Links 12/4/17

The Parrotfish Bite, Greedy Slugs, Lefty Whales and Other Amazing Animals The Wire

Opossum breaks into liquor store, gets drunk as a skunk Now, who can resist such a headline. Not me!

‘Croydon cat killer’ linked to hundreds of deaths as five more animals discovered decapitated Independent

How Zarafa, France’s First Giraffe, Became a Cultural Sensation Hyperallergic

Pontiac Silverdome stadium fails to implode near Detroit BBC. Oops. (Includes video.)

How Cash-Strapped Chicago Snagged a Triple-A Rating for Its New Bonds WSJ

Class Warfare

Living in cars, working for Amazon: meet America’s new nomads Guardian

Mr.Money Mustache, UBER Driver Mr. Money Mustache. Worth reading for its first-person analysis of how driving for Uber makes no economic sense for drivers (if one can see past the reflexive cheerleading for “disruption”.)

UK government warned over sharp rise in child and pensioner poverty Guardian

Amazon bosses try to raise morale by giving exhausted staff two 7p chocolates each after shocking working conditions were exposed Daily Mirror. Allrighty then!

Smoked pot and want to enlist? Army issuing more waivers Fox News. This is good news– I think?

NYC Private School Hosts Homeless Shelter With a Touch of Class WSJ

Judge dread TLS There can not be too many reminders of how abysmal the US criminal justice system is– particularly for the poor.

Kill Me Now

Clinton Should Run for Cotton’s Senate Seat Politico. Help me. Is this a legit Chelsea trial balloon? Her demand for her close-up? How many stakes do we need to put into this political vampire? At the risk of belaboring the obvious, the Dems are not going to be able to capitalize on the tremendous political opportunities unfolding– nor win again– until they move past Clinton fantasies (whether they center on the Big Dog, HRC, or Chelsea). How about a politics for 2017 and not some ‘90s redux fantasy? Or Bush dynasty remake: especially as we all know how that turned out. Junior wasn’t exactly a chip off the old block– and IMHO was a far worse president.

Is Hillary Clinton The Smurfgoat Of Our Time? Bourgeois Alien. UserFriendly: “rofl.” Moi: Another winner from UserFriendly! Keep those links and comments coming, dear readers. If we forget how to laugh, there’s no escaping the nightmare in which we’re currently trapped.

The Cost of Devaluing Women NYT. Sane and sensible commentary on sexual harassment in the NYT? I’m shocked!

MSNBC Host Joy Reid Wrote Numerous Anti-Gay Articles on Her Old Blog Mediaite (UserFriendly)

Met Opera Suspends James Levine After New Sexual Abuse Accusations NYT.

Medical Care

Edith+Eddie: A Story of Love and Elder Abuse in the US Al Jazeera

Apple wants to know your heart rate. For science. WaPo. Am I alone in spotting the potential for grifting this opens up? Not to mention another problem: allowing a company that’s just disclosed embarassing software security flaws to collect confidential medical information.

How Cashews Explain Globalization WSJ

Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues Scientific American. And yet we continue to throw food waste into landfills– or devise high-tech solutions to burn it to replace fossil fuels– rather than making composting a national (global?) priority.

Soil Power! The Dirty Way to a Green Planet NYT

Financial markets could be over-heating, warns central bank body Guardian


Beijing’s bitcoin ban ‘helped China dodge a scary cryptocurrency bubble SCMP

Americans Are Receiving Unordered Parcels From Chinese E-Criminals — And Can’t Do Anything To Stop Them Forbes

Venezuela to launch cryptocurrency to combat US ‘blockade’, Maduro says Guardian. UserFriendly. “dear god.”

Sports Desk

Trump, Christie Square Off Over High-Stakes Gambling American Conservative

Ravens, NFL scramble as fans stay home Baltimore Sun

Net Neutrality

FCC’s net neutrality repeal sparks backlash The Hill. Hands off my internet!

Ex-NSA Hackers Worry China And Russia Will Try to Arrest Them Motherboard. The deck: The US government has been indicting foreign government hackers, and American government hackers are worried China and Russia might start doing the same to them.

The Electronic Computers, Part 4: The Electronic Revolution Creatures of Thought


Second Brexit referendum has 16-point lead as half of Britons back new vote, opinion poll show Independent

Brexit: everybody gets a prize

Imperial Collapse Watch


John Lehman: China, Russia, Iran threaten ‘New Pearl Harbor’ Asia Times Some sensible analysis here– e.g, US procurement system broken, and I might add corrupted by grifting– if one can see beyond the hysterical headline, among other flaws.

13 GIFTS FOR THE SMART-HOME OWNER Wired. None of these is quite as ridiculous as the smart condom I included in Links last week. I encourage readers to spot obvious problems with these boffo holiday gift suggestions.

Trump Transition:

Congress faces frantic week with possible shutdown, taxes, Russia Politico. Fasten your seatbealts! It’s going to be a bumpy week.

Billy Bush: Yes, Donald Trump, You Said That NYT

Trump moves to block Romney from the Senate Politico. Another scion whose time has come– and passed.

Trump tweets about Russia probe spark warnings from lawmakers Reuters

Trump Finds Loopholes in Chief of Staff’s New Regime WSJ. In other words, Trump finds ways to be Trump– is anyone at all surprised by that? He is the President, after all, and the chief of staff works for him, after all. Interesting detail re Melania’s role– I always suspected there’s much more to her than playing the bland arm candy role she’s been assigned by the MSM.

Treasury Department To Investigate If Treasury Secretary Is A Liar Or An Incompetent Dealbreaker


White House paranoid: ‘Everyone thinks they’re being recorded’ Politico. I wouldn’t call this paranoid, more a rational assessment of reality.

Tax “Reform”

Despite lawmakers’ warnings, few Iowa farmers face estate tax Des Moines Register. UserFriendly: “Great Grassley quote.” Moi: So, those who spend on wine, women, and booze: does that make them deplorables? All sarc aside, this is an important piece, as it debunks the popular Republican talking point that the estate tax threatens family farms.

How Not to Debate the Tax Plan Jacobin

‘This is class warfare’: Tax vote sparks political brawl over populism that will carry into 2018 elections WaPo (UserFriendly). And it certainly should, unless– and this is a very big ask– the Democrats avoid scoring an own goal, for which they’ve displayed ample talent throughout most of the period I’ve been seriously watching American politics.

Disastrous Republican Tax Plan Is Only the First Step in Long-Term Effort to Cut Social Security and Medicare, Exacerbating Inequality AlterNet. I thought about crossposting this, but for a huge analytical gap: author Steven Rosenfeld’s failure to mention that the last two Democratic presidents were each themselves poised to gut Social Security. Don’t get me wrong, we need to worry about this threat, but cannot afford to assume blindly that Democrats are reliable on this issue.


White House May Share Nuclear Power Technology With Saudi Arabia ProPublica

Will the GCC summit resolve the ongoing crisis? Al Jazeera

Puerto Rico

Sonnen, Pura Energía build solar systems in Puerto Rico as utility woes continue Ars Technica

Fake News

Reality Check: Who’s buying the Putin calendar? BBC. Regardless of whether the sales figures are fake news or not, some of these pictures are priceless. Where can I get a copy?

ACCC to probe Facebook, Google over media disruption. Sydney Morning Herald. Inquiry to examine much more than alleged fake news, but I decided to file this here so it wouldn’t get lost among other links.


Cricket in the time of smog: Should Delhi be struck off the international venues list?
Beijing’s not alone in having massive air quality problems. Pity Kohli failed to score a triple ton. And see this: Smog kills thousands in England This Day in History

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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        1. Donald

          I honestly thought this name was a snarky reference to Tom Friedman until you said the site was useful. Moustache of Understanding — gotta keep the names straight.

        2. fresno dan

          The Rev Kev
          December 4, 2017 at 8:10 am

          There was a trendy little cafe in the corner of the room, so I strolled over and picked up a Clif bar and a coffee. Due to my naive privilege as a former tech worker, I expected it all to be free – after all, don’t all offices offer free coffee and snacks, along with a keg of local beer and another tap for Kombucha? But a man popped out from around the corner and rung me up for $3.85. On top of that, it was a bland coffee in a small cup. This was an interesting reminder that working in a lower-training job is a different world than the one you and I probably both inhabit, here at the top of the economy.
          The spoiled retiree in me loves hard work, but only the right kind of hard work. The sedentary locked-indoors variety of work always falls to the bottom of the list. As you can tell by the low frequency of these blog posts***
          I like Mr. Money Mustache, but what the site most proves imho is that the premise of homoeconomicus is obviously ridiculous. Example after example of people being irrational…

          The long story short synopsis of this article is that people are willing to work for UBER for less than minimum wage. Also, that people’s desire (in fact need to work) is such that people will do it when it is scarcely worthwhile. Is there something wrong with minimum wage laws, or is it that the current system is designed to hover up all the money for the people at the top?

