Links 6/4/17


No unborn baby is safe from toxic pollutants Treehugger

A Swarm of Angry Bees Shut Down a Street in Midtown Manhattan New York

Snow leopard, ghost of the mountains The Hindu

Biotech Is Really Interested in 100-Year-Old Italians Bloomberg

20 million starving to death: inside the worst famine since World War Vox

Germany accuses Audi of cheating on emissions tests Deutsche Welle

NY prosecutor says Exxon needs to hand over documents on climate change risk Ars Technica

UK Election

Tories and Labour suspend national election campaigning after London attack Guardian

General Election: Conservative lead over Labour cut to just one point, new poll finds Independent


Theresa May’s Self-Inflicted Election Foreign Policy (Richard Smith)

Theresa May is in denial about Britain’s declining power over Brexit in the age of Trump Independent. Astute Patrick Cockburn piece.

Opinion: Theresa May is doing a great Hillary Clinton impersonation with her campaign MarketWatch

Black Lives Matter

Emanuel backs off from commitment to court oversight of Chicago police reform Chicago Tribune. Why am I not surprised? Wish I had more time to post about this.


EU-China trade tensions undermine climate unity Politico. So happy clappy speculation that joint China-EU efforts would ride to an immediate rescue and take up the slack left by the US departure from the Paris Accord was premature.

Donald Trump is the gift that keeps giving China a centre stage role in the new world order SCMP.


What’s on the menu for food after Brexit? New Statesman

Imperial Collapse Watch

Merkel’s words on Europe are a reality check, not an insult Prospect

Merkel Makes an Enemy The Weekly Standard

France ‘corrects’ White House video on Paris accord Al Jazeera. amazing. Don’t recall seeing anything like this before.

Class Warfare

Hell Is Empty And All the Hedge Fund Managers Are At The Bellagio Deadspin

Why citizenship is now a commodity BBC

Retirees flock to Latin America to live an upper-class lifestyle on $1,500 a month Charlotte Observer

Foreign-born doctors, many in underserved areas, are worried about their jobs WaPo


STANDING ROCK DOCUMENTS EXPOSE INNER WORKINGS OF “SURVEILLANCE-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX” The Intercept. Note that the activities discussed here occurred before Trump was inaugurated.

Our Famously Free Press

The Public Editor Signs Off NYT


The truth about US involvement in Syria is far more complicated than Donald Trump wants you to think Independent. I try not to miss Robert Fisk– always worth a read.

At age 111, America’s oldest veteran is still smoking cigars, drinking whiskey and loving life Dallas Morning News

Kill Me Now

Obama: a Hollow Man Filled With Ruling Class Ideas Counterpunch. Oh, how I wished, I’d published more about the Obamamometer prior to the 2008 election (mentioned herein, but alas, misspelled). Would probably have made scant difference; one, however, wonders….

Imperial Decline Watch

Donald Trump’s Triumph of Stupidity Der Spiegel

New Cold War

Jeff Bezos, Amazon, Washington Post and the CIA (Phil U)

Megyn Kelly’s Putin Interview: Russian President Says CIA Could Have Hacked US Presidential Election International Business Times

‘Abject arrogance’ or ‘profound patriotism’: The intelligence community is at war over Trump-Russia leaks Business Insider

France Debunks “Russian Hacking” Claims – Clinton Again Loses It Moon of Alabama

Trump Won’t Try to Block Comey Testimony With Executive-Privilege Claim: Report New York


In Kashmir, India Is Witnessing Its General Dyer Moment The Wire

This Russian joke helps explain the persistent government euphoria on the economic front

Will the Environment Ministry order really ruin leather and meat processing industries? Economic Times

Global Beef Prices Rise as India’s Supply Under Threat WSJ

Health Care

A Health Care Bargain Jacobin

The Doctor Is In. Co-Pay? $40,000. NYT. Don’t miss.

How a single-payer health plan would look in California San Francisco Chronicle

As patients turn to medical crowdfunding, concerns emerge about privacy The Conversation

Obama Unwittingly Handed Trump a Weapon to Cripple the Health Law NYT. Thanks, Obama!

Trump Transition

White House orders agencies to ignore Democrats’ oversight requests Politico

White House to ramp up infrastructure effort in coming days The Hill

America’s CEOs fall out of love with Trump Politico

States form alliance to defend US climate momentum FT

Trump plans week-long focus on infrastructure, starting with privatizing air traffic control WaPo. Privatizing US air traffic control system? Help me. Yet another reason to avoid flying in US airspace.

‘President Trump believes the climate is changing’: Ambassador Haley Reuters

Vietnam’s White House lobbying coup secures strategic gains Reuters

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Bunk McNulty

    Air traffic privatization: “Some Democrats have voiced support for privatization efforts, but others sharply question whether it should be considered a priority given more pressing infrastructure needs.”

    You can’t fight something with nothing. Where are the advocates for public control?

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Privatizing air traffic control. What could go wrong?
      But I don’t think it has been getting the press it deserves so not many people know about this plan. Plus, Trump is saying he wants a system like Nav Canada, which sounds really good on paper, but…….

      The article talks about how they are organized: “This structure ensures that the interests of individual stakeholders do not predominate and no member group could exert undue influence over the remainder of the board.[9] To further ensure that the interests of Nav Canada are served, these board members cannot be active employees or members of airlines, unions, or government.”

      Do you think the corporations in this country would EVER allow a non-profit like Nav Canada to operate in the US? Nope, somebody has to have “control” and somebody has to make a lot of money off this deal for it to be viable in the US…..and considering bargaining units stakeholders? Never going to happen here….

      1. jawbone

        On The Media on WNYC this morning made the point that Trump is still getting too much attention from the press, but extremely little of it concerns his actual policies and their effects,

        Just as during the Repub primary and his campaign for the presidency, Trump manages to get massive coverage, but little of it involves investigation of what he’s doing and what the results will likely be. Yes, health insurance got time, but so much else is way under the radar.

    2. kurtismayfield

      Wasn’t one of the arguments for making all airport security public was that the private sector wasn’t effective at it?

      1. JTMcPhee

        NObody is good at it, public or private (airport security.) Too many people passing through places where mopes at low pay, and with minimal training and oppressive metrics managed by martinets or desperate mid-levels, under huge pressures to keep the cattle moving to the factory-farm seating, grope at trying to sort the wheat from the explosive chaff. And anyone who gets into such a “career” usually starts out mildly authoritarian and ends up way at the top end of that scale. Arbitrary boolsheet, arbitrarily applied and enforced, and regular proofs that it’s way too easy to sneak actually really bad stuff right past the “security theatre ushers.” It’s our nature to be thus…

        Was it the Crotch Bomber, or the Shoe Bomber, or one of the others, that got the special “diplomatic treatment” and was uh-sure-ed right past all that Security Checkpoint crap?

        Travel involves risks. Most folks assume them, thinking they have some kind of immunity or control, or won’t win the Bomber Lottery…

        1. sd

          Air support security should be structured similar to the Coast Guard which was originally under the Department of the Treasury. The mission is similar: safe passage, fight smuggling and piracy, etc.

  2. nyc transplant to south carolina

    Agree. Fisk is the go to guy if you wish to know what is happening in the eastern Mediterranean. Lived there for over 40 years and knows the people and the culture

    1. cocomaan

      I retrieved a swarm from a trap I put up in an old hunting tree stand back on 5/17. They were already hived, so had already begun to build comb, and didn’t mind at all when I moved them to my apiary. Real sweethearts!

      Bees in active swarm are not aggressive at all. They can’t afford to be. I’ve seen videos of people pushing swarms into hive boxes using their bare hands.

      Doubt it was a wild hive in the city, so it was probably a beekeeper who wasn’t paying attention to their hive. You can tell when they are building up to a swarm if you’re checking in on them regularly.

