Links 8/4/17

Dear patient readers,

I feel as if I am apologizing regularly for the lack of original posts and it’s getting old. I actually had several good topics I wanted to write about last night. But I had a bad development on the blog management front and even hours later I am too upset to write.

Texas man shoots armadillo, bullet ricochets back into his face CBC. Lambert nominates this for a Darwin award, but I’m not sure how bullet-proof armadillos normally are. But why would you shoot an armadillo? (although they can tear up lawns plus I was told the last time I was in New Orleans that some locals eat them).

18 breathtaking winning photos from National Geographic’s Travel Photographer of the Year contest National Geographic (David L)

Ten Ways to Organize Your Bookshelf The Millions (micael)

UK needs bottle deposit scheme to cut plastic litter in oceans, says thinktank Guardian. Mary L: “The USA &/or US states need to do the same; additionally, eliminating the ridiculous plastic straws that come w/glasses of water at many restaurants.”

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? Atlantic (resilc). Key quote:

Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones….There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy.

Bitcoin split is a flop — so far Reuters (Li)

What Einstein’s Brain Tells Us About Intelligence, According to the Scientist Who Studied It Inc (David L)

Freedom and Fear: India and Pakistan at 70 The Diplomat (resilc)

EU sends charge sheet to Visa over inter-regional fees Reuters


Without a Brexit divorce deal, all the transition talk will have been a waste The Times. A must read. High level yet incorporated critical operational details. His “air of unreality about the substance” is consistent with our grumbling in Links in recent weeks about continued UK delusion re a transition deal (as in the denialism is now incorporating small bits of reality but is still denialism). For instance, we ignored the EEA idea because it made no sense. But then again, none of this has made any sense. And IMHO a standstill is a very generous offer of sorts and I suspect the EU would want a meaningful concession for that to be a go, particularly since it would require approval of all 27 remaining EU members. And see this. Although I had assumed reentry after the March 2019 exit date was effectively a non-starter, I have to confess ot knowing re the Euro angle:

And once Britain leaves the EU on March 29, 2019 there is no path back on its current terms. If it wanted to rejoin, it would have to submit a new membership application, which under the EU treaties would require it to commit to joining the euro and the Schengen passport-free travel zone. By the same token, the window of opportunity for those who want to reverse Brexit will slam shut in March 2019.

‘Tax haven’ moves south of border Herald Scotland. A piece co-authored by our Richard Smith!

Brexit reveals Britain’s enduring flaws Financial Times. Love this line, which the editors elevated to the subhead: ‘Tasking the Brexiters with managing Brexit was like asking the winners of a debating contest to engineer a spaceship’

Ministers blow £1m on headhunters for Brexit trade negotiators iNews

How Labour plans to mess with Theresa May’s weakened government Politico

Leaked Photos Link Corbyn To Known International Terrorist Waterford Whisper News (PlutoniumKun)

Italy sees unexpected reduction in Mediterranean migration flows Politico

Cracks appear in cash-starved German infrastructure Financial Times

Tusk warns about Poland’s EU future Politico

After FARC disarmament, Colombia is delivered entirely to paramilitary branches of ruthless corporations failed evolution


Examining the 8 million – An Analysis of Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly Vote Council on Hemispheric Affairs (micael)

U.S. Oil Sanctions Could Push Venezuela To The Brink OilPrice

Of Venezuela and Hypocrisy Craig Murray. Important

New Cold War

Russia Sanctions and The Coming Crackdown on Americans Ron Paul Institute

European Commission President Juncker: New US sanctions on Russia only after consultation of allies European Commission


A Shameful Silence: Where is the Outrage Over the Slaughter of Civilians in Mosul? Defend Democracy

Is the Expanding U.S. Military Presence in Syria Legal? American Conservative

New Cease-Fire in Syria Holds, Observers Report Voice of America

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

This Mysterious Military Spy Plane Has Been Flying Circles Over Seattle For Days The Drive

Facebook’s related articles will add fact to fake news shares – Endgadget. Chuck L: “Thankfully, Facebook takes upon itself the responsibilities of the Ministry of Truth.”


Wisconsin company to install microchips in employees Daily Mail (Brian C). The program is voluntary…for now…

Verizon’s latest rewards program shares gobs of your data (updated) Endgadget (Chuck L)

Review: GPS trackers for children Financial Times

Dumbo Wikileaks (micael)

Trump Transition

Grand jury assembled in Trump-Russia investigation BBC

Trump-Russia probe expands to possible financial crimes: report The Hill (Sid S)

Trump’s Problems Are Piling Up, So What Should He Do Now? FiveThirtyEight (resilc)

Trump argues he won New Hampshire because it is a ‘drug-infested den’ CNN (resilc)

EVANGELICAL FUNDAMENTALISM AND CATHOLIC INTEGRALISM: A SURPRISING ECUMENISM Vatican. Glenn F: “Cathoilic church denunciation of Trump regime. No truer words written. Schism time in the heartland.” Moi: One sour note is locating Evangelicals in the “Deep South”. From what I can tell, their concentration is highest in Texas. The “Deep South” has lots of Southern Baptists who are plenty conservative socially but aren’t big on proselytizing.

Senate blocks Trump from making recess appointments over break The Hill

The Strange Appeal of Trump’s ‘Honest’ Lies Vice (resilc)

US tax reform hopes become mired in foreign cash piles Financial Times. God-awful headline, since it amplifies the lie multinationals have been selling. The only thing that is “offshore” due to their tax scheming is profits they’ve chosen to book in foreign entities. This has absolutely nada to do with where they keep their money, which is almost without exception the US for US companies. It does affect reported profits. That makes it a very hot topic for CEOs who are desperate to boost stock prices (witness all those buybacks). But it confirms what we said yesterday: as with Obamacare, despite whinging about a supposed problem forever, the Republicans don’t have an answer. We’ll probably get one of those earnings repatriation holidays, just as Bush had one in 2004, since that’s not hard. Beyond that, I’m not holding my breath.

Trump is Turning Against the White Working Class that Elected Him Michael Hudson on Real News Network

How the Trump Era Has Wreaked Havoc on Washington’s Plastic Surgery Schedules Vanity Fair

Trump Praises the Stock Market at 22,000 That He Said Was a Bubble at 18,000 New York Times (resilc)

Zuckerberg’s Recent Hires Tell Us A Lot About His Worldview and It’s Not Good Michael Krieger (micael)

In America, who’s more likely to win an election: a scam artist or a war hero? Corey Robin

At “Socialism 2017” conference, International Socialist Organization shows its pro-war colors WSWS (micael). From July, still germane.

How the CIA Came to Doubt the Official Story of JFK’s Murder Politico (David L)

4 Proposed Tar Sands Oil Pipelines Pose a Threat to Water Resources Greenpeace (Sid S)

Is The EIA Exaggerating U.S. Oil Production? OilPrice

The balanced budget paradox Lars Syll

‘London Whale’ Has a New Target: J.P. Morgan’s Top Brass Wall Street Journal

Japan Buries Our Most-Cherished Economic Ideas Bloomberg

New rule forces big car makers into big changes in how they count revenues MarketWatch (Li). From last week, still germane.

Switzerland’s First-World Problem: What to Do With $750 Billion Wall Street Journal (Li). The idea of spending foreign reserves domestically is incoherent and self-defeating but politicians have done a terrible job of explaining why.

New CEO will need to tackle multiple challenges over its long-term business model Financial Times (David L). Wowsers. Full of Uber puffery.

ALBERT EDWARDS: The same problems that caused the financial crisis are back Business Insider (David L)

Class Warfare

Affirmative Action Battle Has a New Focus: Asian-Americans New York Times (resilc)

Imperialism Is Alive and Kicking: A Marxist Analysis of Neoliberal Capitalism Defend Democracy

Japan Might Be What Equality in Education Looks Like Atlantic (resilc)

Nissan Workers in Mississippi want to unionize and they need your support to vote today! Color of Change. Please sign this petition.

Why Do Women Bully Each Other at Work? Atlantic. Honestly, I have no idea what planet these women live on. Women bully women. This is news? Personally, I don’t expect women to be on my side, since they’ve never been. And aside from that, I would never assume a fellow woman in a position of power would treat me well or help me. Among other reasons, they are too insecure in their own standing to be able to spend chips on assisting others. It takes most of their available resources to hang on to their spot, since men will target a woman precisely because she’s assumed to be easier to isolate and dislodge. At least in finance, and I would assume this is the case elsewhere, men in organizations poach women’s terrain (turf wars, trying to steal their clients) more than they would a fellow man (the article in a fashion acknowledges this as an issue towards the end). So it makes sense that they’d bully even more when the stakes are high and they are having to devote extra energy just to protect their position. The author (and the women interviewed) never seems to grok that the senior women lash out because they are often at the limits of their capacity, can barely tolerate another demand, and the women who make requests don’t seem sufficiently cognizant (from the boss’ perspective) that they are doing just that. I wonder how much groveling would help. Seriously. But the other part is the subordinate women are likely harangued more because they are safe targets. And that should stop.

Yet the women in this story bizarrely expected other women to help them:

Many women told me that men had undermined them as well, but it somehow felt different—worse—when it happened at the hands of a woman, a supposed ally.

Distributism Isn’t Outdated American Conservative

Hate is the New Sex Ecosophia (UserFriendly). A great piece.

Antidote du jour. From Crittermom:

I have fallen in love with these Fence Lizards since moving to this state.
I’ve found them to be friendly, willing subjects for my camera, and quite endearing.
In fact, they inspired my first children’s book using my photographs (which I like to refer to as ‘a best-seller that has yet to be published’).

And a bonus from Robert H, courtesy Vinalhaven Sightings:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Foppe

    Wrt “Without a Brexit divorce deal, all the transition talk will have been a waste”, while it’s true that a full membership reapplication would require a promise to eventually join the Euro (only existing members got to elect to join/stay out, such as dk/se/uk at the time Maastricht was signed), I don’t see how that’s relevant to EEA membership, unless that wouldn’t be on the table at all for $reasons$. Not that EEA membership and curbing movement of persons go together, but that’s a separate issue.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Nixon treated those two issues as separate, as we did. His point re an EEA arrangement was that it would not solve all trade problems, plus it was not viable as a “transition” arrangement, in that it would be as time consuming to negotiate as an end-state deal. From an earlier Wall Street Journal column:

      But could the EEA be a short-term solution to the U.K.’s Brexit challenges, operating as a transitional arrangement while the long-term relationship is negotiated? This seems far-fetched too. The EEA doesn’t pertain to the EU customs union, all EU free-trade agreements and agriculture, so it could only be a partial solution and would mean striking many other deals. A push to join the EEA would in any case be complex to negotiate, requiring not only the consent of 27 EU members but also the three other countries in the EEA. And the EU has been clear that any transitional deal must come under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice—precluding one under the European Free Trade Agreement court that oversees the EEA.

    2. vlade

      One thing I’d point out is that EUR commitment is not time limited. I.e. it’s a commitment “sometime in the future, when ready”. Practically, for example, Czech and Poles now view it as “not in our lifetimes!” commitment (and that is for the parts of population that are pro-EU). This may have implications on what France is pushing on with core-EU, non-core-EU but who knows..

    1. katiebird

      Here’s an article explaining why thinking about a Medicare “buy in” gives me a headache… This is 12 pages long with a lot of blah, blah, blah… But this list illustrates how vague the term “buy in” is:

      Designing a Medicare Buy-In and a Public Plan Marketplace Option

      We assume that a Medicare buy-in option would offer enrollees the same covered benefits and cost-sharing structures offered to current Medicare beneficiaries. Even so, a buy-in directly into the existing Medicare options would lead to questions necessitating policy decisions:

      Would potential enrollees have the choice of traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or both?

