Links 12/7/17

Yves here. Today is Pearl Harbor Day.

Realistic new ‘Counterinsurgency’ video game lets you watch troops fuck up until you’re fired Duffleblog (JTM)

17-foot python that could ‘pretty much kill any full-grown man’ caught in Everglades Sun Sentinel (resilc). Can we turn one loose on the cops in the link below?

Distraught dog owner films police ordering him to cut off his dog’s HEAD with a kitchen knife after they shot it dead so it could be tested for rabies Daily Mail (Kevin W)

Forcing kid to masturbate for cops in sexting case was wrong, court finds ars technica (Chuck L). !!!

Global Warming’s Worst-Case Projections Look Increasingly Likely MIT Technology Review (David L)

The Surgeon Who Wants to Connect You to the Internet with a Brain Implant MIT Technology Review (resilc). My bet is this will first be imposed on F-35 pilots in lieu of the custom $50,000 helmets needed to operate the plane.

Scientists are trying to figure out which bacteria have colonized our space station Popular Science (Chuck L)

Net neutrality protests start Thursday—how to find one near you ars technica (Chuck L). Please participate!

Why Is It So Difficult for Veterans With PTSD to Get Service Dogs? Alternet

North Korea

North Korean airspace could be declared no-fly zone after missile test comes within sight of Cathay Pacific passenger plane South China Morning Post (J-LS)

Will Japan ‘rent’ nukes from US to counter North Korean threat? Asia Times

Why the Current Rate of Economic Growth Is a Flawed Indicator of Ground Realities The Wire (J-LS)

Ireland To Receive €13bn From Apple After Getting Unlocked By Chinese Guy In Market Waterford Whisper News (PlutoniumKun)


UK has 48 hours to agree potential deal or Brexit talks cannot progress Guardian

Brexit: media noise Richard North. As much as I probably should post on Brexit, there are only so many ways you can say the whole process has gone into a very deep ditch with no tow truck in sight. Arlene Foster has said there will be no agreement re Ireland by Friday, and Michel Barnier has made that the drop-dead date for getting the UK’s proposal in. So no discussion of Phase 2 till March, or at best Feb if the EU is super accommodating and schedules a special session (I sincerely doubt the UK can have its act together any earlier than mid-January, even assuming they manage to square the Irish circle). And that’s before you get to the fact that May is still trying to devise political fixes for what are fundamentally procedural issues that can’t be solved via vague language. North’s piece is the one to read ifor a one-stop update.

Impact assessments of Brexit on the UK ‘don’t exist’ BBC


Hamas says Trump’s ‘flagrant aggression’ has opened ‘the gates of hell’ as the group calls for a ‘day of rage’ over US President’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Daily Mail. An indicator: Eight stories at the DM, none supportive and most highly critical.

On the Eve of Congressional Hearings, New Evidence About Alleged U.S. Massacre in Somalia Daily Beast

Our Perpetual, Illegal War in Syria American Conservative

Did American Missile Defense Fail in Saudi Arabia? New York Times. JTM: “Which story is the ‘fake news’?”

Asia’s Other Nuclear Standoff Foreign Policy in Focus


There followed last week the announcement from the General Prosecutor in Moscow that its department for special cases is conducting a new investigation of the charge that the execution of the tsar was a ritual killing carried out by Jews.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

We could fund a universal basic income with the data we give away to Facebook and Google Next Web

Trump Transition

Donald Trump Blows Up Jared Kushner’s “Ultimate Deal” Vanity Fair (resilc)

Trump’s Dismemberment of Bears Ears National Monument: Perspective From Indigenous Scholars The Revelator (Glenn F)

Tax “Reform”

GOP Considers Allowing State Income Tax Deduction Bloomberg

Lobbyists and Tax Lawyers Giddy Over Republican Tax Giveaway New York Magazine

To Pay for Tax Cut, Trump Mulls Taking Food From Poor Kids New York Magazine (resilc)

Food Stamp Fight Looms In Congress After Tax Code Overhaul Huffington Post

House Conservatives Warn About Spending After Tax Cuts Bloomberg. Killing your parents and then complaining about being an orphan….

Health Care

Emergency rooms are monopolies. Patients pay the price. Vox (resilc). My two visits to emergency rooms for my scratched cornea/resulting cornea edema over the summer in LA and then SF were each close to $4000. Fortunately I have an old-fashioned insurance policy that did a combo of get negotiated rates and then pay for a lot of the remainder, but still…

Shocking scale of US drinking water crisis BBC

Dems look to use Moore against GOP The Hill

Democratic Women Turn On Franken American Conservative

House passes concealed carry gun bill The Hill. As MF points out:

This bill has alarming parallels to the Fugitive Slave Act and the subsequent Dred Scott decision affirming it. In both cases, a radical federal law pre-empted a long-recognized right of states to keep the odious preferences of people from other states from infecting them. The result is the pitting of people against each other in a way that almost inevitably leads to violence.

The American children with PTSD symptoms BBC. Today’s must watch. Notice connection to guns.

Fake News

Don’t blame the election on fake news. Blame it on the media. Columbia Journalism Review. Important. Representative quote:

The research team investigated this question, counting sentences that appeared in mainstream media sources and classifying each as detailing one of several Clinton- or Trump-related issues. In particular, they classified each sentence as describing either a scandal (e.g., Clinton’s emails, Trump’s taxes) or a policy issue (Clinton and jobs, Trump and immigration). They found roughly four times as many Clinton-related sentences that described scandals as opposed to policies, whereas Trump-related sentences were one-and-a-half times as likely to be about policy as scandal.

Wall Street Tells Frackers to Stop Counting Barrels, Start Making Profits Wall Street Journal

How Internet Monopolies Are Destroying the Web Ian Welsh (Randy K)

Class Warfare

Why are America’s farmers killing themselves in record numbers? Guardian (Martine, resilc). Important.

Poll: Student Debtors Want Student Loan Payments This Holiday Season, Not Gifts Student Loan Report :-(

It’s Amazon’s World—But Do You Want to Live There? Wall Street Journal. When you’ve lost the Journal…plus the idea that Amazon is the cheapest option is often incorrect. See this comparison with Costco, for instance.

Walter Benn Michaels on how liberals still love diversity and ignore inequality Chicago Reader (Bryan)

Not in my lifetime: a dangerous sentiment in maritime? Splash24/7. Chuck Roast:

The operative phrase is…”And before shipowners say that automation will never happen, they should visit Quingdao’s new automated container terminal that operates 24/7 with only 9 employees.” Yikes!!

It Will Take More Than Single-Payer to Make Baltimore Healthy Nation (resilc). Someone should give the Nation hell over this headline. The fact that blacks are hurt by continued ghettoization isn’t an argument against single payer. And ignores that single payer would increase mobility.

How Socialism Can Replace Mass Death as a Tool for Leveling Inequality Truthout

James Meek reviews ‘The Once and Future Liberal’ by Mark Lilla and ‘The Shipwrecked Mind’ by Mark Lilla London Review of Books

Democrats poll test class warfare message against GOP McClatchy. Resilc “Demozzz, please get your own house in order before….”

Antidote du jour (John N):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Colonel Smithers

    Further to the link about American farmers committing suicide, the same tragedy afflicts farmers in the UK and France,, and, for much longer, India.

    Having spent late summer in Normandy and Gascony, one picked up from locals the discontent in rural communities and feeling of being abandoned, if not sold down the river, by the Parisian elite, an elite embodied by the empty, but sharp, suit called the French Obama.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      We have a small 10 acre family farm thats been in the family for nearly a hundred years, but it hasn’t been profitable as a farm since the mid-70’s. Partially thats because the siblings haven’t really *wanted* to become farmers (going to other jobs – tech, education, etc) but the grandparents and parents that kept things on auto-pilot certainly saw that the prices (and regulations) for produce sold to local businesses didn’t make things profitable.

      As the 80’s continued, nearly all of the local businesses that had a long term relationship with us either closed, were bought out, or started buying from huge conglomerates that were able to obtain produce from…Cali’s Central Valley, the Imperial Valley, and….places like Chile, or Mexico. Bulk pricing and economies of scale did a number on the price-per-pound, clearly.

      As time went on, it was clear that most local family farmers could only really make any $$ by subdividing and ‘growing McMansions, megastores, (Mal-Wart & Home Despot, specifically) or condominiums’ and thus most all surrounding farmland is now gone. Us, and the 1 or 2 others that stubbornly remain selling produce can only do so via u-pick, corn mazes, rustic decor, that sort of thing.

      The transformation of what we ‘sell’ has morphed into more of a farming theme park kinda thing – people from the suburbs come to look at the cute farmers, get a taste of farming, pet a cute goat, etc., and the ridiculously inflated price they are willing to pay for their u-pick produce doesn’t even really cover the property taxes…also inflated by the growth of expensive mansions and development surrounding.

      We keep it up as a family mainly for tradition….and for the specific purpose of being self-sufficient personally as far as food and meat and cheese is concerned in the event of societal/economical meltdowns….but if we siblings hadn’t lucked out in the college and job lottery in the 80’s/90’s, and were instead forced to try and make the farm profitable by the sweat of our brow its almost certain it would have been forfeit for back taxes, and the depression of having been the generation to have lost what our ancestors built would have been…crushing.

