Links 9/21/17

This beautiful albino orangutan is waiting for her ‘forest island’ Treehugger

Pet parrot uses voice-controlled gadget to place order with Amazon Australia

Turkeys are ‘strategizing’ in Cambridge and officials want to do something about it Boston Globe (resilc)

Singapore baggage handler ‘swapped hundreds of tags’ BBC

The Electronic Computers, Part 2: Colossus Creatures of Thought

The science behind the 15 most common smart drugs Quartz

Species of madness TLS

Class Warfare

Race v. Class? More Brilliant Bourgeois Bullshit from Ta-Nehesi Coates Counterpunch (TR)

Did Gov. Susana Martinez Break SEC Rules In New Mexico Pension Deals? International Business Times. David Sirota.

California Regulators Require Auto Insurers to Adjust Rates ProPublica

How Many of 2017’s Retail Bankruptcies Were Caused by Private-Equity’s Greed? Wall Street on Parade (UserFriendly)

Wisconsin appeals court upholds right-to-work law Jurist

A Decades-Old Conviction Cost Me My Post-Retirement Job Marshall Project

Opinion: The Federal Reserve is peddling ‘Tinker Bell economics’ MarketWatch (UserFriendly)


Time for US to push back on China’s economic bullying of allies Asia Times

Is China set to fully open its financial borders to foreign institutions? SCMP

S&P Cuts China’s Credit Rating, Citing Risk From Debt Growth Bloomberg


An economist says India lacks the guts to even admit that it faces epic economic problems Quartz

Hindutva’s Forward March Jacobin

With Prices Rising Post-GST, Has the Government Taken the Public for a Ride? The Wire


Equifax Has Been Sending Consumers to a Fake Phishing Site for Almost Two Weeks. Gizmodo. Richard Smith: “This is what a cybershitshow looks like.”

Hackers Entered Equifax Systems in March WSJ

2 Upper Midwest neighbors appear headed for divorce E & E News. Chuck L: “There may be other conflicts within electric utility companies whose service areas straddle state boundaries.”

The Consequences of the U.S. Baby Bust Bloomberg

Health Care

Why ‘approved’ medical devices in the U.S. may not be safe or effective Health News review (micael)

Republicans plan healthcare vote; Obama and TV host denounce bill Reuters

Graham-Cassidy: Maybe the worst Republican health proposal yet Economic Policy Institute (micael)

Illinois submits big Obamacare rate increases to the feds Chicago Tribune


The Life Sciences should not have an Industrial Strategy SPERI (micael)


EU fears Theresa May ‘will not be able to uphold Brexit pledges’ Guardian

German Election

The myth of the ‘boring election’: Populism and the 2017 German election Blogs LSE (micael)

Catalonia: Thousands take to streets of Barcelona to protest crackdown on separatists Independent

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

It looks like Obama did spy on Trump, just as he apparently did to me The Hill

Google intensifies censorship of left-wing websites World Socialist Web Site (micael)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Foreign Policy ‘Realists’ Hit Nerve With Establishment Elite American Conservative

North Korea

‘Sound of a dog barking’: North Korea ridicules Trump threat Guardian

Trump Transition

Comcast looks forward to more mergers during Trump presidency Ars Technica

If Donald Trump is going to use WW2 to justify his UN speech, it would be good if he got his facts right Independent. Robert Fisk.

What Happened To The Obama DOL’s New Overtime Rules? Above the Law

Paper ballots are back in vogue thanks to Russian hacking fears CNBC

No renegotiating Iran nuclear deal, all parties fully compliant – EU foreign policy chief RT (micael)

Ignore Trump’s Words on Climate and the Paris Treaty — Look at What He’s Doing New York magazine

New Cold War

Wanted: Russia Experts, No Expertise Required Bloomberg

More Holes in Russia-gate Narrative Consortim News (UserFriendly)

Mueller Seeks White House Documents Related to Trump’s Actions as President NYT

2016 Post Mortem

Judicial Watch FOIA Request Hillary Clinton Judicial Watch (micael). Hillary Clinton invitation to Putin.

Hillary Clinton Will Never Understand What Happened (UserFriendly). Don’t miss this.

Why Are Hillary’s Approval Ratings Even Lower Than Trump’s? AlterNet

Prosecutors Want Anthony Weiner to Serve About 2 Years in Prison NYT

Kill Me Now

Mark Zuckerberg’s Political Awakening Bloomberg

Mexico earthquake: Race to find survivors under collapsed school BBC

San Francisco, Oakland Sue 5 Oil Giants for Climate Change Impacts Climate Liability News

Hurricane Alley

Puerto Rico entirely without power as Hurricane Maria hammers island with force not seen in ‘modern history’ WaPo

TV hurricane coverage failed my family Columbia Journalism Review

Analyzing the 5.5 Million Pounds of Air Pollutants Released in Texas After Harvey TruthOut

Maria Back Over Water After Devastating Hit to Puerto Rico Weather Underground

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Quanka

    Equifax is going down — anyone who doesnt realize that by now is in delusion. Yet, nothing in the mainstream would really lead you to that conclusion (at least right now). Despite every single day the hack clearly being worse than originally disclosed AND the company tripping over itself with the reaction. Does anyone really believe the 143mm number at this point? Basically – every American whom they had data on should assume to have been compromised. So that leaves out … what … only people who are under 5 years old???