          *** Whoa! that hits close to home….by doing volunteer work (whats wrong with in doors sedentary work?) am I undercutting wages?

          1. Stephen V.

            Er, about the volunteer work, maybe so FD. But I have a friend who reminds me that all those trips I make to Home Depot are real job-killers. I cannot disagree!

        3. diptherio

          My first thought on seeing that link in the MMM sidebar was “who the f spends $1000/mo on groceries?!?” Then I read the “About” page, which told me everything I needed to know (and explained the adorable naivety of his suggestions to Uber and Lyft). Let’s just say he’s speaking to a very particular audience:

          My wife and I studied engineering and computer science in Canada, then worked in standard tech-industry cubicle jobs in various locations throughout the late ’90s and early 2000s.

          Then we retired from real work way back in 2005 in order to start a family. This was achieved not through luck or amazing skill, but simply by living a lifestyle about 50% less expensive than most of our peers and investing the surplus in very boring conservative Vanguard index funds and a rental house or two.

          This blog was born in 2011 out of exasperation. Six years into this early retirement, life was going well and our little boy was growing up nicely. But many of my friends and former coworkers remained broke, constantly complaining about how hard middle-class life is these days, and how much they would like to be able to afford to lose at least one of their six-figure salaries so someone could stay home with the kids.

          That last sentence is…uh…a bit of a tell.

          And obviously he has failed to grok the business strategy of Uber and Lyft (although he does an admirable job of showing the microeconomic incoherence of the business model from a driver’s perspective).

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            From Rev Kev’s link:

            Canola oil is the ultimate example. It is packed with calories, costs 17 cents per 667 calories, and it is very good for you.

            “Spaghetti noodles” and canola oil. gmo wheat and denatured gmo rapeseed oil. Not an avocado or tub of coconut oil in sight.

            Hope he and the family are saving up to meet their annual “healthcare” deductible. It’s liable to be a doozy.

          2. jrs

            and even if they both have six figure salaries (yea I know, not been my reality either, but bear with me), who is supposed to give up their salary, generally the woman is how it usually works out. And what is the chance of her EVER getting back into tech of all things if she does? (could there possibly be an industry that discounts knowledge and even many years of old experience if it isn’t the latest more than the tech field does?). But what’s wrong with women these days anyway for like wanting careers and stuff? The 90s and 2000s were the heyday of tech, it’s a much harsher world out there.

          3. Stephanie

            Not arguing at all about the demo MMM speaks to and for. Early “retirement” , or any retirement, is not in the cards for 99% of us. Note however that I say “retirement” because I believe MMM actually owns & operates a smallish contracting business, so technically he’s still engaged in what the rest of us call work. Owning a business allows him to call the shots on his schedule though, which seems to me to be the main impetus for many who here would like to see a UBI created. The problem with MMM’s solution is that it doesn’t scale -not everyone can successfully run a small business and save 50% of their income and only take small jobs and wait until “retirement” to have kids, and if everyone tried (which they can’t and survive) the economy would look radically different than it does today This he acknowledges, and he explicitly does not give a flying fig about it. He assumes that most of the rest of the world are consumerist “suckas” who will happily subsidize the economy and his lifestyle with their prolifigate spending.

            All that said, MMM does do one thing that I think is important to acknowledge, which is the attempt to make anti-consumerism cool. On many threads with an environmental theme I’ve seen comments to the effect that we separately need to stop consuming if we’re to have any hope of a future on this planet. Well, MMM is probably the best-case scenario for what anti-consumerism for the upper 20% looks like in the U.S. He bikes most places, has only one kid, brings his own lunch and doesn’t feed the credit-card industry. Granted we can argue whether “bad-assity” is the dumbest-sounding lifestyle slogan ever, but I honestly think if we are ever going to convince those with money to spend to spend less of it on big cars and bigger houses, then we need more like him.

  1. cnchal

    Amazon bosses try to raise morale by giving exhausted staff two 7p chocolates each after shocking working conditions were exposed

    Buy from Amazon. Gratuitously torture another human.

    ‘One of my staff told me about his struggle with depression in such an environment. He’d had many issues with other managers, with one telling him if he has mental health issues he “should not be here”, as well as telling him to “get out” if he suffers anxiety.’ – Former Area Manager

    ‘The last two months have been the worst of my life. Every break I have to try and catch some sleep. I’ve seen plenty of people sleep in their cars.’ – Worker, Tilbury warehouse

    ‘We were told we weren’t allowed to use the toilet outside of scheduled break times.’ – Fulfilment worker

    ‘It’s only a matter of time before an Amazon driver kills someone. Amazon create routes based on numbers, supposedly to an eight- hour working day. But if you start at 8am you’ll sometimes finish at 8pm or 9pm.’ – Amazon delivery driver

    ‘Some of us have been placed on report just for sitting down during our shifts.’ – Amazon staffer

    ‘Working in picking I was always either squatting, or climbing the ladder. It was like taking a 10-hour step class.’ – Ex staff member at US fulfilment centre

    ‘I’m 28 and healthy. In six weeks there I’ve injured my back, both my knees and am currently nursing an ankle injury after 11 hours standing up for five days a week. I’d estimate around 75 per cent of my colleagues would say the same.’ – Manchester fulfilment worker

    ‘I was told to work faster and twisted my foot on a ladder. I had to quit, my foot hurt too much to continue under those conditions.’ – Ex Tilbury worker

    All this meat grinding and churn so one guy can become the world’s first trillionaire. A truly sickening spectacle.

    1. allan


      Now my grandfather was a sailor, he blew in off the water.
      My father was a farmer and I, his only daughter.
      Took up with a no good millworking man from Massachusetts
      who dies from too much whiskey and leaves me these three faces to feed.

      Millwork ain’t easy, millwork ain’t hard, millwork it ain’t nothing but an awful boring job.
      I’m waiting for a daydream to take me through the morning
      and put me in my coffee break where I can have a sandwich and remember.

      Then it’s me and my machine for the rest of the morning,
      for the rest of the afternoon and the rest of my life.

      Now my mind begins to wander to the days back on the farm.
      I can see my father smiling at me, swinging on his arm.
      I can hear my granddad’s stories of the storms out on Lake Erie
      where vessels and cargoes and fortunes and sailors’ lives were lost.

      Yes, but it’s my life has been wasted, and I have been the fool
      to let this manufacturer use my body for a tool.
      I can ride home in the evening, staring at my hands,
      swearing by my sorrow that a young girl ought to stand a better chance.

      So may I work the mills just as long as I am able
      and never meet the man whose name is on the label.

      It be me and my machine for the rest of the morning
      and the rest of the afternoon, gone for the rest of my life.

      – James Taylor

      File under Class Warfare Doesn’t Repeat But it Rhymes.

      1. Lee

        Tangentially related: It has been posited that the international appeal of U.S. country music, particularly in societies in transition from rural to urban life, lies in its expression of nostalgic yearning for pre-industrial livelihoods and ways of life that are closer to and that grapple more directly with nature. This is as opposed to industrial and service economies in which our connection with our natural material base is mediated to an increasing degree through other people. And, as Sartre has observed, “Hell is other people.”

        Since the prospect of becoming hunter gatherers, pastoralists and farmers is not open to most of us, our only hope is to become less hellish in our dealings with each other.

        1. Enquiring Mind

          In the country music spirit, here is one written by Jimmy Webb and sung by The Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson). How many dream of being such, or are driven to it, looking for meaning while being ignored or forgotten by their fellow citizens?

