Links 12/18/17

Snowy owl sightings on the rise — especially along Great Lakes shorelines: ‘It’s the stuff of mythology’ Chicago Tribune

Americans say they are worse off today than 50 years ago MarketWatch

Atlanta Airport Blackout Sends Message to Terrorists: America Is Unprepared Daily Beast. Much as I hate feeding terrorism hysteria, the failures here are astonishing.

Hurricane Harvey studies: Yesterday’s 100-year storm is today’s 30-year storm Ars Technica

Mercury from industrialized nations is polluting the Arctic – here’s how it gets there Conversation

Feds: Dunkin’ Donuts operator bribed Massachusetts politician with . . . . . coffee FCPA Blog

Tax “Reform”

Republicans confident tax bill to become law this week Reuters

GOP faces 5-day scramble to pass tax bill, avoid government shutdown WaPo

Tax Bill: Bob Corker Demands Answers From Chairman Orrin Hatch About Last-Minute Tax Provision International Business Times. David Sirota.

Tax Bill: John Cornyn Says Tax Cut Potentially Benefiting Bob Corker Was Part Of Effort To Secure Votes For Passage International Business Times. David Sirota again.

John McCain Goes Home To Arizona, Likely To Miss Tax Reform Vote CBS LA

Fallout from allegations of tea party targeting hamper IRS oversight of nonprofits WaPo

Are High Heels Headed for a Tumble? NYT. The emoji frame is rather silly, IMHO, but as for high heels: Just say no! Which I’ve been doing for 30 + years.

Boost for fossil fuel divestment as UK eases pension rules Guardian

Bitcoin: The Most Impressive Speculative Bubble In Modern History American Conservative

Go Ask Alice: the Curious Case of “Alice Donovan” Counterpunch

Nadezhda Kutepova: Life in Russia’s secret nuclear city Al Jazeera

New Cold War

Putin Calls Trump to Thank CIA for Helping Prevent Terrorist Attack New York. Interesting example of torturous attempt to transform routine ‘phone call into nefarious gambit to flatter and manipulate. Hello?

U.S. helped thwart major attack in St. Petersburg: U.S., Russia say Reuters. Just the facts, ma’am.

Trump-Russia inquiry: Why attacks on Robert Mueller are mounting BBC

California Wildfires

Thomas fire continues to grow as strong, shifting winds bring new dangers LA Times


China holds major economic meeting under shadow of Trump’s strategic threat SCMP

Trump to label China as a strategic ‘competitor’ FT

Thousands in China watch as 10 people sentenced to death in sport stadium Guardian

Chinese Electric-Car Startup NIO Undercuts Tesla With Debut Model Bloomberg


Plenty of spice in New York trial Erdogan wishes would go away Asia Times

Erdogan says Turkey aims to open embassy in East Jerusalem Reuters


Jerri-Lynn here: Yves has posted on Brexit today, so I’ve not included much in links.

Brexit: feeding from the same trough EUReferendum

Migrant Watch

Europe’s migrants are here to stay Politico

Net Neutrality

Net neutrality: As the US moves to gut the open internet, will other democratic countries follow?

Goodbye internet: How regional divides upended the world wide web Politico

Twitter’s new rules could result in a major purge of alt-right accounts Recode

Sex in Politics… Not

Franken urged to reverse his resignation Politico

The 97 Men (and One Woman) Taken Down by the #MeToo Movement Daily Beast. Only some of these are in politics.

Paranoia grips Capitol Hill as harassment scandal spreads Politico

Sports Desk

Jerry Richardson’s shocking decision to sell Panthers clouds NFL investigation Charlotte Observer

Why New Roadblock for Dealmaking May Be Vertical Bloomberg


No EVMs tampered with in Gujarat Assembly Elections: Chief Election Commissioner The Wire

BJP wins Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi sheds loser tag Economic Times

WTO and Food Security: Biting the Hand that Feeds the Poor Triple Crisis

In Gujarat Mandate, Urban-Rural Divide Writ Large The Wire

Class Warfare

Warren and Sanders: Who Is Congress Really Serving? NYT

Cities face growing crisis as RVs become homes of last resort East Bay Times

The misuse of NZ companies, Part III. Backdoor access via the UK – a classic cross jurisdictional regulatory arbitrage play Includes shout-out to our own Richard Smith.

How Ryanair cabin crew work FIVE extra hours a day for no pay: Mail reporter goes under cover to reveal ruthless exploitation of staff – who fork out £2,000 to be taught airline’s harsh regime and only get paid when the wheels go up Daily Mail

Elizabeth Warren: Congress needs to fund community health centers right away Stat

The Demoralizing Impact of Trump, But Hope Has Arrived Counterpunch (ChiGal)

How Latin America bucked the trend of rising inequality The Conversation

Cut student loan rate to save system, urges Lord Willetts The Times

Wall Street Bonus Pools Look Shallow in Unexciting Trading Year Bloomberg

Convicted of a marijuana crime in California? It might go away, thanks to legal pot. WaPo

Lifesaver or distraction? Police split on anti-overdose drug AP. I cannot believe there’s debate over this.

Trump Transition

Three Trump judicial nominees stumble — with Republicans The Hill

A Better Way to Give Trump More Judgeships to Fill National Review. Worth keeping an eye on. Republicans are so much more focussed and disciplined on exploiting their majority to fill judgeships.

The next victims of Donald Trump’s war on regulations could be coal miners New Republic

Trump will drop climate change from US National Security Strategy Guardian. Will announce new policy in speech today.

Trump to make sweeping national security speech explaining his vision of ‘America first’ Business Insider

Can CFPB’s Mulvaney bring politicos to independent agency? Absolutely American Banker. Not exactly what Elizabeth warren had in mind, I’ll wager.


E.P.A. Employees Spoke Out. Then Came Scrutiny of Their Email. NYT

Trump faces hurdles to military build-up The Hill

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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  1. ArkansasAngie

    “If Mr Mueller’s waiver had explosive details indicating clear bias, it probably would have leaked by now.”

    Well … gee … a lot could be written about this ending sentence — Trump-Russia inquiry: Why attacks on Robert Mueller are mounting

    I predict that all of this will disappear as the elite have too much to cover up across the DC cesspool. You can’t be enforcing the rule of law on those who consider themselves above the law.

    Stick a fork in it already … there is no lesser of two evils when both are above the law

    1. Sid Finster

      As far as I can tell, this “rule of law” thing is much like Schroedinger’s Cat – the rule of law is to be protected at all costs, when doing so happens to be convenient to the people who run things, and at the same time the rule of law disappears as a hindrance and unnecessary and corrupting luxury whenever it gets in those same people’s way.

      Not only that, but the rule of law can do these two things simultaneously.

        1. wilroncanada

          Since the US is and has been an empire, Mr Trump ran to become Emperor…and he’s doing it , for the most part.
          And the DNCC is playing the Knave.

  2. skippy

    Hi Jerri-Lynn….

    My mother necessitated having both ankles broken fixing decades of High Heels in the service of corporate servitude as a CPA. One at a time with 6 mo healing time between.

    disheveled…. the pain drug addiction was another story….

    1. Lee

      Are high heels a western equivalent of foot binding? I do like the way they look but I’m pretty sure that aesthetic preferences are mutable, and certainly secondary to health concerns.

      1. ArcadiaMommy

        I’m short and work mostly with men, so I won’t give them up. The right ones are actually not that bad and you can put a little cushion thing under the ball of your foot. I figure running/hiking balances things out and luckily I work at home so I don’t have to wear them that often.

        1. Lee

          My 2nd ex feels similarly. She’s petite, brown, and broke through one of the corporate glass ceilings some decades ago. She prevailed in the land of what had been the preserve of mostly tall white men.

          My 1st ex was one of the first female union electricians in our county. She never wore the things.

          Different strokes….

      2. Yves Smith

        Yes. When you are young you can get away with anything but wearing them catches up with you, They create hammer toes and shorten your Achilles tendon, which can lead to plantar fascitis. You are also les stable when in heels, and at much greater risk of an ankle sprain. Once you have gotten a bad sprain, your ankles will never be the same. You don’t have enough muscles in your feet and ankles to compensate for compromised tendons and ligaments.

        1. ArcadiaMommy

          Totally agree on ankle sprains – I badly sprained my ankle carrying one of the babies years ago in the middle of the night stepping off a stair wrong. It was so bad my mother had to come for 2 weeks because I couldn’t drive or take care of the littles and my husband was out of the country (of course). Saved the baby, ankle has never been the same. I’m probably deluding myself but yoga, tennis and running seem to help.

          1. Synoia

            I never have a problem with high heels. I just don’t wear them.

            I understand, without doing much research, that Catherine de Medechi is attributed with their invention.

    2. Wukchumni

      If memory serves and it frequently does, didn’t 17th century sharp dressed men in France wear risers, er high heels?

      Everything in gender societal mores has been so churned around in my lifetime (my dad thought the Beatles were the devil incarnate-circa 1964 on account of their long hair-for instance), to the point where anything goes, but amongst the rank & file footists of which I am a member of, it never caught on.

      1. Lee

        I guess cowboy boots and clogs could be considered high heels for men.

        Who’s famous Brit transvestite when asked why he wore women’s clothing, responded that he didn’t, that he wore his own clothing that he had bought himself.

  3. Patrick Donnelly

    What False Flag, or Tsunami, have those who run the USA got in store for us all, over Christmas?

    Have a good holiday!

  4. cnchal

    Bitcoin: The Most Impressive Speculative Bubble In Modern History American Conservative

    We should all be concerned that few of our leaders in government or finance have the courage to call bitcoin by its right name – the first great financial scam of the 21st Century. But of even greater concern should be the fact that so few people are able to see through the hype and technobabble of the bitcoin believers to what is a pretty rudimentary form of fraud. As Jonathan Swift wrote of Lilliput in “Guliver’s Travels” in 1726:

    “They look upon fraud as a greater crime than theft, and therefore seldom fail to punish it with death; for they allege, that care and vigilance, with a very common understanding, may preserve a man’s goods from thieves, but honesty has no defense against superior cunning… where fraud is permitted and connived at, or has no law to punish it, the honest dealer is always undone, and the knave gets the advantage.”