    Maybe this will be the market correction catalyst that is obvious only after the fact.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I’d like to see it follow in the footsteps of, oh, Enron, Arthur Andersen, and, what the heck, Penn Central.

        Being in business is a privilege, not a right. I think that Equifax — and many other companies — need to understand that.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      There is nothing in our recent history to support your assertion. It would be best for our consumer economy over the long term if it were true, but recent history strongly indicates otherwise.

      It is more likely that Equifax will stay in business, and that the credit reporting industry model will remain unchanged. A majority of those imperiled by the data losses will never obtain credit freezes. A very random, poorly tracked number of them will be terrifically damaged by data theft. Those damages will not be acknowledged or effectively redressed by any federal agency. The inevitable increase in ID theft crimes will be dealt with piecemeal, using existing methods, and the burden of ‘mopping up’ will fall on retailers and consumers.

      1. Jess

        Couple of questions about freezing credit records:

        Is freezing it with Experian and/or Trans Union enough, or do you also have to freeze it with Equifax?

        If the latter, does freezing it with Equifax mean that you have to sign that waiver giving up your right to be part of a lawsuit?

        1. Mike

          It is suggested that once you start a freeze with one firm, you should complete the cycle and freeze all.

          That said, it is questionable how such freezes will be handled internally at the bureaus, and whether the harumphing by Warren and the CPSB will translate into regulation AND enforcement. If scams have been pulled by one bureau, why not the others? If freezes cut their earnings, will an unwatched bureau even implement a real freeze?

          Do not assume, for it makes… for empty pockets.

        2. MLS

          My understanding is that you should freeze with all of the big 3 (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) individually through their respective websites. Freezes expire after 5 years although it’s possible they come up with a longer-term solution before then.

          Also, don’t forget to freeze at Innovis, which is a smaller player but still considered part of the Credit Reporting Agency industry.

          1. Mike

            Good point – another one is that if you are married, even though your credit reports cover both incomes/credit history together, each one of you should apply for a freeze separately.

            Just another service they offer…

    2. fresno dan

      September 21, 2017 at 7:46 am

      But what about potential regulatory changes? Might not the government decide to nuke the industry? While that is a small risk, keep in mind that what Equifax did (by being lackadaisical about security software) is far less egregious than the big banks that nearly destroyed the world economy in 2008-2009.

      Did anyone go to prison? Were the big banks broken up? No, because, despite the largely justified fury that Americans felt over the crisis and the bailout the banks got, at the end of the day, the world still needs them to keep credit flowing and the gears of the world economy turning.
      I think equifax should be prosecuted out of existence AND sued out of existence.
      However, I remember all the ranting, raving, commenting, and writing to congress that I did after the Great Recession….which resulted in exactly one prosecution for world record fraud (and yeah, not one iota of that prosecution was due to my efforts….)
      The United States loves its squillionaries……and the US shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of its wealthy….PARTICULARLY if their fraudulent***

      ***Rules, laws, propriety, honesty – all impediments to business…..
      Larry Summers

    3. sunny129

      Equifax is NOT going down if one sees the recent movement it’s stock share prices.. With all the negatives out there, it should be in the teens and NOT in 90s!

      It may get a slap on the wrist and then business as usual, like the rating agencies!

      I have no confidence in the regulatory apparatus in US. Just look the Banksters with jail free cards!

      1. Yves Smith

        You are looking at the wrong ball. Equifax is going to be hit with a tsunami of private suits, and many state provide for hefty damages for allowing info that enables identity theft to be purloined. Equifax’s failure to patch reported security holes makes them very vulnerable to this sort of litigation. And go look at their net worth and current assets.

        The stock market is not so hot at predicting financial failures. In August 2008 AIG was trading at $280 in current value terms (as in value of a current share). In Sept, it went to $44 and Oct to $26, as it was being bailed out.

        Similarly, on Sept 8. Lehman closed at over $16 a share. David Einhorn had been raising well documented doubts about Lehman’s financials since IIRC at least March. That admittedly was well down from its January level of ~$60.

  2. kimyo

    Fluoride exposure in utero linked to lower IQ in kids, study says

    The study found a drop in scores on intelligence tests for every 0.5 milligram-per-liter increase in fluoride exposure beyond 0.8 milligrams per liter found in urine. However, although the researchers found a potential connection to a child’s exposure to fluoride in utero, they found no significant influence from fluoride exposure on brain development once a child was born.

    The American Dental Association said the study’s findings “are not applicable to the U.S.”

    if you happen to believe that fluoridation is beneficial, why wouldn’t you also believe that there is an optimal dosage?

    how can a mother know that her 28 pound toddler is getting the right amount? her 200 pound high school linebacker? what if the toddler drinks mainly fruit juice and the linebacker gatorade?

    shouldn’t this be a matter of personal choice?

    1. DJG

      kimyo: Surely, you must be under the age of about 40, because you don’t remember a time when many, if not most, Americans over the age of about 50 had dentures. Further, there is a considerable literature now about how decaying and diseased teeth and gums cause systemic problems, especially the heart.

      The article mentions that the dose of fluoride is being studied widely.

      The public-health benefits of fluoride are remarkable, along the lines of what happened with the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines. Do you remember polio?

