Links 10/3/17

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How much of a shock can an electric eel deliver? A scientist just found out first-hand

From feral camels to ‘cocaine hippos’, large animals are rewilding the world The Conversation

Camille Paglia on Hugh Hefner’s Legacy, Trump’s Masculinity and Feminism’s Sex Phobia Hollywood Reporter

Body clock scientists win Nobel Prize BBC

2017 Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to LIGO Black Hole Researchers NYT

Climate Disruption Could Pose “Existential Threat” by 2050 TruthOut

Dronemaker DJI introduces privacy mode after US Army ban SCMP

After article was rejected and publishers yawned, Walt and Mearsheimer dropped ‘The Israel Lobby’ in 2005 Mondoweiss (Chuck L)

Fake News

As Google Fights Fake News, Voices on the Margins Raise Alarm NYT

Imperial Collapse Watch

Navy Returns to Compasses and Pencils to Help Avoid Collisions at Sea NYT (Chuck L)

Kill Me Now

Obamas eyeing Upper East Side apartment NY Post

Goldman Sachs Explores a New World: Trading Bitcoin WSJ

The $1.7 Billion Citi-Lehman Derivatives Settlement Doesn’t Technically Contain The Words ‘Told You So,’ But It Might As Well Dealbreaker

Class Warfare

Trump vs. Graduate Workers Jacobin

The Poorest Tax Payers to Pay the Most Under Trump Plan New Economic Perspectives (martha r). Bill Black.

Argument analysis: An epic day for employers in arbitration case? Scotus blog


Uber Board Is Said to Consider Votes to Cut Ex-CEO’s Power Bloomberg

Uber investors to former CEO: We’ll sue you if you don’t vote how we want Ars Technica


Equifax says millions more customers affected in cyberattack than previously reported MarketWatch

Oversight of the Equifax Data Breach: Answers for Consumers  House Energy and Commerce Committee

What Were You Thinking? Equifax GC Probed For Executive Stock Sales Before Public Learned Of Breach Above the Law

A series of delays and major errors led to massive Equifax breach Ars Technica

Las Vegas

The NRA Praised Nevada’s Most Powerful Lawmakers For Blocking Gun Control International Business Times. David Sirota.

Nevada’s Background Check for Gun Buyers Stalls Despite Voter OK Bloomberg (The Rev Kev)

Another Day, Another U.S. Mass Shooting Moon of Alabama


In the Wake of the Las Vegas Shooting, There Can Be No Truce with the Second Amendment New Yorker (furzy)

Google Displayed Fake News in Wake of Las Vegas Shooting Bloomberg (David L)

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico mayor invited to take part in White House conference call on hurricane disaster effort – but told she could not speak Independent

Two Storms Hit Puerto Rico: Maria and Colonialism Counterpunch

The Military Was Ready in Texas and Florida. What Went Wrong in Puerto Rico? Politico

As Trump set to visit Puerto Rico, 95 percent lack power Reuters

Puerto Rico prepares for Trump visit after hurricane BBC

How Devastated Puerto Rico Really Is, by the Numbers Vice

Puerto Rico hasn’t updated the Hurricane Maria death toll in 5 days Vox

Trump Transition

Trump’s White House froze an equal-pay rule. Women are fighting to save it. WaPo

Trump May Have Found Paths to Save Coal and Hobble Clean Energy Bloomberg

Does The Constitution Apply To Immigrants? Supreme Court Will Start To Sort That Out. Above the Law

Trump’s Right: His Media Coverage Is Mostly Negative NBC

Trump administration weighing executive order on welfare Politico


Sack Boris Johnson for sake of Brexit talks, key MEP urges May Guardian

Northern exposure: Brexit reveals Shetland split Politico


In pictures: Catalan farmers block streets and protect polling stations as the tractor becomes a symbol of resistance  Daily Telegraph

Catalan leader calls for international mediation in Madrid stand-off Reuters

As Spain falls apart, Europe is tongue-tied Politico

Catalan president ‘escaped Spanish police helicopters trying to stop him from voting in the illegal referendum by changing cars in a TUNNEL’ Daily Mail

The future of the EU at stake in Catalonia Asia Times

Catalonia holds general strike in protest over referendum violence Guardian

Hurricane Alley

US Media Spoke More About Harvey Than Floods Elsewhere – but So Did Media Elsewhere The Wire

North Korea

China calls for calm over North Korea as US flexes military muscle and clock ticks down to key congress SCMP

Trump says Rex Tillerson ‘wasting his time’ with North Korea negotiations Guardian

We’ve Forgotten What The US Has Done To N O R T H K O R E A Lee Camp


India’s Dream of Becoming Smartphone Manufacturing Powerhouse Hits Hurdles The Wire

Gandhi Jayanti: Reporters slam attacks on media Al Jazeera

Modi Government Isn’t Against Economic Growth, but Its Approach Is Flawed The Wire

Health Care

House candidates back single-payer healthcare plan in Virginia Inside Nova (martha r)

FDA chief says agency will take action to lower drug prices The Hill

Getting to the heart of a societal problem Raconteur

Unhealthiest US counties made ‘dramatic’ switch from Obama to Trump in 2016, study finds Independent

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Darius

    Those who say not to politicize a mass shooting by pointing to the absurdity of civilians amassing an arsenal of machine guns would have been the first to scream for a Muslim crackdown if the shooter had had an Arabic name. Except of course for our freedom loving friends in Saudi Arabia.

    1. pete

      I find it interesting how effective the right wing media has become at distributing talking points. Insane ones that no reasonable person would respond to.

  2. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, to Chuck L, for the link to Mondoweiss.

    The lobby is busy organising smears against and smearing Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters – and getting hysterical about it. Oddly, one family participating in the campaign, including disrupting an event on the fringe of the Labour Party conference last week, are leading lights in UKIP and recently featured in the Daily Heil as fearing for their future and preparing to emigrate to Israel in the event of a Corbyn victory.

    Readers may not be aware of the role played by the lobby in bringing down the chairman of the Cooperative movement and the movement’s banking arm. The former management, including the chairman, were not appropriate stewards of the society and bank, but, to this observer, no worse than the management of other banks. Apart from that mismanagement, including a notorious multi-bottle lunch offered to visiting regulators (including the then deputy governor for prudential regulation, Andrew Bailey) what did for the chairman in particular was his part in the BDS campaign. Under his leadership, the Coop stopped selling goods exported from Israel and its occupied territories.

  3. windsock

    Thank you for the Camille Paglia link. It is not something I would have otherwise come across. I always find her interesting and provocative, without necessarily agreeing with what she says.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, she’s always a very entertaining and provocative read, a breath of fresh air, even if you don’t agree with what she’s saying.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Great link. I think it is too easy, esp here in USA, to forget how recent and partial and not universally accepted female emancipation really is.

        1. a different chris

          Yeah, probably better than Paglia (didn’t read *that* link), but: I have to step aside slightly from my women-supportive self and make a note of this:

          >This unconscious process of sponging up messages from our environment explains a whole lot about why women develop such wicked inner critics.

          The problem under-groups in the West of any sort wind up with is these “us only” statements. Except for the Martin Shkreli’s of the world (and there are female versions, but yes I fully admit white maleness seems to have a genetic predisposition just like we do to mass murderer) most of us have “wicked inner critics”.

