Links 9/29/17

Sea creatures fled the Japanese tsunami on plastic rafts and travelled all the way to US shores Quartz

Could wood pulp make cars lighter and more efficient? BBC. Only in the subjunctive…

More Americans Are Falling Behind on Student Loans, and Nobody Quite Knows Why Bloomberg. Really?

What Are Cities Spending Big On? Increasingly, It’s Debt. Governing

Tech giants under increased EU pressure over illegal content EUbusiness

Ikea has bought TaskRabbit Recode. Now Ikea won’t have to include Allen wrenches in its flat-packs. That alone should pay for the task rabbits doing the assembly. Finally a sharing economy deal that makes sense.

For Snubbing Glyphosate Hearing, EU Parliament Bans Monsanto Lobbyists Common Dreams (Furzy Mouse).

Puerto Rico

Move along, people, move along. There’s nothing to see here:

Puerto Rico Rejects Loan Offers, Accusing Hedge Funds of Trying to Profit Off Hurricanes The Intercept

Live Updates: “Puerto Rico Is Bigger Than Katrina” Says Former US General Buzzfeed. Nice work on the updates.

Puerto Rico After Maria: Initial Thoughts on the Fiscal and Economic Implications Council on Foreign Relations

State not requiring Puerto Rico evacuees to pay transportation costs The Hill

Is the Jones Act Waiver All Politics? The Atlantic. Throwing a flag on the Betteridge’s Law violation.

Don’t let disaster recovery perpetuate injustice Nature

Hurricane Maria May Be a Preview of Climate-Fueled Migration in America Bloomberg

Colorado says 430 pipelines failed leak test after explosion 9News

Good news! Global carbon emissions stayed flat in 2016. Grist

North Korea

No choice for US but to accept a nuclear North Korea, ex-CIA analyst says South China Morning Post

Russia Isn’t the Answer to America’s Problems With North Korea Foreign Policy. The Blob speaks…

No, North Korea Isn’t Dependent on Russia and China For Its Rocket Fuel The Diplomat

North Korean companies ordered to close in China FT

South Korea bans raising money through initial coin offerings Reuters


By The Grace Of Israel – The Barzani Clan And Kurdish “Independence” Moon of Alabama

Yemen’s Horrifying Cholera Epidemic Continues to Spread The American Conservative


A Labour run on Sterling? Mainly Macro

What Strategy is London Pursuing with Brexit Talks? Der Spiegel

The UK has struck a sensible consensus – it’s time for Brussels to move the talks onto trade Brexit Central. Hmm. Is the “consensus” the UK’s to strike?

Brexit Means Brexit But Also Hair-Pulling, Hand-Wringing, Wingeing Among Traders Dealbreaker. “Whinging.” Fixed it for ya.

Jeremy Corbyn pledges to tear up Thatcher’s economic legacy and replace it with ‘new common sense’ model Independent

Tory rebels call to stop Universal Credit amid fears it will become another Poll Tax The Sun

Millions of ballots seized by police ahead of Catalan vote The Local

The Catalan Referendum LRB

New Cold War

Amid Facebook’s Troubles, Message to Advertisers Stays Consistent NYT. Key sentence: “Russians had used fake accounts and Facebook ads to fan divisive issues during the presidential campaign.” Lambert here: I don’t want to be cranky about this, but, first, attribution is hard. Second, “Russians” aren’t the Russian state. Third, the spend seems minuscule compared to the Clinton billion+. Fourth, there’s no demonstrated electoral impact. Fifth, what’s new about “divisive” in a world of FOX or, to be fair, David Brock? Sixth, I never thought I’d see the day when liberals blamed “outside agitators.” Seventh, these stories keep imploding upon examination; see below. Eighth, two words, especially for the Times: “Judy Miller.”

Yet Another Major Russia Story Falls Apart. Is Skepticism Permissible Yet? The Intercept (EM). Salutary.

“Fake news” tweets targeted to swing states in election, researchers find McClatchy. British, not peer-reviewed, timed for hearings. Sorry, again, to be counter-suggestible. And Russian TV network spent nearly $300,000 on tweets aimed at U.S. market in election McClatchy. $300K, 1800 tweets. Oh.

The Slimy Business of Russia-gate Robert Parry, Consortium News (Furzy Mouse). Ka-ching….

Voice of America still clowning around John Brown’s Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review (Re Silc).

Trump, Cambridge Analytica and how big data is reshaping politics Gillian Tett, FT

Trump Transition

Millionaire Trump Adviser Says Americans Can ‘Buy A New Car’ With $1,000 Tax Cut HuffPo. Maybe one of those wooden ones?

GOP Unified on Tax Overhaul — for Now Roll Call. It is true that all we have is a short “framework”; basically bullet points. But if Ryan, McConnell, House Ways and Means Chair Brady, Senate Finance Chair Hatch, Mnuchin, and Cohn have all signed off on it, perhaps that’s a sign, encouraging or discouraging, depending on your politics. At least Trump isn’t making the silly assumption that Paul Ryan is an actual, functioning policy wonk, as he seems to have done with health care. Let the sausage-making begin!

I helped create the GOP tax myth. Trump is wrong: Tax cuts don’t equal growth. Bruce Bartlett, WaPo (Re Silc).

Be skeptical of Trump’s claim that wages will soar after he cuts taxes WaPo

Nobody wants Donald Trump’s corporate tax cut plan Vox

With Tax Cuts on the Table, Once-Mighty Deficit Hawks Hardly Chirp NYT (Re Silc). I’m shocked.

* * *

The Republican Establishment And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day FiveThirtyEight

The Abbie Hoffman of the Right: Donald Trump David Brooks, NYT (SS): “Bobo Makes Sense: World Ends…”

White House launches probe of private email accounts Politico. (Note that Business Insider’s sloppy rewrite of this story converts “account” to “server,” and in the headline, too!)

Alexander, Murray inching toward deal to stabilize Obamacare Politico

Hacked OPM Data Hasn’t Been Shared or Sold, Top Spy-Catcher Says Bloomberg

Class Warfare

The pendulum swings against privatisation FT. Note lack of agency.

Supreme Court poised to deal a sharp blow to unions for teachers and public employees LA Times (Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31).

Will Capitalism and Democracy Survive? Ian Welsh

A Quantum Pioneer Unlocks Matter’s Hidden Secrets Scientific American

Clothes That Don’t Need You NYRB

The Fear of Disruption Can Be More Damaging than Actual Disruption Strategy + Business

From her dad’s killing during the crack epidemic to a Supreme Court clerkship WaPo (Kokuanani),

Making a play for the Ig (Richard Smith):

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Terry Flynn

    re universal tax credit

    Wow – vaguely informative piece in the Sun…. But I’d like to know who the other Tory MPs opposing this are… There are a bunch of known “troublemakers” with constituencies round here that are ultra marginals and I’m betting they’re twitchy about any policy that could become the next poll tax.

    1. Craig H.

      Google for banker + executions also brings up a story from Iran in 2014. There is an anecdote which I am unable to capture at the moment. It believe I read this in one of Galbraith’s books but not positive. It said something like the last man executed in public for stealing in Britain was a banker during a finance crisis. 1820’s? 1840’s?

      Or maybe I am misremembering. Am I the only person who finds it odd that executing bankers seems to neither be that popular nor that popular a search string? I don’t think it would be that absurd if there were dozens of corpses and millions of google hits.

