Links 6/5/17

Toyota-supported flying car hopes to light the Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame Reuters

Photo shows Canadian man calmly mowing lawn with tornado behind him Chicago Tribune

Farewell Walt Mossberg, the scourge of Silicon Valley Guardian (jess)

How our environment can induce allergies even before we’re born The Conversation

THE WATSON FILES Foreign Policy. The deck: “What if there were a blueprint for climate adaptation that could end a civil war? An English scientist spent his life developing one — then he vanished without a trace.”

Want a memorable vacation? Leave your laptop at home Treehugger

Harvard Rescinds Acceptances for At Least Ten Students for Obscene Memes Harvard Crimson (Dan K)

Malta’s Muscat wins snap election Politico

UK Election

Theresa May responds to London Bridge attack with anti-terror laws promise Guardian


Home Office may not publish terrorist funding report amid claims it focuses on Saudi Arabia

Banksy offers Bristol electorate free print if they vote against Tories Guardian (Phil U)

Democratize This Jacobin

Corbyn was right in 2003, and he is right again today Al Jazeera

Let’s hope a hung parliament can halt the Brexit disaster Guardian

Why Whistleblowers Get Paid in the U.S. but Not in Britain Bloomberg

Lawyers warn Saudi Aramco of New York IPO litigation risks


Four Middle Eastern powers cut ties with Qatar over terror links Independent

A Fresh Look at the Afghan War Project Syndicate (David L). Not for nothing is Afghanistan called the graveyard of empires.

Bahrain bans newspaper for ‘sowing division’ (resilc)

Proposal for Congestion Charge on New York City Motorists WSJ

Class Warfare

Who’s Killing the MTA? Jacobin

The Cause of the Opiate Epidemic Ian Welsh (Phil U)

The American dream? Top 20% pulling away from the rest, study finds Guardian (jess)

More than 500 workers have died building modern Hong Kong, but no one goes to jail SCMP

Why a $15 minimum wage is good for business Macleans. Discusses proposal the Ontario government has put forward to increase the minimum wage.

The Workforce Participation Mystery of U.S. Labor furzy: ​”no mystery if there are no good jobs!!​”


bob:  “This was a very good video. Yes, long, but again, remember the scale. It’s has to be longer.

He does a great job of showing the processes involved. …”

2016 Post Mortem

Two parts of an American Prospect series, The White Working Class (Phil U). Place Matters Phil U: this one is good too… just short of calling for a JG. Winning (Some) Middle-of-the-Road Working-Class Whites Phil U: “Best one yet by far… long though.”

Dems want Hillary Clinton to leave spotlight The Hill. Long-overdue statement  of the obvious.

Democrats dropped the ball in Iowa House district 22 special election  Bleeding Heartland (dan k)

Police State Watch

Hiding the Ugly Business of Torture Consortium News (Sid S)


Brown’s first stops in China are in cities that look a lot like California LA Times

China’s new graduates hit by falling wages FT


Demonetisation has Exposed Flaws in the Way India Measures Economic Growth The Wire

India Inc walks a banking tightrope FT

Using a bulldozer to drive in a nail: The new cattle rules are a lot like demonetisation

Health Care

Outcry Over EpiPen Prices Hasn’t Made Them Lower NYT

States scramble to prevent ObamaCare exodus The Hill

Emergency rooms can be incredibly unfair to the poorest patients Vox

New Cold War

Putin Interview: Did Russia Interfere in the Election, Collect Info on Trump? NBC News. Money Putin quote: “Right now, I think we have representatives from a hundred American companies that have come to Russia,” Putin said. “Do you think we’re gathering compromising information on all of them right now or something? Have you all lost your senses over there?”

Do you even understand what you’re asking?’: Putin and Megyn Kelly have a heated exchange over Trump-Russia ties Business Insider

Comey to be pressed on whether Trump interfered with Russia probe Reuters

Trump’s Russia scandal is more like Iran-Contra than Watergate — which isn’t good news Salon (Dan K)

Trump Transition

Donald Trump berates London mayor over response to terror attacks Guardian. Phil U: “God that’s low.”

Koch Brothers Behind Trump’s Climate Exit, Sachs Says Bloomberg (furzy)

The bottleneck in Rex Tillerson’s State Department Politico

Immigrant entrepreneurs in the US wait for Trump’s next move FT

Trump administration rolls out social media vetting of visa applicants Ars Technica

Trump is finding it easier to tear down old policies than to build his own WaPo

Antidote du jour (Mario Fiorucci via Richard Smith, from First Annual Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Roger Smith

      Thanks for the share. It is amazing to see the typical nonsense response of, “That is it / enough is enough / it ends here…” three times within such a short duration. Until the people paying May et al. decide their lucrative ventures are over and tell her so, she is not going to change anything.

      1. Jon Cloke

        You can’t cure weak politicians of their ‘line in the sand’ habit though, can you? They think it sounds tough and resolute to the home audience… And when they actually mean it, someone else has to go and die for their ‘toughness’.

    2. vlade

      better no May than a bad May. Corbyn’s attack (if he had enough time) now should really be “Do you really believe May to fix immigration and terrorism, when she was in the Home Office for the last 7 years? (Rudd is doing what Theresa tells her, so she’s really running it now too).

    3. a different chris

      Wow I am torn — in an economic sense, it’s simply too early (and he won’t have enough power) for Corbyn’s economic plans. Brexit* needs to be finished by the people who started it so blame can be properly assigned. If Corbyn fails to fix it, and I strongly believe he would fail because it still needs a flushing out period, it will be another 20 years before we can try again.

      And that was my stance going into this election, things were looking pretty good too – May still in charge of this mess, but badly weakened as a bonus.

      OTOH, it seems like the senseless ME slaughter could, just maybe be stopped. Of course the US leads this, but sometimes when one of a bully’s entourage suddenly just says “enough, I’m leaving” the whole thing collapses.

      So if it’s a choice between probably not ever (given my age) seeing economic struggles for the 99% cease vs stopping the bloodshed in the ME, I have to ponder the probabilities of Corbyn succeeding on that front and would that risk be worth the setback on a kinder economics.

      *Yes I am a Brexit supporter. Do you want to hear my convoluted 10yr bad-to-worse-to-better-for-everybody theory? No, you probably don’t.

      1. ambrit

        I know what you mean by the “convoluted” theory reference. I’m weighing the anti-globalization long term effects against the short term commiseration effect too.
        In any contest between local versus overseas policies, local wins every time. One can effect change much easier close to home than half a world, in more senses than one, away.

  1. Roger Smith

    Re: Donald Trump berates London mayor over response to terror attacks Guardian.

    I am not seeing how Trump took anything out of context with Khan’s statement. The very idea that increased police presence after multiple terror attacks should not cause alarm is absurd. The whole situation shouldn’t be happening in the first place and people should be very alarmed. Don’t worry, “they’ll never win”. Looks like they are winning to me. Then again maybe some social media profile badges will make me feel better.

    1. windsock

      Theatre. Increased police presence is meant to show “we have everything under control”. Do you not think the same would happen in the US under the same circumstances?

      1. ambrit

        It did after 9/11. The “Patriot” Act.
        This is so predictable that I wonder why no one in “power” doesn’t skip a few “pages” in the playbook and go straight to the “Disruption Phase.”

    2. vlade

      If they are winning, it’s because they are getting media coverage. Compare and contrast with IRA.
      The ONLY way to absolutely stop terrorism is to run a total police state, with all but elites at the edge of starvation hence unable to do anything (along Northern Korea lines).

      Anything else, mass murders can and will happen. It’s the uncomfortable truth. The more people on the plant, the higher statistical likelyhood of deranged who want to kill for whatever reason. And, unless you have a society as above, the means to kill a lot of people are now much much easier to get. I can think of at least three ways to cause mass casualties that haven’t been tried before, and can’t be realistically prevented (but of course won’t vent them here).

      Number of people killed by terrorist acts is till way lower than death by car accidents, and also much lower than say 1960s/1970s (in Europe).

      So yes, giving them the media presence we are giving them makes them winning.

      1. HotFlash

        The ONLY way to absolutely stop terrorism is to run a total police state, with all but elites at the edge of starvation hence unable to do anything (along Northern Korea lines).

