Links 1/11/18

Dear patient readers,

Your humble blogger has a bug :-(

It is not the worst bug. Headache and other body pains, plus tired. But enough to undermine my concentration. So forgive me for not writing, since what I would write would probably not be very good.

Beak fitness: New Zealand develops roadside gym for endangered keas Guardian (TYJ)

What it’s like to live in a well-governed country BBC (resilc). It’s so unusual that it’s a travel feature.

Watch Out, Airlines. High Speed Rail Now Rivals Flying on Key Routes Bloomberg (UserFriendly)

The best countries to escape the worst effects of climate change Business Insider

AI learns how to fool text-to-speech. That’s bad news for voice assistants The Next Web (David L). Hooray! This will mess up Alexa.

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies ‘will come to a bad end’, says Warren Buffett Guardian (furzy)

Meltdown and Spectre

OpenBSD’s De Raadt Pans ‘Incredibly Bad’ Disclsoure of Intel CPU Bug Slashdot (optic7). Important. Great discussion in the thread.

Intel needs to come clean about Meltdown and Spectre The Verge

Canadian Research Adds to Worry Over an Environmental Threat the Pentagon Has Downplayed for Decades ProPublica (resilc)

War Propaganda Irrussianality (Chuck L). Important.

China?

China Weighs Slowing or Halting Purchases of U.S. Treasuries Bloomberg. UserFriendly: “Who cares, they’ll get bought.”

The world’s most powerful passport in 2018: Germany’s Quartz

Brexit

EU diplomats set to finalize harsh terms of Brexit transition Politico

Catalan separatists to re-elect Puigdemont as regional leader Politico

Handelsblatt: Greece to Remain Under Lenders’ Supervision Until 2059 Greek Reporter

New Cold War

DC Council renames street in front of Russian Embassy after Putin critic Politico (Kevin W). Not the behavior of a confident power.

First-Ever Drone Swarm Attack Has Struck Russian Military Bases, Sources Claim Science Alert (David L). Does not seem to have been very successful, but it also appears to have consumed disproportionate resources to get rid of the drones. A drone can’t carry much of a payload, so unless it hits a vulnerable and high value target, not sure these are ready for prime time as weapons.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

LAPD takes another step toward deploying drones in controversial yearlong test Los Angeles Times (resilc)

Prosecutors say Mac spyware stole millions of user images over 13 years ars technica (Chuck L)

Ecuador ‘gives Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a passport’ – but Britain DENIES its request to grant him diplomatic status Daily Mail (YY)

Trump Transition

The Washington Post Lied While Correcting President Trump’s 1,950 Lies Lee Camp, TruthDig

Trump-Russia inquiry: President says he is unlikely to be interviewed BBC. FWIW, a lawyer colleague thought that the most that was likely to happen was a written interview.

The Digger Who Commissioned the Trump-Russia Dossier Speaks New Yorker (furzy)

Guess Which Line Was Missing From the Transcript of Trump’s Immigration Meeting New York Magazine (resilc)

The Michael Wolff Way Slate

What the Salvadorans Being Kicked Out by Trump Face Back Home New Yorker (furzy)

Florida decision puts Trump drilling plan on shaky ground The Hill

The State of Redistricting Litigation (January 2018 Edition) Brennan Center for Justice (UserFriendly)

U.S. top court considers putting brakes on police vehicle searches Reuters (EM)

‘We dug a baby from the mud’ BBC. Must see video.

Divided Supreme Court may allow Ohio voter purge policy Reuters (EM)

Oprah Boomlet

Oprah’s long history with junk science Vox (resilc)

After #MeToo, we can’t ditch due process Guardian (Chuck L)

Rikers Guards Are Allegedly Sexually Assaulting Visitors The Cut. Resilc: “Maybe Hollywood can address this at the Oscars?

Aly Raisman: USA Gymnastics is ‘100% responsible’ for doctor’s abuse CNN (UserFriendly)

Using Twitter to Observe Election Incidents in the United States Center for Political Studies Blog (UserFriendly)

New York sues big oil companies over climate change Financial Times

New York City is taking on the oil industry by selling off billions in fossil fuel investments and suing the top five oil companies Business Insider

Coke pulls work from McKinsey after Gupta scandal Financial Times. Only in South Africa. Many Coke bottlers are franchises. Still…

Advisers at Leading Discount Brokers Win Bonuses to Push Higher-Priced Products Wall Street Journal

Get ready for a lot of coal-plant shutdowns – Axios (resilc)

The World’s Best Female Poker Player Joins the World’s Biggest Hedge Fund Bloomberg (resilc)

Ford has big plans to cash in on driverless cars, but not in the way you might think Business Insider

Fed Pays Banks $30 Billion on “Excess Reserves” for 2017 Wolf Street (EM)

Class Warfare

The White and Black Murder Rates Are Both Rising, But for Different Reasons New York Magazine (resilc). Important. Not just blacks are loath to call the cops. Lambert is too. But Lambert also lives in a low crime community.

CES painfully exposes Uber and Lyft’s big convenience problem MarketWatch (Rachel T)

The Purge of New York Jacobin

Timmies’ warm-and-fuzzy brand identity becomes faded and torn The Star (Mark K)

Paul Krugman got the working-class wrong. That blunder had consequences Thomas Frank, Guardian

Antidote du jour. Diptherio:

I recently relocated from my city apartment to a rural cabin. Best decision I’ve made in a long time. My new neighbors have been coming by to say ‘hi’ quite a bit, so now as I sit at my desk, I’ve got these guys hanging out just a few feet away.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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163 comments

  1. QuarterBack

    Re the voice assistant exploit,

    Imagine a cyber-attack that renders voice-control inoperable at scale, or ties up voice-ready systems (like your phone, tv, computer, and car) with processor intensive commands, which could be embedded in something as innocuous as a Justin Bieber song.

    I would suggest dubbing this type of hack as a Mix-tape Attack.

    Reply
    1. Mark Alexander

      It’s upside down here in the Northern Hemisphere, too.

      We have a bunch of turkey flocks showing up around here, now that the snow has gotten deeper. I suspect it’s because they’re getting more desperate for food.

      One thing that always astonishes me is how well wild turkeys can fly. Clearly they are nothing like the overweight monsters that supply Thanksgiving dinners.

      Reply
        1. freedeomny

          “We’re all turkeys in an upside down world” – LOL Thank you for this. I’ll be the person randomly laughing in the drug store later on today….

          Reply
      1. jackiebass

        If you saw a wild turkey trying to land in a wood lot you wouldn’t think they can fly well. They often crash into tree limbs and seem to have little control over their flight path. Turkeys can’t actually fly very far like a bird. Most of their flying is soaring. That’s why most of the time they fly down or around a hill. You would probably love observing a loon landing on a lake. It ends up being aa crash landing.

        Reply
        1. Mark Alexander

          Yesterday I did see a turkey fly onto a tree limb about 20 feet above ground. It looked a bit awkward but there were no crashes or other embarrassments. I have also seen turkeys fly up into tall trees from ground position without soaring.

          Also, these Vermont turkeys seem to be stronger flyers than the ones I used to see in the SF Bay Area.

          I agree that they are not graceful, but the fact that they can fly at all is the thing I find amazing.