          So instead of separating, why don’t women/minorities try to say “you know how this feels, imagine it 10x/100x” whatever. Instead it’s just “we feel this way and you don’t understand” and that is not entirely true and brings up an unhelpful defensive reaction.

          /Rant off

    2. jrs

      some feminists may be somewhat sex phobic, but you can’t really say a movement that fights for making abortion readily available against all the forces in American society that would stop that is sex phobic. Nothing could be more pro-sex from a woman’s point of view than to be freely able to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy. No, I’m not advocating it at a first resort or anything like that, and of course feminists are also very much pro readily available birth control, just saying, we owe them a debt of gratitude, just for that alone. During much of the time Heffner was making waves, abortion was illegal for women, let that sink in … and feminists were meanwhile fighting for that.

    3. adrena

      Paglia: “The whole history of art is sexual objectification” – yes, the whole history of patriarchal art is sexual objectification.

      Paglia is a supreme asshole.

  4. Jey

    @JL-N and other NC staff – News about Adani’s siphoning money off into tax havens –
    “Exclusive: Allegations by Indian customs of huge sums being siphoned off to tax havens from projects are contained in legal documents but denied by company. Details of the alleged 15bn rupee (US$235m) fraud are contained in an Indian customs intelligence notice obtained by the Guardian, excerpts of which are published for the first time here.”

    1. Chris

      Thanks Jey.

      Our own Queensland government is in a pickle having got into bed with Adani to mine coal.

      It’s only taken a little digging to see how this company operates and it’s one we definitely don’t want here.

      Leave the coal in the ground, already. Solar’s about to disrupt the world, along with self driving cars, according to this recent talk by Toby Seba:

      Well worth skimming through, it brings up many of the issues raised here and also about rooftop solar and battery storage. (I’m contemplating this at the moment. What you may not know is that 25 per cent of Aussie homes have solar already which partly explains, as there are fewer customers to maintain the grid, why my power costs are unaffordable.)

      Of course if the climate doesn’t do us in first – that 2050 timeframe in the Truth Out article… a lot of my friends no longer feel we have ten years…

  5. ambrit

    A quick reflection on “Navy Goes Back to Compass’s Pencils and Paper.” If the Navy sees the wisdom of using basic tools to steer and protect their ships, than we can rest assured that a return to the same tools, pencils and paper, will immeasurably improve the steering of the ship of state.

    1. Wukchumni

      My hand cramps up after writing awhile, out of practice.

      I re-read Two Years Before The Mast a few months ago after a 40 year hiatus, and what a book. It’s easy to get tripped up on all the sail terminology he’s constantly deploying though, what’s a top gallant?

      It’s a wonderful stuck in time portrait of California in the early 1830’s, sandwiched between tyrannical & caring sea captains coming there and going home.

      1. Mel

        Topgallant: one of those smaller sails way up on the mast, maybe third (or fourth?) from the bottom. Gallant might be third, royal might be fourth.

      2. Roland

        This summer I read it for the first time. I find it one of the best books ever written that is almost entirely about people working. Never let it be said that a good book can’t be written about labour and labourers.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      My aunt joined her brother in law, a harbor boat pilot, about 10 years ago to take a cruise ship out to sea. Most of the story was about my aunt refusing to get off the ship, but she noted the bridge of the ship was full of modern technology but that the captain and my uncle were using charts and a compass to navigate.

      1. Arizona Slim

        When I was growing up, I lived next door to a river pilot. He taught all of his kids to sail the old fashioned way, by getting them in the sailboat, taking charge, and doing a LOT of hollering. I went along for a few of these sessions — and they were TOUGH.

        There was no compass, no pencil, no paper, no map. Those things weren’t needed. Why? Because this guy knew the Delaware Bay by heart. He came from a family of pilots who brought ships up the Delaware Bay and River and into the Port of Philadelphia.

        BTW, all of us kids learned how to sail by careful observation of what was around us — and proper handling of our craft.

  6. Tom Stone

    Those in favor of overturning the second amendment might want to take a minute or two to consider the potential unintended consequences.
    How do you enforce such a ban without gutting what’s left of the 4th amendment?
    How many SWAT teams will be needed, or do we go straight to the Military to enforce such a ban?
    What does this mean as a precedent when it comes to our other “Inalienable rights”?.
    Who will still have the right to keep and bear arms?…don’t forget that local law enforcement can appoint unpaid special deputies, who will the sherrif of Ferguson County appoint?

    NYC has had draconian gun control laws since 1920…look at who has the right to keep and bear arms legally in that city for a clue…one of them is Donald Trump.

    1. Diane Pfaeffle

      We probably can’t turn the tide back on gun ownership but we could at the least take a stand as a country that “guns kill people” and that we need to think long and hard about what that means.

      We don’t need to outlaw guns we just need to have an honest discussion about why so many people feel the need to own guns. We also need our legislators to start legislating what we the people want, not what the corporate guns makers and lobbyists want. Banning the sale of assault rifles in a civil society does not really sound like interfering with our inalienable rights.

      1. pictboy3

        That depends on what you think the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is. If the purpose is to allow people to hunt, then yeah, banning assault rifles doesn’t interfere with our rights in a meaningful way. If the purpose is to provide the foundation for a citizen militia to be called upon in times of invasion or revolution, then banning assault rifles very much does interfere with our inalienable rights.

        Shootings like these are a one off. Even the Guardian, which is no friend of the gun industry, cited statistics saying that rifles account for something like 3% of gun deaths. The vast majority of lethal incidents are with handguns. If people were serious about curbing violence, that’s where they would start looking, but assault weapons look scary, so that’s where everyone focuses their attention.

        1. Synoia

          A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed

          After the English Civil war, in the 1600s, the English decided that standing armies were poor policy, due to their ability to launch a coup against the crown.

          The Founding Fathers would be very familiar with this, as the US independence only was 100 years after the English Civil War.

          Thus they eschewed a standing army, and enshrined that policy in the US Constitution. That particular clause is undermined in the US by yearly refreshing the funding of the DoD.

          There is a strong rationale to the “yeoman” army suggested by the second amendment was to have a pool of men experience in the use of weapons.

          There is also precedent in English Common law which insists people are not allowed to travel outside their parishes on Sundays, and must practice with their longbows weekly, dating I believe from the 13th or 14th century.

        2. Lord Koos

          Assault weapons are far more efficient than handguns, however. If you or someone you love are part of that 3% you might feel differently.

          At any rate, it’s pretty late in the game to be restricting firearms — those who love them have already stocked up. What could be restricted going forward is ammunition.

        3. Anonymous

          Freedom can only be held for a society if there are men willing and able to commit violence.
          If you outsource your violence capabilities to the state alone then only the state will be free,
          everyone else will be peasants.

          The Founding Fathers understood this.

          1. Lord Koos

            The founding fathers talked about “a well regulated militia”, back when it took a lot of time to reload.

      2. justanotherprogressive

        A few days ago, a poster mentioned that our attitude towards guns has changed over the last decades – and thinking about that, s/he is absolutely right.

        Back in the 50’s, my family, like most families in my area, had hunting rifles. The few handguns around were relics like Grandpa’s WWI Colt or maybe a Luger brought back from WWII as a souvenir – nobody much “collected” guns – they were tools.