        I have to disagree with that. Even in tightly-controlled environments such as the military and high-security prisons there are contraband weapons, drugs and alcohol, as well as internally organized gangs, enforcers and ‘terrorists’.

        Not only do those who value security over freedom deserve neither, but they will get neither. /pontification

      2. mpalomar

        The ONLY way to absolutely stop terrorism is to run a total police state,

        Absolutely stop? How ’bout the US stops f*#&ing around with tanks, bombs, missiles, carrier groups and invasions in other nations’ sovereign affairs? Might that put a damper on terrorist inspired attacks? Perhaps. Worth a try.

      3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        People forget the >1,000 deaths by IRA terrorist bombs in England in the 80’s, back then they had the sense not to sensationalize the attacks (which of course would encourage more of them) and not to completely destroy civil liberties trying to fight them (which of course meant you were letting the terrorists win).

        1. Yves Smith

          Yes, I lived in London in 1984. When you got on a bus, the thought in the back of your head was that there could be a bomb on it. People nevertheless went about their business and didn’t get all bent out of shape. One thing that helped was collective memory of the Blitz. The IRA bombings paled in comparison to that.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack,” the president wrote on his personal Twitter account, “and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’”

      The only reason that tweet is interpreted as “criticism,” is because it sounds so stupid when someone else repeats it.

      1. Jason

        Bunch of innumerates shoveling coal into the fear engine that drives the GOP and others of their ilk.

        Terrorism in Britain is still far, far below auto accidents, suicide, and a host of accidents (and, of course, disease).

        Wittingly or unwittingly exaggerating the risk posed by by terrorism (which is really just violent crime with an agenda) is almost as bad as the criminals themselves.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Agreed, and once again the boorish and opportunistic Trump leads the way

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          I remember when john kerry ran for president in 2004 against w. bush and contended that 9/11 was a “crime” and should be investigated and prosecuted as such.

          He was maligned and ridiculed mercilessly.

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            Wonder how different the present would be if it had been prosecuted criminally (not just domestically, of course, there would have had to be collaboration and Interpol etc) and the WAR on terror had never been declared, providing cover for our endless adventuring in the ME with all the death and destruction for which London Bridge is payback.

            I mean, imagine a world in which we had never demonized whole countries, cultures, and one of the world’s great religions…gotta think it would be a safer place than it is now.

          2. JohnnyGL

            He was too early by a decade or so. Since then, we’ve got from 2 wars to at least 7, Al Qaeda has expanded far and wide, ISIS was created as a splinter group because Al Qaeda wasn’t crazy enough for some Al Qaeda members, and now there’s much less trust in what the government is doing to “fight terror”.

            If Kerry had doubled down and said the truth, “twas the Saudis that did it” and laid out the case, heads would have exploded. He wasn’t prepared to go whole hog and have that argument and the country wasn’t ready for it. W had covered the Saudi tracks with media help.

            Today, in this political environment, someone much braver than Kerry might be able to pull it off. I can’t think of anyone who would dare to try.

        3. JerseyJeffersonian

          No, you have it entirely backwards; terrorism is an agenda that uses brutal violence to advance itself. How is running over people and stabbing random people to death with no material benefit anything other than an AGENDA-DRIVEN act? It isn’t just some form of violent crime wherein dead people are collateral damage to a payday. The dead people ARE the payday.

          And the Lord Mayor, upon the occasion of the Westminster Bridge attack, advanced the idea that, well, this sort of thing is just something that happens in big cities, so just accept it. Well, if your benchmark is third world hell holes like those in Pakistan, that might be true. You know, cities riven by violent, religious sectarian conflicts. So if London keeps the carnage down to hundreds or thousands a year say, well then, everything is just fine, well within the range of the normal? I don’t think so, and I rather doubt that the majority of the British citizens will accept this, either.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              When we compared deaths due to atomic bombs versus deaths from alcohol, over the last 100 years, for the planet as whole, it would seem to be irrational to fear the terror of nuclear annihilation.

              It is perhaps not rational to fear nuclear bombs right at this moment.

              What about when it went off in 1945?

              Or when North Korea tests one? How many in South Korea have died from it in the past? Should anyone be alarmed? Is the threat minor, historical justifications aside?

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Is not being threatened with atomic bombs in the same class as being threatened with conventional bombs or beheading?

                  1. nowhere

                    In a word, no. For an individual dead is dead, but from a human civilization standpoint, this comparison isn’t even close.

              1. FluffytheObeseCat

                Given what public displays of fear have done to damage our policies and our standing in the world the answer has to be: no, it is not rational to “fear” nuclear proliferation. Not when that “fear” engenders stupid, mean, counter-productive decisions.

                In both very different cases – nuclear warfare and terrorism – allowing fear to guide peoples’ daily behavior & (eventually) high level decision-making is stupid. Fear drives policies that result in long term damage to our nation and the world, and fear-based leadership is…….. disgusting and depressing to watch.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Based on what you say, it’s ok to fear, but some people handle it better than others.

                  I would agree with that (but not necessarily that nuclear warfare and terrorism are two very different cases). We have evolved to fear – it’s part of what we are.

                  Some people fear Greeks bearing gifts.

                  Some fear being under surveillance.

                  Some fear eating red meat.

                  1. When one fears, it’s better to confront it…to acknowledge the fear.

                  2. To handle it consistently…not to say one thing publicly and act differently in private.

                  3. To realize it is not all about numbers. The nature of the tragedy matters – its gruesomeness, its randomness of attacks, senseless, its historical causes (not random here), helplessness to react to the randomness, etc.

            2. JerseyJeffersonian

              Well, I’m sure that that construction of the situation is a great consolation to the families and friends of those just murdered for an agenda, not as your original post characterized it as just a violent crime. So we’re making some headway here.

              And just because a certain number of deaths are lower in number than others in aggregate, if that number of deaths is preventable through a focused policing/intelligence/immigration effort, that they are not worth preventing? Interesting. There’s a future for you in health insurance accounting; denying coverage because potential treatments are still “experimental” is an analogous dodge. But you know, those dying are probably “small” in number, so that’s okay.

              1. mpalomar

                What is this agenda you speak of?
                Terror for terror’s sake? From what does such an agenda derive?

                You do understand the greatly diminished likelihood that the UK, the US, France and Russia would currently be targeted by terrorists had they refrained from spending much of the last century blowing up people around the world? Known as blowback.

                1. MoiAussie

                  Considering that the US warned the UK in January that the Manchester bomber and his IS cell were planning an attack, and no action was taken once MI5 determined he was not planning to “assassinate a political figure”, it certainly seems someone somewhere has an agenda.

              2. Yves Smith

                Everything comes at a cost.

                I live in a large city and regularly go to places that would be prime terrorist targets, like Grand Central.

                I am also very aware of the fact that getting in a car is the riskiest thing I do in my life.

                I am not willing to give up my liberties for a what is a very low risk, although I don’t have a say in the matter.

                More people die in hospitals of MRSA than from terrorism. Pray tell, why aren’t you worked up about that?

        4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Do parents tell something different at home to their children than what the mayor said?

          Not necessarily explicitly, but implied or with body language?

          Unresolved fear, anxiety or whatnot will eventually show up somewhere…in worse form.

        5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Innumeracy is not as bad as number-crunching neoliberal rent extractors who are very good at math.

          One can be innumerate when one is as moved by one death as by two deaths (1 = 2).

          What is key here is not the comparable fatality rates among auto accidents, this and that, etc. Why did the Night Stalker cause so much fear back in the 80s in Southern California? It was the randomness, the unpredictability. This made people feel more vulnerable than, say, suicide (feeling suicidal, the act of feeling that makes it not unpredictable). The act of suicide is not random to the perpetrator.

          A potential auto accident is less dreadful than a potential plane crash. In the former case, for the driver, and perhaps not the passenger, one is in control. There is less randomness, more predictability when one’s in control, relative to the latter, flying, when a disaster can come out from nowhere, from the perspective of the passenger.

        6. Lee

          Texting and driving, is a considerably greater threat to life and limb.

          I nearly got broadsided recently by a guy barreling through a red light while he was texting. Barely missed me but he did manage to collide with two other cars sending one of them into a a crosswalk full of fortunately quick footed pedestrians. I could actually see him texting up until the moment of collision. I was quite terrified.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Leaving aside the proportionality of response (some can handle stress/crisis/fear better than others), why do most people remember September Eleven more than, say, 2.000 auto accidents with at least one fatality over the last 15 years?

