Links 10/8/17

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The Triumphant Return of the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect WIRED

Beneficial soil bacteria face a weed-killing threat from above Cornell Chronicle (original).

Packs of radioactive wild boar are making farmers in Sweden nervous National Post

Nate Sweeps Across U.S. Gulf Coast Weather Underground

Google accused of racketeering in lawsuit claiming pattern of trade secrets theft San Jose Mercury News (Re Silc).

After a bite of Apple, Margrethe Vestager targets another tech giant The Economist

Behind Tesla’s Production Delays: Parts of Model 3 Were Being Made by Hand WSJ. Looks like my snark comparing Tesla’s difficulties producing Model 3s — 260! In a whole month! — to Patek Philippe fabricating mechanical watches wasn’t that far off the mark.

Facebook’s Promise of Community Is a Lie The New Republic

The Last Invention of Man Nautil.us. A Silicon Valley fantasy of AI triumphalism, greatly in contrast to articles like Silicon Valley’s Next Target for Disruption Is Socks Bloomberg

Is Trend Forecasting Doing More Harm to Fashion Than Good? The Fashion Law. Trend forecasting? Or dictating?

California Treasurer Urges State Pension Funds to Drop Gun Sellers NYT. Surely there are other, more institutionally focused things the California Treasurer could be asking State Pension Funds to do?

How Is Online Shopping Affecting Retail Employment? Liberty Street Economics

The Global Competitiveness Report 2017–2018 (PDF) World Economic Forum

Puerto Rico

A match made by Maria? Puerto Rico needs power. Tesla founder has solar energy system McClatchy. Never let a crisis go to waste.

Trump: less tweets, more help Bernie Sanders, Tribuna Invitada. Fewer. Nevertheless.

After 78 Killings, a Honduran Drug Lord Partners With the U.S. NYT

Catalonia

The Catalan crisis poses a threat to the European order FT

Crackdown on the Catalonia Referendum is Difficult to Digest in Barcelona Culinary Backstreets (DJG).

Pro-unity Catalans take to the streets to condemn ‘selfish revolution’ Guardian

Why Should Catalonia Not be Free? The American Conservative

By What Measure? n+1

Catalonia and the Spanish banking system Breugel. Some statistics, but shockingly devoid of power dynamics (see NC here).

Brexit

Germany rejects May’s Brexit transition hopes FT. “Berlin-led countries insist divorce bill from EU will be resolved first.”

May Plans Cabinet Shake-Up With Boris Johnson in the Firing Line Bloomberg

Trident at Risk? UMV Technology vs Submarine Stealth Cable

Virgin Care asks Bath staff not to report safety concerns to health watchdog Bath Chronicle. Neoliberal sabotage of the NHS continues apace.

North Korea

Trump: “Only one thing will work” against North Korea Axios

Exhausted by the herd, single South Koreans are gingerly embracing the “YOLO” lifestyle Quartz

New Cold War

Hillary Clinton calls for ‘new doctrine’: Cyberattacks should be an act of war Washington Examiner (the Stanford Press release). “… [I]ntelligence agencies have concluded…”. So, since attribution is hard, liberal Democrats would prefer, in effect, to hand war powers over to the intelligence community, exactly as they would prefer that the intelligence community exercise veto power over the selection of Presidents.

Russiagate Is More Fiction Than Fact The Nation

Hoping to Have Trump Cleared, Legal Team Eases Resistance to Inquiry NYT

* * *

In Ukraine, the US Trains an Army in the West to Fight in the East Defense One

Niger Ambush Highlights Growing U.S. Military Involvement in Africa Foreign Policy

Anti-Putin protests mark Russian president’s birthday FT

The FBI’s New U.S. Terrorist Threat: ‘Black Identity Extremists’ Foreign Policy. “New”? I’m sure Fred Hampton would have something to say about that.

Trump Transition

Americans’ Trust in Generals Problematic: Former Joint Chiefs Chairman military.com (Re Silc).

Trump the seducer and menacer Sic Semper Tyrannis (Re Silc).

Democrats in Disarray

If the Democrats Don’t Learn This Lesson, They Deserve to Lose Forever Charles Pierce, New York Magazine. When you’ve lost Charlie Pierce…

The ‘Resistance,’ Raising Big Money, Upends Liberal Politics NYT. “[T]he so-called resistance is attracting six- and seven-figure checks from major liberal donors.” Clue stick: Any organization that’s doing that is not going to “upend liberal politics.” In fact, it’s going to continue business as usual.

Dear Democrats: It’s time to stop dwelling on the popular vote WaPo

The Democrats’ Gerrymandering Obsession Politico

House candidates back single-payer healthcare plan in Virginia Inside NOVA

Health Care

Trump reaches out to Democrats in bid for ‘great’ health law AP

After Missing Deadline For Children’s Insurance, Congress Now Mired In Funding Disputes KHN

It’s time to ban productivity from medicine KevinMD

Most hospitals tie doctor pay to productivity; new research examines how that impacts academic medicine Post and Courier

“Evidence-Based Medicine”: Corporate Medicine’s Corrupted Instrument. Medium (Furzy Mouse).

Down With the Copay Jacobin

Mass Shooters Aren’t Disproportionately White Slate

Imperial Collapse Watch

War in Afghanistan turns 16, earns driver’s license Duffel Blog

Behind the Matador’s Cape Paul Street, Counterpunch

Class Warfare

Hurricanes Cause Job Loss, But Household Survey Points to New Low in Unemployment Rate CEPR

Where Did All the Restaurant Workers Go? Bloomberg

As Goes the Middle Class, So Goes TGI Fridays Eater

Global Economy’s Stubborn Reality: Plenty of Work, Not Enough Pay NYT

A closer look at who does (and doesn’t) pay U.S. income tax Pew Research

This public policy idea can bring America to full employment, and it’s gathering momentum Think Progress. William Darity on the Jobs Guarantee.

Today’s historians have a higher opinion of Ulysses S. Grant The Economist. “‘To Grant more than any other man the Negro owes his enfranchisement,’ wrote Frederick Douglass, a black leader and a frequent White House guest.”

The Benefits of Twitter for Scientists American Scientist

Actually, Do Read the Comments—They Can Be the Best Part WIRED. So many interesting problems are not primarily technical.

It’s Been 10 Years Since Michael Clayton Held Up His Tiny Phone New York Magazine. Giving me the opportunity to present this classic, and pertinent clip:

“Not through the doors of Kenner, Bach & Ledeen…”

Antidote du jour (via):

Good kitty!

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.

205 comments

  1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

    In regards to the Pro-Unity demos in Catalonia – I wonder if there is a split between the factions similar to that in the UK. As in a certain proportion of Little Catalonians, then those who are basically just fed up of being screwed & the remainder who are largely as yet untouched by the current market forces who fear losing what they have or are hanging onto.

    I also wonder if there is similar vitriol being directed by the Remainers over the internet & otherwise towards those who want to leave. I hope not as it did not help things with Brexit & as far as I can tell just resulted in further division, obstinacy & a marked lack of any real interest in examining the why of it.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      If you look at the comments section under any Guardian article remotely related to Brexit you will see the vitriol. It actually surprises me a little to see just how angry a major chunk of the Guardian commentariat (not exactly a random selection of course) are at Brexit. There is a lot of vitriol aimed at the Brexiteers, but since most of them are trolls (there are surprisingly few willing to defend Corbynist euroscepticism), so I can’t exactly have a lot of sympathy for them.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Life tends to be messy.

      How did people react, in different regions or economic sectors, to news coming out of Boston before 1776? Did colonial remainders fear losing whatever they had then?

      Or did abstract concepts like justice, self-determination matter more than (the seemingly more modern) practical considerations (that we analyze over for Grexit, Brexit, and now Catalonia)?

      l think it was the same many score and change years ago, when people worried over money matters (a tavern owner might be looking at losing his British customers, bankrupting himself and his ale suppliers), and many remainders ended not remaining south of Canada, but moving north.

      Their stories became history, but students in history classes don’t seem to study much about whether preferring not losing what one has over independence is more, just as or less noble.

      Those who moved to Canada, were they traitors? What say you, the victor of that struggle multi-centuries ago, and author of a less messy historical narrative?

      “If we fight the King tomorrow, we might risk a recession, tea trade with China, not to mention loans we owe to him and other European powers?”

      1. ambrit

        Not to mention the Bahamas.
        From the Wiki: “After the American War of Independence, the Crown resettled thousands of American Loyalists in the Bahamas; they brought their slaves with them and established plantations on land grants.”
        So, one of the aftereffects of the American War of Independence was two slave holding regions.
        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bahamas

        1. Anon

          Ummm… did you read the full Wiki entry?

          Although Loyalists were allowed to take their slaves to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas during/after the War of Independence, slavery was banned in the Bahamas in 1807 (and throughout the British Empire in 1833). The Bahamas became a refuge for freed US slaves.

          So, initially, two slave holding regions were created. But give the British some credit; they ended slavery earlier and easier than the United States (former colonies). And this doesn’t begin to mention the European controlled South America which was the predominant destination for the African slave trade.

          1. JBird

            That is still 20 years of being treated like animals, or things, and at the time of the resettlement the issue of slavery was still in flux, so as everyone knew nothing was going to change.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            With Bahamas as a refuge, did Grant have to flirt with the idea of annexing some Caribbean island to find a place for African Americans?

            He could have offered some place nice out West for them as well, after Sherman’s ethnic cleansing.

            1. Wukchumni

              War was hell and enthusiasm was waning in the north, but Sherman was the right man in the right place to help bring things to an end before apathy set in amongst the hades and hades not.

              And i’ve never thought of Atlantans as being ethnic, what’s that all about?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I think Sherman did a lot to open up the west, so settling African Americans (Grant’s flirted thought of moving people around) there was another possibility, instead of cleansing,or rather, annexing a Caribbean island.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    Sorry, I got distracted when I wrote about Sherman west, but that got morphed into something people in Atlanta. So, I mistakenly thought I should re-emphasis that it was the West I was referring to, not Atlantans who were not ethnic (though this was a different query).

                    I got this from Wikipedia’s Sherman entry:

                    Much of Sherman’s time as Commanding General was devoted to making the Western and Plains states safe for settlement through the continuation of the Indian Wars, which included three significant campaigns: the Modoc War, the Great Sioux War of 1876, and the Nez Perce War. The displacement of Indians was facilitated by the growth of the railroad and the eradication of the buffalo. Sherman believed that the intentional eradication of the buffalo should be encouraged as a means of weakening Indian resistance to assimilation. He voiced this view in remarks to a joint session of the Texas legislature in 1875. However he never engaged in any program to actually eradicate the buffalo.[117][118] During this time, Sherman reorganized frontier forts to reflect the shifting frontier.[119]
                    After George Armstrong Custer’s defeat at the Battle of Little Bighorn, Sherman wrote that “hostile savages like Sitting Bull and his band of outlaw Sioux … must feel the superior power of the Government.” [120] He further wrote that “during an assault, the soldiers can not pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age.“[121] Despite his harsh treatment of the warring tribes, Sherman spoke out against the unfair way speculators and government agents treated the natives within the reservations.[122]

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think the Catalonians have done more, with non-violence, to deserve nationhood, than, say the Zionists did, when the US recognized them (was there a referendum involving all those living there at the time? Any historians of episode?)

  2. Enquiring Mind

    Not through the doors of Kenner, Bach and Ledeen…

    The lawfirm name made me think of the following:
    It’s Kenner, it’s fun! (An old toy company ad slogan)
    Bach: counterpoint, with a side of rhythm and prosody.
    Or was it Kennebunkport? Much fixing associated with that name.
    Ledeen, now there is an operative for the ages.

    1. DJG

      Yikes, Enquiring Mind. I suddenly remembered Kenner’s Girder and Panel sets. I spent many hours constructing little buildings with those plastic girders, flimsy panels, and composite-board building site.

