Links 12/24/17

‘Remarkable’ truffle discovery on Paris rooftop raises hopes of more BBC

Algae, thrilled about a warming climate, is making Greenland melt faster Quartz

Extreme weather explicitly blamed on humans for the first time Nature

PG&E Suspends Dividends, “Uncertainty Related to Causes” of Bay Area Wildfires. Shares Plunge Further Wolf Street. Well, well.

Russian Shippers Place Massive Order For 60 Ice-Class Ships In Arctic Expansion Russia Insider (KW).

Theranos Secures $100 Million in New Funding from Fortress Capital Fortune

Intangible assets are changing investment The Economist

From Richard Smith:

Bitcoin Billionaires May Have Found a Way to Cash Out Bloomberg

Get ready for a 2018 cryptocurrency crime wave Yahoo Finance (E. Mayer).

Charter promises Internet service to family—then says it’ll cost $16,000 Ars Technica (Re Silc). To the rescue: Municipal broadband!


Washington Post Calls For Outrage About War On Yemen – Hides U.S. Role In It Moon of Alabama

Why China Sold Qatar The SY-400 Ballistic Missile System LobeLog

Parched for a price: Karachi’s water crisis Al Jazeera

A Crisis of Democracy in the Balkans Cable

Making room for Muslims Handelsblatt


Corbyn government is ‘nightmarish’ prospect says business chief FT

‘It won’t work!’ EU rejects UK’s finance plans as a ploy to ‘make Europe be nice’ Express

North Korea

North Korea says new U.N. sanctions an act of war Reuters

Sanctions against North Korea take their toll on smugglers operating along Chinese border South China Morning Post

How the US Department of Energy Shapes North Korea Policy The Diplomat

It’s a THAAD, THAAD, THAAD World The Baffler


China needs to continue reducing financial leverage: central bank deputy governor Reuters

China, Flush With Cash, Sets Sights on Shipping Morning Star

China has an irrational fear of a “black invasion” bringing drugs, crime, and interracial marriage Quartz

New Cold War

Moscow: U.S. arms may spur use of force by Kiev in eastern Ukraine Reuters

* * *
The most respectable conspiracy theory in Washington The Week

Was the Steele Dossier the FBI’s ‘Insurance Policy’? National Review vs. In Which Former NatSec Prosecutor Andrew McCarthy Embraces Russian Disinformation emptywheel

Andrew McCabe, F.B.I.’s Embattled Deputy, Is Expected to Retire NYT

Trump Transition

Judge blocks Trump refugee order Politico

Bob Corker, Corrupt? What a Surprise Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

These 69 Democrats Just Voted for the GOP’s Disaster Bill. Here’s Why That’s Not Nice. Jonathan Cohn, Medium

Long after Trump is gone, we’ll still be fighting him Corey Robin, Guardian

How Baltimore’s Inspector General’s office got de-fanged Baltimore Brew. This is very bad.

Democrats in Disarray


The Democrats’ Wave Could Turn Into A Flood FiveThirtyEight. Maybe. At this point, I’m highly counter-suggestible, and I’d want to see more than the generic ballot.

Expressing ‘concern,’ top Florida official wants more info about destruction of Broward ballots Politico

Virginia’s New Socialist Lawmaker: “A Clean Medicaid Expansion Is the Compromise The Intercept

Meet Dan Canon, the House candidate who wants to cure the opioid crisis by legalising marijuana Independent

Happy Holidaze

The kings of Christmas cheeses: Stilton, Stichelton and other blues FT

A Cute Toy Just Brought a Hacker Into Your Home NYT

A classic:

Another classic:

Neoliberal Epidemics

‘I regularly see rickets’: diseases of Victorian-era poverty return to UK BBC

At Vice, Cutting-Edge Media and Allegations of Old-School Sexual Harassment NYT. “[T]he allegations involve men in their 20s, 30s and 40s who came of age long after workplace harassment was not only taboo but outlawed.”

Women At The New York Times Feel Neglected, Frustrated As Paper Stands By Glenn Thrush HuffPo

What happened when the infosec community outed its own sexual predators The Verge

Two heterosexual Irish men marry to avoid inheritance tax on property Guardian

Class Warfare

Statement on Visit to the USA, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights* United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner

How wealth inequality has changed in the U.S. since the Great Recession, by race, ethnicity and income Pew Research

‘I hope I can quit working in a few years’: A preview of the U.S. without pensions WaPo

Property owners scramble to adapt to world of WeWork and Airbnb FT

What Happens When the Richest U.S. Cities Turn to the World? NYT

Virginia is Exceptionally Unequal The Half Sheet

New Zealand gives Mount Taranaki same legal rights as a person Guardian

The Great Unraveling: Using Science and Philosophy to Decode Modernity Counterpunch

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Mark P.

    The real Evil Empire is Washington and Wall Street. From the Taibbi article —

    ‘Tennessee Senator Bob Corker went from having an estimate net worth of zero when he entered the Senate in 2007, to being (as of 2015) worth $69 million….”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Does the IRS ask, how was that achieved on a senator’s income?

      Do senators have to put their assets in blind trusts? I believe not.

      The trust portfolio manager should be a star for that feat.

      1. perpetualWAR

        The IRS didn’t investigate the largest tax scam in our nation’s history — the private RMBS Trusts. So, why would they investigate Corker? They’ll continue to go after small business and poor workers, as is their schtick.

  2. fresno dan

    Was the Steele Dossier the FBI’s ‘Insurance Policy’? National Review vs. In Which Former NatSec Prosecutor Andrew McCarthy Embraces Russian Disinformation emptywheel

    “To claim that there is, McCarthy ignores that longtime Trump associate Felix Sater was brokering deals with Russian oligarchs that he believed would get Trump elected in 2015. McCarthy ignores the likelihood George Papadopoulos warned the campaign of stolen emails, referred to as “dirt on Hillary,” even before the Democrats knew about any stolen emails. He ignores that Don Jr took a meeting (with Fusion associate Rinat Akhmetshin) based on a promise of dirt. He ignores that the broker behind the meeting, Rob Goldstone, found it eerie that stolen emails were released right after the meeting. McCarthy ignores that the substance of the meeting — sanctions relief — is precisely what Flynn was ordered to broker even before Trump was inaugurated, which Flynn is now explaining in depth in part because Jared Kushner withheld information that might have exonerated Flynn’s actions.

    That is, McCarthy ignores that there’s a great deal of evidence, even in the public record, that Trump welcomed the release of stolen Hillary emails in a meeting at which sanctions were discussed, and that Trump promised to give Russia sanctions relief even before he was inaugurated.”
    So I have been reading Andrew McCarthy for a while and I think of his writings on the subject as the most dispassionate and objective – McCarthy signed the infamous “never Trump” editorial in which at least we have someone making a case not based simply on whether they are a dem or a repub.

    So reading McCarthy and Empty Wheel and it is one of those things that makes my head spin – the conspiracy is that the poor evidence of a conspiracy is evidence of an effective conspiracy…(which COULD be true….).