      Would eligibles be able to choose between a Medicare option and Marketplace-qualified health plans for which they are currently eligible, or would Medicare be their only option outside of employer-sponsored insurance?

      Would enrollees be allowed to make separate purchase decisions for Medicare Parts A, B, and D, or would they have to purchase all if they purchase any?4 How will consumers respond to offers of coverage that, unlike private insurance options, have no out-of-pocket maximum? Would Medigap or some other supplemental plans be available to the 55- to 64-year-olds?

      How would the unsubsidized cost of coverage be determined? For example, what premium would be charged to individuals with high incomes? Would 55- to 64-year-olds be charged the same premiums as those age 65 and older, even though the premiums would not reflect the cost of coverage for those enrolled? Or would actuaries set premiums based on the benefits provided and cost-sharing requirements for each component? Would the high income surcharges in the current Medicare program apply to the buy-in population?

      Assuming that 55- to 64-year-old enrollees would not pay the same premiums as current-law Medicare enrollees, would premiums reflect the health care costs of only the 55- to 64-year- olds enrolling? Or would premiums be set to reflect enrollees’ health care costs being shared by others? For example, their costs could be shared with other nongroup market enrollees or perhaps with current-law Medicare enrollees, but that would require the development of a mechanism for achieving it.

      Would the 55- to 64-year-olds buying in to Medicare be eligible for financial assistance similar to that for Medicare beneficiaries today (e.g., 75 percent of Medicare Part B costs for all but the high-income beneficiaries? Would they be eligible for ACA-like financial assistance, advanced premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions? Or would no financial assistance be offered at all? If subsidies are provided, how would they be structured? Would actuarial differences between Medicare and Marketplace silver coverage be taken into account, affecting both advanced premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions?

      Would 55 to 64 year olds with access to an affordable employer insurance plan be permitted to enroll in a Medicare buy-in option?

      1. marym

        There’s no text to Stabenow’s bill.

        What are the odds she or the co-sponsors gave any thought at all to these issues? (rhetorical question).

        Thanks for the link. It’s a a good statement of the issues.

        1. katiebird

          Ha!! No chance at all. Anyone who would use the term “buy in” is pretending to help. Medicare as it exists charges by the person not family or household. That adds up fast.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        The politics don’t make sense either. If the key to a Democratic victory is young voters, why does policy that DOES NOT provide direct material benefits to the class one needs to win good politics? Its not.

        The Republicans aren’t ever going to vote for Democrats, and the truth is non-voters over a certain age are unlikely to ever vote.

        1. Spring Texan

          Democratic Party needs old voters, too. This does provide direct material benefits to someone, and that’s a HUGE step-up for the Dem Party.

          On your argument, we shouldn’t fuss about increased social security, either. I think direct material benefits are a political asset (and also the right thing to do) for ALL ages.

          And the truth is young voters have parents and a) they care about their parents; and b) their parents are more able to help them if secure themselves. Enuf with the generational warfare!

          1. Richard

            Well said! But we need to be very wary of being set up for divide and conquer scenarios, as our elites are past masters at manipulating those. I’m fifty-three, and would love a chance to retire earlier, poorer but free, with much more affordable health care. But this one smells fishy to me.

        2. mpalomar

          “The politics don’t make sense either. ”

          Win win NTG. By weeding out the older tranche of medically impaired or ensnared, the congress critters at the behest of their constituents in the insurance industry are corralling the healthiest cohort to deliver up to the ministrations of the insurance industry.

          The insurers can run their actuary magic, while always working to deny care to the undeserving with pre existing etc., gather their profits and show how the magic of the market delivers health insurance at historical (temporary) cost reductions while at the same time young voters benefit from lower (temporary) premiums.

          They’re going to make this thing work even if it kills us.

      1. dontknowitall

        The whole Stabenow Medicare-buy-in, together with the sudden talk from very unlikely sources of single-payer, stinks of virtue signaling that will get dumped as soon as they win their hoped-for Dem majority. To my mind it is bullshit of the most pernicious kind.

  2. Bugs Bunny

    I was reading the Wikileaks Dumbo summary feeling self-righteous about it it exploiting only Windows systems until I read the next post down about a Mac OS X installation Trojan and exploit :(

    Makes one feel naked and helpless but I guess that’s the point.

  3. olga

    I would say this is also important: Russia Sanctions and The Coming Crackdown on Americans Ron Paul Institute (and I’ve never even been a particular fan of RP).

  4. David J.

    In America, who’s more likely to win an election: a scam artist or a war hero?

    Corey Robin makes some good points. I’d like to add a few comments because I live in this district.

    I agree with Robin in that I think the McGrath campaign is another sign of the national Democratic party fighting with the tactics of the “last war.” But it is even worse, imo. Someone has groomed and flown in a carpetbagger–she hasn’t been in this district for a quarter century–whose views thus far seem to be consonant with the Clintonite neoliberal faction. I guess that the strategerists pushing her forward think that her military cred will override those negatives.

    Furthermore, there is already a good candidate in the race. He’s a state senator who has worked his way up in the party and has an actual track record which can be evaluated. So, what’s going on? Why would the national party undercut a viable candidate with established local ties to impose someone as weak as McGrath? I don’t know the answer to that but I do know that I’m sufficiently ticked off at this turn of events to volunteer for the state senator’s campaign for Congress.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        When JFK became President, he wasn’t alone. He was joined across the country by electeds similar to him, World War II veterans because everyone was one. Besides the Wipeout in 1994, the Democratic Party also faced a major retirement wave, leaving the Clinton as the only organized game in town. Bill has filtered down to state and local parties and the courtier class. The result is the modern Democratic Party is simply rotten and has no concept of how to win elections outside of safe seats or just egregious, crippled opponents. Bill’s direct successors are 0-3 in Presidential campaigns. Shrub, Obama, and Trump. Yeesh.

        The problem isn’t the tactics of the last war. The problem is rotten people of an inbred Clinton aristocracy.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Concerning the Corey Robin piece,

      My old neighbor was a state legislator. She won in a special election, ran unopposed, and then lost in a third election. She was a military widow and had more money than God for the campaign. She ran ads where a local doctor who was once deployed swear she is great on veterans issues. I know Dems, and I know the state party was treating this like a slam dunk because all the Republicans would love the military stuff.

      There is one problem. Her district has the lowest rate of Veterans in the state. There are no bases and no veteran employers. In the rural areas outside the district, it’s full of small farms, but kid in line for the farm didn’t enlist. The other kids leave. No one cares on a practical level. At the end of the day, my old neighbor’s “issue” ad meant nothing to the voters. Combined with the ad of her Aryan children and nice life, she really wasn’t reaching out.

      I think Dem partisans look for what they perceive to be an easy course which was to set up my old neighbor as a second State Senator Toddy Puller, the daughter in law of Chesty Puller, who represents Quantico. The ads for Puller and my neighbor were virtually the same. Now Republicans will be nice. Non-voters and sometimes voters care about issues in their daily lives, hence running random soldiers doesn’t resonate with them. In the end, the particular election was marked by Republicans voting for a Republican doctor and extraordinary low turnout in the African American precincts.

      Didn’t DailyKos drive the Wes Clark for President garbage? But the only reasoning for Clark seemed to be he had a bunch of military positions and the Republicans must be shamed into voting for a soldier. The perception was it would be an easy way to embarrass Republicans.

      With a random state senator, a campaign needs to make a case for this legislator should be elevated to Congress, why should non-voters come put for the state senator. With that military background, they can use Republican words against Republicans.

    2. John k

      Ossoff 06 redux…
      We got the right idea, just need to explain it a little better…
      And spend a little more…

      1. Richard

        Everytime I hear “Ossoff” I think of Timothy Lee Jones mispronouncing another, somewhat servile congressman’s name on purpose: “Coughdrop!”
        In Lincoln, I mean, as Chas. Sumner.

  5. RenoDino

    The Strange Appeal of Trump’s ‘Honest’ Lies Vice

    Good article, and nice first step for the liberal left to understand Trump’s appeal. Now if they could only realize he’s telling the truth about the “Witch Hunt” consuming the country and exposing us all to nuclear war.

  6. funemployed

    Unless Jor-El sent that armadillo to Earth in a tiny spaceship as Krypton exploded cinematically in the background, that armadillo story must be fake news.

    The man in question fired three shots from a large caliber revolver (.38). Since the bullet [or something] actually bounced back and struck him, and since it was 3 a.m. and dark outside, yet he still spotted superdillo from inside his house, he must have fired from pretty close range.

    If you were to actually hit a non-kryptonian armadillo with three .38s at close range, you would be left with little more than a pile of armadillo chunks in a puddle of armadillo goo. Therefore, I hypothesize that none of the 3 shots hit the armadillo (as a dead armadillo would give the lie to his fantastical tale), and one of the bullets either bounced off a rock or hunk of metal, or broke off a chip of something that struck him instead of the bullet. Perhaps there was no armadillo at all, and that lie was the best his drunken self could come up with to explain to his wife why he was popping of rounds in the yard at 3am and now needed a ride to the hospital.

    1. funemployed

      Alternative hypothesis: The man spoke truly, but unbeknownst to him, he unintentionally foiled a top-secret, armadillo-shaped drone on the front lines of Obama’s secret and still-ongoing plot to invade and conquer tejas.

    2. Eureka Springs

      If you were to actually hit a non-kryptonian armadillo with three .38s at close range, you would be left with little more than a pile of armadillo chunks in a puddle of armadillo goo.

      What kind of ammo are you hoarding, exploding bullets? I definitely agree something is amiss with the story… no ricochet off the critter would happen even with a much smaller (22) caliber. Dude hit a rock or something. But everyone blames everything on critters like the armadillo or opossum. Someone ought to tell that feller when ya just can’t sleep read a book, or Naked Cap…)

      1. Arizona Slim

        Yeah, tell me about it. I couldn’t sleep last night. So I got up and read Naked Capitalism. And I am still awake.

      2. funemployed

        I really just wanted to type “armadillo goo,” though I think hollow points at close range might do the trick.

    3. justanotherprogressive

      A 180-degree ricochet is a pretty rare phenomenon and is pretty implausible off an armadillo, but the article did make me smile. Man v. armadillo – armadillo wins……

      1. blennylips

        Last time this happened, the nucleus was discovered:

        I remember …later Geiger coming to me in great excitement and saying, ‘We have been able to get some of the α-particles coming backwards…’ It was quite the most incredible event that has ever happened to me in my life. It was almost incredible as if you fired a 15-inch shell at a piece of tissue paper and it came back and hit you. (Rutherford, 1938, p. 68)

        This was one more nail in the death of the “plum pudding” model of the nucleus.

        I await the next armadilleonics development…

      2. DH

        It was clearly an NRA ( national rifle armadillo). The gun industry has been running out of people to sell guns too, so they are now arming the wildlife so they can defend themselves. It wasn’t a ricochet- it was the NRA shooting back in self-defense.

