Links 1/30/18

How to Watch the Super Blue Blood Moon, a Once-in-a-Lifetime Event Bloomberg

What really happened after this photo was taken BBC. Re an iconic Vietnam War image.

Artificial Intelligence May Have Cracked Freaky 600-Year-Old Manuscript Gizomdo (David L)

‘Carl Sagan’s rolling in his grave’: Academic hits out at profit-making on alien-bound Golden Record RT (Kevin W)

Today in cryptocomedy FT Alphaville

Americans are saving energy because fewer people go outside The Verge. Bad for your psyche, though.

Doctors Refuse to Treat Trans Patients More Often Than You Think Vice

Soda taxes target the young but not individuals with high sugar diets VoxEU

Australia shoots for bigger gun sales Asia Times

The ECB as vulture fund: how central banks speculated against Greece and won big Defend Democracy. IMHO, the bigger scandal is that the ECB promised to give profits to Greece and largely reneged.

VW chairman calls for probe into monkey emissions test scandal Politico. Humans too!

Congrats to our Richard Smith, co-author:


This Leaked Government Brexit Analysis Says The UK Will Be Worse Off In Every Scenario BuzzFeed

EU to UK: You won’t set rules during Brexit transition Politico. Totally consistent with EU position. We also predicted this even before the EU cleared its throat, because it was obvious that the only deal possible was a standstill (as in UK staying in EU legal/regulatory framework).

Malta grants EU citizenship to Legatum backer Financial Times. Legatum has managed the difficult task of darkening the name of think tanks via its airheaded pro-Leave handwaves masquerading as analysis and now this.

Automation to take 1 in 3 jobs in UK’s northern centres, report finds Guardian

Did young voters turn out in droves for Corbyn? The myth of the 2017 youthquake election LSE

New Cold War

Russia is aiming to interfere in US midterm elections, warns CIA chief Guardian (Kevin W)

U.S. Releases Sweeping List of Russian Oligarchs and Officials Bloomberg

US defies Moscow with list of Russian elite Financial Times. Lambert: “These people have lost their minds. That’s like saying the US ‘defies’ Spain, since that’s the size of the Russian economy.”

Belgian prime minister to meet Putin in Moscow Politico. “Since the imposition of EU sanctions on Russia, the prime ministers of Italy, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic and Malta have traveled to Moscow. French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to visit the Kremlin in the spring.”


Washington Widens the War in Syria by Provoking Turkey Counterpunch versus

Turkey in Syria: Not an olive branch in sight Economist

Trump Transition

House Panel Votes to Release Memo Alleging FBI Anti-Trump Abuses Bloomberg

Did Trump Screw Over Booming U.S. Solar Industry? Real News

Hung out to dry twice, Tennessee city stumped by Trump’s washer tariffs Reuters (EM)

Health Care

Bernie Sanders​’ Medicare For All Town Hall — Post Game Critique W/ Ana Kasparian & Ryan Grim Young Turks

Planning public works – history has a lot to say if we listen properly Bill Mitchell (UserFriendly)

Humane Society CEO is subject of sexual harassment complaints from three women, according to internal investigation Washington Post

Fake News

The Follower Factory New York Times (Chuck L)

Remembering Investigative Journalist Robert Parry Norman Solomon, Nation

After Four Months, Much of Puerto Rico Still Dark and Damaged Atlantic. Resilc: “See #20.”

Wall Street to Vanguard: We’re Not Your Doormat Wall Street Journal (via Yahoo, h/t JohnnyGL)

Um, Is the US Treasury “Yield Curve” Steepening or Flattening? Wolf Street (EM)

Global Bonds Swoon Wall Street Journal

Lex in Depth: the case against share buybacks Financial Times

Market Euphoria May Turn to Despair If 10-Year Yield Jumps to 3% Bloomberg

Uber looked at buying a truck logistics company Recode

Guillotine Watch

Elon Musk Is Selling Flamethrowers Bloomberg

Why Amazon built its workers a mini rainforest inside three domes in downtown Seattle Washington Post (Kevin W)

Class Warfare

Union-Backed Democratic Congressman Rejects $15/Hour Minimum Wage Intercept

Berlin’s Airbnb law replenishes housing market DW

The Uncomfortable Truth About Whole Foods and Amazon’s Grocery Monopoly Alternet. Totally misleading headline and reveals top 10% insularity of the writer. Whole Foods has a teeny number of stores compared to WalMart. Even the Publix chain has way way more. But some interesting factoids.

Obsession for the Perfect Worker Fading in Tight U.S. Job Market Bloomberg. Help me. More neoliberal messaging. Ridiculous overspecing of jobs was a huge management perk in a weak labor market. They got to keep themselves busy by wasting time on job searches with the spurious goal of not having to train workers. Do you really think that netted out ahead in managerial time saving? If so, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. Making jobs artificially hard to land also increased boss power v. worker power. See Kalecki on why capitalists don’t like full employment even though that preference cost them in profit terms.

