Links 1/16/17

How JFK Saved MLK’s Life And So Won The Presidency Greg Palast (Chuck L)

The 11 most anti-capitalist quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. Raw Story (UserFriendly). Notice how measured they are….

Wild Whale Rushes To Save Diver From Giant Shark The Dodo (Grant). Today’s must read.

Accidental Discovery Could Save Bees From Their Greatest Threat Real Clear Science (David L)

Norwegians suffer from desperate shortage of parking, will come to America in droves TreeHugger (resilc)

How a Melting Arctic Changes Everything Bloomberg

Creative thought has a pattern of its own, brain activity scans reveal Guardian (David L)

Finnish firm detects new Intel security flaw PhysOrg (Chuck L)

AI Bot Beats Humans at Reading South China Morning Post

How Dirt Could Save Us From Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs Wired (furzy)

Smartphones have made parenting harder than ever TreeHugger (resilc)


China fake data lead to hidden economic rebound Financial Times

China is heading toward a debt crisis that will throw into question everything we think we know about it’s economy Business Insider

US, Canada host world summit on N. Korea… but Russia & China will only be briefed on results RT (Kevin W). Silly as well as petty.


Commission debates extending Brexit transition Politico

EU toughens stance for Brexit transition talks Financial Times

Britain has provided additional help to France on border security – PM May’s spokesman Reuters


Imperial Collapse Watch

The most valuable military real estate in the world Politico (resilc)

Time for America to get over its WWII nostalgia The Week (Bob K)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Researchers in Japan are showing way to decode thoughts TechXplore (Chuck L)

Trump Transition

U.S. Warned Jared Kushner on Wendi Deng Murdoch Wall Street Journal

Report: Inexperienced 24-Year-Old Helps Lead Key White House Opioid Response Daily Beast (resilc)

Tax “Reform”

21 Million Taxpayers Will Stop Taking the Charitable Deduction Under The TCJA Tax Policy Center

Health Care

Individual Mandate Now Gone, G.O.P. Targets the One for Employers New York Times (resilc)

Court battle brewing over work rules for Medicaid The Hill

Democrats in Disarray

Warren-Sanders Democrats vs Oprah: “One billionaire president in a decade is going to be plenty for us” Boing Boing

Democrats and the End(s) of Politics Counterpunch (resilc)

GOP leaders face most difficult shutdown deadline yet The Hill

Centrist Dems Launch Smear Campaign Against Young Trans Woman, All to Keep an Old Straight White Man in Power Glenn Greenwald, Intercept (Bill B)

How a congressional harassment claim led to a secret $220,000 payment Washington Post

Fake News

Mark Zuckerberg’s former mentor has spent a week attacking Facebook for becoming ‘toxic‘ Business Insider (David L). Notice the reason for the moral panic is the belief that “bad actors” used FB to hurt Hillary.

Facebook blocks sharing of WSWS anti-censorship video Defend Democracy

Chinese institute at UMass Boston is accused of promoting censorship Boston Globe (furzy)

Antidote to Fake News? 17-hour Aussie Slow-TV Train Ride Sets Viewing Records Sputnik International. How about Die große Stille instead?

Police State Watch

Can Government Officials Have You Arrested for Speaking to Them? Atlantic (resilc)

Airbus A380, Once the Future of Aviation, May Cease Production New York Times (Chuck L). Not well loved like the 747, but….

Commercial Real Estate Suffers First Down-Year since 2009 Wolf Street (EM)

Guillotine Watch

Lesotho Diamond Weighs More Than a Baseball New York Times (furzy)

Class Warfare

A shake-up at a key Pentagon agency is making employees fear they’re being replaced by artificial intelligence Foreign Policy (David L)

Citigroup bows to activist and discloses gender pay data Financial Times. If you believe the “data,” that the pay gap is only 1%, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

Former Obama administration officials are being named college presidents Inside Higher Ed. DCB:

Leocadia Zak was just announced as the incoming president of Agnes Scott College, my alma mater.

Given her CV, Zak must see students as developing countries to whom it makes sense to peddle $52K per annum tuition as “economic development.”

Robot ‘dystopia already here’: AI to sink us into ‘unemployed despair’ Daily Star (resilc)

Antidote du jour (Lawrence R):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. subgenius

    How Dirt Could Save Us From Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

    Remember when kids (like me) used to be free range and eat dirt?

    Remember when they found the immune systems of said kids were superior to the germophobic city types?

    Always a hoot when somebody remembers to rehash old ideas!

    See also age-old plant remedies as sources of modern drugs (synthesis required for patent purposes)

      1. Wukchumni

        I don’t remember eating dirt, it was all about building forts when I was a yout. I grew up in an area where they were constantly putting in new housing tracts, and we ‘borrowed’ all the materials needed to construct them. We had a tree fort, and a few other land-based forts, but our crowning glory was a 4 story model on the side of a friend’s house, whose father made sure it was anchored securely to the abode, and it had trap doors that allowed you to go from one story to the next.

        The closest I got to eating dirt, would’ve been jumping from the 2nd story of a skeletal framed house being built in a subdivision, into a 6 foot high sand pile adjacent to it. Somehow we all managed to survive childhood, ha!

        Do kids build forts now?

      2. Meher Baba Fan

        My bags of potting mix warn that inhaling the dust can be linked to Parkinsons disease. Do they say that on the bags Stateside? eating dirt or sand can be an instinctive treatment for worms . one ‘home remedy’ in Trad. Chinese Medicine refers to consuming uncooked white rice to treat worms. Pica and Mica is what the DSM-IV (Pyschiatrists Manual) call dirt or sand eating. Forget which is which.
        Eating hair is an attempt to source silica lacking in diet.

        Shout out to Manhole Geek and the commentators mentioning theft of them. The fairly excellent film Nightcrawler set in LA commences with exactly that. The protaganist , after selling the manhole cover and stolen fence wire, asks the scrap dealer for a job. He is refused. ‘ But why not, sir?’ – ‘I don’t employ thieves’
        The movie is a brilliant commentary on surviving in todays job market, self help culture, amongst other salient topics

        1. subgenius

          Chinese worm remedies usually involve bing lang (betel nut) – it stuns the little f(amily blog)ers…

          I was referring more to both the underappreciated dna transfer via diet and the antigen priming (the gut being the prime mover in targeting the immune system..)

        2. Wukchumni

          Back when the Chinese were buying scrap metal and couldn’t get enough, there was much damage done to wells on large orchards in the Central Valley, as the arbitragers made off with a wellhead worth $57, that amounted to $5-10k worth of headache for the farmer.

          You never hear about metal thefts all that much anymore…

        3. Croatoan

          Potting mix is not dirt. It contains higher levels of manganese which is linked to Parkinson’s symptoms.

          They probably do not say it in the states because “TOO MUCH REGULATION!”

          1. Wukchumni

            Fun factoid:

            Nickels* were minted with an unusual composition of 56% copper, 35% silver & 9% manganese during WW2.

            * a misnomer of a name, as the composition is 75% copper and 25% nickel.

        4. ChrisPacific

          Legionnaire’s disease is also a risk with potting mix, especially if it has been around for a while. There are a few cases of it every year here. Wearing a mask helps.

      3. Juneau

        no all of us ate the dirt voluntarily hahaha
        ref: “getting knocked down in the dirt and learning how to get back up”

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      I shout my germ sharing habits to the World!

      No, idgaf that someone drank out of it, took a bite, cuz unless i see bile or blood then i consider it fair game.

      Long Live The Immune System!

      Long Live Antibodies!

    2. Lee

      Polio was a disease primarily of kids in better off households where, as it turns out, they were a bit too hygienic. Dirt clod wars, football on muddy fields, digging hibernating toads out of dry creek beds by hand to be released in our gardens….just a few of many fond childhood memories of dirt.

        1. Lee

          Add a bit of raw dirt to your raw water to get raw mud. Geophagia, practiced for thousands of years in some cultures, can be rediscovered, attractively packaged along with a digital mud mixer and marketed by a reinvented Juicero.

          Oops, edible mud is already a thing. How come all my genius ideas keep getting stolen by others before I even have them?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            This was a while back, but I seem to remember watching some documentary on eating disorders and unusual eating habits, that some people eat feces as a cure.