    I believe it’s the fourth greatest scam of the 21st century.

    Scam 1 – internet bubble 1

    Scam 2 – GFC

    Scam 3 – current GOP tax “reform” whereby the elite steal a trillion or two from the future. The peasant’s debt becomes the elite’s assets.

    Individually, these three scams are many times larger than the Bitcoin scam.

    Scam 5 – Amazon

    1. Jim Haygood

      Above $17,600, Bitcoin has a larger market capitalization than the SDR (Special Drawing Rights, an IMF innovation from 1969 intended to ameliorate “shortages” of gold and US dollars).

      As of this morning, Bitcoin is quoted at $19,000.

      So should central banks replace or supplement their dusty old SDRs — which won’t even buy them a cup of java at SBUX — with SDRs?

      More importantly, are they doing so already?? :-0

      1. Lee

        Someone I know has a pretty significant gain on his fraction of a Bitcoin. Told me he was going to bury it in his backyard. I had no idea what he was talking about or much about anything Bitcoin related. I just kept smiling and changed the subject. Was he bullshitting me, has he lost his mind, or what? Please advise.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Easy there Tiger Jim, can’t really call $400B Bitcoin’s “market cap”. It’s not a stock. What’s the “market cap” of the USD? Wouldn’t you need to add any USD derivatives? Include dollar-pegged stuff like the CNY?

        And on the “other blog” I posted the following food for thought:

        Never have so few facts been deployed by so many in support of so little.

        “Protecting high costs and systemic friction” [quotation from the article]

        Um, hello, I can slide my card at 24 million merchants across the globe and in less than 1500 milliseconds anywhere on Earth can buy goods and services. The system that supports this can do 40,000 transactions per second (Bitcoin does 4) at a cost that is many orders of magnitude lower than Bitcoin. Remind me why I care that the bank settlements behind the transaction take place a few days later?

        No, I’d rather take out my crypto wallet (insecure as f*ck), fiddle with keypairs and user interfaces, take eight additional steps, and if the merchant accepts it (none do) wait 20 minutes until the transaction is complete. Meantime if/when I screw up my money is gone forever.

        Bitcoin. It’s a thing that goes up. It’s going up because it’s going up. That’s cool. But don’t try and tell me it’s “the great new internet money”. And don’t try and tell me “people are adopting it”. No. They’re owning it as a speculative asset, they are not using or “adopting” it. Ask yourself: if Coinbase has 15 million customers then why do they only have a handful of BTC addresses?

        “Facts are simple and facts are straight, facts are lazy and facts are late” – D. Byrne

    2. voteforno6

      Calling it a speculative bubble may not be descriptive enough…I like to think of it as a crowd-sourced Ponzi scheme – it certainly is not a currency.

      1. Arizona Slim

        It’s a Ponzi scheme, all right. And I’m amazed at the number of otherwise rational people I know who are falling for it.

        Me? I’ll just keep sitting on my cash. One of these days, it will hatch.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          If someone hits a ten-bagger (entirely possible!) on cryptocurrency, they haven’t “fallen for” anything; they have made a canny investment and taken advantage of a rare opportunity. People who have put money into cryptocurrencies routinely get described here as fools and victims. They’ll be lots of huge winners along with the losers who timed this thing correctly before it comes back to Earth.

          I personally don’t give two [familyblog]s about money or wealth or being “rich”, but most people, even here I’m sure, do. And those “normal” people, should be in awe of people who got in low and are cashing out now. That’s basically what passes for genius in our society. For these people, it’s not ‘prosecution futures’; it’s financially independent and secure futures.

    3. mpalomar

      Perhaps it could be reconstructed as the florin 2.0, which I think was coin for wealthy Florentines, the banking class and prohibited coin to less privileged folk.

    4. Summer

      Don’t bail out speculators and it will stop.
      That would include rethinking housing as a speculative investment.
      I think it’s Lambert who often keeps saying “houses aren’t wealth.” It really starts there.

  5. Patrick Donnelly

    “Wild” Fires are similar to Earthquakes.

    Drill into faults and pump in seawater etc and there will be many quakes, but little damage.

    Burn off scrub, but not trees, in off seasons and there will be smoke, but no property damage.

    Requires a little thought and rejection of the broken window fallacy so beloved of the Chick A Go school?

  6. sleepy

    So much for the fifteen minutes of praise for his black constituents. Who knew it was all fake news?

    Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-Ala.) on Sunday said he will “of course” consider voting with Republicans on certain issues once he is sworn into the upper chamber


    And this–Gov elect Northam of Virginia ran on promises to expand medicaid to 400,000 Virginians. Fake news I guess.

    A Democratic winner in Virginia says it’s time for bipartisanship

    “So I look forward to . . . seeing how we can provide better service and at the same time cut costs” through “managed-care Medicaid,” he said.

    A managed system would involve rewarding “healthy choices,” he said. “I want people to have skin in the game. I want to incentivize people to really have good health.”

    1. a different chris

      >I want to incentivize people to really have good health

      I…I…can’t imagine what goes thru these pinheads little minds. Most people work real jobs and they are tired at the end of the day. Even at that, they are encouraged to overpopulate, and small tykes manage to both wear you out further yet at the same time you don’t get the type of physical activity a 25-45 yr old needs when interacting with them (they are cute as h*ll, though!).

      Seems like millennials maybe have caught on to this part of the scam. We can hope.

      Then every corner has a fast food joint, every other TV show commercial reinforces the lure. The millennials have not given me hope here, however.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Ive been in meetings with Northam. Nothing goes on in his head. Hes a non entity recruited because he would loan his campaign money. He bought the title and easily would have said yes to a gop recruitment drive. The state Ag’s bungling of a couple of issues put northam in line.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Actually, just keeping up with a “small tyke” is pretty physical. Sometimes you have to CATCH them, and they move faster than you’d think. Plus, they really like being swung in a circle (guess who gets dizzy?) or tossed up and caught. And there’s all that paraphernalia to carry…

    2. johnnygl

      It’s really breath-taking that a politician can have the audacity to lecture americans about “healthy choices” and not be shouted down for such idiocy.

      We pay the highest prices for care and have the fewest doctor visits of any country in the developed world. There isn’t a shred of evidence that americans suffer such exhorbitant costs because they are demanding MORE care. Quite th opposite.

      To thicken the irony, northam is governor of a state that originally got rich from selling an addictive substance that poisons people. Healthy choices would have put tobacco out of business.

        1. Jean

          Read labels?

          No GMO labeling? Only buy food that is 100% organic and is certified by Oregon Tilth or California Certified Organic Farmers.

          Once you find high quality organic brands in a store that you can trust, make that your only source for groceries and produce.

          Yes, you will have to do some research and forgo eating out, unless there are restaurants that you can trust.

          Control what you can diligently, and ignore what is beyond your control.
          Start with your own body, home and garden before you attempt to fix the world.

          1. nippersmom

            A large percentage of the population cannot afford to eat only organic. A significant portion live in grocery store deserts where they don’t even have ready access to organic foods. In an ideal world, we’d make the choices you suggest. Most of us don’t live in an ideal world.

            1. Harold

              It you are working three jobs or have unpredictable schedules it may be difficult to find time to shop and prepare meals. Fast food then become almost a mandatory choice. Cooking and eating requires time and concentration — peace of mind is requisite. Also, eating should be a social activity in which conversation is almost as important as nutrition for physical and mental health.

            2. Jean

              Yes, we are lucky enough to live in a food paradise.

              Go long your body. Organic food will cost a bit more but think of the deductibles for pesticide induced ailments and diseases that you will avoid.

              You can get food delivered by UPS or Amazon.

              1. Elizabeth Burton

                What part of “a lot of people are too poor to do what you’re suggesting” needs explanation? When you may have to dig through every pocket and couch cushion just to find enough money to buy a loaf of bread to make sure the kids can have a peanut butter sandwich for supper, people saying it will cost a bit more to buy organic food but look how much better you’ll feel is appallingly condescending. Like the woman who was outraged when I suggested her canned artichoke hearts maybe weren’t the best choice for a donation to the food collection at her daughter’s fancy private school.

              2. Yves Smith

                You are not just out of your mind but a jerk to boot. You have no idea what is it is to be poor. How many people do you know could only afford pasta and canned sauces? Or worked out deals with stores to buy past dated bread and dairy products? I’m lucky enough never to have been so stretched so as to be worried about my food budget, but I know plenty of people who have been.

                One example of how appalling your condescension is: people in Chapter 13 bankruptcies are put under very strict budgets by the court. The assumptions about what they get to spend on food are draconian. You live on rice and beans, chicken parts, other cheap meat cuts, and canned and frozen vegetables. Oh, and mass market bread and coffee.

                And then I see in the ludicrous comment I am not going to dignify by out of moderation that you stereotype poor people as eating Twinkies and drinking beer (beer is actually healthy, BTW). So you are a bigot as far as low income people are concerned.

                Anyone who is even remotely familiar with food costs knows that the upcharge for organic food is 25-40% over conventional foods, and a lot more in some cases. And on top of that, the USDA standards for “organic” are so lax that a lot of organic food is not deemed to be terribly “organic” in the eyes of people who are on this beat.

                And since when do poor people have the time to sit around waiting for Amazon deliveries? They are usually time as well as money stressed? If they are living in a poor area and already budget stressed, they can’t take the risk that their food won’t be pinched.

                And let me clue you in: we do have currently and formerly financially stressed people who read this site.

                Take your arrogant ignorance elsewhere. The shorter version of your position: “Let them eat organic.”

    3. WobblyTelomeres

      “once he is sworn into the upper chamber”

      I think he is worried about (1) our Sec. of State, a somewhat greasy character, playing games with the certification and (2) Mitch McConnell playing games with admitting him to the Senate.

