Links 10/25/17

Shrew skulls shrink for winter survival Nature. “Just how many species might shrink their brains for winter is not known.” I think I’m gonna try this.

Goldman plans private equity expansion to help offset trading funk Reuters. Great! More stories for Yves!

Indian state banks soar on $32bn recapitalisation plan FT

Puerto Rico

Small Montana firm lands Puerto Rico’s biggest contract to get the power back on WaPo and $300M Puerto Rico Recovery Contract Linked to Trump Donor Daily Beast

Puerto Rican Climate Activist: Aid Being Unfairly Distributed & Superfund Sites Continue to Overflow Democracy Now!


What the Catalan Crisis May Bring: Three Key Scenarios Explained Bloomberg

No State Solution: CNT Members on Catalonia, Spain, and the General Strike (videos) It’s Going Down (TF). Catalonian anarcho-syndicalists.


Executives spooked as hopes for early Brexit transition deal fade Reuters

Brexit: UK likely to end up with Canadian-style deal, warns Barnier Guardian

Britain can still cancel Brexit but ‘no-dealers’ have no friends in Brussels, say EU presidents The Telegraph

REVEALED: The 70 BILLION reasons why the EU doesn’t want Britain to LEAVE Brussels Express

What happened to the €8 billion Europe took from Greece? EuroNews

German Parties Reach Agreement on Finances, Delay Debate on EU Bloomberg

Eastern Europe’s major economies are having an underappreciated “Goldilocks moment” Quartz


Saudis aims to diversify economy with new $500bn city FT. Resilc found the Saudi brochureware: “… cooling breezes from the Red Sea….”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledges more ‘moderate’ kingdom Deutsche Welle

Everyone From Goldman Sachs to HSBC Wants a Piece of Saudi Banking Bloomberg

Steve Bannon’s already murky Middle East ties deepen McClatchy

Kurds offer to suspend independence drive, seek talks with Baghdad Reuters

Phoenix 2.0 – CIA Unleashes Vietnam Era Terror Campaign On Afghanistan Moon of Alabama

Facebook apologizes after wrong translation sees Palestinian man arrested for posting ‘good morning’ The Verge

Trump to skip key Asia summit in Philippines to go home earlier WaPo. A bone-headed move.

North Korea

Think positive: How to get North Korea to roll back its nuclear weapons activity Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists


China’s new leadership team unveiled: Zhao Leji named as anti-graft chief while Xi elevates trusted deputy to top military role South China Morning Post

China’s Xi Jinping opens door to long-term rule FT

Because I can’t help it:

Time for the US to Stop Losing Ground to China in the South China Sea The Diplomat

Japan police unmask 74-year-old ‘ninja’ burglar Agence France Presse

New Cold War

Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier WaPo. We’ve certainly come a long way, in 14 years, from “The British Government has learned…” to “a former British intelligence agent, funded first by a Republican, then through a DNC and Clinton campaign cutout, and finally by the FBI, has learned….” Things used to be so simple!

House Republicans to investigate Russia uranium deal tied to Canadian company CBC

Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort investigated for possible money laundering: report CBS

The question D.C. dare not answer: Why are we in Niger? Will Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News

The U.S. military is conducting secret missions all over Africa VICE (Re Silc).

Trump Transition

Senate kills new rule allowing class-action lawsuits against banks after Pence casts deciding vote Los Angeles Times

Evaluating the Trump Administration’s Regulatory Reform Program (PDF) Brookings Institution. With deregulation tracker.

How Trump Is Crippling Storm Forecasting Just When It’s Getting Good Rolling Stone

National Park Service considers fee hike of up to 180% for most popular parks, including Yosemite Los Angeles Times

Senate Passes $36.5 Billion Disaster Aid Roll Call

Health Care

Why ‘Medicare for All’ Will Sink the Democrats Steve Rattner, NYT. Yeah, sheesh, they might lose a thousand seats and all three branches of government over that. Oh, wait…

U.S. Uninsured Rate Rises to 12.3% in Third Quarter Gallup

How Iowa Became An Obamacare Horror Story Politico (UserFriendly).

Federal Judge Skeptical Of Claims That Dropping Subsidies Hurts Consumers KHN. Because the Silver Switcharoo should work.

Choosing Wisely Campaign: Valuable For Providers Who Knew About It, But Awareness Remained Constant, 2014–17 Health Affairs. This campaign was mentioned briefly in yesterday’s post on overtreatment. Partially sponsored by Consumer Reports, the campaign unsurprisingly adopts a patient-as-consumer model. While I think being well-informed about health care is a Good Thing, I vehmently reject the “Smart Shopper” model as a tax on time and a validation of the profit motive as a driver for health care. It also seems to me that the very last time to do one’s research is when one is about to enter the “marketplace” seeking care, unless stress makes people smart, which I doubt.

High-tech mirror for cancer patients only works if you smile CNN (DK). Who designed this? Cass Sunstein?

Imperial Collapse Watch

America’s appalling inattention to war The Week

Guillotine Watch

Hosting an Event? Don’t Toss Leftover Food, Donate It Smithsonian (CM). CM: “Forget sharing the feast with the staff, gardeners, serfs and peasantry to whom we we are never, ever At Home…Let’s develop an App!”

Class Warfare

A Peek at Future Jobs Shows Growing Economic Divides NYT. That’s not a bug…

Wave of addiction linked to fentanyl worsens as drugs, distribution, evolve WaPo. Ditto…

The Disruptors Jacobin

Tesla pro-union leaders march into the company’s Fremont factory demanding some fired workers be rehired Business Insider. If Elon wants to make more than 260 cars next quarter, he might find it wise to talk with his workers.

Average Americans Are Giving Away Less Money And It’s A Big Problem Fast Company

People in rich countries are dying of loneliness Quartz

End of Apartheid in South Africa? Not in Economic Terms NYT. So an identity politics that erases economics doens’t make a whole lot of sense, does it?

Harvey Weinstein and the Economics of Consent The Atlantic

One of Harvey Weinstein’s Assistants Breaks Her NDA to Reveal How Silence Is Bought Slate

Latest front in Weinstein scandal: Statehouses say ‘me too’ AP

Brussels faces its own harassment demons Politico

Overcoming our Americanness: The Dilemma of US Communitarians Grassroots Economic Organizing

Antidote du jour. Via: “I made a typo googling why Orthodox Monks have beards and found something much more pertinent and important.”

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. Jim Haygood

    From Bloomberg’s report on the new Saudi free zone on the Red Sea:

    [Prince Mohammed] said the city project, to be called NEOM, will operate independently from the “existing governmental framework” with investors consulted at every step during development.

    The prince, 32, made a rare public appearance at the conference to promote the project, telling the bankers and economic policy makers in attendance that the kingdom is moving to a “new generation of cities.” NEOM will be powered by clean energy, he said, and will have no room “for anything traditional.”

    A promotional video released on Tuesday features a lifestyle so far unavailable in Saudi cities. It showed women free to jog in leotards in public spaces, working alongside men and playing instruments in a musical ensemble. The one woman wearing a hijab had her head covered with a patterned pink scarf.

    Will NEOM become the Saudi Las Vegas, with wine, gambling and spike-haired girl groups smashing their electric guitars?

    We’ll see. In any event, tomorrow a new index of key eurasian oil exporters, including Riyadh’s TASI index, will be unveiled. It’s done surprisingly well against the S&P 500 during the past couple of years.

