Links 11/22/17

Dear patient readers,

We are starting our holiday schedule today: Links, Water Cooler, and three rather than four posts. You will get weekend-level coverage (Links plus two posts) on Thanksgiving Day and Friday. Hope our American readers who are on the road have safe and smooth travels!

World’s best cheese is revealed Yahoo (furzy)

It’s the 1st known interstellar asteroid EarthSky (Chuck L)

Self-taught rocket scientist plans to launch over ghost town Associated Press. Chuck L: “I smell a Darwin Award in the offing.”

RIP net neutrality: FCC chair releases plan to deregulate ISPs ars technica (Chuck L)

America is about to kill the open internet – and towns like this will pay the price Guardian

Apple Finds Foxconn Interns Worked Illegal Overtime on iPhone X Bloomberg (Chuck L)

Major new study finds people who spend a lot of time on Facebook are materialistic Thai Tech (furzy)

How Evil Is Tech? New York Times (David L)

People are ‘enslaved’ by 24-hour email and businesses must take action, experts say Independent. One of several reasons I have a dumbphone and regularly leave it at home.

Sugar industry withheld evidence of sucrose’s health effects nearly 50 years ago MedicalXpress (Chuck L)

There’s new evidence that the sugar industry suppressed scientific studies linking sugar to heart disease and cancer Business Insider (David L)

Why I injected myself with an untested gene therapy BBC (David L, Mark P). I’m more willing to try non-mainstream approaches than most people. These guys are completely mad. Darwin Award winners in the making.

China?

Zimbabwe coup a win-win for China – for now Asia Times

Chinese censor feted by Mark Zuckerberg is accused of corruption Guardian

Merkel Agonistes

The beginning of the end of Angela Merkel Politico

Battle to avoid new German election The Times. A new election is unlikely to deliver different results. But most voters want one.

FDP legt zu – Union unter 30 Prozent Der Spiegel

Brexit

Donald Tusk issues ultimatum to Theresa May over Brexit trade talks The Times

Why Angela Merkel’s troubles make Brexit harder for London Politico

“We are just 500 days from chaos”, warns immigration charity openDemocracy

Oxford graduate sues university for £1million because he did not get a first class degree Telegraph

Syraqistan

U.S. warns citizens against risks of travel to Saudi Arabia Reuters (furzy)

The irresistible rise of MBS… and his possible downfall Asia Times

Report: Civilian Death Toll in Iraq 31 Times Higher Than US Claims Real News Network

After the liberation of Mosul, an orgy of killing Guardian (Gabriel)

New Cold War

Russia to act against Google if Sputnik, RT get lower search rankings: official Reuters (Chuck L)

The Lost Journalistic Standards of Russia-gate Consortiumnews (Chuck L)

Russia, in Reversal, Confirms Radiation Spike New York Times (David L)

RED ALERT FOR OLIGARCHS – DID PRESIDENT PUTIN AGREE WITH PRESIDENT MACRON TO THE ARREST OF SULEIMAN KERIMOV FOR MONEY LAUNDERING John Helmer

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Intel: We’ve found severe bugs in secretive Management Engine, affecting millions ZDNet (Chuck L)

Plant spies: DARPA’s plan to create organic surveillance sensors New Atlas (David L). Depressing.

Trump Transition

Trump jokes about Obama while pardoning Thanksgiving turkey BBC

Mueller Probes Kushner’s Contacts With Foreign Leaders Wall Street Journal

Trump transgender and immigration policies meet legal defeat BBC

CFPB Directorship Succession: What the Dodd-Frank Act’s Legislative History Tells Us Adam Levitin, Credit Slips. Unduly anodyne headline. Bottom line is Trump can’t appoint a successor to Cordray.

Trump Administration Blasts Mexico, Canada on Nafta Progress Wall Street Journal

The Feds Just Sued to Block the AT&T–Time Warner Merger Vice

The Bizarre True Story of the Neighborhood Scuffle That Left Rand Paul with Six Broken Ribs GQ. Chuck L: “It appears that the GQ reporter actually committed journalism!”

On the Rehabilitation of George W. Bush TomDispatch

Sex in Politics….Not!

House Ethics panel announces probe of Conyers The Hill

Clinton and Character Rolling Stone (October 28, 1998)

Will the Prison Rape Epidemic Ever Have Its Weinstein Moment? Intercept. Short answer: don’t hold your breath. The reason sexual harassment has become a national cause celebre is that elite women and celebrities were being harassed. Have we yet seen any stories about harassment of secretaries and nurses? Or Walmart workers? Prisoners are way lower on the “deserving of media sympathy” than them.

Police State Watch

Cops Thought Innocent Man Shoplifted a Shirt, So 50 SWAT Cops Tore Down His House Free Thought Project (Judy B). Even with the victim not helping his situation, this does seem a tad excessive.

Crowd-control weapons: “These weapons should not be interpreted as less than lethal” operDemocracy

CalPERS: Stop investing in deforestation Sacramento Bee (jpr). Not as clear-cut as it seems. CalPERS is investing in stocks, and likely through indexes, which means it is not contributing to the funding of deforestation. The usual argument from the CalPERS side, which has some merit, is it can do more to pressure companies via being an activist shareholder than by selling.

Uber Paid Hackers $100,000 to Conceal Large 2016 Breach Wall Street Journal. That was all they could extract? They should have gotten at least another $100K for not going to the press.

Uber Paid Hackers to Delete Stolen Data on 57 Million People Bloomberg (David L)

Tesla’s Burning Through Nearly Half a Million Dollars Every Hour Bloomberg

Guillotine Watch

Wholefoods Magazine Names Jeff Bezos ‘Person of The Year’ PR Web (Scott)

Class Warfare

Here’s What You Have to Earn to Get a Mortgage in America’s 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas Alternet

The Vicious Cycle of Losing a Driver’s License Over Court Debt Vice

What Happens When You Bust a Teachers’ Union? Nothing Good! Not for Profit News

Harvard Faces DOJ Probe Over Affirmative-Action Policies Wall Street Journal. FWIW, in my day. Harvard had a policy limiting how many private school kids and Jews it admitted.

