Links 10/13/17

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A mountain like no other Jakarta Post. Lot of volcanism in the news these days…

Yellowstone supervolcano could produce cataclysmic eruption much faster than we thought International Business Times.

Will Italy’s Ominous Supervolcano Erupt Soon? Scientific American

Tech Giants, Once Seen as Saviors, Are Now Viewed as Threats NYT

Exclusive interview with Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg Axios. Not a transcript, but a summary. “Facebook owes the American people an apology — ‘Not just an apology, but determination’ for our role in enabling Russian interference during the election.”

How Facebook’s Ad System Works NYT. Interesting discussion of ads on mobile as opposed to the desktop. Includes a sample of a “Russian” ad. It looks like the $100K “the Russians” spent was worth every penny…

Puerto Rico

Trump Warns Storm-Ravaged Puerto Rico That Aid Won’t Last ‘Forever’ NYT

House passes big disaster aid bill but there’s political trouble ahead McClatchy

The Insufficiency Of Medicaid Block Grants: The Example Of Puerto Rico Health Affairs

Hurricane Alley

FACTBOX-Insurers and reinsurers count the costs of recent hurricanes, quakes Reuters

Distressed Investors Are Already Buying Houston Homes for 40 Cents on the Dollar Bloomberg


Spain considers change to constitution as way out of crisis FT

Spanish Defence Minister: “Almost” Completely Certain Armed Forces Won’t Be Needed In Catalonia The Spain Report

Why Catalonia’s Independence Bid Is Failing Project Syndicate

Barcelona is now Europe’s capital of confusion Yahoo News

The Ghost of Franco Still Haunts Catalonia Foreign Policy


Michel Barnier says talks on Brexit bill in ‘deadlock’ Politico

European drug regulation at risk of stalling as agency prepares to leave London Nature

Reveal Secret Brexit Reports or We’ll Sue You, U.K. Is Warned Bloomberg

Brexit talks: A tragicomedy in 5 acts Politico

North Korea

US, S. Korea to launch major navy drill next week AFP

US bombers conduct unprecedented drill as Trump briefed on options on NK Korea Herald

China’s Trade With North Korea Slumps as Nuclear Sanctions Bite Bloomberg


Yemen’s cholera outbreak now the worst in history as millionth case looms Guardian

Isis is facing near total defeat in Iraq and Syria – but it has been beaten and come back before Independent (Re Silc). Real men go to Riyadh…

Israel to join US in quitting Unesco BBC

Iran nuclear deal: Trump poised to withdraw support BBC


World stocks hits fresh highs as Chinese imports surge – business live Guardian

US demands World Bank overhaul of lending to China FT

What has derailed peace talks with the Philippine Communist rebels? Asian Correspondent

Duterte falsely claims CIA funds Rappler The Rappler. Both Russia and China have recently given guns to the Philippines. For some reason.

New Cold War

People are hyperventilating over a study of Russian propaganda on Facebook. Just breathe deeply WaPo and Facebook takes down data and thousands of posts, obscuring reach of Russian disinformation WaPo. “Thousands.”

Germany Says ‘No Evidence’ Russia Hacked Kaspersky to Steal U.S. Intel Haaretz (YY).

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Top brass says US used hype over Zapad-2017 drills to deploy armored division to Poland TASS

Trump Transition

Ryan Threatens to Keep Members in for Christmas to Finish Tax Overhaul Roll Call

Lost in the Tax Debate: Would Growth Benefit? WSJ

Pelosi Wants ‘Urgent’ Update on President’s Nuclear Weapons Authority Roll Call. “[T]he minority leader said the proposal is not about Trump; it’s about presidential powers.” That’s just silly, but the legislative outcome could be happy, regardless of what motivates it.

The U.S. solar industry’s new growth region: Trump country Reuters

Health Care

Trump Executive Order Expands Opportunities For Healthier People To Exit ACA Timothy Jost, Health Affairs. Accelerating the death spiral. Must-read.

Association Health Plans: A Favorite GOP Approach To Coverage Poised For Comeback KHN

Trump’s salvo on Obamacare unlikely to result in quick changes Politico

Trump scraps Obamacare subsidies in surprise late-night announcement Guardian

With Signature, Trump Tries to Chip Away at Obamacare Roll Call. “The health care order is merely the latest in a string of moves Trump has taken to erode much of what Obama put in place.” Allow me to express my exasperation: Organizations headed by impulsive, erratic, crazy, and senile people are unlikely to be able to act strategically, let alone put together a “string of moves” extending over many months. It would be helpful — at least to the American people, if not to click-driven liberal Democrat organizations — if the knobs on Trump’s character defects could be turned down from 11 so we all could focus, in detail, on what his administration is doing rather than what he is saying. More consideration of the material, less of personality, please.

Can the U.S. Repair Its Health Care While Keeping Its Innovation Edge? NYT. How about everybody gets dental? That would be “innovation.”

Police State Watch

“Cooking Them to Death”: The Lethal Toll of Hot Prisons The Marshall Project (ER). More Third World stuff.

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Donald Trump-Kaiser Wilhelm Parallels Are Getting Scary Foreign Policy. Interesting and not hysterical. An unmentioned similarity between Wilhelmine Germany and today’s United States is that both could be termed “imperial democracies.” On the one hand, the democratic impulse and institutions, leading (for example) to Bismarck introducing social security, to steal the Social Democrats’ clothes. On the other, an empire to run with an autocrat at the top (and at least in foreign policy and war powers, the American President might was well be an autocrat. Fine, I suppose, if you have an Augustus; not so fine if you have a Caligula). I suppose I could compare The Blob to the Prussian bureaucracy, but that’s probably going too far. Readers please correct!

When Big Data went to war — and lost Politico

Whap! Pow! Fans Boot Defense Contractor Out of Marvel Comics The American Conservative

Class Warfare

Bank of England Governor Takes a Crack at the Inflation Mystery Bloomberg. “What matters isn’t what the person living next door to you can command for his labor; it’s what the person across the ocean can get. ”

How the VA Fueled the National Opioid Crisis and Is Killing Thousands of Veterans Newsweek. With plenty of help from Purdue Pharma. And, of course, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The little red pill being pushed on the elderly CNN. “The maker of a little red pill intended to treat a rare condition is raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year as it aggressively targets frail and elderly nursing home residents for whom the drug may be unnecessary or even unsafe.”

Want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness: are Beveridge’s five evils back? Guardian

Scientists discover the secret of durian’s pungent smell CNN

The Grain That Tastes Like Wheat, but Grows Like a Prairie Grass The Nation (Re Silc). Kernza, a perennial.

Climate Change Is Making It Harder to Grow Rice Vice

I spent three days as a hunter-gatherer to see if it would improve my gut health The Week

Noma The Point (RH). La cuisine bourgeoise

Antidote du jour:

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. jdub

    Interesting and not hysterical. An unmentioned similarity between Wilhelmine Germany and today’s United States is that both could be termed “imperial democracies.” On the one hand, the democratic impulse and institutions, leading (for example) to Bismarck introducing social security, to steal the Social Democrats’ clothes. On the other, an empire to run with an autocrat at the top (and at least in foreign policy and war powers, the American President might was well be an autocrat. Fine, I suppose, if you have an Augustus; not so fine if you have a Caligula). I suppose I could compare The Blob to the Prussian bureaucracy, but that’s probably going too far.

    –>Sounds about right, as far as it goes. Pierce, Buchannan, and Taft also come to mind (awful Presidents overseeing wrenching economic and social changes). It’s more that the Dems are intractably split between the Whiggish old guard and the upstart “barnBerners” ready and eager to form a new party. Similar to the split in the SPD before and during the First World War between the reformists (who would rather murder the Spartacists than embrace revolution, even into 1934) and the revolutionaries who would form the ISPD/KPD.The inevitably trouncings to come in 2018 and 2020 will make the formation of a new party a fait accompli. All the Russia-blaming hysteria may play well in the coasts and Northern Va. but anyone who’s spent time or lived in the rest of the country knows what really happened. Maybe once the Bubble bursts and the coasts are thrown into depression we’ll see a real political opening. As it stands it’s looking like a “lost decade”. Regarding Dems what is it they say about patriotism being the last refuge of the scoundrel?

