Links 12/12/17

Bakers, farmers struggle to make any dough on poor wheat crop Reuters. The Jackpot is coming…

Stunning photos show native Brazilian Natives Daily Mail (Jim D)

Large-scale, long-term alternative to batteries Quartz. Oregoncharles: “Biological methane from CO2. Written on a very introductory level, but an intriguing technology. Really based on making hydrogen from water using surplus electricity, but converts it to methane for easier transport and use. Doesn’t deal with the leakage rate with methane, but probably a net positive.”

France to impose total ban on mobile phones in schools Telegraph (resilc)

DeepMind Has Simple Tests That Might Prevent Elon Musk’s AI Apocalypse Bloomberg (David L)

Deep Learning is not the AI future LinkedIn. From August. David L quotes this part:

For many tasks, Deep Learning AI is or will become illegal, not compliant. Who collects data about citizens of the 28 European countries (UK too, no matter the brexit), should follow the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by May 25, 2018. This is the date when DL will be abandoned for several apps in EU, causing AI startups to quickly replace DL with whatever else, or risking to be fined. Fines for noncompliance are 4% of global revenue, including USA revenue. If you never heard of GDPR before, that’s not only you: most of the EU businesses are or have not even a clue about it. GDPR, about automated decision-making, requires the right to an explanation, and to prevent discriminatory effects based on race, opinions, health, etc. Laws similar to GDPR exist or are planned worldwide, it’s only matter of time. The US Fair Credit Reporting Act requires disclosing all of the factors that adversely affected the credit score of the consumer, for a maximum of 4 factors allowed. DL factors are normally thousands or millions, not just 4, how to simplify into 4? AI, like bitcoin ICOs, started ignoring regulation, but laws and fines always come.

Bitcoin’s First 24 Hours on Wall Street Feed Euphoria and Doubts Bloomberg

US financial watchdogs weigh into bitcoin frenzy Financial Times. A little late for that.

A quarter trillion dollars is at risk when bitcoin crashes — and that’s just for starters Axios (resilc)

Peak Bitcoin Media-Mania Yet? Wolf Ricther. The key bubble metric of taxi, or now Uber drivers, being keen about an investment has yet to occur, as far as I can tell.

Taxes on Meat Could Join Carbon and Sugar to Help Limit Emissions Bloomberg (J-LS)

To Eliminate Fruit Flies, California Farmers Eye Controversial Genetic Tool MIT Technology Review (David L)

Monsanto offers cash to U.S. farmers who use controversial chemical Reuters (EM)

U.S. Agricultural Commodity Overproduction Helps Agribusinesses but Hurts World’s Developing World Farmers and the Environment. Is it Even Legal? Big Picture Agriculture

Dying Ecosystems Counterpunch (Wyoming)

Alabamian with diabetes built her own artificial pancreas, gives away plan for free Al.com. Resilc: “Unlike Siliconjob Valley.”

India

Industry’s policy on new Indian pollution curbs: ignore them Asia Times (J-LS)

Modi’s Tryst With Alternative Facts The Wire (J-LS)

Brexit

Coveney says North will enjoy GFA status quo after Brexit RTE. Carolyn F re David Davis trying to say his very clear statements on BBC were “taken out of context”: “What a slippery fish!”

Brexit: dereliction of duty Richard North. Important. May presented the “three scenarios” for Ireland that we identified and shredded yesterday; North provides a more thorough shellacking.

European Parliament to warn that British payments to Brussels must continue after Brexit Telegraph

Syraqistan

From Barak to Trump Counterpunch (Chuck L)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Global Conflicts to Watch in 2018 Atlantic

Trump Transition

Donald Trump Draws Pathetically Small Audience At The National Christmas Tree Lighting Crooks and Liars (furzy)

Tensions boil over in combative WH briefing The Hill. Glenn Greenwald made the key point: the “errors” are all in one direction.

Debt relief for defrauded students halted under Trump, says report BBC

Fusion GPS: Inside the firm behind the Trump dossier Washington Post (furzy)

Spotlight back on Trump harassment accusations The Hill

Tax “Reform”

Republicans fret over tax bill’s unpopularity The Hill

From Politico’s European newsletter. Sadly, the link is to a paywalled “Pro” site to which I do not subscribe:

Tax legislation working its way through U.S. Congress would, if enacted, risk “seriously hampering genuine trade and investment flows between our countries,” the finance ministers of Germany, France, the U.K., Italy, and Spain warned Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a letter obtained by POLITICO

Philip Hammond sides with EU to demand Donald Trump drops tax reforms that risk trade war Telegraph

Josh Mandel keeps taking liberties with the truth about Sherrod Brown Cleveland.com (Carla)

Has Our Government Spent $21 Trillion Of Our Money Without Telling Us? Forbes (Glenn F)

Jones v. Moore. It looks as if no one commenting on this election has been to Alabama. Every article purporting to be analysis pretty much acts as if all that matters is black turnout. I was in Alabama in the last month. I drove around areas that were largely if not entirely white. I have never seen so many signs for an election in my now over 40 years of visiting Birmingham regularly. No joke, at least 5x anything I have seen before. And they were all for Doug Jones.

Legal victory stops steal in ‘Bama! But,… Greg Palast

Why victory for Roy Moore could prove a bigger headache for Republicans than a loss Economist

Roy Moore once called for eliminating 17 amendments — including the ones that allow women and black people to vote Business Insider (resilc)

Doug Jones victory could upend GOP agenda in 2018 The Hill

Voter Suppression Will Play Crucial Role in Alabama Senate Race WhoWhatWhy (Chuck L)

Everything at Stake in the Alabama Special Election Vice (resilc)

Roy Moore Emerges from Self-Imposed Exile to Chat with 12-Year-Old Girl Vice (resilc)

US flood risk ‘severely underestimated’ BBC (David L)

Thomas fire creating its own weather, expert says Los Angeles Daily News

How one small town is trying to solve Greater Minnesota’s day care crisis MinnPost (Chuck L)

Sex in Politics…Not!

Harassment Politics Grip Washington and Spur Fear in Both Parties Bloomberg

Ex-GOP governor stuns with call for Franken to keep job after ‘absence of anything resembling due process’ Raw Story (furzy)

Franken’s former staff thinks the “Me Too” movement got the wrong guy Vice (Chuck L). From last week, still germane.

After Franken, Kirsten Gillibrand Is Breaking Out — And Taking Democratic Women With Her Bustle (resilc)

Terry Crews on his sexual assault lawsuit: This is about accountability MPR News

VW executive gets seven years for U.S. emissions fraud Reuters. Adrien: “If only DOJ had pursued banksters with the the same enthusiasm. Still it is a victory ..and it has changed the conversation about diesel in Europe..where the air is, believe it or not, a lot worse than in NYC.”

HSBC draws line under Mexican cartel case after five-years on probation Reuters (EM)

Bonds Issued by Acquirer of Mattress Firm & Sherwood Bedding Collapse after ECB Buys Them as Part of QE. Wolf Street. EM: And a followup 2 days later: https://wolfstreet.com/2017/12/08/citi-bofa-hsbc-goldman-bnp-on-hook-steinhoff-spirals-down/

James Grant: «Markets Trust Too Much in the Presence of Central Banks» Finanz und Wirtschaf

Class Warfare

Student loans are ending for Brown University students Quartz

Here’s what the Bible actually says about taxing the rich to help the poor Raw Story (furzy)

Figures show children worst hit by library cuts Guardian (J-LS)

New Study Hints U.S. Revolution Is Brewing Lee Camp

Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America Project Syndicate (David L)

The Destruction of Matt Taibbi Paste (bob). Important. Taibbi’s book I Can’t Breathe taken down by accusations re his and Mark Ames supposed misogyny…which fall apart completely when investigated. And curiously, no one could be bothered to do that. Way too many people happy to pile on to character assassination of effective lefties.

Antidote du jour. From Shane’s farm:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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166 comments

  1. PlutoniumKun

    Taxes on Meat Could Join Carbon and Sugar to Help Limit Emissions Bloomberg (J-LS)

    From the article:

    Meat could encounter the same fate as tobacco, carbon and sugar, which are currently taxed in 180, 60, and 25 jurisdictions around the world, respectively, according to a report Monday from investor group the FAIRR (Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return) Initiative. Lawmakers in Denmark, Germany, China and Sweden have discussed creating livestock-related taxes in the past two years, though the idea is encountered strong resistance.

    Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock are about 14.5 percent of the world’s total, according to the Food & Agriculture Organization, which projects global meat consumption to increase 73 percent by mid-century, amid growing demand from economies like India and China. That could result in as much as $1.6 trillion in health and environmental costs for the global economy by 2050, according to FAIRR, a London-based initiative created by Coller Capital.

    It seems to me that both politically, and in terms of a direct impact on reducing environmental impacts, a direct tax on meat is the wrong approach. The tax instead should be on the use of edible grains used as animal feed.

    The worst impacts of meat production are not from raising animals specifically – its the intensive raising of animals by feeding them on grains, many of which are not particularly suitable for ruminants such as cows. The use of animals is quite an important part of many sustainable agricultural systems, especially in the temperate zone. Taxing those inputs would I think be politically easier than putting a tax on burgers (just imagine the fun right wingers will have in demonising a tax like this), and would have a much greater direct impact on the worst forms of intensive farming.

    Reply
    1. fresno dan

      PlutoniumKun
      December 12, 2017 at 7:22 am

      Great insight!!!
      When you think about the gas used for farm machines, the petroleum used for fertilizers, the draining of the aquifers, the health effects of eating high fat animal protein made that way by being grain fed, I would surmise your proposal would have a slew of positive knock off effects.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        a few years ago, a bunch of the hay farmers around here started using(thanks to the Extension Guy, paid for by our taxes, and in the pocket of ChemAg) something called “Persistent Herbicides”. These get sprayed on the hay field, the cows eat it, and it passes unchanged through all 4 stomachs and into the manure…where it kills and deforms whatever you grow in it.
        Even composting doesn’t break it down.
        I explained the problem to the owner of the feed store, and he was horrified(understanding the immense value of manure), and stopped carrying these poisons.
        The EPA is aware of the problem, but can’t do anything, it seems(as of 5 years ago) because the test for these chems is proprietary.

