Links 11/18/17

Pigs to debut at new zoo in the Muslim-majority north Asia Times

The Changing Colors of our Living Planet NASA (Kevin W)

Tim Berners-Lee on the future of the web: ‘The system is failing’ Guardian

Tezos, a cryptocurrency that raised $232 million in July, is in crisis ars technica

Current CRISPR gene drive systems are likely to be highly invasive in wild populations BioRxiv


A bruising Brexit could shipwreck the British economy Martin Wolf, Financial Times

Britain prepares case to cut Brexit divorce bill Financial Times

EU threat to withhold Britain’s budget rebate in Brexit bill wrangle Telegraph

Irish PM: EU prepared to wait for Brexit ‘concessions’ Politico


Saudi Crown Prince meets with Bill Gates to review joint development programs Al Arabiya (bob)

How deep ties with Pakistan’s military helped Saudi purge Asia Times. “Pakistan… has enjoyed Saudi support while developing its nuclear arms program.” (resilc)

How We All Learned to Accept Bush’s Lies About Libya LobeLog (resilc)

Saudi Propaganda and the Starvation of Yemen American Conservative

Russia, Turkey, Iran meeting to discuss Syria strategy Asia Times. Resilc: “Is Turkey still in NATO or did I miss that drop?….”

Saudi Arabia’s Incompetence Would Be Comical If It Weren’t Killing So Many People Intercept (resilc)

Scuffle at Jerusalem’s Western Wall pits American Jews against Netanyahu Washington Post

New Cold War

Is America Up for a Second Cold War? American Conservative (resilc)

The Democrats Used to Love Russian Oligarchs – Glen Ford, Truthdig (Oregoncharles)

Imperial Collapse Watch

World, horrified at Trump, sends US Ranking Plummeting Juan Cole (resilc)

Trump Transition

Trump puts elephant trophies decision on hold following criticism The Hill

Senate sends $700 billion defense bill to Trump, funding uncertain Reuters (furzy)

Trump to Pay His Own Legal Bills, Set Up Fund to Cover Staff Bloomberg

As Bannon Readies for ‘War’ on GOP, Finding Donors May Be the First Battle Wall Street Journal

The Questionable Math Behind Manafort’s Extravagant Home Renovations Bloomberg

With “Frankenstein” Tweets, Trump Steps in His Own Moral Minefield Vanity Fair (resilc)

Tax “Reform”

Class warfare fight erupts over tax bills The Hill


Tax reform roadblocks emerge in Senate Politico

Health Care

Millions of kids may lose health insurance over missed deadline by Congress NBC (furzy)

Net Neutrality

With net neutrality on the chopping block, some communities aren’t waiting Huffington Post

Democrats in Disarray

The Clintons held the Democratic Party hostage for 2 decades — and the sudden revisionism is inconveniently late Business Insider (resilc, Scott)

Democrats Are Doomed Unless They Start Listening to Millennials Vice

Democrats still love pay-day lenders and banks New Republic

Oklahoma Tried the GOP Agenda. Now, It’s Electing Democrats. New York Magazine

Sex in Politics…Not!

The Danger of Knowing You’re on the ‘Right Side of History’ New York Magazine (resilc)

Ohio Supreme Court Judge Bill O’Neill brags of sex conquests BBC

Roy Moore is waging war on Senate leader Mitch McConnell NBC (furzy). FWIW, Birmingham paper today has a front page story defending Moore.

The TED talks empire has been grappling with sexual harassment, interviews and internal emails show Washington Post

What Should Democrats Do About Al Franken? Nation. I don’t write this stuff….

A Reminder That America Is Incredibly Corrupt and Only Getting Worse Vice

Can journalists ever regain Americans’ trust? Financial Times

Will Powell Be an Accidental Hawk? Council on Foreign Relations

Oil Short-Sellers Return as Doubts Loom on OPEC’s Horizon Bloomberg

Unemployment falls as a majority of states see job growth Economic Policy Institute

CalPERS says no to adding leverage Top1000Funds (Joe R)

Guillotine Watch

Everyday Objects Tiffany. Kim M: “I am not sure which item is most over the top, but as a knitter, I am particularly appalled by the $9,000 sterling silver “ball of yarn” desk ornament. Yeesh, I thought sock yarn was getting outrageous when I paid $30 for a hand dyed limited run skein 2 years ago.

Class Warfare

For Women Restaurant Workers, Sexual Harassment Starts with the Day You’re Hired In These Times (Mo Tkacik)

‘Robots are not taking over,’ says head of UN body on autonomous weapons Guardian

Antidote du jour. From Jim D:

And doubling up on cats, a bonus from martha r:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Carla

    Re: Health Care — just received an email alerting me to this organization and website:

    The organization is DUH! (Demand Universal Healthcare!). They are not a 501c3 or 501c4 because they endorse candidates. The DUH! web site provides access to several videos about NIMA (National Improved Medicare for All) and a growing list of the candidates they endorse for 2018.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Oklahoma Tried the GOP Agenda. Now, It’s Electing Democrats” — New York magazine

    Same old, same old “false alternatives” fallacy from the brain-dead, partisan MSM.

    You cannot punish the R party by voting D, nor vice versa. They are on the same team — the Permanent War / Sorrows of Empire team.

    Friends don’t let friends vote Depublicrat.

          1. Marco

            Has there been any serious analysis about what it would take to get a 3rd party on the ballot in all 50 states and every municipality? How much $$ would that cost?

            1. oh

              If enough people wake up it can be done but will take several years to take down the barricades put up by the Repigs and the DimRats.

            2. Oregoncharles

              Ask the national Green Party – that’s their job, so they might have numbers for you. It depends on the strategy used. The biggest barriers require large number of signatures to qualify for the ballot. Conceivably, you could do that with volunteers at minimal cost, if you had enough of them. The Bernie campaign could have done it quite easily, just with the members they had.

              Lawsuits can work, too, since the highest barriers are unconstitutional. It worked in Georgia. But lawyers have to be paid.

              To Be Fair, the Libertarians probably know, too; they generally work with more money, so they’d be more likely to have $$numbers.

              Part of the point is that you aren’t actually starting from scratch unless you insist on it.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Precisely the reason only two “real” choices can ever be permitted, a lesson learned after the “disaster” that Ross Perot almost was.

      When one side effs up and voters move the other way, there’s no harm, no foul as long both choices are essentially the same on the things that “matter.” Three real choices gets to be a little bit too much like herding cats.

      1. jfleni

        D.S.A. (Democratic Socialists Of America) could be and are showing some signs of being the game changer!