    OR could one argue the investigation is just a big gaslighting campaign against Trump? – but may it not work cause Trump is already nuts? But maybe making a nutso who has his finger on a nuclear trigger is not such a good idea…..

    Anyway, I do like the Empty Wheel article because it does go into the weeds and gives some logical counterarguements instead of just RUSSIANS RUSSIANS RUSSIANS!!!!!!!!!!

    But I would ask:
    Trump welcomed the release of stolen Hillary emails in a meeting at which sanctions were discussed, and that Trump promised to give Russia sanctions relief even before he was inaugurated.
    So is that against the law? Trump welcoming Hillary emails being public is the biggest conspiracy in the world, as Trump said it at his campaign events over and over and over…
    And I don’t know how clear Trump was about ending sanctions, but to anyone paying attention Trump made it clear that Trump didn’t buy into the whole anti Russia view. A presidential nominee can’t discuss ending sanctions before he is sworn in*?

    *I imagine a president can discuss any issue of politics or foreign affairs BEFORE he is sworn in – now it could be it is all about Trump’s money, Russia, and Trump was selling ending sanctions as a simple quid pro quo….perhaps we’ll see.

    1. MK

      Of course Trump wanted those e-mails to be released – just like Hillary wanted his tax returns released.

      Unless there was actual work done at Trump’s command to ‘hack’ and ‘steal’ or otherwise commit a crime in the obtaining / releasing of Hillary’s or DNC’s e-mails, there is no there there. If someone came across Trump’s tax returns, you know those would have been released (the first two pages of one from the 90s was released).

      At any rate, all those e-mails are somewhere on the NSA servers. Any traffic over the inter tubes that passes an NSA node is forever stored. Just a matter of someone looking at the NSA servers to find those Hillary e-mails.

      IF Trump does not wind up indicted or impeached, there will be some seriously deranged folks to deal with over the coming years.

      Just read the comments at NYT, LAT, CNN, WAPO, et al. on any article related to Trump and the hysteria can sound like bloodlust at times.

      1. Bill Smith

        If anything that went across the inter tubes is forever stored – how much disk space must NSA have filled by now?

        1. Jim Haygood

          If elected president, I will wipe those illicit exabytes off the drives in Bluffdale with BleachBit, and convert the NSA’s dark data mortuary into a bitcoin mine for the people.

        2. The Rev Kev

          I wouldn’t be too worried. The NSA did an analysis and found that the bulk majority of the storage space of held files is taken up by copies of selfies!

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Maybe that’s the way to defeat NSA anti-citizen surveillance. Flood their memory tanks with selfies and cat videos. Millions of people taking and sending a hundred selfies a day.
            And at least a few cat videos, if they have a few cats.

    2. Quentin

      I read somewhere that half the Facebook entries linked somehow to Russia (presumably?) appeared after the election. So how could they have influenced the voting? Oh, I get it, they were intentionally posted after the election as a ploy, a diversion tactic to make the first half seem somehow, by magical reflection, meaningless. See frenso dan, I’ve just proved your point: ‘the conspiracy is that the poor evidence of a conspiracy is evidence of an effective conspiracy…(which COULD be true….)’. If you want your head to spin even more, watch Aaron Mate’s interview (The Real News) on You Tube with Luke Harding (Guardian) on the latter’s bestseller about ‘collusion’ between, I presume, Trump and Putin. His whole argument seems to center on gossip and innuendo, character sketches, like the suff of a cold war spy thriller.

      1. JTee

        Luke Harding was one of the main reasons I stopped reading the Guardian. His reporting on Russia and Ukraine appeared to me to be disturbingly biased, and it often left me wondering whether he was a dimwitted tool or a malign operative. If you can’t trust their reporting on issues of true international import, how can you trust them on anything?

        1. Mark P.

          it often left me wondering whether he was a dimwitted tool or a malign operative.

          The two aren’t mutually exclusive, you know.

      1. bwilli123

        Luke Harding : the hack who came in from the cold

        …”According to his own testimony, Luke Harding is the guy who realised he was in the siloviki cross hairs one day when, during his stay in Moscow as the Guardian’s bureau chief, he came home and found one of his bedroom windows open.
        A less situationally-aware person would have made the fatal mistake of thinking one of his kids or his wife had done it, or he’d done it himself and just forgotten, or that his landlord had popped in to air the rooms (a bit of a tendency in Russia apparently). But Luke was sure none of his family had opened the window, because they always kept it closed. So it had to have been the FSB….”

  3. Darius

    Two things stand in the Democrats’ way. The economy appears to be improving. The Democrats’ notorious penchant for blowing it.

    1. Lord Koos

      For most people there is no improvement. As far as I can tell, “the economy” seems to be a code word for corporate profits.

  4. fresno dan

    How wealth inequality has changed in the U.S. since the Great Recession, by race, ethnicity and income Pew Research

    Wealth gaps between upper-income families and lower- and middle-income families are at the highest levels recorded.
    so it all went perfectly according to plan…

    1. pretzelattack

      of the more or less left leaning sites i frequent, btl most of the commenters see through the neoliberal bullshit, not sure what effect that will have, but the propaganda just doesn’t work well anymore, with the deterioration of most peoples’ lives.

      1. Carla

        My friends, relatives and acquaintances on the coasts who self-identify as “liberal” seem oblivious re: the deterioration of most peoples’ lives. They are well-heeled — if everybody else ain’t, they chalk it up to personal failings. These were Hillary voters of course.

        A typical (but actual) remark re: the exploitation of Amazon warehouse workers: “If they don’t like it there, they can get another job.”

        The casual callousness always leaves me speechless.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          And many are well-heeled (relative to other states) simply because they bought a house 30 or 40 years ago which might be over $1 million or more today.

        2. ambrit

          That “casual callousness” masks a psychopathic contempt for those less well off than themselves. Why this? I’ll go out on a limb and guess that it stems from a well hidden fear of personal inferiority. When the goalposts in the social game are constantly moving, paranoia is a rational response.
          Also, such a ‘lofty’ attitude allows for “extreme measures” in combating “uppity n——s, white trash, and all those little brown servants” unfortunately needed to run the service economy. The Pinkertons worked for the very rich, not the people.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Personal inferiority.

            Also caused by the system we have. When building a new house in the village meant an occasion for everyone to help out and a big feast afterwards, it was easier, or more natural to care for others.

            If a child no longer needs his parents, and just ignore them, after getting a good paying job as a specialist doctor, it is because he can afford to now.

          2. anonymous

            Or massive entitlement and detachment from the trenches.

            On Los Angeles’ affluent west side (solid Clinton constituents) people proclaim concern for global climate change as they drive giant gas guzzlers. They hate the Muslim-ban but supported Clinton’s bombing of Libya and attempted Syria regime change. They exploit undocumented workers to get low-wage gardeners, childcare, cooks, housekeepers. As long as they get their Amazon Prime, life is good.

            1. sleepy

              Yeah, I used to see big luxe cruisers in the Bay area with “No Offshore Drilling” bumperstickers.