          Reply
          1. diptherio

            There are about 40 of them that roost every evening in the trees around my cabin, so I’ve had ample opportunity to observe their flight patterns. In the fall, they would all congregate in my yard and then, one by one, get a running start and take off awkwardly for the ponderosas about 30-50 feet away, landing with much racket. I used to think that they needed the running start to get off the ground, but once we had a foot+ of snow on the ground, they gave up on the running, and just take off from a standing position…so it is possible for them, but probably a little harder to accomplish.

            One of my favorite things to see, now that I live with a bunch of turkeys, is a turkey or two perched in the neighbor’s Mountain Ash, which is leafless this time of year, daintly plucking berries from the branches. They are such big creatures that it’s hard to believe they can balance so well on little 1/2 inch thick branches.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Why does a turkey cross the road?

              Well, as far as the flock of 50-100 here is concerned, they like to stop vehicle traffic, and are in no hurry to get out of your way, ha!

              Reply
              1. barefoot charley

                I’m told they avoiding flying because it depletes so much energy. They’ll fly into trees to roost and rest for the night, and glide down in the morning refreshed and famished. Like me, they’d much rather walk than fly.

                Reply
              2. a different chris

                When they re-introduced turkeys to our area a young mom was one of the first to appear. Her first brood was… unfortunately smashed all over our road in about a week.

                She got a lot better with the following broods!

                Reply
        2. Amfortas the Hippie

          they glide quite nicely. I’ve seen a flock(herd?) of about 100 of them soar down from a 200′ cliff on the Llano river in the pre-dawn twilight. goes very well with coffee.
          Wild turkeys are rather smart, as far as birds go.
          The domestics, not so much.
          (‘look at the rain and drown’ is how my grandmother described it)
          …and the surest way to attract wild turkeys to your environs is to get some of the domestic variety. The wild ones will make the domestics less stupid, over time, and before you know it, your superfluous Jakes will join the wild ones for bivouac in the trees, and eschew all pleadings to get into the turkey house.

          Reply
          1. a different chris

            There was an identical problem with the original colonists when they were crossed paths with the Native Americans, I believe.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird, and presumably if he got his way we’d all be eating factory-farmed bald eagles for Thanksgiving, instead?

              Reply
          2. jackiebass

            Their biggest asset is their eyesight. They can spot the slightest movement at a great distance. Then they will disappear in a flash.

            Reply
      1. diptherio

        The funny thing is, that’s not even the turkey picture I sent, so doubly confusing for me, lol. That’s definitely not the view out of my back door…. Yves must have a number of turkey photos lying around :-D

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Sorry, your photo is now up. I do have a lot of turkey photos and did move yours into the right spot, then grabbed one with a similar name. Apologies.

          Reply
      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The world is different, depending on where or how one sees it.

        Upside down is one way some beings see it.

        There some who see the world from 2 inches off the ground.

        And some from about 6’4″ while others from 4’10” – even here, the differences can be quite startling.

        Reply
    2. fresno dan

      bwilli123
      January 11, 2018 at 7:29 am

      I was completely bewildered by that. 1st, I though it was crows hanging over the edge of a patio. Finally I was able to save the image and than rotate it. Ah, clarity…..

      Reply
  2. The Rev Kev

    Time to get some rest for our humble blogger so hope that she gets better soon.

    Re The best countries to escape the worst effects of climate change

    Are they kidding us? Do they think that we are that stupid? Does anybody else notice from that World Map that the countries that get to escape are what we call the west? I decided to check out just who these Eco Experts were and this is what it led me to-
    https://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/
    Our own governmental research organization – the CSIRO – did their own climate change study and it is not going to be any fun down under no matter what that map shows. There is a top-down page at https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/OandA/Areas/Oceans-and-climate/Climate-change-information but where I live is going to get hot, hot hot! Put this article under the entry ‘fake news’.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I also followed the affiliated link to the best US cities to escape climate change — Phoenix,AZ was on the list.

      Reply
  3. RabidGandhi

    ‘Ecuador gives Julian Assange a passport’ – a day after it threatened to kick him out of London embassy https://t.co/dXfKBE5fXE

    Ecuador threatening to kick out Assange can be safely archived in the bulging file labelled “Media-Reported Events That Never Actually Occurred on Planet Earth”. Ecuador called on the UK and other powers to help mediate Assange’s “unsustainable situation”. How that gets translated into “kicking out” Assange in multiple major mainstream media outlets beggars all human logic. But, as per usual, the “make up any and all facts” rule always applies to official state enemies.

    Reply
    1. Alex Morfesis

      Have some people I know who sometimes hang out in downtown clearwater who might suggest they may not be human…\snark ?

      Jules knew what he was getting into and what might happen…not that it “should” happen…just that he aint that teenager down under “exploring” the dark corners of the ethernet anymore…

      If he didn’t, then he does need to be carted off for being beyond stupid…

      Reply
  4. invy

    Want to make the NC community aware of this research in Japan.

    Brief Summary Report of MHE Project Phenomenology and Controllability of New Exothermic Reaction between Metal and Hydrogen (researchgate.net)

    Especially these parts…

    We also observed that the excess power generation was sustainable with power level of 10-24 W for more than one month period, using PNZ6 (Pd1Ni10/ZrO2) sample of 120g at around 300°C.

    Reproducibility at different laboratories: Providing two divided sample powders of PNZ-type from
    
    same-batch fabricated powder, independent parallel test runs were carried out at Kobe University and Tohoku University. Results of excess heat generation data from both laboratories were very reproducible for room-temperature and elevated-temperature conditions. Thus, the existence and reproducibility of new exothermic phenomenon by interaction of nano-metal composite samples and H(D)-gas have been confirmed.

    Integrated excess heat data at elevated- temperature condition exceeded several MJ per ca. 100g sample, which is impossibly difficult to explain heat generation level of a few 100kJ/mol-metal (at most) by known chemical reactions.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I am very skeptical of the claims made in the report you cited: “impossibly difficult to explain heat generation level of a few 100kJ/mol-metal (at most) by known chemical reaction”. Is that bad English — or clever weasel words to get more funding?

      We are surrounded by stored energy in the form of the glass and metal and other materials we use to manufacture. Burning nano structured or particulate metals — start with the thermite reaction — and check nanofoil at [http://www.indium.com/nanofoil/].

      Reply
      1. integer

        Is that bad English — or clever weasel words to get more funding?

        The original paper is in Japanese, so I expect it is simply a poor translation.

        Reply
        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Your comment ignores the main content of my comment. Japanese — like many other peoples — speak and translate English much better than they let on — much as many Angelos speak, understand and read Spanish much better than they let on.

          Reply
          1. integer

            See section 3 in the paper – Sample Material Analyses before and after Runs.

            In any case, I cannot verify the veracity this research, however having had a quick look at some of the contributing authors’ histories, I am led to believe the research is being undertaken in good faith.

            Reply
  5. Corbin Dallas

    I cannot name one person I know who will call the police – from Brooklyn to Minnesota to California. This includes a mixed race family and white relatives. Everyone loathes them, is scared of them. And they brought it on themselves. Its a sad state of affairs, particularly – echoing that BBC article about ‘well governed countries’ – when you visit other places where police are there to actually maintain the peace, rather than be prepared to SWAT you.

    Surely there must be some cops out there who feel agita at this total disconnect from the public. If so, you’d see them championing reforms, kicking out bad DAs and union bosses who cheerfully fight against the Sandra Bland Act, for example. But neither I nor my relatives see that.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      I’d hazard the guess that the police forces have suffered through a period of the ‘Greshams’ Dynamic’ at work. The “Bad Cops” have driven out the “Good Cops.”
      I’ve known some ‘good cops’ during my lifetime. Most, if not all of them have retired as early as they could. The ‘bad cops’ I’ve encountered seem to hang on as long as they can. They like their jobs, and the perks that they can seize thereof. The film, “Bad Lieutenant,” both versions, is pretty darn close to being a documentary/drama.
      It doesn’t have to be this way, but, then, “Who will police the police?”