    4. Mike

      Crap- I was hoping that armadillos has evolved a bullet-proof shell just to bug those gun-nuts who can’t fight fair with an armadillo – by hand-to-hand combat

  7. olga

    I take great issue with Craig Murray’s piece “Of Venezuela and Hypocrisy.” While he correctly identifies hypocrisy in judging Venezuela today (as opposed to, for example, Saudi Arabia), his prescription is for Maduro simply to roll over and accept the inevitable… as caused by economic troubles. I am certainly old enough to remember the fascist coup d’etat in Chile (9/11/73) – and what preceded it… i.e., several year of economic strangulation, middle-class people marching in the streets and banging on pots, and US plotting to overthrow Allende). We see the same story unfolding in Venezuela – but never explained in the MSM. It took three years of steady drumbeat in Chile – and when Allende would still not leave, a bloody military coup took place. Venezuelan opposition has spent the last 19 years wreaking havoc in the country, with US attempting a coup in 2002. The military there is still holding up – that should tell Craig Murray something.

    1. Jim Haygood

      If Trump swatted down a presidential recall initiative (if such existed here); had his Supreme Court picks dissolve Congress; elected a constituent assembly based on one vote per state (ensuring a Republican majority); and then proceeded to rewrite the constitution (including Amendment XXII, term limits) — I’m confident that every contributor on this site would howl with outrage at his authoritarian coup d’etat.

      Why it is that naked caudillo rule is acceptable for less economically developed Latin cultures, but not for our good, sophisticated, anglospherian selves? Seems like the same logic as dog food (full of nasty offal) being okay for our pets, but not for our own posh culinary standards.

      1. olga

        What you say is based on MSM reporting – the reality is not that simple. Try reading other sources on what is really going on in Venezuela.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Okay, this is MSM reporting. But can anyone contradict it?

          In a contentious election on Sunday, President Nicolás Maduro instructed Venezuelans to choose delegates from a list of trusted allies of the governing party. Voters were not given the option of rejecting the plan.

          Here is an image of the voting machine instructions:

          Step 5 says “When you’ve unlocked the machine, press the number of your candidate in the district and push ‘Vote.'”

          Note again that the only choices were “allies of the governing party,” most of them unknown, guaranteeing approval of the constituent assembly as long as one voter showed up in each district.

          Is this sham somehow acceptable when it’s imposed by credentialed Chavistas, as opposed to a jackbooted military dictatorship grasping for legitimacy?

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Oh goody another oil-soaked country with bad democracy we can bomb senseless because they’re not running their affairs the way we’d like. “Fair democracy” and all. (Meantime on the home front they want to overturn the last election on a pack of lies and screechy innuendo).

            But you can believe they are burning the midnight oil making plans for an invasion, licking their chops because finally it’s in our own hemisphere (go long the stocks of Colombian and Panamanian port operators). We’ll ignore Colin’s “you break it you own it” advice yet again, though maybe they could just set up cordons sanitaire, highly defensible fenced-in corridors of land straight from the oil to the port. We can fling loaves of bread, palettes of USD, and democracy how-to manuals over the top of the fence at regular intervals.

            1. RWood

              Oh goody another oil-soaked country with bad democracy we can bomb senseless because they’re not running their affairs the way we’d like.

              So a pre-Iran escapade.

      2. JohnnyGL

        Things you are leaving out:

        1) Recall initiative was found to be full of sigs from minors and the deceased. Without their help, they couldn’t meet the threshold in time. Maduro’s bunch didn’t say that. The independent electoral commission did.

        2) constituent assembly is provided for in their constitution, it’s not an extra-constitutional exercise.

        3) Who are the opposition?

        a) They launched a coup in 2002 and simply dissolved the constitution and all the legal bodies enshrined in it.

        b) They have executed terror-style attacks against police, including a recent bombing which injured 8 officers while opposition bystanders cheered.

        I realize this is not representative of ALL of the opposition, but it’s fair to ask WHO gets empowered if Maduro falls?

        Do have a look at the links above regarding Colombia’s government complicity to commit mass murder of activists and trade union leaders over the decades. Mass murder is NOT something that can be laid at the feet of Maduro’s crew.

        Yes, Maduro’s crew has screwed up plenty of stuff, not least the exchange rate policies and the corruption soaked insiders who benefit from them.

        I’ll add the caveat that I love you as a commenter on here, you’ve got lots of great stuff, but once in awhile you throw in some howlers like this…

        1. Jim Haygood

          To your first point, about the attempted recall: Venezuela’s threshold for an initiative was absurdly high: signatures from 20 percent of the electorate in three (3) days. California, by comparison, requires 5% of the gubernotorial vote to be collected in 180 days.

          But the already impossible standard was jacked exponentially higher by a judicial interpretation:

          Venezuela’s highest court, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, earlier this week made the opposition’s efforts more difficult by ruling that instead of 20 percent of Venezuela’s overall electorate, the MUD needed to collect 20 percent of signatures from each state — including states with rural populations where support for Maduro’s socialist regime is strongest.

          If the US had national referenda, that would be like trying to collect signatures from 20 percent of the voters in red states like Wyoming, Idaho and Alabama — in three days — to unseat Trump.

          It’s a sham. It’s a joke. None of us would put up with nonsense like this in our own country.

      3. Alejandro

        More Randian ranting projection, yet no context nor refutation to the history. Uncle Milty “supplied” the fodder to rationalize, the assassination of citizens so markets could be “free”, yet I don’t recall the label of “dictator” being slapped on Pinochet by “the masters of mankind”. You may have noticed that he was not democratically elected and did not believe in “term limits”.–90)

        “and like a good neighbor, wall st. was there”

      4. Doug Hillman

        If only we could dissolve our own US Knesset. But our “democracy” is far more sophisticated; we certainly don’t need NED. Open bribery, total surveillance blackmail, and MSN propaganda is now so stunningly obvious, we’re soaking in it, and few outside of NC see it. Case in point: AIPAC-orchestrated 98-99% votes in the US Knesset against Russia for allegedly exposing the DNC’s rigging of the US primary. (99% votes are the norm when AIPAC needs another war or Wall St bailout) No need for a constitutional assembly; we put ours on a roll near the legislative commode.

        1. Eureka Springs

          How could ten percent approval of congress not automatically promt no confidence / elections, or something more? Answer, because we the people never had an opportunity to pen nor ratify the Constitution to begin with.

          1. Ptolemy Philopater

            The fact that Congress has a 10% approval rating and yet 80 to 90% of incumbents get reelected tells you something about the electoral system. The electoral process is strictly controlled, choices are limited by our neo-liberal gatekeepers. This is a democracy only in the sense that the Soviet Union was a democracy.

        2. Ptolemy Philopater

          Every Congressman or Senator who sponsored the AIPAC inspired assault on the First Amendment, Senate Bill S270, should be primaried and removed from Congress. This should be the litmus test for all members of Congress in thrall to a foreign power. Million dollar fines and twenty years in prison for standing up for justice and fighting ethnic cleansing, what more do you need to know? The United States Congress is indeed Israeli occupied territory. The whole country should be outraged.

          We need to do as Australia does, ban all dual citizens from holding office.

          What we need is million dollar fines and twenty years in prison for all legislators who would betray our liberties to a foreign corrupt and genocidal country.

      5. Ptolemy Philopater

        The difference is that the Chavistas advocate for the poor and not the billionaire class. The difference is the Chavistas face an unrelenting onslaught of sanctions and sabotage from the monied classes in Venezuela and the States. How democratic is Saudi Arabia, no sanctions there. How democratic is Israel, the only “democracy” in West Asia where half the population have no political rights. No, boycotting Israel will result in a 20 year jail sentence and a million dollar fine. So much for “liberty”

    2. John k

      No doubt us would love regime change… in the past we killed or otherwise undermined dem elected governments around the world… but now we’re distracted by our ME adventures plus that evil Putin and NK…
      Better to let the current regime run the economy into the toilet as insiders loot and cap flight… and establish dictatorship… simply wait for populace, that voted oppo into control of legislature, and now sees legislature essentially dismissed, and oppo leaders jailed… to become desperate enough to beg for the marines…

      shocking the biggest oil resource on the planet can be this mis managed. Weimar was the aftermath of war, this resembles the thuggery and looting of Zimbabwe, except on a larger scale, they only had a copper mine…

      It’s over when their money inflates So fast they can’t pay the soldiers…

      1. olga

        Somehow you forgot to mention the orchestrated and drastic drop in the oil price – Venezuela’s main revenue source. Plenty of govts make mistakes in their economic policies (do we need examples?), but in the west, typically, outside meddling is not a factor (well, not strictly true – but now, the US presence is so entrenched that overt meddling is often not necessary).

      2. zapster

        Last I heard Congress had inserted a budget item for regime-change against VZ. And were doing war games in Colombia toward that end. The ramp-up in demonization stories also fits the pattern. Even the author of that story has the basic situation wrong–VZ isnt centrally planned. All the import chains are privately owned, as are the media, and most distribution centers. The government tries to compensate for the elites’ hoarding and destruction of food by buying some outside those chains, which the elites have been finding and looting or burning. It’s quite a war. Chavez really should have nationalized everything they had, it appears. That was too undemocratic for him, tho. No good deed goes unpunished in capitalist hell.

    3. Mike

      This will sound goofy to some who have posted on this subject, but…

      My main argument against what has happened in Venezuela is the isolation of this government from the beginning. It is socialism in one country, and we all know how that turned out in Russia. While I do not suggest that nations hold back on their revolutions, since obviously something had to change or the citizenry would collapse, to do so in isolation from an international movement or supporting nations, in this global environment, is tantamount to allowing defeat somewhere down the road. It requires communication with other nations’ parties that could be support, as well as understanding fall-back economic programs should stuff hit the fan when the US sniffs blood. I cry when thinking of the reaction against the poor farmers and workers in this country when the neocons get their way, but it seems there is a “wrap” around parties that take power, leading to their need to keep power at all cost, including the welfare of their citizens.

      That being said, Maduro and Venezuela have been beset by anti-democratic forces powerful enough to do any nation, not willing to take extreme measures, great harm. If unfair, undemocratic means keep the dogs at bay, it falls back on an old adage that is international – fight fire with fire. As I said yesterday in a post, let the Venezuelan populace as a whole decide if this government is not representative. We have no say in national politics of other nations. Until a true international, global regime can take the place of the astoundingly corrupt, weak UN, we are stuck with these national responses to global finance and its henchmen.

      1. clinical wasteman

        Criticism of “socialism in one country” + recognition that Venezuelans don’t have the option of waiting to keep some very unpleasantly frothing dogs at bay: sounds entirely sound to me. Thanks Mike for the formulation.
        For most of the last 20-odd years Chavismo was almost pedantically democratic (immediately conceding the one major vote lost — by something like 1% — before the recent legislative elections) but nowhere near so consistently “socialist”. In part for inescapable global commodity market reasons, but I do wonder to what extent the “in one country” perspective entailed in the democratic display may have influenced the bet on perpetual oil proceeds.

  8. RenoDino

    On women bullying women, I have a evolutionary biology read. In interpersonal relationships, men go out of their way to avoid conflict with other men because a million years of experience tells us the stakes are very high if thing go sideways. Usually, physical injury or death is the result. Women vs women, on the other hand, don’t have those built in restraints in competitive situations because the outcomes are rarely lethal.

    It’s an evolutionary green light to go batshit crazy.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, men get into all kinds of verbal fights and punch each other out a lot (see what happens in a bar if a man thinks another man dissed him or hit on his girlfriend).

      1. JeffC

        In movies, yes. But sometimes common fantasies in reality become common events in action films precisely because the restraint that must be shown in the real world is so frustrating.