            Is it due to the same human brain defect that seems to pick out someone killing a cancer patient with 1 month to live more than say, a nagging (over 50 years of marriage) husband shortening the live of his wife by 5 years?

            1. Tim

              “nagging husband” !? I had to read that twice. There are way more common examples than that, like the female variety.

              What’s the old proverb? A nagging wife is like a constant drip”

    4. Jane

      Think Khan was saying “Don’t be alarmed if you see more police in the streets, they are there for our protection.” Trump implied the “Don’t be alarmed” was about the attack itself. The man is a weasel, he spews verbal bombs and wriggles with glee when they explode. You can just see those tiny hands furiously clapping.

      1. Oregoncharles

        That’s unfair to weasels!

        Charming little beasts, if you’re not prey or don’t stick your finger in their cage. And utterly straightforward about their killer instinct.

    5. craazyboy

      The 7 Eyes Tentacles will take charge, Brits willing and terrified.

      A False Toe Sign.

      Britain is the second 7 Eyes member, afterall. They emerged from their sockholes about the time Allied Toes signaled for the invasion of Normandy. They’re like piglets in a shoe.

      The way things generally go, when the Toes feel it’s time to nail down the situation, it’s sleeper agent toes amass information from their safe house hosts in sensitive positions.

      The toe sock cells are in constant communication with the Field Commander Big Toe. They have false press badges giving them believable false identities and publically comment using mind control techniques thru their employer newspapers, notably the Guardian and BBC.

      These badges are really tattoos, with unreadable print. They are located where a Toes lapel would be, if Toes had lapels. The other lapel has a microphone that leaks everywhere. [Assange knows this, and the Ecuadorian Embassy digitally signs all data and forwards it to Langley using their Kremlin Spoof Server.]

      The Big Toe wears a wool turtle neck knitted sock. He has a full time satellite link to the First Lady, and usually they bicker about fashion issues, mostly turtle neck sweaters. But when an important attack happens, the President is instantly informed. Even if it’s 3:00 AM Mara Lago time. He is identified by codename “Big Swinging Toe”.

      We would have to assume the counter attack is underway, there will be no survivors, and the Toes will take charge of Britain. For the good of the Free World!

      P.S. This would never happen at a Buckethead concert in London. Chips and Buckets sends a strong, unifying, message to all Brits, even the Scottish ones that speak funny.

      1. craazyboy

        I especially liked Putin’s comment stating we must be boring people in America.

        How can we be boring if the 7 Eyes Tentacles like watching us so much?

      2. craazyboy

        The Big Swinging Toe Headquarters is rumored to be at the “Ye Olde Temple Of The Rising Lord”. Next to The Tower of London Stables. [well maintained]

        He has a Captain Kirk voice mystifier hooked up to the Haus PA system. He uses it to boss around the Head Maid and Piglet Training Crew. Video will be taken!

    6. different clue

      Mayor Khan was saying: don’t be alarmed by all the armed police newly around to protect you.

      Trump pretended Khan was saying: don’t be alarmed by some terrorist attacks.

      The difference between what Khan said and what Trump pretended Khan was saying is very simple. And that’s what the Trumproblem is about regarding the Trumpie-poo tweets.

  2. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: States scramble to prevent ObamaCare exodus The Hill

    So the insurance companies say, “Jump!” and the state insurance commissioners, whose job it is to “approve” rate hikes, say, “How high?”

    Yep, obamacare is working just as designed and it’s all Trump’s “fault.” If Trump wasn’t president, premium increases would only be 9%. (At 9% annual increase, rates double in, what, 8 years?)

    1. ambrit

      The States might know something not generally available, ie. that a large part of the population, who had at least a crappy stake in the “system,” will now literally have “nothing to lose.” We all know how dangerous people can be when they realize that they have fallen into that category.
      We should count our blessings that Trump is not a world class demagogue. As for the “plague on both their houses” meme, well, it’s moving along quite nicely. (Do memes move of their own accord, or do they induce impetus to something else?)
      My best “medicinal” strategy right now is to inhale the aroma of some gardenia blooms Phyl picked from the bush out front and put in one of her numerous vases to construct a still life grouping. It certainly beats the aroma of s— that’s emanating from our medical system.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Ha! Not generally available…to those with eyes wide shut, perhaps.

        Lovely respite you have, recently the scent of honeysuckle and magnolias has given me moments of well being.

        1. ambrit

          Honeysuckle and magnolias are out in full here. Our “orphan” magnolia tree which sprung up next to the front porch finally put out blooms this spring. Phyl was so happy that she “induced” me to climb about ten feet up the bole and “gather” a magnolia blossom for another still life. Sadly, the magnolia blooms don’t survive very long once cut from the parent tree. But for those two days, the scent is indescribable. I could imagine the palace of Gilgamesh of Uruk smelled like that.
          Question: Are you all having what amounts to a rainy season this year? We certainly seem to be having one. Several rains of three inches in a day this spring. (And poor coastal Texas! Houston is becoming the Vera Cruz del Norte.)

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            This being my first spring in NC, I personally have no frame of reference, but I have been told May was unusually chill and rainy. We had some understandably warm weather back in April, though.

            And unusually cold patches over the winter. Construction and furnaces here aren’t designed for that – I never needed space heaters in Chicago, and here I had to get not one but two to keep the inside temps from dropping into the 50s overnight!

          2. Carla

            Yes, lots of rain in NE Ohio. We feel the trees kinda needed it, since we had a warm winter with very little snow (including a week of 70-degree weather in Feb.!)

          3. sleepy

            Up in Iowa all we have are the wonderfully aromatic peonies. But I still miss the honeysuckle and magnolias from back home.

            Some of the best were the smells of jasmine and sweet olive.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Yes, sweet olive. Tracked one down from at least a hundred feet away when we were in New Orleans. We have an osmanthus with the same scent here, a little hardier.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Our row of black locust trees is in full bloom. The scent is intoxicating, and the bees are in heaven.

      2. John Zelnicker

        @ambrit – There is nothing quite so calming as the aroma of gardenias. The 2 big bushes in my yard (in Mobile) are still full of blooms.

        1. ambrit

          I sit out in the back yard at twilight and enjoy the fragrances wafting by. Our southern neighbour has two large gardenia bushes, while we have one in back and one in front. I also found and helped along two mock orange bushes. Sometimes it becomes too much. Phyl calls it my Aromatherapy Overload.
          I noticed that Mobile has been having regular large storms this spring. Is that out of the usual for you?
          Let us enjoy this early summer weather, for when the heart of summer hits, with its’ high heat and humidity, we’ll become amphibians, everywhere we go.

          1. John Zelnicker

            @ambrit – Amphibians, indeed! The rain has been a quite intense lately, but it’s always close by. It’s supposed to finally be coming to an end in the next day or so. We really need to dry out for awhile. My house is a bit musty smelling from the high humidity. But, if the rain holds off the wet sauna of summer, I won’t mind so much.

            BTW, did you know that, for most years, Mobile has the highest annual rainfall for cities over 100k population? And we still have over 200 days of some sunshine per year.

    2. Grumpy Engineer

      It’s not just the insurance companies. Don’t forget about the 80/20 or 85/15 rule in Obamacare that requires insurance companies to spend at least 80% (or 85% for larger companies) of their premium revenue on medical services. The 20% (or 15%) remainder is used for employee wages, overhead, and profit.

      Mathematically, this leaves little room for premium hikes. And yet we see substantial premium hikes year after year. Why? It’s because the spending on medical services is climbing without limit. The NY Times article describes a perfect example: Mylan has jacked up prices on the Epipen by a stunning 28% per year for seven years straight. And the “pen” itself is unchanged. Same medicine. Same auto-injector design. And the insurance companies are required to cover it, regardless of what price Mylan charges. Insurance premiums climb accordingly.

      Mylan essentially has a monopoly on the Epipen, even though patents on both the medicine and injector expired long ago. This means they can charge whatever they like, and we get to pay for it through our insurance premiums. People call for negotiation on this, but it’s hard to negotiate with a monopoly: “This is our price. You can buy it or not.” And Obamacare regulations won’t let an insurance company say “not”.

      For a true fix, we’re either talking about price controls or trust-busting. I’d vote for the latter.

