Links 9/24/17

We have a new word for that feeling when travel makes everything new Aeon

Saudi Arabia accidentally prints textbook showing Yoda sitting next to the king Daily Telegraph

What It’s Like to Write an Opera About Dinosaurs Mental Floss

This video follows the heartwarming journey of a macaw from being hatched to first flight

In defence of great crested newts: why these elusive amphibians are worth the worry The Conversation. I’m sure Gussie Fink-Nottle would concur.

Godzilla Is a Radical Environmentalist Motherboard

Behind the urgent drive to unite China’s giant panda habitats in one huge national park SCMP

How did that get there? Plastic chunks on Arctic ice show how far pollution has spread Guardian

College fraternities will make you dumber — and richer MarketWatch

Class Warfare

When a Mental Health Emergency Lands You in Jail Marshall Project

Tenants Push Back Against Corporate Landlords During “Renter Week of Action” TruthOut

How to Win a War on Drugs NYT. Nick Kristof

Why Uber’s fate could herald backlash against ‘digital disruptors’ Guardian

Gone Baby Gone New Republic

Sharing economy: Why we will barely own anything in the future (The Rev Kev)


As Equifax Amassed Ever More Data, Safety Was a Sales Pitch NYT

S.E.C. Rules to Protect Investors From Cyberthreats Fall Short NYT. Gretchen Morgenson

Nestlé Makes Billions Bottling Water It Pays Nearly Nothing For Bloomberg

In paywall age, free content remains king for newspaper sites Columbia Journalism Review

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch


The Long Night Ahead Global Guerrillas (Chuck L)

North Korea

Source of earthquake near North Korean nuclear test site unclear SCMP

Pentagon: U.S. flew bombers near North Korea to show ‘resolve’ Politico

Eating in North Korea: ‘We were being fed a story’ FT

Trump on NK nuclear threats: ‘They won’t be around much longer’ The Hill

Ignore Trump’s lies. North Korea is no threat to Britain Guardian. Simon Jenkins


Sanctioning China to Go After North Korea is a Very Bad Idea American Conservative

How US President Donald Trump’s visit to China can make both nations great again SCMP



The Ghost of Demonetisation Still Haunts Marathwada’s Farmers The Wire

No tax refund, no working capital: How GST is hurting Indian exporters

Mélenchon mobilise des dizaines de milliers de personnes contre « le coup d’Etat social » Le Monde

Hit by Chinese Hackers Seeking Industrial Secrets, German Manufacturers Play Defense WSJ

Margrethe Vestager on holding Silicon Valley to account FT. Lunch w/ the FT w/ EU antitrust commissioner.


Afraid of their waning power once Isis is defeated, the Kurds are calling for independence from Iraq Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

A year on from the murder of Christian writer Nahed Hattar in Jordan, many questions remain unanswered Independent. Robert Fisk

Crackdown in Catalonia Jacobin

Catalonia’s right to self-determination TLS

German Election

How to watch the German election like a pro Politico

German election threatens to clip wings of finance hawk Schäuble FT


UK’s Johnson opposes adopting any new EU rules during Brexit transition Reuters

Time to abandon all hope? May’s ever more difficult two-level game Political Studies Association (micael)

New Cold War

NATO’s Fakenews Russia Scare Increases Defense Waste Moon of Alabama

Homeland Security informed 21 states that hackers targeted their election systems The Verge

Trump Has Given Russia Hawks Little to Complain About The Nation

Health Care

Top doctor, hospital, and insurance groups release joint statement urging the Senate to reject Graham-Cassidy bill Business Insider

Trump Transition

Four times Trump and sports have clashed The Hill

The NFL is going to war with Trump as several teams have condemned his attack on players Business Insider

Trump to scrap ‘Muslim ban’ and replace it with new targeted restrictions, says official Independent

This is not a drill: how 1985 disaster taught Mexico to prepare for earthquakes The Conversation

Hurricane Alley

Hurricanes: Act now, save later Al Jazeera

No water, fuel, power, phones: Puerto Rico faces a growing humanitarian crisis in Maria’s aftermath Chicago Tribune

The entire island of Puerto Rico may be without electricity for months Vox

Puerto Rico scrambles to evacuate residents after dam fails FT

Harvey. Irma. Maria. Why is this hurricane season so bad? WaPo

To ‘Help’ Residents Repair Homes After Irma, Govt Gave Out Code Violations for Damaged Property Free Thought Project

The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life: the new sleep science Guardian

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Livius Drusus

    Re: sleep, wasn’t it Margaret Thatcher who bragged about only sleeping 4 hours per day? In the West and particularly in the United States people worship busyness. People love to say “oh I only got a few hours of sleep, I was up working” as a brag about how they are always busy. But talk about how much you love to sleep and many people will think you are lazy. It is a very absurd aspect of our culture.

    1. Edward E

      The new sleep science goes most of the way to identify the problem of plummeting sperm count and health problems in the west that we have previously discussed. Think I’ll shut this thing off and try to go back to sleep.
      “We are worried about these low sperm counts not only because people have trouble conceiving, but also because men with low sperm counts go on to have higher all-cause mortality,” Swan said. Studies have shown “they die younger and they have more disease, particularly cardiovascular disease and cancer,” she added.

      1. diptherio

        Having increased levels of cortisol and other stress-related hormones in your system is associated with decreased reproductive and immune functioning. Having constantly high levels of stress hormones in your system is associated with being (relatively) low in a hierarchical social system. To wit, our economy (and our society more generally) are damaging to our health. (See Dr. Robert Sapolsky and the Whitehall study).

          1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

            Glad to hear it! And with more than 9,000 birds in the world, there are plenty of possibilities.

            1. Edward E

              Ah yes, you’ve mentioned that before, still it takes mastery to find so many mysterious birds that are truly difficult to identify. You’re the best at it.

              Off topic but here’s a highly respected PHD Climatologist winter outlook, keep a few barfing bags handy Eureka… It’s hot up here in De Pere!
              Brian Brettschneider on Twitter: “Here is my official Winter 2017-2018 seasonal outlook.

          2. RickM

            And this comment might not pass muster, but I have to add that John Avise, evolutionary biologist par excellence and member of the National Academy of Sciences, who is the source of that website taught me evolutionary biology at the University of Georgia way back in the day.

    2. justanotherprogressive

      The problem with all of these “sleep studies” is that they assume the way we work today is “normal”. Perhaps that’s the problem with why we have so much trouble with sleep. The continuous work day isn’t really normal for human beings – it was imposed on us by the Industrial Revolution and I don’t think humans have fully adapted yet. Before that people worked in shorter bursts and took rests in between jobs that had to be done.

      Certainly new mothers aren’t ever going to get a steady 8 hours of sleep each night (unless of course they have wet nurses or nannies….). I’ve never heard of a farmer sleeping eight hours each night, but I have heard of farmers taking naps when they’ve needed them. Many people in hot areas of the work get up early, work till noon, take a nap during the hottest hours of the day, and then finish what they need to do late in the evenings. Even Margaret Thatcher was known to take naps (

      So perhaps the problem isn’t forcing ourselves to sleep at least 8 hrs every night, maybe the problem is that we aren’t taking (or allowed to take) enough naps……

      1. fresno dan

        September 24, 2017 at 10:13 am
        Today most westerners tend to get their rest in a single block of sleep each night, but this is very much a deviation from the norm. In a landmark 2005 book called At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, the American historian Roger Ekirch showed that from the dawn of literature in ancient Greece until well into the Industrial Revolution it was customary for us to snooze for a few hours, wake and toddle around doing chores in the middle of the night, and then go back to bed until morning.
        I think – but with my swiss cheese brain I could be mis-remembering – that there have been links at NC to articles about this idea of 1st and 2nd sleep.

