Links 1/13/18

A Foreboding Similarity in Today’s Oceans and a 94-Million-Year-Old Catastrophe The Atlantic

Deep, buried glaciers spotted on Mars Agence France Presse

Resistance to Common Germs Poses a Hurdle to New Gene Therapies Scientific American

Crypto fiat coin confusion Izabella Kaminska, FT

Blockchain or Blockheads? Bitcoin Mania Mints Believers and Skeptics NYT

Japan girl band gives voice to cryptocurrencies FT

What is open banking? What does it mean for banks, fintech startups & consumers? ComputerWorld UK

Banks urge UK government to step in to save Carillion FT

Facebook Is Deprioritizing Our Stories. Good. Vice. “I hope that I nor any other journalist will have to care for one second longer about Facebook’s news feed.”

If Facebook stops putting news in front of readers, will readers bother to go looking for it? Nieman Labs

Web Publishers May Get Hurt by Facebook’s Newsfeed Overhaul Bloomberg

Aurelius Seeks a Do-Over; Puerto Rico and the Appointments Clause Litigation Credit Slips

Spain’s Constitutional Crisis: no end in sight Cable


Chinese doctor under investigation after asking patient for more money during operation South China Morning Post. From The Department of Logical Extensions….

China’s War on Poverty Could Hurt the Poor Most Foreign Policy

India’s jobless growth haunts BJP’s 2019 poll ambitions Asia Times


Tunisian anti-austerity campaign leader says social contract is broken Midde East Eye

Syria – Erdogan (Again) Switches Sides – Delivers New Supplies For Terrorist Attacks Moon of Alabama

Iran nuclear deal: sanctions waived as Trump begins countdown to keep US in Guardian

Trump Transition

Ryan calls Trump ‘s—hole’ remarks ‘unhelpful’ and ‘unfortunate’ The Hill

Trump’s vile new low The Week

Fire, fury and the real trouble with Trump FT. On Levitsky and Ziblatt’s How Democracies Die.

Trump Exceptionalism Will Kill Every Last One Of Your Brain Cells Current Affairs. A contrasting view of Levitsky and Ziblatt.

Transcript of Donald Trump Interview With The Wall Street Journal WSJ

Trump in ‘excellent health,’ White House doctor says after exam Reuters. A physical.

What everyone gets wrong about Trump’s wall The Week

Popular H-1B visa bill getting tripped up in the Senate McClatchy

Ryan: ‘I don’t see us tackling’ entitlement reform this year The Hill

How Republicans Plan to Revive a Once-Reviled Practice The Atlantic. Earmarks.

Democrats in Disarray

How to Turn a Red State Purple (Democrats Not Required) Politico. “To the extent that the Democratic Party has helped in its own revival—and in transforming Alaska from deep red to a blue-ish purple—it was in part by getting out of the way.”

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Flying Domestic May Get Harder Thanks to Driver’s License Law Bloomberg. I thought internal passport controls were for, say, Tsarist Russia.

These are the House members who voted to extend NSA spying and reject privacy reforms ZD Net

These last two days:

Senate bill to block net neutrality repeal now has 40 co-sponsors The Hill

2016 Post Mortem

Wish I Voted for Sanders, Says Laid-Off Carrier Worker Duped by ‘Con Man’ Trump Common Dreams

Health Care

The health care industry’s bubble Axios. Important.

Smoking penalties, ER fees, premiums on the poor: How states want to shrink Medicaid WaPo

Kentucky becomes first U.S. state to impose Medicaid work provisions Reuters

Imperial Collapse Watch

Where in the World Is the U.S. Military? Everywhere US News

Why don’t more people serve? The US is launching a commission to find out Military Times

Class Warfare

Tyranny of Merit The American Conservative. From 2012, still germane.

A Pay-Raise Rant Goes Bad and Reveals Angst of American Workers Bloomberg

Website? Century-old French newspaper seeks new Linotype instead Agence France Presse

Can Oregon’s first nano-satellite, OreSat, get students interested in space? Oregon Live

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus Antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. John A

    Re Banks urge UK government to step in to save Carillion

    Classic attempt to privatise the profits, socialise the losses. The most disgusting part is that Carillion has been known to be struggling with its massive debts since last summer, the shares have dropped 80+%, but the UK gov has continued to award it juicy contracts to run government and other public services.

  2. cnchal

    Why don’t more people serve? The US is launching a commission to find out Military Times

    The kiddies are finding out that going into the military induces brain damage, as well as getting your legs and arms blown off, if you get out alive.

    1. m

      Include PTSD and poor health care services. the older soldiers from Vietnam days that are living on the edge are losing social service assistance provided at VA facilities. So much for all those magnetic ribbons & support our troops.

      1. Wukchumni

        To be fair, those that placed a yellow ribbon sticker on the rear echelon of their vehicle, did risk a potentially nasty paper cut, when affixing it to their movement.

          1. ambrit

            Oh yes! Satire is alive and well, at least as far as 2006 goes. I wonder if this group is going to be ‘suppressed’ as “fake news” now.

          1. Wukchumni

            In the aftermath of Iraq War 1 which lasted a month or so, all of the sudden trees were festooned with yellow ribbons all over the place, and it wasn’t as if we celebrated in such a fashion for Operation Urgent Fury’s easy win over Grenada, or taking out Noriega with overtones of heavy metal in Panama.

    2. Old Microbiologist

      I think there are also considerations that many of our young cannot qualify (overweight, out-of-shape, mentally unstable, or drug convictions) but a larger problem is that of self-preservation. The pay is poor, the retirement system has now been crapified to a level not consistent with the risks involved so the benefits of serving are no longer worth the risk. Add in the very obvious, even to those not interested, complete disinterest by our government in helping disabled veterans. Then we have the problems of operational tempo. The good old days where you served 365 days (1 combat tour) in theater and were out as we saw in Vietnam is long gone. I have friends on active duty who have been in combat 16 years now. That is 32 combat stripes on your sleeve which was an unheard of thing back in the day. I recall meeting really “salty” veterans back when I came in in 1971 who fought 3 years in World War II, 2 years in Korea, and 2 years in Vietnam and it was awesome. These were some really scary dudes. Now that is trivial with our wars with no end and multiple back-to-back combat tours are not even rare anymore. The last factor is what this does to your mind. We had issues with mental health before but nothing like we are going to see in the near future.

      1. Craig H.

        > I have friends on active duty who have been in combat 16 years now. That is 32 combat stripes on your sleeve which was an unheard of thing back in the day.

        Napoleonic Wars 1799 – 1815

        Google failed to supply an answer to my question if any poor French dude got served the whole plate.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          Anyone who made it as far as 1812 was more likely than not to become a frozen corpse in Russia.

          Would be a cool adventure movie though.

          1. Craig H.

            The Duelists directed by Ridley Scott based on a Chekov short story. No battles but lots of duels.

            Napoleon invaded Russia with 500 thousand men and less than 20 made it back.

      2. VietnamVet

        Before I got out in 1971, I ran into a few Lifers like a girlfriend’s Master Sergeant father who served in all three wars. They were obviously persons you didn’t mess with. I can’t imagine serving in and out of combat continuously since 2001.

        The other big difference today is that the working families who are the source of the recruits have been thrown under the bus since the draft ended. The global elite could care less about these low-lives. That is why they are obese and addicted. They have no jobs, no family, no nation.

        When I read recently that soldiers are being trained to fight in tunnels; it sent shivers down my back. The Iraq Invasion was crazy. But, a war with North Korea to take out the thousands of buried artillery pieces aimed at Seoul is frankly insane. At best, the center of the Asian world economy will be destroyed; at worst, the world.

        1. Chris

          VietnamVet, thank you Bro.

          They have no jobs, no family, no nation.

          Says it all. And, I think you are right, the next big conflict could be humankind’s last. It’s MAD, but it won’t stop some of the warmongers saying it’s winnable. That’s the scary part.

          We are as close to 1962 as is possible, right now, but without a clear thinking (and young) dude in power and prepared to question the generals and the MIC

          1. Procopius

            The term of art is “bloody nose” attack. They are trying to sell the idea that we could set off a low-yield (aka “tactical”) nuke in North Korea just to demonstrate to Kim Jong Un that we are steadfast or something, and that then we could say, “But we aren’t really at war with you, you understand,” and he would understand and not respond. I mean these are guys in the military for thirty years, who have had CBR training and highly classified briefings on nuclear weapons and are so removed from reality they can’t imagine that North Korea would respond much the same way we responded to Pearl Harbor or 9/11. If Kim failed to destroy Seoul in response his head would be on a pike in a day and someone else would be leading North Korea. Does anybody remember what the half-life of radioactive strontium-90 is?