    4. Procopius

      I thought he was known to be a Blue Dog. Of course he’ll vote with his “Republican Colleagues” on certain issues. Doesn’t Steve Manchin?

  7. Samuel Conner

    re: “So I look forward to . . . seeing how we can provide better service and at the same time cut costs” through “managed-care Medicaid,” he said.

    A managed system would involve rewarding “healthy choices,” he said. “I want people to have skin in the game. I want to incentivize people to really have good health.”

    This looks like the “monetization/contractualization” of life taken to its final appalling limit, in which a person’s “skin in the game” of his own life is financial rather than the reality of the experience of one’s embodiment.

    If you make it financially painful to be unwell (or, more accurately, more financially painful to be unwell than to be well), people will prefer to be well for the sake of reducing the financial pain.

    I guess that explains why most people prefer to stay alive rather than die. If you die, you can’t earn money.

    1. knowbuddhau

      Nice one.

      I’ve got so much skin in the game, I don’t even eat. Or at least, the manner in which the subsidy is calculated doesn’t think I do. I wish I was kidding.

      A Washington state Healthplanfinder [sic] Navigator told me so. When I pointed out that the premiums were 3/4 of my food budget, he said they don’t consider that. (Can anyone corroborate?) To his credit, he was at least as outraged as I. How can what’s supposed to be part of my life support system not acknowledge that I eat?

      And when it comes to paying my premium, I can’t get enough skin in the game. I like it so much, I did it four (4) times last month. Well, not me, Kaiser Permanente did it for me.

      I had just sorted out why they stopped taking my money for 3 months when I got a call, informing me that my account had been debited 4 times but they refunded it right away. I thought he was calling to follow up. Nope, brand new snafu.

      This is all supposed to be part of my life support system. I dread actually needing to use it. If a car wreck doesn’t kill me, the claims process will.

      Don’t tell ’em I’m spending money on food or they’ll want that, too.

      Yeah, I got yer “skin in the game” right here, buddy.

      Subjects > Citizens > consumers > consumed

      1. knowbuddhau

        To clarify, he literally and explicitly told me food costs were not included in calculating how much subsidy I qualified for. I’d sure like to know if that’s true, what is considered, etc.

        I’m feeling abstracted and hypothecated to death, turned into nothing but a cash cow for too many greedy gd MOTU, and this guy says what people like me need is more freakin’ skin in the game?

        The utter unreliability of our health scam system has mad me absolutely prioritize prevention, if that’s what you mean. I can think of better ways of being well than being scared to death of needed health care.

  8. fresno dan

    Go Ask Alice: the Curious Case of “Alice Donovan” Counterpunch

    Long story short: how many hot, hot babes looking for “nice guys” on the internet are 347 pound 48 year old unshaven pajama clad denizens of basements? AND does it matter? ….maybe only to the lonely pajama clad basement dwelling red bull gulping geeks looking for love.

    1. katiebird

      It seems odd to me that CounterPunch editors didn’t (don’t) routinely run bits from all articles (especially unsolicited pieces from strangers) through a search looking for plagiarism or even just unacknowledged cross-posts.

      1. Carolinian

        Publishers with a lot more resources than Counterpunch have been fooled by plagiarists. I’m sure it’s not an easy problem, particularly in our era of promiscuous authorship.

        1. fresno dan

          December 18, 2017 at 10:48 am

          1st, the link to the counterpunch article no longer works (Counterpunch removed – its not a “link” problem apparently). So I will have to use my Swiss cheese brain….what was I gonna say….?
          Oh yeah….1st…I mean second, the counterpunch author put forward the idea of whether who the author is really matters – after all, aren’t the facts important? And defends that using the authors of the Federalist papers, e.g., Publicus. As well as an “anonymous source” that supplied information during the Iraq war that was supposedly a Pentagon analyst. OK, good point – unknown sources can supply important and true information.

          But reading between the lines, is that what I got out of the article, is that everyone is so desperate for content that any CRAP is accepted without much quality control. And I don’t mean who the author is – I mean what is IN the article. “Alice” didn’t really seem to have much of a coherent agenda. Counterpunch’s (media in general) problems seems to me not to be so much that they were used for ideological purposes….but by some poor schlep desperate for money.

          1. Carolinian

            They say in the article she–if it is a she–was paid nothing. Counterpunch is a shoestring operation. Their articles are of varying quality which is fine with me as long as they continue to print the good ones.

            One of the virtues of the web is that you don’t have all those “gatekeepers” (newspaper editors) deciding what you should read. But it does mean everyone using the internet should keep their bs detectors turned on. But then that also applies to the MSM these days.

            1. a different chris

              Yeah the expectation of and the amount garnered of free content was the most disturbing part of the article. The third possibility, not explored, is that Ms. Donovan actually exists, but is a rich girl that does want to do something “real” but suddenly got worried about the attention she was getting (because The Parents might catch wind).

            2. Ted

              That they are not often paid is the point! The business model is to push constant themed content to maintain regular visits by readers who have become addicted to the steady stream of “news” and “opinion” this vast bazaar of infotainment sites rely on for revenue. Counterpunch may be a bit player on the advertisement side, but they are no less driven by a constant need to promote the brand. This is capitalism 101 folks (or Bourgeoisie 101 if you prefer).

              More disturbing is that this story (apparently now flushed down the memory hole) revealed something vastly important about the infotainment world: it has become a funhouse mirror game. No one bothers with provenance, if you like what the author has to say, even if said author is a complete sham, then said infotainment must be true and worthy of sharing on social media.

              It suggests the need for a slow media movement: a monthly or quarterly outlet where the editors take time to check the provenance of the material published and readers who adopt the habit of reading books and articles whose claims are properly sourced in the morning instead of “The Latest”, maybe checking in with their favorite “news [opinion]” aggregator once a week just to have something topical to say in the breakroom at work.

              It seems something valuable has come out of the Russiagate story after all.

              1. Carolinian

                Sounds like you’ve never even visited Counterpunch. The publication, founded as a newsletter before the web, is hardly a bastion of capitalism. They just spent weeks begging people to send contributions to keep the venerable lefty bastion going.

                1. Ted

                  A brand is a brand is a brand. Theirs is lefty, but no less classed within capitalism. They still depend on a constant stream of mostly free content by exploiting by the (mostly) free labor of the contibutors to maintain their brand. They may not be proft seeking, unless by that we mean that they seek to maintain and increase the value of the brand by exploiting their writers who produce daily content to appeal to their readers (and keep them coming back to the brand). Not that there is anything wrong with that, it’s just what it is … even from the left — really no different than starting an NGO, or some other non profit.

                  If counterpunch wants to go anti-capitalist, it can close its shop to freelancers, hire its writers, sell its product on the market (or find a benefactor like Marx did), and return the value it receives from market — or the philanthropy it receives from the benefactor — to its workers for the work it receives from them, after deducting operating costs. If the market won’t buy what they’re selling or there is no benefactor and it has to close shop, well at least it tried to treat its workers fairly.

                  PS: I’ve read counterpunch for decades, sometimes I even like what they publish

                  1. bones

                    Buddy, what you’re on about beats me. CounterPunch is a venerable forum for radicals (environmentalists, Marxists, anarchists, antiwar libertarians, etc.). The way its run can be judged a success by its longevity and by the fact that it regularly publishes important content. It’s funded chiefly by donations and consumers of the print edition. The writers who contribute to the print edition get paid for their work. Others likely have other sources of income or feel that their writing is a service. You’ll see a professional journalist like Andrew Cockburn or Christopher Ketcham publishing work there that’s too controversial to be published elsewhere, or a University professor who feels under obligation to disseminate their work. Some contributors are young writers.

                    Leaving aside confused notions about what capitalism is, CounterPunch is not the Huffington Post, which really is just a means of exploiting unpaid writers. It’s a forum for the exchange of ideas for a particular community, and some of the quality control issues are a result of its desire to work as such, at the expense of a restrictive policy.

              2. bones

                CounterPunch’s trouble isn’t that they are desperate for content, but the opposite. They receive far too many submissions and the couple people tasked with editing it have quite a task sorting through it and evaluating it. The good thing about the site is that it publishes a variety of radical perspectives, which the reflects the editors’ nonsectarian attitude. In this case, the character Alice was presented to them as a beginning journalist, and I bet they get a lot of submissions of varying quality from young writers. You could be more critical of the content, but then you’d risk turning writers away who might later make something of themselves. Anyway, it sounds like they learned a lesson.

          2. Arizona Slim

            Everyone is so desperate for content? Tell me about it.

            I get regular inquiries from people who are eager to have me write CONTENT for them. And then I tell them what I charge. That makes ’em disappear real fast.

          3. Rory

            I did a Duck Duck Go search on “go ask alice alice donovan” and the article that Counterpunch had removed can be found on a website called something like “russiaphile – dot -org”. Interesting article, as Counterpunch people did a lot of digging when they became suspicious but found no real answers. I thought they seemed unduly defensive, but give them leeway as they are under scrutiny by powers that be.

  9. bwilli123

    What awaits a country when the Oligarchs take over?

    …”Just outside the city of Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia, on the Island of Madura, several enormous ships are being manually cut into pieces and sold for scrap by destitute local people. Periodically things explode, collapse, and people lose their faces or limbs. It is a horrible sight: truly haunted, disturbing. Just like in Bangladesh, although here, it goes almost unnoticed.

    In many ways, I believe that the Indonesian cities resemble those ships, and those polluted coastal areas where the ships are broken into thousands of parts and then sold. Once proud, they are now humiliated, in pain, being torn to pieces while still alive.
    Only real fascism can treat its citizens this way; only a regime that has lost its marbles, and gone thoroughly insane.”

  10. Jim Haygood

    Copper dreams:

    Sebastian Pinera swept to victory in the second round of Chile’s presidential election, capturing 54.6 percent of the vote to just 45.4 percent for his rival Alejandro Guillier of the ruling center-left coalition.