      1. JTMcPhee

        We heed epinephrine injectors in my little family, due to reactions to various toxins including insect stings. There are “market” alternatives to the Mylan Monopoly product. Not that any of them reflect the actual costs of manufacture and marketing and insurance and all that in their pricing. Here’s a link, appropriately to Consumer Reports, since we are all now just “medical consumers,” on where and how to get it: Requires that you get your “provider” to specify the off-brand item in the script he writes.

        Hardly a “market-correcting solution,” but our out of pocket at Walgreens was “only” $179 this time, for a product with a shelf life of 2 years. H3ll of a deal, no? “Smart shopping!” for medical necessities…

        1. kareninca

          After the first CR article about epi-pens came out, I tried calling around and none of the local pharmacies (including Costco’s) had heard of the generic Adrenaclick that CR recommended. And they said they had no way to order it. I did the calling about a year ago; I guess I’ll try again. Thanks for posting this.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        True enough with respect to rising “healthcare” costs, but that’s what rising deductibles are for. When you have to pay the first 5, 10 or 12 thousand dollars every year before insurance pays a penny in addition to monthly premiums, the fix is pretty much in.

        Epipens are one of those “first dollar” items that may or may not count towards your deductible, but otherwise healthy families will probably pay for out-of-pocket.

        The real story here IMNSHO is the doctor. Most Rx slips have a check box for “generic substitution permitted.” Why the hell does the doctor not just check it? With all the news about mylan overcharging, how come these “healers” haven’t gotten the message?

        And with every affected family required by law to provide one to be kept at school, where is the handout informing them of lower cost generic alternatives? Every drug commercial ever made ends with “Ask your doctor if this drug is right for you.” So let them know to ask him / her for the cheaper one.

        PS. That 85/15 medical loss ratio “rule” was gamed a long time ago by reclassifying administrative expenses as “medical.” If memory serves, it happened right out of the obamacare gate. Having written the law themselves, the insurance companies were ready for it.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          I remember that, the gaming of the rule – completely brazen and I don’t recall if there were any attempts to correct it

        2. Pat

          Regarding the gaming of the medical loss ratio happening out of the gate, yeah that happened. What I’m not sure of is whether Obama’s HHS department only took input from insurance companies regarding their recommendations or if they allowed input from health care professionals and consumer advocates. My recollection is that input was pretty limited before they made their decisions of what was ‘medical’.

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          And yet the health insurance companies still make relatively little money:

          Anthem’s leads the pack with a 4.39% profit margin, which is quite low compared to the margins earned by pharmaceutical companies (~40%), medical device manufacturers (~30%), and healthcare corporations (~20%):

          I would agree that health insurance companies are part of the problem, but to focus on them is to miss the bigger picture. The insurers are mostly middlemen in the process of us being ripped off by pharmaceutical and healthcare corporations.

          1. Yves Smith

            No, this is incorrect. Insurers are not in the health business. They are in a processing business and do limited actual insurance. The margins in payment processing net of costs are on the order of 0.5%. Property and casualty insurers have the highest margins in the insurance industry, currently in the 7-10% range, but their profits are very volatile. Health insurers should not exist at all or have a vastly smaller role. The idea of inuring for routine medical care is a crazy concept. You don’t insure for the cost of operating your car. You insure against accidents. The only thing for which people should have insurance is catastrophic events, like getting hit by a bus or cancer. So the low margins are a function of them having businesses that go way beyond their natural market.

            Health insurers also create tons of costs elsewhere. Doctors spend about a day a week fighting with insurers. That gets loaded into the costs you pay. The total admin cost of US medicine is estimated to be as high as 30% when you factor in not-well-measured lost MD time. And that’s before you get to the cost and stress on patients to fight to get paid.

    3. DH

      Thank God we don’t spend as much public money on healthcare as socialist countries…..oh wait.

      The US healthcare system is designed to extract as much money from the population as it can and siphon it into the pockets of the healthcare companies and medical specialists. Addressing healthcare in the US requires that we figure out how to cut per capita costs by at least a third while providing near-universal coverage. If we can’t do that, then our labor costs will simply not be competitive on the world stage.

  3. RenoDino

    Four Middle Eastern powers cut ties with Qatar over terror links

    Really should read “Assad Declares Victory in Syrian Civil War.” No need for Qatar NatGas Pipeline to cross Syria now that Russia has defeated Syrian rebels with American support. Qatar was the middleman for the Middle East, brokering deals between revivals. Now that Iran has won in Syria, Qatar is being punished.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I wonder how bad things are in the Kingdom.

      -oil prices
      -public offering
      -the divide in the clan
      -the arms deal. What is the Saudi liquidity situation.

      Scapegoating is a time honored tradition. The Trump welcoming party was bizarre, but maybe it wasn’t about appealing to Trump’s ego and general tacking so but the Kingdom trying to say nothing to see here.

      1. John k

        Things don’t look good.
        CIA thought in 1989 soviets were stable for 50 years… reasonably fair elections head off revolution.
        Lot of stresses over there, maybe Qatar is an indication they’re losing clout. Plus Iran on ascendancy. Course, US will be last to know.

    2. DH

      Apparently nobody got the memo that said the terrorism in Western developed countries is by Sunnis, not Shiites. Presumably that is why we and the Sunni Arab states are focused on ostracizing the Shiites.

    1. Grumpy Engineer

      [Groan…] So the IRS has joined the Department of Education in contracting debt-collection services out to private companies? This is a mistake. We’ve seen some terrible abuses of indebted students by private debt collectors, and this will likely broaden the abuse to all sorts of people who still owe taxes.

      Collecting on debts is a core function of the IRS (and ought to be for the Department of Education), and it should be done with internal employees so that consistent (and fair) policies and procedures are developed and maintained long-term. There is a time and place for contractors (like when you need to repave the parking lot, replace the roof, or upgrade the IT system), but for everyday activities like collecting taxes, things really ought to be done in-house.

      And to chase a little further into Ep3’s link:

  4. ambrit

    Cut them some slack. So called heroes are celebrated in story and song precisely because real bravery is so rare.

  5. howard nyc

    Seeing the video of work on the Oroville Dam posted here is a pleasant surprise. Juan Browne is a wonderful example of excellent citizen journalism. He produced video reports every couple of days on the failure of the dam spillway during the crisis period in February and March.

    I grew up in NorCal, and I have friends who live downstream who had to evacuate when complete dam failure was threatened, so I followed this story closely. A couple of the local media outlets did a decent job reporting the story, but Juan easily outdid them with his one-man reporting and videos. His work became must-see to understand the true risk of massive flooding, and to understand how the authorities were dealing with this near disaster. I am glad to see him get some wider exposure. He is a great example of how an individual can help fulfill the functions at which traditional media increasingly fail. Much like Yves, Lambert, Jerri and crew do here.

      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

        Jerri’s fine, no worries. I write as Jerri-Lynn, dating from my days as an MIT undergrad (male/female ratio for undergrads at that time was 4:1, for grad schools was 7:1, and faculty, 32:1), where if I’d used Jerri, people often would look out for a man to turn up. And that would be a bit awkward when I appeared. No such confusion when I use my complete first name.

        1. HotFlash

          Interesting. I found that when I submitted assignments under my full and obviously female name my marks were disappointingly low. So I started submitting as First Initial/Last initial same surname, plus my student # of course, and mirabile dictu, my marks soared! This was late ’70’s in a male-oriented field.

    1. Vatch

      Even if Ryan still manages to win (he is the incumbent, after all), he could be forced to spend more money on his campaign. That would divert money from other campaigns that the Kochs, Mercers, DeVoses, and other billionaires would like to win.

      1. freedeomny

        I am hoping this challenger will have a shot – Ryan’s popularity has been shrinking dramatically. I find it gratifying that so many people have finally woken up to what an odious phony this guy is….

  6. RenoDino

    Trump’s Russia scandal is more like Iran-Contra than Watergate — which isn’t good news

    Clearly, the warning has gone unheeded until now. It’s time we did better, and Iran-Contra can help us on at least five counts. First, Watergate perpetuates the illusion that “the system worked,” whereas Iran-Contra shows clearly how and why it did not. Second, Watergate was a narrowly focused domestic affair, while Iran-Contra was a far-flung enterprise involving significant foreign actors. Third, Watergate fostered the misleading impression that impeachment turned on breaking the law, while Iran-Contra made it clear that it was about abuse of power and the political elite’s collective willingness to restrain it. Fourth, Watergate was a relatively self-contained scandal, while Iran-Contra was connected with multiple other illegal international enterprises — a coalition of high-level international lawlessness. Fifth, Watergate occurred at the end of an era, in which a different set of norms and institutional constraints still held sway, while Iran-Contra reflected how badly those norms and constraints had been eroded in Watergate’s aftermath.