      Reply
      1. ArcadiaMommy

        Very good observation about police retirement preferences. The “good cops” hate the “bad cops” as much (if not more) than the average citizen (at least in my experience). They literally count the days until they can retire.

        Joe Arpaio being example #1 about the bad cops wanting to hang in there as long as possible (although many officers consider him a politician, not an actual police officer).

        Reply
      2. John Zelnicker

        @ambrit – One of the cultural problems with our police forces is that they are recruiting soldiers who have been recently discharged. This brings the military mindset into the police department where it will quickly become dominant. The military mindset is not going to be effective in community policing as it is completely adversarial. With the federal gov’t giving military equipment to local police the ex-military will feel right at home and likely already know how to use that equipment. And, since they have the equipment, it has to be used. Then you get police using a SWAT team to execute warrants for running a barber shop without the appropriate licenses.

        Reply
        1. MtnLife

          I actually trust ex-military more provided they don’t have PTSD. They’ve actually been under fire and aren’t going to shoot because they are scared as opposed to the hometown bully who became a cop and will panic shoot someone first stressful situation he comes under. Military people are used to having Rules of Engagement that depend on there being an actual threat versus the cop standard “I was scared for my life because I hallucinated a weapon”.
          That being said I don’t call the cops either. I grew up knowing one of guys caught up in the NYS trooper scandal. He should have gotten way more time. They didn’t being to touch his wrongdoing. In my area of Vermont it usually takes them an hour to get here so I know I’m responsible for my own safety. Remember, police are responders – not protectors.

          Reply
      3. fresno dan

        ambrit
        January 11, 2018 at 8:25 am

        https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/the-cliven-bundy-prosecution-was-a-miscarriage-of-justice.html

        The national police, aka the FBI appears to have the same problems as the local police. To lose Slate with regard to the Bundys is amazing. And it shows the police state mentality of the prosecutors and courts, which is just as much a problem with regard to local police.

        Trump made some disparaging comments about FISA, but was immediately reined in by his staff – so the problem is the dossier and not that the government can surveil a political campaign? Now with the “liberals” putting their hopes on CIA masters to save our country, we have reached peak irony.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Fresno-which was judged the drunkest big city in the land, just had their police chief predict yesterday that there would be a rise in drug violence with legal marijuana.

          Reply
          1. subgenius

            That’s how you keep the job…

            When MDMA became a thing in the UK back in the late 80s/early 90s, the chief of Manchester’s police was asked his opinion of this terrible new drug…and he responded that violence (particularly football hooliganism) was down and he thought it a positive.

            He was booted out immediately.

            Reply
          2. Chris

            Wukchumni, thanks and yes. The evil cannabis.

            Alcohol-fuelled violence is well documented by contrast, as are people high on meth.

            At least you have some governments willing to give it a try. Here, we have licensed companies to produce medical cannabis and are hoping to be one of the world’s biggest producers.

            But try going to the doctor to get some for anxiety, depression, pain.

            I think I read that only 60 people in the whole of Australia have been able to get it. And they are all in late stages of dying.

            Here, they like us drunk

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Fresno is like one of those 3 out of 100 climate scientists that think everything is gonna be honky dory in the future, completely out of step with the rest of the state.

              Reply
          3. fresno dan

            Wukchumni
            January 11, 2018 at 1:37 pm

            I know this is just fantastically naive of me, but Dyer’s appearing in a TV commercial announcement for a casino’s ?30? anniversary – was it Chukchansi or Table Mountain? – is something I find astounding for a police chief to be doing. I guess if your gonna endorse vice, it better be the popular vices….
            AND I can’t find it at all on Google, which strikes me as kind of odd.

            Fresno-which was judged the drunkest big city in the land,
            I don’t like to brag….Wha!? Thats NOT a compliment???

            Reply
    2. pretzelattack

      when i deal with a cop (not often, thankfully) i’m always aware that this person could blow me away and probably get away with it legally. it’s a very small possibility, but it’s there, and it shapes my responses.

      Reply
      1. nowhere

        Yeah, just hope they don’t show up and blast you as you walk out on your front porch to see what all the commotion is.

        Reply
    3. Katy

      I cannot name one person I know who will call the police – from Brooklyn to Minnesota to California.

      A white woman who called the police for help was gunned down in the richest neighborhood in Minneapolis. What hope is there for the rest of us?

      The solution seems simple: first, give them adequate training under high-stress conditions and weed out the trigger-happy candidates. Then hold the police accountable. Enact a law lowering the bar for convicting an officer of murder. With statutory minimum sentences. A well-trained officer might think twice about shooting if there is a severe consequence attached.

      Reply
      1. Old Jake

        The solution seems simple

        Hmm, do you think that is actually going to happen, or is this an intellectual exercise?

        Reply
    1. diptherio

      They don’t eat me, but the do come right up to the sliding glass door and peck around in the pine needles, but they take off (on foot) as soon as I make too quick of a move towards the door.

      Reply
  6. Bandit

    “War Propaganda”

    Western press and reporting are essentially unabashed, deranged and shameless war mongering. It certainly seems to be a violent pathology embedded in US foreign and domestic policy and thus reflected by the mainstream media. It is chilling to observe how easily Americans can be whipped into a war frenzy that abandons all humanitarian impulses. Or in the case of the war in Yemen, the majority of Americans refuse to condemn the US genocide and the humanitarian crises perpetrated by the US.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      I’ll give the Americans some slack here. It seems, any human population is prone to manipulation into policies counter to their best interests.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy Grimm

        While I agree that any human population is susceptible to manipulation I believe those who rule America are among the most blood-thirsty, adept, and ruthless in their efforts — and of late I am growing deeply concerned for their sanity. In America the policies run counter to the best interests of the common man but also run counter to the best interests of those who rule America. America as a country seems obsessed with policies counter to the best interests of human life on Earth, and the life and well-being of all fauna and flora on the Earth.

        Reply
          1. Jeremy Grimm

            I like Adlai Stevenson!
            I have a fond childhood memory of my parents garage serving as a polling station when Stevenson ran for President. … And I am very fond of the old photo of his shoes.

            Reply
      2. djrichard

        Who benefits from war? Sure the war campaigners win, but in western societies, global capitalism in general wins. It eliminates resistance to global capitalism.

        Are people from the US (and western countries) more vulnerable to propaganda for war? Maybe. But maybe it’s also part and parcel with being in a capitalist country where the “goods” need to be doled out, and the more “goods” you get, well then the more “good” you need to be.

        So the propaganda isn’t just focused outwards, to other countries. It’s focused inward as well, against the “bad” within our ranks: the deplorables, or in the case of another article in today’s links (The Purge of New York Jacobin), the working class/peasants.

        Reply
    2. Elizabeth Burton

      The majority of Americans refuse to condemn the US genocide in Yemen because they don’t know it exists. Or if they do hear about it, it is invariably couched in terms that eliminate the US’s responsibility for it. That’s why they have Trump—to ensure the true evil this country is perpetrating doesn’t get noticed.