Waymo orders “thousands” of driverless cars ahead of public debut Axios

In L.A., resources grow for homeless community college students Christian Science Monitor

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “The Dow did what, now?”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. frosty zoom

    as i can see from the homepage, every cat loves their morning ss-tttt–rrrr—e—ttt–cc-hhhhh!

  2. RabidGandhi

    So, in ‘the other 2018’, Mexico has presidential elections coming up this July. As in the last two contests, tepidly-leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is once again leading the polls. You may remember AMLO from the 2006 election, where he clearly won the presidency but rightwing extremist Felipe Calderón was installed instead. Or from 2012, when the two institutional parties allied to elect Enrique Peña Nieto in his stead (possibly resorting once again to election fraud). Basically, AMLO has a long history of the Mexican establishment freaking out at the possibility that he might become president, in spite of the fact that he is only mildly leftist—socially conservative and only slightly socialist (e.g. as Mexico City Mayor, he was a proponent of public private partnerships).

    Because of the (usual, as expected) disaster created by the ruling “centre-left” PRI party– culminating with the outright looting and privatisation of what had been the centrepiece of the PRI’s socialist glory days, the state oil company PEMEX– the incumbents have an extremely thin bench. They have thus amended their party by-laws so that they can run a candidate from outside the party: current Finance Secretary José Antonio Meade, whom they poached from their right wing rivals, the PAN. In short, to meet the notionally populist challenge from AMLO, the establishment has doubled down with a super-dooper establishment candidate.

    Yet in spite of essentially having both major parties behind him, Meade is a healthy ten points behind AMLO in the polls. Perplexed by the paradox of how the dogs won’t eat the dogfood, WaPo asked a Mexican: handing the mike over to KMEX’s León Krauze, who arrived at the only possible conclusion: PUTIN

    The prospect of Russian meddling in Mexico’s election is no joke [WaPo]

    Vladimir Putin’s vast propaganda machinery, crucial in his assault on democracy worldwide, counts on outlets like Russia Today and Sputnik, the Russian government’s equally cunning news agency, to spread misinformation and gain nefarious influence. Just last week, the Committee on Foreign Relations of the U.S. Senate laid out, in surgical detail, the extent of Russian meddling in over 20 electoral processes across the globe. U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster recently revealed “initial signs” of possible Russian interference in Mexico, a view shared by leading American experts on Mexican electoral politics.

    Turns out an AMLO adviser is married to someone (Krauze: “carries with her an inconvenient partner”) who was on RT. It’s a fair cop. But, nevertheless Krauze– and the rest of Mexico– are right to be weary of foreign meddling in their politics, as they have a history chock-full of intervention from less benevolent neighbours north of the Río Grande.

    1. Ed

      Mexican politics is pretty easy to follow, since you just have to remember one rule, that the PRI always win. Mexican political scientists have written extensively about the internal politics of the PRI, which is what matters.

      1. RabidGandhi

        PRI always win? It was PAN that gave us two of the last three presidents. PRI came in third place in both of those elections, behind PRD.

        I follow Latin America pretty closely, and I find Mexican politics the hardest to follow, because of all the constantly evolving strange-bedfellow alliances (eg. PRI-Greens, PRD-PAN…).

      2. Brandon

        That was the case for over 89 years until Vincente Fox from the PAN party became president in 2000

    2. Carolinian

      his assault on democracy worldwide

      Contrast the ravings of the WaPo with this Robert Parry quote in today’s Norman Solomon link.

      Western journalists, he wrote, “now apparently see it as their patriotic duty to hide key facts that otherwise would undermine the demonizing of Putin and Russia. Ironically, many ‘liberals’ who cut their teeth on skepticism about the Cold War and the bogus justifications for the Vietnam War now insist that we must all accept whatever the US intelligence community feeds us, even if we’re told to accept the assertions on faith.”

      While it’s probably a mistake to assume journalism was ever a fraternity of noble truth tellers–Ben Hecht’s satirical The Front Page likely closer to the mark–surely we do have a right to expect some sense of responsibility when the fate of the world and the safety of everyone is at stake. As Stephen Cohen has pointed out, when you are messing with Russia you are provoking nuclear rival with all the dangers that entails. The warmongering against Russia may be the historic nadir of the US press and establishment and that’s saying a lot. Fortunately Putin, whatever his faults, seems a lot more sensible than writers at the Washington Post.

    3. George Lane

      People have completely lost their minds with this Russia BS hysteria. The AMLO “Russia connection” comes from the fact that the wife of a US-born Mexican journalist who appears on RT sometimes, John Ackerman, has been promised a position on AMLO’s cabinet should he win (she could not possibly have received that position on her own merit, because, Russia!). Here is an article by Ackerman on AMLO from The Nation:

      It’s absolutely ridiculous and pathetic the Red Scare being pushed now, and the sad thing is it is now “left”-liberals who serve as the rabid attack dogs, or the servile lapdogs, to the CIA and the Washington corporate and imperialist establishment.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Maybe they always were. Has everyone forgotten the Vietnam War? At best, New Deal liberals, which aren’t what we have now, were rabidly anti-Communist and ideologically imperialist. That’s what tore the country apart and darn near got us all killed during the Cuban missile crisis.