Antidote du jour (Kittie Wilson via Lawrence R):

And a mild anti-antidote, from bob:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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143 comments

  1. diptherio

    CalPERS: Stop investing in deforestation Sacramento Bee (jpr). Not as clear-cut as it seems.

    I see what you did there ;-)

    Reply
      1. John k

        I’ve often wondered why gaddaffi didn’t jump up with 10-20 mil or so for their worthy causes… and whether, at some point, he regretted being so stingy…

        Reply
  2. el_tel

    re: Losing a driver’s license.

    I’ve long been curious about the differences between the US and UK regarding “what will lose you your licence”. My perception (as a Brit) – am willing to be corrected by a legal type person if wrong – is that a DUI in the UK will automatically lead to a suspension of your licence for a period of time (6 months? a year? I know it can be a lot more for offences that lead to serious implications) whereas in the US fines plus attending a “course” of some kind seems more common. Now, given the necessity of using a car in the US relative to the UK this has a certain logic to it.

    But losing your licence for other reasons in the US? Given existing (implied) reliance upon cars, it sounds like a deliberate attempt to drive certain people into penury, as the article implies. Atrocious.

    Reply
    1. John A

      While you don’t lose your licence for being in debt in Britain, her list of offences – speeding, driving without insurance etc., can certainly cause you to lose your licence for a period, and certainly driving while suspended can be a prison offence. Driving while over the alcohol limit is a mandatory suspension for 12 months or longer.

      Reply
    2. Sid Finster

      Also, in the UK (especially in urban areas), public transport is better and car ownership relatively more expensive.

      Hence being able to drive is less of a necessity for many Brits than for their American counterparts.

      Reply
    3. Eclair

      I happen to know that in the state of Washington, if you are arrested (AND it is your first arrest within seven years) for driving while impaired AND your breath/blood test show a BAC of.08 or more (or THC/marijuana level of 5.00 nanograms/mil), your license is suspended for 90 days. Lower blood levels apply for those under the age of 21. If you refuse to take a breath test, your license is suspended for one year. If you have been arrested more than once within the past severn years, your license is revoked for two years.

      I know this because I have to take both the written and driving tests for my Washington license, because I totally forget that my Colorado license expired at the beginning of November, in the midst of our move.

      Reply
  3. Louis Fyne

    happy thanksgiving everyone, have a safe trip all!

    even if you’re non-American and Thursday is just another Thursday. I really don’t know how the UK manages to survive without an official harvest/thanksgiving holiday.

    Reply
    1. el_tel

      we don’t! Black Friday has made its way across the pond – without any associated public holiday – and drives (a lot of) us mad!

      Reply
      1. divadab

        Yup up here in the Great White North also – despite our Thanksgiving having already happened in October, you know, before winter which is already here.

        Reply
      2. Quentin

        Louise Fyne: In the Netherlands, I assure you, we survive very well, thank you. I guess you USians give thanks that the Indians were kind enough to rescue the Puritans from hunger and death.

        el_tel: the commercial blight of Black Thursday has descended on us too! We must conform to our Imperial ideological overlords at all costs or else.

        Reply
        1. Louis Fyne

          descendants of the dutch east india company shouldn’t be smug about lecturing others about treatment of indigenous people.

          ps, 100% of my forebears weren’t in this hemisphere until the 20th century :)

          (i hope that this doesn’t count as flaming. i just wanted to wish everyone a pleasant day. why make someone guilty of the crimes of someone else’s ancestors?)

          Reply
  4. Carolinian

    For those who prefer to skip GQ’s effusive and somewhat imperfectly described “true story” about Rand Paul: the implication–never firmly established–is that Paul’s neighbor gave him a flying tackle because Paul was shooting grass clippings into his neighbor’s yard from his riding lawn mower. Also the neighbor was mad because Paul cut the grass in his yard to a different length than the neighbor did, causing conflicts.

    Only in gated community America?

    Reply
    1. WobblyTelomeres

      I truly enjoyed the description a Bowling Green resident gave of the pair (Rand and his neighbor), calling them “two little sh*ts”.

      Reply
    2. Eclair

      There is some bizarre quirk in the American psyche (at least in those Americans who chose to live in suburbia, specifically in HOA-ruled suburbia,) that is deeply entwined in grass and lawns.

      Our HOA in Colorado had us on its black list. We received routine letters about our lawn (a pocket-handkerchief-sized patch); it was brown (Colorado is a semi-arid state!!), it had weeds (bees love dandelions early in the season), it was too long. Another hapless neighbor referred to the ‘lawn-Nazis.’ I did a little happy dance on the lawn on the day we sold the house.

      Reply
      1. bronco

        What you do is you get a wrist rocket and lob fertilizer balls into other neighbors yards to cause patchy growth. Think of it as grading on a curve. Your lawn will come to look better in comparison.

        My brother and his wife would get written up all the time where he lived. He once had a shade in upstairs window that was halfway drawn but it was caught on something so it wasn’t perfectly horizontal.

        He was also cited for parking his motorcycle in his driveway at an angle

        Reply
        1. Old Jake

          I was written up and threatened with loss of pool access because of plant growth in the cracks in my sidewalk. Not a gated community, but it had its share of petty martinets controlling the HOA. Moved across the country to escape.

          Here in Washington my neighbors love my green lawn, despite it being mostly strawberry, dandelion, clover and other assorted wildlings, because I have some water rights and can spray water on it during the dry summer months. Neighbors including the retired couple down the path, the deer who eat the green stuff, the moles who raise little brown mounds all over the lot, the bees that frequent the blossoms etc.