      “Personal choice” is very often used by the panic-stricken to reinforce bad choices. I am reminded of the current controversy in Italy about vaccination. Yes, vaccination, which has been so successful in controlling smallpox, measles, and diphtheria, all of which can be fatal.

      “Personal choice” often seems benign, but when you insist on undermining public health, I’m not buying it.

      1. polecat

        That argument doesn’t take into account ALL of the infinite number of human produced chemicals, of which fluoride is just one, that leach or otherwise find their way into the greater environment … at an unknowable cost to the natural world …
        I’ll utilize fluoride in toothpast form .. At least that delivery is less destuctive than to disperse into the water system, and hence untargeted subjects !

        Hey Humans … It’$ not all about YOU !!

      2. kimyo

        sharing information is not ‘undermining public health’. your accusation is not an argument and does not address the validity of studies which show NO difference between countries which fluoridate and those which don’t.
        An Overwhelming Number of Scientific Studies Conclude That Cavity Levels are Falling Worldwide … Even In Countries Which Don’t Fluoridate Water

        The Journal of Public Health Dentistry noted in 1991:

        During the past 40 years dental caries has been declining in the US, as well as in most other developed nations of the world… The decline in dental caries has occurred both in fluoride and in fluoride-deficient communities, lending further credence to the notion that modes other than water fluoridation, especially dentrifices, have made a major contribution.

        The International Society of Fluoride Research noted in 2005:

        Graphs of tooth decay trends for 12 year olds in 24 countries, prepared using the most recent World Health Organization data, show that the decline in dental decay in recent decades has been comparable in 16 nonfluoridated countries and 8 fluoridated countries which met the inclusion criteria of having (i) a mean annual per capita income in the year 2000 of US$10,000 or more, (ii) a population in the year 2000 of greater than 3 million, and (iii) suitable WHO caries data available. The WHO data do not support fluoridation as being a reason for the decline in dental decay in 12 year olds that has been occurring in recent decades.

        The British Medical Journal noted in a 2007 paper:

        Although the prevalence of caries [i.e. cavities] varies between countries, levels everywhere have fallen greatly in the past three decades, and national rates of caries are now universally low. This trend has occurred regardless of the concentration of fluoride in water or the use of fluoridated salt, and it probably reflects use of fluoridated toothpastes and other factors, including perhaps aspects of nutrition.

        Clinical Oral Investigations noted in 2007:

        In most European countries, where community water fluoridation has never been adopted, a substantial decline in caries prevalence has been reported in the last decades, with reductions in lifetime caries experience exceeding 75%.

        (much more at the link)

      1. Yves Smith

        The time when you need fluoride is when your adult teeth are forming. The problem is the overwhelming majority of parents are not organized/disciplined enough to give their kids a pill or a fluoride drink daily during the critical years. And knowing how the US works. anything like this would not be distributed free. People would have to pay and go to the hassle of getting it, which is a tax on time, which is also very costly if you are poor.

        1. apberusdisvet

          I am not sure that Fluoride at any age is appropriate. First of all, there are many studies showing a minimum (if at all) benefit to combating tooth decay. Second, there are numerous studies that show that Fluoride is a dangerous neurotoxin. One by Harvard shows a link between Fluoride and reduced IQ levels among children living in jurisdictions that fluoridate the public water supply. It should be noted that the two most common types of fluoride used for public consumption are hydrofluorosilic acid and sodium silicofluoride both of which (even separately) are banned from consumption and considered HAZARDOUS WASTE!!!

          1. kimyo

            aside from the iq studies, there’s this: Water Fluoridation May Increase Risk of Underactive Thyroid Disorder

            The study found that locations with fluoridated water supplies were more than 30 percent more likely to have high levels of hypothyroidism, compared to areas with low levels of the chemical in the water.

            The Colorado Thyroid Disease Prevalence Study

            The Framingham Study showed that 13.6% of US women older than 60 years had TSH levels greater than 5 mIU/L.5 In Italy, where dietary iodine is low, serum TSH levels greater than 5 mIU/L were found in only 1.5% of similarly aged women.

            italy doesn’t fluoridate. are there other factors? obviously.

            still, there are millions of americans with thyroid disorders who have no choice but to consume fluoridated water (even bottled water is generally fluoridated).

            shouldn’t it be up to them to decide what goes into their bodies?

              1. kimyo

                Seriously, do you ever read the actual studies behind the articles you post?

                did you read yve’s instructions prior to posting? apparently not.

                Criticize ideas, not people

                1. justanotherprogressive

                  OK, the way I said it was my bad! I’m sorry!

                  My retry:
                  I think that if you read the studies themselves, you might see that they don’t support your thesis about flouride as much as much as the articles try to lead you to think they do. It’s a common problem with the press trying to make things more dramatic than they actually are, especially with things like medical research.

                  1. justanotherprogressive

                    OK, the way I said it was my bad! I’m sorry!

                    But I think that if you read the studies themselves, you might see that they don’t support your thesis about flouride as much as much as the articles try to lead you to think they do. It’s a common problem with the press trying to make things more dramatic than they actually are.

                    I might also add that when there is substantial, provable, evidence that flouride in water at 1 ppm levels is harmful, I would agree that it should be removed from water, but right now the anti-flouride people sound a lot like “anti-vaxxers”…..