    1. BoycottAmazon

      The Blob to the Prussian bureaucracy: The former is a gaggle of opportunist who’s loyalty is to transnational corporatism, the latter fanatical nationalist who viewed industrialist as a tool.

      While both had to deal with both legislatures and Courts or powerful nobles, but Trump is at the head with only a sheepskin, mostly ignored, above him, but Bismark still had the Hohenzollern (royal) family who in the end sank his game (and thus prematurely launched WWI). Trump is more likely to put the football into play than nimbly place (his/ours?) foes into serving his interest.

      Bismark was the master manipulator, who even planned out his with his histrionics and tirades, Trump is mostly a shouting buffoon with occasional insights but no discipline to follow through.

      The list goes on and on, not very similar after all, but as history repeats itself, but never quite in the same way, we may still have WWIII.

      1. Harold

        Perhaps someone has said this already but let’s not forget that Bismarck had resigned in 1890 and died in 1898.

          1. Wukchumni

            Well to be fair, if it wasn’t for Frederick III only lasting a few months as Prussian emperor in 1888, we may have never heard of Wilhelm II.

    2. Carolinian

      Maybe once the Bubble bursts and the coasts are thrown into depression we’ll see a real political opening.

      Yes we’re just waiting. The whole elite stratum needs a bucket of cold water in the face and here’s hoping it won’t be another disastrous war that brings them to their senses.

      1. ambrit

        If we include the former “Lower Middle Class,” the economic ‘depression’ has already begun. That economic depression aids , abets, and enables the increase of human psychological depression. That feeling of doom and helplessness feeds ‘messianic’ political movements, whether from the Left or the Right. (Does anyone know of a ‘Centrist’ messianic movement?) So, I see Trump, the Brexit vote, Catalonia’s succession drive, and much more as signs that a Depression has already started. Only future History will tell us exactly when the collapse started. Till then, “For now we see through a glass, darkly…”

        1. Bugs Bunny

          Seems to me that it started around September 2008, don’t you think?

          We’re well into it now and it’s the triple dip that’s gonna break the crappified ice cream cone.

          All that QE money sure enough worked some miracles. /sarc

      2. jefemt

        On the Afghanistan front, we just were promised a concerted effort of five years, focusing on ‘controlled violence’ (General Nicholson, NPR this AM)

        Seems like there is a lot of controlled violence these days.

        The N. Korea/ S. Korea/ japan/ China promises to be a little less controlled. And lest we forget the flare up starting again with the Kurds and Iran. So many fires, so little fuel!?

      3. joe defiant

        In New York City it pretty reliably breaks down this way. Bernie supporters live 6-8 people in a small apartment. Hillary supporters either bought property years ago and have equity or live in a nice apartment due to a “career” job mostly in the financial sector. Until the real estate market and/or stock market collapses here I don’t see the democrat base wanting any change. They’ve made at least half a million in equity around here for squatting on a property, have made a decent sum in mutual funds or have a career that those with the money pay high wages to.

        Then theres the old guard activists, anarchists, socialists, who have been actually getting the work done but get ignored. We get accused of being bernie bros by hillary supporters and extremists by the bernie supporters.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Personally I can’t see too many similarities between Wilhelmine Germany and today’s United States. Back then Germany was a rising new power whereas today’s United States shows too many signs of a early stage declining power. Bismarck, for all his faults, was a brilliant man who laid the groundwork for a modern Germany but the only person that immediately comes to mind for the US is FDR and that was a long time ago.
      This sounds too much like Trump bashing as a form of virtue signalling by Foreign Policy and dragging historical figures out of the grave to make sense of what is happening with the Trump administration is not really helping matters. It is only distorting matters. It would be better to spend the time digging into Trump’s own history to make sense of his actions. May I suggest the page at as an example.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Together with the Supreme Court, Congress, etc, we look more like the 1960’s and1970’s USSR leadership displayed to the world atop the Kremlin every October that I remember.

        Lots of old leaders.

        We have so many leaders over 70, 80 and 90, some even serving with Alzheimer’s (perhaps also with adult diapers).

        Back then, we had the Beach Boys, the Hippies and leaders some (or mostly) in the 40s and 50s (and early 60s).

        1. cocomaan

          I think this point is often overlooked – our leadership is extremely old. The last presidential race was between two geriatrics, both of whom were not in good health (Hillary’s much televised health problems, Trump’s obesity). The only one in good health was even older.

          You can’t have change if everyone involved is fighting the old battles from their youth fifty years prior.

      2. tony

        It’s the Great Man theory of history. Their commonality is sharing many traits of a narcissist. That is not rare in the ruling class, so it’s pretty pointless to compare the two. Understanding politicians must take into account the context they operate in so the article is pointless.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Pro tip: Read the article before posting. Allow me to quote the following extracts:

          So much for the personal parallels. Now consider some other similarities between Wilhelmine Germany and the contemporary United States.

          For starters, both countries exhibit the familiar warning signs of excessive military influence. In Germany, the Army was essentially “a state within the state,” and scholars such as Craig, Gerhard Ritter, Fritz Fischer, and Jack Snyder have all documented how military dominance distorted German thinking about its security and led to an overreliance on military power and an overly confrontational foreign policy. The German military used domestic organizations like the Navy League and the writings of co-opted academics to make its case to the German people; in America, the Pentagon runs its own public relations operations and weapons manufacturers give generously to think tanks that favor increased defense spending.


          Wilhelmine Germany did face genuine strategic challenges, with a resentful France on one side and a rising Russia on the other. Yet Berlin consistently exaggerated the actual dangers it faced, especially when one remembers that it eventually took on France, Russia, and Great Britain (and later the United States) and nearly won. Even worse, Germany repeatedly acted in ways that solidified the alliance that opposed them, instead of working assiduously to undermine it. When exaggerated German fears about a hypothetical future decline led its leaders to launch a preventive war in 1914, they were (as Bismarck might have put it), “committing suicide for fear of death.”

          One sees a similar pattern in the United States today, where threat-inflation is endemic, the utility of force is exaggerated, and the role of diplomacy is neglected or denigrated.

          Plenty of context here.

    4. Sid Finster

      A military with way too much influence on domestic and foreign policy, to the point where the state is a life-support system for an army…

      The biggest difference between Wilhelmine Germany and TrumpAmerica is that Germany was the new imperial power seeking “its place in the sun”, not the overstretched, clueless tyrant that the United States is today.

  2. Juneau

    The thing that irks me about Neudexta is that it is a combination product of 2 cheap generics (dextromethorphan which is in OTC cough syrup and Quinidine which people take for leg cramps) both of which cost pennies a dose. I respect the need to recoup research and development costs but in this case they are just compounding 2 cheap generics into a single capsule not making a new compound in a petri dish. And why not study this drug in dementia before they marketed it. Dementia is a much larger market.

    Neudexta reportedly treats pseudobulbar palsy which among other terrible things causes extreme emotional lability. I really don’t understand the manufacturer’s long term game plan in putting so much money into this medication to manage the symptoms of a somewhat rare and untreatable condition. They have been marketing it to psychiatrists as well… :(

      1. Lee

        Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), a related malaria drug used off label as an immune system suppressant for lupus and similar conditions can cause dizziness. This well known side effect probably accounts for the high fall rate among elderly who take Neudexta.

        I’m not familiar with psuedobulbar affect but I have to ask, is laughing and crying so bad that it must be treated with a dangerous drug?

        1. JTMcPhee

          The people who work on and manage those largely lockdown units where dementia patients are warehoused until they die do all kinds of stuff to the lost souls on their units. Some very kindly, some the worst kinds of nightmare. Profit plus institutional behavior. Use of “chemical restraints” is common, to “moderate” the inmates’ behavior.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      I really don’t understand the manufacturer’s long term game plan in putting so much money into this medication to manage the symptoms of a somewhat rare and untreatable condition.