          Reply
      2. Harold

        Libertarians like to live in gated communities where they live under rules are more draconian than those that obtain outside. The irony is that Paul’s individualism violated his home-association private contract (of the type that libertarians believe is more sacred and inviolable than any government law). He does have a compost pile, which shows he has some gardening awareness, but shaving one’s lawn to the nub is a horticultural no-no, manly analogies one might make with facial hair to the contrary.

        But I am really sorry Paul is now undergoing what must be awful suffering. And by insisting on ignoring doctors’ advice and going to work with pneumonia, it seems like he might be also be emulating Steve Jobs and Hillary Clinton’s reality-challenged, “doing-it-my-way”, Darwin-award-type approach to medical care — by going to work with pneumonia and a significant fever.

        Reply
      3. HotFlash

        As a furriner (Canada) I am totally amazed as to what family blog you folks in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, let alone Libertarians (!!!) will put up with from their HOA. Don’t you have well-ordered militias to deal with such stuff?

        Reply
        1. LifelongLib

          Each homeowner has a vote to deal with such stuff. But for every one who thinks his weedy yard is ecological, there’s another who thinks it’s an eyesore that’s lowering his property values, and they vote too. Don’t blame HOAs. Blame your neighbors.

          Reply
      4. Daryl

        Sometimes I think to myself, listening to the cacophony of lawn equipment running around me, “don’t these people have anything better to do?” And then I get the sad answer: no, they don’t.

        Reply
  5. Jim Haygood

    The coming blockchain dystopia, as explained by itstippy:

    Some ingenius [family blog] will set up a financial institution where they take in Bitcoins for deposit and pay interest on them over time, and then lend out the Bitcoins for interest. They’ll keep the Bitcoins they earn from the spread as profit.

    Soon they’ll realize that redemption of the Bitcoins they’re holding on deposit is infrequent, so they can “pledge” the use of the Bitcoins to ten times more borrowers than they have actual Bitcoins on deposit. If they’re cautious about whom they lend Bitcoins to, they can make a huge profit.

    Over time the business becomes so profitable that imitators join in. Some are not so prudent, and problems arise. A call goes out to have a Central Bitcoin clearing house to coordinate the Bitcoin transaction trade, and smooth things out. Primary Bitcoin dealers are allowed to draw Bitcoins from the Central Bitcoin clearing house as needed to provide Bitcoin liquidity.

    Over time there are far, far more Bitcoin Pledges in circulation than there are actual Bitcoins. To prevent a Bitcoin Panic and to maintain liquidity, the Central Bitcoin clearing house closes the Bitcoin Window. One can no longer demand actual Bitcoins in return for Bitcoin Pledges at par.

    Fractional reserve Bitcoin, comrades: Jesus wept.

    Reply
    1. skippy

      Its so Devo ain’t it Jim….

      We need to remove human agency ™, so we concoct a bit of high energy use code with human agency, as so we can remove that troublesome aspect….

      Disheveled…. I wonder if peak will be trumpeted in when the sales pitch is the code is “Natural” hence backed by the divinity of the singularity….

      Reply
  6. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Tesla’s Burning Through Nearly Half a Million Dollars Every Hour Bloomberg

    I find myself wondering what a Bloomberg story on Charles Ponzi would have looked like had that “news” organization been around in the 1920’s. Would it have contained sentences like these?

    He’s asking customers to pay him upfront to order vehicles that may not be delivered for years.

    The Founders Series Roadster will cost buyers a $250,000 down payment even though it’s not coming for more than two years. Orders of those cars are capped at 1,000, meaning they alone could generate $250 million. Tesla is charging a total of $50,000 for reservations of the regular Roadster. Companies can also pre-order electric Semi trucks for $5,000, though they don’t go into production until 2019.
    —–
    Dave Arnold, a spokesman for Palo Alto-based Tesla, declined to elaborate.

    From the Wikipedia page on Ponzi Schemes:

    Promoters also try to minimize withdrawals by offering new plans to investors where money cannot be withdrawn for a certain period of time in exchange for higher returns. The promoter sees new cash flows as investors cannot transfer money. If a few investors do wish to withdraw their money in accordance with the terms allowed, their requests are usually promptly processed, which gives the illusion to all other investors that the fund is solvent, or financially sound.

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      Personally, I am happy to think that some of those folks that are ‘born every minute’ are filthy rich. Me, I bicycle.

      Reply
  7. jgordon

    About Rep. Conyers, it should be said that he is a vocal male feminist and civil rights icon, lauded by Martin Luther King himself back in the day. But then again, so was Harvey Weinstein, Charley Rose, and Kevin Spacey, etc. As a intersectional feminist black woman myself (full disclosure–I was formerly a cis white male before I realized my true identity and made the transition) I’ve been reading articles by feminists for months now saying that male feminists were sneaky, low-testosterone predators who only use feminism as a cover to take advantage of women. I didn’t want to believe it at first, but then the Weinstein scandal broke and all the others followed everything started to make sense. Women just can’t trust or associate with male feminists. If male feminists truly support women, they’ll understand why it’s necessary for us women to keep our distance from them and continue to support us financially and politically without ever being anywhere near us.

    Reply
    1. diptherio

      Structures of power and privilege will be abused. That holds for government, academia, industry, work life, home life, and everything else you care to mention. If we really wanted to get rid of the abuses of unequal power dynamics, we would ditch the power hierarchies all together. Unfortunately, the more common attitude seems to be to want to climb the hierarchy while remaining unaffected by the abuses allowed by that system.

      We also need to be willing to address abuses when we see them. Most of us won’t ever be in the halls of power, where the current crop of horror stories emanates from, but most of us will witness some sexual harassment in our day-to-day lives, eventually. And when we do, I would hope that at least those reading this will have the courage to not turn away and let it go unaddressed. In most of the stories I hear from my friends and family, other people witness the abuse but “don’t want to get involved.” And it doesn’t have to be necessarily be aggressive in tone; after all, friends don’t let friends act like Harvey Wienstein. The creepers need to be held to account for their own good, as well as the rest of ours.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A very good point.