  2. The Rev Kev

    Re Why ‘Medicare for All’ Will Sink the Democrats
    I’ve looked all over Steve Rattner’s entry at Wikipedia at but cannot see much in the way of qualifications in talking about Medicare in the US. Lots of stuff about working for the Democrats since the mid-1990s and the odd fact that he once dated Judith Miller. Near the end of his article was a paragraph that caused me to do a double-take. Here it is-
    “Our model of democratic capitalism has stood us well for more than two centuries; now is not the time to embrace the kinds of ideas, often involving deep government economic intervention, that have often fallen short elsewhere, notably in much of Europe.”
    Did he say “now is not the time to embrace …deep government economic intervention”? Really? Seriously? His team back in 2009 developed the plan to use $82 billion of tax-payer money to bail out General Motors and Chrysler. If that is not deep enough intervention, how about the $30 trillion dollars the government used to bail out his “model of democratic capitalism” since 2008. I’d call that pretty deep economic intervention by any standards.

    1. Genghis Cat

      Always a sign when the NYT disables comments on a particular piece….

      And what a shock that someone from Wall Street doesn’t want Medicare For All.


      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        When issuing edicts, no comments are necessary.

        Indeed, allowing them would just confuse the hoi polloi.

        1. Oregoncharles

          “hoi” means “the”. Yes, I actually took Greek – in high school, would you believe. Still recognize a lot of the Greek roots.

    2. johnnygl

      “now is not the time for…xyz” has become a real tell that someone is about to advocate serving a sandwich filled with horse manure.

      1. paul

        It has been a favorite phrase of our treeza,especially about scottish independence 10 pages from the mouth of google!.
        I always wonder what the right time looks like to her, for anything.
        She won the pass the parcel tory leadership contest,but like the good gell she is, raised her nose at the contents and carried on.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Hah, reminds me of the masterful TV series “Yes, Minister” where the British bureaucracy rang rings around the elected politicians. I am thinking of when the excuse used was “Oh yes, Prime Minister. Indeed it is, beyond question, at the appropriate juncture, in due course, in the fullness of time.” which translated as “Oh hell no!”.

        1. Anonymous2

          A row in the UK now as a Government Whip has written to all universities asking for the names of their staff teaching politics especially Brexit. Also copies of their lectures. It feels more and more like a police state by the day. A Minister has excused it on the grounds the man was doing research for a book. Oh the minister was BJohnson’s brother.

          1. paul

            This is almost the perfect example of the near hermetic situation of contemporary political ‘representatives’.
            A dead beat party hack squierilling for dissent.
            Luckily for them, those that still vote just look at the rosette.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          How do they say it (no) in Japan?

          “Have a cup of ocha?”

          “We’ll think about it?”

          “Let’s study it?”

      1. voteforno6

        I have a co-worker who has been hit with $100K+ in medical bills for one of his children…I’m pretty sure that he would violently disagree with Mr. Rattner.

        1. a different chris

          When you have Rattner-like money, 100K is pocket change. Now he knows, intellectually, it isn’t pocket change to your co-worker but he really can’t emotionally grasp how far down the ladder we are from him. He can at best grok it as maybe a year of tough sledding. Not life altering.

          And these idiots run the world.

    3. Vatch

      $30 trillion dollars the government used to bail out his “model of democratic capitalism” since 2008.

      To what are you referring? That’s quite close to total federal government spending, including social security and medicare payment.

    4. DorothyT

      Re: Steven Rattner and ‘Medicare for All’

      In allowing Mr. Rattner to describe himself as a “centrist Democrat,” it would be appropriate for the NYT editors to include a caveat to that statement before letting it stand. Furthermore, Mr. Rattner implies that “Hillarycare” was single-payer and failed because it was one of the left’s “positions that are both bad politics and dubious policy,” his description of ‘Medicare for All’ today. We recall that the then first lady initiated discussion of the terms of her plan behind closed doors with insurance executives to obtain their buy-in.

    5. Roger Smith

      As well, I saw he was a former Obama admin advisor and Wall Street financier. How many elementary school teachers are contributing writers to the New York Times? How many auto line workers or single parents? These bloated papers promote lies and one sided commentary from the most advantaged in society. These former advisors of corruption and Wall Street fat cash use this platform to berate you and lie to you about why you are stupid and shouldn’t expect better from the world around you, the world these arbiters of wretchedness squeeze dry, suffocating any hope the average person has of any basic security.

      I see no reason or usefulness that this article, or these types of articles from long tarnished sources serve and wonder why they are included on NC. We already know what destructive, stupid ideas these selfish fools share.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        The more people in the fight who are kept aware of what the enemy is doing, the better.

        More than a few of us here at NC avoid the corporate media like a thousand plagues, so it’s useful when items of interest are placed before us in isolation, thus helping us avoid having our blood pressures surge by having to wade through the muck that passes for journalism these days in the mainstream.

        1. Jeff W

          The more people in the fight who are kept aware of what the enemy is doing, the better.

          And, it’s pretty telling that the talking points—to call them “arguments” gives them far too much credence—that the enemy is employing are so ludicrously, horrendously bad—like, say, this one:

          …when factors like whether taxes would be raised or the Affordable Care Act would be repealed are introduced, the consensus swings to opposition.

          So Mr Rattner is saying that the Democrats should make policy decisions based on the fact that some people (how few we don’t know) haven’t yet figured out that, while their taxes would be raised, their net out-of-pocket expenditures would go down, way down? (And that’s due, in large part, no doubt, to dishonest Democratic framing of that very issue by people like…Mr Rattner.) Or that they don’t realize that the Affordable Care Act would be supplanted by a far simpler, far cheaper and far more equitable system that would cover everyone? (A “repeal” arising from the implementation of single payer would not bring us back to the status quo ante.)

          Or this one:

          …let’s not forget that only about a quarter of voters consider themselves liberals; the balance self-identify as moderates or conservatives

          Yes, but while people “self-identify” as moderates or conservatives, the policies they favor are, overall, what would be called “liberal”—and, they’ve done so, consistently, according to reliable polling, for just short of half a century.

          These points say a lot more—and, really, nothing good—about “centrist Democrats” like Mr Rattner than they do about anything regarding single payer. I’d love to know if anyone at this point is really convinced by them. (We won’t know how readers of the NYT view them, of course, because, apparently, as another commenter has pointed out, the comments are shut down.)

    6. lyman alpha blob

      IIRC the auto industry bailout under Rattner’s watch not only funneled billions to the auto corporations, but also involved “restructuring” the autoworkers’ contracts (somehow there is no sanctity of contracts when it comes to workers).

      Maybe he’d get on board with single payer if someone told him he could screw over the nurses union too.

  3. johnnygl

    Re: Americans giving less to charity….comes with the territory of a high-inequality, low trust society. Might it also be related to charities themselves becoming scammers? Red Cross seems like a prime example.

    Re: weinstein nda’s…once we’re done crowdfunding all the medical bills, i feel like we should crowdfund breaking nda’s. The entertainment value alone show make it worthwhile.

    I like S. Africa as an exame of the logical outcome of the id pol, neoliberal dream. Economy based on extraction, full of corruption, ethnically diverse, with short average life spans. This is what winning looks like…

        1. DJG

          Arizona Slim: United Way. Arrrrggghh. And the pressure at so many places of work to give to United Way used to be intense.

