Links 11/19/17

Sex matters in experiments on party drug — in mice Nature

Unicorns: What Are They Really Worth? Barron’s

Tech’s juggernauts leave little room for plucky underdogs FT

Did US Banks Try to Manipulate the Dodd-Frank Debate by Delaying Mortgage Foreclosures? Pro-Market

How Politics and Bad Decisions Starved New York’s Subways NYT. Don’t worry. Robot cars. And–

Self-Driving Trucks May Be Closer Than They Appear NYT. The narrative changes on a dime, doesn’t it?


The Brexit Veto: How and why Ireland raised the stakes RTE

EU chiefs push Theresa May to say clearly how much UK will pay in ‘divorce bill’ Belfast Telegraph

Labour’s Brexit quandary: do EU rules allow renationalisation? Cable

Brexit: The crunch is coming for Theresa May BBC


Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption purge is all about life after oil Vox

Corruption Purge Overshadows Stalled Reality of Saudi Economy Lawfare

Party set to sack Mugabe, Zimbabweans celebrate expected downfall Reuters

Do not lose sight of the root cause of problems The Standard. Zimbabwe. Caveat: I know nothing of the press in Zimbabwe. OTOH, I know our own press rather well…

China, US knew of Zim coup News 24. Zimbabwe.


China’s balancing act on debt is becoming trickier FT

Subways May Be the Latest Casualty of China’s Crackdown on Debt Bloomberg

China’s bike-sharing bubble goes bust Fortune

Professor Says Threats Of Retaliation By China Stopped Publication Of His Book Revealing Chinese Influence In Australia TechDirt (CL).

The Policy Significance of Trump’s Asia Tour The Diplomat

North Korea

China and North Korea hold highest-level talks for two years in bid to end nuclear crisis Independent

China wins its war against South Korea’s US THAAD missile shield – without firing a shot South China Morning Post

New Cold War

NSC to present Trump $47M deal to arm Ukraine against Russia The Hill. Here we go.

US and Poland agree $10.5bn missile defence deal FT

Nato apologises to Turkey after Erdogan and Ataturk appear on ‘enemy chart’ Guardian. Things heating up round the Black Sea…

* * *

‘Is Ambassador Kislyak in the Room?’ Jeff Sessions Jokes About Russia Ties During Conference Time

Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators? Counterpunch

Trump Transition

Opinion: Tax cuts may help realize Piketty’s dark vision of inequality MarketWatch

“It’s a Ponzi Scheme”: Wall Street Fears Trump’s Deranged Tax Plan Could Kick Off Economic Euthanasia Vanity Fair (Re Silc). Eliminating the property tax deduction will cause home valuations to fall.

Tax plan’s windfall for high-tech firms unlikely to create many jobs McClatchy

Why a Firm Believer in Tax Cuts Could Derail the Senate Tax Cut Plan NYT

Senate Finance tax reform package mirrors House on carried interest, endowments tax Pensions & Investments

* * *

Top general says he would resist “illegal” nuke order from Trump CBS

Sex… In Politics. Not.

Alabama Senate Special Election – Moore vs. Jones (December 12) RealClearPolitics. RCP Average: Jones +0.2.

11 Scenarios For How The Roy Moore Saga Could Play Out NPR

Harvey Weinstein had secret hitlist of names to quash sex scandal Guardian

How a conservative group dealt with a fondling charge against a rising GOP star WaPo

Democrats in Disarray

Florida Democratic Party chair apologizes after 6 women complain of ‘demeaning’ behavior Politico. Stephen Bittel, developer and donor class member.

Gillibrand remark on Clinton sends shockwaves through Democratic Party Politico

Our Famously Free Press

Why Zuckerberg’s New “Trust Indicators” Can’t Fix Fake News Vanity Fair. Nobody seems to be taking Judy Miller’s work on WMDs at the New York Times as a paradigm for the sort of “fake news” to be “fixed,” oddly, or not.

In a step toward automation, Full Fact has built a live fact-checking prototype Poynter. Since the algos come from humans, and the training sets come from humans, is there a reason to think the “live” fact-checking prototype will do any better than the average newsroom?

Is Satire “Fakenews”? – How Fact-Checkers Peddle Snake-Oil Moon of Alabama. More on Politifact’s Duffle Blog fiasco.

15,000 Troops perish after Ohio woman fails to share Facebook prayer Duffel Blog. Not to pile on, or anything.

The Demise of Dissent: Why the Web Is Becoming Homogenized Of Two Minds (CL).

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

X marks the self London Review of Books

Twitter says you can lose verified status for bad behavior — even if it’s off Twitter Recode. Hmm. How will Twitter get their “off Twitter” data?

Feds: Philly officer sold drugs stolen by corrupt Baltimore police squad The Inquirer

Imperial Collapse Watch

Babylon Revisited: Melancholy Thoughts After a Short Trip to Washington, D.C. Thomas Ricks, Foreign Policy

Pentagon contractor leaves social media spy archive wide open on Amazon Ars Technica

F-35 Strike Fighter Success: Real or Simulated? The American Conservative

Guillotine Watch

Why Are Critics Calling the $450 Million Painting Fake? Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Targeted by an addiction treatment center, union workers feel trapped as their benefits are drained STAT

The house that sold for nearly $800,000 over asking price speaks to the inequity of California Los Angeles Times (Re Silc).

Industrial Strength: How the U.S. Government Hid Fracking’s Risks to Drinking Water Inside Climate News

Some thoughts about the Job Guarantee Mainly Macro

The thawing Arctic threatens an environmental catastrophe The Economist

The Heartland Institute is no longer fringe TreeHugger

With U.S. Backing, Ukraine Pushes to Privatize Paris Climate Agreement The Intercept. Ukraine certainly punching above its weight these days…

Writing Nameless Things: An Interview with Ursula K. Le Guin Los Angeles Review of Books

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Henry Moon Pie

    “Twitter says you can lose verified status for bad behavior — even if it’s off Twitter”

    I don’t do social media, any of it, and I guess it’s just as well because i may not be moral enough to join the Twitter.

    1. Matt

      I saw several people on Twitter making the point that now Twitter is implicitly endorsing content by approving/denying verifications. Shouldn’t authentication just mean authentication?

      1. Croatoan

        Corporations are the new state. So what Twitter means by authenticated is doublespeak for state sanctioned accounts”.

        On a side note, I tried to make a Facebook account using my real name and email address. They disabled it after a day saying they thought it was “suspicious”. So I made a fake gmail account with a fake name, signed up for Facebook with no issues, still online. It seems this new state wants fake people.

        1. Daryl

          I used a Facebook account with a fake name for many years and it always amused me that Native Americans with cool names were regularly rounded up as fake while my obviously fake name (it had two letters) never got flagged once. I recommend giving out fake information at every opportunity — you can’t stop these people from collecting information about you, you can compromise the correctness of it.

          1. rd

            A classic example is birthday. Other than using it to cross-reference you with databases, there is no reason for them to collect that, So I give them a fake one with a year that will give them accurate demographic information (they do want to push advertising etc.- I don’t begrudge them that), but won’t match databases.