        Reply
          1. Vatch

            And yet, if we didn’t pay taxes, the government would stop operating, with only a few exceptions, such as military operations and bank bailouts.

            Reply
            1. larry

              Taxes are necessary for other reasons. Have a read of Ruml’s Taxes for Revenue are Obsolete, just to mention one from 1946 when this sort of issue was better understood.

              Reply
                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  I think this may explain it:

                  todde
                  December 8, 2017 at 11:39 am
                  It is in the governments account, but it is not in circulation.

                  The money ‘disappears’ from the private banking sectors balance sheets.

                  It is not part of the money supply.

                  The government account, along with bank’s reserves, is not part of the money supply.

                  Reply ↓

                  And so, money is ‘destroyed.’

                  Reply
                2. TroyMcClure

                  This example from mathbabe does well to demonstrate your intransigence on this issue of taxes funding federal spending:

                  Pollster: Does the sun go around the earth?

                  Me: It depends on your frame of reference, but yes, if I’m standing on the earth, and I look up in the sky, I will observe the sun going around the earth in a wobbly path, although before I let you go I need to make the point that it would be quite a bit simpler to understand the model of the solar system whereby the earth and other planets revolve around the sun and spin while they do so.

                  Pollster: Yes or no question, ma’am, what’s it gonna be?

                  Me: Yes, I guess.

                  Pollster: You are so ignorant!

                  Reply
                  1. Vatch

                    So, you’re saying that the Pollster is representative of the people who claim that taxes do not fund federal spending?

                    I was hoping I wouldn’t have to repeat what I said a few days ago. Here’s a short summary:

                    1. Government creates money ex nihilo. The initial spending of this money is part of the creation process. Subsequent government spending of this money is not, and depends on tax revenues. It is possible for the government to create new money at the same time that it is using other money from tax revenues. This currently happens.

                    2. It is possible to devise a system in which taxes do not fund spending. That is not what currently exists.

                    3. MMT advocates frequently make mistaken claims about what does happen. If their claims were about what could happen, they would be correct. “Can” and “does” have different meanings.

                    4. Empirical fact: when the deficit limit is reached, unless the Congress extends the limit, much federal spending stops.

                    Reply
                3. Yves Smith Post author

                  Stop this. We’ve posted literally hundreds of posts on this topic and readers have rebutted you in comment. It’s agnotology and broken record (your linking to yourself when you were rebutted by me and others( and both are expressly against our written site Policies: “You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” You have repeatedly been given information on this topic and you are persistently sticking your fingers in your ears and going “nyah nyah nyah.” You are going into moderation.

                  Operationally, spending happens and it has NOTHING TO DO with taxes. Treasury has the Fed debit an account at the Fed. Period. The Treasury has long literally torn up cash sent it to pay taxes.

                  The political process we have is a holdover from the Gold Standard era. It’s a politically imposed constraint. And the fact that the MIC basically has an open line at the Fed (it has a weird official off budget black budget, I forget the acronym, and then more spending that goes beyond that)) ALONE is proof that at the Federal level, taxes don’t spending.

                  Reply
                  1. Steve H.

                    > it has a weird official off budget black budget, I forget the acronym, and then more spending that goes beyond that

                    That’s a core issue for me. We’ve had secret laws for secret powers for awhile. But those who have access to unlimited funds have such an advantage, beyond a competitive advantage, and into a ‘hearts and minds’ corollary of Upton Sinclair’s observation.

                    Reply
            2. Lee

              If all money (except Bitcoin et al) comes from the government, how can it run out of it? It might create too much or too little but it need never run out. In large part, they don’t even have to go to the trouble of printing or minting it any more. They can distribute the greater portion of it now with a few key clicks.

              Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          For anyone not sufficiently depressed about all the other “issues” we can read about here at NC, here’s a link that gives actual names of the particular “profit-via-externality-generating” chemicals:

          What are persistent herbicides?
          Herbicides are chemicals used to manipulate or control undesirable vegetation. Our industry has come to understand that a few herbicides can persist on vegetation and in the soil for months or years and we term these products, persistent herbicides. We are specifically concerned with a class of herbicides from the picolinic acid family. These chemicals are marketed for use in hayfields, horse pastures, golf courses, right-of-ways, grain crops, and lawns to kill unwanted broad-leaf weeds. These herbicides do not normally impact grasses including such plants as corn, wheat, and oats. There are four known persistent herbicides: Clopyralid (Dow AgroSciences, 1987), Aminopyralid (Dow AgroSciences, 2005), Aminocyclopyrachlor (DuPont, 2010), and Picloram (Dow AgroSciences, 1957). There are over 150 retail products in the U.S. but these chemicals may appear on labels in slightly different variations making identification difficult.

          How can I tell if my compost is contaminated?

          Persistent herbicides are colorless and odorless. Scientific studies reveal that they mostly pass unaltered during animal digestion (including microbial digestion) when used at labelled rates. In fact, animal digestion tends to concentrate these chemicals because the animal processes the food but passes most of the chemical as a waste. Testing for specific persistent herbicides is expensive and difficult. USCC recommends that compost producers conduct regular plant growth testing for the presence of persistent herbicides. Please consult the USCC Fact Sheet: Implementing a Plant Growth Testing Program. Please also consult the USCC Fact Sheet: Strategies to Mitigate Persistent Herbicide Contamination at Your Composting Facility for additional information….” https://compostingcouncil.org/persistent-herbicide-faq/
          [Note that DowduPont is now a unitary blobthing, thanks to M&A — http://www.dow-dupont.com/home/default.aspx.)

          The link has a bit about what the EPA and others “ought” to do to regulate these (looks like an outright ban is not among the options, of course — protect the profits, large-scale composters are an “industry,” and hence are “market participants” too).

          There’s lots more grist to grind one’s eroded teeth on, for anyone who does a search on “persistent herbicides hay.”

          Reply
    2. johnnygl

      Thanks for making the point about misuse of livestock. Much like fossil fuels, animals are a tool that is being used in a wasteful, often destructive manner.

      Get rid of grain subsidies, ban feedlots. Train farmers how to do things the right way and get them out from under the boot of the chem and biotech companies.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        There’s a veritable shitlode of milk cows in the CVBB, sequestered on dirt feedlots, and all grain-fed.

        Actual pasturage is largely non-existent on the ‘fruited plain’.

        So, what would you have the farmers do, in lieu of?

        Reply
        1. Lee

          We should have stuck with bison. The great plains supported 60 millions of them in 1800. With a bit of light touch husbandry their numbers could have been increased to handle even today’s demands for bovine flesh. And much of what is now flyover country could be a vast recreational area for hunters and those seeking aesthetic stimulation or spiritual repose and rejuvenation. As it is, I’ve got to drive a thousand miles to watch bears, wolves, bison and other critters that form a near complete assemblage of western wildlife interacting in their natural habitat. Am I becoming a hippie again in my old age?

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            In the rather amazing book by Zenas Leonard that he penned in 1839 after his 5 year trip west with Joseph Walker-“Adventures of A Mountain Man”, they were hunting for food every day on the trail, and he mentioned how superior bison meat was compared to the beef here in California @ the time, and cows were about the only industry in Mexican California during the era he visited.

            Reply
          2. JohnnyGL

            Alan Savory makes the point that we need to use livestock the way wild herds used to function on range lands if we’re going to get them to function properly (ecologically).

            The crude version is that you need to bunch the animals together into large herds and keep them moving. That way they graze everything, not just the plants they like most, they break up the land with their hoofs and the dung/urine fertilizes. Then, weeks/months later, the grasslands usually bounce back stronger than before with better water absorption of rainfall and less bare ground, and more carbon absorbed into the soil.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Vast roving herds of sheep in the 19th century did amazing damage to the Sierra Nevada, and they grazed on everything to the detriment of other non domesticated animals in the forest for the trees, not to mention the vast change in landscape they created in foraging.

              John Muir rightly called them ‘hoofed locusts’.

              Reply
              1. JohnnyGL

                I don’t doubt it. Worse than sheep, goats are famously able to digest what seems like almost any kind of organic material.

                I’ve seen examples of sheep used pretty successfully in the cooler, wetter northeastern part of the country where I am. They are probably better suited to these areas than in yours.

                Reply
        2. JohnnyGL

          That’s the wrong way to farm. Cows should be raised on pasture with rotational grazing practices that are managed to improve the pasture quality over time and reduce stress on the animals.

          If grain weren’t subsidized and feedlots were just flat out banned, then raising dairy cows the right way would likely become viable and possibly even the preferred way of operating.

          I’ve got no expertise in this arena, of course, but I’ve read enough to be convinced.

          Reply
        3. a different chris

          Not a fair question. What would I have soldiers do, in lieu of killing people? What would I have miners do, in lieu of bringing toxic chemicals up to the Earth’s surface? I don’t feel a need to answer that.

          Note neoliberalism – not accusing you of it, I know better – is perfectly happy to swipe a job away from somebody and claim they should learn “new skills”. So I don’t see why I, on the other side of the barricades, am held to a higher standard.

          Reply
          1. Mark P.

            What would I have soldiers do, in lieu of killing people? What would I have miners do, in lieu of bringing toxic chemicals up to the Earth’s surface? I don’t feel a need to answer that.

            Good for you. Nobody ever says it but given the almost inconceivably vast harms that animal agriculture does in terms both of planetary environmental damage, and the torture and slaughter of billions of animals, it needs to be ameliorated and, ultimately, stopped. The livelihoods of farmers are a secondary issue.