            I wasn’t sure if it was correct, or if I recalled correctly, so I googled and found this:

            Swallowing human faeces will cure disease, NHS says – The Telegraph
   › News
            May 19, 2016 – Swallowing human faeces will cure disease, the NHS has announces as it opens it first ever frozen faecal bank. Frozen samples are being shipped around the country from a laboratory outside Portsmouth to relieve thousands sufferers of a previously incurable gut problem

            I think urine drinking is also used, by some, as a medicine or remedy.

            1. s.n.

              iirc The Prime Minister of India Morarji Desai drank a large frothy glass of his own pee every morning -and recommended the practive widely

      1. Croatoan

        The rise of polio was also associated with the lower rates of typhoid, diphtheria, and tuberculosis. So, on balance, is a rise of polio bad or a trade off? Maybe finding only one vaccine is easier than finding three?

        My mother had polio, and she was dirt poor, so…

        There is very little evidence for the hygiene hypothesis yet there is much evidence that links pollution and changing diet to immune system changes. It makes me thing that they hygine hypotisis is another neoliberal notion that helps them live with themselves.

        1. Lee

          It’s not the utter lack of hygiene that confers immunity but probably repeated exposure to microdoses of a particular pathogen. But pathogens and individual responses to them vary. Some are lucky, some aren’t as regards both uncontrolled, unwitting dosage and genetic predispositon. As a general rule, adequate hygiene has saved and continues to save millions of lives.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        Hate to burst that myth bubble, but my cousin and I were farm kids who played in the dirt and other even more substances people were eventually trained to consider unsavory. He caught polio and gave it to me; we were the only two cases in our part of the county. AFAIK, no one ever figured out how he was exposed.

        1. Lee

          Sorry. A dear friend of mine also had polio as a child. He lived to 75 and was a preeminent researcher at UC Berkeley in biological pest control and environmental remediation. He helped me through some of the most difficult periods of my life. A good man and a great friend.

          See mine above for qualifications to my initial comment on the topic.

    3. Winston Smith

      Between my son’s (8yo) construction projects (Bruder toys) in the muddy dead back yard (I live in SoCal) and helping me clean up the yard, my son gets plenty of dirt! He’s become quite resilient to getting sick and when he does, it’ usually mild!

      Go Dirt!

    4. a different chris

      >the immune systems of said kids were superior to the germophobic city types

      Be careful with that “city types'” thing…. the discovery was in Central Park!

    5. Oregoncharles

      Our neighborhood was being built when I grew up, so we were always surrounded by piles of dirt – they dig deep basements there. We ran up and down them, made things out of mud, including bombs, and, mainly, threw it at each other. My mother used to hose us down before she’d let us in the house (it gets really hot in southern Indiana). Oh, yes, and there were no curbs for years, so the streets were lined with scrumptious mud puddles. I don’t remember eating dirt, but I sure bathed in it. And sure enough, pretty reliable immune system (knocks wood).

  2. Wukchumni

    It was necessary to underplay the role of the USSR-post WW2, on account of them being our sworn enemy in the Cold War, but they took the lions share of casualties, while ours was tantamount to the deposit on a soda bottle, in comparison.

    In the book The Forgotten Soldier-by Guy Sajer, an Alsatian Frenchman that enlisted in the wehrmacht and was sent to the Russian front, he related that as they were retreating, they would place minefields between them and the Soviets as a defensive bulwark, so the Russians sent soldiers of their far eastern empire in to blow themselves up, to clear it.

    Why does WW2 still resonate unlike Korea or Vietnam?

    It was a war that needed to be fought-in retrospect. None of our wars since really mattered, they were merely grist for the MIC grill largely.

    It was also one of the last honest wars, in that all sides wore identifiable uniforms, which is a big deal. Let’s go through the list of wars:

    WW1: All sides wore identifiable uniforms
    WW2: All sides wore identifiable uniforms
    Korea War: All sides wore identifiable uniforms
    Vietnam War: Only we wore identifiable uniforms
    Iraq War 1: All sides wore identifiable uniforms
    Afghanistan War: Only we wore identifiable uniforms
    Iraq War 2 initial stage: All sides wore identifiable uniforms
    Iraq War 2 later stages: Only we wore identifiable uniforms

    Notice a pattern of how we fared in each conflict, based upon this?

    1. Jim Haygood

      You speak about the Afghan war as if it’s over, comrade, though about 16,000 foreign troops remain after sixteen (16) years.

      Our colonial subjects local partners are forever grateful:

      A community gathering in Afghanistan’s Logar Province has awarded U.S. President Donald Trump a “bravery” medal, thanking him for his tough stance against Pakistan.

      Said Farhad Akbari, a community leader in the province, told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan on January 14 that more than 300 people at an informal “jirga,” or council, of concerned citizens agreed to award the medal to the U.S. president.

      He said the handwritten message on the award states: “This Bravery Medal is from the Afghan people to Donald Trump, president of the United States of America.”

      Don’t know about you, Wukchumni, but I find Radio Liberty’s snarky use of quotes in describing our president’s “bravery” to be rather treasonous.

      As the Gipper used to say, “I paid for this microphone.

      1. Wukchumni

        Yeah, we’re still playing in the ‘stanbox, it’s ultimate profiteer’s war*, and besides who can put a price on learning new names of places, such as Helmand Province or Mazar-e Sharif?

        I do think we made a mistake in taking the unlimited mileage option on our rental Karzai, who strangely resembles Ben Bernanke, if you were to put a silly hat on his noggin.

        * Formerly named “Operation Enduring Freedom”, now goes by the moniker of “Operation Freedom’s Sentinel” since 2015.

      2. integer

        The Politics of Washington have Wrecked Afghanistan’s Future The National Interest

        As Afghanistan’s neighbors work to insulate themselves from the country’s possible implosion, the U.S.-backed Afghan government continues to do itself no favors in the fight against the Taliban. Afghanistan’s western-educated President Ashraf Ghani was thought to have transcended the authoritarianism, irredentist revisionism, and myopic tribalism of his country’s elite. But he has instead quickly internalized those characteristics.

        Ghani began his tenure with a courageous attempt at striking a new chapter in relations with Pakistan, which eventually brought the Taliban to the negotiation table—but the process was sabotaged by members of his government.

        Since then, Ghani has reverted to a posture that only reinforces Pakistan’s distrust of Afghanistan’s leadership. Like his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, Ghani has opposed Pakistani attempts to fence the border, though it would benefit Afghanistan as well. Ghani proclaimed before an audience in Afghanistan that “every attempt at dividing the nation would fail.” By “nation,” Ghani meant Pashtuns in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. This hypernationalist rhetoric is the norm for Afghan leaders. Amrullah Saleh, the former Afghan intelligence chief, recently beseeched Trump to recognize the Pakistani city of Peshawar as an Afghan city in the same way he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

        Nearly half of Afghanistan could fall into Taliban hands, but Afghanistan’s power elite fantasize about a Greater Afghanistan based on maps from the nineteenth century. They boast of five thousand years of history, but they have little modern-day achievements to show for. Afghanistan’s empty pride has yielded empty hands. American largesse, which has made illiterate warlords into millionaires, and Washington’s messaging strategy in Afghanistan, which reinforces Afghan animosity toward its neighbors (who are there to stay), have only fed the country’s pathologies.

    2. JTMcPhee

      A cavil: The NVA, a very disciplined and high-elan field force, did a pretty good job of beating up on “us” over the long sweep of the “curious activity” “we” refer to in such obscuring shorthand as “the Vietnam war.” US generals boast that “they never lost a battle,” in the way they characterized and accounted the ledgers of “victory.” But who skedaddled, after 51,000 dead GIs and millions of dead “little Asian people” in VN and Laos and Cambodia and other places?

      And as to uniforms on both sides, in conflicts that often have many “sides,” “we” just kicked a$$ in Grenada and Kosovo and Panama, didn’t “we”? Granular examination required, of course.

      As to WW II needing to be fought? Some folks question that notion, based on a broader look at the roots of that global spasm of profitable and of course deadly violence. Maybe the whole thing “became necessary,” out of the course of play of the Great Game that fronts the corporate takeover of the planet, to keep the Hun from building its empire to the “cost” of other empires then contending to be Looter in Chief. But that is a different notion of “necessary,” one that is sourced in the whole US Narrative mythology and shibboleths that conjure up that warm and fuzzy glow of exceptional goodness “we” wrap ourselves in.