                    1. kimyo

                      there is little doubt that fluoride intake alters thyroid function. in europe, until the 1970’s, fluoride was used to treat hyperthyroidism.

                      counting only those who are iodine-deficient (15.3% of females aged 6 and above (table 3)), we get roughly 23 million u.s. women at risk of fluoride-related thyroid disorders at current fluoridation levels of .7mg/l.

                      based on the threshold bolded below, a 130 pound iodine-deficient woman is likely to experience thyroid level changes if her daily fluoride consumption ranges between .60 and 1.8mg / day.

                      8 glasses of water / day = 2l = 1.4mg fluoride

                      many try to portray diseases such as hypothyroidism or celiac as mental disorders, picky people following celebrity trends. however, this is just not the case, like celiac disease, hypothyroidism is a physical disorder, it’s real, it shows up in bloodwork.

                      shouldn’t the millions suffering from it be allowed to find out if their symptoms improve upon removal of fluoride from their diet?

                      Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’s Standards (2006)

                      In humans, effects on thyroid function were associated with fluoride exposures of 0.05-0.13 mg/kg/day when iodine intake was adequate and 0.01-0.03 mg/kg/day when iodine intake was inadequate.

          2. Yves Smith

            Easy for you to say. I would give my arm to have had fluoridated water as a toddler.

            I have had a ton of root canals, three extractions and one more to be done, lots of crowns due to not having fluoridated water. And I am religious about brushing my teeth and seeing the dentist, plus past the age of 12, I have had had vastly less sugar and HFCS in my diet that the average American (a once in a while dessert, less than one a week, no sugary drinks, no prepared food so no hidden sugars). The concerns are exaggerated. My younger brothers have great teeth (we moved and they got fluoridated water) and no cognitive or general health issues of the sort you flag.

    2. justanotherprogressive

      I suggest reading the actual study. The p-values point to lead, mercury, and maternal intelligence as factors far more important in children’s intelligence than flouride. In fact, the researchers have come to no conclusions about flouridated water – they just say that there may be an “association” (and from their data, it appears to be a really weak “association”), but say that additional research is required.

  3. Jim Haygood

    “Spanish police seized close to 10 million ballot papers (to be used in the referendum) from a warehouse in the town of Bigues, about 30 miles north of Barcelona.” — Independent article

    Laughable. One is reminded of the Widow Kirchner’s attempt in Argentina to silence criticism by forming a government newsprint monopoly to throttle the supply of paper to Clarín and La Nación.

    Inútil in the digital age!

    The pumps don’t work ’cause the vandals took the handles — Bob Dylan

    1. dontknowitall

      Sounds to me like the Spanish intelligence agencies got their hooks on the Catalonians’ comms – they got rolled like in good old East Germany.

      Over the last several days Spanish journalists have participated in Portuguese tv roundtables (sort of unusual) and to my surprise it has gotten pretty heated with yelling on all sides and that is not typical of such news shows in Portugal. If that is how its going on the other side of the Iberian penninsula, i fear much worse to come to Catalonia.

    2. RabidGandhi

      For those who came in late, Argentina has one newsprint company, Papel Prensa, S.A. Under the last dictatorship (1976-83), the company’s owners were kidnapped by the military and forced to sign over majority ownership to the country’s two largest media conglomerates (Grupo Clarín and La Nación), essentially giving them monopoly control over all of the country’s newspapers. The country’s press then proceeded to provide overwhelmingly favourable coverage to the dictatorship and to every right wing regime since, including the neoliberal peronist Memem government, and the current Macri administration, which receives virtually no negative criticism in the hegemonic press.

      The Kirchner Administrations (2003-15) unsuccessfully attempted to break up this press monopoly’s power. Their draft law had called for making the ability to access newsprint to be “in the national interest” and thus guaranteed under Argentine law.

      I’ll let the rest of you decide whether this was an “attempt in Argentina to silence criticism by forming a government newsprint monopoly to throttle the supply of paper to Clarín and La Nación” and thus anywhere close to Madrid censoring press in Cataluña, or whether Comrade Haygood is, once again, making sh*t up. ‘

    3. RabidGandhi

      Adding: if I feel like I’m repeating myself to a broken record it’s because I am:

      RabidGandhi [in response to Jim Haygood, May 7, 2017 at 8:41 am]
      May 7, 2017 at 11:10 am
      Kirchner’s opponents in the press own the only company that produces newsprint paper (Papel Prensa SA, illegally adjudicated by the dictators to the country’s major media monopoly, Grupo Clarín under very nefarious circumstances).

      At no point did Kirchner’s media law or any other legal actions ever threaten Clarín, La Nación, Perfil or any other newspaper with being deprived of newsprint paper; quite the opposite: it guaranteed that there would be equal access to Papel Prensa’s products, as opposed to the current monopoly situation.

      Quit making sh*t up.

      Golly, they should make a policy about that… oh wait:

      Typical violations:

      1) Broken record: Repeating the same point over and over again, especially when it’s long been refuted. That includes taking an argument that was rebutted on one post and repeating the same argument on another post.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Time for US to push back on China’s economic bullying of allies Asia Times

    This is something that has puzzled me about Trumps trade policies so far. Some countries – China, Japan and France are obvious examples – are masters at erecting bureacratic ‘bumps’ to slow down trade with less favoured partners and to protect local interests. As this article says, there are numerous small ways a country can be protectionist while still acting just about within international trade rules.