        All that is groping for an explanation. My personal empirical reality though is that I’m in my sixties and have never physically seen one adult man punch another, and it’s not because of an unusually sheltered life. I grew up in a rough (US) redneck area and had a knife held to my neck at my high-school graduation party, but it was a bluff. No cutting. In college, in a rough town, I was held up at gunpoint once, but I was not shot. Obviously punching between men happens, but not “a lot” if that’s as close as I’ve come. We don’t live in an old TV western.

        1. justanotherprogressive

          I guess I grew up in a wilder part of the West than you did. Fistfights – usually bar fights – were common during my young adult life (in the 70’s – Friday Night Fights has a whole different meaning to me than it does to ESPN), but most men gave it up in their 30’s – it never ever did really solve anything for them and I think they finally figured out that there were more socially acceptable ways of getting revenge….

        2. todde

          I watched 6 men beat another man to death as I hid in the bushes with a butcher knife across the street.

          I’ve got a fractured skull, bone chipped off my forearm and a scar on my leg from when I got stuck with a knife over 25 cents.

          I was pall bearer to my friends murdered 13 year old sister before I got out of high school.

          I can tell you what a shotgun blast can do to a man’s heart because I’ve seen the autopsy photos in court where my buddy got 10 years for killing him.

          And I will tell you I’ve led a sheltered life because I know a lot of people who’ve had it worse.

        3. JeffC

          Sorry to hear you guys saw so much worse. True enough that my life has been sheltered from street-gang levels of awful.

            1. Spring Texan

              although certainly I’ve occasionally heard stories that involved local people or of course of abusive spouses – and my father’s law partner was murdered (shot) by a local doctor

        4. Yves Smith Post author

          I took course taught by the guy who developed the special forces hand to hand combat training program for the Seals. It’s not self defense since the philosophy is not defensive. It’s that if you are facing a violent assault, you need to inflict enough trauma on the other guy first so as to incapacitate him (shut his central nervous system down). They teach it assuming you are smaller, slower, weaker.

          Participants are typically 90% male, many have taken martial arts. Average in my course was early 40s. Pretty much no one in their 20s.

          The trainers spent a HUUUGE amount of time telling the participants not to fight in what they call a ‘social violence” situation, which is letting an argument escalate into physical violence. They told all sorts of stories and even showed videos about how that leads to bad ends. They also described how to tell when a situation was what they called asocial and you needed do Do Something Fast.

          The fact that they felt it to be imperative to tell guys not to get into stupid fights and that they felt they had to say it again and again and again and again says to me it’s a common real world phenomenon.

      2. sid_finster

        Exactly, and historically, a lot of men have died as a result of those confrontations, from real or perceived slights, or even situations where neither party really wanted a fight, but at the same time could not be seen to back down.

        Women bullying women less frequently leads to one or more women reaching for weaponry.

        How many duels happened between women? Not a whole lot. For men of certain times and social classes, duelling was practically a hobby.

          1. clinical wasteman

            Two things to be said for that ludicrous niche sport: it did away with Alexander Hamilton and (repeatedly) spared Stendhal.

      3. MtnLife

        The difference is women have been given the green light by society to be bullies. Very similar to the reasons women get called bossy. When boys have a disagreement/seek to exert control over one another and the one says “you aren’t the boss of me” – they tussle and shortly find out if one is the boss of the other or not. This societal positioning doesn’t happen across genders as “you aren’t supposed to hit girls” – go equality! (I don’t think it should be okay to hit anyone but that’s another topic) Boys who bully girls are on their way to being chauvinists and are chastised. Girls who bully boys are on their way to being “strong women” and are encouraged. This leads women to believe verbally assaulting others, men or women, is going to be supported by society so why act reasonably? Think how vicious teen girls are to one another and their behavior is seen as okay (or at least not a priority) because it isn’t (usually) physical violence as happens amongst teen boys. If you don’t tell them it’s wrong they’ll keep doing it.

      4. River

        The article is about what happens at work though. Some data about the rate of verbal tirades by men against other men would be interesting and how that stacks up against the woman vs. woman would be interesting.

        What happens outside of work at a bar, etc. is irrelevant.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No, the argument is about male v. female patterns of aggression. The contention is women are conditioned or predisposed towards verbal violence because they don’t engage in physical violence to anywhere near the degree that men do. The claim if I understand it correctly is that men are also pressured to learn a degree of self control while women don’t have to.

          I can tell you at McKinsey the one woman director when I was there was a screamer. I sat near her office. None of the men directors in the NY office were (a large office even then) and given the firm’s style I would assume it was rare to non-existant. It would be a serious career limiting habit. Admittedly a limited sample….

          1. River

            Thanks for the clarification.

            That is insane about where you worked and a boss screaming like that.

            I had a boss’s boss like that who tried browbeating me, I’m a guy, so I just stared at her while I held my ground (it also helps if you could give a family blog about being fired).
            I found out later she had a tantrum in the back. But she treated her direct subordinate (also a woman) and the other female employees like garbage.

            You are right though men do face pressure to maintain control. In the back of almost every man’s head is a voice issuing caution and not to go too far or violence might erupt.

            Hope the eye is on the mend.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Fortunately she wasn’t my boss. And she to be fair, she didn’t scream often. But screaming at all at McKinsey was outside the pale, so it really stood out. It’s curious that it was tolerated at all by her.

    2. DH

      I work in engineering. In my experience, the women engineers and scientists generally don’t appear to engage in bullying each other. The bullying has actually more likely been man on man or man on woman (the women are generally younger and lower on the food chain since they entered the engineering work force later, so older men have managerial power). If anything, the women engineers and scientists tend to clump a bit for mutual support in what historically was a male-dominated profession. I have worked in offices where the traditional female positions (receptionists, administrative assistants, HR, bookkeeping etc.) were like a soap opera though.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Bullying? Try nurse work in a lot of settings, hospitals, nursing (sic) homes, clinics. Male nurses used to talk about struggling to survive in that “estrogen-rich environment,” and a common saying with lots of experience behind it is “Nurses eat their young.”

        I’ve linked to footnoted articles from the Continuing Education course I did this year, the one titled “Workplace Bullying.” There’s a whole well-developed sociology and psychology on this subject. One of the very many pieces on the issue:

        And that’s just “lateral violence.” As is the case most everywhere and likely has been and will be, oppression and abuse from above is also ubiquitous. But then we ain’t bonobo-bred,eh? Or had the advantage of that baboon band talked about the other day, all the males dead from infection and how nice everything was under female rule… I did see an article, can’t find it at the moment, claiming that said band had reverted to mean…

      2. Spring Texan

        Agree in general. Not sure there is actually “mutual support” but there is general amiability. Women who bully are MANAGERS. And some of them are terrible! (and some are ex-technical-folk, I’ve known two of those)

        But your AVERAGE techie/engineer/scientist isn’t interested in bullying others, not how they get their kicks.

        But yeah women are fools if they expect better from other women than from men at work.

    3. Enquiring Mind

      Daughters tell their parents that the bullying starts very early in school. Variations occur in work environments. Unless and until women can confront just how horribly they treat each other they will experience more pain and not much growth. Each sex has its problems in communicating with the other.

    4. Arizona Slim

      Been there, done that. Had a boss who was a major bully. It was as if she had taken lessons from the Attila the Hun School of Management.

      Now, you’ve probably heard that getting even is one of the best ways of dealing with a bully. Here’s how I did it:

      I was working with the office computer that generated the manuscript for the academic journal I was working for. And the [family blog] thing crashed. Heck if I knew how to get it up and running again. All I could do was bury my head in my hands.

      Bad move.

      Attila the Boss summoned me into her office for yet another one of her blistering tirades. In the midst of her verbal volcano, she said, “Start looking for another JOB!”

      My very calm, at-peace-with-myself reply: “I think I’ll find another CITY.”

      Well, you could have knocked Attila over with a feather. She was that stunned.

      Finally, she said, “You don’t have to do anything THAT drastic.” It almost sounded like she was pleading with me to stay in Pittsburgh.

      Nope. Even though the ‘Burgh was my city of birth, I was done.

      Time to have some fun.

      Starting with the day I tendered my resignation: Friday the 13th. Gave that one-page letter to Attila, and she thanked me for it.

      You’re welcome, sweetie.

      I spent my remaining six weeks in Pittsburgh enjoying life. At work. At home. Everywhere. People were amazed by how relaxed and happy I was.

      After packing my stuff and putting it in storage, I bade farewell to that loser of an ex-boyfriend I still lived with, caught a ride to the airport, and then it was off on a one-way flight to Phoenix. Took my bike with me and had a marvelous three months of pedaling from Phoenix, to Mexico, and then up to Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

      When I was finished biking, I got on another flight from Portland, Oregon, where it was about to rain, to San Francisco, where it was sunny and just about everyone jumped out of their seats while the plane was still on the taxiway. Pilot stopped the plane, got on the intercom, and ordered us to sit DOWN! Yeesh, did Attila have a male twin?

      Then I caught another flight to Tucson, where it was OMG 105 degrees. Welcome to the Old Pueblo. That was June 30, 1987. I’ve lived here ever since.

      Living here and enjoying life. That’s how I got even with Attila the Bullying Boss.

    5. todde

      In an office setting, nobody is concerned about violence as much as they should be.

      Lot’s of silly shit and ‘pranks’ go on that wouldn’t be tolerated anywhere else.

      1. DH

        The statistics I have seen say that the odds of getting killed by a coworker are about the same as being killed by a policeman in the US. Each of those are about five times more likely than being killed by a terrorist.

    6. Mike

      Suggestion – could this be sexual competition for male…ahem…”attention”. We have not evolved enough, and the hippocampus still resides on its old throne. Coupled with capitalism’s fervor to compete built into the socialization and education systems in this country, it is hard for those of any sex to think past this indoctrination that appeals to base built-in reactions.

      As for men not wanting conflict, we do have history to prove otherwise. Sociopaths will want to eliminate all other men to leave themselves as The Choice.

    7. annenigma

      I retired early from nursing because of the bullying from other women in the workplace. From my perspective, it had nothing to do with men, at least not directly. It seemed more to be related to power. Women bully and subtly attack and undermine other women who aren’t even a threat, seemingly just to exercise power. They do it through passive, indirect, social, and deniable means. I’d rather face the more direct, overt aggression of a man any day.

      Men often call each other ‘Sir’ as a sign of respect when doing business and when they disagree they both know it. There’s no comparable sign of respect or courtesy among women. A hug is likely to be followed by a knife in the back by the friendliest, most personable, and warmest (acting) woman.

      As nursing students we learned the phrase “Nurses eat their young”. Later many of us learned the hard way that they will also eat their peers just to keep in practice.

  9. Carolinian

    Re Evangelical Fundamentalism.

    Some who profess themselves to be Catholic express themselves in ways that until recently were unknown in their tradition and using tones much closer to Evangelicals. They are defined as value voters as far as attracting electoral mass support is concerned. There is a well-defined world of ecumenical convergence between sectors that are paradoxically competitors when it comes to confessional belonging. This meeting over shared objectives happens around such themes as abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in schools and other matters generally considered moral or tied to values.

    Uh, doesn’t that last sentence represent the policies of the Catholic church that exist to this day? It’s a bit much for a Catholic church, where right wing social views are very much “known in their tradition,” to suddenly start condemning value voters. The current Pope may be a bit of a liberal but that doesn’t mean his church is. Those Catholics on the Supreme Court don’t need a prosperity gospel to support a reactionary world view. They have other excuses.