      1. Rory

        Try using the same search terms in a Duck Duck Go search and compare to the Google search results. The contrast is usually interesting. In this instance Duck Duck Go seems to bring up more items about bankers losing their lives for wrongdoing.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        why bother asking OpinionShaper 5000 to bring you corporate-approved results?

        Look what they’ve done to Alternet, WSWS, and anyone to the left of the phony left neoliberals.

    2. Vatch

      Fighting corruption might be only part of what is happening here. From the article:

      Analysts say the campaign is two-pronged: hitting corruption and Trong’s political enemies – largely seen as allies of former prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

      “He has gone after Dung’s network with a vengeance, he can’t go after him, but he can go after the proteges,” said Abuza.

  2. Crow

    For Snubbing Glyphosate Hearing, EU Parliament Bans Monsanto Lobbyists Common Dreams (Furzy Mouse)

    “This is strong democracy. Those who escape democratic accountability must be excluded from access to lobbying,” said MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson for the Greens/EFA and parliament’s rapporteur for Transparency, Accountability and Integrity.”

    Now that’s serious swamp draining talk. If only the same were possible here in the good old USA.

  3. Basil Pesto

    The other day I mentioned in the comments that the International Astronautical Congress is being held in my city. Today it was open to the public for a few hours and I swung by. As I was leaving when the public access period closed and the delegates were gearing up from a talk from Elon “Darth” Musk, I overheard a woman say to a guy from Lockheed-Martin: “I’m not sure I can deal with Elon’s craziness right now”. I’d like to think that, in some way, she speaks for all of us.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Given sufficient time, a billionaire (military general, powerful politician) will rid his entourage of anyone critical of his more lunatic rants, ending with a sycophantic buffer, a comfort zone.

      Traffic around Hawthorne getting ya down? You want to drill tunnels under Los Angeles? Brilliant!!!

      LAX nightmare hindering productivity? You want to build giant vacuum tubes across the desert? Brilliant!!!

      1. Basil Pesto

        I think people might be on the wrong track when they’re looking for the sci-fi parable for Musk et al that basically amounts to: “Ayn Rand becomes extravagantly wealthy and starts her own country in a previously technologically inaccessible realm”. It’s Bioshock.

        1. ambrit

          Heinlein was involved in the EPIC political war in California. He also ran for State office in association with the remnants of the EPIC cohort. (All this is off the top of my head. Please verify for yourself. I’ve got to go to work soon.) This experience, along with the collapse of his peculiar marriage with his second wife, Leslyn, appears to have led Heinlein sharply to the Right in his socio-political philosophy. As the Wiki states. the character of Harriman uses just about every trick in the book, legal, shady, and illegal, to accomplish his aims. Musk seems to be cut from the same cloth. His holdings rely heavily on State subsidies and “tax breaks.” So, my aim here is to equate Musk with an old fashioned “Robber Baron,” melded with a bit of Technocrat and Meritocrat.
          Ayn Rand, well, she is my pick for a modern blend of Messallina and Defoe, (Daniel, not Willem. ‘A’ before ‘E,’ for sure.)
          Toodles. I’ve got a ‘Sidewalk Sale’ at work to set up this morning.

          1. Vatch

            I had to look up EPIC: End Poverty In California.

            It’s been a very long time since I read anything by Heinlein. I recall that “The Roads Must Roll” was rather militaristic. “Starship Troopers”, of course, took militarism all the way to eleven.

            1. bronco

              But Starship troopers also was about the concept of “Skin in the Game” , citizenship wasn’t automatic you had to earn it. If you didn’t want to fight or serve then you were a second class citizen.

              Not a terrible idea , I personally know a lot of people who are just drifting along letting others do the hard work. In fact it seems half my own family would fit the description. I don’t actually feel that its all their fault , our government seems to encourage it because it suits them.

              1. Vatch

                As I said, it’s been a long time, so my recollection might be wrong. Early in “Starship Troopers”, I recall a dialogue between a not very smart high school student, and his history or civics teacher who had an advanced degree. It was annoyingly slanted in favor of the highly educated right wing teacher, and it rubbed me the wrong way. It seemed similar to Mitt Romney’s comments about the 47%.

                Heinlein could have written about “skin in the game” in a non-military context, which might have been more persuasive. He got a medical discharge from the Navy for tuberculosis, and it seems that in many of his stories and novels, he was living out militaristic fantasies about what he missed being able to do because of his health.

                1. bronco

                  He had a future history of linked stories where there was all sorts of stuff going on. Lazarus long and his extended family lived hundreds of years and were active in more than one civil war type event. One of which was against a religious dictatorship.

                  I never thought of Heinlein as a right winger , more of a weirdo with ideas from both ends of the spectrum. Lots of sexual themes , wife and partner swapping , even incest.

                  Looking back it seems like he was influenced by WW2 , the cold war , and the hippie counter culture , like a lot of his contemporaries.

                2. NotTimothyGeithner

                  If I recall, Heinlein was terrified of Communism and believed only the mythical “efficiency” of a “united” fascism would save us. I thought the movie (there is a whole story behind this movie being made) was drawing attention to the inanity of the book by presenting all those blonde wunderkids and Denise Richards as residing in Buenos Airies.

                  1. Jeremy Grimm

                    Listen to the director’s commentary on the DVD for Starship Troopers. The director was surprised at the audience’s impressions of the movie as militaristic. He described many details of the sarcasm in his commentary — for example the scene with the soldier signing up recent high graduates — his limbs were all trimmed and equipped with artificial appendages. He told the kids fighting the bugs made him the man he was.

                3. curlydan

                  Every time I read Heinlein (not often), he always had a know it all, verbose, strong male as the protagonist–maybe like the degreed teacher you mention. Turned me off.

                4. Procopius

                  The teacher of Moral Philosophy didn’t exactly have an advanced degree, but he was a graduate of the officer’s training course and, of course, knew the subject he was teaching. I always thought the nonsense of having a “scientifically based moral philosophy” was absurd, but a necessary prop in building the imaginary world. Like having an Empress of the Universe and her loyal Hero in Glory Road.

            2. Procopius

              The Roads Must Roll was based on an alternative political idea in the ’30s called Technocracy. The basic theory was that businessmen and politicians had no idea how to actually make things work, while engineers did, so engineers should be the only ones allowed to run things. Labor unions were ascendant, and in TRMR were very powerful. The idea of class loyalty was very strong. Heinlein was also interested in some other fringe ideas, like “Count” Alfred Korzybski’s General Semantics, which actually still has a following. Over the years I read comments that his extreme turn to the right (he was, as noted, somewhat authoritarian in the ’40s; he was a graduate of the Naval Academy, after all) was due to his third wife, Virginia.

          2. Basil Pesto

            Sorry, I didn’t mean to minimise your reading of Heinlein! My only contact with Heinlein’s oeuvre is from watching Starship Troopers, and the last time I did that is when I was about 13, and it was a cult fave film among my friends chiefly, I suspect, because of the 80085, and the cartoonish violence. I just wanted to draw attention to Bioshock which is a direct critique of Randian thought taken to its extreme, which seems to be the direction Musk and co want to take it. It is really quite clever for something that is simultaneously quite dumb (there is, in my opinion, an inherent vulgarity to first-person shooter videogames – as someone who plays them now and then, I accept it, but the gamer subculture is very defensive if you even think about criticising the medium). There’s quite a lot of critical writing about it but, if you can’t be bothered with playing it yourself (and I wouldn’t blame you), I’m sure there are videos available on youtube etc which can précis the story and its ‘cautionary tale’ aspects. I don’t much value message/critique literature generally but this instance of it is pretty interesting in my opinion (despite my barely coherent rambling here!)