        Too much power in one person is never a good thing. Always be careful with this or that person being the most powerful or second most powerful of anything.

        A good rule to follow is this (derived from its better known version*):

        Worship or admire ideas, not people.

        *The better known version is: Criticize ideas, not people.

        Reply
        1. Vatch

          Too much power in one person is never a good thing.

          Very true. Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi, Carlos Slim Helu, and some guy with big hair who often uses Twitter are all examples of people with too much power.

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            As well, people like Krishnamurti, who were proclaimed by Theosophists, to be the next Maitreya.

            He knew well enough not be trapped as a savior, renounced it and spent the rest of his life urging people to DIY (do it yourself).

            Reply
            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              For most people here, the risk is not with the big haired guy (Made in America), or any of those mentioned above, being worshiped, instead of ideas.

              We have to look elsewhere if we want to make sure that ideas are worshiped, criticized or admired, and not people.

              Reply
      2. Eclair

        Thank you, diptherio. Very well said.

        I am still ashamed of the way in which I ignored the harassment of a man I worked with. He was small and slight, barely five feet and, I learned later, (after I quit, because there were all kinds of other issues at the company), gay, but was probably the most successful sales person. The bigger sales guys ragged him unmercifully, one day leaving a cut-off tie hanging on his cubicle. I think I just could not believe the bullying was really happening. Or, I chose to deny it. Not one of my stellar moments.

        Reply
    2. Sid Finster

      What’s an intersectional woman?

      Full disclosure. I am a formerly white heterosexual cis-male who has decided to identify as a three-headed lesbian. Unlike most of my kind, I’ll spare you the interminable discussion of the various gender/racial/sexual/etc. identities that my various imaginary heads have chosen for themselves.

      Reply
      1. jgordon

        Sir, do not make phone of people’s identity. Your identity comes from deep in the heart. Listen to your heart, if you really feel that you are a three-headed lesbian that I will laud you for that. But joking about this issue is a serous microaggression that many would take as a triggering act of aggression, so please try to be careful with your humor in the future.

        If you are asking about my specific identity, I am now an African American masculine-presenting transgender lesbian. I always felt that that’s who I was deep inside, and now thanks to intersectional feminism I’m able to finally reveal to the world who I really am. I face systemic oppression from patriarchal institutions in myriad of ways, from being African American, a woman, a lesbian, and transgendered… well with all that I have to deal with from day to day people taking my identity lightly is something I pray to avoid. Please be considerate and respect the oppression that unprivileged people face every day. Thank you.

        Reply
        1. perpetualWAR

          Why do you have to identify as anything? I cannot imagine writing a post explaining that I am a heterosexual male. What does it matter to your opinion?

          This is not snark, but an actual, “I really would like to know.”

          Reply
        2. Nixnorb

          In response to Jgordon, I’d like to make a modest, two-birds / one-stone proposal to solve the pesky problems of overpopulation and hunger …

          Reply
        3. Paul Cardan

          Does anyone know of a good critical analysis of this new way of speaking: ‘cis male’ and ‘cis female’? I only just recently encountered it, at a dinner party of all places, when one of our guests apologetically identified herself as a white, cisgendered female before offering her opinion on whatever it was we were talking about at the time (and, no, she did not apologize for her class status, to which she was either oblivious or for which no apologies seemed necessary). Having since given the matter some more thought, it seems to me as though the people encouraging this linguistic innovation must have presented the new way of talking as somehow reflective of newly discovered facts. My suspicion is that this is incorrect. Rather, they’re just talking about the same facts in a different way, with the objective of thereby changing gender conventions. Specifically, the innovation seems designed to root out the notion that transwomen(men) are only more or less successfully feigned women(men). I don’t necessarily have any disagreement with making such changes, but, if I’m right, I’d at least like everyone to be up front about what they’re doing.

          Reply
        4. HotFlash

          My dear jgordon, I have never in my whole life made ‘phone’ of *anyone* for *any reason*. But, I might be interested in learning how to do it … ?

          Reply
      2. Vatch

        What’s an intersectional woman?

        I was wondering the same thing, and I found this Wikipedia page on intersectionality.

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

        Dang, but there’s a lot of jargon in that web page! I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to finish reading it. I think I’ll just stick with the old definitions of “intersection” from set theory and geometry

        Reply
    3. Avalon Sparks

      To discount all men (pro feminist or not) based on what a few powerful men have done is appalling in my opinion. Stay away from men? Really??? Just what we need in this country – more divisiveness.
      I’m a woman that knows many men that have enriched my life and are the Yang to my Yin. Strong, confident women do not need to desecrate men in order to empower themselves. I refuse to generalize all men based on the recent claims of sexual harassment about SOME men, and likely a small percentage of men at that. I’m attractive and men have come on to me (sometimes clumsily, sometimes lightly, and sometimes vulgarly) all my life. A few were a bit too touchy feely, but it was nothing a quick slap or drink in the face didn’t resolve. These oafs backed off quick after that, and there were only a small percent that even took it to that level. I’m not excusing that behavior, however I certainly wasn’t traumatized by it, just annoyed. I don’t mean to sound like I’m victim blaming either and I hope this post doesn’t come across this way. It’s just that I’ve had so many positive experiences with the men I know, there’s no way I can distance myself from these wonderful men under any circumstances.

      Let’s support our sister’s in identifying and calling out the one’s that are abusing their power, and continue to love and respect the millions of men out there that would never engage in abusive behavior.

      Reply
      1. Avalon Sparks

        I wanted to quickly add that in my life experience, it has been mostly woman that have traumatized me mentally at different points in my life. It wasn’t sexual abuse in nature, but definitely mental abuse through behaviors like vicious gossip, back stabbing, ostracizing activities, and just plain nastiness. One boss I had that was a woman did everything in her power to sabotage me at every turn, and it took several years to recover. My point is there are power hungry a-holes in both genders and without a doubt, there are woman that are abusive in nature, especially in the work environment – that leave different painful scars by their own actions and behavior, and this is rarely called out or acknowledged.

