claims that the USPS is terribly run and needs to be privatized. Of course, most citizens are clueless about what’s happening, so they get right in line claiming how terrible the USPS is. Why? Whenever I go there, I feel I get good service and good value for my money. But Rush dictated that the USPS should be hated, and so many people now hate it.

          Beyond aggravating.

      2. Carolinian

        The major Nat. Parks have always had concessionaires. For many many years the Curry Company operated facilities at Yosemite and it was eventually considered a big cash cow for them. Some interesting history here

        The transcontinental railroads also played a role in park development and had concessions. However it’s hard to see why the govt can’t continue to operate low tech campgrounds which in many cases don’t even have power hookups. You’re talking picnic tables and somebody to clean the bathrooms.

    2. Carolinian

      As the story points out many of the NPS campgrounds are already run by vendors. In fact it was Bill Clinton’s interior secretary Bruce Babbitt who said people pay a lot of money to go to Disneyland so why not the National Parks (or words to that effect). The Clinton administration supported the “fee demo program” which was the start of the Republican raid on the parks–i.e. make the parks an attractive source of revenue and private companies can then move in.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Last time I visited the Grand Canyon, which was back in 1993, there was a Babbitt’s grocery store on the South Rim. Guess which Babbitt family owned it.

  20. cojo

    Good synopsis of the healthcare debacle…


    In theory, they lead to competition, choice, efficiency, but in US healthcare they seem to produce almost the exact opposite:

    Competition is greatly hampered because shopping around isn’t feasible in many emergency situations, and prices and quality are almost universally very difficult to assess in advance. Even with hindsight this is very difficult as bills are often indecipherable. Markets for healthcare services are simply terribly opaque, worsened further by the balkanization of the system where patients have to deal with numerous organizations, each protecting their own turf and optimizing their private gains, often at the expense of the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the process.
    Providers and third party middlemen often have a great deal of market power, allowing them to almost charge what they want, enabling providers to charge 17x more for comparable interventions as others, without much, if any quality benefit.
    Incentives are all wrong (or ‘perverse,’ as economist have it). Providers get paid for interventions, which drives many of them to perform or subscribe numerous interventions that are not needed.
    Insurance markets (in general, not just in the US) suffer from two fundamental market failures, adverse selection and the fact that premiums decline with the number of insured. With insufficient countervailing power, these tend to produce death spirals.

      1. cojo

        Thanks for the link. Every time I mention that Kenneth Arrow did not think healthcare could function as a “free market” to my economically savvy friends, they are truly surprised. Unfortunately, it seems this is absent from the current understanding of healthcare policy on Capitol Hill.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Also, the NYT comments section is very telling if you sort by “reader picks” by what is and is NOT stated and ‘liked’.

      1) Comments section (most popular ones, at least) is FILLED with praise for immigrants as industrious, hard-working and innovative….commenters seems to apply this to the educated immigrants as well as the non-educated ones.

      2) Comments section does NOT, I repeat NOT, have any commenters blasting the article as spiteful hate-speech and flagrant victim-blaming class warfare (which is exactly what the article is).

      Also, Bret Stephens tried to cover the hate with claims of ‘satire’. Uh, uh, I say. No dice….the hate just POWERS through any pretense of satire. He’s only kidding himself on that front.

      1. jrs

        If I wanted to improve this country I do think deporting conservatives (like him) might be a good step.

        “Complacent, entitled and often shockingly ignorant on basic points of American law and history”

        yes well f’er probably has an ivy league degree, but where exactly does he think people would learn this stuff? Some are autodidacts, it is true (an idiot like him probably isn’t, it takes a different value system than making a career out of apologizing for money and privilege most of the time, but I guess there are exceptions to every rule). But anyway most people learn much of what they are going to from their schools. If they are this ignorant it’s because those schools suck, but conservative policies aren’t going to make them any better.

      2. Xihuitl

        Stephens is not talking about deporting recent immigrants. He is trying to joke about less industrious non-immigrants, the deadbeat people who have been here a while, several generations. His transition in the first couple of paragraphs makes it unclear, but most of the column is about how high-performing recent immigrants are.

        Not to defend Bret Stephens, who appears to be a very clumsy writer, among other things.

    2. UserFriendly

      Here is my deporting plan: everyone who makes over $200k a year has to go but kind of like asset forfeiture for drug crimes, we confiscate all their assets first. We can send them to gitmo. Or maybe play survivor with them on antarctica where the only one who gets to come back off the island alive has to figure out a way to stop the glaciers from falling into the ocean.