        1. George Lane

          Yes you’re right, I was not alive back then but certainly liberals have never exactly questioned US imperialism, encapsulated nicely by Phil Oches’ song Love Me, I’m A Liberal: “but when it comes to times like Korea, there’s no one more red, white, and bluuuuee…”

    4. Paul Cardan

      The block quote reads like something out of a Marvel comic. Or maybe an Ian Fleming novel. I’d suspect self-parody, but self-parody requires an ability to look at oneself from another’s perspective, a perspective from which one’s oh-so-earnest words and acts can appear more than a little ridiculous. I doubt the author, Krauze, has that ability.

      Since he appeals to US authorities as if they were, well, authorities when making claims about Russian evil doing, I do think he owes the reader at least a bit of history regarding his sources. That’s what serious journalists do, or so I’ve been told. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that many Guatemalans might have something to say about US interference in the internal affairs of other countries, especially interference aimed at eradicating “fragile democracies” and democratic movements. Same with many Chileans. Same with many people from most everywhere in Latin America, including (I’m pretty sure) Mexico. And if I recall correctly, US authorities have long employed somewhat harsher measures than misinformation in the process of getting their way.

  3. Olga

    On the Treasury list of “banned” Russians, which includes almost the entire leadership, RT had a good banner: The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on…

    1. barefoot charley

      A better translation of RT’s evocative French phrase, which I assume the French took from Algeria with so much else: “The dogs bark, the caravan passes.”

      1. olga

        Actually, you’ll find arguments online that it is Iranian…. no, no, it is Turkish… nevertheless, it is apt.

    1. polecat

      ” … creating new Deathcare synergistic final solutions for deathbedded surfs. ” – fixed

      Feudalcare …

      Swell, as in pustulous !

      …. might as well through in Gates into the mix too ….and name the new non-profit venture ‘Quadraspleen’

      1. abynormal

        Hey sweetie!…O the HORROR

        no disease suffered by a live man can be known, for every living person has his own peculiarities and always has his own peculiar, personal, novel, complicated disease, unknown to medicine — not a disease of the lungs, liver, skin, heart, nerves, and so on mentioned in medical books, but a disease consisting of one of the innumerable combinations of the maladies of those organs. This simple thought could not occur to the doctors (as it cannot occur to a wizard that he is unable to work his charms) because the business of their lives was to cure, and they received money for it and had spent the best years of their lives on that business. But above all that thought was kept out of their minds by the fact that they saw they were really useful […] Their usefulness did not depend on making the patient swallow substances for the most part harmful (the harm was scarcely perceptible because they were given in small doses) but they were useful, necessary, and indispensable because they satisfied a mental need of the invalid and those who loved her — and that is why there are, and always will be, pseudo-healers, wise women, homoeopaths, and allopaths. They satisfied that eternal human need for hope of relief, for sympathy, and that something should be done, which is felt by those who are suffering.”
        ― Leo Tolstoy

  4. The Rev Kev

    Elon Musk Is Selling Flamethrowers

    Three points to go along with this story-
    First, the purchase of flamethrowers is legal in 48 of 50 US states so the market is there.
    Two, if Elon wants to use those flamethrowers to put the heat on some of his workers, he should be made aware that the range of his flamethrowers is only about three yards whereas the effective rang of the popular Glock is about 55 yards.
    Three, every dumba** knows that flamethrowers don’t stop zombies and it takes a bullet to the head. Try a flamethrower and all you will have is a zombie torch chasing you.

    I was going to send this comment off as was but I will add one other thing. On Twitter Musk said: “Don’t do this. Also, I want to be clear that a flamethrower is a super terrible idea. Definitely don’t buy one. Unless you like fun”.
    I have been trying to remember where I saw this idea of fun and then it came to me-

        1. Summer

          “Marching Morons” sounds a lot like the plot of the movie “Idiocracy.”

          The problem with the inherted IQ idea is that so much about “IQ” rating has to do with cultural factors. A culture or society not using intelligence due to technology and thus not developing it would be the more likely culprit for such a scenario. The Morons book and Idiocracy both touch on tech that does most of the work in future society – and very hilariously in Idiocracy. The medical check up scene in Idiocracy is one for the ages.

          1. nycTerrierist

            Yes, great scene!

            Whenever I hear talk of the war against cash,
            I think of the mandatory barcodes in Idiocracy.
            The horror!

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks for referencing that. From Wikipedia:

          The world seems mad to Barlow until Tinny-Peete explains the Problem of Population: due to a combination of intelligent people not having children and excessive breeding by less intelligent people and coupled with the development of more sophisticated machinery that makes it less important to possess intelligence in one’s working life (see Fertility and intelligence), the world is full of morons, with the exception of an elite few who work slavishly to keep order. Barlow, who was a shrewd real estate con man in his day, has a solution to sell to the elite, in exchange for being made World Dictator.

          A few comments.

          1. It is saying intelligence people don’t have kids, and you get excessive breeding by less intelligence people. The fault lies with the latter morons.

