Links 12/22/17

Bali’s primitive Bali Aga are buried in ash Asia Times

Father ‘famous’ for Christmas lights dies fixing display BBC (resilc) :-(

Asylum applications respond to temperature fluctuations Science (resilc)

Wackiest tech gadgets you can gift USAToday. UserFriendly:

​Wow, USATODAY made a holiday wish list for @internetofshit!!!
#1 Creepy Robot that essentially is a Roomba that spys on you taking pictures and videos instead of cleaning the house.​

Apple’s iPhone Throttling Will Reinvigorate the Push for Right to Repair Laws Motherboard. Hahaha.

Bitcoin Plunges 25% in 24 Hours in a Cryptocurrency Market Rout Wall Street Journal

Facebook has taken its first real steps into the music business Recode (Kevin W)

A primer on the new law that will banish incandescent bulbs in California starting Jan. 1 Mercury News (EM)

The Black Political Class and Network Neutrality Bruce Dixon (timotheus)



China is Preparing for War in Korea Defend Democracy


Catalonia election: Separatist parties keep their majority BBC. Note that the three separatist parties have meaningful differences of views (some want a split, others want just more budgetary autonomy like the Basques), so this may impede formation of a government.

Separatists claim narrow victory in Catalan election Financial Times

5 takeaways from the Catalan election Politico


EU prepares Canada-style Brexit deal for UK Financial Times. More evidence of the Governments’ pathetic performance.

British passports will return to ‘iconic’ blue cover after Brexit Telegraph. This is what the Torygraph considers to be the most important Brexit story today.

Swiss hit back after EU limits stock exchange access Reuters


Intel Vets Tell Trump Iran Is Not Top Terror Sponsor Consortium News (Kevin W)

Trump’s Pentagon Admits to ‘Multiple Ground Missions’ in Yemen Juan Cole (resilc)

New Cold War

Facebook: Russia spent 97 cents meddling in Brexit vote USAToday. UserFriendly: “ROFLLLLLL That really puts the billion Clinton set on fire to shame.​ Seriously Putin should move here and put all the DC strategists out of business.”

Suspicious ‘Russian diplomat’ removed from UK Parliament debate is actually American RT (Kevin W_

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Your home was not so secure after all Medium (EM)

U.S. lawmakers seek temporary extension to internet spying program Reuters

Trump Transition

55 Ways Donald Trump Structurally Changed America in 2017 New York Magazine (resilc)

U.S. cancels student loan debts for 12,900 college fraud victims Reuters. Talk about Scrooge! EM:

The U.S. Education Department on Wednesday canceled the student-loan debts of 12,900 people defrauded by defunct Corinthian Colleges, but its announcement that it will give varying amounts of debt relief in the future set off fierce criticism.

And lest we forget, this Slate piece from the run-up to the 2016 election is still pertinent:

Tax “Reform”

Repeal and Replace the Trump Tax Plan: A Call to Action for 2018 Truthout. Don’t expect the Democrats to lift a finger.

Republicans plan mega marketing push to sell unpopular tax plan Politico

House passes measure to avoid government shutdown The Hill

What Is Kirsten Gillibrand Up To? FiveThirtyEight (resilc)

Kirsten Gillibrand is playing her cards right. Slate (resilc)

Five Women Are Accusing A Top Left-Leaning Media Executive Of Sexually Harassing Them BuzzFeed (TF)

Baseball’s Rainmaker Forced Out After Alleged Misconduct Wall Street Journal

Police Shoot More Than Twice as Many Americans as Previously Understood Vice (Chuck L). Reported earlier, but bears repeating.

Fake News

How Facebook’s Political Unit Enables the Dark Art of Digital Propaganda Bloomberg

Farewell Bill Moyers (Bill B)

The Bezzle

Iced tea company rebrands as “Long Blockchain” and stock price triples ars technica (Kevin B)

Hundreds of People Made Gifts of Stock With Great Timing Wall Street Journal (TF)

Uber’s Loss in Europe Shows Trans-Atlantic Split Over Technology Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Corporate PR Stunts Won’t Save the Working Class New York Magazine (resilc)

Life expectancy in US down for second year in a row as opioid crisis deepens Guardian (Kevin W)

Opioid crisis trims U.S. life expectancy, boosts hepatitis C: CDC Reuters. EM:

Article headline is much tamer than the URL-matching ‘U.S. drug overdose deaths rose 21 percent to 63,600 in 2016: CDC’ under which the piece appears in my daily Reuters news summary. As a 21% YoY rise is nothing short of catastrophic, I find the later edit to the tamer more-clinical form bizarre.

Analysts say Wells Fargo will earn $3.7 billion from tax cuts. The bank is raising base wages by $1.50. Slate (resilc)

Populism is failing, but it is too soon to cheer Financial Times. Memo to the sort of pundit that also missed the financial crisis was coming: in light of the rise of not very nice populist right wing parties all over Europe, the rapid growth of the DSA and Sanders’ status as most popular politician in America, this piece has a Versailles circa 1788 feel to it.

Facebook ads that let employers target younger workers focus of U.S. lawsuit Reuters (EM). Lambert linked to this too, but worth not missing.

Antidote du jour (Karin H):

And giving you some Christmas wishes a bit early. Flora linked to this video in Links a few days ago, and I remember being very fond of it in my childhood:

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  1. Strategist

    Catalonia: I think this link is useful because it shows the percentage of the total votes won by each party, as well as the number of seats:

    I don’t think this vote shows that independence is the settled will of the entire Catalonian people, but it does show that if there was a straight referendum, independence or not, they would very likely win. Now I’m not a believer that big decisions should necessarily be taken on close referendum votes, 52-48 say, but what makes me puke based in the UK is the media narrative. Election result indecisive, settles nothing, even Ciudadanos win! (with 25.2% of the vote!)