      The propaganda is massive and ranked deep, and has intruded everywhere the sous-chefs of Maison Bernays can ladle it out. It becomes self-propagating, as I guess in “self-licking ice cream cone” style. I kind of hate Tom Hanks (among lots of others) for his many additions to the sauce pot, like “Saving Private Ryan” and the rest. That scene where the Nazi feldwebel (familyblogs) a young GI with a trench knife, while a quaking comrade hides and fails to act only to shoot the German dead after he surrenders — sickness made manifest. Noble sacrifice in the sacred cause of freedom for IBM and GM and GE and the oil cartels to metastasize and loot? Noble sacrifice my a$$$.

      Let us remember that it’s pretty clear that in that great mobilization of death and futility, “the Russians indeed (mostly) did it.” “Winning” that thing that led to Nazis entering the CIA asset classes and scooting off to South America and South Africa and good-paying jobs in middle-class America with mountains of gold pried from the teeth of gassed ‘lesser breeds’ and much of the art treasures of Europe. Much like the elites who own and rule “us” are doing with the “gains” they have pried from the cold, dead hands of ordinary people everywhere., “the Russians,” by and large, indeed “did it.”

      And remember that on all the evidence I am aware of, humans happily or sorrowfully or profitably keep on ‘doing war.” It’s in the nature of the beast, apparently. Maybe the next “successful winning” pinnacle species will do better. Or not.

      1. nowhere

        Minor narrative nit: that German was the one the quaking coward convinced Hanks to spare after the assault on the machine gun nest – which killed their medic. The same German who put the trench knife into his enlisted buddy, and who shot Hanks.

      2. Wukchumni

        “And as to uniforms on both sides, in conflicts that often have many “sides,” “we” just kicked a$$ in Grenada and Kosovo and Panama, didn’t “we”?”

        I didn’t include a couple of pipsqueak operations, and wasn’t Kosovo largely an air war, as far as our participation went?

        I think the ground forces were from Albania.

      3. vlade

        If you think WW2 didn’t need to be fought, well, I’d say there is/was, quite a few millions of people who do think that fighting someone whose open and pronounced policy was enslavement and then extermination of tens of millions of people, and initiated a war to that end, would differ.

        Unless you think that the today’s Neo-Nazis (who are, fortunately, in general way less effective than they predecessors – at least so far) should be just ignored at worst, I can’t understand how you can say that a whole regime of their predecessors should not have been fought in a war they initiated.

        I’d suggest you’d go and visit Auschwitz, and then we can, maybe, talk again.

        1. Wukchumni

          When I walking in Prague with my father, he rather casually pointed to a wall where the Nazis assassinated Czechs by the hundreds if not thousands over the course of the war. And I doubt any of the victims were afforded a last cigarette before being lined up against it.

          Evil had met it’s match with the 3rd Reich…

        2. Bill

          yeah, too bad the CIA brought the real Nazis to the U.S. after the war and let them move in in Chicago–I remember that as being a real bummer. and here we are…

          1. Harold

            From its founding the CIA also relied on Nazi spymaster Reinhardt Gehlen and German archive as virtually their sole source of information about the Soviet Union: “The agency [CIA] loved Gehlen because he fed us what we wanted to hear … We used his stuff constantly; and we fed it to everybody else: the Pentagon; the White House; the newspapers. They loved it too. But it was hyped up Russian bogeyman junk, and it did a lot of damage to this country.” —CIA former Soviet military analyst Victor Marchetti. [Quoted in Maguire: Law and War: an American Story]

        3. whine country

          “A cavil: The NVA, a very disciplined and high-elan field force, did a pretty good job of beating up on “us” over the long sweep of the “curious activity” “we” refer to in such obscuring shorthand as “the Vietnam war.” ” –

          Another cavil: Based on my personal experience the NVA also wore identifiable uniforms.

        4. JTMcPhee

          Yes, there’s always the “unarguable atrocity” argument that WW II “had to be fought,” albeit that the run ups to both “Great Wars” might be seen as ineluctably mandated and driven by the perverse preferences and maneuverings and logic of the Great Gamers and commercial interests who built the political economies and institutions that made the grandiose ambitions and means of industrialized and “trade”—exacerbated conflict possible and “inevitable.”

          Recall that atrocities and oppressions were practiced by all “Great Powers,” and is the current state of the world demonstrably “democratic” and “free,” those being the noble stated goals of it all? What goals were actually pursued and achieved?

          This kind of discourse on relative badness and the “necessity “ of industrialized conflict isn’t going anywhere, of course. The shibboleths always trump and overtop efforts to highlight root causes and the identities and motions and motives of the Players. And forestall any efforts to stand outside the Game and examine its parts and playing space. Let alone deflect the “arc of History.”

          My silly point is fundamentally that if humans organized and operated from slightly different premises, and the drivers and incentives were slightly different, there might be a chance of species survival. And it would be wonderful if the US Empire, for example, had truly struck down the nazi menace, instead of hiring some on to “help fight communism,” and hiding others at home, and now finding and arming and helping Neonazis in places like Ukraine, and terrorists and war bands as bad as the SS, in the Mideast. All in aid of a grab for hegemony at least as gargantuan as the German reich ever was.

          The phrase “Never Again!” has been far too restrictively constrained and applied, and millions of humans have died at the hands of overt and covert oligarchies and kleptocracies. Now we face increasingly likely nuclear war and planetary decimation facilitated by our own worst tendencies. And “our” bad acts are excused by the bad acts of others?

          And Auschwitz is an ugly word, to be sure, but I recall it was not the worst and most efficient of even the Nazi death camps. Let alone all the rest of the mass killings everywhere else in the world. And now the Israelis have taken on the character of those who oppressed and killed the Jews and other “undesirables” of Eutope.

          Original sin. What it is. Apparently can’t be fixed. Too much profit and fun in Business as Usual.

      4. rd

        Not quite sure I follow all of the analogies here.

        1. Vietnam was a war where an occupied people fought to get rid of colonial powers. Kind of like the American Revolution. Ho etc. largely became Communists because that was who would back them against the non-communist colonial powers. The US blunder was not understanding this and thinking that the domino theory was actually relevant, instead of a figment of someone’s fevered imagination. If the US acted upon its ideals, it should have been backing the Vietnamese instead of fighting them.

        2. Kosovo was a break-up of Yugoslavia that had been artificially constructed over bits of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire and held together by Tito after WW II. As soon as Tito died, all pretense of the three primary ethnic groups liking each other died in a hail of gunfire. Kind of like Iraq and Syria today.

        3. Grenada and Panama were likewise attempts at pretending these countries were free and independent banana republics. As soon as something didn’t align with the US, then the invasions started.

        4. I am baffled about what WW II is in the middle of all of these colonial etc. analogies. Hitler was pretty set on finishing what the Germans had tried to start in WW I. However, since Stalin was effectively just as bad, it was the classic “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” scenario, Cold War gaming started as soon US and British troops got to Germany. Roosevelt and Churchill had no illusions about Uncle Joe who had killed more people than Hitler had. While I believe Nazi Germany and Japan could have been stopped in the mid-30s at much less cost, WW I had left searing memories on the Allies who were hesitant to fight another war as it would have been unpopular with their democratic constituencies. Unfortunately, this war did have to be fought. I think the world would have been a much worse place if it had not been fought.

      5. Procopius

        The military historian JFC Fuller insisted that WWII was fought because Hitler had a vision of an economic system which would transfer the power to Europe rather than the Anglo-American banking system. I learn from John Dos Passos’s USA Trilogy that the US entered World War i in order to guarantee repayment of New York Bank’s enormous war loans to England and France. It seems obvious that the reasons given for our continuing occupation of Afghanistan are unbelievable, but people at the top may possibly believe them — there were indications during our involvement in Vietnam that the top people actually believed their own propaganda. John Foster Dulles may have actually thought that North and South Vietnam were separate countries, even though he created them himself.

    3. Craig H.

      It was a war that needed to be fought-in retrospect.

      You couldn’t prove this in a million years. A huge propaganda campaign was waged by the New York and Washington people who think they are entitled to run the whole planet to sell the war to the American people who, if left alone, would have had nothing to do with it.

  3. RabidGandhi

    Today marks the second anniversary of the ongoing illegal detention of Milagro Salas and 6 other political prisoners in Jujuy, Argentina. Salas was indicted in a kangaroo court for allegedly inciting someone to throw eggs at the current provincial governor, Gerardo Morales.

    If you would like to get involved, you can email Amnesty International Argentina at [contacto (at) amnistia dot org dot ar], or better yet, you can contact the political leaders in your respective countries to place further pressure on the Macri administration to release its political enemies and restore the rule of law.