      And a Wiki search shows us that Kenner owned that great U.S. staple: Play Doh.

      And Easy Bake ovens, source of many essays by remorseful feminists everywhere.

      And as long as I’ve gone semi-Proustian, my new name for the law firm would be Kukla, Fran & Ollie. Now they would be formidable in the courtroom.

      1. HotFlash

        And Easy Bake ovens, source of many essays by remorseful feminists everywhere.

        Not all of us. I was delighted to discover that I could make cakes using a light bulb for heat, and defied the instructions by first adapting regular-sized cake mixes (Jiffy! From Chelsea MI — anybody remember those?) and then actual from-scratch recipes. Well yeah, a few years later I was my high school’s Betty Crocker Homemaker of tomorrow and one of the top ten in the state. Don’t sell us bakety-girls short, besides me there was the considerably more famous Betty the Peacenik.

        You find power where it lies. I can also fix bikes and I plumbed, wired and drywalled my house. As my dad used to tell us, if you can read, you can do anything.

  3. Wukchumni

    I enjoyed reading Grant’s memoirs, really gave me a better feel for the Civil War and how it was fought. He didn’t mince words when describing other officers and their abilities, or lack of.

    30 years ago, the UK managed to recoup 1% (sans accrued interest) of it’s investment in the CSA from 125 years’ish prior, by placing the whole kit & caboodle in one lot in a Southeby’s auction.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “In 1865 at the conclusion of the Civil War (or The War Between the States), Confederate bonds had value only as sentimental collectibles. Despite a creeping increase over the following century, the cost of acquiring one of these artifacts had been hovering until recently under $25. Then, in the fall of 1987, a single lot, consisting of approximately 85,000 pieces of Confederate numismatic material, was auctioned at Sotheby’s London. This lot, “including Bearer Bonds, Confederate States of America,” with the ten percent buyer’s commission, realized $655,645.50.

    The California dealer who bought the bonds with a Texas partner, claimed it was the largest such private hoard ever sold, and predicted that his corporation, a Dallas-based coin and old bond dealership, would sell the bonds in smaller wholesale lots that would fetch in excess of $2 million. Too late, of course, for the long gone British and European investors who had contributed $60 million towards those bonds and the Southern cause during the early 1860s. Since there was no International Monetary Fund to protect investors in those free-wheeling days, the only recourse the investors might have had was through the Council of Foreign Bondholders, founded in 1868, primarily to assist British moneymen to pursue defaults in America.”

    http://www.otoole-ewald.com/articles/1988/10/1/the-case-of-the-missing-bonds-damageloss-appraisal-report
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Here’s a typical example:

    http://oldetymecollectibles.com/CSA_B-212.JPG

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What happened to CSA paper money?

      Were defeated ex-CSA citizens able to exchange theirs for Union money?

      From Wikipedia, the Confederated States Dollar (Greyback):

      When the Confederacy ceased to exist as a political entity at the end of the war, the money lost all value as fiat currency.

      A fiat money not killed by inflation.

      The lesson: Question the most relevant risk, not other risks people talk about.

      1. Wukchumni

        CSA paper money was actually utilized as wallpaper in many homes in the ex Confederacy, post hostilities.

        When I was a kid, you could buy brand new 1864 CSA $20 banknotes for $2, how many thousands would you like?

        Nowadays, most every denomination from dollar to $50 is worth more than it’s stated face value in collector value, so yes, the south will rise again!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It is interesting…they could have printed more*.

          And there would have even more wealthy collectors.

          *They were a monetary sovereign, though no other nations seemed to have recognized, not even by the Papacy.

          1. Wukchumni

            The CSA essentially only issued fiat currency backed by bupkis, while the Federals issued both fiat currency, and gold and silver coins concurrently.

            The exchange rate between the 2 currencies waxed and waned as the fortunes of war changed, and as the north started rolling up the south, it became an exchange rate rout.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              They believed in fiat currency 100%, if that was the case, by issuing only fiat money.

              Similarly, this was what happened to the Reichmark post WWII (from Wikipedia):

              After the Second World War, the Reichsmark continued to circulate in Germany, but with new banknotes (Allied Occupation Marks) printed in the US and in the Soviet Zone, as well as with coins (without swastikas). In practice, massive inflation dating back to the latter stages of the war had rendered the Reichsmark nearly worthless. For all intents and purposes, it was supplanted by a barter economy (commonly, “cigarette currency”).

              Luckily, a couple of new nations took its place. And with currency reform, one of them recovered nicely not too many years later.

              1. Wukchumni

                When a country gets turned into a demolition zone and loses a war in the process, it isn’t really inflationary, it’s a collapse.

      2. Wukchumni

        p.s.

        That was our country’s 2nd hyperinflation episode, the first being Continental currency (…not worth a continental!) which eventually was redeemable for Au/Ar dollars @ a ratio of 1000-1 in the 1790’s.

        We kind of bent over backwards to show that our money was strong thereafter, in that every last gold coin issued from 1795 to 1838 actually contained a smidgen more in gold value than the stated face value.

        It so colored our way of thinking about fiat currency, that the Federal government wouldn’t issue fiat currency again until 1861.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The key to getting rich in this case is that one has to be able to live to be more 100 years old, in order to reap the rewards.

          How many ex-citizens, ex-taxpayers south of the Mason-Dixon line remembered to do that (to stay healthy for over 100 years), I don’t know.

          Many probably died muttering “I thought I only had to worry about inflation.”

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            On the other hand, had they insisted on gold coin money, well, never mind. It has no intrinsic value.

            And some would or might say, those people deserved that worthless fiat currency.

            Though it could have been that it was unpatriotic to ask for gold coin money, questioning the immortality of their government, and many did not speak up. fearing surveillance.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              And for that reason, I don’t like gold backed money.

              You’d be questioning your government’s eixstence.

              1. Wukchumni

                Yes, luckily we don’t have the problem of gold backed money, so nobody dares question a government’s existence.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  1 We don’t have gold backed money.

                  2. Some do talk about the need for it. They are the ones who risk being seen as questioning the government’s existence.

                  I, of course, know we don’t have one, and don’t like to have one…don’t see the need for one, though, to me, gold is not less undesirable than say, a Qing dynasty cinnabar carved vase, if the objective is to have something to survive on when the whole world is dominated by One Road, One Belt.

  4. Basil Pesto

    Michael Clayton’s been a personal favourite of mine since it came out, in what was a banner year for mainstream-ish American cinema. Haven’t watched it for a few years but I always thought it was really well done

    1. Pelham

      Same here. I can’t recall another movie with three such powerful performances as those of Swinton, Clooney and Wilkinson.

      Every successive moment and the impact of that final scene are beyond cathartic. The movie actually has the power to restore one’s hope in the redemptive quality of the human soul, freed by madness in the case of Wilkinson’s character and the chain of events in the case of Clooney’s. It is an essential firlm

      1. Yves Smith

        Yes, I love that movie and I get credit for putting Lambert on to it!

        All the acting is terrific. Wilkinson straightening himself up (he manages to seem as if he’s suddenly gotten taller and bigger, the way cats can puff themselves up when they are about to start fighting) and saying, “I am Shiva, the God of Death” is classic, as is the final scene when Clooney confronts Swindon and her hapless CEO keeps sticking his head out of the conference room to get her back in the meeting (even the casting for that small role is pitch perfect).

  5. allan

    Besides the tax article, Pew Research also currently has this:

    Americans deepest in poverty lost more ground in 2016

    … The share of the U.S. poor population in severe poverty – defined by the Census Bureau as those with family or individual incomes below half of their poverty threshold – reached its highest point in at least 20 years. It was 45.6% in 2016, up from 39.5% in 1996. (The share of the total U.S. population in severe poverty has declined over the past two years, alongside the overall poverty rate.) …

    As the share of poor families in severe poverty increased in recent years, these families also saw their incomes fall further below the poverty line. …

    Sounds like some folks need to up their game.

    A large and vibrant deep underclass is yet another remarkable legacy of the last administration,
    so surely there’ll be an exhibit about it at that library in Jackson Park.

    1. OIFVet

      The exhibit will take place in real time in the South Shore and East Woodlawn neighborhoods bordering the park, as many black residents will forced out by gentrification: rising rents, property taxes, and other living expenses. But look on the bright side: Michelle will have the sledding hill she’s wanted since she was a child! And Tiger Woods-designed PGA golf course, where the displaced residents will shine judge Smails’ golf shoes!

      1. Carolinian

        I saw an article that said as long as we are taking down public monuments then presidential libraries should be at the top of the list. Makes sense to me.

        1. Wukchumni

          One public monument that has more or less disappeared since I was a yout, is drinking fountains.

            1. Carolinian

              Water fountains are still around. My town just installed one in a new park. In fact it also has a spigot for filling up one of those ubiquitous plastic bottles. The city water provided is probably better than the “spring” water that the trendy pay big bucks for.

              National parks do this too with real spring water pumped locally. Grand Canyon, Zion come to mind.

              1. Wukchumni

                Unfortunately all of the drinking water in Sequoia NP in the frontcounytry is treated with chlorine, el yucko.

            2. newcatty

              Indeed. Who fills all of those plastic bottles with water? One source is the Nestle corporation. They have the supreme and necessary corporate mission to pump water from aquifers in our state or federal lands to fill bottles with WATER! They pay a pittance for the fullfillment of this mission. I do not feel like supplying links for you, but search and you will find its like under 20 buks a year to pump our precious fresh water in their leasing agreements in for example: California. For the convenience of peope always on the run and lack of water fountains, among other things, they make huge profits on selling water! OK, people can fill reuseable bottles, but the greed of the bottle watered business is outrageous. And… why are they allowed these agreements with state entities?

  6. Basil Pesto

    Decoding Shenzhen: The Chinese city that makes the world’s tech

    Quote:

    From a macro standpoint, increasing labour costs and other production expenses are chipping the competitive allure of the city for as the cheapest place to assemble products for outsiders. Take the real estate market as an example. Residential prices in Shenzhen are one of the highest across China. As of July, the price to income ratio for housing in the city was 32.44, according to reports citing data from a Chinese data provider Wind Information.

    Over the years, the Huaqiangbei market has also become more upscale, as much in its physical appearance as in the make-up of the trading community. The market used to be very brass tacks and minimal, but granite sculptures and promenades have been built after a remodelling.

    “As people in the community make money and become wealthy, they are pushing the smaller players off the market. What remains are the larger, less innovative and incumbent brands. This is a cycle that we have seen repeated over and over again, whether it was in the Silicon Valley or the technology industry in Boston,” Huang comments.

    “The market is losing a little bit of its magic at this point of time,” he adds. “You can get consumer goods anywhere in the world, but what made Shenzhen special was the fact that you could get all those parts and components to build the products. It was never about the finished goods but what goes into them, how you could remix and trade them quickly.

    There was a time when Shenzhen prided on being one-of-a-kind”, a fascinating electronics juggernaut where you could make anything you want and as quickly as possible.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think this illustrates a key advantage China has – the sheer scale of urbanisation allows the creation of massive ecosystems based around just one industry. Its impossible to replicate that scale elsewhere.

      However, I think the jury is still out as to whether China can genuinely make the jump into developing world class cutting edge tech companies. At a similar stage of economic development, Japanese or Korean companies were dominating their sectors. There are obviously some major name Chinese companies in tech, but they are still behind the curve to some extent. I wonder if there are structural reasons why they can’t make the transition. If they don’t make it soon, then I doubt if they ever will.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Are the frames that develop around “sheer scale urbanization” in China to be characterized as “massive ecosystems?” I guess, just based on a Webster reading of the term, with no normative element, one would have to score the answer “correct.”