      Speaking of which, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry that the new “look what awful thing Trump did” is giving states permission to enact work requirements for Medicaid. Where was all this outrage when Bill Clinton did it in the name of “welfare reform”?

      Reply
  7. Patrick Donnelly

    Canada still mines asbestos!

    RDX is tiny as a problem, compared to that. They ship as much as possible to China, to be re-exported in all sorts of products

    Reply
    1. Bob

      Canada stopped mining asbestos in 2011, and it will soon completely ban its “production, use, import and export.”

      https://www.ioshmagazine.com/article/canada-ban-asbestos-2018
      Canada to ban asbestos by 2018
      “In a statement, government ministers of health, science and the environment said new regulations will outlaw the production, use, import and export of asbestos under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999….
      Canada still mined asbestos until 2011, when the two remaining mines, in Quebec province, closed.”

      Reply
  8. toshiro_mifune

    RE: Oprah Boomlet and Junk Science ….

    You know, maybe an Oprah run wouldn’t be a bad thing.
    I am now 47 and the majority of my life has been spent watching one media fueled moral panic after another, I.E OMG Videogames! OMG Dungeons and Dragons! OMG Satanists! OMG Rock and Roll! OMG The Internet! OMG Rock and Roll (still!)! OMG Vaccines! etc etc. Throughout this the purveyors of that panic in the media, of which Oprah is a central figure, have had almost no pushback for their actions. No accounting for their role in it all. So maybe she does run and hopefully it could become a nice public referendum on 30+ years of fear and circuses that have been peddled to the public without a single “We were wrong, sorry’ from these inducers when western civ didn’t collapse.
    Honestly, Oprah and the Wakefield study is just the beginning

    Reply
    1. blkwhiskey

      if you honestly think western civilization isn’t collapsing around us, then I’d earnestly ask that you take a better, more discerning look

      Reply
      1. toshiro_mifune

        That would be part of my point I suppose. Of all the things that have been wrong during past 30 years; widening wealth inequality, the destruction of the western working class, the looting of the American economy by the richest of the rich, none of these were the focus of these mainstream media figures.
        Instead of those topics we got the Satanic Panic and fear of Marilyn Manson with no one questioning those same figures who stoked these fears when they didnt pan out.

        Reply
      2. Otis B Driftwood

        It may be collapsing, but not for the reasons cited above. In fact, those have been smoke and mirrors. Now, if Oprah were to start inveighing against the evils of neoliberalism and connect the dots between this and the many ills it has caused, well then, she might just get my vote.

        But I won’t hold my breath.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          Will a person with a net worth estimated at $3.1 billion as of July 2017 be in any way likely to attack the roots of wealth inequality? https://www.therichest.com/celebnetworth/celeb/media-mogul/oprah-winfrey-net-worth/ A person who hangs with the Obamas and even Trump? And the lady of the estate that evades water restrictions by paying for truck delivery to “maintain her planting’s and pools,” is she going to force effective action on environmental collapse, or attack the FIRE fraudsters, or derail the MIC, of “fix healthcare for all?”

          Reply
          1. sleepy

            If she wanted to be considered the greatest president in modern US history by the public, she would do all those things.

            But she’s too much a lazy bubble person to know that or to care.

            Reply
            1. a different chris

              As many stomach-turning findings that you will get when shoveling up info on our self made billionaires, “lazy” is just not ever going to be one of them.

              Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      That would be nice however somehow I suspect that Oprah the anti-vaxxer won’t receive the same scrutiny as Jill Stein did, and she wasn’t against vaccinations – the media just tried to claim she was to promote Queen HRC.

      When you own the media like Oprah does, you get to set the agenda.

      Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    First-Ever Drone Swarm Attack Has Struck Russian Military Bases, Sources Claim

    I think that with this drone swarm attack, we have hit an inflection point. Remember how the North Koreans were firing off rubbish missiles for years and all of a sudden they had ICBMs? Someone sold them good hard data and plans – the Ukrainians as it turned out. The Jihadists have been using drones for years to drop bombs on their enemies but this attack, which had never been seen before, was on another level. The Russian Ministry said that a technical assessment showed that the drone could have been obtained “only from a country possessing state-of-the-art technologies.”
    They also noted that a US Navy Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft was flying over the region between the Russian bases in Latakia and Tartus for some four hours around the time of the drone attack. Whether that plane was there to help coordinate the attack or study Russian defenses to this attack is irrelevant – it was there.
    You can buy drones by the dozen so think about how ISIS could use this to attack not a military airport but a civilian one (a comment I made yesterday). Think about the fueled up jets, the refueling stations, etc., it could get real bad. Think of the payload being “willy peter” instead of explosives. And now someone has just shown mobs like this how it can be done. The fear up to now has been man-pads getting into the hands of Jihadists (they have!) but you can limit them. This you cannot. This particular genie, thanks to some genius, is now truly out of the bottle. Next stop – teaching Jihadists how to use facial recognition with drone technology.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      The thing to remember about introducing new weaponry, is it’s only a matter of time before the other side has it, too.

      Been there-drone that

      Reply
    2. subgenius

      Cost and difficulty of producing a conventionally armed cruise missiles, vs cost and difficulty of a swarm of drones carrying payloads of explosives/incendiaries/gas….

      Plus…

      Why would you launch them at a hardened target? There are myriad installations essential to the functioning of a 1st world country that would be impossible to defend.

      Reply
  10. taunger

    Trump admin moves to allow work requirement for Medicaid – not sure which POS mainstream news media is best to link for NC, so I leave it to the commentariat to search and find the news themselves.

    Would make sense with a Jobs Guarantee, and would be a great organizing position. But then again, that is far too left for any organizing entity in this country to take on, right? Even DSA?

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      What kind of “work” could the cerebral-palsied quadriplegic tube-fed but fully cognizant daughter of my friend the nurse be “required to do” from her wheelchair or hospital bed? Her life depends on the Medicaid system. Or what kind of work for all the other disabled in similar straits?

      I guess even a lot of “progressives” have bought into variations or emanations or Grand Bargain shadows of the “just die” notions at the evil core of neoliberalism. Though they would deny they are in any way Social Puritanical Darwinists… “Okay, if the policy includes a Jobs Guarantee.” All rightie then.

      Reply
      1. taunger

        Oh come on. My goal as an individual is not to use another’s circumstances to disqualify them from a decent life, as you suggest.

        My goal is to demonstrate a possible organizing scenario, ie, “if govt requires work for health care eligibility, then govt should supply work!”

        Your comment regarding cerebral palsy could easily have been made in a constructive manner, but instead you attacked my intention.

        Why?

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          In all good faith, it just struck me that the “possible organizing scenario” put forth (require work to qualify for Medicaid) looks to me like it might operate like another round of Reagan-Clinton “workfare.” “Must Work for Medicaid” might also be like the “public option,” a seemingly middle-of-the-middle “policy” that undercuts decency and more actually social efforts.

          As to any personal goal in making the argument, requiring work, even “government-provided,” for medical care, precisely disqualifies many other individuals from a decent life.

          Somewhat redolent of the subtle arguments that pave the way for the “use” of prison labor, not to impute any support for that policy to anyone else. Just noting the relationship that occurred to me.

          Reply
          1. taunger

            I understand your point; my starting assumption, that work for Medicaid is a foregone conclusion (which is probably accurate given the positions in the trump admin and certain states), may be confusing.

            It is certainly not where I would prefer we be as a starting point. But again, if feds and states start requiring people work for benefits, then why not organize to require they provide work* ?