      Judging from the article, the original condition a new drug is meant to treat doesn’t really matter. In fact, it almost seems the more obscure and unfamiliar the condition the better. Just get it approved and on the market and let your professional “healthcare” colleagues take the “innovation” ball and run with it. “Diagnosis” would seem to be somewhat…..well…..subjective, particularly in elderly, incapacitated, captive Medicare patients.

      From the article:

      It [neudexta] has gained attention with the public through its television commercial featuring actor Danny Glover seesawing between laughter and tears.

      Being newly minted Medicare recipients, my significant other and I have a new game. When we see a drug advertised on TV, we look it up in our plan’s formulary to check whether it’s “covered” and what “tier” it is. Then we search the annual cost and figure out how much we would have to spend out-of-pocket if we were given a prescription. ($14,000, $55,000, $89,000!!!) What with doughnut holes, percentages, maximums and mail order 90-day supply discounts it becomes quite the math problem. Hint: review the principles of scientific notation before trying this.

      IMNSHO, it’s better than Soduko for keeping the “aging brain” sharp.

    2. Moocao

      When Nudexta was approved by the FDA, our hospital saw a spike in prescriptions of this medication despite its non formulary status. It was quite expensive. I said that this was a medication looking for a diagnosis.

      The Nudexta sales rep were pushing quite hard, trying to blur the definition of cognitively impaired movements and outbursts and trying to make an argument that this was pseudobulbar affect. I could barely stand the talk. It was one marketing sales point after another.

      The quinidine is supposed to decrease dextromethorphan’s metabolism within the body, which increases the neurological absorption of the drug, which combats PBA. I asked whether there is a link between dementia and PBA, which the reps were very careful on not crossing the diagnosis line, but stated that dementia patients may show PBA affect, and if Nudexta is used off label, then the affect may improve. No neurological basis of this explanation of course.

      Nudexta came onto TV commercial soon thereafter. It was only a matter of time this drug came under scrutiny…

    3. Oregoncharles

      Just an anecdote, but the last time I took dextromethorphan in a combination cold medicine, it made me really sick. I wouldn’t touch it now, even though I have trouble with coughing (air pollution.)

      Evidently it has unpredictable results.

  3. skippy

    El’Trumpo is a regular boot strapper having started from nothing….

    disheveled..;.. more evidence based knowledge parade from the usual suspects imo…

    1. ambrit

      Now, if he showed a predilection for “the Strap,” we could consider him as a Bar Sinister ‘remittance man’ from the Continental Aristocrat Class.

      1. skippy

        I hear the Continentals enjoyed the newly minted wealthy Colonials pre great depression, something about untapped natural resources and rapidly expanding [imported population] that made market dynamics a breeze for some.

        1. ambrit

          Ah, but what about all those “deplorable financiers” who took the Continental Aristocrat Investors “for a ride” via railroad stocks? “The Way We Live Now” by Trollope, (which I read, alas, after seeing the video version,) is proof, if ever needed, that there is not only nothing new under the sun, but under various rocks as well.

    2. Wukchumni

      Boot strapper, hmmmm…

      Where have I heard that one before?

      Oh, yeah. That Caligula fellow, i.e. “Little Solider’s Boot”

  4. cnchal

    Bank of England Governor Takes a Crack at the Inflation Mystery

    More Carney blarney. Are economists value extractors? He was Bank of Canada governor from 2008 to 2013 when anyone that cared to look could see that globalization as practiced was a disaster for the peasants here and there. That it’s taken him a almost a decade more to mumble a few words about it in the context of too low inflation is astounding.

    Here is what I would like Carney to explain to the great unwashed. Why is every piece of electronic crapola made in China?

    1. Lee

      Why is every piece of electronic crapola made in China?

      Not to mention poison baby formula, cough syrup and pet food. Then there is my own pet peeve: kitchen implements and hand tools that are crap knock offs of things that used to work well and last for a long time.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        Tell me about it! My grandmother had her pastry cutter her entire life – it was part of my inheritance and I used it for about 5 years but I somehow lost it in my last move. I found one that looked like it recently but it broke in my hand on the second use! Don’t even start me on garlic presses…

        1. wilroncanada


          Would that be too depressing?

          My wife came upon an old food mill years ago at a yard sale. You know, the really old type, conical with separate heavy metal legs, and a wooden pestle. She uses it especially for making apple sauce, and my daughter uses it for processing tomatoes for her home-made salsa. She has loaned it to a few close friends and neighbours after they saw how much easier it is to make apple sauce without having to peel the apples.

          Some of those people have gone and bought new ones, with mechanical crank, thinking it would be easier than having to hand crank the pestle. Unfortunately the new ones, they found, were cheap tin covered with some shiny alloy. They made the user do more hand work, and some broke with a few uses.

          There are several friends and neighbours now frequenting yard sales and thrift stores looking for really old heavy ugly-looking food mills that work.

  5. Ignim Brites

    Re: Russian propaganda. It would be helpful if one particular piece of Russian propaganda could be cited as having been influential in the election and if that claim of influence could be substantiated empirically, presumably through polling. Absent that I think it is fair to say that this whole meme is nothing but propaganda and an interference in “our democracy”. In fact it may be collusively complicit with Russian propaganda in so far as the aim of that propaganda, on the word of our intelligence agencies, is to sow confusion and doubt about the integrity and, hence legitimacy, of our democratic processes. Nice work brownie.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Hell, I would just like to see one example – just one, whether or not it was influential, that can be used as proof of Russian “propaganda”…..

      I am sick and tired of all these innuendos with absolutely nothing to back them up.

    2. ambrit

      The entire “Russian Propaganda” campaign is a classic example of “The Big Lie” in action.
      I wonder what Vladimir Vladimirovitch has up his sleeve for next. Some evil plot to dethrone the U.S. Dollar as the World’s reserve currency? The swine! How dare he?! Etc. etc….
      Time for work comrades.

    3. hemeantwell

      It would be helpful if one particular piece of Russian propaganda could be cited

      Good point. It’s gets at the heart of the strategy of political hysteria induction: the threat is diffuse, omnipresent, cunningly cumulative. The threat’s effects are broad, potentially related to just about anything elites are troubled by. A key threshold would be when the threat’s external omnipresence suggests a reciprocal presence in the individual, such that all thoughts which don’t cleave to patriot speech become suspect. If you are not talking the patriotic line, you could be an agent of an alien power. We’re already seeing this with the idea — a trial balloon? — that the ads, while crossing over partisan lines, were intended to fuel division. That suggests a Third Way-based, anti-“populist” hysteria, aimed at enforcing a restorative calm so that elites can go about their business.

    4. Sid Finster

      Since this Russian propaganda is apparently so seductive that a just microdose, just $100K worth of FB ads in a campaign with a total ad spend of over $1,000,000,000 is enough to sway the election, shouldn’t the NYT be really extra careful about letting people see something so dangerous? Apparently, its like Kryptonite.

      And how is it that “Russia” has such a granular knowledge of American politics and voters that they can swing a presidential election for less money than it costs to run a contested city council race in a midsize American flyover city, but it apparently never occurred to them to spend a few bucks more and buy a friendly Congress, too? If I were Putin, I’d be livid.

      For that matter, since Russia seems to have these Pied Piper-like powers of persuasion, why isn’t every company in the land calling “Russia” and begging them to run their ad campaign so that they can be the next Coca Cola or McDonalds overnight? Why isn’t Smirnoff vodka the best-selling beverage in the country, touted by brainwashed doctors for its health benefits and swilled by children and adults for every breakfast, lunch and dinner, and why aren’t people getting into daily supermarket fistfights over the last jar of Caspian Sea caviar?

      Of course everything about russiagate is ridiculous, entirely devoid of evidence, logic, or even plausibility. But it happens to be the most convenient narrative of the establishment and the Deep State right now to remove or neuter Trump, so the shills will continue to pimp the russiagate narrative until they get what they want.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Ah, does anyone remember when this was about the Podesta emails? That narrative has been dropped. I guess the uranium sales don’t play well or that Podesta is too stupid to not give out his password. It was probably 1,2,3,4,5 anyway.

        The answer to why the captialists advertisers have failed is they are clearly inferior to the KGB. We are really a few days away from David Frum calling attempts to eradicate the Grey squirrel population in the UK to help the native red squirrel a communist plot.