            1. ambrit

              A long and frustrating day was had by all at the Chicken Palace I toil in today.
              So, I’m late to the game, no pun intended. I don’t know enough about Bioshock to make an informed comment. I’m from the old fashioned tabletop wargame days. I remember Saturday afternoons over at my friend Alecs’ re-fighting the Destruction of Army Group Centre on the East Front in 1944. Or an alternate history re-match of Dixie versus the Union in 1930 over the Oklahoma oil fields, etc. etc. I’ll try to get over to some of the Bioshock critiques this weekend. Something both anti-Randian and playable sounds like a serious bit of work.
              Heinlein was very influential on a specific sub-group of the West’s population; the Sci Fi readers, which group included a large proportion of the Technocrat youth. Thus, his influence was large on a key group of the second level enabling population in the West. He himself seems to have been a Libertine as well as an Uber Technocrat. He was influential in the group that has been promoting the ‘Star Wars’ missile defense strategic concept ever since the seventies. So, as influential as he was in my youth, the shine has faded from the tin god for me.
              There goes a joke that the Golden Age of Science Fiction is Thirteen. Many of us are still wrestling with the escape from Thirteen.

              1. skippy

                BioShock is a first-person shooter video game developed by 2K Boston (later Irrational Games) and 2K Australia, and published by 2K Games.[4][5] The game was released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 platforms in August 2007; a PlayStation 3 port by Irrational, 2K Marin, 2K Australia and Digital Extremes was released in October 2008, and an OS X port by Feral Interactive in October 2009. A mobile version was developed by IG Fun.[6] The game’s concept was developed by Irrational’s creative lead, Ken Levine, and was based on the ideas of Objectivism as promulgated by Ayn Rand, while incorporating influences from other authors such as George Orwell. The game is considered a spiritual successor to the System Shock series, on which many of Irrational’s team including Levine had worked previously.[7][8]

                BioShock is set in 1960. The player guides the protagonist, Jack, after his airplane crashes in the ocean near the bathysphere terminus that leads to the underwater city of Rapture. Built by the business magnate Andrew Ryan, the city was intended to be an isolated utopia, but the discovery of ADAM, a genetic material which can be used to grant superhuman powers, initiated the city’s turbulent decline. Jack tries to find a way to escape, fighting through hordes of ADAM-obsessed enemies, and the iconic, deadly Big Daddies, while engaging with the few sane humans that remain and eventually learning of Rapture’s past. The player, as Jack, is able to defeat foes in a number of ways by using weapons, utilizing plasmids that give unique powers, and by turning Rapture’s own defenses against them. BioShock includes elements of role-playing games, giving the player different approaches in engaging enemies such as by stealth, as well as moral choices of saving or killing characters; additionally, the game and biopunk theme borrow concepts from the survival horror genre.

                BioShock received critical acclaim and was particularly praised by critics for its morality-based storyline, immersive environments, and its unique setting, and is considered to be one of the greatest video games of all time and a demonstration of video game as an art form. It received several Game of the Year awards from different media outlets, including from BAFTA,[9] Game Informer,[10] Spike TV,[11] and X-Play.[12] Since its release a direct sequel has been released, BioShock 2 by 2K Marin, as well as a third game titled BioShock Infinite by Irrational Games. A remastered version of the game was released on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 13, 2016, as part of BioShock: The Collection, along with BioShock 2 and Infinite.

                Played it and used it on this blog as a reference back in the day.

                disheveled…. now what might be the equivalent of ADAM in neoliberalism,

            2. Procopius

              Good lord, I’m so sorry you watched Starship Troopers. I hope you’re better now. That was a horrible thing.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I too thought of D. D. Harriman but when I remembered the Heinlein stories, DD used his own money plus whatever else he could raise and didn’t use government money. If you leave the future of space exploration to people like Silicon Valley types, then you can expect the future in space to look like the ship Nostromo in the film Aliens where concern for people came a very distant second to commercial interests. It would be brutal.

        1. justanotherprogressive

          And very reminiscent of the 1500’s when the Portuguese, Dutch, English and Spanish were exploring…….

          1. Wukchumni

            “1491” & “1493” are a couple of great books by Charles Mann, and our best colonizing efforts seemed to come via our colons, etc. The natives had stone image immunity in terms of germs, and the Wukchumni here, along with all of the other Yokut subtribes lost 85-90% of their population in 1868-69. To put things in perspective, the population density of the Yokuts, et al was amongst the highest of all tribes in the country.

            The settlers had good relations with the Wukchumni, and when they all started dying, the only thing they did differently, was they all had sweat lodges by the river, so the white man burned every last one to the ground, not knowing that measles was the culprit.

            So, what do you do after losing so many loved ones, friends, etc.?

            Dance Dance Dance!

            They held the first of the Ghost Dances in 1870, about 25 miles away from where I peck on this ball and chain presently, a weeklong effort that brought all of the survivors of every tribe together in dead spirit fashion.


            1. Lee

              Microbial pathogens were probably the most important determinant in the history of the New World. White man mythology would have it otherwise.

              1. LifelongLib

                “White man mythology would have it otherwise.”

                So would that of the people who accuse whites of genocide, when most of the Native American deaths were caused by pathogens that nobody had any control over.

                My view is that had it not been for the pathogens, the history of the New World contact with Europe would have paralleled that of Africa and Asia. Colonization, but no mass settlement of whites, who at most would always been a minority of the overall population. And just as Africa and Asia did, the New World cultures would eventually have regained their independence.

                1. JBird4049

                  Since the germ theory of disease wasn’t proven until the late 19th century, it is wrong to blame the Europeans for the mass death. Also, the Indians didn’t even have what little practical knowledge the Europeans did have on certain diseases. Even having the same past experiences as the Europeans had would have lessen the destructive shock. That shock I would think, was just as destructive as the actual diseases.

                  A lot of Europeans, especially children did die all the time from infectious diseases so they were more culturally, and emotionally, acclimated to it. It is horrifying reading about the sheer amount of death from disease in Europe back then. That’s not to say that having plagues with death rates greater than the Black Death is easy, but people can adapt to, or deal with, much with previous experience. Which the invaders had centuries if not thousands of years of.

                  However, throughout the Americas the native populations did bounce back. It took awhile, but so did the buildup of any European population. On the Eastern Seaboard in North America, the colonists were slowed/stopped for centuries because of the large native populations. In Latin America, the Spanish used the divide and conquer method. The Aztecs and the Incas would not have fallen without the help of their conquered subjects towards the invaders. The Conquistadors could have been all killed, enslaved, or driven off, with just a little more bad luck, or a little more foresight by the natives. Even now the native ancestry is quite large in Latin America as there was not the same gigantic influx of colonists and immigrants that happened in North America. Also, the Spanish supplanted the native leadership usually, and not the population, whereas the English, and later the Americans, supplanted everybody.

                  I think it was the Industrial Revolution, the increase in technology, and military power that finally completed the conquest as it did for almost the entire planet.

            2. Mike Mc


              1493 should be required reading in US high schools and/or undergrad programs. (I would add Guns, Germs & Steel but scholars are divided apparently.)

              I think everyone needs to understand the role of the European invasion and conquest of the Americas, Africa and Asia. We – I’m from a loooong line of pasty white Anglos – gave the world nuclear bombs but also indoor plumbing, vaccinations, space travel and good dental care, along with worldwide pollution and climate change.