            *(FOR THOSE THAT CAN, WANT, AND DO NOT HAVE EMPLOYMENT)

            Reply
            1. Alex Morfesis

              Florida requires either work or “volunteering” 20 hours per week for many to get food stamps…or rehab for some addiction…no one is providing even easy access to the volunteering opportunities…and to tie in on another piece…prisoners are used in the farming areas around the tampa bay area to “handle” the edible but ugly and unsuitable for “consumers” $en$itive eyes…since about half off all produce in the area is “dumped”…but wait…there is more…the “free clinic” organization tied in some meaningful ways to this wondrous “opportunity” took in 15 million in grants and donations but only spent ten of it…they have money they claimed to use to coordinate(not pay for) free dental and paying for id for those coming out of penal system might try to get the job or volunteering required…but…well…the “free clinic” krewe just couldn’t be bothered spending that other five million…don’t want to get caught up in rush hour traffic after closing the doors at 4:58…

              and the free food in the tampa bay area…good luck getting at it if you actually need it…mostly chirch groups handing out to their congregation…a cat lady next door gets handed an extra meal for a “friend” at lunch and then sets it out for the 20 strays she encourages to swing thru…

              oh…one last thing…the “children’s hospital” in tampa bay taken over by the Baltimore big name hospital since there were “financial” difficulties, somehow…”magically” has been able to stash a quarter billion dollars in five years after the free hand off…it takes in and bills over 400 million per year…

              Ah….that felt good…all better…

              Reply
    2. Louis

      A couple of points on this proposal:

      (1) The majority of adults on Medicaid, already do work.

      (2) It looks like there would be exemptions for adults who are too disabled to work. It also looks like that the work requirements could be met by volunteering or going to school or training..

      This proposal probably won’t make that much of a difference in the grand scheme of things.

      Reply
      1. marym

        Seems we both posted at about the same time. The differences it will make is that it re-enforces the propaganda that people receiving benefits don’t deserve them, and that eliminating benefits is good policy.

        Reply
        1. a different chris

          Stomach-turning. These “benefits” are stuff that 99.999% of us would avoid like the, well, plague if we could. We want to lie alone in a hospital room? We want to throw up? We want to take time out of our busy day to get our rear-ends examined?

          This isn’t housing, this isn’t even food hand-outs. It’s freaking medicine. And people who really need medicine will tell you they would rather not really need medicine.

          Now of course our opiod-pushing corporate friends have thrown a lot of muck into the doctor-patient relationship, but you know it doesn’t invalidate the basic idea that sick people didn’t ask to be sick.

          Reply
      2. Hana M

        Louis is correct. This from NOLA:

        The CMS guidance gives states a great deal of flexibility to define their own exceptions to a work requirement, as well as what counts toward “work.” The letter says that such activities “include, but are not limited to, community service, caregiving, education, job training, and substance use disorder treatment.”

        The guidance specifies only that “medically frail” people be exempt – though frailty is not defined – and that people with opioid addiction be either exempted or allowed to count time in drug treatment toward work activities. It also suggests that states take into account the local availability of jobs in creating requirements.

        The devil, of course, is in the state-by-state implementation.

        Under Kentucky’s waiver application, for instance, people on Medicaid would be required to report income changes within 10 days, noted Cara Stewart of the Kentucky Equal Justice Center. For low-wage workers, such as waitresses with fluctuating wages, “it boggles my mind,” Stewart said.

        It’s a good article, despite the misleading headline. http://www.nola.com/national_politics/2018/01/want_medicaid_get_a_job_trump.html

        Reply
      3. UserFriendly

        Yeah no consequences. Taking away my prescriptions to adderall and antidepressants is a great way to help me get a job. Having a major depressive episode that affects your performance at work and gets you fired now will also involve getting kicked off your meds. This is the worst country that has ever existed.

        Reply
    3. marym

      According to the Kaiser Family Foundation 60% of Medicaid recipients work.

      Of the remaining: 36% disabled, 30% caretakers, 15% students, 9% retired, 6% looking for work, 3% other.

      This is just another vile attempt to vilify the most vulnerable, make the process of receiving minimal benefits more difficult and humiliating, mis-identify the problems we face in our society, fail to solve real problems, while pretending to have solved a non-existent problem.

      Reply
      1. marym

        My previous comments today emphasized the propaganda impact of devaluing the idea of benefits and the people who receive them.

        Here is an analysis of the potential impact on real people in Kansas and Missouri:

        Using the numbers provided in the Mississippi application, we estimate that enrollment will decline by approximately 5,000 persons in the first year of the demonstration. We assume the decrease in enrollment is either because individuals now enrolled will be disenrolled, or because individuals who would otherwise enroll will not do so because they cannot meet the work requirement or are deterred by it. The waiver makes no provision for alternate coverage for these individuals, who are likely to be uninsured. A spokesperson for the Mississippi Department of Medicaid estimated that, after applying all exemptions, about 15,000-20,000 individuals would be required to work. Kansas, meanwhile, estimates that 12,000 individuals will be required to fulfill the work requirement.

        While Kansas may claim to protect children by exempting them from the work requirement (yes seriously!), the reality is that these rules will hurt children as well as their parents. Parents’ health insurance status directly affects their children. When parents are insured, children are more likely to be insured and also more likely to receive well-child visits. Insurance also provides one bit of financial security for these vulnerable families – and for the very poor families affected by these proposals, taking away access to affordable health care from parents will likely make it harder for families to climb out of poverty.

        Even more shocking, Kansas also proposes to limit these parents to 36 months of coverage in their lifetime, regardless of whether people are complying with the work requirement.
        ….
        Several states have proposed work requirements, and while all these proposals are short-sighted and ill-conceived, Kansas and Mississippi’s reach a new low by targeting very poor families. And these proposals are simply tone deaf to the reality of low-wage work in America: most low-wage jobs do not come with affordable employer health benefits. If approved, the consequences to the poorest families will be harsh and unprecedented.

        Reply
      2. marym

        Adding:

        Medicaid Work Requirement Would Harm Unemployed, Not Promote Work

        [emphasis added]

        The bottom line is that the CMS guidance provides no real evidence that work requirements will promote Medicaid’s objectives. Indeed, there are strong reasons to believe that work requirements will reduce access to health care and thereby make it harder for some people to work. Pending waiver applications from states seeking to impose work requirements themselves acknowledge that thousands of people will lose health coverage as a result, which is consistent with experience from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and SNAP (formerly food stamps). In those programs, considerable numbers of people who were already working or who should have qualified for exemptions from work requirements lost benefits nonetheless, as a result of being judged not to have met various paperwork requirements. In Medicaid, this means that beneficiaries could lose access to needed medical care — including care that can be life-sustaining — because of red tape.

        Moreover, while the CMS guidance applies to people who are eligible for Medicaid “on a basis other than disability,” many people with chronic health conditions gained Medicaid coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. Many of them may not be exempt from the work requirement because they don’t meet the strict federal disability criteria — even though they may well have health conditions that prevent them from working, such as a mental health condition or an injury.

        Reply
    4. Katy

      Trump admin moves to allow work requirement for Medicaid . . . Would make sense with a Jobs Guarantee, and would be a great organizing position. But then again, that is far too left for any organizing entity in this country to take on, right? Even DSA?

      I would argue that what you’re advocating here is no different from means testing. That system inherently picks winners and losers. It’s happening with the ACA–people who “make too much money” aren’t eligible for financial help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need financial help.