    Please kill me now with extreme prejudice. Isn’t it fun to draw historical analogies without any evidence? The more serious the better, especially if it even remotely resembles a duck.

    Best line that jumps out to me is ” Iran-Contra made it clear that it was about abuse of power and the political elite’s collective willingness to restrain it.”

    Once again, we are about to be saved by our betters in the political elite. Nullifying the election is a task best left to experts who love the republic.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Just so. Since politics, you know, proposing and arguing for alternative policies to those of the other party seems to be off the table for the Democrat party since they, too, stand four-square for NeoLiberalism and NeoConservatism, just like the Republicans, well then, undermining the constitutional order in the form of the outcome of the Presidential election is clearly The Thing To Do. Playing with fire, and setting a dire precedent for the future, all to mollify thwarted Hillary, and to avoid confronting the schism with those who want the Democrat party to be, well, democratic in its functioning and in its policy prescriptions.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Not to mollify a thwarted Hillary. She is irrelevant for the most part. This is about everyone else who can’t scream NADER!, the war on terror!, money!, Obama the great orator or attractive man (h/t Hillary), the Media (the librul media loved Shrub)and “tough political environment.”

        What good is Robbie Mook? If shadowy forces beyond the veil didn’t waste the investment of the donor class, who did?

  7. Edward E

    Well, I suppose if you have tornadoes occasionally removing the thatch there’s not much need for buying a fancy thatch rake.

    1. optimader

      The amusing part of that picture IMO is the privacy fence with the hectares of open field behind him!

      He was correct to finish his project. Many people I observe, particularly when behind the steering wheel have absolutely no sense of distance and closure speed.

  8. justanotherprogressive

    That Boomberg story about whistleblowers should be filed under: “What happens when your brain gets fried on money”.

    I’ve known a few whistleblowers, including one brother-in-law. And yes, after years of abuse, my brother-in-law did get a small financial “reward”, something very few whistleblowers ever get. But that “reward” in no way paid for the loss of his job and the damage to his professional career, much less the costs of legal fees to defend himself from his own corporation. He, like other whistleblowers, would have gladly exchanged that “reward” they got for a little decency along the way……

  9. JTMcPhee

    A quaint little bit of reporting that captures a lot of what we humans are really all about, even in far off villages and family farms —

    Killed for their bones
    On the trail of the trade
    in human body parts
    In Malawi, people with albinism are being killed and their bodies harvested; children and adults hacked to death with machetes and kitchen knives. More than 115 people have been attacked in the past two years, at least 20, fatally. Those who have survived have been left with deep physical and psychological scars, and remain fearful that those who hunt them will return.

    But why is this happening? Ask and most people will talk about an elusive market for these body parts, people who are prepared to pay large sums of money for them and witch doctors who use them in potions to cure everything from disease to bad luck. But few seem to know where this trade actually takes place or to be able to point to an instance of money changing hands.

    So, does this market of human body parts really exist, or is it a myth that is driving murder? We went in search of the market and found a toxic mix of witchcraft, poverty and desperation.

    Here are the stories of the victims, the survivors and the perpetrators….

    So, “othering” based on skin tones. Desperation and greed fueling a gruesome looting activity. Interesting government responses. Fear, and more fear, in a desperate place and time. Atavism. And of course the liberal response, change the “discriminatory” lexicon from “albinos” to “people with albinism.” From bad to worse, at the retail and the wholesale levels of the political economy…

    Of course, there’s self-congratulatory joy that those 63 “Chibok girls and women” escaped (not “were rescued by government forces”) from the Boko Haram mafia…

    1. JTMcPhee

      “The year’s at the spring,
      The day’s at the morn–
      Morning’s at seven,
      The hillside’s dew-pearl’d.

      The lark’s on the wing,
      The snail’s on the thorn —
      God’s in His Heaven!
      All’ right with the world!

      Robert Browning

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        as, in the 19th century, children labored in the factories and were trampled underfoot in the streets

        so has it ever been

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Toyota-supported flying car hopes to light the Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame Reuters

    Flying robots not available yet?

    Or will it be a flying robot jumping out of a flying car piggybacking on a four-wheel drone ?

    That’d be impressive.

    1. optimader

      I think train a Homing Pigeon to light it up w/ an incendiary device would be way more fun. What could go wrong?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That looks impressive.

        As with any technology choice, it’s about money and who is paying.

        Is that a Toyota Tachikoma or a Nissan Tachikoma?

        Unless it’s the former, it looks out of the question…unless Nissan outbids Toyota, if the bidding is still open.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    What, give in to Trump?

    Want a memorable vacation? Leave your laptop at home Treehugger

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Banksy offers Bristol electorate free print if they vote against Tories Guardian (Phil U)

    Is that bribery or election interference?

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Brown’s first stops in China are in cities that look a lot like California LA Times

    Yet, it’s still worth a lot of money to go, legally or illegally (sorry, undocumentedly), to the real McCoy.

  14. Pat

    So Bloomberg’s congestion pricing boondoggle rears its head in NYC again. Only this time it is from 60th Street south, rather than from 96th. I guess because that will hit a whole of the car services. Does this mean that Uber/Juno/Lyft/Gett/Via will get to pass those charges on to the customers? Or is this another expense for the drivers?

    I have contended for years that Bloomberg deliberately created bottlenecks and gridlock in NYC intending to push this through with his relatively meaningless to hideously bad quality of life changes (bike lanes that rarely get used/Time Square pedestrian plazas that the locals avoid or curse because you can’t get to work anymore.) I don’t know if our current mayor is actively doing this, but much of our current traffic is due to construction projects approved to block off one or more lanes on major streets, many times with multiple projects on alternate sides of the streets in a less than five block area.

    Mark my words if this does pass, it will do nothing to ease congestion. In fact it will end up making things worse as the collection becomes an issue. It will be an area of abuse. And will just make living in this city more expensive for the clubs who will pay more for everything even if they don’t have a car.

    1. a different chris

      Well what do you want to do? The car is the enemy of the city.

      >but much of our current traffic is due to construction projects approved to block off one or more lanes

      Yeah, because cars (moving 2 tons of machinery to get 180lbs of human somewhere, and as you say quite slowly in a city) need a lot of road and that road needs worked on regularly. What does that have to do with 25lb bicycles on 6ft strips?

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Today’s links contain the link you cite along with the Jacobin link telling the woeful tale of the MTA. Past links described the super tall high rise condos blocking light to the trees in Central Park — super expensive condos vacant except for occasions when some whim of the super rich owners brings them to NYC — by helicopter from their private jet. Other past links and comments describe declines in neighborhood restaurants, small businesses and local small retail — and these businesses were the reason someone might have wanted to live in NYC.

      You complained about the unused bicycle lanes and the way the Times Square pedestrian plazas blocked your drive into work. Compare the NYC bicycle lanes with the bicycle lanes in the Netherlands. I believe a bike rider in NYC must either suffer from a serious death wish or an unwavering belief in their immortality. As for Times Square — wasn’t that a problem for your drive before the ped-plazas because of the heavy and growing foot traffic there as tourists amble about mindlessly as cattle? You should focus your complaint on Bloomberg’s apparent lack of concern for people trying to get into NYC to work.

      As you might guess I live in New Jersey. There really isn’t much “life” in New Jersey after dark — unless you enjoy the excitements of street crime. But what kind of “life” is NYC working on? Raise the rents a little more, continue to let transportation in NYC and the boroughs fall to pieces, ruin small businesses, prey upon the young who come to enjoy the “life” and all too soon the old joke could be reversed: Live in NYC? There’s no “life” in NYC. Once it’s a town of empty high rise condos and super expensive closet size apartments with shit jobs, low pay, and expensive beers — what “life” will be left? — unless you enjoy the excitements of street crime.