        1. Paul Cardan

          Agreed, although they do have a few issues to sort out internally and a key part of their political strategy might prove unworkable. DSA membership has expanded exponentially. But mass is one thing, organizational strength another. The chapter with which I’m familiar is currently unable to change it’s bylaws because they can’t get a quorum. And that’s because they have far more members than active participants. They’re also “multi-tendency,” so you’ll find Bernie-supporting Democrats, Trotskyites, and left activists of many other sorts among active members. Most are in their twenties, it seems, but others are much older. All of these people must find a way to talk to each other. They’re trying, but with mixed results. As for strategy, they’re not a political party and seem to have no intention of becoming one. They’re seeking power through elected officials of existing parties, principally Democrats. I have doubts about this. Arguably, the Democratic Party is designed to prevent groups like DSA from having any meaningful influence. Perhaps the obstacles can be overcome. Perhaps not.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Perhaps the DSA can find a least-common-denominator list of some basic things they want that all their members can be equally unanimous in all wanting equally. That way, they can attract everybody who wants those few most basic things.

            The only way the DSA can avoid breaking back down into many micro mini parties over things that some DSA members support and other DSA members oppose and yet other DSA members don’t care about at all is to adopt a policy that every DSA officeseeker is only sworn to support the few big things that every DSAer wants. And beyond that, every DSA officeseeker is free to support or oppose his or her very own special wishlist of every other thing beyond the Few Big Things.

            But that can only work if each DSA member with his or her very own special pet issue sets aside his or her individual Left Wing Egotism and accepts that no DSA officeseeker owes any DSA member/voter any respect for any personal Left Wing kicks and causes which are not on the Unanimously Accepted List of the Few Big Things. If the DSA members and voters in the field all insist that every DSA officeseeker back every single kick and cause that every DSA member-voter holds personally sacred, then the DSA will divide right down into its micro-mini Performative Left Wing groupuscles.

            It will be a test for whether Leftists can transcend their normal sectarian egotism or not. Pray that they can, so that the DSA becomes a self-weaponizing group for achieving a Few Big Real Things.

    2. Tomonthebeach

      I lived and worked in Oklahoma for 7 years. It is the stupidest place out of 15 in which I have lived – including Ft. Worth. I used to say that Oklahoma exists so people in Arkansas and Alabama have someplace to feel superior to. In my town of Nichols Hills, offspring were our #1 export. After collich, kids only returned home if they were in line to inherit the family business.

      Some of these remarks today demonstrate that not much has changed in the 20 years since I moved on.

      1. Annotherone

        I’ve lived in southern OK since 2004 – British ex-pat. OK has drawbacks for sure – when I arrived I felt I’d slipped back into the 1950s! Husband and I are retired, so job prospects etc are not a problem for us. Young people in any semi rural area – everywhere,always drift away once educated – in England too – I did! The state’s politics leave a lot to be desired for sure, There was a Dem Governor when I first arrived, though. Our town had an African American mayor for years, who did a good job for the town. It depends where one lives in the state, on the level of stoopid encountered. Okies are a kindly bunch, they just need to find their new political feet, especially the youngsters, and to start voting and organising differently.

  3. jefemt

    Couldn’t get NASA changing colors link to load. Saw it on national CBS broadcast noose last night. Thank you for the great work you all do!

  4. Clive

    I’m sorry to break it to those adorable felines toasting their paws on the heated blanket but unfortunately I doubt the blanket in question is rated for outdoor use.

    Cute, but please don’t try this at home, folks. My dad was an electrical engineer and every once in a while he had to do a stint as an expert witness in a coroner’s court where some unfortunate person met a sorry end by talking chances with an electrical appliance and was using in a way it wasn’t designed for because “they thought it would be okay”.

    Hate to be the one to put a dampener on everything. Seems to be my sorry lot in life…

    1. Pat

      I was starting to make a similar observation. Electocuted kitty would render that photo far less adorable.

      Unfortunately the heated outdoor doormats are far more expensive than the heating pad…

    2. Jim Haygood

      Looks like a weather-resistant GFCI outlet. So the little cuties may just get their fur scorched on a rainy day before the protective circuit kicks in. :-)

      1. uuu

        GFCI is for 3-prong devices. Human electric blankets don’t have an earth connection, unless their design has changed in recent years.

        ALSO!!! Kitty has claws, be sure to get an electric blanket designed for CATS.

        FWIW, however, I know several people who set this up- It worked great, and kitties *love* it.

        1. uuu

          er correction- timer ran out. GFCI will protect 2 prong. but one shock and kitty will be traumatized and will not like the blanket, or you, anymore :-(

          1. Clive

            No, I think you were right the first time — a GFCI (we call them an RCD here) will only trip if there is a ground fault on the same circuit as the protection is in place for and a current is passed to the grounding. Two wire appliances rely on double insulation. I could be wrong too! — I’ll have to dig out my Dad’s old textbooks…

      2. Clive

        Yes, the socket outlet is weatherised. The control and the blanket itself, not so much. And as it’s likely to be double-isolated and therefore not having a ground wire, even it it has a Residual Current Device, a ground fault will result in potentially fried kitties. Or humans (especially children, who are most at risk).

        1. a different chris

          GFCI’s don’t care if it’s two prongs or three. They make sure the current that goes out, returns. That is all. So no fried kitties.

          Also, I see what looks like the leg of an overhang. So the cats seem to quite likely be on a covered porch. Maybe not far enough in not to get wet if the rain sleets at enough of an angle…but again, the worse that will happen is that their blanket will have its power cut off. (assuming that is actually a professional-quality outdoor outlet, which it looks like).

    3. Arizona Slim

      I also object to the image of the cat in the bird feeder. Domestic cats kill billions of birds each year. Keep your cats indoors, people.

        1. dcrane

          Doesn’t look like an ordinary seed feeder, but Google says that the Russian “Скрытая_угроза” in the photo title/filename translates to “hidden threat”, implying that it’s a bird feeder.

        1. queenslawyer

          They also carry and transmit Bartonella aka cat scratch fever which can become a devastating systematic infection if not treated (and it never is)

          1. blennylips

            Let’s not forget toxoplasmosis, which cats use to reprogram all mammals around them.
            What? You thought all those old ladies want all those Felis catus’esses?

          2. witters

            I treated Cat Scratch Fever by using a cigarette lighter to carefully melt it into dish shape which I then filled with butts and smashed with a sledge hammer. Did the trick.

      1. DJG

        Arizona Slim: Thanks for the mention of the “cute” destruction by cats of billions of birds.

        Can you imagine what your neighbors would say if you announced that you had an “outside dog” that was going to wander the area freely?

        1. JBird

          Well, my family and their neighbors did let their dogs out unless it was aggressive or a heavy traffic area. Otherwise it was out with Fido.

      2. Clive

        Climate is a much more influential impacting factor on bird populations than cat predation, though. I remember my mother talking about the exceptionally severe winter we had in England in 1963 — she saw hundreds of dead songbirds in and around her parents smallholding. And she vividly recalled the lack of birdsong that spring.

        This anecdotal evidence was backed up by proper studies (I read this in a book I had on weather so don’t have a handy link) — which also found that bird numbers quickly recover. Lack of food always sets the ceiling on total bird numbers in most environments. What domestic and feral cats take is not material.

        1. joe defiant

          Around my way, New York City feral cats kill some starlings, sparrows and pigeons who are also invasive species who are breeding much more quickly than cats if that can be imagined.