    I didn’t see this media narrative over other recent binary elections, British Brexit referendum, Trump wins Presidency through electoral college despite losing popular vote, etc. What a load of tossers the mainstream media are. The news is – two parties, the first’s leader in jail, the other’s in exile, win the bloody election on an 82% turnout, and the silent majority against independence turns out not to exist – a remarkable story! For an antidote, here’s Craig Murray A Great Day! Well done Catalan voters!

    1. Ignacio

      I wouldn’t extrapolate but in my opinion it would be a technical tie. So, what to do after such a referendum? Follow the XIXth century romantic/nationalistic feelings mostly held in conservative rural freshwater areas into a messy process or go with the mostly urban, not-so conservative, saltwater, and almost certainly more practical approach?

      For me the most interesting result has been the fall of the PP (ruling in Spain), clearly a consequence of their mismanagements in this situation. Catalonians, independentists or not, dislike this government (as much as I do).

      1. Mac na Michomhairle

        I agree: rural areas are by definition obsolete, ignorant and unimportant, and urban areas are hip and intelligent and should be listened to.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Given the resistance from the Spanish gov’t, you’d need a large majority to succeed in an independence move. They don’t have that, as they just discovered.

      This struck me: ” the three separatist parties have meaningful differences of views (some want a split, others want just more budgetary autonomy like the Basques), so this may impede formation of a government.” Not only that; why doesn’t Rajoy just buy off the ones that want “more budgetary autonomy”? Granted, he’s gotten a lot of political capital out of it, but a compromise would squelch the independence movement. It’s like there’s something wrong with him – if he keeps this up, he could push Catalonia out of Spain, to widespread chaos.

        1. Jean

          Sounds like grievance based and manufactured social divisions as well as recently invented terminology is being used to help keep working class Americans divided.
          Blacks and whites united against the oligarchs? The Horror!
          Throw in a qualifier, something, anything!

          1. j84ustin

            I don’t find homophobic jokes by comedians of any race or ethnicity to be funny. And he’s rich. Maybe not an oligarch, but he’s rich.

    1. djrichard

      My understanding is that Netflix filmed some of it from the series of shows he put on this fall. I caught one of those and it was truly like watching an artist at work. So for that reason alone I recommend watching the Netflix show when it comes out.

      But to see him use his art to speak to today’s issues at hand was truly something. There couldn’t more of a contrast to the diet we’re asked to consume by the two dimensional card-board cut outs.

  2. Jim Haygood

    A poetic requiem for Venezuela:

    In the heart of Bogotá’s tourist district a group of four Venezuelans, dressed in the red, blue and yellow of their national flag, played traditional folk songs in hopes of earning some spare change.

    All of them were teachers and educators back in Yaracuy, in northern Venezuela. All fled without their families. The men said that on a good day they might make about $10 in spare change — the equivalent of their monthly salary back home.

    Orlando Muñoz, 33, who was playing the maracas, said he sold his most valuable possession, a refrigerator, to buy a one-way bus ticket to Colombia. While he said he would go home “immediately” if things got better, he described his decision in stark terms.

    “We’re not here because we want to be — we had to escape,” he said. “We’re fleeing from the quiet death of hunger.

    Asked what the name of the band was, the drummer shrugged as if it were an unnecessary luxury. “We don’t have a name,” he said. “I guess you can just call us Venezuela.”

    El chavismo mata.

    I got a gal in Baton Rouge she calls me Louisiana
    She gives me a little something to eat
    She knows just what I want
    She treats me right

    — Waylon Jennings, Louisiana Women

      1. JTMcPhee

        But some of us will luxuriate in our schadenfruede baths, pleased at the misery of others this cheerful retail season and comfy that the success of the looters in yet another clime and place, without even the need to send in the Marines (that anyone can see). Gotta love the way the Monroe Doctrine has matured and prospered (the few).

        Hey, is it time to “buy the dip”?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            When the dotcom bubble burst, it was said that money went into real estate. This was around 2002 or so.

            Where will the ‘smart money’ channel themselves this time? Cars?

            1. cnchal

              Lots of people got crushed in real estate, particularly when they got to the party and thought it was in full swing when it was about to keel over. The smart money was already at home, sleeping it off.

              The next bubble? As uninformed as the next person, my guess is something that hasn’t “exploded” in price versus the dollar in a while – gold and silver come to mind, and we already have the seeds in the ground for it in the form of nascent inflation warnings. It could be called a “flight to safety” for the maximum advertising effect of scaring people into owning it.

            2. djrichard

              One man’s bubble is another man’s wall of worry. How else are you supposed to engineer a “wealth effect”?

  3. paul

    RE: British passports will return to ‘iconic’ blue cover after Brexit

    This is the sole concrete, but not material, benefit that these deadbeats can flourish?

    Well you can wave it at Brussels , they won’t be telling what you can do anymore.

    Everyone (including eu26) else will be telling you what you cannot do.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Someone just posted to Facebook the history of the passport covers. Allegedly, the “iconic blue” was dictated to the UK by the League of Nations, and switching to burgundy was merely requested by the EU. In other words, they could have kept the blue. If true, it makes the irony even deeper.

    2. Expat

      While I have given up trying to feel sorry for humanity’s stupidity and so no longer care whether Britain stays or goes relative their own misery, I am not looking forward to the annoyance of traveling through Heathrow and Gatwick with my EU passport. Nothing says “Oh, God, please! No Brexit!” like the thought of arriving in Terminal 5 right behind three 747’s from Lagos, Beijing, and Rio. Been there, done that when I had just my American passport.

      But my own problems aside, I don’t think many Brits have thought this through. Many take holidays in Spain or Portugal. Thousands ride the ferries across the Channel to buy booze in Calais. While they will still be able to do that, it will take a little bit longer and be a bit more annoying.