  4. Jim Haygood

    ‘China’s economic stability is founded on a mountain of debt that Council on Foreign Relations experts warn will end in a crisis.’ — Business Insider article

    Ha ha ha … as always, CFR’s crude propaganda reflects imperial America’s own darkest fears. Cheeky China just downgraded OUR debt, comrades:

    Chinese credit rating agency Dagong downgraded US sovereign ratings from A- to BBB+ overnight, citing “deficiencies in US political ecology” and tax cuts that “directly reduce the federal government’s sources of debt repayment.”

    Just to make sure the message is heard loud and clear, America’s ratings, which are now level with those of Peru, Colombia and Turkmenistan on the Beijing-based agency’s scale of creditworthiness, have also been put on a negative outlook.

    In a statement on Tuesday, Dagong warned that the United States’ increasing reliance on debt to drive development would erode its solvency.

    As it happens, David Stockman (who served as budget director under the staunchly anticommunist Ronald Reagan) completely agrees with the rating agency from the country which he is pleased to call the Red Ponzi:

    CBO’s latest 10-year baseline deficit of $10.2 trillion has already been hiked to just under $12 trillion owing to the tax cut. When you add in the impact of blowing the sequester caps for defense and non-defense by $120 billion per year (as is now clearly intended by both parties) on a permanent basis and also remove the phony sunsets, fake out-year spending cuts and tax extenders from the projections, the projected red ink soars to a cumulative $15 trillion over the decade ahead.

    Interest expense on Washington’s exploding debt could raise total spending to 25% of GDP or more. [But] when you strip out the gimmicks, the TCJA policy amounts to a permanent revenue take of just 16.8% of GDP.

    In a word, these clowns have just completed the drawing and quartering of the nation’s fiscal accounts.

    Behind the dismal numbers lies the unwavering fact that diverting 5 percent of the US economy, year after year, into its value-subtraction global military empire is slowing bleeding it to Soviet-style destitution. You don’t need no PhD Econ to see that our empire is dying … slowly at first, then all at once.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is Dagong referring not to the balance sheet issue (because a sovereign can also print more), but to the liquidity issue (new money waiting to be created is tied up in gridlocked Congress)?

      Global empire…

      A side point. Shouldn’t Queen VIctoria be more (often) properly addressed as Empress Victoria, if it was an empire? And if the US is also one, is it rude not to use the correct title? “I’m a progressive running to be the next emperor…”

      1. Jim Haygood

        Dagong said a deterioration in the US government’s fiscal revenue-to-debt ratio to 12.1% in 2022 from 14.9% and 14.2% in 2018 and 2019, respectively, would demand frequent increases in the government’s debt ceiling.

        This is written from a debt-to-income perspective, by a nervous creditor watching his profligate borrower max out his credit cards to buy monster trucks, ammo, and kilos of meth. What could go wrong?

        For individual borrowers, a rough guideline says that your target home should cost no more than 2.5 times your gross annual salary. By 2022 the US government’s debt will exceed eight times its income and probably 120% of GDP.

        What has the R party done for you lately? ;-)

        1. JTMcPhee

          Or the insistence on framing the thing we call the US and its federal government as “like unto a household,” however “redneck” and “deplorable.” Leading to distortions in comprehension that get discussed at NC in some detail.

          And isn’t the “ability to repay” calculus referenced here, 2.5 times gross, posited on the eixistence of a certain kind of real estate and “job market” and presumptions of living wages, and the absence of the pernicious effects of Fed money pumping and other policies to let “prudent lenders” abandon any pretense of vetting debtors for ability to repay? Since the risks are socialized to the government, whether paid out by tax revenues or fiat money?

          The “R party,” as in “the uniparty of the Rich and well to do,” patently has zero class interest in “doing anything for us, the mopes—“ they do stuff TO us,up and down the scale of comfortable to enormous wealth. Nice rhetorical reminder, thanks for that.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            For an individual: “I have money in the bank. Sorry, you haven’t received the check in the mail.”

            For a monetary sovereign: “We have money in the printing press. Sorry, Congress hasn’t delivered on its authorization. But it’s on the way, we promise.”

            If you need that money, you see default.

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I guess my reaction to MMT and the argument “the sovereign can just simply always issue more and more debt” is “Wheeee! We’re all gonna be rich!” And in that comment lies the reality, at some point the service on the debt (you know, the part they can’t print) is more than the debtor can bear. It’s all fun and games until that point. In 2007 we had $9 trillion in debt, today it’s $20 trillion, do we just think the next stop is $30 trillion or $50 trillion or a million trillion?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                At any time, but if not in time, a default can happen.

                The fact that Congress has to authorize spending involves two issues.

                1. It limits how much is spend on what (not always)
                2. It risks not doing so in a timely fashion.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Although I think the Appropriations Clause implies that the spending is not unlimited, but subject to re-authorization from time to time (at least when there is a new congress every 2 years).

                  No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.

          3. UserFriendly

            The federal government has the capacity to monetize all it’s bonds. It would either require congressional authorization or the treasury secretary minting a high value platinum coin and depositing it in it’s account at the fed. Despite the mainstream thinking that turning on the printing presses is a one way ticket to hyperinflation; it would actually be deflationary. There is functionally no difference between bonds and dollars except bonds pay interest. Removing all those interest bearing bonds is deflationary.

      2. barefoot charley

        The best titles don’t change, they accrete. Victoria became Empress of India while remaining Queen of Great Britain and Ireland.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That was kind of modest of her, I think, being the empress of an empire that was more than just India.

      3. Tom Bradford

        Her title as Queen of England ‘trumped’ all others, and outranked her official title of “Empress of India” which would only have been officially used outside of England.

        The main function of Royalty is to authorise laws, hence English Law was (and is) legitimate only when promulgated in the name and under the Seal of the Queen of England, and laws in Imperial India were legitimate only when promulgated in the name of the Empress and under her Seal. Hence the title ‘Emperor’ would only be appropriate for a foreign sovereign whose signature, seal or authority is required to promulgate the laws of a particular country.

        As far as I am aware the US President does not promulgate law in his own name anywhere but in the US. In fact I’m not even sure if the President is the ‘lawmaker’ in the US or whether that power lies with Congress. If the latter it would make Congress sovereign.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Meanwhile, back in the real world, executive orders get written and issued, black budgets and black ops destabilize the Homeland and large swathes of the planet, drone-fired weapons and other war toys kill mope people on whim and faux “intelligence,” executive agencies do what they please “in the National Interest, for Security” at home and abroad, bankers and post-national corps loot with impunity, and any discussion of “legality” and “the law” is interesting as a forensic inquiry, but feckless. And lawyers write farcical “opinions” and memoranda to put lipstick on the pig. Much like the Brits conducted their glorious Empire.

          “Laws are for little people, as is paying taxes.”

    2. Goyo Marquez

      Isn’t China’s real concern, like that of all dollar billionaires and trillionaires, that the U.S. will inflate its way out of the debt? A good bout of inflation might force these trillionaires and billionaires to actually spend some of those dollars.

      But NO, we have to keep inflation low to protect the savings of old people, and the middle class, and the poor, and the infirm, the benefit to China and associated billionaires is just coincidental.

      1. Wukchumni

        In the book, When Money Dies-by Adam Fegusson, one of the tales related is in regards to Ernest Hemingway who was in Germany in 1923, and valiantly tries to spend one Dollar Amercano, with a coterie of chums, and despite their efforts, ends up with hundreds of millions of marks left over at the end of the day.

        The difference being, that the fatherland’s reparations were denominated in foreign currency, so it did nothing to help their debts, but if we were to suddenly inflate-thus devaluing our currency, it makes our debts a moot point.

        Of course, selling treasuries to other countries to continue of prop up our economy, would be a bit difficult.

        1. nippersdad

          “…selling treasuries to other countries to continue to prop up our economy…” This has been something I cannot get my head around wrt MMT for some time. What happens when we lose reserve currency status and all of those trillions of dollars are repatriated? While a fiat currency can tax excess dollars out of the system to prevent inflation, sudden appearance of immense amounts of money like that in the home economy don’t seem like they could be taxed away, especially now that we have a territorial tax system which will prevent taxing it before it arrives.

          They would have to buy something here, and our best evidence thus far are inflated real estate markets in places like New York and San Francisco. If everything in the US combined is presently worth about seventeen trillion dollars, and outstanding dollars amount to many multiples of that, what happens when all of that money is suddenly dumped into our economy?