            Reply
    3. Alex V

      I would take it up a few more levels in the “value chain” and tax carbon based energy, in this case oil. I recently visited the Agritechnica trade show in Germany (agriculture equipment) and the main observation I left with (after walking all 27 buildings!!! of exhibition) is that modern farming is utterly reliant on oceans of diesel fuel (and debt). I think taxing grains used for feed would just result in the industry finding other monoculture crops to use as sources of calories. Think palm oil or similar evils.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        I wouldn’t disagree – in many countries the use of fossil fuels for agriculture is tax free or actively subsidised. Someone once said that modern agriculture is the science of turning oil into food. So yes, a tax on grain for feestock would be just one element if agriculture was to be reformed by way of taxation.

        Reply
    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I was thinking taxes on blockchain, which I read, by consuming energy, lots of it, gives bitcoins value.

      (Consuming energy, lots of it, gives value?)

      Then, I read, blockchain technology can be used to give us smarter energy grid, and other benefits…if not today, maybe tomorrow, if we live that long.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Oh for crying out loud: it’s a database
        Anytime you read something about “blockchain”, just substitute the word “database” and then ask yourself why on Earth would you use something that is 100x slower, 100x more complicated, and 100x less secure? Because it’s supposedly “decentralized”? I’ve never heard a consumer say “I’m choosing a different bank/social site/ecommerce market/video channel because mine is not decentralized

        And does this even look “decentralized” to you?

        https://www.buybitcoinworldwide.com/mining/china/

        Reply
    5. WJ

      PlutoniumKim,

      It strikes me that your proposed tax on edible grains used for animal feed, while it makes much more sense than the alternative, would, as they say, “harm the American farmer” and so is likely a nonstarter. I could be wrong, of course, but the way the actual tax is being imagined suggests the lobbyists have given their input.

      Reply
    6. Adam Eran

      Michael Pollan says the U.S. burns ten calories of petroleum to produce one calorie of food. Not even our agriculture is solar.

      Pollan goes on to quote feedlot (CAFO) staff as reminding us that “finishing” cows with grain is not natural. “Like feeding them Snickers”…instead of their natural food, grass. The upshot is that their stomachs, designed to digest grass, get acidified (they’re naturally basic). Lots of ulcers and illness results (encouraging farmers to use an estimated 60% of the antibiotics big Pharma produces). This means that when they do breed the antibiotic-resistant germs, those microbes are brought up to tolerate the acid humans use to disinfect their food.

      e. coli, anyone?

      Reply
    7. Oregoncharles

      Ireland, right? My information is old, but last I heard, Cattle and sheep in Ireland are primarily raised on grass, because nothing else grows as well as grass in Ireland. So I think you’re defending Irish animal husbandry.

      However, you do have a case, and if my information is still true, Ireland might be a useful model to the world.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, Irish husbandry is mostly on grass, even if its increasingly intensive these days. But grass grows well for obvious reasons here, so there is no economic benefit to bringing in grain. Irish beef and dairy sells for a premium as the ‘natural grass raised…’ aspect is used a lot in marketing.

        Arguably, the most environmentally suitable form of agriculture in Ireland is livestock raising, but at significantly lower levels than present (intensive use of nitrogen is used to boost grass growth). Only in very isolated areas with exceptionally good land and sunny aspects is grain growing a better option. Root vegetables do ok, but thats very seasonal and low value.

        Reply
  2. allan

    “The Destruction of Matt Taibbi”: the Beltway crowd hates Taibbi because of what he’s written over the years
    about many of their heroes. Searching for some, it seems a lot of link-rot has set in,
    but a few choice quotes on Yeltsin, Tom Friedman and Tom Daschle are here.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      That article points out that with just a few emails and phone calls to the Russian women who worked with Taibbi and Ames it could be confirmed that there is no evidence whatever that either of them ever indulged in abuse or inappropriate behaviour.

      Yet despite (as the article outlines) this being pointed out to the Guardian writer, the article with its disgraceful (and I would suggest libellous) comment about Taibbi is still online (third paragraph). It seems its not just the Beltway crowd that don’t like Taibbi.

      Reply
          1. FluffytheObeseCat

            Her ego and perceived professionalism are now wrapped up in this little piece of under-sourced libel. She would insist the quotes were straight-up, and meant as written, wouldn’t she? (Rice-Davies Rule).

            More broadly though, the Guardian often cheerleads for polite, intentionally ineffective Third Way policies. It’s “leftist” writers are spared from censure when they restrict their jeremiads to people or issues which threaten the main-stream “left”. Taibbi is too shrewd and cutting to be loved by such creatures.

            Reply
          2. JohnnyGL

            If you read her tweet defending her article, her behavior is actually much worse.

            Her tweet says she’s using Taibbi’s work to bolster the point her article, saying “Taibbi wrote about this problem of lefty guys being misogynistic.”

            But her article basically says, “Taibbi bragged about harassing women”.

            That’s Trump-level misrepresentation.
            “The sun rises in the west.”
            “What? I didn’t say that. If you re-read what I wrote said the sun rises in the east.”

            Who you gonna believe? Crispin? Or your lying eyes?

            Reply
    2. readerOfTeaLeaves

      The writing at those links is brilliant.

      Certain political interests must badly want Taibbi politically and economically kneecapped.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        It’s open season on escaped goats, those that don’t play by the rules, or tell it like it is.

        The which hunt still relies on name-brand recognition, when does it filter down to the nobodys, er us?

        Reply
      2. FluffytheObeseCat

        Yes. But, not just Taibbi. The current sex predator witch hunt is designed to ruin men who might actually effect change. Everyone can see that our most noxious Republican con artists won’t be touched by the accusations against them. The poor slobs who are getting taken out by this MSM-generated feeding frenzy are all genuinely left of center, demanding and effective. Or quite elderly, like Conyers or Bush 43.

        IMO, this is a feature, not a bug.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          Lets not forget that the HRC campaign did its best to smear Sanders as a misogynist based on some story he wrote 30 years ago. It didn’t get traction then, but in the current environment, they (or others) may try again.

          Reply
    3. Wukchumni

      Taibbi is kind of Hunter S. Thompson-light, I enjoy his writing, but it’s not as edgy.

      If HST was around in this day and age, how long would it take for the which hunt to pounce on him?

      Reply
      1. Lord Koos

        I think Hunter would be somewhat immune to that kind of crap. He was so over the top from the beginning that there wasn’t much left to accuse him of. As far as I know he treated women with respect.

        Reply
      2. Yves Smith Post author

        What Taibbi writes in the US is a lot tamer than what he and Ames wrote for the eXile. That’s why not understanding that the eXile was satirical is willfully obtuse.

        Reply
  3. fresno dan

    To Eliminate Fruit Flies, California Farmers Eye Controversial Genetic Tool MIT Technology Review (David L)

    Takes me back to my genetics class, and some little “demonstration” of genetics by sex ratio as well as some other fruit fly variable

    https://www.wikihow.com/Distinguish-Between-Male-and-Female-Fruit-Flies

    Yeah, the above makes it seem so easy – they are itsy bitsy. In reality, its like going to a bar in a red light district in Bangkok and trying to distinguish the real XX’s from the XY’s.
    Fortunately, I was deep enough in my academic career to have learned the most important lesson – when the data in your demonstration don’t fit, make them fit….

    Reply
    1. Summer

      Take a look at this:
      https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/dec/04/us-military-agency-invests-100m-in-genetic-extinction-technologies/

      “The documents suggest that the US’s secretive Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) has become the world’s largest funder of “gene drive” research and will raise tensions ahead of a UN expert committee meeting in Montreal beginning on Tuesday.

      The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is debating whether to impose a moratorium on the gene research next year and several southern countries fear a possible military application.

      UN diplomats confirmed that the new email release would worsen the “bad name” of gene drives in some circles. “Many countries [will] have concerns when this technology comes from Darpa, a US military science agency,” one said.

      The use of genetic extinction technologies in bioweapons is the stuff of nightmares, but known research is focused entirely on pest control and eradication.

      Cutting-edge gene editing tools such as Crispr-Cas9 work by using a synthetic ribonucleic acid (RNA) to cut into DNA strands and then insert, alter or remove targeted traits. These might, for example, distort the sex-ratio of mosquitoes to effectively wipe out malarial populations.

      Some UN experts, though, worry about unintended consequences. One told the Guardian: “You may be able to remove viruses or the entire mosquito population, but that may also have downstream ecological effects on species that depend on them.”

      “My main worry,” he added, “is that we do something irreversible to the environment, despite our good intentions, before we fully appreciate the way that this technology will work.”

      Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      “…Eliminate Fruit Flies…” & “…Agricultural Commodity Overproduction…” & “…Dying Ecosystems…” — I’m growing old but I may not be old enough to miss the wondrous great crash set in the manifold spring-snap traps our society so industriously builds and sets for itself. It’s one thing to decline — but quite another to do so with such depth and breadth and breath-taking speed as we work so very hard to construct.

      The site realclimate.org reported the start of the Fall 2017 American Geophysical Union (AGU) and following a sequence of links I ended up on youtube to watch Jim White’s [U. Colorado, Boulder] Nye Lecture from the Fall 2014 AGU: “Abrupt Climate Change…” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRs4kIthJ9k] the full lecture is slightly less than an hour and well worth watching. But if time is short be sure to watch minutes 23 thru 27.

      This calls to mind an image from the old Bell Science Series “Our Mr. Sun” — the table covered with cocked mouse-traps, each holding two ping-pong balls … toss in one ping-pong ball to start things off.

      It’s one thing to decline but we’ll go to go in “style”.

      Reply
    3. subgenius

      So despite the evidence from overuse of antibiotics, idiots want to double down and make a new empty niche in the current ecology?

      How do we get all these idiots? Is it by birth? Or have we developed such a supremely bad system that idiots believe their idiocy over all the evidence?

      Reply
    1. financial matters

      What other way is there? Remember MMT is descriptive. The government prints money and spends it.

      Did they choose to spend it on the Pentagon and banks? Pretty much.

      Reply
      1. johnnygl

        Everyone in powerful positions knows, on some level, that MMT is true. They just pretend it isn’t when they need an excuse.