        Reply
        1. Spring Texan

          Amen!

          She wasn’t MY boss thank goodness, but I remember a woman hated by her subordinates whom she tortured for years. It was a govt job and though other managers tried to get her to step aside – she had been a technical person before – she wouldn’t. Finally she called an employee in the middle of the night after drinking with racist abuse and her subordinates finally got relief.

          She knew her employees hated her and would joke about it.

          Reply
        2. Waking Up

          “… it has been mostly woman that have traumatized me mentally at different points in my life. It wasn’t sexual abuse in nature, but definitely mental abuse through behaviors like vicious gossip, back stabbing, ostracizing activities, and just plain nastiness.”

          Many women have experienced exactly that. Which in part is why trying to shame women to vote for Hillary was such a failure. There were decades worth of “ostracizing activities and just plain nastiness” by Hillary in the public arena. Many just wanted Hillary and her sex abuser husband Bill to “just go away”.

          Reply
  8. Terry

    RE: Intel: We’ve found severe bugs in secretive Management Engine, affecting millions

    I found a bug in their detection tool for Linux :) it crashes on my installation.

    Reply
  9. diptherio

    The liberation of Mosul article is one of those things to keep around to give to someone when they start making arguments about the moral need for US imperialism. It’s always nice to be reminded of what that looks like in practical terms. The documentary about the Afghanistan war, Restrepo is another good one. Pretty hard to justify when you’re confronted with the blunt reality of what our moralism leads to, especially given the…um…’spotty’ record we have for actually improving things anywhere our military decides to deploy itself. I just wish the journalist would have asked one of those soldier guys, “But aren’t you glad we got rid of Saddam?”

    Reply
    1. Tom

      There’s a documentary called A Savage Peace on Netflix that examines the ethnic cleansing of Germans and those with German ancestory from various Eastern European countries after World War II. 12 million people were forced to flee or were expelled and up to 500,000 were killed in an orgy of retribution and revenge. The U.S., U.K. and Soviet allies turned a blind eye to the outbreaks of brutality because the cleansing served their overall geo-political goals.

      Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    Cops Thought Innocent Man Shoplifted a Shirt, So 50 SWAT Cops Tore Down His House

    Are they kidding me? This must be getting to be standard police doctrine as a very quick search turned up three other stories like this-

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170313/13545336908/lawsuit-police-destroyed-farm-house-to-capture-homeless-man-armed-with-ice-cream-bar.shtml
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160818/18363835281/woman-sues-after-police-destroy-her-home-during-10-hour-standoff-with-family-dog.shtml
    https://www.naturalnews.com/051675_police_raid_home_invasions_military_state.html

    Maybe this is because so many military men go into the police force after they do their time but the military doctrine of overmatch is obviously not working here, fellas.
    Anyway, for those in the US, have a very happy holiday and don’t forget to tune out the outside world for just a little.

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        I’m believing that PTSD is good conditioning for the ‘rough squad’ boys and girls. Someone has to do the ‘dirty work’ of suppressing those pesky anarchist tendencies among the ‘deplorables’, eh, wot?
        I’m reminded of what happened to Alex’ droogs while he was being ‘rehabilitated.’
        See, a description of humanity, past, present and future: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNKvRZFKACI
        Stay safe and don’t say a thing. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

        Reply
        1. JBird

          For the ice cream thief, they not one, but two SWAT teams, and a mobile command post, not to mention the 52 cars, 2 helicopters, an armored vehicle, and a K-9, and destroyed the owner’s home.

          Jesus, what is wrong with some people? I think I could have dealt with it myself with two cups of coffee, some sandwiches, maybe a friendy dog, and a smile.

          Reply
  11. cojo

    I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but a nice synopsis of sustainability and avoiding excess consumerism this holiday season using stoic principles.

    http://modernstoicism.com/stoicism-and-sustainability-by-kai-whiting/

    In the end, Stoicism may not provide specific answers but it does provide a philosophical framework to do more than scratch at the surface, in search for virtue and a truer understanding of the nature of things. And that is precisely what we need to arrive at to move the sustainability discourse forward.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Many roads lead to sustainability, and it’s possible one enters enlightenment through anything, anywhere.

      “Where do I enter the way?”

      “Hear the birds chirping there?”

      It helps to un-clutter the mind, to center oneself, to remove attention-demanding distractions from outside (including putting aside all books, quotes, news, etc) and one’s true, whatever we call it, divinity, greatness, mystic self, Buddha nature, etc will come forth.

      Reply
      1. cojo

        Nassim Taleb once wrote on the similarities between stoicism and Buddhism: “A Stoic is a Buddhist with attitude.”
        I suspect, that the stoics incorporated certain Buddhist teachings than may have infiltrated ancient Greece via the East-West trade routes.

        Reply
              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                In the book, Jesus’ Missing Years, or something like, about Jesus spending his formative years in India learning Buddhism and Hinduism, it was said that there was an information superhighway between the sub-continent and Greece.

                If it’s not that book, it might have been An Autobiography of a Yogi.

                Reply
                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    I think it was by Mark Prophet, and I wasn’t entirely convinced, but the bit about ideas, any ideas, going back and forth, from one land to another.

                    Reply
                1. cojo

                  It appears, there is no good scholarly evidence of Jesus traveling to India. However, the ideas of India were likely present and being debated in Antioch at the time.

                  Reply
  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Oxford graduate sues university for £1million because he did not get a first class degree Telegraph

    Is this going to be like Nasdrudin’s first case, after attending law school, is take his lawyer teacher to court, for not giving him a decent legal education?

    1. If he wins, it’s because he’s right and and has proven that his teacher failed to teach him?

    2. If he loses, it’s because his teacher failed (again) that he’s losing his first case? That is, if he loses, the very act of losing proves he should win the case.