    The 68-year-old billionaire sees himself as the guardian of a free-market economic model that has more than quintupled gross domestic product per capita in the past 30 years, helping living standards in Chile to leapfrog countries such as Argentina and Brazil.

    Pinera returns to power after the slowest four years of growth since the early 1980s and the country’s first credit downgrade in several decades.

    His ambitious growth and job creation goals may be attainable as the price of copper recovers. Chile is the world’s largest producer of the metal and depends on it for about half of its export revenue.

    Chile became the first and only South American member of the OECD rich countries club in 2010. Mexico joined in 1994.

    1. RabidGandhi

      Skynet’s out to git me, so I’ll try piggy backing on the Comrade’s thread:

      Surprising results in yesterday’s runoff elections. While it is not surprising that “business-friendly” billionaire Sebastián Piñero beat out rightwing lite candidate Alejandro Guillier, what really caught my eye was– once again– turnout.

      In short, over the last three cycles Chile has been marked by a progressive erosion of election turnout. But this has been coupled with an outburst of activism in the streets, especially around the issue of free public education. The first round of this year’s presidential elections saw a record low turnout of 47%. As the top two candidates moved on to a runoff, it was logical for there to be even lower turnout, as has generally been the case in previous contests. Furthermore, most analysts I read agreed that if there were to be higher turnout, it would benefit Guillier. And there was in fact higher turnout in the runoff (50%– still pretty palsy), but with a major swing to Piñera, who came out up by 10% in the final count. A “crushing defeat” as Guillier himself admitted last night. In raw numbers, Piñera got 200,000 more votes than in his 2010 victory, even though the leftwing Frente Amplio belatedly threw its support (representing some 1.3 million votes) behind Piñera’s centrist opponent.

      So here’s a handful of unsolicited hot takes:

      First, I think the phrase in English is “If you give people a choice between a rightwinger and a rightwinger in socialist’s clothing, they will always pick the real thing”; a predictable case in point here. Chileans are stuck in a repressively neoliberal system, and neither candidate showed the slightest interest in changing that.

      Second, this election is a hearty reaffirmation of the hard-right wing’s ability to win elections in Chile and in LatAm in general (Argentina, Venezuela, Perú…). And to toot my own horn, I had previously noted that the jubilation over a leftwing renaissance in Chile was premature. Perhaps a decent medicine for 12 years of left-wing self-adulation in South America.

      And third, there are those wild turnout figures. Low turnout generally tends to benefit the far right, and it is a clear indicator of no good options having been offered to the electorate. In this case in particular, not only did the low turnout swing right, but the stand-out stat in the increased turnout numbers in the runoff was that the average age increased by over 3 years in the second round (47->50). On first glance (until age bracket breakdowns are published), it looks like older, more conservative leaning voters were more motivated to come out to vote, with the young less so. I take this to mean more Chilean youths will prefer the street over the ballot box for political expression, but also that the rightwing is very effective at mobilising its constituencies. Again, let the left take note.

      And with that in mind here’s an anti-antidote to ruin your day:

      Piñera Supportors Hold Up Bust of Brutal Dictator Pinochet to Celebrate Election Victory

      1. a different chris

        The “free-market economic model” sure churns along great when the state-owned mines undergird the whole thing, doesn’t it?

        Kindof like the US highway system if you squint right.

        1. Jean

          Nationalized by Allende from Anaconda and the Guggenheim owned Kennecott Copper Company. Funny how Pinochet kept those out of the free market once this happened.

    2. cnchal

      The 68-year-old billionaire sees himself as the guardian of a free-market economic model that has more than quintupled gross domestic product per capita in the past 30 years.

      As horrific as it sounds, the Chicago boy’s advice to the Chileans didn’t harm their economic performance.

      1. visitor

        Well, no.

        The “Chicago Boys” economic experiment in Chile lasted from 1973 to 1988, and proved to be an unmitigated disaster, leading to the collapse of the Chilean economy in 1982. Notice that this experiment ended exactly before that referred to period of 30 years which saw the Chilean GDP quintuple. The policies have been enduringly neoliberal ever since, but the monetarist dogmatism of the “Chicago Boys” was thrown to the trash heap.

        1. todde

          Pinochet and the Chicago boys experiment is another example of polanyi thesis that laissez fair was planned.

  11. Meher Baba Fan

    Thanks for China history lesson. ‘look to the Art’ – spoken like a true historian. The Gavin Menzies book ‘1421 ‘ deals with all the evidence in said countries (Northern Rivers and Perth, Australia) Argentina and all the rest, that indicate chinese presence and settlement. wrecked junks found off Australian coast. indigenous stories, even chickens. A lot more. He discusses the superior maps they had, and that unlike anyone else they knew the secret to calculating longtitude on the fly. You would enjoy reading it..

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      I have to admit I did read it. Just don’t recall all the details. The bit about the Kangnido (or Gangnido) map I remember. No original copy of that map, or the related Chinese map from the 14th century is known (those two are the oldest world map surviving, in later copies, from East Asia, per Wiki).

      One can see Africa on those maps, but no Americas, no Australia, though.

      (See Wikipedia, Gangdido).

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        About 30 miles north of where I live (Sydney) they were dredging a river mouth and came up with a teak rudder nearly 30 feet tall. Teak from China.

        Supports Menzies’ fascinating hypothesis. Also the scores of villages in Peru with Chinese-sounding names, using a 50-step porcelain-making process identical to the Chinese. They thought it up themselves perhaps?

        1. Oregoncharles

          Shipwrecks, then. No wonder there’s no record in China. Might have been ships that went grossly astray.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It is interesting and puzzling.

          The teak rudder – how old is it? It is quite possible Chinese ships got that far south. They were already settled in Java when adm. Zheng first visited.

          As for Peru, it is to be determined when they first got there.

          From Jesuit China Missions, Wikipedia

          While not too many 17th-century Jesuits ever went back from China to Europe, it was not uncommon for those who did to be accompanied by young Chinese Christians. One of the earliest Chinese travelers to Europe was Andreas Zheng (郑安德勒; Wade-Giles: Cheng An-te-lo), who was sent to Rome by the Yongli court along with Michał Boym in the late 1650s. Zheng and Boym stayed in Venice and Rome in 1652–55. Zheng worked with Boym on the transcription and translation of the Nestorian Monument, and returned to Asia with Boym, whom he buried when the Jesuit died near the Vietnam-China border.[18] A few years later, another Chinese traveller who was called Matthaeus Sina in Latin (not positively identified, but possibly the person who traveled from China to Europe overland with Johann Grueber) also worked on the same Nestorian inscription. The result of their work was published by Athanasius Kircher in 1667 in the China Illustrata, and was the first significant Chinese text ever published in Europe.[19]

          Better known is the European trip of Shen Fo-tsung in 1684–1685, who was presented to king Louis XIV on September 15, 1684, and also met with king James II,[20] becoming the first recorded instance of a Chinese man visiting Britain.[21] The king was so delighted by this visit that he had his portrait made hung in his own bedroom.[21] Later, another Chinese Jesuit Arcadio Huang would also visit France, and was an early pioneer in the teaching of the Chinese language in France, in 1715.

          Chinese were taken all over the world. Thus, it’s possible that they were taken by Europeans to Peru and other parts there, unrelated to 1421.

          From Battle of Talas, Wikipedia:

          The Battle of Talas was a key event in the history of paper—the technological transmission of the paper-making process. After the battle of Talas, knowledgeable Chinese prisoners of war were ordered to produce paper in Samarkand, or so the story goes.[41] In fact, high quality paper had been known—and made—in Central Asia for centuries; a letter on paper survives from the fourth century to a merchant in Samarkand. But the Islamic conquest of Central Asia in the late seventh and early eighth centuries opened up this knowledge for the first time to what became the Muslim world, and so by the year 794 CE, paper manufacturing could be found in Baghdad, modern-day Iraq.

          Somewhere I read the Chinese prisoners were taken to Syria, not just Samarkand.

          That just adds more to consider about where and when those in Peru arrived there.

          Another question relating to the book 1421 is this: The Ming voyages were to places known (to them, or those they met). So, wouldn’t they have visited Europe? Portugal? Holland? Rome? Any records of those visits, in Europe or in China?

          1. subgenius

            The Chinese junk rig is a fascinating bit of aerodynamics. It shares characteristics with the bumble bee wing (those poor beings that physics refused to analyze as capable of flight until ~ this millennium..but which are one of the few creatures capable of flight in an atmosphere as thin as atop Everest…)

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      So, “terrorism” is the lens through which this catastrophic failure is viewed.

      Here’s another one. According to a report on msnbs this morning, when the electricity went out, the concession cash registers didn’t work and credit/debit cards couldn’t be swiped. When people showed up with cash, they were told that since the registers didn’t work, the restaurant couldn’t sell them anything, even for cash money.

      According to the report, the food was “rotting” and the employees were refusing to “sell” it (let alone give it away.) What whoever was in charge did do, was take the bags of pretzels off the planes and give them away. According to the reporter, “they went fast.”

      Who needs “terrrorists” when you’ve got the genius and “ethics” of american business and the superior acumen in american infrastructure management, especially at times of increased use. But hey, I don’t wish to appear ungrateful. At least Al Franken has been taught a lesson about taking dirty pictures with victoria secret models.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        “So, ‘terrorism’ is the lens through which this catastrophic failure is viewed.”

        As I vaguely recall the Patriot Act defines ‘terrorism’ quite broadly. I usually associate ‘terrorism’ with acts that create terror in the general population usually through killings and violent destruction of buildings and vehicles.