        Remember Dick Cheney himself said ‘deficits don’t matter’.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s like guns.

          Guns can be used to save lives, from other nasty humans or wild animals.

          They can also be used to intimidate and oppress all of us.

          And we want to ban guns.

          The lesson?

          Anything that can be good or bad, but is almost always (or more likely than not) bad – and when often the consequences of that are devastating – should be banned.

          Why?

          Because human nature is not to be trusted…anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

          Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          ” They just pretend it isn’t when they need an excuse.”
          As I’ve said before, I think the real objections to MMT are political/psychological: “paying for services” is an effective way of convincing people to pay their taxes (remember, it’s ultimately dependent on co-operation); “regulating the money supply” or “giving money its value” aren’t.

          I actually think the main value of taxation is for social regulation; businesses, especially, respond very well to financial incentives. But that use is very unpopular with the PTB; I first became aware of it when a conservative objected to it, using an obviously rehearsed slogan (which, unfortunately, I don’t remember exactly).

          Incidentally, that line of thought supports switching to extraction taxes on resource use, rather than the income tax. Tax what you DON’T want, rather than what you do.

          Reply
      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Descriptive.

        Two types of descriptive.

        1. Descriptive of how Nature works, how the law of gravity works, etc.

        2. Descriptive of how a house is designed, for example.

        With the first type, there isn’t much you can do. Sometimes, the description is called a theory. For example, the theory of fluid mechanics. Once in a while, you get a law – Newton’s First Law. But laws are still best explanations of today. Tomorrow, you get something better, hopefully.

        You can do a lot with the second type of description. You can re-model the whole engine, for example, if you want. If you don’t like a super-highway, you can change it.

        So, if you don’t like how money is created, you can change.

        Let the people spend money into existence, for example.

        MMT may be called a theory, but it’s not like the theory of relativity. It is, or rather, that which it describes is not something that can’t be changed.

        It’s important to make that distinction.

        Reply
  4. PlutoniumKun

    re: Brexit

    Coveney says North will enjoy GFA status quo after Brexit RTE. Carolyn F re David Davis trying to say his very clear statements on BBC were “taken out of context”: “What a slippery fish!”

    Brexit: dereliction of duty Richard North. Important. May presented the “three scenarios” for Ireland that we identified and shredded yesterday; North provides a more thorough shellacking.

    It looks like the EU Parliament may be unwilling to overlook the obvious contraditions in the agreement. The EU Parliament is sometimes little more than a talking shop, but when they find themselves with real power and influence, they are inclined to grab it with both hands. The legal briefing documents produced by the Parliament are actually of very high quality – infinitely more detailed and reliable than anything the UK seems to be working with. I suspect they will become a major obstacle to moving on to phase 2.

    Reply
    1. David

      I think the key part of North’s article is the following:
      “Those whose memories go back to the late 80s and the early 90s will recall the great upsurge of EU law that came with the “completion of the Single Market”, where between 1986 and 1992, more than 280 pieces of harmonising legislation was adopted in order to enable the abolition of internal borders.”
      Very few people playing an active role in Brexit do have memories that go back that far, and few of those who do will have retained much of the the mind-numbing detail. The fact is that the vast majority of politicians and journalists have little or no idea what they are talking about. It’s quite possible that May is not being deliberately misleading: she simply doesn’t have an adequate grasp of the issues.

      Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, PK and David.

        I worked on regulatory matters, mainly EU, for a decade until June 2016 and reckon that most UK politicians, apart from the few who are former MEPs, have no idea of the scale, complexity and process. It was worrying at ministerial level, but civil servants and lobbyists, such as myself, hand held many through the system.

        I don’t know about civil servants, but my employer arranged training on such matters. I also studied at university, especially for my masters.

        Reply
        1. David

          Well, she had a competent speechwriter. It’s always unwise to assume that politicians have necessarily mastered the contents of their speeches.

          Reply
    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, PK.

      The Irish government, trade bodies and firms have done splendid work, too. This has informed much of UK trade body and firm thinking, but not been used publicly on this side of the Irish Sea for political reasons. UK civil servants have also been made aware, but their political masters aren’t interested.

      You’re right about MEPs being emboldened.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        I can’t link to it right now as its behind a paywall, but there is an article in todays Irish Times from a law professor (Uni of Cardiff ) on the status of the agreement. He is strongly suggesting that as it was agreed under A.50, then it has binding legal status within European Law and any departure would have to be referred to the ECJ.

        He points out that through a process of elimination, the only option within the agreement that is allowed (as the others are effectively ruled out by way of granting vetos to the Irish government and DUP), then the UK may well have tied itself legally to staying within the CM and CU.

        Reply
        1. David

          Interesting if true, but a layman’s reading of Art 50 suggests that it’s the Withdrawal Agreement, not any old agreement during the Art 50 process, which is relevant here. Is there a lawyer in the house?

          Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            Actually, I did get throught the paywall. The article is here.

            The noises out of London have been mixed. Ministers there seem to think that the magic phrase “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” overrides the rest of last Friday’s agreement with the European Union. But London cannot dictate the meaning of the deal which has allowed Brexit negotiations proceed to the next step.

            It does not matter what the UK government thinks the agreement means – what matters is what the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) says it means. This agreement is being reached under article 50 and so will fall within the court’s jurisdiction.

            With this in mind I have selected the paragraphs that are the subject of dispute and have tried to give them the meaning which I think the CJEU will find them to have.

            He then refers to paragraphs 1, 2 and 96, and states:

            It is clear that the agreement does not cover any interim arrangements following 2019 when the UK leaves the EU although it envisages that these may be put in place (“transitional arrangements”). These will have to be agreed in the phase-two talks, because putting the pieces in place for a full trade deal is likely to take years. Even if the EU-Canada deal is used as a template to speed things up, an agreement on the final arrangements is still going to take time.

            Last paragraphs:

            These paragraphs are something of a mouthful but envisage three possible outcomes.

            Outcome one: the EU and UK reach agreement and specify what the arrangements will be for the UK-Irish Border. This is what “the overall EU-UK relationship” is referring to.

            Outcome two: if this does not happen, the UK will have to put forward “specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland”.

            Outcome three: if these solutions cannot be agreed, then there is a fall-back position which has two parts.

            The first is the island of Ireland part: the UK will maintain full alignment with those rules of the internal market and the customs union which “now and in the future” support the current Anglo-Irish agreement, structures and markets.

            The second is the Northern Ireland and the UK part: the UK will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK subject to Northern Irish agreement to the contrary.

            The inevitable conclusion of all this is that if an all-Ireland approach has to be taken and if Northern Ireland will not face new regulatory hurdles, then what happens in Northern Ireland will be most likely to happen in the rest of the UK.

            If the EU formally accepts the joint report this week then outcome three will apply if no other solution can be found. The UK will be locked in.

            What he seems to be arguing is that the UK may not realise that they have legally locked themselves in to a ‘no regulatory change whatever’ agreement up until A.50 runs out in 2019. Since any phase 2 agreements would probably only start at that time, I wonder though if this means anything in practice, apart from giving the EU an excuse to walk away accusing the UK of bad faith.

            Reply
            1. David

              Thanks, PK. I’m inclined to agree that it may not mean very much in practice. I suspect that the practical constraints will be more important than the legal ones anyway. The other point is that the agreement is not drafted in what diplomats call treaty language – it couldn’t be – and it contains language like “specific solutions to address the unique circumstances” which you wouldn’t normally expect to find in a document that was legally enforceable. It’s classic diplomatic speak for “we’ll work it out later.” On the other hand, the document is politically binding, and walking away from it would entail a huge political cost.

              Reply
        2. Yves Smith Post author

          *Sigh*. Who do they get to write garbage like this?

          The document didn’t even present itself as an agreement. It was a Joint Report.

          It clearly stated at the very top:

          1. It was an agreement in principle. Those are not binding.

          2. It explicitly said, “Nothing was agreed until everything was agreed”. That similarly means “no deal” until a definitive agreement, meaning the Withdrawal agreement

          3. The copy I saw didn’t have signatories and it looked like an official version.

          4. It also had tons of political fudge language you never see in any serious agreement like “The UK recalls” which is even weaker than “The UK acknowledges” and IMHO means close to zero: “Yes, we did say that at one point, isn’t that a nice idea?”. That “recall/recalls” formulation came up a ton.

          Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yeah, on reflection I think that article is, as a former boss of mine used to describe as ‘a bit law school undergrad’.

            Reply
  5. The Rev Kev

    Re Tensions boil over in combative WH briefing

    I don’t blame them for a change. So the media comes out and say that they can finally nail Trump’ s hide to a barn for colluding with Wikileaks. Jimmy Dore took the media to task on this at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGgqiEAC8Ws (worth watching all of it) but the gist is that CNN comes out with with this story because of an email. The problem was that they came out with this story without ever actually seeing this damning email. Turns out further that they did not even know who it was that sent the email. The MSNBC then comes out to independently verify this report. As is now known, when the email came out, it turned out that the date of the email was wrong so there was no story here at all.
    So what does the media do? They say ‘Look – a Trump sex scandal from reports a coupla years or decades old.’ How gutless to try to deflect their stuff-up. You know what I also found bad? As that tax bill was getting finalized the media reported it OK but their main focus was on, what else, Russia. From what I could see here it was sucking much of the oxygen out of the tax bill debate. Has the media revealed who their sources were for that bogus story at all yet by the way? If not, then you can guarantee that it was members of the so-called deep state that needs to be protected from the consequences of their actions.