        2. icancho

          Not billions, certainly, but not insignificant. Just one item from a substantial literature

          Blancher, P. 2013. Estimated number of birds killed by house cats (Felis catus) in Canada. Avian Conservation and Ecology 8(2): 3. Research Paper, part of a Special Feature on Quantifying Human-related Mortality of Birds in Canada

          ABSTRACT. Predation by house cats (Felis catus) is one of the largest human-related sources of mortality for wild birds in the United States and elsewhere, and has been implicated in extinctions and population declines of several species. However,
          relatively little is known about this topic in Canada. The objectives of this study were to provide plausible estimates for the number of birds killed by house cats in Canada, identify information that would help improve those estimates, and identify species potentially vulnerable to population impacts. In total, cats are estimated to kill between 100 and 350 million birds per year in Canada (> 95% of estimates were in this range), with the majority likely to be killed by feral cats. This range of estimates is based on surveys indicating that Canadians own about 8.5 million pet cats, a rough approximation of 1.4 to 4.2 million feral cats, and literature values of predation rates from studies conducted elsewhere. … These estimates suggest that 2-7% of birds in southern Canada are killed by cats per year. Even at the low end, predation by house cats is probably the largest human-related source of bird mortality in Canada. Many species of birds are potentially vulnerable to at least local population impacts in southern Canada, by virtue of nesting or feeding on or near ground level, and habitat choices that bring them into contact with human-dominated landscapes where cats are abundant.

    4. TRR

      A person might try a rubber seed starting mat for outdoor pets instead of a heating pad. They are designed for even a little water spillage with no apparent danger. Only a little above body temperature so if used outside they need be on something like a piece of carpet instead of bare ground. I’ve used them for several years with no problems.

  5. The Rev Kev

    Re Jim D’s Antidote du jour. I have the perfect caption for that foto-
    “It’s a trap!”

    Re Russia, Turkey, Iran meeting to discuss Syria strategy Asia Times. Resilc: “Is Turkey still in NATO or did I miss that drop?….”

    Ah, things have changed over the past year or two. The Moon of Alabama has a good post today of why Turkey is turning away from NATO and the US (or do I repeat myself?) at and what happened in Norway displays an outstanding amount of ****ery on someone’s part. I suppose the root cause was that amateur coup attempt and murder attempt on Erdogan’s life.
    Everybody knows that the NSA has the whole planet wired up to the kazoo and it is difficult to believe that Washington never heard a peep from the coup beforehand and thought to give Erdogan warning. It is said that the Russians told Erdogan to haul *** which he did just before a military attack on where he was staying thus saving his life. You remember little things like that in quieter moments. It seems that Russia, Turkey & Iran are meeting to get the war ended before things gets any worse for Syria and its neighbours and to stop ISIS spreading as they do a runner.

  6. TomDority

    Sterling silver tin can…….so which is it and is it recyclable

    They should make an antique sterling silver steel cut nail

    1. fresno dan

      a different chris
      November 18, 2017 at 8:46 am

      I noticed you didn’t say “bird” feeder – and your correct – its a cat feeder!

  7. Frenchguy


    Actually, I don’t think the plan to start taxing tuition waivers is necessarily a bad idea. Anything that taxes an high-ed education system that has turned into a money machine is good. The way I see them (I went to a US grad school), everyone had tuition waivers, it was just another way to keep you in line. If it forces school to get rid of them and their laughably high nominal tuition price (that very few pay in entirety) that’s good.

    Of course, I highly doubt that is the goal of republicans here…

    1. petal

      If it goes through I will not be able to attend graduate school. It will be completely out of reach due to financial reasons. I’m in the beginning of the application process right now with my applications due in less than a couple of weeks. This is a nightmare. I’m so close to finally achieving one of my life goals. I’ve been working toward going to graduate school for so many years and after graduating it would have hopefully led to a major step up from what I came from. Remember, the little guy always pays the price. It’s a long term plan to gut the science field, thus eliminating a thorn from the side of the GOP. It’s a lot easier to put your policies in motion if there aren’t any educated people to pipe up and poke holes.

      1. Frenchguy

        I’m really truly sorry for you and I hope that you will find some solution.

        I am just saying that the whole system of high nominal tuition that is then reduced, often significantly, by a miriad of different things is a bit perverse and people shouldn’t be tricked into defending it. But you’re right it is terrible policy. As is any that changes the “rules of the game” without warning (and I doubt the intent is good anyway…).

        1. Deadl E Cheese

          I’m really truly sorry for you and I hope that you will find some solution.

          Got more than a whiff of the ‘sorry Clinton’s three strikes put away your kid for 40 years, but please vote for the Democrat anyway’ from this crocodile tear sentence.

          1. Frenchguy

            Oh come on what do you want me to say. I do hope his situation gets better. I was not in any sense saying that it was any student’s fault. But yes, way to engage a dialogue there…

      2. ocop

        Nonexpert on the subject, but one clear solution on the part of the graduate programs is just to not charge tuition–access to the program is already completely governed by the admissions process and they would still be paying stipends (which could still carry the same slave labor expectations). How many PhD students actually “pay” for their tuition vs waivers? In that sense the headline tuition numbers are just about prestige and optics. I’m sure there would be issues to sort through with external funding, but that’s probably just an accounting change in how grants get recorded–tuition vs. donation to the department etc.

        The other alternative is to increase stipends to cover the waiver tax burden.

        1. Oregoncharles

          The article says the change affects only one of several ways grad students are reimbursed. The universities will just have to eliminate that one (“tuition reductions”) in favor of the others: grants, fellowships.

          Let’s hope petal’s school catches on in time.

        2. dearieme

          “the other alternative is to increase stipends to cover the waiver tax burden”: the whole justification for journalistic hysteria is never to allow for the possibility that one change might be ameliorated by another.

          I suspect that a more intelligent analysis of the issue might focus on how the effects might differ for American and foreign students.

      3. Oregoncharles

        petal: the change affects only “tuition reductions,” one of several ways grad students are reimbursed. Universities need to change to the unaffected methods. You could send the article to your school, then apply for whatever the other options are (grants, fellowships, ?) That’s if the change passes,.

        Good luck!

      4. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Americans are at about “2” on the anger meter but they should be at “11” and rising.

        We have unlimited funds for multi-million $$$ robot bombs to incinerate Yemeni kids and grandmothers but cannot get hardworking and highly-motivated grad students into a classroom in order to secure the future of our nation. What a sick, sick place and what an anaesthetised, distracted, and mis-informed citizenry. There is no “workaround” to bricks through windows and angry people in the streets.

      5. Procopius

        It probably would be wise to not worry — yet. Many parts of the two tax bills are not going to survive the sausage-making process in the Senate, and there’s a chance the bill will fail passage altogether, since there are several Senators (more than two) expressing doubts. Of course that’s just a bargaining tool for some of them, but others might actually worry about the huge deficit the current plans seem almost sure to produce. I don’t know how to explain stopping worry, but when you observe yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet mentally shout at yourself, “Stop!!!” and force yourself to find a problem that already exists that you can actually do something about. If you can’t do anything about it change the subject again. Don’t ever, ever, ever allow yourself to waste energy thinking about problems you can do nothing about immediately.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Educational disruption:

    The basic cause of America’s student-loan crisis is no mystery: College tuition and fees continue to soar while the earnings of recent graduates remain flat. There’s also a straightforward way to lower the cost of a college degree: Reduce the amount of time it takes to earn one.