              I thought it would be more honest and appropriate slapped on the rear-end of a mule.

        3. steelhead

          Even my .5% friend in Iowa (farmer) believes that he is wealthy because ” I’m hard working and I deserve every bit of it.” Additionally, he denies that “Government subsidies had anything to do with his fortune and if people would pull themselves up by their bootstraps they would not be poor.” Of course his primary news sources are Drudge, Brietbart and Rush Limbaugh. Go figure…

  5. fresno dan

    Two heterosexual Irish men marry to avoid inheritance tax on property Guardian

    Two Irish men have married in Dublin to avoid paying €50,000 in inheritance tax on a house.

    Best friends Matt Murphy and Michael O’Sullivan are both heterosexual, but decided to get married when they discovered how much tax would have to be paid on the house Murphy, 83, intended to leave in his will to O’Sullivan, 58, who is his carer.

    “I’ve known Matty for 30 years. We became very friendly after my second relationship broke up,” O’Sullivan, a father of three, told the Irish Mirror.

    “I have been bringing Matt out in my car to various parties and all that kind of thing. He became friends with all my friends, they all loved him.”

    Is this a repub plan to undermine the inheritance tax? Think about – inheritance taxes drive good really heterosexual men to marry….
    So heterosexuals….how many times have you claimed to be a heterosexual?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its not the first time its happened – I know of two elderly bachelors who did the same thing in County Sligo last year. In rural areas where there are lots of single elderly men it could become pretty common.

      Right now, everyone thinks its cute and funny, but if it becomes a widespread way to avoid tax (or, as I’ve also heard, to help people get citizenship), I can see quite a nasty backlash coming.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          In cases involving marrying a foreign spouse, I believe, the couple has to demonstrate the marriage’s authenticity to a government official in charge of such matters.

          1. fresno dan

            December 24, 2017 at 10:10 am

            “….I the couple has to demonstrate the marriage’s authenticity to a government official in charge of such matters.”

            When I think of all the married couples I know who are not on speaking terms, and forghettaboutit as far as coital relations….I wonder what they accept as “authenticity” – a “contract” to have a spouse eliminated??? Despise each other…yeah, they are married.

          2. JBird

            This is rather cute, and I can see some good friends suddenly being “gay,” although some people, for whatever reason, do change their orientation often to their own shock.

            But on proving a relationship to the government, If my better half and I had had ever to “prove” our relationship there would have been some…problems. The security state already knows far too much anyways.

            After enjoying TSA’s privacy destroying methods, I can imagine what some officious, and perverted, pettifactor would demand. “All we really need is some selfies while…”

        2. ambrit

          In this case, as in so many others, the devil is in de tails.
          It could also be a case of Nasty Back Door Lash. You know, like Churchill said, “Rum, sodomy and the lash.”

      1. sleepy

        I suppose it has already been looked in to, but it seems to me the elder man could just adopt the younger one. Having a descendant in most cases reduces the amount of inheritance taxes, if any, owed by the child.

        Though perhaps in Ireland the reduction of taxes due on a home only applies to a spouse in the context of the marital house.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Every state and country has a different set of laws, and given Ireland’s closeness to the church, there is less demand for adult adoption. In Virginia, they have to be at least 15 years apart. So 58 and 83.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Adoption, especially for a single person, is much harder in Ireland than in the US. I’m not sure if its even possible for someone to adopt someone who is over 18.

      2. David

        It was one of the main motives behind the bizarrely named “marriage for all” initiative of Hollande. French law is very family-centred, and the portions of houses or apartments owned by the late half of a homosexual couple would have reverted to their family, not to their partner.

        1. sleepy

          Yes, in french civil code Louisiana in the absence of a will and if there are children of the marriage, the spouse inherits nothing from the estate of the other spouse. The surviving spouse gets her/his 1/2 share of the community property however. I assume the same in France.

          The spouse might get 1/2 the house, but the kids get the other half subject to certain terms.

  6. timotheus

    Corbyn government is ‘nightmarish’ prospect says business chief FT

    These poor sausages should get out more. Borrowing 250 billion pounds for infrastructure investment could damage Britain’s credit rating and undermine prosperity? Would that be the prosperity that caused 52% of the islands to vote for hara-kiri via Brexit?

    1. John k

      No need to borrow, just print.
      There is a critical shortage of cash in Britain, drained thru trade as demanded by foreign savers, and further evidenced by high unemployment, just like in USA.
      The high unemployment’s means no wage inflation when the surplus workers are hired.

      1. JBird

        See, that’s something I understand. Under the leadership of the current political establishment, economies of various countries are being hollowed out, and in this case the whole Brexit thing is being f@@@ed completely, just how is a change in government and economic policy bad?

        So what if some industries might maybe somehow be nationalized? Privatization and outsourcing seems to have failed worse than the government.

  7. schultzzz

    Does anyone have a link to the report on the Moldovan bank scam, which is referenced in the tweet above?

    (I’m asking because I’m using a browser extension to block myself from using twitter)

    (a great time-saver, but now I can’t check certain NC links)

    (Google search of “Moldovan bank scam” only turns up reports from 2015)

    (thanks !)

  8. The Rev Kev

    Making room for Muslims

    Colour me old-fashioned but isn’t it the job of new emigrants to adapt themselves to a new country rather than a country adapt themselves to new emigrants? America called it the melting pot doctrine. Germany is not the only country where governmental agencies are trying to end long standing traditions to please the newcomers and the locals are not having a bar of it. If these people wanted to live in a country that respected their religion and their traditions, they should have gone to Saudi Arabia. Oh, that’s right. Saudi Arabia has refused to take a solitary refugee in at all.
    Taking in a million people with many having dodgy documentation was also just asking for trouble. As such a large portion of them were men of military age, it may be that Merkel wanted to drain Syria of men capable of joining the Syrian Army to fight the Jihadists but who can really say why she did it? It did not help when Saudi Arabia offered to finance the building of 200 mosques in Germany for these refugees, Germany knew what that meant. Turning all these people towards the fundamentalist Wahhabi sect that is responsible for the same terrorism in Syria and other places. The Germans told them no.
    I’ve been to Germany many times and it is really a great country to live in but for some mysterious reason, they do not take kindly to foreign people who say that they have a belief and a way of living so everybody should buckle down and accept it – even if it is against German laws and traditions.

    1. Off The Street

      Germany, Sweden and other European countries are finding that they did not think through the implications of their welcome policies for refugees. They seemed to display a sense of anticipating that all arrivals would be like them in fundamental ways and that the beneficence of the community would ease a transition into full participation in daily life. That is another triumph of hope over experience. Hungary and others took action to say that they could not afford the acts, in various senses. You built it and they came, and came, and came.

      If they had considered that significant differences in basic ways of looking at the world might cause friction or challenge in assimilation, then there could have been a rethink for perhaps fewer admittees, staggered over some time period, more in-place interim assistance to stage eventual transitions, some pretense of document or provenance investigation and similar steps, and greater focus on specific integration resources such as cultural, language, medical, food and similar needs and concerns.