    That said, no question that evangelicals are a big factor in the social conservatism of the South. My congressman is a Southern Baptist. Meanwhile the largely secular elites who lead the country have developed their own Manichaean fundamentalism–one which sees the Devil not as someone tempting women to have abortions but rather that guy in the Kremlin. Call it religion by another name.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I didn’t say evangelicals weren’t important, but my impression is they are a higher % of the population in Texas, while in much of the rest of the South, Southern Baptists outnumber evangelicals.

      1. Carolinian

        I’m by no means an expert on this topic but my impression is that the traditionally dominant Baptists have been losing ground somewhat to the evangelicals with their mega churches. And the Baptists themselves are still pretty conservative. The congressman I mentioned is Trey Gowdy.

        Doubtless you are right about Texas. The evangelical religious stations that dominate short wave radio now mostly seem to come out of Texas.

  10. Jim Haygood

    In today’s jobs report, the unemployment rate fell a tenth to 4.3%, equaling the cycle low set two months ago.

    Bond king Jeffrey Gundlach’s indicator, in which the Urate is compared to its own 12 and 36-month moving averages, is shown here:

    The more sensitive 12-month MA has ticked up to 0.944, as the 12-month average declines owing to recent lower values. A value above 1.0 would be a recession warning, while a reading above 1.015 would confirm a recession.

    Message: party on! :-)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The 12-month moving average curve is a curve of 12-month averages.

      The last 2 points of the 12-month MV trend up…while latest 12-month average declines?

      The more sensitive 12-month MA has ticked up to 0.944, as the 12-month average declines owing to recent lower values.

  11. David Creamon

    I usually just skim through the links to get a feel for the Zeitgeist. I got a sense of foreboding from them today. Something like a cross between a Gramsci quote and a WB Yeats quote.

    1. clinical wasteman

      slightly more reason for optimism of the will if it’s true that the centre cannot hold.

  12. MoiAussie

    Sy Hersh in Leaked Tape: Russiagate Is a CIA-Planted Lie, “It’s a Brennan Operation”

    No link for this one, but let’s just say it’s from a source that the Ron Paul Institute writer suggests may soon be taken off the air by US sanctions. I’m sure anyone interested can find it. Just one quote…

    Speaking about Russiagate he says he has a trusted source who told him it was started, or at least fueled, by a conspiracy between the CIA chief Brennan, NSA chief Rogers, and the Director of National Intelligence Clapper. The trio colluded in telling the media that they had overwhelming evidence that Russia hacked the DNC — something that was absolutely not true.

  13. Judith

    Elizabeth Warren is having a town hall meeting starting at 5:30 today (from her email):

    Senator Elizabeth Warren will be hosting a town hall in Revere on Friday, and you’re invited!

    She will be making remarks and answering questions about what’s happening in the Senate and how she’s fighting for Massachusetts families. This is also a chance to talk with our staff about any questions or concerns you might have, or assistance you may need.

    Here are the details:

    Town Hall with Senator Elizabeth Warren
    Friday, August 4th
    Revere High School
    101 School St, Revere, MA
    Doors open at 5:30 PM, event starts at 6:00 PM

      1. Mike

        “You talkin’ to me???” I hear her saying as she rushes to the exit. This is a woman who plays it safe. Congress is committee cowardice as a system meant to send that message to the ranks, just so they know their limits.

  14. schultzzz

    re: “Have smartphones destroyed a generation?”

    An incredibly frustrating read – purposefully-addictive tech is a real problem, but here it’s only discussed in terms of fake generational marketing labels (boomers, gen-X, and the truly vile term which the author is trying to build a career off of (“the iGen”)).

    As a snowflake who is equally triggered by Silicon Valley baloney AND vapid ‘teens these days!’ thinkpieces, I don’t know how to feel.

    On the other hand, the politico headline (“How the CIA Came to Doubt the Official Story of JFK’s Murder”) made me laugh so hysterically – oh man, thanks for that, Yves.

    I think I’ll print that out and carry it in my wallet so I can look at it whenever I feel bummed.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      I was truly impressed that the author thought a “thing” had more effect on the IGen’s lives rather than say, societal changes, economic changes, lack of a clear future path, etc. He’s obviously looking at the world through highly polarized glasses…..

      “In the late 1970s, 77 percent of high-school seniors worked for pay during the school year; by the mid-2010s, only 55 percent did. The number of eighth-graders who work for pay has been cut in half. These declines accelerated during the Great Recession, but teen employment has not bounced back, even though job availability has.”


      I watched a segment on our TV news about a week ago where local employers were complaining about not having enough employees for their minimum wage jobs. When asked why they didn’t hire students, the employers responded that they have to work around the student’s schedules and that just didn’t work for them so they don’t want to hire students for these jobs, …. they’d prefer immigrants…..

      1. Spring Texan

        That’s one cool thing about the H.E.B. grocery chain (privately held). . . they are SUPER-accommodating to student schedules. Students can leave for the school year and come back and work in summers, for a few days at Christmas and Thanksgiving if they like, and keep their jobs. Or even if they have other schedules like alternate months in town . . .

        H.E.B. is pro-public-schools too:

    2. Tertium Squid

      From the article:

      Millennials, for instance, are a highly individualistic generation, but individualism had been increasing since the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out.

      My impression is the opposite – the West is becoming more self conscious and shame based as time goes on. See, shame-based:

      Social media levy a psychic tax on the teen doing the posting as well, as she anxiously awaits the affirmation of comments and likes. When Athena posts pictures to Instagram, she told me, “I’m nervous about what people think and are going to say. It sometimes bugs me when I don’t get a certain amount of likes on a picture.”

      I suppose the author means individualism in terms of self-identification through consumer selection?

    3. s.n.

      On the other hand, the politico headline (“How the CIA Came to Doubt the Official Story of JFK’s Murder”) made me laugh so hysterically – oh man, thanks for that, Yves.

      i was particularly impressed by the revelation that “Several documents are written in foreign languages”. that must have stumped them. No wonder the delay in releasing these revelations

    4. FluffytheObeseCat

      I have a teenager. Who has an iPhone, iPad and a laptop. She watches them simultaneously. It’s not good, but it’s no different from what millions of former teenagers did in their idle hours, talking on landline phones while watching TV and playing their transistor radios.

      The most asinine part of this piece was the passage where the author described Boomer teens hanging out at a skate rink, or some other haven of idleness, drinking peppermint schnapps and smoking cigarettes…… as though these were ever seen as benign, virtuous pastimes. WTF? The over-credentialed fear-salesmen of that era painted exactly “those kids”, engaged in exactly those “anti-social” behaviors as the self-destructive losers of their time. They claimed “those kids” were at risk of suicide or other acts of self-destruction, because they were always loitering at these venues, far from their family homes.

      Articles about “what’s wrong with kids today” are usually wrong, in any era, if usually well-meaning. The writer of this one though, had to be laughing as she cashed the check for this piece. She knows that the ‘negative’ behaviors she links to iPhones would have been touted as safe and socially clean 45 years ago. (I.e. staying at home or going on outings with family, instead of dating early in high school, and hanging out drinking peppermint schnapps with smokers).

      1. clinical wasteman

        yes, yes & yes, especially concerning “over-credentialled fear salesmen” of every so-called generation. “Well intentioned” may be a bit of a stretch though. “Sincerely malign (with a high opinion of their own intentions)”, for sure.

      1. schultzzz

        Xerox? You’re telling me Apple doesn’t own the lowercase ‘i’ and all words beginning with it? The good news keeps coming!

  15. justanotherprogressive

    Re: What Einstein’s brain tells us about intelligence:

    So Einstein’s brain had more of them. Yet that doesn’t explain why so many mathematicians, Nash, Goedel, Cantor, Isaac Newton, to name a few, who have had brains as equally potent as Einstein’s have been mentally ill – which is associated with having less astrocytes and more damaged astrocytes……

    I am sure there are just as many instances with geniuses in every endeavor who have been mentally ill…..but mathematicians are what I know best…..

    The researchers may be on to something, but no cigar – not yet…….

  16. HBE

    Atlantic smartphone piece.

    Another “this tree looks nice, what forest?” piece. I am in complete agreement with the author on the damaging effects of smartphone overconsumption, but this piece like those on video games seems to mistake correlation for causation.

    Smartphones are not the cause of the precarious mental state of the young, they are an outward symptomatic expression. The author lightly touches on some of the systemic economic difficulties faced by this generation but largely ignores them in favor of his chosen tree.

    This generation spends less time at the mall (“out and about” generally) with their friends because, as the author notes – less are working than ever before, and fewer parents can afford to subsidize their teens. They spend less time off their phones because they can’t afford to do otherwise. Every TV show, every movie shows them how they “should be living” (like the top 10%), when the blinding in your face realty makes it clear that the likilhood of achieving that lifestyle is nil.

    Smart phones are an escape, teens aren’t facing mental precarity because of them. They are facing mental precarity, because of economic desperation, and hopelessness. They see the reality of the bad present and a bleak future, something smart phones did not cause.

    I’m tired of the conscious MSM effort to avoid any mention of the economic wasteland faced by millennials, and its effects.

    1. DH

      I have four kids ranging from 31 to 24 in age. We saw a huge difference during their high school years depending on the increasing prevalence of smartphones. The fourth one (daughter) had 10,000 text messages per month (average over 300 per day) while the older ones had 1,000. These are just the regular text messages, not counting Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. that might be going on. The relative amounts of messaging are still the case as the younger ones use messaging more for communication than the older ones.

      Bullying is now a completely different thing than it was even a decade ago. Cyber-bullying allows for bullying to occur 24/7/365. It used to be that when you left the school grounds, bullying would dissipate significantly and during summer breaks etc. would almost vanish. The continuous omnipresent cyber network meant that cyber-bullying now follows your cellphone all the time. We ended up pulling our youngest daughter out of that high school and moving her to another one and changing her cell phone number in the process to snap the cyber-bullying threads. That ended up being the only thing that worked after two years of hell in high school. We were getting seriously worried that she would not make it out of high school because the cyber-bullying problem was getting so severe. The boys still seem to have much more normal in person interactions. The girls seem to have taken to going underground with non face-to-face bullying through the cyber network. The girls have essentially weaponized their smartphones.

      As a side note, my wife teaches in elementary school in an inner-city school. It is the American-born kids (irrespective of race) that bully. The immigrant kids don’t. She sees it every day in her classroom and it has been a very consistent pattern over many years.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Bullying, as a lifestyle, requires a profound and subtle understanding of social rules. So I’m not surprised that newcomers would participate much less.

        Was bullied, feel sorry for bullies. As I see it, the successful serial bully has to have a lot of ‘life’ skills. But we don’t test for those. ‘You’ve manipulated people 20 years older than yourself, laughed in front of them and your peers for getting away with it, but you have a 70% on spelling, so we still rate you a loser.’ The only person in their life to demand and expect responsible adult behavior from them is, finally, the vice principal.

        1. DH

          I think it is priorities as well. The immigrant kids and their families seem very focused as education as the means to advancement in society. So they work hard, keep their head down, and graduate as valedictorians after entering school with zero English skills. Their families don’t appear to view social status in an inner city school as something to aspire to. They are more focused on getting to university and getting out of the inner city school. I am sure that breaks down somewhat in high school as raw ability becomes more important and there may be more stratification within their group.

      2. Richard

        I’ve taught in elementary schools for 20 years, and would agree with that last statement. But of course, bullying is all about who is percieved to have power and status, who is in a position to ostracize and torture, and as a group, immigrants will tend to have less of that status.
        And I’m also sure there’s more to it than that. Identification with imperial behavior perhaps, with the biggest bully of them all?