      Suicide in such a scenario? Certainly a big possibility. Hurry up and die, obsolete local family farmer….we got parking lots to build!

      1. Kevin

        Thanks for sharing your experience.

        In a perfect world, if things do go to hell-in-a-hand basket, it would be only fitting that farmers come out on top by simply having the knowledge of how to produce their own food and the will to put the work in.

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          Heh, I agree! But then I guess I am slightly prejudiced towards hard-working farmers ultimately coming out on top. :)

          One thing that is hopeful about the ‘small farmer diaspora’, at least at the level I perceive it, is that the sons and daughters of the farms surrounding that *did* sell out and move elsewhere seem to retain the instincts. The majority of them (that I keep up with – maybe self-selection bias) …did the workaday thing, but then have almost all gotten into small-scale ‘hobby farming’ in community garden lots, suburban gardens, hobby farms, etc. to re-fill the niche in their psyche that was lost after moving away from the farm.

          For at least the 1st generation after moving away…it seems the desire, knowledge, willingness, and drive to keep as many self-sufficient/farming skills as possible alive (even in urban settings) is there! I’ll bet, come hell _and_ high water, the children/grandchildren of long-defunct farms and farming communities will be right there with urban organic gardeners & the ‘buy locally’ farmers market crowd…pitching in, teaching, educating, and damn well growing, if/when urban & suburbanites start needing to get their own little ‘Victory Garden’ going to help feed the fam. :)

          1. barefoot charley

            You remind me of a John Deere ad campaign for rider lawnmowers years ago, where a little kid rides with his grandpa on the old tractor through the fields, and now as an adult he still dons his green Deere hat, climbs aboard his green Deere lawn-tractor, and honors tradition driving in ever-smaller circles. My family’s from western Kansas where small farmers are now extinct, but hobby farms persist.This way of thinking is good and bad, both feature and bug. Fundamentalism, anyone?

            1. JacobiteInTraining

              Heh, wish I had seen that one. It sounds like it is in the ‘unwitting truthiness in advertising’ category for certain.

              Smaller and smaller circles, indeed… :(

            2. wilroncanada

              Is that the same company that advertised? We stand behind everything we sell…except our manure spreaders.

      2. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        I once rented a bungalow from a small farmer in Ireland whose produce was beef, for which he received government subsidies. He also worked full time as a production manager at a relatively small company, in order to keep the thing afloat. He would finish work, feed himself & then spend a couple of hours jobbing at the farm often assisted by his two sons who have since grown up – one of whom has been in Australia for the last decade.

        Joe who is a bull of man became a friend & I would marvel at the effort he made which during the summer often consisted of seven day weeks. I recall sitting comfortably one Saturday in the kitchen working on something, while he spent an afternoon banging in posts for a new fence around a sizeable field. It was easy to tell it was in his blood that was passed down from generations, originally from Connemara in his case, before being given land in the much more fertile Midlands.

        He told me that despite his efforts it was only the subsidies that kept the show on the road & he did not believe that either of his sons would want to spend their lives breaking their backs, as he has done. I do however believe that he will be leaving his family a substantial inheritance, but what it will be used for, I do not know.

        Good luck to you & yours.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Beef farming is only marginally profitable in Ireland *- dairy is where the profits are to be made. But dairying is capital intensive (you need at least 30 hectares) and a hugely tough life – literally 24/7, 365 days of the year work. Most beef farmers that I know are either semi-retired or they are part time farmers. Many do it simply because they love it – their income comes from their jobs or social welfare.

          There is an ongoing silent process in Ireland where older farmers are unwilling or unable to pass on their land to their children, so instead they rent or lease to ambitious neighbours for dairying. So by stealth huge mega farms are growing out over areas once dominated by small farmers. You can see it all the time as one farm complex gets bigger and bigger, while surrounding farm buildings are rotting away, with maybe just an elderly couple living in the farmhouse.

          Farming is also a very lonely occupation. Its no coincidence that by far the most popular writer in rural Ireland was John B. Keane, the playwright and short story writer. Almost all his stories emphasise the isolation and loneliness of farmers, especially single men (there are many of them as most women sensibly move to towns and cities). Some of his books have very lyrical descriptions of the intense feeling of isolation you get walking on muddy uplands in remote areas, just the call of the snipe and the lowing of cows for comfort. The days when harvesting was a social activity are long gone. Its all machinery and contractors now. A sole farmer now can operate quite a large dairy operation without needing any help from neighbours, which just increases the isolation.

          Add this to the easy availability of the right implements, its unsurprising that farming has always had a very high suicide rate. Anecdotally, a lot of farm ‘accidents’ historically were in fact suicides, at least in Ireland.

          *The first table in that pdf file tells most of the story, as does Fig. 5.

          1. barefoot charley

            In Kansas it was farm wives who usually insisted on moving to town when the roads got good enough, decades before they were wiped out by other progress. Nineteenth century diaries there, usually recorded by women, contained full entries like this: “The wind.” “The wind!” “No wind!”

          2. Wukchumni

            The few ranchers left around these parts are fading fast and their kids want no part of it. There’s a good reason the amount of cows in the USA has dropped to 1952 levels.

              1. laughingsong

                Yup, my family’s orchards are now covered with Hewlett-Packard and Symantec. One of the worst things about the Santa Clara Valley becoming Silicon Valley is the paving over of some of the best soil . . .. .

                I too rented a gatehouse from a beef farmer in Co. Meath. He and his family kept the thing going with rentals, which looked like they were all built on former pasture. He seemed to be keeping up, but then it was hard to tell, he was a dour fella.

            1. Mark P.

              There’s a good reason the amount of cows in the USA has dropped to 1952 levels.

              The number of cows — and animal agriculture in general — is likely to dwindle further over the next few decades. The price to produce a hamburger’s worth of lab-grown meat has dropped to $12-20, as compared to $2,000 a couple of years back.

              As I hear NC’s resident luddites automatically chorusing ‘”that’ll never happen” and the all-purpose “what could go wrong?”, here’s why lab-grown meat will probably happen ….

              [1] Lab-grown meat won’t contain the sugar molecule in red meat, Neu5Gc, that’s present on the cell surfaces of all mammals except humans and that stimulates a chronic state of low-grade inflammation — since our digestive systems haven’t evolved to break it down — which then causes cancer, arteriosclerosis, and hemolytic ureic syndrome.

              No more colonorectal cancer etc, is a huge deal.

              [2] Lab-grown meat will use less than 1 percent of the land and release, at worst, 4 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that animal agriculture currently does.

              The current reality is, 18 percent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock farming — even though it’s “natural,” it’s far and away the most environmentally damaging thing that humanity does (by contrast, global transportation accounts for 13 percent of hydrocarbon emissions). Not only that but 26 percent of Earth’s ice-free land surface — or 70 percent of all agricultural land — is used for livestock farming. And 27-29 percent of humanity’s freshwater footprint is used to extract animal products from livestock. Cows are a very inefficient source of protein, for instance, requiring 100g of vegetable protein to produce only 15g of edible animal protein.

              So, eliminating most animal agriculture would be hugely beneficial to the planet (and vastly reduce the cruelty the human race visits upon animals). Not good for farmers, though.

          3. Enquiring Mind

            Stateside, there are various but dwindling departments of rural sociology in land-grant universities. Those started with the Morrill Act of 1862 and often have the word State in the title (e.g., Washington State University, although they closed their department of Rural Sociology not long ago). One surprising land grant university is MIT.

          4. Eustache De Saint Pierre


            I actually lived just south of Listowel for around 18 months up in the hills not far from Lyreacrompane where the real incident took place that inspired John B. Keane’s play ” The Field “. I would not like to farm that country & that of Killary Harbour in Connemara where the film was shot.

            Nice bar that bears his name, in which I was privileged to spend a few special evenings.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              I know the area well – Lyracrompane is truly a wild and bleak place when you go above the wind line. And J.B’s Bar is lovely, i’ve spent a few evenings in it myself. I once brought an Austrian friend who did her MSc thesis on Keane.

              They say he needed inspiration for a story he would lie on his bedroom floor above the bar, listening to the conversation beneath.

      3. JTMcPhee

        Could “better laws” help in preserving farms and some bits of autarky?

        When I spent the summer of 1974 working for Legal Aid in Vermont, “Act 250” was a new thing — an effort to protect and preserve “in perpetuity” the “features and benefits” that made Vermont a desirable place to live — small farms, forests, clean air and water, limits to “growth and development,” making the looters justify their projects and pay (some of) the costs of their externalities. The statute contains a whole bunch of “good stuff” for people who might want to try to impose some “reasonable limits to growth.”

        Not that the model gained any traction in the wider world, that’s all “plastics,” and “pave paradise, put up a parking lot.” And of course the statute and its implementation are under attack by developers every day of the year. As I recall, at least Act 250 survived initial challenges based on arguments that it constituted a “constitutionally impermissible taking.” Not a likely result today, of course.

        One goal of the statute was to stop the up-zoning process that forced farmers to sell to developers, because their farms were suddenly taxed at a New! Improved! “Highest and best use” rate, by zoning them as residential and commercial, with no possible way to afford the new tax bills on farm income.