        But aren’t “world class cutting edge tech companies,” which are pretty much all Supra-national and inimical to any decent (as this mope would define the term) direction for the political economies that “nurtured” them, maybe the way a caterpillar “nurtures” the larvae of the parasitic wasp, part of the disease process that is killing not just a lot of humans and their silly aspirations, but the larger ecology? And we enlightened “developed world” people, most of whom are peons and renters or “surplus personnel” any more, thanks to Progress (TM), should be proud and supportive cheerleaders for the “domination” of Amazon and Google and Uber and the rest? But no, must encourage those Chinese “techs” to follow the dead-end model, and “catch up with the curve?”

        What kind of political economy do “we” want, again?

        But maybe the observation is just descriptive, not prescriptive or normative?

        1. JEHR

          Well, words do mean something and the metaphoric implications of using the natural ecosystem to describe abstract and mechanical objects has its limitations. When we are trying to save, revitalize or recover the real ecosystems of nature, the usage of that metaphor becomes weak. Try another metaphor, one linked to mechanization for example, so that the metaphor does not make the “thing” seem more “natural” when it is not. At least, the ecosystem metaphor gives us relief from the incessant “war” comparisons!

      2. polecat

        The Chinese have certainly managed to wreck much of their massive ‘natural’ ecosystem these last twenty years or so, in the name of ecomnomic liberalism, and I doubt very much that they’ll be able to mitigate what they’ve lost.

        1. Wukchumni

          “At six-thirty the next morning, after stopping for a breakfast of noodles and rice buns filled with savory greens, Stinky and Shadow and Caribou and I headed back to the reserve. Like many Chinese reserves, Yancheng is divided into a highly protected “core area” and a larger “outer area,” where visitors with binoculars are tolerated and local people are permitted to live and work. There is very little pristine habitat anywhere in eastern China and certainly none to be seen in Yancheng. Every last hectare of the outer area seemed to be in use for fish-farming, paddy-building, road-grading, ditch-digging, reed-cutting, house-rebuilding, and miscellaneous major earthmoving and concrete-pouring. Caribou led us to red-crowned cranes (bushy-tailed, majestic, endangered), reed parrotbills (tiny, funny-faced, threatened), and, by my count, seventy-four other species of bird. We searched for buntings along a channel that was being widened and paved by a brigade of workers who buzzed up on motorcycles and asked if we were hunting pheasants. This is a common question in China, where birders also get used to being mistaken for surveyors, to being informed, “There are no birds here,” and to being asked, “Is the bird you’re looking at expensive?”

          https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/04/21/the-way-of-the-puffin
          ~~~~~~~~~~~

          For what it’s worth dept:

          Steller’s Jays used to be a dime a dozen in the higher climes of the Sierra Nevada, say around 5,000 to 8,000 feet. You couldn’t miss em’-loud and obnoxious in a fun way, and don’t leave any food outside, they’ll be on it before you know it.

          I’ve hardly seen any this year, along with the oh so loud Chickaree squirrel. And a commonality to both beasties, is that on account of their behavior, you distinctly miss them. But most of the other denizens of the forest for the trees aren’t such exhibitionists, so you don’t acknowledge them in such a fashion, but many species have gone AWOL.

          1. MichaelSF

            Steller’s jays still seem common in Golden Gate Park. We usually walk at Stow Lake or the Arboretum several times a week and what we aren’t seeing many of this year are the pied-billed grebes, bufflehead ducks and hooded mergansers. On the other hand, the great blue herons had lots of chicks in the nests this year, and the red tailed hawks and great horned owl nests were fun to watch. The owlets are so soft and fluffy looking, but sadly their nests always seem to be just out of reach of my camera’s telephoto lens.

            1. Wukchumni

              We have great blue herons in the foothills, a friend likes to call them pterodactyls, when they’re soaring on high. A rather apt description.

              Birds had a difficult time during the drought, as many of their marshy places in the Central Valley to hang out, were dry as a bone, but they seem to be coming back now.

              It’s more in the High Sierra, where the creatures have appear to have been raptured…

          2. Oregoncharles

            You can have my Stellar’s jays and chickarees, if I can catch them. (We have about 15 hazelnut trees and a couple of walnuts, so we’re very well supplied with jays – both kinds – and squirrels, both gray and brown. They’re a pain in the rear.)

            I assume their disappearance in the Sierras has to do with the prior drought? Trust me – they’ll be back.

      3. BoycottAmazon

        Hi PlutoniumKun,

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdjHqxCyEa8&feature=youtu.be

        Try watching this on a desktop where you can speed up the playback, I suggest 1.5x speed. If China can’t get it’s system to spend the $2 a year it use to spend to de-worm rural students because of a corruption & collapse communist/socialist ideology (even a true fascist/nationalist would spend this money, so don’t know where this failure is coming from) or the anemia and myopia rampant among it’s 50% of the population still tied to rural areas by the huko serfdom , then I don’t think it has the gumption to face the huge issues China has, and that the tigers were able to leap over by using China as a cheap labor supply, toxic waste dump and exploitative raw material source.

  7. allan

    Let a thousand Roy Moores bloom:

    Erik Prince, Blackwater Founder, Weighs Primary Challenge to Wyoming Republican [NYT]

    … Mr. Prince appears increasingly likely to challenge John Barrasso, a senior member of the Senate Republican leadership, according to people who have spoken to him in recent days. He has been urged to run next year by Stephen K. Bannon, who is leading the effort to shake up the Republican leadership with financial backing from the New York hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah. …

    Beyond his support of the use of contractors in war zones, Mr. Prince’s views on political issues are less widely known. He has been described as a libertarian. …

    Ah, a libertarian. The meaningless catch-all that renders MSM journalists incapable of critical analysis.
    Extra bonus points for the “He has been …”

  8. lim

    If the Democrats Don’t Learn This Lesson, They Deserve to Lose Forever Charles Pierce, New York Magazine. When you’ve lost Charlie Pierce…

    Part of the problem for the Dems as I see it is that nearly every week or two Hil pops back into the mediascape with more bad-spirited talk about this or that. Her arrival is but another sad, in your face reminder to the Dem masses of why they lost. If only they and we could catch a break from her venomous negativity and bad vibs.

    (Note: I voted for neither.)

    1. Jen

      The leader of one of our local democrat groups posted this on faceborg the other day:

      “So wonderful to hear our Representative Suzanne Smith on NHPR this morning, discussing her “in the works” legislation to require transparency (tax returns) in the “first in the nation” presidential election. Keep us posted on your progress, Rep. Smith!”

      Let’s see. We have an opioid crisis, affordable housing crisis, education funding crisis, crumbling infrastructure, some of the highest in-state college tuition costs in the country, and a number of towns struggling to repair roads after a rain storm in July that dumped 7-10 inches of rain…and the newest representative of a flipped district wants to talk about tax returns.

      Priorities, people, priorities.

      I pretty much just lurk on FB during my increasingly infrequent visits, but I was sorely tempted to reply:

      “Why the democrats lost 1000 seats between 2009 and 2016, encapsulated.”

      Hil is a symptom. Neoliberalism is the disease.

      1. Vatch

        I think there is value in requiring Presidential candidates to release their tax returns. This month the big issue before the Congress is changes to the income tax system. It’s complex, so I don’t really know for certain what the Republican tax plan will do, but I suspect it will reduce federal government revenue, and it will definitely reduce the amount of money that rich people and corporations have to pay. I doubt it will reduce taxes for members of the middle class. Our current President is a billionaire who stands to gain a lot from the proposed changes to the tax code. We should have access to his history of income tax payments before we are required to decide what to do about the proposed tax plan.

        How are we going to solve the opioid crisis, the affordable housing crisis, education funding crisis, the crisis of our crumbling infrastructure, etc.? Most of these problems will have to be solved with government spending. Like it or not, under current law the federal government is mostly funded by income taxes. We won’t solve those problems if the government becomes poorer, and the corporations and ultra-rich individuals become even richer.

          1. Vatch

            The federal government can’t spend into the economy unless the current debt ceiling allows it. Perhaps you’ve noticed that the federal government sometimes partially shuts down when the debt ceiling is reached, and the Congress doesn’t raise the ceiling. If the law were to be changed so that the government doesn’t need to go through the charade of borrowing when increasing the money supply, then what you say would be true. As for “Modern Monetary Theory” I’ll quote commenter pslebow from a few days ago:

            https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/09/jared-bernstein-shows-costs-not-understanding-sovereign-currencies.html#comment-2865690

            MMT confuses the word “can” with the word “does”. The government can do lots of things but the reality lies within what it does do.
            Deficits do matter under the current system. If legislation was passed providing for the ability to create money rather than borrow as proposed in the Chicago Plan, Positive Money, the NEED act, etc. then indeed, deficits wouldn’t matter.

            To just assert something doesn’t make it true: “In a nation with a sovereign currency like the United States, federal tax revenues do not fund federal expenditures. ” This is, on its face, incorrect. …

            You want a link to a law concerning government spending? There are a lot, but here’s a recent one:

            https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-115hr244enr/html/BILLS-115hr244enr.htm

            Here’s an article about that law and its passage:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consolidated_Appropriations_Act,_2017

        1. MichaelSF

          We should have access to his history of income tax payments before we are required to decide what to do about the proposed tax plan.

          I’m not sure that “we” are going to get to decide what happens with that proposal.

          1. Vatch

            Well, yes, you’re right about that. All “we” can do is to write or call the offices of our Senators, and ask them to vote a particular way. “We” really won’t be able to do much.

        2. kgc

          Whether or not the federal government is mostly funded by income taxes, I don’t think we need Trump’s actual tax returns to come to the (justifiable) conclusion that he’d benefit from his (or Ryan’s?) tax proposal. Of course he would. The furor about releasing his tax returns is a red herring that works in his favor.

          Not to mention that the data in the tax returns isn’t particularly illuminating, if you have competent tax counsel. Which I assume he does.

          1. Yves Smith

            Yes, we’ve said repeatedly that the tax return screeching is embarrassing. Contrary to what the noisemakers assert, they will not show who he does business with, nor who lends to him. Even the returns of his corporations won’t show that.

            What they would show is:

            1. How low his effective rate is

            2. How much he made, which could be embarrassing if it shows he’s less rich than he’s pretended to be

            3. Whether some of the tax strategies he uses are very aggressive/borderline or arguable abuses

            4. Whether he has Swiss bank accounts, which potentially means (like Romney) that he was hiding income and participated in the amnesty

            1. Vatch

              It would be valuable to have the information in the four points that you list. Let’s shed some light on the oligarchs!

      2. John k

        She is the mirror they can’t escape.
        And she helps the rest of us remember how useless she and they are… but we don’t really need her, they remind us whenever they open their mouths and tell us their priorities, witness your Ms. Smith.

    2. Montanamaven

      Hilary popped up as Jimmy Fallon’s guest on The Tonight Show this past Thursday. Yes, we get more negativity and then we are treated to a series of Fallon’s women writers coming on one after the other writing “Thank You” letters to Hilary. It ends with Miley Cyrus coming onstage and writing her thank you card, breaking into tears, and asking if she can give Hilary a hug. So there is still a lot of lack of self reflection. On Tucker Carlson his guest Greg Gutfeld wondered why instead of fawning all over her these women weren’t angry at her for running such an awful campaign that gave U.S. Trump?
      WaPo’s article on Clinton on Jimmy Fallon
      Tucker’s take on Hilary on Fallon

      1. justanotherprogressive

        I watched part of that – my first thoughts were “How P H O N Y can this woman get?”
        I wonder how much Hillary paid for this “command performance”. Is it normal for everyone in her “set” have to pay for praise? I guess this is what you do when you just cannot accept that the monarchy you thought you deserved slipped right through your fingers….