    2. Toske

      Well said. I also want to nitpick the author’s notion of “independence,” which she defines very much through her own generation’s lens. Today’s youth can achieve a feeling of independence through a broader set of activities than their predecessors had access to. For example, using Snapchat can give them a feeling of independence; they can interact and share photos and experiences with whomever they want, beyond their parents’ prying eyes and ears, without actually having to meet up in somewhere outside to do so, as was the case for Gen X-ers.

      Another example would be playing Minecraft online with friends. An elder sees a nearly-motionless kid sitting alone in a room at home, staring intently at a glowing piece of plastic. But the kid is experiencing something quite different; an immersive and social adventure in a magical world, especially if he’s using a virtual reality headset. When asked to recount their experiences in virtual reality, players will talk of having “been in” or “gone to” certain “places” within the virtual world. Their experiences, from their own subjective perspective, did carry a feeling of freedom and travel.

      However, that certainly doesn’t mean those experiences are as fulfilling as those that make full use of our senses and emotional machinery. Seeing real faces and hearing real voices is a much more information rich and emotionally stimulating form of communication than text correspondence. Touching people who are close to you is extremely important to emotional wellbeing, but if you’ve gone a while without doing so, you can start to forget this. At that point you’ll feel that something’s wrong, but you won’t remember what it is, so you won’t know how to correct it.

      1. JTFaraday

        Their brains are still developing and they’re plugged into this thing and whatever happens on it goes straight through to the most inner recesses of their personhood. I don’t even have the language to describe what the internet does to people. Being in that state all the time can’t be good.

    3. Arizona Slim

      Me? I read Naked Capitalism on my smartphone. Well, okay, I’m on the computer right now. But most of my NC time is spent with the infernal little device that’s sitting behind the computer.

    1. Jim Haygood

      This is what direct mail wizard Richard Viguerie did using paper, ink and postage stamps:

      Viguerie’s development and honing of national direct mail campaigns in the mid-to-late 1970s was considered revolutionary in its approach and was quickly adopted by insurgent conservative political campaigns.

      Conservative activist and political candidate Jeff Bell applied the strategy in 1978 to unseat longtime liberal Republican Senator Clifford Case in the 1978 New Jersey primary.

      With Facebook profiling, political persuasion can be done at ten times the scale, and at a tenth of the cost.

      Now you know what the affable billionaire Mark Z has in mind. Just wait till the opinion molders in the spook agencies get on board … Operation Digital Mockingbird, as it were: seamless and invisible. :-0

      1. Arizona Slim

        Thanks for bringing back memories, Jim. My father, a conservative R if there ever was one, was on many of Viguerie’s mailing lists.

        However, as he got older and more infirm, he wasn’t as interested in the conservative message as he was when he was younger. I guess his physical weakness softened his worldview.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    What Einstein’s Brain Tells Us About Intelligence, According to the Scientist Who Studied It Inc (David L)

    Googling ‘the most compassionate persons in history,’ there weren’t too many immediate results. You have to click the articles to find out. And you get ‘peaceful people’ in history, which is not exactly the same, and you also get ‘compassionate rulers’, as if compassion is a quality confined to only some powerful people.

    In any case, without actually clicking on any of them, I saw one mentioning ‘he even had compassion for insects’ in the ‘Most Peaceful People’ article. My guess is that person was either St. Francis or monk Ryokan….probably the latter, who wrote something like (recalling off the top of my head), go ahead mosquitoes, feast on my legs, lest you should die.

    Do we award Nobel for compassion, in addition to peace?

    Do we study the winners’ hearts, or brains, or both?

    In close, I hope you enjoy this haiku (I think it was in the original Japanese version), by Issa (meaning one tea, or one cup of tea, a reminder of Joshu, or Zhaozhou, in Chinese)

    Don’t worry, spiders
    I keep house

    (This was before Roomba).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The brain is not the key to a better tomorrow.

      The heart is.

      Keep track of which one you are more focused on, attracted your attention to, or distracted by.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        We are conditioned to believe that there is only one kind of intelligence. Not true – as you point out. We depend on others to keep us alive – it’s time we also started using our “emotional intelligence” (our hearts in your words) to foster each other’s survival so that we all may survive…..

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think we have to confront and denounce.

          Which is more dangerous:

          1. a low-IQ but peaceful Bonobo ape
          2. a evil genius human?

          Which one is more likely to destroy the world?

          1. Richard

            The Phi Betta Kaps took us to Vietnam, so I’m with the hippie apes. (Not meant as a knock on hippies, but as a compliment to the Bonobos)

  18. Jim Haygood

    Just desserts:

    Congress sank to a 10% approval rating in a new Quinnipiac University poll released on Thursday, with roughly five in six Americans saying they disapprove of the country’s legislative body. This compares to an 18% approval rating in March.

    Congress’s overall 10% approval is the lowest for Congress in Quinnipiac’s history of data back to 2003. Using Gallup data beyond that, it’s the lowest for Congress in data back to 1974.

    (Congress did reach a 9% approval rating in Gallup polling in November 2013 in the wake of a two-week government shutdown.)

    Ten percent — that’s about the same approval level as cockroaches, ISIS, and STDs.

    Just as the 21st century has taught us that negative interest rates are possible, I believe that negative approval rates for Congress are possible, meaning no one approves; while many advocate their public crucifixion.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Well done, Congress!!! Maybe they can catch up to Michel Temer’s rating of like 4%. Temer being the openly criminal, appointed (not elected) President of Brazil??!!?

        1. justanotherprogressive

          No doubt they will go after destroying healthcare again, because that has done so much for their ratings in the past……

          Or maybe trying to destroy healthcare is the only thing they know how to do…..

        2. Richard

          They’ll really have to work hard! When you get in those low percentiles, not much easy, low hanging fruit to knock off, and pretty soon we’ll get down to just members of their families and flunkies and they’ll never lose them!
          I’m trying to think of a suggestion, but all I’m coming up with are matching spandex Bipartisan uniforms, with lots of nicknames, and inside jokes, and fake comic book enemies, and chortling together at the end of each episode. Like The Legislation League or something. Boy I sure would hate that even more!
          Just like it’s hard to improve on 90, it’s hard to drop from 10.

    2. Vatch

      And despite this abysmally low approval rating for Congress as a whole, most voters will continue to reelect their incumbent Senators and Representatives.

    1. alex morfesis

      zookarz spending will be in the billions with a big B…but spending money at the beginning of a race is almost always a losing proposition…hopefully he will get myspaced before 2020…

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I’m not so sure, he has a lock on the attention of a group that, if motivated to turn out, could move the dial significantly. At 10% Congressional approval, the traditional Dems bent on scoring own-goals, and Repubs as rapacious and laughable as ever, and if Zuck blathers about free money for college or income, watch out.

  19. TK421

    I’m sorry you had a bad time, Yves. Hopefully today will be better. And there’s no need to apologize!

      1. schultzzz

        Absolutely! Today’s links were even better than normal! Sometimes it’s a quality vs quantity thing.

  20. nechaev

    for those following stories about the lost Denisovan race, the elegant artefact recently uncovered

    40,000-year-old bracelet made by extinct human species found

    just got a lot older:

    …New findings suggest it could be 65,000 to 70,000 years old, long before ancient people were believed to capable of making such remarkable objects….

    1. jaxbeau

      I couldn’t get past the headline in the Siberian Times: “Did Paleolithic man make this bracelet for his girlfriend?” Geesh. Now do you understand what it’s like going through life as a female who is assumed to have no agency?

  21. Carolinian

    More on Google and WSWS.

    Google argues that it is seeking to implement changes to its search engine in order to “improve” the experience for users. But it is obvious that users who are searching for the word “socialism” or “socialist,” and “Russian revolution” are looking for socialist web sites and a socialist perspective!

    I’m not sure it’s that obvious. While WSWS often has surprisingly well reported and detailed articles they are clearly pushing a point of view (as is the NYT). I’ve always thought of them as a somewhat obscure venue and the fact that they claim to get much of their traffic from vague search terms such as “socialist” seems to make that point. If you Google search “WSWS” or “World Socialist” they are still at the top of the list.

    Finding things on Google has always required a bit of intelligent technique and O’Reilly even put out a book about it. If random Google searches are the only way WSWS has of promoting itself they may need a better plan.

    Meanwhile there are other search engines. A Google turn toward censorship will be ultimately self destructive.

  22. Jim Haygood

    Venezuela’s ongoing currency collapse took a dramatic turn for the worse today, as the bolivar fuerte [“strong bolivar”] sinks to 18,983 at midday in Caracas, versus 15,900 yesterday.

    That’s a 16% slide from yesterday, 50% from early last week, and a 99.87% loss since Maduro’s inauguration in 2013.

    What’s it spell? Humanitarian catastrophe, with absolute life-threatening shortages of food and medicine.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This following is a short fiction brought to you by a tree-hugger:

      South American man cuts a Quebracho tree, axe breaks and crushes his foot.

      From Wikipedia, Quebracho:

      Quebracho (also known as Luciano malo) is a common name in Spanish to describe very hard (density 1.15 – 1.35) wood tree species. The etymology of the name derived from quiebrahacha, or quebrar hacha, meaning “axe-breaker”.

      “Plastic or paper (from a tree), ma’am?”

  23. Vatch

    At “Socialism 2017” conference, International Socialist Organization shows its pro-war colors WSWS

    After reading this, I was curious, so I went to the ISO (not the standards organization) web site, and I found these:

    These articles seem to at least partially contradict what Jerry White and Josh Varlin said in the linked article:

    “What was most striking about the event was the virulence of the pro-war policy of the ISO.”

    I think it’s good to recognize that the U.S., China, and Russia all engage in imperialism. I suspect there’s some inside the beltway style infighting among WSWS and ISO people.

    1. nechaev

      Inter-trotskyite faction fighting at its best. Don’t get to see much of that anymore but there used to be the Spartacist League versus the Workers League versus the dominant trot hegemon Socialist Workers Party, all frothing at each other….. Lyndon LaRouche emerged from that milieu…..Hal Draper’s ISO was one of the grouplets from the mid-60s….the smaller the group the more fierce the invective…..The ISO has surprisingly survived all these decades and was quite visible in Tahrir square in the year or so after the 25 January uprising in Cairo. The World Socialist Website claims it’s the true successor to the Fourth International. I dunno-might be true

    2. steelyman

      I don’t think White and Varlin are that far off the mark.

      I read the article in the first link only and then clicked on a couple of the other ISO links at the bottom which led me to another article by Ashley Smith and it’s clear that that he holds almost borderline neocon tendencies disguised in some lefty rhetoric; in particular, the conflating of Russia, China, and Iran as being as imperialistic entities whose behavior is no different from the USA.

      Whatever you think of those latter three countries, somebody should ask Smith how many countries Russia, China and Iran have invaded and eviscerated in the first 17 years of this current century. These three nations may well be rapacious imperialists as Smith believes but they don’t have the warlike track record of the USA at this moment in time.

      PS Also did some skimming of the Readers’s Views pages and these seem to demonstrate pretty open acceptance of Western intervention if done for the right reasons (eg democracy, R2P, human rights, getting rid of a nasty dictator etc).

  24. Jason Boxman

    The social media connection to depression doesn’t surprise me. I stopped using Facebook. Nothing quite makes you feel worthless like constantly seeing all the stuff you’re not invited to by people that often are barely even acquaintances. If I don’t see it, I rarely think about it, because I’m busy doing something else. When I grew up, it was dial-up Internet and AOL. I can only imagine what it’s like for kids today.