        But that’s changed dramatically – guns are no longer just tools – they seem to be a replacement for personal power (i.e., if you don’t feel in control of your life, well, you know you have that one thing that gives you control……). So we should be asking ourselves: How did that happen? And who benefits from that? And why are we allowing them to change how we think?

        1. RUKidding

          I agree. It’s anecdotal, but I’ve read several blog posts from people who profess to be gun owners, who used to hunt, but who have given up hunting (they say) because of the lunatics out “hunting” in very unsafe and unsound ways.

          I grew up with family members who hunted (and who used the meat for food for our family and others). So I have some connection with gun ownership. Back then – the 50s thru 70s – most people I knew had maybe two to five guns, all of them hunting rifles. I even know some who hunt with bows and arrows (the high powered kind).

          That seems rather “normal” to me, and thinning out deer herds, in particular, is good thing to do, especially if you use the meat.

          However, what I hear now is that there’s all these Yayhoos out there shooting in crazy and unsafe ways, not following the rules, and so forth. In my hikes, I’ve come across old encampments of such Yayhoos where my friends and I have cleaned up what seems like hundreds of empty bullet cases, the ammo boxes and other mess left behind. It’s clear that these miscreants are shooting “for fun” across known hiking & 4-wheel drive trails, which is extremely dangerous and against the law (there are known incidents of campers getting killed by some jerk shooting off his/her gun where they shouldn’t).

          Getting back to blog posts from former hunters – and referencing some of my family members – they say that they cannot stand the current hunting environment. That the people out there hunting (not everyone, clearly, but I guess it’s a lot) are crazy bastards with too many guns, too much ammo, lacking in common sense, and refusing to follow standard rules. They say they stopped hunting out of fear for their own personal safety, coupled with disgust.

          This is coming from long-time hunters, who would STILL defend gun rights.

          I say it’s way beyond time to have a better national conversation about gun ownership and what it means.

          However, the NRA and other powerful interest groups emphatically do not want even that to happen. Duly noted that a lot of reputable blogs yesterday were overrun with bots and trolls who derailed sensible attempts at conversations about gun control issues by overruning the blogs with insane rants about conspiracy theories and alleged false flags b.s.

          1. Bill

            I had a neighbor who moved his family from NJ because he admired Vermont’s lack of gun regulation. He is not here any more. It was like a shooting range at his house, and no one wanted that around here. It makes me think that marijuana legalized here would have the same self-regulating effect. People hunt for food and think of guns as tools, not joysticks.

            1. Wukchumni

              We have friends that were subject to the shooting range next door a few years ago. It’s quite rural here and gunshots aren’t an especially rare sound, maybe i’ll hear a few a week, no biggie.

              Well, this yahoo buys a house around these parts & decides he wants to shoot at all hours, and law enforcement really isn’t doing anything, and finally after pissing off all of his neighbors to the point of them being a well harmed group, did he finally relent.

              If it had been somebody playing music way too loud, the coppers would have put paid to that in a hurry, but these days you wonder if hand cannons have more rights than us?

              1. Bill

                same here, gunshots not uncommon, rural area, people mostly sighting their rifles. Selectboard says anytime “target shooting” in back yard is “within the law”. Parents with young children take up where they will not tread. And, it was upsetting the cows!!!

                1. bob

                  “And, it was upsetting the cows!!!”

                  Upset cows produce less money. There have been studies.

                  That should be top of the list, if you are trying to actually change policy. Business is very heavily lobbied within gov, at all levels. Cow (dairy) farming is big business.

                  Parents with kids? The people in farm country are there to service the animals. They’re second place to the cows when making policy – a cost to be reduced. The cows probably out-number the people too.

          2. Lord Koos

            Last year we went to pick berries on Stampede Pass in the Cascades and were startled to hear the sound of a semi-automatic weapon (or maybe it was fully automatic) firing off many rounds in the woods nearby. There was no way to tell which direction the guy was shooting so we just left & I won’t pick in that area again. It’s also common when hiking to see spent shells on the logging roads, etc.

            In the small town where I grew up guns were fairly common, used for hunting or shooting coyotes, etc. Tools, yes. Every fall people from Seattle came over to hunt deer and elk, and locals feared them, because it was mostly just an opportunity for these guys to get away from their wives and drink with their buddies while carrying around loaded rifles. One year such a hunter shot a kid off of his dirt bike, killing him. You have to be pretty high to mistake a bike for a deer.

            When I was a boy of 8 years old a neighbor took a few of us kids out shooting in the mountains. Were carefully shown how to fire a pistol and a rifle. Back then (late 1950s) it was no big deal. At that time the idea that a high school kid would ever bring a gun to school to settle a score was totally unthinkable. American society has a sickness.

        2. Elizabeth Burton

          justanotherprogressive: Posted this to my news discussion group on Facebook this morning, so you may find it useful with regard to your question.

      3. Chris

        Thanks Diane. I think we’ve had the conversation and the guns keep winning.

        The ONLY reason citizens need guns is if they need to kill animals. In the US, you can get a gun to defend yourself and your property ffs – defend yourself from what? Other people with guns? Kind of a circular argument that one.

        Just look at the US in-bound tourist numbers. Who wants to go to a country where:

        1. you have to jump through hoops to get a tourist visa;
        2. you fear having to go through the airports;


        3. you have a real risk of being shot, just for being out with your family.

        The guns need to be taken back. Try buying them back (like we did after the Port Arthur event in 1996) and give people an amnesty….

        But then again, with dark times looming, people are going to need those guns.


    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Remove the PLCAA?

      Enforce liability of sellers?

      Taggants in all bullets?

      Insurance, training, and registration requirements per gun?

      Enforce chain of liability for lost and stolen guns?

      Regular, required retraining for owners of handguns?

      Y’know, ‘market forces’ and ‘personal responsibility’. Plenty of countries with lots of guns and not these problems. Guns are killing machines, not lifestyle statements.

    3. voteforno6

      It seems to be mostly a problem of interpretation. An individual right to own guns was not recognized by the Supreme Court until D.C. v. Heller, which was only decided about ten years ago. Proponents of an individual right to carry guns have not been able to adequately explain the well regulated militia clause of the amendment, which throws that interpretation into doubt. My reading of it is that the intent of the amendment was actually to permit states to form militias. That makes the entire amendment much more logically consistent, and it also is more historically accurate.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        Err….you missed Presser v. Illinois (1886) where the Supreme Court separated the “right to bear arms” from the “Well-regulated Militia” clause….

        1. voteforno6

          I don’t think that Court decision states what you think it states. The crux of Presser, if I read it correctly, is that the plaintiffs wanted to maintain a militia independent of a state or federal charter, and the Court stated that there is no inherent right for citizens to do so.

          1. justanotherprogressive

            Read it again! What Plesser v. Illinois did was to essentially moot the first clause of the Second Amendment. So now a person’s right to bear arms shall not be infringed – period! There is no longer any need to attach that right to the maintenance of a militia…..

    4. a different chris

      >How do you enforce such a ban without gutting what’s left of the 4th amendment?

      In what world do you live in where your popguns keep the SWAT team from entering your house?