        I have to say, one of the very best things about being retired is never having to worry about getting to sleep, how long I have slept, if I wake up at 2 am, or if I am sleepy in the morning, I get to stay in bed, or if I’m sleepy in the afternoon, take a nap. I equate it with my discovery that the secret to weight loss is eat when your hungry, not when your scheduled, and eat the amount you want, not the amount served (which is usually much more than necessary to be sated).

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Is that only for Westerners?

          Because many people in the world are still pre-Industrial Revolution, and we can easily find out if they sleep through the night.

          Do those Maasai or the Koi San people who still live traditionally wake up at night to do chores?

          1. fresno dan

            September 24, 2017 at 11:51 am

            Siegel and his colleagues recruited members of Bolivia’s Tsimane, who hunt and grow crops in the Amazonian basin, and hunter-gatherers from the Hadza society of Tanzania and the San people in Namibia. These are among the few remaining societies without electricity, artificial lighting, and climate control. At night, they build small fires and retire to simple houses built of materials such as grass and branches.

            The researchers asked members of each group to wear wristwatch-like devices that record light levels and the smallest twitch and jerk. Many Tsimane thought the request comical, but almost all wanted to participate, says study co-author Gandhi Yetish of the University of New Mexico. People in the study fell asleep an average of just under three and a half hours after sunset, sleep records showed, and mostly awakened an average of an hour before sunrise.
            Though the San, Tsimane, and Hadza often average less than seven hours of sleep, they seem to be getting enough sleep. They seldom nap, and they don’t have trouble dozing off.
            I imagine the social constraints in small tribal communities are far, far greater than in our modern societies, and I bet there are a bunch of San, Tsimane, and Hadza who would love* to take a nap…..but their wife (or wives) would be all over their as* if their not out there on tuber patrol or bringing home a muskrat. As for me, I have been up since 4am (CA time) and I am gonna take a nap right now.

            * or eat a Big Mac with fries.

        2. Oregoncharles

          One data point: I tend to wake up about 4 AM, partly because I’m hungry, eat a little dried fruit and nuts, then go back to sleep after an hour or so. I sleep later when this happens.

          It’s considered a form of insomnia, but not a problem for me unless I have to get up early – in which case it always happens. Nerves.

          1. HotFlash

            Ditto (positing different choice of snack), but I am always hoping that NC has a new post, or at least some new comments, when I look in at 3:30 or 4 am.

          2. ChrisPacific

            That would likely have been considered normal in the 19th century or earlier. Google ‘the myth of the eight hour sleep’ for details (and some historical and literary references).

      2. jrs

        wouldn’t it be nice if when we had trouble sleeping one night we could take a nap. But we can’t of course. Why? Work of course (unless it’s the weekend).

        If the sleep studies are just going to lead to ever more BS “personal responsibility” advice then F them. Ok honestly everyone can practice good sleep habits to the extent they know how (including blocking blue light etc.? How many people even THINK about these things?). But lots of factors out of their control, work stress, city noise that ear phones and white noise don’t fully block, jobs requiring late night work, the caffeine roller coaster (BECAUSE we can never nap it’s so easy to just consume more and more and more …), obesigenic environment leading to more sleep apnea, hormonal issues potentially in any woman over 35 and everyone with cortisol, medications sometimes.

    3. John Wright

      It is interesting to play with the numbers given in the article..

      Assume we compare two people, one who sleeps 6.75 hours/night vs one who sleeps 8 hours/night

      One has 17.25 “awake” hours vs the other 16 hours.

      When each individual reaches 60, the 6.75 hour person has already logged (365 x 17.25 x 60) = 377,775 hours awake.

      Meanwhile the other 8 hour sleep person has logged 350,400 hours awake or about 7.25% less.

      The 8 hours of sleep person will have to live to 64.6875 years to match the 6.75 hour sleep person’s accumulated “awake hours” they achieved at 60.

      One could suggest a person would rather be awake more time to experience their youth rather than have longer life and experience aging.

      This doesn’t argue for burning the candle at both ends (like Marx Brother Harpo did in a movie) but it does suggest that convincing people to have more sleep might not be an easy task.

      1. jrs

        I think most people would prefer to sleep more IF they feel like they are going through life tired, because it’s all about quality of life, it doesn’t require long arguments about quantity of life. Feeling tired except right before sleep doesn’t feel good. But whether their bodies will actually allow them to sleep more even trying to do all the right things is another matter.

      2. clarky90

        One of the most effective techniques for initiating “lucid dreaming” is the “wake back to bed method”.

        Lucid dreaming is when we are “awake” in the dream (we have agency).

        Pre industrial human being had incredibly rich and varied dream lives. Journeys of discovery, of initiation. Visiting with generations of ancestors- with the spirits of the land…..

        Those worlds of dreaming are available to all of us today. About 10% of the Western population have experienced lucid dreaming. But

        But, we have to be able to get to bed early, and have the time to get our beauty sleep, plus have the time to explore the infinite, usually in the early hours before dawn.

        We have to sleep in a completely dark environment

        Saint Augustine, Letter 159 (A.D. 415)

        “As while you are asleep and lying on your bed these eyes of your body are now unemployed and doing nothing, and yet you have eyes with which you behold me (an angel), and enjoy this vision,…..”

        Believe me, nothing you will ever see at the movies will come close to dreamtime.

        This is why the devaluation of sleep and of dreaming is so cruel.

    4. Croatoan

      There is a big difference better not getting enough sleep and not needing as much sleep. A fact the study neglects.

  2. The Rev Kev

    Re: Homeland Security informed 21 states that hackers targeted their election systems
    Is this a joke? It was only several months ago that several US States found hacking attempts on their election servers. When they traced the source of these attacks that found that it came from – surprise, surprise – the Department of Homeland Security! For those interested, below are several articles that talk about this-

    1. Yves Smith

      Sometimes less is more. The first link, from ComputerWorld, does link to Daily Caller and Fox broadcast affiliates, but also to stories from The Hill and an Atlanta new station that looks independent, as well as some of its own reporting. The other sites are dodgy and including them makes this story look like right wing CT.

      1. nobody

        Debbie Lusignan (aka The Sane Progressive) has discussed this issue repeatedly. There are several relevant links in the description of her January 15, 2017 video “US 2016 Presidential Election Was Indeed Hacked & It Was NOT Russia Who Did It.”

        What she thinks is that:

        And so what is happening now is there is this incredible rewrite of history with these stories that were totally ignored in real time, and not investigated in real time, and not addressed in real time, now there is this retroactive rewriting of history. So it’s not just a cover-up. It is a means and mechanism of their moving forward to implement a more total way to control and commit fraud. Because what happened is… this was internal. These voter registration rolls… if you look at my video, we’ll watch the brief clip, the IP addresses that were showing up on the voter registration rolls – unauthorized – were not coming from Russia. It was reported by I think 9 different secretaries of state that those were coming from the Department of Homeland Security, who is now making these accusations that Russia did this.

        [14:54 – 16:01]

    2. sid_finster

      Russia is far more useful to the Deep State and the establishment as an enemy than as a friend, because anything that the Deep State or the establishment does not like can be blamed on Russia.

      Much like Emmanuel Goldstein.

      In fact, if Russia didn’t exist, Russia is so useful that the establishment would have to invent it, much like the inner party invented Goldstein.

      1. paul

        That was anthony sutton’s view, which I do not find particularly far fetched.
        The difference being, it sort of worked (if picket fence garden and full employment was a welcome side effect) in the wallerstein view.
        If people are making deals, they won’t shoot each other (or the people they represent, ha, ha ).