              C’est la vie. Either we figure out how to sustain ourselves on the good Earth or we don’t – the Earth quite plainly does not care. That’s our job.

      1. ambrit

        OOOH! That would make Musk’s Mars Colonization a very evil, or, as Baldrick would say, “cunning plan.” I can’t wait for the first Muskateers to discover that the Face on Mars is really an alien amusement park!

  4. FreeMarketApologist

    On the Equifax front (which topic seems to have fallen off the radar):

    Equifax Inc. will debut a new service that will permanently give consumers the ability to lock and unlock their credit for free.

    The service will be introduced by Jan. 31, Chief Executive Officer Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Wednesday, a day after taking the helm. The company will also extend the sign-up period for TrustedID Premier, the free credit-monitoring service it’s offering all U.S. consumers, he said

      1. Off The Street

        Awaiting news release indicating new introduction date of February 31.

        Upon noting the McClatchy article, I was relieved to learn that there was no Peer Review. Lords and Ladies are engaged in affairs of the Realm and do not sully themselves with such matters. Now for some tea and biscuits.

        1. ambrit

          Oy, mate. We ‘ere below ‘ave to satisfy our appetites with boiled ditch water and fresh cut stinging nettles.
          The ‘igh born? bugger ’em.

          1. tegnost

            “Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog, the toad
            The tadpole, the wall-newt, and the water; that in
            The fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages,
            Eats cow-dung for sallets; swallows the old rat, and
            The ditch-dog; drinks the green mantle of the
            Standing pool; who is whipped from tithing to
            Tithing, and stocked, punished, and imprisoned; who
            Hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his
            Body, horse to ride, and weapon to wear,
            But mice, and rats, and such small deer,
            Have been Tom’s food for seven long year.”
            king lear

    1. Knifecatcher

      In the meantime can they please process my credit unfreeze request so I can finish refinancing my house? I’ve had a freeze on my accounts for years and had the bad luck to start the process right as the data breach blew up. The online and phone systems denied my temporary unfreeze request and stated I had to send the request in via snail mail. I did that on September 12th and have gotten bupkus back so far.

      So as it stands I’m currently locked out from the credit markets because Equifax is unwilling / unable to do its job. Can we nationalize these clowns already?

      1. oh

        Let’s get rid of these crooks. They should never have been allowed to sell our data. The data should never have been collected in the first place.

  5. SpecialAgentA

    Strange, the CFR article on the Puerto Rico fiscal and Superstorm disaster leaves out the prediction that these Superstorms will just continue to grow and grow under Climate Change. How to rebuild when the next one is inevitable and might well be worse?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Scenario planning.

      Is there one scenario under which the solution is to accelerate Global Warming, to get it over with, that gives the planet the best chance to recover, when it becomes knows that we’re past the event horizon?

      You examine different situations. With this one, is it ‘Give us more Global Warming?’

    2. rd

      Concrete block houses above the storm surge and river flood lines with solar panel/wind local electrical generation linked into local grids that are then wired into the island-wide grid. The bridges would be updated to newer engineering standards.

      Hurricanes are different form earthquakes – you can see them coming today, so solar panels etc. can be unbolted or shuttered to protect them during a storm and you can at least get daytime power back even if you don’t have a battery bank. Local pumped storage reservoirs or water towers could pump water up during the day using excess solar electrical production and then flow back down at night to provide electrical generation. They could also be a local water supply.

      1. Wukchumni

        My mom used to have a nice Guatemalan maid that came by every couple of weeks, we called her the queen of clean, she whipped through the house like a whirling dervish making short work of 2 hours, and then the home was spotless.

        So one day i’m visiting my mom and she’s making lunch for Angie and me, and we get talking about the 1976 Guatemala earthquake, and she told us that the quake being shallow, it ruptured all the pipes, and fresh water was hard to come by, and those that were near creeks or rivers, had it made. The rest of the population suffered mightily.

  6. justanotherprogressive

    Re: “Trump, Cambridge Analytica and how big data is reshaping politics”

    And yet another article by another person who just can’t accept that it wasn’t the “Russians” or dirty tricks by Trump that won him the election……

    Yes, Cambridge Analytica is gathering information on voters and yes, that may have allowed the Trump Campaign to refine its message to tell voters what they wanted to hear………but haven’t elected politicians been doing that for ages? Certainly Clinton had her own digital information gathering systems…..

    It wasn’t that Trump was using Cambridge Analytica but that the Trump Campaign was actually interested in voter opinions……perhaps the Democrats should try that sometime?

    Digital information gathering systems are a fact of life for politics these days – that’s not going to change, but, as always, it depends on what data is being gathered and how it is interpreted…..

        1. fresno dan

          September 29, 2017 at 12:12 pm

          Please, your insinuation that banksters are skunks does a terrible, terrible calumny against the noble skunk….why, I have never heard of a skunk approving a ninja loan….

  7. Brucie A.

    Science News: Tropical forests have flipped from sponges to sources of carbon dioxide

    The world’s tropical forests are exhaling — and it’s not a sigh of relief. Instead of soaking up climate-warming gases on balance, these so-called “lungs of the planet” are beginning to release them.

    A new study based on analyses of satellite imagery of tropical Asia, Africa and the Americas suggests that tropical forests contribute more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than they remove. Much of that carbon contribution is due to deforestation, the conversion of forests to urban spaces such as farms or roads. But more than two-thirds comes from a less visible source: a decline in the number and diversity of trees in remaining forests, researchers report online September 28 in Science.

    1. Brucie A.

      But terrestrial ecosystem scientist Joshua Fisher of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., notes that this forest biomass study doesn’t fully gel with atmospheric observations of carbon emissions from tropical forests, which still show that the forests are taking up more carbon than they are emitting overall. That may be because the new study focuses on aboveground biomass and doesn’t include what’s absorbed in soils, he says.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        Without seeing what data each of them is collecting and how they are analyzing it, it’s hard to say anything about either the Science News article or Joshua Fishers comments. They may be comparing apples to oranges and they may both be right……

      2. Jef

        Its only a matter of time; “Soils could release much more carbon than expected as climate warms”

        “There’s an assumption that carbon in the subsoil is more stable and not as responsive to warming as in the topsoil, but we’ve learned that’s not the case,” says Torn. “Deeper soil layers contain a lot of carbon, and our work indicates it’s a key missing component in our understanding of the potential feedback of soils to the planet’s climate.”

        Read more at:

    2. Wukchumni

      Somebody I know that works for local county planning, told me that his higher ups referred to the forest for the trees to their east, as ‘straws’ in the midst of the drought, on account of them sucking down scant moisture sources.

      It’s fascinating to watch the lesser species suffer so compared to the ultimate survivor-giant sequoias, in the Sierra Nevada. The death zone ranged from 3,500 to 7,200 feet, and that’s right in the heart of where you’ll find sequoia groves. But i’m not seeing them dead anywhere, or even really all that affected. The rest of the forest is about 25% toes up.

      The bark beetles were largely the culprit, with little snow and warm temps, they came like a ravaging army and laid waste to vast swaths, and a friend had a 5 foot wide ponderosa that was about 400 years old near his cabin that one day last year in July, he showed me, and the tree had a continual drip of water emanating from 20 feet up, of a 210 foot height, never seen anything like it, as the beetles had so compromised the tree’s vascular ability to transport water up to the higher climes, and was giving up. A week later the tree was dead, the leaves all ocher.