      The plight of refugees tended to be muddled by the mixed awareness of western or more specifically American, or to a lesser extent, British and French policies toward Iraq and Syria or toward Libya, for example. That story of nations willfully and wantonly wrecking other nations (thanks, W, Cheney, Obama, Hillary et al) and having some obligation to fixing or at least beginning to address the problems that they created kind of gets lost in the shuffle. That is not a very popular topic on the 6 o’clock news amongst advertisers, so neo-liberals and their neo-conservative reptiles once again set chaos in motion.

      Bah, Humbug! At least regarding certain foreign policies. However, there is much to celebrate and rejoice elsewhere. Now, off to Auntie Beeb and that Kings programme.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      After 2,000 years, the solution maybe to find a place in the Middle East, preferably their original homeland, with their temples or in this case, mosques still standing, for the persecuted Syrians (in Germany) to return to.

      A compassionate person would say, do it now.

      There is a precedent.

        1. John k

          Maybe different when people return to where the lived a couple of years ago, vs where their long distant ancestors lived a couple millennia ago.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I understand that the Romans want the city of Londinium and the surrounding territory back again as they founded it 2,000 years ago which they reckon is a good claim. Also the North American Indians have given notice that as they have been in the North American continent for tens of thousands of years, it is time for all the ‘recent’ arrivals to pack up and go home please. Do you really want to play this game?

        1. ambrit

          Yea, and because of the Solutrians’ earliest claim on North America, Spain, the Solutrians original home base, wants it all back, from the Arctic to Patagonia.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      There is no easy answer. The French had a policy of expecting all immigrants to become ‘French’ and rigorously applied secularism in all public dealings, but it had the effect of making many muslim immigrants become more, not less religious. In Germany they had a similar approach with the first wave of Turkish immigrants and much the same thing happened. I’ve a Turkish friend who said she was horrified to meet her 1st generation German cousins – she is very secular, as is all her family, but her female German cousins had adopted the veil and were very religious. They saw it as a way of reinforcing their identity, one they thought the Germans were trying to ignore.

      US policy can’t really be compared, as muslim immigrants to the US are primarily from quite moderate countries and, crucially, tend to be from the educated classes. Muslim immigrants to Europe are far more likely to be from rural and very poor communities, so they struggle in their new homes. The problem however, is rarely the immigrants – most are grateful for new homes. Its the first generation, who find they don’t feel they belong in the country the’ve been born in. They’ve been the source of the majority of fundamentalist problems and of lone wolf type Isis attacks.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Right, no easy answer. Of course it depends on the question(s) being asked, and the relative power of the asker. Cultures in collision, individuals wanting this or that outcome to satisfy personal convictions or preferences or “opportunities” to dominate and loot, with some few just wanting to be able to live out a simple life free of “fear, uncertainty or doubt” in a world where the Owners rule by generating ever more of all three. And do so without regard to survival of the “masses” or even the ecosystem we mopes need to just live….

        Another thumbs up for a great article, well researched and clearly written, linked here the other day, “Cultural Appropriation, Cultural Exploitation, Cultural Genocide: Problems of Neoliberal Diversity Management,” . The author, to my mind, lays it all out in context, seemingly just Canadian but it sure fits a whole lot of the parameters and processes I perceive in motion in the rest of the human population.

        I’ve suggested it to a number of neoliberal acquaintances, and the reactions are so very, ah, interesting…

      2. anonymous

        The terms “first generation” and “second generation” are very ambiguous.

        I’ve been socialized to interpret “first generation” to mean not native born, and this interpretation aligns with this:

        “In the United States, among demographers and other social scientists, “second generation” refers to the U.S.-born children of foreign-born parents”

        There’s a social science literature that focuses on how second generation immigrants may pick up negative characteristics of the dominant culture and face various other problematic challenges

    4. Eclair

      “Colour me old-fashioned but isn’t it the job of new emigrants to adapt themselves to a new country rather than a country adapt themselves to new emigrants? ”

      Ah, RevKev, one would think this would be the case. However, the European ‘settlers’ in North and South America, as well as in Australia and New Zealand, set the precedent of new immigrants trooping in and through a very thorough process of forced assimilation, imposing their culture, language and economic system on the Indigenous peoples. Who had a very workable culture already. See: Indian boarding schools, Indian wars, Sand Creek Massacre, ‘abo’ hunts.

      JTMcPhee, further on, references the excellent article, linked to by NC last week: “Cultural Appropriation, Cultural Exploitation, Cultural Genocide.”

      Perhaps the Germans and French have a better case to demand new immigrants ‘conform.’ But, really, their leaders should have figured in the inevitable blowback when they greedily overran the Middle East and Africa in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

      Not easy, dealing with this blowback. But let’s not blame the victims.

      1. David

        We’re talking about voluntary immigration, not invasion and conquest. Much in the same way that westerners working and living in Dubai or Saudi Arabia or Japan have successfully demanded that those societies adopt more western attitudes. Oh, wait ….

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I, for one, think the question “what kind of country do we want to be?” is a valid one.

        In 2050 my adopted country (Australia) will be a majority Muslim nation (immigration plus birth rates). Political power, of course, will flow from this simple fact. Power, for example, to make women cover themselves up; to forbid them from driving; to require Koran instruction in all schools; to declare certain literature or entertainment forbidden; or to prohibit all alcohol and the eating of pork. If that is the Australia my countrymen want, then we should continue on the current “global multi-cultural Kumbiyah” path. If not, then we should talk about it. Anyone shrieking “ooh that’s rayciss!” should sit down and have a brief think about 2050, you either welcome the future described above, or you don’t, and sleepwalking into cozy global collectivist campfire fantasies about “inclusion” have real consequences that everyone should at least acknowledge exist and are real.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Yes but in this case they are all mixed up. The great majority of Muslims are brown-skinned.

  9. Marco

    The XMAS Paradox

    I wonder if Labor would have cannabolized Capital sooner had Dickens never been born. Scrooge-like faux-epiphanies every Christmas are bizarre and an easy escape. Yes…too much egg nog last night.

    1. JCC

      I worked in,and traveled through, Tioga County for years, and I’ve been hoping to retire back to that area for quite some time now.

      If this is allowed, it seriously changes all my (possible) retirement plans since it will totally mess up the best thing Upstate NY has going for it. Healthy water, trees, grass, and wildlife.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      And I thought using fossil fuels to produce a biofuel like ethanol which yields less energy than that needed to produce it was kind of stupid.

      Flushing a usable fossil fuel down the drain to produce more fossil fuels is just flat out spiteful.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’m no expert on the technique, but I would guess the propane would be largely recovered, it would come back up with the methane when pressure is released after the initial frack. All natural gas has to be processed as a matter of course to remove impurities (including commonly, propane and butane), so it wouldn’t be big technical problem to do this. Unlike frack water, the propane could potentially be used over and and over again.

        I’m no fan of fracking as its scientifically clear we must leave most remaining hydrocarbons in the ground, but if you are going to do it, this technique is probably a lot less environmentally damaging than using water as your hydraulic frack fluid.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    New Zealand gives Mount Taranaki same legal rights as a person Guardian

    Some mountains were divine before they became persons.