      1. paul

        What point is there to think through?
        Do the unrequired ponder the nuances?
        I think they do not.
        Mindful thinking is easily trumped

      2. JTMcPhee

        Heaven forbid that even a soupçon of annoyance comes to the post-national well-off. Especially those who given up feeling sorry for humanity’s stupidity. Egad! Having to queue up behind a gaggle of “wogs!” Ca me tracasse!

        1. Expat

          Your unsubtle insinuations of my assumed racism are repugnant. When I travel on business, I don’t like losing thirty minutes to an hour in a queue because some ignorant Brit believed the lies told to him by Theresa May and Nigel Farage. If you travel as I do, you would understand.

          As for your insinuation that I consider everyone else wogs, I could insult you in a similar fashion but I know Yves is watching. Instead I will merely say that when I travel on holiday, my little family of various wogs comes along with me.

          Votre opinion est la votre mais ce n’est pas la peine de la partager si elle est offensive, ignorante et mal conçue.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Ahem, I have trouble being sympathetic because as an American, when I go to Heathrow, I am normally stuck in a long customs queue. So join the party.

            And the real problem is that the UK seriously understaffs its customs operations at peak hours.

            1. Expat

              While that is true, it is still a pain for me and hundreds of thousands of other Europeans who often use London as a hub. The issue here was the passport which leads back to the question of immigration and visas. I didn’t expect the bloody Spanish Inquisition.

              And as for Americans, I would trade the aforementioned scenario any time against trying to get into the US with or without a US passport. I would think that an American traveler would find Heathrow positively breezy and charming after arriving from JFK.

              1. anonymous

                No, JFK compares favorably to LHR.

                We go out of our way to avoid transiting through LHR.

                Several years ago, the lines and wait times were interminable. We missed our connecting flight.

                We were forced to connect through LHR this past August (because we are stupidly tied to a loyalty program) and things were only slightly better.

                HKG tops the list of easy airports to transit through

            2. subgenius

              Try hell-A X as a European coming in internationally…I have frequently waited while the (smaller number of) US Nationals get through with all lines open, then all bar one or two lines close and the rest of the world spends an hour or more getting in…and that is assuming you aren’t pulled for extra time. Last time my brother and wife came through they were held 6 hours because tsa had mixed up their fingerprints the previous visit…

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Touche! Et tres bien dit.

            I recall reading how an English gentleman in 1900 could travel the world without a passport and gain swift entry to any country on Earth.

            For my part I must travel from Australia to the U.S. for the holidays and the prospect fills me with dread. I gave back my US passport ten years ago and I’m sure that will be viewed as Strike 1. I briefly had only a Brazilian passport (my birthplace) before getting my Aussie one, Strike Two. I blog frequently and do not pull any punches in my opinions that we live in an age of complete and utter corruption and depravity and lawlessness by the 1% and the governments they own, Strike 3. And then there’s the actual visit itself, when I must contend with the knowledge that in the shopping mall or the movie theater or the restaurant a non-zero percentage of the people around me will be secretly carrying loaded weapons, which they are allowed by law to use on me with only the flimsiest of provocations. And everywhere the agents of the state, in their blue uniforms, who have taken the lives of 937 citizens so far this year. Total terror, and I think this may be my last (attempted) visit.

            1. Chauncey Gardiner

              I truly hope your visit does not include any of the issues you have raised, OTPBDH; and that your travel, presumably to visit those you love, is of the highest reward.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Thank you! I grew up in the U.S. and have very fond memories of a safe, carefree, free, and prosperous nation with endless creativity and energy and a boundless future for all. But things have definitely changed.

                1. Joel

                  If you only travel to countries that are as safe as Australia, you’re going to be pretty limited in your travel options.

                  And seriously, the pearl-clutching at US entry procedures by people who are not Muslims or from Muslim-majority countries or actual activists who would seriously be targeted by the US government is obnoxious. Stolen valor.

                  My heart goes out to people who actually do have reason to fear going through US and other countries’ customs and immigration procedures. Everyone else could seriously try improving how their countries treat visitors. You’ll likely find it’s not much different than in the US, and just as in the US, good luck getting your government agencies to lighten up. Thousands of make-work jobs depend on all this harassment and hassling, after all.

                  With my US passport I’ve had some unpleasant experiences entering other countries. And I once met a guy from a majority-Muslim country who got deported while trying to enter Bolivia. Bolivia!

                  1. Oregoncharles

                    For years I’ve expected my political activities to have consequences at airport security (haven’t tried the border). I’m not prominent, except locally, but I’ve done my bet to get on every list there is. I’m almost disappointed that they haven’t noticed.

                  2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    One day, when robots can think like humans, they’ll become believers in one -ism or another (otherwise, they don’t pass the test).

                    Then, they will have to be thoroughly vetted entering a country.


                    “Political party affiliation?”

                    “Been to Russia lately?

                    “All your passwords.”

                    Welcome to more lines, or queues.

      3. Mark P.

        Nothing says “Oh, God, please! No Brexit!” like the thought of arriving in Terminal 5 right behind three 747’s from Lagos, Beijing, and Rio. Been there, done that when I had just my American passport.

        Quelle horreur.

        Don’t let the door hit you on the way through and out, chum.

      1. cm

        I just found out if you have a period after the link end tag it will not create the link, even though that would be kosher html. So, leave off having the period and it works…

  4. Wukchumni

    How often do homeless deaths of despair include opiod overdoses, compared to those formerly living in an abode?

    This is a horrible thing to think, but if you wanted the homeless gone and all other methods were both costly & ineffective-as they just kept coming back, fentanyl et al costs a pittance to add to their addiction, and put em’ in a potter’s field posthaste.

    The issue of the homeless in California is such that newcomers to the trait are encroaching on suburbia, which can’t be good for property values, imagine trying to sell your house and 200 feet beyond your fence is a jungle of cheap tents and squalor?

    And every last one of them with a stove is cooking over an open flame…

    Not to mention Hep-A, cholera, typhus and other things that come with the unsanitary territory.