    Reply
    1. flora

      The MSM always making “mistakes” in the same direction, per Greenwald, and so many “mistakes”, makes me think not just of fake news, but of spammy news; where ‘spammy’ is meant as in the original Monty Python skit. It crowds out almost everything else. Can’t get the MSM news without spam these days. Main Spam Media. ;)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anwy2MPT5RE

      Reply
  6. David May

    God help me, but I read the torygraph yesterday to get a feel for what the brexiters thought of events. What an utterly depressing experience. Denial, ignorance, bigotry. And I kept an open mind. There was no “there” there. Just assertions, wishful thinking and outright fantasy. The level of ignorance of basic facts was staggering. Juliet Samuels was egregious, getting the most fundamental of facts wrong. She called Northern Irish policemen “bobbies”. She divided Northern Irish and ROI citizens into Irishmen or British. (Never mind the fact that NI is not a part of Britain. It’s called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for a reason.) Her understanding of brexit was not even wrong. But she crowed loudly that she was a Harvard grad. She really is an amoral clown. Depressing, utterly depressing. Thank God for NC.

    Reply
    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, David.

      I have known Juliet for a decade, since she started out as a cub at City AM and I began work on regulatory matters. She does not let facts get in the way of her prejudices and is not interested in learning or coping with complexity. Depressingly, she seems typical of younger hacks and is not the worse at the Daily Dreadnought. Her colleague, recently recruited from the Taxpayers Alliance and Matthew Elliott fangirl, is worse.

      If you thought yesterday’s Torygraph was bad, you should read Saturday’s and today’s Daily Express. The plain vanilla fish and chips wrapper from the pornography merchant and Israel Firster’s stable reckons the UK has the EU over a barrel.

      Reply
    2. Colonel Smithers

      Further to her crowing about her Harvard education, if I was the university, I would get a cease and desist order about that.

      A week or so ago, she called the Irish “bonkers”, an infantile way of treating a serious issue, but that has not stopped her progressing from hatchet jobs at City AM to the Times, Wall Street Journal and Torygraph. She would like a gig at the BBC. I am surprised that she has not got one yet.

      Reply
      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘Further to her crowing about her Harvard education, if I was the university, I would get a cease and desist order about that.’

        Too late. The barely coherent George W Bush, Viceroy of Baghdad, has an MBA from Hahhhhhvid (1975), forever degrading the brand.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Harvard runs “each tub on its own bottom”. Every school is financially and operationally independent. The rest of the University has long looked down on the business school, and having gone there, I would say that view is correct. You get one year of what amounts to trade school. The other service it provides is employment agency.

          The only school held in lower esteem at Harvard is the ed school.

          Having said that, Time Magazine’s Karen Tumulty went to HBS (she was in my section) but she was a working journalist before she came to HBS.

          Reply
          1. Joel

            Having gone to H for undergrad, I can confirm that the B school is held in low esteem since it’s the most aggressively “vocational” of all the schools. This is a university where there are still no undergrad majors in things like theater, journalism, social work, business, etc. since it’s supposed to be dedicated to pure learning and research.Also the B school sells week-long certificate programs for $5000 a pop as if it were a Tony Robbins franchise.

            Do you really think the Ed school is held in lower esteem than the B school??? The Harvard Ed school has been enormously influential in the field of education worldwide (mostly in terms of actual research rather than in providing ideological justifications for inequality).

            At most universities, the ed school/department is justifiably looked at with suspicion since standards can be low and a lot of the publications produced in the field would not survive peer review in the social sciences. But at Harvard, it really is a cut above.

            Reply
    3. vlade

      I stopped reading Torygraph day after Leave won. My idiocy filter just collapsed, and I couldn’t deal with cleaning it up daily.. BBC/Guardian are clueless enough, but at least they don’t show they cluelessness as something to celebrate (most of the time)

      Reply
      1. el_tel

        I never read the Telegraph as a “go to” publication – I just went there to read stuff by a few relatively enlightened reporters like Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.

        But these days, like some of the columns of Martin Wolf at the FT, I sense greater editorial pressure on the “realistic/non – conformist” reporters to stick to an editorial line which makes me go WTF? Someone recently said on here that Wolf probably has to look conformist some of the time due to his MSM spots…. hence why his obvious understanding (sympathy for?) MMT then gets conveniently ignored in many of his pieces, making him look inconsistent. I think Evans-Pritchard may be under similar pressure, which is a shame.

        Reply
            1. el_tel

              Thanks Yves – I think I should probably go back to at least checking their “headline list” more often like I used to do.

              Reply
  7. Lee

    Ex-GOP governor stuns with call for Franken to keep job after ‘absence of anything resembling due process’ Raw Story (furzy

    Could throwing Franken under the bus be an ACORN/Shirley Sherrod redux. Judging by the comments on this article, there are those who see this as a cowardly and cynical hijacking by Dems of a very legitimate issue. None of us know all of the facts of Franken’s particular case, but if past action is indicative of future performance, you don’t want these Dem luminaries leading your charge to the promised land.

    Reply
    1. mpalomar

      It looks like Franken was asked to take a bullet for the team and he has halfheartedly gone along, due process be damned, promising departure in a few weeks.

      With bona fide, perv police credentials in hand, Kirsten Gillibrand and the brilliant lights behind team dem in the senate have their sights set on Trump and Moore now that they’ve firmed up Franken for the plank walk. They must believe they can take Trump two out of three falls mud wrestling.

      If Trump and Moore weather the big blow how is Franken gonna feel out in the cold? Maybe he and Garrison Keillor can put a theater show together in Minnie Paul, Minnesota Public Radio has a slot open.

      Reply
      1. Lynne

        My suspicion is that he copped a feel on someone connected. When the complainants were from show biz (including the “news”media) and women in flyover country, it didn’t matter. But then there was a complaint from a woman who was a Congressional staffer. Don’t know who it was, but within a day, Democrats were lining up to call for his resignation.

        Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      It’s important that at this point, most of the firings have been pure, reflexive political or business butt-covering. That’s why there’s been essentially no process. I think one reason is that the first couple, especially Weinstein, were so bad they created tremendous momentum. So I guess I agree about the ACORN/Sherrod parallel; these accusations are being treated as a burning potato.

      Some time soon, there will indeed be a backlash, probably involving an out right false accusation. Then the brakes will slam on and we’ll see a return to process and investigation. Someone yesterday (?) pointed out that there is plenty of law, precedent, and regulation on sexual harassment; the charge has been around for a decade or two, and there are clear definitions. At the moment, those being largely ignored, at least in the high-profile cases we hear about, but that won’t last. Hopefully, once things calm down, we’ll gain a lot more willingness for people to come forward when they’re targeted – I don’t think anyone denies there’s a real problem and real victims. It’s hard to imagine going back to the status quo.

      Reply
  8. fresno dan

    Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America Project Syndicate (David L)

    All told, Trump has governed like a plutocrat in populist clothes – that is, a pluto-populist. But why has his base let him get away with pursuing policies that mostly hurt them? According to one view, he is betting that social conservatives and white blue-collar supporters in rural areas will vote on the basis of nationalist and religious sentiment and antipathy toward secular coastal elites, rather than for their own financial interests.

    But how long can anyone be expected to support “God and guns” at the expense of “bread and butter”? The pluto-populists who presided over the Roman Empire knew that keeping the populist mob at bay required substance as well as diversion: panem et circenses – “bread and circuses.” Raging tweets are meaningless to people who can scarcely afford a dignified living, let alone tickets to the modern-day Colosseum to watch football.
    ===================================================
    Pretty much in a nutshell my views on Trump.
    It boils down to how long can you fool the people? The dems lived off Roosevelt for ?50? years until it became painfully apparent that they were sharks in wolves’ clothing.
    Again and again, I come back to Trump’s statements during the campaign. The fact that the media did not deign to (round table analysis) emphasize Trump’s policy pronouncements** does not mean that people were not aware of them and VOTING on them. Sure, people should know Trump is a liar, but do you vote for the candidates promising to cut social security and medicare or at least the one who says he will preserve them???
    I think Trump did show a couple of things:
    1. Lots of money and lots of consultants isn’t nearly as worthwhile as it once (if ever) was.
    2. Whether is was criticizing the Iraq war, McCain, or surviving his trademarked Trumpian caresses, so much of conventional wisdom is utter and total bullsh*t.
    3. We didn’t get a Bernie not because there is widespread revulsion against “big government” or “socialims”, but because WE’RE NOT given the CHOICE. The dems ARE much better at rigging the system than repubs…..its always the one you least suspect.

    I was talking to a repub friend last night, a Trump supporter, and I was somewhat surprised at how exorcised he was over possible cuts to social security, that social security is not an “entitlement” – it is our money cause we paid into it for 50 years, and why don’t repubs ever talk about all the FICA taxes paid, but only Federal income taxes (i.e., the taxes paid by the rich) ever get acknowledges as TAXES.
    How is it that social security can’t run deficits and be funded with debt but the rest of the budget is in perpetual deficit???

    As I’ve noted before, Trump was the only sledgehammer available. I think things move faster nowadays, and people will either want someone to start fixing, or they will want more smashing. I think for a lot of people, Trump isn’t living up to his smashing rhetoric…..

    ** https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SKXQeD_nOs

    Reply
    1. johnnygl

      If you watch trump’s approval ratings, they’re retesting the lows last seen at the height of the healthcare debate. So it looks like most of the public is tuning out the noise and focusing on the big legislative battles, it seems to me.

      With his popularity at current levels, it looks like he has lost some of the swing voters, but is holding the base. That could change if he starts a war or does something else that is big.

      Reply
    2. ArcadiaMommy

      “Exorcised” I love it! Sometimes spell check gets it right.

      Interesting point about “how long can you fool the people?”. Hasn’t Trump basically spent his entire life pretty much fooling/scamming people into giving him money, then he moves on to other mark(s)? Doesn’t seem like there will be much of an opportunity to scam people after this “presidenting” fiasco.

      Reply
      1. witters

        You know its not (empty virtue-signalling to empty heads aside). What is needed is a LeftPopulism, a populism of class and internationalism. Closest so far is Corbyn. Sanders a long, long way back.

        Reply
  9. zagonostra

    I was wondering what happened to Matt Taibbi, along with my stop here at NC,I always take a walk to RS and see if he’s published anything.

    Taibbi’s articles where some of the best writing on complex issues I’ve come across and am saddened that he’s been tainted…the reactionaries are prowling and cowing anyone who speaks truth.