          2. Ned

            Better yet, give out real information, but change it slightly, different middle initial, slightly different social security number to organizations with no legal claim on it etc.

            Pick an easy to remember fake phone number and use it for everything.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        That’s been my question since I heard about this. How is “unverifying” someone going to stop “fake news” since verifying means letting people know that the person doing the posting is actually who he or she says they are? In fact, isn’t that going to make the problem even worse, considering there are, as we speak, half a dozen fake “Julian Assange” accounts on Twitter?

        This has to be the stupidest attempt to appear nobly engaged in preventing we poor, stupid peasants from being harmed by those nasty Russians ever conceived.

    2. Arizona Slim

      I don’t do anywhere near the time on social media that I used to. And, yes, my use of the “doing time” metaphor is deliberate.

      1. Christopher Fay

        Every once in a while I find something eminently worthwhile on the social medias, like Paul Holdengraber on twitter. One day he was putting down one quote after another from poetry and another day he was posting great oil painters

    3. clinical wasteman

      The eagerness of Twitter management to act like some kind of schoolroom disciplinarian – temporary “suspensions” of access for petty perceived offences to teach the offender a lesson, etc – is kind of breathtaking, and does seem somewhat skewed against the left wing of deadpan, if only because anti-leftists seem to enjoy rounding up the requisite number of complaints to trigger automatic censure. (Note contrast with heroic & psychically draining effort of human moderators here.)
      But ‘verification’ or lack of it seems inconsequential unless you’re trying to build up a massive “personal brand”. Not even sure what’s supposed to be verified: that your Twitter profile corresponds to your “real-life” identity? If so that misses the point that NOT requiring this is Twitter’s great advantage over F*cebook (which, like many here, I will never use, while understanding why many people do). Otherwise it would just be some sort of endorsement of the user’s importance, and why would anyone want that from them?
      All of the above is based on only a very short time using Twtr, though, so my impression that policies are dubious at best but the format can be useful and mostly non-invasive is hardly well informed and could change drastically at any moment.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        My first thought was that this sounds like the ‘self-policing community’ that DKos has run since the get-go. So I agree on ‘not promising.’

  2. fresno dan

    Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators? Counterpunch

    The Intel bosses continue to believe that they can overcome the lack of evidence by repeating the same claims over and over again. The problem with this theory is that Brennan’s claims don’t match the findings of his own “Gold Standard” report, the so called Intelligence Community Assessment or ICA which was published on January 6…. :

    Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.

    So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Trump doesn’t trust the intelligence community. A better question is why so many Democrats and journalists do. It was only three years ago that many Democrats called for CIA director John Brennan’s head after the Senate Intelligence Committee learned his agency had been spying on Democratic staffers conducting oversight of the CIA’s “black site” program during the George W. Bush administration. It was an ugly episode.
    Then there is the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper. Clapper told that same Senate committee in 2013 that he knew of no U.S. programs that wittingly collected the call records of Americans. Unlucky for him, a few months later, former contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents to the Washington Post and the Guardian that discredited that statement.
    Somehow this recent history seems to be forgotten by anti-Trump forces eager for allies. The Trump era has been very good to both of their reputations. Today Clapper and Brennan are regular guests on Sunday morning talk shows where they offer quips and commentary about the latest disgraces of the current commander-in-chief.
    As I have said time and again, Trump is a bad, bad man. Trump’s enemies may be just as bad, if not worse. There be agendas….

    1. Michael

      Thank you for mentioning Pope Francis and his deeds. Another one of his deeds was an encyclical entitled “Care of Our Common Home”. In this statement in which he calls for an embracing of Ecological Economics as a replacement of Neo-Classical Economics, the United Planet Faith and Science Initiative are attempting to create a movement to promote Pope Francis, Herman Daly and The Club of Rome for a Nobel Peace Prize for sustainable economics.

      Given the climate catastrophe that we are facing, I think this is a great idea, as we need a worldwide social movement to overturn the current accepted economic religion which does not take into account the finite nature of the planet in it’s destructive paradigm.

      Please refer to these links for information and the action item of Nobel Peace Prize nomination or endorsement that everyone can contribute in quick order.

      If you think this is a good idea, please spread the word. IMHO our common survival is probably dependent on immediate and persistant action.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Those aren’t deeds. Deeds would be using some of the Church’s treasure to feed and serve the poor, like they’re supposed to. NOT trying to impose their doctrine in the law would be helpful, too. And turning over their pedophile priests to the law – but then they’d be short of priests.

    2. scoff

      Given the chance, I would tell the Pope (and leaders of various others religious groups) that the outrageous wealth each group possesses stands in stark contrast to their rhetoric. Not that they’d ever listen to me. All the available evidence makes me doubt they would.

      Should the Vatican Sell its Assets to Help the Poor?

      Talk is apparently cheap indeed, but the act of divesting themselves of their excessive wealth and applying it to a problem that never seems to be resolved would speak much, much louder than their words.

      1. HopeLB

        Pope Francis has gone after the Vatican bankers. My Priest friend said he is surprised they haven’t done him in yet.

        The US Bishops here are against Francis and his liberal, inclusive, christian views. They downplayed/ignored the message of Laudato Si .

        And now he saying positive things about Communism.

    3. savedbyirony

      In light of recent and past conversations here concerning population control, etc., since the male hierarchy of the RCC, including Francis, assiduously works (no doubt out of love) to keep birth control out of the hands of people (especially females – and even more effectively out of the hands of poor girls and women) – oh yes, the RCC hierarchy loves and celebrates the poor.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      I have a writer friend in Caguas—and yes, we met on social media—who is engaged in this. I sent her a box of stuff last month, and have two more solar LED lanterns coming tomorrow to send along. The flight of the vultures proceeds apace, and the people are outraged.

      If I’m overstepping bounds, I apologize in advance, but my friend has a list on Amazon for those willing to shop there: . She updates it regularly and prioritizes the items.

      Those who prefer not to do Amazon but want to lend a hand can email me for the mailing address:

  3. Meher Baba Fan

    the Ireland Brexit Veto article is so fascinating and very well articulated. It explained all the aspects. What a fascinating development. Thankyou.
    I hope, as prescriptions for ministerial benzodiazapines soar, its remembered they shouldnt be mixed with booze?

    1. Anonymous2

      There is reported to be a meeting of the UK cabinet committee on Brexit tomorrow. It could be that decision time is near. The danger for Mrs May is that a decision may result in a leadership challenge in which case the UK may disappear from the negotiating chambers for another few months while the Tories indulge in another round of their seemingly interminable civil war.

  4. Linda

    The house that sold for nearly $800,000 over asking price speaks to the inequity of California Los Angeles Times (Re Silc).

    I know it shouldn’t bother me that I lived in Sunnyvale in a house just like that one, same style, same look, exactly, when I was young. Dad sold it in the 70s.