    1. tegnost

      Homelessness on the entire west coast is a huge problem. Once it was one city or another that had the homeless problem, now it’s all of them, and not enough greyhound bus destinations to take them away…
      a quick search reveals this
      Really to my mind there is nothing that gives the lie to the economy more than the homeless problem. Please be kind in the holiday season, and remember that these are your brothers and sisters.

      1. neighbor7

        Tents slowly creeping westward on Hollywood Blvd, soon to face off with all the monstrous new construction creeping eastward.

        1. anonymous

          We recently had to rat on homeless people in a tent hidden high on a hillside in Los Angeles. It was simply too dangerous to ignore because so many have cooking stoves. Southern California is entering a second drought and things are bone dry.

          Homeless encampments are all over Los Angeles. Last count said 58,000 people homeless in greater Los Angeles County and a significant number of these are veterans.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It is a national problem needing a national solution.

        Hopefully it’s not ignored in the 2020 election.

        1. cripes

          “(Homelessness) is a national problem needing a national solution.

          Hopefully it’s not ignored in the 2020 election.”

          That’s humor, right?
          Homelessness has been ignored in every presidential election year since I’ve been alive.

      3. Jean

        Question: Weather aside, do you think that if every city and town gave the same exact benefits and services to the homeless that they would concentrate in the places where those services, and the weather, are the best?

      4. Joe Renter

        After the down turn in 2007 -08 Seattle went off the charts with the homeless. Rents rise and more end up on the streets. Drugs are a way to escape, no doubt. There are lots of OD’s every day here. Tents abound throughout the city. Very sad.

    2. Anon

      Why does this comment sound like the words from a certain character in “A Christmas Carol”? The LA Times has done excellent, long-term, nuanced reporting on homelessness that should be read by those that think the homeless are simply a disgusting nuisance.

      1. JTMcPhee

        If a person in poverty in America is only a “temporarily embarrassed millionaire,” how many of the filthy rich are “temporarily funded homeless?”

        The former thinking is sure part of the “Exceptionalism” that has half of all us working class mopes ready, at the drop of a bitcoin, to kill the other half…

        One of the ways a species goes extinct….

    1. paul

      Ha ha
      My swiss sister in law was invited once to the local consulate.
      She was quite baffled why everyone asked about the elegant chocolates, but eventually got the joke.
      Merry xmas clive, a londinium pal was telling me that ‘the guys at etherium’ were in his orbit and my mind flashed back to your post.
      I grunted and moved on.

      1. Clive

        It’s amazing the things people brag about that, when you hear them, you think to yourself, hmm… I’d have kept quiet about that if it were me!

        Merry Christmas, hohoho, etc.

  5. ambrit

    Aw shucks Comrade Jim. Think outside the ’67 ‘box.’
    All the izzies need do is send a well “escorted” foraging team over into Palestan to ‘requisition’ the needed supplies from the Alt Authorities. H—! A quick jaunt North into Syria stands a very good chance of snagging some radical caviar!
    What else is a Hegemony for if not to enrich the Hegies?
    Happy investing! Me, I’m going long daylight.

  6. The Rev Kev

    That’s hilarious that. Especially when you consider that the US ambassador and the other nine country’s ambassadors that voted yes could all have gone there in the same shared minivan. I swear to god that when they were taking the UN vote, that Halley was giving the other ambassadors a death stare. I know that I am cynical but I really hope that Halley’s actions are not just so that she can win a term as Secretary of State and then a bid as a Vice Presidential candidate down the track and that she is really playing to conservative American audiences.

    1. Carolinian

      And here they are

      Israel, Honduras, Togo, U.S., Palau, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Guatemala

      Haley may be Tillerson’s job security the way Pence is Trump’s. Her neocon backers keep planting stories about how she is waiting in the wings for Sec State but when Tillerson exit stories came out a couple of weeks ago she was not cited as a potential replacement. Trump was supposedly furious that she said Trump sex accusers should speak up.

      Still, Trump better watch out for that death stare.

      1. Wukchumni

        We’re in good stead with Nauru, a former fabulously rich place based upon Guano Deposits Placed and when the GDP ran out, so did the wealth, shit happens. Then they turned to being a tax haven & money laundering center, and maybe some of the Aussie contingent can comment, but it looks like a Gitmo-esque operation immigration station now?

        “Nauru is a phosphate rock island with rich deposits near the surface, which allowed easy strip mining operations. It has some remaining phosphate resources which, as of 2011, are not economically viable for extraction. Nauru boasted the highest per-capita income enjoyed by any sovereign state in the world during the late 1960s and early 1970s. When the phosphate reserves were exhausted, and the island’s environment had been seriously harmed by mining, the trust that had been established to manage the island’s wealth diminished in value. To earn income, Nauru briefly became a tax haven and illegal money laundering centre. From 2001 to 2008, and again from 2012, it accepted aid from the Australian Government in exchange for hosting the Nauru Regional Processing Centre. As a result of heavy dependence on Australia, many sources have identified Nauru as a client state of Australia.” (Wiki)

  7. marym


    Indivisible Guide‏Verified account @IndivisibleTeam

    Indivisible Statement: “Tonight, 32 Dems, including 18 in the Senate & 14 in the House, voted to deport Dreamers. ​​For 3 months, Dem leadership has reassured Dreamers that they would use their leverage in the Dec spending bill to get the Dream done. They failed to deliver.” 1/

    1. beth

      Thanks for posting this. If the Ds want to win elections, can they continue to vote like Rs? Keep us posted one vote at a time.

      Chappelle explained it very well. I started my career as a professional and was treated as such. Then after a tumble caused by wall street churning,I never recovered. It’s time for a change.