        One developer, having bought a large chunk of property with plans to fill it full of expensive housing, and then being caught out by the legislative limits imposed in the 1970 law to protect the natural and built environment of the state, made some lemonade with his lemons. After being told he could not just convert South Royalton to a playpen for exurbanites and ski aficionados, he opened an initially unaccredited law school, first called IIRC “Vermont College of the Law,” now Vermont Law School. (Current tuition is over $48,000 a year). The original “law library” was the collection of a retired or deceased state court judge. Graduates from the school before accreditation had the devil of a time getting law licenses, since most states require as a minimum, graduation from an accredited law school.

        To fill out those early classes, the developer enticed and enrolled wealthy brats whose parents had clout, thus building rich-folk pressures on accrediting agencies to accredit the school, so the young folk could pursue a career in the world’s second oldest profession.

        Interesting to me as a former EPA employee and lifetime tree-hugger, Vermont Law School has become one of the pre-eminent places to study “environmental law and policy.” Not that there seems to be much in the way of a “rule of law” or means to enact legislation to save the planet, if one looks around.

        Maybe some of the students were like the many that filled the classes on “Zoning and Land Use” and “Environmental Law” at the law school I attended, people who were there mostly “looking for loopholes.” The “Zoning and Land Use” class taught how to do that upzoning thing, how to persuade local governments that tax revenues are the sumum bonum, and the many other scams that helped them (most had no plans to practice law, just go on to be “developers” themselves) with the looting processes.

        The Env Law class was mostly about the kind of “economics” that crapify life today — one mid-term exam question was (I paraphrase) “How much should people enjoying a day at the public beach be required to pay the fellow who brings a cigar, a boom box, and a beer truck, and a hundred of his friends to party hearty, to persuade them to go somewhere else to annoy?” Responding that the question totally begged the assumption that the “right” to be valued in dollars and cents belonged to the polluters, not the placid folks on their beach towels, was *WRONG*. And of course Env Law was largely about how to help developers win the battle over extraction and “usufruct.” How to argue “standing” and the many procedural tricks that can be used to defeat pointy-headed anti-development people. How to engage in regulatory capture. How to “help” regulators write the “hidden law” of policies and guidances and enforcement strategies and such.

        Money trumps all, I guess.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Oregon is another model, with restrictive land-use laws specifically targetted at preserving farm and forest land and a tremendous amount of small-scale, horticultural farms. Terribly “artisanal,” a lot of it, and run in part as an introduction to food production for urban customers, but I think that’s a good thing. If we can’t preserve craft and personal connections, we aren’t going to make it.

          Here’s an important local organization promoting sustainable, self-reliant food:

    2. Sutter Cane

      I grew up on a small family farm. I didn’t stay in agriculture, but my brother did. He now does sales to giant farms, ones much larger than the kind I grew up on. It wouldn’t be possible to make a living today on a farm like my folks owned.

      Over Thanksgiving weekend I visited him and went with the family to some of the larger operations he works with. The scale of them is unbelievable. My mom commented to me privately afterwards that she is glad my father and her were able to retire when they did, because the only way to make a living as a farmer now is to run a huge industrial operation like these.

      I felt close to nature on the farm as a kid, you could still feel like a part of the land and in tune with the rhythms of nature, to a degree. That feeling is totally absent on these larger farms. The people who are successful with them are shrewd businessmen, generally right wing Republican in political outlook. More sensitive souls, the kind who might have any concern for “being in tune with nature” or other such “liberal” nonsense, need not apply.

      So what I’m saying is, I’m not surprised that suicide is on the rise with farmers. Unless you have the capital to run a giant operation, you face poverty and bankruptcy, while running a successful one requires destroying all of the things that once made farming appealing to a certain type of person. And this has changed in the course of one or two generations.

      1. Oregoncharles

        My family’s “Century Farm” in Illinois was sold to a corporation long ago; my parents leased it to a tenant, a surprisingly intimate relationship; none of us wanted to farm on anything like that scale. I’m the only one who even has acreage, and mine is strictly a “hobby” farm, mostly fruit and nut trees.

      2. Comrade

        The quote below is from a letter I received 2 months ago from an old friend who’s still farming on her family’s farm established in 1755. It was originally an apple orchard then became a dairy farm. Milk prices and the federal dairy buyout program (Whole Herd Buyout) offer under a federal farm bill resulting in the rest of the operation being put out to pasture back in the 80’s, but my friend kept at it on her parcel out of love for farming. 1100 acres of the rest of the farm land was recently sold as conservation easements to a land trust.

        “This farm is certainly a dream! I love it! Heathen that I am, how great I feel in the fields fixing equipment, milking cows, raising calves, using wood for heat, and repairs, making cheese, selling milk and maple syrup, getting things organized (a bit), never mind regular housework!”

        The barn in the background of the photo was built in 1776 and is still standing – just barely!

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      From the link:

      Soon after the fire, the farm crisis intensified. The bank raised their interest rate from seven to 18%. Blaske raced between banks and private lenders, attempting to renegotiate loan terms. Agreements would be made and then fall through. “They did not care whether we had to live in a grader ditch,” remembers Blaske.

      I wonder how much of the current mental health downward spiral, not just in farming but in the population in general (lookin’ at you student loans), begins in that very way.

      0% for me, 18% for thee. Now go find a therapist or get some pills.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Thank you Katniss.

        I was going to add the farm crisis (i.e. bank crisis of the 70-80’s) preceded the massive land grab by Big Ag. Just like the housing crisis of 2008-2017+ which we’ve seen Big Rentiers land grab the rental housing. And we wonder why we just can’t make it.


        1. a different chris

          Ah, the continued conflict between two very true statements:

          1) Things that can’t go on, won’t.
          2) The (world) can stay insane longer than you can stay solvent

          I do think this explains the rupturing of civilizations throughout history, Sane people are no longer running things when the down slope comes -as they got shoved aside when things were good – so instead of engaging the brakes it all crashes at the bottom.

          All these big guys will go bust at some point, and then what? It was OK – actually, no it wasn’t but in this sense it was – to bail out the financial guys, they didn’t put food on the table. But when Big Ag and the like go bust — could be Walmart as the food not only has to be made but it has to be made available – that’s not going be so easy to fudge.

      1. Dougie Johnson

        Haha, don’t think that’s what Carla meant… Think she meant Cleveland, OH…

        But interesting to see someone with a Shelby connection. My wife went to Shelby High.

  2. Colonel Smithers

    Further to the Brexit timescales highlighted above and as per, the businesses I know have seen enough and are accelerating their plans from when staff return after the festive season. Even if an agreement is reached over the spring, the feeling is that it’s too late and the political risk of staying in the UK / not having an EU27 base is too great.

    I will be in the tropics for most of January and looking for new pasture as my EU27 employer’s balance sheet is being repatriated and no contracts will be transacted with its London Branch after June 2018.

    1. Christopher Dale Rogers


      To be fair, and seeing how incompetently the Tories under Ms May have handle the EU withdrawal process, I get the feeling they are not in the game and that Brexit will not move forward at all – some excuse by the Elites will be found, such as an indefinite transitionary period if the language satisfies London & Brussels.

      This view is shared by many posting on actual Leftwing Blogs, rather than faux-Left/progressive outlets.

      Its a shame, as now seems likely, Corbyn may well inherit the mess, a mess the Labour Left did not make, but one it will be brutalised for if JC enters No. 10.

      Mind you, Osborne & Cameron, the architects of this crisis, are laughing, the rest of our demos is not.

      Still, and for anyone who studies UK Military History from the 1850s to 1918, such balls up by our Elites is typical. Perhaps its the Public Schools they attended, which ingrain crass stupidity at most levels, despite alleged academic excellence.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, CDR.

        I went to Stowe, which produced has produced, at least, four generals and two admirals in its almost 100 year history. Oddly, when I was there, the not so academic were encouraged into the army, but some bright ones did join, army and navy, contrary to careers advice. All of those peers joined as officers.

      2. visitor

        Brexit will not move forward at all

        Upon the deadline, there will be a choice of “Brexit under catastrophic conditions” and “reject those catastrophic conditions and hence remain in the EU” — and the Brits will naturally choose the second term of the alternative. The EU will leave that door open till the very end and hack some rough legal justification for it.

        It will leave everybody seething of course: leavers because the Brexit will have been deliberately sabotaged; remainers because the process will have made the UK even more fragile; major UK economic players because it will have durably disrupted their operations; the City and conservatives because old privileges within the EU will have been lost; EU partners because of all the trouble; immigrants from the EU because of their interrupted careers in the UK; the Irish of all sides because of jeopardizing the somewhat functioning institutional arrangement.

        1. a different chris

          Not me!! I will be proven right on my “not gonna happen” statement* from several years ago! And who cares about the suffering if I am proven right, right, RIGHT!.

          OK, I do care. One thing about Brexit – the whole EU looks like it’s gonna crash. I felt Britain may have gotten a less severe head injury from the whole thing than other EU countries by just leaving early, and would be recovering earlier. And the EU might have – although I still didn’t see them not crashing it eventually – made things a bit easier for everybody left just to stick a finger in the U.K.s face. But now the UK is going to get the worst of both worlds, the uncomfortable stuff now, the pain the EU is going to invoke as a price for letting them relent on Brexit, and then they’ll have to go thru the car crash with everybody else. Lordy.