    2. rjs

      @leftover: point i was going to make also…i’ve handled over a hundred swarms over the years, wearing no special clothing, and never got stung once…

    3. ewmayer

      Re. bee swarms: We had a similar “the swarm” incident last summer in my apt. complex – apparently there was a professional “bee drover” taking care of it building-by-building, but as soon as he’d chased the swarm away from one unit, it would quickly seek out another. I got home in later afternoon, hot day so shades were drawn in my ground-floor apt. Just inside the door I looked toward my bedroom and in the dim light saw what looked like dozens of peanut-sized brown pellets all over the carpet. After a quick ‘wtf?’ moment I saw they were dazed bees, gingerly stepped over them in search of the entry point, turned out to be the duct connecting the vent fan unit in my bathroom to the outside wall – sounded like literally thousands of bees swarming in there, and half a dozen dropped down through the fan grate as I watched. So quickly grabbed roll of duct tape and taped over the grate, alas only realistic option to take care of the ones littering the place was to vacuum ’em up. Sorry!

      Anyhoo, called it in, got the lowdown, harried-looking bee drover arrived soon after, he used essence of orange oil deposited deep inside the air vent to drive the bees out – apparently they hate the smell of the stuff. IOW we managed to keep apian casualties to a minimum. Bee guy got stung a couple times, but given the numbers of bees that is actually indicative that they were not looking to sting. Interesting anecdote followed – I asked him whether his body had gotten used to the many stings he endured, he replied that it was even more than that – during bee season he always felt very energetic, but during the off-season he suffered from chronic lethargy which he addressed with adrenaline-rush activitivties. Something related to the natural adrenaline rush the body produces in response to a sting.

  3. From Cold Mountain

    I was watching Sky News live this morning and a reporter started interviewing the former head of counter terrorism, Kevin Hurley. He said twice that the Wahhabist’s (Saudi’s) are responsible for the funding of terrorism. There was an obvious ping in the reporter’s ear to cut him off the second time he talked about it. When I find a video source I will link it..

    This on the heels of May not wanting to release the “sensitive” nature of where terrorist funding was originating.

    Added a link to Kevin Hurley’s Twitter:

    1. Clive

      Sky have got form on this kind of tactic. I remember watching a piece about the SNP and they were interviewing students who supported Scottish independence, asking about the appeal of the SNP and why younger voters were more in favour of independence than older ones.

      A couple of the interviewees made some general points then the microphone and camera were pointed at another one of the students who was explaining about the SNP’s progressive social and political agenda and how they were channeling anti-neoliberal (the lady actually mentioned that specific term, that’s what made me prick my ears up) reaction.

      Well I’ve never seen a quicker cut in my life. Before the speaker could get another word out, it was “that’s the latest from Edinburgh, back to you in the studio Kay” followed by “now for an update on all the football action from the Sky Sports newsroom”.

      Our Famously Free Press.

      1. mad as hell

        Wanna see how network news covered stories in the 50’s and 60’s. Watch Vice News on HBO or stream it on YouTube. You ain’t gonna see stories about teenagers raising money for charity nor will you see octogenarians racing in marathons. You will see stories that the MSM dance around.. Is it Walter Cronkite worthy? I dunno know but at least it probably made him stop spinning in his grave.

        1. Clive

          Crikey, they’re not doing it over there as well, are they? I can’t switch on the MSM news here without suffering my way through a heart-sinking montage of schoolchildren doing healthy and wholesome community projects, skydiving grannies, medical miracle breakthroughs and our troops / veterans / war heros receiving modestly but appreciatively some tribute or other.

          1. ambrit

            Infotainment, also known as propaganda. Didn’t the romans call it “Bread and circuses?”

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Bread and circuses are fun, and I’ve always felt this was a complaint of Roman noble who didn’t like political power being connected to doing stuff for the masses. Its dismissed as bread and circuses. What does providing free bread do? It increases discretionary income, and what does hiring actors and holding holidays do? It raises wages. I feel Juvenal would have been dismissive of a three day work week.

              Infotainment is much more like religion with a focus on blind faith in the priestly class and temple worship.

              1. justanotherprogressive

                So “Hunger Games” got it wrong then?

                Let me know when you can find something positive about using children in the circuses…..

              2. tony

                How dare Cicero’s “starving, contemptible rabble” be interested in bread? And being that they were largely unemployed with little to do in the city, it’s hardly a suprice they enjoyed circuses.

          2. clarky90

            It is the cloying, pleading, saccharine voices of the “News Reporters” that unhinges me.

            Noooooooooooo! Please stop. This is not news

        1. lyman alpha blob

          I clicked the link maybe a couple hours ago and saw the video. It was as FCM described – the reporter cut him off quite abruptly.

    1. knowbuddhau

      Old wine vinegar in new bottles. Only these bottles (Google and Twitter) are like Jeannie’s bottle from the old sitcom, I Dream of Jeannie, in that there’s a whole ‘nother reality in there.

      I Dream of Jeannie is an American fantasy and comedy sitcom starring Barbara Eden as a 2,000-year-old genie and Larry Hagman as an astronaut who becomes her master, with whom she falls in love and eventually marries.

      No mythological overtones there, nosirree.

      “Changing the public’s view of reality,” eh? Hasn’t that been explicitly the whole point of manufacturing consent for going on a century now? BTW, has anybody been keeping track of “reality” all these years?

      You know what psychologists call people lacking sufficient contact with reality? “Psychotic.” The self-appointed geniuses who’ve brought us to this point seem to have neglected experimental psychosis: us dogs not only won’t eat the dog food, we’re being driven mad.

      They’re clearly telling us one thing and delivering a totally different reality. In terms of the movie Men in Black it’s neuralyzer-induced psychosis.

      Trying to decipher MSM-speak these days reminds me more of my dementia care training than sane civic discourse. Both populations will lash out violently if you try to orient them to “reality.”

      So what is this “reality” of which they speak, anyway? Is there a supercomputer somewhere, a machine of loving grace quietly keeping track so we don’t end up through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole?

      Signs point to no. We’re already there. “Consensual reality,” I agree, is about the best we can do.

  4. visitor

    Biotech Is Really Interested in 100-Year-Old Italians.

    There we go again.

    Similar programmes were launched some 20 years ago in Iceland (DECODE) and Estonia (EGF), with the advertised objectives of (1) collecting exhaustive genetic data about those populations (2) feeding them to some “big-data” genome analysis in order to (3) find genes responsible for specific diseases so that (4) new targeted, DNA-specific drugs could be developed to diagnose and cure those diseases.

    Results: none.

    Well, ok, it seems one gene linked to schizophrenia has been uncovered through the Icelandic project.

    No new medicine. No improved health care for Icelanders and Estonians. No benefits for the people whose DNA is now in some database that has been passed around through various commercial entities.

    By the way, the article asserts that

    Amgen Inc., the U.S. biotech company, agreed to pay $415 million for Iceland-based DeCode Genetics Inc. in 2012 to acquire its massive database on more than half of Iceland’s adult population.

    According to Wikipedia, since then, Amgen already divested from DECODE, whose assets are now the property of a Chinese corporation…

    I already mentioned all of this in a previous post. I would like to reiterate my conclusion:

    Centuries ago, in many cultures, people were wary of letting hair, nail clippings, or pieces of clothing worn close to the body or soiled with blood fall into the hands of other people — as these body bits could be used for nefarious magical purposes, without recourse from the victim. Perhaps people should start considering subjecting biometric data (DNA, retinal scans, fingerprints, voice signatures, etc) to the same protective attention: do not give them away, do not let other people grab them.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Business opportunity: Personal portable vacuum devices and portable thigh-pad incinerators to collect shed cells, hairs, nail parings, toe cheese, etc. to minimize chances of same falling into the hands of bad-wishers and evil-intenters. Something like a Fremen stillsuit, maybe? “Urine and feces and other wastes are transported by microcilia and osmotic technology to, and processed in, the thigh pads…”

      I recall speculation that our “security people” at places like DARPA had knickers in twist about possible personal threats to Important People (not you and me) due to evil-intenter gathering of genetic material from e.g. Leader of the Free World (TM) (sic) to be used to develop very specific and very fatal viruses that said Important People could be infected with. Would the CIA not love to have such a “tool” available? So much better than exploding cigars and poisons designed to make a Commie’s beard fall out…

      Of course our Rulers need to fear poisoning, and no doubt have elaborate processes and rituals to assure them of a non-toxic food supply and clean unpoisoned air and water, while studying all the ways they can use Tech to kill other people’s Rulers and other mopes too, to advance their the national interest… Again from “Dune,” the poison sniffers hovering on suspensors over the table ?(and more subtle poisons that don’t kill as long as the antidote is ingested regularly… And the long history of unfortunate “personal tasters…” Too bad us mopes have only “government regulatory action” to protect us from poisoning — a broke-dick tool if ever there was one, eh, Monsanto and Big (P)harma and the Rulers of Michigan (Flint) and the rest of you?