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          I was deeply impressed by the quality of the Seoul subway system but that regard only increased after I finally connected the extensive subway system with the proximity between Seoul and artillery in North Korea.

          I think the best way to deal with North Korea would be to work with Russian, South Korea, and North Korea to connect the Trans Siberian Railroad to Seoul with branches into North Korea. As far as “a war with North Korea to take out the thousands of buried artillery pieces aimed at Seoul” … that would be insane beyond belief. The only possible winners as long as “the Asian world economy” remained somewhat intact would be China and Japan — not a good outcome for anyone.

          1. Procopius

            I’m pretty sure Japan would not be a winner. Pyongyang has made it clear that they are a target since they would be the base from which the Americans would attack. Actually, America doesn’t have nearly enough forces to invade North Korea, we would have to rely on millions of South Korean soldiers, as we did in the 1950s. Nobody seems to remember KATUSAs, the Korean soldiers who were integrated into American units because even with the draft the American forces were too small. And despite that we actually achieved our strategic goals, which we have never done since, so I always consider the Korean Police Action a success.

        3. ebbflows

          Nothing can happen unless in winter, on the other hand, I wonder what D-Day would have been like after a few decades of fortification.

    3. Jen

      We need a commission to tell us that most people who have a better option than shipping off to some desert [family blog] hole to fight an endless war that serves no purpose other than to enrich the MIC will not choose military service?

      “The effort will be spearheaded by an 11-member commission that will travel the country in 2018 and 2019 “to ignite a national conversation around service and develop recommendations that will encourage and inspire all Americans, particularly young people, to serve. Ultimately, the goal is for every American to be inspired and eager to serve,” the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service said in a press release Friday. ”

      These people have lost their minds. On the other hand, it kind of explains this:

      1. cnchal

        These people have lost their minds.

        Brain damage in the military runs deep.

        The peasants have also lost their minds electing former Navy Seals into office.

        Callous killers go to Washington or state governorships, and ever since I read an article about the war crimes committed by them, the definition of “canoe” has been forever altered.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Plenty of people want to serve. They just don’t want to be in the military.

          I think we should have a Green Force and a Climate Corps. And I will bet that they would have a long waiting list.

          1. cnchal

            I agree. What are the options today? Get abused in the military or at an Amazon warehouse. Pick your poison.

        2. Hamford

          “The peasants have also lost their minds electing former Navy Seals into office.”

          Well the seals must be naturals at public relations and are great at writing books, they can’t do their job without standing on their soapbox and telling everybody about it – look at now discraced Missouri Gov. Greitens and his many books.

          Sec.of Interior Zinke another notable example of flexible morals- he used to be for federal lands and believed in climate change, now he guts federal monuments and pushes offshore drilling.

      2. jrs

        good parents raise their kids NOT to join the military!!! Of course the kids might be stubborn and do it anyway, but parents can only do their best to try to prevent it, from an early age kids can be taught what war and U.S. military really are.

        1. neo-realist

          Middle, upper middle, and wealthy parents believe it is beneath them and consider their kids to be too valuable to serve in or draft into the military, particularly the 40 to 60 something parents of today.

          The middle and lower middle from the past were much more willing to have their kids serve: job training, college aid, and making men out of them. As a teen 40 plus years ago, most of what I heard from my father was “When are you going to get a haircut?” and “when are you joining the army?”; and we were just barely out of Vietnam!

          1. Jen

            My dad encouraged me to look at the army as a career option, and I actually talked to a recruiter around the time I was graduating from high school. The major deterrent, was, as a classmate put it, that I didn’t want to get my a$$ blown off. And I had options.

            Long history of career military service in my family. Mine is the first generation since the Revolutionary war where no one signed up. My uncle is a West Point grad who did two tours in Vietnam. He wouldn’t consider the same for his two sons.

    4. Wukchumni

      Perhaps the only ones that really cared about being in the military were the Johnny Got His Gun types, whose great-grandfather stormed the Normandy landing beaches on D-Day+9, or his grandfather who fragged that good for nothing 2nd looey fresh from West Point in Hue, or his dad that participated in the turkey shoot that was the Highway of Death, between Kuwait & Iraq?

      We quite simply have run out of potential generational guerraiars…

    5. Katniss Everdeen

      “One idea tossed out last summer to increase the number of volunteers was to bring back the draft.”

      Wait, what????

      1. cnchal

        The next line is a complete insult to those volunteers about to be brain damaged.

        The overall quality of troops would grow . . .

        The implication is that the ones doing the volunteering today are low quality recruits.

        . . . but costs would also increase.

        Even costlier is the loss the rest of society faces as these people will be missed.

        Yes, equating volunteers into the military with draftees is an indication of how badly brain damaged the military mind is.

        That image of the fresh faced recruits, looking all healthy and ready to go, into military hell is disturbing on so many levels. These young people will squander their lives on killing other humans. They know not what they do, and what they are getting into. Yet propaganda and lack of real opportunity sluices a large number of people into this insanity.

        Globalization is a disaster, no matter where one cares to look.

        1. Lemmy Caution

          “That image of the fresh faced recruits, looking all healthy and ready to go, into military hell is disturbing on so many levels. These young people will squander their lives on killing other humans. They know not what they do, and what they are getting into. Yet propaganda and lack of real opportunity sluices a large number of people into this insanity.”

          Would you like to know more?

              1. cnchal

                Hollywood is one perversion after another. I never watch that garbage so thanks for enlightening me.

                I was checking out the comments at that article and most are of the “what do you think we are stupid to go in the military and get our asses shot off” meme. Perfuming the stench of death that is the military isn’t working anymore.

                1. Alex V

                  Starship Troopers is actually quite subtle but biting satire. Worth watching for that. Made by Paul Verhoeven, who also made Robocop. Also satire. Many miss that about both movies.

                  1. WheresOurTeddy

                    Who knew Robocop was an optimistic depiction of future Detroit?

                    Starship Troopers is gold.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          Doublethink, the ability to hold conflicting ideas in one’s head and genuinely believe they do not conflict, is a very important skill in a late-stage oligarchical empire. In the military, one might say it is absolutely necessary.

          1. Procopius

            As a retired lifer, I can assure you that you don’t really have to “genuinely believe” that they don’t conflict.

      2. Jen

        Someone did the math and figured out we don’t have the personnel to invade North Korea whilst carrying on our endless wars in Syraqistan.

            1. Wukchumni

              Soldiers of Fortran cadence:

              Above the land,
              Across the sea,
              We’re everywhere,
              We need to be.
              We’re brothers of,
              A special AI kind,
              A better band,
              You’ll never find.
              Band of brothers,
              That’s what we are,
              Fighting evil,
              Near and far.

    6. WheresOurTeddy

      because it’s morally indefensible to support the oligarchical permanent war machine in any way

    7. WheresOurTeddy

      Don’t read the comments unless you like Baby Boomers advocating for a draft. Veterans and people under 40 saying “maybe 17 years of endless war has something to do with it” while the usual suspects wrap themselves in the flag.

      The disconnect is depressing.

      1. Jen

        I am 100% of a draft where the first chosen are the progeny of our political and donor class, which of course, will never happen.

    8. jrs

      and vets are actually of greater risk of homelessness than non-vets (although they may be drawing from a poorer population to start with). Exactly how many young people want to be homeless when they grow up.

      1. knowbuddhau

        Survey says, correct:

        Veterans are overrepresented among the homeless in the United States and are at greater risk than nonveterans of becoming homeless (1-10). Homelessness is associated with chronic health conditions, either causing or preceding such conditions, becoming a consequence of such conditions, or complicating the treatment and care of such conditions (11-14). Furthermore, among the 136,000 homeless veterans in 2009, 53% had a chronic health condition (15). Understanding the epidemiology of homelessness and the specific factors associated with increased risk of becoming homeless is prerequisite to both reducing homelessness and more effectively addressing the health needs of this population.

        Tell me again how great America is. Every damn pol should have this shoved in their face when they monger ever more war.

        Who says we don’t do human sacrifice anymore?