    2. allan

      It turns out that not only did the Dems throw the Dreamers under the bus,
      but they threw away a huge amount of leverage:

      Trump signs bill to avoid shutdown, delaying deadline to January
      [The Hill]

      It waived the mandatory budget cuts that the cost of the tax bill would have invoked,
      including $25 billion in Medicare cuts for 2018 that Susan Collins claimed she had been promised wouldn’t happen. In other words, Chuck and Nancy just threw the GOP a big, sloppy kiss, so that Congress can go home for the holidays. Also too:

      … The temporary government funding bill also extends an electronic surveillance law, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, that was set to expire at the end of this month. …

      As the old joke goes, the Republicans fear their base, the Democrats have contempt for theirs.

  8. The Rev Kev

    Your home was not so secure after all

    RT ran a story recently about a popular gun safe ( on Amazon that could be opened because of a Bluetooth vulnerability and weak PIN set up. It seems that anything that opens using high-tech is just asking for trouble, especially if it uses the term the IoT. It’s like the early days of Microsoft when they regraded security as their users problem.
    Personal disclaimer: I use metal keys that require no electricity or internet connectivity to work.

    1. Webstir

      OMG! How on earth do you bear the toil and drudgery that opening a door with a key entails??? You’re a visionary. A disrupter of disrupters! They will come for you …

  9. Marco

    A new Snowden app Haven to protect us from “Evil Maid” and/or “Jealous Lover” attacks. Big fan of Snowden and the Intercept but this seems a bit absurd.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Saw that and yeah, why would Snowden put his imprimatur on something as hokey as that?

      I stopped following him on Twitter after a few very neoliberal leaning comments and his buddies in the billionaire club. A bit of the typical geek culture libertarianism in his views is to be expected but a junk app? Jeez.

  10. JTMcPhee

    Time for student loan debtors to create their own Jubilee? Since just about every student loan has a significant dollop fraud in it? “Got to go to college and get a degree so you can have a well paid middle class career or a seat on the Disruption Train To The Cliff.” How often does that happen? The definition of fraud: Making a material misrepresentation of a material fact, with the expectation that the information will be relied on, in the knowledge that it is false and misleading, to the injury of the defrauded party.

    All you have to do, all you overloaded hopeless debtors, is



    How much worse can it get for the vast number of you who have a chance to stop being Sysiphus and quit trying to roll an impossible rock up an asymptotic hill? You can hardly pursue litigation for remedies, given the courts and rules on class actions. Here’s a “class action,” because almost all of you are clearly a class, the class of the hopeless unrich…


    1. Amateur Political Analyst

      If you’re not planning to apply in the short or intermediate-term for a loan for a house, car, or business anyway–I don’t see the problem with stopping your student loan payments. If you have credit cards anyway, and continue paying them–then they will not take those away. If you’re living “hand to mouth” now, then those extra few hundreds dollars of month you save from not paying your student loans will really help! If you don’t have a credit card, and need one for renting cars, or whatever, you can get a secured card with a $500 or so deposit. With millions of other student loan defaulters, I don’t think you should worry about a “student loan gulag” being set up. The government plan is to dock your social security, but if that is 30, 40 years away for you–then you have to do some present value analysis on how the few hundred of dollars per month savings matches up with “potential” problems 30 or 40 years from now. I say “potential,” because you have to decide: 1) Do you think social security will be solvent then anyway? 2) If it is, will they dock ALL of your monthly payment, or just a percentage of it? 3) Will the US be intact as a country then anyway in order issue social security payments? 4) Will the world be intact? You know–North Korea, Trump, Climate Change. You can do a lot of good with those few hundred dollars per month now, and for the next few years or decades.

      1. David

        From the US DOE,

        What are the consequences of default?
        …Your wages will be garnished. This means your employer may be required to withhold a portion of your pay and send it to your loan holder to repay your defaulted loan.
        …You may be charged court costs, collection fees, attorney’s fees, and other costs associated with the collection process.

        And this is interesting,

        …Your school may withhold your academic transcript until your defaulted student loan is satisfied. The academic transcript is the property of the school, and it is the school’s decision—not the U.S. Department of Education’s or your loan holder’s—whether to release the transcript to you.

        Good luck, in this job market, explaining to a potential employer why they can’t get a copy of your transcript.

        1. jrs

          employers are unlikely to care, they’ll take your word you have a degree and move on unless it’s your very first job in the field. However if for whatever reason one wanted yet more education then a transcript matters.

          1. Kurtismayfield

            I have worked in research, education, and business.. I have never been asked to supply a transcript nor my degree for any job application. The only people who care about transcripts are in higher education.

            1. Tom_Doak

              I work in a very specialized field, and I had never once been asked to produce a record of my college degree until I was 53 years old – when we signed up for a project in Canada, and I had to produce the transcript for my professional degree to qualify as a professional under NAFTA !

    2. Louis

      Some of us have managed to pay our student loans in full–I recently finished paying mine off, well under 10 years after graduating–but if you want to voluntarily default (i.e. stop paying) on your loans that is your choice.

      Don’t, however, come asking for a bailout or any other kind of “get out of jail free card” when the consequences of not paying your loans catch up with you. .

      1. ArcardiaMommy

        Curious about a couple of things….
        1. What was tuition back in your day?
        2. Are you contemplating what the cost of tuition will be for a college education for young children? I am.

      2. Marco

        How did you pay off your student loans? With the income earned from a job? What if you can’t find a job with the degree obtained via debt? All bets are off when you got no $$. Is it harsh to call people who pay off student loans (basically gov backed debt) chumps?

        1. Louis

          If you can’t find a job in your field, which was the case for me, you take whatever jobs you can get and make sacrifices, including having roommates or (if it comes to it) moving in with family if necessary.

          I agree that the younger generation, of which I am part of, has been dealt a bad hand, especially regards to employment, the cost of higher education, and the cost of housing..

          However, not making a good-faith effort to payback student loans is just being deadbeat.

          1. ArcadiaMommy

            Who are the deadbeats here – the increasing number of administrators running around doing busy work getting paid inflated salaries? State legislators that cut funding for education of all kinds? The voters who elect them? The banks that make money off of loans guaranteed by the government?