  3. cocomaan

    Re: sleep,
    I’m going to go out on a Natural News woo woo limb here, but I think we’ll eventually discover that current running through your house, wireless signals, and so on, have something to do with restful sleep.

    If anyone hasn’t seen Werner Herzog’s documentary, Lo and Behold, Reveries of a Connected World, they should. He talks with some people who claim to be victims of high frequency allergies. It’s a great documentary otherwise, but I found that part fascinating.

    1. Basil Pesto

      That is indeed a great documentary. The running joke with Herzog that people riff on is the idea that he’s a dour nihilist but Lo and Behold proves that he has a terrific sense of humour.

      That part is fascinating. That illness is also central to ‘Better Call Saul’, the spin-off to ‘Breaking Bad’, where the main character’s brother suffers from the same affliction.

      1. paul

        Ricky Gardiner, who gave us ‘the passenger’ and some the best bits on bowie’s low has also succumbed to this condition, which will keep him out of studios for the forseeable future.

        Very little curiosity about the effects of our century’s electromagnetic flood, though what will happen in a repeat of the carrington event does seem to be a concern

    2. HopeLB

      Cocomaan, let’s start a business selling faraday cages in various bed sizes including the long dorm sized ones! And then onto the bigger business of selling “mini-arks” (boat houses) which float in place over your flooded porperty!
      My niece was housed Freshman year in the Honors College Dorm which was located atop a low mountain next to a wifi tower. Half the class had mental/psychologic problems. Don’t know if this was due to their increased academic stress or that tower. There was a frat on the other side. Someone needs to do a study.

      1. cocomaan

        I am cracking up at my keyboard.

        As long as they are Internet of Things/Shit enabled, I think we can get some VC interest on iBed.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Embed screening into sheet rock and pitch it to the building supply industry. Expand into doors, windows, flooring, house wrap (tyvek rolls), etc. If nothing else, the security community will show interest.

          You’re welcome.

          1. HopeLB

            Great idea! There is definitely a market. And think of all of the family interaction time that would occur! The scrabble/Boggle/Big Boggle/ Charades/ Catan would be dusted off. Maybe, even some delightful conversation! My God the kids would have to set off for the great wild yonder, the street or the yard just to get a signal! Their increased Vit D exposure would up their IQ’s !
            And we could use the same selling point they use to get us into wars, Fear!
            Just look at these;




            The tethered “mini-arks” should come with this option too.

        2. HopeLB

          It would ironically be the non-ibed and/or the Great non-internet of Shit bed. A great selling point!Maybe we should actually call it that, “The Great Non-Internet of Shit” bed!I would buy one! Well, if I wasn’t myself who would want to experiment with concept and efficacy of the Shit Thing first.

      2. polecat

        I’ll be your first customer, however, I would like to place an order for the ‘total waterbed’ option …
        … gotta keep those errant neutrinos from piercing my dreams.

    1. Basil Pesto

      “Boris Bikes” are the public bike rental system which get its colloquial name from the fact that when they were introduced, Boris Johnson was mayor of London. It’s somewhat ironic, because it was actually his predecessor, Ken Livingstone’s initiative.

  4. Croatoan

    I feel with Catalonia’s Anarchist history it deserves a separate section and more links.

    I like this one from CNBC, not because what it says, but because what it does not say and how it says it:

    “Catalonia has talked of separation from Spain since the founding of Estat Català – a political movement which began in 1922 – and throughout the 36-year dictatorship of Franco, however, the resurgence of the pro-secession movement over the past few years is due primarily to Spain’s economic woes, a 2010 constitutional court decision to lessen Catalonia’s sovereignty, and a distrust of Madrid or the centralized Spanish government.”

    Estat Catala were the Catalonian Nationalists who screwed over the anarchists groups CNT and FAI who were running Catalonia as an independent Anarchist region for 3 years. No mention of CNT and FAI who were the Antifa of the time. The red and black flag that is most closely associated with Anarchism come from their struggle.

    The Spanish government is trying to “slander” CUP by linking them to “dangerous anarchists”. Sound familiar?

    1. fresno dan

      Tom Stone
      September 24, 2017 at 9:43 am

      If anything, Trump might have escalated the stakes for those not kneeling

      Normally, this would seem a very odd choice of topics for a rally ostensibly to promote a Senate primary candidate in an Alabama special election. The state doesn’t have an NFL franchise, for one thing, and what Luther Strange or the Senate have to do with this topic is hard to fathom.
      Finally, though, Trump may have provided even more cachet to the anthem protests, plus blunted the shut-up-and-play arguments against them. Detroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron wondered why no one’s telling Trump to stay in his lane when they’re telling athletes to stay in theirs:
      When I was young, it was common for me to watch 3 TOTAL football games on Sunday – and this was before Sunday night football (not the highlights, the total game with ALL the commercials). I haven’t watched more than a few minutes of a football game in 20 or 25 years, but I’m gonna fire up the TV and have football on all day (I’m not gonna watch, but I’m gonna make the monitors think I am….)

      may have provided even more cachet to the anthem protests
      Trump is putting black athletes in quite a position – protest or make it seem you stand with Trump***. If Trump was JUST against the NFL, Trump’s ploy might work, but if white athletes show solidarity, and it spreads to all sports and college sports, Trump may have attempted a bridge too far….

      seem you stand with Trump***.
      I agree – that is a very, very bad pun and I will go to H*ll for that….

      1. tegnost

        In a nice bit of synchronicity, I find that “I’m watching football today…” is probably the best excuse for a nap I’ve got, nobody bothers me, nobody asks what I’m doing…and harkens me back to richard brautigan’s “trout fishing in america” as an introverts inspiration…if you don’t bait your hook, the fish won’t bother you, and were some adventurous goal seeking fisherman to amble along and ask how the fishing is, one can honestly say “not even a nibble…” and send the interloper scampering away to greener pastures

      2. Summer

        “If you don’t like what people or saying, change the conversation,” Don Draper (Mad Men).

        Now the NFL owners (many of whom supported Trump) have folks talking about Trump. And the stories around the players kneeling are about Trump and not police brutality.
        Trump gets to swagger for his base and the NFL owners get to look better to the people more prone to boycott the NFL over how Colin K. was treated because of protests about police brutality.

        Just another possibility.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Trump’s bombastic act isn’t part of a plan. He gets away with it because Republican voters are loyal and will over look any behavior, and the voters Democrats need to win or make advancements are concerned with issues such as healthcare because its a constant burden hanging over people’s heads. ACA premium increases went out in mid-October. Imagine how Democrats might have fared if early voting wasn’t a thing. After all, Trump won a majority of white women. Let that sink in.

          The NFL has so many issues going forward. The owners from their position as owners of the teams don’t care about Kapernick. Drawing attention to the NFL only brings up the potential for discussion about tax money going to stadiums and CTE. The future of the NFL won’t be decided on cable news. Its being decided by high schools closing programs and sons not being allowed to play football. The owners don’t want these items to be discussed and to go back to the discussions of how they can improve the movie “Draft Day,” a train wreck of a movie I can’t look away from. Its just so terrible. The NFL wants the focus to be on JJ Watt, a college walk on, and his fundraising and their constant refrains of “team work.” After all, they have to foster a work force. God forbid, this gets to the farm teams…the NCAA.