        1. Expat

          It’s not about firepower, it’s about the ability to use guns under pressure. Swat teams train non-stop to keep maintain their ability to act and respond. Study after study has shown that people who do not regularly train (I don’t mean going to the range once a month to pop off fifty rounds at paper targets) are incapable of reacting in a threatening situation.

          People will fail to respond to the threat at all (Deer in headlights). Fail to draw their weapon (either to avoid conflict or because their brain and hands won’t work together under stress). Fail to arm or unsafe their weapon. Fire without aiming or at the wrong target. Of course, every gun owner who reads this will say, “Not me! I am tough and trained. I served in the army (as a cook). I can draw and fire in two seconds.” Stop kidding yourself.

          This American myth of the White Male who saves his friends, family, or town because he carries a Glock and spare clip is a lie. It simply doesn’t happen. So, if you had an M-60 in your house, do you really think you could set up a firing position and protect yourself from military-trained SWAT teams? Okay, you get the front door, your wife covers the kitchen door, and your eight year old twins get the upstairs windows and a pair of AR-15’s. Realistic? Only in some twisted NRA fantasy.

      1. Anonymous

        The SWAT guys are private gun owners themselves.

        Who you going to get to take their guns away?

    1. Carla

      Well, quite a number of years ago (perhaps during the ’08 campaign?) Senator John McCain famously could not recall how many homes he had. Surely the Obamas aspire to at least that level of home ownership(s).

      1. petal

        How can you grift if you don’t live amongst the people with the money? Gotta work the different localities so it keeps flowing steadily.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Given the state of Obama’s legacy, why pretend at this point? With a few exceptions, most Obama supporters hide behind Republican obstruction to excuse the sorry state of his Administration.

      1. RUKidding

        Yes. This. That’s what I get 100% of the time if I point out all the crummy stuff Obama did or all the good stuff that Obama assiduously avoided doing at all costs. It’s all and solely the fault of Republicans.

        I get it that some citizens really DO want to believe that there is a political party out there with their interests at heart. I WISH that was the case.

        Sadly it’s not. What have Ds done since Trump won? Bloody Eff All. Same as it ever was including in 2009 when they held the reigns of power.

        End of story.

    3. Left in Wisconsin

      See it’s this kind of attitude that keeps us 99%ers firmly in the camp of “losers.” It’s not about how many houses you need; it’s how many you can afford.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        I believe that, like most members of Congress, the Sanders’s maintain a residence in the DC area, own their home in Vermont, and they recently purchased a house on the beach using Jane’s money to have a place to hang out with the grandkids. The latter cost just shy of $600K, IIRC.

  7. WobblyTelomeres

    Glad to see LIGO receive the Physics Nobel. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking they should have received it last year.

    1. 0_-

      I’m actually completely against the LIGO blackhole theory and anybody receiving a prize for a useless conjecture, that will until humans are dead and gone, remain a conjecture:
      1. As we know, Stephen Hawking had to accept that his seminal work in blackholes was almost entirely BS
      2. Making major assertions about blackholes is akin to making claims on how the human body works from a picture
      3. The “work” really plays literally no role in improving knowledge or the lives of human beings – like Hawkings work (“right” until proven wrong)
      4. No one will ever know what a blackhole really is, or how it really works, because we will never ever be able to perform any sort of real test/experiment/study on one.

      There is a ton of stuff around us that we dont know though – yet somehow we have a subset of people that would like to tell us that THEY know what is in the universe, how much matter is in it, how much black matter is in it, yadda yadda. Trust me when I say it is composed of 90% bs and 10% science. Anyone can make the math work for them if they want to.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        I think LIGO is very much akin to the very first rudimentary photoreceptor cell in a prehistoric sea creature, a single pixel camera. It is historic.

      2. Expat

        If you hate science so much, can I recommend that you stop using any technology that is derived from the “worthless” theoretical studies of relativity and quantum theory. Basically, shut off your computer, your phone, your tv, and anything else electronic you might have, including your car.

        Our of curiosity, what is your area of expertise which allows you to claim that the entirety of theoretical physics is bs?

          1. Expat

            he claims 90% of blackhole and gravitational theory is bullshit. Okay, so I retract the statement that he hates science and replace it with, “He is an uninformed person who denigrates and insults something he does not understand.” He is using the same physics involved in the studies of gravitational waves and the study of black holes to post a comment saying that this physics is bullshit.

            I will finish by saying that 99% of his post was bullshit. Is that okay?

            1. WobblyTelomeres

              Personally, I would enjoy watching him/her live up to this statement:

              Anyone can make the math work for them if they want to.

              Preferably, at the blackboard.

      3. vlade

        Newton’s laws were “right until proven wrong”. In fact, the whole science works on “let’s find an approximation until we can find a better one” – in ideal conditions (the fact that some “scientists” try to sell it as an unadulterated and final truth is a different story).

        Are you proposing dropping all of the science, because there’s no guarantee that we’ll ever get anything “right”?

        If your beef is with blackhole stuff in specific, well, I’m sure a lot of people felt similarly about quantum theory (or others in the past). Even a wrong result is a result, and a good wrong result (which tells us which avenues to avoid) is almost as good as a good result.

        1. Expat

          Good point about Newton’s laws not being “wrong”. They are approximations which apply perfectly well to ordinary human conditions. Science deniers (you know you are) use this notion of Newton and others being wrong to attack the very foundations of science. They claim that teaching science is wrong or that teaching alternative views is acceptable because they believe Newton was wrong as is “proven” by relativity and other new developments.

          Einstein was also “wrong”. And so were most of the giants on whose shoulders he stood. Science deals in approximations. Even quantum chromodynamics, the most accurate theory ever created, has problems. Many, if not most, particle physicists believe it is still only an approximation of underlying reality. But it let me make this post.

          I suspect the person who denigrated black hole science is religious and perhaps frightened by Hawking’s assertion that by understanding science we would “know the mind of God.” Perhaps not, but the attack certainly does not sound like it comes from the mind of an atheist.

    2. Expat

      I read about LIGO years and ago and probably need to find a paper which explains it in more detail. I understand the simplistic theory that says the gravitational wave will expand/contract one arm of the detector lengthwise and the other width-wise as it passes. The laser beam therefore travels a shorter/longer distance in one arm versus the other.

      But, I thought that the gravitational wave would affect the time dimension as well as the spacial dimension. Essentially, time would expand in the same direction; i.e. time would slow in the longer arm . So the distance would be greater but the time would be the same since the “clock” would slow.

      Any physicists here? I need help.

      Relativity is a damned tricky thing.

    1. Expat

      Americans have constructed many myths about their history and behavior and are no more immune to propaganda than anyone else. In fact, it is likely that they are less immune since the operative assumption is that the story of Good America is true.

      The history of America in Korea is appalling. We arbitrarily partitioned the country and installed war criminals and collaborators in the South. We took over the armed forces of South Korea and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of South Korean citizens. We then repeatedly attacked the North in an attempt to provoke a war, which we got. Then we destroyed three-quarters of their infrastructure and millions of their people. It was only thanks to the Chinese that anyone survived at all.

      After the truce, the US kept on torturing and murdering southerners while supporting one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world. We kept provoking and punishing the North, imposing sanctions, making probing attacks along the border, and generally harassing them in any way possible. We lined up the world’s most powerful military force right along their border and constantly threatened them with invasion and destruction.