        Hope it’s true that the kids are figuring it out.

        1. ambrit

          Well, the “kids” figured it out in the ‘sixties, but it took the MSM of the time to turn against the war on television to really get the groundswell going.
          We’ve been doing ‘human sacrifice’ in support of wars since at least the days of Agamemnons’ “offering up” of his daughter Iphigenia to smooth the way for the war against Troy.
          We’re a pretty bloody minded lot, us hairless apes.

    9. Plenue

      Lots of valid points about why people aren’t joining the military, but for me it isn’t even about what it might do to me. It’s about the fact that I’m not going to murder for my government.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        “Here’s how I feel about gays in the military: Anyone dumb enough to want to be in the military should be allowed in. End of f****** story. That should be the only requirement. I don’t care how many push-ups you can do – put on a helmet, go wait in that fox hole. We’ll tell you when we need you to kill somebody. I’ve been watching all these Congressional hearings and all these military guys and all the pundits going, “The esprit de corps will be affected, and we are such a mora …” Excuse me, but aren’t you all a bunch of f****** hired killers? Shut up! You are thugs, and when we need you to go blow the f*** out of a nation of little brown people, we’ll let you know.”

        -Bill Hicks, Rant in E-Minor (1997, recorded in 1992-93).

        If the cancer hadn’t got him, an aneurysm during Bush II’s reign probably would have. RIP Bill.

    10. JB

      At its core, the U.S armed forces serve to acquire access to resources and open markets by force to the advantage of the very rich (who buy those privatized resources or gain access to those markets for pennies on the dollar) at the theoretical expense of the middle and lower classes. I say theoretical because the middle and lower classes do not pay taxes to literally fund these military activities, though everyone is fed the narrative that this is the case. So, it’s not hard to see why this arrangement is an awful situation for people joining the military.

  3. Old Microbiologist

    “Where in the World Is the U.S. Military? Everywhere” is a bit misleading and doesn’t include everything. For example we live in Hungary and there is a “NATO” base here at Papa which only has US military and US Boeing contract personnel assigned to it and it maintains 2 C-17 Aircraft used specifically for Special Ops and “secret”missions into Africa and the Middle East. There are 3 military bases in Kosovo and 3 in Romania. There is no mention of US bases in Georgia either but we have a major Medical Research Institute there studying biowarfare agents and former Soviet Union bioweapons among other public health concerns.

    1. sd

      How would the good people of Kentucky, Oklahoma or any of the other 50 states feel about a German or Korean military base in their neighborhood?

      There’s an unhealthy fetish of military adventurism by too many of our leaders in Washington which is perverse. It’s like the Marquis de Sade has been put in charge.

      With the constant onslaught of devastating natural disasters – storms, fires, landslides, floods – it’s way past time to bring the troops home.

        1. ambrit

          Similarly, considering the results so far, it’s more like Baron Munchausen is in charge, ably assisted by his friend Sir John Mandeville.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            I have had (unwanted)visions(circa: 2003-2008) of a Richard Perle or whatever in his well appointed study, reading Thucydides in his tighty whiteys, huffing and puffing the closer he gets to the attack on Syracuse, but never actually reaching it, instead fainting, spent, into his windsor wingback. Such creatures never finish such books and never learn(or maybe they ignore) of the inevitable approach of Nemesis, whom always stalks Hubris.
            Of course, they have no “skin in the game”*, and are merely theorists.
            I don’t know what rock Perle is currently under, nor Wolfie…nor Rummy for that matter.
            But Max Boot seems to still be on everyone’s rolodex.
            so is Kissenger.
            It’s funny to hear all our “betters” continue to squawk about “meritocracy” and “experience” in light of these considerations.
            (* I use this trope advisedly, since I’ve been reviewing goptea-speak about welfare and medicaid and such)

            1. ambrit

              Yep. They sure as H— aren’t reading “Dispatches” or “The Thin Red Line.” Much less watching “Paths of Glory” or “The Battle of Algiers.”

              1. Amfortas the Hippie

                aye. I thought Thin Red Line was an excellent antiwar war film. but i can see how the less cerebral could just dig the gore and explosions and come away unchanged.
                Der Untergang is my all time fave WW2 film( )
                (the dude who played Adolf had to enter long term therapy)
                Regardless, this arm chair warrior nonsense is all that’s really needed to bury all the Straussian “We deserve to lead” silliness in the sand somewhere.
                I read many of the same books Max Boot does, but I think about the humans involved,lol.
                He, and his ilk, apparently do not.
                “forward he cried, from the rear, and the front ranks died…”
                we either need better “elites” or we need to do away with the very concept of “elites”.
                Randomocracy sounds better and better.

                1. neo-realist

                  Bruno Ganz entered therapy???? He was absolutely Academy Award brilliant in the role. I recall reading an interview many years ago where in talking about the role, he said it in so many words that he had to steel himself to cross a huge divide to play the character. I guess playing one of the most evil people who ever lived had to take some sort of a toll.

              2. The Rev Kev

                All good choices. I would add the TV series the “The Day After” which took the wind out of a lot of people’s sails when it came out back in ’83.

  4. allan

    It’s only fitting that the land of elephants should have its own elephant curve:

    India has a hole where its middle class should be [Economist]

    … Worse, the chances of India developing a middle class to match the Middle Kingdom’s are being throttled by growing inequality. The top 1% of earners pocketed nearly a third of all the extra income generated by economic growth between 1980 and 2014, according to new research from economists including Thomas Piketty. The well-off are ten times richer now than in 1980; those at the median have not even doubled their income. India has done a good job at getting those earning below $2 a day (at purchasing-power parity) to $3, but it has not matched other countries’ records in getting those on $3 a day to earning $5, those at $5 a day to $10, and so on. Middle earners in countries at India’s stage of development usually take more of the gains from growth. Eight in ten Indians cite inequality as a big problem, on a par with corruption. …

    Globalization – the lie that keeps on giving.

    1. edmondo

      But wait till 2019 – they will rape, pillage and ruin.

      And the hapless Dems still won’t be able to figure out how to win.

        1. Wukchumni

          Didn’t Ryan claim also to have climbed 40 of the highest peaks in the Colorado Rockies, as well?

          Probably as realistic as his faux marathon times…

  5. The Rev Kev

    Iran nuclear deal: sanctions waived as Trump begins countdown to keep US in

    Ah, I see that Trump and the Senate are trying to introduce a new principle into international relations i.e. any treaty or agreement that a US President signs is only of value for the term of that President. The next president will then be able to terminate that treaty or agreement and demand a new one to satisfy any internal US political expediencies at the time. So at best an American agreement would be worth about only four years. This attempt will only serve to further isolate the US on the world stage as is happening already.
    Those demands do not seem to be US demands too but more those that Saudi Arabia & Israel would want. Trump demands that Iran’s missiles be included in a new treaty but it is those same missiles that guarantee that Iran will not be attacked by either of those countries. Trump also demands ending nuclear technology forever in Iran. Probably the following year there would be further demands which would restrict Iran to who it supports and how its internal policing is done – the possibilities are endless. Other countries must also be thinking that if it happens to Iran, then who next? “First they came fro Iran, and I was silent…”.
    There were other demands that Trump made but have been unable to find them but I think that one provisional was that the whole treaty could be terminated by the US alone and would not need the say so of the other countries involved but cannot confirm this.

  6. Wukchumni

    Website? Century-old French newspaper seeks new Linotype instead Agence France Presse

    I found my old IBM Selectric typewriter the other day hidden away in the garage, it hadn’t been touched in close to 2 decades, so I was a bit trepidatious in turning it on, but it was as if it hasn’t missed a beat, and the familiar continuous low whine was like comfort food to my ears.

  7. timbers

    Imperial Collapse Watch

    Where in the World Is the U.S. Military? Everywhere US News

    Why don’t more people serve? The US is launching a commission to find out Military Times

    This week, yet another co-worker who is pushing the idea Trump has a mental problem, told me it’s illegal to talk to Russians, Russians are spies including the ambassador Flynn talked to, Flynn was committing treason because he was talking to a spy. Flynn was also guilty of undermining a sitting President’s policy which is also illegal because it violates the Maginsky or some such act. But it’s ok to do it with Israel.

    She did not accept such observations that “diplomacy is legal”, “talking to Russians is legal”, “if Russian is our enemy as you say then it is therefore ESSENTIAL we talk to them as much as we can to avoid destroying each other”, “the sanctions imposed on Russia are possiblibly illegal under WTO rules.”