        1. joe defiant

          The “official story” is such a comedy of idiots. They mistakenly told Podesta that a email asking for his password was “legitimate” when they meant to tell him “illegitimate”.

          “Russian hackers sent a “phishing” email — which aims to get the recipient to click on a deceptive link that gives hackers access to their information — to Podesta’s personal Google mail account in March 2016. The email said Podesta needed to change his password immediately in order to protect his account.

          Podesta correctly perceived that the email might be a hoax and sought advice from other campaign staffers. In a response, one campaign staffer meant to tell Podesta that the email was illegitimate, but wrote legitimate — prompting Podesta to change his password.

          “With another click,” as the Times put it, “a decade of emails that Mr. Podesta maintained in his Gmail account — a total of about 60,000 — were unlocked for the Russian hackers.”

          1. joe defiant

            I’m assuming it’s been verified that Podesta had a paid gmail account because the standard account could not hold that many emails. Nevermind what kind of moron hold incriminating emails for ten years on a public email account??? So funny. The worst most incompetent cybersecurity advisor would tell you that is a HUGELY! grave mistake and there is no way in hell top government employees should be doing it. Guys writing silly game apps for the iphone keep their code more secure than that.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think the Russians spent a lot of money on extra-sensory perception and remote mind control, back in the USSR days.

        Do they really need Facebook?

        Are we in a bigger hole than we know?

        1. GF

          Wasn’t the Facebook ad featured in “How Facebook’s Ad System Works” NYT story place after Trump was already elected??.

    5. cyclist

      It makes me sad to hear people who should know better propagate the Russia influence meme. Just this morning, listening to Robert Jay Lifton on Democracy Now! speculate about the psychological state of Trump, he listed some other issues facing the country, among them Russian interference! Shocking for a guy who is an expert on brainwashing.

      1. joe defiant

        Ever since Democracy Now! split from Pacifica it has steadily become worse. Amy did some amazing reporting years ago but has decided she deserves the good life for that work and is getting herself paid now. I can’t watch except an occasional story where it used to be a daily hour watch for me. It began long before this campaign season but has gotten worse recently. The pink hat coalition and those funding it have a lot of $$$. A lot of people change and their priorities in life change…

        Good thing there are a 1,000 places doing better reporting and news now like here.

        1. cyclist

          I understand what you are saying about DN!, but I had no problem with the segment overall, just the fact that even Lifton seems to have fallen prey to this perception. The show is on at a time when I am driving to work, so it is that or NPR, I’m afraid. Having said that, they do seem to have developed some blind spots, but overall it is worth a listen.

      2. Andrew Watts

        Why wouldn’t they? It’s not like these people are actively trying to overthrow the system. The Russian propaganda meme provides an easy scapegoat and marginalizes dissent. It also provides an illusion that there isn’t any internal divide or problems within this country. The system just needs to be tweaked a little without any systematic change that requires any sacrifice. Thus domestic tranquility will be restored when everybody rallies against external threats and fights those evil commies.

        Of course, scapegoating never works in the face of a multitude of problems. But if we had numerous citizens who were capable of problem-solving we wouldn’t find ourselves in this situation would we?

    6. mcdee

      I remember back in the early sixties there was a lot of anti-communist hysteria. An Australian fellow, Dr Fred C Schwartz, toured the US with his Christian Anti-Communist Crusade. It featured, among other things, a woman who billed herself as a “Pro-American Folk Singer.” The star of the show of course, was Dr Schwartz. His speech made many references to the communists as being “fiendishly clever” and “diabolically cunning.” Substitute Russian for Communist and these Democrat functionaries sound a lot like Fred C Schwartz.

      1. Plenue

        A certain slice of Twitter is currently making a fuss about an article about Soviet propaganda. You don’t even have to substitute now; the hysterics are literally claiming Commies and modern Russians are the same thing, and use the same tactics.

  6. Jim Haygood

    Not much celebrating this morning at the Eccles Building, as core CPI — correlated with the Fed’s preferred core Personal Consumption Expenditures measure — remains frozen at 1.7% year-on-year for the fifth month running.

    Headline CPI popped to 2.3% yoy as gasoline prices soared 13 percent in the wake of Hurricane Hahhhvey. But as J-Yel is wont to say, the pop is likely just transient.

    And so America’s Great Leap Forward to sustained two percent inflation remains short of its goal. We must resolutely rededicate ourselves to the struggle for higher prices, comrades. Shun socially corrosive discounts!

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Buy, Buy, Buy! And if you don’t have the money, I’m sure MoneyTree and the Cash Store are ready and willing to help!

  7. Kokuanani

    Please don’t take this as criticism, or a “request” — I know how hard ALL NCers work. But there’s been nothing here about the dreadful devastation from the fires in Northern California. These are relevant to two NC areas of interest: effects of climate change and government response [sic] to disasters. [ I’m waiting to see what excuses Trump comes up with for denying aid there.]

    The LA Times has good coverage and heart-breaking pictures. I have friends in the affected area and hear from them about their plight [and flight]. When you view the pictures, you can see that for many there is NOTHING left.

    Thanks for all your work. I left an early tip. If I contribute again, does that count as a second “donor”?

    1. Otis B Driftwood

      There was an item in yesterday’s links from your own LA Times about why officials didn’t use cell phone alerts. But yes, other than that, not much. I do expect more attention as the cause of these fires comes under greater scrutiny – in particular, the role PG&E power lines played in causing the fires, and the history of PG&E giving short shrift to maintenance. See PG&E power lines linked to Wine Country fires.

      1. Lee

        A PG&E maintenance screw up burned our house down in 1994. We barely got out alive. That company holds a very special place in my heart.

    2. Wukchumni

      From the SF Chronicle:

      “And, with more high winds and low humidity continuing, the situation isn’t expected to get any better for the 8,000 firefighters struggling to stop the fires from spreading. Rick Canepa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said north to northeast winds of up to 30 miles per hour are expected Friday and Saturday in northern Sonoma and Napa counties, with gusts reaching 50 to 60 mph.

      That’s almost a fire hurricane, yikes!

    3. Kokuanani

      Here are some links from a “summary” [“Essential California”] the LA Times sends out:

      The fire fight continues
      Fire crews began to make slow progress against wildfires that killed least 31 people in Northern California’s wine country, as officials continued the grim search for more bodies amid the ashes. In Santa Rosa, the hardest hit by the fires, officials said they were stunned by the scale of the destruction. An estimated 2,834 homes were destroyed in the city of Santa Rosa alone, along with about 400,000 square feet of commercial space, Mayor Chris Coursey said in a press conference.

      A grim reality: The fire had killed at least 15 people in neighboring Sonoma County. But to the west in Santa Rosa, the full scope of the catastrophic fires was coming into grim focus.

      Plus: As the Napa and Sonoma valleys struggle through days of a raging firestorm, many vineyards in the nearly 100,000-acre burn areas appear to be emerging largely unscathed.

      The explainer: Why 2017 is shaping up to be one of California’s worst fire seasons.

      Hidden effect: The firestorm has brought illness and is straining the local healthcare system.

    4. Otis B Driftwood

      SF Gate has an up-to-date summary of the fires for those interested:

      See Live Updates on Napa/Sonoma Fires.

      Santa Rosa has been hit the hardest. The home of the late Peanuts creator, Charles Schultz, is among those lost. No word on the fate of the Peanuts museum, which is also in Santa Rosa (I expect and hope that it survived). Santa Rosa was also the setting for Alfred Hitchcock’s “Shadow of a Doubt”, one of his best.

      And then there is this dystopic drone video of a mail delivery truck going about its business in a neighborhood razed to the ground by the fires.

      Mail delivery to houses that no longer exist.

      1. schultzzz

        Outing myself as a Santa Rosa resident.

        Local radio coverage is substantial, but TV coverage is disaster porn. They don’t show that most businesses are open, most people are OK.

        Officials will not say where the firefighters are being deployed, and where they’re holding the line vs where they have to fall back. Media doesn’t even ASK those questions – only wants to hear about death & body counts.