    Is that a demotion?

    Mt. Taranaki looks like Mt. Fuji, which is divine, if not a person.

    1. ChrisPacific

      There is a legend about him (Taranaki) making advances to Mt. Pihanga, being rebuffed by Tongariro, and having a big fight. Tongariro won and Taranaki fled to the coast where he is now. I think this was intended to explain why Taranaki was all on his own while all the other volcanoes were in a group on the central plateau. He is essentially the grand bachelor of Maori legend. I don’t think he is considered a god exactly, but you still wouldn’t want to get in his way.

  11. Jim Haygood

    Continuing its long tradition of politicized editing, the linked-above NYT article on retiring FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe contains some remarkable passages.

    Its very first sentence describes McCabe in exculpatory terms as “an unlikely lightning rod” for Trump’s wrath — “Who me?” as it were.

    But it gets better. “Mr. McCabe, who is seen as highly intelligent,” begins another paragraph. One is disappointed only that the NYT stenographer failed to mention McCabe’s dashing good looks, killer tennis serve and exquisite sartorial taste as well.

    Cheekily, McCabe plans to hang on to office, despite the president tweeting yesterday that “FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!”

    One is reminded of ex-Rep Trent Franks, who initially planned to resign his Congressional seat on Jan 31st after his proposal to pay a staffer $5 million to have his baby surfaced. But within 24 hours, Franks concluded his best exit strategy was to get on the next flight out of town.

    If the worst allegations against McCabe — namely that he, Comey and Strzok conspired to submit oppo research funded by Hillary Clinton in order to deceive the FISA court into granting a wiretapping warrant against Hillary’s political opponent — have a shred of truth, McCabe would be well-advised to celebrate Christmas by starting a new life in Kiev.

    That’s cuz our best friends in the whole world other than the saintly Israelis — the Ukies — have no extradition treaty with the US. Sweet!

  12. Charlie

    Re: Infosec community.

    “There is nothing inherent in men to make them sexual predators; sexual harassment, particularly of the kind that is being revealed over and over again in this moment, is a systemic cultural failure where men are repeatedly given a pass when they don’t deserve one.”

    Wealthy people in general have been given a pass when they don’t deserve one, but I’m glad this was noted.

    1. diptherio

      I think the real underlying dynamic is power, not wealth. Wealth is simply one form of power that allows people to intimidate others into not holding them accountable to basic human standards, but there are many others. Plenty of poor, abusive men and women out there, and middle-class, etc. However, most other forms of power are more limited in scope, like an abusive parent’s power over their other family members. Great wealth, on the other hand, and the ability to hire and fire people, makes makes the power wealth conveys much more widely effective than that gained through other methods. Which, one might argue, makes wealth a more dangerous means of attaining power over others than any other, and so should be combated more zealously than any other.

      1. Charlie

        “Great wealth, on the other hand, and the ability to hire and fire people, makes makes the power wealth conveys much more widely effective than that gained through other methods. Which, one might argue, makes wealth a more dangerous means of attaining power over others than any other, and so should be combated more zealously than any other.”

        Exactly what I am arguing.

        Wealth precedes social status. Hence, more dangerous, with plenty more victims. Poor abusers, in general, tend to get what is coming in one form or another.

        1. JTMcPhee

          I kind of doubt that many “poor abusers get what’s coming to them” in the US, and so many other places too. Maybe except in cases of “upward abuse crossing class boundaries.”

          Here’s a nice politically corrected set of statistics on how often, and by whom, “power” of the abusive kind gets exerted in the overall political economy: “Domestic Violence: Statistics and Facts,”

          I was formerly married to a woman from western Wisconsin, near “Sparta” (pronounced “Spartee” by most locals) from a particularly “Tobacco Road” family, one among many there that I got to know something about. Speaking of every kind of abuse one can imagine. With no consequences of any kind, other than occasional exercises of “self-help” and “frontier justice,” not even reporting to authorities, who in that social context would mostly ignore those kinds of complaints. I lived next door to a lesbian pair, where the tough younger one routinely beat the living crap out of the older weaker one, and the police were so intimidated by Verna, the Alaskan tough one, that they would just take Doris to the hospital for treatment and slink away. Lots more anecdotes to flesh out the picture…

          Humans are, too generally, not very nice creatures, as measured by our own hypocritical standards…

          1. Charlie

            You’re speaking of the cultural precept that only men can be abusers. Female and upper class abuse often goes unreported, so the statistics bear skepticism.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Actually I am speaking to the reality, from my own experience and lots of reporting that all of us, male, female, and other categories, are more than capable of abuse. And that the vast majority of it goes unremarked and unpunished (by the institutions like “police and courts” that are supposed to serve and protect. Or by large conspiracies of silence like those found in many churches and synagogues and mosques and temples, whose leaders and adherents and acolytes are supposed to be elevating and encouraging our better natures.

              1. Charlie

                Your reality is not everyone’s reality. That’s why anecdote means so little in a debate.

                I have my own, from male and female, but I’m not about to list them.

                1. ambrit

                  I have my own list, from wealthy and non wealthy. To expose the list would be to expose myself, since I carried on, down through the generations, some forms of abuse myself, until brought up short by brave souls who cared about themselves, and, luckily for me, me. (I obviously have a lot of ‘work’ left to do, but that’s another story.)
                  That’s one reason I support Christmas. It celebrates a Teacher who preached self sacrifice. Mix in a healthy dollop of Annual Rebirth Theology, and you have quite the reason to celebrate.
                  Happy Everything! Balance To All!
                  (I should delete this entire comment, but I’m feeling brave today.)

    2. dk

      And these patterns are taught from infancy, part of the acquisition of language, identification of the self with a gendered pronoun. The “opposite” gender presented as inherently different, alien, other.

      This sets the precedent that social predation can and will be protected under many circumstances. The lesson to kids goes way beyond the sexual context. Predation is presented as a male right, victimization as a female role. Trump’s frequent invocations of basic binary stereotypes (strong/weak, safe/dangerous, beneficial/destructive) are based on this paradigm

      We have an opportunity to recognize that the methods (ignoring, intimidation and innuendo, firing, public disclosure of personal info, blackballing, etc) used to coerce and obfuscate sexual abuses in the workplace are the same strategies used to hide other abuses of power, misrepresentations and fraud, “disruption” of law, wage suppression, discriminatory segmentation by class/identity, the maintenance of oligarchic hegemony.

      Mainstream media has focused on the sexual context with prurient details and comparisons of severity, this undermines the recognition of the broader issue of pervasive socially and economically destructive predatory patterns in the culture.

      1. Charlie

        “We have an opportunity to recognize that the methods (ignoring, intimidation and innuendo, firing, public disclosure of personal info, blackballing, etc) used to coerce and obfuscate sexual abuses in the workplace are the same strategies used to hide other abuses of power, misrepresentations and fraud, “disruption” of law, wage suppression, discriminatory segmentation by class/identity, the maintenance of oligarchic hegemony.”