    Consider asymmetrical responses that are within bureaucratic or administrative purview, such as indefinitely delayed visas for CCP elite, revoked green cards, liens on bank accounts, taking 30 days to clear Chinese ships entering US ports owing to ‘health and safety concerns’ or intellectual property issues.

    Governments spend years protesting standards, technical barriers to trade, and other far less explicit cases of discrimination and economic aggression, but do nothing against China’s blatant economic warfare intended to weaken alliances and national defense.

    Unless I’m missing something, I’ve seen no evidence of Trump showing any inclination to use the persuasive powers he has to interfere with trade from China or anyone else – i.e. to persuade his supporters within the wider bureacracy to start creating difficulties at ground level.

    If anything, Trumps blustering against supposed allies like South Korea and Japan has if anything made it harder to restrict trade with China, giving the Chinese pretty much a free hand to use trade as a weapon against everyone they want to push around. And make no mistake, the Chinese are ruthless when it comes to ‘punishing’ countries when they want to assert their power position.

    It makes me wonder whether Trump and his advisors are really incompetent when it comes to playing the trade game, or whether its all just sturm and drang intended to play to his constituency and he is really a free trader at heart.

    1. JohnnyGL

      “It makes me wonder whether Trump and his advisors are really incompetent when it comes to playing the trade game, or whether its all just sturm and drang intended to play to his constituency and he is really a free trader at heart.”

      – There’s been a few reports of Trump in the news saying “someone bring me plans for tariffs” and apparently, everyone on his staff is coming back saying, “well, gee, sorry, it can’t be done because of xyz”. It seems Trump’s incompetence is combining with his staff of neo-cons and neo-libs to completely neuter whatever paleo-con predilections he may have.

      But yes, your point about causing aggravation with particular trade partners via ‘death by 1,000 cuts’ is well-taken. Doing this sort of thing requires lots of planning, creativity, patience, and attention to detail. I don’t think these are qualities in heavy supply with Trump, or his staff.

      1. Sid Finster

        My SWAG is that Trump would like to adopt a more protectionist pose, but any steps in that direction will upset the establishment at home and allies abroad.

        So for all practical purposes, no it can’t be done. Or at least he can’t do it.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If China is better at the trade game right now, it’s alright. They have a head start.

        We have to be…patient.

        Being patient is playing the game the same way those in Asia do.

        Too early to say too much at this time.

    2. BoycottAmazon

      Large US Corporations are afraid to complain hard about China’s practices, because they fear being excluded from the market completely. Look at what happened to South Korea’s Lotte Corporation in China, and the embarrassing silence from US Government, or Fellows Corporation. Further, the CCP has a seat on the board of all significant Foreign owned /JC corporations, and their rank & file management is almost wholly CCP members. Amazon finally got very limited access to China by lobbying against US taking action.

  5. Jen

    Judicial Watch FOIA link takes you to the Reuters Obamacare repeal article. I’m dying to see (and share) Hillary’s invitation to Putin!

      1. Enquiring Mind

        If I skim the comments at just the right speed, they move around like switched baggage tags into Hillary apologizing to Putin. Now, that is a link I’d like to see, ROFL!

  6. leftover

    RE: Counterpunch/More Bourgeois Bullshit from Ta-Nehesi Coates
    Charisse Burden-Stelly at BAR:

    People may argue that at least Ta-Nehisi Coates is opening up a conversation, which is better than saying nothing at all. To this I respond: no it’s not.

  7. Marco

    RE Google intensifies censorship article. My default behavior now is to go to the 2nd page of search results. Even a simple query for programming language syntax usually includes useless corporate ad garbage disguised as real content selling software services or frameworks.

    1. dontknowitall

      These days I only use Google Scholar for research and default to DuckDuck Go or for regular searches. Google Scholar is a precious jewel in the den of thieves that Google has become. I hope they don’t crappify it, but if they do the academic community will force the creation of something better.

      If I really need to use Google Search then I use a VPN and route the search through a northern EU country like Sweden just to take advantage of different advert regs to unclutter my search.

      A couple of years ago a Wikipedia senior officer tried to get the ball rolling on starting a new search engine that would be less commercial than Google. She was fired immediately.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Amakudari [Japanese bureaucrats hired by industry after retirement] American-style:

    CNN has signed Preet Bharara [former US attorney, southern district of NY] as a senior legal analyst, meaning he will be a frequent presence on the network’s programming.

    The arrangement allows Mr. Bharara — already a fixture in political and media circles in New York — to expand his audience into millions of living rooms. Rumors that Mr. Bharara may be considering a political career have also persisted, and his decision to take a role at CNN is likely to reignite speculation about his plans.

    He is an executive vice president at Some Spider Studios, a media company run by his brother that publishes Cafe, a news and entertainment website.

    The gov-media axis, comrades: it’s an exclusive club, and we ain’t in it. Ask Hillary and Barack about how to leverage a stint in public office into a multi-million book deal.

    You will not surprised to learn that Preet Bharara is writing a book. Doubtless it will contain scant reflection on the savage prison sentences which make the US the world’s most menacing Gulag.