    1. nippersmom

      The only thing I find depressing about Facebook is that seeing some of the comments posted by people I used to respect has permanently altered my perception of them in a negative way, especially posts and “shares” of a political nature. It certainly hasn’t affected my sense of self-worth or made me feel like I’m missing out socially (but then, I’m not a terribly social person to begin with).

      1. Arizona Slim

        I’m with you, nippersmom. Last year’s election — and the freakouts that followed — have caused me to minimize the Faceborg time.

    1. River

      In some places of the U.S it has already happened. Detroit, parts of Louisiana, Appalachia, etc.

      The result of 40 years of squeezing workers and the middle class.

  25. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    ALBERT EDWARDS: The same problems that caused the financial crisis are back Business Insider (David L)

    The hubris of the rich: We solved that same problems so well, we’re even rich today.

    “Sir, can I have more of the same problems? And thank you for giving us an A+ for that.”

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Freedom and Fear: India and Pakistan at 70 The Diplomat (resilc)


    Without a Brexit divorce deal, all the transition talk will have been a waste

    What price hegemon-riddance?

    Seventy years ago, or today.

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From education in Japan:

    There are a number of reasons why Japan excels in providing educational opportunities. One of them is how it assigns teachers to schools. Teachers in Japan are hired not by individual schools, but by prefectures, which are roughly analogous to states. Their school assignments within the prefecture change every three years or so in the beginning of their careers, and then not quite as often later on in their careers. This means that the prefectural government can make sure the strongest teachers are assigned to the students and schools that need them the most. “There’s a lot going on to redirect the better teachers, and more precious resources, towards the more disadvantaged students,” Schleicher said.

    I was thinking the Ministry of Education…incorrectly.

    1. Uahsenaa

      There’s also a disconnect here between what exists on paper and what happens in reality. The more well-connected schools (i.e. the one’s that are typically viewed as being academically superior), can hold onto their teachers basically for as long as they like and have first dibs on teachers with a proven track record being transferred from somewhere else. For the vast majority of Japanese teachers, the above is true, but because the schools within an area are highly stratified, it means the elites get to do whatever they want, regardless of what the rules happen to be.

      Also, and this should be obvious, but this only applies to public schools. Private schools, of which there are many, can do whatever they want as well.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      The ancient settlements of the tropics are also a reminder that Homo sapiens is an incredibly adaptive, flexible species, said Roberts. That’s why we can “occupy every environment on the planet, through periods of dramatic climate change, and became the last remaining hominin.” In other words, our ingenious, sustainable farms and cities may have been what saved us from the fate of the Neanderthals.

      We occupy so many environments so well and so thoroughly that there is no room for other species.

      “This room is occupied. Sorry. Try somewhere else.”

  28. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    UK needs bottle deposit scheme to cut plastic litter in oceans, says thinktank Guardian. Mary L: “The USA &/or US states need to do the same; additionally, eliminating the ridiculous plastic straws that come w/glasses of water at many restaurants.

    From the 30,000 year farmers story:

    Roberts said troubles in these areas arose relatively recently, when “colonial, industrial societies” came from outside the tropics and tried “to practice monoculture, pastoralism, and urbanism within them.” This led to “unsustainable landscape modification and environmental destruction,” he said. “The classic example of this is palm oil monoculture in Southeast Asia, which is basically destroying this region’s rainforest as a result of a lack of genetic diversity, landscape instability, and the spread of fire across large swaths of these areas.”

    And the top uses for all that palm oil?

    Uses of Palm oil. In the food industry, palm oil is used as a cooking oil and shortening and in the manufacture of margarine, non-dairy creamers and ice cream.

    No ice cream any more?

    Cut down its consumption?

    1. Pat

      Well, no commercial ice cream with a shelf life anyway. Homemade ice cream, and locally made ice cream doesn’t use palm oil for the most part. Losing margarine would be a blessing and not just because of the palm oil and there are other things that could be used as shelf stable coffee creamers. Really going non-dairy using this is a good idea:


      I don’t think so.

    2. nippersdad

      Human societies have been collapsing throughout human history due to their predilection to overburden their environments. There is nothing “relatively recent” about this phenomenon. if one is looking for a truly “classic” example, one need look no further than the Maya. Syria and Iraq used to be covered in forests….

      There really is nothing new under the sun. Which is not to diminish the present reality of chemical pollution also degrading our environments, just to say that we have been told to “go West, young man,” as a species for as long as we have existed.

  29. Uahsenaa

    So, since I worked in the Japanese public educational system (high school), I can say with a fair degree of certainty that what is said about Japanese education from without is often grossly misleading.

    Take the “higher graduation rate” comparison. This completely ignores how ridiculously easy it is to graduate from a Japanese high school. You basically just have to show up. Passing grades on any given exam are generally determined by getting over 50% of the average score, so if the average on an exam is a 70%, then you only need a 36% to pass, a grade that, by the standards of most educational systems, would be considered abysmal. As a result, there’s a great deal of bullying and coercion that takes place within Japanese classrooms, downward pressure on high achievers not to stand out from the pack.

    Also, schools within any given area are highly stratified. There’s generally one tip top school, a few decent ones, and quite a few mediocre ones. And because you have to sit an exam to get into the better ones, those who have the financial resources to send their kids to a cram school from a young age fair much better than those who can’t.

    Where Japan does substantively differ from, say, the US, is they have nowhere near as much extreme poverty and income inequality, so they generally lack the tier of absolutely terrible, horrifically underfunded schools that we have here in the States. This isn’t to say that Japan has no issues with poverty, homelessness, or anything of that sort–it does. The Japanese government also calculates poverty differently from the US (half the median yearly income), so by that standard the US would look much worse than it does even now. That would make the poverty rate about 40% in the US as opposed to about 16% in Japan.

    tl;dr – it’s not an apples to apples comparison

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Passing grades on any given exam are generally determined by getting over 50% of the average score, so if the average on an exam is a 70%, then you only need a 36% to pass, a grade that, by the standards of most educational systems, would be considered abysmal. As a result, there’s a great deal of bullying and coercion that takes place within Japanese classrooms, downward pressure on high achievers not to stand out from the pack

      I was thinking an alternative is ‘No one in the class passes until every one passes.’

      But, being a pessimists of human nature, the worry is they (the smart students and/or their parents) would force the slow learners to disappear from the class. “Move to another district!!!”

      1. Uahsenaa

        With the prevalence of bullying in Japanese schools (both by fellow students and teachers/administrators), it’s possible that something like making life intolerable for a student so that they want to leave could happen. I saw something like this at a girls’ school I worked at, a girl who was mercilessly bullied until she finally broke down and demanded to be transferred. The other, more gruesome, result of this kind of bullying is suicide.

        More likely, I think, is that teachers and students would be expected to work with students constantly to improve their performance or, as is sometimes the case even now, simply facilitate their cheating. It’s fairly common for new teachers especially to be expected to work with lower performing students for hours after the final bell. Some of them don’t get home til 8 or 9 at night, after getting in at 7 in the morning. As a result, many succumb to the pressure to simply give their charges an unfair boost, so that they don’t have to spend most of their nights working well into the evening.

        And I can’t really blame them. If I were to fail any more than 1 or 2 students in a class of 20, my chair would come down on me, not the students who never bothered to turn in any of their work. So, I have historically fudged my own pretty lax standards on a number of occasions, because working as adjunct you can be let go at the end of the semester for no cause whatsoever.

        1. Clive

          A teacher of my acquaintance here in England reports exactly the same situation. She also advises it is widespread. No Child Left Behind has become No Educator Free From Pressure To Participate in the Great Bezzle.

    2. subgenius

      Passing grades are supposed to be an indication of knowledge. I have taken exams in the US in which almost all my classmates achieved 70%+, and would argue that less than 10% had any real understanding/expertise. I have taken exams in Europe where the passing grade was probably around 40% and only 1-3 achieved 70%+. Even students passing at the low end (or even failing…) had a degree of understanding of the subject.

  30. s.n.

    this analysis has bannon and kushner on the same team as the neocon retreads aching for bombing iran? or are these factions highly fluid?

    Iran hawks, Bannon loyalists booted in White House purge

    A faction of Iran hawks in the Donald Trump administration appears to have been dealt a blow in recent days. Several officials allied with White House chief strategist Steve Bannon have been removed from the National Security Council (NSC).

    Among them are NSC senior director for intelligence Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who was removed Aug. 2; NSC senior director for the Middle East Derek Harvey, who was asked to resign last week; and NSC director for strategic planning Rich Higgins, reportedly for writing and circulating a bizarre memo alleging a conspiracy of globalists, leftists and Islamists trying to undermine Trump, according to The Atlantic….

    Though McMaster officially removed Bannon from the NSC principals committee after taking over from Mike Flynn in February, recent reports and sources indicate that Bannon has continued to operate a kind of parallel power center that has drawn in fringe thinkers who favor regime change in Tehran. A faction around Bannon has been thinking about how to destabilize Iran but is constrained by the fact that Trump tells them he does not want another big war…

    “The challenge is that the administration wants to do North Korea and Iran in Year One, to go into 2018 with national security capital,” the military analyst told Al-Monitor, describing what his associates have heard in discussions with Bannon….

    “Regime change would come, in theory, from economic recession in Iran combined with ethno-nationalist revolts in areas such as [the southeast region of] Balochistan,” the military analyst explained. “A combined series of events that would degrade the Islamic Republic.”


  31. zer0

    “In America, who’s more likely to win an election: a scam artist or a war hero?”

    Anyone who proclaims to be a ‘war-hero’ IS a scam artist. This reminds of a line in Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five: “The nicest veterans…I thought, the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most, were the one’s that really fought”

    I’ve never known war to be honorable, and never known a hero who wasn’t. McCain, for all of his torture and whatnot, should be against war in general, but instead has some perverse sense of Schadenfreude: we do not want these people winning any elections. Ill take an oblivious scam artist ANYDAY, over someone who finds heroism in war.

  32. gepay

    How the CIA Came to Doubt the Official Story of JFK’s Murder – Why was this article picked? Does the CIA ever indulge in lies, disinfo, or limited hangouts? That Oswald really was a supporter of Castro and Communism has been thoroughly debunked by researchers of the JFK assassination. Especially those who looked to find out who Oswald (“I am a patsy”) was in real life. You know that the nonny nonny poo poo of dismissing someone by calling them a “conspiracy theorist” was one of the CIA’s more successful operations. They thought it necessary as the majority of Americans at the time didn’t believe the “lone nut” theory.
    The Warren commission Report’s conclusions are as false as the intelligence behind WMD in Iraq and its ties to Al Quaeda. Although written many decades ago, Sylvia Meagher’s Accessories After the Fact still holds up today. Do you actually believe the “magic bullet” theory? The lawyer Spector who made up this fiction later became Senator. Gerald Ford, Warren commission member and strong supporter of its conclusions became the 1st unelected President of the US. Hale Boggs, member who dissented, is another of those people The Powers That Be dislike whose airplane falls out the sky. Amazingly, it was never found. Allen Dulles, fired by JFK, so in anybodies right mind, a suspect, is the head of the Commission. Could Dulles have known anybody who could organize an assassination of a head of state? Is it possible that Hoover and the FBI would go along on a cover-up?
    What people in the CIA probably wondered was who in the CIA was a participant in the coup d’etat that put LBJ in the oval office.