            Seems to me like there are a lot of pigs at the trough.

            Education is a public good. It benefits you and me and everyone else to have as many intelligent citizens as we can get out there. Come on.

            1. Louis

              Where state schools are concerned the fault ultimately lies with the voters for deciding over the last 30 years, that tax cuts were more important than keeping higher-education affordable, hence decreased funding for higher-education. No it’s not a good policy to have to accure thousands of dollars of debt for education but we are where we are.

              Arranging a new payment plan because you can’t afford the current one is acting in good faith. However, simply saying “I’m going to stick it to the man and stop paying completely” is acting in bad faith and yes qualifies as being deadbeat.

              Like I said, if you want to act in bad faith and default on your loans by choice, fine. However, if you elect to do so you’re on own when the consequences of default–be it difficulty obtaining credit or garnishment of Social Security–catch up with you.

              1. todde

                “if you elect to do so you’re on own when the consequences of default–”

                Are those student loans guaranteed by the gov’t?

                Seems like the consequences of default fall mainly a certain class of people.

                Maybe we should stop guaranteeing debt and let the people who make the bad loans lose their money.

                Deadbeats are people who think their money can earn money consequence(risk) free.

                1. lyman alpha blob

                  I’ve never understood the concept of the govt guaranteeing debt in the first place. If they are going to make the lender whole regardless, why doesn’t the government just pay the tuition in the first place?

                  Putting it another way, isn’t a government guarantee of personal debt repayment one way of admitting that we are already using the MMT system and can pay for whatever we want to pay for?

                  In a perfect world, I’m all for personal responsibility, however in this one, I’ll start being completely responsible about the same time that our corporate persons are required to.

                  In the mean time, if you are burdened with student debt and also receive multiple offers for unsecured credit cards, well then you have your answer to the problem. IIRC, one type debt is dischargeable in bankruptcy and the other is not.

                  1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                    Can we just point out the obvious here:

                    Citibank takes on waaaay too much debt, gets unlimited free money and handouts to stay “solvent”, executives pocket billions as their punishment.

                    Hapless student takes on too much debt, oh no, it’s *capitalism* for him, since the society doesn’t need educated people to function, it just needs a few more billionaire bankers stuffing their offshore hidey-holes with even more cash.

                    All brought to you of course by your “representatives” in Washington DC. Thanks, Obama/Biden/Holder/Hilary/Trump/McConnell/Ryan/Schumer/Pelosi/Feinstein/Baucus etcccccccccccccccccccccccccc.

            2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              A more comprehensive approach may be this: We give money to everyone and each of us decides what to do with that money.


              1. Pay medical bills
              2. Pay alimony
              3. Pay IRS debts
              4. Donate to one of the two parties
              5. Put it into one’s 401K plan
              6. Buy food for one’s family

              This counters divide-and-conquer.

              And it says, student loans are no more special than other difficulties we all are experiencing in life.

              And it responds loudly back to those who claim it is pandering to a select group of voters.

            3. Paul Cardan

              I think there’s a case to be made for the claim that the loans are exploitative. The debtors have little choice but to accept them, given both the state of the job market (for some time now) and the fact that we live in a society in which the alternatives are either to work to stay alive or own for gain (which is nice “work” if you can get it, more and more likely by way of inheritance). Of course, “work to stay alive” is an exaggeration, since there are a still a host of re-distributive social welfare programs, but it is also true that those programs have been under a very effective attack for several decades. The job market itself is the way it is because of choices made by persons controlling productive assets along with policy makers (elected with a tremendous amount of help from the aforementioned controllers of productive assets). Some of these choices have to do with off-shoring, others with union busting, still others with trade deals. At the same time, the “good” jobs that remain require credentialing (if not the skills that purportedly correspond to those credentials) by higher ed, the sellers of which are limited in number. Now, some of the sellers of higher ed credentials are public institutions, but its well known that they’ve increasingly had to rely on tuition combined with donations from well-off individuals in order to operate, state financial support having been cut (which is another choice, motivated in much the same way as the choices listed above). To make matters worse, the education market is counter-cyclical, meaning that states have the least amount of money to devote to higher ed at precisely those times when more of their citizens are going (or going back) to school. So, a great deal of the financial burden of higher ed has been placed on students. At the same time, a lot of money has been made available for student loans (offered, at interest, by persons controlling productive assets). Not surprisingly, tuition has skyrocketed. I think this situation, altogether, makes the offer of a student loan an offer that can’t be refused. Admittedly, its not quite on the order of waking up with a horse’s head in your bed, but its exploitation all the same: offer someone what amounts to a terrible deal for them, while altering their circumstances so they have little choice but to accept. The beauty of it is that, after the deal’s been accepted, those who offered can go on and on about the grave moral responsibility of the debtor to make good, since the debtor agreed to the deal of their own free will. Actually, though, that’s not the really beautiful part. The really beautiful part happens when some of the rest of us take the lenders seriously.

              1. ArcadiaMommy

                And the “offer you can’t refuse” is made right at the moment when you are legally able to accept but probably don’t have any clue what you are getting into.

                Aren’t the lenders smart enough to engage in underwriting loans without needing the backstop of the US government? Let’s apply this concept to mortgages as well. Doesn’t the bank pretty much tell you what the house/education/stock/bond/whatever is worth?

                Aren’t we told that the bankers/lenders are so smart they can determine the value of X asset for the average citizen (education, housing, companies, bonds, etc.) but when they turn out to be wrong, guess who is left holding the bag. Privatize profits, socialize the risk, blah blah blah.

          2. perpetualWAR

            So grateful that we are now using the financial institutions’ own propaganda “deadbeat” to judge others. What’s a crime….?…..the theft of our youth through unsustainable debt loads.