    Reply
    1. The Beeman

      Keep reading Taibbi – I Can’t Breathe is eye opening as are all of his political books. He is still publishing articles at RS. Insane Clown President was fantastic. Vampire Squid was eye opening. Great Derangement should be read by everyone

      Keep up the excellent work Matt!!!

      Reply
  10. Carolinian

    Current events underline–once again–the argument that Watergate and its aftermath may have been a net negative for the country and not the widely claimed instance where the “system worked.” Nixon’s resignation created a precedent that the press has never forgotten. They thought they could scandal Bill Clinton out of office by getting him to resign and they think that now. There was never any realistic scenario where Clinton was going to be removed by Congress nor is there one today with Trump. But, hey, maybe lightning will indeed strike twice and the mercurial Trump will bail. But if that does happen the result will probably be far worse than if he had stayed. “Regime change” will be normalized for he US as it has been for other countries and democracy will be the worse for it.

    Reply
  11. JTMcPhee

    Re vulnerability as a thing: Bitcoin and other bubbles. Nuclear weapons and their proliferation. Genetic manipulation in the hands of teenagers bored of dropping concrete chunks off expressway overpasses and hacking hospitals. “Warfighters” and spooks and “private armies” competing for the Cracked Globe Destabilization and Destruction award. Frail and aging grids and other infrastructure. iAnything. Topsoil depletion. Water pollution and waste. Goldman “Never give a sucker an even break” Sachs. “Never let a crisis go to waste-ism.” Human-induced and accelerating climate change. Population growth. Growth generally. The Internet of Things, plugged into the Panopticonandonandon.

    Today there’s this reminder that “vulnerability” might ought to be the word on the tip of everybody’s tongue, and at the front of their forebrains: “Italy declares state of emergency after deadly gas explosion in Austria,” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/12/italy-declares-state-emergency-gas-explosion-austria I wonder how many Euro-peons will suffer and die because profit and geopolitics, dependent on combustion and looting and “profit,” lead to rent-able “hubbing” of extractables like “(un)natural gas.”

    Hey! In this New Gilded Age of Bubble Blowing, there’s gotta be a way to monetize vulnerability! How about an Index of Vulnerability, that could become the object of various “financial product innovations”? So we can at least wager on how fast (“which direction” would be only a sucker play) the great complicated train we humans are riding on is heading toward the broken trestle bridge to the future? Maybe office pools, too, on the date and nature of the Black Swan event that marks the edge of the precipice?

    All in fun, WHEEEeee!, as we ride blissfully along, breaking ever more vital bits off the train, to “trade with each other,” as it gathers downhill velocity and momentum?

    Reply
    1. cnchal

      Monetizing vulnerability is as old as insurance or older.

      Speaking of Bitcoin, there was a story on the Main Spam Media last night about being able to shove twenty bucks into a Bitcoin dispensing machine, and load a minute fraction of Bitcoin onto your phone, which you could spend in a limited number of places.

      The question for me is, do these mini Bitcoin transactions cause some kind of parasitic power loss from everywhere else, as we hear stories about hacked computers doing Bitcoin calculations, or not.

      If so, the more Bitcoin machines the more power drawn, and all that implies for blockchain technology in general, of which I know nothing, other that it’s required prodigious consumption of power to mine or trade it, and perhaps eventually even to protect it. And if it isn’t paying it’s electricity bill, who is?

      Reply
      1. Lord Koos

        Bitcoins in machines would be already in existence, so it wouldn’t be like the machines themselves would be creating them and using more power.

        Reply
      2. joe defiant

        People put bitcoin miners hidden in things like a hacked version of windows or a new video game. While running your machine it’s helping mine bitcoins. It takes a lot of personal machines to do this now. It’s one of the reasons I left the “hacking” community behind. They have the same parasitic atttitude that the financial world has: “If people are stupid enough to fall for it, they deserve it.” I have been paid and gotten illegal bitcoins years ago. I had to meet someone in a coffee shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn to trade the bitcoins to real money. They have “markets” that charge for changing the coins to money now and it takes a few weeks for the actual money to make it to you. Some places take bitcoins as payment. Some are beginning to stop because of the impending “bubble collapse” I guess.

        Reply
        1. ChrisPacific

          Steam removed support for it about a week ago. Their stated reasons were high transaction costs (around $20, up from $0.20 when they initially implemented it) and volatility. So it looks like being the next tulip bulb interferes with its ability to function effectively as a currency.

          Reply
      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I listened to the whole link — you are SO right. I’m not following the race in Alabama but what that barber says broadened across this country is so true about our politics and the fear our politicians have about speaking to their public and saying anything meaningful.

        Reply
    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Just got back from voting. Lines were far longer than I expected (when I voted in the primary, there were NO lines at my precinct).

      Reply
      1. John Zelnicker

        @WobblyTelomeres, 12-12-17, 11:58 am – I also just voted and there were no lines at all. I didn’t vote in the primary since it was a Republican primary and cross-over voting is illegal.

        My precinct is almost exclusively white, middle and upper-middle class. Most are probably moderate Republicans, with a smattering of Democrats. Like Yves in Birmingham, I have seen more signs for Doug Jones here in Mobile than for any other Democrat in a long, long time. I suspect some are in front of Republican homes that just can’t stand the idea of being represented by Roy Moore.

        Reply
        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Oh, I voted in the Democratic primary in August which meant I could not legally vote in the Republican runoff (strange Luther vs stranger Roy) in September.

          Reply
  12. Wukchumni

    If almost nobody shows up for the National Christmas Tree Lighting, could it be construed as an attack on Pearl Arbor day?

    Reply
    1. fresno dan

      Wukchumni
      December 12, 2017 at 10:22 am

      EXACTLY!!! I didn’t go because I didn’t know that the War on Christmas was over, and I thought that I would be strafed if I went to the event.

      Reply
  13. David Carl Grimes

    Dr. Pascal Noel of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, he was working in the Obama White House to help them “design the government’s response to the foreclosure crisis”, but they didn’t have the “right research” to make the most informed policy decisions.

    So he undertook a study to find the most effective response to the crisis. His finding: “the government would have been better off if it had used the same amount of money to finance deeper reductions in mortgage payments or reduce more borrowers’ monthly payments. Still, writing down mortgage debt before borrowers are underwater might be an effective policy and is worth further investigation.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/for-the-next-housing-crisis-lessons-from-the-last-one-1512961500?mod=e2fb

    Reply
  14. timbers

    Tensions boil over in combative WH briefing The Hill. Glenn Greenwald made the key point: the “errors” are all in one direction.

    A co-worker who’s a partisan Dem was mocking me about the Flynn indictment saying it proved me wrong in saying their was no Russian meddling in the election, and proving Trump conspired with Russia. He said it was illegal to talk to Russia about ending sanctions or changing a sitting President’s policy, and Flynn was committing treason and conspiring against America. I tried to explain he was charged with the ancillary crime (lying to the FBI) unrelated to his meeting with Israel and Russia which appears to have been completely legal, and it’s logical to assume Flynn did nothing illegal in the meeting because there were no charges regarding that and the FBI had every word recorded yet has not charged Flynn with doing anything wrong (it’s legal to talk to Russians).

    He asked “Then why did Flynn lie about the meeting?” I told him what he said should answer his own question…him and the media and members of both parties telling us it’s treason to talk to Russia, illegal to hold meetings with Russians, and talking to Russia is by definition a “conspiracy.”

    I don’t think it registered. He and others Dems are so committed to Russian conspiracy theories I find it is impossible to reason with them, and they almost immediately label you conspiracy theorist if you point out the errors in their facts or ask facts from them to support their views.

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      Today FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe cancelled an appearance before the House Intelligence Committee. Perhaps he didn’t want to be asked about this rather awkward news which emerged last night:

      A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump “dossier” had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official’s wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.

      Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year.

      http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/12/11/wife-demoted-doj-official-worked-for-firm-behind-anti-trump-dossier.html

      It appears that the dodgy dossier intended to take down Trump’s candidacy instead is revealing illegal involvement in partisan politics at the top levels of the Dept of Justice and FBI, which primarily implicates Democrats. None dare call it conspiracy. ;-)

      Reply
      1. fresno dan

        Jim Haygood
        December 12, 2017 at 11:02 am
        “…which primarily implicates Democrats. None dare call it conspiracy. ;-) ”

        BEWARE – naughty and incorrect language in the linked video! Suggest one only views the time between 49 seconds and 1:06.

        See at 49 seconds to 1:06. I couldn’t find the real movie with the infamous clip of dialog “of whom we do not speak” – The Village that has the original dialog about “those of whom we do not speak…” although the reference I have linked to actually more clearly and accurately describes those of whom we do not speak – even though we are speaking BECAUSE we are not speaking about those of whom we do not speak of but about not speaking of about not speaking….if this seems confusing just substitute “CNN” for “we” in the afore mentioned line ….
        ;) ;)

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv-2LGxCmEQ

        Reply
        1. Jim Haygood

          Until late on election night, Nov 8, 2016, conventional wisdom held that Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in since Trump had “no path to victory in the Electoral College.”

          Given the Clintons’ penchant for hardball politics, they could (and likely did, in my fevered imagination) credibly threaten Comey, Lynch et al that “We need some official push on this Fusion GPS narrative, or you won’t be part of our incoming administration.”

          Were Mueller himself not a member of this cabal, he would working his way up the evidentiary chain — Strzok, McCabe, Comey, Lynch — to the ultimate prize: indicting Bill and Hillary Clinton for conscripting the commanding heights of federal law enforcement into their political campaign.

          Reply
    2. voteforno6

      It seems that a lot of people are really confused on what the definition of treason is…it’s not that hard to look up. After all, it’s the only crime that’s actually specified in the U.S. Constitution.