          2. Elites work slavishly to keep order (whose order?)

          3. A world full of morons is in itself not desirable. The question not asked is this: Is that world made more dangerous with weapons developed earlier by non-morons? Or is it always the fault of morons? Can a world full of human-morons who have no weapons, except perhaps rocks, and who are too dumb to invent the internal combustion engine, be said to be menacing to the rest of Nature?

          1. Dita

            Intelligence is wildly overrated, imo. After all it’s The Smartest Guys in the Room who got us where we are now!

            1. integer

              If intelligence isn’t tempered by wisdom, it is dangerous; for everyone else, that is. Throw in obscene wealth and it’s a recipe for disaster.

              I hope some lost soul with a penchant for irony runs Elon down in a Tesla on autopilot, takes a flamethrower to his broken remains, and then sends his ashes into space. FWIW I’m not quite sure if I’m joking here or not.

    1. RMO

      It’s functionally a gas torch similar to the ones that are on sale for melting asphalt and burning out weeds etc. – but attached to a cheap looking stock and priced much higher. It’s idiotic. Probably more dangerous than the regular torches though because of the way it is styled and marketed. Just look at the video of King Genius Musk himself using it! An actual flamethrower as used by the military is a lot more frightening and a pretty horrible weapon. It’s primary use is against fortified targets and works by asphyxiation – the flame consumes the available oxygen, and the people in the pillbox, tank or whatever die. Horribly.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Planning public works – history has a lot to say if we listen properly Bill Mitchell (UserFriendly)

    From the article:

    I noted that significant forward planning is required to ensure that the fiscal policy can be relatively responsive to the cycle.

    MMT economists are fully aware of the technical, legislative and implementations lags that can accompany large-scale public spending.

    But well thought out preparation and well planned projects can allow the government to turn on spending fairly quickly in a downturn and turn it off (or restrict it) in times of high pressure.

    For example, the decision by Norwegian authorities to fast-track the construction of Oslo Airport at Gardermoen was a highly effective fiscal intervention to ease the pain of the 1992 recession.

    While the location of the airport was controversial, the intervention was effective and finite. It also carried scale such that components could be expanded or restricted at fairly short notice to meet with the changing cyclical conditions.

    Another good example is the highway projects in Japan. The Japanese government has a well-designed infrastructure plan in place that allows it to expand and contract government spending to extend the highway and related infrastructure (bridges, waterways etc) to suit cyclical conditions.

    This type of spending can be highly responsive with minimal lags.

    Mitchell is clearly right in theory, but quite wrong to give the exampls of Oslo Airport or Japanese highway projects. Aside from the problem that the Japanese construction industry is notoriously corrupt, it is simply not possible to do major infrastructure well in the sort of time frames demanded by economic cycles. The Japanese and Chinese can be quite quick about building infrastructure, but they do this by using techniques such as completely ignoring environmental assessments or consulting local communities. It would be more efficient to have some sensitivity built into major infrastructure projects to allow accellerated or deccellerated construction in line with local or national economic circumstances, but using big ticket contracts as a way to fine tune the economy is just asking for trouble.

    It is far better to focus on local governments, small scale works, and existing rolling programmes – the unfashionable but essential things like repairing pavements, filling in potholes, weatherizing public housing, upgrading public buildings, revamping parks and so on. Competent local governments will have existing contractors on hand (often on annual contracts, so avoiding the need even for bids), so can react very quickly and efficiently to any need to push money into the system and create jobs, or retract in the event of an overheating economy. Small scale works also tend to be more labour intensive per $ spent.

    1. Darius

      Your last paragraph pretty well expresses the Strong Towns idea. Focus on maintaining what we have. Gaudy, big projects saddle communities with huge obligations that come due well after the hoopla and glamour are gone. And they rarely address a community’s needs, while exacerbating its problems.

        1. larry

          PK, not all linked sites allow comments. You could have added it to both blogs. It is a reasonable comment, so it is a missed opportunity, it seems to me.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We should not limit ourselves to physical infrastructure projects, big or small.

      There are other intangible types of infrastructure that are essential for the operation of a society, such as, free time to play, non-competition with other humans, being outside under the sun, being around plants, meditation or yoga to realize you can’t buy happiness with your billions of dollars, etc.

      By pumping money directly to the people, and there is no delay we can foresee with doing something like that, instead of through a government that includes the FBI, CIA, Pentagon, the economy can be immediately stimulated.

      These types of infrastructure are as important or more important than fixing a road so you can get to work faster – they lead to happier and healthier worker-bees, which are part of the total infrastructure.

  6. Craig H.

    Elon Musk Is Selling Flamethrowers Bloomberg

    I am not sure the Bloomberg writer knows what is going on there. The flamethrower described is not a weapon. It is a party prop. For Burning Man dance parties. Or lighting up the barbecue charcoal.

      1. JamesG

        Actual weapon flamethrowers are fueled with napalm which is jellied gasoline. I never used one but saw them demonstrated in my army days.

        I once owned a garden/landscaping tool which projected a flame. It was fueled with kerosene.