      The problem with the Tech explosion: now “we’ve” well and truly started into geometric-increase-in-all-aspects territory, on top of the current WARWARWAR and total-selfishness fetishes, there’s only “unintended consequences” and runaways and black swans (homage to our Antidote) to expect, and try to survive… Why the intense interest in all the “zombie” memes, all across the planet, I wonder? But that’s been discussed here before…

    2. funemployed

      Gonna go out on a limb here (not really). I bet the Sardinians are genetically very similar to virtually every other human population (we’re not a very genetically diverse species). I bet they eat a minimally processed diet with a healthy balance of fats, proteins, and carbs that don’t travel all that far to get to their plates. I bet they have strong social ties and community institutions, and a tradition of helping each other out. I bet they stress some, but not inordinately. I bet they spend time moving around almost every day. I bet they have access to both modern and traditional health care. I bet they balance work with recreation, and that many have work which they are invested in and find satisfying. I bet they have low levels of addiction, and don’t have to work hard to achieve that because addiction rises with high levels of psychosocial dislocation. I bet they have close ties to their land and spend time in nature.

      Living a long time isn’t rocket science. It only becomes one to those whose model of profiting off of human suffering demands undoing all of the above conditions.

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre


        It is only a small sample but one night in a hotel in Rome, my partner & I were adopted by a Sardinian group of around sixty elderly people who were giving a birthday party for a lady from their community. I cannot remember the name of the community or the lady, due to the fact that the evening stretched into the small hours. A wonderful night during which my Anglo-Saxon constitution had great difficulty keeping up with our elderly companions – they certainly knew how to throw a party & we will never know where they put it all.

        The next morning we arrived for breakfast late & to our dismay our friends had left around two hours before for a tour of St. Peters – according to the waitress, they were all as fresh as daisies, unlike ourselves despite being at least twenty years younger.

        1. DJG

          Eustache: A have a mentor in Rome (although she was born in Venice) who is now 95, and when I saw her last in March 2017, she was working on proofs of a new book of short stories that she’ll publish in the fall.

          As I often tell people, one of the reasons I travel regularly to Italy is to learn how to age.

      2. DJG

        funemployed: And they drink wine moderately. And old people often still run businesses and farms. And they are treated with respect. And they have that delicious Italian sense of humor.

        1. jrs

          yes it’s not that they have work they are invested in so much, but I suspect they actually don’t work in any sense a wage slave would recognize (that is they work on their farms, own a shop etc.).

      3. Carl

        Kind of a lot like those folks on that Greek island who live longer than anyone else. Like you said, not a mystery.

    3. human

      Amgen Inc., the U.S. biotech company, agreed to pay $415 million for Iceland-based DeCode Genetics Inc. in 2012 to acquire its massive database on more than half of Iceland’s adult population. adult population. According to Wikipedia, since then, Amgen already divested from DECODE, whose assets are now the property of a Chinese corporation…

      Given Iceland’s population of less than 400k, this is more than $2000 per record. Seems to me like another popped bubble, but, not before Amgen was able to unload to a Greater Fool ™.

      1. kurtismayfield

        I can’t believe that deCODE convinced half of Iceland’s population to give them their samples on a one by one basis. They had to do it via individual agreement because of the uproar over the state solution that was passed in the 90’s.

    4. justanotherprogressive

      DNA research is such a good thing – it can tell us much about who we are in the world of biologic organisms, it can tell us how we evolved, it may someday be a great way to prevent diseases and cure others……but much of that won’t happen because corporations have gotten involved and f**ked things up, by using DNA research as a way to make or take more money from humans……

      It is getting so bad out there with corporations meddling in science that I almost hope that any new scientific discoveries that may improve our lives or give us more knowledge are kept secret, because otherwise corporations will find a way to use them against us…its like a new dark ages is forming…..

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The same with brain research.

        The more we (the elites) find out, the more we (the non elites) will be ‘properly contained.’

        Basically, one has to be very skeptical about any scientific work…perhaps wary is a better word than skeptical.

        There is really one solution for the non elites: Study hard, (beat back ruthless your fellow students – grading is on a curve – never share in this Darwinian struggle) so the elites can smile on you, and on you alone, and make you one of them (on the surface, perhaps…you’re nouveau-riche, not of blue blood).

        Thus, the propaganda, “Education* is the key.”

        *Non-critical thinking education is the most popular and preferred form.

  5. OIFVet

    Re: The Doctor Is In. Co-Pay? $40,000. NYT. This is beyond disgusting, it’s downright obscene. I don’t care for the justifications provided by the doctors, they may help them sleep at night but the fact remains that theirs is not medicine, it is business that relies on cronyism​ to give their patients access to specialists and care that is denied to just about everybody else. In that, the reality for the elites in the US is no different from what I remember growing up behind the Iron Curtain. But while even the proles in Eastern Europe had access to care, the proles here are denied even that, and are left to simply die off. So Communist propaganda really was on point, after all. And in the neoliberal age of Obama and Clinton, for a “bleeding heart liberal” doctor to think of the human body as an ‘asset’, and of tiered social services, is strangely fitting. I can see Shlein making a house call in a 19th century southern plantation, and getting served ice tea by a dark skinned “asset” after treating the massa’s indigestion…

    1. human

      This is the natural progression of the genocidal and slaveholding foundation. As Enlightenment, generally, came to the Old World, these practices became ensconced in the New.

    2. cocomaan

      The “asset manager” line is bizarre. “When I’m at a country club or a party and people ask me what I do, I say I’m an asset manager,” Dr. Shlain explained. “When they ask what asset, I point to their body.”

      The body is not an asset because it’s not something sold, unless you believe in the labor theory of value, which these people don’t.

      The body should be added to Polyani’s list of Fictitious Commodities. Nancy Fraser’s paper on Polyani is instrumental here “Can society be commodities all the way down? Post-Polanyian reflections on capitalist crisis”. I got to meet her briefly once and she’s a gem:

      1. OIFVet

        I get a small measure of satisfaction from the fact that the the good doctor inadvertently dehumanises his clients by referring to their bodies as “assets.” Of course, neither he nor they are likely to find his language dehumanising, but that’s what it really does. If we are truly lucky, one day the elites themselves will stratify and will become relative victims of tiered medical care, which may not leave them with injuries more serious than bruised egos, but in their world that’s a big deal. I can see them suddenly commiserating with their gardeners about the inequity and inhumanity of it all, right before they trim his wages in order to keep up with the Joneses’ concierge services.

        1. Carolinian

          In my experience most doctors tend to look at their patients as specimens and themselves as scientists regardless of the money question. You are their scientific problem.

          On one level the impersonality is understandable–patients die–still Empathy 101 may need to be a required course.

          1. jrs

            oh there is a real place in diagnostics for doctors with scientific minds, the problem often seems to be that many doctors doing diagnosis don’t have them.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Would that be a winning admission essay for a medical school applicant to say bodies are assets?

          Meanwhile, somewhere else: “I hope to become a doctor, after winning this beauty pageant, so I can manage human bodies as assets.”

          Some people lie, and others don’t. Many do from time to time; an exceptional few, never.

          If it takes a long for a lie to catch up, people don’t remember…what you wrote on the essay.

      2. Damson

        His view is the norm among the elites.

        Surrogacy is fast approaching the norm in reprogenics for the 1%.

        Which requires a global underclass of breeders.
        Hence the use of the UN as a vector to normalise gay marriage on all continents.

    3. QuarterBack

      This what the early stages of the caste system looks like in the USA. The very effective political initiative to eliminate “death taxes”, will soon firmly solidify the USA as the India of the West. When inherited wealth is passed without taxation at the 100 million or billion dollar level, it will take a very few number of generations to permanently lock in dynasties. The American Dream is about enabling anyone to use innovation and hard work to build a better live for themselves and their children. Those children must then be able to bring their contributions and competitive advantage to society, to rise or fall on their own, otherwise the whole system breaks down.

      All humans are made from the same formula. There are wonderful people and villains and every economic level. If some of the worst of our kind are able to start out of the womb with the wealth of thousands or tens of thousands of individuals, there will be no practical social nor economic force to counter the potential carnage that some highly capitalized bad actors would will upon the large masses.