      That’s why the DSA advocates for healthcare as a human right. Everyone deserves healthcare unconditionally.

      Which means that a “jobs guarantee” requirement as a precondition to Medicaid is to the right of the DSA.

      Reply
    5. Wukchumni

      I’m about a decade away from Medicaid, and by the time I get there, you’ll need to bring a grandparent along as an eyewitness when you sign up, in order to be eligible for benefits.

      Reply
    6. Jeremy Grimm

      Taking your comment in what I understand as was your intent — I must strongly disagree with your notion that a jobs requirement for Medicaid could be used as means to introduce a jobs Guarantee.

      We already have programs in place to offer a jobs Guarantee to the poor and rebellious. Pick a petty crime of your choice — sell single cigarettes — rob a bank with a penciled note and no weapons — sell a little marijuana — and the prisons offer all sorts of job Guarantees — with ‘medical’ care included in the package. With a little imagination those who rule could provide Workhouses to offer job Guarantees — they are about the only thing missing from a perfect Dickens Christmas. And although it doesn’t necessarily help the disabled there is always the US Army and other services. We could start another war or two and create all sorts of jobs for the poor. Come to think of it — maybe the Army could come up with a program to employ paraplegics as drone pilots to attack wedding parties in Afghanistan.

      Don’t get me wrong — I think a jobs Guarantee is a good idea. I don’t think a work requirement for Medicaid would provude an auspicious beginning for its implementation.

      Reply
    7. Elizabeth Burton

      As I noted above, how is this any different from what Slick Willy did with “welfare reform”? Short answer: it isn’t.

      And please, people, stop yanking your personal example of the severely disabled who will be forced to work. You know it’s not going to happen, and it’s offensive to those of us who are poor and disabled and getting really tired of being hauled out of the closet to justify some rant about those nasty Republicans. They ARE nasty, but they had a good example to follow, didn’t they.

      What gets lost in all this rhetoric is that there is no better way than this to kick people off disability, the underlying Prime Criterion for which is “the ability to perform any meaningful work.” Note that “meaningful work” is pretty much whatever the person doing the screening decides it is, and has no relationship to whether the work available is within the person’s capabilities. By demanding people who are receiving both disability and Medicaid “work” for it, these rules would literally place them in jeopardy of losing their income.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Your comment regarding “the severely disabled who will be forced to work” bothers me — but not for the reasons you might think. Most work is NOT “meaningful work” in any sense of common usage of the English language. I should be gentle on someone who — I believe — essentially agrees with me — but I am a very ornery character — my apologies.

        NO ONE should be compelled to work at a job that is not meaningful — whether severely disabled or young white, male, able-bodied, healthy, and intelligent. We are not a poor country and the world is not poor in the things people need. There really is enough for all … for now … there are too many of us … but time takes care of all problems left to its own devices.

        As for “literally place them in jeopardy of losing their income” — I would restate that — it literally places them in jeopardy of losing their … lives. As far as … “has no relationship to whether the work available is within the person’s capabilities” …. What difference does that have to do with anything? Work is not good in itself.

        Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Hear, here.

        The cold isn’t so awful initially, but it just lingers on and saps your strength as your body is screaming enough already!

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnDjOE9_Bjo

        That said the weather is ideal in the 60’s & 70’s, and it’s been enjoyable adding to the nearly 40 4×4 foot wide pallets stacked 4 feet high with rounds on the all cats and no cattle ranch, future warmth from the trees that didn’t make it through the drought, their tap roots could find no more moisture. Think i’m good for firewood until around 2025, if man is still alive.

        Some disassembly is needed, and I really enjoy using a Ryobi 40 volt 14 inch battery powered chainsaw. Most trees around these parts are about a foot in diameter, so a perfect fit, with gas-like power, w/o the nuisance of using gas.

        A couple of burn piles also met their match, with 2 story infernos licking the sky, looking anxiously for something else to engulf in their 15 minutes of flame, but to no avail and an hour later, i’m shoveling in the treebris on the outskirts of the conflagration, now an orderly little pyre, 90 years of stored energy from the sun, reduced to a pile of ash, 90 minutes later.

        Reply
  11. FondaAnaconda

    Bitcoin. Two stories in RT today. One on the sad facts of crypto’s environmental footprint, with some fantasy about how this will increase investment in renewalbes https://www.rt.com/business/415574-bitcoin-electricity-consumption-argentina-renewable/. The other a little bit of a irony wherein a Bitcoin conference stops accepting Bitcoin for registration because the network is slow (50 mins to confirm) https://www.rt.com/business/415580-bitcoin-conference-not-accepting-bitcoin/.

    Reply
  12. Darius

    Started seeing wild turkeys in Michigan about 15 years ago. Now see the every time I’m there. The DNR released them in state parks in the 80s.

    Reply
  13. Tom Stone

    Is it really necessary to point out that
    Asset Forfeiture is armed robbery under colour of law?.
    ” No person shall be deprived of Life, Liberty or Property without due process of Law”
    $14 Billion a year…
    Radley Balko’s ” Rise of the Warrior Cop” is a must read, but it doesn’t cover just how much police agencies depend on asset forfeiture in their budgets ( Up to 20%) or that these funds are funneled through the DOJ.
    Just wait until Sessions figures out how much more efficient Public/ Private partnerships could be in uncooperative jurisdictions that have legalized recreational MJ!

    Reply
    1. Eureka Springs

      Is it really necessary to point out that
      Asset Forfeiture is armed robbery under colour of law?

      Yes, as often as possible. Thank you for doing so.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        …that exceeded the amount stolen in all burglaries and robberies nationwide last year.

        Q: So who’s the criminal these days?
        A: The State

        Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s worse, or as bad as, sending people back to their countries.

      Only here, there is no (or only a few) systemic or organized groups to track such tragedies all over clinics and hospitals across the countries.

      Or other tragedies such as not allowing homeless people to live inside public buildings (and call them homes), anywhere in America, but specially in regions when winter can be quite severe.

      (Would welcome more New Yorker stories on these other victims).

      Reply
  14. dcblogger

    Count me amongst those who thinks that Trump has dementia. He has a family history of it. Trump has lives a fabulously unhealthy life. His diet consists almost entirely of fat and cholesterol. His only exercise is riding around in golf carts.
    He repeats himself. He has no impulse control. He is decaying right in front of us.
    President Pence will not be better, but that is where we are going. Shame on everyone who enables this.

    Reply
    1. lyman alpha blob

      Just because the media repeats it incessantly doesn’t make it true. See: WMD in Iraq, Russian collusion, etc.

      Trump is a blowhard, always has been from what I can tell. Sure he’s under a lot of stress – all presidents are and they seem to age rapidly while in office. The question would seem to be, stress aside, is his behavior now any different than when he was shooting his mouth off in interviews, on the Apprentice, etc? I have admittedly not seen many of his interviews on Foxnews and never saw a single episode of his show, but from what I can tell he’s the same old charlatan he’s always been.

      Also, Barack Obama and other prominent Democrat party members have repeatedly praised Reagan in recent years – a man who did have dementia in office and whose presidency arguably set the US on the neoliberal course it’s taken over the last three decades – rehabilitating his legacy and brushing his dementia under the rug.

      Should they be shamed too? If not, please explain the difference.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I think America has dementia, so of course we elected a Prez in our own image.

        We remember nothing. That untidy little adventure in SE Asia called Vietnam? What happened the last time we let commercial banks become casinos? The last time a sitting president used the intelligence agencies to spy on his opponents?