    The U.S.’s four-year bachelor’s degree is based on cultural convention, not pedagogical wisdom. In most European countries, as well as India, Singapore and Australia, the majority of undergraduate programs take three years to complete.

    This fall, Purdue University announced a three-year option open to all incoming students pursuing liberal arts degrees. By carrying a slightly heavier course load and taking classes in the summer, students can complete the same number of credits required for a four-year degree.

    Risking burnout to save a few percent on an inflated bill for a liberal arts degree of questionable value from the education cartel, while missing out on summer job experience — priceless!

    This way to the egress, kids!‘ — P T Barnum

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      There’s also a straightforward way to lower the cost of a college degree: Reduce the amount of time it takes to earn one.

      You could also try reducing the loan money available to pay the exorbitant prices, and doing a little underwriting along the way.

      As a Purdue graduate, I was always under the impression that even though it was summer, the student still had to pay for any classes taken then, and the option to graduate in three years in this way was always available. No one ever peddled that route as “cheaper.” But that was a long time ago and before the financial wizard mitch daniels ran the place.

    2. edmondo

      …. and taking classes in the summer, students can complete the same number of credits required for a four-year degree.

      And you think those summer sessions are free? My kid took a summer session in Organic Chemistry that cost almost as much as an entire semester because of the additional lab fees and the fact that no financial aid was allowed for “optional” summer courses.

      Is there anything sacrosanct about a 120 credit hour degree? If I remember correctly, I spent a lot of time looking for filler courses outside my major to get to the magical 120 jackpot.

      1. JTFaraday

        “If I remember correctly, I spent a lot of time looking for filler courses outside my major to get to the magical 120 jackpot.”

        You’re right, that is a problem. You should have been enrolled in a mandatory core in history and civics. And the instant you start arguing with this statement, is the instant you start illustrating the problem.

        I agree the tuition is too high.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Learning is a life long process…4 is not enough, much less 3.

      Compared to baseball, where a farm hand graduates not in a predetermined schedule – though, a team (the equivalent to a college in this example) would have to let another team (another college) have a crack at imparting enough wisdom or baseball expertise to the farm player if he has been in it for too many years (can’t remember the rules on minor league free agency) – but only when he is deemed good enough to contribute at the major league level, colleges can use some of that.

      And the cost of a degree should be pre-fixed, regardless of whether it takes 5 or 10 years, and should (or we perhaps starting thinking in that direction, rather than ”should”) be afforded, preferable more for a STEM than an English degree.

      Let the college, its rich administrators and (money is not the most important part of being in the ivory tower…the joy of teaching and inquiring is) teachers worry about how to budget that.

      1. Synoia

        The UK college system, now changed, through which I passed was quite different.

        3 years. Tuition was free. Bord and Lodging not.
        20 hours of Lectures, 5 days a week, 4 lectures per day, 9 am to 1:00 pm.
        20 hours of Labs in the afternoon 4 days a week. Theoretically each 2 days, or 10 hours. Labs graded Pass/Fail. Redoing lab work was possible, but very difficult to schedule.

        Effectively the study week was 60 hours per week, 10 hours in the evenings, and 1- over the weekends.

        No grades, no tests. One yearly exam, 3 hours, do 5 question out of 8, except Maths, where you could do all or part of the 10 questions, and score over 100%.

        If you fail more than one exam, don’t com back next year. If ou fail lab work, don;t come back next year.

        The college mode was very, very similar to the schools model for schedule structure, with additional tests about every 3 weeks in school, and the exams at the end of the year.

        At school marks, or grades, were public knowledge, class rank was announced every 3 weeks.

    4. flora

      An email that I assume is a come-on to a college loan repayment scam (or at least a misdirection into even higher repayments) is being sent to academics. Let that sink in for a moment.

      The text of said email:

      If you are a university employee still burdened with student debt, *** is
      excited to inform you about the Public Service Forgiveness Program. The
      program is designed to help eligible personnel eliminate their student debt
      in ten years, while remaining in their current career. Participating can
      cut your principal in half, and after ten years, any balance left is

      We can help you see if you can qualify for a forgiveness program and
      prepare all the necessary documents to make sure you are eligible. It’s all
      done with just a phone call.

      We encourage you to learn more about the Forgiveness Program; because it’s
      one of the most effective relief methods for university personnel. Its all
      done with just a phone call.

      Email goes on to list a Call Now telephone number. These Spams are being sent to college employees’ college email accounts. Irony, much? (shakes head, mutters something inaudible…)

      1. annenigma

        I saw an ad for that Forgiveness Program on tv recently, and the message was for everyone with student loans.

    5. dearieme

      In my experience teaching American exchange students they are already a year behind their British equivalents. Shortening the American first degree would make the gap bigger unless American undergrads were allowed or encouraged to specialise much more.

  9. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: A Reminder That America Is Incredibly Corrupt and Only Getting Worse Vice

    It’s too bad menendez wasn’t subjected to the same kind of national “trial” currently being meted out to our favorite sexual harassers. I’m just speculating here, but I suspect the burden of “proof” wouldn’t have been nearly as great, and the “gifts” as a “natural expression of their decades-long friendship” wouldn’t have been quite as persuasive.

    Of course, there’s always that congressional “balance of power” to consider. A slimy democrat is still a democrat, so to speak, and Trump must be “resisted.”

    1. Synoia

      Trump must be “resisted.”

      Yes, its all abut resisting, and nothing about what could be done.

      Tell us what you will do, not what you oppose.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        “Tell us what you will do, not what you oppose.”

        Well put. As far as I’m concerned, if it’s a politician talking its:

        Shut up and show me what you have done.

  10. The Rev Kev

    Re: Ohio Supreme Court Judge Bill O’Neill brags of sex conquests

    Hard to believe that this is a newsworthy story but, OK, I’ll have a go at it. So we have a bloke that says that he had 50 partners over the course of 50 years. According to the scientific calculator on my computer, that works out to be one partner per year. I looked at his Wikipedia entry and there is so mention of a wife so it looks like he remained single his whole life. I somehow doubt, however, that he has fifty grooves cut on his gavel.
    I fail to see the reason why the outrage here. He grew up in the sixties -the era of the ‘new morality’. I am reminded here of the Texan’s reaction to this phenomena. He said that he was agin’ it for three reasons – it was against god, it was against family, and he wasn’t getting any of it! Maybe the judge was right when he told his critics to “lighten up.”
    A survey said that the average is seven partners or so for men but I bet that that was with men who married and settled down. There is a social stigma in admitting to having too many partners – especially for women – and now we have a new generation of puritans and SJWs using social media to beat people up for telling stuff like how real life works. Anybody want to guess how many partners is the real average, especially in big cities like London, Los Angeles, Sydney or Rio de Janero? A lot more I bet.
    Perhaps the question should be turned back on his critics. They should be asked just how many partners he should have had over those fifty years and I mean demand an actual number! Maybe vary it and ask them what if the good judge was gay and was leading an active gay lifestyle, would it be the same number of partners?