        Wednesday had 2 press conferences, with NO MENTION OF THE FIRE. Only police stuff. It wasn’t until Thursday that questions about fire were permitted, if you can believe that.

        We have a fire-fighter in our neighborhood, and here is the site which HE uses to keep track of the fires. I can’t recommend it enough – it’s everything which is missing from official briefings and TV.

      2. barefoot charley

        Charles Schultz’s widow was briefly interviewed in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. She was thankful that the museum had survived.

    5. Lee

      Maybe it’s disaster fatigue, what with all the hurricane devastation.

      I live about 50 miles south of the fire and have some friends up there. So far, they are all okay. I love the area and have been spending time there for over sixty years.

      Local TV channels are covering it as is our local PBS station, KQED radio, 88.5 FM, which can be streamed if you’re not in its broadcast area. Good thoughts for you and yours.

  8. Carolinian

    The Nation story on the creation of a potential new food grain is fascinating. Highly recommended.

    And re Marvel, and for that matter H’wood, and the MIC–the movie industry is reactive and makes an interesting social barometer. Post WW2 there were all those John Wayne movies (starring someone who never served) that inspired young men in the 60s to join up and die in rice paddies. Then in the 70s things changed with films like MASH where Robert Altman (who did serve) lampooned the military mindset. We are a long way from Three Days of the Condor with the current crop of CIA apple polishers like Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. Optionally action movies may portray the CIA as a vaguely sinister bit of plot mechanism that is nevertheless full of marshal arts supermen.

    Heartening that some comic fans want to dial back this cultural reversal, at least a little bit. Unfortunately on the Acela coast the tide is still very much running the other way.

    1. Judith

      Regarding the story on perennial grain.

      I believe Wes Jackson, now 81, is retiring from the Land Institute. It is wonderful that his decades-long devotion to the development of a perennial grain is coming to fruition.

      The Nation article refers to the problems of soil erosion. Soil is an amazing organization of plants and fungi and critters and organic matter all interacting in ways that soil scientists are really just beginning to understand. At the same time, all the chemicals used in agriculture are destroying the life of the soil. (David Montgomery from U. of Washington is a good source about this.)

      I have been to the Minnesota State Fair and it is an event where one can spend the day eating and most of the food is deep fried. My favorite is the walleye. Amusing to think of healthy Kernza eclairs being served.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’ve heard that up in Aroostook County, Maine, a potato monoculture, the soil is like dust. It’s basically a binder for whatever chemicals they add. Ugh.

    2. Plenue

      Marvel is a weird outlier to the MIC in Hollywood though. Especially the movie universe they’ve created since 2008. The Pentagon actually pulled any official assistance for Marvel when they refused to nail down whether SHIELD was a US agency or not. Part of Tony Stark/Iron Man’s character arc is coming face to face with what weapons he makes and sells as an arms contractor actually do out in the real world, and resolving to stop it and try and make up for it. One of the Captain America movies has a plotline that deals (clumsily and unsubtly) with government spying and global surveillance. There’s even an explicitly anti-imperialist narrative in Black Panther, who is the prince of a fictional African nation that managed to avoid ever being colonized. They’ve also used the Luke Cage Netflix show as a vehicle for a quite explicit black justice message (with economic elements).

      Compare the above to the DC movie universe, which among other things features Superman symbolically submitting himself to the US military (not the civil government).

      As an aside, I’m sure the type of paleoconservative that writes for The American Conservative and approves of Marvel taking anti-war stances is just as upset by it taking social justice ones.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I feel like a kid, or being treated like a kid, again watching some of their movies.

        Like a kid, a baby or an infant…

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      Stopped watching a fairly decent CBS post-season startup when in episode 4 the government representative utterly rejected any thought of using satellites belonging to Russia and Iran to do a job and instead went to India. And then one of the good guys was revealed to be a Russian Stooge who kidnapped the main character. No idea what transpired after that.

      The “Russia as evil” theme, however, continues in other series. Sad.

  9. Wukchumni

    I’m a bit of a manna detective and you got to follow the money to solve the case, and have been on the trail since the Lydians came up with the idea of lucre as we know it.

    The Kipper & Wipper period is relatively unknown to most, and a fascinating period right near the start of the 30 Years War. It’s oddly similar to the 1923 German hyperinflation, but based on coins-not paper money, and laid waste to economies in a wide swath of Europe. It was all centered upon cheating.

    Sound familiar?

    Through this beast all vanishes one-two-three
    Like a fire, it burns all things away
    There’s naught that can its hunger sate,
    In short, it is ill-gotten gain,
    Born straight from out of the brood of greed.
    For it has this special quality,
    It gobbles gold, wealth, strength gradually.
    Where ill-gotten gain has taken root,
    Good fortune there cannot remain.

    From a contemporary German broadsheet, 1622.

  10. Wukchumni

    Ryan Threatens to Keep Members in for Christmas to Finish Tax Overhaul Roll Call

    Twas the night
    Before Christmas
    When all through the house
    Every creature was stirring
    And using a mouse

    The congressmen all hung out
    No vacation was spared
    In hopes
    That Ryan’s tax plan
    A reverse Robin Hood gig
    Soon would be squared

    The politicians were nestled
    All safe in their gerrymandered seats
    While visions of inserting pork
    Into the prospectus
    Danced in their heads

  11. jsn

    Trump Kaiser
    The analogy falls apart when you consider that Germany was up and coming and the compromises Bismarck undertook actually made the economy stronger and extended the reach of Germanys’ growing industrial real wealth. The compromises our system under Trump is capable of will almost certainly continue to withdraw the benefits of the US’ declining industrial real wealth from expanding swaths of the population. Germany was growing stronger, we are growing weaker.

    Trump Yeltsin is my take

  12. Louis Fyne

    The lack of progress on electricity restoration is all on the government.

    The electrical grid in Puerto Rico is owned by the PR government. And the authority was a basket case even before the hurricane.

    As I’m sympathetic to the idea of government-owned utilities, nothing stews me more than incompetent government being used by free market types as evidence to argue, “see, we told you the private sector can do it better”.

    And maybe in PR, the free market types are right. sorry.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      You will have to explain to me how the Puerto Rican government can restore electricity when it has no money and can’t get money to pay for the repairs.

      But, hey, maybe Puerto Rico could sell the electric company to private industries – of course, for a big loss….

      Disaster Capitalism at its best……

    2. Otis B Driftwood

      And in California, they would be wrong. The publicly held Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), and its history of negligence (and failure of regulators (the PUC) to hold it accountable for its misdeeds) is a strong counter-argument to the consequences of leaving essential services to the “free market”. The Sonoma/Napa fires may prove to be its undoing. But I won’t hold my breath.

      1. barefoot charley

        Note identical controversies in Puerto Rico and now Wine Country over non-maintenance of trees around electric lines resulting in catastrophic outages in windstorms. Incidentally, that’s what seems likeliest to have caused the wildfires. A dozen 911 calls reported sparking downed power lines, transformers exploding, etc. Optimists hope to sue PG&E into public ownership!

          1. Anon

            That is what PG&E would do, if allowed to. The trees likely came after the power lines.

            I’d like more info on the extent of powerline sparked fires. Once a power line arcs (shorts) it usually goes down (and the electrical energy with it).

          2. Oregoncharles

            Not to be too serious, but trees next to or under power lines are a really big problem.

            Professional tip: about the worst thing you can do is plant a full-size tree under or too near a power line. Not only will it damage the line or bring it down, but the tree itself can be electrified and electrocute you (no, I’m not joking. It’s happened in my town.)

            So, back to topic, decent power companies spend a lot of time trimming and/or removing trees. They regularly make them look very strange, lopsided or a big hole running through the tree, another reason not to plant them there. None of that will save the line in high winds, if the tree goes over. It’s an argument for buried powerlines, but they have their own problems, like burrowing animals and tree roots.

            Evidently Puerto Rico is drastically undermaintained because of its financial difficulties. Actually, hate to admit it, but a private company would have been unaffected by the government debt. An option is customer co-ops, private but socialist. There are a number in the NW., including the next town over. They work.