        Maybe it’s a self-esteem issue, we need to convince ourselves we deserve, and are capable, of better.

        Reply
        1. UserFriendly

          I think the next 2 years of everyone speculating about Trump’s possible dementia is probably the most effective thing the press core can do to make Bernie 2020 not happen. So expect lots of it.

          Reply
      2. JTFaraday

        “Trump is a blowhard, always has been from what I can tell.”

        So, someone whose lifelong mental hygiene doesn’t help tether him to reality. You think this helps in old age?

        Reply
    2. curlydan

      If you’re old enough, compare Trump to Reagan (especially 2nd term Reagan). Now Ronnie in my view was deep into dementia, luckily he was savvy enough to know that he mainly needed to hit his mark and read his lines and don’t do anything more.

      To me, Trump seems stressed out and though out–not that it takes much to tax Trump’s typical short-term, ankle-deep thinking.

      Reply
    3. Byron the Light Bulb

      Differential diagnosis, people. Symptoms of dementia include (1) memory loss, (2) difficulty communicating, (3) inability to learn or remember new information, (4) difficulty with planning and organizing, (5) difficulty with coordination, (6) personality changes, (7) inability to reason, (8) inappropriate behavior, (9) paranoia, (10) agitation, and (11) hallucinations. Exhibiting one through ten, da. Number 11, nyet.

      If the attacks on FISA’s ex parte court order don’t pan out, his defense team, nudging the goal posts once again, could argue against his competency to stand trial. Uff-da, forget collusion, before the year is out, the fresh shorn Fozzy Bear [daca, daca, daca!] will have to answer for bribery and bank fraud.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The standard procedure, I think, it to invite him to the office for an examination, and hopefully, a correct diagnosis.

        Reply
    4. Wukchumni

      I see the reign of error more in a Anthony Fremont all grown up guise.

      Look at all the things he has taken away from us, or is in the process of doing so?
      ~~~~~~~~~~~

      “This, as you may recognize, is a map of the United States, and there’s a little town there called Peaksville. On a given morning not too long ago, the rest of the world disappeared and Peaksville was left all alone. Its inhabitants were never sure whether the world was destroyed and only Peaksville left untouched or whether the village had somehow been taken away. They were, on the other hand, sure of one thing: the cause. A monster had arrived in the village. Just by using his mind, he took away the automobiles, the electricity, the machines—because they displeased him—and he moved an entire community back into the dark ages—just by using his mind.” (Wiki)

      Reply
    5. FluffytheObeseCat

      “He is decaying right in front of us”

      Trump seems no more wit-deficient now than he was 14 months ago. The media establishment meme about ‘dementia’ seems weak given this observable fact. If they believed his standard idiocy* was a symptom of early stage dementia, it should have been covered during the campaign. They didn’t touch on it however, because they were certain he would lose, and because they did not want to draw attention to the increasing physical frailty of 69-year old Hillary Clinton.

      I’ve watched a few video interviews of Trump from ~2 decades ago. He was clearly more articulate in the early 90s than he is now, and age-related cognitive decline may be the reason why. However, his ‘fail’ has been apparent for years. It is “news” now only because the doyens of credentialed class see it as a way to damage him. They’ve geared up to inflict damage now that he has begun (however stupidly) to focus on his few genuinely populist promises.

      *(in the original Greek sense of the term)

      Reply
    6. cnchal

      . . . Trump has lives a fabulously unhealthy life. His diet consists almost entirely of fat and cholesterol. . .

      Along with protein, that’s the healthy part of his diet. The damaging part is the candies, cookies and bread. Heavy carb intake raises the insulin level in the blood which accelerates metabolic aging. It’s the Coca Cola and the buns on the burger along with fast sugars that is unhealthy.

      For some background check this out. http://www.schwarzbeinprinciple.com/pgs/dr_schw/sp_I_intro.html

      http://www.schwarzbeinprinciple.com/pgs/dr_schw/sp_II_intro.html

      However, narcissistic personality disorder explains all, for want of a better word, the insanity. The Presidency is an object.

      Here is a hint from today’s Water Cooler.

      “Trump’s disavowal of Bannon, his former campaign chief executive and White House strategist, and Bannon’s ensuing contrition, reminds fractious Republicans that this is Trump’s party now. Political leaders must be either feared or loved. Trump showed that he should be feared by his rivals” [Christopher Buskirk, WaPo].

      To the narcissist either emotional response will do, equally. What they absolutely cannot stand is to be ignored.

      He’s got us where he wants us, paying attention, and the greater the outrage the more attention he get’s. That’s winning.

      Reply
  15. allan

    Local governments won’t say what they’re offering Amazon [AP]

    State and local governments have been more than happy to play up the amenities they think make their locations the best choice for Amazon’s second headquarters. But many of them will not disclose the tax breaks or other financial incentives they are offering the online giant.

    More than 15 states and cities, including Chicago, Cleveland and Las Vegas, refused requests from The Associated Press to detail the promises they made to try to lure the company.

    Among the reasons given: Such information is a “trade secret” and disclosing it would put them at a competitive disadvantage. …

    Public records laws around the country vary, but when courting businesses, governments generally aren’t required to disclose tax breaks and other incentives during the negotiating phase.

    Open-government advocates, though, argue that Amazon is a special case because of the way it has turned the project into a public auction, the large amount of taxpayer money at stake, and the political clout the Seattle-based company could have in its new home. …

    So Jeff B. knows everything while the plebes know nothing.
    It’s almost as if the US economy has turned into a circular prison with cells arranged around a central well,
    from which prisoners could at all times be observed
    .

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Amazon, let us remember, is a “functional sovereignty,” not just another “corporation.” An “artificial intelligence” with a world-killing Prime Directive. These dealings with puny political units are not negotiations — they are rather more like tributaries bringing offerings to the Emperor. Who rules by owning our personal information and desires and ever more of our wealth and incomes. Possible to fix? I’d say not, short of some kind of Black Swan or Carrington event.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        It’s comical but I apparently blinked at some point and missed it — I was going around thinking Bezos was worth 90 billion but just discovered today that it’s gone up another 16 billion. Can you imagine that… the guy did something in just a few weeks that was “worth” 16 billion dollars?

        No, you can’t imagine that? I can’t either, actually. In fact I am sure it isn’t true that he did anything worth that kind of money, or even the 90 billion he had already gotten to. This is such BS and it’s all going to crumble at some point. Unfortunately when the tall tower falls the people underneath are the most guaranteed to get crushed.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          There’s an old elephant joke(anyone old enough to remember those) that goes, “What’s the brown stuff between elephants’ toes?” And the answer is “Slow, insufficiently agile natives.” Bezos and the rest of the elephants and “whales” are dancing a merry jig, and the best us natives can hope for is not to be reduced to the brown stuff between their toes…

          Reply
        2. cnchal

          That’s the result of stawk market math.

          What is the market worth?

          Number of shares existing X the latest price that a share got sold at.

          Of course the price of an Amazon share is high because “inwestors” like the Swiss National Bank, believe that Bezos only needs to raise the price of the crapola sold by a penny per transaction, and billions of profits will materialize.

          So yes, total BS.

          In the meantime, the warehouse labor force get’s polluted beyond hope, through gratuitously horrible working conditions, only to be thrown on the scrapheap of the existing medical system for relief, and they will be no good to any other employer after that as well, with their permanently broken bodies.