      1. JP

        Walked through Dillonwood a few weeks back and was pleasantly surprised by comparatively low mortality of the sequoias. Now if the dead ponderosa will just fall down before they launch a crown fire. Of course if the entire Sierra burned there would be a lot more water for the valley floor.

        1. Wukchumni

          We’re just a lightning strike away from a conflagration, and the forest is itching to go up in flames.

          Dillonwood is a seldom visited grove…

          Walked through the Garfield Grove earlier in the summer on a backpack trip, it’s got lots of big trees, and as most everything is on a steep slope, it makes them seem bigger yet, looking from below.

      1. Wukchumni

        Yes, a last gasp.

        Said newlydead tree was elevated to widow-maker status and threatened to destroy one of 5 cabins in it’s circumference fall zone, and only was there one place to fall it, a narrow gap between and betwixt it all, and the winning bid to take the behemoth down was $5,000, and to put it in perspective, the underbidder on the job wanted $10k for the effort.

        Never having seen a really big fellow like that come down in such a fashion, I hung around to watch the scene unfold, and it took 3 guys working 4 days to bring it down and dismember into rounds. I thought to myself, how do you ever learn to do such dangerous work as this?

        The main cut was 100 feet up on the 210 foot tree, and when that came down exactly where they wanted it to, it felt like a 4.1 earthquake to me, all that wood coming down in a hurry.

        The gent that made the final cut with his chainsaw was strapped in below the cut and once the top went down, he was swung back and forth on what was left of the ponderosa 3-5 feet from center for about 5 seconds like a pogo stick, what a ride!

        1. MtnLife

          “I thought to myself, how do you ever learn to do such dangerous work as this?”

          I learned from my father who also taught climbing to occ Ed students in addition to his business. Started helping at 6 (soon as I could haul brush) aka the start of a 12 yr apprenticeship. Started climbing professionally at 18. For a lot of arborists and loggers it runs in the family. Everyone else usually starts as a ground man for an established company learning the process from the ground up before venturing into the trees. It is a highly dangerous activity. My dad broke his neck the year I was born (while on the ground when something went wrong) and I took a 25 foot fall (my fault, was rushing and using substandard equipment) nearly a decade ago. For all the danger it is quite a rush and I absolutely love doing it. People sometimes complain about the cost but usually stop after being reminded that one error in either judgment or execution can leave someone dead or cause thousands of dollars in property damage. I’ve been shifting my work more heavily into tree work as opposed to carpentry recently because it’s one area I don’t have to compete with IKEA.

          1. Wukchumni

            Thanks for the edumacation, it’s a fascinating line of work…

            Getting a competent faller has been a bit difficult the past few years, as they can make serious bank working in the midst of wildfires, of which there are ever more of.

          2. wilroncanada

            My youngest daughter’s best friend was made a widow with 4 children when her husband did something wrong halfway up a tree on Vancouver Island. It was to be his last day as faller; he had been promoted to a supervisory position. Maybe that had something to do with it: excitement, relief, whatever.

            1. MtnLife

              So sorry to hear. I know a lot of climbers either say a little prayer or have a spiritual communion with the tree (as I do) letting it know that I respect its life and asking it not to kill me. Not only do we have to contend with hidden natural dangers from wind and the tree itself (I’ve been in trees that had hidden decay pockets so bad I would not have climbed had I known, inspections only give so much information – please don’t wait until your trees are totally dead to have them removed) but it’s not an activity that is friendly to lapses in attentiveness. Along with backcountry snowboarding, climbing is one of the only times I can be fully present in the moment because, well, I have no other choice. I’m not thinking about what’s for dinner, the fight I had with my wife, or bills that I have to pay. Just me and the tree.

  8. Anonymized

    I forgot to include this in my earlier comment. This is an interesting document on how libraries can better serve poor and socially excluded populations. For what it’s worth, I’m a heavy user of the Toronto Public Library and despite my best efforts, I’ve probably racked up a total of $30 of late fees over the past six years. I miss the days of 10 cent/day late fees. There used to be cutesy articles about someone’s grandchild who returned a library book after many years and owed $5000 in waived late fees but nowadays that amount wouldn’t be so far-fetched.

    “However, other surveys echo library statistics showing that the whole community is not using the library. Usage statistics were particularly troublesome in urban areas with high concentrations of poor, immigrant, and socially excluded individuals. British librarian John Pateman estimated that 40 percent of his community were not library users and 30 percent were marginal users. Based on their experience directly serving patrons, library staff at VPL and across Canada expressed concern that libraries were no longer serving poor and socially excluded people. Many staff pointed to the increasing number of rules, the impact of fines, and the focus on information technology as alarming factors.

    This situation is not peculiar to libraries. A substantial body of literature, including the Royal Commission on Poverty (1968) and literature pre-dating the Commission’s report, demonstrates that government offi ces, schools, and hospitals are alien and frightening to many who are socially excluded. Such government institutions—public libraries included—primarily serve the middle class, and so are alienating to many people.”

    1. curlydan

      Anec-data here: My kids wanted to watch “King Kong: Skull Island”. I tried to rent the DVD at the Kansas City Library and was put in the Hold Queue at position 76. Frustrated, I went to the suburban library system as was put in the Hold Queue at position 200+. So maybe there is more demand in the wealthier suburbs. Conversely, I went to check out Kendrick Lamar’s new release “DAMN”, and quickly found it “in stock” at the KC downtown library. I was shocked, but maybe the kids all download music now?

    2. wilroncanada

      We are all long-time users of Vancouver Island Regional Library and Victoria Public Library. My wife has our three grandchildren there every two or three weeks. The computer access may be intimidating to some; the hours have been reduced by budget cuts (have to pay for that development infrastructure).
      Librarians have been unfailingly helpful in searches. I use inter-library loan extensively (books from anywhere in BC). They hold readings; celebrate local authors; provide cds, dvds, links to national and international newspapers and magazines, ebooks.
      I used to have over 15000 books, now in a much smaller house fewer than 200.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If Mr. Obama wants to make it on Wall Street, choosing the right people is paramount.

      Poor Ulysses Grant chose the wrong partner.

    2. oh

      The payoffs keep on coming and they’re many and numerous. Yet the elite liberals will worship at Barry’s altar much the same way as the Repigs worship RayGun.

  9. The Rev Kev

    Re: By The Grace Of Israel – The Barzani Clan And Kurdish “Independence”
    There is an informative video at about the Kurds by Syriagirl, a Syrian-Australian activist who has just been blocked by FaceBook for criticizing the Kurds. Does she have an axe to grind? Absolutely! But then again, it is not my country that has had several hundred thousand of its people slaughtered by mostly imported jihadists.
    A point I wonder about. When I see groups like ISIS and the Kurds, I am reminded about something that I read many years ago. Back in WW2 an American division fought on 700 tons of supplies a day while the more hard-pressed Wehrmacht divisions had to get by on 200 tons of supplies a day. OK, fine. The war in Syria has been going on some six years now. So, who has been supplying the Kurds and especially ISIS with the tonnage of supplies needed to keep them fighting all these years?

    1. Roland

      Most of the fighting in the Syrian War has not been as intense or as continuous as the fighting on the main fronts in the World Wars. In Syria, intense fighting tends to come in “bursts,” limited to certain places, and for periods of a few weeks at a time, followed by intervals of recovery and redployment for the factions involved.

      That being said, the Syrian War could not have lasted anywhere near this long, if the combatant factions had been limited to the material and human resources available within Syria.

    1. Wukchumni

      In one way, there was something good that came out of the Munich Agreement in a roundabout fashion. Prague could have easily suffered the same fate as Warsaw, which was largely razed to the ground and was a beautiful city previously.