  5. David

    The article in Le Monde about yesterday’s demonstration in Paris and Mélenchon’s speech is reasonable enough, though the title is a bit grudging. The official Police count was 30,000 demonstrators, and you can probably double that figure for those who were present either at the beginning or the end, in the side-streets or waiting in the Place de la République. The demonstration took at least an hour to pass the area where I was sitting, just south of the Place.
    Mélenchon’s speech was very good, and well received. He managed to incorporate three themes in the way that the Left in France was traditionally able to do – patriotism (not nationalism) republicanism and socialism. He wore a tricolor sash (there were many flags in evidence), which in France is not a nationalistic symbol but a symbol of republican values, which he claimed were being attacked by Macron. The whole afternoon was directed specifically against Macron (“Micron” read one witty placard, “the Child in power” read another). He evoked French history, resistance to tyranny and called on young people to remember the sacrifices of earlier generations. Rather than taking an anti-European stance he name-checked various movements in other European countries (but not the UK). He called for a million people to congregate on the Champs Elysées when the French parliament votes on the controversial “orders” signed by Macron to reduce employment protection.
    If Mélenchon can keep this up, he is well placed to become the rallying point for opposition to Macron. It was especially noteworthy that a number of politicians of the Left were with him, notably Benoit Hamon, who was the Socialist candidate in May. If Hamon had not stood, Mélenchon would very probably be President today.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Thanks for your first-hand observations. Much appreciated to get a comment from a reader who was there.

  6. mad as hell

    I looked through about a dozen sites this am for stories on the mental, physical and financial stress caused by the effects of hurricane Harvey on Houston residents. This is the only recent one I found and I had to go to a Houston paper to get it

    I guess I’ll never get over how the US media avoids the endless stories of human tragedy and financial ruin of thousands a few weeks after the event. It’s either that or everything has returned to normal.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      When compiling Links, I try to look to local media. They tend to focus on facts and issues of concern to those affected– rather than try to shoehorn reality into a master narrative.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Anyone else remember the Battle of Seattle over the WTO, in I think 1999? We happened to be in a position to compare the local TV coverage with the network coverage. It was like night and day; they weren’t reporting the same events.

        The locals are reporting to people who experienced the events; they can’t get away with outright fiction.

        1. mk

          That was the beginning of Indymedia

          The Independent Media Center (also known as Indymedia or IMC) is a global open publishing network of journalist collectives that report on political and social issues. It originated during the Seattle anti-WTO protests worldwide in 1999 and remains closely associated with the global justice movement, which criticizes neo-liberalism and its associated institutions. Indymedia uses democratic media process that allows anybody to contribute.

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    As Equifax Amassed Ever More Data, Safety Was a Sales Pitch NYT

    In general, not just related to Equifax alone, but what isn’t the default that one’s account is frozen at any credit agency until they have your explicit approval?

    Like, you’re innocent until proven guilty, or your time (that is used to freeze an account, for example) is yours until proven otherwise?

      1. JustAnObserver

        More even than that.

        It should be possible to unfreeze an account, for a limited time, for access only by a specific, named, entity … give them a 1-time only PIN; once used the account automatically re-freezes.

        Better than that even would be to move to a push model instead of a pull one. If someone wants a credit report *I* print it out & hand it over or download a PDF & email it (with all inessential info redacted since the only thing of interest is the bottom line FICO score).

    1. MichaelSF

      And if a few more state houses are taken by the Republicans they’ll have enough to call a Constitutional Convention.

    2. John k

      Actually only worked for the first Clinton, and then only because Perot split the rep vote. Obama won as the good looking articulate black, he campaigned as anti war, was a stealth third way. In fact quite expert at camouflage.
      It’s false to claim the third way was ever a vote getter… more a vote loser, at pres, gov, senate and local levels. But fab at bringing in corp money, which was always the point… before, during, and after office, witness big o raking it in now, following bill’s well trod path, well deserved appreciation wrt pitchforks.
      I imagine Hillary et sycophants are quite convinced they don’t just deserve high office, they do good for the country. Funny how the mind works.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      It might work with a relative unknown in the style of Obama, but Biden has flaws:

      -Senator from Delaware and what that entails. Example: The 2005 Bankruptcy Act. Not allowing student debt to be discharged in bankruptcy court. I bet the kids will just love Uncle Joe!
      -hideous foreign policy.
      -Clarence Thomas and Biden’s treatment of Anita Hill.
      -the casual racism. Isn’t Obama a nice, clean young man? Uncle Joe Biden thinks so!
      -the Patriot Act in the 90’s
      -his support of Clintonism over the years.
      -a lack of celebrity devotion
      -his age
      -support for fracking
      -free trade support

      Biden has run twice on similar platforms and has managed to never place in a single state. The best thing Obama has ever done was get that bum out of the Senate.

      1. Biph

        It would probably work for any Democrat so long as they have one factor in their favor, they are perceived as more likable than Trump. The biggest factor in who wins presidential elections in recent history is likability. It’s hard to see any Democrat that wins the primary in 2020 being as or more unlikable as Trump outside of them nominating HRC again.
        I doubt Trump doing his whiny man-baby schtick on twitter for the next 3 years will improve his likability.
        Plus side of Biden running is that if his age isn’t a problem then neither is Bernie’s.

        1. David (1)

          The biggest factor in who wins presidential elections in recent history is likability.

          Presidential Politics: Does likeability matter?

          The way we measure our presidential candidates these days is a complicated formula. Mo Fiorina, a professor of political science at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, has researched the correlation between likeability and winning the White House.

          He says the common cliche that the more likeable candidate always wins isn’t the case. “There’s very little historical evidence for it,” he says. After looking at research back to 1952 that evaluated how people evaluated candidates in personal terms, Fiorina says likeability “appeared to be a minor factor. The fact is we decide who is likeable after they win, not before they win.”

          …”If I had been advising Mitt Romney, I would have said in the end the American people are not going to decide who they are going to have a beer with, because the American people know that they are not going to have a beer with any of these people,” he says. “They are going to decide on the base of who they know is going to do the job.”

          Right now, IMO, the job is to end the status quo.

          1. Biph

            Going back to 1952 is way to far, any look at this phenomenon shouldn’t go back much farther than 1980 when modern campaigning and TV coverage had solidified (the idea that the POTUS is in your living room every night). Trump might be the only case where the person with higher negatives won and in his case both he and HRC were massively disliked. The only other case might be 88 where Dukakis had a pretty large lead over Bush the elder heading into the conventions, but it had evaporated by the end of summer.
            FTR I thought whoever won between Trump and Clinton was a one termer because they were both largely disliked and I saw nothing from either that made me think 4 years in office would make them more liked by the public.
            In Clinton’s case her basic sleaziness would make everyone weary as a death by a thousand cuts from “minor” scandals would grow tiresome.
            In Trumps case his bombast, thin skin and inability to not whinge on twitter about every perceived slight will wear very thin after 4 years in office.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          Congressman Ossoff agrees with you. Running against Trump alone will work. He is just that egregious.

          Bernie’s age is a problem. Many people didn’t vote for or consider him for that reason. It might not be a problem with me, but also people age differently. Anecdotal reports didn’t paint a great picture of Uncle Joe’s appearance in 2007 when he tried to run for President.

          Biden will do about as well as Tim Kaine in the Democratic Primary process.

          1. HotFlash

            Bernie’s age a problem? OK, so make sure we have a really good VP candidate. A good young prez candidate would be fine, but you have to vote based on the candidates you got.

        3. SpringTexan

          good point, and Biden is pretty likable — I can’t help but like him myself even though this third way campaign idea is horrible (but I’m NOT gonna vote on likability, but many do)

      2. Lord Koos

        Biden is such a tired choice, the corporate democrats must be getting desperate. He will excite no one and they’d be fools to try it. I’m pretty certain he would not be able much traction anywhere.

        I remember clearly the Clarence Thomas hearings, he was awful.

        Still that is my biggest fear, that after Trump, any center/right candidate the Democrats run will look good in comparison.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Nestlé Makes Billions Bottling Water It Pays Nearly Nothing For Bloomberg

    There are precedents. Traditionally, many obtained great wealth selling land they paid nothing for.