          Amazon makes a mockery of Capitalism, and every politician that want’s to shovel money at them should be frogmarched into a warehouse to spend a month working under those conditions. One day of them waddling around with Alexa screaming into their ears to move ever faster would do wonders for their education.

          Reply
  16. Wukchumni

    ‘To Swerve and Project’
    ~~~~~~~~

    LAPD takes another step toward deploying drones in controversial yearlong test Los Angeles Times

    Reply
  17. JohnnyGL

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKIhfpRflvs

    Another good Jimmy Dore Clip. The three of them openly mocking the refusal to run competent political campaigns. They’re especially squeamish about running on actual issues, of course.

    The issue of marijuana provides them with a prime example. Hugely popular issue, across the political spectrum and STILL, Dems won’t run on it. They won’t even try to FAKE it! :)

    Reply
  18. Synoia

    Paul Krugman got it wrong: Thomas Frank, Guardian

    Thomas Frank also get it wrong, with an assumtion about the Democratic Party.

    The central fact of US political economy, the source of our exceptionalism, is that lower-income whites vote for politicians who redistribute income upward and weaken the safety net because they think the welfare state is for nonwhites.

    Not at all. The assumption is that there is a party in the US which redistributes income downwards.

    Let me be more explicit. We have just come through an election in which underestimating working-class conservatism in northern states proved catastrophic for Democrats

    It appears to me working class whites have correctly estimated the support the Democratic Party provides them, by their support, or lack of support, for unions.

    The Democratic party abandoned the working class.

    What’s Thomas Frank’s position on Medicare for all, College Debt cancellation, “right to work” laws, or the Union “Card Check” mechanism?

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      I’ve heard/read enough Thomas Frank to feel confident that he knows better. He’s written volumes criticizing the Democratic Party (from the left, too).

      I think the point he’s making, somewhat awkwardly, is that it’s high time that the party actually took notice of the actual facts on the ground instead of denying them with a hand-wave.

      Reply
      1. Pat

        I think the article itself does confuse the issues involved. While it is nice that Krugman has finally noticed that only noticing laborers regardless of gender or race or state of employment on election day is not really working out for the Democratic Party and I understand Frank’s desire to applaud that it really does miss that for all the ‘cutting their own throats’ rhetoric and even the underlying belief that it is still true, there really has not been a choice that doesn’t do that on offer for quite a while. I may believe that deep down Frank gets that because of his other writings, but you wouldn’t know it from this.

        Reply
  19. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Fed Pays Banks $30 Billion on “Excess Reserves” for 2017

    From the article:

    Its $4.45-trillion of assets – including $2.45 trillion of US Treasury securities and $1.76 trillion of mortgage-backed securities that it acquired during years of QE – produce a lot of interest income.

    ~snip~

    …the Fed is shedding its income-producing assets as it unwinds QE and will make less income in 2018 than in 2017.

    Can someone more knowledgeable than me confirm that these income-producing MBS assets are the same ‘toxic assets’ that the Fed hoovered up and gave the banks 100 cents on the dollar for rather than their mark-to-market value, which was quite a bit lower than the face value that banks wished they were worth?

    If that’s the case, how do we find out the sale price of these assets when the Fed divests? I’m extremely curious to see how much Mr Market thinks these things are worth a decade later compared to what the Fed paid the banks for them.

    Reply
  20. Plenue

    >What it’s like to live in a well-governed country BBC

    “The education system is another of the country’s strengths; elementary and secondary school is mandatory, and Japanese schools rank well globally. Though the schools are highly regimented and systematic – which can lead to over-standardisation, according to Goulston – they have prioritised nutrition as a key part of education, with school lunches prepared with locally grown ingredients and paired with lessons on healthy eating and food history.”

    Except for the whole “a certain amount of students will kill themselves each year” thing.

    Reply
  21. Rates

    All this Intel brouhaha will simply mean that other countries with deep pockets can start building chips from scratch.

    Neal Stephenson got it right. Eventually the US will only excel in music, movies, microcode (software), and high-speed pizza delivery. Although movies is starting to look suspect as well. And if the Chinese actually comes up with a design that requires writing code in Chinese, even microcode might be a tall order.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      History is written by the victors.

      Music is composed for the people of the hegemon. So, music will be iffy as well. Personally, I like Guzheng and Qin. Beijing opera – I am trying to find my way through that maze.

      Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks for that…very nice, all the songs on that page.

          Qin, also called Guqin…according Confucius, a must-learn skill, and traditionally, it was believed that a person’s character could be discerned from how he/she (mostly he) played the instrument…similar to how a person’s calligraphy was interpreted.

          Reply
            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Sorry, I don’t know (by the way, is it just a man in a brown suit, or is he known as the Man in the Brown Suit).

              One player is well-known (I think). From Wikipedia, Guqin:

              In 1977, a recording of “Flowing Water” (Liu Shui, as performed by Guan Pinghu, one of the best qin players of the 20th century) was chosen to be included in the Voyager Golden Record, a gold-plated LP recording containing music from around the world, which was sent into outer space by NASA on the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft. It is the longest excerpt included on the disc. The reason to select a work played on this specific instrument is because the tonal structure of the instrument, its musical scale, is derived from fundamental physical laws related to vibration and overtones, representing the intellectual capacity of human beings on this subject. In 2003, guqin music was proclaimed as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.[6]

              Reply
              1. witters

                Thanks for the reply. I call him the Man in the Brown Suit, I very much doubt he does! I’ve listened to Flowing Water – and think it a fine way of greeting the universe.

                Reply
    2. ewmayer

      “Eventually the US will only excel in music, movies, microcode (software), and high-speed pizza delivery.”

      Neal left out financial fraud and killing machines.

      Reply
  22. Jeff N

    I found out today (by searching, not by actually being notified by IBM) that IBM’s proprietary POWER processors (for UNIX and AS/400) are susceptible to the same flaw as Intel.
    We *do* have a hardware support contract in place; one can dream that IBM will install a replacement CPU without the flaw.
    OS (unix) workaround/patch is coming 12FEB. (why so late?)

    Reply
  23. Tracie Hall

    Hee-heee, too funny on the photos today. That IS a great view Diptherio, and quite a collection of turkeys. Love Dusty and the Magic Pie Bush too!

    Reply
  24. Anon

    RE: Baby found in the mud

    I spoke to some rescuers from the California Government Office of Emergency Services about the devastation they encountered in Montecito (mud slide). They said it’s worse than the video presents. The extent of the destruction is stunning and complete. Structures have simply been crushed and crumpled to small bits; there is little evidence to video.

    Oh… that baby was apparently revived and is at the local hospital; don’t know it’s condition.

    The death toll is now 17 (four of which were children). Eight people still missing.

    Reply
  25. MichaelSF

    My wife and I were walking through the San Francisco Arboretum a couple weeks ago and were interested to see a disturbance among a large gathering of Canda geese on one of the meadows. The cause was a female wild turkey that was busy showing them that she was not going to tolerate interlopers on what she appeared to consider her territory. She would take a run through the flock, chasing several unlucky geese until they scattered, then look around and pick some more targets and charge back through the flock again. We watched this go on for 5-10 minutes and agreed with the geese that being chased by that turkey was probably not going to be much fun.

    We’ve seen turkeys in the east and north bay areas, but this was the first we’d seen in SF. We checked online and found that there have been a few reports this past year of the wild turkeys being spotted around town so I guess they are scoping out the territory.

    Reply

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