        Kerosene if used properly is relatively harmless.

        Gasoline, on the other hand, has correctly been called an “explosive” not a “flammable.”

        Every year hospital ERs treat scores of people who use gasoline to light charcoal.

  7. Bugs Bunny

    Re “U.S. Releases Sweeping List of Russian Oligarchs and Officials”

    Is there a list of “US Oligarchs and Officials” who should be “targeted for restrictions”, in the name of all decent people?

    Someone should make one.

    1. mle detroit

      Good idea. Start with cabinet members, big donors to both oligarch-owned parties, and S&P CEOs. Easy. Spreadsheet format seems to be popular. Suggest #Not Me.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        Maybe I will take a first crack. Suggestions for Excel cells are welcome. My first thoughts: “net worth” “political affiliation” “# known residences” “passports” “honorary titles” “inheritance amount”…


        1. Wombat

          Some binary variables perhaps: “Mentioned in panama/paradise papers?”, ”Clinton Foundation donor?”, “Suspiciously one step removed from money laundering operations or HSBC Board Member?”.

          Also consider removing “political affiliation” if you mean Dem or Rep as it has little correlation to the Dependent variable – “oligarch / official coefficient”

  8. PlutoniumKun

    Americans are saving energy because fewer people go outside The Verge. Bad for your psyche, though.

    Specifically in 2012, Americans spent one day less traveling and one week less in buildings other than their homes when compared to a decade earlier. The trend of staying indoors is especially strong for those ages 18 to 24: the youths spent 70 percent more time at home than the general population.

    The article does conflate two different things – the act of ‘staying at home’ and ‘staying indoors’. Lots of those lost trips could have been just trips to the mall. But I’ve seen a few different reports over the last year or so at increasing evidence of Vitamin D deficiencies. Vit D of course is mostly produced by the action of sun on skin. A few years back the main problem I was aware of was deficiencies causing rickets in muslim women in northern England because they stayed indoors too much (or wore too much clothes when they did go out).

    So while its good news I think if people aren’t driving so often to malls, it is a bit depressing if its true that people are just staying indoors all the time to the extent that its impacting on health.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Might as well stay home when, here in LA, you get traffic even on Saturdays.

      It was not like this 10 years ago.

      If fewer people are making trips, that means there are just much more drivers now for it to be more congested with the same trip taking longer.

      So, it would seem to be an over-population issue, here, talking about driving , when it comes to greenhouse gases – fewer trips per person, more fuel efficient cars, and yet more total emission.

      It’s interesting to note that a person who takes public transportation in, say Tokyo, when moves to America, is very likely to drive a car. So, this suggests two action courses:

      1. Move more Americans to countries with good public transportation (for immediately results)
      2. Take in fewer people from those countries.

      1. Jean

        Let’s import a couple dozen million more “immigrants”, that’ll make traffic better, lower rents and free up class rooms.

        Anything to keep the California Democratic Party on top.

        Netflix and Amazon streaming plus the universe of videos available on Youtube, often in HD, make going out to the movies a waste of time and money. I’ll bet that has a lot to do with these numbers.

          1. integer

            It would be handy for the national D party if the electoral college was nullified though, which is something I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Clinton do, had she won the election.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I wonder what young people who stay home and stay inside are doing. My son fit into that category spending all his time in his room on his computer playing video games to the point of madness. I suppose other young people might be home reading or working on homework assignments but somehow I doubt that. So saving energy, avoiding polluted air — as much as staying inside makes possible — must be balanced by taking vitamin D supplements or drinking more vitamin D enriched milk?

      I think more people staying home — to the point where it is noticeable as an energy savings — makes a nice rock to hide a lot of nasty crawling things [figurative] which hate the light.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Another possible factor: Shoppers staying home shopping those free-shipping items from all over the world, for as little as two dollars.

        It tempts you to never want to go out.

        And the energy saved is not really wasted on more parcel deliveries, if it’s the US Postal Service making the same route. Just more revenue for the USPS per stop…and fewer retail jobs.

      2. Bill

        Being outside, in Nature, is beneficial, the article says. However, how much Nature is around any more in cities, and how dangerous does it feel to go out and feel exposed to the rampant paranoia that is palpable in the air these days. I wonder if it is this plus it just costs money every time you go out anywhere–where can you go to hang out, like a park, that does not cost money, and not be suspected of being homeless or looking for drug customers?
        I am lucky enough to live in Nature and it was actually a requirement for me to find a place in Nature to “retire”, albeit at the expense of a lot of other amenities.

  9. Wyoming

    Re: Americans saving energy

    Could this not also be due to so many of their jobs being part time and thus they end up at home a lot more?

  10. Eureka Springs

    Lipinski on min wage:

    “If you look at the history of the minimum wage, the highest that it was in current dollars was in 1968, which would be the equivalent of about $11.60.

    I’ve never heard such a low number. Seems I recall equivalents (from late 60’s thru early 70’s to ought ’07 thru present) at or over 20.00. That said I long thought the push should be for 20 plus. If the Prog “resistors” got their way today, 15 would still be 7 years away.