          I was a highwayman, along the coach roads I did ride
          With sword and pistol by my side
          Many a young maid lost her baubles to my trade
          Many a soldier shed his lifeblood on my blade
          The bastards hung me in the spring of twenty-five
          But I am still alive

          I was a sailor, I was born upon the tide
          And with the sea I did abide
          I sailed a schooner round the Horn to Mexico
          I went aloft and furled the mainsail in a blow
          And when the yards broke off they said that I got killed
          But I am living still

          I was a dam builder, across the river deep and wide
          Where steel and water did collide
          A place called Boulder on the wild Colorado
          I slipped and fell into the wet concrete below
          They buried me in that great tomb that knows no sound
          But I am still around, I’ll always be around and around
          And around and around and around

          I fly a starship across the Universe divide
          And when I reach the other side
          I’ll find a place to rest my spirit if I can
          Perhaps I may become a highwayman again
          Or I may simply be a single drop of rain
          But I will remain and I’ll be back again
          And again and again and again and again

        2. Meher Baba Fan

          I appreciate this is a US centric blog/forum, fair enough. But are you really sure US country music is internationally popular. I’m willing to be proven incorrect- and surely demographics count- but For all the music lovers and players I’ve known it represents the things about the US they wish to ignore. Partially because of the redneck connotation ( partially). US Folk music is distinct however.
          May I recommend on the other hand Johnny Cash doing covers of other artists. I believe there was an album of artists doing Cash covers and to repay the favour he did an album covering their songs. Love the Nick Cave ‘Mercy Seat’ cover by Cash. He enunciates every word.

            1. fresno dan

              Jim Haygood
              December 4, 2017 at 10:43 am

              Saw Don Williams in Wembley back in my youth – one of my favorite singers.

          1. Mark P.

            Meher Baba Fan wrote: But are you really sure US country music is internationally popular.

            It’s surprising, but US country music is — or used to be — big a lot of places you mightn’t expect it to be. When I worked in a cruise ship band around the Caribbean in the early 1990s, forex, it was surprising how big C&W music was on a lot of the islands.

            Yeah, personally, I find US country music harmonically and rhythmically banal. But I’ve worked as a professional musician on and off for decades, so that’s just me. Regular folks like the simplicity and directness, and outside the US it doesn’t have the connections with the ‘deplorables’ and red states it has for for US-centric listeners.

          2. Lord Koos

            Bob Marley is probably more popular world-wide than country music, you can find posters of him everywhere, from Brazil to Tibet. But, Jamaicans also love country music & there have been many reggae covers of country songs, like this one:

        1. allan

          There is a great performance by the Australian folk singer Priscilla Herdman
          on her album, Forgotten Dreams, originally in vinyl but probably still available on CD.

  2. todde

    I’ve yet to hear of a small business that has closed because of the estate tax.

    Section 260A keeps most farmers out of the estate tax provisions and if they don’t qualify that have 10 years to pay it.

    It’s the payroll tax that kills small biz

    1. John Wright

      The estate tax, mathematically, should close only marginal/poorly run family businesses as it is a tax on equity.

      If the ROE of a family business is in excess of the interest on money borrowed to pay estate tax, the family business will be able to service the new debt easily.

      But, if a family business has a low return on equity, say 3% and must borrow money at 7% to pay the estate tax, they could be forced to sell assets.

      Should not a right-minded conservative insist the family sell assets to others that would make better use of these assets?

      The math is identical to what a PE/LBO firm does, borrow money against assets that return in excess of the interest paid.

      Where is the army of principled conservatives pushing for higher estate taxes to make family businesses “use their assets more efficiently”?.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Do family farmers have to borrow a lot in order to have big farms, big enough to compete with corporate farms?

        Is that why they borrow? Is that why they don’t have enough equity?

        1. todde

          If the farmers have big loans that inhibit their borrowing, they won’t have an estate tax to pay.

          Loans are ‘deducted’ from the estate when computing estate taxes.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Why do they borrow so much?

            It seems like a risky business model.

            Could farmers farm just what they have in equity, and stay competitive?

            1. todde

              Land and equipment are their major capital loans.

              But every year most farmers also have to get an operating loan to cover cost of chemicals and seed. For a farmer to make enough to live he will need at least $150k for seed and chemicals each year.

              And then the farmer will have to carry inventory for an entire growing season, which is hard to do for small farmers without a loan.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                So, those farms, those not equity rich, are not necessarily marginally or poorly run, voluntarily, in order to make a quick buck.

                And the estate tax will close all typical farms?

                1. todde

                  the estate tax has never closed one farm.

                  If you find that it has, let me know as the AICPA spent a decade trying to find one and was unable to.

                    1. todde

                      more so because of the time to pay.

                      Even more so because of the 5,000 give or take estate tax returns filed each year, only 1% have any farm assets.

                      It’s a god damn unicorn.

            2. Off The Street

              No, not without a lot of equity.

              Cash flows down on the farm are seasonal, weather is variable and crop prices are outside the control of the average farmer. Without some inherited capital base of land and equipment, who would choose to go into farming without availability of financing? Having said that, even those who may choose to do so find that lenders are notoriously fickle and they spook easily.

              I know farmers who have been in business for decades, without anything even remotely close to hinting at default, let alone any financial distress of any sort, and they still have episodic troubles with new lenders entering and then exiting the ag space because corporate or board or whomsoever decided to reallocate capital. Loyalty and perserverance are unrewarded outside a small circle of friends.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


                That’s counter to the claim the estate tax should close only those marginally/poorly farms, as it taxes only the equity.

                It’s more like everyone.

              2. John Wright

                Why are farms priced so high when they have such risk attached?

                Farms should sell for less to account for the risk.

                It reminds me somewhat of how a friend, who worked in the hard drive industry some years ago, characterized his industry:great technology and expensive R&D, much competitive pressure, but also low profits from commodity pricing.

                He attributed the company’s willingness to stay in the market it to a desire to outlive the competition which would allow greater future profits.

                Farms miss-priced for risk would seems to be something that would not persist for long, unless current farm holders hope to enjoy high profits/prices for their product in the future.

      2. todde

        the IRS gives you a loan to pay the tax. (5 years of interest only payments and then 10 years of equal installment payments)

        With a low rate that doesn’t exceed 2%

      3. Lee

        Life insurance in a Crummey Trust is one form of mitigation, but this assumes good health at the time insurance is applied for and the requisite funds to pay premiums.

    2. allan

      Iowa man keeps on digging: GOP senator says comments on estate tax misinterpreted [AP]

      A top Republican senator said Monday his comments were misinterpreted when he defended GOP efforts to scale back the federal estate taxes because it helps those who invest rather than people who spend their money on “booze or women or movies.”

      “My point regarding the estate tax, which has been taken out of context, is that the government shouldn’t seize the fruits of someone’s lifetime of labor after they die,” Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said in a statement. “The question is one of basic fairness, and working to create a tax code that doesn’t penalize frugality, saving and investment.” …

      Needless to say, the fact that many large estates are composed of gains that have never been taxed
      is one that must never be acknowledged.

      1. a different chris

        And the obvious response to the not-so-honorable Senator from Iowa is: Why not? They’re dead, they won’t miss the money.

  3. Alex

    Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues

    I wonder what are the regional differences, is everyone doing equally bad or not

    1. Quanka

      Everyone is doing bad – maybe not equally so but splitting hairs at that point. China is not exactly an environmentally conscious food producer, and just look at how Monsanto bought off the EU via the German gov’t re: Glysophate. Closer to home, NAFTA has ruined small family farming across all of north america.

  4. Quanka

    +1 on making composting a national priority. The statistics are mind-blowing (with regard to how much food waste is thrown away). I know there was a feature here about having one less child is the best thing one can do for the environment, but I respectfully disagree. Composting not only teaches you how to avoid putting organic material in a landfill — it also teaches you how to be a better consumer and how to avoid buying things that can only end up in a landfill. My wife and I don’t own a garbage can anymore because we compost/recycle 95% of our waste and we re-use the plastic that literally every household item comes as our “trash bags” instead. We have drastically changed the way we purchase everyday products to minimize the amount of waste we produce that has no residual value.

    At the start of my master composting class, the instructor tossed out a stat that Americans (on average) spend more each year on garbage bags than over 1B of the world’s population spends on EVERYTHING COMBINED.

    Highly urge other readers with an interest to challenge yourself not to buy garbage bags and not to throw things away anymore. DIVERT ANYTHING WITH VALUE, it doesnt belong in a landfill. Change the way you live so that you dont even have to consume wasteful products. You will feel so much better about it.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Food waste is just as small percentage of compostable waste thats thrown away or incinerated every year. Vast amounts of garden waste, agricultural waste, municipal waste, sewage sludge, etc., is compostable (or alternatively, could be converted to biochar). Apart from the huge climate benefits, it would dramatically reduce the catastrophic loss of soils worldwide. Simply to, for example, that composted waste should be used to suppress weeds on tilled soil rather than glyphosate would have enormous benefits (see for example, the Scientific American article linked above).