    1. alex morfesis

      pretty sure the warren commission was correct in concluding jfk was actually dead and not on some island held captive by ari onassis…the article seems more Sabato than Shenon, considering their backgrounds and agendas…but kfj appears to be in a state of continued non breathing…

      figuring out WHO is the fun part but there was no one HOO…

      e tu brutal…they all did it…

      jack valenti used to taunt investigators by suggesting someone would have talked…

      everyone talked…that is why there are so many books and websites on the subject…
      J edgar made sure a number of groups thought they were the only ones who were going to know about “the window”…he controlled umbrella man and the vacuuming of data after the fact…

      many of the people who have squeezed out information probably believe they were the only ones involved…but J edgar fixed it good…he was not going to be resigned…

      but…don’t really matter…those who were involved are either dead or drooling from the side of their mouth…chasing kfj and the magic rifle is as valuable as chasing nano particles instead of watching the grandkids play baseball…

      poets priests and politicians…our ears and eyes fail us…

      not looking to start some long winded back and forth on what others have left for us to ponder…even if someone who was in the railyard suddenly spoke up…would suggest they
      keep it to themselves…no grand revelation of paperklippers in langley or nasa will change

      most people do not want to accept they were wrong (or are ever wrong) and will continue down the mental path they have created for themselves…

      mission accomplished…too much minutiae and
      not enough facts…

      flood the mindshafts with misdirections…

      there are children dying of malaria…starvation…and hate…

      there are many things left to be done…

      there will be no magic moment if one is able to piece the broken shards together…

      there are other things in life than just knowing…

  33. StashMeOutsideTheRepublic

    “Grok” is in the same category as “thought process”: words with no good reason to exist when “grasp” and “thinking” convey the same meaning, and are neither as ugly or inelegant as the interlopers. So why do they exist? To exclude those who won’t use it because they’re not aware that self-presumed smart folks are using it: usually the poorly educated and the lowly of birth? Me, I don’t use them cuz I’m a snob who can’t stand the implied pretensions of grok and thought process, and who deploys his snobbery better. #goththedroponyall

      1. CachMeOutsidTheRepublic

        Yep, that’s grasp in fashionable and unattractive clothing. Let’s hope it goes the way of a bad 80s hairdo 13 years took up just to fit in. (|;—•}>

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Grok grok grok grok grok. Make you feel better? (Just so you readers know, he left a nasty second comment on this pet peeve that wound up in moderation and I relegated to the dustbin).

          Get a life. Readers who get up in arms about the use of on single words despite admitting that they are correctly employed and worse have the temerity to harass a writer over them are petty and abusive. I work too hard for too little pay to take crap like this.

          Management expert Michel Schrage wrote that businesses need to fire 15% of their customers, that they have unreasonable demands or want something the business isn’t set up to do and never said it would provide. They wind up draining resources and aren’t worth the cost. Schrage said management is better off getting rid of these customers and finding ones that want what the business is providing.

          You’ve self identified as one of those customers. If I could block you from reading this site I would.

        2. ChrisPacific

          It implies a complex and nuanced situation, and implies deep (rather than superficial) understanding of all layers of meaning. It also has something of a mystical connotation, as ‘all layers’ includes metaphysical, spiritual etc. (hippies were fond of it). So it’s a little more than just ‘grasp,’ which would fit very little of the Wikipedia definition above.

          I wasn’t a particular fan of the story – I like Heinlein best when he isn’t lecturing me, and I found this one on the preachy side. But I don’t begrudge people using the word in situations where it’s helpful.

    1. marym

      I was never a science fiction fan, but did read Stranger in a Strange Land when it was the thing to do among college friends. What was amazing and fun about grok was that it seemed so intuitive to…er.. grok what it meant as it entered casual conversation easily at the time.

      My desktop dictionary shows think and thank with the same Indo-European root. Who’da thunk? Languages grow and change – it’s unstoppable. The rich heritage of English gives us many subtle choices. Enjoy! Grok!

    2. ewmayer

      May I just say that I utterly detest the hipster-doofus abbreviation of ‘because’ as ‘cuz’? U grok?

  34. craazyboy

    Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? Atlantic (resilc). Key quote:

    Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones….There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy.

    It’s because they’re always talking to their whiney friends!

  35. Synoia

    Japan Buries Our Most-Cherished Economic Ideas

    It would be interesting to know how wages have risen.

    It’s also time to put a ’70s shibboleth to death. The rampant inflation in the ’70s was not the “wage pull” inflation so beloved by the wonderful Volker. It was the consequence of the 1973 tripling of oil (energy) prices rolling through the economy, and transferring large amounts of money to a bunch of desert dwellers. It did trigger automatic wage raises in union contracts, that however was a reaction, not a cause.

    The desert dwellers got away with their behavior – one wonders where the vaunted US Military might was engaged in at that time, as the oilfields in question are easy to invade.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Wouldn’t it be cool if they would measure the thing they were trying to describe accurately.
      Shadowstats has impeccable methodology explaining that if we measured inflation the way we did up until 1990 it would be more like +/- 10%.

      2% just steals 25% of your purchasing power over 10 years so it’s a frog-boiling exercise, whereas with 10% you’re racing backwards financially. Which BTW matches peoples’ real-world experience.

      As one commenter said: “yep there’s no inflation, that is unless you need to eat, sleep somewhere, use electricity, visit a doctor, or send a kid to school”.

  36. rjs

    Re: Is The EIA Exaggerating U.S. Oil Production? OilPrice

    the correct word is “overesimating”; dont assume a nefarious intention…earlier this year they were underestimating the weekly output, and when the corrected monthly numbers came out 2 months later they were higher….they report production on Wednesdays for the previous week, and those aren’t meant to be any more than guidance, there’s a lot of data to be gathered from thousands of wells before they can come up with a number that’s close to accurate..

  37. Peter L.

    I read the article by JEAN M. TWENGE, with interest. When I clicked on the link underneath her name, another story came up, “Young People Are Happier Than They Used to Be,” in which she reports on a study:

    “Adults 30 and over are less happy than they used to be, while, teens and young adults are happier; in fact, adults over 30 are no longer happier than their younger counterparts. It seems that mature adults’ happiness has waned, while young people’s happiness has flourished.”

    This piece was from 2015. I’m curious about the relationship between this study and the observations about smart phone use.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It reads like ‘Teens are the new 30,’ even as we (‘more mature’ people’) celebrate (secretly maybe) that 60 is the new 40.’

      You 14-15 year olds, enjoy your 30 to 40 age-of-zenith-happiness now, as you can’t wait to grow up to vote, smoke and drive.

    2. Livius Drusus

      I think the difference between the under-30 crowd and the over-30 crowd boils down to expectations. My own impression is that people under 30 are very optimistic about their future. Most of them seem to think that they will be in the upper middle-class at least with a great job and the spouse of their dreams. By the time they get close to 30, though, reality sets in and most realize that they will probably not achieve their dreams and this leads to unhappiness. Twenge discusses this in the 2015 article you posted.

      Smartphones and social media feed into the unhappiness cycle. You see everyone supposedly getting everything they want out of life. They have great jobs, take great vacations and have great spouses and perfect kids. You then feel worse about yourself and this makes you unhappy and frustrated. People will generally only post good stuff to their social media accounts so you aren’t seeing the reality of their lives. How many people post about their boss yelling at them or their struggles to pay bills or that they had a fight with their spouse and are contemplating divorce? So the “reality” people see on social media is not really real just a curated version of what people want you to see. This feeling of envy and lack of self-worth can be more extreme in the over-30 crowd as society says we are supposed to have reached certain milestones by then (marriage, good job, house) so if you don’t have these things and you see that others do it makes you feel worse about yourself.

      Twenge suggests that extreme individualism is also at work here. Trying new things and experimenting are fun when you are a teen or 20-something but for many people in their 30s they want stability and it is harder to obtain stable work and stable relationships in our society so that just adds to the unhappiness for the over-30 crowd. I have seen this play out with my own friends. Most of them had high expectations of what they would achieve by 30 but many have not succeeded and it has made them bitter and depressed.

  38. david s

    Re: Zuckerberg article.

    How is it possible that anyone connected to Hillary’s 2016 campaign could ever be hired for anything political ever again?

  39. zapster

    Craig Murray loses it on a crucial point. VZ is *not* centrally planned. The supply lines are all owned by the elites that are rioting, burning down warehouses of food that the government has purchased for the poor, and hiding what they’ve imported to drive up prices. At most, VZ is trying to compensate for it. Chavez’ biggest mistake, perhaps, was not being dictatorial enough to relieve them of all of their property from the beginning. He left them in charge of most business, most media, and whatever other private property they had outside of some unused land the nation needed to grow food. Few in the west have chased the real history down–it’s not easy to find anymore. It was much easier back before we decided on regime change.

  40. ewmayer

    o “Leaked Photos Link Corbyn To Known International Terrorist | Waterford Whisper News” — Didn’t click, so let me guess which Known International Terrorist™ the Waterford Whisperers may have in mind: Tony Blair? G-g-gordon Brown? Any recent U.S. president?

    o “Is the Expanding U.S. Military Presence in Syria Legal? | American Conservative” — When was the last time The Empire pretended to give a rat’s patootie about whether its doings were legal? Anyone? Bueller?

    o “Grand jury assembled in Trump-Russia investigation | BBC” — Great, now all we need is the ham sandwich. I hear those go great with a bowl of borscht!

    o “EVANGELICAL FUNDAMENTALISM AND CATHOLIC INTEGRALISM: A SURPRISING ECUMENISM Vatican. Glenn F: “Catholic church denunciation of Trump regime. No truer words written. Schism time in the heartland.”” — I count 4 isms in just 20-odd words there – impressive!

  41. Ned

    National Geographic’s sad demise. Yes, the photos are beautiful…but

    Rupert Murdoch now owns National Geographic.

    They have gone mainstream corporate propaganda, swallowing the GMOs are “Safe” hook, line and sinker, with no proof.

    And they are screwing consumers in the following manner: We bought an expensive set of all National Geographics on DVDs. Five years later, they no longer work on newer computers. Free upgrade? Nope, we are expected to buy another complete set. Screw them, we’ll never spend one more cent with them. If you want to read National Geographics, go to your local public library.

  42. kareninca

    Thank you for your comments on women. I have never had any women friends to speak of; just a few who were stuck with me for some reason (e.g. neighbors who needed my help). I attributed it to my lack of social skills; I have Aspergers. Then I gained a lot of weight due to a med I was taking; I was really fat (not quite obese). Suddenly I had a lot of women friends!!!

    Then, several years later, I stopped the med, lost the weight, and the women friends melted away too. My mom only has women friends now that she is old and fat; she also never had them when she was younger. It turns out that women who are “pretty” and have hourglass figures don’t get to have women friends. I can’t even imagine how confusing it would all be if I worked for a living; it would be ghastly. I figure I’m stuck with my husband and dog and a few male friends, at least until I become old and fat too.

    1. flora

      A really interesting aspect of Jane Austen’s novels is the focus on economic prospects (perceived strengths and weaknesses) for women from the 18th and 19th century female point of view. A woman’s financial competition is every bit as fierce and ‘impersonal’ as we now accept for men competing in the economic world (it’s nothing personal, it’s just business), it’s only different for gender differences (e.g a young woman’s financial future was entirely tied to the man she could attract and marry). The more things change….

  43. melior

    Hmm, “so far” appears to be the key phrase. Since that Reuters article was written a few days ago, the combined value of the split bitcoin is up 20%.

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