        Doesn’t she understand that stunts like this really aren’t making her more popular with anyone? That maybe stunts like this are part of the reason she doesn’t have that monarchy?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Mother is owed adoration. If we plebes fail to recognize her greatness, this is our fault. I’m reminded of W’s obsession with history (as if he ever read a book) redeeming him.

          1. Wukchumni

            And here all this time, I thought that ‘ssshrubery’s redemption was vis a vis those awkward color by number portraits of world leaders, based upon the first image that came up on the google?

        2. ambrit

          I’m tempted to say that what HRH HRC really wants IS the adoration; with or without the Imperial Regalia.

      2. Bugs Bunny

        What in the name of Pete is she doing? Can’t some _real human being_ do an intervention? Why is she still talking policy like she’s got some moral authority? It’s like Groundhog Day. October 2016 forever.

        Fallon is such a banal non-entity that it’s one of the few NBC shows they run here in Europe on our weirdo version of CNBC (yes, it can be weirder, believe me – though I imagine the ultimate weirdo
        version is just scrolling numbers, letters and flashing colored lights like the old jodi.org site).

        I was in the US about 2 weeks ago though and noticed the very tense and almost paranoid atmosphere in my exchanges with US colleagues. It’s like everyone is on eggshells. Not much introspection or humor about the whole situation.

        The cocktails were excellent as usual though.

        1. cnchal

          . . . It’s like everyone is on eggshells. . .

          Typical where the head of household is a narcissist. How do you say “good morning” the right way, because depending on the whim of the narcissist and the way you say it, you can get a range of responses, from getting your head bitten off to nothing, to a “good morning” back?

          1. Wukchumni

            Yes, it sometimes has the feel of Billy Mumy all grown up now and leading the country, doesn’t it?

          1. The Rev Kev

            Funny film reference that. Shame we couldn’t blow some of these people out the air lock.

        2. DJG

          Bugs Bunny: Your trip to the U S of A two weeks ago.

          It may be eggshells in the office. What I see on the street is symptoms of collective depression. Down to the classic symptoms like mismatched clothes, inability to express basic needs, lack of basic self-care like washing and beard trimming, inability to make eye contact. And who knows how many people have now confined themselves to the house. This has been going on for several years, but it has worsened in the last eighteen months.

          Cocktails? Surely these aren’t the height of U.S. culture. In any case, I recommend the classic Sazerac, made with rye whisky, sans doute.

          1. w

            Yes, there’s an odd apathy to the country, especially in the way we present ourselves to one another. It’s a nation of sloppy slobs that have no pride in appearance, nor is there any shame.

            In contrast, go look @ any photo from a city in the midst of the Great Depression, and as bad as things were, the people dressed well.

            One thing i’ve noticed, is we don’t do a lot of whimsical physical things we used to do, such as dancing, whistling, etc.

        3. Montanamaven

          “No introspection and no humor.” Yup! Comedy is dying. Comedy used to be about telling uncomfortable truths. Criticizing the system like George Carlin. Now it’s about being emotional and snarky if you are a liberal. Just snarky if you’re a conservative.

      3. bronco

        Are any of the late night shows even worth watching now?

        It used to be Leno , Letterman ehhh I could watch either the were OK but I liked Conan and craig ferguson quite a bit but now I will literally flee the room if any of these idiots we have now come on . It’s like mission impossible , when the message is counting down. 5 4 3 2 1 time to lecture america about Trump and BOOM I’m dead.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Conan has specific episodes (his Cuba shows, not his Israel shows) which have elements of larger variety shows and segments that are good (Kimmel too), but the basic late night format is just so bland especially in the era of the internet tubes.

          If Mark Hammill doesn’t do any late night appearances, will I miss Star Wars run in theaters? The answer is no. When is “Game of Thrones” returning? Wow, the paper says Jon Snow is a guest on Generic Platform X tonight! Maybe, he will tell me on the show.Or I could just look it up because what does John Snow actually know?

          I heard Dan Patrick interview an author who has written books on ESPN and CNN and the development of those networks, but the author is working on ESPN navigating the rise of cord cutting. He would occasionally watch old shows with Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann to make sure his memory of the glory years is accurate. He said that particular team was quite good, but the random airing of the 11pm sportscenter he watched ended on DP and KO reminding viewers that Craig Kilborn would have the final highlights of a Padres/Giants game. So stay tuned. He checked the game. It was a wild one, but who cares anymore? I don’t have to watch Sportscenter to watch a clip of my favorite team.

          In a way, all the late night shows were always terrible. They just existed in a different market place. I read an interview with Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, describing staying up to watch a late night show to see Salvidor Dali, something of a recluse. Today, would Dali have an Instragram Account set to public?

          1. Enquiring Mind

            Johnny Carson reruns are on some cable networks. His guest lists tended to be far more eclectic than the current movie plug lovefests, or the grotesque Hillary spectacles. There was actual adult conversation and laughter without the puerile giggling or mugging. Look at the shows with the sound off, and then compare and contrast with the current guests. You may be dismayed at the lack of maturity among so-called men and women. You could see a variation on that theme with Dick Cavett, Joey Bishop or others.

            1. adrena

              Speaking of late night shows, here’s the latest on the NRA by “Zondag met Lubach” -https://youtu.be/a-o9pwWUzz0

        2. Plenue

          Conan is very much still worth watching, though he recently had a cringe-inducing trip to Israel, which literally no one asked for (instead there’s lots of demand for him to take one of his weirdly Italian obsessed producers to Italy), and included him visiting a hospital where they treat Syrians (including ‘rebels’ who are then sent back over the border to fight some more). Downright shameful. But he’s actually funny and personable, and is generally mercifully light on the lazy ‘luk wut Trump said now!!oneone’ type stuff.

      4. The Rev Kev

        This is fealty in action, isn’t it? It is how royalty and world leaders want to be treated but it is fealty to us. Know what it would have been called if she had taken the top job? Probably Monday.

    3. Vatch

      One of the biggest absurdities of the phenomenon of Hillary Clinton in 2017 is that as part of her book promotional tour, on November 9 she will visit Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She didn’t bother to campaign once in that state during the general election! Yes, I know this has been mentioned here before, but it deserves repeating. This shows me that when money (in the form of book sales) is on the line, she gets serious, because people need to be persuaded to buy her book. Not so much for the Presidency of the United States — she undoubtedly thought that people would vote for her because she was entitled to it.

      https://www.hillaryclintonbooktour.com/

  9. David

    I wonder if Clinton has any idea of the implications of her suggestion that cyber attacks should be seen as an act of war? Under Article 2 of the UN Charter, the US has solemnly undertaken to abstain from the use or threat of force in its international relations. Since war presupposes the use of force, she is saying that the US will voluntarily stop conducting cyber attacks on other countries. Well, that’s a start, I suppose.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, that was my first thought. Obama and HRC more or less boasted about the successful cyberattacks on Iran. Of course, no US journalist will ask that question directly.

    2. John Wright

      Here is a list of items that “most experienced, most qualified” HRC must be aware of.

      1. Governments lie/coverup as the young Hillary Clinton assisted the Watergate committee in its investigation of the Nixon cover up. She should be aware of government/executive branch falsehoods first hand..

      2. It was indeed “arms for hostages” in Iran-Contra despite Reagan’s assertion it was not

      3. Despite CIA’s “Slam Dunk” Tenet’s assurance that WMD’s would be found in Iraq, which somehow? justified going to war with Iraq, they weren’t there.

      4.. The US government knew that the Gulf of Tonkin Viet Nam escalation resolution was based on false information

      5. The 19th century Spanish American war was not justified by any Spanish actions against the USA.

      Wonderful, have the CIA/NSA declare war against Russia, possibly on completely unverifiable cyber information.

      And to imagine HRC was “America’s top diplomat” for a few years..

      Perhaps her remaining life will be spent, completely unintentionally, convincing America that Donald Trump was the better choice.

      1. Bill Smith

        You didn’t mention the Chinese didn’t intervene in Korea. That the Shah is still in power in Iran. And the Russians didn’t intervene in Syria. The list of these things is quite long.

        There are a number of books on the subject.

        The intelligence community has actually recognized this. IARPA being an attempt to improve things.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From Wikipedia, cyberwarfare:

      Cyberwarfare involves the battlespace use and targeting of computers and networks in warfare. It involves both offensive and defensive operations pertaining to the threat of cyberattacks, espionage and sabotage. There has been controversy over whether such operations can duly be called “war”. Nevertheless, nations have been developing their capabilities and engaged in cyberwarfare either as an aggressor, defendant, or both.

      Is it warfare or is it not? Even just espionage?

      Is it real world human espionage warfare? That is a follow-up question. When we sent spies to Tokyo in 1940, with their spies in DC, were the two countries already at war before the infamy?

    4. Sid_finster

      Haven’t you heard? Laws and norms don’t apply to The Exceptional Nation®, except when its ox is gored.

      1. polecat

        It’s the ‘Exceptionally Exceptional’ within The ‘supposed’ Exceptional Nation that are the real problem : Big Media, Big Corp., Big Law ‘yers, little/Big Polititians, REALLY BIG DEFENCE CORPSE, AND lastly, the pencil-dick pundantry …

        The rest of u.s. are along for an exceptionally awful ride !

    5. Daryl

      Does this mean I can go all castle doctrine on the perpetrators of thousands of script kiddie hack-attempts per seconds I get on my various servers?

    6. QuarterBack

      If cyber attacks are an act of war, does that mean that we have committed an act of war towards virtually every nation with a computer connected to the Internet?

  10. Wukchumni

    I’ve been watching the CANZ housing bubble for years, and it was something to behold as it was only ever going higher…

    The shine is quite dulled now, and seeing as there has never really been anything like it in the 3 country monte performance heretofore, it’ll be interesting to see how the populace reacts to it suddenly lurching downwards. And one thing that completely differentiated these housing bubbles from ours in the USA, is that it was largely widespread, in that damn near every city played along.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “The slowdown in the housing market is causing sellers to take bigger losses on house sales.

    The quarterly Pain and Gain report from CoreLogic showed that while the number of people taking a loss is trending down, the amount they lose has increased. The report is a quarterly analysis of homes which were resold over the quarter.

    The median loss in Tauranga was the most pronounced, with people who sold at a loss losing a median of $55,000, up from $25,000 in the previous quarter. Dunedin also showed a sharp increase in loss up to $19,000 from $3000 in the previous quarter.

    Christchurch was the worst affected city centre with the 7.9 per cent of people who took a hit losing a median of $36,500. The 1.8 per cent of Auckland sellers who took a loss were out-of-pocket by a median of $26,000.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11930806

  11. douglass truth

    Philip K Dick’s The Zap Gun is about a precognitive who sells his insights of the future to the fashion industry. not his best by any means, but funny.

    1. paul

      The weapons fashion industry, which is an even nicer kink

      “A lot of them (his books) are pot-boilers. Well they weren’t intentionally, they worked out that way. I always write it as well as I can. But sometimes I just don’t have the sacred fire to enflame my talent into, you know, a level of genius and what I wind up with is some turkey like The Zap Gun . . . the first half is totally unreadable, I don’t know where or what . . . I can hardly reconstruct the thinking that underlay the first half of that book. Just totally intelligible.”

      PKD on a bad day is still a pleasure.

  12. Frenchguy

    An interesting thing so far is the difference in coverage of Catalonia between the anglo-saxon and the continental press. Today, the Guardian goes with only thousands of protesters against independance (plus note the headline in link that makes it all about Rajoy), nothing particular in the Nytimes, nothing in the Telegraph…:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/08/catalonia-spain-prime-minister-refuses-rule-out-suspending-autonomy

    Meanwhile, the Spiegel in Germany, LeMonde/LeFigaro in France, LaStampa in Italy all go with “hundreds of thousands” (even with a million for LaStampa) in the front page. Here is Lemonde:

    http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/portfolio/2017/10/08/les-opposants-a-l-independance-de-la-catalogne-defilent-dans-les-rues-de-barcelone_5197918_3214.html

    Ps: maybe I’m overreacting and the anglo press is just a bit slow but the tone has definitely seemed different to me during this all thing

    1. a different chris

      Link says “hundreds of” thousands? Also gives the protestors estimate of 930K, although it makes sure to say the police say 350K. Maybe it got updated…

    2. Craig H.

      I have seen nine hundred thousand on a web page but street crowds are impossible to count.