    1. Lee

      We lived in a modest house much like the one in the photo in the same area in the 60s. My mom was a waitress, later a restaurant manager and my dad was a chef. In their later years they owned and operated a commercial janitorial and building maintenance service. Where do the trades people that these communities certainly need live these days? Is there an app that will fix your toilet, clean your carpets, fix a broken window, or cook you a meal?

        1. Lee

          One of my kids is cursed with a love for working with his hands. He has mastered a number of construction and other skills. I’m going to leave him our house. Otherwise it’s unlikely he will be able to stay in the east sf bay area town where he was raised. Perhaps he will end up being the last guy in town who can hammer a nail or plumb and wire a house and then he can get a raise. Or, he could get his contractor’s license and make good money by hiring undocumented workers, who abound here, and pay them substandard wages. Ain’t America grand!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        This was years ago, in the ’90’s, I once saw a railroad freight car full of exploited migrant workers, parked on some an industrial spur behind a restaurant.

        I thought to myself, I hope they are not being moved to some camp back east.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some overpay for the weather, some for the school district, among other reasons.

      Why are some schools more popular than others? What makes them good? What causes such scholastic wealth to be so concentrated?

      Should we rotate teachers?

      Or is this a circular case here – areas with more expensive homes get more funding, and that makes their schools better, causing more people to want to buy into their areas, making homes more expensive, with more school funding?

    3. Ned

      That L.A. Times story is poorly written propaganda. “It’s Prop 13’s Fault!”

      “Listed for $1.68 million and sold, in a bidding war, for $2.47 million. According to sales records, the property tax at the time of the sale was just above $1,500.
      Not per month.
      Per year.
      Thank you, Proposition 13.”

      Yeah, but the house sold for $2.47 Million, the new property tax will be $24,700 a year, plus bonds and add ons. They forgot to mention that.

      Oligarchs and real estate agents and mortgage banks hate Proposition 13, it allows a tiny number of original homeowners to remain in their community with their equity and property taxes inaccessible to the greedy paws of the FIRE industry.

      Under Prop 13, all real property has established base year values, a restricted rate of increase on assessments of no greater than 2% each year, [That’s about what the government claims inflation is for Social Security and other COLA recipients, so what’s the problem?}
      and a limit on property taxes to 1% of the assessed value plus additional voter-approved taxes.

      If you can’t afford to rent or buy, it’s because banks are lending huge sums on property that was already there and the the prices reflect the amount of interest the financial parasites are sucking out of the property over and over again through escalating sales prices necessary to pay off the compounding interest on previous loans.

  5. Jack Lifton

    “Self driving trucks may be closer than they appear”

    I have been wondering how it came about that the quality of reporting on technology is so poor. My conclusion is that technical fact checking does not exist. It’s as if the analysts, fact checkers, and editors have NO EXPERIENCE, EDUCATION, OR UNDERSTANDING of the underlying science of the technologies they purport to explain. It’s as if they’re just kids or are credentialed from the right schools and need not have any knowledge of the topic. I no longer read NYT ‘s articles on technology or its impact. You shouldn’t either.

    1. allan

      It’s not just no understanding or experience with what they’re reporting on.
      It’s no understanding or experience out of the bicoastal bubble.
      From the article:

      Unlike autonomous cars, which face questions about navigating chaotic urban streets, trucks spend a lot of time heading straight on desolate highways.

      Desolate highways? When was the last time the reporter drove on the NYS Thruway or any cross-country interstate?

      Along similar lines, on NPR in the immediate aftermath of the church shooting in Texas, a witness told the NPR anchor that the shooter had parked at the Valero and crossed the street to the church.
      The “journalist” asked, “What’s a Valero?”

      1. Carolinian

        or any cross-country interstate?

        Driven many of those yourself? Out west they can be quite deserted. Of course in crowded eastern states they can be extremely busy.

        And while I agree with the comment about reporters and technology, I think this particular article did a reasonable job of summarizing the situation. The technology will proceed to the degree that it proves practical and for car drivers having trucks centered in their lanes at predictable speeds may prove to be a plus. On the other hand having to pass 20 trucks “platooned” in the right lane could be a freeway clogger. In any event I don’t think this technology is something we need to fear until proven otherwise.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s can be desolate out west, Arizona, New Mexico, etc.

          Also desolate from China, via Siberia all the way to Europe, I imagine.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If one didn’t listen carefully, or if the speaker said it fast, or not clearly, it is understandable to possibly confuse “parked at the Valero” with “parked a Valero.”

        Not sure if that was what happened, but we had to be there, I think, and also be in the mind of the reporter who got confused.

      3. Grebo

        The “journalist” asked, “What’s a Valero?”

        Stupid “journalist”. Should have whipped out his iPhone and looked it up on Wikipedia, like I just did.
        Apparently Valero is a brand of “gas station” and other “retail outlet”.

        1. Ned

          Used to be called “Exxon” but so many people boycotted them after the tanker ran aground in Prince William Sound, they renamed it to fool some of the people.

    2. The Rev Kev

      When you think about that phrase “may be closer than they appear” which appears on the passenger side view mirror in many cars, having a mack truck coming rearing up behind you with nobody at the wheel seems suddenly very ominous. I just remembered where I have seen this before. Take a look at the quick film clip at and you may see our future out on the highways. What, you don’t think that they will not retrofit older trucks?

      1. Meher Baba Fan

        Musk intends to name the first such truck “Christine’

        ( you beat me to a line about the ‘closer than they appear’ statement on mirrors. Why dont they just make mirrors that are accurate??! )

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        Duel was the first thing I thought of when reading about autonomous trucks.

        Then I thought about those “runaway truck” gravel inclines that you see off to the sides of the interstates that have steep grades as they wind through the mountains.

        I wonder if elon musk would find those too low-tech to be of use to his high-tech machines.

      3. Objective Function

        “Suddenly ahead of me / Across the mountainside /
        A gleaming alloy air car / Shoots towards me, two lanes wide / I spin around with shrieking tires / To run the deadly race / Go screaming through the valley / As another joins the chase”
        — Rush

      4. Edward E

        They’re trying to get rid of us old timers that are fighting against the new automated junk. It’s been a malfunction junction so far everything I’ve driven. Been here ten years, I’m about to tell them to take this job and shove it. Find something eventually, I have no debts so take my time and there’s gotta be some happiness somewhere, sure ain’t here anymore.

        Job offerings come my way a lot but most all the companies are setting up the same autonomous crap. The stuff REALLY stresses me out with sleepless nights that lead to much exhaustion, mentally. That’s why I haven’t been commenting much.

    3. Lee

      From the article:

      having trucks drive themselves on highways and letting human drivers take over in complicated city environments — is something of an industry consensus.

      I could see drivers making a deal with owners along the lines of that struck by the ILWU in response to containerization.

    4. cnchal

      There are some useful tidbits of humor and ideas though.

      “Sometimes it kind of messes me up when I go back to driving because now I’m used to the truck driving,” Mr. Runions said.

      Something to think about. How many accidents will happen when drivers think the machine is handling itself, when it isn’t?