          1. Wukchumni

            My wife is from Buffalo and consequently, I became a Bills fan, and it’s a burden I wouldn’t put on anybody, as nope springs eternal.

            We’re at the Ralph about a dozen years ago for a Bills game, and they’re in the midst of just going through the motions in yet another sleepy hollow season, and nothing is going on down on the field-as play had stopped, but the whole stadium starts booing, and I can’t figure out why, and then I look up and the then coach was doing a United Way commercial on the jumbotron, and they were letting him have it!

            …tough crowd

          2. johnnygl

            My employer pushes united way…hard…which immediately lets me know it’s probably a garbage institution. I guess i could be wrong.

    1. DJG

      JohnnyGL and Wobbly Telomeres: You may have mentioned two outliers, I hope, although the social media, catastrophe that they are, have made it easier for high-profile charities (using the term loosely) to skim compassion, disasters, and bathos for dollars.

      I tend to give to charities closer to the ground like Friends of the Parks (the Chicago group that Rahm loves to hate) and my neighborhood’s food / clothing pantry for my neighborhood’s hidden poor. Our local on-the-streets newspaper for the homeless / inadequately housed is a reliable charity, too.

      People should take some time to check sources like Charity Navigator. And I understand your misgivings. I went to an “elite” university, and I try to ensure that my donations don’t end up at the notorious department of economics. The problem with these big charities is that there is no guarantee of where the money goes, just endless fund-raising letters. At this time of the year, I’m getting two of them a day.

      And sometimes you give money even though you know it is foolish: That homeless person who runs off to the liquor store

      1. JohnnyGL

        I’m quite comfortable giving booze money to the homeless. No one should have to face that condition while stone cold sober!

        1. Huey Long


          I always hook up the local street people near my job with booze money based on the same rationale.

        2. Bugs Bunny

          Hear, hear! I’ve been known to offer a 6 pack or a bottle of decent wine on occasion. Who are we to judge?

        3. Aumua

          Of course you’re really pushing them down by doing that (in many cases, not all).

          I mean if drinking is part of what’s messing up their life (and it is in many cases), then giving them booze is like giving a little kid matches.

      2. Wukchumni

        We keep about $500 worth of canned food, pasta, rice, bottled this that and whatever as initially an insurance policy against starvation if something wicked happens (the year w/o a summer in 1816, Carrington Event, or more recently-an episode similar to the saga in Puerto Rico) and the way it usually works out is wicked is late in arriving, and then our insurance policy’s use-by dates come and go, and it becomes a donation that goes directly to families that depend on our community food bank to get by.

        It’s a lose-win deal.

        1. diptherio

          Trust me, you’ll be doing them a much bigger favor by giving them some cash. Pretending to know better than another adult what they need is a tad patronizing…just sayin’.

          1. Wukchumni

            All too often the person looking for a handout looks so forlorn and the cardboard might’ve been used as an ad hoc pillow too many times, or some other malady from living rough…

            But when I saw a fellow holding this sign aloft, whilst ensconced on an island with a population of 1, in between traffic lanes in San Diego, I let loose with a couple of bucks…


      3. diptherio

        As a homeless friend once told me: “you can get anything in this country by dumpster diving…accept booze.” His point being, the one thing you really do need money to get is alcohol. People throw unopened cans of food out all the time, but no one ever throws out an unopened beer. A homeless person who uses their money for something “admirable” like food is just bad at being homeless. Food is the one thing you never have to pay for (and it’s not like the dollar you threw them is going to help them get into an apartment….)

        1. Wukchumni

          When I had a crummy looking car, I would sometimes preemptively hit up panhandlers for manna in the parking lot, before they could strike.

        2. cojo

          I recommend they visit parties, especially fraternity parties, after most people have left. Opened unfinished beer cans everywhere.

      4. DonCoyote

        See what Amy Sterling Casil, a person who knows a thing or two about non-profits, thinks of Charity Navigator and the smaller Charity Watch, which she investigated because of their high ratings of the Clinton Foundation. Short answer: nothing good.

        On Charity Navigator: “…whatever potential the organization may have had in aiding the ever-shrinking nonprofit sector in developing actual benchmarks and metrics for effectiveness as opposed to analyzing meaningless tax returns an 8th grader could game — is over.
        The organization has stopped its work in trying to evaluate program effectiveness (apparently having achieved over 3,000 ratings or information about 3,000 organizations) and is “reassessing” this aspect of its rankings.”

        On Charity Watch: “There are ethical concerns in every type of nonprofit or charitable venture. Organizations like Borochoff’s that make numerical or relational comparisons off tax returns cannot be relied upon to truly “evaluate” a charity.”

        So, as others have said, donate local and use your own due diligence, which, however minimal, is probably better than the rating of a crapified “watchdog” group.

        1. Wukchumni

          The way I look at it in donating the object of their desire-food, nobody’s gonna make off with a dozen cans of spagettios with a use-by date* of Feb 2017 or the like, so my gift to the less fortunate in our community is assured 100%, with no hanky panky in the pantry. I’ve helped hand out food a number of times, and no single adults are allowed to partake, only families.

          * Our food bank doesn’t care about use-by dates, just no dented or rusted cans

        2. Hana M

          Thanks for those links, Don Coyote. Amy Sterling Casil did some really great forensic business assessments on the Clinton Foundation and has never gotten the recognition she deserves. (Hmmm…wonder why that is?)

    2. BG

      I wonder how the increased use of Donor Advised Funds plays into this as a bottleneck, with no requirement to distribute any percentage of tax-deductible contributions each year. Millions are now tied up in these funds. Isn’t Fidelity now the largest “charitable organization” in the US?

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        Another factor with considerable impact is the recent switch to crowdfunding. Many people now funnel their donor dollars to other real people on web funding pages rather than giving to the big reigistered charities….. with their bigly overpaid upper management. GoFund Me giving commonly doesn’t get included in the ‘charitable giving’ stats, even if you are covering some kid’s cancer bills for his soon to be bankrupt family.

        1. marieann

          I agree, when you donate to a Go Fund Me there is little left for other charities.

          We usually give to the foodbanks and an bird/animal rescue group.

          1. Hana M

            Crowdfunding is no substitute for real local community.

            And BTW real local communities can band together to create ways to help your physical neighbors [the ones you should be saying hello to] and yes [please don’t shoot me NC readers] you can get a tax deduction.

            Look, I didn’t make this tax code, but even us smaller ‘players’ owe it to ourselves and our communities to figure out how to make the system work for us.

      2. Hana M

        For about 20 years I’ve had a small donor-advised fund with Community Foundation of New Jersey. I’ve stayed with CFNJ even though I moved to Massachusetts because they are so helpful on the bookkeeping end of things. I give to all sorts of small local charities and religious organizations that never show up on the standard “screens”. CFNJ (and probably lots of other state and community foundations) is great helping small donors [I’m talking $100 donations] tracking down tax IDs, making sure donations of stocks, mutual funds etc get credited and helping with documentation at tax time. I’ve heard mixed reviews on Fidelity but I simply cannot believe they would be anywhere near as responsive as a local foundation. If you go this route you do want some “depth on the bench” so do your homework.