    Noting these things made me a Putin lover. Charges of tax evasion, lying to the FBI and money laundering are exactly the same thing as Trump illegally conspiring with Russia to destroy American democracy by meddling in the election, but Obama and Hillary did no such thing when they used Russians to get dirt on Trump and used the report to get a FISA warrant to spy on Trump because “they weren’t spying on Trump they we spying on Russian spies.”

    Guess we should send the ambassadors home because it’s illegal to talk to them anyways.

    1. Montanamaven

      I pointed out to a similar friend that Plan A was to impeach Trump because of “Russia, Russia, Russia”. When that didn’t work Plan B was to impeach Trump because he is “Crazy and/or senile”. That doesn’t seem to be working so Plan C is to stick fingers in ears and chant “Oprah, Oprah, Oprah”. Your friend sounds more cultish though than mine.

        1. ambrit

          I find it curious that there are no “major” American Orientals in the betting line up for national office. Some forms of prejudice die hard I guess.

  8. Wukchumni

    Passenger Mike Gregory, 35, said he was covered in dozens of itchy bites after taking a £4,000 (NZD $7,567) flight from London to Cape Town to spend the New Year with his family, reports Daily Mail.

    His ordeal follows a similar case where a Canadian family was left covered in bedbug bites after flying BA in September.

    A couple of motels in town here have ongoing problems with bedbugs, and i’m not sure if there is anything more damning in terms of critique, when folks post photos of their bodies covered in welts on Trip Advisor complete with 1 star ratings only because they couldn’t give 0.

    I can’t remember ever hearing of this being an issue ever until recently, more crapification, but of the multi legged kind.

    1. clinical wasteman

      Don’t think I’ve seen/heard the expression “itchy bites” since leaving Aotearoa/NZ permanently in 1994. Effect similar to that of IBM Selectric sound as you describe it above.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina


      It’s because we banned some powerful pesticide, don’t remember which, toward the end of the 20th century. Now it’s catching up with us. Expect a LOT more as they become a regular feature of life (“good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite”) as they were in the good old days.

      When I relocated from Chicago in Sept 2016, someone helping me pack up brought them in (stayed overnight in the spare bedroom).

      It was a NIGHTMARE getting rid of them and I was working on a deadline since I planned to rent my place out while I was gone. I think I had minor PTSD symptoms for a long while after (hypervigilance about small specks, difficulty sleeping) even tho their bites didn’t hurt me.

      I was paranoid about spreading them (thank God I discovered them early enough that the infestation was mild and confined to one room) and actually had to sleep for weeks (all based on life cycles) in the very room where they were cuz it is human hosts that bring them out so you know if they are still there. Otherwise they can go into hiding and survive without a blood meal for a full year.

      I lost books, clothes, linens, even furniture. Pro treatment was about $1500 plus I spent another $2000 cuz my incoming tenants (even tho at walk-through a pro of their choice found nothing) without consulting me opted to have their movers put stuff in storage for a month and live with family until a sniffer dog could verify the place was clean. So I ended up splitting that cost (basically forgave rent even tho they had already taken possession) too.

      But my efforts paid off and they were eradicated and I didn’t take them with when I moved either. One of the worst experiences of my life.

  9. Alex Morfesis

    H1-B and fake india tech pHd’s…one of the more amusing aspects of this hate american workers program from the valley of the silly con (artists) is the notion these india clowns flashing a 4.0 grade average with their claims to $uperior (family family blog blog) capacity and knowledge from the “esteemed” universities of india are brilliant and important…

    and american hr departments go along with this sham and scam with a wink and a nod…

    The 4.0 from india “actual” score if converted to american style gradung would require a student to be left back, assigned to a special needs class and tagged as mentally deficient and incapable…

    Drum roll please…

    In india, if you get 65 percent of your answers wrong…meaning you got a 35, you are “awarded” that 4.0 pHd that American hr departments know would not get those indian “geniuses” out of kindergarten in america…

    But they speak English with such an interesting accent…and as the saying usually attributed to groucho suggests…once you can fake sincerity with conviction…

    Minor detail…fakeandshake

    1. Octopii

      The Indian engineers I knew as my graduate TAs in the late 90s were all cream of the crop, like top two percent of their class, from IIT. They were smart as ** and knew their stuff. I think they were mainly exasperated with how idiotic we American undergrads were. My Indian profs were more uneven but some were fantastic. It was twenty years ago but India can certainly turn out top tier tech grads.

      1. alex morfesis

        I stand corrected, your “acclaimed” IIT of india does not give pHd’s for a 4.0 (40%)…one requires a 4.10 to get that cheepskin for the wall…for your reading pleasure…

        you might have caught someone who might have been capable or even superior…however, the point was no one in india is allowed to fail…once you start then you will have that piece of paper on the wall “no matter what” to show what an “advanced” country india is…

        from kindergarten to pHd…no useful knowledge required…open book or no book and no test…just maybe a small contribution to the retirement fund of the lecturer/adjunct…

        not to suggest there are not some solid minds in india…although…what operating system has come out of the great IIT that the world now uses exactly ???

        the H1-B program is a joke…

        fake-istanis uber america

      2. hunkerdown

        They can also turn out top tier Brahmins who think coding is for those who don’t have their status.

        I worked with a number of them in Internet Boom 1.0. I was pretty unimpressed. Maybe real engineering is different than comp sci.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Do they have ‘accelerated Ph.D.’ programms (say, together with a 2-week, all-inclusive Passage-to-India vacation package for out-of-work Americans?

    3. Pavel

      I’ve been following the H1B saga with interest as I used to work in Silicon Valley and one of my previous employers (who shall remain nameless :) is involved in the recent controversies. Via Quartz I just read the following:

      Last year, Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order suggested that H-1Bs should be more difficult to get. Congress and the Trump administration have been mulling ways to limit the visa’s availability to Indian workers. But obtaining an H-1B visa has already quietly become more cumbersome since Donald Trump became president, not through any change in the law, but through bureaucracy.

      One indicator of that is a spike in “requests for evidence,” which are notices the US Citizen and Immigration Services department sends to H-1B applicants requesting more information. Such requests, known as RFEs, are a routine part of the visa process. Their purpose is to ensure that the agency (USCIS) only grants visas to people who meet the criteria. But lawyers who represent H-1B applicants say they are now getting unwarranted requests, and in bigger numbers, than in the past.

      The data back their claims, at least in terms of volume. From last January to November, the office issued around 40% more RFEs than in all of 2016, and 65% more than in all of 2015, USCIS data shows.

      Quartz: Trump is quietly swamping visa applicants in extra paperwork

      This bears out what another IT friend just told me over the holidays: his firm has a lot of H1B workers (Ukraine and India) and all of a sudden he is having a horrific time getting visas approved or renewed.

      As for the quality of Indian programmers — this varies of course but I have heard from reliable (Indian) sources that there is a lot of “degree fraud” there. Having said that there is a lot of grade inflation in the US universities, so maybe it all comes out in the wash.

  10. Carolinian

    Re Linotype–I’ve seen a documentary where a guy finds these old Rube Goldberg contraptions in junk yards and fixes them up. Given the complexity of hot lead typesetting it’s hard for this non-Luddite to see the nostalgia. But they do exhibit the lengths human mechanical ingenuity was willing to go to in the age preceding the transistor.

  11. allan

    Kentucky is even worse than the Reuters story says:

    Kentucky to now require LITERACY TESTS for “certain populations” to receive medical care
    [ACA Signups]

    … There’s a “literacy” provision. If you don’t work enough hours and lose coverage, you can get to see a doctor again if you can pass a state literacy course about health or money.

    [excerpt of letter from HHS to Kentucky] To remain eligible for coverage, non-exempt beneficiaries must complete 80 hours per month of community engagement activities, such as employment, education, job skills training, and community service. Beneficiaries will have their eligibility suspended for failure to demonstrate compliance with the community engagement requirement and will be able to reactivate their eligibility on the first day of the month after they complete 80 hours of community engagement in a 30-day period or a state-approved health literacy or financial literacy course. Beneficiaries who are in an eligibility suspension for failure to meet the requirement on their redetermination date will have their enrollment terminated and will be required to submit a new application. Kentucky will provide good cause exemptions in certain circumstances for beneficiaries who cannot meet requirements.