    2. ckimball

      Yes! We have a Swedish metal
      Jora 70 Gallon 270 Compost Tumbler This Swedish company offers larger size for apartment complexes.
      It produces beautiful dark soil. We know people who have have not been able to make the plastic ones
      work (too much moisture). The seal on the Jora is tight.

    3. Rod

      Change the way you live

      this IS the bottom line on this issue-
      and encompasses everything we engage with.

    4. Wyoming


      ” ….I know there was a feature here about having one less child is the best thing one can do for the environment, but I respectfully disagree….”

      For me at least you lost a lot of credibility with that statement. Global population totals are the number 1 single most critical factor in our having a chance to solve the combined climate change and declining carrying capacity issues. At the rate carrying capacity is dropping there is no item such as composting, or permaculture, or reusing plastic, or buying an EV, or any other which can improve the situation before systemic collapse catches us up in a whirlwind. Dramatic population reductions are the critical path to any meaningful solution to these two existential problems. The things you mention you are doing are the right thing but they are small things and even done on a global basis will not deliver a solution.

      Climate change is exponentially accelerating, carrying capacity is exponentially declining, and population is rapidly climbing. It is not just the scientific facts that indicate this will end badly as basic common sense can see that our situation is dire and dramatic changes are required.

      Btw: I am a former owner/operator of an organic farming operation and have a fairly deep understanding of farming issues and growing food. Anyone who tells you there are simple solutions to fixing any part of the agriculture/food consumption part of our civilization does not know what they are talking about.

      1. witters

        Its not capitalism and grow forever, its not burning fossil fuels for mad levels of consumption, its not soil destroying industrial agricullture, it is having on unnecessary child. God I’m over this Malthusian virtue-signalling.

  5. Ed

    “Smoked pot and want to enlist? Army issuing more waivers Fox News. This is good news– I think?”

    Not really. The DoD tends to issue the waivers for pot smoking when they haven’t met their recruitment goals, to increase strength, and tighten enforcement when they have overshot their recruitment goals and need to reduce strength. Its all quite cynical.

    This implies more waivers if the USA is gearing up for a war, but wars have not been won by masses of troops in a long time, its mostly air force and intel backed proxies, and the authorized strength numbers are set by Congress for the usual (non) reasons. Its more to do with hitting an arbitrary bureaucratic target.

    1. Wukchumni

      When the uprising in Fallujah was in full foment, MIC raised the maximum enlistment age to 42 in the army out of desperation for cannon fodder, and I was briefly eligible for a few months.

      The new maximum enlistment age in the army is now 35

    2. HopeLB

      Remember during the first years of the Iraq war when they lowered entry requirements?

      Perhaps this waiver is necessary because Vets are getting the word out about warfare;

      And see this;

      From the article, most decorated General Smedley Butler’s idea;

      . In 1935, Butler wrote a book on the subject and explained how to end the racket:

      1. Take the profit out of war.

      2. Let youths who would bear arms decide whether there should be war.

      3. Limit military forces to home defense purposes.

      Butler added:

      The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labor before the [nation’s] manhood can be conscripted. One month before the Government can conscript the young men of the nation — it must conscript capital and industry and labor. Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted—to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.

      Let the workers in these plants get the same wages—all the workers, all presidents, all executives, all directors, all managers, all bankers—yes, and all generals and all admirals and all officers and all politicians and all government office holders—everyone in the nation be restricted to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches!

      Let all these kings and tycoons and masters of business and all those workers in industry and all our senators and governors and majors pay half of their monthly $30 wage to their families and pay war risk insurance and buy Liberty Bonds.

      Why shouldn’t they?

      They aren’t running any risk of being killed or of having their bodies mangled or their minds shattered. They aren’t sleeping in muddy trenches. They aren’t hungry. The soldiers are!

      Give capital and industry and labor thirty days to think it over and you will find, by that time, there will be no war. That will smash the war racket—that and nothing else.

      1. Lord Koos

        My dad was drafted near the end of WWII and helped occupy Manila and Tokyo. He told me that by the end of the war the US had drastically lowered their standards for conscripts and that there were convicted rapists etc in his platoon.

    3. Tomonthebeach

      How many jobs can you be disqualified for, then hired, then fired in less than 6 months, and still get a pension and free medical care for life? What a deal!

      The dirty little secret is that these pot privates comprise the bulk of all recruits who fail to serve more than 6 months (25% is the number I see most often). Another 10% are gone before their initial contract expires (35% failure rate). That is, they squeak through basic training (some do not even make it that far (need to soften up the regimen), and flunk out of technical training or infantry (whatever), or they sass their bosses, show up late for work, get in fights, beat their spouses while in military housing, shoplift the exchange, show up positive for illicit drug use, or they are just drunks.

      Meanwhile, it is we the taxpayers who pay for these lax recruiting standards. How much? Estimates vary, but probably well over a $100K per job failure during their 1st year. You have to factor in the cost of advertising, recruiters, testing, medical exams, background checks, moving expenses, healthcare, training billeting, training, salaries, training, nonjudicial and judicial hearings, and any up-front recruiting bonuses paid out.

      But wait! There’s more. Once off DOD’s books, as long as the pot privates stay dopers and marginally employed, they become permanently entitled to dependence on the VA for income, housing, and medical care for life. How much that costs has, to my knowledge, never been analyzed. Gee, I wonder why?

      1. Wyoming

        You do realize that heavy drug and alcohol abuse has been endemic in the military for as far back as most of us remember.

        For instance: “..In the spring of 1971, two members of Congress (John Murphy and Robert Steele) released an alarming report alleging that 15 percent of U.S. servicemen in Vietnam were addicted to Heroin. …” This amounted to a good 50-75,000 soldiers just in country. And was not counting the number of drunks and just regular pot smokers. Nor the rest of the military nor the troops who had rotated home. Most of those guys are still around and using the VA in droves at the VA hospital I volunteer at.

        A more interesting point perhaps is how much service to your country should be needed to qualify for all these free medical benefits? Setting aside physical or psychological wounds due to service which I think most everyone would say we owe them treatment for life.

        If you served 2 years do you really in any way deserve lifetime free medical care? Isn’t that really a bit much? Should there be some kind of sliding scale of time served gets you so much coverage or something? Full retirement gets you full benefits but less than that something else?

        Just fyi the 2018 VA budget is set at $186.5 billion dollars. The VA hospital system is the largest in the country. And it could not function without volunteers such as myself as the budget is far less than would be needed if they had to pay all the people who work at the hospitals. The volunteers who work at the hospital I volunteer at are the yearly equivalent of 44 full time workers. To give you and idea of how many of us there are estimate off of the total of 168 hospitals and 1053 outpatient centers in the US. And I am at one of the small hospitals. This veterans care system is going to collapse due to the costs eventually if something does not change.

  6. Meher Baba Fan

    Okay so the UK has agreed to keeping NI in Customs and Single Market; a special arrangement to maintain regulatory alignment with EU. According to Guardian just now. DUP spits.
    Many thanks to Vlades fantastic and amusing commentary over on Yves recent piece. PlutoniumKen also

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      While I was compiling Links, I knew Yves would be posting a Brexit piece, so I deliberately kept the Brexit links light here, so as to direct commentary there. Makes sense to consolidate the discussion in one place, no?

    2. Darn

      Regulatory convergence is not the same as NI remaining in the CU and SM, since it will not cover everything.

  7. Meher Baba Fan

    from the Guardian just now

    ‘ we are now in the odd position Northern Ireland gets a post Brexit assurance its leading party does not want, while Scotland is denied the same assurance its lead political party does want’
    (shortened for brevity. In response to Scotlands PM Sturgeon complaining)

    1. PlutoniumKun

      This is where its going to get very politically interesting. The government could fall over this.

      1. Clive

        It could indeed. But into the resulting power vacuum, what gruesome sea monsters would be sucked in? I am tempted to say “couldn’t be worse than the DUP”. But that’s not true. They could.

  8. Walt

    “Beijing’s not alone in having massive air quality problems.”

    For the phrase, “air quality,” I suggest substituting “air pollution.” This would better characterize the issue. The term, “air quality” as in “National Ambient Air Quality Standards” (NAAQS) is a euphemisim and was part of the successful industrial effort in the 1960s to legitimize and expand dumping of private waste in the public domain.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      While Beijings air quality is notorious, in reality the air quality in cities in India, Pakistan and Indonesia is even worse. The thick smog over Beijing and other Chinese cities is more visible, but as Chinese fuels tend to be higher quality there are much more really toxic nasties to be found in the air in the poorer countries.