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            me, personally, I would call it a “Debt Jubilee” and count my blessings.

            (assuming, of course, that some of that tidal wave of repatriated currency splashed into my pocket)

          2. UserFriendly

            What happens when we lose reserve currency status and all of those trillions of dollars are repatriated?

            We aren’t losing reserve status because there is no one else to take our place. It would require another huge economy willing to run massive trade deficits.

            It depends how they get repatriated. If they bought US goods and services it would just decrease our trade deficit and boost GDP. If they did it too fast then it might be inflationary but that would be against their own interest as they would get less for their money.

            They could try to buy other currency but that would just mess up the exchange rates.

            Or they could buy other financial products and blow a big market bubble.

      2. JTMcPhee

        I doubt “we” keep inflation low to protect the old and the middle class and such — whose “savings,” if they have any which most DO NOT, pay less than the Fed rate by a long chalk, and if they are “exposed to risk” as the saying is now (which used to be rendered “investing in the stocks of corporations that produced stuff and employed people so said corps could grow and prosper all”) by “putting money in the Market,” they are known by the actual market owners as “muppets” and “dumb money” and bled by fees and costs and one control fraud after another. Others may have more informed notions of why “inflation is so low.”

        1. UserFriendly

          Keeping inflation low is always to benefit the owners of capital. Just cause grandma has a 401k and benefits slightly from low inflation, that is nothing compared to the big sharks out there. The poor and debtors benefit greatly from inflation so it must always be avoided.

      3. UserFriendly

        Goyo Marquez
        January 16, 2018 at 10:26 am

        Isn’t China’s real concern, like that of all dollar billionaires and trillionaires, that the U.S. will inflate its way out of the debt?

        See my response above: monetizing the debt is deflationary. Of course if we really wanted to inflate our way out of debt we could just go on a spending spree without raising taxes. The GOP tax bill, by really only helping the top 5%, is unlikely to be inflationary though. But if I had to guess that is what China is worried about with the downgrade.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      “That is to say, America does not need Walls; it actually needs tens of millions of younger and working age immigrants who can function as tax mules to carry the burden of 105 million baby-boomer and retirees.” (Emphasis in original.)

      Yikes!! That’s the “solution?” Not to put too fine a point on it, but it seems that might be a bit of a hard sell.

      I wonder how hard it would be to edit Emma Lazarus–delete “huddled masses” and replace it with “tax mules” preceding “yearning to breathe free.”

      Oh, and find some space to add in “cold day in hell.”

      1. JTMcPhee

        Yaas, it is all the expense of keeping those Aging Useless Eaters alive beyond their exploitable-labor use-by date, supposedly by taxing the minimum wages of a new crop of fleece-able incomes. Taxes don’t fund (all) government. And as to the FICA deposits of wisely forced savings into the so called “Social Security Trust Fund” by those Boomers (and the rest of us USians), for some reason that does not appear as a bookkeeping entry in the notional, generational-warfare, divide-and-conquer-and-loot Narratives. No more corporate-employ defined-benefit pensions for mopes exist (all deferred compensation for work done) thanks to looting by PE and other games, and “we” are supposed to HATE that there are disability checks or monthly payouts of Social Security EARNINGS-funded monies for you old people: “Just DIE,” already!

      2. Bill

        the sad fact is, as many with fake SS numbers (I did payroll for a construction company once) will never collect on those FICA deductions, the cold and calculating will think it’s a good thing. they add up, too.

    4. ebbflows

      I’m always curious about those that advise yet seem to have issues when they have a go themselves.

    5. Oregoncharles

      Dagong hasn’t heard of MMT?

      Granted, they’re basing the rating on politics, which is the real barrier to the US just printing the money in order to pay the debt.

  5. dan

    Re: “Facebook blocks sharing of WSWS anti-censorship video” Defend Democracy

    My McAfee site advisor plugin flagged this site as risky….

    A little collusion maybe?

  6. Jim Haygood

    The Art of the Gift in Washington DC, where possession and cultivation of the demon weed are legal, but sales are not:

    A green rush is booming for pot products in the District. It comes courtesy of shrewd distributors who have cultivated a successful “gifting economy” to game restrictions on retail weed.

    A D.C. ballot initiative legalized possession of up to two ounces of pot, home cultivation of up to six plants, and the gifting of up to one ounce of pot to a person 21 or over. The ambiguous framework allows for small amounts to be given away free, though buying and selling pot in the U.S. capital remains illegal.

    Savvy “ganja-preneuers” have found a way to turn this cannabis grey market into a lucrative pot bazaar.

    “You’ve got several stores that are on the free-gift model,” said Mike Evans, the “senior grow tech” at Grow Club DC, a supplier of hydroponic equipment in the Adams Morgan neighbourhood, known as Washington’s “green light district.”

    Sidewalk merchants hawk $60 plain white T-shirts with a “free gift” outside the bars and clubs lining the buzzy U Street corridor.

    It must deeply irk ol’ ku klux Jay-uff that he can’t summarily round up all the deviants nullifying his precious federal law right under his nose. The damned cheek …

  7. Kevin

    “Report: Inexperienced 24-Year-Old Helps Lead Key White House Opioid Response”

    Hardly surprising considering we have a 3-year-old inexperienced child running the whole shebang.

    1. Meher Baba Fan

      The film In The Loop had a take on this which was uncovered by the UK Writers in their research. In an interview they explained how shocked they were to learn that , basically, kids were instrumental in critical policy. They cited example of the new Constitution for Afghanistan and how a key writer drafting it was a 22 year old. In the film, the UK Minister for Communication arrives at the White House for a briefing on the intelligence for invading Iraq and is met by a 21 year ‘ I’m sorry son but you look like you’re supposed to be getting your head flushed down the toilet, not delivering a briefing on a war’

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        How much of this is age-discrimination, though another counter-example happened in a different field and a different time, when a couple of young kids built their first personal computer?

        Age itself doesn’t tell us much.

        Nor is the lack of ‘experience.’ Ask Chauncey Gardiner…him ‘being there’ before.

        The key, I think, is that, per the link, he’s going back to his initial position as a liaison office.

          1. ambrit

            Considering how little objectivity we exhibit in our daily ruminations, we are all ‘fictional characters.’

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            We can learn a lot from fictional characters.

            There is a lot more than his age in the Washington Post article, and we shouldn’t make that the focal point.

            As for his lack of experience, there are people who value passion over that (like the movie). Again, there is a lot more than this in the Post article, and not in the article (relating to the general problem of filling positions* by a non-career politician president, maybe).

            *From the article:

            Trump has pledged to marshal federal government talent and resources to address the opioid crisis**, but nearly a year after his inauguration, the drug policy office, known as ONDCP, lacks a permanent director. At least seven of his administration’s appointees have departed, office spokesman William Eason said.

            **Then why this (also from the article):

            For the budget year that began in October, the White House budget plan called for $18.4 million in spending for 65 employees at ONDCP, excluding people detailed from the military and other areas of government, and program spending of $350 million.

            Last year, the Office of Management and Budget proposed cuts that would have effectively eliminated the ONDCP for the fiscal year that began in October. The White House abandoned the plan after objections from a bipartisan group of senators.

            Was it to go completely opposite of what Trump had said about addressing it, or was it to let another agency or department take over the work? The article doesn’t say.

            1. Wukchumni

              He appears to be a Chia pet, totally unqualified, although he does have experience in illegal enterprise…

              “When he was in high school, Weyeneth was “Director of Production” for Nature’s Chemistry, a family firm in Skaneateles, N.Y., that specialized in processing chia seeds and other health products. One résumé said he served in that job from 2008 to 2013, and two others indicate he stopped working there in September 2011.

              In the summer and fall of 2011, the firm was secretly processing illegal steroids from China as part of a conspiracy involving people from Virginia, California and elsewhere in the United States and one person in China, federal court records show. Weyeneth’s stepfather, Matthew Greacen, pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge last year and received two years probation and a fine.”

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I wonder if that changed his perspective or motivated him – for ‘he provided information to help the federal prosecutors.’