      Reuters says thousands.

      Would be very interested in a better number.

    3. Wukchumni

      I was one of about 250,000 on the streets of San Francisco early in 2003, protesting against the war that would commence shortly thereafter…

      The press felt our number was closer to 25,000, and all the news emphasis the next day was on a plate glass window of a store, that shattered when some hooligan threw a rock through it.

      1. audrey jr

        I was there, too. Took my then 12 and 17 y.o. sons. Also attended the second protest a month or so later. I saw many young families out that day and was very upset at watching what would become one of the last times I would ever watch local SF news broadcasts. The morning after the first protest I watched channel 5, which is I believe, KPIX. Upon discussion of the previous days protests the female talking head’s first words were these, and I’m paraphrasing cuz it was so long ago,: “…attending the protest were the usual suspects…” Usual suspects? I saw tons of people there with their children and because I and my family, along with many others, were trying to stop an unjust illegal invasion of another sovereign nation by our own thief-in-chief and we get called “suspects” by the local schmedia?
        SCOTUS chooses our president for us in December 2000, no one says a thing and then the country goes crazy over Clinton v. Trump? We are residing in one of Dante’s circles of hell. I guess it’s what we deserve for letting all of this crap happen.

    4. auskalo

      According to the organizers: 900.000 people.
      According to guardia urbana (municipal police): 350.000

      Hundreds of thousands in any case, arrived from all over Spain.

    5. Bugs Bunny

      France can ill afford to have this contagion spread to Corsica or the Basque regions or… Brittany. I also imagine that as the sort of diplomatic standard holder of the EU, her interest is best served by unity in the current national entities rather than a series of chaotic territorial breaks and the inevitable economic crisis that would result.

      If Brexit really does precipitate a break up of the EU (and if Catalonia declares independence and all hell breaks loose with for example, “Padania” breaking off from Italy, that’s where blame will go) we will be living in dangerous times indeed.

      1. DJG

        Bugs Bunny: The difference in France is that, for better or for worse, the centralizing tendencies of the national government mean that France is not like Spain. There are no viable nations or even little nations within France. There are historic regions with local languages forcibly in decline. How many people conduct all of their daily business in Breton? I’ve heard estimates as low as 40,000. That’s a long way from the liveliness of the Catalan language in Barcelona, where it gets top billing on signage.

        Likewise, a few days back FrenchGuy wrote from Provence. But even if he is truly provencal, who in his family speaks provencal? Most likely only his grandmother.

        When I was in Strasbourg a few years back, Alsatian seemed to consist of street signs and appearances by Huguette Dreikaus. Hardly a movement to break away and join up with Baden-Wurtemburg.

        The tensions in France seem to me to be more between center and periphery. The southern cities are growing, and the strength of the Front National in PACA hardly indicates secession. Although why there is such a strong streak of conservatism in the southeast strikes me as odd.

        Corsica is not viable as a nation. The Basques in France are highly assimilated. To make trouble, though, I’ll ask you if it is about time to return la Savoie to Piedmont, what with that highly irregular referendum and all.

        Which leads to:

        As to Padania, the Lega Nord consists of politicians only slightly more appealing than Steve Bannon. A week or so ago, Salvini was trying to leaflet in a neighborhood in Milano, and he complained that people were spitting on him. And it wasn’t just the immigrant milanese. And then there was Bossi… So Carles Puigdemont looks like George Washington compared to the Padania contingent.

        1. Frenchguy

          Yep, the link got updated, I did overreact a bit.

          And I am originally from Provence and, to be clear, I did not mean to imply that an independantist movement existed there. It certainly does not and, in my family, the language died at the generation of my great-grandparents (even before in some branch of the family). My only point was that some Catalans are very fond of talking about events in the 18th century or even before to support their claims to independance. When I hear them, I can only roll my eyes because if we can go back that far, we do have as strong a claim to independance. In general, I am very much against any kind of historical claims because, in Europe particularly, this game never ends. Did you know that Catalonia used to be in the Kingdom of France until 1258 (see below) ? Irrelevant I agree, and so should be the Catalan revolt of 1640 or the Carlist wars (and don’t start with the Catalan “language” which is only one of the many dialect of latin like provençal/spanish/italian are, at least Basque is a unique language).

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Corbeil_(1258)

          Ps: I was in Alsace in the countryside a few weeks back. Heard a lot of people speak the local dialect. Strasbourg is indeed more “French” as I can recall from my last time there.

          1. Frenchguy

            Just a last point, a different language is neither sufficient nor necessay (see Scotland) for an independance movement. There does exist strong regional identities in France even if French has won the day. Right now, even Corsica is very unlikely to “break-up” with France but if regional secession starts to become a thing in Europe, I wouldn’t bet everything on France surviving as it is. And yes, Britanny is a good candidate for an independance movement with a strong (and recent) history of mass demonstrations when its economist interests are threatened.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonnets_Rouges

  13. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Facebook’s Promise of Community Is a Lie

    So now that numerous people have pointed out how $100k in supposed Russian political advertising is a drop in the bucket compared to the billion plus spent by Clinton and questioned how it could have possibly had any influence especially as most ads are not clicked on, we get the following:

    The latest revelations in that scandal indicate that Russian-linked anti-Clinton ads harnessed a Facebook micro-targeting feature to home in on key voters in the swing states of Michigan and Wisconsin.

    Oh really? Those Russkies were so perspicacious that they knew all the polls predicting a big Clinton win were wrong, that the final totals in those states would be only a few votes apart, and all they had to do to get their man in the White House was to buy a few Facebook ads to target Joe and Judy CheeseFace in Kenosha which would magically make their way right to only their eyeballs. But no mention of how this feature allegedly works (so my guess is it doesn’t) nor any evidence of the actual ads. How hard could it be to reproduce just one of these nefarious communications that changed the elections in the biggest, bestest country in the history of the world? Maybe the Russians stole Facebook’s screen shot abilities too.

    But if it was one of those newly discovered “microaggressions” that are to liberals as cryptonite to the Man of Steel, perhaps that would at least explain Clinton having to take a time out and retreat to her safe space for months after the election. Would that it were a permanent retreat…

    TNR turned into a rag maybe a couple decades ago now, and after many years and a few new owners, it still is.

    1. Chromex

      Agree with Alpha Bob with this addition which apparently cannot be repeated often enough. I am from Michigan. I lived in Michigan during the 2016 election and stayed up election night to watch it. Michigan had no impact whatsoever on the outcome. Before the Michigan outcome was decided, Trump had garnered enough electoral votes to win AND Hilary had publicly conceded the election. The only sense in which Michigan is a “key swing state” is as an object lesson on Hilary’s electability. ( Sanders won the primary there). But you never see this context when neolibs are griping about Bernie voters in states like Michigan and Wisconsin. I am no Hilary fan and I loathe Trump but imo why on earth would a so-called democracy countenance an antidemocratic system like the electoral college, the real culprit here, which, with increasing frequency,allows the election of presidents where the “defeated” candidate garnered more votes. Yet not a whisper from neolibs about that. No it’s those “key voters in swing states” like Michigan”, where the state outcome was not relevant to the electoral vote count that pushed Trump over the top. The pushers of the Russia meme must think we are dumber than poodles ( no disrespect to poodles intended).

      1. katiebird

        Would the electoral college work better (whatever that might mean) if rather than winner take all (as most states are) the electoral votes were assigned by some proportional method like Nebraska and Maine?

        I really am not at all sure about what would be better than what we’ve got. It does seem wrong that we have presidents who have lost the popular vote — And presidents who win but don’t get over 50%….. But it also doesn’t seem right that (with a new system) presidents could basically be elected by the residents of just a few states.

        Does opening the vote to a single national election balance it out?

        1. shargash

          IMO, it is a very bad idea to allow presidents to be elected without a majority of the popular vote, and the more candidates there are, the worse it is. France has a run-off election between the top two vote getters, but I don’t know whether to run screaming or laughing hysterically at the idea of a round two of an American presidential election. Perhaps Ranked Choice Voting would work, but I don’t know enough about its real-world performance to have an opinion.

          1. Terry Flynn

            see aussie senate – ranked voting is laughable unless part of single transferable vote in multi member constituencies

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        The central conceit of the 50 state strategy is that non-voters are far more likely to vote for a generic “tax and spend” Democrat than the available candidates. Organizing urban voters is a lot easier than rural voters for an obvious reason, walking distance. Republicans have no interest in expanding the electorate. They’ve been quite clear about this.

        If we accept the Democratic elite are radically removed from their voters, it begs the question do they see more democracy as the inmates running the asylum? Obama shutdown the 50 state strategy immediately upon taking office. Why? The answer is the organizations that arose could be used to pressure Obama or the other Democrats from acting in a way they desired. The efforts by people such as Nomiki Konst and Nina Turner to produce a reasonable DNC platform last year was fought tooth and nail by Hillary’s lackeys. Expectations the Democrats would hold the White House for the foreseeable future made losing Congress an acceptable outcome. Pelosi still gets a big office and to go to all the cool kids parties, but she doesn’t have the responsibility of governing. When Pelosi became Speaker, she explicitly rejected the electorate when she evenly divided Congressional committees between Republicans and Democrats.

        Democrats will huff and puff about the electoral college when it suits them, but they won’t work for change as it might give the masses too much power. People would no longer have to accept a candidate who can win “white flight” Republicans, “moderate suburban” Republicans.

        1. JBird

          The Democratic Party leadership has been ignoring, then co-opting(like the Republicans did the Tea Party), and now actively destroying the local neighborhood, city, county, even state homegrown, organic Democratic Party organizations since the at least the 1980s. It’s one of those upteen things on my list to study, but I know enough to understand it is a multi decade effort by the leadership, and it reminds me of the destruction of the small towns, then the local malls, and now even cities’ businesses with the large chains, and Amazon actively trying to do this.

    2. a different chris

      >But no mention of how this feature allegedly works

      When caught in a lie there are two moves you can make: Back off or double down. The second may fail, but the first guarantees you are finished. The Powers-That-Be got to their position by doubling down on the BS, that’s their move and they will make it until it fails.

      We hope that time may be near.

    3. John Wright

      I’m waiting for the Clinton camp to state the Russians also hacked the polls to make HRC overconfident of some states so she would not campaign there.

      Eventually it will devolve to this, Clinton’s personal pollsters were also mislead by the Russians.

      It is all part of a plan to weaken American democracy by having the Democrats spend $1 billion in a losing effort (both at the national level and local level).

      Those Russians are damn good at what they do..

    4. HotFlash

      Why of why oh why has the DNC not *hired those Russkies*? Clearly they are way better value than Robbie Mook.

  14. Wukchumni

    Those born in the USA around say 1994 have only known perpetual war all of their lives, in terms of cognition.

    One thing I find interesting about our war scheme on the home front, is how it differed vastly from WW2.

    Almost immediately after Pearl Harbor-everything was rationed, forget about being able to buy a new car or even a new tire, and despite the USA being the largest oil producer by a wide margin, you could hardly get any. And citizens (as we were called then) were implored to help the war effort by donating damn near everything imaginable, including bacon grease.

    In fact, we were told to go out and buy consumer goods right around the time we invaded Afghanistan, just the opposite of what went down some 60 years prior.

    1. bronco

      WW2 was the last war in which we were the good guys . There was actually a defensible reason for being in the war so they could force people to put up with rationing. Now rationing would bring too much scrutiny and the war would get cancelled.