      1. Walt

        Of course the air is much cleaner here, but conceptually, are we so far ahead of those cities in the Far East? Under ambient standards (NAAQS), industry built remote tall stacks in our so-called “Air Quality Control Regions.” Pollution diminished in cities, but “regional haze” increased. (Acid rain legislation reversed this somewhat.)

            1. blennylips

              Move over Walt, I’m standing corrected too, Carl is right.

              but maybe not for long, given the long range forecasts for Cali…

              if the climate balks, we do it ourselves, eg Aliso Canyon…

  9. Ignacio


    Since now, I am only buying stuff that can be disabled if stolen!!!
    Filling more selfish techie smartie by the minute.

  10. PlutoniumKun

    Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been killed by the Houti.

    This is big news, and not particularly good news for Yemen or the Saudis. Only yesterday, MoS was reporting that the split between Saleh and the Houti’s had effectively ended the war. The Houti’s would retreat to their devastated northern territories, Saleh would make peace with the Saudis. It looks like on the contrary, Saleh’s support base has collapsed and now the Houtis (at least for now) are in a very strong position.

    1. The Rev Kev

      You’re right, that is big news. I guess after being in charge of Yemen for 33 years, he wanted all that power again and once again allied himself with the Saudis to betray the Houtis to tip the balance in the Saudi’s favour. He was caught in an ambush trying to flee Sanaa and they shot him in the head afterwards. Initial reports indicate that maybe some other party big wigs also died. The war will go on but with one less major player.

    2. Sid Finster

      Seems that the Houthis aren’t willing to let the Saudis declare victory and hightail it for home. The Houthis want the whole enchilada.

      Ballsy, they are.

    3. Andrew Watts

      This was settling an old vendetta. When Saleh was president in 2004 he killed the founder/leader of the Houthi militia. Getting the UAE/Saudi to abandon Hadi and accept Saleh as president was probably the only way the war was going to end peacefully.

      But hey, this is Yemen where peace rarely ever lasts long. The unification of the two Yemeni states was supposed to end the various civil wars, revolutions, and tribal warfare that has afflicted that region.

      Only yesterday, MoS was reporting that the split between Saleh and the Houti’s had effectively ended the war.

      That’s why you don’t listen to cheerleaders.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Wilfred Thesiger is my absolute favorite author on this region, get into the mindset of the various tribes who wander this general area.

  11. Marco

    Mr Money Mustache as Uber Driver. This dude is way to too forgiving. My friend who drives almost exclusively for Lyft told me another horror story. Many insurance companies are foregoing medical transports / taxis and just using Lyft and Uber. He picked up a special needs senior in a wheelchair (she could walk and stand a little bit) and spent 10 minutes figuring out how to fit the wheelchair in his trunk. Then after the drop off he noticed that she had urinated in his backseat which would be at least a $250 detailing fee which Lyft DENIED!! There is a whole sub economy of companies (GoGoGranny is one) that play middle-men with Lyft and Uber for older non tech-savvy passengers that don’t know how to use a smartphone. I wonder if the insurance companies are billing Medicare / Medicaid mucho $$$ for these medical transports while there drivers get paid peanuts?

    1. Marco

      Oops…”their” not “there” on that last line. Also his fare for the disaster trip was $12 and no tip for 45+ minute fare.

    2. fresno dan

      December 4, 2017 at 9:26 am

      One of the many, many things I was surprised to find out about “original” medicare* is that transportation for a person unable to transport themselves that is not for an emergency is not covered.
      on the other hand
      AND, a lot of this depends on how ballsy your doctor is in confronting the bureaucracy….

      I found this out when counseling a kidney dialysis patient in a wheel chair. As well as the medical problems, like most people with medical problems, he has financial problems, so getting van taxis (he was in a wheel chair) is a pretty significant expense. So what happened?

      One of the most frustrating parts of my volunteering as a medicare counselor is not finding out the resolution to these problems. We referred him to a Kidney support group. There are quite a few programs once your over 65, but in this case he was under 65 (people with end stage kidney disease as well as a number of other conditions can start using medicare before they are 65).
      But the sad fact is that demand far outstrips supply….
      In all likihood he and his families resources are depleted until he is poor enough for Medi-Cal (the CA medicaid program). AND of course, what with all the hoops and caveats of Medi-Cal, transportation is not a done deal either….

      *probably the granny was covered by a Medicare advantage plan, i.e., an HMO – which of course means trying to reduce expenses….

  12. The Rev Kev

    ‘Reality Check: Who’s buying the Putin calendar? BBC. Regardless of whether the sales figures are fake news or not, some of these pictures are priceless. Where can I get a copy?’

    On eBay. There are a few copies there. You want the one with him and a leopard on the front. Don’t get it confused with the 2018 David Cameron calendar which shows David Cameron with a pig on the cover.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Got it, thanks for the savvy shopping tips. Time to snag those Christmas presents!

  13. funemployed

    Frank’s assertion that Republicans are just waiting for a tax bill to abandon Trump doesn’t make much sense to me. How have they been supporting him up to this point (at least re: domestic policy)? Insofar as they have, well, who could they field that their constituents would like better? Finally, they all need a tax bill desperately. Trump will obviously sign anything that comes across his desk, so what leverage does he have that has been keeping them in line (?) so far?

    If they can’t even cut taxes…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If Trump signs anything that comes across his desk, on that alone, he’s more a puppet than a despot.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Trump will sign anything that comes across his desk…..until he doesn’t. If for no other reason than because he’s Trump.

          1. JohnnyGL

            I’m not sure the puppet vs. despot question is the right one. Obama signed almost every bill that came across his desk, too. Does that mean Obama was mostly a puppet?

            I suspect Lambert’s right that ‘gridlock is our friend’ for now. With that in mind, if I had Trump’s ear, even for a minute, and wanted to sow discord among this uneasy alliance, I might say, “Mr. Prez, they’re calling you McConnell/Ryan’s puppet and saying you’ll sign anything they put in front of you.” Then, I’d hope that festers in the back of Trump’s mind and he unleashes the veto pen. It’s probably going to happen at some point.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              If he’s a puppet, the problem is bigger. You have to go after the puppeteers.

              With a despot, there is no gridlock.

              Despot: a ruler or other person who holds absolute power, typically one who exercises it in a cruel or oppressive way.

              One could say Obama was cruel or oppressive, but he didn’t have absolute power.

    2. WobblyTelomeres

      I had the same question. Pence would sign the tax bill just as surely as Trump with the bonus that Pence may be less likely to start a nuclear war to get his ratings up.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Let’s not assume that Pence doesn’t really WANT to start one just for….fun? ideology? glory? Russophobia? Because Israel/Saudi money says so?

        Re: Trump and war….I wonder if the opposite might be true? Lower Trump ratings mean war is LESS likely, rather than more.

        If Trump’s ratings are lower, he might have more trouble engineering public support for war. He’s always going to get elite support for war, no matter his poll numbers, the elite love war as much as tax cuts.

        To be honest, I’m not even sure myself.

      2. Yves Smith

        Rs do not need the distraction of an impeachment. The Donald will sign bills. That’s all they care about. He’s super annoying but the cost of getting rid of him is very high.

    3. flora

      Corporations may abandon the corporate Dems since they’re no longer needed. See Chuck Schumer’s whine about Dems being left out of the corporate tax give away.

      1. John k

        Corps need to remember dem elites are standing between them and Bernie’s pitchforks. Course, not an issue until 2020…
        But if Dnc has no money, might it be easier for progressives to win primaries in 2018?

        Best thing about trump is that the mighty Clinton dynasty crashed and burned, showing itself to be a rotten hulk, hopefully making room in the forest for progressive shoots.

  14. el_tel

    re Apple wanting to know your pulse:

    I won’t comment on the obvious (and previously explored on NC) malign potential for these big companies to know more about your health and the data privacy/leak implications. But a fast pulse should not be ignored. It took years of cohort studies to (finally) disentangle the effects of pulse and blood pressure on cardiovascular risk (since they are often very highly correlated) – but the conclusion was that a fast pulse is an independent risk factor of stroke/MI. (This sort-of links into the recent piece about the “reclassification” of what is considered “high blood pressure” – a much over-hyped piece that if you look at the original clinical study would have recommended increased medication in no more than 3% of Americans and probably a lot fewer.)