      Starsky’s ultimate plan, of course, is to eliminate Mr. Runions’s job. But they do not want him to be out of one. Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, Starsky’s 27-year-old chief executive, foresees using self-driving technology to replace long-haul drivers on freeways, but having people like Mr. Runions navigate at either end of the trip with remote control consoles that look like an arcade racing game.

      “One driver can drive 10 to 30 trucks per day,” Mr. Seltz-Axmacher said.

      That should peg the productivity meter. Interesting that this comes from a 27 year old.

      Goldman Sachs economists estimate that trucking will shed about 300,000 jobs per year — starting in 25 years. Clearly, that estimate is based on so many ifs that the precise number is not worth fretting over. The bigger point is that as technology gets better, it will start replacing jobs.

      When Amazon went public in 1997, there wasn’t much worry about huge job losses. Today, online retail companies require about one employee per $1 million of annual sales, versus 3.5 employees per $1 million at physical stores — a big reason that retail employment is falling by about 100,000 jobs per year, according to the Goldman report.

      To boot, warehouses pay less property taxes than regular retail, and Amazon virtually none at all, when one considers the massively embellished subsidies given to them.

      From a technical perspective, yes, it is a useless article.

      1. Janie

        Cnchal at 10.46am referred to the trucker who became “messed up” when he had to take over the wheel. This will become a greater problem as experienced drivers age out. This is happening among pilots as those experienced in actually flying the plane age out. No more pilots with Sully’ s skills…

    5. Charger01

      I believe that is a charge that David Simon has leveled at the professional journalists back in the day.

    6. Elizabeth Burton

      And you’d be correct. Indeed, during my experience in a newsroom, having any kind of real knowledge about a subject automatically precluded one from covering it lest one be too biased to do so in a balanced fashion. Thus, the “education reporter,” whose qualification for covering that beat was apparently that she had graduated J-school, wrote an article about a local student who was doing really well despite having “von Willy Brandt’s disease.” There was a medical dictionary ten feet from her desk.

      I was prohibited from covering any domestic violence story because I had an extensive background in the subject.

      So, what you see is a feature, not a bug. It’s only that it’s gotten worse over time as newsrooms replace real reporters with the kind who are willing to do as they’re told even if what they’re told to do is a violation of journalistic ethics.

  6. mpalomar

    LRB x marks the spot.
    “WGS84 means the US government is confident its ICBMs can hit the Kremlin or the middle of Pyongyang; it’s also the reason Kim Jong-un is confident he could nuke Hawaii.”

    Is the article claiming N Korea is using the US GPS satellite system for targeting?
    This juxtaposed with the article linked yesterday about ‘machine takeover’ (or not): it seems we’re literally lost without them and losing our hippocampus capacity as well.

    Why are critics calling the Leonardo a fake Bloomberg

    Nearly half a billion for a painting that was stripped of ‘significant portions of the composition’ and repainted by a conservator.

    “The dynamism of the composition, however, is only part of the painting’s value. “You’re buying much more than the painting, you’re buying its history,” says Dickinson. “Who’s looked at it, who’s touched it: You’re selling a dream: that what you’re in front of, Leonardo was once in front of.”

    A dream, as in an illusion?
    Pathetic artist here. How does the perfect information etc. bs about markets work with the art market? If there is a market with more subjective opinionating and worse distortions than the art market and of course hucksters, I’d like to know.

    1. The Rev Kev

      No real surprises here. Just doing a quick Google search on the search term art world fraud brings back all sorts of entertaining stories on this subject. I have a Frederick Forsyth story called “The Art of the Master” which is centered around the art world and a lot of what was described sounded plausible. I always remember one phrase that was used in this book when he said that “some of the tricks of the (art) trade would have made a Corsican knifeman look like a vicar”.

  7. Jason Boxman

    On Florida Dems…

    I grew up in Orlando. Despite having a notable registration advantage, the Democrat party there has never been effective electorally. Alan Grayson was the best thing we had going. When I attended events, the younger college age crowd was all in for Obama, in ’08 and ’12. I’m thankful to have escaped.

    The NYTimes had an article yesterday noting the huge influx of Puerto Ricans relocating, most permanently, to Orlando. That may have an impact politically in the future, but in what manner, who can say? The traffic was unbearable when I left and affordable housing available at best only in the periphery of the city or in dangerous pockets. Such a mass migration of people is going to strain a lot of stuff.

    Orlando is definitely a service economy city outside the small tech and defense industry (lots of simulation stuff) sectors.

  8. el_tel

    re Labour’s BREXIT quandary

    Thanks for this – follows on from a discussion I had in last couple of days with those guys who know a lot more than I regarding such “more esoteric” issues (PlutoniumKun, vlade and others). It seems (from what they say, and from the content of the article) that nationalisation is a politically charged issue, without a definitive answer as to whether it is permitted. But it might be a big issue for Labour if it ends up picking up the pieces after a messy BREXIT or (more importantly) a compromise where the UK has some sort of EU relationship (looking increasingly unlikely, I know). Good to raise the issue, even if there’s not (apparently) definitive answer at this stage, since it will have implications for Corbyn’s supporters.

    1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

      It raises an interesting possibility if the question was ever asked & that cradle of progressiveness for many replied with a resounding No !. Would it not if nothing else expose the hypocrisy of supposedly not interfering in the internal affairs of another member state ? or further reinforce the suspicions of those that no matter what stripe of political party is elected, that only a one size fits all economic policy will be tolerated ? but, but competition – although in terms of trade balances & other factors, the reality is that no level playing field for competition actually exists.

      It perhaps points to one of the reasons why JC is at the very least slightly sceptical about that whole enterprise.

      1. el_tel

        Yes, I disliked the (apparent) constrictions on taking back into public ownership enterprises that had been contracted out/privatised. My worry was that I had “bought into an MSM line” and was wrong in my interpretation. Thus why I asked some of those who are much more up on the issue. I was somewhat gratified that they were unsure of “the rules” too – thus I hadn’t just lapped up some MSM “line” on the issue but it genuinely was/is the case that this is a *real* issue that doesn’t seem to have a universally agreed solution even within the EU27. If, indeed, reversal of contracting etc is not permitted then indeed it explains JC’s lukewarm approach to the EU (and let’s not forget he was historically anti-EU). Of course this doesn’t solve his problem that a lot of young “Corbynistas” are very pro-EU and don’t understand/pay attention to such an “esoteric” issue. Thus it creates a monumental headache for Labour.

        1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

          One of many I assume to add to the inevitable descent of financial harpies if he were to be elected & was to try any of that Socialist funny business.

          But no matter – I am glad we have the like of him, which is more than many others could say.

        2. Grebo

          It is subtle and insidious. The rules may not explicitly prohibit renationalisation, but they are intended to have that effect. The limits on deficits, debt and public support make it very tricky to do on a large a scale.
          It’s like the Euro: it is not actually a gold standard but it is set up to behave very much like one.