                1. Bill

                  and he worked on the Trump campaign, and really ingratiated himself into that fine upstanding bunch. of course, he had NOOOO idea he was making steroids. which makes him dumb enough for the trump people to put him in a leadership position…
                  how’s that for a scenario?

                  he worked for a family of crooks for years, that more than qualifies him for this administration

        1. JTMcPhee

          I know quite a few 20’s-year olds, and the thought of any of them ‘running imperial policy’ sends shivers through me. Age discrimination? The old sachems and war leaders helped up the young males to “g’wan out there and kill that cave bear and loot the next village over the hill and take their stuff and kill their menfolk and bring back their women and children as slaves.” Age does not bring wisdom or decency, of course — the Dulles Boys, Henry Kissinger, Curtis Lemay, and lots of examples from other times and places. Hence the adage sometimes rendered as “Age and guile beat youth and energy every time.” Early-20s, in my experience, tend to seize on fads of thought and seductive “explanations,” like those offered by libertarians and Randians more generally. And are consumed by slogans and ‘enthusiasms” that if they survive their youth, become what most ordinary people would consider “wiser” and “more seasoned.”

          Let us not trip and fall into the “liberal” silo on this one…

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            We’ll never know what wrong buttons had he pushed or tasks he failed to do*; he’s going back to his initial position, when he was hired, from the Washington Post article itself:

            The office hired Weyeneth in March “after seeing his passion and commitment** on the issue of opioids and drug addiction,” the official said. The official and Weyeneth’s mother both said Weyeneth was moved by the death of a relative several years ago from a heroin overdose.

            *Just this:

            Current and former ONDCP officials who have served under Democratic and Republican presidents said in interviews that the turmoil, including the elevation of Weyeneth, hinders efforts to rally the government at a time when the nation is going through the worst opioid crisis in its history.

            “It sends a terrible message,” said Gil Kerlikowske, a former Seattle police chief who ran the office during the Obama administration and is a former commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. “It’s a message that we’re not taking this drug issue seriously.”

            ** passion and commitment?

            From the article:

            When he was in high school, Weyeneth was “Director of Production” for Nature’s Chemistry, a family firm in Skaneateles, N.Y., that specialized in processing chia seeds and other health products. One résumé said he served in that job from 2008 to 2013, and two others indicate he stopped working there in September 2011.

            In the summer and fall of 2011, the firm was secretly processing illegal steroids from China as part of a conspiracy involving people from Virginia, California and elsewhere in the United States and one person in China, federal court records show. Weyeneth’s stepfather, Matthew Greacen, pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge last year and received two years probation and a fine.

            Weyeneth was not charged in the investigation, known as Operation Grasshopper. His mother, Kim Weyeneth, said in an interview that neither she nor her son knew about the steroid production and that he provided information to help the federal prosecutors.

      2. Lee

        ‘ I’m sorry son but you look like you’re supposed to be getting your head flushed down the toilet, not delivering a briefing on a war’

        That line is delivered by the great Peter Capaldi? Here’s 15 minutes of Capaldi scenes from The Loop. The scene you cite is about 2 minutes in.

        1. Meher Baba Fan

          Nice one! The director Armando Ianucci is a certified comedic genius. He has a new film ‘ The Death Of Stalin.’
          Peter Capaldi is SUCH a capable actor.
          There are deleted scenes of In The Loop, you should see them on the intertubes. That kid is complaining ‘ and sometimes I wonder, what am I doing with my life? I should be out there, getting high and getting girls pregnant’
          There are levels of subtlty in The Thick Of It the repeat viewing rewards, although i dont follow the uk pop culture references. Politicians attempting to appear ‘with it’ !

    2. Procopius

      The brief excerpt linked to here left out the more interesting parts. The details have already removed themselves from my memory and I’m not going to take time to find the link (probably the original WaPo story), but it seems he was not really “inexperienced,” because he had been convicted of some esoteric drug offense since being appointed, but as a high school student he helped in his family’s business of somehow processing Chinese drugs for sale into the American market. Of course the Trump administration is going to appoint drug dealers to the anti-drug agencies. What else did you expect?

  8. Meher Baba Fan

    I was on the receiving end of a fair bit of aggro in yesterdays comments regarding the ‘not Metoo’ french letter. At least it appeared to be directed at me. I was confused by what point you were trying to make? I couldn’t grasp your argument Presuming that said commentators did read the english translation of the letter. This world is big enough for opposing viewpoints that still support the same angle – in this case, upholding the sovereignty, agency and integrity of women and affirming that abuse to women of any kind is family blog to the max. By the way I live in France. The US does have a different take on gender relations

    1. todde

      Nothing personal on my end. I wasn’t angry, as I don’t do angry well. My apologies.

      I know plenty of French people whose views on sex I disagree with, some of whom I am quite fond of.
      They think sex with children is ok and women all want to sleep with powerful men and when I disagree, they call me a Puritan.

      So some key words in the letter were ‘Anglo-Saxon” and “Puritan”. It led me to believe it was more a defense of their Libertine values then a discussion about the “agency and integrity of women”.

      It maybe that I was too dismissive.

      France defines rape as sexual penetration through four kinds of force: “Any act of sexual penetration, whatever its nature, committed against another person by violence, constraint, threat or surprise, is rape.” Neither definition has a record of effectiveness in application. The conviction rate for reported rape in the U.K. is around 6%; in France, it is a breathtaking 2.6%. Documented numbers of unreported, underestimated, and undercounted rapes put even these percentages into the vanishing range.

      France also believes that an 11 year old can consent to sex.

      I tend to dismiss French Intellectuals when they discuss rape, as their views are so far from mine there isn’t much to discuss. I’m ok with whatever laws France wants for France, but that attitude can stay in France, IMHO.

      1. Meher Baba Fan

        todde thankyou. excellent response. actually it wasn’t you I was referring to, i should have been less plural more singuar. i recall i backtracked on Denevue when you reminded me of Polanski. This subject feels iike one I should shut up, about. Which is kind of sad but perhapd prudent, too. I’l concern myself with my respect for women and my integrity in my hetero sex life and not everyone else in the movement ( even if positive )
        Thankyou for generous informed response

        1. todde

          I don’t want to silence anyone’s opinion, so please don’t do that. I should not have said that attitude can stay in France, debate is always good, and all views should be heard, even if one personally disagrees with them.

          The response in France is a little different, as ‘expose your pig’ expresses a more ‘anti-male’ response than “#metoo”.

          Sex has always been a complicated thing, and elicits strong emotions. It is what it is, for better or worse.

            1. Bill

              can we recall that it is a statue? it’s OK to “offend” and dominate and rape flesh and blood women, though. right?

    1. hemeantwell

      re that piece, this from the opener gives me pause:

      While her whistleblowing made her a hero around the world, Manning has also now become an icon of LGBT equality and transgender rights with an act of profound bravery that at least matches, if not surpasses, her whistleblowing.

      Is that how Manning herself thinks about it? Are trans people inclined to think that what they endure = years in prison, with long stretches of solitary confinement? Why does Greenwald set up a competitive comparison between different barbarisms that fuzzes out the fact that she was brutally tortured for revealing war crimes?

      1. j84ustin

        I didn’t see it as a competitive comparison. And though I’ve never been in prison, remaining in the closet seems like an apt metaphor.

      2. Xihuitl

        I thought Greenwald was referring to her fight for hormone treatment and other issues as a trans person while in prison, which had to have been very difficult and brave.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Politico can’t get enough of this stuff. If they’re celebrating Dems winning in red states, that’s the playbook for them to push.

      Their giant profile on AK Dems making a comeback said almost nothing about policy, just that the local dems were campaigning hard the old fashioned way and distancing themselves from the party in Washington DC.

      Always style, never substance!

  9. Kevin

    To be honest I have sort of grown weary of articles like the WWII piece in the week. It is essentially preaching to the choir. The facts of the Second World War are well known and documented, such as the integral front of the Soviet Army and the causalities suffered by Russia, along with the extensive ambiguity and outright dubious morality of all sides in the conflict. The problem is not so much the infantile Manichean perspective offered by U.S. Media and its internalization by the public, but rather the entire American Culture in general, which is one that has long been inclined towards rampant Nationalism and skepticism towards Academia and frankly reading. One has to only look at the joke that is the Education System, underfunded, shallow, and devoid of any inclination towards the production of Thinking Human Beings. Some people are fortunate enough to come across a teacher or two that still have passion and integrity to challenge and foster thought, but for many they are doomed to pass through the system without ever encountering a single moment of reflection.

    To be quite honest, fixing the problem would entail a fundamental change of thought, which is never going to happen so long as there exists some semblance of stability in the American Domestic System. Nationalism and Imperial Chauvinism will win the day for some time still.