    These numbers were hardly helpful 10 years ago, yet we still have the same arguments now. Thanks Unions, Dems, Progs. If I had a paper ballot I would rather write-in Bozo the clown than lessor weasel.

      1. Eureka Springs


        Just occurred to me if pegged to the QE driven stock market min wage should be well over 30.

        1. JBird

          Using just inflation it’s ~$11 per hour, and using the combination of inflation and increased productivity, it should be at least $15 and probably more. Employees’ income increase use to closely match the latter until ~1975, then it just followed inflation, now it follows neither. That is partly why there is some honest disagreement on what the minimum wage should be. Also as the disparity in both wealth and cost of living has spread geographically as well, the needed minimum wage is very different. On the West Coast, $15 might not be considered high enough, but in the Deep South it might be more than enough.

          I think that raising the minimum wage over say five to ten years ~$21 on the West Coast, and probably the Northeast, would be good, and $15 elsewhere using my limited knowledge. Then index it to both inflation and productivity. And none of this reduced the paid minimum wage of tipped workers to less than $7 as it is in some states.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Minimum wage was raised to $1.60 on Feb 1, 1968. In that month the CPI was 34.2, versus 246.524 now.

      $1.60 * (246.524 / 34.2) = $11.53

      Perhaps with some inverse hedonic adjustments for the merits of Feb 1968 (simpler life; vibrant rock ‘n roll scene; MLK still alive; hippie girls) we could drive it up to $20 as you propose.

    2. heresy101

      Looking at the minimum wage as a dollar per hour number, even indexed for the CPI, is wrong because it allows the 1% to drive down wages in places like Amazon’s sweat shops. A very clear and easy way to set the minimum wage is to index it to the median (not mean) income. The median wage is around $60-65K nationally (higher in some states as determined by the IRS) and a minimum wage would be set at 50% of the median wage for a state. Thus, at $65K, the minimum would be set at 65,000/2080 which would be $15.65 and it would automatically increase with the median wage. This doesn’t guarantee that either the median income is a livable wage but the minimum would automatically track the median to be at least 1/2 way livable.

      On the other hand, there should be a 3 times the median wage multiple for all government, non-profit, charity, and others. This would be all compensation except for health care (socialist healthcare or single payer) and retirement (social security and defined benefit retirement).

      Help out the lowest workers and cap the highest paid government workers!

      After that we can institute a guillotine plan for corporate executives and the 1%!!

      1. pricklyone

        Median WAGE is about 33,000, not 60000 -65000. @45000 for full-time year-round employees.

        “News” outlets constantly trumpet the “household income”, as if it were a single earner income.
        This is not the case. If BLS were ever to honestly asses the ratio of the highest paid to the real median wage, you might just see the pitchforks come out.

  11. PlutoniumKun

    Washington Widens the War in Syria by Provoking Turkey Counterpunch

    A paragraph worth sending to every single opinion writer and politician in Washington:

    The US has lost its ability to shape events in the Middle East, particularly in Syria where its jihadist proxies have been rolled back on nearly every front. The US simply doesn’t have sufficient forces on the ground to determine the outcome, nor is it respected as an honest broker, a dependable ally or a reliable steward of regional security. The US is just one of many armed-factions struggling to gain the upper hand in an increasingly fractious and combustible battlespace. Simply put, Washington is losing the war quite dramatically due in large part to the emergence of a new coalition (Russia-Syria-Iran-Hezbollah) that has made great strides in Syria and that is committed to preserve the Old World Order, a system that is built on the principles of national sovereignty, self determination and non intervention. Washington opposes this system and is doing everything in its power dismantle it by redrawing borders, toppling elected leaders, and installing its own stooges to execute its diktats.

    Trump was widely mocked for the implications of his ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan, but of course, in so many ways, he was right, certainly in geopolitics. The US has been steadily losing power and influence since the invasion of Iraq. The irony is that now he’s in power Trump (or perhaps to be more precise, those around him) don’t seem to recognise the new realities. The US is simply not capable of enforcing its will on the Middle East, or anywhere in Central Asia anymore. This wasn’t caused by Trump, but the blunderings of US policymaking continues under him – its just maybe a little more obvious now there isn’t the smokescreen of Obamas popularity.

    1. Jim Haygood

      The US is simply not capable of enforcing its will on the Middle East, or anywhere in Central Asia anymore.

      … a conclusion which carries existential implications for a certain little US client state which is willing to spend unlimited US funds to “redraw borders, topple elected leaders, and install its own stooges to execute its diktats.”

    2. Sid Finster

      If we have learned nothing else from the last twelve months, it is that Trump is in office, but he is not in power.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I am afraid your observation fits more U.S. Presidents than Trump. Recall the CIA’s nickname for Dick Cheney was Edgar Bergen. I wonder what they called Obama and what nickname they have for Trump.

        Of course that others seem in charge hardly exculpates our current president and the presidents of the many decades preceding.

    3. VietnamVet

      This paragraph on provoking Turkey spells it out.