    Money can also be made bottling clean air.

    Can an argument be made that ‘We paid for the bottling plant, even though water was free,’ in the same way a fisherman ‘paid for his boat, nets, fuel, even though fish in the ocean was free?’

    1. Basil Pesto

      That’s a good point. I can not go to Évian-les-bains (or wherever) every time I want a drink of spring water.

  9. Norb

    The new Ken Burns series on the Vietnam War is providing a timely refresher course on the destructive nature of anti-communist madness. In Episode Two, “Riding the Tiger”, one segment struck me as an enduring example of the conflict perpetuated to this day.

    The driving force of the war was the ideological battle between communism and capitalism/market freedom and the process of convincing the population as to which system is most beneficial to their interests. In the segment, Tran Ngoc Chau, appointed chief of Kien Hoa provence, describes his philosophy on converting the Viet Cong to the South Vietnamese cause. His goal was conversion through persuasion, not killing. His favorite saying was that for the price of one American helicopter, I’ll give you a pacified provence. The steps to achieve those ends were to rise the standard of living of the farmers, pay officials a high enough wage so they would have no need to steal, and persuade families in order to convert. In his view, only after those steps failed, should killing be considered. He states that after he left control of the provence, the CIA and the Vietnamese government focused on killing, leaving the other steps behind. Using Killing as the main political tool was the reason for their ultimate failure.

    In the American way of war and nation building, nothing really has changed in all these years. Massive firepower is used to subdue the population, muddle the political underpinning of the indigenous population, and use corruption to ultimately secure a colonial relationship beneficial to American Corporations. That is US foreign policy in a nutshell.

    There is another segment, that is so surreal in nature it is disturbing watching it. A US soldier is exclaiming to a group of huddled villagers, how the US will ensure their safety from the North Vietnamese communists with sheer force. They are instructed to watch a ridge line in the distance as American ordinance obliterates large swaths of the mountainside – all the while a band plays in some attempt at a festive atmosphere. Sheer madness.

    No wonder the American propaganda machinery has decided no coverage of our current wars is the best policy.

    The series so far is just an important reminder on how little things have changed.

    1. John k

      It’s all about the money.
      If you spend the money that one helicopter represents, where the hell is the profit? But a good little war that lasts makes gobs of money for MIC… and a decent amount trickles down to congress critters, lobbyists, and a few other important people. And don’t forget the jobs… factories, soldiers, hospitals…
      As she said, money is like manure… to do any good, you gotta spread it around.

      1. Norb

        Thanks for the link. John Pilger is a remarkable journalist and human being.

        I was going to skip the Ken Burns film, believing that the history would be treated in typical PBS fashion, with the pro-American, pro-Corporate underpinnings, and that for the most part is what it is. There was some interest from colleagues at work wishing to talk about the film so I made a point to watch. My main interest was to see how the North Vietnamese would be represented in the Ken Burns Style interviews, and there it is valuable for the layperson trying to understand the history- if only to see the incredible decency of the people we were fighting.

        Alternative media is the only hope at reaching the masses of people in order to bring about change. However, in America, the citizenry just can’t accept the evil that has been done, and continues to be done in their name. It is why a journalist like Pilger will never be allowed on corporate media and why most people have no idea who he is or what he has accomplished in his life.

        If the Burns film points out anything, it shows the importance of leadership. And in America, leadership is what is lacking.

      2. allan

        From Pilger’s article:

        … Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, …
        Burns says he is grateful to “the entire Bank of America family” which “has long supported our country’s veterans”.

        DOJ press release in 2013:

        Service Members to Receive $39 Million for Violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

        The Justice Department announced today that under its 2011 settlements with BAC Home Loans Servicing LP, a subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation, and Saxon Mortgage Servicing Inc., a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, 316 service members whose homes were unlawfully foreclosed upon between 2006 and 2010 are due to receive over $39 million in monetary relief for alleged violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). …

        Has Ken Burns been living under a rock for the last decade?

    2. rd

      Growing up in Canada, it was always baffling to me in the 1970s that Americans didn’t understand that the Vietnam War was an anti-colonial war, of which there were many in the post-WW II era. People like Ho Chi Minh linked up with the Communists because the capitalist white countries were the colonial powers they were fighting against. Revolutions also tend to be easier to manage if there is a “revolution is the state” mentality which Communism provides. By the 1960s, Americans appeared to have forgotten about the motivations for revolutions against colonial powers, which was kind of odd to me, since the US is the single best example in history of a successful revolution against a colonial power.

      BTW – in high school, our political science class did a side-by-side comparison of the US Constitution vs. the USSR Constitution (I don’t think that would have been allowed in the US). It was fascinating – the documents are nearly identical except that the USSR only allowed the Communist Party to be a political party proposing candidates for election. That is the difference between a totalitarian state vs democratic state.

      1. Norb

        The episode also focuses on a particular family who’s son is torn between understanding the North’s desire for independence with the ultimate need to destroy communism. The son is reluctant to fight, but in the end, decides his duty to fight communists and ensure American values and Victory trumps the universal desire of all people to seek freedom and self determination. Good people all, caught in their naive belief in America’s special place in the world. The bearers of democracy’s flame.

        The series is interesting when reading between the lines. Americans are still trying to justify the soaring rhetoric of their nations founding documents and ideals, with the hard reality of contradictory action. The two do not match and the absurdity has only grown throughout the years, leading to our current situation with president Trump and endless war. Absurdity.

        I find the series permanent today because the colonial mindset is alive and well. It is what will keep the capitalist system, as it has evolved, alive and well. Distant lands or the weak poor. They are all open to plunder.

      2. milen

        Fascinating! Can you provide a reference to the USSR constitution? Probably could find one if I google it but if you already have one handy all the better.

        1. rd

          Here is the 1977 version – it is less “revolutionary” in tone than the 1924 and 1936 versions it replaced.

          You can almost hear Lincoln’s “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” quoted throughout.

          A few tweaks stating that the Communist Party is the political entity, the state owns pretty much everything on behalf of the people, and capitalism sucks are the key differences that separate it from typical Western constitutions. So it is just a few sentences that makes it different form the US constitution with some civil rights and social net legislation preambles thrown in for good measure.

          So it doesn’t take much to send something over the tipping point as Germany discovered in 1933 when Hitler took over despite having only a third of the popular vote.

    3. Lord Koos

      A difference I see now compared to earlier wars is that the US seems perfectly happy to reduce nations to failed state status and then leave them that way. No longer any interest in helping the vanquished, or in rebuilding their countries. Just destroy the place and leave… Sudan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, etc just create breeding grounds for anti-American militants.

      1. rd

        I think the big difference is that the US, like the European powers, used to go into countries to make them safe for American business interests. That required a friendly government to be in place that could keep the population from disrupting things too much, so these were more coups than wars. Now the focus is on preventing terrorists from attacking the US, which makes it a war instead of a coup.

        The most interesting thing I have noticed is the naiveté of American political leaders thinking that American invasions or attacks on countries will be viewed as liberating events and that the replacement governments will not be corrupt.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          “Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. ” -MLK 1967

          Naivete isn’t the word I would use for our leaders. A genuine lack of empathy and gross ignorance would closer to the mark. As far as combating terrorism, don’t underestimate the importance of the expectations that knocking over certain countries would be easy and play well for the electorate. After all, Hillary Clinton appropriated Caesar’s report after defeating the invading army of the son of Mithradates with army which significantly outnumbered Caesar and was modeled on the Roman legions. Oh and Caesar did it in the midst of a civil war. Hillary watched from across the ocean.