    1. EB

      Talking about Hillary’s new book: I noticed that you can buy the book already at a discount at Waterstones in Cambridge, UK. This might be an indication that her book does not sell very well, at least in the UK.

  9. Vatch

    Hindutva’s Forward March Jacobin

    Thanks for the link to this article. The Hindutva movement resembles several other contemporary or historical movements, such as Christian Dominionism, The Islamic State, the Medieval Inquisition, and Young Earth Creationism. It’s sad that so many people in so many different cultures are willing to step backwards.

    1. skippy

      Seems as the near reality does not square with such – universal views – regression is the only option.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    California Regulators Require Auto Insurers to Adjust Rates ProPublica

    Maybe they will look at health insurers as well.

  11. Wukchumni

    You’ve no doubt heard the latest in regards to threats against the North Kaweahns, if they don’t back down from their mistletoe program…


    Now, to explain the joke, in proper context:

    There was a socialist/communist group on the north fork of the Kaweah in the 1880’s, while on the south fork of the Kaweah, it was decidedly capitalist, as it was the route to the mines in the Owens Valley in the 1860’s, just the same way it plays out in NK/SK presently.

    1. Wukchumni


      The socialist/communists had figured out which giant sequoia tree was the biggest of them all, and dutifully named it the Karl Marx tree, after their hero.

      It’s now known as the Sherman Tree.

      1. Wukchumni

        Obligatory Sequoia NP joke:

        There used to be an awesome bar 20 years ago, in the Giant Forest area where the tall timber hangs out, and my friend Joni was tending it, when a touron came in and asked where the Sherman Williams tree was?

        An off duty NPS employee in street clothes was doing barley soda curls, and w/o missing a beat, uttered:

        “It’s closed for painting”

  12. allan

    Distrustful U.S. allies force spy agency to back down in encryption fight [Reuters]

    An international group of cryptography experts has forced the U.S. National Security Agency to back down over two data encryption techniques it wanted set as global industry standards, reflecting deep mistrust among close U.S. allies.

    In interviews and emails seen by Reuters, academic and industry experts from countries including Germany, Japan and Israel worried that the U.S. electronic spy agency was pushing the new techniques not because they were good encryption tools, but because it knew how to break them.

    The NSA has now agreed to drop all but the most powerful versions of the techniques – those least likely to be vulnerable to hacks – to address the concerns. …

    File under Big Brother is Watching You Watch the Imperial Collapse.

  13. a different chris

    Awesome that some idiots decided “HARP” was a good acronym for a medical group, since every kid’s cartoon ever shows death as the transference into an angel attached to a harp.

    1. Rambo

      i’ve had three people in the past week tell me that HARP is a covert, governmental organization formed to destabilize the poor and working class by causing natural disasters. they have linked harvey, irma, and the earthquakes in mexico to this portion of the government.

  14. Michael B.

    re: Mark Zuckerberg’s Political Awakening Bloomberg
    Geez, this dude is completely psycho. Did anyone read the article and note that he says the following things and doesn’t even realize how twisted, evil and psychotic they are.
    (1) He talks about putting his money into finding a way to transfer a brain (his of course, and other billionaires I am sure) into another body. Assuming his goal is immortality, which is twisted enough, then the evil implications of this are too numerous to mention in full. But, a few come to mind for sure. Whose body is he taking? Will he take dead peoples bodies? I doubt it. So, will bodies be “farmed” for use as recipients of his and others brains? If so, what happens to the person/brain of the donor body? How are the donor bodies raised to adulthood? I assume you can’t put an adults brain into a 2 year old body. Will people like Zuckerberg choose bodies not out of need but just so they can have more attractive bodies? I can’t believe he said this in an interview and his handlers didn’t advise against it, and that he thinks this is sane.
    (2) He already has superbocks of FB shares so he can propose anything and then approve it. Now he wants to be able to divest all of his financial investment in FB so he can be philanthropic (translated as do whatever he wants with his money (see (1) above), not pay taxes, etc. and still retain complete control over the company. Isn’t this like being a dictator?
    Makes me wonder what the other crazy rich people are doing with their money that they are smart enough not to say out loud.
    Why are people wiling to turn over their lives, their thoughts, their privacy to a delusional psychopath like Zuckerberg?

    1. Jess

      Although I’m as skeptical as anyone here about FB, I am on it, primarily to keep in touch with some old classmates and friends who have scattered to the far winds. One recent change is that now every single day you get a post of your timeline urging you to connect with Mark Zuckerberg, follow Zuck, etc. So every single day I have to hit the edit tab and hide that post. But yeah, he’s getting ready to run for president. I imagine that Aaron Sorkin is going to get even richer from the reruns, DVD’s, and streaming sales of THE SOCIAL NETWORK.

      1. curlydan

        I get the same “friend requests” in my feed from my good bud, MarkZ. And despite not being friends, I also got to see in my feed photos from their recent religious ceremony of some sort in their home, handing down a 100 year old artifact to their precious ones.

        Barf! First, he’s running for President of the U.S.–next, the WORLD!!!

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        I’m not particularly worried about Zuckerburg. After all, he’s hired a bunch of Clinton people, and he lacks Hillary’s charisma, loyalty, and claims of experience. The whole businessman routine appeals to Republican voters and only in theory. Its like the national debt. They don’t really care. They just say it to annoy Democratic voters.