    Gee, I wonder if it’ll look something like this? [image of Jim Crow-era voting literacy test] …

    I wonder what the financial literacy test will say about unions.
    Of course, the lucky duckies could opt for 80 hours on the county jail chain gang “community engagement”.

    1. Daryl

      They can’t legally put ridiculous requirements on voting because of the whole “poll tax” thing, so I guess killing them indirectly is the next best thing.

  12. fresno dan

    A little anecdote from the HICAP/medicare front line. Some of you may know that I volunteer to help seniors with their medicare paperwork.
    So Friday this rather dapper 77 year old gentleman comes in with an appointment for billing problems. This is typically something that just has two facets:
    1. Explain to beneficiary what their MSN (medicare summary notice which is also referred to in the world of insurance jargon as “explanation of benefits”) is*, and that they need it. It is easy enough to get if they lost it or never got it to start the process of resolving any billing problems.
    2. explain that most times that they are either not being billed at all OR that their claim has not been DENIED but was merely REJECTED due to someone in a long string of people not completing the forms properly so that medicare was billed correctly.

    I never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that this Scandinavian (his name and my mother’s maiden name coincide) individual’s problems stemmed from the fact that he had been incarcerated – for one thing, I though being convicted of a crime did not affect one’s social security (I looked it up on the internet – On December 15, 2009, President Obama signed H.R. 4218, the “No Social Security Benefits for Prisoners Act of 2009”, which became Public Law 111-115 — News to me). Of course, not having social security affects the payments to medicare Part B and medigap policies that led to a whole slew of problems. AND this gentleman had cancer, which was treated partly while incarcerated which just made it a Gordian knot of bureaucratic problems.
    Another interesting slant is that this gentleman actually knew about Medicare law that doctors who accept “ASSIGNMENT” must accept medicare payments as their total compensation (and doctors who do not assignment can only charge 115% of the medicare rate to medicare beneficiaries).

    Long, long story short, the man’s wife paid a bill (while he was incarcerated) from a physician because she did not understand (IS IT DESIGNED THAT WAY??? why does the MSN even say “you may be charged” IF IT IS ILLEGAL TO CHARGE YOU?) about beneficiaries do not pay more than the official medicare rate.

    Anyway, apparently getting the money back is somehow only a problem because social security screwed up his benefit because although his social security benefit can be ended while in prison, the benefit for his dependents cannot – social security fixed it, and like a lot of government fixes, it didn’t take permanently. So we sent him back to social security because medicare isn’t causing the problem, its social security.
    Anyway, I don’t understand a lot of it, but it made for a very interesting Friday afternoon, totally unexpected!

    * reading a MSN is no simple task
    note the difference between “rejected” and “denied” claims

    1. pretzelattack

      my homework for today is reading a couple of dummies books on medicare and social security. i expect to be heavily confused by the end of the day.

      1. Wukchumni

        I hit up JG Wentworth again yesterday in regards to my annuity, and this time was really cagey about it being my future SS payment, and the way I described it, they seemed so interested in it, until I lowered the boom, followed shortly thereafter by an audible gasp on the other end of the line.

        1. ambrit

          Dieties Protect Us! JG Wentworth! The spawn of Mammon!
          Wait! Wait! On searching a bit, I find that JG Wentworth is an Over The Counter (OTC) ‘Penny Stock’! Oh my, bucket shop stock anyone?
          In this Casino, the good times roll. (We also ‘roll’ drunks for a nominal fee.)

          1. Wukchumni

            What a saga, a couple of Chapter 11 bankruptcies in the past decade, and delisted from the NYSE.

            In other words, a perfect financial fit for these times~

      2. fresno dan

        January 13, 2018 at 10:23 am

        AND not to get too much in the weeds, but what I said isn’t perfectly correct, and that is important is:
        actually knew about Medicare law that doctors who accept “ASSIGNMENT” must accept medicare payments as their total COMPENSATION

        This is exactly what Medicare says:
        Assignment means that your doctor, provider, or supplier agrees (or is required by law) to accept the Medicare-approved amount as full payment for covered services.

        But let me explain the distinction – the amount that medicare MANDATES for reimbursement IS NOT THE SAME necessarily that YOUR medicare benefits will pay – as it is possible that if someone has just Parts A & B they would have to pay a deductible (and hadn’t yet met it), or if they had a medicare advantage (HMO, PPO, etcetera) plan their would be deductibles. And it is possible with medigap plans to have deductibles for certain scenarios as well.
        Medicare does prevent doctors, hospitals, networks, etcetera from charging you any price – but it doesn’t mean you won’t have out of pocket costs.

  13. fresno dan

    Friday, January 12, 2018 06:07PM
    FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — As crews make progress on construction for Amazon’s new fulfillment center in Fresno the online retail giant is preparing to host a job fair.

    The massive facility is being built near Central and Orange.

    Amazon is expected to hire hundreds of people in various departments.

    A three-day job fair next week will allow applicants to meet with representatives helping with the hiring process.
    I’m thinking of going – can it be any worse than filling out medicare paperwork ;)
    Actually, I’m thinking of going because I don’t have anything else to do on Tuesdays, but more akin to Orwell’s reporting – Down and Out in Paris, London ….and now FRESNO
    AND there is a beer garden at Inyo and Fulton downtown…..but it doesn’t open till 4pm :(
    have to make sure I don’t go to apply for my Amazon job too early…..or not at all….beer…priorities….life is short

    1. ambrit

      Do keep us posted. I, for one, an interested to know if Amazon is as predatory and exploitative as we’ve been lead to expect.

      “Fulfillment centre.” An exercise in Newspeak if I ever saw one.
      Orwell would have stood ‘Fresno’ on its’ head and called it ‘On-serf.’
      Plus, if I’ve read properly, working at Amazon will make that short life even shorter.
      Perhaps a concession stand in the “Fulfillment Centre” parking lot? Buy your supplies from Amazon and you’ll have an oligarchically acceptable synergy going. You can play Ingsoc Pop on the sound system. I’m ready for a rousing chorus of “I Want To Marry A Lighthouse Keeper.”
      Hear, if you are ideologically sound:

      1. fresno dan

        January 13, 2018 at 11:45 am

        + squillion
        Santa: Rudolph, due to cost cutting measures, we’re re positioning your…uh, position and re prioritizing your compensation….to nothing. The elves will escort you to a wolf at your reindeer resources office. ON-serf, a Fresno reindeer, although not much used to ice or snow, by eliminating with one ten billionth of a second by dispensing with the need to preface “Rudolph” with the word “on” will entail even more growth in our bottom line – the crushed dreams of good little boys and girls is not an actionable cost factor of AMAZXMAS, and its subsidiaries…..

        1. ambrit

          Uh, fresno dan, if SantaCo is already at the ‘Top of the World,’ then, where is higher? The extra ‘profits’ squeezed out of the matrix have to go upward, right? MarsCo? Yes, I do remember that ‘Santa Conquers the Martians’ documentary from some years ago. Expect Musk to name his Earth to Mars passenger capsules “Reindeer.” The cargo variety can be called “Sleigh.” The people being transported, of course, will be called “Toys.” What I want to know is, who will be left holding the “Sack”?
          And, speaking of ‘higher,’ will the California Amazon outlets sell the Evil Weed? Through the pharmacy is my guess. That way, the Medical Industrial Financial Complex gets a cut.
          Oh, the places we’ll go…

    1. fresno dan

      January 13, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer, who has previously said Jewish children “deserve to die”, comes from a “large, mixed race family” and is of Jewish descent and Native American heritage, his mother Alyse told Newsweek.
      Judging by the picture, I’m thinking he’s part gay too….not that there is anything wrong with that*
      * I don’t wanna brag, but my gay friends admit my gadar is exquisite

      1. Lee

        I have reverse gadar. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been attracted to women whom I subsequently found out were gay. Perhaps I’m a lesbian trapped inside of a man’s body? Am i being politically incorrect? I never know for sure these days.

        1. fresno dan

          January 13, 2018 at 4:25 pm

          desperately compelling self not to put….words….like “bite”….”part”……in a sentence…
          Actually, I don’t know if its the lower half or the upper half and that it much matters…..on the other hand….I could see where if it was the left or right side could cause some…..inconsonance.