        Single point failures seem built-in to many of our most ‘efficient’ systems — and multi-point protections protect against chance failures but only complicate determined ‘terrorist’ activity. A dual redundant system presents two targets. Jihadi terrorists and domestic terrorists like McVeigh seek to destroy property and lives. But a broad definition of ‘terrorism’ assures that ‘terrorists’ who attack profits may be treated with the same iron fist that renders Jihadi terrorists with extreme prejudice. As it grows more plain that non-violent protests and labor actions are ineffectual and will be most harshly dealt with the likelihood of more ‘violent’ protests and labor actions grows. ‘Violence’ need not deal physical harm to persons — or even to much property — when so much harm can be wrecked on profits and the fragile infrastructures giving aid and comfort to our ‘Elite’. I suspect the ‘terrorism’ lens reflects something the ‘Elite’ greatly fear and might have reason to fear.

      2. Jean

        I would have walked over to the display case, picked up food and drink, started to eat it on the spot and offered cash at the register. “Just write down what you are selling. Keep the change as your tip”.

        Why are people such wimps? Always carry some cash in large and small bills.

        1. carycat

          Initiative is punished in modern American business practice. The lower you are in the pecking order, the more severely. Only the sociopaths at the top are allowed to disrupt. If the poor soul staffing the cash register is allowed to accept cash, there is a good chance that they would have sold out their entire inventory and clear a tidy profit for the company, even if you allow for some mistakes in arithematic (although the calculator app on the cell phone is likely to run out of battery after the food is sold out. Lots of stranded passengers means lots of hungry people. But the worker runs a real risk of getting fired for not following procedure.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Actually, the business owners may have been breaking the law; they’re REQUIRED to accept cash in the correct amount.

          Granted, I guess they aren’t required to be open; so why were the doors open?

  12. Meher Baba Fan

    Ryanair. That article left me speechless. (unfort it was the daily mail) Anyone caught a plane of any carrier, and like me marvelled at the job the hostesses have? All that travel in a radiation tube, and particularly the discipline and restraint to be exceedingly patient and friendly , permanently. I have actually observed this every time and assumed they are renumerated handsomely.
    Anyone planning to boycott Ryanair? Anyone refuse to use United after the recent violence toward passenger?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I try my best to minimise flights, and I avoid Ryanair whenever possible, mostly due to a particularly disgraceful scene I saw a few years ago (too long and boring to explain, but it was an example of callousness by Ryanair staff).

      Pretty much all budget airlines have borderline abusive staff policies and of course the main national airlines are rapidly following. Having said that, the CEO of Ryanair actually gets quite good publicity in Ireland in that he is unusual as a rich CEO in that he pays his taxes (he could easily avoid them by choosing another domicile) and contributes a lot to his local area. He just doesn’t extend that morality to his staff.

      I think that companies like Ryanair like to confuse the issue by having a core of quite well paid and well looked after staff, especially senior pilots. But the great majority are subject to the most minimalist employment contracts possible.

      1. Altandmain

        The sad part is that for just a modest increase in the cost of tickets, they could raise salaries to something decent and have much better publicity.

        Yes, airlines are a very competitive industry with thin margins, but increasing labour costs will not dramatically increase the price of the ticket.

        Actually they might even improve the long term profits. A well paid staff will be highly motivated to work and to treat their customers better, increasing loyalty. Perhaps the closest to what I propose is Southwest Airlines in the US.

        They aren’t perfect, but they do seem to treat their staff better.

    2. Jean

      United? Used to be maintained in America. Now it’s China and El Salvador.
      “You’ve seen us drive, now watch us maintain aircraft.”

      Lufthansa, maintained by Germans. Icelandic Air etc.
      You can get off a plane at a stop before the one to which you are ticketed if you have a carry on.

  13. Jim Haygood

    Outright starvation is occurring in the western hemisphere’s sickest economy:

    Deaths from malnutrition have remained a closely guarded secret by the Venezuelan government. In a five-month investigation by The New York Times, doctors at 21 public hospitals in 17 states across the country said that their emergency rooms were being overwhelmed by children with severe malnutrition — a condition they had rarely encountered before the economic crisis began.

    “Sometimes they die in your arms just from dehydration,” Dr. Milagros Hernández said in the emergency room of a children’s hospital in the northern city of Barquisimeto. “In 2017 the increase in malnourished patients has been terrible,” she added. “Children arrive with the same weight and height of a newborn.”

    At a new low of 115,000 bolivares fuertes [“strong bolivars”] per dollar today, prospects for importing food are dimming by the hour.

    When mismanaged currencies die, so do the people obliged to use them.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Of course it does not help when a country is also suffering financial attack by foreign powers as well as being undermined by intelligence agencies from those same countries trying to create disorder as well as to organize local thugs into ‘revolutionaries’ in a maiden-style revolution.

    2. RabidGandhi

      Note: crocodile tears for Venezuela’s kids notwithstanding, Haygood’s definition of a “sick economy” is currency mismanagement. Child poverty– as measured by under-5 mortality rate (U5MR)— is clearly far worse in Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay… but since those countries all get State Department Good Citizen awards, instead we get constant posts about Official State Enemy Venezuela– which incidentally has improved its under-five mortality ranking every year since 2010.

      1. Carolinian

        Plus he’s quoting from the rabidly (sorry) anti Maduro NY Times–an outlet he normally makes fun of.

      2. georgieboy

        True enough. But it is sadly called “doing less with more.”

        Venezuela has oil to sell. Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, etc got bupkus in terms of easy state revenue — they wish they had Venezuela’s problems.

    3. Wukchumni

      Maduro was a bus driver, now a bust driver.

      I’d bet dollars to doughnuts their currency will be greenbacks soon, and another petroleum based buck-aroo like Ecuador in the camp F.I.R.E.

    4. Eclair

      “Marasmus.” Chronic undernourishment, usually resulting from a protein deficiency, in infants and children.

      Las week, I found, on-line, the death certificate for my mother’s first cousin, who died at the age of 2 in 1904. (Family mystery surrounding the whole event). I was able to page back and forth to view all the other death certificates filed in the month of February. Lots of deaths from pneumonia and consumption(all ages); about a dozen ‘still-births.’
      But I kept running into a term that was completely unfamiliar to me: marasmus. About a half-dozen infants died that month, essentially from starvation. This in a Massachusetts industrial city in the twentieth century.

      1. Wukchumni

        My mom told me how feared scarlet fever was when she was a little girl, now it sounds like a porn name.

        1. Harold

          Scarlet Fever = strep throat, for those not in the know. My mother had to stay home for 3 months at the age of seven in those days with no antibiotics.

      2. bronco

        The year 1902 is a year where people don’t have central heating , don’t have inside bathrooms , there are no vaccines , no automobiles.

        1902 is a primitive era and many children died at a young age. In fact most of our grandparents could have had siblings that died and that was probably happening in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Maybe up through the 1950’s in some areas of the US

        Why use the term 20th century to refer to 1902? The anything –th century is a nonsense way of referring to something to make it seem more modern than it really is.

      3. The Rev Kev

        Marasmus. Yeah, have come across the term often in my own research for those who emigrated out from the UK to Australia back in the 19th century. You could count on a handful of children dying on the trip out and it was usually because the infants were receiving adult style food so were not getting the nutrition they needed and so wasted away.
        It wasn’t a matter of the authorities being slack. Food management verged on a science, even by the 1840s, for shipping emigrants out on such a long distance trip but food nutrition was not really understood for infants, hence the loss of them often aboard the long haul trips. Sad that.

        1. RMO

          Actually, all of those things were in existence in 1902. Sure there weren’t as many of them or they weren’t as readily available as today but the same could be said to be true in varying degrees to any year between 1902 and 2017.

      4. Waking Up

        Something else to consider…the quality of the food supply in the early 1900’s.

        “FDA’s modern regulatory functions began with the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act, a law a quarter-century in the making that prohibited interstate commerce in adulterated and misbranded food and drugs.”

        We often take these regulations for granted today (although it appears there are people who want to take us back to a time prior to 1906). Back then, increasing numbers of people were moving to urban areas and food adulteration was rampant. Borax and formaldehyde were just two of the commonly used additives. According to the FDA, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 serves the purpose of “preventing the manufacture, sale, or transportation of adulterated or misbranded or poisonous or deleterious foods, drugs, medicines, and liquors, and for regulating traffic therein”. I’ll bet more than one life was saved due to the creation of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.

  14. Wukchumni

    …running on EMPty in ATL

    “Just imagine this is a classic plan for phase one of a terrorist attack: Render the target blind. None of the defenses are operational. Thousands of people are trapped in restricted space without directions about how they can find an exit.

    As chaos spreads nobody knows who turn to for information. The communications blackout is as complete as the power blackout.”

    We’ve seen the aftereffects of a pseudo Carrington Event in Puerto Rico, where many have been w/o electricity since the hurricane hit, but imagine it nationwide, or just in a particular location that’s incredibly vulnerable?

    Most every city in SoCal has no natural water sources and is reliant on electric pumps to bring imported H20 to them, and gas pumps that deliver go-juice into their jalopies, fughedabout it.

    About the only thing in wide possession of the masses that would continue to function with nary a hitch, is every last gun.

    Could get messy…

    1. fresno dan

      December 18, 2017 at 9:46 am

      “About the only thing in wide possession of the masses that would continue to function with nary a hitch, is every last gun.”

      I plan on defending myself by burning the eyes out of the members of the rampaging mobs that attack me with a magnifying glass – as long as they attack in the daytime and its not a cloudy day, and they are willing to lay down away from shadows for a few minutes, I am good to go…..

      There are those who scoff….but when all the bullets are used up, people will lament their lack of magnifying glasses….

      1. Wukchumni

        We’ll depend upon our squadron of attack cats, which will either arch their backs or scramble under the bed for the duration of the danger.

        1. Yves Smith

          Don’t laugh at attack cats! My Blake who died 2 years ago was if anything an overly vigilant cat. He terrorized several cleaning women (one hid in the bathroom and another in the lobby after he went after her) and he also chased two adult men out of an office when they came in on a weekend through the back door.