    As someone with a generally normal BP but fast resting pulse I take an interest. Indeed my fast pulse meant my previous heart condition (SVTs brought on by exercise – pulse>300BPM) were very very severe – with the worst one requiring the human equivalent of “switching the power off and back on and trusting it to work rather than give blue screen of death” but thanks to modern keyhole surgery I had the “electrical malfunction” in my heart zapped to stop attacks in future. Now, ectopic (typically interpreted by the patient as “missed”) beats can be an early sign of various heart abnormalities so are not to be ignored – certainly not if you’re young anyway. Indeed recent follow-up with a month-long monitor last year established that a few ectopic beats I had were due to normal ageing (and coffee!) But ectopic beats can be an early warning sign of something much more serious and the “typical” (in UK anyway) test involves an annoying monitor worn continuously for a month which could be replaced by a smartwatch pretty easily.

  15. Livius Drusus

    From the article on Chelsea Clinton running for Cotton’s Senate seat:

    She [Chelsea Clinton] is an Arkansas native, even though she hasn’t lived there since she was 12. Sure, she lives in Manhattan now and lacks a Southern accent. But her mom bought her first house in New York two months before she launched her Senate bid, proving ZIP code ain’t nothing but a number. Carpetbagger charges are inevitable. But in the end, what matters is your knowledge and respect of the state and its voters.

    The big difference is that Hillary Clinton chose to run as a carpetbagger in a deep blue state where she knew she had a good shot at winning. I suspect that Chelsea would lose big in Arkansas, a strong red state.

    I don’t have anything against political dynasties per se. FDR was the scion of a notable political dynasty. It all depends on the policies that the candidates support. Chelsea Clinton would likely be a New Democrat clone, though, which is a terrible fit for Arkansas. You need a populist Democrat to win in red states.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Cotton must be laughing. 2016 Election Results in Arkansas.

      Donald J. Trump Michael R. Pence Republican 684,872 60.57%

      Hillary Clinton Timothy Kaine Democratic 380,494 33.65%

      E.S. Not Just over one million did not vote.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Edit. E.S. Note – Just over one million eligible AR voters did not vote. They sure wont register and vote for a Clinton now.

  16. TarheelDem

    Chelsea trial balloon?

    Why would Chelsea want to go to Arkansas to run for a job that pays, what? $174K?
    What love does Politico have for any Democrat, especially a Clinton?

    The Never Clinton folks are being trolled. It is indeed over.

    Clinton has found her feet launching a host of female candidates into Democratic office.

    1. Pat

      Maybe because neither Schumer or Gillibrand is willing to step aside for her, and without influence to sell the charity slush fund is crying up? Just a not so respectful thought about the First Grifters.

      1. TarheelDem

        First grifters –> Carpetbaggers

        Some people try their best not to speak Southern ;-)

        Not sure Chelsea wants to depart her current jobs for non-stop controversy.

        Worse than being a Kennedy, except no one thinks you are worth the effort. Unless you actually get close to power again.

      2. Off The Street

        Maybe Chelsea Clinton can start small, being the Rep for the district that includes Mena? There is no shortage of interesting work to be done there, what with airports, railroad tracks, kids, crime and healthcare. That should make her eligible for many sub-committees.

    2. Wyoming

      I kind of like this idea … for amusements sake at least.

      After all it was not just mommy Clinton who successfully carpetbagged into office. Dick Cheney’s daughter carpetbagged into Wyoming and won and she had far less bonafides to Wyoming than Chelsea has to Arkansas. And that was considering that most Wyomingites I know have little good to say about daddy Cheney where it seems the Arkansaians still like Bill. Who knows what would happen.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Americans Are Receiving Unordered Parcels From Chinese E-Criminals — And Can’t Do Anything To Stop Them Forbes

    Kind of like the ghost city equivalent.

    Inflated GDP.

    Though China is not alone. Other countries do it with fake unemployment numbers, etc.

    Here, though, the bad guys are creating online accounts in the names of the victims. When the bills come, if they do (from the article, it appears the ‘brushing’ – see the article for definition – shipping-agents are paying for them for now), it will be more just ‘why are they shipping me all these free stuff from China?’

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    John Lehman: China, Russia, Iran threaten ‘New Pearl Harbor’ Asia Times Some sensible analysis here– e.g, US procurement system broken, and I might add corrupted by grifting– if one can see beyond the hysterical headline, among other flaws.

    There is also corruption in China.

    Except they are going after their own generals and admirals, all the way to the heart of the Poliburo.

    1. L

      Yes they are but as others have noted that anti-corruption drive has the “purely incidental” side-effect of strengthening Xi Jinping’s hand (see here). It is no accident that he has made anti-corruption his tool since corruption is real and is deeply unpopular. It is also no accident that all of the people snared in the purges are his political opponents or people who, like the generals noted above, represented checks on his power even if they were not actually against him.

      Any time you eliminate corruption and use it to reduce levels of oversight it is convenient.

    2. Ben Around

      One sentence matters. The rest are either filler or softening us up for that key message.

      “Lehman says current bipartisan support in Congress for increased defense spending is a step in the right direction.”

      I am deeply ill at ease with the military status of the USA. We keep adding inputs (spending) with no real goal to improving outputs (winning). This and other fixable problems are never really dealt with. The problem is not within our missile silos but between our ears.

      Did you know the US Army paid Germany’s best commanders after 1945 to give us their thoughts on how the US Armed Forces could do better? Neither does anyone making decisions at the Pentagon. Martin van Creveld, who also wrote such a book, said American officers could not be bothered to read what the losers thought.

      No, we need more ships we don’t really know how to pilot, more aircraft carriers that are likely not survivable, more bases we can ill afford. What we really lack are library cards and the will to use them.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I’ll have to ad here that I have some very serious reservations about this article. This sounds like an attempt to press the government-waste-in-the-military button but you have to look at who is saying it and what their agenda might be. A look at John Lehman’s Wikipedia page gave me all the information that I needed to know but to find that he was important in the forced retirement of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, well, game over man, game over.
      Is the US procurement system broken? Absolutely! Is China, Russia and Iran a threat? Only when you have scores of military bases on their borders and threaten them constantly. And when he said that they don’t have to be allies, well. One of the greatest failures of US foreign policy in history has to been to literally force those three countries into an alliance instead of doing a Nixon and splitting one of them off. But to get to the nitty-gritty.
      You want to know how he probably wants to streamline weapons procurements? I have seen this in action. New ships are supposed to conduct a battle damage test by having an explosion take place near the ship but the US Navy does not want to do that for the new carrier the USS Gerald R. Ford. Reckons they will save 6 months, The ship will be untested but that is cool. The F-35 is notorious for skipping checklist that previous aircraft had to pass so that its real life performance will be unknown, They are even using computer simulations to pas some tests with instead of the actual aircraft. I am willing to bet that this is the “streamlining” that he is talking about. The money is still flowing but the only money saved is that used to find if the stuff actually works or not.
      You want to cut military spending? Here are a few ideas-

      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

        Agreed there are problems with the article– but thought it was worth posting, as it would attract thoughtful responses such as yours that include interesting details. Thanks for the comment.

  19. el_tel

    re: Smog

    I wonder if coming at this from an alternative direction (*if* relevant) might help? For instance South Africa’s ejection from various sporting events in the 1980s was credited in accelerating the elimination of apartheid. I’m sure there are others on here who are better placed to comment – maybe I’m talking rubbish and regurgitating an over-simplistic MSM point – but I guess my general point is that thinking a bit outside the box might help in “reducing a social problem” through appeal to the masses who enjoy “another social activity adversely affected”. Just a thought since India (for instance) is a cricket nation.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I don’t think its talking rubbish at all. I’m not a cricket fan, I just glanced at an article on it in the sports pages yesterday, but my immediate thought was that the Indians were protesting too much (I read that they were basically calling the Sri Lankans wimps for not playing). They obviously sense something like this is becoming an embarrassment.

      Frequently, radical action on the environment hasn’t always been a case of gradual improvements – there are often major tipping points such as the pea soupers in London in the 1950’s that killed thousands, or the infamous stinks in the London that were so bad that parliament couldn’t sit that prompted the construction of the London sewerage network. There is no doubt that the Chinese are making major strides in controlling air pollution precisely because of international embarrassment at publicity around it.

      So yes, maybe it would be a good thing if the cricket was disrupted, it could force a sea change in Indian policy, especially regards coal.

      1. Meher Baba Fan

        Bare in mind, when they say India is a religious country. Its actually cricket they worship. Mono theistic nation.
        Real *real* reason the Beatles went to India? to study the sacred practice of cricket

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    ‘This is class warfare’: Tax vote sparks political brawl over poputaklism that will carry into 2018 elections WaPo (UserFriendly). And it certainly should, unless– and this is a very big ask– the Democrats avoid scoring an own goal, for which they’ve displayed ample talent throughout most of the period I’ve been seriously watching American politics.