      If inherited wealth is such that 3,4,5, or greater generations removed from the actual contributors and innovators of society, then a monopoly death spiral will consume society and its culture.

      The velvet rope dynamic is a predictable outcome of human nature when the economic model enables multigenerational retention of dynastic power. In first or perhaps second generation ‘death tax free’ benefits may be arguable, but at the third generation and beyond, the power, commerce, and moral standards of the society are left to individuals who likely never even had an audience with their benefactor. From that point on, society is ruled solely by the randomness and entropy of inheritance.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        +1000, and “justified” thusly:

        “In my old waiting room in Seattle, the C.E.O. of a company might be sitting next to a custodian from that company,” he recalled. “While I admired that egalitarian aspect of medicine, it started to appear somewhat odd. Why would people who have all their other affairs in order — legal, financial, even groundskeepers — settle for a 15-minute slot?”

        “Egalitarianism” in medicine is so……. um……. “odd.”

        1. Craig H.

          Corporations have been contracting out custodial service for at least twenty years. It may be the first occupation that got gigged. I know a man who must be 85 if he is still around who worked his way up from the mail room to middle management over the course of a thirty year career with a multinational corporation. His first job was sorting mail and when he retired he had forty computer programmers below him on the org chart.

          This is one of those biographies which would be inexplicable to an anthropologist from a distant star system and kids today might not believe it ever happened.

    4. LT

      The better world for neoliberalism might actually be Corporate Communism, especially the myriad of ways the governments in many parts of the world have for subsidizing the wealthy.

      1. Massinissa

        I think it would be better to just keep calling it ‘Socialism for the Rich’ like its been called on Naked Capitalism for awhile now. Much easier to understand. ‘Corporate Communism’ almost sounds obfuscatory.

        1. LT

          I see your point. But then Keynsianism has been turned on its head to be even more like “socialism for the rich.”

          Think of how the definition of “democracy” has been turned on its head…

        2. Mel

          Indeed. “To each according to his need.” OK, for a sufficiently free definition of need. But “From each according …” Hold on there! What do you mean “From each”?

        3. LT

          Just wanted to add:
          Think of how the definition of “socialism” has been turned on its head.

    5. FluffytheObeseCat

      This nauseating article is part of what is billed as a series, “The Velvet Rope Economy” within the Economy section. There appears to be only 2-3 pieces published at present. The first was a milder bit about tiered service on cruise ships. It described some fairly picayune dissection of service between middle and upper middle class consumers. All about how people who’re able to shell out circa $20-60k for the family vacay get “Haven” class accommodations at the top of a top heavy, barely seaworthy monster ship. It sounded like heaven for imbeciles.

      The piece neatly avoided mention of the fact that the real monied either charter or own their yachts and enjoy much greater freedom of movement, privacy and cachet.

      1. LT

        I try my damndest to avoid class segregated events. If you like going out, it’s almost impossible, especially in LALA land …so many aspirations, so little time…

    6. Massinissa

      I hear there’s a joke in the former iron curtain states. I think it goes like “What they told us about communism was false, but what they told us about capitalism was true.”

      1. OIFVet

        “Most of what they told us about communism was false. Unfortunately, everything they told us about capitalism was true.” The insertion of ‘unfortunately’ is what distinguishes the nostalgic from the merely disgruntled :)

      2. olga

        Yup – we used to think ol’commies lied about capitalism. It turns out they did not lie enough…

    7. KFritz

      Memo to Herr Doktor Schlain:

      “But health care is an island of socialism in a system of tiered capitalism? Tell me how that works.”

      If you want to see less severely tiered medical care in the midst of Kapitalism (even as it is being chipped away in some places), try Canada, the EU, Switzerland, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, ANZAC, even Mexico. This is a rhetorical statement. A man with his finances has almost certainly traveled enough to know that HIS statement is a rhetorical lie.

  6. Emorej a Hong Kong

    French President Macron shows much more personality than one would expect from his background as a protege of government-shrinking Big Finance. Besides inviting climate-concerned Americans to immigrate to France, he may also have a chance to invite many of Britain’s non-British doctors and nurses if Theresa May’s policies survive this week’s election.

    But no amount of personality will sustain his popularity through the 2022 Presidential election unless he shocks everybody by resisting Merkel-Schäuble economic policies. He reportedly already resisted their inflexibility on the need to write down Greece’s debt, per Yanis Varoufakis (

    1. a different chris

      But here’s the problem, Yanis:

      >Is Marine Le Pen genuinely a less unpalatable proposition than her father was? Is Emmanuel Macron somehow worse, from a leftwing perspective, than Jacques Chirac was in 2002?

      That was f’ing 15 years ago, and you are still blathering on about the same sort of choices. Don’t those years mean anything to you? Well sure, you don’t have an exceptional lifestyle compared to the people you were rubbing elbows with, but I bet you aren’t worried about your next meal. For other people, fifteen years is a long time to wait for food and housing security and then be told “wait some more”.

      People aren’t “leftwing” or “rightwing” or hell, “X-wing”. Politics is something that comes to most of us, generally, we don’t persue it. But all a situation to fester, make the commoners feel they have to step up to it, and opportunists like LePen and Trump will take advantage and tell those people where to (goose) step if you don’t watch out.

    1. Yves Smith

      No, they do not “own” them. There are many variants of this sort of analysis out there and they are wrong.

      1. They manage funds. They are not the owners of the shares managed. The fund investors are. The fund managers typically vote the proxies (not always, all run institutional funds and all have “dedicated funds” that for single users, which include high net worth individuals).

      2. All of them also act as brokers. My mother has a brokerage account at Vanguard. She votes the proxies for those share herself.

      1. QuarterBack

        It is this confusion of bank, corporate, or fund “ownership” that obstructs our view of the real dynamics. These large proxies are just the last, most visible, portion of the supply chain of wealth before it goes to the final true owners at the end of the chain. The idea for the corporation may have been borne by the desire to distribute risks, but very shortly after its creation, its secondary ability to obfuscate ownership was embraced by the most powerful. The corporate model of governance basically boils down to One dollar, one vote. When controlling ownership of a corporation is largely corporate proxies in a sea of proxies, it becomes easier for the individual, families, and dynasties to project their will, smite those who offend them, and even make honest or ill informing damaging mistakes without accountability beyond the economics of their shares. Besides there being no one to blame when things crash, it is impossible to know precisely who to negotiate with, or provide counsel to prevent harm. Most everything we know of and value in proper society was built by, or in no small part supported by corporate entities, but similarly, corporations have had a large hand in the greatest wars and human tragedies. I would argue that a small number of individual humans have been a part of both fates along the paths of history. The most positive achievements tend to have more visible paths to their benefactors, but the most cruel and damaging actions are without a visible parentage.

        1. Yves Smith

          This is nonsense. The problem is not that modern corporations are controlled by shareholders, it’s that managements can and do run them as unaccountable fiefdoms.

          First, an equity is a remarkably ambiguous and weak claim. Share ownership does not convey power over management. For instance, in 2009 a bunch of institutional investors went to see Lloyd Blankfein and basically told him that they didn’t want him to pay himself what the press had said he was going to pay himself. He went ahead anyhow. Similarly, the companies with the highest-paid CEOs perform poorly, another proof of the lack of influence of investors.

          The only exception is when an investor gains a controlling block and seeks to exercise control. Tell me how often that happens these days.

          Second, the majority of these shares are owned via index funds. Index funds are all about index replication and cost minimization. They take no interest what management does.

          Third, average share ownership time has collapsed to 22 seconds. Can someone who owns shares for such a short period of time find it worth their while to bother?

          Fourth, investors like Blackrock and Fidelity don’t want to rough up management unless they are truly awful because they want their 401(k) business. So they are passive and don’t intervene. The idea that they “project power” is a fantasy.

          Firth, Vanguard is mutualized, or did you miss that?

          If you are going to make a leftist critique of public companies, it needs to be based on how they operate and are governed, not based on your misconstruction of the power dynamics.

          1. Follow the money

            Thanks for clarifying, Yves.

            Fair enough. The ownership-analysis is incorrect. Are there any interesting and solid analysis of the intermediary-effects? Would be highly surprised if they do not wield any impact at all, whether it is by activeness or passiveness.