      And now we are amazed and appalled that North Korea is belligerent. We mock their leaders as mad men. Little Rocket Men who have stood up to the most belligerent and murderous country in history.

      But, why bother to learn all that when you can just pretend “they hate us for our freedoms.”

  8. Jim Haygood

    Yesterday the PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) surged to a 13-year high of 60.8 percent, while its prices paid subcomponent reached a 5-year high of 71.5 percent.

    In the last half of the 20th century, such torrid numbers would have provoked fearful cries of “overheating,” followed by stern jawboning from Fed officials or even a between-meeting emergency rate hike.

    Not now, though: since the 2008 collapse, the wall of worry has been built on deflation dread. Remarkably, the Fed even adopted a 2 percent inflation target to keep safely away from the deadly “zero bound” third rail. But its preferred core PCE inflation measure remains quiescent at 1.3 percent.

    Thus white-hot economic numbers from the purchasing managers survey sparked another trifecta of records in the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq. The small-cap Russell 2000 index screamed 1.25% higher, having gained 7.8% in the past 30 days, and suggesting that smaller companies are picking up momentum even as the tech giants level off.

    What’s it all mean? Apparently our beloved, life-sustaining Bubble III, which became 8-1/2 years old on Sep 9th, has a decent shot at becoming a nine-year-old by next March, in what the good Dr Hussman calls “blissful delusion” and “stark raving madness.”

    *tokes another leisurely hit of nitrous oxide*

    1. Jim Haygood

      Dr H on the coming pension wars of the 2020s:

      Our best estimate of the likely 12-year prospective total return on a conventional portfolio mix invested 60% in the S&P 500 Index, 30% in Treasury bonds, and 10% in Treasury bills [is about 1 percent annually].

      The current projection is the lowest in history, and I expect these weak passive investment returns, as they unfold, to trigger a rather broad crisis of pension underfunding in the years ahead.

      One percent is a far, far cry from the 7.0 to 7.5 percent returns that Calpers and its peers are using for accounting purposes. They know full well it’s a preposterous fiction, because the troof is just too awful to contemplate.

      Pensions are going to be such a huge subject in the 2020s that I need to start researching my blockbuster book now. Working title: Can’t Pay, Wont Pay: Twilight of Defined Benefit Ponzi Promises. One appendix is going to be model federal legislation to enable state bankruptcy, a la Promesa.

      See y’all on the book tour. :-)

      1. Wukchumni

        In some ways, we might parallel post WW1 Germany, defeated in war by not being able to afford it anymore, but the homeland came out largely unscathed, as the trenches were far away, as our tranches are in a fashion.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Again, secession is one possible, if not always sound economically (will the new currency worth anything) or politically (how to negotiate an exit with Uncle and his forts), option for bankrupt states, as well as gun-control leaning states.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Secession may become a front-burner issue in the 2020s as it becomes clear to everyone that the nation-state and its shaky little subsidiaries can’t meet their promises. So why not exit with a self-administered jubilee?

          Meanwhile ol’ Uncle Warren, who deals the poker game with the boys in the barn, is advising us all to double down on our weak hands:

          Billionaire investor Warren Buffett on Tuesday said Berkshire Hathaway is holding off on selling any holdings until it sees whether a Republican push to cut corporate taxes is successful by the end of the year.

          Buffett said he would “feel kind of silly” if Berkshire realized $1 billion in gains and paid $350 million in tax when “if I just waited a few months I would have paid $250 million.”

          Buffett said such considerations might be having an effect on the market, perhaps delaying “hundreds of billions” of dollars in profit-taking. It is an “actual factor” at Berkshire, Buffett said, adding that it has “very seldom” been a consideration over the course of his investing career.

          Green grass and high tides forever
          Castles of stone, souls and glory
          Lost faces say we adore you
          As kings and queens bow and play for you

            1. marku52

              Oh God yes.

              Cascadia, after the Pubs pass their 2019 balanced budget amendment (because the Dems are too incompetent and corrupt to contest state houses) and the Cascadians realize that their income tax money is all flowing out to Red states.

              Leaving them with nothing except more austerity.

        2. Basil Pesto

          interesting read on the question of secession in the US:

          ‘The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States.’

          Something to look forward to! Never say never I guess

      3. Vatch

        You could make your novel an urban fantasy. What are we going to do about undead vampires who “live” for hundreds of years? Imagine how much money they’ll draw from their pensions over the centuries! Pension funds will have to hire Buffy Summers to stay solvent!

  9. Livius Drusus

    Re: Unhealthiest US counties made ‘dramatic’ switch from Obama to Trump in 2016, the article mentions the possibility of unhealthy people voting against their own self-interest but I don’t think that is true here. There was a feeling among many working-class whites that Obama didn’t really do much to fix the biggest problem in their communities which is the lack of decent jobs. Jobs are a bigger issue than health care for many people not just because of money but also because of the dignity and self-worth aspects of employment. That is why many working-class people don’t like means-tested programs even if they or people they know sometimes use them. The American working class has always supported New Deal-style social insurance programs rather than means-tested programs that have the stigma of welfare.

    Trump might be a clown and a blowhard but he said what many people have been thinking for decades regarding outsourcing and trade agreements. After voting for Obama and feeling that they got burned many of these people weren’t going to vote for Clinton who promised a continuation of Obama-era policies. They took a shot voting for Trump thinking that he was different from more mainstream Republicans. You can argue that working-class whites were wrong to risk betting on Trump but to say that they don’t understand their own interests is not accurate.

    1. Expat

      I would disagree. Trump parroted the lines the working class whites wanted to hear. They ignored everything else about him including previous statements over the years and his own history. I suppose it was the incredible hatred of Hillary Clinton that let them convince themselves that Trump was one of them and either cared about them or even registered their existence beyond their applause. Trump told them he would get rid of minorities, bring back jobs, and make America great. He ever explained how and no one asked.

      Jobs, you say? With or without a job the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in the US remains medical costs. Americans are told that having universal healthcare is communism. Having good roads and education is communism. I don’t understand why they believe this. But American voters have consistently supported right wing politicians who are rich and get richer while lining the pockets of Wall Street and the arms industry. The US military budget is probably somewhere around $850-900 billion if not more. And working class Americans vote for that instead of education, healthcare and infrastructure.

      I won’t defend Obama or Clinton. Both are indefensible, but I simply because people are stupid and ignorant and believe the lies doesn’t mean they are not acting against their self-interest.

  10. Meher Baba

    Yves : a couple of days ago I requested folks watch ‘ Jim Jeffries on gun control ‘ on the youtubes. He’s a stand up.comic and its a famous, outrageous, extremely arti culate and erudite, well informed and extremely funny piece addressing all the problems with the gun debate. Timely in light of the apparent incident that apparently happened recently. I was hoping people would acknowledge they have watched it. Can you view it please! Just search literally ‘Jim Jeffries on gun control’

  11. Wukchumni

    In terms of gun control, why not take a page from the Scalia/Goresuch originalism playbook, and only allow guns of now to be akin to the guns of when the 2nd amendment was written, in terms of what was used then & firepower?

    A fast shooter could get off a couple rounds a minute, maybe three if he was especially well trained in the art of shooting & reloading a flintlock rifle. So a rifle or shotgun would be able to hold a maximum of 3 rounds.