          1. Wukchumni

            Our feline accoutrements would be fine candidates for the catiphate, as beheaded gophers, mice and assorted rodents show up on the patio on a regular basis, but are generally terrified of human beans they don’t know.

          2. Jean

            I once was cleaning a house and was warmed by the homeowner to watch out for their kitten. “Yeah sure!”

            Came around a corner and there it was, six ounces of pure aggression, back arched, lunging at my ankles. A horrifying and novel chill shot down my back from my primitive lizard brain. I could not get my body to pass it in the hallway.
            “This is ridicoulous!” Still couldn’t get past it. It lunged, I retreated.
            Finally sicced the vacuum cleaner on it and it fled.

            What if it had been a two hundred pound predator? I got a sudden insight into the life of primitive humans right there.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Siamese cats were bred as temple guards (as well as ornaments). That’s probably the reason for their bizarre howl.

    2. cocomaan

      That’s why the terrorism hysteria of the last 17 years since 9/11 has been completely misplaced. Terrorists could bring things down quite easily, yet it never happens. Because the terrorists who are ready to strike without our knowledge are across the ocean in a cave with a bag of marbles.

      So everyone can relax. The only terrorists in the US are ones that the government already knows about and are actively ignoring. The 9/11 guys were known. The attempted shoe bomber guy was known. They’re all known.

        1. bronco

          well sure but why read anything in the daily beast? Or vox , mother jones etc. , the alt left loonies are just as bad as the 911 truthers and birth certificate loons on the right

  15. Carolinian

    Re Jerry Richardson–he is also a major donor to a local college from which he graduated. Will his name be chiseled off all those buildings including the brand new basketball arena (probably not). The Sports Illustrated story says that his offenses include making advances to female employees and using a racial slur against a black scout. The Observer story up in Links says that once he sells the team it could be taken away from Charlotte leaving them with a newly renovated stadium using city money.

    Quite the repercussions, and while all the details of those settlements covered by NDAs are not known, it seems inevitable that questions of proportionality will come up. “Me too” may be bringing justice to people like Weinstein but the broken knob on the outrage meter means that lesser offenses are also receiving the reputational death penalty. This is not a defense of Richardson, but one does wonder where it will all end.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        This is the end point. The consequences of an accountability free society for elites have created this. Sexual assault is the current moral panic. Unlike other moral panics, its a crisis, but drugs, booze, and so forth have been moral panics adopted when society breaks.

        The mob will hammer anyone it can get, but thetargets of the mob besides being predators have been architects or enablers of the currwnt crisis. It will end when the mob has had its fill. We can boohoo about an eye for an eye making the world blind, but there is a terrible backlog of injustice. No one can be surprised when a reckoning occurs.

        1. Carolinian

          but thetargets of the mob besides being predators have been architects or enablers of the current crisis

          Really? Keillor was a radio host. Richardson ran a football team and some (not very good) restaurants. Also, as has been pointed out, many of those exposed and disgraced were already retired or on the way out (Richardson is 81). Here’s betting very few of our Wall Street Masters of the Universe will be getting the heave.

          1. Wukchumni

            I haven’t heard one disparaging word about a nobody getting the ax for sexual harassment from their job flipping burgers, because of them hitting on the cashier, but if we descend to that level, we’re screwed.

          2. Jean

            Notice this stuff all happens in liberal arts colleges and universities?
            Nicely severing students from “outdated Eurocentric ideas like rationality, facts and history.” Smells like the Long March through academic and civic institutions your mom warned you about when you dated Cultural Marxism.

            Funny, haven’t heard about it occurring in business schools or anyone ranting about outdated Eurocentric or patriarchal models of interest and Cis-markets.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              And Matt Damon excoriated for the existential transgression of having pointed out that lumping Harvey Weinstein in with every man who may have followed existing social norms of the time and patted a woman on the back was maybe not a reasonable way to frame this debate.

              How dare he try and make such a misogynist distinction!

    1. Craig H.

      > once he sells the team it could be taken away from Charlotte

      The other 31 owners will hang together and micro-magage what will happen to maximize their take. Sean Combs was tweeting he wants to buy it. Him shooting off his twitter after leaving a closed owner meeting would be the like most hilarious thing ever, which is why it is very unlikely they would be interested in his hundreds millions dollars.

      I find it hard to imagine that with brain damage lawsuits looming the Panthers could fetch as much as the Rockets or the Clippers, but there are only 32 NFL teams and quite a few billionaire air heads.

  16. PlutoniumKun

    Thousands in China watch as 10 people sentenced to death in sport stadium Guardian

    I think its gone under the radar a lot recently thanks to the hype about the One Belt, One Road, and the boost given by how charismatic Xi has been, but there has been a very severe crackdown in China over the last 12 months, and the strains are starting to tell. Capital controls seem to be hitting mostly ‘ordinary’ Chinese, not the wealthiest, and there is growing resentment at internet controls – pretty much all Chinese are now forced onto Wechat, which is pretty much one big monitoring device.

    There is a lot of discontent – more than before I think – about overt policies targeting the poor, such as the recent evictions of poor workers in Beijing. I think a strong perception is growing among the Chinese that Xi is only interested in personal power (almost certainly true), and that the ‘reforms’ are for the benefit of oligarchs, while restrictions only apply to the middle and lower classes. Xi is concentrating power very much in Beijing and seems to be making a lot of enemies – the biggest of which may be the new urban middle classes. I don’t think China is anywhere near as politically stable as is widely assumed in the west.

    1. cocomaan

      This is definitely the first time I’m hearing about this instability. I always assumed there’s a lot of instability there simmering, but crap like this really shows you how bad it can get before it gets better.

      It’s funny, because last year I read multiple articles praising Chinese economics, coming from people who probably should know better. Tyler Cowen wrote about the allure of it experienced by economists.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        There is always bubbling discontent in China. Its anecdotal I know, but several Chinese people I know in the last few weeks have said very rude things about Xi, including previously very non-political people (or at least, they never expressed their feelings). The two big issues seem to be capital restrictions which have hit middle income Chinese with investments abroad very hard, and the clampdown on the internet which has greatly annoyed the young and tech savvy.

        The trick for the CCP has always been to tolerate a certain amount of public protest to allow steam to be blown off, but to prevent it becoming unified against the Party. Historically the Party has also been good at redirecting anger away from itself, either towards internal scapegoats or external enemies.

        This is why its surprised me that Xi – who was extremely popular when first appointed – seems to have become a figure of hate. I’m just wondering out loud if the CCP are starting to miscalculate, listening to too many establishment/oligarch type voices, and are forgetting the dangers of angering the urban middle and working classes.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          capital restrictions which have hit middle income Chinese with investments abroad very hard

          Can you give more details on that?

          Do they need to continue to send money abroad to fund their existing investments?

          Or is the problem one of bringing investment income back to China?

          Or sending more money out for more investments?


          1. PlutoniumKun

            The complaints I heard were from Chinese friends who live in the West and act as a Western contact for China based relatives and friends. The money would be from everything from investing in property to buying presents for family members. I’m not talking about the very rich, just the moderately well off with some money to spend/invest.

            A specific example is a Uk citizen friend with fairly well off Chinese parents (well, her mother seems to have an unspecified business that generates quite a bit of money. Her husband is a humble bureaucrat. You can fill in the rest yourself). She has a couple of apartments as investments in the UK, some from her own money, some from her parents and other relatives. She was complaining to me about how her mother was unable to send her a chunk of money to pay for some redecorating in one of the properties.

            I’ve also a US citizen friend who supplements her income by buying fashion items for contacts in China on Weibo. She said she is finding increasingly hard to get business as her customers find they can’t send her money to pay for the items.

            What was once straightforward and simple has become a major headache and it seems to be causing resentment.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


              If they don’t buy more real estate properties, it may be a blessing in disguise, should the housing bubble here burst.

            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              They just put in new rules limiting video streaming, much too much freethink happening there. And the persistent rumor is that WePay and Alipay purchases are about to be limited to $99, this to protect mainland bank market share, take Jack Ma down a notch or two, and limit capital flight.

    2. TroyMcClure

      My family and I go to China about once a year. I was there during the National People’s Congress back in October. To the extent that people talk politics (they mostly don’t) nobody seemed terribly bothered by the sharp increase in surveillance. But if they were, would they feel free to say so? The security presence everywhere was intense to say the least. My wife’s cousin is a police captain and we didn’t see him for a week during the final days of the congress as he was on call 24/7 working 16 hour shifts. The dancing grandma’s that you find in every city square after dark were banned. No public gatherings permitted.

      There are now cameras every few kilometers on every freeway. My young son thought it was fun to say “cheese!” each time it flashed to capture our moment to moment whereabouts. You can still get a VPN, but it’s entirely possible those allowed to still exist are actually run by the government as another surveillance tool.

      There was yet ANOTHER new mall to check out. A new one sprouts up every 18 months or so. I must say that the Starbucks in China are truly cathedrals to caffeine. Great place to spend an hour reading a book before heading home to be photographed multiple times all along the way.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Starbucks vs tea houses.

        From Wikipedia, Tea House:

        While Teahouse had been radical and popular in 1957, after Lao She’s death by suicide in 1966 the play became one of the emblematic targets of attack for the Cultural Revolution.[2] Beijing People’s Art Theatre (BPAT) did not restage Teahouse until 1979, and the play was not widely performed for the public till 1985.[3][4]

        From Wiki entry on its author, Lao She:

        Teahouse is a play in three acts, set in a teahouse called “Yu Tai” in Beijing from 1898 until the eve of the 1949 revolution. First published in 1957, the play is a social and cultural commentary on the problems, culture, and changes within China during the early twentieth century.

        It was made into a movie in 1982 (years ago, the LA county library had it on VHS and I was able to watch it).

        I mention it because I am curious to know if there are still tea houses left in Beijing.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        My comments are solely anecdotal, and based on Chinese friends living in the west, so its certainly not a representative sample.