    Reply
    1. el_tel

      Teaching at Oxford and Cambridge is very variable and lots of people don’t realise each uni is effectively a (con)federation of colleges, not a unified university. Thus I went to a Cambridge college (Caius) which had the then world expert in British economic history and a global expert in development economics. Thus for “supervisions – tutorials” (with 1-3 students, done fortnightly) to discuss topics, essays etc I had a world expert. His status meant the “trading” system between colleges (you teach our students micro and we’ll teach yours macro) benefited me enormously in getting supervisions with world experts in macro and finance (which Caius lacked). Poorer colleges like Girton have less “buying power” and their students, whilst getting to attend the same university-wide lectures, receive less high quality supervisions.

      People don’t generally know that both unis are (con)federations – the colleges held the power and financed “the university” as little as they could get away with (to run lectures, exams etc). However, in recent years the balance of power has changed. Due to science parks and suchlike, the university has obtained an independent source of income and is not beholden to the colleges so much. Hence, you get university staff (like friends of mine) who (unlike the traditional model) didn’t take up a college “fellowship” as well to bolster their income – they have no need and the perks of university fellowships (eating for free at high table) no longer justify the work required as a college fellow. Thus I can fully imagine there is a crisis emerging regarding supervision. Thus the issue arises of “what colleges can effectively supervise students….and in what subdisciplines….?” Big crisis which Oxbridge has kept a lid on so far.

      Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I was relieved to know Oumuamua derived from Hawaiian, and has nothing to do with Omama, Obaba, Opapa, etc.

      Reply
  13. Mel

    In a vitriolic statement, the turkey rejected the pardon, refusing to stand by while millions of its brothers and sisters went to be slaughtered. Seems Trump can’t catch a break nohow. That didn’t happen to Obama.
    That was fake news, of course.

    Reply
  14. The Rev Kev

    It’s the 1st known interstellar asteroid

    The whole article is cool but wouldn’t it have been great if that interstellar asteroid had turned out to be a derelict starship?

    Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s interesting to know that terrestrial rocks here on Earth don’t usually look so linear.

        A good rule of thumb, I understand, that is, anything linear is likely man-made. So, if you see something straight on the ground, you think about digging for some lost civilization.

        What process or processes out there that caused this rock to be shaped as such?

        It may turn out to be nothing unusual, but, I think, it is a good exercise.

        Reply
    1. Lamont Cranston

      Is anyone else reminded of Arthur Clarke’s “Rendezvous with Rama”?

      “Rendezvous with Rama is a science fiction novel by British writer Arthur C. Clarke first published in 1973. Set in the 2130s, the story involves a cylindrical alien starship that enters Earth’s solar system. The story is told from the point of view of a group of human explorers who intercept the ship in an attempt to unlock its mysteries.” -Wikipedia

      Reply
      1. Bugs Bunny

        Read it when I was a kid along with everything else he wrote. Always thought it would be a great movie but probably too “boring” for most folks.

        Reply
    2. ewmayer

      Recall reading/enjoying Rendezvous With Rama as an early teen. Predated by a few years by the similar-themed classic Star Trek episode “For the Earth is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”, guest-starring Kate Woodville, real-life wife of The Avengers’ Patrick MacNee.

      Reply
  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Harvard Faces DOJ Probe Over Affirmative-Action Policies Wall Street Journal. FWIW, in my day. Harvard had a policy limiting how many private school kids and Jews it admitted.

    Elite school admission policies are themselves enabling or contributing to societal inequalities…wealth inequality, political inequality, intellectual inequality, etc. They are not totally responsible, but they contribute.

    They are saying, ”welcome to our exclusive, very small clubs.” And they get smaller as these people go through life.

    Reply
  16. Jason Boxman

    I’m surprised Charleston SC isn’t on the housing list, as jobs in the area at least in tech tend to pay below average wages. I got the sense that when possible, tech workers worked remotely for higher wages than paid locally. Affordable housing is available further and further from the city and the traffic infrastructure is simply overwhelmed. But in that way, it reminds me of Nashville, TN and Asheville, NC.

    Orlando is on the list and it’s the same story. Other than SunRail, which runs north-south through Orlando downtown, there’s only 2 major highways that run through the city and both are routinely hosed with traffic. Affordable housing is further and further and further out.

    To combat the problem, I-4 running north-south through the city was being upgraded to have congestion pricing, so wealthily people can escape traffic. It’s morally bankrupt and was really the last straw when I left.

    (Some may detect a theme of distain for Orlando in my posting. This is not a coincidence.)

    Reply
  17. Enquiring Mind

    Sugar policy is influenced by the Fanjul family.
    Opioid policy is influenced by the Sackler family.
    Both have been at it for generations, are secretive and try to keep publicity away from primary functions.

    Many politicians taste campaign sweeteners and get hooked.

    Reply
    1. Vatch

      Thank you. I never knew about the Fanjuls before reading your comment. We need to shine as much light as possible on the oligarchs.

      Reply
  18. queenslawyer

    I don’t comment often but I read the comments religiously and do feel like a little part of the community here. On that note, happy Thanksgiving to the proprietor, writers, staff, commenters and readers of this small island of sanity that is NC

    Reply
      1. Spring Texan

        Yes, indeed. I am grateful for naked capitalism especially since some sites I used to like (firedoglake) went away and others deteriorated to worthlessness (digby, americablog, dailykos). Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are something to be grateful for, at Thanksgiving . . .

        Reply
  19. georgieboy

    The satanic turkey dance in the antidote is very cool, but not unusual. Turkeys will do that around any pretty much dead animal.

    At times they will even encircle a feral, and quite alive, cat. Nature…

    Reply
  20. Vatch

    One of several reasons I have a dumbphone and regularly leave it at home.

    I often carry my dumb phone with me, because it’s so hard to find pay phones anymore. I keep my dumb phone turned off most of the time, unless I need to make a call.