          1. a different chris

            >it is not actually a gold standard but it is set up to behave

            It’s actually better than gold. Gold is stupid (sincere apologies to Jim) because somebody could theoretically find a monster vein completely asynchronously to any “real” breakthroughs, such as a technological change that actually would power world economic growth. Remember aluminum once was more expensive than gold, now Ford is making oversized personal vehicles out of it.

            But the Euro quantity can be precisely controlled from afar. A long arm reaching right across the border down to a country’s short and curlies.

  9. el_tel

    Re: male odour of experimenter in ketamine for depression

    I really don’t know what to make of this! They need some hypotheses as to why male odour might have this effect. Now, it’s known that a lot of antidepressants affect men and women differently in terms of side effects (sexual dysfunction more among men, weight gain among women) but the sex of the experimenter? Pronounce me baffled. Although the fact ketamine works in a matter of hours – as opposed to the existing best antidepressant, MAOIs, which work within about 4 days, as the psychopharmacology suggests they should – does suggest there’s a very different mode of action here and more research is needed to understand why ketamine crosses the blood brain barrier so quickly and how it does so. Very curious study…..

    1. a different chris

      I don’t know about any why hypothesis, but it sure explains the downstream “why” – as in why us idiot XY bearers continue to rule the world. I knew it wasn’t brains, compassion, and not even strength (since 10 relative weaklings, given do-or-die determination, can take out any barehanded single guy, no matter his strength and skill).

      So it’s the way we smell. Mother nature has quite a sense of humor.

    2. UserFriendly

      Well, having taken both racemic and S-Ketamine myself I can confirm this study is on the right track in sussing out the method of action for Ketamine’s antidepressant effects. They indicate it is likely due to a metabolite activation of the AMPA receptor rather than the more widely known NMDAR inhibition of ketamine itself. (in the addendum they note a male researcher injected the rats) I have no clue how the connection to male smell would affect that though and I wonder if it is only in rats.

      1. el_tel

        ah glutamate stuff – am not a medic and though have a lot of professional/personal experience in mental health the “specific receptor” stuff begins to go beyond my pay grade but I have read material on the potential for the glutamate-related stuff. Interesting, thanks!

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: “It’s a Ponzi Scheme”: Wall Street Fears Trump’s Deranged Tax Plan Could Kick Off Economic Euthanasia Vanity Fair (Re Silc)

    Every president since reagan, each with his own cadre of wall street “experts,” has embraced the “trickle down” economic shit theory that has destroyed the middle class and created the massive economic inequality that is strangling the citizens and economy.

    The only modern president who has not enacted such policies is Donald Trump, who his regularly ridiculed for having no legislative “achievements” during his administration’s first year, and relentlessly goaded to “get something done.” Trump’s worst crime so far is getting elected.

    I find it tremendously ironic that it seems the only way to kill this “trickle down” idea with fire is for Trump to support it. Those who promoted and implemented the policies for decades leading to the devastating economic situation in which we currently find ourselves are “the good guys.” But Trump’s support of policies that should have been rejected long ago will not be tolerated.

    Whatever works, I guess.

    1. JTee

      In no way does the article explain how the proposed tax cuts are a Ponzi scheme. It does suggest that a bunch of Wall Streeters are not happy with having their previous tax deductions removed, and that this may affect the value of their properties. The only Ponzi scheme here is the housing industry, which requires ever more willing buyers to enter the market, which then pays off handsomely for the early entrants.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        Yes it will remove the employees on Wall Street deduction of state and local taxes from their federal bill.. the good news is that it does allow businesses to still do it!

        The closing of loopholes for individuals are as follows:
        Student loan deductions
        Property tax deduction (over $10,000)
        State and Local tax deductions
        Teacher supplies deductions
        Alimony payments
        Tax Prep deduction
        Moving expenses
        Medical expenses
        Home interest deductions greater than $500,000

        Where is the “closing of loopholes” for businesses?

        It does double the standard deduction, so it will make people on the low end less likely to itemize. Personally I think it will be a wash considering I live in the Northeast (although personally my housing taxes and home interest comes nowhere near the thresholds).

        I swear they are just seeing what they can get away with on Thanksgiving week. This looks like a massive tax transfer from the business world to the individual.

  11. allan

    Federalist Society, White House cooperation on judges paying benefits [WaPo]

    … [White House Counsel] McGahn said it is “completely false” that the White House has “outsourced” the selection of federal judges to the organization.

    It’s not even necessary, he said. “I’ve been a member of the Federalist Society since law school — still am,” he said. “So frankly, it seems like it’s been in-sourced.”

    It’s nice that the confab gave McGahn a safe space where he could be honest
    about his connections with the Federalist Society.
    At the time of John Roberts’ confirmation process, Roberts and his minders lied about his.

    Another massive win for frozen truckers back row kids.

  12. ambrit

    The “Gillibrand attacks Clinton” article morphed into yet another setting up piece for the removal of Trump. If Gillibrand, as the piece says, a former Blue Dog Democrat when in the House, attacks a safely retired President, it looks to be a means to set the ground rules for removing the present, sitting President. Bill Clinton is safe and cozy in his Mammonite cocoon. Trump is embattled in the White House. If Gillibrand were to say, “Let us arrest Bill Clinton on charges of abuse of power and pandering,” I would cheer her on. She does not. I do not.

    1. Livius Drusus

      I think Gillibrand is trying to position herself as the brave, moral Democratic candidate for the 2020 election. Maybe Gillibrand thinks she will win points with the feminist faction of the Democratic Party for being the most outspoken opponent of sexual harassment. Attacking the beloved (by some) Bill Clinton will show that she is brave and uncompromising. I am not a big Gillibrand fan myself but I think that this is her strategy for 2020.

      1. ambrit

        I agree about the Dem politics part. Gillibrand holds Hillary Clintons’ old Senate seat from New York
        state, and is up for re-election in 2018, (she was appointed, then elected.) Gillibrands’ showing in the 2018 election will tell the tale on whether or not she has a chance in the 2020 Presidential Sweepstakes.
        As for the “Feminist Faction” of the Democrat Party, well, that at present looks to be a Clinton Fiefdom. So, as a power play, discrediting Bill would be an excellent move against Hillarys’ political flank. I know nothing about any skeletons, potential or extant, hiding in Gillibrands closet. The Hillary Machines push back against Gillibrands’ gambit will reveal Hillarys’ mind set concerning her future political ambitions.
        I get the feeling that Hillary would rather do a Gotterdamerung than free up the Party to move forward.
        Interesting times indeed.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Kill it with fire…the undead corpse of the Democratic Party is propped up like the protagonist in Weekend At Bernie’s (no, not that Bernie). Armies of very handsomely-paid undead consultants promote brilliant new party strategies like “starting a conversation” and “at least we’re not Trump”. Party scions tell rooms full of angry people they are “not for a complete government takeover of health care” and for some unknown reason there is no lynching. So the best thing would be for Hilary to run, prop the undead corpse up one more time and the millions can vote for whatever fascist monster is not her and not them. Again.

            1. Ned

              And, “pushing our values forward…”, the latest line from the scarecrow come to life, Tom Perez.