            One thing is when I complain to my funds they couldn’t care less because in the fund I am too small. They rake in their fee and ignore me.

            On top of that as per your account these fund managers are characterized by total passiveness towards corporate management too.

            Are they the ones standing between the corporate management and the owners’ pitchforks?

            22 seconds. Are these funds also trading at that speed?

          2. olga

            “The problem is not that modern corporations are controlled by shareholders, it’s that managements can and do run them as unaccountable fiefdoms.”
            Totally agree with you, Yves.
            I’d just like to know if anyone has done any analysis of how exactly this state of affairs has come to be –
            and be so entrenched. Dictatorship of the managerial class…

  7. Carolinian

    From the Business Insider/Russia leaks article.

    Claire Finkelstein, a professor and national security expert at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, echoed Carle’s concerns.

    “The country is in a serious crisis with regard to leaking. On the one hand, it’s very important that the president is the commander-in-chief and we owe him a duty of loyalty,” Finkelstein said. “But on the other hand, when the president is himself the source of danger to the nation, because he is not safeguarding the nation’s interest, then that duty of loyalty is severely tested. That’s where we are right now.”

    Finkelstein added that when intelligence officials have “divided loyalties,” in which their pledge to the Constitution “conflicts with their duty to the president, they choose the Constitution. They choose the country. And that’s why we have leaks.”

    This could be a piece of Burt Lancaster’s dialog from the sixties thriller Seven Days in May–a movie based on a book that most at the time thought was about the security establishment’s conflicts with Kennedy. Then as now some military and CIA believed the president was going “soft on Russia” and therefore betraying the country.

    Of course Trump isn’t Kennedy but on the other hand the idea that “Russia is our adversary” in the 21st century is purely notional even if declared as fact by the Washington Post. Which is to say even more than in the 1960s it’s a thin rationalization for the destruction of democracy.

    As Chomsky has been saying in his recent interviews, it’s the decline of democracy that is our real problem. Those who take it on themselves to decide what’s best for the country don’t seem too concerned.

    1. Ulysses

      “As Chomsky has been saying in his recent interviews, it’s the decline of democracy that is our real problem”


      B. Brown has some thought-provoking words on our current situation here in the U.S.:

      “The point is that we have to realize that we cannot hope to be effective via this system. It’s worked in the past, sometimes, but we’ve also seen republics collapse. We’ve seen republics become untenable.
      We’ve already achieved a constitutional police state in this country. We’ve created a country in which 70, 80 million Americans are technically criminal because of all the bizarre drug laws, and crime laws we’ve created. That’s an extraordinary fact of this country — that we can only survive as a country to the extent that we do not enforce our own laws. That’s becoming a more visible problem since we had a situation in which both the candidates in the last election probably had committed crimes, and then both sides had to determine why it was OK.
      It just goes to show that this whole thing is a charade that no one really believes in. Every time you tell a lie publicly it’s because you don’t agree with the underlying premise of democracy, which is that the people should have the facts. And both sides do it. It’s something that’s in place to keep us from killing each other, but it’s not something that we really deep down, unconsciously, see as legitimate. I think that will become more apparent very easily. It’s very easy for this to all break down.”

  8. Ignim Brites

    “Jeff Bezos, Amazon, Washington Post and the CIA”. It always seemed sort of mysterious why Bezos wanted WaPo. Inference to be drawn here is that WaPo is a CIA controlled organization.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Just one of the many “mysteries” of amazon, like how the founder of a company that doesn’t make a profit for 17 years until it gets a cia contract becomes a multi-billionaire, and the stock price continues to climb to more than $1000 per share.

  9. Emorej a Hong Kong

    A barely re-elected Prime Minister Theresa May is unlikely to remain head of her party very long, as she stumbles towards “no agreement” with the EU, and dominoes start falling in UK standards of living, not only for the working class but also for higher income people heavily invested in UK real property. But a Conservative Party dumping her (like they did Thatcher for Major) is unlikely to persuade voters not to blame the Conservative Party for Brexit’s turbo-charging of Britain’s decline.

    This is probably a better scenario for the Labour Party, and for Jeremy Corbyn as its leader, than Corbyn himself squeaking into the Prime Minister’s office in this week’s election. In that office, Corbyn would be stuck with the thankless job of cleaning up the Conservatives’ Brexit mess, while many Labour MPs look for every opportunity to undermine him.

    The best scenario for the next two years is that May and the Conservatives are stuck with their own mess, while Corbyn’s near-miss comeback empowers him to groom and nominate replacements for some of his most ideologically committed enemies among Labour MPs. Meanwhile, the voters will easily see that it is the Conservative-negotiated Brexit which is hurting them, in contrast with the predictable MSM attempts to shift blame to whatever Labour policies or other scapegoats are available.

    1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      As PlutoniumKun pointed out & yes I agree, as I am now actually worried that he might scrape through. There is also the little matter of a potential financial crash, which I would much rather landed in the Tories lap.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      May and the Conservatives are stuck in their own mess.

      Luckily, Obama is not stuck with his own messy ‘spiraling to abyss’ Affordable Healthcare.

      Buddhists might say, it’s due to his good karma, from his previous lives. Is it really that simple? The Maitreya is coming?

    3. BruceK

      I would be careful about putting too much weight on any one poll in the UK election. It is the narrow Try leads which get most attention. However, polls yesterday offered a wide variety of choices: ICM gave the Tories an 11% lead (45 to 34), ORB 9%, YouGov 4% and Survation 1% (40 to 39).

      As I understand the cause of the gap in predictions is mainly due to expected turnout – how many younger voters will actually vote? It seems no-one knows at the moment. Historically, though, the picture is not encouraging, and with sorrow I still expect a Tory majority of 70 or so.

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Obama: a Hollow Man Filled With Ruling Class Ideas Counterpunch

    Long read but, suffice to say, the word “hollow” is a particularly accurate descriptor.

    Having said that, I’m sensing a theme in Links this morning. From the Counterpunch piece:

    Like other ruling class and professional class educational and ideological institutions of “higher education,” Harvard Law was and remains a great schoolhouse of precisely the kind of “pragmatism” which knows that no policies and visions can work that don’t bow to the holy power of the finance-led corporate and imperial state, ruling in the name of the market among other things.

    And from The Doctor Is In. Co-Pay? $40,000. NYT. Don’t miss:

    Getting in the door as a new hire [elite “concierge” doctor] isn’t easy. When it comes to credentials like college, medical school and residency, Dr. Shlain said, “at least two out of the three need to be Ivy League, or Ivy League-esque.”

    With apologies to the “good” graduates of those institutions who inhabit this space, it seems that most of the spectacularly soulless and inhumane ideas and policies being foisted on america these days are being conceived in the “ivy” league in general, and harvard in particular.

    This toxic influence, exerted by indoctrinated disciples and their lackeys at the heights of american government, must be excised, root and branch, before any meaningful change is possible.

    1. OIFVet

      Ah, but as we learn from the hollow man himself, revolutionary change is neither possible nor advisable. Because it makes people uncomfortable, as he argued in regards​ to single payer. So you will have to get used to TINA, and learn to like it. At least until the guillotines go up on the Mall…

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        From the article:

        The bigger problem here was Obama’s love and admiration for the nation’s reigning wealth and power elite – or, perhaps, his reasonable calculation that the powers that be held a monopoly on the means of bestowing public love and admiration. Non-conformism to the ruling class carries no small cost in a media and politics culture owned by that class. (Emphasis mine.)

        What I fail to understand is that, having correctly identified the absolute power of a certain class to establish and control a narrative and its unquestioning willingness to do so, the current onslaught against Trump, now bordering on insanity, is considered legitimate.

        The very tactics employed on obama’s behalf to turn a big nothing into a big something work in reverse as well. Why is this so seemingly incomprehensible, and why are more seasoned observers not justifiably more alarmed?

        1. jrs

          just because the press would turn against you if you pose a threat to the ruling class (in some way that may benefit the 99% I suppose or kind of what is the point?), doesn’t mean just because the press turns against you, you are in any way benefiting the 99%.