    1. Katsue

      Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been reported as the primary driver of Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war on Yemen, and has been cracking down domestically as well. I can’t say I’m excited by any project that he describes as moderation.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      The coastal cities of Saudi Arabia such as Jeddah were for centuries free-wheeling multi-ethnic and religious centres where money and trade were far more important than religion. Under the Ottoman Empire there was generally a fairly easygoing and tolerant attitude to lifestyles in towns and cities – culturally they would have been more like the cities of Yemen (before that country was thrashed and destroyed). It was the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent rule of the Al-Saud family in the mid–20th Century (thanks mostly to the British) that crushed the heart out of those places and ensured that only the narrowest expression of Sunni theology was allowed.

      The rush of articles about how wonderful MbS is and how liberal SA is becoming smacks of an organised PR campaign. I don’t doubt MbS is genuine in trying to expand SA’s economy beyond oil, and he represents a younger generation who want a little more freedom from the religious police. But the core of Al-Saud power is their relationship with the wahhabist cult, any changes will be superficial at best, or will represent the sort of ‘blind eye’ approach they have long applied to western compounds.

    3. todde

      The Wahhabi sack of Karbala occurred on 21 April 1802 (1216 Hijri) (1801[1]), under the rule of Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad the second ruler of the First Saudi State. Approximately 12,000 Wahhabis from Najd attacked the city of Karbala.[5]:387 The attack coincided with the anniversary of Ghadir Khum event,[3] or 10th Muharram.[2]:74

      Wahhabis killed 2,000[2]:74–5,000[3] of the inhabitants and plundered the tomb of Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of Muhammad and son of Ali ibn Abi Talib,[2]:74 and destroyed its dome, seizing a large quantity of spoils, including gold, Persian carpets, money, pearls, and guns that had accumulated in the tomb, most of them donations. The attack lasted for eight hours, after which the Wahhabis left the city with more than 4,000 camels carrying their plunder.[4]

      1. DonCoyote

        Well, if Great Britain can have a Slightly Silly Party, then Moderate Extremists are certainly welcome. After all, Pew gave us such gems as Market Skeptic Republicans, Disaffected Democrats, New Era Enterprisers, and Devout and Diverse (link from 10/25 Water Cooler).

        “And there’s the first result, and the Silly party has held Leicester. What do you make of that, Norman?”
        “Well, this is largely as I predicted, except that the Silly party won.” Hmm, what does that remind you of? :-)

    1. JohnnyGL

      That’s a huge story if the coordination was that direct and tightly controlled. However, the Intercept dropped this howler….

      “A few months after the daring assault on the Syrian capital, the regime carried out one of the single greatest atrocities of the war: a chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta that killed upwards of 1,400 people, according to the U.S.”

      — Whoa….that just ain’t so. Sy Hersh buried this idea in his series for the LRB, the “who’s sarin?” article, in particular. Rebels probably did it with help from Turkish intel. Intercept should know better. They’ve been consistently sketchy on the Syrian Civil War, though.

      1. pretzelattack

        the intercept is schizophrenic; you get glenn greenwald articles exposing the propaganda behind the syrian war, or the “russians stole the election bullshit”, and robert mackay articles catapulting the propaganda.

    1. ChrisAtRU

      #OhFFS … Where’s that #GuillotineKickstarter again? The “captains of industry” don’t even have to feign humanity anymore … #BombsAway

  4. Corbin Dallas

    The story about National Parks hiking fees is so, so sad. What makes it sadder is that the “reporter” did nothing more than: 1. regurgitate Zinke’s talking points (which, if you consider the privatized accomodations and cleanings at most NPS, make no actual sense but corruption) and 2. post a “pro” and “con” *comment* from a website. That’s what journalism has come to these days??

    1. curlydan

      To comment on the National Parks, go to the following link. Read the instructions carefully. It also would have been useful for the reporter to note that the National Parks’ budget is $3B–so the $70M gained by these fees hikes could be accomplished with less than a 3% increase in its budget.

      Another fact that I put in my comments is that each flawed and hardly functional F-35 fighter now costs just under $100M. So we can produce 100s of these but can’t find the money to keep fees at National Parks low.

  5. Wukchumni

    Small Montana firm lands Puerto Rico’s biggest contract to get the power back on WaPo and $300M Puerto Rico Recovery Contract Linked to Trump Donor Daily Beast

    National Park Service considers fee hike of up to 180% for most popular parks, including Yosemite Los Angeles Times

    These are both related in a “get the money” grab, the latter of which makes a mockery of the ‘inflation is always 2%’ mantra we’re force-fed.

    The biggest impact of getting into the NP here will be to Hispanic-American families, going from $30 per car to $70 for entrance fees.

    In comparison to NZ, entrance to their National Parks, is free.

    The idea that a minuscule firm with essentially no employees can be awarded a contract to fix something oh so far away for so much money, is like a page out of the KBR notebook in the ‘stanbox. And the connections to Zinke reek in the usual way, from the head on down.

    1. Keith Howard

      This is from the Guardian’s article:

      [Zinke’s son had a summer job at a Whitefish construction site but the interior department denied that Zinke, a former Montana congressman, played any role in the contract award. “Neither the secretary nor anyone in his office have taken any meetings or action on behalf of this company,” the department said.]

      Does Sec’y Zinke have his own secure communications facility, like the EPA sec’y?

  6. diptherio

    That “Overcoming our Americanness” article is a cross-post from Communities Magazine, which I highly recommend subscribing to, even if you’re not a communard. Lot’s of insightful stuff in there.

    I love the first paragraph:

    “I’m planning to start my own community.” Ah, a consummate American statement. Solo cooperation.

    So true. I know so many people who are trying to start their own communities, but almost every one of them is coming at it from this angle. “I bought some land, I have a vision, now I just need a bunch of people to come help me realize my vision.” So what happens is that those with the wherewithal to purchase property end up with nothing more than the property and their vision, but without adequate hands to perform the work. Meanwhile, those of us without the financial resources often end up providing free labor to these people, as we try to help them out in hopes that maybe they will eventually come around to truly collective action. Most of the time, though, they don’t, and us poors leave with a bad taste in our mouth over all the free labor we just provided to somebody who’s better off than we are, while the land-owners complain about not being able to find people to do their bidding (although that’s not how they generally phrase it).

    So, if you’re interested in starting a community or doing anything collectively here’s my two pieces of unsolicited advice: 1) if you’re coming in with more financial or physical capital than others in the group, get over the idea that that fact should entitle you to more sway in decision-making — that attitude will ruin everything; 2) if you’re coming in with only your passion and your strong back, make sure that your rights and obligations are spelled out, in writing, in a legally enforceable manner.

    Creating cooperative living and working situations is definitely do-able, even for Americans. But as Americans, as the article points out, we have to be very intentional about getting our heads in the right place to be able to make it work…and that requires work.

      1. diptherio

        No, but it’s fair to say that Americans in co-ops/cooperative living situations are still Americans and we’ve all been indoctrinated (to one degree or another) with the “rugged individualist” value system, which can be antithetical to cooperation. From the article:

        Communitarians in the United States are in an interesting position. On one hand, we are inheritors of a societal attitude of “To hell with what everyone else is doing, I’m doing my own thing.” Examples include starting ones own company, lone wolf homesteading, triathlons, and climate change denial. On the other hand, we have come around to the perspective that cooperation is both essential and satisfying—sharing lawnmowers, childcare, and best practices. This pertains not just to dealing with others in our present but acknowledging the past and what can be learned from it. This conflict I believe mostly simmers unnoticed in the heart of an American, but has important outward effects in how we act in community.