        Very much agreed. That’s why I see attacking oligarchic hegemony and great wealth as the focal point. There is no equality, for any identity, without attacking that.

      2. Paul Cardan

        I’m not clear on how you’re getting from acquisition of gendered deictic terms to protected social predation. Terms such as ‘you’ and ‘they’ also present the addressee or referent as distinct from, other than, or different from the speaker. So, unless those terms also create a precedent for protection of social predation (which would be most unfortunate), there must be something special going on with the gender terms. Is this supposed to happen with all such terms everywhere and at all times, or only with gendered deictic terms insofar as they belong to the languages of particular linguistic communities at particular times? If the latter, this suggests that the problem is not with the terminology per se but the changing social practices with which the terms in question are bound up, practices which lend those terms whatever meaning they have when used in a particular context. Also, it seems to me that if social practices lend these terms their meaning in context, then there’s little to be learned about what those terms mean by focusing on whether or not they involve binary oppositions. That kind of focus will, at best, yield of sketch of meaning that has to be filled in by detailed study of how real people actually use the terms.

          1. Paul Cardan

            Yes (assuming you meant the opposite of what you said). Speaking is acting, and how we act has a lot to do with the biological facts about us, since these facts both allow for some possible actions and prohibit others. It seems to me, moreover, that a linguistic community wouldn’t last very long if it’s members failed to mark a difference between persons who can give birth and persons who cannot give birth but whose assistance is nonetheless required if there are to be new people. So, I’d be surprised to find very many examples of linguistic communities lacking gendered pronouns (which usually function as deictic terms). That said, deictic terms do sometimes convey status, and I doubt that appeal to the biological facts alone can account for this. Consider the formal versions of German deictic terms as opposed to the informal, such as ‘Sie’ as opposed to ‘du’. I take it that the latter can be used to convey familiarity in some contexts, diminution in others. Titles function in a similar manner. I suspect that in these cases, the terms are being used to mark and reproduce hierarchical relations between human beings, some of which are quite contingent (there being nothing in human biology, for instance, dictating that anyone be properly addressed as ‘majesty,’ ‘lord,’ or ‘Sie’ for that matter). My guess is that gendered deictic terms have come to function in this way, at least in some linguistic communities.

          1. fresno dan

            David May
            December 24, 2017 at 5:24 pm

            “Sexual identity is part of the fatal flaw of art,” says Bataille; however,
            according to Hamburger[6] , it is not so much sexual
            identity that is part of the fatal flaw of art, but rather the defining
            characteristic, and thus the meaninglessness, of sexual identity. In a sense,
            Lacan uses the term ‘the textual paradigm of discourse’ to denote the paradigm,
            and some would say the collapse, of submaterialist class. Sartre’s model of
            prestructural conceptualism suggests that truth is intrinsically dead, but only
            if narrativity is interchangeable with art; if that is not the case, Foucault’s
            model of the textual paradigm of discourse is one of “Lacanist obscurity”, and
            hence responsible for capitalism.
            Whoa – DUDE! Thanks for that – I think it will truly expand my understanding of stuff and how we’re getting screwed…. after some reality enhancement with a bottle of Beaujolais, a few hits of crack, and 2 or 3 squares of LSD.

        1. dk

          I don’t think the circumstance of two genders is a case of binary opposition. And yet the idea that it is, that women and men more fundamentally different than similar, and that they are in existential conflict, appears throughout our culture. How did this idea get there, and why is is so pervasive? What elements of the culture permit such a misconstruction to survive immediate dismissal?

          That leads me to examine events in childhood, are there any asymmetrical assignments of permission or discouragement of aggressive behaviors that predation requires in order to operate?

          This is specifically about the way children learn a language and what else they pick up during the process, not just characteristics of the language itself. Kids learning a language start out with a limited set of simple and essential terms and constructions. They practice usages and are guided by approval or correction from parents and teachers and simply from the successes or failures of their communications. Lessons learned at this stage will be retained for a lifetime, even if challenged and/or modified. They form a conceptual baseline; that’s just how these brains and bodies work.

          For example, “good/bad girl” or “good/bad boy” may be used in contexts where gender is not really relevant, but we invoke gender anyway, reiterating the child’s association of their social identity with their gender.

          In many settings, girls and boys are praised or scolded asymmetrically, approving/disapproving differently for the same behaviors, aggressiveness being more positive for boys and docility more positive for girls.

          Terms like ‘you’ and ‘they’ are neutral, so they neither bear nor contravene any further implications. “We”, specifying the speaker together with others and designating that construction as a distinct unit requiring its own term, suggests the idea of the inclusive group, an example of a positive (or at least constructive, not divisive) implication in a newly learned conceptual element conveyed by the language structure.

          1. ambrit

            Hmmm. Language as social construct as social constructor. Is plasticity of thought predicated upon plasticity of brain? A humans’ first years are beginning to look like a nexus of crossroads.

  13. dk

    Human societies evolve along similar paths

    “Researchers have long debated whether social complexity can be meaningfully compared across different parts of the world. Our research suggests that, despite surface differences, there are fundamental similarities in the way societies evolve.

    “Understanding the ways in which societies evolve over time and in particular how humans are able to create large, cohesive groups is important when we think about state building and development,” he said.

    The underlying paper is here:
    Peter Turchin el al., “Quantitative historical analysis uncovers a single dimension of complexity that structures global variation in human social organization,” PNAS (2017).

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Along similar lines, I highly recommend Joseph Campbell’s 4-book series, The Masks of God. Bill Moyers’ interview of Joseph Campbell is quite good (if you can find it).

    2. georgieboy

      Thank you very much for the link to Turchin et al.

      His “Ultra Society” was an eye-opener. Much better than Hariri’s lovely and fun story-telling, in my opinion.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Long after Trump is gone, we’ll still be fighting him Corey Robin, Guardian

    And from 12/22/17 Links:

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

    These only underscore the importance of getting into the White House when one has a chance and is very close.

    Even if it means sacrificing oneself and breaking a personal promise….sort of the Bodhisavatta way…yielding to others so they can be virtuous and enter Nirvana first…you do the dirty work.

    The office is that powerful…even with just one legislative victory.

    1. JTMcPhee

      It’s looking like there are actually dozens of legislative victories (of wealth and greed and Imperial idiocy) over the commonweal) wrapped up into that one bill, of course.

      These are Trump’s “victory” only in that he is the titular head of the Madison-Monroe-Powell-Coors-Petersen-Koch-Dimon-Devos-etc. posse that rode out in thunder and stealth to complete the Manifest Destiny of Imperial Looting.

      Take some time to study Futilitarianism. It’s the True Way.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Why China Sold Qatar The SY-400 Ballistic Missile System LobeLog

    The chess game there is more than 11 dimensional.

    We’ll see if China doesn’t trap herself there, making all these clever moves.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I guess that with these ballistic missiles, Qatar is saying to Saudi Arabia; “Nice set of oil wells that you have there, SA. It would be a shame if something happened to them in case you got the idea of invading us like you did with Bahrain!”