          “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” -Madeline Albright as per Colin Powell

          The story about General Dempsey trying to explain to Kerry that Assad could retaliate against our forces was interesting. It feeds into the idea Syria was targeted because we thought it would be a “Democratic SMRT war” with high fives all around. My guess is Trump at some level believes he can get China to assist in knocking over North Korea in an easy simple way where he gets to say mission accomplished far removed from any human suffering that won’t appear on local news or at least not reach Americans until Libya hits the news. Since Korea can’t easily be accomplished with predator drones, Trump will have aircraft carriers patrol around and fly near Korea, crawl away, and make more noise in an effort to look tough assuming he’s a tad rationale or at least controlled by reasonable people.

    4. JTee

      I was struck by the absurdity of that scene as well. Being no fan of Burns’ documentaries, I’ve reluctantly begun to watch the series (up to #5 so far) and have found many problems. First, the producers proclaim at the outset, that the war was begun by decent, well-intentioned individuals, and then go on to show this claim to be hogwash based on the words of many of the principal actors. Shouldn’t this conclusion be left to the viewer?! Second, people relating their opinions or memories of the war are generally only vaguely identified (ie. Army, N. Vietnam, Pentagon), rather than specific positions. Rufus Phillips, according to Wikipedia a CIA employee and protoge of Edward Lansdale, is misidentified multiple times in episode 2 as USAID. Phillips also claims that “Diem became wildly popular”, having kicked out the French from the South, only to be contradicted by images of unrest in the streets due to his unpopularity! Then there is the mass Catholic migration from north to south. Burns hints at the truth (American ships took them), but avoids mentioning that it followed an American propaganda campaign inciting fear about communist persecution using slogans such as “The Virgin Mary is heading south”, funded to the tune of 93 million, and carried out by the Seventh Fleet (Wikipedia). Frequent commentator Leslie Gelb of the Pentagon makes the outrageous claim that “the US was a victim of [president] Diem”! Finally, there is the presentation of the two (alleged) incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin. In short, a quick perusal of Wikipedia contradicts much of the material. And there is lots more like it, including an apology from a peace protester for the abuse suffered by returning vets. Ugh.

      On the whole, this maddening series seems schizophrenic (claiming one thing and then showing how this is not true) and not overly concerned about presenting the truth. Nevertheless, although I was too young to be aware of the war at the time, I have “enjoyed” seeing the old clips (including the horrific war images – its good to be reminded of the reality of war), and also hearing from Vietnamese voices.

      ps. Initially, I inadvertently watched the first episode of Vietnam: A Television History (1983) and found it presented far superior background detail about the lead up to the war.

      1. voteforno6

        I think a lot of people are really missing the point with that introduction to the series. Many of the people (not all, but many) did believe that U.S. involvement in Vietnam was a good thing. It may seem strange now that anyone could have supported that war with the best of intentions, but decision-makers at the time didn’t have the benefit of hindsight that we do. Don’t forget, a majority of Americans did support U.S. involvement, at least initially.

        Overall, the series is pretty good, at least so far. It doesn’t go into the depth that many would prefer, but it’s kind of hard to present a subject as complex as this in only 18 hours. Burns & Novick are good at television, and it shows in this series. It is, in my opinion, a much more effective critique of the war than the thundering polemic that some would prefer.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          “Don’t forget, a majority of Americans did support U.S. involvement, at least initially.”


          “Good intentions” is an excuse for poor behavior, even if it was popular. Quite simply, the colonial masters were monsters. They started out with good intentions too. After all, didn’t the former areas in Africa destroyed by slavers need a helping hand? And if a buck or a pound can be made, so much the better, right? The idea the U.S. was exempt from historical norms is simply deranged and conceited. The people behind such moves should be held accountable, not given excuses. Yes, dropping industrial pesticide against another country which didn’t attack us had nothing to do with good intentions. We did it because we could.

          Willful ignorance is a sin regardless of intentions. The U.S. was knocking over governments in the Americas before World War II.

          1. voteforno6

            Life is easy for those at the extreme ends of the spectrum. To have such a Manichean outlook is rare indeed. Unfortunately for them, most people don’t have such moral certitude. Arguments that might seem self-evident to those at the poles are much less so to everyone else. Yes, the U.S. has definitely perpetrated evil in the world, including its actions in Vietnam. But, how do you convey that to those who don’t already “know” that? This is why I think the Burns/Novick series is so helpful – they come at the subject from that perspective of uncertainty.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              I would start by not claiming “good intentions” out of the gate. I would point out the people claiming good intentions come from a country that claims to be all about self determination and didn’t think that was good enough for Vietnam just under colonial occupation. The hypocrisy was real and stunning.

              I would also point out that our vaunted leaders, even if the information was more difficult for the average American to find, definitely had access to America’s recent foreign misadventures. Either they knew and failed to learn or were too lazy (how about too busy) to learn. Their behavior led to the deaths of 3 million people.

              Never mind, Korea happened the day before or that the U.S. like France was a very distant foreign, military power saving the poor little people from savages with absolutely nothing to fear from Vietnam.

            2. NotTimothyGeithner

              “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” -Ecclesiastes

              “He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny,” -a crime warranting spiritual regicide and political separation found in some dusty old manuscript

              Willful ignorance masquerading as good intentions which is the nicest thing I can say about war mongers is not an excuse.

              “Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. ” -MLK 1967


              The history of American of foreign policy much like our domestic situation is a story of racial hierarchy. It might not be as obviously as egregious as what goes with chattel slavery, but its there.

            3. Basil Pesto

              I just want to add that I agree wholeheartedly with the spirit of your argument.

              I think of my father, who perhaps has some blindspots as far as class issues go (which is something that one can often discern among those who have become self-made men after coming from a childhood of serious poverty), but he has a latent anti-American streak (though he, like me, is very fond of the country and its people) and generally speaking, an admirable humanism. There is no military ‘adventure’ undertaken by the US since WWII that he supports, and he grew up and matured in a culture that was virulently anti-communist. I even think he shares my disgust with the craven destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which many of his generation probably consider a necessary evil, at best. He knows and understands that the US has perpetrated ‘evil’ in this world, but does he understand it the way you, I, we do? Is he perhaps reluctant to synthesise this antipathy into a more complete critique of the American state, because to do so would bring him, in his mind, uncomfortably close to ‘team left’, an ideological force that he has been brought up to be hostile to? In the time he has left, he will never become a ‘leftist’ and will always be resistant to the idea (he was, after all, a stockbroker). That’s one of the problems, I suppose, with the left-right dichotomy that is seen as a fact of life, as though it is of the natural sciences rather than political science.

              Maybe I’m getting off track. The other day he asked me if I knew who Peter Coyote was. “the name rings a bell” he asked if I knew who Ken Burns was (he has a somewhat esoteric way of starting a discussion) and then mentioned the documentary, which Coyote is narrating. In the 70s he was, I believe, terrified of being drafted in the lottery to fight in Vietnam. You think America had no business being there, what about Australia? The very notion is the most risible bullshit of the kind that typifies Australia’s hopelessly imitative social and political culture. But I digress. He was always critical of the war. Not just critical, but uncomprehending even. I just can’t get behind the idea that the Burns documentary has no value, as a work of popular history, for someone coming from his perspective, just because in many people’s opinion it is flawed, or it doesn’t go far enough. If it was strictly polemic, would he ever see it? Would it even exist? I think I will always prefer the socratic/dialectical approach to knowing and understanding, and from that perspective I think something like Burns’ documentary – as long as it is not pure agitprop (I confess that I have not seen it – and I hope that fact doesn’t diminish the point I’m making – but from what I’ve picked up in the comments here that does not seem to be the case) – unquestionably has value, whatever its flaws.