              Bill Clinton’s power dynamic, the most powerful man in the world versus intern Monica, means that she could not consent to have sex, any more than a minor can consent.

          2. dcrane

            My sense is almost 100% that she is running, which she will do until an unquestionably superior candidate has a clear path to the nomination. (She may not want to lose badly in the primary.)

            She lost to one of the worst presidential nominees in history, and the establishment has stuck a big asterisk on her opponent’s win (no doubt with prodding from her allies). Given her life to this point, I can hardly imagine her resisting the temptation to try again.

        1. ambrit

          As a sort of thought experiment; could we olde tyme geezers be that out of touch with the opinions and issues of women in America?
          Someone with the handle ‘d’ several days ago took me to task for being, roughly, a classic Male Chauvinist Pig. Her, (I got the strong feeling that it was a woman) point had merit, but I replied with a generalist argument. (“We all have to get along, etc.”) As a serious question, was I wrong? Are the sexual gender issues now at a tipping point in our society?
          Many have mentioned that the Democrat Party usage of the sex gender issues have the distinct odour of partisan self promotion. The Democrat Party is not the whole country. So, are these issues gaining traction with the generality of American women? Could the generality of American women form a cohesive force for political action?
          “The Lysistrata Party” might not be out of the question today.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            If you look up Wikipedia on ‘sex and gender,’ you get this:

            The distinction between sex and gender differentiates sex (the anatomy of an individual’s reproductive system, and secondary sex characteristics) from gender, which can refer to either social roles based on the sex of the person (gender role) or personal identification of one’s own gender based on an internal awareness (gender identity).[1][2] I

            When you click through to ‘gender role” Wiki page, you get Model A, total role segregation, and Model B, total integration. For example, you get, with respect to profession, under total integration,

            For women, career is just as important as for men; equal professional opportunities for men and women are necessary.


            It reads like under Model B, total integration, there is only one gender role. We are all one human gender.

            That’s the goal, at the end of (gender) history.

          2. Dandelion

            Yes, there’s a generational difference. Women under say 30-35 may have more career opportunities than older women did, but their age group of men have a way more entitled, raunchy, even pornified view of what women are — there’s a LOT of sexual mistreatment happening and a LOT of anger around that. Gynecologists have started reporting about the injuries they’re seeing done to girls and women by partners. I just read one doctor writing in that the number one question she gets from girls and young women is: is there some way to have sex that doesn’t hurt? Back in my day, men could be inept and selfish but most, if you were in in pain, were abashed to learn that, not completely disregarding.

    2. DJG

      I think that the article spends too much time quoting various courtiers, who do not acquit themselves well. More “consensual blow job” tee-hee-heeing in 2017? Really?

      Yet in the middle of the article, there is this paragraph worth noting:
      “She has helped raise over $6 million for female candidates since 2011, said an aide. And on Friday, her PAC announced it would take the unusual step of backing Marie Newman, a challenger to sitting Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois, who has long been criticized by Democrats for his views on abortion.”

      That’s a direct attack on the entrenched Illinois Democrats. And they will return her backing with a nuclear missile, given how much money is at stake in the bipartisan looting of Illinois. So Gillibrand seems to have some there there. This isn’t some feminist window-dressing in which she backs some nice multicultural lady in some safe Dem district. Let’s keep monitoring.

      1. ambrit

        Are those “entrenched Illinois Democrats” part of the “Super ‘O'” wing of the Party? She could be fighting both Hillary and Barry here, or at least, their common backers.
        As is often said in “corruption” probes everywhere; “Forget the verbiage, let’s have some indictments!”

  13. C_anon

    Re: “China wins its war against South Korea’s US THAAD missile shield – without firing a shot”

    THAAD is staying in Korea.
    China is relaxing its economic sanctions.
    Korea-Japan-ASEAN-Inida relations are quickly improving.

    Wonder how is this a “win” for China?

  14. marym

    When Unpaid Student Loan Bills Mean You Can No Longer Work

    Few people realize that the loans they take out to pay for their education could eventually derail their careers. But in 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts. Another state, South Dakota, suspends driver’s licenses, making it nearly impossible for people to get to work.

    Firefighters, nurses, teachers, lawyers, massage therapists, barbers, psychologists and real estate brokers have all had their credentials suspended or revoked.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      What do they expect people to do if they can’t pay off their debts, nor can they work? Work on the black market of education? Use their medical degree to treat drug smugglers? Might as well give them a brochure that helps them get started in the sex worker industry too when they revoke their license.

      1. marym

        Here’s the tweet where I happened to see the link. It’s interesting that most of the replies, as far as I read, really seem to be connecting the dots in all that’s systemically wrong – jobs, debt, prison labor, tax policy, bankruptcy policy.

        1. marym

          That would be very simplistic view of these deep systemic problems. As terrible as Biden’s influence on the student loan bankruptcy issue, was, and as much as it should disqualify him as a candidate, these problems aren’t due to one politician or party passing one bad law.

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘In 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts.’

      Default on an unsecured bank loan, and the bank can trash your credit rating. But a bank can’t take away your professional license and destroy your ability to work.

      Just goes to show that government is the most vicious usurer of all, when it comes to squeezing the serfs into submission.

      Where can I major in Neofeudalism Studies?

      1. Milton

        Oh my God you can’t be that obtuse. These are private loans that may, or may not be govt-backed. Privateers using the power of the state to ensure future earnings.

        1. ambrit

          Dear Milton;
          Privateers are a time honoured means of extending the power of the State. Consider it a form of ‘outsourcing,’ or better yet, a public private hybrid to get government work done. In this case, Sr. Haygood has it right. The government ‘work’ needing attention to is the subjugation of the plebs.

          1. makedoanmend

            One still has the vote in the United States.

            In any case, I would see much validity in Milton’s suggestion that the democratic power of the state has been usurped for private gain* as a better descriptor of the ills of society rather than the implication that all states must be inherently feudal, although it may be argued that people tend towards accepting feudalism in lieu of the risks of democracy.

            *And I would further argue many peoples of our rickety democracies, myself included, have tended to accept that the foremost means to safeguard our societies is to elevate the business people (or what has turned out to be capital hoarders/rentiers) above all other consideration as a necessary prerequisite of societal longevity, and therefore allowing them to usurp many functions of government for direct and indirect personal gain as the expense of the rest of us.

            States are not inherently anything, but are only what the people allow them to become.

            1. ambrit

              What is variable here is the degree of agency allowed to the population, short of outright social disintegration.
              The argument takes on a chicken or the egg quality. Were the “business” people elevated by popular acclamation, or by stealth? Someone elsewhere put up a link to an argument that the “middle class” is an anomaly in human affairs.
              So, I do see the present dynamic as a battle between Olde Tyme “Business as Usual” and Progressive Populist Egalitarianism.
              If only…..

      2. ambrit

        Sr. Haygood;
        I hear that the University of Chicago School of Economics is the premier place to get ones’ proper credentials in Neofeudalism. Some (in)famous beneficiaries of the Schools altruism reside in Chile and other Southron Polities.