      1. Pat

        Not my drive to work, WALKING from the subway station through people who mistake the sidewalk as part of the plaza. It is a nightmare. And the most recent fix for this is an occasional sign pointing out the difference. That is because these things were not actually designed to be what they were reported to be. And so they do not function properly. There were periods of overwhelming masses of humanity, but people still moved before the plaza even if it was slow by NYC standards. But I know people who will go blocks out of their way to get to their workplace without passing through the Broadway Seventh Avenue area between 42and 48 because it is faster now.

        And I agree with you regarding the design of the lanes, not just placement which is also stupid for biking needs. I don’t blame bikers for not using them, but once again it wasn’t really about making NYC bike friendly.

        And all that construction blocking traffic isn’t going to provide affordable housing or small business spaces. Lots of expensive spaces with few amenities for anyone without a trust fund. I don’t see a solution. I wish I did.

        We are ruled by idiots and greedy asses.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump is finding it easier to tear down old policies than to build his own WaPo

    The headline itself doesn’t say much. Sometimes, it’s good to tear things down.

    “Comrade Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

    “Mr. Trump, build up a new wall?” Surely the paper is not praying for that.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Putin Interview: Did Russia Interfere in the Election, Collect Info on Trump? NBC News. Money Putin quote: “Right now, I think we have representatives from a hundred American companies that have come to Russia,” Putin said. “Do you think we’re gathering compromising information on all of them right now or something? Have you all lost your senses over there?”

    Is he suggesting another country is doing it? China with visiting businessmen? America with anyone, coming or going (or staying put)?

    What or who is he accusing?

    1. olga

      No one.
      He is just pointing out how incredibly stupid the whole thing is.
      Russians are quite conservative – all this seems like total idiocy to them.
      Beyond anything anyone could have imagined – ever.

  17. ambrit

    He’s accusing the interviewer of being not only a stooge, but an idiot as well. He might be citing the KGB dossier on the interviewer. They have files on literally everyone, don’t they? Uh, who is this “they” of whom I speak? I just remembered the server farm up in the Northwest run by the Alphabet Gang.

      1. craazyboy

        Megan is pretty rational, and probably has a wholly different take on this insanity. Not to mention Trump’s apparent inability to deal with something so trivial, and it’s getting under his skin. I’m sure Megan is getting a good chuckle over the male world in action.

        So she asked the two softball questions there are, and the entire snowflake industrial complex melts down like it’s the Sahara Desert and Hillary showed up.

        Think of the news potential if this gets enough legs and has some real investigations started in to the big crimes already committed by the DNC and Clintons.

        Megan must be drooling over that.

          1. craazyboy

            She was miffed about Putin’s bro comments with Kremlin Bro Masters during Bromance Bonding sessions. It’s OK in Russia! It’s land of motherbroers.

            Ya, Maher. That was front page news, too. I suspect Maher needed a rating pump, and his ego is so outsized he still doesn’t realize he may get fired for it in today’s world.

            Then there’s still the Griffen nothing “pfft”. We can only hope one “story” will eclipse the other and we get a sort of half silence.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              How I imagined the interview went:

              Kelly: President Putin, there are those who say Russia is cold. Now, its my understanding the North Pole is also cold. Can you verify the ethnicity of Santa Claus? What are you hiding, COMRADE!?!?

              Putin: Send in the double for me, and tell her, Russians celebrate Christmas on a different day. Americans will doubtless discuss this for days.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Yup, between Google and FB (which thankfully I have never) it’s not just the government we have to worry about. Guess that’s what being an oligarchy is all about.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      One of the more prominent Kennedy theories is KGB propaganda disseminated to the Third World and then picked up by traveling Americans and brought back to the states. Putin is just one guy and was a KGB translator in 1989. It’s possible he believes the propaganda. There is a story about President Putin touring the KGB archive and asking about the prominent photo of some Soviet hero. It was the spy working as a janitor as Los Alamos, but Putin didn’t know. “He’s KGB! Arble gamble!” He was was a translator.

      As a Russian President at a time of real change, I don’t think it would be weird if Putin showed no interest in Jack Kennedy.

      Compared to U.S. politicians, Putin seems like a wizard, but he’s not all knowing.

      1. Alex Morfesis

        Jefferson was wrong…an educated america can easily be distracted and dissuaded from participating in their own government and freedoms…warren commission document 212…ruth paine(still living but soon to be classified as demented) lied under oath and the folks in the commission knew it…she did not “originally” meet oswald at an event with white russians in feb 1963…she had been his pen pal when he was in russia via her Quaker activities…pretty sure document 258 points out oswald was offered a job paying more money the day before ruth paine obtained a job for him at the book depositary…oh…and there were no jobs available at the book depositary…it was the down time…the reason those books were stacked up on the sixth floor by the window was not a snipers nest…the workers from the other warehouse were painting the floor…

        If the kgb were spreading a story, they would have pointed out ruth paines official lie by showing the correspondence…not to suggest the kgb was not evil…

        as paul robeson jr pointed out to me…just as we had our operation paperclip, Stalin made the same mistake…

        So many people have struggled to force open information for everyone to see…and all most want is to get some followers on social media and let zookee(per)burg(er) pimp…sorry…monetize them…

        Crest database…all online now…no need to foia…mary farrell database online to read and read and read…

        Not looking to open up this up into a rabbit hole…just read a little…just a little bit…Arlington…that’s why…

        Is there a reverse 12 step program for those of us who do not have addictive personalities…???
        Sign me up…

        Scotty…beam me up…
        nothing here either…

    3. David

      I think Putin was saying in effect “do you think the FSB have nothing better to do than to try to compromise every visiting American businessman just on the off-chance that one of them one day might be a well-placed politician?” Even intelligence agencies have to think about cost-effectivenesss.

  18. mirjonray

    Re: “Emergency Rooms Can Be Incredibly Unfair to the Poorest Patients”.

    I hated reading this part:

    The researchers, from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, uncovered wild variation in the charging practices of hospital emergency rooms, and found that vulnerable patients — uninsured people, minority groups — are more likely to be hit with the highest bills.

    These charging practices aren’t the result of evil schemes on the part of hospital billing departments. Instead, they’re set by hospital “chargemasters” — computer software that adjusts the prices for hospital services with the goal of hitting certain profit targets. The prices are based on expected collection rates, and tend to fluctuate day to day. They’re also pretty random, the researchers found, but trend toward minorities and the uninsured getting gouged the most.

    That’s all we need – variable and surge pricing in ER’s.

    1. ambrit

      How about mandating caps on hospital “profits?” Better yet, the return of public charity hospitals and require all medical grads to serve a stretch in them in exchange for, say, a rebate on their med school debts.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        My dear Ambrit, learning is a life long endeavor, or endeavour.

        That means, an academic degree should be, or shall be, contingent upon annual review by the issuing entity to ensure 1. learning is continuous, and 2. if the product (degreeholder) manufactured by the institution is not defective, meaning among other things, compliance with the original specifications (that is, whether said degree holder is doing what he or she said he or she would do when his or her admission essay was penned).

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      what gobbledegook – the chargemaster IS an evil scheme on the part of hospital billing departments!

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      I remember reading, back when the existence of the “chargemaster” was exposed, that there is a reason for these charging schemes. I’m trying to remember where so I can provide a link.

      As I recall, non-profit hospitals are required to provide some amount of “charity care,” meaning uncompensated, in order to preserve their non-profit tax status. The amount of “charity” provided is determined by adding up the unpaid charges.

      For-profit hospitals are allowed to deduct the costs of uncompensated care from their taxes, also determined by adding up the uncollectable charges.

      So, each type of entity has a financial reason to inflate charges that will never be paid.

      There is a method to this madness.

    4. Oregoncharles

      How about something as simple as a public price list?

      They’re describing the most egregioous sort of swindle, only with algorithms.

  19. leftover

    RE: Ian Welsh and the “opiate” epidemic
    It’s difficult to argue with Ian Welsh’s loose adaptation of Johann Hari’s conclusions on the cause of addiction. (“…it is that their lives are objectively shit.”) Even if it is a rather simplistic approach to the complex nature of addiction. However I do feel Welsh’s dismissal of the availability issue, (“…the problem isn’t opiate availability”), fails to recognize a key characteristic of the current addiction crisis that needs to be part of any dialogue on the subject.