              After he has seen the documentary, I will endeavour to send him the link to the Pilger essay. I suspect he will find it broadly persuasive.


              1. Norb

                One of the reasons I posed the question here on NC was to get the thoughts and life experiences of the many knowledgable people from the comments section. Like it or not, the film is a cultural event, and for those wanting change to the status quo, some effort must be made to direct the conversation to achieve some positive end toward that goal.

                Engagement must be made in order to start building long lasting movements that will ensure a more positive society. The left has taken the path of documenting the crimes of capitalism, but stops there. The efforts always seem to get folded back into the realm merchandising, which then reinforces the capitalist system.

                Demonstrating how wrong someone was is important only to the extent that you can prevent the action in the future. The left needs to have a plan in place that will enable people to say NO to being dragged into the next war.

                Pilger is disgusted that there are no mass protests like there was in 1968. That tactic was successfully neutralized by turning them into cultural events instead of a tool for change. The mindset of the people is totally different today. The commodification of the world is mostly complete. Breaking that mentality requires offering something concrete as an alternative. A different way of being and making a living.

                At the most basic level, that way of being is reinforced through the family. In America, the sooner the spell of wishing to all become mini-capitalists is broken, the problems in the world can begin to be addressed.

                1. rd

                  Today’s wars are fought with a volunteer army in a heavily industrialized way to reduce the likelihood of American casualties. so you don’t have your kid drafted and sent in as a grunt to be shot, which is what really started to turn the population away from supporting the Vietnam War. I believe approval ratings for the Vietnam War dropped about 10% for each order of magnitude increase in American casualties.

                  It wasn’t until the IED casualties in Iraq started in large numbers that the US population really soured on the Iraq War. Afghanistan has been able to stay largely under the radar screen because it is almost not possible to send large numbers of troops in, so casualties can only become so big.

              2. rd

                The atomic bombs were going to be dropped unless Japan surrendered. The Pacific War was so horrific with massive American casualties increasing the closer they got to Japan. I don’t believe Truman had a choice – he had to try everything he had in his arsenal before putting GIs on the ground in Japan. He would likely have been impeached when Congress discovered that he had these in his arsenal and had not used them before invading Japan, which would likely have produced a million or more US casualties. By this time, it was clear to everybody that WW II was an apocalyptic war and the goal was simply to win and do so while minimizing US and Allied casualties. Collateral damage was largely irrelevant.

                However, the USSR declaring war on Japan and getting ready to invade the northern Japanese islands after Germany was defeated was likely the final straw that broke the Japanese will to continue fighting. That was probably just as important, if not more important, than the atomic bombs. By then Japan was used to having its cities incinerated by fire bombing as were the Germans, so the atomic bomb was just a more efficient way to accomplishing that horrific end.

                So I give Truman a pass on the A-bomb. However, future strategic decisions through the 50s and 60s were made by multiple presidents with blinders on as they viewed the world only through an “us vs. them” anti-communist lens. The first major blunder started with Macarthur in Korea, followed by Bay of Pigs, and Vietnam (among others).

                1. Basil Pesto

                  It’s a complicated historical question to be sure and, in my being against it, I don’t want to seem like I’m oversimplifying it. I also wouldn’t want to exculpate some of the behaviour of Imperial Japan, which in many instances was disgusting. I would, though, just present to you this quote, from Fleet Admiral Leahy:

                  “It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.” (William D. Leahy, I Was There, pg. 441). (I got this from however I first saw that quote attributed to Leahy at the museum in the house where the Potsdam Conference was held in Potsdam, Germany)

                  That’s certainly an open and fraught historical question, and it probably always will be, but Leahy’s statement, as a primary source, is pretty powerful, and he’s not the only one who felt that way. I also remember reading an article a year or two ago that outlined the propaganda campaign by the US gov’t after the war to reinforce the idea in the public’s mind that the bombings were necessary (however, I regrettably cannot remember where I found this article, I’m sorry). If memory serves this campaign started with an article in a major magazine, and was in part a response to how uneasy people were beginning to feel about the whole affair thanks to, among other things, John Hersey’s (outstanding and frightening) ‘Hiroshima’ pieces.

                  Sorry, this is a pretty superficial and inadequate address of a complex historical debate that has been raging for decades. But I am personally inclined to believe that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were a field laboratory for nuclear warfare.

        2. David (1)

          …but decision-makers at the time didn’t have the benefit of hindsight that we do.

          They don’t need it. They knew. From wiki,

          While Kennedy had originally supported the policy of sending military advisers to Diem, he had begun to alter his thinking due to what he perceived to be the ineptitude of the Saigon government and its inability and unwillingness to make needed reforms (which led to a U.S.-supported coup which resulted in the death of Diem). Shortly before his assassination, in November 1963, Kennedy had begun a limited recall of U.S. forces.

          I find the “who coulda known” attitude of the american intel folks to be disgusting. I stopped watching halfway through episode 2. My program recommendation is for Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War.

          What amazes me is how the Vietnamese have put the war behind them. Compare the attitude of the Vietnamese towards the U.S. with the U.S. attitude to Iran, almost 40 years after the embassy hostages.

          1. JTMcPhee

            A little Vietnam vignette: I recall a 1967 conversation with a Vietnamese who was well educated and in government. He observed that the US was trying to force regular elections on the country, in a simulacrum of “democracy.” He noted what a hateful notion that was — South Vietnam was rife with corruption, top to bottom. He said the Vietnamese had a couple of words, which I can’t recall, but which translate roughly to “empty” and “full.” He said most Vietnamese knew that a politician or official, on first coming into his position, was “empty:” so the demand for extortion and corruption was very strong. As the person was in the position for a while, and as his personal corruption-sourced wealth grew, he tended to become “full,” or at least “less empty,” and the cost of “lubricants” required to get things done tended to go down.

            His comment was “How foolish do you Americans think we are? You are telling us to hold these elections every year or two, and take the chance of changing a ‘full’ official for an ’empty’ one?”

            Next: regarding the provincial official who would gain “pacification” by providing concrete material benefits at relatively low cost, rather than killing. While he was speaking, parts of the imperial forces were busy with “the Phoenix program,” which is worth reading about here: I recall an estimate, too, that even if one works from the inflated body counts produced by the MACV fraudsters, the cost to kill one “gook” or “VC” came out to well over $400,000. Not much of a return on investment. Considering the outcome. Some colonel says “we” could destabilize North Korea by showering the place with smart phones. I recall an article back in maybe ’70 or ’71 suggesting that “we” could “defeat” the “communists” by putting little parachutes on huge quantities of the little gold bars that Vietnamese used as savings and escape money and whatnot, and dropping those all over the North and the “infected” areas of South Vietnam instead of cluster bombs, napalm, white phosphorus and huge tonnages of high explosives, turning the inhabitants into instant capitalists. Sometimes a great notion…

            And there’s a comment above that relates some GIs lining up some villagers to view the demolition of a nearby hilltop by imperial bombs and artillery, with PR accompaniments, aimed at touching the “hearts and minds” of the villagers, proving once again how tone-deaf we Americans really are — the idea being to convince the Vietnamese villagers that the US could “protect them” (or of course, by necessary inference, blow them away…) Nothing is new — In one of the videos from Afghanistan idiocy, maybe a documentary from some non-US film-makers, there’s a bit where a Marine sergeant is exhorting some Afghans to return to their “market village,” from which they villagehad fled due to local- warlord and “Taliban” violence and threats related to the US presence in the . The sergeant said the direction had come down the chain of command to repopulate that village to establish pacification and normal life, so the villagers had to return, and that the “coalition” forces would protect them. The headman replied, if the translation and my recollection are accurate, that “You Americans, with all your technology and power and weapons, you cannot even protect YOURSELVES against the attacks of those people. And you expect us to believe that you can or will protect US? You will be gone soon, and the Taliban will remain.”