      When one walks the streets of Prague, you’re truly walking through time, a couple blocks of rococo followed by a stretch of art nouveau, and on and on.

      That said, it brought on much hardship for my family, enduring the unendurable for 6 years.

      My grandfather was a man of means and then no means, ex-king of the road. He was a smarty and thought he’d out-think the Nazi party, by putting his wealth in an English bank in Wenceslaus sq., so he deposited 15,000 quid in there and when the goose steppers came in without knocking in the rest of the Czech lands, the English and French banks didn’t want to make a scene and told the reich to have at it, the riches, that is.

      But that was the first of a 1-2 punch, for you see the Nazis stole my family’s money and then the Soviets took their property.

      …a clean sweep

    2. Roland

      Since when did the Czechs need British or French approval to fight for their country? In 1939-40 the Poles, Finns, Serbs, and Greeks fought variously against the Germans or Soviets or Italians, all at hopeless odds, with little prospect of effective outside help. So what was stopping the Czechs from going to war, if they wanted to?

      Put it this way: if a thousand Czechs can’t be found who want to die for the Sudetenland, then why should a million Frenchmen risk their lives for it? Why should London risk getting bombed, when the Czechs aren’t willing to see Prague set on fire?

      Is it fair to call it a “betrayal” if foreigners won’t fight for your country–when you won’t, either?

      1. Wukchumni

        All of the Czech defenses were based upon fortifications on the border, i.e. Sudetenland, and then that territory was given to the fatherland, and they were, well-defenseless. When the Wehrmacht showed up in Prague in 1939, it was just par for the course, not being all that dissimilar to Vienna a year prior.

        1. Roland

          It was the Munich Agreement that ceded the Sudentenland in 1938. The point is, the Czechs chose not to go to war over that region, without which their country was hard to defend.

          Mind you, even if a country is impossible to defend, patriots may fight against an aggressor anyway. In 2003, Iraqis had no chance when the strongest power in the world invaded their country. Tens of thousands of them chose to fight anyway, without any prospect of victory or relief.

          It’s not like the Czechs needed French or British approval before they could fight for their own territory. Chamberlain wanted to give the Germans part of Czech territory. So what? Since when did Chamberlain govern Czechoslovakia? Kick him down the stairs!

          Czech nationalists had fought long and hard during during the Russian Civil War, which makes it hard to understand why they showed so little fight when their country itself was menaced. You’d think that at least some of the old veterans of the Czech Legion would have taken up arms and waged a guerrilla.

          1. Wukchumni

            It’s easy to figure it all out after events have long since transpired, but nobody was at war at the time, nor really wanted to be. It’s true the Czechs fought bravely* in WW1 and the Czech Legions were, shall we say-legendary.

            And the English and French having your back, did precisely nothing for Poland, which was squashed like a bug w/o the former duo lifting so much as a finger to help, despite going to war over them getting invaded.

            * except for the Good Soldier Švejk

    3. Ned

      No, the Norman Davis and John Foster Dulles authored and Woodrow Wilson promoted Treaty of Versailles opened the door for WWII.

  10. TrickleDown McGushUp

    Tax Reform

    As Elon Musk spruiks Mars as a colonial outpost, I am reminded of one of the UK’s most memorable TV ads. It featured Martians laughing at the way humans of the 1970’s went about preparing mashed potatoes with hand-held spud peelers etc. Taken as a whole, taxation as a means of funding government – along with all the inevitable countermeasures adopted, is more than equally risible. My first astonished laugh came as I learned that there used to be a window tax in Britain. People bricked-up windows to avoid paying; the evidence is still around.

    Is taxation the best system the elite can come up with? Are we stuck with taxation until engaging little aliens turn up and put us right?

    There is always an alternative – that is what humans are about.

    Pip Pip

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The window tax was actually a highly progressive tax. Glass was very expensive so having a large amount of windows was like having a Maserati on your driveway – a way of showing off how rich you are. And of course its impossible to hid a window. So it was cheap to administer and very fair. It was only withdrawn after agitation by the nouveau riche in the mid 19th Century.

      BTW, most of the bricked up windows from the 17th and 18th century that you see are not a result of tax avoidance – in classical architecture the balance of the facade was rigidly followed according to the principles of symmetry and balance. So if there was no reason for a window (for example, because of the internal staircase), they would put a ‘false’ window in to maintain the external balance. This was particularly common with the many buildings influenced by Palladio.

      1. HotFlash

        Uh-huh, glass tax in Holland and Flanders as well. So, you’d board up your window and hang a picture of a landscape in its place. If you were rich you could commission one, perhaps what you’d been able to see before the boarding-up. Not-so-rich folks could afford to put up an engraving — still posh, and if they’d never had a window in the first place, who would know?

  11. Wukchumni

    I’m really Enjoying Ken Burns Vietnam War doc, it’s a warts and all look back to a time when I was around, but thankfully they weren’t taking any Nixon jugend, so I was allowed to finish the 3rd grade.

    I looked up my birthdate, and my draft number would’ve come up in 1970 to be cannon fodder, and seeing as my mom is a lapsed Canadian, we have plenty of relatives up over, and i’d a hightailed it up there, if push met shove.

    Have a friend born in 1944, and his college deferments were just about used up and he was looking at getting drafted soon in ’67, and he told me he was drinking in a bar in Van Nuys, and confessing his sorrows to the next guy over drinking suds, and a few snappy cocktails later, the guy says, “Hey, i’m in the California Air National Guard and we’re accepting people tomorrow, i’ll get you in.”

    So, the next day he goes to the appointed place, and told me there were about 451 desperate men surrounding him, and then the uniformed ones came out to the podium and announced there were 7 positions available, and my friend said he felt his heart sink, really what chance would he have, and the guy he was drinking with the night before was in a uniform, and he wasn’t quite sure which of the 8 uniformed guys was on the platform, but one of the uniformed guys recognized him and called him up on the stage, and that was that.

    1. Carolinian

      I’d say the early critics of Burns’ dubious opus got it right. The show says explicitly and by most of its approach that the war was a well meaning “mistake” even while detailing the many lies and occasional (according to him) atrocities. But if you do something once it can be a mistake. If you do it over and over (even as we speak) it is clearly deliberate. Burns, Mr. Americana, can’t come to terms with the country’s dark underbelly. Bank of America and his other fat cat sponsors might not approve.

      To me–old enough to remember the whole thing–the show turned out to be a real disappointment. Even at 18 hrs it seemed quite shallow.

      1. Wukchumni

        Is what we’re doing in the ‘stanbox presently any different, aside from a much lower casualty rate and in terms of mainstream media coverage, it might as well not exist, for we can count on a cadre of Johnny Got His Gun types to fill in the ranks, heck we’ve even made heroes of them for merely enlisting. All over California towns, you’ll see these banners up on high saluting Fred Smith, for being in the Army!

        Here’s one of the perhaps 40 different flavors i’ve come across on the road*435/TORRANCE+BANNERS.JPG

        A friend of a friend was in the USMC and did tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and he’s an observant fellow and I asked him who does all the grunt work now?

        He just smiled at me and said “Kay-Bee-Arr, baby”.

        Fighting a war in Afghanistan from afar strikes me as big of a folly if the Russians were to start a war in Nevada, with it’s endless basin and range, and have to bring in everything needed to fight, from 8,000 miles away.

        But, there we are.