            1. Wukchumni

              The power company is constantly pruning mostly oak trees near electric lines here. They contract it out typically to a tree service company, and they do a pretty good job in my opinion.

  13. Wukchumni

    If there was ever a day to launch a nuke strike, wouldn’t Friday the 13th be unlucky for whoever is on the receiving end?

  14. RabidGandhi

    In furtherance of MoA’s observation that 70% of readers don’t get past the headline, silly optimist RG skimmed the links today and saw Sheryl Sandberg saying “Facebook owes the American people an apology…” and imagined that the end of the quote would read “…so we are shutting down all data collection and giving back to the community all the loot we made from this scam“.

    But when the evil Rooskies showed up in the quote instead, RG instead thought of the following moral quandary: if the latest hysteria has now turned its torches and pitchforks on Facebook, would Facebook being burnt on the Resistance stake make reigniting the Cold War worth it in the end?

    1. Carolinian

      No, no. After being arrested by the Inquisition and put to “the question” Facebook has recanted and accepted the true faith. Putin did it (whatever it is).

  15. dcblogger

    They used to say that while every country had a military, Prussia was a military with a country. You could say that America is a Military Industrial Complex with a country.

  16. dcblogger

    anyone here from Richmond Virginia? Anyone know anything about this House of Delegates race?
    Green Party Candidate For 69th District Earns

    Endorsement from Democratic Socialists of America

    On September 20, the Richmond chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) released a statement endorsing Montigue Magruder’s campaign. Magruder is a Green Party candidate for Delegate in the 69th District of Virginia, which encompasses portions of Chesterfield County and Richmond City. He hopes to replace Betsy Carr, a Democrat who has been the incumbent since 2010.

  17. JohnnyGL

    Public spending cuts, job cuts, tax reductions on small businesses and a denial that this is austerity? Wow, President Moreno of Ecuador has really gone for a full dose of neo-liberalism. Really disappointing to see this. I’m kind of baffled as to why he’d make this move. He just won a solid mandate, has a strong approval rating, what on earth is he doing by making a right turn???

    I’d say it’s a tell that NPR writes very approvingly of what he’s doing.

    Is RabidGandhi around? Maybe he’s got more on this.

    1. Wukchumni

      One interesting tidbit about Ecuador…

      Like most Latin American countries, it experienced crazy bouts with hyperinflation, and in desperation turned to the Yanqui Dollar* as it’s currency around the turn of the century, which as luck would have it, is when the new dollar coins came out…

      I don’t know about you, but aside from being forced to accept them in a few locales like post office vending machines, I never exchanged one ever in a transaction.

      Well, that’s the currency of choice in Ecuador, they are all over the place there, which brings up an interesting tidbit in that somebody is making bank on seigniorage on them, as it costs about 16 cents to produce, and who’s pocketing the 84 cent difference per coin?

      * as did Liberia & Panama

    2. RabidGandhi

      I don’t have much to add, except as expected the media are rending their garments claiming the cuts don’t go deep enough. But didn’t you post a Jacobin article a while backing showing how non-left Moreno really is? Remember he’s the rightwing of the PAIS alliance.

  18. Dita

    Interesting re: US “help” to some developing African countries

    1. Dita

      “behind the American response to the East African ban is a group of 40 used clothing exporters, known as the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association. It says that 40,000 American jobs, like sorting and packing clothes, are at risk. Clothing thrown away by Americans, the association says, will end up in landfills in the United States and damage the environment if not sold abroad.”

        1. wilroncanada

          Still, we shouldn’t be throwing that stuff into landfills.

          Have you heard of “Frenchy’s” in Nova Scotia, Lambert? they’re a private second-hand clothes dealer which gets trailer loads of used stuff from the US, and not just used, but also end of lines and perhaps some bankrupt stock. Their stores became so ubiquitous in Nova Scotia that just about all scond-hand clothing stores, not just theirs, not just private, but also church and hospital sponsored stores were called, generically, “Frenchy’s”.

          We saved clothing funds regularly, when we lived there, by using them. I once bought a 3/4 length leather winter-lined coat at a Salvation Army store in Yarmouth for $10.00.

          Now in BC we still go regularly to some of the many second-hand clothes stores on Southern Vancouver Island to find good quality bargains.

      1. Anon

        Quite a bit of used American clothing cycles through Goodwill and Salvation Army thrift stores. Eventually some of that gets sent to the recyclers.

        My issue is the price the clothing is sold at in many of these poor countries. It seems the missionaries gave it away for free (and some proselytizing).

  19. Ned

    About Puerto Rico and their “aid that won’t last forever.”

    Do we as a nation, read taxpayers, owe the same amount of federal disaster aid to Puerto Ricans as we do to Texans, Floridians or Californians who have lost absolutely everything?

    Isn’t Puerto Rico’s main economic “value” to the U.S. as a manufacturing colony for HIPPO, the
    Health Insurance Pharma Profit Opiod Industrial Complex? We can do without that benefit.
    Yeah, your vulture bonds. Maybe they won’t get repaid?
    What’s left as a benefit to the U.S? Tourism?

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Yup! Let’s forget that they are US citizens……

      Shall we dump Mississippi next? Or maybe Rhode Island?

    2. marym


      Do we as a nation, read taxpayers, owe the same amount of federal disaster aid to Puerto Ricans as we do to Texans, Floridians or Californians who have lost absolutely everything?



      Isn’t Puerto Rico’s main economic “value” to the U.S. as a manufacturing colony for HIPPO, the Health Insurance Pharma Profit Opiod Industrial Complex?

      Possibly. Thus: (see (1), though it’s not the only reason o send disaster aid.

      1. Ned

        How do you feel about the Puerto Rican Independence Movement then?
        I actually sympathize with that and see U.S. longterm aid as a further economic strangulation and takeover of the island, its real estate and further exploitation of its citizens, to and including, forcing them to pay taxes to the IRS on local income, instead of to the bond contracting local government, which is a direct subsidy to U.S. investors.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s possible China would invest a lot of money in an independent Puerto Rico.

          For Beijing, to have a good friend so close to the US, near the Gulf of Mexico and our oil producing and refining regions, and straddling North and South America, is very helpful. Its strategic value can not be under-estimated.

          It would correspond to the the situation with our alliance with South Korea, which lies so close to Manchuria, an important industrial region of the Middle Kingdom, and pose a challenge to the Monroe Doctrine.

        2. marym

          How I “feel” about political and economic issues in Puerto Rico is no more relevant to sending vital disaster aid than how I “feel” about such issues in Texas, Florida, and California. This is our country. We spend billions and trillions on all kinds of things. Not letting each other die from lack of food, water, shelter, and basic services is at the top of my list.

          1. Plenue

            If only it had been successful and done before he became VP. Talk about a man who should never have been allowed anywhere near the levers of power.

  20. Vatch

    Yemen’s cholera outbreak now the worst in history as millionth case looms Guardian

    What is happening in Yemen is beyond tragic, and it is horrible that governments and the United Nations aren’t doing anything effective to stop the suffering.

    However, the article’s headline is false. This is not the worst cholera epidemic in history. It’s not even the worst cholera epidemic since records of such things started being collected. See:

    For example, millions were infected during the pandemic of the 1850s. The pandemic in the early 20th century killed 800,000 people in India and 500,000 people in Russia. Many more were infected.

  21. Craig H.

    Distressed Investors Are Already Buying Houston Homes for 40 Cents on the Dollar

    If you have no experience living in a flood prone area I would be very wary. But I will never forget that within weeks of moving to New Orleans I was amazed to hear a regular grunt on the staff explaining casually on coffee break “there is a lot of money to be made in getting flooded.”

    Now this involves not owning anything that you don’t care if it gets soaked, and what qualifies as a “lot of money” is completely determined by your socioeconomic class. But she was speaking gospel truth for many people.

  22. Wukchumni

    I spent three days as a hunter-gatherer to see if it would improve my gut health The Week

    We have bedrock mortars all over the place here, I probably know of where 500 of them are, and perhaps a visual would best describe them, these are in Sequoia NP:

    The indians would grind the nutmeat of acorns into mush using a pestle as a first step in creating their main source of food, and once that was done they’d have to leach out the tannins to make it palatable. It must have been a little dreary eating acorn mush all the time, but that’s what they did for thousands of years.