        My observation is that independence and strong will are a requirement for someone to join an intentional community, but those same characteristics can undermine the collective mentality that makes them function well. When whitewater kayaking, you need to paddle hard to get out of the strong mainstream but then much more gently once you’re in the calmer eddy, or else you may zoom out the other side, flip yourself, or crash into others. It takes both passion and restraint to arrive at and cooperate well in an intentional community in the US.

    1. Lee

      The Vice TV series Jungletown provides an excellent cautionary tale. Real estate hustler recruited a bunch of idealistic mostly relatively privileged college kids to pay for the privilege of providing free labor to build a facility in the jungles of Panama that provides other kids the opportunity to pay for the privilege of providing free labor to enlarge the facility to …..and so on.

      The physical and social difficulties they encounter are legion. They might have done well to include some kids who actually knew how to pound a nail. They did hire locals to do the real work so the kids could have more time to whine and theorize. I found the show both cringe worthy and quite amusing.

      OTOH, I lived in an urban commune of political activists in Berkeley that was to a large extent a successful collective enterprise. We were took control of property through rent strikes, we offered legal aid, ran a printing press and a silk screening studio, doing work from such groups as the Black Panthers and the United Farm Workers. We also operated a low cost daycare center for low income persons. Shared political views and internal democratic processes held us together. Come about 1980, things began to come apart as people got older and the prospect of being old and poor in America caused us to put our shoulders, queer and otherwise, to the wheel of corporate Amercia.

      1. diptherio

        It’s sad that your commune could do all that great stuff for the community but couldn’t figure out how to take care of yourselves in old age. That’s obviously not a sustainable model, right?

        That’s why my efforts right now are directed towards figuring out how a bunch of us poor people in rural Montana can take care of each other, even if we don’t have a shared political outlook. “Corporate America” isn’t an option for us. We can’t sell out because nobody’s looking to buy. Anyway, thinking working for the man will save you from a life of (financial) poverty is no longer a reasonable assumption.

        1. Lee

          I wish you well in your endeavor. I’m a Yellowstone enthusiast and I was intending to retire to Gardiner MT and do volunteer work in wildlife conservation, and/or run a little commercial operation doing something like taking people on wolf watching tours. Alas, life gets in the way of our plans and I’ll probably finish my days her in the SF East Bay, which I also quite like, except of course for the absence of wild charismatic vertebrates.

          Anyway, thinking working for the man will save you from a life of (financial) poverty is no longer a reasonable assumption.

          On black dog days I despair for my kids and grand kids, not to mention so many other of our fellow citizens. My kids are doing ok now. As for the future, I’m not so sure.

          What part of MT do you live in?

          1. diptherio

            I’m up in the Flathead, on the Rez. The average age in my community is over 60 and the average wage is under $12. Figuring out how to get your needs met with a minimum of cash is a highly-developed art form up here. Fortunately, people are pretty good at cooperating, at least in short spurts, and everybody knows everyone else. Getting enough people out of the rugged-individualism mindset to work on more systemic, long-term cooperative projects is still a uphill climb, though.

    2. Andrew Watts

      You make it sound like a cult. Trading work for the promise of realizing somebody’s vision. I, for one, would rather trade money for religious and/or spiritual gratification. That’s the American way.

      Market transactions are always sanctioned by a higher power.

      1. Wukchumni

        We had a socialist utopian group that settled here in the mid 1880’s, and the way they did it was quite clever, in that the Kaweah Cooperative Colony all filed 53 separate homesteading claims to land parcels all adjacent to one another, one fine day @ the filing office in Visalia. Their land included the Giant Forest-home of the biggest of the giant sequoias-including the largest that they named “The Karl Marx Tree”, now known as the Sherman Tree. They were squashed by the Southern Pacific railroad, who didn’t want a competitor in the lumber biz (the colonists had planned on making a living by cutting down all of the non-giant sequoia trees for lumber) and in cahoots with a California state senator, hatched the idea of Sequoia National Park in 1890, effectively kicking out the utopians.

        Read on for more from a legal perspective:

    3. John

      I started skimming when I hit the “why isn’t the US Denmark” section.

      It seems that people who can’t figure out why the US isn’t Denmark aren’t’ usually very good at theorizing about “other things”.

      1. diptherio

        His point is that there is something in the US culture (or a lack of something) that makes cooperative action more difficult here than in many places. Pointing out that what most of us in the US would consider cutting-edge sustainable, cooperative living is run-of-the-mill in other places is a good reality check for American cooperators.

    4. lyman alpha bloba

      I’m not so sure that those who say they want to start their own communities are really all that community-minded.

      A few year’s ago somebody posing as an Ayn Rand acolyte started a community in South America called Galt’s Gulch and started selling property to libertarians with stars in their eyes. Turns out the whole thing was a fraud designed to rip off the Randians. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch!

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Oho he used military trained marines! Doesn’t that imply government funding? Why can’t these libertarians wean themselves from Uncle Sugar’s teat?

  7. Wukchumni

    “Brown said the official complaints related to comments he had made at a party in the Samoan capital, Apia, where he told attendees they looked “beautiful” and could make hundreds of dollars working in the hospitality industry in the US. Brown and Huff said they had “no idea” the comments would be regarded.”

    A hooker is a rugby player in NZ, so maybe they won’t get the inference?

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Sources say new Politburo Standing Committee plans “new look” to counter accusations of lack of youth.

    The US Senate or the Supreme Court could use more youth or youthful fashion, and cheerful hair styles, as well.

  9. DJG

    Commentariat: The word of the day has to be Schadenfreude:

    Woe is us. The great Flake and the magnanimous Corker leave the Senate. These two guys have been voting for bad legislation for years and regularly reek of such freak-show ideas as supply economics and the Laffer curve.

    And now we’re getting, After us, the deluge! Just because Trump shows up with the same values but is a vulgarian who eats chicken with his hands? So now the Republicans are the party of the raised pinky finger, too?

    And Pierce, as always, evokes the wonderful James Madison, patron saint of the Constitution and of secularism, whose ideas would be considered dangerous by Flake and Corker if they knew of Madison.

      1. edmondo

        OTOH there is a bright spot – Krysten Simena will be out of Congress. One less “centrist” Democrat is always a win.

      2. Vatch

        Like most Republicans, Martha McSally has a dismal League of Conservation Voters rating; it’s only 3%.

        Jeff Flake’s lifetime score is 9%, which is almost good for a Republican. Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, as there are a few Republicans with scores like 76% (Susan Collins, ME), 63% (Robert Dold, IL) and 53% (Carlos Curbelo, FL). 9% is the approximately the median for the Senate, and it is above the median for the House.

    1. RUKidding

      Yeah. Gag me with a spoon. I’m supposed to now love these guys & get all misty-eyed, along with “Maverick” McCain, because they’re NOW publically giving Trump the middle finger… all while voting for the same old, same old draconian legislation that is already ruining our lives.

      Gossip and rumor has that Flake is positioning himself to run against Trump in 2020. Hip hip hooray, except not so much. Flake is just Mittens RMoney Version 2.0.

      And yeah, someone equally or more horrid will run for their seats. So? That’s what would’ve happened anyway.

      And whereohwhere is the frickin’ Democratic Party in the midst of this?

      Paging Democratic Party… Paging Democratic Party…

      Funny how they never answer the white paging telephone.

      So AZ – allegedly trending blue – will likely have 2 open seats soonish. But I see absolutely ZIP efforts from the Big D party to, you know, prep someone to RUN for these seats.

      Please correct me if I’m wrong.