  21. Altandmain

    Business lies about the shortage of skilled workers:

    Rick Perry doesn’t believe in global warming:

    Democrats like Joe Manchin vote against Saudi arms sale ban:

    Katie Harper interviews Thomas Frank:

  22. Roger Smith

    Why So Many Critics Hate the New Obama Biography Politico

    Because they are so used to lying about him and fawning over how smart and cool he is.

    1. Altandmain

      Obama is probably the most overrated president in recent memory.

      His failures are responsible for Trump, although he will never admit it.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Obama can only be failed.

        But Obama’s point about people projecting their values and views onto him is still a major factor in his perception. The recent biography appears to be a biography not a work of fiction. As such, it can never live up to the expectations of his followers.

  23. Alex Morfesis

    Glenfell becoming sadly greenfull ??…apparently “charities” in uk are taking a page out of the rudy and red cross conversion…oops sorry “fiduciaring” of the massive donating of money and goods after the events of 911…

    $eem$ the uk charitie$ need time to $et up $ystem$ to actually hand out the re$ource$ in$tead
    of just …


    handing out the resources…

    probably the usual excuses of having difficulties figuring out who lived at grenfell will be rolled out…

    because those voter registration records, department of work and pension databases and student attendance records were kept in a secret server farm behind a service closet on the 22nd floor at grenfell by hillaries fave computer support company

    Plutokrats…dont ya luvum…

  24. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “I Spent 14 Months in Jail Because I Couldn’t Pay My Way Out Truthout” — Many things are troubling about Lavette Mayes account of her arrest, outrageously high bail and stay in jail. On first and second readings it sounded coached. The omission of little details in the “domestic dispute”/”altercation” in which Lavette Mayes was injured and “taken away in an ambulance” leave all kinds of questions. If Lavette Mayes was injured why was she arrested? If the fight were with her husband then why wasn’t he arrested instead of or in addition to her? [In the case of a domestic dispute between a wife and husband, the husband is almost always assumed to be the party to blame.] In my state the hospital staff call in the police in all cases of domestic violence. The police have no qualms about collecting interviews from an injured person — interviews which can later show up in court — and forget about Miranda. The way my state handles domestic violence both the injured party and the party arrested are well advised to have attorneys present. The state’s interests in the matter have little to do with or concern for the welfare of either party or the welfare of any family members affected by the case.

    With all the peculiar features to Lavette Mayes case I believe some other case might have made a better example for addressing the issues most deserving consideration including:
    the very long sentences for relatively minor offenses
    the crushingly slow process of trials and push for plea bargains
    the outrageously high bails set for relatively minor offenses in cases where there is extremely low probability the offender will flea
    the practice of automatically keeping 10% of the bail amount regardless of the actual risk of flight

    Our system of justice isn’t just broken — there isn’t much Justice to it.

    1. Carl

      There was a distinct avoidance of what she was actually charged with in the article. I would imagine it was something like aggravated assault, which is a serious felony and could very well trigger a high bond.

  25. John

    I guess an example of positive benefit of the crapification of everything in America is the F-35 warplane that we are warmongering on our allies. Ineffective, expensive and bad military junk armaments are a good thing….as opposed to well designed and effective versions.
    May we continue our MIC con with more useless, crappy weapons. Maybe if enough pilots have to eject from American flying coffins, they will stop being used.
    More crap armaments, guns that could just as easily blow the users brains out as fire in any direction and so on…keep making crap.

  26. Susan the other

    Thanks for the ars-technica piece on the cryosphere. Good summary of the state of the research. And the tiny point, not elaborated, on the impact of changes in the Earth’s orbit around the sun and the sun’s behavior as major factors in global warming and glaciations. I’d like to hear the talk on that stuff. Also the bit about CO2 might still be absorbed directly into the oceans from arctic ice was interesting – but in light of the reported acidification of the oceans already, I wonder how that will be a good thing. The known evidence that CO2 disappears from the atmosphere when we go into a glaciation (because ice takes it up) is also an interesting explanation of the phenomenon of ice cores showing a history of high CO2 just before a glaciation. And it implies correlation is not causation. Also, It’s almost comforting to know that the earth has been much warmer in past epochs and survived to tell them tale – but that begs the question about levels of CO2 currently, which are said to exceed all previous levels. It’s good that there are lots of scientists working on all this. We are going to need them.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Yes, CO2 levels have been higher in the past and yes, the earth has been MUCH warmer in the past, but humans weren’t on the planet then. This CO2 crisis isn’t about saving the earth (the earth will survive, even if it becomes just like Venus, and I am sure some organisms will survive like they do around fumaroles), it is about saving humanity…..