    I tried emulating them one time, it’s laborious work to say the least, and much easier for me to use a blender & then soak it in water, and the finished product had the taste of stale gruel, not that I had any previous experience ever tasting such a concoction with that sensory perception.

    Nearly all of the pestles are long since gone, but I know of a few places way off the beaten path where there are some, and one such location is in a remote Sequoia tree grove 15 miles into the back of beyond, and about 20 years ago we walked there for a trail crew party, and brought a pound of coffee beans, and despite the mortar and pestle not being used for close to 150 years, the apparatus worked like a charm and we had a pound of ground coffee in about 3 minutes.

    This site was wonderfully situated, with a perfect line of 5x 1,500 year old brobdingnagians each about 30 feet apart, starting 100 feet from the mortars. The juju was so damned perfect.

    The next morning, it was the most interesting cup of joe i’ve ever had, not that it tasted any different, but the means of production made all the difference.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I’ve been slowly chewing through a college text on prehistory. It seems current thinking is that harvesting acorns is up there with irrigation for encouraging sedentism and eventually, oh dear, civilization. Collecting, storing, and especially processing.

      I’d prefer the ‘sooo much salmon here’ route myself.

  23. Nick

    I started a monthly donation last year to NC thru the site using Paypal. Will that continue on or is it set to expire after 12 months?

    I tried navigating around the PayPal site but it did not yield the answer.


    1. nippersmom

      My monthly donation to Water Cooler (also through PayPal) continued without my having to renew it.

  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Scientists discover the secret of durian’s pungent smell CNN

    I wonder how this research can be harvested.

    Crowd control? Dispersing protesters with this smell?

  25. joe defiant

    Re: Cooking them to death: The lethal toll of hot prisons

    I was in prison in New Jersey for some Robin Hood hacking tactics against financial institutions and when you are sentenced to prison time you wait in a facility called CRAF (Central Reception and Assignment Facility) for months waiting to be “classified” and it decided on which prison you will be shipped to.

    This prison is very old. The windows do not open except a few a crack in the hallways. I was there during the summer where it had to be over 100 degrees all day. Then the plumbing system “broke” and there was no running water or flushing the toilet for a few weeks as well. When the water was running about 60 men get 1 hour to share two shower heads everyday. If you don’t manage to get into the water you must wait to try again tommorow. (The prisoners were all very cooperative trying their best to let everyone get a few drips of water. Not the chaos you would assume by watching movies where the largest toughest guys control the water and there were no rapes that I saw.) You are locked in your cell for the other 23 hours a day. Once a week you get a hour in an outdoor yard. They brought cups of water around 2-3 times a day.

    I wrote a letter describing the inhumane conditions while I was there and had all the men in the section of the prison I was in sign it and sent it home to my girlfriend. She sent it to a ton of major media outlets and no one would use it or even write their own story about it. If I was on the outside I probably could have gotten a independent media outlet (like Naked Capitalism) to print it but this was about 10 years ago and she wasn’t as familiar as I am with alternative media.

    It’s nice to see this issue getting some coverage.

    1. Wukchumni

      Wow, thanks for the ‘insiders’ take.

      Locally here during the drought, the wells to a prison went dry, which required mucho money to drill new ones. And my county is the 5th poorest in the state, so it isn’t as if it’s flush with do re mi.

      “The ongoing California drought has caused two key wells to go dry at the Bob Wiley Detention Facility and neighboring jail farm north of Visalia, prompting the Tulare County Board of Supervisors to declare an emergency.

      The declaration allows the county to skip the normal competitive bidding process so new wells can be drilled as soon as possible.

      Last week, supervisors voted unanimously to appropriate $2.9 million for three new wells, citing worries that the cooling system at the Bob Wiley complex could run short of water and other concerns.”

  26. Meher Baba

    Beautiful article about Noma ! As for Soylent, invented by boy wonder for people with no apoetitie- presumably because they spend all their time in front of a screen in an air con room drinking coffee- it has canola oil as a foundation. Caonla is toxic. It is a non food. It is also genetically modified by definition (Can-ola is not even a real name, its an invented corporate word)
    I have heard that the cells of the body relate to canola as though its liquid plastic in composition.

    1. Bunk McNulty

      I confess I was mystified by the notion of “…the pleasure lies in the conquest of the useless.”

      On the other hand, I was tickled by the reference to Francis Ponge. For many decades, I have kept a copy of Soap in the bathroom, believing it to be the idea setting for perusal.

    2. HotFlash

      Whoa there! Some canola is genetically modified, but not all and there was a big dust-up when GMO canola ‘escaped’ into traditional canola fields. This was a big problem for Canadian growers since the EU, a principal market, does/did not permit GMO’s. Canola has been bred from plants that did have some nasty compounds in them, but that was mostly done the old-fashioned way, by selective breeding, at the University of Manitoba. The GMO stuff was produced later by Monsanto (hiss) to Roundup-ready the stuff.

      As to the made-up name, guilty as charged. The growers’ association felt, understandably, that ‘rapeseed oil’ would be a non-starter in the grocery aisle, so called their new improved oil “Canola” since it was developed in Canada.

        1. HotFlash

          I’ve also read that it was “Canadian Oil Low Acid”. Knowing marketing types probably all of the above.

  27. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Trump Executive Order Expands Opportunities For Healthier People To Exit ACA Timothy Jost, Health Affairs. Accelerating the death spiral. Must-read.

    Yikes! Getting through this piece is quite the massive slog. More like a must-study than a must-read.

    Two quick takeaways:

    First, the ferocious battle for the premium dollars of the healthy people who don’t need much, if any, “healthcare” in order to save obama’s legacy program, pay the outrageous and escalating bills of actual sick people and keep the insurance industry viable rages on unabated.

    Second, various estimates of the number of americans affected by obamacare range between 20 and 25 million, three quarters of which benefited from Medicaid expansion and are irrelevant to the discussion of insurance policy permutations. Is all this agita really warranted considering the small number of actual people involved?

    At any rate, I suspect the feelings of the actual affected people are summed up pretty well by the first commenter on the article, John G, who writes:

    I’m a small business owner with 10 employees, live in a rural N.C. county in which there is only one company offering ACA compliant insurance. I’m not wealthy,not even close. I built the business myself, worked my tail off, put all the earnings back in to make it grow and just recently reached the point where I don’t worry about paying my mortgage. I have a family of four. Everybody is healthy, kids are not yet teens, my wife and I are in our late 40s’.
    Our metalllic level BRONZE plan is $1840 per month with a $13,000 family deductible! $35,000 per year before insurance kicks in! Unsustainable!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From a Businessknowhow article:

      According to the US Census Revised 2008 Nonemployer Statistics Table, the average annual sales for the nation’s 21 million nonemployers is only $43,645. For the 3.7 million small businesses with 1 to 4 employees, the Census Bureau figures show average annual sales in 2007 were $387,200.

      Those numbers are sales figures, not incomes. If Ecuador is like the US, adjusted for currency, cost of living, etc, small business tax cuts are not the same as tax cuts for the rich.

  28. Byron the Light Bulb

    Nothing is true, everything is possible. Although we appreciate the sentiment, since the Russian election influence campaign was so ineffective, please reconsider the daily incredulity incantation. We get it, no need for the hard sell. The Russian Federation is naive to think its progressive leadership and enlightened capitalism could rub-off Stateside. The modest cost of the adverts in no way indicates a state sponsored top-tier, laser-focused, dark arts influence campaign. It happens every four years; we all remember the Russians made the Obama push, and no one made a big deal of it then. It not like the is there a electrostatic-like negative induction phenomenon occurring here where the unified attention front given to unmasking supposed hysteria, draws attention to the nebulous.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Reductio ad absurdum?

        Unless it can be conclusively shown, by all 57 flavors of intelligence agencies, that the Ruskies only developed their string and bailing wire technique of throwing the elections after 2012, then the big O was their choice as well?