    1. sylva

      American Nationalism is dead, though. Most young generations hate America. They think it is extremely racist and contains no hope for the future, which they unintentionally vote for by not having families – very much due to the poor job market, student debt, and taxes.

      Not to go off on too much of a tangent, but disregarding taxes and student debt, for which the younger generation can do literally nothing against, the current structure of American business is going to forever stifle the young generations.

      It’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause of everything, but by far the most damaging to the economy is the never ending boom-bust cycles that have allowed the wealthy to buy America for cents on the dollar. I have never seen more paper mache companies than in America today.

      Companies that, a couple of decades ago were completely vertically integrated, from design to manufacturing to distribution and retail, are now literal husks. Successive PE firms, that bought and sold these companies like contractors were flipping homes in 2007, stripped these companies of all assets and people, put some masking tape over a few holes, and ran off with millions of dollars that should have been invested back into the companies. The manufacturing moved overseas (again) and now basically nothing is made in America, even high end niche products that used to provide skilled labor are now just paper-pushers in a RENTED office somewhere.

      Its all over America, so pervasive that even Ford and GM have, even after getting tons of taxpayer money, sold off many factories and assets to foreign companies in an effort to forever bless their corporate clubs with insane, sky-high benefits and packages at the detriment of their own companies, which they also couldn’t care less about.

      My point in all of this is to once again show the lack of nationalism, from the young to the rich CEOs, to the mega-corps that bury new companies in patent litigation and swallow them up, layoff 90%, and rinse & repeat to justify further corporate raises.

      So I do not think that Nationalism has been in America for at least a decade, for if there were then one would think that the obliteration of the middle class would have at least roused something larger than Occupy Wallstreet, which to this day hasn’t accomplished anything of note.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Just a reminder: People crushed under “Student debt” do have power, albeit of the kind that involves some elements of personal risk (as if suicide and depression and shortened and minimized life, due to “inability to be proven worthy as a Puritan citizen due to inability to ‘pay one’s ‘just debts’ (sic) as they become due” is not a risk?).

        They can


        And #justsayno

        If enough do it all at once…?

        1. UserFriendly

          Sounds great, then they can just take my Dad’s house for the crime of cosigning for me. The old man is already 65 and has no plans to retire ever.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Only if you, individually, decide to just stop paying. Though of course people wha had “fully paid off their mortgages” somehow found that the looters could take the house anyway. And if you ever become unable to pay? For whatever reason? There’s risk (and banksters looters) everywhere.

    2. bwilli123

      The “Powers That Be” long ago determined that there was no point spending on infrastructure, education or health in America. This, because there was no benefit to them. They were essentially strip mining what was left, rather than investing for the future.
      Fond as I am of the 30,000 foot view, it is the only way of looking at the current situation that makes sense.

    3. witters

      “One has to only look at the joke that is the Education System, underfunded, shallow, and devoid of any inclination towards the production of Thinking Human Beings. Some people are fortunate enough to come across a teacher or two that still have passion and integrity to challenge and foster thought, but for many they are doomed to pass through the system without ever encountering a single moment of reflection.”

      The joke that is my university has a new slogan: “Adapt to a Fast Changing World.” Not agency, no thinking, just “adapt” to power.

    4. Procopius

      Although I see these criticisms from time to time, I suddenly found myself wondering how Kevin (and those who assume he is right) knows so much about what the education system is like at the present time. Are you a researcher in teaching education? Are you a teacher? Are you a student in elementary school, describing how it looks from their side? Are you a school administrator of some kind? Are you a parent who spends a lot of time in conferences and discussions with your children’s teachers, and in discussion with your children about what they are learning? I ask, because for a few years I taught in a private school in Bangkok, completely unqualified to do so, and I learned a lot from the experience.

  10. sionnach liath

    I am an old guy now, but remember many years ago my grandmother saying to me that every child had to eat their peck of dirt before growing up. It was the way they developed immunity to the germs in the environment.

    1. nippersdad

      I remember that too, in reference to eating things straight out of the garden. Lack of air conditioning had an appreciable affect on our immune systems as well, no doubt, but I am still wondering what all of the tetraethyl lead in both the air and soil did to our brains. In that sense, it wasn’t all good. I still love the smell of bus exhaust on frosty mornings. Anyone tempted to eat their soil might want to have it tested first, particularly if you live in older parts of an inner city. Nota Bene to any zombies reading this: my brain prolly wouldn’t be your best choice if health concerns are one of your issues. An ounce of prevention, and so forth.

      1. Duck1

        Lots of lead in the soil from house paint as well. Dutch Boy paint was the brand of the National Lead Company.

    2. Procopius

      I heard it as, “You’ll eat a ton of dirt before you die,” and “dirt” was not “soil.”

    3. JCC

      I remember the “peck of dirt” well. My grandmother always told me, whenever I complained about eating something that may have fallen on the floor for example, “If you don’t eat a peck of dirt before you die, you won’t go to heaven.”

      She was very old-school Irish, which probably had a lot to do with that belief.

      So far, so good.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    A shake-up at a key Pentagon agency is making employees fear they’re being replaced by artificial intelligence Foreign Policy (David L)

    And robot soldiers?

  12. L

    For the “Democrats in Disarray section” Politico has a well-orchestrated piece from a new “Leadership PAC” calling for Democrats to ban litmus tests to win in the heatland: “Heartland Democrats to Washington: You’re Killing Us”.

    The piece is pitched as a long on discussion of “rural needs.” Completely absent from the piece economic issues, discussion of economic policy (other than a glancing blow before they turn to Guns and Abortion), and the name Bernie Sanders. Apparently the simple rural folk are unconcerned with the economy and the fact that a socialist candidate for the primary did better there deserves no mention.

  13. Jim Haygood

    Yesterday a tiny chink of light opened in the good Dr Hussman’s permabearish armor:

    Margin-Adjusted CAPE, which improves the Shiller cyclically-adjusted P/E by accounting for variation in the embedded profit margin, is now beyond both the 1929 and 2000 extremes, placing current market valuations at the richest level in U.S. history.

    If overbought conditions were to ease by a few percent without a clear deterioration in market internals, we wouldn’t object to a constructive investment outlook, provided [with] a safety net and ideally something that might benefit in the event that severe tail risks unfold.

    We would not, however, even dream of carrying an unhedged investment stance, which is unfortunately the position that most investors, retirees, and pension funds have adopted.

    Dr Hussman is well aware — having pointed it out himself — that all outstanding securities must be held by someone. Investors can hedge their market exposure with futures, options and swaps, only to transfer the risk to their derivative counterparty. That is, the economy as a whole is net long stocks and bonds, and always shall be.

    Should the good Dr H buy the next dip, it will be a toxic banderilla planted in the neck of our beloved Bubble III bull market, signaling its imminent demise. Stay bearish, my friend. ;-)

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Salient observation, Jef. Besides the military bases in Djibouti mentioned in the Politico article speculating about “The Coming Wars”, it appears China is endeavoring to gain control of key strategic chokepoints controlling the flow of oil out of the Middle East, as well as establishing a broad network of economic ties under its “OBOR” initiatives:

      As an aside, wonder if they will be inviting their counterparts from other countries in Djibouti over for a Chinese New Year’s celebration of the Year of the Dog?

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Rinse and repeat, the runup from $5000 to $15,000 was on the backs of automated wash trades by the biggest exchanges (especially Bitfinex in Hong Kong). Further pumped by the fake USD “íssued” by Tether (also connected with Bitfinex). These tokens are supposedly backed by real USD, but they won’t reveal which bank holds their USD (if any). Wells Fargo gave them 30 days to close their account. And an “audit” concluded that holders of the USDT token did not have any rights to the actual USD anyway. So the fake USD are created from thin air and then exchanged for (relatively) real Bitcoin.
      But Bitcoin is just the crowning achievement of the Era of Fake Finance, probe many “assets” and you might also find very little to support them. Amazon profits, anyone?

  14. Wukchumni

    Very impressive 2:19 worth of commentary from young Mr. Smith, a coal miner’s son from the sound of it. He speaks from the heart and mind quite effectively.