      We can’t have a scheduled war get cancelled , the sponsors would raise hell. The may even stop buying ads

  15. HBE

    US trainers in Ukraine

    “They’re called anti-terrorism operations rather than something else because of the issue with the Russian-backed separatists,” said Capt. Christopher. “So they’re not really Russians, you know. They’re essentially terrorists.”

    Good to see a forecast of the general tenor of reporting that will be seen once things devolve in Ukraine again. I can already see the ISIS comparison headlines.

    All this so the US get itself embroiled into another Iraq, using the exact same failed tactics, this time on the border of another nuclear armed power.

    Short term planning at its best. /s

    1. JTMcPhee

      They aren’t “failed tactics” for the people whose careers and advancement and profits grow out of the exercise… the ones who never seem to suffer any consequences or even “damage to reputation” as a result of the outcomes. Which would maybe tell something about the actual expectations among those who have a real say, about what those outcomes from the pathways they channel and enable are supposed to be….? “Your metrics may differ…”

    2. Plenue

      To get people to understand the magnitude of the insane horror that is going on in Ukraine it helps to re-frame it in American terms:

      There’s a coup in DC. In the resulting chaotic power vacuum New Mexico declares independence. The new government in DC claims this isn’t a genuine New Mexican wish, and is being instigated by infiltrated Mexico agents. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but the DC response is to begin bombarding Albuquerque with airstrikes and heavy artillery, claiming the killing of what it says are still US citizens is part of an ‘anti-terrorist’ operation. The citizens of New Mexico (with Mexican assistance) form an army to defend themselves, which they do successfully for years. At no point do they ever make any offensive moves to invade the US; being entirely defensive. After the US military batters itself to pieces attempting to run these ‘terrorists’ out of their homes, it settles down to rebuilding its military for another future attempt, all the while continuing to subject the people of Albuquerque to regular artillery barrages. New Mexico never joins Mexico, and in fact Mexico advices them not to make that move.

      1. Wukchumni

        Very nice example of what’s what.

        I tend to liken our war in Afghanistan to this:

        What if the Russians fought a war in Nevada (with it’s seemingly endless basin and range territory that approximates Afghanistan)
        and although none of the land was worth a tinkers dam, they soldiered on for 16 years, and to bring a gallon of gas there, cost you $400 dlvd. Almost everything needed to be transported 8,000 miles, a long supply chain that catered to sutlers & victualers.

        At some point somebody might inquire into why there was a $397 discrepancy in the price of gas, versus what it sold for in the rest of the USA per gallon, but probably not.

        Kellov Brownoff and Rootchev would probably be in charge in of the whole enchilada…

        1. JTMcPhee

          Why is fuel delivered to the latest “Point Zero” in Notagain?istan costing $400 a gallon? One set of clues, from WaPo of all places: Corrupt Afghan trucking for U.S. military probed by Congress,https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/corrupt-afghan-trucking-for-us-military-probed-by-congress/2011/09/15/gIQA9KHnVK_story.html?utm_term=.3a7745fbe3a1 Interesting correction added to the article, even:

          Correction: An earlier version of this article included an incorrectly attributed quotation. It was Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.), not Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Gary Motsek, who said at a House subcommittee hearing: “As bad as it is, it would be worse if we had U.S. personnel guarding convoys. The body count would be unacceptable.” This version has been corrected. How did that sneak past the edictors?

          And from the Afghan government itself (whatever that thing might be): Special Report:
          Vulnerabilities to Corruption in the Importation and Supply of Fuel and Liquid Gas
          , http://www.mec.af/files/2016_04_30_Fuel_and_%20Liquid_Gas_Report_%20(English).pdf

  16. The Rev Kev

    Re: The Last Invention of Man
    This story is so quaint and innocent in a way and then turns weird. I suppose you could rename it “How to rule the world – and make a few billion along the way.” There is no self-reflection by the team in the story if they are worthy of deciding the future of humanity – because of course they are. They work in Silicon Valley dammit! No apparent thought as to what could go wrong. There is also no thought that the deep state might move in and simply take over the project for their own purposes.
    There is also no consideration if Omega might up and acquire independent thought and dispense with the team. There was a movie years ago (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus:_The_Forbin_Project) where such a computer machine was built but when they discovered that they could not control it, they tried to secretly shut down its controls. Turns out in the end the computer had them outsmarted and to avoid a repeat, had soldiers shoot the technicians or otherwise an American city would be nuked. The movie ends with the computer saying what a glorious future there will be but the lead scientist trying to be defiant. Try the YouTube clip at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRq7Muf6CKg as a taste of how this Silicon Valley story could turn out.

    1. paul

      Top film, a highly coupled network primed for takeover, cameras everywhere (even in forbin’s bedroom) and a chilling,downbeat ending.
      The outdoor scenes in Rome are pretty striking as well
      Colossus’s final line will probably find its way into zuckerberg’s presidential run
      in time you will come to regard me not only with respect and awe, but with love

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks to whoever mentioned Herzog’s “Lo and Behold.”

      Saw the first and last chapters of it (waiting for myself to get stronger to be able to handle the rest of the film).

      At the end, a couple of guys were talking about mind reading thousand of miles away, eagerly (it seems that way to me) awaiting their own big-bang moment,, as if that was a good thing. My first immediate thought was about my brother reading my mind from far away.

      After those two, the film concluded with one person saying maybe one day we could do this, or we could do that.

      At this stage of technological take over or coup, with the immense powers of the tools, the instant impacts they generate, it is not comfortable to hear these people say, maybe this, or maybe that.

      Let’s remember, tomorrow, if there is a tomorrow, a best explanation may come along that says ‘what you were doing 24 hours ago, based on your best explanation yesterday, was so very dangerous that it would wipe out the entire world.’

      Oops.

  17. Wukchumni

    Nice cougar, looks to be a female and probably around 50 in human years, i’d guess. (ok, that was a bad joke, but you go with the material you have)

    We had around a dozen sightings in the Mineral King area of Sequoia NP this summer, mostly in the afternoon. A friend is visiting the 50 largest giant sequoias, and I took him to the seldom visited Diamond tree (#19) and AD tree (#23) and as it’s all off-trail to get there, a 4 mile hike took 6 hours, to give you an idea of the terrain.

    So, the next day he wants to hike the Paradise trail, which has the highest altitude brobdingnagians @ 8,800 feet, and my wife and another friend had walked it a few days prior, so I told him he was on his own, and wouldn’t you know it, he has the perfect encounter, with a mountain lion laying on the trail about 100 feet away, and he got to glimpse it for a few minutes.

    Before this year, it was really rare to see one. To give you an idea of how scarce they are, a friend worked on trail crew in the back of beyond for 21 years before seeing one. That’s around 4 months a year of living in the deep backcountry, right in their bailiwick.

  18. djrichard

    Regarding YOLO, I choose suicide by being a working stiff til 65 and then living within my means as long as possible afterwards.

    1. ambrit

      I’m not quite 65 yet, but, a run of bad luck, (medical) and some poor planning have me convinced that I’ll have to be a “working stiff” right up to the day I die, and perhaps a little time after as well.
      As for YOLO, well, I’ll defer to Shakespear who wrote; “All the world’s a stage…”

      1. djrichard

        Hey Ambrit, I can identify. I’m over 50 and finally have the kids out of college. I thought I would find myself liberated at this point, but still find that I’m stuck in the same trappings of life. Arghh. I used to think the metaphor that seemed to have dominion over me was the one that Thomas Disch was getting at in his writings, which was life-as-prison. But that’s too passive. However, I have to some degree given up on the joy of the stage that I’ve been performing on (per your reference to Shakespeare). I’m thinking there’s more joy to be found by eschewing that stage by thinking of my performance as suicide by life. Anyways, that’s as far as my thinking goes … today :-p.

        Anyways, wishing you well in your journey. Best Regards …

    2. kgc

      Whether or not the federal government is mostly funded by income taxes, I don’t think we need Trump’s actual tax returns to come to the (justifiable) conclusion that he’d benefit from his (or Ryan’s?) tax proposal. Of course he would. The furor about releasing his tax returns is a red herring that works in his favor.

      Not to mention that the data in the tax returns isn’t particularly illuminating, if you have competent tax counsel. Which I assume he does.

  19. diptherio

    The William Darity piece in Think Progress about the Jobs Guarantee is encouraging…until he starts talking about how to fund it.

    The most recent iteration of this idea was in the late 1970s with the Humphrey-Hawkins Act that called for federal job programs. Why did it fail to do what you’re suggesting and what’s different now?

    Our ideas are an expression of this old idea. That legislation suggested that if the private sector was not able to generate a significant number of jobs to produce full employment, then the federal government will provide those jobs. It characterized the federal government as functioning as an employer of last resort. But it was an unfunded mandate in the sense that there’s no structural or financial support for executing the program. So we’re actually talking about how you would put flesh on the bones of the Humphrey-Hawkins bill.

    […]

    What would it cost on the federal level to do this?

    We estimated that if you were to put 15 million people to work — which is the approximate number of people who were out of work at the trial of the Great Recession — if you were to put 15 million people to work at an average expenditure of $50,000, which would be inclusive of salaries, benefits, and materials and training costs, that would cost $750 billion.

    What’s interesting about that figure is, circa 2012-2013, I think the expenditures on the variety of entitlement programs came to approximately the same amount, $747 billion to be exact. So you could finance the federal program in somewhat of an offsetting fashion by reducing the expenditures on entitlement programs, which would no longer be needed to the same degree because the job guarantee would simultaneously function as a route to full employment and a route toward eliminating poverty. It would definitely eliminate working poverty.

    So the corporate Dems are planning on using this MMT policy proposal without accepting, understanding, or even mentioning an MMT understanding of Federal budget constraints. Which is convenient, since it gives them an excuse to slash existing social safety nets. {facepalm}

    The Neera Tanden-led Center for American Progress is picking up on the JG proposal as a winner, but they intend to strip the soul out of it an make it just another excuse to cut SNAP benefits. So I think it’s more important than ever that we do our best to get across the fact that the Federal gov’t can implement a JG without needing to cut spending, raise taxes, or increase borrowing.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I can’t see this country implementing a Jobs Guarantee as anything other than a Jobs Mandate. The temptation to use it for Calvinistic correction is just too great. ‘What do you mean to don’t want to work at the chemical plant?’

      I can see the argument that, if we’re going to run the economy like a lottery, it would be good to set a floor for how far people can fall. But I can’t help but think that is just papering over the ‘running the economy like a lottery’ problem.

      Sort of related though, my parents were older than average. It was remarkable as a young idealist that their acquaintances of all political stripes thought the Civilian Conservation Corps was a great thing: ‘Why can’t we just do that?’

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        ‘Why can’t we just do that?’

        Where is the room for graft? It would be small scale in nature and be done by the little people. The donor class isn’t going to make too much money on sales of shovels for example. They might make their money selling new “super radios” to the army then not delivering or bribing a doofus Major or lt colonel to look the other way.

        Obama didn’t want to pay people to simply dig holes. What would the benefits of burying the power lines be?

        Of course, the government has moved from paying for services to subsidizing corporations for doing what they were already going to do.

        1. Wukchumni

          Young men (there was just one CCC camp for women in the entire country) were paid $30 per month, $25 of which was sent back home to their family.

          Lets say you paid them $1000 a month, and $834 had to be sent back home?

          I don’t think that’d fly today~

          That said, of all the alphabet soup acronyms of the FDR era, the CCC was pretty much loved by all, even if it did have it origins in the idea that FDR et al didn’t want a second Bonus Army occupying DC in 1933, so most of the original enlistees were WW1 vets.

      1. Adam Eran

        Although Bernie Sanders made Stephanie Kelton an economist advising the budget committee in the Senate, he retreats from any MMT assertions, saying he’ll pay for any program with taxes. Maybe he believes the public won’t buy anything else.