      All the D Party is good for is to whine once in a while about how they’re “not Trump.”

      Eh? Not good enough. No wonder Clinton lost. LOSERS!

      1. Wukchumni

        Arizona is a crass-test-dummy, so the white elephants can see what might work back east in a similar vein.

      2. neo-realist

        “Maverick” McCain has been doing that his whole career. Acting like he’s some sort of independent with regards to his own party, yet he’s always been a party line voter when it comes to legislation. And the corporate media, to no surprise, keeps treating him like he is an independent willing to buck his party.

        1. Wukchumni

          We had occasion to be in Phoenix a bunch last year on account of a death in the family, and I noticed an odd thing driving on the freeways there, in that they have the newfangled billboards that digitally hit you with 3 messages in the time it takes for you to pass by @ 70 mph, and that was a trip, but what really got me, was that easily 1/3rd of them were for lawyers that will get you money for a miasma of maladies, “in a wreck-need a check?”, “Burn Lawyer” “Motorcycle Lawyer” “Husband & Wife Legal Team” etc.

          Is getting money via a law settlement 1/3rd of their economy there?

          Driving in SD, OC & LA counties, you’ll occasionally see one of these billboards, but rarely.

    2. KTN

      This article was featured in Water Cooler a couple of days ago.

      Tiberi is the 18th House Republican to announce plans to leave Congress sometime between now and January 2019. More importantly, he joins a rapidly swelling list of House GOPers with influential committee assignments, close ties to the party leadership and pragmatic approaches to governing to walk away.

      The tone of the article is dirge-cum-encomium, and features departures into the related key of melancholy valediction.

      It is quite striking that the most influential serving representatives, who logically can only deserve a proportionally greater share of blame for heading up what must surely be one of the most universally reviled series of Congressional sessions in American history, can be sent off in this fashion by ‘respected’ members of the DC press corps.

      And by the way, who said being a ‘public servant’ was going to be ‘fun’?

  10. Craig H.

    I did a google image search on the fellow who looks like he is an orthodox monk with domesticated bears. Couple of hits but none in English. Google translate says Bosnian. I imagine feeding your pet bears ain’t a trivial expense.

    1. Hana M

      I’m pretty certain the monks care for bears in imitation of St. Seraphim of Sarov, revered by the Russian Orthodox Church.

      In 1793, St. Seraphim was ordained a hieromonk, after which he served every day and received Eucharist for a year. St. Seraphim then began to withdraw into his “farther hermitage”—the forest wilderness about five km from Sarov Monastery. He achieved great perfection at this time. Wild animals—bears, rabbits, wolves, foxes and others—came to the hut of the ascetic. The staritsa, i.e., eldress, of the Diveevo monastery, Matrona Plescheeva, witnessed how St. Seraphim fed a bear that had come to him out of his hand: “The face of the great starets was particularly miraculous. It was joyous and bright, as that of an angel,” she described.

  11. Meher Baba

    i liked the brit marling ‘economics of consent’ piece about Weinstein. good points about power and consent. I did cringe at the line about the solution being ‘ we need to hold a conversation about this..’ . With all due respect to us-north americans – its such a typical cliched comment! You like to talk about ‘ raising awareness..’ what about taking action? France responded by immediately by enhancing the penalties for sexual harrassment. One example for taking action is for all workplaces having notices up in the public staff rooms and having briefings clearly defining ‘ this is what is expected of you’. all hollywood can say is ” we need to open up the dialogue…’. Whatever.
    By the way It has not been reported anywhere in english press but Macron stripped Weinstein of his Legion of Honour also
    From a sociological ‘ alien landing on earth observing.’ perspective the consequences of Weinstein falling is very, very interesting. It will change some things forever.

    1. cnchal

      . . . what about taking action?

      Too bad no action was taken when it would have done some good. No one gave Harvey a swift kick in the nuts and told him to eff off, and run screaming to the police. Decades ago.

      1. a different chris

        Heck some “one” apparently gave him a Legion Of Honor medallion (or whatever). WTF?

        Now, I’m not a small female, yet even I suspect a large male like me giving him etc. would be a pretty brave move. Hollywood (the physical and virtual place) is a city built on connections and how do you know which police officer in particular to run to? And which one not…

        How much do you not want to go back to Kansas? How much hope do you have testifying in court against somebody who brings his (family blog)ing Legion of Honor thingy?

      2. John k

        But that would hurt his feelings…
        Yes, people are suitably outraged, but other big dem donors peddling opioids and wars get to be super delegates…
        Along with the never, ever supporters…

        One thing I do find puzzling about the Harvey tales, most happen in his hotel room… with the woman alone with him… why not, ‘I’d really rather meet at the office…’

        1. Lee

          The meetings are initially set for a public place. Then a female assistant serves as a Judas goat, informing interviewee the place has been changed for the sake of convenience and reassuringly accompanies the target to hotel room. Judas goat leaves. I should add that the female assistant, who may or may not know the state of play, is as economically dependent on her boss as is the target.

    2. Lee

      I had no knowledge of Brit Marling until I recently watched her series The OA–not my typical fare but I found both the program and her part in it quite appealing. Equally so, her emphasis on gender based economic inequality providing the underpinnings of sexual harassment and abuse.

  12. Jim Haygood

    Round up the usual suspects:

    The U.S. House is poised to pass new sanctions in response to Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for Hezbollah, while stopping short of addressing the Islamic Republic’s compliance with the multinational accord designed to curb its nuclear program.

    Three sanctions bills set for floor votes Wednesday are expected to receive bipartisan support and represent the first action from Congress against Iran since President Donald Trump earlier this month refused to certify the country is complying with the terms of the nuclear pact.

    For “bipartisan” translate “AIPAC.” As AIPAC”s site points out, “On July 27, the Senate passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act by a vote of 98-2. On August 2, the president signed the legislation into law.”

    But it’s never enough for the Lobby, whose members are circulating through the House as we speak, asking demanding “But what have you done for Israel today?”

  13. Wukchumni

    “In July, city council voted to only allow two dispensaries to operate within city limits. Based on the feedback from residents and business owners of a citizens advisory committee, the council voted to amend its city ordinance and allow cultivation and sales of marijuana in addition to the dispensaries.”

    The oh so to the right of right politically CVBB has long been steadfast against anything 420 related, but that was then and this is now.

  14. perpetualWAR

    From Weinstein article:

    Anyone who’s spent any time fighting “the man” in courtrooms knows how rich this quote is:

    “It’s time to start questioning the legitimacy of a legal system that allows the rich and powerful to buy their way out of punishment…”

    This quote can relate to Weinstein, the financial crooks that just got away with stealing 18 million homes, or Monsanto who’s poisoning our food supply, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    People in rich countries are dying of loneliness.

    Holt-Lunstad suggested some ways to tackle the problem of increased early mortality: People should prepare for retirement socially as well as financially, she said, because so many social ties are now connected to the workplace. Designers and planners could also play a role, by ensuring communities have social space like gardens, to encourage gathering and interaction

    While Jobs Guarantee stops with retirement (per the definition of it), Basic Income is there when you live, play and create (all done with friends, relatives and family members), and is good till you go to the next world.

  16. Synoia

    Saudis aims to diversify economy with new $500bn city FT. Resilc found the Saudi brochureware: “… cooling breezes from the Red Sea….”

    The English word “posh” is derived from terms of the passage to India through the Red Sea, Port out, Starboard home, to avid sun in one’s cabin in the afternoon….