          So many idiots.

          (*and if I could figure out how to put in very fine print I, uh, finally backed off on sometime this year, hoping nobody noticed…)

      3. icancho

        Perhaps its the Public Schools they attended, which ingrain crass stupidity at most levels, despite alleged academic excellence.

        I’ve always supposed that such incompetence was born out of the arrogant self-certainty that seemingly inevitably goes along with elite status— you know, the “we are the natural rulers” conviction, which so often means “whatever comes into my head will be the right choice, naturally; I understand this sort of thing, don’t bother me with details”. Such pride, as ever, leads to cock-ups.

    2. ChrisPacific

      I am astonished at the level of incompetence revealed in the latest Brexit stories. As North says, I probably shouldn’t be, since the signs were all there, but still. I cannot believe Davis still has a job after his admissions yesterday. The only possible reason I can see is that nobody was up to the task of asking him the right questions. He claims he didn’t produce impact assessments because there are too many variables, and the exact impact won’t be known until after trade is finalized. OK, but how about enumerating the areas by sector in which the UK is currently dependent on the EU in some form and coming up with a detailed list of exactly what will need to be replaced? That doesn’t depend on the final trade agreements. You might not know what the replacements will look like, but it would at least give you a good idea of the size of the problem. What’s his excuse for not doing that? It could (and should) have been underway from day one. Yet it seems nobody asked that question.

      Meanwhile May has returned from her brief foray into reality and is back to telling everyone what they want to hear, even if it’s a lie:

      “That is the whole point of the second phase of the negotiations”, she said, “because we aim to deliver this as part of our overall trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union, and we can only talk about that when we get into phase two”.

      Given that Ireland and the EU have made it as clear as they possibly can that this needs to be resolved before phase two can begin, this looks an awful lot like a statement that no deal is possible. Did anyone make that point?

      Maybe North is right and we should all just wait for the noise to die down and await developments. But I’m not sure there is anything behind the noise. The worst of it is coming from those who are in charge of the whole process!

      I suppose one possible good outcome is that people might realize exactly how poorly they are led, realize the probable outcome of Brexit if it continues, and start pushing for a rethink. But I think a more likely scenario is that the EU delays by 3+ months, everyone retreats into magical fantasy thinking again with no attempt to resolve the various internal contradictions, then it all falls apart when negotiations resume and the UK has 48 hours to come up with something workable from scratch. Again.

      1. Altandmain

        I am more convinced than ever that the UK was totally unprepared for the risk of a Leave victory.

        It is terrible, terrible leadership. That said, the EU has also been quite spiteful on its side, and perhaps more so than spite, they are trying to intimidate members into saying, if you leave, this will happen to you.

        1. ChrisPacific

          I work in IT and I have seen some massive foul-ups in my time, some of which have made headlines and created years of fallout. I have never seen anything quite this bad. I’ve seen projects where the end product had only the vaguest relationship to what was needed and had to be mostly rewritten, but I’ve never seen one where the project manager said: it’s all too hard, so I’m just going to sit here and make mud pies instead. Or if they did, they were swiftly replaced, rather than allowed to run the show for over a year.

          Oh, and now that the cat is out of the bag and everyone knows what Davis has (and hasn’t) been doing, is anything going to change? Why no! Everyone is just going to sit around and stare at the mud pies, and any day now they will magically transform into a free trade agreement. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  3. bwilli123

    Updated link for Walter Benn Michaels on how liberals still love diversity and ignore inequality

    …”For Clinton? Well, there’s a famous moment in the campaign where she said, “Will bringing down the banks end racism? No. Will bringing down the banks end sexism? No.”
    So the commitment at the core of the neoliberal left is a commitment to antidiscrimination. But it’s obvious that you cannot build a working-class movement with a commitment to antidiscrimination. That doesn’t mean discrimination is right, of course—it’s wrong and we should oppose it. But you can’t build a working-class movement with that kind of campaign, because they’re not the victims of discrimination, they’re the victims of exploitation.
    If you keep telling them the problem is discrimination, what you’re actually telling them is, “We don’t want to get rid of inequality, we want to legitimize it.” It’s to say, “Look, if you’re poor because you’re a victim of racism, sexism, homophobia—that’s a problem because it’s an inequality of opportunity. But if you’re not a victim of one of those things, fuck you.”

    1. Livius Drusus

      That is the ideology of meritocracy that Thomas Frank described in Listen, Liberal. Modern liberals see society as a race just as much as conservatives the only difference being that liberals want to make sure that “out groups” like gays, women and racial minorities are not unfairly discriminated against. Theoretically as long as discrimination is eliminated and the upper class is representative of the population as a whole there is no problem with inequality.

      The meritocratic worldview has a big impact on the solutions proposed by liberals. If you think the biggest problem is inequality of opportunity then your favored policies will be things like more education and training not redistribution. Also, the flip side of meritocracy is that those who fail by definition lack merit and are therefore unworthy of help. That is how you get some liberals and other people sneering at unemployed factory workers, saying things like “you should have learned to code” or “you should have went to college and got a STEM degree.”

      1. pretzelattack

        well the meritocrats ignore the advantages kids get from growing up in wealthy families; to be consistent they should favor redistribution in some form.

    2. Carolinian

      More from this great, great article

      What it means to be on the liberal left is a commitment to making markets run more efficiently and more fairly. What it means to be on the socialist left is to be committed to the idea that we should to try to minimize markets and take essential things like housing, health care, and education and make it public. That’s why when I go down to speak at the University of Chicago, it’s like talking in completely enemy territory. All those universities exist as private institutions and are committed to the things that make it possible to be fair and open private institutions, not to the idea of what they should be doing is public. Charter schools are part of the same deal. What we’re talking about is a massive withdrawal of the state from its responsibility to serve the public good. What the neoliberal left is at the core is an attempt to make sure that as the state [withdraws], people have an equality of access to what’s left behind.

      LBJ was a big government Dem (not always a good thing as seen in Vietnam). Bill Clinton was a “big government is over” Dem. The Dems are still very much Clinton Dems.

    3. Durans

      I also like this quote from the article.

      “People often say that having faculty and students of people of color is really important because they represent their people. But I don’t think there’s any poor white person or lower middle-class person who see the rich kids at Harvard and think they’re there because they represent me. No, they think, These rich kids get to go to Harvard, and people like me don’t.”

      I think it applies to far more than just Harvard admissions.

    4. curlydan

      Fantastic article. It was a real eye opener. I’d thought about a lot of the issues surrounding inequality vs diversity, but not with not nearly the amount of clarity as presented in that interview.

    5. jrs

      Will ending racism bring down the banks? Will ending sexism bring down the banks. No? Ok well then it’s important to work on those things, but we’ve still got some additional work to do to bring down the banks.

    1. Darius

      The President’s Analyst with James Coburn and Pat Harrington foresaw this 50 years ago. The real power in the world is The Phone Company.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        Fun With Dick and Jane movie, the 1977 original with George Segal and Jane Fonda. They need cash to support their lifestyle (doesn’t everyone lease their plants?) and so they rob a phone company office. Other customers cheered, as everyone hates the phone company. Some things never change.

        p.s., in that era my then-girlfriend worked for an RBOC, and I can assure you that the indoctrination was early and often.

    2. Sam Adams

      -Have you tried Alt Delete to restart.
      – Ok
      – Have you pulled the plug?
      – Not yet? My terminal won’t allow me to send a technician until we finish with the script.

  4. endisnear

    Distraught dog owner films police ordering him to cut off his dog’s HEAD with a kitchen knife after they shot it dead so it could be tested for rabies Daily Mail

    The police officers involved in this incident are very, very sick, mentally disturbed individuals.

    1. Gary

      When I was a child, I was bitten by a rabid cat. My father killed the cat and cut off it’s head. He then packed it in a metal garbage can filled with ice and put it on a train to Austin to be tested for rabies. This would have been in the late 1950’s. Just thought I’d share that.

      1. a different chris

        I don’t have the stomach to follow the dog video link, but why couldn’t the big, brave cops take the dog out of sight and cut off the head themselves?

        And your story confuses me — not the facts, just need a clarification in ref my above statement. If he had a whole garbage can for one cat, why did he cut off the head? Is this just some rabies ritual that I don’t know about?

  5. Pat

    I may change my mind after reading the article, but on first glance at the quote I have to wonder at the Columbia journalism review. At least through the lens of my memories of the coverage. First because of the unequal nature of the examples of scandal, Trump’s taxes really? Hyperventilating assumptions regarding not the very likely damaging fact he pays little or nothing but the idea that it would show something illegal was the scandal not being referenced unequally with Clinton ‘s problems? Next because of how their policies were covered. As I recall Clinton was treated as a serious and credible person with actual policies even if the outlet disagreed with those policy positions. Trump was the imposter who was either spouting some racist and/or ignorant populist claptrap or ridiculed for not understanding common wisdom.