    The one thing that has propelled opiate addiction into the public consciousness this time around is death: opioid overdose deaths increased 2.8 times between 2002 and 2015. From about 12,000 to over 33,000. Considering the age, and race/ethnicity demographics, it’s no surprise the media started to pay attention.

    Looking at the stark difference between deaths attributed to prescription opioid pain relievers and deaths attributed to heroin, non-methadone synthetics, and illicit opioids, the issue of availability cannot be ignored. These aren’t just people running into a hotshot off a street corner, or fentanyl masquerading as Oxy on a desperation score. It’s not just a socioeconomic problem. It’s also a criminal problem. And a medical problem. Welsh’s dismissal, to me, just gets too close for comfort to the whole weaponized “personal responsibility” trope.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Agreed. I will again recommend Sam Quinones’ book Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic for a long-form, well-researched, less emotional and less political discussion of this very serious situation.

      That Welsh has only just heard of Rat Park suggests he hasn’t read it. He should.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Let me guess, talk about healthcare, education, jobs, alleviating debt, and so forth. Its amazingly enough the same items people from the non-white working class care about too! Heck, you don’t even need to have more than one speech or be confused if the audience is both white and non-white!

      Its probably not a good idea to tell people who are worried about the economy that the economy is great during periods of massive wealth inequality.

    2. kurtismayfield

      This term “white working class” is a dog whistle.. it still implies that there is a difference between “white” and ” the rest” when it comes to socio-economic issues. This is akin to the segregation laws of the old south, where is you were white and poor at least you didn’t have those discriminatory laws against you. It just another method used to divide and conquer the poor.

    3. Vatch

      The book author makes a good point about something that the Democrats failed to do in the campaign:

      Donald Trump has a long line of blue-collar–trades people, who he has stiffed and not paid. Or paid pennies on the dollar. One of those people should have been at every campaign rally possible. That is a really different message than, “Donald Trump is taking you for a ride, and Hillary is super qualified, and breaking the glass ceiling would be awesome.” Just calling the guy a buffoon is not calling him on it effectively.

      And there’s this question and answer about how to communicate with Trump supporters:

      If a Trump voter asks me what I think Trump is doing for his people, and I say that I think he is conning them, how does that conversation progress? It is inherently judgmental about those voters. It’s a hard conversation.

      I don’t think it’s a hard conversation at all. Just imagine that this is a conversation within your family. Either you can say, “You’ve got it all wrong: Your anger is misplaced.” Or instead you can say, “I’m hearing you’re really angry because you feel the American Dream slipping out of reach. Have I got that right?” You can have the one conversation or the other, but I think the second conversation is going to be far more useful in healing the political dynamic we face today.

      The second form of the conversation could segue into a discussion of Bernie Sanders, his ideas, and his supporters.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > One of those people should have been at every campaign rally possible

        Yeah, but then the Clintonites would have had to talk to “those people.” You see the problem.

    4. jrs

      Maybe one has no interest in insulting them for being white or for being working class. But for voting Republican, those that do …well what can one say, the policies of the Republican party ARE particularly horrible (and it hardly means Dems are good but we’re talking voting Republican not Green here). Is it too insulting to say that simple truth?

  20. marym

    HR 676 Expanded and Improved Medicare for All provides for a 15 year transition to not-for-profit healthcare providers.

    SEC. 103. Qualification of participating providers.

    (a) Requirement To be public or non-Profit.—
    (1) IN GENERAL.—No institution may be a participating provider unless it is a public or not-for-profit institution. Private physicians, private clinics, and private health care providers shall continue to operate as private entities, but are prohibited from being investor owned.

    (2) CONVERSION OF INVESTOR-OWNED PROVIDERS.—For-profit providers of care opting to participate shall be required to convert to not-for-profit status.

    (s/b reply to ambrit June 5, 2017 at 10:49 am)

    1. ambrit

      Thanks for this. Does this bill have a chance, much less in the “resolution” stage?

      1. Vatch

        I don’t think it has a chance in the current Congress. There are 112 co-sponsors of the bill, which is a lot, but not a single one of them is a Republican, and the Republicans control both houses of Congress.

        This could change if people put sufficient pressure on their Republican Representatives.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The other question is if Republicans are so exceptional that only they could vote for a bill that have no chance of being enacted, and then back off when it looks like it’s possible.

  21. Altandmain

    Has the Democratic Party become too rich for its own good?

    This is the NYT article about the 20% vs the 80%. It’s only now that the MSM is realizing that they are in bigger trouble than they would like to admit. Ultimately, the irreconcilable fact is the Establishment is pro-war, pro-Wall Street, and wants to stuff neoliberal economics down people’s throats, while the left is fighting for the people.

    Another one for class warfare: America Is Getting a Raise, and Goldman Sachs Is Freaking Out About It

    Your daily reminder that Wall Street is a parasite.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I don’t take or read the NY Times — it gives me indigestion. The idea of 20% versus the rest — is not an idea I like. I believe I am among the upper 20% or better (?) but I am loathe to count myself in line with the beliefs of the upper 0.001% who to my mind embody the beliefs and actions we both deplore. Considering the upper 20% futher — I seriously doubt many of them are on-board for the policies benefiting the 0.001%. Most — like most people — are concerned with carving out a decent life for themselves and for attempting to enjoy the life of having a small family. That’s far from the concerns of the 0.1% let alone the 0.001% who seem to own our public policy.

      The Democratic Party, like the Republican Party is the party of the 0.001% and the party of the blind — and yes the upper 20% seem quite blind.

  22. JimTan

    “Four Middle Eastern powers cut ties with Qatar over terror links”

    It also looks like part of this diplomatic row was aggravated by Qatar’s Emir congratulating the Iranian President on his re-election. Sunni and Shia differences have long pitted Saudi Arabia and Iran as competitors for influence in his region, but now natural resources might be aggravating the situation.

    Saudi Arabia is the worlds largest producer of crude oil, one of the worlds most profitable commodities that is slowly being threatened by electric vehicles which societies want to replace gasoline engines because they reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Electric vehicles get energy from an electric power grid fed by power plants which mostly burn fossil fuels because they are currently one of the cheapest, and most reliable ways to generate electricity. Economics, new technologies, and environmental regulations are moving electric power producers to to adopt natural gas plants because natural gas has one of the highest energy densities, and lowest greenhouse emissions among fossil fuels. Adoption of electric vehicles means global transportation will slowly transform from a Crude Oil powered system to a Natural Gas powered system. As a result the value of crude oil reserves should depreciate, and the value of natural gas reserves should appreciate over the same time period.

    Saudi Arabia is the worlds largest producer of crude oil, and home to the worlds largest oil field. Qatar and Iran are two of the worlds largest producers of natural gas, and share the worlds largest natural gas field. Maybe this conflict between these countries has to do with their future fortunes and influence.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is ‘Indirect Natural Gas Vehicle’ a more appropriate name than ‘Electric Car?’

      1. Gaianne

        Come on now! Electrons are a source of free energy, don’t you know!

        Sheesh. What a spoil-sport.



        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Sarcasm or not, I think you have a good point.

          An even more appropriate name would be Energy Car.

          1. olga

            If you’re in Texas, and charge at night – it’s all wind energy.
            So no – no goofy comments.
            With energy storage, wind an solar can manage.
            Natural gas is the fuel for th transition time (which may last a while).

    2. MoiAussie

      It would be good if this was about commercial competition between resource exporters. But it smells much more like an emboldened KSA push to isolate Qatar as part of preparations for Sunni and allied hostilities against Iran. Qatar is being told in no uncertain terms to cut diplomatic ties to Iran, kick out Hamas, and fall in line with KSA and UAE, or else.

      The crisis began after Trompe’s recent trip to Riyadh, where he and King Salman ridiculously singled out Iran as the world’s main sponsor of terrorism, and subsequently the state-run Qatar News reported remarks by the Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim criticizing anti-Iran sentiment. The call to Rouhani was the last straw. The accusations that Qatar is supporting “terrorist groups aiming to destabilize the region” including Islamic State and al-Qaeda, are purest hypocrisy by the Saudis, and just a stick with which to beat the Qataris.

      The US is is tut-tutting the breakdown of cooperation but seems to be on board with this attempt by KSA to throw its weight around and impose its policies on its tiny neighbour. A complicating factor is that Qatar is key to US air operations in the region, as Centcom ME HQ and 10,000 US troops are based there after being kicked out of KSA in 2003.