          1. ambrit

            Hmmm… Bringing up ‘left’ and ‘right’ suggests the possibility of bi-partizanship. That pendulum could swing either way, and probably does.
            Yes. Upper or lower does matter, if we’re dealing with “country matters,” or the dreaded “Materias Medicas Meritocracias.”
            At base, and we’re all ‘base’ to some degree, this is fundamental.
            Some of us grow out of the phase of life where we play with our bodily excretia. Others do not, and go on to become Furher Fetishists, Clinton Cultists, Obama Onanists, and the like.
            Sex and Death, the eternal verities.

  14. Wukchumni

    Gov. Jerry Brown this week predicted that his 2012 pension law will survive union challenges in court and blow a hole in the so-called “California rule” that has restricted changes to public employee retirement plans for half a century.

    “When the next recession comes around, the governor will have the option of considering pension cutbacks for the first time in a long time,” Brown said at a news conference this week where he unveiled his 2018-19 budget plan.

    No problemo, CalPERS is cranking up the time machine back to the early 80’s, in order to accrue 19% annual return on their holdings.

    1. ambrit

      Notice that no one ‘official’ floats even the tiniest trial balloon for a “progressive” cutting of pensions? I’ve always thought that an upper limit on public pensions was a real way to limit pension fund “shortfalls.” It’s the old classic; a rich person will hardly notice a ten percent cut in their pension, while a poor one will starve as a result.
      Brown has turned out to be such a disappointment. But then, he did come out of a powerful political family to begin with. The Lure started early with that one.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        The U.C. system was a lot nicer under Brown the elder and so was the California public school system.

        1. Wukchumni

          I blame the lottery.

          When it started in California I think we were rated #2 or 3 in terms of things scholastic K-12 among the states, and the profits from the endeavor were to fund our schools, and now we’re ranked #28.

          Lucky numbers: 4. 17, 22, 31, 37, 48

      2. Adam

        Limiting pensions to $100,000 a year would at least erase the discrepency between the inflated gain goal and the realistic rate of return (it would cut the overall CalPERS burden by about 5% based on my calculations).

        1. ambrit

          Thank you for producing some solid numbers to buttress the contention.
          Now imagine if the $100,000 USD cap on pensions were applied to DoD pensions!

        2. Yves Smith

          This is Making Shit Up and a flagrant violation of our Site Policies.

          CalPERS runs 2200 pension plans. Its role of chief actuary is widely recognized as the second most difficult in the US, the first being the chief actuary of the Social Security system.

          I doubt you have expertise make the estimate you tossed out, since an actuary would be loath to do so in the absence of having the underlying data. You have absolutely no idea of the terms of these plans, let alone the age distribution of the participants and how many have or might get super high pensions. The type of BS you are promoting is typical of pension fund haters who have no problem with CEOs getting golden parachutes and deferred comp even when they’ve been disasters.

  15. Wukchumni

    Can Oregon’s first nano-satellite, OreSat, get students interested in space? Oregon Live

    Why did Texans always make for the best astronauts?

    …they took up space in school

  16. Kim Kaufman

    Waaaay back to during the campaign, Trump was crazy tweeting about something that sucked all the air out of the media for a few days. When that settled down I read that during that time what else was going on was that the $25m judgment against Trump University was handed down – to the guy that never loses and never settles. So while there’s been a sh*tstorm about sh*holes, this happened:

    Remember the whistle blower story that involved Mike Flynn and Alex Copson textin’ on Inauguration Day? It involved a bunch of people gettin’ rich over a huge deal involving nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia.

    1. Freda Miller

      The Saudi nuclear deal is a big, buried story. I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere else. I think you are on to something.

  17. fresno dan

    I am vaguely interested in this, because I was shocked, shocked that the California DMV was so, so poorly run. I had come back to California from my 30 year sojourn in Maryland, and surprisingly, Maryland DMV in the later years that I had lived there, the Maryland DMV was fast, effective, and efficient. I had just assumed all those DMV experiences in the ’70s, 80’s, and 90’s had been universally rectified at ALL the nation’s DMVs. OH NO.

    It just seemed that there was an unwillingness to spend money on having FUNCTIONING equipment… as well as a number of other things. My automated driving rules of the road test machine buttons functioned….rather arbitrary and capriciously. My complaint was met with, “that’s what we got, and its only what we got.” Fortunately, my wrongly recorded correct answers were compensated for by my wrongly recorded incorrect answers. To this day, I still don’t know if you accidentally drive by a winery, how far back after you’ve skidded to a stop your permitted to go back in reverse to the winery’s entrance, and the compensating factors of different varietals…..

    1. Elizabeth

      Fresno Dan – I had to renew my CA driver’s license last fall. When I went to take the written test on the computer, it wouldn’t work. A DMV guy came over and tried to get it working, but couldn’t. I ended up taking the written test with a pencil and paper. The DMV offices in SF are always packed, and making an appointment isn’t really helpful – one still has to wait in a long line.

    2. rd

      In NYS, we have found the solution is to go in the opposite direction for a DMV than you would normally go. The closest DMV is in the urban area. Long lines, bad service etc.

      So we go out to a rural one where the lines are usually only a couple of people in front of you which results in much less stressed/grumpy civil servants. The equipment gets less use, so longer lifespan for it.

    3. kareninca

      I brought my 93 y.o. father-in-law to a CA DMV several months ago to get him a CA ID. I assumed that his PA driver’s license – still valid – would be sufficient. Our last state’s driver’s license was enough when my husband and I moved here 21 years ago. But nope – the surveillance state now wants moar. You have to have a copy of your birth certificate; I don’t know if he ever had one. But we did have with us an embossed copy of his discharge papers from WWII.

      The woman at the front desk stared at them blankly; I didn’t get the impression that she was familiar with the event. But she did directly send them to the manager of the location, whom we got to see fairly quickly. She had heard of WWII. We showed her proof that he does live here now (bank statement), and she overrode their system in order to take his discharge papers. Boy were we relieved; he was born in some patch in the anthracite coal region; how would we ever get a birth certificate? It would have taken well past his life expectancy, despite his good condition. He kept mumbling “honorably discharged disabled veteran” (which he is), which presumably helped.

      So overall I was impressed. There were huge lines, but the people working there were working really hard. They were making do impressively with crappy resources.

  18. D

    To add to the Facebook links, here’s a good one written by a San Jose State University Professor of Anthropology yesterday, emphasis mine:

    01/12/18 by Roberto J. González Starting Them Young: Is Facebook Hooking Children on Social Media?


    Last month, just three weeks before Christmas, Facebook issued a press release declaring the arrival of “Messenger Kids.” According to the company, the app was developed in consultation with parents and “parenting experts” to keep it safe for kids. Facebook has also promised to limit the collection of data on children, and to not use the app for advertising.

    Such promises are disingenuous. It is clear that “Messenger Kids” is part of a long-term strategy designed to get children hooked on its social networking habits (“likes,” text messaging, filter bubbling) as early as possible. In other words, to get kids’ dopamine levels surging in the formative years–so that frequent dopamine bursts become a normal part of life. Once that happens, it will be even easier for future social media companies (which are fundamentally advertising firms) to feed billions of behavioral addicts customized propaganda.

    Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued recommendations outlining limits on screen time for children, noting that “problems begin when media use displaces physical activity, hands-on exploration and face-to-face social interaction in the real world, which is critical to learning” (AAP 2016).

    Further down in the piece, something which has been utterly ignored by the Fourth Estate and Online Technology Writers™ for decades (most particularly, Silicon Valley’s [San Jose] Mercury News) that can’t be noted enough, is how different our Lords of Meritocracy™ consider their own children from the rest :

    Last month, Chamath Palihapitiya told CNBC that his 5- and 9-year old children get no screen time at all, even though they constantly ask for it. Bill Gates, Jonathan Ive (who designed the iPad), the late Steve Jobs, and many other well-known figures in the technology industry also placed strict limits on their children’s use of technology. They clearly understand the cognitive, psychological, and emotional fallout of the devices they helped to create. If these legends have taken drastic measures to protect their sons and daughters from the dark side of the virtual life, perhaps more of us should follow their lead.

    Beyond the immediacy of our individual and familial habits and practices looms a larger social problem: the possibility of a future in which authoritarian institutions have the tremendous capacity to mold the ideas, attitudes and behaviors of audiences captured by their own compulsions.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      But adults, like kids, need protecting too, with strict limits, for two reasons.