    I don’t disagree with conclusion as stated by the title but somehow I doubt they got that the coverage of this campaign was part and parcel of a too centralized press with ownership constraints and little time or interest in depth.

    1. DJW

      In view of the losses that the Democratic Party has suffered on the national and state level since Michaels wrote his book in 2006, it might be fair to regard him as something of a prophet

  6. Merd

    I thought duffelblog might be describing a real game until they explained that losing would cause Counterinsurgency blow up inside your console!!! Hahaha. Oh well, I’d have given it a try. I’ve seen some disdain for video games in the comments on this site, and I can certainly understand. I’m not proud of the time I spend playing. However, I think there are a lot of interesting thematic threads throughout gaming history.

    I particularly liked This War of Mine inspired by the 1992–95 Siege of Sarajevo. You play as civilians surviving a nameless war, facing difficult decisions that can leave you broken even if you survive. Video games can be a great medium for exploring topics that need immersion to appreciate.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Great Duffelblog article. The only thing missing is the private Corporations needing security to build chicken factories in areas that have no chickens or power supply facilities in places that have no fuel to run them or staff that know how.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        My oldest served in the Marines in Afghanistan. He told me about eating shrimp in the desert. I did NOT tell him about the Deepwater Horizon incident which had occurred a few months prior. He found out eventually…

        1. The Rev Kev

          If I remember correctly, when the Republicans realized how toxic the Gulf marine lifeforms were, they actually came out in public and discussed keeping demand up by feeding that stuff to people that had no choice and I remember that the two main groups were the military and jail prisoners. Right up and said it out loud without a trace of embarrassment. That would explain how your eldest came to be eating shrimp out in the middle of a desert.

    2. diptherio

      It’s so weird how video games have gotten such a bad rap. We’ve had games for ever, and I don’t remember ever getting crap for being into chess or trivial pursuit. And I fail to see how an evening spent interacting with images on your TV is any worse than just staring at images on your TV, which is something no one seems to feel the need to ridicule. So, games are fine, and staring at the TV is fine, but doing both at once is somehow something to be embarrassed about. Makes zero sense to me.

      1. jsn

        I was physically assaulted at military school in the 70s for playing Dungeons & Dragons, perceived as effete and “collectivist” by more upstanding cadets. In various forms, t’was ever thus!

      2. FluffytheObeseCat

        Ahhh…. your average joe, who spent evenings watching his TV, was regularly the butt of sub-elite disdain for it back in the late 20th century. You’re right about interactive pursuits like gaming being a bit less stultifying, but the polite horror and tut-tutting aren’t new.

        1. diptherio

          Yeah, remember those “kill your TV” bumper stickers? I don’t see them around much any more. And my father, who was vehemently anti-TV when I was a kid, now spends every evening in front of the “boob tube.”

          1. Lee

            The quality, quantity and diversity of programming available on TV and streaming video is remarkable. To be sure, more than 90% of it is crap but the total volume is much greater than it used to be. Anyone who thinks otherwise isn’t paying attention. I’m like your dad. I’d much rather be up and about doing stuff: gardening, woodworking, riding my motorcycle etc. But although the spirit is willing, the aging flesh is weak. The brain too. I can only do so much reading and thinking deep thoughts on any given day.

            An interesting aside: in the book, The Noonday Demon, Inuits of Greenland are described as one of the most chronically depressed populations on earth. The introduction of TV among other salutary measures is credited with improving their mental health, according to a study cited by the author.

            1. diptherio

              I should be clear, the man does of lot of other stuff too, like build cabinets and site utility lines :-) It’s just been interesting to see his progression on the whole “evils of television” thing. You’re right about the quality and quantity of content available. My folks were hip to Netflix long before I was, and mostly what they watch on cable seems to be cooking and woodworking shows.

      3. The Rev Kev

        I can understand where you are coming from. Hmmm, let’s see what is on the TV first out of fairness’s sake- Law & Order, Housewives of Beverly Hills, Sex & the City, I Dream of Jeannie, Raymond. Nope, time to load up PUBG and go try for some chicken dinners!

    3. joe defiant

      I loved this war of mine.. Beholder where you play a landlord in a totalitarian state spying on the tenants is also good. I’m addicted to The Long Dark right now where ecoological disaster has put the power out and I’m stuck in northern Canada trying to survive in the wild without civilization.

  7. Marco

    I had a short chat with a McDonald’s worker today and asked if they get to eat for free. He said only managers get one free meal per shift…underlings get 50% off. “One meal only!!” He was quick to emphasize.

    1. RUKidding

      Wow. Just wow.

      That’s awful. I know in the way back times, everyone got at least one free meal per shift, plus they may have had the ability to sneak a few extra fries or something. I’ll bet today CrapDonald’s is so locked down that it’s probably impossible to sneak an extra fry here or there.

      Not that I encourage what is basically a form of stealing, but if you can’t even get one free meal while working at CrapDonalds… wow.

      1. Marco

        Less “locked down” than you think. He did suggest there were ways any worker could get a free meal but it was “dangerous”.

        “Sir…may I have a bit more porridge?”

        1. Donna

          I love this story from my Mom who was born in 1917. At 16 she went to work in an ice cream factory. The employees were allowed to eat as much ice cream as they wanted. She said by the end of the first week she never wanted another taste of ice cream. Smart employer policy. How many Mickey D fries could you eat and still want more?

          1. visitor

            This was the same in the chocolate factory I visited as a child. Employees could eat the malformed chocolate truffles leaving the conveyor belt — but when I was there, none did (to my surprise, so much delicious chocolate, free!) I was told they only did at the beginning of their employment, and only very rarely thereafter.

          2. Lord Koos

            I once toured a cookie factory with the same all-you-can-eat policy. I didn’t see any workers eating the cookies.

      2. Wukchumni

        McDonald’s used to have condiments out on the counter a decade ago-take as many sugars or packets of ketchup as you’d like, but the only thing you can have now is a straw or a napkin.

        1. epynonymous

          I got a dunkin donuts bagel yesterday.

          It seemed about a third smaller than what I was getting this summer.

    2. Wukchumni

      A few years ago 2 buddies that work for the NP were selected to go to Cambodia as ‘exchange students’ for a NP there with the equal number coming here, for a period of 3 weeks. One of them is a gourmet chef and the other is just a plain jane eater, and they were so sick of eating fish something or another, that the first thing they did when arriving back @ SFO was to make a beeline for a McDonalds, completely out of character for the chef, who told me it was his first time there in 6 years. They desperately wanted comfort food.

          1. Vatch

            Thanks. That should have been easy to think of, but not for me. Instead, I thought of nit-picker and non-polynomial, and those just didn’t make any sense.

          1. Vatch

            Yes, I saw a comment of his on Dec. 8 that mentioned “Sequoia NP”. Sometimes it’s better to just type the full text at least once. Later in the comment, the acronym or abbreviation can be used.

            Of course, you figured this out before his Dec. 8 comment!

      1. Lord Koos

        That’s funny. We lived in Chiang Mai for 7 months and didn’t miss western food at all for the most part.

  8. Charlie

    Democrats poll test class warfare message:

    Let me guess, and this is why they’ll say we need more neo-liberal trade agreements and policies that have been destroying regular working people. Amiright?

    1. flora

      Yeah, the McClatchy article made me laugh out loud. It’s all about the “message”, again. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, 10 Dem senators work with their GOP pals to help deregulate Wall St. These guys are the life of the party, a laugh a minute. ;)

  9. Scott

    The link to the Ian Walsh article is off. Here’s the correct one:

    I think it’s very interesting that I read this the same day as the protests against the repeal of Net Neutrality. There is really no difference between Google’s behavior and Verizon’s. Over the past few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that the core search function of Google must be separated from the rest of the business and regulated like a utility.

  10. Jim Haygood

    Bitcoin $15.5K this morning.

    Are we bubbling yet?

    Special bonus: guess which of the eight words in this post (before this addendum) kicked it into moderation. :-)

    1. diptherio


      What I wanna know is what geniuses decided to buy into bitcoin after it’s price went up by an order of magnitude over the course of a year. Hey, this stuff is super expensive now,…better stock up! That mean reversion is gonna be a doozey…

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some investors are experiencing what it is like to be billionaires…at a much smaller scale though.

      “Making good money without any work.’

      ‘Maybe time to quit the dancing job.”

      So, why not $15,000?

      Maybe because there is a tomorrow, when it hurts…or maybe not. Maybe its different this time, and I’m just jealous of their happiness.

    3. Fiery Hunt

      Special bonus: guess which of the eight words in this post (before this addendum) kicked it into moderation. :-)

      My guess?

      “Haygood”. :P

  11. dan

    Re: Emergency Room Blackmail. Had a 8 year old, hits head, throws up a few times thru-out the day. The last one triggered a doctor recommended visit to the ER. Was told by the doctor needed to go to the ER as urgent care did not have the necessary equipment for head injuries. With the symptoms being shown, guidelines recommended a CAT scan.

    Got a bill for $6185 thru the insurance company that they got reduced to $3798 – all of which of course all falls under our deductible. Woohoo. So when we were presented with the option of CAT scan or no CAT scan – no price was known. So if we turned down the CAT scan and there were complications from the head injury, the financial, as well as risk to our kid, would have far exceeded that deductible. I am pretty sure, statistically, additional cost shifting such as this is potentially inducing bad decisions for all around.