    Reply
    1. Ned

      Simple solution, leave your business phone off and at home starting Friday at 5 and have a message on it that it is so.

      Carry a second dumbphone that only your friends know the number of. Don’t irradiate your internal organs by leaving it turned on. Power it up on once an hour on the hour if they want to call you and when you check for messages.
      $28 a month from Verizon.

      It’s illegal in France to send emails to employees after five on Friday until Monday morning. A fine goal we should all imitate.

      Reply
  21. JEHR

    I could only stomach reading about the torture of one victim in the Mosul article. War makes human beings into dark creatures that are hardly recognizable and wholly unworthy of recognition as either “human” or “beings.” I am totally repulsed by the evil and wickedness mankind represents.

    Reply
    1. David May

      I read it through to the end; now I wish I hadn’t. One of the most horrifying things I have ever read. I will have nightmares about it.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        That was one brutal and bloody fight that. It was the Jihadists who laid down the ground rules of the torture and execution of prisoners so this sort of fight and the way that it went down was inevitable. Fighting house to house in a city is always a grim affair whether you are talking about the fighting with the Romans in the city of Carthage in 146 BC, the Germans in Stalingrad in 1942 or the US Marines in the battle of Huế 1968 in Vietnam. General Sherman knew what war was all about when he said “You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it”.
        It is this brutality that has led to the attempted cover up of the brutality of war in the modern media. Remember when Bush banned the media covering the return of dead soldiers from Iraq? It is still happening. Remember that US soldier retrieved from Niger a few weeks ago who had been captured first? They refused the widow the right to see her husbands remains and it turned out that one reason was that they had to go back and retrieve more body parts. They somehow forgot to mention that little detail. At least during the Vietnam war you could see what the troops had to deal with and what the fighting was like.

        Reply
  22. Utah

    Re: Here’s what you have to earn to get a mortgage in America’s 50 largest metropolitan areas. Alternet.

    I read this study yesterday, and I have serious gripes with the affordability factor. In Salt Lake City, where I live, you have to make $56000 a year to afford a $1300/month mortgage on a $293,000 house. Except that is close to 40% of takehome pay after taxes, etc (which I calculate to be around 3500/month, which is a rough guestimate) If that is what banks are looking for to give a mortgage, no wonder so many people default on their homes. In my home economics class in high school, I was told to never pay more than 25% of my takehome income on rent or mortgage. Is this outdated?
    Also, I guess Salt Lake is moving on up in the world. We’re officially part of the 50 largest metro areas.

    Reply
    1. Spring Texan

      Yeah, I had the same thought. It used to be the rule of thumb was you could afford a house worth twice your annual income. Now they’ll give you a loan for an amount I don’t think you can possibly afford, or if you do you are miserable with no room in the budget for savings or fun.

      Reply
    2. jrs

      well it is outdated as advice for living, perhaps public policy should never have let housing prices get so out of hand though. Buying a house is a bad financial idea for some people (though at over more than 25% of income I’d say, that’s too risk adverse if one does plan to own, but there is still some upper limit). But really TINA. TINA. Renting is an option but not always a real alternative if one wants to keep housing costs under 25% of income as it’s easy to spend this on rent as well. And rents keep going up up up. So even if one slides under 25% on rent today they may not tomorrow. There is no *affordable* alternative.

      Reply
    3. Synoia

      The ratios for Mortgages are 31% and 43% whichever is higher.

      Total debt payment as a percentage of income 43%.

      Mortgage without any other debt 31%.

      Fannie Mae/Freddie Mack guidelines.

      If you want to buy a house, get a credit report, and see a lender and have them run DU (Desktop Underwriting) for you.

      Reply
  23. dcblogger

    If net neutrality is abandoned and the US Internet becomes like cable TV, we should insist that the next President nationalize the Internet and hand it over to the USPS.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How do we nationalize the internet?

      Isn’t it a global thing? What about the part of the internet in, say, Europe – do we nationalize that as well?

      And instead of the USPS, why not a federal coastal commission, or the Coast Guard, since people ‘surf’ the internet?

      Reply
  24. tongorad

    The Great American Sex Panic of 2017

    Something surpassingly strange is at work here—a wrong-headed authoritarian ire over the spasmodic misfires of the human comedy combined with some primal meltdown of a besieged and increasingly desperate ruling class and its longstanding winking sexual hypocrisies. It is a moral panic that is, ironically, immoral at its core: repressive and diversionary, an identity-politics orgy of misdirected moral energies that breeds a chilling conformity of word and deed and, in so doing, cripples the critical faculties and independence of spirit needed to challenge the status quo the PC monitors profess to abhor. In reality, their speech and conduct codes foster a spirit of regimentation rather than rebellion, thereby shoring up the power of the repressive elites that are leading the human race to social, economic, and ecological disaster.

    Reply
  25. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Why I injected myself with an untested gene therapy BBC (David L, Mark P). I’m more willing to try non-mainstream approaches than most people. These guys are completely mad. Darwin Award winners in the making.

    It’s DIY when getting gas, buying a train ticket, eating at a fast food place, etc.

    Why DIY here too?

    Reply
  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Feds Just Sued to Block the AT&T–Time Warner Merger Vice

    I don’t what it means that TWX has gone up by about $2/share in the last two days since that news.

    Reply
  27. Altandmain

    That Intel Management Engine funding could be really, really bad. It is a hardware issue too so there might not be a solution for it through software patching.

    They never should have shipped CPUs with IME. They have been very, very secretive about IME. To be honest, they need to release CPUs with an open source PSP manager.

    It has long been suspected that IME is a hardware backdoor for spying.

    Reply
    1. Lord Koos

      After owning my new Thinkpad for several months, I found that IME was filling up my C: drive with who knows what. Windows 10 would install the latest version and then in a few days the drive would show as full. I finally disabled the service in Windows, doing that didn’t seem to affect the operation of my system at all. I’ve also uninstalled the software components of it but it re-installs whenever there is a new version, so I just try to keep on top of it. I’ve noticed that both Windows and Apple OS have become quite fascistic, it’s either do it their way, or go through many contortions simply to be in control your own damn computer. I have read that hardware designers and engineers have been complaining about certain chips that are becoming difficult to obtain, and that many of them have parts that are inaccessible even to them. There can be no other reason for this than having proprietary backdoors in my opinion.