          The ruling class anyway can have it’s schisms and infighting, that doesn’t mean anyone else has a champion in any of them (miracles occasionally happen, that is those with sympathy for non-ruling class people among the ruling class occasionally appear, but they are darn rare, infighting among a bunch of greedy bastards that only care about themselves is a far more likely scenario). Certainly what it seems we have now, baring a miracle. The triumph of one part of the ruling class over another (and it’s hardly even so clearly that given Trump appointees) is hardly anyone else’s triumph, at best in that scenario we hope to get a more humane ruling class with some noblesse oblige, but that doesn’t seem to be in store.

          1. Whine Country

            Interesting that someone would comment that Obama is hollow. Have you ever seen a tip jar that wasn’t?

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      “Harvard was founded in anticipation of the need for training clergy for the new commonwealth, a ‘church in the wilderness.'”

      Yale: “Chartered by Connecticut Colony, the “Collegiate School” was established by clergy in Saybrook Colony to educate Congregationalist ministers.”

      “New Light Presbyterians founded the College of New Jersey, later Princeton University, in 1746 in order to train ministers dedicated to their views.”
      [all three quotes from Wiki pages]

      These three Ivy League Schools — at least — seem to have ventured far far away from their original purpose.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It seems to me the original intent of those institutions is alive and well.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Many, if not all, of the soon-to-be free colleges in New York also share those institutions’ original intent. Those colleges all want to be elite, many just not quite there…yet.

          Maybe we don’t want government to fund students so they can be trained ministers ‘dedicated to their views.’

        2. LT

          Yes, they’re into a variation of the “prosperity gospel” not unlike what you see being sold by televangelists, mega-churches, and all the aasociated guest speakers hawking books and get rich seminars.
          It just has a veneer of being for the benefit of “civilization.”

          1. jrs

            A prosperity gospel that is obviously false of course. Being rich often represent a LACK OF principles, willing to make ethical compromises to get ahead (hurt people even) or if not that at least personal compromises (neglect human relationships while maximizing money etc. – sometimes other better people pick up this slack). These are not good human attributes.

            And that’s when it’s “earned”. Of course it’s often things like inheritances or pure luck (which at least isn’t being a scumbag that made one rich, but just the turn of the roulette wheel …). The exceptions aren’t in business probably but things like the occasional sports star. Mostly the rich would tend to be poorer quality humans in my view.

    3. jrs

      they need to be ivy league not because ivy league doctors are necessarily any better but because only they have had their basic humanity thoroughly trained out of them enough to spend a lifetime serving the elite while the poor die and never even see the problem with it, much less ever doing anything about it. It’s not the education they are looking for in hires but the indoctrination.

      Notices it’s nurses (not as wealthy, traditionally female – and of course the two are related), not doctors, that are fighting for a single payer system.

    4. Alex Morfesis

      The ivy leagues are a convenient scapegoat when a populous abdicates its responsibility to participatory government…the federal register is a public document…most nonsense in our society filters thru it in one form or another…

      freedom is work…it should not be…

      however, most folks are easily gaslighted into the mindset, politicians are bad, except good olde joe who shook your hand for all of three seconds five years ago at some eat and greet faire or picnic…

      “and joe nodded his head up and down for a few moments while looking me straight in the eye as I asked him about something on my mind that day…

      that joe is a straight shooter…and if it wasn’t for those “other” bad politicians he has to deal with…good things would happen…”

    5. nobody

      The innermost fount of US ideology and war… Harvard University has long propagated an unexamined academic method. It normally cuts off any faculty or learned source of opposition to the private corporate rule of America and the wars of aggression to impose it on the world. Accordingly, the underling grand narrative equations of the US is Good and the designated Enemy is Evil is not questioned. It is presupposed. Malevolent motives are always assumed of the designated Enemy, down to Harvard-produced geostrategic economic and war models…

      Harvard’s life-blind elite of war criminal geo-strategists, economic modellers and so on are fawned upon within the wider corporate rule they serve… In the end, US system worship is a war-state religion. It eliminates all enemies to its right to rule. Its globalizing system institutes the market laws of God. War crimes are God-blessed justice…

      1. olga

        Thanks for the posting… how true:
        “As I have commented in articles prior to his presidency, “Trump is America come to meet itself”. But the US cover story has not yet been decoded in its master functions of legitimation and idealization. What makes the eco-genocidal system acceptable to human consciousness is an ultimate story line and moral syntax that transforms it into heroic liberty, individualism, and moral supremacy.”
        In other words – we all lose.

  11. nowhere

    “So happy clappy speculation that joint China-EU efforts would ride to immediate rescue and take up the slack left by US departure from Paris Accord was premature.”

    Whether or not this ends up being true, I don’t get the logical jump based on the article.

    At an annual EU-China summit shadowed by Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, top EU officials and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed on policies against global warming and the challenges posed by North Korea but did not resolve core disagreements on trade policy.

    Seems the parts about climate change are being addressed, but China dumping steel is the primary point of the article.

    Tusk, in his opening remarks, stressed that the EU and China remained committed to the Paris agreement.

    “Today, we are stepping up our cooperation on climate change with China,” Tusk said. “Which means that today, China and Europe have demonstrated solidarity with future generations and responsibility for the whole planet. We are convinced that yesterday’s decision by the United States to leave the Paris agreement is a big mistake.”

    He added, “The fight against climate change, and all the research, innovation and technological progress it will bring, will continue, with or without the U.S.”

  12. kurtismayfield

    May wants to regulate the internet

    She is really trying to lose this election isn’t she? Or does she think a majority of her citizens will fall for this when the UK already has a highly monitored internet. All of the money that has been poured into anti-terrorism efforts by her government over the years and they couldn’t stop the last two events should make people realize how much a waste of money it all is.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      May is still a Tory. Thinking isn’t in her wheelhouse.

      David Cameron wrote a letter to the editor not too long ago to his local government bemoaning the cuts to public transit, seemingly unaware the cuts were the result of his budget cuts.

      If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, you have some kind of water fowl on your hands.

      How could people vote for Hillary? How could people vote for Trump? The answer is tribalism. Tribalism covers for ignorant and gross people all the time.

      1. visitor

        David Cameron wrote a letter to the editor not too long ago to his local government bemoaning the cuts to public transit, seemingly unaware the cuts were the result of his budget cuts.

        For those curious about that (true) episode highlighting how clueless Tories are, look for instance here or also there.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I would say “not clueless at all”, Cameron can win points with the serfs for being “against” the public transit cuts, while the dollars/pounds keep flowing from the corporate masters who benefit from the cuts he put in place.
          Straight outta Obama’s/Hilary’s playbook, say one thing and do the exact opposite. You need three things to pull it off:

          1. An unusual aptitude to lie in a fluent, repeatable and telegenic way;

          2. A signal in advance to your corporate masters to pay no attention to your public utterings, it won’t affect the flow of the grift;

          3. A cynical, black and cruel heart

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            4. By seizing the Propaganda Ministry during the initial hours of operation Valkyrie.

        2. Synoia

          I have difficulty believing an Old Estonian uses any form of public transit.

          I believed they fly overhead on a cloud of their own superiority.

    2. clinical wasteman

      I wish I could believe that this “policy” (read: indiscriminate threat) will be as unpopular as it should, but I suspect it will be mostly ignored and/or vaguely applauded as generic “toughness”, especially to the extent that it’s allowed to pass for a slap at “American corporations” rather than a menace to ordinary producers and users of online content. The “social acceptability” in much of the UK of a pig-ignorant sense of “superiority” to Americans as such — often accompanied by actual approval of the worst aspects of US-led geopolitics — is a disgusting thing to behold from up close.
      Maybe the most alarming thing about the unspecified “crackdown” promised is that it’s sure to revolve around the non-concept of “extremism”. This bipartisan* weasel-word is favoured precisely because of its dangerous vagueness. To the extent that it’s ever defined, the definitions are never about willingness to kill indiscriminately (too compromise for the “tough” legislators and cops themselves?): it always has to do with deviation from (by-definition-undefinable) national values. In other words, its specific purpose is to make unpalatable political/social/religious opinions the moral and legal equivalent of multiple murder. This in turn has two distinct consequences:
      1. At the most official level, it applies indiscriminately to Isis cells, neo-Nazi nail bombers, direct-action ecologists, anarchists, Black Lives Matter precursor groups, and the far left generally. The police maintains a “Domestic Extremism Unit” whose sole purpose, more or less, is to infiltrate and “disrupt” what remains of the radical left.
      2. Where it is directed against variants of Wahabism/Salafism**, year upon year of official proclamation that opinions are as bad as massacres — down to kindergarten level in the “Prevent” programme, wherein teachers and doctors are expected to snitch on the opinion crimes of infants — seems finally to have been taken literally by the target demographic: why wouldn’t a tiny subset of this group graduate smoothly from spouting nonsense to killing for it when the government has repeatedly told them it’s all the same?