    1. fresno dan

      January 16, 2018 at 11:40 am

      thanks for that! DEFINITELY bookmarking that, and when I can figure out how to hook up Youtube to the TV, less talking heads and much, much more floating jellies….I’m sure it will improve my outlook

  15. Paul Cardan

    Regarding “AI Bot Beats Humans at Reading,” I don’t think so. As with understanding any utterance, reading comprehension takes many forms, including: objecting, questioning, elaborating, consoling, pleading, repeating word for word so as to mock, indirect speech, quasi-indirect speech (in which there’s no clear division between the other’s words and one’s own), silently applying what’s been read (as with “Detour” signs), laughing, blushing, gasping, etc. The article, by contrast, has to do with “the Stanford Question Answering Dataset, a large-scale reading comprehension test with more than 100,000 questions.” Prompted by questions leading with interrogative words such as ‘who’ or ‘what,’ the machine can generate accurate output in the form of words drawn from the text in question. The author of the article can call that ‘reading comprehension’ if he likes, but I think he’s only muddying the water.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You’re objecting, questioning, etc.

      Many humans don’t do that. They often ‘generate accurate output in the form of words drawn from the text in question.’

      I know I can ace many college test that way.

      So, perhaps AI can best (some, or many) humans at reading.

      1. Paul Cardan

        I don’t think so. When I think that someone understands something, I think that they can do a number of things, like those I listed, some social (as with mocking), some biological (as with gasping or blushing). Generating correct textual output for some textual input is just a facet of comprehension, a part which, divorced from this wider set of possible behaviors (in appropriate settings), isn’t comprehension at all.

        Sorry to keep bringing up such points, but I think these headlines are sloppy. They’re both confused and confusing. I also think that there’s a price to be paid for personifying machines. Doing so makes it easier to treat people as if they were things. Case in point: replacing most everyone working customer service with comparatively cheap and effective AI. Wonderful progress that. But happens to these people? To the trash heap with them, or back to the factory (job training center) for re-tooling.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I agree with what you say, but just want to add to it by pointing out that

          1. While some humans want to be see machines as possibly human, that
          2. many of us humans can be at times, well, machine-like, and
          3. some, not satisfied with being able to (can), actively wish to be machine-like, with their dark sunglasses (to hide their feelings) and black-and-white minimalist interior decorating, so as to be ‘cool’, and without any emotions.

    2. Procopius

      Your point suggests that perhaps, just perhaps, the tests demanded by “education reformers” are invalid? That is, they do not measure what they claim to measure? Quelle surprise.

  16. JohnMinMN

    Re: Whale saving the diver story. There is a youtube video of the incident in the comments section of article.

  17. Kim Kaufman

    From 2014

    The Man Who Kept King’s Secrets

    Clarence Jones, the galvanizing lawyer who was Martin Luther King Jr.’s trusted lieutenant between 1960 and 1968, has come out from the shadows of civil-rights history. In a groundbreaking interview, he shares his untold tale: the secret missions, the F.B.I. wiretaps, and the “real” Martin of those perilous, passionate years.

    A strange White House tête-à-tête on June 22, 1963, brought the two even closer. President John F. Kennedy, while squiring King around the Rose Garden, informed him that J. Edgar Hoover, head of the F.B.I., was convinced that two S.C.L.C. associates—Levison and an S.C.L.C. director, Jack O’Dell—were Communists. “You’ve got to get rid of them,” Kennedy cautioned King. Although King told Jones that he was not startled by the accusations, King said he was jarred that Kennedy would try to intimidate him this way. A month later, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the president’s brother, would approve F.B.I. wiretaps on Jones’s Riverdale home and Manhattan office.

    1. xformbykr

      thanks for that link! Jones’ last comments imply that he (Jones) has not read
      William Pepper’s “The Plot to Kill King” nor the trial transcripts from the Memphis trial in 1999 brought by the King family.

  18. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: Melting Arctic — Reading this link I might think the melting Arctic is a very good thing bringing all sorts of new profit opportunities spiced with potential for a few political squabbles. The link fails to mention the biggest downside of a newly opened Arctic frontier. The Earth will heat up more rapidly with the Arctic ice gone. This acceleration in heating will approximate a step change in rate. So far the ongoing Climate Disruption could be bemoaned as a hideous legacy we leave to our children or their children but with the Arctic ice gone we might get more than taste of Climate Disruption during our lives. As the rate of Climate Disruption increases along with the intensity of its impacts — successful adaptation becomes increasingly problematic for all species of life. But at least we can enjoy some new economic opportunities.

  19. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: Whale Altruism — The remarkable altruism of the whales reported in this link seems less remarkable than reports of human altruism. I am growing less and less surprised at the altruism of whales and other higher life forms — other than humans. Our culture of ruthless competition displaces the tendency toward altruism we once shared with so many other species.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Whales have a strong self-interest in frustrating sharks, or killer whales, from another example, where they were defending a gray-whale calf from orcas.

      Apparently dolphins sometimes play with humpbacks, and I’m sure the whale in this instance thought the human was doing the same thing. And not far off, either. So there was a personal connection.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The most valuable military real estate in the world Politico (resilc)

    There is a Japanese military base there too? I thought they were to be without armed forces with war potential?

    In any case, this passage is interesting:

    The coming wars may be armed conflicts, but they could also take radically different forms: struggles to control infrastructure, propaganda battles, tech races in artificial intelligence and robotics, cyberwar, and trade and economic warfare.

    No wars to, say, specifically bring back jobs or steal jobs from another country, but to control infrastructure, except the mentioning of trade and economic warfare, which traditionally has not been about jobs.

    1. Massinissa

      There is a Japanese Self-Defence Force base in Djibouti, called the Japan Self Defence Force Base Djibouti. Apparently it is the first overseas, long term JSDF base overseas. It was established around 2011. It has a Wikipedia page.

      It may be the first, but now that Japan is re-arming, it probably wont be the last…

      1. Wukchumni

        Of all places to have an overseas base, the Japanese had one in Madagascar during WW2, so there is precedence.

  21. Newcatty

    With regard to the Catherine Denue writings and related French attitudes and laws allowing 11 year olds to give consent for sex with adults. The fact that France has its own laws is uncontroversial. The suggested, and sometimes truthful fact, that the French have the attitude of sex being a free and open choice of individuals is an obvious reality. That does not excuse or rationale sex with children. Nor does it rape or assault or verbal intimidation. Yes, Catherine, in her response stated as much. But, the use of “puritanical” in the first letter is condescending and cruel in its implication that women who do not wish to be open to sexual encounters with others except for in marriage or a relationship of exclusitivity are prudes and not free women.

    I know of a close friend who was emotionally deeply hurt by infidelity by her spouse. She wanted to try and understand why it happened. She went to a trusted counselor for help. The counselor made quite a large part of her counseling approach with this point: If you lived in Europe you would not be taking this so hard and “personal”. My friend was devastated and she said her only come back was but I don’t. Her spouse went to same counselor. Again, this was the theme. This time, from what he related to his wife, it was doubled down with him being told to not feel any “guilt”, because you see guilt is corrosive and would only hurt him. Geez, I do not see anything good to come from such attitudes and advice. Mature and authentic and caring relationships should be encouraged. Maybe, the divorce rate a nd broken relationships in this culture are a part of the demise of the American spirit of caring for others and the fear of being helpless to do anything to do more than survive for most of us.

    1. Massinissa

      I was looking up divorce rates. US divorce rates are very high, but some European countries are actually even higher. I wasn’t too surprised by Portugal, Spain and Hugary, but then, the nation in Europe with the highest divorce rate is… Belgium?

      And France was about on par with divorce as America, along with much of Europe, with some nations including the above being actually higher.

      Ireland has very low divorce rates, and so does Poland, Romania and Italy. Germany, UK and Netherlands are in the middle.

  22. D

    Re: The 11 most anti-capitalist quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. Raw Story (UserFriendly). Notice how measured they are….

    Not clear on what you mean by notice how measured they are as I still can’t get over the fact of how late the post is. The author (or her editor(s)?) pretends she posted on the day the post pertained to:

    Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. To be fair, I guess I should wish “Sorry it’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day” to the people who don’t believe it …

    which was yesterday, January 15th, 2018 – Martin Luther Kings actual birthday anniversary – the day that supposedly honors him, when the piece was clearly dated today, a day late, on January 16th, 2018.

  23. Ook

    Re A380s: the article didn’t mention that:
    : airports have to reinforce runways and rebuild gates to accommodate these things,
    : the plane kicks up enough wake turbulence on take off and landing that it requires roughly double the normal separation time between aircraft when an A380 is involved.
    From the airport’s point of view, these are serious disadvantages that go a long way to canceling the advantage of carrying more people in a single plane.

    Too bad though. After the 787 it is my favorite for long long flights. Very smooth and quiet.

Comments are closed.