    Anyone should really wonder if the increase in these charges is collusionary behavior (insurance companies look the other way) as ERs and hospitals push thru charges that are now more likely falling on the patients thru deductible limits.

    BTW – as a contractor, we are stuck fending for ourselves in the individual coverage market. $16,800
    a year for a bronze plan for a family of 4 – with that juicy $12,600 year family deductible as an enticement for this type of behavior.

    1. Charger01

      Dammit. This example definitely raised my blood pressure this morning. Richest country in the world, and yet we only give our citizens Faustian decisions.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Morgan Spurlock, who did the McDonald’s doco “Supersize Me” also did a series called 30 Days ( where he lived for a whole month as, say Muslim or gay or new Age, etc. The first episode was living on Minimum Wage for a month and you can see it at but I would draw your attention to about 36 minutes in when they recount the massive bills they get from their visits to an emergency ward while on minimum wages. Unbelievable.

      Oh, and kudos for Yves remembering that it is the anniversary of Pearl Harbour. Nice to know someone else marks it.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      I hope your child is OK.

      Thank you, dan, for helping to keep “healthcare” costs “reasonable” in this sorry country by having all your (and your child’s) “skin in the game.”/sarc

      “……. the option of CAT scan or no CAT scan – no price was known.” What “shopping” for “healthcare” looks like in the american “free market” medical system. Pathetic.

    4. Lee

      Had a similar situation with one of my own. Ever seen the movie John Q? When it came out in 2002, the establishment critics panned it. I notice now that 89% of Google users like it. Small comfort to be sure. But more and more of us know this shit must stop.

      1. John k

        No must about it.
        Hard to get titanic to reverse course. Won’t stop until enough people vote in enough progressives.

    5. a different chris

      Meanwhile I was at the vet for a pet injury and they said btw, “we recommend this, but it is not not necessary, extra treatment. We believe it gives good results” but would cost extra, and, while sort of shamefully looking at their feet, said it was my choice.

      After the silence got unbearable, I asked how much. They said 23 dollars. Guess I should dress better :D

      But seriously, yes – one minute you’re saving like all the Rich people tell you too, and then your kid stumbles and $4k is just gone. WTF. Try to explain that to somebody from a civilized country.

  12. marym

    The VA is discontinuing a $460M program providing housing for homeless veterans through HUD vouchers and VA case management. The money will be redistributed to VA medical centers to use as they choose.

    From the post it sounds as though the VA under Trump has no idea what the problem is, how the existing program functions, or what the impact of the change will be.

    VA officials briefed congressional staff on Tuesday about the decision — which was buried in a September circular without prior consultation with HUD or veterans’ groups, according to advocates.

    All 14 members of the Senate Appropriations Military Construction-VA Subcommittee, including Murray, asked the VA to reconsider its decision, but apparently the letter had no effect.

    Advocates said cuts to the program were doubly foolish because the chronically homeless veterans it serves typically cost cities and the health care system hundreds of thousands of dollars for emergency room visits, ambulance runs and jailings that could be avoided if the veterans were reasonably sheltered.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The money is redistributed to VA medical centers to use as they choose?

      The struggle continues, not quite over…time to urge those centers to use that money on homeless veterans.

      1. marym

        That’s the whole point of “block grants” – instead of fighting to develop and improve a robust program that works, turn it into a diffuse process with multiple points of failure and corruption. Having to fight for veterans’ housing in multiple locations doesn’t mean the struggle is not quite over. It means it would just get much more difficult.

    2. marym

      Update: The original link now points to the updated story

      Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has killed a plan to shift money from a major homelessness program in response to a wave of protest from veterans’ advocates, who said the move would aggravate conditions for chronically ill and vulnerable vets.

      Advocates for veterans, state officials and even officials from HUD, which co-sponsors the $460 million program, had attacked the decision, saying the service has helped dramatically reduce homelessness among veterans. After POLITICO published a story about their anger, Shulkin reversed course late Wednesday.

      “There will be absolutely no change in the funding to support our homeless program,” he said in a news release, adding that the money would not be shifted to the Choice program, which enables veterans to get health care outside the VA system.

      Can’t be sure because the update is on top of the original story, but I don’t recall reference to the Choice program in the original.

    3. jrs

      it sounds like *corruption*, as no reasons are given, even political and ideological decisions have reasons of some sort, sounds like a case of pure corruption and funneling of money.

  13. Wyoming

    re: the North Korean airspace

    Considering what happened in Ukraine (and yes I know it was actually the Ukranians who shot the plane down) the fact that Korean airspace is not under no fly restrictions just shows how little thought goes on at times.

    I could name a few other places where overflights make no sense also. I am glad for so many reasons that I stopped getting on planes over 5 years ago. Walk, drive or don’t go. Or maybe get a horse.

  14. jfleni

    RE: 17-foot python that could ‘pretty much kill any full-grown man’ caught in Everglades.

    The “Bannana Rebublic of Florida” absolutely rejected interfering with “Free Enterprise” of pet stores that sold these monsters!

    1. Oregoncharles

      A friend of my wife’s grew up in Laos, on an orchard. Her father walked around among the trees with a machete held vertically, edge out, against his chest. It prevented a snake (they drop out of trees) from constricting on him. Don’t know whether he ever actually had to use it.

      Ironically, my son had a Burmese python, named Fluffy. Eventually gave her back to the guy he got her from when she started getting territorial about his room. She was an albino, about the color of red hair. Very pretty.

      But they can’t go feral here.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    It’s Amazon’s World—But Do You Want to Live There? Wall Street Journal. When you’ve lost the Journal…plus the idea that Amazon is the cheapest option is often incorrect. See this comparison with Costco, for instance.

    Shopping at Costco requires walking.

    With remote TV control and internet shopping, which couch-potato wants that?

    The next big idea is how to make couches more comfortable and profitable. Maybe with a built-in fridge and a Bitcoin mining option. Since you don’t like to get out of the house much, the couch doesn’t have to be able to fly.

    1. Carolinian

      A built in fridge that orders beer when you run out.

      One thing Amazon has going against it is that a lot of people enjoy shopping. We’re Americans–it’s what we do.

      1. jrs

        I don’t really believe that most people enjoy shopping and I think that is why online shopping got so big. I mean people might occasionally enjoy shopping when they have some leisure time of course, in the same way people often enjoy cooking when they have leisure time. It’s like saying people enjoy driving, yes on a country lane maybe, but noone enjoys bumper to bumper traffic at a standstill as far as the eye can see.

        The American lifestyle is in reality such a workaholic nightmare that it doesn’t leave almost anyone much time for the American pastime of shopping (in the same way most people struggle to make time to cook). Most people are quite simply TOO OVERWORKED to enjoy shopping most of the time, it’s another chore to fit in with a life off too little time, too much to do, the long hours, the nightmare commutes, the endless household chores etc.. So shopping online while taking a 10 minute break from work is in some cases the only way to buy not only things you don’t need but have been advertised, but also oftentimes the only way to buy the things you do. Because even if you need say new shoes, when could you possibly find a whole hour in the day to buy them?

    2. roady

      Shopping at Costco requires a car, truck or SUV. One must also live within commuting distance of the mostly wealthy suburban sprawls where Costco warehouses are located. And it has to be economically viable for the potential customer to purchase (and thus consume) in bulk volumes. It’s an exclusive and exclusionary establishment.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        ‘Bah. It depends upon what you buy there. I’ve gone there on my dirt bike (with nylon saddlebags) as I use their pharmacy, buy coffee, protein powder, dog chews, and various other grocery items like red red wine (channeling jerry jeff there).

        My wife likes their rotisserie chicken (she’s still a carnivore) but I cannot carry those on the bike. Shrug.

  16. Carl

    Re: Emergency Room Blackmail

    I suppose this is why all the major hospitals in the area have opened separate, off-hospital ERs. Profit centers is more like it. I went to one with a bacterial infection in my elbow and got billed a pretty astounding $1600+ for a few minutes visit and some kind of “scan.”

  17. Mikerw

    Over time there have been many posts regarding self driving cars, trucks, robots, etc. and their impacts. Last night I re-watched a NOVA (PBS) episode on the quest to develop robots to work in critical emergency situations where it is too risky for humans; e.g., if robots could have entered Fukishima and turned a few valves off and/or thrown a few switches the catastrophe would have been largely diminished.

    It is interesting, despite all the money, much from DARPA, talent, brain power directed at this topic how little we have accomplished. We are much further away from making these technologies work in the real world, other than for repetitive, highly controlled, uniform situations. Right now the hype is way ahead of the technologies.

      1. a different chris

        To be fair to the poster, he/she said “if robots could have“… the tech press makes it always sound like C3PO is right around the corner and he is so not.