    1. edmondo

      I got a different impression: When I read this story, my immediate reaction was how was this guy going to get elected governor if he couldn’t even get laid in Ohio?

      1. fresno dan

        November 18, 2017 at 10:10 am

        My reaction when I saw a picture of the guy is that there must be a campus devoted to blind women…
        Or maybe the women just say, in the dark all serpents are gray…

        1. Expat2Uruguay

          I thought the name of this dog was hilarious, Lucky, as in get lucky!

          I am a woman and I’ve had at least that many partners over my life, which included a nine year marriage and a 3-year marriage with 25 years as single. I remember when I started worrying about sexually transmitted diseases after my marriages ended in my late thirties, and started keeping track of the number of sexual partners I had. I was astonished to see that I averaged 10 partners a year and started being more selective after that. ;) otherwise I would have literally had hundreds of lovers in my lifetime, and why not?

          1. The Rev Kev

            Sounds like a healthy history from this end with bonus points for a mid-course correction. Realistic attitudes are healthy attitudes. An example – I had a mate once whose mother told him as a young bloke (in England) that: “If you’re not in bed by ten – come home!” .
            When I see single blokes drunk on the streets late at night or far worse, involved in terrible car accidents because of a mixture of young spirits and alcohol I can see her point. You can get killed in a drunken car accident but not so much being drunk in bed with someone.

    2. Oregoncharles

      My read was that he must be a lousy lover, or too antisocial to form long-term relationships. That high a count isn’t a good sign, but apparently he doesn’t realize it.

      OTOH, I don’t think they have a case that he was “demeaning women”; it read more like a tribute. The problem was talking about it at all.

      Not going to get elected.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Mmmmm, not so sure about being a lousy lover or just antisocial. Remember different strokes and different folks and all that. Some are happy to make a lifetime commitment with just the one person, some want to be just celibate their whole life, some are into swinging, some are into multiple marriages while being close with their former partners, some are into orgies, some are into polygamy or polyandry, etc. I suppose the rule of thumb is that as long as you are doing what is true to who you are and are not hurting other people, then who really cares.

    3. a different chris

      Amusing post, but, just to make sure people focus back on what we are talking about after this guy is hopefully humiliated into retirement:

      The problem is the judge just doesn’t get what everybody is talking about. Consensual relationships, one for life or flipped every 6 months, are the provenance of consenting adults and not the subject here.

      And it is pretty sad (although sadly unsurprising) that a freaking judge can’t glean that simple fact out of the national conversation. Good luck explaining how the cop planted drugs on you to that guy.

  11. Octopii

    The Manafort spending article was interesting. When I say that most people have no idea what construction costs at that level are, I’m not defending him. But various points in the article indicate that the analysis is lacking perspective.

    First of all, everyone lowballs the construction costs on the permit. It saves fee cost and influences the assessed valuation of the improvements to save property tax.

    Second, the quality of workmanship and detail one might see in this region is far above what many people would imagine possible, and the number of trade hours involved is extreme. These projects can go on for years. The materials are uncommon and expensive. What looks like a simple pool house is likely not so simple.

    Third, the detailed design documents for mansion work have a lot of hours in them. Notable architects get fees based on their fame. I personally worked on a house of barely eight thousand square feet, designed by someone who’s name you would know, that commanded a million dollar fee. It was a very interesting house.

    Fourth, $112k for integrated audio-visual systems doesn’t get you very far. Obviously that depends on what was done, but generally at this level that’s a nice service or upgrade bill but not a big installation.

    Just sayin. It may be that Manafort did everything on the cheap, or didn’t do what was stated at all, and walked away with clean cash. But as a man who likes to display his good taste, he might have done it right.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Mansions are more forgivable when they use a brilliant architect and produce something beautiful. It’s not that common, but I know of two examples.

      Back in Indiana, where I grew up, the local potentate hired Eero Saarinen to design his house and stocked it with Monets. I’ve been in there once; it’s spectacular. The house was willed to the Indy Art Museum and is now open to the public (minus the Monets).

      And here in the Willamette Valley, we stumbled on an estate out in the country that was so spectacular we marked it on our map so we could go see it again. No idea whose it was or who designed it, but it was quite a show.

      Most of them are so ugly.

    2. a different chris

      >is far above what many people would imagine possible,

      Not sure what you meant by that. I hope it wasn’t what it sounded like.

      1. Octopii

        Not sure what it sounds like other than what it says. To add background, I’ve been involved in construction in various capacities for many years. When I began working in the type of residential projects described above, it was mind blowing. Seeing the amount of money being spent is a big reason why I became interested in finance and the one percent, especially in 2007 when our phones stopped ringing.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Even Nice Polite Republicans

      Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of progressives Permanent War and billionaire corporo-fascism obfuscators and apologists.

      (When Rupert bought National Geographic all of a sudden you started to see gushing stories not about nature and anthropology but all about the latest missile and tank systems, and the takeover at NPR was equally complete)

    1. ambrit

      The pictures of the people supporting the army in the streets says a lot. Let’s hope that the Hillaryites don’t consider this as an example to be emulated here in America.

  12. diptherio

    That WaPo article on sexual harassment at TED is just…wow…

    First off, I had no idea that people pay $10,000 to attend a TED conference. W…T…F???

    Secondly, it seems passing strange to me that supposedly serious people would conclude that the solution to rampant sexual harassment at their events is to update their code of conduct. Newsflash: if someone needs to be told that “sexual harassment of any kind, including unwelcome sexual attention and inappropriate physical contact” are…um…inappropriate, then the problem is with that person, not with your code of conduct.

    “Well, it doesn’t say anywhere that you’re not supposed to grope women at the snack bar, so I figured it was ok!”

    Maybe the problem is that the guys coming up with this non-solution do this kind of stuff themselves. We know from the article that that’s the case with at least one TED exec.

    Here’s the real problem: structures of power and privilege will be abused…always. As soon as you create a hierarchy characterized by power-over-others and special privileges, you have guaranteed that you will have outcomes like this. You don’t like the harassment, get rid of the privilege. And guess what? Charging $10,000 for a ticket ensures you’re packing the room with highly privileged people.

    Others have pointed out that the press always makes a big deal about elite women having to deal with sexual harassment, but doesn’t seem so concerned about women who work as waitresses and housekeepers. There’s a definite element of that here. Part of me was having pretty mixed feelings when I read things like this [emphasis added]:

    Nilofer Merchant, an author and former Apple executive whose 2013 TED talk received nearly 3 million views, said in an interview that sexual harassment is not a new problem for the TED conferences.

    “The same thing was happening five years ago. It’s still happening,” she said. “What’s different now is we’re sharing our stories.”