      *’Bipartisan’ at political party level, at least outwardly, and completely unquestioned in liberal media. Some of the Corbyn wing of the Labour party are likely to be skeptical in private, having been monitored for years as “domestic extremists” themselves.
      **Wahabism/Salafism is “extreme” and as such targeted in matters like insufficient cultural “integration”, but it’s not extreme at all, of course — on the contrary, it’s actively encouraged — when it involves re/forming a death squad and joining in the annihilation of Libya.

    3. Andrew

      As a few people have already pointed out, this badly run, disorganised shambles of a government, who can barely maintain their own internal IT systems, and who are still running unsupported software systems like Windows XP for major government services (The NHS), are now expected to fully regulate the Internet. Haha.. Unfortunately, as usual, the joke’s on us.

  13. David

    Sensible comment by Charles Arthur in the Grauniad.
    I suspect it’s the usual problem of the politician under pressure to Do Something, and feeling obliged to respond with the first idea that pops up, especially a few days before an election.
    The fact is, that very rare, very varied, low probability, high impact events are inherently difficult to stop, and in practice you can’t stop all of them. But no politician can admit that, so they have to pretend that you can.

  14. timbers

    UK Election – MOA says the recent terror attack in UK is blow back from US & UK support for Saudi Arabia’s brand of 9/11 Al-Qaeda terrorists, to do US regime change whenever the need arises. Another question arises: Why now? Are the attacks timed to derail Corbyn’s surge in polls? In a related note, the sudden gainning of strength of ISIS in Phillipines so soon after Durante broke with Washington and cozied up to China & Russia almost makes you wonder if the terrorists are an official arm of US policy. The co-incendences keep piling up.

    1. visitor

      Salman Abedi, the Manchester bomber, had been sent with his relatives to Libya to fight Gaddafi, as members of the jihadist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

      Salman Abedi returned to the UK. In the years preceding the Manchester attack, he was denounced separately five times by members of the British Libyan community as a radicalized islamist willing to commit terrorist attacks.

      The British security services did not react.

      In early 2017, the FBI sent a report to the MI5, clearly stating that (1) Salman Abedi is a jihadist (2) the FBI has placed him on its “terrorist watchlist” (3) Abedi is member of a UK-based network (4) that network is planning an attack in the UK.

      The British security services supposedly investigated and found…nothing.

      During the 10 days after the murderous Manchester attack, the security services had arrested and kept in detention no less than 11 persons linked to Abedi.


      a) If the police could arrest so many people so fast, it is because they already knew about them and their probable involvement in the jihadist activities of Abedi.

      Otherwise, the investigation would have lasted months, just like the supposed investigation in the first part of 2017.

      b) But if the security services knew, then it means that that earlier investigation was successful — but that the security services decided not to proceed with dismantling that jihadist group.

      c) Since Abedi had been repeatedly denounced in the years preceding the attack, because its family background was known in detail by the British security services, and taking into account the atmosphere of paranoia wrt terrorism in the UK (the infamous “Prevent programme”), then it definitely means that a decision was taken not to touch Abedi, no matter how dangerous his background.


      Salman Abedi, his relatives, and other Libyans were “assets” of the MI5/MI6. This is why they were never summoned, troubled or arrested, despite unambiguously being jihadists. The Manchester attack was a glitch.

      I would not be surprised to learn that some of those 3 attackers in Westminster were already known as radicalized Islamists by the security services, and that nothing was done to arrest them either.

      Similar cases have become so numerous in France and the UK these recent years that we can start excluding them as freak incidents. So Daesh being prodded by the USA to annoy Duterte because of geo-strategic considerations? Not implausible at all.

      1. Alex Morfesis

        Not 2 come across as apologist, the problem seems to stem from politicians and prosecutors wanting photo op moments of “$olid cases” where the average soul wants the threats just disrupted and couldn’t care less about getting the “big fish” or the political future of some bureaucrats or politicians…

        obvious problems are allowed to fester “in hopes” of using
        to lead “the important people” to some big press event instead of just getting at the problem when and where it sprouts up…

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    A Swarm of Angry Bees Shut Down a Street in Midtown Manhattan New York

    “Do bees get angry?”

    “Sure, they do.”

    “Are we being anthropomorphic?”

    “Have you seen how much anthropo-destruction we have wrecked? Of course, they are mad.”

    “So, you empathize? You’re OK with their anger? Where is anger-management?”

    “Hey, it’s OK to be angry.”

    “Now you tell me.”

  16. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: How a single-payer health plan would look in California San Francisco Chronicle

    While the bill would probably put private insurers out of business, experts say it is unclear what its impact would be on Kaiser, whose business model is distinct because it provides both the insurance and the medical care for its members as part of an integrated system. Under the single-payer system, Kaiser would have to radically restructure its operations.

    “A model like ours that combines care and coverage would not be able to operate under the rigid system proposed in the bill,” Stark wrote. “(The bill) would ban this world-renowned model of collaboration and create significant upheaval for the individuals, businesses and public employers who purchase coverage from us, as well as for our employees.”

    Is it just me, or is kaiser’s model, as characterized in this article, exactly what a single-payer system would look like, except that every californian would participate and kaiser would neither control it nor profit from it?

    And just for grins, get a load of the “argument’ against the program as noted in the article:

    Argument in opposition: Critics argue that a single-payer system would create a government bureaucracy where care could be rationed and costs would be insurmountable.

    (See current nyt link on “concierge” medicine for what “rationing” looks like.)

    1. OIFVet

      Also laughable is the argument that single payer would create government bureaucracy. As opposed to, say, the massive hospital and insurance company bureaucracies that the current system requires in order to ration care? What are Medicare/Medicaid administrative costs, again?! These aholes and their MSM stenographers are immune to irony, it seems. Guillotines…

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      The sensible Dutch surveyed the landscape and saw the same private insurance behemoths who needed to be accommodated, so they said insurers must offer a basic set up services with prices and profit margins capped. Above that they get to compete on the add-ons, and on (wait for it) customer service. Seems that entrepreneurial doctors (“$40,000 co-pay” article) already get the “customer service” part.

  17. Parker Dooley

    “Privatizing US air traffic control system? Help me. Yet another reason to avoid flying in US airspace.”

    Or living under it? Heads up, comrades!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      No unborn baby is safe from toxic pollutants Treehugger

      The little things we could do to help alleviate:

      1. Avoid flying, period.
      2. Mind travel, or travel local
      3. Avoid household chemicals
      4. Sit in a room quietly
      5. Don’t over eat, so one doesn’t have to release extra CO2 as one works off the extra food
      6. Drink milk straight from the source, cow, or as in the case of one Chinese billionaire, human.
      7. Go to bed early (especially for younger people)
      8. Leave Marijuana in place, let it turn CO2 into oxygen, Don’t smoke it. Don’t burn it.

      That is, let photosynthesis go to work.

      1. witters

        “8. Leave Marijuana in place, let it turn CO2 into oxygen, Don’t smoke it. Don’t burn it.”

        Are you mad?

      2. Synoia

        Drink milk straight from the source, cow, or as in the case of one Chinese billionaire, human.

        Only if you want to risk TB.

  18. fresno dan

    After years of getting turned away at DMV’s Corbett finally got the license that adequately expresses his religious beliefs. Unfortunately state officials say they will void the license, according to The Arizona Republic.
    He first tried to obtain his license in 2014 and said he was treated disrespectfully. “I tried a couple different locations and was met with a lot of pushback and resistance,” Corbett told The Republic. “I was scorned at every location I went to, and they put out a memo about me, so by the time I got to (the) fourth and fifth MVD, they stopped me at the door.”

    As this is so important with regard to religious liberty, I thought I should make some time for it….
    I am an ultra observant strict reform Atkins cult pastafarian, as being on a low carb diet I only eat the meatball in no added sugar tomato sauce part of the host….