      Reply
        1. John k

          Not illegal if gov does it.
          In the olden days they cut the precious metal part when running short… perfectly legal.
          Much simpler now, just need the right keyboard.
          Allows unlimited wars, cutting taxes, all manner of useful things.
          And best of all, no inflation if surplus workers! So make sure we never run short…

          Reply
  15. Sid Finster

    In re: Taibbi – as far as the MSM and respectable opinion are concerned, lefties who are not card-carrying, dues-paying, Kool Aid-drinking members in good standing of Team D are to be cast into outer darkness.

    Reply
  16. cojo

    Interesting article on physician burnout. Key takeaway is the increased administrative burden in healthcare is having detrimental effects on patient care.

    Several reports recently have highlighted that physician burnout rates across many major specialties in the U.S. have reached epidemic proportions. For example, a survey earlier this year suggested that the physician burnout rate exceeded 50 percent for the fields of emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, family medicine, internal medicine, critical care, anesthesiology, pediatrics, neurology, urology, cardiology, rheumatology and infectious disease.

    How burnout is plaguing doctors and harming patients

    Reply
    1. Eclair

      Cojo, your link seems to be broken. I did find a NY Times articles from November that had this interesting observation: ‘We place physicians in situations where they are detecting problems, often connected to social conditions or poverty, Dr. Schonfeld said, but then don’t give them the support they need to address those problems. ‘

      The patients here are the ’embodiment’ of their unfortunate and often toxic environments. This links to Lambert’s great post yesterday, “Class and Beyond …”

      Not only is neoliberalism killing off the lower classes by ruining their(our?) bodies, but it is rendering ineffective the healers. A twofer.

      Reply
      1. cojo

        Thanks for the heads up, here is the link…
        https://theconversation.com/how-burnout-is-plaguing-doctors-and-harming-patients-86445

        …and I agree healthcare professionals see embodiment day in and day out. Nurses are at the front lines of many of these ecosocial issues and that is why I suspect their union were such strong supporters of Bernie Sanders and Medicare for all. I also wonder if deep down, some of the historic resistance to universal health care in this country was to keep all these externalities (the detrimental effects of pollution, unsafe work environments, chemical exposures etc.) from being dealt with. This is why I suspect the European Union regulatory bodies are more likely to follow the precautionary principle with environmental/health regulation.

        Reply
    1. allan

      But this guy probably doesn’t need help with his W-4:

      Tax reform must not derail sorely needed class warfare [The Hill]

      Class warfare must not derail sorely needed tax reform [The Hill]

      There are some economists and wealthy Americans who oppose tax reform. Their voices became louder after the Senate approved its bill, but their opinions shouldn’t keep Congress from getting this done. …

      For example, in a recent letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, several economists said tax reform would boost growth from 3 to 5 percent. …

      Todd Hitt is the founder of Kiddar Capital, a private equity firm. Hitt’s assets span real estate, construction, energy, finance, and hospitality.

      Reply
      1. ChrisPacific

        I got a good chuckle out of that, especially this bit:

        Schoenberg says he doesn’t need more money… Maybe he doesn’t, but most pass-through owners would use a cut to hire new employees or raise wages and benefits.

        We want to raise your wages! We really do. But the big bad government and their repressive taxes are stopping us! Our hands are tied! If we were handed a big pile of money then we would totally pass it on to you guys as wage increases, even though we haven’t done that with the big pile of money we already have.

        Reply
  17. Barmitt O'Bamney

    Tax meat extra if you want to create more and angrier Republicans. Great Plan, Bloomberg!
    Let me put that policy into the form of a party slogan for you:
    A free range organic chicken in every Le Creuset of the 1%! Soy based kibble for the 99%!

    Reply
  18. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: Antidote: That poor duck looks like it could use a lot more sleep. Maybe Shane should cut back on the late night late night movies for his animals.

    Reply
  19. Summer

    https://www.axios.com/a-quarter-trillion-dollars-is-at-risk-when-bitcoin-crashes-2516481233.html/
    Just some excerpts and questions:

    “Invented in 2008, blockchain is a secure ledger where users can record transactions like payments, a chain of supply, a contract, and the origin of commodities like pork or diamonds.”
    Is this “secure” secure or secure like everything else online that we’ve seen can be hacked?

    Then some descriptions for uses:
    “Consumer product verification: Walmart has carried out pilot projects with IBM, using blockchain to track Chinese pork, with the idea of lessening the chance that it comes from infected farms, and Mexican mangoes. Now it has expanded its pilot to include Kroger, Tyson’s Foods and other companies.”

    So people no longer have the ability to look at a list of farms products come from and read what an inspectors’ report says about them? And isn’t it still people that lessen the chance that a farm is infected through inspections and the way they raise animals? Not clear on how a change in “tracking” changes the game.

    “Supply chain management: Roche and Pfizer are among the major pharmaceutical companies working with a pilot project that uses blockchain to track the trace components of drugs and prevent counterfeiting and contamination. Generally speaking, blockchain is seen as simplifying supply chain management, the movement of stuff to and from ports and all the way to consumers.”

    Again, not clear on how a change in “tracking” changes the game. It’s data being tracked and data that comes from inputs from somewhere and someone.

    “Data storage: Northern Trust, a Chicago asset management company, is using blockchain to record investment transactions.”
    This is clear. An automated ledger. But there are already computers doing this. So the blockchain is connecting to where and to who and exactly for what purpose?

    And this…
    “They are angling for a product that is so simple that the average consumer doesn’t need to know what is happening,” he said in an email exchange. “You will have a credit/debit card and pay in USD. However, in the background, there is a switch to a cryptocurrency from the consumer to the retailer and then the retailer switches back into USD.”

    Really? I don’t need to know what is happening with my transactions? I guess then I wouldn’t ask questions when I’m ripped off? WTF? This looks more like another level where there could be hidden fees more than anything else.

    Reply
  20. Vatch

    Thomas fire creating its own weather, expert says Los Angeles Daily News

    Hmm. Kind of like the firebombing of Dresden or Tokyo, except this time, we did it to ourselves.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Most all giant wildfires create their own weather, when the Rough Fire (14th largest California wildfire historically) was doing it’s thing a few years ago-from our perch 30 miles away, every day a giant mushroom cloud 12-15k high would form and there were occasionally lightning strikes within the ‘shroom itself, utterly spectacular to glimpse from afar.

      Reply
      1. Jim Haygood

        In his book about Arizona’s Rodeo-Chediski fire of 2002, incident commander Jim Paxon described how a giant smoke column of combustion products (which include water) rising into the sub-zero temperature of the upper atmosphere will condense out moisture.

        Firefighters were told if they felt droplets of moisture falling to run like hell before the smoke column collapsed under its own weight, sending flames blowtorching out hundreds of yards in every direction.

        Reply
    2. Anon

      Well, the firebombing of Dresden is a fairly accurate description of what I saw last night.

      Returned to the Santa Barbara Harbor last night to see (through 7x binoculars) the mountains above Montecito (San Ysidro Canyon, specifically) exploding with fire balls erupting hundreds of feet into the sky. The incineration was so powerful that flaming embers were cast skyward in all directions (like July fireworks) to even greater heights.

      While the thick smoke has kept tourists at bay, the thousands (no kidding!) of firefighters have taken their place in the motels. They are not attempting to stop the fire but protect structures and limit encroachment into Santa Barbara proper. This fire can be expected to continue for another week, at least.

      Reply
  21. Craig H.

    The antidote today is great. When I was a child my hero was Daffy Duck. (I think those are probably goslings; that doesn’t look like a duck bill.) There is a new thing on Atlas Obscura which people might like:

    What Is It Like to Be a Bee?
    A philosophical and neurobiological look into the apian mind.
    BY NATASHA FROST DECEMBER 06, 2017

    Reply
  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Philip Hammond sides with EU to demand Donald Trump drops tax reforms that risk trade war Telegraph

    From the link:

    President Trump wants to bring in a series of measures to increase the tax burden on foreign companies operating in the US

    I suppose that’s half right…more taxes for companies, but only foreign ones.

    And from a Wall Street Journal, by way of Mish:

    What they fear is a double whammy sapping money out of China by making the U.S. a more attractive place to invest.

    That seems to be more than half right. Who doesn’t like making the US a more attractive place to invest…even for foreign companies? That would contradict the article from Telegraph, that is, The EU fears tax burden for their companies investing in the US, while China fears the US is too attractive.

    Reply
  23. manymusings

    Multinationals seem always to find a willing government (or few) to scream trade violation for the “distortive” impact of any measure they don’t much like. I have seen nary a word on what trade obligations actually are implicated (I’ve searched, admittedly can’t get past paywalls). The issue appears to be parts of the trade bill aimed at foreign-held or foreign-generated E&P. Easier to see how “double taxation” treaties might come into play — but no threat of world court there, so WTO is the go-to charge (although actually double-taxation measures are specifically carved out of the WTO, as are tax measures, generally, if subject to a separate treaty or international fora).

    But the big picture point here seems to be that what passes itself off these days as “trade liberalization” really amounts to a shell game by multinationals, who find a government sycophant to scream “discrimination” or “trade barrier” about any measure by any authority that threatens to raise costs or limit profit — which is to say essentially any measure affecting them at all, designed for a purpose other than to “enhance [their own] competitiveness.” Again would be nice to have an inkling of the rationale for the supposed WTO foul here. Seems though that applying tax treatment to E&P that cuts across borders (albeit within a complicated matrix of baselines, deductions, etc.) is a far cry from slapping a tariff or quota on imported cars or textiles – the types of old-fashioned “protectionist” measures we’re told are the real focus of trade agreements. Of course we’re scolded as simpletons then to wonder why it turns out that a calculation method in our tax code — or for that matter the vicissitudes of public health regulation – is contested terrain amongst trade police, ever-vigilant as to the looming threat of “hidden trade barriers.”