    The worst is not scoring their own goal, in terms of not capturing more congressional seats, that sort of own goal.

    The worst is for them to take this political capital and use it on their own neoliberal projects…more free trade pacts, more workers here to keep labor supply overflowing…and to make sure the Suffering One receives what is due, or way past due.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Casting the Dems as hapless, own-goal-scorers is a smokescreen and a mis-direction, they are ruthlessly efficient at representing their actual constituencies

  21. Darn

    Re the Bernie Veto Challenge. Why have actual Dems not done this first? Especially when the AHCA was gonna cut Medicaid, so he just went on the Senate floor with a blow-up of Trump’s tweet saying he was the only GOP candidate who wasn’t gonna cut Medicaid.

  22. Brucie A.

    Huh, yesterday, The Guardian: Tony Blair confirms he is working to reverse Brexit

    Tony Blair has confirmed that he is trying to reverse Brexit, arguing that voters deserve a second referendum because the “£350m per week for the NHS” promise has now been exposed as untrue.

    In an interview with the BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend on Sunday, the former prime minister said that what was happening to the “crumbling” NHS was a “national tragedy” and that it was now “very clear” that the Vote Leave promise about Brexit leading to higher NHS spending would not be honoured.

    “When the facts change, I think people are entitled to change their mind,” said Blair, who has always been a strong opponent of Brexit but who has rarely been so explicit about being on a personal mission to stop it happening.

    Asked if his purpose in relation to Brexit was to reverse it, Blair replied: “Yes, exactly so.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      This is really disgusting. Tony Blair is saying that he wants to cancel Brexit because he wants to save the NHS? Really? When he and New Labour came to power they were the ones trying to demolish the NHS and to privatize it so that the British would end up with the American health system. If he is trying to stop Brexit, going by his track record, there must be some hard cash involved somewhere.

    2. witters

      Tony Blair – Master of All (Neoliberal) Wisdom:

      “Let me make my position clear – I wouldn’t want to win from a traditional leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn’t take it.” (2015)

      “I’m Labour through and through.” (2015)

      “When the facts change, I think people are entitled to change their mind.” (2017)

  23. John D.

    I read the article on Joy Reid’s homophobia. She really is a despicable piece of work. And an utter hypocrite, of course. Par for the course for right wing neolib “democrats,” needless to say.

    1. Pat

      “Some of my best friends are gay.” /s I am sure Joy would be shocked to find out how unenlightened aka hateful she is.

      Funny how the neoliberal nice words but lack of support for gay causes turned around when major gay donors made it clear that not only would they take their money and walk away but do it in the most embarrassing way possible if real support was not forthcoming. See Obama’s turn around on gay marriage. Even then they knew better than to depend on the misleadership class, and worked outside the political system. (Clinton got her wakeup call from the Supreme Court.)

  24. Mark Gisleson

    When my dad passed, my brothers and I each inherited a field of prime Iowa cropland. As the estate attorney read and explained the will, he kept chuckling. We were all instant ‘millionaires’ yet there were no taxes. In fact, because dad died after harvest but before the end of the year, his last earnings from the farm were somehow not taxable.

    So long as the farm is in operation, none of us are really millionaires except on paper, and few oligarchs would tolerate the low rate of return or the high risk of climate change. But the tax laws were sure on our side! Chuck Grassley’s original Congressional district included our farm, btw (now split between two different CDs thanks to advanced gerrymanderetics).

    1. todde

      Grain held as inventory gets a step up in basis at death, which usually means the basis equals what it was sold for..

    1. L

      Probably. The rise of not really retired people paring down to the precariat life is also very real and has been going on so long that there is at least one town devoted entirely to them Slab City.

  25. fresno dan

    The richest Americans deserve some credit for not spending every dime on “booze” or women,” according to a wealthy senator who aided in passing a sweeping tax overhaul early Saturday morning.
    “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies” Grassley told The Register on November 29.
    We disagree.
    Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns — and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan?

    Therefore, seems to me I should spend as much as I want on wine, women, and movie musicals….

  26. Jim Haygood

    On Chicago’s “silk purse from sows’ ears” AAA bonds:

    Fitch Ratings bestowed the prized AAA rating on $575 million of sales-tax securitization bonds—the first tranche in what is expected to be $3 billion in new debt that will replace older, more costly bonds.

    By giving the lender what amounts to a first lien on the city’s hundreds of millions of dollars a year in sales tax revenues, the city is “insulating bondholders from any operating risk,” Fitch said.

    It continued, “The bankruptcy-remote, statutorily defined nature of the issue and a bond structure involving a perfected first lien security interest in the sales tax revenues are key credit strengths” that enabled it to rate the new debt way above the city’s underlying rating of BBB-.

    One of Puerto Rico’s last bond sales before it lost access to borrowing was a $3.5 billion issue in 2014 to some hedge funds which gave them seniority over prior borrowers, and New York rather than local jurisdiction. Today they’re fighting with junior bondholders over priority.

    Oh, it’s so sad
    To think about the good times
    You and I

    –Taylor Swift, Bad Blood

  27. Pat

    Am I either naive or delusional in that I think the tax bill is still on shaky ground?

    I realize this is all opinion and supposition, but there is still the reconciliation process and votes in both Houses of Congress before it ends up in Trump’s desk. Will the House allow all the special concessions the Senate made to remain? Will Ryan be able to keep all the no additional deficit fanatics in line with promises of future grand bargains? Can McConnell count on Senators whose goodies get struck out? It isn’t as if the Republicans haven’t shown a lot of instances of throwing their leadership under the bus when they aren’t happy with the “compromises”.

    No I don’t expect the miracle of gridlock to save us from this monstrosity, but I will be gobsmacked if there isn’t more turmoil and inner party warfare before the finale.

    1. JohnnyGL

      On healthcare I never REALLY thought they’d go for full repeal. It seemed like there was too much opposition from the public, and all the big industry players (insurance, hospitals, pharma) lined up against it pretty clearly and pretty early. I feel like they just faked it hard for political/ego reasons.

      On tax cuts, I think the Repubs really mean business. The donors were quite clear with them, aristocracy will be entrenched! No town halls, no public input, no hearings, just hurry it through as quickly as possible before the opposition gets organized like they did on healthcare (that’s not a Dem-style moan by me, I’m just taking it as a statement of intent on Repub side).

      I’m trying to figure out how big of a backlash it’s going to cause for 2018. I didn’t think they’d be dumb enough to RAISE taxes on their base (which seems like it might happen in many instances).

      If Bernie’s right and they go after entitlements immediately afterwards….then it’s clearly suicidal. I don’t think they’re quite that crazy.

      1. Romancing The Loan

        Many are at the end of their careers anyway. And turning it over to the Dems for a few years doesn’t actually run much of a risk of their signature legislative accomplishment (sort of a reverse new deal) being reversed. They’ll just leave it in place and moan about it if recent history is anything to go by… I don’t see why the current crop of ancient Rs wouldn’t suffer temporary political suicide in exchange for the fulfillment of their lifelong dreams of totally unfettered oligarchy.

        …Offtopic, but I had the most awful exchange with an otherwise pleasant member of the NE aristocracy the other day – she started out by bragging that she was so liberal she was “practically a communist,” yet within five harrowing minutes of talking politics she was telling me in shock that I “hated the rich” and that thinking the time of the dynasties is over and Joe Kennedy III wouldn’t last 5 minutes outside Massachusetts meant I was a bigot on par with (yes, seriously, and no she was not kidding) the Klan. Those poor, poor scions of inherited wealth! We’re all doomed.

        1. JohnnyGL

          Someone I work with was plugging a younger Kennedy the other day (possibly the one of which you are writing). I recall struggling with the idea that anyone who was either under 60 and/or from outside Massachusetts would find anything magical about the Kennedy name.

          It’s just a name for the history books at this point, like the Roosevelts, really.

  28. s.n.

    It Is Now an Obstruction Investigation

    …Obviously, the pleas and the indictment have nothing to do with collusion because Mueller has no collusion case. Since there is no collusion case, we can safely assume Mueller is primarily scrutinizing President Trump with an eye toward making a case of obstructing an FBI investigation…. I continue to believe that this is the real danger for President Trump: A report by the special counsel, either through the grand jury or some other vehicle, concluding (a) that the president had obstructed the FBI’s investigation of Flynn and of Trump-campaign collusion with Russia, and (b) recommending that the matter be referred to Congress for consideration of next steps, potentially including impeachment and removal.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Wait till the tax bill is signed, though I think Pence would have not problem with it either.