        1. Arizona Slim

          We need a non-military option for service. Call it the Green Force or the Climate Corps or what-have-you. Reason: We need to get young people working on climate change mitigation, and sooner rather than later.

          This would also give them the feeling of belonging to something larger than themselves. It’s one of the military’s biggest selling points, and I don’t think it should be exclusive to the armed forces.

          1. Wukchumni

            I’d so hoped for a CCC program with Obama, as not every kid is entitled to take on $100k in student loans, nor are they suited for the task. But that would just be a start.

            We’d make it compulsory, and you get to choose which way you’d like to serve the country, and one thing that was good about the draft, was the idea that California got to hang out with Minnesota and Alabama, and got to know them.

            We’re so divided now as a country, as we tend to stereotype given states as being this or that, w/o ever having been there.

            1. Mike Mc

              McCain been promoting this for what seems like decades and prolly won’t be around much longer; maybe he can add this to his bucket list.

              Cross between the old Civil Defense and WPA/CCC and maybe even the National Guard – call it the Green Guard! Widen it out so high school grads and GED holders are the primary source of bodies but Ma, Pa and maybe even Grandma and Grandpa can serve in more limited or specialized capacities. (I’m close to retirement but fairly spry – and repair computers for a living.)

              Imagine a half dozen planeloads of the Green Guard flying into San Juan and going to work: clearing roads, driving trucks, hauling food/water/medicine to the interior ASAP. Older GGs work on the infrastructure to get power and sanitation back up. Si se puede!

              1. HotFlash

                Imagine a half dozen planeloads of the Green Guard flying into San Juan and going to work: clearing roads, driving trucks, hauling food/water/medicine to the interior ASAP.

                Ho, ho, hold it! I am pretty sure that the people in Puerto Rico are quite capable of “clearing roads, driving trucks, hauling food/water/medicine”. The problem is finding the trucks, and, of course, the food/water/medicine to haul.

        2. Huey Long

          I almost ended up working for KBR after I got out of the USCG. I decided against it after a friend of mine told me about the incoming mortar rounds and crappy hours…

          Not worth it for a tax-free check IMNSHO.

      2. JohnnyGL

        I’d agree with the criticism of Burns calling it a “mistake” or “blunder” rather than a “crime” or “atrocity”.

        I’ve only seen the 1st episode so far, but Burns deserves some credit for piecing together a lot of good information and detail, including from the Viet Cong and NVA side, even if he could have done better. I think Moon criticized Burns for failing to dig into the old Soviet and Chinese archives and that’s certainly a fair point.

      3. voteforno6

        The early critics latched on to that one line of narration from early on in the first episode, and don’t seem to have watched any more of the series. The series is good television, and a much more effective critique of the Vietnam War than those critics could have produced. This series is not a thundering denunciation, which is what they want to see. That would have been a dishonest portrayal of the conflict, and would’ve made for some very bad television as well.

        1. JohnnyGL

          I like it, too, at least so far, though I’ve only seen the 1st episode. I liked the backstory info on Ho Chi Minh desperately trying to get some kind of discussion going with the US, but no one wanted to listen to him.

          It seems there’s some combination of racism and cold war ideology going on that led the US to be blind to the idea of taking the rebels seriously. Then, followed by the constant refusal to consider anything other than doubling-down on failure.

          Our leadership seems to be failing in a similar fashion these days.

        2. Olga

          Could not disagree with you more. Explaining at the beginning the real origins of the war (likely same as what led to the bombing of Nagasaki/Hiroshima and the Korean war) would have made the series much more honest and accurate. Burns did a lot of good work getting many interviews – which are all quite interesting – but in the end, they provide mostly emotional background to the events. A hard-nosed examination of US imperialistic motives could have kept the film on a more objective level. I still remember how Reagan “re-framed” the war as a noble, albeit unsuccessful, attempt to bring democracy to Vietnam – so US has nothing to apologize for. Burns’ series is very much in that vein… although I do give him credit for clearly stating that US helped finance the French in their colonial war.

        3. Jen

          I haven’t watched it, myself. However my 84 year old father, who is, shall we say, highly indoctrinated by the MSM, has been. He said to me: “what I cannot get over is how they – the media and the government – lied, and lied, and lied to us.” To which I responded: “and still do.” He was quiet for a minute, and then nodded in agreement.

      4. HotFlash

        The show says explicitly and by most of its approach that the war was a well meaning “mistake” even while detailing the many lies and occasional (according to him) atrocities. … Burns, Mr. Americana, can’t come to terms with the country’s dark underbelly. Bank of America and his other fat cat sponsors might not approve.

        It is a well-established survival strategy among servants, low-level employees, children, pets and other slaves, to tell power what it wants to hear. The MasterClass will usually fall for that, the arrogant are pretty sure of their power and also very prone to flattery. Then you tell the truth as best you can, as loud as you can, and hope your hearers will hear that.

      5. tongorad

        As an antidote to Ken Burns’ milquetoast review of the Vietnam war, some excellent Vietnam War documentary films:
        In The Year of The Pig (1968)
        Hearts And Minds (1974)
        Winter Soldier (1972)
        Sir No Sir (2005)
        Please be advised that all of these pack a substantial emotional wallop. They should all be required viewing in school, IMO.
        Support the troops my arse.

    1. Vatch

      For Feinstein to lose in the primary, she would have to finish in third place or lower. California has a nonpartisan primary with everyone lumped together, and the top two finishers move on to the general election. Frequently there are two Democrats running against each other in the general election. One of the purposes of this system is to keep third party candidates out of the general election.

  12. FortyYearsInThe UniversitySystem

    Re: du Jour.. The Goldilocksian Version:

    Papa Rhino said “Hey, who’s been wallowing in my mud wallow?”
    Mama Rhino then said “My word! Someone’s been wallowing in my mud wallow too!”
    Finally Baby Rhino said “Look.. there’s a little human wallowing in my mud wallow!”
    And I forget how the story went after that. Hopefully it was upbeat and full of promise. Although I doubt it.

    My apologies. Couldn’t help it when I saw the pic. Cheers one and all. And good luck to all of us!

  13. Ben

    Yes, there’s a difference between private email account and private email server, but the rules (laws?) broken are the same – i.e., a non-government email account was used for government business.

    And it’s as much a non-issue now as it was last year.

    1. HotFlash

      But using a private email account is understandable, even if illegal — oops, that’s just my default email, forgot and used my regular email addy…

      Using a private *server* for govt business would argue premeditation.

  14. flora

    re: Pedulum swings against privatization.

    Wonder why. Too many stories like the following?

    “Workers at the Wichita tax office where an employee was shot Tuesday were moved out of a secured state office building into an unsecured storefront about three years ago, as part of Gov. Sam Brownback’s program of privatizing office space.

    A state senator and the head of the state employee union said they think Tuesday’s shooting probably would have been avoided had the Department of Revenue tax office still been housed in the now-vacant Finney State Office Building downtown instead of a strip mall at 21st and Amidon.”

  15. Jim Haygood

    E-Z riches … for the people!

    Donald Trump

    RECORD HIGH FOR S & P 500!
    6:39 AM – 29 Sep 2017

    S&P 2,517 as I type … yeehaw! In a year or two, Trump’s bullish touting is going to look like Icarus-style hubris.

    For now, though, he likely can get away with it, on into next year. The seasonally bleak month of September uncharacteristically yielded a gain. From late October through February, seasonality turns bright as stocks party on through the new year.

    Bubble III, comrades: into the mystic.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I’ve had all sorts of investment shamers telling me that I should get into The Market.