    At the April conference, Merchant said a longtime attendee pressed his erection against her at a bar. She recalls mouthing to her friend who was nearby: Help me.

    “In this awkward moment, you’re trying not to make it an issue,” she said in an interview. “I’m trying to spend my time at TED, which I paid $10,000 to attend, talking to people about ideas and not worry about the guy with his boner pressed against me.”

    Merchant said she saw the same man approach two of her friends, who were talking to a TED newcomer in her early twenties, and say, “Oh, three black women together. What should I do with that?”

    So, this elite woman knows from experience that sexual harassment is rampant at TED, but she keeps coming back. Why? Because mingling with other elites is more valuable to her than the groping is creepy/scary? I don’t get it. And part of me (not a part I’m necessarily proud of) was just thinking, while reading the above “Cry me a river. You lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas. You wish you could just enjoy your $10,000 conference in peace, huh? Boo-hoo.”

    TED is an exclusive venue of the very rich and very privileged. Of course it is going to be filled with a bunch of people who are used to being able to just take (or purchase) anything they want. In that situation, what do you expect? When your crazy uncle talks about our elites being “lizard people,” this is what he’s really talking about (although he might not know it). Structures of power and privilege turn people into reptile like creatures (no offense to reptiles).

    The solution to sexual harassment at TED is to get rid of TED, full stop.

    1. Arizona Slim

      A few years ago, the Tucson TEDx asked me to do some work for them. No payment was offered, so I said no.

      I have also heard that the speakers are supposed to work for free.

      1. diptherio

        The article doesn’t mention the TEDx events and I don’t know anything about them, personally. Anybody know how those are organized or how they’re connected to the main organization? I’ve helped organize grassroots conferences where we didn’t pay the speakers, but we were doing everything volunteer and only charging enough to cover the space and food. I don’t know if that’s how the TEDxers roll, though….

    2. mpalomar

      “Others have pointed out that the press always makes a big deal about elite women having to deal with sexual harassment, but doesn’t seem so concerned about women who work as waitresses and housekeepers.”

      That’s how we as a culture roll for now, forever past and perhaps forever future, however limited that future may be. It hardly needs to be pointed out that most of the media is dedicated to celebrity whether political, entertainment/sports (same thing) or business. Celebrity sells of course but it is also instructive to the little people regarding what their aspirations should be in the hierarchical paradigm and updating good behaviour and table manners.

      Humans are highly suggestive and mimicry is a major part of our repertoire. That said the TED talks quickly became unwatchable to me, the spirit of the event, particularly the audience always struck me as egregiously self congratulatory, ubermensch and uberfrau revelling in themselves.

    3. DJG

      On mixed feelings: The TED talks are an upper-middle-class club. The attendees want money, they want to be sexually alluring, they want their scads of money to be aphrodisiacal.

      As people are pointing out already, we have entered another sex panic, sponsored, as usual, by the upper middle class, which is puritanical. The reason that Gloria Steinem’s comment about Bernie Sistahs wanting to meet Bernie Bros won’t go away (how embarrassing for her) is that it is perfect upper-middle-class tut-tutting about behavior of the lessers.

      My mixed feelings are that women who have lawsuits, women who can document crimes against them, are being ignored. The Sullivan article about “right side of history” meanders into a discussion of Juanita Broaddick and about how Bill & Hill kept her quiet. So I’m more worried about Juanita Broaddick and Rose McGowan, who were trapped in hotel rooms, than attendees at TED talks.

      Call me callous. She should have poured her drink on that guy. That would have cooled him off. But other women didn’t have the options and the luck of being in a public space.

      (And she was luckier than waitresses stuck in public spaces with abusive chefs and clients, and still not being paid a proper hourly wage because of the endless sniveling of restaurant owners.)

      And the great work must begin, the great neglected work: Equality before the law. Equal distribution of wealth. But you know that (I read your comments). And, yes, no more TED talks. Please. Some of the early ones were good. Now, it’s endless self-promoting drivel (an upper-middle-class habit).

      1. diptherio

        I don’t know where you’re from, but no “upper-middle class” people I know would ever consider dropping 10K on a conference. That’s a kitchen re-model, man! Only the “upper class” can even consider that dropping that for a weekend…at least out here in fly-over land.

        1. Vatch

          At first I thought you were exaggerating about the cost of attending a TED conference. Nope; no exaggeration. This site doesn’t clearly say whether there is an attendance fee in addition to the extravagant annual membership fee, but it specifically says $10,000 US:

          Here’s a slightly obsolete web site that says the annual membership is $8,500, $6,000 of which is tax deductible:

          And of course there are various sorts of premium memberships, which cost a lot more. Since TED talks can sell out quickly, perhaps the Donor and Premium members get preferential treatment.

          There’s also a special low fee for relatively young people who haven’t attended a TED conference before. That’s “only” $5,000, and availability is limited.

          Let’s not forget travel and hotel expenses, either.

          Yeah, I agree with you about the upper middle class folks. Few upper middle class people would be willing or able to attend TED conferences. To afford this, as a minimum, one would need to be in the lowest echelon of the Rich category.

          Edit: Oh, now I see that the $10,000 price tag was discussed elsewhere. Oh well.

          1. Bugs Bunny

            Criticizing TED conferences here. I hate TED worse than anything else upper middle class and I would use very foul language to say so but for this site’s policy and my dignity.

            1. roxy

              $10,000! Jeesh, for that I could get a pretty good seat and a copy of the book on the HRC blame, er, book tour.

              1. Tom

                Actually, $10,000 would get you 6 tickets for Hillary’s Vancouver tour date that include front row seats, a meet & greet, photo op and signed book — with $1,000 left over to donate to Emerge America.

                Fun fact: Hillary has been selling out these shows ever since she started the tour.

                Rude comment: Some people say she started selling out a long time ago!

          2. bob

            “Let’s not forget travel and hotel expenses, either.”

            I’ve heard that TED requires speakers to be there for an entire week. There have been stories about the other requirements.

            It’s a cult.

            1. Vatch

              I think they reimburse the speakers’ expenses, but not the expenses of the other attendees (of course!).

          3. bob

            I’ve also been close to the Ironman® nazi health cult.

            You used to pay close to 1k for “registration”. It’s probably much more now. That doesn’t include lodging, or meals. Most hotels have one week minimums. 5-10k is a good estimate, all in.

            “But, we’re good for the local economy!”

            How, exactly? None of that registration money goes to the town.Most of the time the towns (read local RE interests) beg them to come, offering lots of incentives and local services. Hotels are the same, not very interested in “sharing”, except by its modern definition.

            The event itself, over 3000 “competitors”, and their families, is way too big for most of the towns that host it. They are way over capacity. Even if “local business” wanted to make it a pay day they are limited by very real physical constraints on how much money can actually change hands. There are only so many tables at restaurants.

            Not only that, but they require lots local “volunteers”. They require hundreds, if not thousands of them. How could Ironman possibly be expected to pay all of those people?

            The demographics of this set of “competitors” also reads like a Wall St club. Most are in their 40’s, with a net worth of over 2 million.