        And this particular case didn’t need him, it needed radiation hardening that we don’t know how to do (or to be more correct, we could rad harden the robot maybe but then we couldn’t talk to it, and then we’re back to C3PO who wouldn’t need a tether if he existed but he doesn’t)

  18. Tom Stone

    Recipricocity of CCW is comparable to Dred Scott and the Fugitive Slave Act?
    Sweet Jesus.
    The 16 Million plus concealed weapons permit holders are going to turn into spree killers if they cross a State line?
    It is an article of faith among many liberals of the credentialed class that firearms are
    “Malum in se”.
    The virtue signaling, lack of intellectual honesty ( Or cognitive dissonance), deliberate ignorance of current firearms laws and how they are enforced by this class is quite telling.
    “Gun Violence”…an interesting phrase that popped into usage instantly.
    No Human agency, Malum in se.
    Aren’t there more important issues to deal with, especially with violent crime declining for decades?

    1. allan

      Supporters of the bill seem to be saying: The 10th Amendment for me but not for thee.
      The Constitution is not a Happy Meal menu.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I suggest you look at germane statistics. The most credible theory re the decline in violent crimes is that it is the result of getting lead out of gas.

      A study from October 2013 analyzed data from 27 developed nations to examine the impact of firearm prevalence on the mortality rate. It found an extremely strong direct relationship between the number of firearms and firearm deaths. The paper concludes: “The current study debunks the widely quoted hypothesis that guns make a nation safer.” This finding is bolstered by several previous studies that have revealed a significant link between gun ownership and firearm-related deaths. This international comparison is especially harrowing for women and children, who die from gun violence in America at far higher rates than in other countries.

      Behind such horrifying statistics are numerous heartbreaking tragedies, such as Zina Daniel, a woman from Illinois who was killed by her abusive ex-husband, or Caroline Sparks, who was only 2 when her 5-year-old brother accidentally killed her with his Crickett rifle.

      If we examine data from within the United States, the odds aren’t any better for gun owners. The most recent study examining the relationship between firearms and homicide rates on a state level, published last April, found a significant positive relationship between gun ownership and overall homicide levels. Using data from 1981–2010 and the best firearm ownership proxy to date, the study found that for every 1 percent increase in gun ownership, there was a 1.1 percent increase in the firearm homicide rate and a 0.7 percent increase in the total homicide rate. This was after controlling for factors such as poverty, unemployment, income inequality, alcohol consumption, and nonhomicide violent crime. Further, the firearm ownership rate had no statistically significant impact on nonfirearm homicides, meaning there was no detectable substitution effect. That is, in the absence of guns, would-be criminals are not switching to knives or some other weapons to carry out homicide. These results are supported by a host of previous studies that illustrate that guns increase the rate of homicides.

      The US was projected in 2016 to have more deaths by gun than deaths by car. And don’t try to tell me the proliferation of guns had nothing to do with that. Guns are a danger to their owners. Relatively few owners practice adequate safety. I’ve seen this first hand too often.

      1. flora

        an aside:
        . The most credible theory re the decline in violent crimes is that it is the result of getting lead out of gas.

        Yes. Interesting to contemplate that not all children affected by lead poisoning from gasoline fumes grew up to be street criminals. Some of them probably grew up and became politicians. Not a snark, sadly.

      2. JBird

        Guns are a danger to their owners. Relatively few owners practice adequate safety. I’ve seen this first hand too often.

        I know we disagree on the gun issue, but I have to agree on practicing safety. When people first learn to drive they are conscientious about. A real safe driver. A few years later they are doing their tie, or makeup, or texting while on the freeway. It’s the same with guns.

      3. JBird

        This is just a riff as I going off memory and I am using my phone.

        Thinking this over and do not fully understand the anger about deaths caused by guns. Everything has risk. Being alive has risk. The rate of gun deaths has gone down for a while but the conflict is increasing. What is increasing is mass shootings and that started about the time all the economic and social stats starting seriously bad. Factories closing, jobs shipped overseas, union busting with all attended ills. The mid 80s. It’s rather like the crack epidemic or meth, or the opioid mess. Yes one can rail on the evil of or the responsibilities for. You can say the same on alcohol.

        The thing is that guns have permeated this nation for centuries, and semi automatic and/or rapidly reloading guns have been around since the 19th century. But like drugs are abused. ⅔ of gun deaths are suicides even though deaths by cars is roughly equal to guns.

        I think it’s a wedge issue. People in politics see this and start to drool on both sides. Money. Votes. Scandal. Distraction. Do you think that this socially awful but politically useful CCW legislation was brought up around the same time as the tax deform legislation was? I hope you don’t. The political leadership does not really want to solve, work on, or even significantly reduce gun deaths, which could be done without passing any gun control laws, but it would cost money so f**** it, and reduce campaign contributions. Horrors. Of course if we really serious about people’s lives we wouldn’t have over 400,000 deaths per year due to hospital errors. But that ain’t sexy. Guns are. They’re good for business.

    3. Lord Koos

      Gun deaths are a significant cause of death for some age groups. Not murder per se, but lots of suicides and accidents.

  19. Wukchumni

    Pearl Harbor started us feeding on the teat that is war, and so Krupp’d us in the future, that not only have we embraced conflict abroad as a normal way of doing business, but also endorsed it here by pleading with the citizenry to go out and get armed on their own dime, so as to ward off an implacable foe, us.

  20. Steve H.

    Yesterday had three gut-punches which are looking related:

    : Guardian article on farmer suicides: mostly a fedgov issue financially, but farmers are dependent on weather.

    : Fire on the mountain. Weather.

    : Informal network info: a friend went to the ER and a nurse hand-pushed meds. Apparently there’s a quiet crisis shortage of IV bags. Manufactured on Puerto Rico, factories whacked by hurricane. Weather.

    On this last, another friend confirmed and said the shortage could be years. So who is going to build a new factory, when the ROI for actually making goods cannot compete with federally goosed asset prices?

    1. Enquiring Mind

      Global supply lines and few providers make for a risky combination. There are numerous potential weather, strike, political or other events that could disrupt much of the well-oiled machine that is our world economy. Those distantly flapping butterfly wings are now looked at as energy sources. As a general rule, I try to avoid situations where there is only one way in or out (e.g., that single transit line), or only one provider, so I may sleep better at night.

    2. m

      We are usually informed of medication shortages so we don’t waste them. Haven’t heard about shortage of IV solutions. Many medications are routinely pushed. Many meds are manufactured in India & China, perhaps their supplier purchased from PR.

      1. Steve H.

        My understanding is that it’s the bags, not the solution. Many medications cannot be pushed. My friend wasn’t in for a critical problem, so they may be sequestering internally.

        It did get me thinking, what’s the cost per bag that’s the breakeven v having an LPN push six bags-worth an hour? 21st century questions.

      1. Lord Koos

        Anyone else get the feeling that there is some kind of surreptitious population reduction going on? I’m probably just paranoid.

  21. David

    The Michaels interview was interesting and contains much good sense, but it suggests that he, like others on the Left, is still inside a linguistic trap.
    It comes from the “fight against” formula, which in my day referred to actual socio-economic groups whose interests were objectively opposed to each other, or to concepts (like poverty) which could be dealt with through a number of practical expedients, including redistribution, which of course implied “fighting against” those who were wealthy. These days, we “fight against” abstract concepts, like “discrimination”, which have no objective existence and so can’t really be fought, so we fight against the people who are doing the discriminating. The usual method is abuse. But if we are fighting against discrimination in awarding mortgages to black people, we are fighting against white people. If we fight against “unfair treatment of women” we are fighting against men, because someone has to be doing the unfair treating. It’s hardly surprising that government action to “fight discrimination” is perceived by whites and males as an attack on them, even if that’s not the specific intent, just as it’s not surprising if generalized talk about crime in poor areas is interpreted as an attack on minority communities – somebody is committing the crime, after all.
    Until the Left gets out of this linguistic trap and realizes that the only way forward is universal rights, in which you are treated fairly, simply because you are a citizen, it will continue to tear itself apart and lose elections, since its component parts, in the end, will wind up offending everybody.

    1. nycTerrierist

      With all due respect, sounds like you didn’t read the interview.
      He spoke specifically about the downside of (liberal) focus on ‘discrimination’ and how it supports an exploitative status quo.

      1. David

        I did and he did. My problem is with statements towards the end such as that “there definitely has been discrimination against black people in obtaining mortgages, and we should fight that,” which precisely illustrates my point. And although, as I said, I think he’s right about many things, I’m unconvinced by his assertion that white people can somehow, through some twisted process of logic, perceive economic exploitation as a form of racism directed against them specifically, especially when everyday experience tends to suggest the opposite.

    2. Enquiring Mind

      Pared down to basics, much of political dialog seems to degenerate to the following:

      Dems: We look out for those without a champion.
      Reps: Be your own champion.
      Dems: The system is rigged to prevent that.
      Reps: Someone has to build a system with something to generate value.
      Dems: We need to raise taxes to pay for benefits.
      Reps: We don’t trust you Dems to handle money
      Dems: Well isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black.
      Both: When’s lunch?


  22. Jim Haygood

    Earlier this week Business Insider published a story claiming that global market cap is approaching $100 trillion.

    Only one leetle problema: Bloomberg assigned a $19.5 trillion market cap to Venezuela by converting it to dollars at the official exchange rate of ten bolivars per dollar instead of the street rate of about 100,000 bolivars per dollar.