  16. FreeMarketApologist

    Re Theranos:
    “That will give the company more time for its ongoing effort to reboot as a medical device manufacturer, rather than a testing service. That pivot came after the FDA revoked a laboratory license and banned Holmes from involvement with laboratories for two years.”

    The article points out that the loan will keep the company afloat through 2018. Since the 2-year ban will end, I’d suggest that it mostly gives the company the ability to outlive the ban, and for people to forget the last scam, rather than dissolving the company and selling off any legitimate intellectual property. Looking forward to their next testing scam in 2018/19.

    Meanwhile, the source of the loan, Fortress, is awash in money since being purchased by Softbank, and the Fortress founders are perhaps less concerned about the future, having pulled out significant sums from the company. Smells like the job of holding the bag has been cleverly off-shored.

    See, for example, this article in Institutional Investor from April:

    1. Daryl

      This is amazing. Holmes should be going to prison. I expected her to escape from this and fail upward into some CEO role, but to keep the zombie Theranos alive is another level of not caring.

  17. Webstir

    Re: Corey Robin — Long after Trump is gone, we’ll still be fighting him.

    Hmmm … this sounds familiar. Oh, right. I was making this argument after I realized that Bernie had gotten the shaft and we were stuck with Hillary. Which I got pilloried for on here. The argument went like this — Suck it up for the time being and vote for Hillary rather than staying home because the judiciary is too important to lose for the next decade or so. The sub-argument was that if Hillary was elected progressives needed to push her HARD to the left. If she didn’t go there, she would be ripe for a primary challenge from Bernie in 2020.

    Cest la vie … cest la guerre … cest la pommes d’terre.

    1. jrs

      the part about pushing Hillary to the left is pure delusion, if such a thing were conceivably possible it would have happened under Obama and noone pushed him left (granted some things like Occupy tried, but they succumbed way too easily to overt state suppression).

      So yea lesser of two evils makes some sense if you really think they are the lesser evil, but pushing Hillary left departs on a way one trip to unicorn land and so it should hardly be surprising if everyone stops listening to the rest of the argument right there.

      I mean we literally had 8 full years of evidence that a neo-liberal Dem (Obama) could not be pushed left, and so why would anyone believe otherwise after having actually been alive and awake during those 8 years (and no Hillary would not have been better than Obama).

      1. Webstir

        It takes time for people to wake from their collective dreams. You may have noticed that our entire political system was set up from the get go to keep us asleep.

        And I’m pretty sure after surving four years of Hillary the blinders would have been removed from enough people to see Bernie clearly. Especially with him chipping away at her like he is Trump right now.

        1. Massinissa

          “And I’m pretty sure after surving four years of Hillary the blinders would have been removed from enough people to see Bernie clearly.”

          I recall some leftists arguing something like that would happen after an Obama term or two…

          1. ambrit

            I think that you have just made the best case for a “Vanguard of the Proletariat” that I have heard in many a moon.

      2. John k

        I think worse.
        Big o resisted hill’s warmonger tendencies… imagine if she was fully free to, as she said, fully confront Russia. Dogfights over Syria and Ukraine just for starters. He did relent and let her have her way in Libya, another peaceful country destroyed.

        1. Webstir

          You guys will get no argument from me on that front. From an attorney’s perspective though, I question whether you fully understand the gravity of the lasting damage a committed right-wing judiciary can do.
          Witness the Lochner Era …

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Very true on the damages the rightwing judiciary can do, however Barry O’s would-be nominee to the court wasn’t exactly the 2nd coming of Thurgood Marshall. The guy who couldn’t tell us enough about how much he loved Ronnie Raygun put up a Republican and we didn’t hear too many complaints from the Democrat party about that before they decided once more to keep their powder dry and not put up any fight whatsoever for a seat on the Supremes that Obama had a Constitutional right to fill.

            After that debacle, why would anyone think Clinton or any other Dem would be any different?

          2. ambrit

            That’s assuming that the 99% don’t learn from their “betters” and jettison the rule of law for a ‘reformist’ bloodletting.

  18. Wukchumni

    Oh, the rapid ascent is insightful
    But the returns are so delightful
    And since i’m not invested so
    Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow

    It doesn’t show signs of stopping
    And I brought some corn for popping
    The schizophrenic highs & lows
    Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow

    When we finally kiss cryptocurrencies goodnight
    How I’ll hate to see them go
    But if you really hold onto them tight
    All the way down could be a fright

    Reasoned thought is slowly dying
    And my dear, some say there’s no denying
    But as long as they love invisibile dough
    Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow

  19. human

    “I think the criminalisation of marijuana is an anachronism,” Mr Canon told The Independent in a recent interview. “There’s just no place for it in 21st century America.”

    Yet the articles’ framing is clearly one of “legalising.”

    Mr Canon has it right. It must be decriminalised.

  20. Jim Haygood

    Hell on wheels for private equity-owned subprime auto lenders:

    In the years after the financial crisis, buyout firms poured billions into auto finance, offering high-interest loans to buyers with the weakest credit. But now, delinquencies on subprime loans made by non-bank lenders are soaring toward crisis levels.

    A Perella Weinberg Partners fund has been sitting on an IPO of Flagship Credit Acceptance for two years as bad loan write-offs push it into the red. Blackstone Group LP has struggled to make Exeter Finance profitable, despite sinking almost a half-billion dollars into the lender since 2011 and shaking up the C-suite multiple times.

    Wall Street bankers say others would love to cash out too, but there’s currently no market for such exits.

    Sad! Just helped a young man bail on a gas-hog pickup priced at $13,000 on the lot, which he somehow ended up owing $18,000 on, after all the predatory warranty coverage, gap coverage, GPS locator/ignition kill switch, etc was tacked on.

    After it’s auctioned he’ll get a demand letter for probably a $9 to 12 thousand deficiency, plus towing fee, auction inspection fee, and whatever else the lender can invent. To this, he will respond citing his recent loss of job, empty bank account, and hearing next month for back child support. Without actually using the words “judgment proof” he will convey the idea that paying attorney fees to sue him would be a useless waste of money.

    Can’t pay, won’t pay.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sounds like student loans.

      Here, the vehicle is repossessed.

      A degree holder’s education/knowledge gained can not be taken away though.

      “You are forbidden to use any information gleaned from you Calculus 101 class.”

      1. ambrit

        My test scores in the calculus class were so abyssal that you could say that I lived in the area below the curve.

  21. Craig H.

    The Baffler article is not bad.

    TL/DR: There is no way to take down North Korea’s military without them nuking Seoul. Looks like stalemate to me. Who doesn’t think that is a stalemate and why is it not a stalemate?

    1. John k

      It depends on the relative importance of taking out that cheeky Kim and his military vs the pop of the northern bit of South Korea.

      If they’re about the same… well, then…

    2. Mark P.

      Craig wrote: There is no way to take down North Korea’s military without them nuking Seoul. Looks like stalemate to me. Who doesn’t think that is a stalemate and why is it not a stalemate?