      But then, if you make your move too soon, Trump might do a Pyrrhic or scorch-earth veto. Then, you have to start all over again.

      Wiser to be patient.

      1. JohnnyGL

        I think the president’s ace to play is a possible Clinton investigation.

        My baseless hunch is that he sees UraniumOne as impeachment insurance. He’ll hold his fire as long as Mueller doesn’t get beyond those that have already been fired.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I don’t there is much there, though we probably have to review what James Thrice-I-assured-Trump-he’s-not-under-investigate Comey said.

          Then, Mueller has anti-Trump people on his team. That’s conflict of interest. He’s has his own problems, as conflict of interest is often seen with obstruction of justice…if you are not impartial, you’re obstructing justice.

    2. Vatch

      President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, John Dowd, claims the President cannot be guilty of obstructing justice, according to an interview with Axios.

      “(The) President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under (the Constitution’s Article II) and has every right to express his view of any case,” Dowd told Axios.

      Nothing to see here folks; move along now. Watergate is ancient history.


      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s an interesting theory.

        Is he the chief law enforcement officer? A hands-on executive?

        Of course, Congress has its own problem, conflict of interest, if not obstruction of justice, with the recent revelations about members like Conyers and the like.

      2. Yves Smith

        Nixon had a Democratic judge and a Democratic majority House. Trump is not at risk of being impeached unless/until the Dems get control of the House.

  29. allan

    Detailed thread by tax expert Victor Fleischer‏ @vicfleischer on the pass through partnership (PTP) provisions
    in the Senate tax bill. Earlier reports that it would apply to Blackstone, etc., seem to have been incorrect.
    John Cornyn focused this on helping the oil and gas industry:

    Here’s a brief update on the PTP issue. The main Cornyn amendment (1715) is in the bill. It treats PTP income as eligible for the special 23% passthrough deduction, w/o restrictions (investment advice, law, accounting, consulting, etc.). Sneaky dirty win for oil and gas PTPs. 1/x …

    This stands out:

    This means that while it nominally gets the 23% deduction (as I originally said), it has to get rinsed through a Delaware blocker corp, which turns it into dividend income to the parent PTP. 5/x …

    But the rinsing is so simplified you’ll be able to do it on a postcard! Yet another major win for the back row kids.

    Dear Dems: if you can’t message on stuff like this, find another line of work.

  30. Wukchumni

    Inserted an investment of 60 bulbcoins into terra firma up @ the cabin yesterday, looking for a 180 day daffodil return next annum~

    “Scientists also want to keep track of the West Antarctic marine ice sheet, which rests on bedrock lying as much as 3,300 feet below sea level. At present, ice shelves shield the margins of the marine ice sheet from direct erosion by the sea. But if the ice shelves should disintegrate, this ice sheet would be prone to sudden collapse and disintegration-a process that might take less than 200 years”

    From the 1983 Time/Life Planet Earth book Ice Ages

    What if all of the sudden next year or 6 years from now, we had 10 feet of sea rise?

    How would the world react?

  31. Synoia


    Here’s my product: The Smart “off switch.”

    It’s smart because the smart use it.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Good thought that but as been too often proved, just because you switch something off does not mean that it actually is off and just because you switch of tracking does not mean that it is still not on. How about a Faraday Cage bag instead for Christmas that you can take with you and pop your electronics in? One guy in Oz here even used an empty Twisties bag ( to do the same thing with. The best thing? No working parts!

  32. Jim Haygood

    When dinosaurs mate:

    S&P puts CVS ratings on Creditwatch negative after deal to buy Aetna

    This sounds like one of the more brain-dead vertical mergers in history. CVS is down more than 5 percent today, as investors collectively barf in response to its blunder.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Speaking of failed acquisitions, no-account rural telco CenturyLink of Monroe, Louisiana first swallowed regional telco Qwest in 2011, and then Colorado’s Level 3 last month.

      In an epic display of value destruction, CTL now trades at less than one-third of its price at the beginning of 2011. Chart:

      An astronomical 14.78% dividend yield shows that investors think the dying telco — featuring the worst customer service in the country — is going to have to slash its payout to conserve precious cash.

      Save the dinosaur!

      1. Brian

        Tis’ the monopoly that is important for the future of the looting class. Our laws prevent it, but that doesn’t stop anyone that knows laws aren’t enforced.

  33. Wukchumni

    Was reading The Proud Tower by one of my favorite authors-Barbara Tuchman, and come across this quote that seems like U.S.

    “The banker Edward Speyer, returning after 27 years in England, found that 3 victorious wars and the establishment of empire had created a changed atmosphere in Germany that was intolerable to him. German nationalism had replaced German liberalism. Great prosperity and self-satisfaction acted, it seemed to him, like a narcotic on the people, leaving them content to forego their liberty under a rampant militarism and a servility to army and kaiser that were unbelievable. University professors who in their youth had been leaders of liberalism now kowtowed to the authorities in the most servile manner. Oppressed, Speyer gave up after 5 years and returned to England.”

  34. Expat

    Chelsea Clinton? One is tempted to send money to Little Rocket Man to fund his nuclear ambitions, or at least give him the GPS coordinates of Washington.

    No country can be a democracy when a child, a spouse or a grandchild is entitled to run for political office. In addition to term limits, including absolute limits for any number of different elected positions, we should forbid any relative from serving the government or holding a government paid job of any sort.

    But, since we don’t make the rules and they do, I will go back to grumbling and ranting on the internet.

  35. blennylips

    From Beijing’s bitcoin ban ‘helped China dodge a scary cryptocurrency bubble SCMP:

    His comments come after US Federal Reserve vice-chairman for supervision Randal Quarles warned on Thursday of “spillover effects” from cryptocurrencies on the broader financial system.

    He don’t know the half of it, they’ve come for our kitties!

    Launched a few days ago, CryptoKitties is essentially like an digital version of Pokemon cards but based on the Ethereum blockchain. And like most viral sensations that catch on in the tech world, it’s blowing up fast.

    Who said ‘merica aint exceptional?

    1. JEHR

      These CryptoKittlies remind me of billionaires who can’t get enough of the stuff no matter how much they invest. Once you have enough so that it can never be spent in one lifetime, then what next? Why, CrytoKittlies to the rescue. We are f***ked well and good.

  36. Pelham

    When should we begin to suspect that the Democrats as a party don’t really want to win?

    After all, they can sound progressive when out of power and still rake in big donations from concentrated money while quietly assuring the deep pockets that the rhetoric is nothing more than that.

    On the other hand, if the Dems won Congress and the presidency, they’d have a tougher time maintaining their two faces.

    1. Jason

      You mean, like they did in 2008?

      If they can keep their credibility after Obama gave us Cato Institute health care, I think they’re even more secure with their supporters than Trump is with his.

  37. Summer

    RE: Tax bill

    What needs to be clear is how much pain from the tax bill now for most people and how much is set for a decade or so from now.
    But I don’t see much narrative around the timelines, it’s as if they don’t want people to prepare.

      1. flora

        Yeah, that’s what they said about the W. Bush tax cuts. Expire in 10 years. Until Obama and the Dems made them permanent. ….

        “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”

        ― Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

          1. JTMcPhee

            Likely to get even more unbalanced and unfair. But then as noted here often, taxation is mostly an effectuation of “social” (or anti-social) policy. Done by those who grip the levers of power. Until somebody cuts their hands loose from the rips. “And it’s all nice and legal, see?”

      2. Summer

        I don’t remember hearing that…only that certain things (like the increased standard deduction) will end.
        The distinct impression I have is that itemized deductions that are going away are not automatically coming back and the upper tier (Ex: corporate tax cuts) do not have an expiration date.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          From what I read Saturday here, it’s a zero-sum game for the most part, except the huge reduction in corporate tax rate, from 35% to 20%.

          That means, the zero-sum game part, some will gain and some will lose.

          The shocker is their misusing, abusing of MMT (deficits don’t matter) for corporations.

        2. todde

          True. I know the corporate rate change stays.

          But I don’t know about the elimination of the itemized deductions.

          It certainly wouldn’t be required to go back to current law

  38. Andrew Watts

    RE: Ex-NSA Hackers Worry China And Russia Will Try to Arrest Them

    The moral of the story is…

    Don’t meddle in the affairs of Dragons unless you’re prepared to get burned.

    It’s funny that a former government hacker wants the same legal immunity that most whitehats enjoy.

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