    Obviously no one at Bloomberg reviewed their market cap calc for reasonableness, though it ridiculously showed Venezuela having the second largest stock market on the planet.

    If you take investment advice from frayed-collar financial journalists, you will lose everything.

    1. Wukchumni

      52 years ago, a 1 bolivar coin was .835% pure silver and about the size of a quarter. It currently has about $2 in silver value.

      You would need 200,000 current bolivars to be able to purchase it, but wait there’s more. If you were to figure in the various revaluations of the bolivar, you’d actually need about 200,000,000 bolivars from 1965, in order to buy it.

  23. Jim Haygood

    Thanks to a gain in Bloomberg Consumer Comfort, Ed Yardeni’s weekly fundamental indicator managed a little rise today after three weeks of declines. Chart:

    Also helping the indicator was a slight decline in the 4-week average of jobless claims. Claims reached their low of the year on Nov 9th at 231,250. Today’s value is 241,500, still far below the 300,000 level at which recession risk begins rising.

    The indicator’s third component, CRB BLS Raw Industrial prices, reached a high of 518.67 on Sep 7th and has since slid to 497.79, rudely defying Federal Reserve forecasts that prosperity inflation is just around the corner. The rate hikes will continue until prices improve.

  24. diptherio

    Re: our totally legit authorities

    A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in favor of a Virginia man who, as a teen, was once ordered by a lower court to be photographed while masturbating in the presence of armed police officers.

    That warrant was ostensibly part of an ongoing sexting investigation into the then-teen, Trey Sims, who had exchanged explicit messages with his then-15-year-old girlfriend. Her mother reported the incident to the Manassas City Police Department in January 2014.

    Eventually, the detective assigned to the case, David Abbott, obtained a signed warrant to take photographs of Sims’ naked body—including “the suspect’s erect penis”—so that he could compare them to Sims’ explicit messages.
    Abbott committed suicide in December 2015 when officers came to arrest him on separate charges relating to pedophilia.

    Uh…I think we should probably be checking out whichever judge signed those warrants, too…just sayin’. The estate of the deceased officer is being sued, but there’s nothing in the article about any accountability for the judge who ordered this to happen. WTactualF?

    1. fresno dan

      December 7, 2017 at 11:41 am

      That is a very good point that I agree entirely with.
      And in this case…is not the point of judges to render good judgments? I chalk it up to the judicial/police/prosecutoral complex that puts forward the idea that poor judgments (decisions) should be exempt from accountability. It really is amazing to me how forgiving the public is to police misconduct.

      The whole sovereign immunity thing is an idea that I believe stands no critical scrutiny. As another example, there are many examples of grievous injury done to innocent persons by search warrants issued and approved for wrong addresses. No accountability (no one is even demoted, much less, fired, or prosecuted, and of course not, convicted).

      1. audrey jr

        On the wildfires: The kitty I saved from the undercarriage of a car a few weeks ago decided to change the channel for me; she put on the local news and San Diego County North is on fire now. There’s a huge fire right off of Interstate 15 between Temecula and Escondido. They are planning to evacuate Vista and eastern parts of Oceanside – the town where Camp Pendleton is – and the fire has burned at least three buildings so far.
        I never, ever watch the news, local or national, so at least kitty was on top of it.
        We have 90 MPH Santa Ana winds today in S.D. :(

    1. barrisj

      Excellent piece, as after all today’s white cracker Repub voter was yesterday’s white Demo cracker voter…”whitemannery”…FAB!

    2. a different chris

      That was awesome (but sad). Hopefully TPTB here might push it up into the next Links/WC.

    3. roady

      The article devolves into a call to action to put more blue dogs on the ballot and alarmism over “Russia hacking” of the DNC:

      “Trump is rounding up immigrants,” It will be a challenge to catch-up with his record-breaking deporter-in-chief predecessor.

      “If the Democratic Party focused on running candidates that aligned with the party’s values* while not so stringently adhering to the national party’s platform, it could rally enthusiasm among black voters and steal some white votes, too. While not ideal, moderate candidates who could caucus with Democrats would be better than no candidates at all.” Because corporate Blue Dogs have been so effective in the past. Also, why not campaign on those universal material benefits? *What values? Wall Street values?

      “Had it not been for a Russian hacking, the head of the DNC would still be lil’ Debbie Wasserman Schultz.” I suppose we would need some form of evidence for that hacking claim.

  25. Elissa3

    “Look and See”, a portrait of Wendell Berry is a beautiful movie about the author and about farming. Highly recommended.

  26. barrisj

    I was tempted to believe that the Senate Demo collective casting-out of Al Franken is a pre-emptive action setting up a yuuuge campaign to force the entire Senate to refuse to seat Roy “Trawling for Teens” Moore, who no doubt will carry the special election in AL. Then reality took hold, and I realized that for the Repubs it’s all about taking and holding absolute power at any cost, and inasmuch as Repubs and their various organizations are now lining up shamelessly behind Moore, he will be seated and he will be a participating Senator, despite his sexual predilection for early-teens girls. The Bill Clinton millstone yet again weighs heavily round Demo politicians’ necks, which allows Repub predators such as Trump to skate into the Presidency blithely waving off all his victims, as he knows instinctively that not only will he be the beneficiary of “Christian forgiveness” from his “base”, but also that it’s all about going on the offensive and crucifying his accusers, something post-Clinton that the Dems just simply can’t afford to do any longer. “Double standard” ? Don’t be silly, that’s been the rule in Washington for years.

    1. JBird

      Some politicians keep yakking about the Bible; a book that either they have never read, or don’t intend to follow.

      It’s like the selective readings of Adam Smith writings. He was a supporter of free markets, but an opponent of untrammeled, unregulated Free Markets, and was a believer in the the health of the entire community over the growth of businesses. Somehow that never gets mentioned by free market advocates.

  27. allan

    Blue Dog blues:

    Former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Fired For Misconduct By Morgan Stanley [HuffPost]

    Former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford Jr. has been fired for misconduct by Morgan Stanley after facing a human resources investigation into allegations of misconduct, a company spokeswoman confirmed. …

    Since leaving Congress in 2007, Ford has worked for two financial services companies, first for Merrill Lynch and then Morgan Stanley, which he joined in 2011 as a managing director.

    At the time Morgan Stanley announced the hire, The New York Times described Ford’s role as a rainmaker of sorts: “Mr. Ford will be responsible for ‘building business opportunities’ for clients, Morgan Stanley said. He will manage relationships with corporate directors, senior executives and institutional investors, as well as private clients.” …

    1. a different chris

      And the guy will still have enough money to buy and sell my family 5x over whilst he nurses his hurt ego in forced retirement.

      1. joe defiant

        He was only “hired” to repay him for the favors he did while in office and to solicit new favors from his friends in congress to begin with.

        It would be much cheaper for taxpayers to just retire all politicians after their terms with their salary paid for life with the restriction that they cannot work or consult with anyone after their terms. Removing all the graft that goes on would save billions.

  28. L

    House Conservatives Warn About Spending After Tax Cuts Bloomberg. Killing your parents and then complaining about being an orphan….

    Except that they don’t see it that way. To be fair to Paul Ryan and the “Freedom Caucus” they are at least consistent. They believe two very specific things: money spent by the government is ‘wasted’ a-priori. That is all government spending does not work because reasons. and Second that money taken by the government is taken away from people not used to fund services.

    Thus in their view cutting taxes does not raise deficits it “restores freedom” in their narrow financial sense of the term, and it moves the money to where it will be used more efficiently nevermind what economists say. In that they are nothing if not consistent and they have a tin ear to any contrary view.

    1. JBird

      We all have mistaken beliefs. I am sure I have a few myself. I understand some of the advocates of the current policies are neither mentally ill or consciously corrupt servants to the 0.01%, but at some point I cannot accept, forget, or accept any suggestions excuses of ultimately self serving delusions. Americans as a group have been struggling steadily harder for decades, and now growing number are getting poorer, under the same policies that these people insist on continuing. It is now taking an active almost willful denial of these facts.

      They can keep doing things that leads to suffering, heartache, and death including, indirectly my better half, or to those old people I have seen on the street or the food bank. I do think that there is growing number of people who no longer care about, nevermind want to, keeping the system going. Even if one is fine now, what about the future of ones family and neighbors? In other words, more people are starting to get free as more have nothing to lose. It’s a scary thought, but it’s happening.

    2. Massinissa

      “They believe two very specific things: money spent by the government is ‘wasted’ a-priori”

      Unless its for the MIC, in which its apparently totally ok with them. They allow the military and the CIA billions of dollars with no oversight, but they never mention cutting on defense when they mention cutting government. So I’m not sure they’re as ‘consistent’ as you are saying they are.

  29. Patrick Donnelly

    The Wizard of Oz, (by Yankee/German Frank Baum?) was all about MMT and Farming. Currency, lending distorts values….

    Silver shoes in the book, the satire by H’Wood was red shoes. Tells one a lot?

    1. Objective Function

      While I love the economic allegory reading of “Oz”, just as I love the “Paul is dead” mythos around the Beatles, the former was pretty much all developed by a high school teacher in the 1960s. There is no documentary evidence that Baum ever intended any such allegory.

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