      1. Adults need time away from those devices for their own good.

      2. Adults need time away in order to interact with kids, during the remaining waking hours when kids are limited away, that is, off those devices.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        all those devices that I’m aware of(save for the dam@ed IPad) have a way to turn them off.
        circle with a line through the top of it., whatever.
        If i want “family time” there’s always the option of accidentally unplugging the router, and then…since I am the tech guy around here(silly, really, since I’m also a Luddite)…pleading ignorance. “It must be the IPP…or the weather…”
        My wife is the worst,lol.
        I have to hide her phone for datenite.

  19. UserFriendly

    Mr. Trump: I will let you know. But if I were them I would try. But the difference is I’m president; other people aren’t. And I know more about wedges than any human being that’s ever lived, but I’ll let you know. But I’ll tell you, you know, when you talk about driving a wedge, we also have a thing called trade. And South Korea—brilliantly makes—we have a trade deficit with South Korea of $31 billion a year. That’s a pretty strong bargaining chip to me.

    With that being said, President Xi has been extremely generous with what he’s said, I like him a lot. I have a great relationship with him, as you know I have a great relationship with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea.

    I have relationships with people, I think you people are surprised.

    WSJ: Just to be clear, you haven’t spoken to the North Korean leader, I mean when you say a relationship with Korea—

    Mr. Trump: I don’t want to comment on it—I don’t want to comment, I’m not saying I have or I haven’t. But I just don’t—

    WSJ: Some people would see your tweets, which are sometimes combative towards Kim Jong Un…

    Mr. Trump: Sure, you see that a lot with me and then all of a sudden somebody’s my best friend. I could give you 20 examples. You give me 30. I’m a very flexible person.

    Either Trump has talked to Kim or he doesn’t know the difference between North and South Korea. I can’t decide which is more interesting.

  20. rd

    Its the laws and their enforcement that are the key, not the “national ID” issue. Facebook means that most people’s biometrics are already available, although their fingerprints probably are not.

    We are a nation of immigrants. Any immigrant, citizen or not, has their fingerprints and photo on file. Some states require teachers, doctors, nurses, professional engineers etc. to provide photos and fingerprints.
    At the Federal Level, TSA Prechek, Nexus, Global Entry, Transportation Worker Identification Card (anybody entering a facility classified as a port) and FAA ID cards (for airports) means high-level ID (e.g. passport), photo, and fingerprints. Nexus/Global Entry also require iris scans.

    So its pretty hard these days, not to have your personal identification available publicly or in government files.

    A simple solution to not worrying about getting a Real ID divers license is to order a passport card (I think its an extra $10) when you get a passport. You can use it for ID to get on planes and to cross the US sea and land borders. You only need a passport book to go by air to another country or to go to areas outside of Canada and the Caribbean/Mexico by sea.

  21. Wukchumni

    I keep hearin’ you’re concerned about my racist quest
    But all that thought you’re givin’ me is conscience I guess
    If I was walkin’ in your shoes, I wouldn’t worry none
    While you ‘n’ your friends are worried about me I’m accruing funds

    Courting Democrats on the wall
    Getting rid of Dreamers don’t bother me at all
    Playin’ solidarity as a Don with GOP senators numbering 51
    Sendin’ tweets and watchin’ Fox ‘n Friends too
    Now don’t tell me I’ve nothin’ to do

    Last night I dreamed up tales, pretended I wasn’t lying
    As long as I can dream it’s easy to be truth defying
    So please don’t give a thought to me, I’m really doin’ fine
    You can always find me here, I’m havin’ quite a time

    Countin’ commitments on the wall
    The donkey show doesn’t put up much fight at all
    Playin’ solidarity as a Don with GOP senators numbering 51
    Sendin’ tweets and watchin’ Fox ‘n Friends too
    Now don’t tell me I’ve nothin’ to do

    It’s good to see you, I must go, I know I look a fright
    Anyway my lies are not accustomed to this light
    And my fabrications are not accustomed to defeat
    So I must go back to my room and tweet my day complete

    Countin’ votes on the wall
    Getting rid of Dreamers doesn’t bother me at all
    Playin’ solidarity as a Don with a deck of 51
    Sendin’ tweets and watchin’ Fox ‘n Friends too

    Now don’t tell me I’ve nothin’ to do
    Don’t tell me I’ve nothin’ to do

  22. Wukchumni

    It was the sort of nightmare that had only ever been real for most people’s parents or grandparents — the fear of an impending nuclear attack. “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii,” read the emergency alert that residents of the Aloha State received on Saturday morning. “Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

    The authorities quickly announced that the alert was a mistake. But it made tangible the growing fears that after decades of leaders trying to more safely control the world’s nuclear arsenals, President Trump has increased the possibility of those weapons being used.

    1. Steve H.

      The story here is the complete shutdown of video and audio. Interviews after the fact are being posted, but this reddit thread makes it clear there was a breakdown of law and order. Videos have disappeared off of twitter, and any ‘last will’ type video or audio is not showing up online.

      The first head of FEMA did his dissertation on isolating a town from outside communication. This looks like anything from today with the word ‘Hawaii’ has been excised. Isolating an entire state.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Remember how Facebook was screwing with people’s feeds and using them as guinea pigs to see what would happen to them by altering what they saw? What if (adjusts tin-foil hat) the government wanted to know what the effects would be in case the balloon really did go up if Washington pushed it too far. Hawaii would be ideal test case as it is an isolated state that is nearly 4,000 kilometers and two time zones from the mainland proper. As icing on the cake, the place is run by the Democrats. Either that or it was a monumental stuff-up.

        1. integer

          Smells funny, doesn’t it?

          I’m guessing it is another half-baked D party establishment scheme to “resist” Trump. If so, I expect it will end up backfiring. In any case, it seems to be having the desired effect:

          After a false ballistic missile threat alert was sent to cell phones in Hawaii on Saturday morning that panicked the islands and beyond, Hollywood placed the blame on one person: President Donald Trump.

          The short-lived Hawaii missile crisis was triggered after someone “pushed the wrong button” during an employee shift change, according to Gov. David Ige.

          Celebrities. Ugh.

          FWIW Hawaii was the first state to challenge Trump’s immigration ban.

      2. Wukchumni

        Some of those tales of panic are remarkable…

        “It was complete chaos here for about 20 minutes. I immediately left work and drove about 10 mins home and the roadways were crazy. Complete disregard for any traffic law whatsoever. People going 100+ in 45mph zones, running red lights, driving on the wrong side of the road – absolute chaos like nothing I’ve seen before. When I got home my family was huddled downstairs in the garage storage area (kinda underground) crying hysterically.”

        Was just talking with my wife about what we’d do if nuclear tipped ballistic missiles were headed our way shortly, and our only chance to avoid them would be 5 or 6 caves where we could sequester in Sequoia NP, each an hour to 1 1/2 hours away, so a no go. We’d just hang around the all cats and no cattle ranch and drink snappy cocktails with the neighbors, i’d suppose.

  23. D

    Re: Popular H-1B visa bill getting tripped up in the Senate

    Speaking of Visas, is anyone aware of a website which tracks the effects of all Visas (as there are far, far, far more State Department Visas than people seem to be aware of)?

    Something I’ve noticed working in Silicon Valley for decades, is that most I’ve met, who ended up here permanently, outside of H-1B Visas, clearly resonate wealthy imperialist values, brutal treatment of low wage workers ( I experienced this first hand, pre my boot strapped College Degree), and are anti-union. Thiel, Musk and Brin come to mind.

    Regarding H-1B visas, it’s a sad story all the way around. It’s a story of evilly and deliberately pitting all looking for a livable life against one another for profit. The reality in Silicon Valley is that people born and raised here (despite their skills and education) were utterly shoved under the bus for usually cheaper MALE hires from Asia [1], though I would never say that to my Indian neighbors whom I greatly appreciate, because they are so kind and seem quite attuned to how vicious Silicon Valley actually is. Don’t be born here and black, hispanic, female, and/or older than Zuckerberg, in Silicon Valley (no matter your skills) reflects itself quite clearly in the Census figures and the misery of homelessness, spreading like a plague, amongst the neighborhoods of Predatory Billionaires and Millionaires, and elsewhere, in the Golden [GDP EGG] STATE™.

    Anyway, gotta run, thanks in advance for any and all thoughtful responses.