      Can the USA withdraw its troops safely? Only one man survived the British expedition into Afghanistan a century and half ago.

      There is a huge gulf in media reporting. Washington Post: “Top Democrats warn of ‘ongoing attack by the Russian government’ amid push to publish classified memo”. ZeroHedge: “FBI Director Wray ‘Shocked To His Core’ By FISA Memo, McCabe ‘Removed’ Next Day, More Heads To Roll”. What is the truth? Cognitive dissonance is in hyperdrive.

      Donald Trump is stuck. He has family ties with Israel. Saudi Arabia is the only other American Middle East ally left. If he withdraws American troops, he will end up retired with Dick Nixon. Mike Pence will be the sequel to Gerald Ford. A war with Turkey will dismember NATO. The draft is needed for a war with Iran or Russia. We get to watch the disaster unfold in real time. If the world survives, this or the EU breakup will mark the end of the dollar as the reserve currency. That is if the Greatest Depression Ever (GDE) doesn’t do it first.

      1. John k

        Reserve currency ends when foreigners that don’t trust their own fiat paper decide they no longer want to save dollars – at which point the dollar falls, our trade will be in balance, huge demand for us workers, wages rise, and some other country will lose jobs as they receive more goods than they send.
        Neither China or the EU want that role. Some EU and others wanted to save Swiss francs, the swiss refused to allow the currency to appreciate by simply printing and selling as needed to satisfy foreign savers… now they hold huge 4x reserves.

        The us will pull back, become a regional power, stop with foreign wars etc, not because they want to, and not without much kicking screaming gnashing of teeth, but because it has to. Soon, say under Bernie, or slower and then faster.
        It’s already underway. We’ll be completely out of Afghanistan and Syria soon, the existing small forces are not tenable.
        Assuming ww111 avoided, otherwise all moot.

  12. The Rev Kev

    Australia shoots for bigger gun sales

    Well this is stupid. If export incentives will mostly help local subsidiaries of multinationals, then does that make Australia the front man for these western multinationals? Will we be the front-man that can sell to despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia that would be too problematical for these western countries if they tried it themselves. A way of getting around arms restrictions? This may also be a response to the fact that Russia is selling more good quality, low-cost weapons around the world over the past few years, including in our backyard (Indonesia is buying 11 Su-35 jets off the Russians). The west wants those contracts instead.
    It is just not the arms. When you sell modern weapons, that includes servicing and spare parts, training as well, local facilities and before you know it, that country’s military is tied up by the weapons seller. More so if judicious bribes are spread to make sure that that country continues to buy your weapon systems and perhaps others.
    A local arms race would be great for business but a terrible idea for stability. Also, you cannot control how those weapons are used when, for example, the Germans discovered that the Leopard 2 tanks they sold the Turks are being used in the Afrin assault. As well, weapons sold are supposed to have end-user certificates to state that who you sell that weapon to does not sell it on but that is a bit of a joke considering how many ATGMs and Manpads have made their way to Syria. This will not end well but I am afraid that our government is too done deaf to listen here.

  13. rd

    Re: UK will be worse off in every scenario

    Now is when we get to the heart of what inequality really means.

    These articles do not detail how the people who voted for Brexit will be much worse off. It is clear that the financial sector will be severely damaged along with many other sectors. The people making money in those sectors will be severely impacted and real estate prices in places like London are likely to get hammered. However, if the people who voted for Brexit have not been seeing the benefits from this, the negative consequences are unlikely to concern them much.

    This is ultimately why Trump got elected with the breakthrough margins in previously blue states. Those marginal voters had not seen any marked difference in outcomes from voting for either mainstream Republicans or mainstream Democrats, so you may as well just try the guy who says he plans to dynamite the whole thing. “What do I have to lose?”

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Auto and transportation parts makers, which provide the highest paying jobs in the lower-income parts of the UK and are often the dominant employer, will be cutting employment and even shuttering. If you think London gets hit the worst, you are smoking something strong. Every study has shown that the hinterlands will take the biggest dive, and they are already in some to a lot of distress.

      1. rd

        I think a lot of these votes are heavily influenced by “Inequity Aversion.” In the end, they will probably lose, but that is not what is going through their heads when they vote. Instead they see their communities getting left behind, and a vote like this is their only means of pushing back. The magnitude and specifics of the feedback loops that will boomerang onto the voters are not understood by them at the time of voting.

        A primary danger of high inequality is that outcomes can become seriously non-linear with logical economics taking a back seat to perceptions. Revolutions rarely happen in healthy economies with reasonable levels of inequality. Most revolts do not end happily for most participants. The American Revolution is almost unique in its overall positive outcome rarely quickly after the war ended.

        1. Altandmain

          You could make a case the same happened in the US with Trump.

          Many of the rural areas were left behind, while a few, mostly coastal, cities prospered. Trump was a way to send back a clear message – although it’s clear that Trump too will leave the worst hit areas even more worse off.