      3. CalypsoFacto

        Some of us have managed to pay our student loans in full–I recently finished paying mine off, well under 10 years after graduating–but if you want to voluntarily default (i.e. stop paying) on your loans that is your choice.

        Yeah thinking like this is probably the bigger obstacle to a student loan debt jubilee than anything else. If YOU paid everything off everyone else SHOULD be able to, otherwise it detracts from your accomplishment – wholly irrelevant to the problems of others. Did you have 100k+ in debt like many millennials? Or do you also believe that their ‘choices’ are what led them to take on that much debt? Choose a lifetime of no access to ‘real’ jobs via credentialism or at the very least tens of thousands debt which no longer guarantees a job – this is not a real choice.

        Perhaps if there was a tax credit(?) or something to offset the ‘loss’ of paid off loans to those obedient and lucky citizens who were able to repay, the cognitive trap of ‘if I can do it, everyone can’ can be avoided.

      4. mpalomar

        “Don’t, however, come asking for a bailout or any other kind of “get out of jail free card” when the consequences of not paying your loans catch up with you. .”

        However when the banks that made the onerous loans are in danger of default because the debt burden they have shifted on to an ever beleaguered public, (stagnant wages, carrying ccd 20+% and nicked by bank fees and insurance premiums) proceeds to melt down the economy once again, guess who gets the ‘get out of jail free card?’

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Analysts say Wells Fargo will earn $3.7 billion from tax cuts. The bank is raising base wages by $1.50. Slate (resilc)

    On the one hand, dividend-raking 0.1% will be idly richer, with the tax cuts, along with pension funds and retirement investors, on the other hand, $1.50/hour is better than nothing, compared with, say, hair-stylists or waiters/waitresses at small businesses.

    I hope they will also lower their fees, making the best of tax cuts.

    1. allan

      NYT has a similar estimate ($11 million) for Trump’s tax savings under the law he just signed.
      If only their were some Constitutional protections against this. …

      Speaking of which, the story yesterday was that the signing would be delayed until early January,
      so that the required $25 billion cut in Medicare (among other cuts) would be put off
      until after the midterms 2019.
      What changed?

      1. Bill

        would that be stretching the emoluments clause?

        The simplest definition is that an emolument is compensation for services or from employment or an office. It has also been said to mean “advantage” or “benefit.” The word comes from emolumentum, which is Latin for “profit” or “gain.” (italic mine)

        but you could get most of them on that

  12. CanCyn

    Father ‘famous’ for Christmas lights dies fixing display BBC (resilc) :-(

    I live in Burlington and while I’m not really a fan of the festive season, I try to find the joy where I can and that includes my annual drive past the Musson house to marvel at their celebration of Christmas. I don’t know that I’d ever have called the display beautiful, but certainly the enthusiasm and obvious love for Christmas that goes into it is beautiful. Mr Musson kept up the display even after the death of his son – he added a motorcycle in honour of his son.

    I am sorry for the family’s loss.

    1. Wukchumni

      When I was a kid, in the surrounding 100 houses in the area I grew up, the neighborhood lost 3 fathers who were putting up the tv antenna, and fell to their deaths.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I was talking to my doctor yesterday who related that one time when he came home from short vacation, he found his whole house flooded from some broken pipe(s), and he almost died from being electrocuted when he opened the door, and stepped into the indoor pool.

  13. JTMcPhee

    And on a bit of a hopeful note, Jack Latvala, R-Corruption, has been forced to resign from the gerrymander-Republican-dominated Florida Senate, where he was a Big Gun in the Elite rulership structure for quite a few years.

    If the early findings of a retired judge are correct, legal experts say, former state Sen. Jack Latvala could face a criminal bribery charge in a dramatic escalation of a sex scandal that has already upended the capital.

    Latvala, a Clearwater Republican and former Senate budget chairman, was among the state’s most powerful politicians before resigning Wednesday, the day after the judge issued a report suggesting he may have traded legislative support for sexual intimacy with an unnamed lobbyist. The judge referenced a text message possibly backing up the lobbyist’s account, evidence that lawyers said could mark the start of Latvala’s unraveling.

    “That could fall under either bribery or unlawful compensation,” said Bob Dekle, a longtime state prosecutor and retired University of Florida law professor.

    Both charges are second-degree felonies under the Florida law for misuse of public office, and carry penalties of up to 15 years in prison or a $10,000 fine.

    Bribery is to “request, solicit, accept, or agree to accept” any “benefit not authorized by law … to influence” an action that an official says is under their control, according to the statute. The unlawful compensation law is nearly identical.

    A bribery charge would not require Latvala to have actually supported legislation in exchange for sexual favors, lawyers said. Simply agreeing to the trade — known widely as quid pro quo — would be a violation.

    I guess the Supreme’s interpretation of quid pro quo has not made it into the “law” in FL yet. It helps that Latvala is a not very nice person, and played the power game in ways that have annoyed a number of special interests.

    Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, is way off in the northwest corner of the panhandle part of the state. I believe it is the farthest capital (in terms of measured distance, anyway) from the geographic and population centroids of any state. Looters, developers, the NRA, the aptly named “power companies,” banksters, and all those lobbyists that feed there, have had an ever freer hand to degrade and extract and debase the parts of the state where the rest of us live. Including the lapdog Democrats who corporately are Thomas Frank Liberals and all in “against Trump” and “for identitarianism and inclusion and intersectionality” and the rest of the Debbie Wasserman Schultz version of “what it means to be a Democrat.” I believe a significant plurality of registered voters here have listed themselves as Democrat over Republican, but “independent” is booming, though not that one can see it from the continued domination of “business interests” over public needs. And a significant plurality of Dems, as so well demonstrated via NC, are “liberal,” and “not an organized political party.”

  14. Webstir

    Question Yves:
    I’ve recently posted several links from NC on Facebook in response to posts from friends of mine that regularly play the Dems good, Repubs bad finger pointing game. Not a lot, either. Just two or three times in the span of a couple hours. Shortly thereafter, Facebook started marking my posts responding to EVERYONE as spam.