  29. HotFlash

    Took a while to find this, but it seems that perennial wheat could be more, perhaps much more, nutritious than regular wheat. Protein levels in wheat have been dropping recently, too. Higher CO2 might be a cause.

    Wonder what protein is in kerna? Wheat protein is mostly gluten, but the intermediate wheat tested in the first link seems to be gluten-free.

  30. NotTimothyGeithner

    What is and isn’t “hate speech” as devised by Facebook.

    “Poor black people should still sit at the back of the bus” is not hate speech according to Facebook and the people in charge of FB such as Sheryl Sandberg.

    “White men are assholes” is an example of hate speech according to Facebook.

    Is it any wonder “OMG Russia” is everywhere these days?

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      This is why I eventually prefer the ACLU approach. I’d never take the job of deciding what is goodspeak myself, and I’ll be darned if I let someone else do it.

      But free speech without social context is a terrible thing. I’m sure that the gearheads and VCs behind MyFace, etc, really didn’t think that through. I think of how ‘no swearing’ policies seem to reengage commenter’s social conscience. Hard to close that barn door after you’re up to a few billion users.

      Confessional anecdote: When I was a white preteen butthead, I attended a Volunteer Fire Department baked bean supper. I shouted out ‘Movie!’ every once in a while, but nobody got the joke. Yes, I read too much Mad Magazine.

  31. Wukchumni

    We’re fast approaching the 30th anniversary of the stock market crash, and here’s a personal take…

    My dad was quite involved in the stock biz and I was in mid 20’s holding down the fort in LA when he and my mom were in Hong Kong, as things came a cropper on Wall*Street that day.

    He called me in a panic, asking what did I know and what information I could give him, and news flowed like a hardened artery compared to today, and truthfully, I knew bupkis. I remember feeling so useless.

    There were just a few talking heads on tv and the radio, newspapers came out once a day and magazines once a week. Nobody knew nothing, but then again no seeds of misinformation were sown in a rat-a-tat-tat-tat machine gun fashion, as one would see presently on the internets.

    Wonder how the epoch would’ve played today?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The IBT story omits the “in our lifetime” claim to which Snopes objects, and includes the following qualification, among others:

      Even with this new data, predicting when Yellowstone will next erupt is still a way off. There is much more to be done before scientists can come up with a precise prediction for when any supervolcano, such as Toba and Campi Flegrei, will blow its top.

      That said, volcanism is weirdly in the news, perhaps due to the Mount Agung in Indonesia.

      1. Wukchumni

        Laki is my favorite eruption…

        It’s atmospheric effects largely led to the French Revolution, in that not enough grain could be grown, and the price of bread skyrocketed above the salary of the average Frenchman, and then cooler heads prevailed.

          1. Wukchumni

            It wasn’t as if the French weren’t primed for a revolution, and their assignat scheme was QE writ large, and the output of them only greatly increased…

            Sound familiar?

  32. Synoia

    Association Health Plans: A Favorite GOP Approach To Coverage Poised For Comeback KHN

    How about the qualifying criteria becomes “you reside in the US?”

    We’d end up with two or three associations.

    And still not address the cost issues in US Healthcare.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      The health of our people is a national security priority?

      Pulling the identifier from the preamble, even more inclusive terms welcome. I mean, I like to smack big-L libertarians with ‘herd immunity.’

  33. Adrienne

    Re perennial wheat: a writer-farmer, Chris Smaje, in the UK has ruffled some feathers with his critique of the perennial grain movement. Wes Jackson is something of a mythical figure in permaculture circles, but even after fourty years of research the hunt for a high yeild perennial grain is proving elusive. It comes down to some fundamental differences in how plants grow. Ain’t no free lunch, as in all things.

    Annuals vs Perennials

    1. Oregoncharles

      Worth noting: the original, readily available perennial “grains” are trees. Most nuts are high in oil and protein, hence more like meat, but chestnuts and, with processing, acorns are starchy and store pretty well. As a commenter notes above, the Cal. Natives lived on acorns. Production can be huge, since the plants are so large.

      And, of course, they also produce wood.

      The problem is that they take so long to bear – at least 5 years, often more. Patience is required. But it is for wine grapes, too – again, a woody perennial.

      1. Adrienne

        @Oregoncharles, absolutely! Tree crops are fantastic and often under-appreciated source of food security. As a fellow PNWesterner, you know hazelnuts are our local version of acorns (tho I hear Quercus garryana were utilized wherever they grew). Hazel trees bear earlier than other nut crops and are super versatile. DH and I are starting a new garden up here on the shores of the Salish Sea and plan on a hazel hedge… If we can keep the squirrels from getting them all :-D

        1. Oregoncharles

          We have about 18 hazel trees – the house was inserted in a former orchard – so yes, they’re wonderful. Squirrels and jays can be a big problem; there are all sorts of devices for discouraging them, but I don’t know any that work. A resident hawk would be nice.

          I’ve read that Garry acorns are relatively palatable, but I haven’t really tried it. Have trouble keeping up with the hazelnuts. We let ours grow in clumps, so thinning them occasionally yields considerable firewood, too. But they make quite a weed – the birds plant them everywhere.

  34. Elizabeth Burton

    Facebook takes down data and thousands of posts,

    As I’ve mentioned, I run a Facebook group where I aggregate news and information either ignored or downplayed by the corporate media. On Wednesday, I noticed two days’-worth of posts were nowhere to be seen. I commented, and this morning they were back.

    I also set up a Page for posting articles that reveal MSM shenanigans. In the “description,” I wrote “The corporate media are lying to you.” Several days later, it was gone; no explanation given. So, I put it on the page photo—if they want to delete that, it will be rather screamingly obvious. However, at this point, the page doesn’t get enough attention to warrant censorship.

    Vigilance is essential.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “The corporate media are lying to you.”

      Thinking back to the Iraq War, the critique came from outside to mainstream (and is one reason blogs became popular). Would Facebook’s algos and monitoring systems have allowed FaceBook posts on Judy Miller’s genuinely fake stories on WMDs to remain uncensored? Somehow, I doubt it.

  35. KTN

    Re: Trump scraps Obamacare subsidies in surprise late-night announcement Guardian

    “Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped,” he wrote. “Dems should call me to fix!” [Trump wrote].

    Sounds like it’s time for Pelosi and Schumer to demand medicare for all, a winning political move that enjoys majority public support, and to keep demanding it into the midterm elections.

    They have the president’s own words on record: “​I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not,” Trump said. He added: “​The government’s gonna pay for it.

  36. Edward E

    Wow, Lambert, where did you get that awesome picture of a buck deer giving the fox nuzzles? That looks like something you could see in my backyard. The deer and the two foxes often visit and get along well, quite a pleasure to watch.

    My neighbor’s kids had some cats that used to come over looking for food and the deer absolutely cannot stand them. The foxes can usually tolerate the cats but bark at any razorback pigs if they come around.

  37. Will Eizlini

    regarding innovation and private healthcare, some things come to mind:

    #1 perhaps it will encourage research into promising medicine that is not patentable. cannabinoids are all the rage, but the synthetic ones are terribly dangerous. SSRIs are addictive…dichloroacetate, a safe drug used in metabolic disorders has a very promising profile to treat hard to reach tumors, such as in the brain, but again it’s simplicity and lack of patentability makes the research money scarce.

    #2 perhaps preventitive care will be on the upswing. I remember reading (somewhere) that traditionally in China, a healer was paid until one got sick, so the emphasis was keeping people healthy.

    #3 alternative treatments that are less expensive might get more attention.

    #4 lawsuits are generally more difficult in systems where the healthcare is public. i think many would disagree, however, is it not true that doctors pay enormous sums for malpractice insurance? in canada it’s much harder. in france, unheard of. and this is not always a good thing. It’s believed that my mother got hep-c from poorly sterilized equipment. that would be a good case for malpractice, but in france it almost never happens.

    #5 one of the downsides of a partial or complete reimbursement of drug prescriptions, is that i remember as child getting all sorts of crap for the common cold, various numbing sprays for the throat, etc..which is complete waste, but it seemed easy income for many drug companies. however currently with insurance, they may favor for cheaper and more dangerous drugs (morphine instead of other pain killers)

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