    There were precious few handguns around in the era, compared to rifles, so lets get rid of those too.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The messy part is if guns are to be guns of that era, then, freedom of the press applies only to the newspaper printing presses of the era, and not, say, to TV.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

      If I was going the route you suggest, I would aim to limit firearm ownership to people in a “well regulated militia,” different from a regular army. There would be expectations beyond “joining.”

    3. John k

      Waste of time to talk about gun control. Pols take money from mfrs and NRA, they’re not going to change, that’s that.
      Rest of us pay with 30k/yr lives and climbing… so What? Think of it as a combination of Darwin and birth control, max your chances by making sure no guns in your house.
      There you have it. Back to important stuff like trump and Russia.

      1. Expat

        “Freedom is messy.” “It’s the price of freedom.” “We need our guns to keep the government from taking away our guns.”
        All quotes from ZeroHedge.
        I like Charlton Heston’s quote: “You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”
        I agree with that one entirely and believe we should start collecting all the guns immediately using that model.

  12. Synoia

    A paper from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, published in mid-September, warned of a small but distinct possibility that abrupt ACD could pose an “existential threat” to the survival of humans by 2050.

    We are traveling up a S curve of growth, with climate change. We are now starting on the exponential growth portion of the curve, and all the linear estimates made on the curve in the past previously will become obviously unrealistic.

    There is little or no discussion in public about “critical infrastructure” necessary for a city to be habitable, and no planning whatsoever.

    A clear example of the inability to plan was the Hurricane which devastated Puerto Rico. The planning should have been made at least one week in advance, at Cabinet level in the US Government. within a structure of a general plan for Hurricane relief driven by the Katrina fiasco.

    Apparently the biggest issue in Puerto Rico’s rescue is the insane notion and “debts must be settled first,” and the complete lack of a “Bankruptcy mechanism.”

    We are poorly led, and poorly governed world wide, which is becoming glaringly obvious for all to see.

    1. Kevin

      Good Points.

      Magnets cause compasses to go haywire…greed causes empathy to take a hike.
      Like the news – we are all about this very minute – screw tomorrow, screw next week, screw next year…planning is for the poor.

      Again, as far as hurricane planning – checkout HEB stores in Dallas – they should give countries lessons!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When there is not one single taxpayer left in Puerto Rico, after everyone there had left for Florida, New York, and elsewhere, what happens to those debts?

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        They’re gonna have to move the Bellagio somewhere….

        (terribly poor taste. sorry.)

    3. Chris

      Thank you Synoia, good point about the S curve.

      If you are right, and I think you are, then things are only going to be more disruptive, as the extreme versions of climate disruption have been seen as low probability. Not so much now, I suspect.

      Yet, and as you allude to us being poorly led, there is a mindset that things really can’t get that bad (even if they know that 10 feet of extra sea level will make life wet for around 2bn).

      I see folks that feel that 2030 will be the same as now, more or less, and hopefully better.

      2050? – my friends and I think we don’t actually have 10 years

  13. aletheia33

    from “puerto rico mayor” (independent):

    >Not meeting Mr Trump might not disappoint the mayor. “I have mouths to feed and frankly, sir.. You can insult me all you want. I can take it. But when you call my people ingrates – it’s more than an utter insult, it is a sublime acknowledgement that you don’t know our hearts. I respect the office of the presidency of the United States, but I expect whoever holds it to respect the people I represent…Talking about ingrates, to me that is an insult, it is indignity and perhaps I will accomplish more out on the streets saving lives.”<

    "sublime acknowledgment" — wow.

    …when you have nothing left to lose, is this how you talk?…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think you also talk about colonialism (like the article in Counterpunch), and also about Catalonia.

      When an empire is in decline, one sign is parts seceding.

  14. Terry Flynn

    Excellent piece in Asia Times on Catalunya.

    Thank you for the heads up! Summarises very succinctly a lot of the ‘leave’ arguments that went through my head in last year”s referendum. Now (just to re-iterate a point I made on another thread recently) I have taken on board NC’s excellent demolition of the BREXIT case in terms of practicalities. (Great job NC in exposing the problems.)

    But sometimes you have to wonder if a short – term dislocation (even a large one) might be the best way to make the system work more for the people…. or at least make more transparent the agendas at work at the EU level.

    As Col Smith said “Italy is probably the linchpin not Spain” but I sense Spain might light the touchpaper.

  15. neighbor7

    Dan Lyons: “And even where I was working, we made a real product. It’s just kind of a thing that sends out email spam. I’m not sure it makes the world a better place. But it did automate some of the work people in the marketing departments do. There’s some value there.”

    Yeah, man! Automating spam production prevents a host of people from having soul-destroying jobs.

    I guess that’s some sort of “value”…

  16. Wukchumni

    I was on a red-eye from LA to JFK the night the music died, and arrived in the wee hours to a stricken city that must’ve felt like Dallas did 17 years prior.

    I walked to the Dakota and all over the street spilled out in an array of sorrow, were hundreds singing Beatles songs whilst crying, a cacophony of grieving off tune, a discordant melody of memories.

    1. HotFlash

      Can you please give a clue to me (perhaps others?), who does not understand what you are talking about?

      1. jrs

        can’t figure it out either, or what link it even relates to, but the music did die last night in Los Angeles. RIP Tom Petty. We mourn the man who may as well be our native son, and much loved around the world.

      2. aletheia33

        i think she may be referring to the shooting of john lennon, who lived at the dakota hotel.

        1. Wukchumni

          John Lennon was the first person I ever cherished that was a victim of senseless gun violence. It was gut wrenching being @ the Dakota a day after the deed, a sadness like you wouldn’t believe.

  17. a different chris

    >Although megafauna are very large, predators can have significant influence on them. In Australia, dingo packs act cooperatively to hunt wild donkeys, wild horses, wild water buffalo and wild boar. In North America, mountain lions have been shown to limit populations of wild horses in some areas of Nevada.

    Haha they didn’t mention what exactly was going to predate on Escobar’s hippos.

    There’s a funny, it wasn’t presented as funny and it wasn’t really funny for the cats involved, but still highly amusing video of a pack of lions that accidentally managed to surround a just-entered-his-prime water buffalo. He reared, snorted, totally destroyed a small tree, and they all sat there and looked sideways at each other with what was clearly a “hey you go first” altitude. Finally *he* charged *them* and there was much scrambling — one made a half-hearted attempt to jump on his back as he went by, but “fell off”. And the pack actually looked a bit relieved as he left.

    And that’s an African lion pack against a single water buffalo. There is no predator as big as them in South America, and the Rino is an F250 compared to the water buffalo minivan.

    So gotta wonder how this is going to work out.

  18. JohnnyGL

    This is an interesting effort to force a vote on support for the Yemen war. It’d be nice to get Congress on record. Also ties in the use of the War Powers Act as cover for Congressional cowardice. Checks and balances can’t work if Congress won’t do its part. – Here’s the Real News clip with Larry Wilkerson on this topic, too.

  19. Biologist

    Thank you Yves et al, including the informed commenters, for the excellent Brexit analyses here.