  15. Jake

    @NC – Considering New Zealand has voted in a very pro-labour and seemingly progressive prime minister, jacinda arden, do you plan to increase your coverage of the country? Same with South Korea. These seem like the only two places where progressive politics has managed to come into the mainstream

    1. Musicismath

      And there’s also the question of what John Oliver is going to do now with no John Key/Stephen Joyce/Bill English to poke fun at.

    2. clinical wasteman

      wouldn’t invest too much hope in what the incoming Aotearoa/NZ govt will be able to do – or given very sudden handover of leadership in what remains a centrist party of professional/opportunist politicians, what the professionals will even want to do. But I sincerely hope to be proved wrong. An early commitment to reverse one of the vilest attacks on welfare claimants – whereby women who can’t or won’t name the father of a child lose all state support – is an encouraging sign. But there’s so much more of that kind of legislation on the books (eg., in may cases, as a claimant with a child, you’re answerable to the state (or its outsource contractors) for your entire sexual life, because any sexual partner (undefined, with legal minefield ensuing except that claimants can’t afford to sue) becomes a “partner” in the sense of de facto husband/wife with legal liability for the child despite not being a parent). It would be wonderful if they were to continue repealing these things, and/or if they took serious action against the class cleansing resulting from a speculative housing market now the most skewed in the world by some accounts, i.e. as bad as the UK or maybe even worse. But given the scale of the task(s), the inbuilt institutional hostility an the involvement of the paleopatriotic, overtly anti-immigrant and traditionally anti-poor and anti-Maori/Pasifikan (despite partly Maori whakapapa of leader Winston Peters) NZ First party, I’ll be surprised as well as happy if much that might be hoped for happens. If it doesn’t, I wouldn’t necessarily blaming Ahern, the Labour left such as it is, or the NZ Green party, which is some distance to the left of European Greens, although its right/opportunist faction recently treated Metiria Turei (an ex-co-leader who spoke realistically about welfare claimants’ situation with reference to her own life as a legally marginal single parent) disgracefully.
      As for “more coverage” here, I’m grateful for the generous amount there already is on NC (Richard Smith!), and I don’t see what other parts of the world could be dropped to make way for more. I’ll try to send more updates in the comments, where you also have Clarky as an admirable local observer whose political standpoint counterbalances my emigrant commie/Pasifikan bias. And others.
      But for regular coverage, I highly recommend Gordon Campbell at – really thoughtful centre-left “insider” journalist with so many decades experience that I remember reading him since childhood – and Sikoti (Scott) Hamilton’s great Reading The Maps blog, for Aotearoa and the Pacific (world’s most media-neglected geographical area?) in general.

      1. Mike

        Don’t agree with this apart from werewolf. NC doesn’t need any more left pessimism IMO. When Trump remarked at the leaders’ meeting in Asia “there goes the girl who’s causing trouble” or words to that effect, Jacinda Ardern responded “Nobody marched when I was elected.” She’ll make a difference before she’s finished.

    3. dcrane

      Ardern still intends to sign the TPP, it seems, and to pass it in Parliament with help from the right wing National party (since Labour’s Green partners are opposed), so it remains to be seen how pro-labor the new government really will be.

      (edit: Note that Labour ran against the TPP in the election, but their statements seemed about as heartfelt as Hillary’s.)

  16. Invy

    Dockless bikes are screaming for government regulation… It is close to a common resource pool where competition is causing more problems than it solves. Municipalities should read up on Elinor Ostrom, and manage these companies adjusting fairs based on density, allow businesses to influence parking areas, and low costumers to reserve a bike in the area to manage different usage patterns. As it is the company with the most availability wins, so you get overproduction, atleast one company is punishing riders that park in bad areas.

    The article on JG should read up on Ricardo. The reason why inflation won’t be a problem is because the commodities consumed by labor are already highly automated, with high fixed capital and low variable/labor, Ricardo claims prices should decrease. For those goods that have a high labor input, prices will rise, but as long as the necessaries of labor do not, then the burden will fall on the wealthy (those able to consume luxury goods).

    I look at a JG as a bridge to UBI, as more and more is automated, we can decrease the requirements of a JG to less and less hours while maintaining purchasing power… The idea that a JG should be a holding pattern for labor before the private sector can absorb the excess is IMO a negative to the program. Labor should have a choice of working for a individual, the state, a cooperative, worker democracy… As it stands they have one choice.

    1. JTMcPhee

      And all that is the prescription for doing more of the same stupid human stuff, faster and more “efficiently,” until the world dies.

      1. JBird

        I remember reading in high school all too long ago that we were all going to working only fifteen hours a week on a “full” time job. If the rate of productivity had been maintained, and all of those gains had been evenly spread out as before, we would be.

        I keep reading about all the work that is not being done. All the infrastructure, housing, manufacturing, energy production that needs to be built, is not being maintained, or needs immediate repair, along with all the shortages of skilled workers of all types, all the tech workers being illegal brought in, and on and on, so just how do we have a shortage of jobs? Instead of that, do we not have a shortage of funding, or more accurately a mis-allocation of resources? Hmmmm?

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Professor Says Threats Of Retaliation By China Stopped Publication Of His Book Revealing Chinese Influence In Australia TechDirt (CL).

    To have significant influence in another country, you always need collaborators handle populists and nationalists.

    They can, for example, make hacking elections easier.

    1. el_tel

      I saw the beginnings of a revolt against perceived Chinese influence when I lived in Sydney – e.g. push for rules to prevent foreign ownership of house/apartments (directed primarily at non-domiciled Chinese).

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    F-35 Strike Fighter Success: Real or Simulated? The American Conservative

    If China, Russell, France, India, Israel, Japan, etc could make weapons cheaper, should we buy from them?

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      You’ve mistaken the purposes of this piece of hardware as: 1. flying well, 2. performing missions well, and 3. operating cost-effectively. It’s actual purpose however is financial, not aeronautical: to extract the maximum number of taxpayer dollars over the longest period of time and transfer them to billionaire shareholders’ offshore accounts. Its score by that actual metric: 10/10.

  19. Marco

    “Some thoughts on the Jobs Gaurantee”

    Interesting to see the “kinder-gentler” neoliberal attempt to wrap their heads around the idea. Anyone here more skilled than I on MMT and JG care to expound on Simon-Wren Lewis inflation concerns? The comments below the piece are more harsh.

    1. Grebo

      See Brian Romanchuk for a technical takedown.

      I tried rebutting some of the (tired old) comments but Wren-Lewis uses the disfunctional Google commenting contraption which only pretends to allow anonymous/pseudonymous posts.

    2. Mel

      I got stuck in the NAIRU argument on his phrase “the only way of keeping inflation stable is to deflate demand, which of course would reduce output, …”
      If inflation is a sign of too much demand for the existing output, I don’t see why output need be affected, if people use the right means to limit inflation.

  20. JTMcPhee

    Speaking of buying weapons, the following 8-minute video is one chilling piece of what the runaway weaponization of Tech is bringing us:

    “Game Over.”