        Zuck will run with Cuomo and Kaine.

        I’m reminded of an Onion article about former Governor of Virginia Jim Gilmore’s optimism after finishing second at the Gilmore Family Reunion Presidential straw poll in 2007. Jim had 2 jelly beans!

    2. Mike

      Your question has an automatic answer- we were ready to vote, and did vote in large numbers, for two examples of sociopath for President. The Zuck is merely one in training, although he has prestigious credentials already.

      1. Michael b.

        I agree 100%. As long as the two party system is allowed to continue, we will always have one choice, represented by two candidates; both sociopaths. As long as people keep believing that Democrats and Republicans are fundamentally different, we will in essence continue to have no choice. I see it as the Harlem Globetrotters vs. The Washington Generals. Just a show. The only difference is in our political system the D’s and R’s get to take turns being the Globetrotters.
        Not sure if you agree, but another funny thing that people don’t realize is that political parties are private entities, and not truly part of our government. As a result they have no obligation to anyone but their party members.

        1. Mike

          Absolutely, as was proven by the suit against the DNC, where their ace attorney admitted that the DNC was in no way beholden to have open, neutral primaries – it could still be done in a “smoke-filled room”. So, not only are they private, but their decisions are private FROM THEIR MEMBERS. Beat that…

          To me, the Constitution is becoming the blank piece of paper it started out as. We have, to amend a quote from Vidal, two Property Parties – one more rabid than the other, one representing the multinational capitalist who is free of national responsibility, the other representing the wannabes who show talent and drive, but need a leg up to be “made”. Both ultimately get the job done – protect property from the propertyless can’t-wanna-“bees” (as in worker). All those immigrants who came over from 1880 to 1920 were meant to be peasants-in-transit, and they were pretty much given as much right. Our politics is geared to treating those below the salt as such. Its gotta be changed.

  15. Olga

    For Bernie-crats: the Real News Network is live-streaming his speech at the Westminster College. It is on foreign policy – and maybe, just maybe will be less imperialistic than before (11:36 CPT).

    1. Olga

      Promising? At 11:58, talking about the Iranian (1953) and Chilean (1973) coups d’état and the long-term consequences.

  16. Butch In Waukega

    I would like to donate for the relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Can anyone recommend a reputable organization?

    My friends and I donated to Partners in Health for Haiti relief, but I believe Puerto Rico needs something different. It is estimated that the island will be without electricity of 3 to 6 months. Hospitals and food distribution will be crippled. And of course, our put-america-first leader will have as much empathy for the US citizens of Puerto Rico as he has for Nambia.

    Unfortunately many well-meaning people will by default donate to the Red Double-cross, believing their dollars will be put to good use. Their dismal performance in Haiti, Houston and Florida is (thanks to corporate media) unknown by most people.

    1. Arizona Slim

      International Relief Teams is my go-to organization.

      I volunteered with them back in ’06-’08. Went to MS to help reconstruct houses that were damaged by Katrina. Learned first-hand that IRT does a good job of managing donated funds.

  17. Jessica

    Is Hindutva just another version of the process of nation building that all the other leading went through earlier. Or does the way that Hindutva maintains and reinforces the caste system in all its divisiveness make it uniquely contradictory?

  18. Wukchumni

    Doesn’t this sum up our era in a financial vein?

    “Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in something. And they were so serious in this matter that they insisted that the rest of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said was true.”

    Richard Feynman

  19. Oregoncharles

    “The Consequences of the U.S. Baby Bust Bloomberg”
    OMG, this Bloomberg article actually links to CASSE: He doesn’t agree, of course, but linking to them is still amazing. Actually, I wish NC gave them more attention.

    The article is worth reading just for the charts. Besides the sharp drop at the end of the Baby Boom, there’s another after 1990 and, oddly enough, another in 2008, followed by a continued slow decline. We can take that as a rational response to a bad economy, but the overall implication of the article, especially the discussion of Finland, is that the better the conditions, the lower the birth rate. Apparently when the people who have to actually give birth make the decisions, they don’t have enough babies to replace themselves.

    As I’ve said before, overall, that’s a problem we wish we had, since the sustainable population would be something like a fourth of what it is now. Once it’s at sustainable levels, our descendants can figure out how to maintain it. Less crowding might help.

    That said, the article focuses on the immigration issue. That’s a tangled web. Besides Yves’ sensible point that high immigration constitutes a cheap-labor policy, much depends on the breadth of view. Locally, it makes sense to do our part to lower word population, especially given the larger impact of prosperous people, and import people to mitigate the economic effects – and do the work Americans don’t want to. But what’s the overall impact? If making conditions better lowers the birth rate, that would help; but what if a safety valve just increases it? The only good solution is to try to export progressive policies to those countries, the opposite of what’s been done, improving conditions there, reducing emigration pressure, and encouraging birth control.

    Something isn’t clear to me: is net immigration still negative or very low? It dropped in 2008, like the birth rate, but what’s happened since? This article essentially says it’s still very low, but doesn’t offer figures. One problem with, umm, unofficial immigration is that all the numbers are very vague.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If we look at how billionaires are created, and how the stock market works, these following two fundamental laws are inherent:

      1. desirable to have more customers (a bigger pie to divide among the corporations).
      2. desirable to have more spending per customer (also about a bigger pie here).