    These two blogs on Brexit bring useful insights:

    I believe the authors come from a pro-Brexit Tory perspective, neither of which I personally share but I find their analyses refreshingly upfront and realistic about the giant cluster[$$$$] that Brexit has become (and more to the point, the catastrophe it will likely end up being, at least in the short and medium term).

    As I usually discuss politics with fellow left-wing pro-Remain Londoners (often EU expats like myself), I find it refreshing to read critical analyses of Brexit from outside that bubble, especially coming from a Tory sympathetic corner.

    Two examples from the last few days:

    Why the Conservative Party deserves to die

    Since Thatcher we have seen the commodification of labour, failing to understand that humans do have hopes and aspirations and need certain guarantees to progress. Now everything is geared for business to be able to account for every last cent and whittle down rights for the worker. It adds to the stress of life working from week to week knowing you can be terminated without warning or redundancy pay.


    (…) we cannot then be surprised if the next election puts Mr Corbyn in Number Ten.
    At one time not so long ago I would have bee repulsed by the very idea. But then I imagine a Britain, led by Boris Johnson, where free market zealots are busy dismantling everything of value – destroying what is left of the British social fabric. Could Corbyn be any worse? I don’t know.

    Mind you, this is from a Tory who is (still?) afraid of a Corbyn government.

    The other site is this one:
    Brexit: the iron lady of conference?
    After discussing how, in the unrealistic scenario the EU decides in October that Britain has made sufficient progress to unlock phase 2 talks, those talks will not actually start until January at the very earliest, he moves on to discuss the increasingly likely scenario of a “no deal” Brexit:

    In a bid to come over at the “iron lady” of conference, it appears that Mrs May could be going much further than the Mail story indicates. She may be looking to make the payment of EU contributions during her two-year so-called “implementation period” conditional on the conclusion of a trade deal. This impossible demand – on top of a refusal to look at other liabilities – would effectively torpedo any chance of reaching a Phase One agreement.
    Should this be the May strategy to pull the conference behind her, then we are almost certainly looking at a “no deal” Brexit.

    Anyway, good stuff.

    1. Anonymous2

      I like reading the Norths as well. Interesting stuff. I was speaking the other day to a former front bench Tory spokesman (shadow minister rather than the full article) back from the days before the Tory party went insane. He had talked to some current senior Tories, understood the plan was to go for a ‘soft Brexit’. There probably has to be a good deal of ‘smoke’ produced to cover their route if this is the goal, because of course a ‘soft Brexit’ in the eyes of the ‘ultras’ is pretty well tantamount to no Brexit at all, as it will probably mean breaching many of Mrs May’s ‘red lines’ e.g. no role for the ECJ, ability to diverge from EU law, ability to negotiate trade deals independent of the EU etc.?

      And of course the ultras will try to cut them off at the pass.

      We shall see if he is proved right, if we live long enough.

  20. Wukchumni

    I heard many gun enthusiasts in the USA are considering getting surgery to emulate Parvati, so as to not be limited to just a couple of appendages when firing.

  21. John Beech

    The New Yorker article regarding no truce with the second amendment has a simple resolution. There’s talk of a constitutional convention – perhaps as soon as 2019 – right? So just add this the the agenda because who can possibly object to discussing it and putting it to the vote?

    Constitutional convention? Where’s the popcorn?

    1. jrs

      A vote of whom, a mass referendum you mean? Bring it on. Oh a vote of the Republican plutocrats who steal and jerrymander there way into power. Then never mind.

    2. HotFlash

      Constitutional convention? Where’s the popcorn?

      From what I have been seeing, the ‘right’, that is Koch Bros, ALEX, and all that stuff, have been organizing for this about forever. For instance, see the turning of states leg’s and govs to Republican. Any “constitutional convention” that might occur in the foreseeable will be organized by that crew — forget bringing any of *your* issues to the table.

      Hope you like the popcorn, it may be your last meal.

      1. JBird4049

        It’s been a long range goal. The problem with the stealthiness is that all previous changes to the Constitution have been individual Amendments and always after very vigorous and open debate; the process ensured the legitimacy of an Amendment even to those who hated it, and that most Americans wanted it.

        Springing on a constitutional convention without out national broad base input and with a pre arranged series of multiple amendments almost ensures it’s delegetimancy. They might become the law but many if not most, including I think supporters of such changes, will not accept, or treat them, as the law. Or the Constitution as the law.

        Good times.

  22. Basil Pesto

    I spent a lot of last week thinking about anti-semitism. Generally it hasn’t bothered me in the past but it’s been making me uneasy lately as, in my view, more insidious anti-semitic attitudes seem to be taking root. Nothing could be easier than criticising the neo-nazis of Charlottesville, but real vigilance is required.

    The first was the reported example from the Labour conference last week of an Israeli-American man on the fringes of the conference equivocating on the historicity of the holocaust. This is anti-semitic. Ken Loach then said later on in a (I think) BBC interview from the conference:

    COBURN: There was a fringe meeting yesterday that we talked about at the beginning of the show where there was a discussion about the Holocaust, did it happen or didn’t it… would you say that was unacceptable?
    LOACH: I think history is for us all to discuss, wouldn’t you?
    COBURN: Say that again, sorry, I missed that.
    LOACH: History is for all of us to discuss. All history is our common heritage to discuss and analyze. The founding of the state of Israel, for example, based on ethnic cleansing is there for us all to discuss. The role of Israel now is there for us to discuss. So don’t try to subvert that by false stories of anti-Semitism.

    What does that even mean? If basic, comprehensively supported facts of history are ‘there for us all to discuss’ then we as a civilisation are in the throes of a severe epistemic crisis! It is not for us to discuss whether the second World War started in 1939 or whether the slave trade was a thing. Nor is it kosher to suggest that it’s okay to question whether apartheid happened because ‘history is there for us to discuss’. This is really bad! To float the idea that questioning the facticity of the holocaust is intellectually good and fine because of some dishonest bromide about ‘history being there for us to discuss’ is straightforwardly anti-semitic.

    The other instance was a tweet by Valerie Plame, which linked to some vile, racist website (to give you an idea: a commenter freely referring to Obama’s children as ‘little niglets’) and an article on it that basically rehashed the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis, but gave up all pretense and basically just replaced ‘Israel Lobby’ with ‘The Jews’. Fairly unsurprisingly, the WBEZ interview discussed above with Walt and Mearsheimer was linked to in the comments, surrounded by all the usual anti-semitic canards.

    I was also disconcerted earlier this year at the story of a gay Jewish woman who was excluded from a pride parade because she was carrying a stylised flag that had a rainbow-coloured Star of David on it. Someone complained that it made them feel, I think, ‘unsafe’ was the word used, and the parade organisers excluded her on that basis. A case study that to me perfectly illustrated the intellectual and moral limits of ‘identitarianism’/’identity politics’/whatever

    While I was reading and thinking about these issues last week, I came across this (contemporary) criticism of the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis. In fact I think I coincidentally came across it before I saw the article tweeted by Plame, though I can’t remember how:

    Of course, the author has views of Israel that I understand not everyone here will agree with, and that’s fine, but the criticism of the work strikes me as honest.

    I am critical of Israel’s behaviour*, but I’m starting to get a bit worried.

    * Having said that, I do not support what might be called the Final Solution to the Israel Question. I’m new around these parts but I truly hope that stance is uncontroversial here. It wasn’t in the comments section of a Moon of Alabama piece I saw linked to here last week.