  19. LT

    Re: US Retirees in Ecuador

    Sounds like the US retirement population there needs more retired Spanish teachers.

  20. edmondo

    Just a reminder to the New Jersey readers. Primary day is Tuesday.

    You can vote for the Bernie Sanders supporter John Wisniewski or the former Goldman Sachs dude who seems to have purchased his way as the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor. You have a voice, why not use it?

    I doubt if Wisniewski has a snow ball’s chance but you gotta fight the battles as they come.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Retirees flock to Latin America to live an upper-class lifestyle on $1,500 a month Charlotte Observer

    Documented or otherwise, let’s hope these migrants don’t impose their culture on their hosts.

    “Why isn’t everything in American English?”

    1. OIFVet

      Reminds me of the many Brits who now live in Bulgaria, mostly in small villages. Number one complaint: “It is so hard to find local tradesmen/store clerks/notaries/restaurant waitstaff who speak English.” Well, learn the language, ahole. You know, ‘When in Rome…’

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Global Beef Prices Rise as India’s Supply Under Threat WSJ

    Is this a case of ‘We can slaughter, but we can’t eat, so we export?”

    Is the Land of the Sacred Cow still the Land of the Sacred Cow in that case?

  23. Dale

    Retirees flock….Charlotte Observer (Miami Herald)

    The comments are horrible. What makes these people so damn hateful? For ten years L.A. has been home; always treated kindly, politely.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Your comment made me go to the article and look up the comments.

      The second one I came across mentioned Americans gobbling healthcare resources or benefits.

      Is that accurate that Americans with dollar-based pensions make themselves look like Quatzelcoatl, the feathered god, returning from the east?

      At the very least, with so much money, in local currency, it makes the retirees look…well, very exceptional….as if they come from a land with streets paved with gold.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And it seems to me to create an instant wealth inequality – the retirees in the role of the 10% (not the 0.1% nor the 1%). vs the local 90%.

        The interesting thing is that, with that BASIC INCOME (pension), some – if not many – seem to be active and still learning and contributing.

        I know that when I retire one day, when I, too, can have some Basic Income, I plan on taking some classes or volunteering.

        I don’t presume I am better, so, that means, many people will be the same, do the same or simillarly, even with Free Money.

  24. Oregoncharles


    You have to see the picture to capture the full irony: it’s a SERVICEMASTER van. What do they do? They clean up after disasters (we just had to hire one of their competitors: not cheap). Apparently this was one disaster they had trouble with.

    However: swarming bees normally aren’t at all aggressive. They can be handled safely – I’ve seen pictures of beekeepers with a “beard” of bees, or walking along with their head in the swarm. And I’ve watched swarms being captured over and over. The neighbor’s bees like to come over to our place when they swarm. It’s possible the bees thought they were going to live in the truck; then they’d be more aggressive.

  25. Oregoncharles

    “Emanuel backs off from commitment to court oversight of Chicago police reform”

    The Oakland police dept. has been under “court oversight” since before they brutalized Occupy. Does anyone think it’s made the slightest difference?

    The reality is that only mass firings and some prison sentences would make a real difference. Those are still a long way off.

  26. Altandmain

    Ironically the very CEOs that claim to support the Paris agreement secretly funded lobbyists:

    Meanwhile: on Clinton: Hillary Clinton is a Ravenous Parasite that is Destroying Its Host

    I liked this article on Cobryn:

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Donald Trump is the gift that keeps giving China a centre stage role in the new world order SCMP.

    I think some have suggested that China is only interested being the center of Asia…the new Asia order, not the new World order.

    Is SCMP exaggerating?

  28. Aliosha

    Love the black swan.
    Vorontsovskij dvorec (a palace) in Crimea has two lakes – one for white swans, one for black.
    The black ones are truly regal.

  29. witters

    Citizenship as a commodity… One of the real keys to neoliberalism is its hostility to the idea of national citizenship (the one the French got in 1789 when they felt being French citizens – “equality, liberty, fraternity” – was much more in line with the dignity of man than being subjects of the Crown). That idea underpins democratic government and the welfare state. And so we get this from “Andrew Henderson, an American entrepreneur and founder of the Nomad Capitalist, [who] has four passports and is working on his fifth”:

    “For me it’s about how I could have better options, better tax treatment, better treatment as a person and get the same visa free travel.” he says, adding that he expects investment citizenship to rise.

    “I think the world is going more nomadic. People don’t want to be in once place. They want to have one or two or three bases for lifestyle reasons and pay reasonable taxes, and that’s what becoming more accessible.”

    And if any of you non-nomadic citizens get upset about this, then you are a deplorably populist!

  30. cripes

    Is it just coincidence that jeehadee attacks in France and Britain, predictably, always boosts the war party chances (Macron, Theresa May) just when they are busy fending off a left, antiwar opponent (Corbyn, Melanchon and perhaps Marine Le Pen as well)?

    These events have become so numerous, that examining the timing and the Cui Bono seems like the prudent, responsible thing to do. Like police procedure 101.

    That these attacks would be created, abetted or permitted to occur as a means to manipulate public opinion, elections and policy is not far fetched and has numerous historic precedents.

    “A man convicted in 2006 of attempting to bomb the Herald Square subway station in Manhattan told an informant who concocted the plot he would have to check with his mother and was uncomfortable planting the bombs himself.”

    FBI SSA (Supervisory Special Agent) David Williams, and a crew of technicians and chemists in the FBI explosives unit produced more than 1,000 pounds of the explosive urea nitrate, same as the material used by the informant-surveilled crew in the WTC I bombing in 1993.

    “Law-enforcement officials were told that terrorists were building a bomb that was eventually used to blow up the World Trade Center, and they planned to thwart the plotters by secretly substituting harmless powder for the explosives, an informer [Emad Salem] said after the blast.”

    Continuing: “The informer was to have helped the plotters build the bomb and supply the fake powder, but the plan was called off by an F.B.I. supervisor who had other ideas about how the informer, Emad A. Salem, should be used, the informer [Emad] said.”

    So they showed them how to build it, knew they had it and planned to use it and did…nothing.

    Nearly every terra plot has had intelligence/security fingerprints all over it, why take anything they say at face value.

  31. Vatch

    No unborn baby is safe from toxic pollutants Treehugger

    One would think that the people who oppose abortion and call themselves Pro-Life would be deeply involved in these issues, yet I’ve seen very little evidence of that. They overwhelmingly vote for pro-toxin anti-health Republicans. As Trump would tweet: Sad.

  32. LT

    Re: Foreign born doctors…

    Maybe someone who works in healthcare can answer this:
    I’ve always wondered how many foreign born doctors are “legacy” doctors (come from a family of doctors) vs USA born doctors? And how that affects expectations?

    1. LT

      I’m thinking the foreign born doctors are less likely to fall into what I’m categorizing as “legacy.” But even that could vary depending on country of origin?

  33. HopeLB

    Jerri- Lynn Scofield, I thought of you as I read that article a few days ago. Did you know Obama used the song “Fake Empire” by The National but without lyrics, at his campaign speeches and in an ad? I don’t know why but this sends chills up my back. It’s like his utter arrogance and more than that, his nefarious plan being played ironically. as background music. (At least he maybe concedes it is a fake empire, but then did he know who is really running the place even then?) Maybe/Probably put the charlatan in a good mood for the hand shaking/smiling during his “Despair and Status Quo” campaign. Oh, and I dragged my 5 year old daughter to his speech here in Pittsburgh in front of a War Memorial with faux Dem Casey at his side. All Obama talked about was Hamilton (Dog whistling the Banksters even then).

    And after Vice reports The National group are apolitical they are outraged at Romney using their song;

    Thanks for the links.

  34. Octopii

    Re: Luxury Healthcare
    Doc I really liked sent a letter three years ago notifying she was shifting practice to VIP-only, $1,500/yr annual fee. Existing patients pay up or too bad…

    Best docs in town (DC) don’t take insurance, full fee for everyone. Interestingly, the full fee is often not that bad.

  35. Edward E

    20 million starving to death: inside the worst famine since World War II

    This is so depressing. We in the USA throw half our food into the landfill and some more into gasoline and diesel tanks while all these people suffer massive starvation. Wish I could somehow slip the oligarchy some kind of compassion shots. Something needs to be done to reach the elite oligarchs out on their yachts in the Caribbean.

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