            That’s when the lure finally hit me — watching someone “train”. It requires 4-8 hours a day of training for at least 6 months, if not years.The middle aged man can run away (quickly!) from any family responsibility and excuse it as being “healthy!” They deserve credit for this, you understand, and for bringing their massive net worth to town. They pay Ironman, leaving very little behind beyond a very bad taste and lots of sanctimony on healthy living.

        2. DJG

          diptherio: I’d define upper-middle-class as the top 10 percent or so, that is, everyone with household income over about $100,000 but not living solely off inherited wealth (when you live off three generations of family money, you’re what passes for nobility in the U.S. of A.).

          So that’s a lot of lawyers, doctors, some real estate agents, in short, lots of careerists. And there are plenty of them around, looking for a high-end chautauqua to improve their minds (and, it appears, the breeding stock). These are the same kind of people (with the same kinds of incomes) who take university-sponsored “study” excursions on the Loire in an university-chartered house boat. And there are a lot of them.

          1. Vatch

            I think that a lot of the people in the upper 10 percent in the U.S. would find a $10,000 TED talk beyond their means. Why? Because most of them live in more expensive houses than the average person, along with higher real estate taxes and home owners insurance. They’re also likely to own a more expensive car with higher insurance. And some of them will want their children to attend expensive private colleges, which can be exorbitant. So paradoxically, they are cash strapped.

            Of course there must be exceptions, but I suspect that most TED attendees are in the economic top 2%.

      2. Cynthia

        I don’t know about you, DJG, but I never cared much for TED talks. They come across as being a bit snooty to me: “I know a lot more than you and you’re gonna go gaga over me!” Most of the information they provide is either not new or revolutionary in terms of importance or it’s too vague or ambiguous to have any real world applications. I see them as nothing more than cheesy infomercials masquerading as invaluable information for the neoliberal, cruise missile crowd.

        And paying $10,000 to see one of these talks is a bit much, IMO. It’s hard to believe that anyone, male or female, is getting their money’s worth watching these talks. No wonder the men who attend them are trying to get some sex out of the deal! If the ladies can’t give them $10,000 worth of information, at least they can give them $10,000 worth of sex.

        Maybe if prostitution were legal, we wouldn’t have this problem of men spending $10,000 hearing women give talks regardless of the subject matter. As the law now stands, you are more likely to go to jail seeking sex from a call girl than seeking sex from a woman talking in front of a podium. Legalizing prostitution should put an end to men seeking sex at TED talks and other such overpriced social events.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    ‘Robots are not taking over,’ says head of UN body on autonomous weapons Guardian

    I believe they haven’t made any carnivorous robots…yet.

    1. Oregoncharles

      The proposal is to move the border controls to the ports – and like I said, Britain isn’t going to like it, especially the DUP.

      But it leaves out half of the requirements: there would have to be border controls at the Republic ports, too, to prevent smuggling INTO the EU. Hence, barriers between the island as a whole and BOTH the UK and the EU. It’s the only way Ireland can be an exception to the rules, which is what’s needed.

      We’ll see whether something like this happens; one factor is that Ireland, although they have a veto, isn’t all that important to the EU. They were sacrificed during the financial collapse (to bail out the banks), and may be again. The veto is leverage on Britain, which really needs a trade agreement, but not so much on the EU, which wouldn’t mind seeing Britain suffer for leaving.

      1. Clive

        This is one of the very few (possibly only one) areas where the EU negotiation team are not being terribly bright. Which is odd, because in practically every other aspect, they are running rings round the clueless U.K. government.

        That is because it isn’t an undo-able thing for the U.K. government’s “solution” to be to do nothing more than putting up some “Welcome to the United Kingdom Please Drive Carefully Through Our Province” signs, a few ANPR cameras and maybe a bit of paint on the roads and leave it at that. And tell the Republic that if they — or their EU overlords — want anything better, they can set up whatever they want in terms of customs controls, immigration, passport checks or anything else they fancy. And they can pay for it.

        I suspect it would take the good people in the south, oh, about 5 minutes to work out who’s really being the awkward squad here.

        I just can’t get my head around why the EU hasn’t figured out to keep quiet about this one (or tell Eire to be a good member state pipe down and go wait in the car, if they are the ones kvetching about it) — they’ve got slam-dunks aplenty on everything else you can mention.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Can journalists ever regain Americans’ trust? Financial Times

    I think the first step is to admit to past and current lies.

    1. John Bleck

      No. It is only going to get worse as the crackdown on free speech intensifies. Journalists and news organizations, possibily even universities will face audits for election law violations for in kind campaign contibutions.

      If you build it they will come, the lawyers that is.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Not going to happen man. People have been lied to by the media so often that they are dumping them and going online for the truth. That is why this site has been so successful. Not just an American problem either. The average Germans are getting so sick and tired of the trash in their media that they are calling it the ‘lying media’ which is a term that dates back to the Nazi era and Joseph Goebbels.
      Even here is Australia on the TV news you actually see out-and-out propaganda shown and it gets to the point where you can sit and see how it is put together and the techniques used. The media is doubling down and are now pushing for censorship of anything not mainstream media and you see this with twitter and Facebook accounts being censored. As an example, it is nearly the first anniversary of the appearance of that ProporNot site – a website tool used by a bunch of tools.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Clintons held the Democratic Party hostage for 2 decades — and the sudden revisionism is inconveniently late Business Insider (resilc, Scott)

    Was Obama their hostage as well? It was not Barry’s for 8 years?

    Is it naive to hope that getting away from the Clintons is the only thing to do?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Obama was disinterested in being the Democratic Party leader and was so similar to a “white flight Republican” in policy he effectively handed control over to the Clintons.

    2. Quentin

      No, it’s not, but it is a very, very good place to start. Then Barack Obama might be revealed for what he is.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Democrats Are Doomed Unless They Start Listening to Millennials Vice

    The Democrats have been doomed many times.

    They have already been doomed for failing to listen to the Deplorables.

    1. Livius Drusus

      Some of the “Deplorables” aren’t really so deplorable either. It is a myth that all of these older Trump voters are just unrepentant political racists. A good number of them voted for Obama, sometimes even twice (2008 and 2012). Also, I immediately cringed when I read this:

      The boomer generation, secure in the post-war welfare state, felt no compunctions pulling up the ladder. They voted for white supremacists devoted to the destruction of the social safety net while secure in the knowledge that their own healthcare would remain cheap—and indeed, Medicare has not been threatened by the Republican Party like Medicaid has.

      Yes, because Boomers never experienced recessions, deindustrialization, union busting or more recently age discrimination after being booted from the jobs they held for years. Many Boomers have depleted their savings, sometimes because they have had to help their Millennial children. Many lost their homes. The GI Generation was much more secure in the post-war welfare state than the Boomers.

      But really all of this generational talk doesn’t really make much sense when you break things down by class. Once the entire Millennial cohort reaches their prime earning years I guarantee that they won’t seem so left-wing anymore except maybe on racial issues and that will likely be entirely due to the diversity of the cohort.