    [1] And well connected Frat Boys from the Ivy Leagues. Wish I had of known that only Ivy League attendance and connections – despite one’s wisdom and intelligence and the countless US Colleges & Universities students paid (AND BORROWED) thousands to attend – is considered viable to make a livable wage, or be considered a Thought Leader™ with utterly no requirement of truly qualifying as such.

  24. Plenue

    >Facebook Is Deprioritizing Our Stories. Good. Vice.

    But where will all the people on Facebook get their endless stream of vapid drug documentaries now?

  25. crittermom

    Regarding the WaPo article on new Medicaid provisions:
    “The health-care law funded much of the expansion, but conservatives argue the law dramatically strained states’ budgets. They also said tighter restrictions would help the poor instead find employment.”

    Umm… I don’t see how “,,, tighter restrictions would help the poor instead find employment.”
    Force them, perhaps. But ‘help’ them find employment?

  26. D

    Continuing my above comment regarding the State Department and Doling Out Visas.

    And then, there’s the fact that no visas cover those who can walk across the border, from Mexico, and then be both despised and adored by the imperialist powers that be.

    Pre bootstrapped college, and for quite some time, I worked right alongside illegal Mexicans™ (in the restaurant, nursery [AG], and thoroughbred Racing Horse industries), treated like insects while saving countless millions for predators. Also, Pre College I worked every shift imaginable with Asian women (No Peer Males on any of those shifts) at DOD based companies, on Assembly Lines, Assembling the guts (as in circuitry) of things like computers and military planes, watching born citizen (the visa holders could not dare to) women get fired for doing the right thing, and declaring the parts were unsuitable. Those Asian women had Visas, most of those visas were surely likely to have been through far wealthier relatives to whom they’ll always feel required to act beholden to, unlike their also dirt wage, illegal™ counterparts from Mexico, who could walk across the border, versus having to be legalized in order to take that ship, or ‘a plane.’

    1. JBird

      As a native of California, I have a big big bone to pick with the Acolytes of Neoliberalism, who f@@@@@ up my state and turned much of it into a dystopian theme-park. They are sucking up the dregs of what made this state what is was. Something I don’t like is the contempt many cutthroat Social Darwinians, who’ve by being more contemptible in their actions and who were often born with bigger jackboots able to do so, feel towards their fellow Californian Deplorables.

      On those illegal,™ I am a supporter of shrinking, drastically and forcefully, the number of immigrants here, but I really get angry when people, who are often here because America turned their countries into economic waste zones, are treating like vermin. Yes, low wage labor, often imported illegally, are used to drive down wages, and bust unions also, but they are human beings trying to survive like any of us are, and should be given the same respect, the treatment, as anyone else. Perhaps we should focus on those companies that hire them. Of course, those companies often have wealthy supporters to hire lawyers, and bribe politicians, while the employees have dirt.

    1. ambrit

      So, will the “Snowboarding” competition be restricted to teams from rendition sites? Just asking, since the boys and girls from the basement of the local copshop are interested in competing.

  27. ewmayer

    o “Wish I Voted for Sanders, Says Laid-Off Carrier Worker Duped by ‘Con Man’ Trump Common Dreams” — I think the laid-off Carrier worker means “wish the corrupt Dems hadn’t deprived me of the opportunity to vote for Sanders”, no?

  28. D

    On those illegal,™ I am a supporter of shrinking, drastically and forcefully, the number of immigrants here, but I really get angry when people, who are often here because America turned their countries into economic waste zones, are treating like vermin. ….

    I’m confused, are you actually stating that the US did not play a major (if not starring) role in turning Central America (i.e. from whence those illegal immigrants arrive to Illegally™ nanny, clean house, pick food, landscape™, bus restaurant tables and change hotel/motel sheets, etcetera; as they have for what, over a century?) into a war and drug waste zone, treating its citizens like vermin? How old are you ? I call your bluff, and I’m logging off.

    1. JBird

      I’m a middle aged college student.

      I have several issues here.

      One is the almost two centuries of the American government undermining, if not overthrowing any governments, and political, social, religious and economic movements even hinting at democracy or economic anything that reduced even the slightest profit of the American business interests. This has caused massive economic damage, political corruption, and suffering.

      Because the economies of many Latin American countries have been wasted to help American businesses, poor people have had to come here just to survive especially from Central America. This combined with the H-1b visa holders have created a large easily controlled, underpaid, and very abused labor pool to (often completely illegally) to destroy unions, and either replace Americans or force them to work for less. Sometimes for the very businesses that help create this cheap labor by getting the United States to destroy those “Communist” countries.


      Elites destroy countries for profit.
      Many desperately poor people.
      Elites also bring in cheap overseas temps.
      Elites use the refugees and temps to destroy Americans for profit.
      The Deplorables.
      President Trump.

      It’s not an either/or. I can want the refugees and temps gone while at the same time seeing how they were screwed by my country and how it’s America’s fault. I can also see how Americans here are being screwed by the use of these refugees, which is also America’s fault. I can not blame either the immigrants for being here nor poor Americans for their anger. I can say most strongly that dehumanizing people especially for circumstances not in their control is wrong. Especially when it is the people who have benefited from the system doing the dehumanizing.

      Once you log back in, I’d welcome your comments.

      1. integer

        IIRC, D has mentioned that he/she is using a very old computer with a browser that does not allow him/her to directly reply to comments. He/she is replying to this comment.

  29. integer

    Fusion GPS, firm behind disputed Russia dossier, retracts its claim of FBI mole in Trump camp

    Glenn Simpson, the Fusion GPS founder who sponsored the unverified anti-Trump dossier, claimed in August and again Jan. 2 that the FBI has a source inside the Trump camp who lent credence to the document.

    When a transcript of his secret August testimony was released on Tuesday, news headlines immediately latched onto the disclosure as a boon to a dossier whose core charges of Donald Trump-Russia collusion have been denied and not confirmed publicly.

    Then suddenly, as quick as the headlines went up, some one close to Fusion was waving off reporters. Mr. Simpson had “mischaracterized” the source. It was not some one on the Trump inside, but apparently an Australian diplomat.

    He was featured in a Dec. 30 New York Times story as the source who tipped off the FBI. Campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos told him over drinks that a Russian-linked professor knew of “thousands” of Hillary Clinton emails in the hands of Moscow.

    How Mr. Simpson knew of the diplomat last August was unclear. He would have known of him in January when he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in which he again told of an insider source.

    Totally unsurpising.

  30. integer

    Hillary’s 33,000 emails might not be ‘missing’ after all The New York Post

    For months now, we’ve been told that Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails were permanently erased and destroyed beyond recovery. But newly released FBI notes strongly suggest they still exist in several locations — and they could be recovered, if only someone would impanel a grand jury and seize them.

    In a May interview with FBI agents, an executive with the Denver contractor that maintained Clinton’s private server revealed that an underling didn’t bleach-clean all her subpoenaed emails, just ones he stored in a data file he used to transfer the emails from the server to Clinton’s aides, who in turn sorted them for delivery to Congress.

    Trump has tweeted a link to this article.

    Hillary Clinton: “If that f*cking bastard wins, we all hang from nooses! Lauer’s finished, and if I lose, it’s all on your heads for screwing this up.”

  31. D


    Thanks much for that explanation. I was solely confused as to what I read as the lack of inclusion in those illegal immigrants having also had their countries made into a horridly dangerous place to live. I clearly read it the wrong way.

    As to blocking immigration in order to allow those US citizens (particularly those born or having lived there for years) an affordable living wage job; the way I see it, those legal immigrants, from US Friendly Countries™ have an equal (if not more) devastating effect , from what I see in Silicon Valley. Qualifying that statement, I don’t blame legal, H-1B immigrants, I blame a treacherous, low life amoral group of Multinational Corporate bloodsuckers who rule the DC Malarial Swamp and its utterly bought, 50 Federal Congressional STATE Lamprey Tentacles (including those STATE Congresses, particularly in California, and the other five main GDP (i.e. obscenely inequality ridden) strategic vast water throughway states, NY, TX, IL, FL, and PA).

    Have a good evening, JBird, sorry for the confusion.

  32. D

    Thanks, JBird, but I should have thought a bit more on what your meaning was; as internet ‘conversations’ leave so much left out, and I’ve been aware of that for over a decade, yet still jumped the gun.™ and implicated you in something you never were involved in.

    Hugs, and good evening, stay safe.

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