    Which lends some weight to the new Saudi City, one the Coast of the Red Sea, where is will be completely immune to Climate Change, because the Saudis’ have a direct connection to God….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Interesting etymology.

      The neat trick would be to part the Red Sea again, so more condos can be built there.

    2. ewmayer

      I dislike harshing on an interesting just-so story, but according to the OED:

      ORIGIN early 20th cent.: perhaps from slang posh, denoting a dandy. There is no evidence to support the folk etymology that posh is formed from the initials of port out starboard home (referring to the practice of using the more comfortable accommodations, out of the heat of the sun, on ships between England and India).

  17. barefoot charley

    From the article on our troops ‘n boots on Africa’s neck:

    “First, it’s very easy for our activities to overwhelm a country’s absorptive capacity for aid, which tends to result in elevated levels of corruption,” said Rebecca Zimmerman, a national security and foreign policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. “Next, by disproportionately funding the military and security apparatuses of these governments, we run the risk of militarizing or securitizing the country — elevating the militaries to a place of increased power relative to civilian government.”

    In fact, so far two recent officer trainees have hijacked governments in Mali and Burkina Faso. 70 countries to go!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s another Scramble For Africa This time, with more diverse international players.

      There is, or maybe was, a school of thought that (quoting from Wikipedia on Liberia, that (t)he Republic of Liberia began as a settlement of the American Colonization Society (ACS), who believe) “black people would face better chances for freedom in Africa than in the United States.[7]”

      Is that thought racist or noble?

      In any case, it’s balance-of-power when one day, the president of the United States attends the summit of Africa seeking peace and hoping for trade opportunities and manufacturing jobs in America when African money invests here.

      That’s stepping beyond concerns of being exploited to demanding and getting a seat at the table, real progress, and a solution to our kneeling issue.

  18. Andrew Watts

    RE: Kurds offer to suspend independence drive, seek talks with Baghdad

    The KRG proposed an immediate ceasefire, a suspension of the referendum result and “starting an open dialogue with the federal government based on the Iraqi Constitution”.

    The disputed territories are suppose to hold a referendum at a later date to decide their status according to the Iraqi Constitution. That isn’t going to happen now. The whole question of Kurdish autonomy in Iraq is up for debate depending on if Baghdad decides to invade core KRG territories. I would blame Barzani for this epic debacle but leaders are often held captive by the illusions of those that follow them.

    If the Iraqis invade and occupy KRG or the balance of forces ever shifts closer to parity there will be a lot more ethnic cleansing. The absence of these developments has lessened the bloodshed.

    RE: No State Solution: CNT Members on Catalonia, Spain, and the General Strike

    Restructuring the political economy to be more decentralized means confronting entrenched interests of both sides of the independence debate. As somebody once told someone somewhere in the world…

    You can have independence or you can try for confederalism. But you might not get either.

    That guy wasn’t an optimist.

  19. Meher Babam

    thanks for comments about us-north americans and living in communes. i’ve learnt from indian friends and others growing up in israeli kibbutz’s, as well as my own experience- the former being real, authentic and extreme examples of organic innate communalism – what is required is self effacement and the awareness of maintaining harmony at all costs. it’s the japanese model of Wa. self effacement though, is key. be prepared to put your needs aside when necessary and be willing to be wrong in a dispute

    1. diptherio

      I like to keep this affirmation from Catholic monk Anthony DeMillo in mind: “I’m an ass, you’re an ass, what’s the problem?” Also, “suffer fools, they suffer you.”

      You’re right that making harmony the main goal, above any ego-driven desires, is something that is both necessary for making communalism work, and especially difficult for Americans to do. Fortunately, there are long-term successful communities in the US that prove that it can be done.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “I ought to know. I’ve followed a few Messiahs.”

      In this country there is a common sentiment that a person should go forth and set the trend, then others join it. In a culture where Warren Buffett, Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson are elevated as role models, we are trained to think big or not at all. No one in fourth grade says they want to be a social worker or a farmer or a good cooperator—that’s not sexy enough. I become a bold leader and they join me.</blockquote

      An even-handed criticism of the idea of 'I am a leader, you follow me' should include others, Lincoln, FDR, King, etc.

      It's up to all of you, or us.

      Each one of you, or us, is that leader…that savior.

    1. Vatch

      Very unpleasant. It seems to me that the trails winding through Forest Service land and in and out of private land constitute easements. So people have a legal right to use the trails on private lands, so long as they stay on the trails, and don’t wander, which would be trespassing.

  20. Andrew Watts

    RE: Phoenix 2.0 – CIA Unleashes Vietnam Era Terror Campaign On Afghanistan

    Assuming the CIA director wasn’t just blowing smoke, or is actually aware he’s writing a check with his mouth that his — can’t cash, there is a distinct lack of manpower that would be capable of implementing a Phoenix-like program. Vietnam could easily fit into any two provinces of Afghanistan. Despite being a smaller geographic region South Vietnam had a larger and more reliable military force. Whenever we bring members of the Afghani security forces to the US a sizable number always go AWOL.

    Just about half of those guys go missing or desert their posting. The Taliban will just have to fight each other over who should be successor to their last leader. Which is exactly what they’re doing in the western provinces. So, no, Vietnam generation this isn’t just like the American experience in Vietnam. It’s much worse and I bet the CIA is going to find this out the hard way.

    They don’t call it the graveyard of empires for nothing.

  21. Louis Fyne

    A math education professor at the University of Illinois argued in a newly published book that algebraic and geometry skills perpetuate “unearned privilege” among whites.

    Rochelle Gutierrez, a professor at the University of Illinois, made the claim in a new anthology for math teachers, arguing that teachers must be aware of the “politics that mathematics brings” in society.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      She’s right – better we all just remain stupid than give a dead European credit for anything.

      1. Matt

        It’s a shame that this stuff gets filtered through these right wing websites. Putting aside the jargon and the stuff about privilege, the professor does not suggest we should stop learning math because it’s a “dead white male” invention. Rather, the claim is that history of math neglects contributions from non-white mathematicians and that too much emphasis is put on STEM fields, to the neglect of the humanities (something I think many people on this website might agree with). You can dispute any of this without caricatures like “Math = white privilege.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          “Are we really that smart just because we do mathematics?” she asks, further wondering why math professors get more research grants than “social studies or English” professors.

          Are we really better persons, or wiser, just because we are smart?

          Why the obsession with being smart?

          That’s where she should be disputed.

          1. c_heale

            Isn’t English (the native language of the dominant culture) a poor example of something that should get more funding. What about minority languages.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          If that’s a right wing website than that explains a lot about the framing – I wasn’t aware of the source’s affiliations. Still if they quoting her properly, she is as you say way off base with the privilege language.

          I’d be interested to see how math is taught in countries like China and India. My guess is there is probably some emphasis on discoveries from Chinese and Indian mathematicians at the expense of Europeans’ contributions. And if that is the case, that still wouldn’t make the Indians or Chinese racist or privileged. It would make them Indians and Chinese.

          I do agree that there is far too much emphasis on STEM however. Full disclosure – I was a math/physics major who switched to the humanities.

    2. Anonymous

      Vonnegut wrote a story* about a society that forced equality on everyone. Attractive people had to wear bags over their heads. Dancers had to wear clumsy shoes, and so on. The idea was to remove innate advantages from all people to make them equal. Needless to say it didn’t turn out well.