  17. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: Current CRISPR gene drive … highly invasive
    This sounds like a serious problem but neither the link nor the research article it pointed to helped me understand the problem and just how serious the problem might be. The current style of science writing seems intent on obscuring findings in jargon. And I don’t buy the old story about the necessity for jargon for precision of thought and expression [– although I think some organic chemistry papers I saw in Science and attempted to read are probably the champions of obscure jargon and unclear language].

    I poked back to read the link from a few days ago about CRISPR mechanisms in nanoparticles working wonders at modifying the genes in adults. While reading that link I spotted another interesting link:

    “The CRISPR controversy: Scientists skeptical over recent critical study”

    “Last month, a study was published claiming that the groundbreaking CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique could potentially introduce hundreds of unintended mutations into an animal’s genome. Unsurprisingly, this study sent shockwaves through the scientific community, with the stock prices from several gene-editing companies falling. Critics are now calling into question the veracity of the study, claiming it is filled with flawed assumptions.”

    Critics soundly beat-up the controversial study, but I couldn’t figure out to what extent the criticisms were valid. It seems to me whenever science conflicts with profits that science comes under vicious attack.

    Are some of our scientists playing with matches next to an open gasoline can?

    1. Oregoncharles

      PBS ran a documentary about gene-splicing a few years ago – before CRISPR. One of the stars was a guy introducing the virulence gene from the 1917 plague flu into a modern bird flu virus, “to find out how it works.”

      The documentary made little fuss about it, but I was sitting there thinking the scientist should be shot. It was an inexcusably reckless thing to do. I don’t care how good their containment is, it’s never perfect. He was playing with a plague that could decimate the population, or worse. I just hope everything he touched has been thoroughly incinerated.

      So yes, some of them are. Just being a scientist doesn’t make them ethical or even competent.

      1. mpalomar

        There was a recent news story perhaps linked here at NC regarding a Japanese health agency press conference to publicize a deadly, virus carrying tick, on display at the presser.
        At some point the tick escaped and the presser emptied out fast. Last I heard the tick was still on the loose.

    2. Synoia

      Are some of our scientists playing with matches next to an open gasoline can?

      No, but our Climate Change deniers are.

  18. Oregoncharles

    “EU threat to withhold Britain’s budget rebate in Brexit bill wrangle Telegraph”

    Technical question: it seems that the EU subsidies flowing INTO Britain are quite substantial. How do they balance against the “Brexit bill.”? Is it calculated net of the subsidies that would stop? (Is it calculated at all? – still no itemizations, from either side, that I’ve seen.)

    And do those receiving EU subsidies in Britain know that they will stop suddenly?

    1. Oregoncharles

      “Is America Up for a Second Cold War?”
      Pat Buchanan. Interesting dude. He can be really, really wrong, or, sometimes, astonishingly percipient, as here.

      As Buchanan suggests, I doubt very much that the vision of total Chinese dominance will come true. Not only do they have important LOCAL rivals, but their resource base is alarmingly small for such a large population. They know that, of course, and it explains a lot of their policies; but all it really takes is one bad drought to withdraw the Favor of Heaven.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Yes, but how much? For all we know, 20 billion is about right.

        The lack of real numbers might be one reason the negotiations don’t progress.

  19. Kim Kaufman

    From Occupy Democrats Facebook:

    As we listen to Trump and the Republican Party’s constant lies about the urgent need to lower corporate tax rates so that companies can stay competitive, it might be enlightening to have a look at the actual taxes paid by corporate America in 2016.

    This list is of 20 US companies posted total revenues of $3.2 trillion in 2016, which equals 20% of total GDP for that year. (Source: Forbes)

    While representing a whopping 20% of GDP (GDP is defined as “all economic activity in the US”), the total taxes paid in 2016 by these 20 companies was $108 billion, which is only 0.6% of GDP and 3.6% of the total $2.99 trillion in federal taxes collected from all sources last year, which begs the question: How much lower does the US corporate tax bill need to be before Trump and his Republican accomplices are satisfied?

    The link shows the list from Apple to Wal-Mart of who’s paid what. The highest is Wells Fargo at 10%, the lowest Exxon/Mobil at 0.3%.

    1. Lynne

      Because we certainly don’t care at all about small corporations who don’t have the size, let alone the $$ to take advantage of the tax dodges like the behemoths. Who cares about them? I bet lots of them are in flyover country, anyway.

      1. Pat

        Do you honestly think that the GOP tax plan is intended to benefit small corporations? Who do you think introduced all those tax dodges into the code, the same politicians serving the behemoths who are writing this one. Mark my words, really small businesses will see little tax relief from this, just as the middle and lower income citizens will be paying more in order to offset the cuts that will be going to the investment classes. Just watch what loopholes get closed.

        1. Lynne

          Of course not. But that doesn’t change that once again, people on the left are showing their own complete disregard for the 99%. And I’m fed up with the defense of their contempt being that Republicans don’t care either. All it does is reinforce that neither party cares one whit about anyone but the chattering class.

          Where are the Democrats’ proposals? Talking about how bad Republicans are is NOT a policy proposal.

    2. ChrisPacific

      Without detracting from your point (i.e. corporate taxes being too low) I’d be very careful about Occupy Democrats as a source. They are a clickbait site designed to generate traffic from Facebook and harvest ad revenue by tailoring stories to confirm people’s biases. They generate an enormous volume of content with minimal effort (i.e., no actual journalism) and don’t seem to feel more than a passing obligation to be accurate.

      They don’t (usually) seem to lie outright, so it may be accurate or partly accurate, but if you are seeking to actually convince someone of your point of view, I’d look for other sources. Occupy Democrats stories are designed to only be read by people who agree with them already.

  20. Kim Kaufman

    re “The Questionable Math Behind Manafort’s Extravagant Home Renovations Bloomberg”

    From Marcy Wheeler…

    The Bail Fight that Manafort and Gates Can’t Win

    I feel like Mueller’s prosecutors are playing with these two men as cats play with balls, just patiently batting them around, waiting for the inevitable admission that they can’t make bail because they don’t have assets they can put up because everything they own has been laundered. At which point, after getting the judge rule over and over that they’re flight risks, I suppose the government will move to throw them in the pokey, which will finally get them to consider flipping.

  21. Oregoncharles

    From GRAD STUDENTS ARE FREAKING OUT ABOUT THE GOP TAX PLAN. THEY SHOULD BE Wired : ” The GOP’s tax plan would leave the first three subsections alone but repeal the provision on tuition reductions. ”

    Isn’t this a tempest over very little? The universities would have to change all “tuition reductions” to scholarships and fellowships, which aren’t taxed. They can defeat the change in the tax code just by doing that. I don’t know what the knock-on effects are, but I’m not impressed by this emergency.

    The reality is that all three are forms of payment, just forms that have been exempted from taxation – for good reason.

  22. Synoia

    Can journalists ever regain Americans’ trust?

    I’d have believed a better question would be:

    Can journalists ever regain Employment?

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