      And if my AC technician doesn’t get here soon, my humanity may not survive…..

      1. Susan the other

        I know. It’s unbearable here too at 7000 feet no less. A different kind of hot that gives me a dry sore throat even. I’m gonna go put my feet in a dishpan of cold water. Thanks for the info.

    2. juliania

      Are they forgetting or ignoring that the ice isn’t just melting into the oceans but also into the air? It would seem that more ocean is going to produce more rain and those clouds increasing will have (and are having) a noticeable effect as well.

      I’m no scientist so forgive me if this sounds so stupid it isn’t worth mentioning.

      “…Could reduced sea-ice, caused by global warming, have an impact on the amount of carbon dioxide drawn down into the oceans, affecting atmospheric levels?… ”

      Well, won’t the rain take carbon dioxide wherever it falls? Is that what ‘drawn down’ means? I also noticed the statement something like ‘brief period of higher temperatures before ice age’…is that what happens as the pendulum swings? Massive storms with increased cloud cover due to increased evaporation due to increased temperatures, shutting out the sun so temperatures plummet and there we are? Heading for the long haul build up…of ice…

      On a small scale it seems to be occurring this way, if only briefly so far, in my neck of the woods. But as I said, I’m no scientist.

    3. DH

      Look at the bright side. We are currently executing a large experiment to see if the Permian extinction was due to climate change or other causes:

      Who ever said that climate change deniers are anti-science? Nobody has ever pulled off a science experiment of this scale before with the exception of the white mice attempting to discover the meaning of life.

      Its even bigger than Sam Brownback’s recent 5 year experiment:

      I haven’t been able to discern which planet is being used as the experimental control though.with the exception of the white mice attempting to discover the meaning of life.

  27. PlutoniumKun

    Exclusive: Lockheed nears $37 billion-plus deal to sell F-35 jet to 11 countries Reuters. Resilc: “Buy our priceless Edsel.”

    Given that, to take one example, the UK is buying the much more expensive vertical lift of variant, its hard to take that article too seriously. Its notoriously difficult to compare the prices of combat aircraft because often ‘face’ costs don’t include vital equipment.

    However, much more quietly, the US Navy announced news which effectively kills the Navy version – they have quietly ordered more F-18’s. They are now saying that the F-35 is a wonderful complement to the F-18, which ignores the fact that the whole point of the F-35 was to replace them. This seems to pave the way for a reduced number of F-35’s to be used as a very expensive forward control aircraft while the F-18’s continue to do the hard work for decades, meaning the taxpayer will take a double hit – paying for the F-35 while still paying out for yet more F-18’s and other jets. All because nobody has the guts to kill it off.

    1. RMO

      That really is an uncalled for insult to the Edsel. It was really just a styling and marketing failure. As a car it was basically just a 1958 Ford, and average American car of the time. To be equivalent with the F-35 the Edsel would need to be at least ten times as expensive as something like a 1958 Buick, be slower, handle worse, carry fewer people and less baggage, have worse fuel economy, break down all the time and have a parts cost when fixing those breakdowns of at least ten times as high as it’s competitors. It’s initial design brief would have needed to include being a replacement for a pickup, van, sports car, station wagon, motorcycle and luxury car. Oh, and the 1958 model would have needed to be delayed so much that it only came out in the mid 1960’s.

    1. jrs

      Didn’t the ACA itself already take money away from Medicare? Not saying Trump care doesn’t, but more, with this 1 step forward, 2 steps back, both of which rob Medicare, there isn’t going to be any left anymore. Sheesh ACHA might leave us worse off than before the ACA was even passed the way things are going …

  28. John k

    NYT says ossoff lost big, by 5%.
    So doubling down on Clinton strategy of moving right to pick up reps failed again… donors dumping money big time. Also again.
    Have to feel sorry for them… can’t move left, e.g. For single payer, because donors. Or be anti war, because donors. Donors want progressives under bus.
    So they’re stuck… with or without the t.

  29. different clue

    “No fly zone. Did Clintoon get elected after all?”

    No. Because Clintoon wanted an America-led No Fly Zone to topple Assad and bring the Cannibal Liver Eating Jihadis to power in Syria.

    Whereas the Russian No Fly Zone, if they start one, is to help the legitimate government of the Syrian Arab Republic to stay in power and to help the Syrian Arab Army and its allies and supporters exterminate the Cannibal Liver Eating Jihadis and defeat Hillary Clinton’s chosen Global Axis of Jihad.

    So , no. Definitely not Clintoon’s No Fly Zone.

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