        I’ve just noticed with regards surveillance that a few friends/acquaintances have really started complaining about the crackdown on non-wechat apps and what they see as the loss of the last few shreds of privacy. These complaints would be from quite non-political people. I’ve been surprised at how specific they’ve been, and I think it comes down to losing contacts from apps being withdrawn or limited in some ways.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Will we see the play “Hai Rui Dismissed From Office,” soon?

      From Wikipedia:

      Wu Han, who wrote the play, was a historian (and a municipal politician in Beijing) who focused on the Ming Dynasty. In 1959, Wu Han became interested in the life of Hai Rui, a Ming minister who was imprisoned for criticizing the emperor. Wu Han wrote several articles on his life and his fearless criticism of the emperor. Wu then wrote a play for Peking Opera titled “Hai Rui Dismissed from Office”, which he revised several times before the final version of 1961.[1][2]

      And it triggered this:

      After the play’s initial performance, critics began to interpret it as an allegory for Peng Dehuai’s criticism of Mao during the 1959 Lushan Conference, in which Peng’s criticism of Mao’s Great Leap Forward led Mao to purge Peng. According to this interpretation, Hai Rui is Peng, and the Ming Emperor is Mao. Peng himself agreed with this interpretation, and stated “I want to be a Hai Rui!” in a 1962 letter to Mao requesting his return to politics.[3]

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Hai Rui himself was an interesting person.

        From Wikipedia:

        Hai Rui, was born in Qiongshan, Hainan on January 23, 1513. His father died when he was three, and he was raised by his mother.[1] His great-great-grandfather was a native of Guangzhou named Hai Da-er (海答兒, Haidar, an Arabic name), and his mother was also from a Muslim (Hui) family that originated from the Indian subcontinent.[2] Hai Rui himself however was noted primarily as a Neo-Confucian and never discussed Islam in his Confucian works.[1][3]

        Admiral Zheng He was also a Muslim.

        Were they Arabs who went to China when the Mongols ruled (many as tax farmers), and stayed?

    4. Altandmain

      Another consideration is the rise in inequality in China and the fact that the growth in China has declined dramatically.

      So long as the benefits of China’s once rapid growth were at least partially shared with the common citizen, the majority of the public was willing to accept the idea of “performance legitimacy”. Now with the growth mostly over and the rich Chinese making out like kleptocracts, this was going to break loose.

      This looks like an aristocracy:

      If the CPC were willing to actually use their power to ensure that the people of China benefited and pushed for a more egalitarian distribution of wealth, these problems would disappear instantly. Alas, like all elites they seem to only in it for themselves.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Americans say they are worse off today than 50 years ago MarketWatch

    Half a century.

    America was not built in one day/overnight. And this fall took a while.

    A reminder to be persistent, not to give up,in trying to life better off in 1967.

    Have short term goals and long term ones.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      It’s heartbreaking for me to watch movies from the 70’s, the crowd scenes just remind me how much better things were, how much fairer, how much freer, culturally, economically…in every way really.

      Then to see the millions in the street protesting the Vietnam War in Ken Burns’ TV series. Where are those people today? Why are people not enraged at the looting of their futures? At the slaughter being done in their names and with their dollars? My only answer is a grim one: we’ve gone from “we’re all in this together” to “it’s every man for himself”.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Where are they? Old and tired, and some of them dead. But still turning out for protests, however futile, the ones I know.

        i think the real difference, besides age, is learned helplessness: our lords and masters have learned how to ignore polite, civil protests. Not that a lot of the 60s protests were polite and civil.

      2. neo-realist

        I believe the lack of conscription has taken away a lot of the motivation to demonstrate. When we all knew that we all together (excepting the wealthy and connected) could be plucked up by Uncle Sam and placed in a rice patty hellhole risking life and limb, we were willing to go to the barricades to protect our butts and stop the war. Since it’s now volunteers doing the fighting for various reasons—poverty, unemployment, a desire to see the world–many, I believe, now think “He/she asked for it” and “at least I don’t have to fight.”

      3. Elizabeth Burton

        Where are those people today?

        Busy working under the radar to get people committed to representing the people in government instead of the plutocrats, mostly. And given what’s happening with the J20 crowd, despite the judge dismissing charges on the first six, it may literally be too dangerous to do any serious public demonstrating. With Erik Prince and his ilk having their own private military, including an air force, and the police now being essentially a paramilitary extension of the plutocracy, people may be better off doing phone-banking and knocking on doors and stuffing envelopes.

        Let’s face it—the cops didn’t have RPGs and MRAPs back in the ’70s.

      4. Phil in Kansas City

        The “every man for himself” ethic seems to have come to the fore during the 70s, when the older generations that had lived through the depression and WW II started to die, retire, or just get too old to be effective anymore. Those folks definitely had a “we’re in this all together” ethos, because they were, indeed, in it all together. The following generation was the “me” generation–boomers. In between the two, the silent generation was silent and inconspicuous.

        Economically, consider this single item of anecdotal evidence: my father, on a telephone lineman’s salary, could afford to contribute to a pension AND buy discounted ATT stock; buy a new car NEW every four or five years, buy a new house in a nice new suburb and furnish it properly, afford regular doctor and dentist visits, go on vacations, buy nice clothes, send three kids to private schools (Catholic), send each of us to college, and still bank money. My mother didn’t work. And my father was in the middle, middle class. In other words, we didn’t stand out.

        To have that kind of economic firepower today, you’d have to be in the upper reaches of the middle class to lower upper class. And for kids like me who came of age in the late 60’s/early 70’s, we watched the economic engine of America start to sputter and stall just as we graduated from high school and college. I’m doing better than many of my peers, but I’m barely doing any better, if at all, than my parents. Which means that the version of the American dream, wherein each generation is more materially prosperous than the previous, is dead.

        But then again, it is we boomers who, in the 60’s and 70’s, rebelled against the mindless materialism of our parents! Who knew?

    1. John

      Yes! Especially when considering how sad it is that Coats and other black neoliberals like Donna Brazil view their political problems a result of “tribalism”. Fer christs sake, that sounds like the head of the British Empire colonial office talking about the problem of Africa in 1950…”It’s tribalism” is a good excuse not to talk about predatory capitalism, oligarchic class structure, environmental catastrophe, wage slavery and so on. No matter how humbly and piously stated. Cornel West is right on point.

    2. Marco

      There needs to be a serious reckoning (not sure if Joy Reid, Rachel Maddow, etc are worthy targets or in the same league as Coates) but this is a criticism that only leftist blacks like Cornel West can engage. Hell…even a Jew from Brooklyn with murdered family in Krakow can’t catch a break from the woke holier than thou IdPol gatekeepers. Also curious if Coates ever fleshed out how slavery reparations should unfold. Yglesias took a stab back in 2014…or perhaps Coates doesn’t want to muddy his hands with concrete policy?

  18. fresno dan

    Erdogan says Turkey aims to open embassy in East Jerusalem Reuters

    Turkey intends to open an embassy in East Jerusalem, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, days after leading calls at a summit of Muslim leaders for the world to recognize it as the capital of Palestine*.
    1. Again, I reference Woody Allens’ movie bananas, where he says the US will be invading a country and both fighting for and against the government (just picturing Allen is that infantry helmet is hilarious).

    2. Erodogan may be using the Trump strategy, e.g., Trump is more democrat except when he is a conservative republican who is liberal on health care…..

    Are humans in modern discourse unconcerned with contradiction? Have people embraced that
    (instead of a foolish consistency, ) any consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds? Is the best political strategy do be for all things and against all things? Schrodinger cat politics….

    * Maybe Erdogan truly believes the capital of Palestine and the capital of Israel can be one and the same city??? /sarc
    To be fair, could Erdogan simply assert that he believes he is opening a Turkish embassy in a city that Turkey recognizes as the capital of Palestine, despite what Israel says?

  19. allan

    West Wing Reports‏ @WestWingReport

    Surprise: Rust Belt unemployment on the rise
    #Indiana: 3.9% (was 3.0% in June)
    #Michigan: 4.5% (3.7% in June)
    #Ohio: 5.1% (was 4.9% in May)
    #Wisconsin: 3.4% (was 3.1% in June)
    only bright spot: #Pennsylvania. current 4.7% is low point

    Another massive win for the back row kids.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Cities face growing crisis as RVs become homes of last resort East Bay Times

    Our version of the roaming Goths who sacked Rome.

    1. Eclair

      The increase in people living in their motor homes, RV’s, trailers, has been a boon for the city of Elkhart, Indiana, the RV capital of the US. There is even a glitzy RV museum (which I have visited, dragged along by my spouse; indeed there are some really cool examples of early mobile/motor homes.)

      There are so many crumbling ex-industrial cities along Interstates 80 and 90, that Elkhart’s respectable boomlet is a breath of fresh air. And, driving the interstate to the east and west of the city, there is a constant stream of new RV’s, either piled on carriers or driven in convoy, on their way to dealers all over the country. And, to the streets of expensive cities like Palo Alto and Seattle and Los Angeles.

        1. RMO

          I’ve seen quite a bit of this in the greater Vancouver area too in many forms, from a reasonably well paid programmer living in a Ford Explorer to save money to people who get permission to park their RV’s in their employer’s parking lot to lines of RV’s on quiet streets in industrial or park areas. False Creek seems to accumulate anchored boats used for the same purpose.

  21. cocomaan

    The Amtrak train derailment in Washington State is making headlines.

    I’m wondering if the next headline is how there was another train accident in Pierce County, WA earlier this year:

    2 July – United States – An Amtrak passenger train derails at Steilacoom, Washington. A few of the 267 passengers on board sustain minor injuries.[459]

    Is it just me, or is Amtrak increasingly getting bad press? What’s going on there?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Interesting. Thanks, as I have always enjoyed travelling on Amtrak.