    3. UserFriendly

      natural gas has one of the highest energy densities, and lowest greenhouse emissions among fossil fuels.

      No, natural gas has a shitty energy density (0.036 MJ/L), it’s a gas after all. Even liquified natural gas (and it takes energy to liquify it) is 22.2 MJ/L which is much lower than diesel 35.8, gasoline 34.2, and even coal 26-49, it does beat ethanol 20.9, though.

      I would also push back on the low emissions because natural gas itself (methane) is a much more potent greenhouse gas and there is pretty damning evidence that it leaks like crazy when trying to drill or frack for it. It is however something that governments who don’t give the slightest shit about the environment bend over backwards to profit from. Because all that really matters in the end to them is who gets to stand on top of the mountain of corpses.

      1. JimTan

        My apologies, I meant ‘specific energy’ which is sometimes called ‘energy density’ as is mentioned in the first line of this wiki entry:

        According to the table in your ‘energy density’ link, Methane or natural gas has the highest ‘specific energy’ ( joules of energy per kilogram ) of every fossil fuel. Also, natural gas fuels Combined-Cycle Gas Turbine power plants with efficiencies of 62% ( 38% of the energy in natural gas is wasted ), which is significantly higher than the 33% efficiency of coal-fired power plants ( 67% of the energy in coal is wasted ), its biggest fossil fuel competitor. Finally, natural gas burned in Combined-Cycle Gas Turbine power plants emit 50-60% less carbon dioxide ( greenhouse gas ) compared to the same emissions from a coal-fired power plant.

  23. JEHR

    After having read about Murray Watson, I worry that all the good people, kind and true, are outnumbered by the stupids and meanies and that there will be less and less goodness in the world as a result. It seems to me that evil, because it has no conscience and no empathy, will overpower good in the end. I hope I am wrong.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe you are wrong. Humankind is not Evil and there is more Good among us than the meanies and stupids you and I deplore. Evil must rely on the compliance of the good [not GOOD] among us — and I believe the good are at the limit of how far they can twist their moral compass. Evil would have triumphed long long long before now if it could have overpowered the Good. I sorrow for the damage Evil does in its benighted attempts at triumph.

      We will prevail — but I mourn the needless costs.

      1. MoiAussie

        Not evil perhaps, but irredeemably stupid. In the past that stupidity was not such a big problem, but now it is an existential threat. Stupidity is now worshipped and celebrated by Western culture in the ultimate, pathological form of inclusiveness.

        1. olga

          The enemy of good is stupid (agree).
          Good people are often a bit stupid or too trusting.
          The badies – well, they are just more vocal, focused, and prone to violence.
          So yes, they could win – but not forever.

  24. Dale

    “Right now, I think we have representatives from a hundred American companies that have come to Russia,” Putin said. “Do you think we’re gathering compromising information on all of them right now or something?”

    Of course they are. That is why he knows that number.

    1. JustAnObserver

      Rumours abound that the Moscow sex workers are suffering from overwork and are threatening to strike. Even the FSB is struggling keep up with all the demand for GS videos.

      1. craazyboy

        The FSB and CIA are always trying to do the same things in the same places, so it gets confusing. The sex gambit has given us a massive outbreak of toenail fungus. Laptops are found infected with Venereal Diseases. Smartphones with embedded device Trojans and Smartwatches get athletes foot from under the covers network contact.

        The losers get sent to an Island in the Mediterranean where they are guarded by a big “rubber” ball and evil looking Hebrew guards with long beards and a single gold earring – face value $4 billion USD. They “destroy” [metaphorically…] the coin every year and get a new one from somewhere.

        Used to be porn vids were the only safe sex left, but now we have the SlutNext Virus.

  25. Irrational

    Re. visa requirements: Let’s hope Trump does not scrap visa waiver because I would not be able to fill in that visa application… previous passport numbers? no clue… 15 years worth of biographical data including all travel? I would be bound to miss several countries… and then there is all the online stuff… guess my other half would be visiting parents solo!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In all, applicants that the government deems suspicious would be required to disclose (PDF) their previous passport numbers, five years of social media handles, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses. The plan also calls for US-bound travelers to supply 15 years of biographical data.

      Only those deemed suspicious. How many? From a paragraph earlier:

      The new vetting, the State Department said, would likely ensnare about 0.5 percent of visa applicants annually—the equivalent of roughly 65,000 people. The screening would apply to visa applicants “who have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities,” according to a notice in the Federal Register by the State Department.

      The competency of our public servants is measured by how many who have no business being on the 65,000 list is on it.

  26. Alex Morfesis

    when greed is not enough…british agent 00888 and her enuf is never enuf burp…but is corbyn ready to jump out of the trench and make a run across the field to the next trench…100 years ago the founder of the labor party, Keir Hardie, was against ww 1 and “Bernie” Corbyn (it is his middle name) kept up his point of the Labour Party having been premised on that notion by Hardie…so…

    will corbyn make a real run for the run of the country and take his place at number 10…??

    will he walk thru Kew Gardens and then do a walk thru at the GAIM event going on in these 3 days before the election…?? The worst they can do is boo him…but what if some folks decide to cheer him or trip over each other taking selfies with him…might lead folks to believe he can aspire to lead the financial side of the equation to balance and opportunity…

    or will he stick to standing in front of some muddy field in Tolpuddle and hide from the opportunity to be chastised by the tories for the next 4 years…??

    Methynx he should make a real run for it…it is easier to fix the mess you have made than to step in and clean up someone elses mess…certainly the momentum favors his jumping out of the trench and making a run of it…even if May somehow holds on for the Tories and does not lose, the eurokratz will have her for breakfast, lunch and dinner…

    the Hiltons a fairly nice place Mr. Corbyn…just a walk through…the most they can do is boo…but what if they swarm you like a rock star…?? It probably wouldn’t hurt to go prance through some livery halls in the next few days while you are at it…and keep wearing grey and black suit jackets and outfits…it works better than that professor brown and tan stuff you have hidden behind…time to lead brother…thumbs up and all that…

  27. nothing but the truth

    “Who’s Killing the MTA? ”

    you have any idea how much waste and corruption your taxes fuel in NYC?

    This is a place that ran a bill of a billion dollars for an employee time clock, something that should’ve cost 5 million, or even 15 million given the waste in NYC. It ended costing 200 times it should have. The “bird skeleton” station that was supposed to cost 1.5 billion (!) ended up costing about 5 billion.

    Legalized corruption has become business as usual in the USA, especially the blue states. I remember the story of an upstate town that had a husband wife pair running it for a long time. Apparently they got half a mill each, for being city managers or such. They had never worked ever in the private sector. Then some reporter asked in an FOIA request to see the city payroll, suitably anonymized. The city said it could not list the top ten salaries anonymously because it would costs “upwards of 5 million to do so”.

    MTA is funded by the tolls, the taxes and the metrocard. Still, it runs a loss, does a terrible job and its employees, who are paid patronage wages, every now and then blackmail the public by going on strike,

    IIRC the cash that MTA gets from its tickets does not even cover labour costs, let alone opex and capex.

  28. Tim

    Regarding Epipens, my child is borderline in potential need for one. Long story short, if I want my kid to go to school we must purchase epipens to stock in the nurse office, which expire every year.

    There is a allergy “reaction plan”, which didn’t jive with the doctors own description of when my kid would be given a dose by the nurse. If they simply have a a rash over much of their bodies, even if they are breathing normally and some benadryl would keep things under control.

    Something tells me that Mylan had some inputs into that little “plan”. just like they co-wrote that Disney book on that cute little fox that is has allergies and needs epi-pens (no-I’m not making that up).

    I’m always concerned with the cure being worse than the disease, and indeed if you do not get the antedote for epinepherin in a reasonable period of time it could have severe consequences, but my doctor retorted, nobody has ever dies from an epi-pen but plenty have died from delayed administration of antiallergy medicine.

    These companies are like a virus that infects the brains of everyone around them to the point that I am forced to buy expensive medicine from a monopoly ever year for a medicine my child realistically does not need, and if I do not my child can’t go to school and I would likely lose my child. All I can say is thank goodness we don’t have to ration our food for the paycheck each year we have to buy this stuff.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Somewhere earlier in the comments is a list of alternative brands to Epipens. I suggest searching for it. Soounds like you’re motivated.

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