        I believe Kelton is out of the Budget advisory role for now.

      2. PhilM

        Isn’t the price of gasoline in Afghanistan high enough already, and you want to give them more latitude to spend? What is the point, seriously, of freeing the already tyrannical governments of the world from the last tiny shred of restraint in the form of the customary notion, however illusory, that they must tax to spend?

  20. Synoia

    In Ukraine, the US Trains an Army in the West to Fight in the East

    As in Iraq, with an army of young men, the young men and their families must be convinced they should die for their country and leader. By families, do not underestimate the opinions of the mothers of the young men.

    Their decision is: “Is the current leadership in Ukraine, and Ukraine today, a place to die for?”

    If the answer is yes, then the young men will die. If no, they will desert, taking their weapons with them.

    The US may be able to train a battalion in 4 weeks, or whatever. Six months later how many of those trained remain? The velocity of training may just be able to keep up with the rate of desertion.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I’ve come to see that people both less stupid (smarter) and more stupid (less smart) than me impact the world more, both positively and negatively, randomly (without correlating to stupidity), than me.

      Perhaps life doesn’t have to be an 11-dimensional chess between 2 high IQ players, but a 4-dimensional one, and a harder one to play – made harder because there are not just 2 players, but billions, and they don’t all play with just IQ.

      So, I fear geniuses monkeying around with more powerful surveillance, and am inspired by acts of kindness from everywhere.

    2. dcrane

      “Trump’s Razor” is a pretty good one from Josh Marshall, whose site used to be one of my first stops each day. But the Trump/Russia parade marches on there endlessly…just a few days ago an insider-y sounding post about a “CNN scoop about Mueller and the Steele dossier” being “more significant than it appears on the surface” was being flogged for more Prime subscriptions. The site has become too much like just another outlet designed to solicit clicks from outraged Big-D Democrats.

  21. Webstir

    In Re: Doctor Pay & Productivity

    There is a common refrain heard around my Law Firm: Fast Law is Bad Law!

  22. barefoot charley

    The Pew piece on who pays what taxes illustrates yet another area of elite cluelessness: a great many working- and middle-class people hardly pay any income tax at all–but they’re bled white on Social Security withholdings. Self-employed people pay (as I recall in my anemic state) 12 percent of income off the top, while various deductions, earned-income credits etc make so-called taxes nominal and even negative. If you’re lucky enough to have an employer to pay half of SS, it’s still a much bigger bite than most of us pay in taxes. Tinkering up tax totals while ignoring Social Security withholdings means you don’t see, at all, what happens to most Americans at tax time.

    1. diptherio

      Self-employed people pay (as I recall in my anemic state) 12 percent of income off the top…

      Actually, Social Security and Medicare together come to 15.3% for the self-employed (12.4% for SS, 2.9% for Medicare).

      1. Wukchumni

        I hit up J.G. Wentworth and asked if they would be interested in buying me out on my annuity-and they seemed keen, until I told them it was my future SS payment. Oh well.

      2. todde

        You get a deduction for the employer share of tax.

        The percentage actually paid is an little over 13%

    2. todde

      Also, when I was born, the FICA tax accounted for 10% of total federal revenue. Now it accounts for 30% to 40%, depending on employment factors.

  23. Wukchumni

    We have perhaps 200-500 wild boars where we live, and sometimes you’ll be driving on our country roads, and a conga line of say 10 of them will be crossing the road, all tail to snout in tight formation, and one might be 100 pounds and the one in front of it 400 pounds and the one behind it 200 pounds. Makes for a most unforgettable sight.

    As forage becomes scarce in drought years, these puerco ricans will occasionally tear up your lawn in a display of the worst roto-till job imaginable, searching for grubs and whatnot underfoot.

    It makes for odd conversation around these parts in that it’ll sounds like this:

    “Did you hear Steve got pigged?”

    We’ve been pigged twice…

    1. JBird

      Rather like the deer where I live. They hide and mostly stay away from the gardens and yards, and you just don’t see them. Until drought time. Then they are all over the place looking for food. As much as they fear people, if they are hungry and savvy enough, they will just go were it is not easy for humans to go quickly. It’s a trip to look through the window see multiple deer calmly eating behind the library in daylight. I’m like “Hello, where were you before?” When the drought ends, they disappear again.

      1. Oregoncharles

        They’re on my place regardless of drought or rain. We have one area fenced off, for grapes and such, when I remember to close the gate. And I train them to stay out of the front garden by popping out and chasing them. Deer are supposed to be afraid.

        Technically, hunting is allowed here (we’re just out of the city), and one neighbor has done it – sounded like they were shooting at me, and the deer died in the yard in between. But there’s no safe direction to shoot; houses in all directions. Down toward the river would be fairly safe, but that isn’t where I see them. And we’re not going to murder Bambi anyway, tempting as it is. They do run when I yell “Venison!” at them.

        1. polecat

          This year we’ve had mucho deer around in town … more than usual, probably due to what had been a extended dry summer (North Olympic Peninsula). Before I developed our yardscape, I fenced the perimeter w/ wire fencing, and have never had deer jump inside, which is fortunate, since 2/3rds of our yard is edible stuff, to us AND the deer, and installed spring hinges on all the gates, so they close when not held ! I did plant some red-twig dogwoods beyond the confines, which said deer brouse on annually, making them rather dense. So it’s kinda a win-win for all concerned.

  24. B1whois

    The article about Google being charged with racketeering was interesting. And it had an odd paragraph at the end of the article which left me asking WTF?

    Attia’s suit seeks unspecified damages and compensation. His legal action was brought by Santa Monica software company Max Sound, which said it had made an agreement with Attia in 2014 to pursue intellectual property claims on his behalf. Max Sound’s penny stock trades over the counter and has plummeted in value to a thousandth of a cent from about 50 cents in November 2012. The firm’s reports to regulators show no revenue since 2014, and an $11.2 million loss last year.

    Why did the author include this information about Max Sounds stock? Is the plummet in stock value somehow related to Google’s actions?
    Why is the information about Max Sounds in the article at all? Would it be considered typical to make this kind of Declaration about the details of the nature of who is bringing the lawsuit?

  25. allan

    Paul Krugman has a new blog post on new ideas in economics (emphasis added):

    … Once you think about it, it’s not too hard to see how that happened. First of all, conventional macro has worked pretty well, so you’d need really, really brilliant innovations to make a persuasive major break with that conventionality. And really, really brilliant innovations don’t come easy. Instead, the breaks with conventional wisdom came mainly from people who, far from transcending that wisdom, simply failed to understand it in the first place.

    And while there are such people on both left and right, there’s a huge asymmetry in wealth and influence between the two sides. Confused views on the left get some followers, provoke a back-and-forth on a few blogs, and generate some nasty tweets. Confused views on the right get mainlined straight into policy pronouncements by the European Commission and the leadership of the Republican Party. …

    Take that, MMT hippies.

  26. marym

    Chicago Tribune

    Once the Obama Presidential Center is constructed, it will have a children’s play garden, sledding hill, green spaces for picnics and outdoor gatherings, basketball courts and even a recording studio, officials have said.

    But what the space won’t have is all of former President Barack Obama’s manuscripts, documents, letters and gifts he collected during his time in office.

    “This is going to be completely different,” [Foundation CEO David Simas] said. “What the president and first lady said … is they simply did not want a museum that served as a mausoleum, as a way to look back.”

    By relying on online archives, officials avoid having to construct the Obama facility to meet federal standards. They also avoid having to raise millions for an endowment and they won’t have to pay NARA to run the center.

    1. barefoot charley

      Then why do they call this Obama Amusement Park the Obama Library? Arugula-eating University of Chicago snobbery, I guess. It’s been fascinating and depressing to see the whole South Side realize it’s getting gamed, but not really fight back because Obama’s doing the gaming. Truly a gifted ‘leader.’ Maybe he could also give us a Free Speech soapbox sponsored by Goldman Sachs?

      1. OIFVet

        Depressing, indeed. Many of the community groups who were pushing for a community benefits agreement with the Obama Foundation were just tickled pink when Dear Leader deigned to show up via video link to the meeting and tell them that no such agreement will be forthcoming:

        The first question for Obama was from Jeanette Taylor, 42, a longtime Woodlawn resident and organizer who has been working to craft a benefits agreement. She asked why, if he wants to help the residents who struggle with unemployment and can barely make ends meet, the foundation doesn’t put its promises in writing.

        “The concern I have with community benefits agreements, in this situation, is it’s not inclusive enough,” Obama said. “I would then be siding with who? What particular organizations would end up speaking for everybody in that community?

        “I’m not an outsider here,” he said. “I know the minute you say we’re thinking about signing something that will determine who is getting jobs, and contracts …I’ll have 20 organizations coming out of the woodwork, some of which I’ve never heard of before.”

        Nicely done by the former “community organizer!” He is definitely an “insider” now, and gosh darn it, if he hasn’t heard of a community group before, then that community group might as well not exist! Certainly the only legitimate community groups are the ones that Barry knows and approves of! But have no fear, community, all Barack does all day, every day, is think about ways to improve your well-being:

        “The community benefit agreement concept is actually one that can be a really useful tool…if you have a bunch of developers coming in that want to build a high-rise or for-profit enterprise in your neighborhood,” Obama said. “But here’s the thing: we are a nonprofit and aren’t making money. We are just bringing money to the community…

        …”I wanted to be in Chicago today,” Obama, who appeared on two screens and drew a standing ovation, told the audience, “But they said, I got to go raise some money to build this Presidential Center,” he said to laughter from the crowd.

        Yes, just trust Barry! He is hard at work raising money from community groups that he does know, such as “Wall Street Bankers United For Hope and Change”, so that he can then shower that largess on you!

        The joke’s on the South Side, and the audience was too mesmerized by the image of His Greatness on the TV screens to do anything other than laugh at the screwing they are about to receive from this smooth-talking grifter.

        http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obamacenter/ct-obama-public-forum-library-20170915-story.html

        1. barefoot charley

          Thanks for these depressing tidbits. There’s a new watchdog group, unfortunately umbrella’d by the now-toothless Friends of the Parks so don’t expect much. Their homepage sums up some of the controversies anyway.

          http://jacksonparkwatch.org/

          1. DJG

            barefoot charley: At least Friends of the Parks is doing something. I have sent them a contribution (after the Lucas Museum fiasco and their victory). It’s hard to take on Obama and Company with a staff of, errrr, six or so.

          1. OIFVet

            Oh indeed, the Chicago Machine will never forgive Friends of the Parks for preventing the Lucas land grab on the lakefront and the eyesore he had planned to erect there to spoil the beautiful shoreline. Obama is a different category of a heavy hitter, though, and at this point the fight is to minimize the extent of the damage being wrought upon the commons and the long-time residents of the surrounding communities. Which are overwhelmingly black, for those of you not from Chicago.

            And as far as Lucas tasteless monstrosities go, my high school alma mater succumbed to the temptations of his millions and built a faux-gothic fine arts building with imitation flying buttresses. The addition dwarfs the original buildings, and exudes an overwhelming sense of soullessness. I now avoid walking and driving past it, but on those occasions I have to, I feel grateful for the city being spared the Lucas museum on the lakefront.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          I heard about that! Apparently, someone told Dubya what The Butter Battle Book was about and he immediately sent for gasoline.

    2. John k

      Pretty uninteresting topic, except the bits where the community find out just what he intends to do for them.
      Token black on the court, token black pres, neither ever had any interest in real benefits for blacks, or even just reducing cop violence.
      Sad they remain infatuated in him and bill.