            And the slacks I wore to go the the grocery store today bear the label, “Made In Vietnam.” Tell me again, Mr. Burns — what was that all about? Oh, yeah — “it’s complicated…”

          2. rd

            Ken Burns draws a lot on Lien-Han Nguyen’s recent research in the North Vietnamese archives:


            I think the primary lesson coming out of this perspective is the general inability of the Western countries to understand their non-Western enemies. We have seen the same thing play out in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past 15 years.

            While the West was familiar with Le Duc Tho, Le Duan was largely unknown and ignored even though he turned out to be the key North Vietnamese leader in the 60s and 70s. It is hard to get good intelligence on your enemy’s intentions if you don’t even know who is running the show.

    5. UserFriendly

      Being born years after the whole thing ended watching the documentary gives me some much needed context. What jumped out at me is the complete blood lust of Westmorland, the total stupidity of the strategy taking hills just to give them up, and the rabid anti communism and the refusal of anyone to let capitalism or communism be judged on it’s merits. The level of propaganda is just ridiculous.

  10. Off The Street

    Re fraternity impact: Those network or in-group benefits may also apply to a sorority or havurah, for example. Like-minded folk, working together, sharing information, teaching and communicating regularly in some defined ways provide what is gelt by association.

    That version of a network effect may help explain somewhat why unorganized people have a harder time in some aspects of modern life. Now the networks, if that is an apt term, may be more fluid or transient, witness social media. Somehow, that fluidity seems to interact negatively with the sleep and e-pollution aspects noted elsewhere.

  11. Tooearly

    Long sleep duration seems to be strongly associated with lots of adverse health outcomes

    Given that we really don’t have any RCTs on this subject best to disregard articles like this fear mongering one in Guardian. Nit that sleep doesn’t matter. It surely does. But telling people they need to get 8 hours of sleep a night or they will die young is just plain stupid.

    1. Basil Pesto

      This is the problem I have with the, I guess you could call it, tabloid strain of popular science. To study, science was never really my bag and so to me, good works of popular science are invaluable. But stuff like this, while it’s interesting (and I find sleep science and the cultural attitudes surrounding sleep very interesting – I am keeping a sleep diary now for a respiratory doctor who’s also a sleep specialist to look at, to diagnose some problems I’m having), the lack of nuance or meaningful counter-argument in the article limits its value, and ultimately ends up being more in the service of one academic’s personal brand rather than meaningful public understanding (he is probably hoping to pursue what I might call the Sigmund Freud business model). This can actually become harmful because, when uncontested, these views can become received wisdom in the public, which is never helpful (recall it was not too long ago that smoking was thought by many to have health benefits).

  12. rd

    “after dam fails”

    Another media fail. The dam has not failed.

    Failure was viewed as imminent and evacuations were ordered. If the dam had actually failed, there would have been nothing to evacuate as the flood route would have been scoured clean. Despite the horrendous conditions, the people monitoring the dam were doing their job and were able to alert the authorities to the hazard.

    The question about whether or not the dam was properly designed and maintained is completely separate, and largely a funding question. But it appears that the evacuation call and execution were pretty well handled considering the apocalyptic conditions.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It doesn’t really matter which of the main parties you are talking about here in Oz. As far as foreign policy is concerned, they both toe the same line and merely serve as echo chambers to overseas interests. If that means challenging China, threatening North Korea and sanctioning Russia then so be it.
      A true foreign policy would be to be semi-neutral in order to be able to act as go-betweens for countries challenging each other and help negotiate agreements but we have no real independent foreign policy here and every country knows it. Sad but true.

  13. allan

    Kushner used private email to conduct White House business [Politico]

    Presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has corresponded with other administration officials about White House matters through a private email account set up during the transition last December, part of a larger pattern of Trump administration aides using personal email accounts for government business. …

    … Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, set up their private family domain late last year before moving to Washington from New York, according to people with knowledge of events as well as publicly available internet registration records. …

    Well-timed to distract from the take-a-knee controversy.
    Prepare for both DJT loyalists and #Resistance to turn themselves into pretzels
    explaining why This Time is Different.

    1. Jess

      No, if they will just share classified intell over that private email we can find out if Trump is one of the “others” Comey referred to who would be indicted for such activity, even though he let Hellary off the hook.

      I love the smell of double standard in the morning. It smells like defeat, the defeat of representative government and justice for all.

  14. Ned

    Plastic on ice floes.

    Perhaps we need a Nuremberg style environmental crimes court where chemical company executives and their heirs are are made to surrender part of their fortune for environmental cleanup, along with a proportionate share of stockholders value in said companies? Prison if they don’t want to pay.

    Did General Electric executives ever pay for cleaning up the Hudson of the PCBs they manufactured?

    1. rd

      PCB production was banned in 1979 in the US. I think all of the GE executives involved with the production that leaked are dead.

      CWA, TSCA, and RCRA passed in the 70s and 80s have done a pretty good job dramatically reducing new pollution from chemical manufacturing in the US. It is important that people don’t get complacent and allow significant weakening of the laws or new executives will figure out how to go back to when America Was Great regarding pollution.

  15. Daryl

    > The NFL is going to war with Trump as several teams have condemned his attack on players Business Insider

    To see the NFL which is the source of a lot of hot-takery whenever its players do anything political do this is pretty crazy.

    The entire LA Sparks stayed in the locker room for the national anthem earlier today for game 1 of the WNBA finals.

    1. Biph

      Not standing for the anthem has moved from a political statement about police brutality to a political statement about displeasure with Trump.
      Maybe one good thing to come out of this will be to stop having the national anthem before every tiddlywinks or eating competition which has always struck me as an especially cheap and easy form of jingoism.

        1. Alex Morfesis

          We can blame the red sox and the cubs for foisting the national anthem on the populous as a world series marketing scheme 99 years ago for the game babe ruth was pitching in 1918…7th inning stretch…

        2. Annotherone

          In England, long, long ago, when I was very young, the national anthem (“God save the Queen”) was played at the end of cinema showings each evening. As I recall, we all simply stood up and left, at least in the town where I lived. :)

    2. savedbyirony

      File this under the “if only Nick Saban or Coach K would do this, it would be all over the news” frustration of an avid women’s sports and women’s NCAA basketball fan:
      It is not so much the forgo of pay as the publicly expressed why he gives for doing it that matters; and the power people like well known and respected sports figures can have to lead and inspire others.

      What i do not see being mentioned in the media coverage of Trump vs NFL is that the NFL Players Union very recently approached the NFL comish to have the NFL sponsor a “Month of Unity” this November. Sports can be a powerful social mobilizer. Sports does offer prominent public podiums to those outside of the hereditary and class based power elites. The NFL billionaire owners are quickly finding themselves very publicly caught in the middle of their class and their workforce over these socially systemic racial inequality issues, as i think the NFL players, and to less of an extent their union, are becoming more organized and determined to protect and empower themselves to be socially involved if/when they want to be. And it looks like right now they want to be more and more.

      1. savedbyirony

        Sorry, in the above i said that the player’s union approached the league, but actually the four players who suggested the month of unity and activism were not representing the NFLPA.

  16. Ping

    I am now boycotting “The Conversation” after way too many deeply offensive articles presenting the “pro” position on trophy hunting; the equivalent of legitimizing a debate whether climate change is real. Absolute mushy rubbish.

    With NC’s respect for wildlife, for links on essential wildlife issues I suggest instead Alternet’s environment category is excellent like this one today.

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