    So all the political-economic stuff that we NC participants discuss and argue over and try to learn about and understand and in our small ways try to apply to “make things better,” or just seek out some nice 10-baggers and beta hints for ourselves, None of it matters. Between the killer drone swarms featured in the sales spiel (and note the gleeful applause by the audience, blind fools that they are), and all the other runaway “tech” like CRSP-R and Monsanto, far as I can see, we are just dead men, women, trans, cis, whatever slow-walking to the graveyard. There’s no stopping the deathly processes, so profitable and entertaining, that are already fully in motion.

    Will the dolphins get a chance to say “So long, and thanks for killing off all the fish!”?

    Yes, God bless us, every one.

    1. kurtismayfield

      Judging by what us homo sapiens are doing to ourselves, I realize that the pessimistic explanations for Fermi paradox are probably correct. The absence of intelligence created EMR in the universe is the product of every civilization’s almost infinite hubris.

        1. JTMcPhee

          I read in the science category that viruses live by the billions in our human guts, and that “science” is looking for grants to study how they, like the rest of our internal flora, are not all pathogenic, and many are apparently very important to human life functions.

          Gnosce te-iodine.

    2. Lee

      We have evolved from a small population species living in bands to a large population species, like passenger pigeons, that can no longer adapt to surviving in small groups. Post apocalypse fiction notwithstanding.

        1. Lee

          On the most recent Science Friday radio program, an evolutionary biologist put forth the hypothesis that humans did not directly kill every last pigeon; they did reduce the population to the point that the pigeons had lost their small-population adaptations, and so had become ill adapted to their diminished numbers. I was unaware of this notion but find it rife with implication for humans and other social species in addition to the well known ill effects that genetic bottlenecks cause in non-behavioral traits.

          1. JBird

            Pigeon breeders tried to say the species but the birds just would not breed. As far as anyone can tell they would only do so in a large flock.

  21. Schofield

    If ever you’ve been in a New York City traffic jam it makes me wonder how self-driving vehicles will be able to compute the need to get out of the way of First Responder vehicles. The same question also applies to any town or city with traffic congestion problems.

    1. Mel

      :) That part is easy. Those vehicles will all carry First Transponders that will send their identities and intentions to an AWACS helicopter hovering overhead, and *it* will take control of the self-driving vehicles and cause them to hustle themselves out of the way via the optimum route. All done with computers. It’ll be great.

  22. McWatt

    Re: Tax Cuts

    If you want to move young people and the already marginalized middle age population into being permanent renters for life, what better way than to remove the individual mortgage deduction and thus the incentive for owning something. That way the 1% have an unlimited income stream stretching into the forever and the renters are debt slaves in perpetuity.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Off the top of my head… True government loans for first/only homes, interest free. Why subsidize banks the way we do now to the tunes of double to triple the price of a home?

      1. jrs

        why subsidize landlords? And yet not their renters? A single house one actually lives in is one thing. Everything else, why are we subsidizing it again?

    2. Lee

      OTOH, home prices will probably drop and we can then party like it’s 2012. OTOOH, the price drop will be offset by the non-deductibility if mortgage interest, thus creating a push so far as new buyers are concerned.

    3. a different chris

      Yeah but it’s a weird incentive, isn’t it? At least if you believe (as I do, to 75% or so anyway) that the interest deduction is just added back on to the price of housing. So take away the deduction, and the housing price drops, and Classical Idiocy, uh Economics says the incentive should be the same.

      But Classical Economics thinks people know what the f(amily blog) they are doing, and most of us, most of the time, no matter how smart we are in our chosen area, don’t.

      Ignoring that, if you can, the same Phoobah’s proclaim that you must not only Go West, Young Man or Woman, but South, East, North, Back West again, and so on to “optimize” your career. So why do they think the young’uns that do buy into this hoo-hah are going to sign up for a mortgage and closing costs?

      They don’t, of course. As far as I can tell, they don’t think at all. That deep thinking stuff doesn’t get them face time on the TV. It doesn’t provide any comfortable answers. So they just don’t do it.

      1. jrs

        Unstable jobs, rising rents eating up all of everyone’s income and ability to save, student loans, frankly affordable housing prices, but yea it’s a tax change that really affects people’s housing decisions.

    4. Jen

      I’m going to be slightly contrarian here and suggest that your incentive for owning a home is the mortgage deduction, you probably shouldn’t buy a house. The problem isn’t the deduction, it’s the cost of the family blogging house.

      I bought my house at the top of the last bubble. I didn’t want my house to own me, so I stuck with a price range that was well under the limit of what I could afford. 10 years earlier the same price I paid for a small house that did not require complete renovation would have got me waterfront property in a very nice college town.

  23. Oregoncharles

    “EU chiefs push Theresa May to say clearly how much UK will pay in ‘divorce bill’ Belfast Telegraph”
    Didn’t she already say 20 billion – not sure whether pounds or Euros, but they’re pretty close?

      1. ambrit

        As Kasper Gutman from “The Maltese Falcon” remarks, “Dollars mind you, not even pounds.” The exchange rate was a lot different back then.

  24. witters

    “Labour’s Brexit quandary: do EU rules allow renationalisation?”

    Seems likely not. So the idea then is this? You can’t leave the EU, that is DISASTER! You must stay and forever accept that “competition is king” – so you can’t renationalise. Your way of avoiding disaster is to forever be tied into the neoliberal system as it impoverishes (and kills off) the ever increasing poor among us for the empty riches of the ever fewer…

  25. ChrisPacific

    Thanks for the Le Guin interview. ‘Malafrena’ is one that I have actually read, even though it’s obscure (I think because my university library had a copy). I recall finding it very readable and enjoyable, but not knowing quite what to make of it after I finished (like she says, there isn’t always a name for what she does). It’s one that I have been keen to re-read but I’ve never found another copy. Hopefully the new issue will help with that.

  26. Oregoncharles

    The more often you post stuff from/about Ursula LeGuin, the happier I’ll be. Actually, that interview made me cry. Maybe I should go back and reread The Dispossessed.

  27. Vatch

    The Heartland Institute is no longer fringe TreeHugger

    The article about the bizarre and utterly dangerous anti-environmental statements by the Heartland Institute and EPA Destroyer Scott Pruitt reminded me of Voltaire’s famous quote:

    Certainly any one who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices. If you do not use the intelligence with which God endowed your mind to resist believing impossibilities, you will not be able to use the sense of injustice which God planted in your heart to resist a command to do evil.

    There are many families around the world where children are trained to believe impossible falsehoods from an early age. Is it any surprise that millions of people are primed and ready to believe the nonsense spouted by the Heartland Institute?

  28. sd

    Way too many rehabs provide meals in unregulated uninspected facilties by staff without ServSafe certificates. Meanwhile, wealthy clients – often parents – pay thousands of dollars a month for subpar care. There is little incentive in helping get someone sober since that means losing a customer.

    It’s just shocking that these companies can get away with renting high end homes, stuffing clients into a house, throw in some low paid staff, with little to no oversight from regulators. How are these places not treated as health care facilities?

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