    Has anyone else run into this?

    1. Kurtismayfield

      My guess is that a few people didn’t like your post but couldn’t argue against it. So they reported your post as spam.

  15. Don Midwest USA

    Please recommend a couple of readable articles on the new “tax” bill

    There are a couple of people who I would like to send articles because they are completely in the dark about the bill.


      1. Don Midwest USA

        Reply to allan (not sure where this will show up)

        Thanks. Just what I needed. The material at the Center of Budget and Priority Policies has an article up on top that was great.

        I will send it out.

        We bought a used car yesterday. And I mentioned the tax bill and the man doing the financing said that he had not looked into what implication it would have for his taxes. I hit the ceiling. This bill will change America. I am sending him the article. I don’t expect he will respond.

  16. hemeantwell

    Re Bill Moyers signing off at age 83. Sad enough, but what made it worse was to see him cushioning the farewell with a promise to continue to stoke Russiagate. To date, the most powerful event convergence has been brought about by his media allies insinuating a reality for us.

    Until it moves to a new home, our Trump-Russia timeline, created by the indefatigable Steve Harper and orchestrated by our producers, will continue to publish right here at, tracking the convergence of events connecting the Trump empire and Russian oligarchs now being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      All these are different, if only subtly:

      1. Going on a hunch
      2. Confirming one’s foregone conclusion
      3. Examining a situation open-minded

      The last required more than faith. It needs evidence, every step of the way.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      I felt the same way.

      My initial thought was that he had retired before and come back so maybe this wasn’t the final goodbye. But after reading the Russia nonsense, well maybe it’s time for him to go.

      He knows better than this, or at least he used to.

      1. ambrit

        Yes, Bill Moyers does know better. Plus, he still refuses to say anything about what really went on inside the LBJ White House. Does he think that America is too fragile to handle the truth?
        I still like his older work.

  17. fresno dan

    12/21 post:
    A 7-year-old boy was killed Thursday in the crossfire at a Schertz mobile home park where Bexar County Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed a woman they believed was firing at them.

    Authorities have not released the names of those involved, but the San Antonio Express-News reports that the woman was a suspect in a car theft who appeared to fire at deputies, according to officials.
    12/22 Post:
    Authorities have identified a boy killed in crossfire in Schertz as Kameron Prescott, and now say he was 6 years old.
    According to the Express-News, no weapon was found on the woman following the shooting.

    If you see imaginary guns, undoubtedly you’ll hear imaginary gunfire….

    1. Oregoncharles

      No gun, NO CROSSFIRE. Just another horrible example of policing. They were mad at her, having chased her for a long time, so they thought it was OK to shoot her regardless of where they were.

    2. ambrit

      This is what happens when the “policing” techniques worked out in the Middle East war zones is bought back to the Homeland.

    1. Expat

      It’s amusing hearing Bitcoin advocates argue that bitcoins are great currency because they are hard to obtain and have an absolute limit to the number that can be mined. They argue that Bitcoins are therefore like gold. Hence Bitcoins are perfect money. QED.

      There are a few flaws in the argument. Since Bitcoin is an algorithm and not an atom forged in the heart of an exploding star, the process can be altered. Which is to say, we could rewrite the code to allow more Bitcoins. Another major flaw is that Bitcoin is not unique. Until Bitcoin exploded over the past month, I did not know that. Essentially, there is no limit to how many cryptocurrencies you can invent or how many of each you allow.

      At least with tulips there was some sort of limit.

      1. blennylips

        In case you are not being facetious, the secret is the number stamped on the underside of your bitcoin that identifies you as the owner;)

        Every wallet has two numbers: a public number anyone can send to, and the above mentioned number that allows to you spend it.

        Guessing this number is worse than trying to pick one particular atom out of the whole universe, or so I’ve been told…

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            When you discover someone else’s number, you become the owner?

            That’s not too different from coming across a bag of coins in the ground, which was buried secretly, but now it’s in your possession.

            1. blennylips

              Yes, all true.

              But, how do you know you’ve got such a number?

              Pretty obvious ya gotta bag of something at your feet. BTC secret numbers are not wrapped in a bow; you must test to see if it works. Makes guessing useless.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                They are alike in that you have to write down the number (or the secret location, or the safe combination, etc.) on a piece of paper, or memorize in the head.

  18. elga

    I like this blog and especially the comments. Smart folks. Has there been any thought to linking the posts to the articles they reference? Sometimes I read a link and then scroll through the comments to find people’s opinions/comments on them, but they are hard to find! just a suggestion for layout….

    1. Oregoncharles

      I think that would mean “Reply”-ing to individual links. I suspect that would get complicated. I try to start with a quote that identifies the article I’m responding to, but that doesn’t make it real easy to find the comments on a given link.

  19. mpalomar

    Saint Nikki Haley is taking names of who’s naughty and nice at the UN.
    Good or bad, everyone gets a lump of coal in their stockings from uncle donald.

  20. Patrick Donnelly

    USA has a long term game plan. Remember paperclip and that German was nearly the Official language?

    It will continue to weaken itself egregiously. Strangely like the UK! Glad to see Venice and Genoa working together?

    At the right time there will be a surprise attack. The last World War. But will it go as they have planned? No. Too many know the history.

  21. skippy


    Profit motive and nationalism precludes logical introspection e.g. one can not criticize others a yet at the same time play footsie e.g. see Moyers.

    skippy…. heavy sigh….

  22. mk

    “We reached this conclusion using a new experimental setup, but in principle these results could have been discovered using technology that has existed since the 1980s. The belief that has been rooted in the scientific world for 100 years resulted in this delay of several decades,” said Kanter and his team of researchers, including Shira Sardi, Roni Vardi, Anton Sheinin and Amir Goldental.
    … patterns of delay

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