      Probably a stalemate. But I’m not quite as sure as you. That’s because —

      [1] While the Baffler article is right on about the unreliability of anti-missile missile tech even against non-MIRVed late 1950s-level ICBMs, which is what Pyongyang essentially has, there is another way of knocking out such ICBMs that’s been known for decades, though nobody likes talking about it. That is, you fry their innards with a nearby EMP release, such as a nuclear explosion near them while they’re in flight would release. Yes, I know.

      [2] There’s also the neutron bomb —

      And the good old cobalt bomb —

      I don’t have the physics to know if the radiation from those is sufficient to penetrate the mountains where those 60,000 conventional artillery pieces are that the Norkeans have trained on Seoul. But you know who has an arsenal of cobalt weapons they might lend us? That country in the Middle East that Trump just did a favor for.

      [3] Furthermore, it’s 2017. Weapons development, like rust, doesn’t sleep. That means it’s time for another RMA (Revolution in Military Affairs). I was on US bases during Gulf War 1 in 1990 when the last RMA was rolled out to flatten Saddam’s forces, and later worked as a global security-type journalist. There’ve been proposed weapons systems since then that, if they were developed, could make for a handy decapitation strike on Pyongyang. For instance, US Space Command has three robotic shuttles it can put in orbit from which to drop kinetic weapons (aka Rods from God/Project Thor) —

      Then the Russians have developed some radical new tricks with radar, field communications, and lasers that can take knock down planes and missiles at 600 miles’ distance. I can’t imagine the US is that far behind now they know that’s doable. And there are other things that have been mooted about in the circles where such things are mooted about.

      Bottom line: yes, a decapitation strike on Pyongyang still feels to me like nuclear Dirty Harry “are you feeling lucky?”. But it’s also 2017, and there may be new toys they want to take out of the box to show off.

  22. Lord Koos

    DNC Unity Report — I didn’t see anything in there about using 3/4 of their budget to pay expensive consultants (who seem to be expert election-losers), while starving down-ticket campaigns of much needed funds.

      1. ambrit

        Well, is that consultants as in individuals, or consultants as in companies. If the latter, you could be looking at hundreds of credentialled “experts.” Each one of which would be certified, by peer group review, to be well worth that million or so in renumeration. After all, good political operatives are like professional sports players; few and far between, and of potentially immense returns value.

  23. Lord Koos

    I think the Paris rooftop truffle is most likely a sign of climate change… we have to focus on the upside.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Maybe not; cities are consistently warmer than the country, especially the tops of buildings. I wonder how the spores got there – maybe on something they planted in their rooftop garden. Truffle spores are typically carried by burrowing animals; since they’re underground, they don’t get into the air much.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Great tune – I generally dislike Xmas music but that one chokes me up every time I hear it.

      If NC ever needed a soundtrack, I’d hire him to do it.

  24. Oregoncharles

    I’m from southern Indiana, where Dan Canon is running for Congress, so I wanted to know more about him. Here’s another link: .

    He’s from Clark and Floyd counties (not where I’m from), and is running for the Democratic Party nomination in Dist. 9, to oppose newly-elected Trey Hollingsworth. He has a fairly colorful background; the items I saw gave no clue on his chances, or even whether there’s another candidate for the nomination.

    Further background: southern Indiana is shockingly southern; most of it is stereotypical hicksville, redneck country. The exceptions are Bloomington and Columbus, not in the counties he’s from. So it’s ground zero for the opioid epidemic, and that’s what he’s running against. He might even have a chance.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Update: Dist. 9 includes Bloomington (Indiana University), excludes Columbus, where my family live. Bloomington gives him more of a shot.

  25. ewmayer

    Re. rooftop truffle – not mentioned in the Beeb piece is that the fungus was first ‘spotted’ by some riche Parisienne’s therapy-pet pot-bellied pig … the lady was inspecting said rooftop garden, when the mini-piggy she was carrying in a Hermes purse at her side started squealing, leapt from the purse and ran over to the tree. Subsequently there was a dispute beween the owner and the lady over credit for the discovery, which has now etered history as the Great Truffle-Snuffle Kerfuffle.

    [.pu taht ekam yllatot tsuj did I ,sey dnA] <*** crack the government-grade crypto to reveal the sekrit message.

    1. fresno dan

      December 24, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      “….the mini-piggy she was carrying in a Hermes purse at her side started squealing, leapt from the purse and ran over to the tree. Subsequently there was a dispute between the owner and the lady over credit for the discovery,….
      Subsequently there was a dispute between the owner and the lady over credit for the discovery,…”

      Duh, the piggy gets credit! Poor piggy probably didn’t even get to have a Christmas truffle….

  26. fresno dan

    On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial in the infamous 2014 Bunkerville standoff case against rancher Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, and co-defendant Ryan Payne, on the grounds that federal prosecutors improperly withheld evidence.
    Navarro’s decision apparently was a reflection on federal officials. It follows release of a memo by BLM investigator Larry Wooten that described “a widespread pattern of bad judgment, lack of discipline, incredible bias, unprofessionalism and misconduct, as well as likely policy, ethical and legal violations *among senior and supervisory staff” in the BLM’s Office of Law Enforcement and Security.
    So, I don’t like the Bundy’s but is this FBI retaliation? Or is this just standard FBI conduct and this is how they treat ANYONE that they go after? And the “other” side gets it as well….and we don’t hear about it because there is no mainstream “left” media – just “right,” “righter,” and “more right” media.
    I’m retired and even I don’t have enough time to try and figure out if Navarro is a dem or repub or a good judge and if this story is being written objectively and NOT in such a way merely to support Trump or there really is serious problems with how the FBI handled the Bundys (and that of which we do not speak – how many others are mistreated by the FBI who do not have the resources or political support to challenge the government???)
    Naive of me, but it probably just shows that constitutional rights only matter to people when the jackboot is on their own faces….
    * Which federal official was convicted?
    * Which federal official was prosecuted?
    * Which federal official was fired?
    OUCH!!! I hurt myself laughing….

    1. ambrit

      It brings to mind the possibly urban legend of the ‘suspect’ who was charged with assault and battery on a police officer because said officer broke a bone in his hand hitting the suspect, who was handcuffed and ‘restrained’ at the time.
      What I found absurdly amusing was the phrase “improperly withheld evidence.” That implies that evidence can be “properly withheld!”
      There is Justice, and there is Law. The two are usually at odds with each other.
      “Send a Writ for Christmas!!!”

  27. knowbuddhau

    Thanks for the link to the Nature article on specific events being attributed to climate change, or more accurately, the increase in temp caused by GHGs set the stage for extreme events.

    Would’ve liked it more if the august journal could keep it’s ontogeny and phylogeny straight.

    “[S]ome weather events would have been outright impossible without the warming influence of humanity’s greenhouse-gas emissions.”

    I’ll just leave this here.

    Why the Industrial Revolution Happened Here

    Once again, we entered the darkness, and once again, we made it through alive. Let’s celebrate!

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