    Any tax code is inherently “discriminatory” or “distortive” by virtue of deriving revenue from certain sources and activities within jurisdictional reach. The relevant “trade” issue is whether a tax measure treats apples or oranges – or software or banking – of one nationality better or worse than the same good or service of another nationality – which begs the question, is it really meaningful in the age of “global supply chains” (and corporate transnational omnipresence) to ascribe the market activity of a multinational to any one particular nation at all? Doing so implies some sense of shared stake or benefit in their commercial activity, or perhaps at least a vague sense of shared identity and solidarity. But the whole point of the trading system is the opposite — its rules are meant to wrest corporate profit-making from “provincial” claims and demands altogether (like paying local taxes or hiring from the local labor pool).

    It serves multinational corporations (and their technocrat globalist lobbyists and bureaucrats) to wax poetic about competing “domestic industries” — as if there truly is some national identity, or shared prosperity, in the business of Monsanto, Alphabet, GE, or Citibank — when in truth our trade rules aren’t about “enhancing national competitiveness” or “leveling the playing field” for products and services of one nation vis-a-vis those of other nations, as if we lived in the early industrial age of farm and factory towns. These anachronisms are pedaled today to gin up patriotism around trade rules that really are about creating a reverse “arms race” among governing authorities across the board — voluntary constraints that propel governments to compete in stripping demands, altering rules and showering benefits upon stateless enterprises to “win business” on the empty theory of shared economic gain. We then are told that any initiative to actually create conditions for shared economic gain is precisely the sort of “distortion” our trade rules prevent. So, yeah, if the republicans’ odious trade “reform” actually has provisions to raise revenue from multinational corporations (as opposed to the labor-income of working Americans, or the meager benefits won by the Ds when they decided it was so clever to disguise public benefits as tax breaks) I’m not surprised to hear scolds of “protectionism.” If we ever hear the rationale, we’ll probably recognize a lot of old-school, market-utopia-patriotic pablum, which in no way resembles the world we actually live in.

    Reply
  24. allan

    Valerie Jarrett joins University of Chicago Law School [Chicago Tribune]

    Add another sweet gig to the Obamas’ “first friend” Valerie Jarrett’s burgeoning portfolio of post-White House jobs.

    Starting in the new year, Jarrett will be a “distinguished senior fellow” at the University of Chicago Law School, the university announced this week. That’s on top of spots on the boards of Ariel Investments (where she serves alongside fellow Obama family pals John W. Rogers Jr. and Arne Duncan), Lyft; and 2U, Inc, her roles as senior adviser to Obama Foundation and ATTN:, and her deal with a Hollywood talent agency. …

    This “portfolio of post-White House jobs” shows good diversification and is surely low-correlation.

    Reply
  25. Sluggeaux

    C’mon, Yves. The VW exec is a foreigner working for a foreign corporation that engages in manufacturing — not finance. That’s the only reason that the “Deferred Prosecution Theater” specialists at the DOJ were up for sending him to prison. Do you honestly think that he’d been doing time if he had worked at a bank or had a degree from an Ivy?

    Reply
  26. Wukchumni

    HSBC draws line under Mexican cartel case after five-years on probation Reuters (EM)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I’m assuming cocaine, no?

    Reply
  27. Summer

    Has Our Government Spent $21 Trillion Of Our Money Without Telling Us? Forbes (Glenn F)

    “The report indicates that just 170 transactions accounted for $2.1 trillion in year—end unsupported adjustments. No information is given about these 170 transactions.”

    Who has “earned” $2.1 trillion in a year? What exactly is worth that much?

    Reply
    1. GlennF

      You are asking the right questions. The researchers could only access the information that resulted in uncovering that transactions occurred and the dollar amounts of the transactions. They could not (were not allowed??) access the details as to who paid the money or who received it. Also, the Army is only one of many MIC entities out there; so the possibility exists, with further research data analyses, than many more trillions of dollars have been distributed in this way. No money for us peons though or anything that would benefit us in our daily lives – except if we are employed by a MIC company/organization.

      Reply
  28. D

    Re Deep Learning [DL] and this, above, quote, emphasis mine:

    For many tasks, Deep Learning AI is or will become illegal, not compliant. Who collects data about citizens of the 28 European countries (UK too, no matter the brexit), should follow the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by May 25, 2018. This is the date when DL will be abandoned for several apps in EU, causing AI startups to quickly replace DL with whatever else, or risking to be fined. Fines for noncompliance are 4% of global revenue, including USA revenue. If you never heard of GDPR before, that’s not only you: most of the EU businesses are or have not even a clue about it. GDPR, about automated decision-making, requires the right to an explanation, and to prevent discriminatory effects based on race, opinions, health, etc. Laws similar to GDPR exist or are planned worldwide, it’s only matter of time. The US Fair Credit Reporting Act requires disclosing all of the factors that adversely affected the credit score of the consumer, for a maximum of 4 factors allowed. DL factors are normally thousands or millions, not just 4, how to simplify into 4? AI, like bitcoin ICOs, started ignoring regulation, but laws and fines always come.

    I would add, re GDPR regulations:

    data protection laws [GDPR –D] across the EU, which ban processing of an individual’s sensitive personal data without their explicit permission.

    GDPR is what prevents Facebook from using its horrid, way under-reported on Suicide Prevention AI™ in Europe:

    EU users are currently exempt due to what sounds like far more sane laws regarding AI and Privacy Violations.

    As to the author’s comment that laws and fines always come, noting that the Deep Learning is not the AI future piece states, emphasis mine:

    DL is not a synonym of AI! The most advertised AI tools by Google, Facebook etc are mainly or only DL, so the wide public thinks that all the new AI records are (and will be) done with DL only.

    Google, Facebook (and Amazon), which, to me at the end of the day, all seem indiscernible from the Government (particularly the DOD) itself at this point; not in the US –regarding AI – do laws and fines always come. There’ve been years in which to do so –since those entities are domiciled here and Incorporated in Delaware – and it has not happened yet. The IRS still hasn’t retrieved that $8B+ from Facebook from 2010, though you can bet they’ve collected as much in penalties and interest as they could from those -unemployed/effectively retired from livable wage incomes – who cashed in their retirement accounts early, in order to put a roof over their head.

    Reply
  29. D

    Uggh, was in a hurry and royally screwed up the html on my last comment, sorry, trying again:

    Re Deep Learning [DL] and this, above, quote, emphasis mine:

    For many tasks, Deep Learning AI is or will become illegal, not compliant. Who collects data about citizens of the 28 European countries (UK too, no matter the brexit), should follow the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by May 25, 2018. This is the date when DL will be abandoned for several apps in EU, causing AI startups to quickly replace DL with whatever else, or risking to be fined. Fines for noncompliance are 4% of global revenue, including USA revenue. If you never heard of GDPR before, that’s not only you: most of the EU businesses are or have not even a clue about it. GDPR, about automated decision-making, requires the right to an explanation, and to prevent discriminatory effects based on race, opinions, health, etc. Laws similar to GDPR exist or are planned worldwide, it’s only matter of time. The US Fair Credit Reporting Act requires disclosing all of the factors that adversely affected the credit score of the consumer, for a maximum of 4 factors allowed. DL factors are normally thousands or millions, not just 4, how to simplify into 4? AI, like bitcoin ICOs, started ignoring regulation, but laws and fines always come.

    I would add, re GDPR regulations:

    data protection laws [GDPR –D] across the EU, which ban processing of an individual’s sensitive personal data without their explicit permission.

    GDPR is what prevents Facebook from using its horrid, way under-reported on Suicide Prevention AI in Europe:

    EU users are currently exempt due to what sounds like far more sane laws regarding AI and Privacy Violations.

    As to the author’s comment that laws and fines always come, noting that the Deep Learning is not the AI future piece states, emphasis mine:

    DL is not a synonym of AI! The most advertised AI tools by Google, Facebook etc are mainly or only DL, so the wide public thinks that all the new AI records are (and will be) done with DL only.

    Google, Facebook (and Amazon), which, to me at the end of the day, all seem indiscernible from the Government (particularly the DOD) itself at this point; not in the US –regarding AI – do laws and fines always come. There’ve been years in which to do so –since those entities are domiciled here and Incorporated in Delaware – and it has not happened yet. The IRS still hasn’t retrieved that $8B+ from Facebook from 2010, though you can bet they’ve collected as much in penalties and interest as they could from those -unemployed/effectively retired from livable wage incomes – who cashed in their retirement accounts early, in order to put a roof over their head.

    Reply
  30. ewmayer

    Re. “A quarter trillion dollars is at risk when bitcoin crashes — and that’s just for starters Axios (resilc)”. Please – a quarter trillion dollars of fake paper ‘wealth’ is at risk – I’d e very curious at to how much actual external money was invested in the bubble to achieve the current crazy valuation. Consider a simplified scenario in which a million ‘investors’ each buy one bitcoin. If the first 999,999 buyers pay $1 and then some wild-eyed late-to-the-game Greater Fool pays $100, we have $1,000,099 of total investment monies but the entire pool gets valued according to that last trade, thus, voila! A hundred million dollars is suddenly “at risk”. The magic of Ponzi schemes and illiquid ‘assett markets’.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      In Ponzi’s defense, his scheme made perfect sense compared to bitcoin, in that he was going to profit from arbitrage on differing international postal rates, in theory.

      Reply
    2. ewmayer

      Wolf Richter’s latest: Peak Bitcoin Media-Mania Yet? In ten practically funny pictures. | Wolf Street

      Bitcoin futures trading started Sunday night on the Cboe futures exchange. Next week, the CME will offer trading in bitcoin futures. This way, speculators can bet with unlimited derivatives on an unregulated digital entity that is backed by nothing and whose cash trading takes place in unregulated opaque and easily hacked exchanges around the world.

      Reply
  31. Patrick Donnelly

    Most government operations are an exercise in creating what A V Dicey called the “habit of obedience”.

    Authority is its own justification as it keeps people in order…..

    The intelligent, the rich, who can pay them, take advantage of this. The more government, the more kleptocracy becomes entrenched. Legislatures make money for their members.

    The simpler a tax is, the easier it is to enforce. Note how many banks were effectively nationalised, yet no one investigated the transactions for unlawful activity.

    Reply

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