      Why? So my funds can go poof and disappear when The Smart Money realizes that The Market is hugely overvalued and that stock prices are not justified by underlying fundamentals like jobs and income growth? And by corporate revenue growth, which have been sluggish for years?

      “Thanks, but no thanks,” says Slim the Cash Sitter.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Yep, it’s a little late to get in on the ground floor of a bull market which will reach 8-1/2 years duration on Oct 9th. Nothing wrong with conserving capital.

        Along these lines, the good Dr Hussman (known as Ursus Major to his posse) has outdone himself this week with a chart that proxies the S&P 500 price-to-revenue ratio, by adjusting 10-year average earnings for corporate profit margins (currently quite high). Hear his words, sinners:

        What investors presently take as a comfortable environment of pleasant market returns and mild volatility is actually, quietly, the single most overvalued point in the history of the U.S. stock market.

        Oh my! *wipes brow* Too bad the good doctor can’t get through his armored skull that high valuation — even the highest EVAH — tells us nothing about when the party ends. Excessive exuberance in mass psychology ends the party. But it’s a subtle thing to observe, and imperfectly measured by sentiment surveys.

        Save the bears! :-)

        1. John k

          I think he acknowledges he doesn’t know when the crash begins.
          I regret missing the bull run, won’t regret the downside. Some day a recession arrives, massive private debt, not least record margin debt, indicates deep market correction… there will be a good time to sell my long treasuries and buy equities. One handle on the long bond…
          Dry powder can be useful.

          Buffett doesn’t sell his companies, but he’s selling stocks.

  16. ewmayer

    Big Shrink Bulks Up in India, Guts US Jobs, to Please Wall Street | Wolf Street

    Key snips … and yes, that’s billions with a capital ‘B’ in the share-buyback numbers:

    Over the past 10 years, even as revenues have been swooning, IBM has repurchased $116 billion of its own shares.

    IBM still discloses its global workforce – now at 380,000 and about flat with 2007 – but stopped disclosing its US workforce in 2009, after it became apparent what was happening, and it wasn’t pretty … In congressional testimony in 2010, it was revealed that in 2009, IBM’s US workforce had shrunk to 105,000. And after waves of quiet layoffs since then, the employee count has been whittled down to “well under 100,000” by now, according to the New York Times, citing “outsiders.”

    Now IBM employs 130,000 people across India, according to The Times. That’s 34% of its global workforce, and substantially more than in the US…

    IBM isn’t the only US tech company to shift employment to India. Much of US tech has moved that way. Oracle employs 40,000 people in India, or about 29% of its global workforce. Dell employs 25,000 in India or 18% of its workforce. Cisco employs 10,600 in India or 15% of its workforce. Microsoft employs 8,000 in India, or 6% of its workforce.

    IBM is also in sixth position this fiscal year with H-1B visa petitions. The top five are companies – three of them Indian, such as Infosys – that provide H-1B contract workers to US companies. IBM is listed with 3,569 H-1B petitions so far this fiscal year through June 30, 2017.

    But IBM is unusual among big American tech companies because it employs more people in a single foreign country than it does in the US. The Times as some perspective:

    Ronil Hira, an associate professor of public policy at Howard University who studies globalization and immigration, said the range of work done by IBM in India shows that offshoring threatens even the best-paying American tech jobs.

    “The elites in both parties have had this Apple iPhone narrative, which is, look, it’s O.K. if we offshore the lower-level stuff because we’re just going to move up,” he said. “This is a wake-up call. It’s not just low-level jobs but high-level jobs that are leaving.”

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Serving the MIC is just about the only stable gig left in US engineering — as long as you get a clearance. Even with a clearance be ready to move and travel around the country to stay employed. And consider yourself lucky — very lucky — if you remain employed to an age anywhere near a Social Security retirement age.

  17. funemployed

    Re: more Americans are falling behind on student loans…nobody knows quite why

    Those Americans know why…quite why, I’d venture. I guess they’re nobodies. God forbid we ask nobodies. That would be journalism.

  18. MichaelSF

    Wood in cars is nothing new, you can still get a Morgan with wood body sections, and the Marcos sports car

    performed very well with a wood chassis. The “cos” in Marcos stands for Costin — one of the founders of Cosworth. Wood can be an excellent structural material, but you’ve got to use it properly. The same goes for aluminum, it is 1/3 the density of steel and some alloys can be as strong as some steels, but it is 1/3 the stiffness of steel and more prone to experience fatigue failures. Not designing for the different material properties can be a recipe for failure.

    On the Burns’ documentary, I’ve read one detailed analysis of the series that points out the significant involvement of the CIA in the war gets scant coverage. Also, when detailing the backgrounds of various people interviewed in the series their significant involvement in CIA activities is often not mentioned.

    1. Grebo

      CIA had been waging a covert war against North Vietnam for at least two years before the Gulf of Tonkin ‘incident’. It’s why NV reacted to the USN provocation the way they did. The island the navy was sailing round had been attacked only two days before in part of the CIA operation.
      This is well documented in the official NSA historian’s report on the incident, which is linked from the Wikipedia page. So it’s not like Burns has any excuse.

  19. Jim Haygood

    Orlando, Florida braces for what may be 100,000 Puerto Ricans bailing out for the mainland:

    Mainland US cities with large Puerto Rican populations are warning that they will need federal help to cope with an anticipated influx of island residents fleeing the devastation visited on the US commonwealth by Hurricane Maria.

    “If it’s as large-scale as we anticipated, it’s got to be a federal and state-coordinated response,” said Buddy Dyer, Orlando’s mayor. “It can’t be city by city.” — FT

    Puerto Rican band Calle 13 (I love this song):

    Así que agarra tu maleta
    El bulto, los motetes
    El equipaje, tu valija
    La mochila con todos tus juguetes y …

    Dame la mano y vamos a darle la vuelta al mundo
    Darle la vuelta al mundo
    Darle la vuelta al mundo
    Dame la mano y vamos a darle la vuelta al mundo


    So grab your bags
    The boxes, the bundles
    The luggage, your suitcase
    The backpack with all your toys and …

    Give me your hand and we’re going round the world
    Going round the world
    Going round the world
    Give me your hand and we’re going round the world

  20. Oregoncharles

    “Could wood pulp make cars lighter and more efficient?”

    The short answer is “yes”; the question is how practical it would be. In reality, it would be cellulose filler in plastic; the big precedent is the sawdust-and-plastic lumber (Trex is the original) much used now in decking, etc. (Landscaping, so my field.) It’s rot-resistant because of the plastic, and probably additives.

    The basic idea’s been around for a while, in the form of “papercrete”, which is cellulose (originally paper scraps) mixed into concrete instead of sand or gravel. The result is light and insulating – and cheap, because it uses a waste product. I first saw it promoted as an alternative building material, used like papier mache (the original version of the idea) for free-form effects. It’s a more-permanent, lighter version of adobe. I don’t think that approach was ever made legal under building codes, because there’s no big money to be made from it; instead, papercrete appeared as a cheap, practical type of siding.

    The only reason to reduce the cellulose to nanofiber is to get the slick appearance we’re used to in autos; it makes more sense to use full-size fiber, as it would be stronger. Like papercrete, it’ll mostly be used non-structurally.

    As for engines: there’s a developed technology for ceramic engines. They’re lighter, of course, and “adiabatic” – meaning they can operate at much higher temperatures. A shirttail relative was workin gon the development; not sure what became of it. I suspect it’ll pop up as the Next New Thing any day now.

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