    1. Carolinian

      Here’s Phil Giraldi who is a former CIA agent (just like Valerie Plame)–the fellow you so casually diss–explaining how he got fired for his entirely defensible thesis.

      If you think the thesis is not defensible perhaps you should make your case rather than calling the hosting website (a broad forum that also includes people like Patrick Cockburn) vile and racist on the basis of some comments.

      1. Basil Pesto

        I do not feel well-informed enough to attack his thesis. His thesis is broadly similar to Walt and Mearsheimer, and I did link to an article by somebody who is better informed than I am on the matter who criticises it on both rhetorical/academic grounds (is it not possible that Walt and Mearsheimer struggled with subsequent university work on this basis?), but also, convincingly in my opinion, on the grounds of latent anti-semitism (I should state at this point that I do not think that everyone who says or propagates an anti-semitic idea is an anti-semite per se, and likewise for non anti-semitic racism). I am of the opinion that lobbying in general, including from the Israel lobby, is a malign force on the American and other polities.

        However, I hope you can understand that the point of my post was not start a debate about that issue – I understand that opinions here and elsewhere will diverge wildly and I don’t think I have the slightest chance of changing them. My point was to express my concern, as a Jew, about anti-semitic attitudes that seem to be proliferating – something that hasn’t really concerned me in the past. Of course, it is true to say that ‘not all criticism of Israel is anti-semitic’, but it is also obvious. It is equally true to say that ‘criticism of Israel can be anti-semitic’, it would be blithe to assume there is no relation between these two belief systems, that is, anti-semitism and anti-zionism. It is also pernicious, when someone says ‘that is/I think that is anti-semitic” to assume bad faith when they say it (I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing here, but I see it often).

        Girardi’s use of “American Jews” is unfair, irresponsible and dangerous. To conflate a minority population of 4-6 million people with the behaviour of a few ‘elites’/lobbyists/whatever you want to call them who are acting in the interests of Israel, and pinning responsibility for America’s terrible and costly foreign policy decisions on them (I am in the first place inherently sceptical of historiography that is predominantly monocausal) well, I don’t think it’s uncharitable of me to point out that that is unfair, irresponsible and dangerous. Especially when the argument coincides so neatly with some of the canards maliciously propagated in a notorious and harmful 100 year old anti-semitic tract (“but this time it’s true!” doesn’t cut it as a defence). That he makes this concession in a subsequent article (which I doubt will be as widely read): “Would I do something different if I were to write my article again today? Yes. I would have made clearer that I was not writing about all or most American Jews” I mean, that’s all well and good (although, in my opinion, glib, mealy-mouthed, and altogether pretty pissweak), but the harm has already been done. His solution is inadequate too. The correct solution is to dismantle the mechanisms that allow lobbying to have such a pervasive and undue influence in US politics. The idea of declaring conflict of interest on ethnic grounds seems shaky to me (rebuttal in the form of a 200 year old speech from one man notwithstanding) but I need to think about this more. That he then himself plays the victim card saying “I should have known this would lead to people trying to ‘silence’ me” is just risible garbage. He must have known, because he made it incredibly easy to infer anti-semitism from what he was writing. It’s so disingenuously cynical and laughable to suggest otherwise, and play the naive ingenue. To then use this inevitable response to say “see? I told you so” to rationalise his original thesis is childish skulduggery.

        I will say that I find the type of philo-semitism that he does describe coming from Dershowitz to be harmful. It’s something I have come across now and then and this kind of Jewish exceptionalism belongs to the same category as Aryanism. Pride is one thing (and, of course, there is nothing to be ashamed of in jewish achievement – as an aside, Veblen has an interesting theory about this, relayed in an essay by Borges but I don’t want to get off track) undue exceptionalism is another and can have bad consequences. But it does not follow that this strain of harmful philo-semitism is universal in American or world Jewry, that’s a worthless generality. The whole thing just stinks to me.

        (I’m not sure, by the way, why you mentioned his and Plame’s CIA credentials – thanks if it was just by way of informing me, but otherwise I tend to hold the CIA and its agents in pretty low regard. Almost as little regard as Girardi seem to hold American Jews in!)

        I acknowledge that I didn’t give the website the piece appeared on full scrutiny. In my defence, after reading with grim fascination the comments that I mentioned (it was not a small number – and it was really quite an eye-bulging experience), you’ll forgive me if I then closed the tab and splashed my face with water. Perhaps saying that the platform is vile and racist was a hasty conclusion. On the other hand, a platform that seems to have no problem giving voice to such opinions (cf. here, where comments are assiduously moderated and even shut down if people aren’t playing nice) is one that I will be avoiding in the future.

        Thanks for your time and I hope you understand my concerns and won’t dismiss them out of hand.

    2. HotFlash

      The other instance was a tweet by Valerie Plame, which linked to some vile, racist website (to give you an idea: a commenter freely referring to Obama’s children as ‘little niglets’) and an article on it that basically rehashed the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis, but gave up all pretense and basically just replaced ‘Israel Lobby’ with ‘The Jews’.

      Ms Plame? OK, this is totally not good. In fact, I am having trouble breathing at the moment. I do not tweet, so can you give me a link? I will really need to see this for myself.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        UNZ I think. It’s the very definition of mixed bag. E.g. Chomsky, Sailer, Hudson, Derbyshire–look around, somebody will get your goat one way or the other. A refuge for the memory-holed is my assessment.

  23. JBird4049

    Let me jump in here please. I’ve had real friends and roommates in the Real World and have found rational sane people sometimes have those mental land mines waiting as nicely hidden. For one person it was all about the Jews and how they ran the world and other, and his family, was all about the Blacks. We’re having a normal conversation and it’s like wtf? Fine people until then though.

    I have noticed the same on the internet especially in the past year. People I talk with online getting unhinged about certain subjects.

    If it was me, I would always check if it’s just an unfortunate link, or a really really bad day of their.

    1. Basil Pesto

      Thanks for sharing. My mother is the same. Outwardly perfectly nice but will reveal herself as an irremediable bigot if you know which buttons to push (“I hate [all] Muslims” – a thing she actually said once. She reads Breitbart unironically.)

      I can compartmentalise it coming from my own mother though. It’s so dispiriting to come across it in other people.

  24. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: ‘brutally honest’ environmental news —
    I don’t know about “Earther” — I clipped three gushes from the editor — Maddie Stone — that suggest reason for alarm.

    “The balance between writing about environmental challenges and optimism is how we differ. We are going focus on environmental solutions, things that are working, and how we can use examples of what’s working to build a better future for life on Earth.”

    “I think having this somewhat optimistic tone and this focus on how we can learn from some of the really scary terrifying things that are happening on our planet right now is going to set us apart.”

    “We want to bring news about the changing environment from a place of excitement and wonder. Not that I’m saying it is great that climate change is happening, but there is a lot of groundbreaking science coming from the changes happening, and that is inherently interesting.”

    Phillip Mirowski warned of three stages of Neoliberalism’s approach to Global Warming. This “Earther” website smacks of an early entrant into the stage three prepping for GeoEngineering “solutions” for the problem. Little phrases like “examples of what’s working to build a better future for life on Earth” have an eiry ring.

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