      Reply
  28. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Wholefoods Magazine Names Jeff Bezos ‘Person of The Year’ PR Web (Scott)

    Do they also have categories for “Food of The Year, Vegetable of The Year, Fruit of the Year, etc?”

    Reply
  29. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Crowd-control weapons: “These weapons should not be interpreted as less than lethal” operDemocracy

    One is prompted to inquire if another American Revolution or Magna Carta, etc, is possible in today’s world?

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      Wouldn’t that require the people to actually have power though?

      Also, remember that Magna Carta was mostly intended to give rights to the nobility rather than the average person. And if youre cynical you could interpret the American Revolution to also be a revolt of lesser elites.

      Reply
      1. Synoia

        The English view of the “American Revolution” does not stand on any “noble motives.”

        A precis of the English View, as best I can remember:

        Following the French and Indian wars the Crown and Parliament, were concerned at the costs of protecting the N American Settlers who expressed a desire to expand west over the Appalachians.

        The English view is the settlers were looking for the Crown to provide the military protection.

        The Crown and Parliament imposed an import tax on the colonies to pay for the military protection.

        The multi national of the day, the British East India Company, petitioned parliament to be exempt from the tax, because it was for the benefit of the colonists, and it believed it should not pay the tax.

        (Note: An interesting piece of spin, worthy of some very expensive lawyers!)

        The local merchants became subject to a competitive disadvantage.

        (Note: Did the East India Company pocket the savings, or did they pass them onto the locals?)

        Silly me. Of course the East India Company passed the savings onto the local consumers. That’s what a good multinational does!

        And the locals revolted, possibly egged on by the local importers.

        Which make it a story of greed, intrigue and lobbying, and the lesson appears very well learned by the Colonists.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks for that history.

          The next question is, with MMT, there would be no need to tax, unless there was inflation.

          Reply
          1. Massinissa

            Theres no ‘need’ to tax under MMT, except that it is useful from keeping the wealthy from becoming too wealthy.

            Reply
          2. HotFlash

            Taxing is to redistribute wealth (yay!!) and to control behaviour. For instance, to encourage corporate research (R&D deductions) and home ownership (mortgage deductions). Not needed to fund govt expenditures.

            Reply
            1. jrs

              The rich just hide most of their wealth anyway it seems (maybe if we took back real assets from them then THAT would really redistribute wealth), so the promise of it redistributing wealth seems overstated. Though obviously they still fear what money they can’t hide from taxation enough to favor the current R tax plan I guess.

              Yes it can encourage behavior, at least among the middle class who really are paying their fair share in taxes, though about the only tax I’d favor in terms of behavior modification is a carbon tax or some other tax on pollution (taxing bads). Whether or not people should own homes is really subjective and R&D gets so gamed.

              Reply
      2. visitor

        youre cynical you could interpret the American Revolution to also be a revolt of lesser elites.

        Perhaps that’s why it is called the American War of Independence, and not the American Revolution, outside the USA.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Interesting.

          From Wikipedia’s “Names of the American Civil War:”

          “War of Separation” was occasionally used by people in the Confederacy during the war.[17] In most Romance languages, the words used to refer to the war translate literally to “War of Secession” (e.g. Guerre de Sécession in French, Guerra di secessione in Italian, Guerra de Secesión in Spanish, Guerra de Secessão in Portuguese, Războiul de Secesiune in Romanian). This name is also used in Central and Eastern Europe, e.g. Sezessionskrieg is commonly used in Germany, Wojna secesyjna is exclusively used in Poland and Setsessioonisõda is used in Estonia (all literally translate as “war of secession”).[citation needed]

          Plus a few other names.

          What say you (to the Bard) about ‘what is in a name?’

          Reply
  30. Summer

    “Why I injected myself with an untested gene therapy” BBC

    Indeed, there have been groups doing scientific studies outside of the mainstream. But it sure is funny how it’s a ” new movement” now that it can be posted on the internet.

    Reply
  31. Oregoncharles

    “Most Germans favor snap election: poll

    Liberal Free Democrats take most blame for collapse of coalition talks.”

    Just to clarify: In Europe, “Liberal” still has its original meaning, what we call “conservative.”

    Reply
    1. visitor

      Of course, originally in Europe “liberals” (who were for free-trade, industry, railways, parliamentary republics, freedom of religion, freedom of press, keeping down the labouring classes, and repressing trade unions) were actually opposed to “conservatives” (who were for protected markets, agriculture, aristocratic governments, state religion, censorship, keeping down the labouring classes, and repressing trade unions).

      Reply
      1. MichaelSF

        keeping down the labouring classes, and repressing trade unions

        It is good to see they were in bipartisan agreement on something.

        Reply
  32. Oregoncharles

    From the Rand Paul/Boucher article: ” “He had his yard sitting at a beautiful two-and-a-half, three inches thick, where Rand cuts it to the nub,” Goodwin said.”

    As a professional, I support Boucher: cutting the grass too short will weaken and even kill it.

    OTOH, the grass clippings projected from Rand Paul’s yard, another beef, are free fertilizer. He should be more grateful – but they offend his neatnik tendencies.

    So Boucher is going to jail over lawnmowing. That’s been a big part of my life, and I can tell you, it is NOT worth hurting someone, let alone going to jail, over.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I’d far rather the lawn up front were flowers and vegetables. Lawns are a public nuisance.

      Cutting lawns is a waste of energy — human and petroleum — and a source of noxious exhaust and nearly unendurable noise pollution [thank goodness for comfortable ear plugs so I can sleep-in on a weekend!].

      Reply

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