    3. DJG

      What’s interesting (to use an anodyne word) about this info from marym is that this weird reliance on digitized archives, which will inevitably mean problems with accessibility, is metaphorically exactly what Obama is: This is his endless desire not to reveal anything. And in OIFVet’s comment below, that business about how Obama would really rather be in Chicago but he had to do fund raising, now what does that remind us of? Let’s see: all the times that he couldn’t shut down Guantanamo. All the times that he shirked enforcement of the law. All the times that he pretended to be involved in an issue and disappeared. All the times when he was or is evolving. There was always something else more pressing…

      He’s the proverbial bad date.

      Two questions: Are these archivists being kind, because digital archives simply aren’t paper, and paper is what matters here, right? (Recalling Lambert’s admonitions about paper ballot counting publicly.)

      Any guesses where the suppressed report on torture to the U.S. Senate might be? (Obama being too busy doing fund raising or polishing the leaves of the philodendrons in the White House to release it.)

      And a third: Is that report now hackable? Yumlicious.

  27. Tomonthebeach

    Actually DO read the comments. Although this site is not so bad vis a vie trolls and those who defend their myopia with ad hominem attacks. However, when the number of comments gets past 8, and half are redundant or not value-added, even on nice pages, I tend to move on.

    Moderation can eliminate the crap, but it could also prioritize input showing value-added commentary first. What a nice reader service that would be.

  28. Carey

    Call me foily, but Hillary Clinton’s continual reappearances are starting to feel like one long Psyop.

  29. Andrew Watts

    RE: Trump: “Only one thing will work” against North Korea

    Trump is emulating Nixon to his own detriment. Nixon tried the whole madman act over the Vietnam War and never succeeded. He went so far as to fly nuclear bombers near the Soviet Union to try to force them to pressure the North Vietnamese to agree to a better deal. Which should sound vaguely familiar because the same thing happened near North Korean airspace a few weeks ago.

    Anyway, the Paris Peace Talks ended with the US agreeing to a humiliating deal that involved paying North Vietnam 3.25 billion dollars in reparations. Congress never ratified the agreement and the US never paid. I’m sure Ken Burns will leave that fact out of his documentary because we need to maintain the illusion that we never lost the war in Southeast Asia. The whole reparations aspect kinda makes America look like a loser though and a poor one at that.

    We’ll see what Trump gets out of his trip to China. Ignoring the bluster and North Korea until they start moving American nukes into the peninsula or the US deploys a few more carrier groups into the Pacific.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Carriers are extremely expensive sitting ducks, if the other side has decent missiles. Probably he won’t, as the admirals would rather not lose their fancy toys. To say nothing of the sailors.

      1. Andrew Watts

        All I’m sayin’ is that there won’t be any action until there’s more carrier groups or nukes involved. Whether the carriers end up in Davey Jones locker is besides the point. Y’har!

        1. Edward E

          Hi Andrew, may I ask if you have an opinion on how the Hermit Kingdom is procuring decent missiles and launchers? I’ve wondered if the number two and/or three strongest militaries might be providing assistance. Likely without orders from their respective President and not necessarily going rogue. What we know for sure about them is that we don’t know much for sure.

          1. Andrew Watts

            I remember seeing a news story awhile back that made the allegation that North Korea was receiving technical expertise from Ukraine via the international black market. I don’t really know how accurate that reporting was, It’s plausible imo.

            I highly doubt that any current nuclear power would willingly assist a non-nuclear power in helping dilute their already waning monopoly on nuclear arms. Whether the North Koreans are receiving information from them through espionage is a big question mark.

            1. justanotherprogressive

              Ah, but then there is that money thing – and then what is “implausible” really doesn’t matter much any more.

              Are you forgetting that Ukraine is ruled by oligarchs?

    2. VietnamVet

      The parallels between the Nixon and Trump Presidencies are interesting.

      A general (Haig and Kelly) is chief of staff. A media/intelligence community coup is underway to force the President to resign. The military chain-of-command took the extra-constitutional step of removing the President Nixon from the decision loop. Tillerson, Mattis, Mnuchin forged a ‘suicide pact’ in the event Trump wants one of them gone. “Madman Diplomacy” negotiated a “peace with honor” with North Vietnam that withdrew America from the war and Saigon fell two years later.

      Can a mad man negotiate a Korean peace treaty by threatening a first strike on Pyongyang that will result in the destruction of Seoul and restart the Korean War with China on the opposing side? One missile with one hydrogen bomb can take out Tokyo. Washington DC is in range of Chinese ICBMs. The world is one shoot-down away from a nuclear war.

      1. Andrew Watts

        Haig was Secretary of State in the first term of the Reagan administration. His nomination was bitterly opposed by the Democrats and this kinda shocked the Reagan people at first. As for the reasons why I don’t know specific reasons. I doubt the Democrats at the time were thrilled of having a General who managed the White House during the Watergate Crisis end up as a diplomat. It sends the wrong signal especially when it was a warmongering dolt like Haig.

        “Madman Diplomacy” negotiated a “peace with honor” with North Vietnam that withdrew America from the war and Saigon fell two years later.

        Nixon got the same deal that the Johnson administration was offered. I doubt the North Vietnamese would’ve even bothered negotiating if the Soviets weren’t threatening to cut off aid. If history repeats itself it’ll be Russia that attempts to find a face-saving solution. Trump can sell it any way he wants because the media and historians will work hard to sell a myth like that one.

  30. Andrew Watts

    RE: Americans’ Trust in Generals Problematic: Former Joint Chiefs Chairman

    This story may foreshadow the rise of America’s stratocracy. For those you who don’t read science fiction, or aren’t fans of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, a stratocracy is a form of government where governance is left to those who have served in the military. It isn’t necessarily a military junta or fascist dictatorship and could even retain some aspects of a constitutional government given that military service is the only prerequisite for voting or holding office. Which could easily be made mandatory through legislation.

    The presidency of both Obama and Trump have seen the rising dominance of the military. When Obama was briefed on Afghanistan he was given two plans; to send troops or to send even more troops. His other option, which he probably never considered, was to order the military to withdraw on a fixed timetable. Trump’s presidency features so many military officers in positions of power it looks like it’s starting to bother the retired corps of officers. It wasn’t always this way though.

    In the aftermath of Iran-Contra Congress almost passed a law that forbid military officers from serving as National Security Adviser. Unfortunately this law didn’t apply to Colin Powell and even though Powell was expecting resistance to his appointment, according to his memoirs, the one Senator who might’ve made a huge stink about it caved and endorsed Powell. In the present we now have military officers as SecDef, NSA, and Chief of Staff.

    If the president acting as commander-in-chief is unable to decide matters of war and peace then he is abdicating the responsibility of his office. But to whom? None of these guys are Stilicho or Aetius.

    Heh!

  31. D

    Very sorry if this is a duplicate, but after I attempted to ‘post’ it the first time, I ended up with a: The website cannot display the page notice, which – among so many other possibilities – may certainly have been because of typo on my behalf as to my ‘email address’:

    Re: [Richard Branson’s] Virgin Care asks Bath staff not to report safety concerns to health watchdog.

    Lord, how to keep track of how much the Billionaires like Sir™ Richard Branson have sunk their fangs into as regards The Health Care Industry Titanium Mine. I hadn’t even known about Branson’s Virgin Care; and then –to name just a small few of preceding and future few Techno Billionaire horrors- there’s: NHS England patient data ‘uploaded to Google servers; Facefiend’s numerous Mental Health AI™ connected Research™, bots, and horrors; Bezos wants to OWN Pharmaceuticals now, that should be swell; and on and on and on).

    It seems (from what I’ve read in the last 9 plus hours as I post) that Sir™ Richard Branson’s Virgin Care entity has deeply lampreyed into the PUBLIC’s health care and well being in the United Kingdom [UK] , via the corrupted NHS determiners/overseers. The best site I found for somewhat of a timeline and a fairly detailed synopsis, up to April/May 2017, was NHS For Sale – Virgin Care. Hopefully that site ‘page’ will soon be updated for the last 5 months or so. Branson’s Virgin Care entity Wiki Page is more than worthless: hasn’t been edited since May 2, 2017, and doesn’t even note that it’s Branson’s entity; while his Wiki Virgin Galactic entity page notes him over 22 times.

    Other Virgin Care articles those interested might want to look up (didn’t want to add too many ‘links’ to be snagged in filters)

    04/09/17 Richard Branson Sues NHS – Richard Branson is suing NHS commissioners, because his company lost a bid for a £82m children’s community services contract | The Lutterworth Cloud

    03/15/17 Virgin Care sues NHS after losing Surrey child services deal | Financial Times [FT] (NOTE: to those firewalled by FT: I was able to access this piece, despite normally being blocked by the firewall – D)

    11/11/16 Virgin Care wins £700m contract to run 200 NHS and social care services Deal for Bath and north-east Somerset area sparks new fears about private firms’ role in providing publicly funded healthcare | The Guardian

    03/21/15 Virgin Care among firms with lucrative NHS deals and a tax haven status Richard Branson’s group is one of 10 private health providers that have tax havens as part of their corporate structure | The Guardian

    11/06/14 Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson bids to take over cancer and end of life care in NHS privatization deal worth £1.2billion | The Daily Mail

    10/07/12 Mother challenges Virgin Care takeover of mental health service High court asked to rule against county council and primary care trust’s decision to name company as preferred bidder | The Guardian

    The more I dug into this, as usual, the deeper and uglier it got, looks like Sir Branson had his hooks into the NHS even before Virgin Care™. According to the Virgin Care™ site itself (even though Virgin Care™ was not founded until 2010, and its wiki page notes no predecessor Virgin Care organization, Virgin Care™ has been providing public services since 2006 (boldfacing mine):

    *More than 400 NHS and Social Care Services with a difference

    Since 2006 we’ve treated more than five million people, making sure everyone feels the difference.

    For another example of a pre 2010 Branson/Virgin/NHS PRIVATE Entity, there’s this, pre 2010, Guardian piece which makes reference to …”Virgin Healthcare,” Branson’s medical offshoot …:

    04/09/08 NHS GPs at new Virgin health centres will get 10% of profits • Clinics could change face of family doctors’ practices – Company insists there will be no conflict of interest

    Lastly, uugh, that Virgin Care asterisk logo “*”(privatized public healthcare as an afterthought/tax deduction of a ‘busy’ Billionaire?), it’s as revolting as his blue eyeball logo for Virgin Galactic. (If that’s not a pupil surrounded by a round contoured blue iris – it may as well be – it certainly looks like one; if it is an eyeball, I’d bet it’s his.)

  32. Lunker Walleye

    Regarding “Is Trend Forecasting Doing More Harm to Fashion Than Good?”, I wonder if the marigolds and yellows that are showing up for 2018 are left-over fabrics from Spring 2013 when the color “Lemon Zest” was found in jeans, purses and other accessories? Color palettes from the past few years have included yellow-greens and yellow-golds. Perhaps the flirty canary dancing frock in “LaLa Land” was reason enough to bring back a more pure hue and give it a new name? We do need some sunshine in our lives and yellow is a great way of lifting our mood.

  33. BoycottAmazon

    Our Free Press / Money Laundry in UK

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeyZegHlHSk

    Real Media interviews HSBC whistleblower Nicholas Wilson about the UK’s newly appointed International Trade Minister Rona Fairhead and her controversial past as BBC Trust chair and HSBC director during the time when HSBC was laundry service for drug and terrorist funding.

    Her Husband was head of Grenfeld Refurbishment which lead to fire becoming disaster.

  34. Marco

    Anyone here see the MIC BLOB “kicking-it-up-a-notch” with the latest Corker WWIII revelations? The Senate Committee Chairmen on Foreign Relations SPEAKS!!

    1. Marco

      Adding…WWIII was always the plan but PLEASE…in an orderly fashion and with someone more serious at the helm (Pence would be lovely). My dKos buddies are in glee mode so maybe I can ignore this like every other breathless NYT revelation.

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