      *Kilgore Trout

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Without knowing how to address it, it’s important that we are aware .that inequality comes in many different forms…not just wealth.

        Vonnegut asked a very good question.

      2. Ned

        Mathematically clever people have to wash cars and dig ditches in this world and media is run by tradesmen?

  22. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: How Iowa Became An Obamacare Horror Story Politico

    After three years on the sidelines, Wellmark finally entered Iowa’s exchange this year. It didn’t go well. Company officials attributed its troubles in part to a single patient who was costing the company $1 million a month in claims. A company executive revealed in a speech to the Des Moines Rotary Club earlier this year that the customer in question was a 17-year-old boy with hemophilia.

    Iowa now has only one obamacare exchange insurance provider and it’s not wellmark.

    It’s hard to see how a system in which a single patient can knock an insurance company completely out of an entire state “market” can be “fixed.”

    Always worth remembering in situations like this is what I consider a mind-blowing statistic–of the $3.2 trillion the united states spends on “healthcare” annually, 20% is spent treating the sickest 1% of patients, and 50% is spent treating the sickest 5% of patients.

    This suggests that, rather than manipulating insurance policies and subsidizing premiums and insurance company overhead, the more expedient way to cut costs would be to focus on which “services” these 5% are “consuming” and why.

    At least we might actually learn something.

  23. Meher Baba

    appreciate the quality mature discussion. someone mentioned Yes Minister. You MUST watch ‘ The Thick Of It.’ it’s the sharpest funniest thing you’ll ever see on tv. well, on dvd now its finished. Be advised it just gets better and better as it goes on. Its english political satire with a huge cult following. About the ministers and their staff trying to preserve their reputations- it being their sole interest. You will thank me. They actually had an uncanny ability for mirroring current english politics, just before something actually happened. It occurred several times this way. ‘ The Thick Of It’

    1. Propertius

      If I’m not mistaken, Peter Capaldi based his portrayal of Malcolm Tucker on our very own Rahm Emmanuel.

  24. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Senate kills new rule allowing class-action lawsuits against banks after Pence casts deciding vote

    This one contains an old shibboleth I’d like to see dead and buried:

    But banking lobbyists argued that the rule would unleash a flood of class-action lawsuits, and that the cost of fighting those suits would be passed on to consumers. Republicans quickly moved to repeal the regulation.

    Costs won’t be passed on if the lawsuit puts their sorry arses out of business, or (yes it’s nice to dream) if a criminal prosecution threw the guilty parties in the slammer and their organization into receivership.

  25. Tooearly

    “vehmently reject the “Smart Shopper” model”

    ABSOLUTELY! Consumerism on steroids is not the solution to anything especially to commodification of healthcare

  26. Vatch

    I just noticed this, and I apologize if someone else has already posted it or commented on it. Yesterday eventing, the Senate, with the “help” of Vice President Mike Pence, voted 51-50 to ditch the CFPB’s regulation limiting mandatory arbitration. Here’s the roll call:

    Basically a party line vote, with Republicans Lindsey Graham of SC and John Kennedy of Louisiana voting with the Democrats and independents to preserve the regulation. Democrats have villain rotation; do the Republicans have hero rotation?

    Score a big one for the Too Big to Jail banks.

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump and Zen master Hakuin…Is that so?

    Clingn, Dton campaiNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier WaPo.

    From San Francisco Zen dot org:

    Master Hakuin And The Baby

    The great Zen Master Hakuin lived in a small hut outside a village where he was greatly respected. One day a village girl became pregnant. The father of the baby left town and she was alone and frightened. She did not know what else to do and told the entire village that Master Hakuin was the father.

    All the townspeople shocked. They stopped bringing food and offerings. Instead of praising Haikuin now they blamed him.
    “You are the worst of all beings,” they said.
    “Is that so?” replied Hakuin.
    The baby was born the the village girl brought the child to Hakuin to be cared for.
    “This baby is yours,” she said.
    “Is that so?” Hakuin said and took the baby gladly.
    Hakuin cared for the baby lovingly for several years. Babies, presumably, do not make for uninterrupted zazen. Diaper cleaning is not traditionally conducing to satori. Yet Hakuin fed, clothed and cared for the child.
    Then, one day, the father of the baby returned to the village to marry the mother and take back the baby. The new couple told everybody the truth about what happened.

    The people were astonished. They all began to praise Master Hakuin and return to his hut with offerings.
    “Is that so?” said Master Hakuin. Soon after that the couple returned for the baby. “Is that so?” Master Hakuin murmured and gave them their child lovingly.

    Trump, in denying the false accusation report a few times, is no exactly Hakuin.

  28. Oregoncharles

    “Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier WaPo. ”
    We already knew that. Why is WaPo treating it as news?

  29. D

    Re: High-tech mirror for cancer patients only works if you smile

    Unlimited ways Cancer™ can be financialized to profit everyone but the person with cancer.

    ‘Just can’t wait’ to see the hospital I visit for my cancer start sporting those mirrors, and it would not surprise me, with all of the worthless and greedy forever smiling!™ top management.

    Yes, from I what I discovered quite accidently quite a few years ago, smiling, even when I had no reason to, made me feel better. On the other hand, being allowed to cry, and therefore be hugged by a compassionate human, is every bit as important.

    For a mirror to refute that you exist is about as nasty as it gets.

    Can’t wait for that Solar Storm which shuts all the AI™ Systems down and bankrupts their profiteers.

    Yet another reason why capitalism is deadly, it causes people to create products and support endeavors which are utterly toxic, in order for them to survive without being poverty ridden.

  30. ewmayer

    o “Think positive: How to get North Korea to roll back its nuclear weapons activity | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” — Maybe getting the U.S. to roll back its global-hegemonic and regime-change activity? Crazy notion, I realize.

    o “Time for the US to Stop Losing Ground to China in the South China Sea | The Diplomat” — Technical quibble: Is “losing ground” really the apt expression here?

    o “Average Americans Are Giving Away Less Money And It’s A Big Problem | Fast Company” — Is the Big Problem more one of average Americans giving away less money, or one of average Americans having ever-less money to give away? Useful answers are harder to come by if you pose the wrong question, Fast Company.

  31. Plenue

    >Time for the US to Stop Losing Ground to China in the South China Sea The Diplomat

    How about we leave the South CHINA Sea to China and its neighbors?

    1. Oregoncharles

      Sigh. Take a look at the map. There are at least 4 nations bordering the S. China Sea, all the others a lot smaller and weaker than China. Yet China lays claim to ALL of it, based on an old Imperial map. The “9-dash line” is perfectly ridiculous, which is what the World Maritime Court decided.

      At the same time, the Sea is an extremely busy international water way, and has oil deposits, so it matters. A lot. I think it’s very unfortunate that the US is involved, but reluctantly, I don’t see any alternative. All the neighbors, collectively, MIGHt be able to back China down, and India recently took an interest; but you wouldn’t want to count on it. So far, the US actions have been measured, just defiantly steaming a warship through, making China huff and puff. Could be bad if they go beyond that, though.

  32. Darthbobber

    Author of the “Single Payer will Sink the Dems” piece:
    “Steven Rattner is the Chairman of Willett Advisors LLC, the investment arm for former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s personal and philanthropic assets. In addition, he serves as the Economic Analyst on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and is a contributing writer to The New York Times Op Ed page.”

    Oh- and Obama’s “car czar.”

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