      Etiologically, billionaires and the market constitute the first cause of population explosion.

  20. Mike

    RE: Paper ballots are back in vogue thanks to Russian hacking fears CNBC

    May I ask how long it will be before various key states that use “fixable” machines, and the twin parties of corruption and payoff, will sue if paper ballots are reintroduced, or are attempted? Our love of technological “fixes” is pre-eminent.

    Not to say how much the disenfranchisement movement will be powerfully geared up to compensate. Beware of gifts from the fox watching the henhouse…

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    SF and Oakland suing 5 oil giants.

    The lawsuits, filed separately, make a public nuisance claim against the companies and say the firms have known for decades that their products were accelerating global warming. Instead of acting to reduce harm, the companies attempted to undermine climate science and mislead the public by claiming fossil fuel production is environmentally responsible, the lawsuits allege.

    Similarly, car drivers and bus riders also have known, if not for as long, but likely also for decades, their acts were accelerating global warming.

    Tshe drivers and riders, together, have consumed what those 5 oil giants have produced.

    1. pricklyone

      See the articles on plastic in your drinking water, please.
      It is not a coincidence that your car, household products, and everything is made of plastic, now.
      What many see as ‘crapification’ is simply the expansion of the oil and natgas market.
      If we managed to get cars to 100mpg at some point, it would be largely on the incorporation of lightweight plastics in their manufacture.
      Exxon = Win/Win.
      I am not equipped to do the research, but I would bet any decrease in oil use due to better efficiencies, riding bikes, walking, etc. has been made up in other uses for petroleum over last couple decades.
      I am not, of course, advocating more use of auto or bus transport, merely pointing out that it is not the largest determinant of how much oil will be produced in future.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s a good and important point, that it’s more that just gasoline.

        The point that I wanted to make was something else; mine was that of users vs. producers.

        If the law suit is based on some entities doing something (producing) that they know will accelerate global warming, then, a counter point may be that others are doing another something (using, consuming) that makes them equally liable.

        So, we want to go after oil giants. But to me, that line of argument is not a strong one; we will be mixed up with selective prosecution (producers, and not users). We have to come up with better ones.

        1. pricklyone

          Fair enough. I really only responded to part of your whole comment, granted.

          As to the larger point, I’m not sure users/consumers are liable to the degree of the oil companies. They are the ones who have been lied to, not the ones doing the lying.
          Yes, in a fraud case you prosecute the perpetrator, not the defrauded.

          As for knowing for decades, I don’t think they know now. There is literally millions, if not billions being spent to confuse the issue, largely by oil companies. And reinforced by their favorite news organizations.
          I don’t even know what I know, ya know?

      2. HotFlash

        I have this old bike that I use to get most everywhere, year-round, and to carry groceries and stuff. It is made of metal and, as far as I can tell, maybe 40 years old. I bought it used. I do the maintenance work myself and it still works fine. Sometimes I have to put new brake pads or tires on it. I eat mostly vegetables. I think I am probably happier than your average billionaire.

  22. Oregoncharles

    I’m probably not the first, but:

    Go to that WSWS article on Google censorship and SIGN the petition included. Not nearly enough people have.

    Why is anyone still using Google search? They’re made it essentially useless. That’s just a bad habit.

  23. audrey jr

    My own personal take on Zuckerberg’s political ambitions lie in the realm of replacing Boxer as California’s junior U.S. Senator. I believe that my fellow Californians are just dumb enough to fall for that. A “techie” in the U.S. Senate could be far more influential for the tech industry as a whole – he would be able to propose and vote on legislation affecting that industry – and once a candidate lands his/her seat, it is nigh impossible to dethrone them.

    1. Jess

      First of all, Kamala Harris already replaced Boxer, so Zuck would have to go after DiFi’s seat, which will become open only when she dies because the witch will never retire.
      Second, you imagine Zuckerberg willing to be one in a group of 100, with no meaningful seniority, constituents to answer to, hindered by rules of order and senate courtesies? Surely you jest. Trust me, after seeing what Trump accomplished, Zuck wants the top spot.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        And he strikes me as the type who surrounds himself with sycophants and is likely a mark for the Team Clinton strategists he’s hired to guide him on his Presidential run.

        His new found folksy routine reeks of advice from the Clintonistas.

        1. Oregoncharles

          He hired Team Clinton “strategists”? I thought he was reasonably clever. That’s just dumb, because, as we all know, SHE LOST.

  24. Wat

    I don’t agree with the TLS article about addiction. I’m a two-time cocaine loser, and I think addiction is about meaninglessness and hopelessness that meaning will emerge. The meaninglessness is an artifact of failed relationships, the success of which can’t even be imagined in this society where all human gifts are materialized, including wisdom, at the expense of ethics and genuine appreciation. What else would happen when all purposes are subsumed under the rubric of “making money”. I think that’s what happens to a lot of professional musicians. Once their purpose is twisted into cravings for popular response and money, the spirit addles and so with the music. Addicts are people who aren’t matriculated enough into the materialistic institutions to rationalize the emptiness they feel and afford the therapy required to pretend to be doing anything about it.

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