        From the article (part of the list of collisions):

        On March 15, 1999, the City of New Orleans collided with a semi-truck on a grade crossing in Bourbonnais, Illinois due to a track circuit fault activating the barriers too late. Eleven people were killed, 122 were injured.
        Main article: 1999 Bourbonnais, Illinois, train crash
        On May 6, 2003, the Silver Star collided with a truck on a grade crossing near Hinesville, Georgia. The truck driver and train driver were killed.[3]
        On August 2, 2003, a train collided with a dump truck on a grade crossing in Raleigh, North Carolina. Two people in the truck were killed, fifteen passengers were injured.[4]
        On November 30, 2007, the Pere Marquette ran into the rear of a freight train in Chicago, Illinois. Three people were admitted to hospital.[5]
        On May 13,2010, the Piedmont collided with a truck on a grade crossing in Mebane, North Carolina. Twelve people were injured.[6]
        On June 3, 2011, an Amtrak train collided with a Burlington Northern passenger train at Union Station, Chicago, Illinois. One of the trains derailed, five people were injured.[7]
        On June 24, 2011, a truck collided with the California Zephyr on a grade crossing near Reno, Nevada. At least six people were killed.[8]
        On July 11, 2011, the Downeaster collided with a garbage truck on a grade crossing in North Berwick, Maine and caught fire. The truck driver was killed.[9]
        On October 12, 2011, the San Joaquin overran signals and collided with the Coast Starlight in Oakland, California. Seventeen people were injured.[10]
        On November 29, 2012, the Silver Star collided with a dump truck on a grade crossing in Orlando, Florida. The truck driver was killed, seven passengers were injured.[11]
        On October 28, 2014, an Amtrak train collided with a truck on a grade crossing north of Lafayette, Indiana. Twenty-four people were injured.[12]

        The top one, from 1999, was track circuit fault.

        The rest, from 1999 to 2014, the cause of each is not mentioned.

        It reads like they were due to human error.

        1. Anon

          Yes, the proximate cause is normally a failure to observe the at-grade crossing warnings by road vehicles.

    1. blennylips

      What’s going on there?

      As with most disasters, more than one candidate…

      1. Global climate weirding -> recent record breaking heat in Seattle -> thermal expansion of rails.

      2. This train trip was the inaugural run after the completion of a project started in 2010. Too much crapification economizing on essentials?

      Amtrak tweeted that it was train No. 501 on an inaugural run, which left Seattle for Portland at 6 a.m., that derailed.
      According to WSDOT, the train was running down a new bypass created to avoid slow curves and “single track tunnels on the BNSF Railway main line tracks near Point Defiance and along southern Puget Sound.” (Seattle Times)

      Project brochure:


  22. Summer
    “Speculators will depart for the next lunacy, leaving behind the greater fools to wonder where their supposed wealth went and demand that government do something about it.”

    Translation: Yet another wealth concentration tool will have people who want their losses “socialized.” Something that did not cross their minds as long as they thought they were coming out ahead, leaving others behind.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      The U.S. Government could announce it will mine enough Bitcoin to make people whole. The crowd cheers! And says Congress must fund it. Our Treasury Secretary will show up at Congress with a 3-page plan, called BARP (Bitcoin Asset Relief Program). 10 days after passing it will be decided that instead of the proceeds going to the people who lost money, the Bitcoin produced will all just go to banks and other intermediaries. History rhymes AND repeats:

  23. Bill

    re: Atlanta airport shutdown. This does not make me feel any more optimistic about how proactive the industry is going to be:

    Scientific American spoke with grid cybersecurity expert Robert M. Lee, CEO of industrial cybersecurity firm Dragos, Inc., to sort out fact from hype. Dragos, which aims to protect critical infrastructure from cyberattacks, recently raised $10 million from investors to further its mission.
    How concerned should we be about grid and infrastructure cybersecurity, and what should we be most worried about?
    The electric grid and most infrastructure we have is actually fairly well built for reliability and safety. We’ve had a strong safety culture in industrial engineering for decades. That safety and reliability has never been thought of from a cybersecurity perspective, but it has afforded us a very defensible environment.

    As an example: if a portion of the U.S. power grid goes down. We usually anticipate those things for hurricanes or winter-weather storms. And we’re good at moving away from the computers and doing manual operations, just working the infrastructure to get it back. Usually it’s hours, maybe days; never more than a week or so.

    A lot of these cyberattacks deal with the computer technology and the interconnected nature of the infrastructure. And so when they target it in that way, you’re talking hours, maybe a day, at most a week of disruption. For reasonable scenarios, we’re not talking about a long time of outages, and we’re not talking about compromising safety.

    Now, the scary side of it is [twofold]. One, our adversaries are getting much more aggressive. They’re learning a lot about our industrial systems, not just from a computer technology standpoint but from an industrial engineering standpoint, thinking about how to disrupt or maybe even destroy equipment. That’s where you start reaching some particularly alarming scenarios.

    never more than a week or so????? he’s not talking about moving away from the computers altogether either.

  24. Wukchumni

    Intensities in tent cities in ten cities

    A friend from L.A. is over and regaling me with tales of all the homeless he sees in everyday travels in the City of Angles. He relates damn near every underpass has a tent city festooned on the sidewalk, with some last in first out unfortunates having to settle for overpass digs, more exposed to the weather and human elements.

    1. Daryl

      I saw this steaming pile of family blog passed around on vaguely liberal twitter unquestioningly. Bizarre that they seem to not question Washington Post, a paper which has run cover for Amazons abuse of its workers before. But I guess since they print some anti-Trump stuff, they must be ok.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      The link worked when I posted it and some people commented up thread about it. Sometime during the day, Counterpunch took the piece down– as was also noted up thread. I cannot find the article on the Counterpunch site anymore.

  25. Oregoncharles

    “Thomas fire continues to grow as strong, shifting winds bring new dangers LA Times”
    Let’s hope our Californian commenters are well out of the way. One said they were in Santa Barbara; you OK?

    1. Anon

      Yes, I’m fine and so is most of town. A few large homes higher up in Montecito were ashes by the end of Saturday but the thousands of firefighters did extraordinary work protecting hundreds of homes (without loss of life). Keeping the flames in the chaparral made a Dresdenesque catastrophe unrealized.

      It is hard to express just how dangerously close this fire came to igniting hundreds (if not more) homes and structures. There were so many fire fighting vehicles in the vicinity that huge swaths (17 mile stretch) of the area (including the coastal highway US 101) were closed for a time.

      Marine on-shore wind blew through most of today and massive amounts of mountain terrain of charred black soil are now visible through the dissipating smoke. The weatherman says it’s only a temporary condition. More Santa Ana winds forecast for Wednesday. The fire captains say we’re not safe yet.

      Oprah Winfrey (who has an estate in Montecito) tweeted her appreciation for the government firefighters. They were truly heroic!

      1. Lambert Strether

        > Oprah Winfrey (who has an estate in Montecito) tweeted her appreciation for the government firefighters. They were truly heroic!

        That’s nice of Oprah, but many of those “government firefighters” are prisoners, paid an absurdly low wage of something like a dollar a day. It’s good duty, so they prefer it, but sadly, many of them will not get to become firefighters when released, because of their criminal records.

        1. Anon

          My comment about Oprah’s tweet was not a quote but a characterization.

          I can assure you most of the firefighters working on the Thomas fire in my neighborhood are professionals, assisted by a smaller cadre of prisoners who are paid a pittance (by CalFire) for very dangerous work. ( It’s not the fire but the effects of toxic smoke that will be to their life detriment.)

          Both, professionals and prisoners, were absolutely amazing in their effort to protect life and property. To say it was a pitched battle is not to be hyperbolic. As I’ve said in previous comments, this fire could have consumed hundreds, if not thousands, of homes in the Santa Barbara/Montecito vicinity. Only by supreme effort by firefighters, and some luck with the weather, did this fire not turn into a Billion dollar catastrophe (and take more lives).

  26. Oregoncharles

    The end of the Politico article about “paranoia grips Washington:”

    ““It’s this way not just in Congress, but in all kinds of industries: men thinking back on the kind of behaviors they didn’t think about at the time but might be construed as harassment or inappropriate,” said Nicholson, the veteran Democrat who now serves as director of the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University.

    “It’s hitting everyone, even people who are not bad actors, because you just have no idea.”

    Yeah, that’s the problem at this point.

    That said, there’s something to be said for a thorough cleanout of Congress, and for them being nervous. It’s much too hard to get rid of incumbents.

    1. Synoia

      It’s not hard to behave well:

      Keep you hands to yourself, and you mouth shut.

      Say nothing that would offend your mother.

      Of course they are those who don’t know their mothers, were hatched by the sun, and then slithered out from under a rock.

  27. knowbuddhau

    So is Gaia going to stand up, point Her finger at Uncle Sam and John Bull and the other industrialists mostly responsible for AGW and say, #MeToo?

    Or is She already, as embodied in the irrefutable science, and we just don’t recognize Her giving us a finger of mythic proportions, disembodied as we’ve become? Moon’s been kinda bright lately, too. It’s a sign, I tell ya!

    Where’s Ray Harryhausen when you need him?

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Considering the epidemic of earthquakes in the last couple weeks, one has to wonder if she isn’t already showing her displeasure.

        1. Lambert Strether

          I remember a science fiction story where an earth-penetrating radar camera focuses all the way down to the earth’s molten core, and discovers regular patterns like city streets. Long story short, the Core Dwellers visit the surface, and their reaction is like “We had no idea anything like this was happening!!!” And suddenly a lot of volcanoes erupt, there are earthquakes, tsunamis…

          1. ambrit

            I’ve seen Colin Wilson use the idea, in either “The Mind Parasites” or “The Philosophers’ Stone” if I remember correctly.
            Conan Doyles’ story “When the World Screamed” approaches a similar theme from an entirely different and, for worshipers of Gaia, satisfying way.
            Theories about the effects of terrestrial interactions between terras’ magnetosphere and solar ‘winds’ seem to have merit. Short version; there’s a H— of a lot we don’t know about the Cosmos we inhabit.

Comments are closed.