          The tragedy here is that a legitimate populist might have given the 10% and especially the 1% a well deserved knock in the head.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Artificial Intelligence May Have Cracked Freaky 600-Year-Old Manuscript Gizomdo (David L)

    That particular project could have supported a few mathematicians and cryptographers a few years.

    The old argument that automating weaving, for example, makes clothes cheaper, thus consumers have more money to spend elsewhere is hard to apply here, for a couple of reasons.

    1. Making 600 year old manuscripts cheaper to enjoy will not lead to money saved to spend elsewhere, because not too many are buying them now.

    2. Even if there were many buyers of 600 year old manuscripts, there are not lot of such texts to buy, and it’s not like you can make more (except through forgery, I suppose).

    1. DJG

      MLTPB: Except.

      This article seems more logical to me than the code cracking, which involved people who couldn’t even verify the language that they claim the manuscript to be written in. In the TLS article, the author talks about using sources, understanding systems of book making, understanding styles of abbreviation, begin able to read a map. [I believe that Yves Smith posted the TLS article a while back.]

      Or the Voynich may just be a hoax, as a few articles out there posit.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Will it be, then, that the more hoaxes we have out there, the more jobs we can create for exposing them?

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Take care for what you argue. The kind of arguments you make are remarkably similar to the kind of arguments used to bring down the old system for giving research grants — as opposed to research contracts.

      “That particular project could have supported a few mathematicians and cryptographers a few years.”
      I suspect it probably did.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If it probably did, with this, there won’t be more of it.

        But fortunately, six-hundred year old manuscripts can’t be manufactured every day. And that AI won’t be replacing more human workers.

  15. Jim Haygood

    This exchange actually took place on TV last night:

    Carter: What we know tonight is that FBI Director Christopher Wray went Sunday and reviewed the four-page FISA memo. The very next day, Andrew McCabe was asked to resign. Remember Sean, he was planning on resigning in March — that already came out in December. This time they asked him to go right away. You’re not coming into the office. I’ve heard reports he didn’t even come in for the morning meeting – that he didn’t show up.

    Hannity: A source of mine told me tonight that when Wray read this, it shocked him to his core.

    Carter: Shocked him to his core, and not only that, the Inspector General’s report — I have been told tonight by a number of sources, there’s indicators right now that McCabe may have asked FBI agents to actually change their 302’s – those are their interviews with witnesses. So basically every time an FBI agent interviews a witness, they have to go back and file a report.

    Hannity: Changes? So that would be obstruction of justice?

    Carter: Exactly. This is something the Inspector General is investigating. If this is true and not just alleged, McCabe will be fired. I heard they are considering firing him within the next few days if this turns out to be true.

    Sounds far-fetched to me. How many FBI agents would put their career on the line by falsifying reports? Not many.

    In the remote event that this sensational claim is true, we’ll be able to see the mushroom cloud over DC all the way from Los Angeles.

    Tick tock, Andy.

      1. Jim Haygood

        There once was a G-man named Andy
        Who thought everything was just dandy
        His pension seemed safe
        Till House Intel chafed
        Now a good lawyer would be handy

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Why are “reports” written summaries and not actual audio / video records?

      Probably has something to do with the consummate “professionalism” of the career fbi officials in the j. edgar hoover building.

    2. Brian

      I particularly like how the NewBoss alleges he doesn’t know what is in the memo that was written by OldBoss. NewBoss is now attractive due to his ignorance? J. Edgar would be proud of these groomed for greatness.
      How does a nation uncorrupt such an organization?
      Does “won’t get fooled again” ever come into consideration?

    3. djrichard

      I believe the National Review loathes Trump, but they loath the Clinton/Obama cabal even more, Hillary’s ‘Sure’ Victory Explains Most Everything

      In reductionist terms, every single scandal that has so far surfaced at the FBI and DOJ share a common catalyst. What now appears clearly unethical and probably illegal would have passed as normal in a likely 16-year Obama-Clinton progressive continuum.

      On a related note, there’s a reference and comparison at the end to Nixon’s scandal. I have to admit that after reading Baudrillard, I’m somewhat jaundiced when it comes to scandals, including Nixon’s. In that the scandals are simply the establishment’s way of making a show of their righteousness (virtue signaling) by being willing to sacrifice one of their own. “For the good of the country” as it were.

      But in this case, I don’t think we’re going to have that same sense of a replenishment of the moral high ground like we did after Nixon. Maybe others who were more aware back then of what was going on (I was too young) can comment. This case will be different I think; it’s more like a civil war where the playing field has gone to the advantage of one of the sides. It’s just that they have to operate in the court of public opinion, so there’s still some appeal to ground rules on the playing field. But it’s certainly not for the sanctity of the game.

      More significantly, I think this will be different in that the establishment is on the losing side of this. Not just the “swamp” in government as it were. But the media certainly, but also the global capitalists. They’ve all been aligned against insurgency against their power, any insurgency, including the insurgency of the deplorables with Trump as their figurehead. Trump may have been a manchurian insurgent, who knows. But if his constituents don’t know that, and if his constituents see him collecting scalps, that can’t be good for the establishment. This truly could have far reaching consequences for them, beyond making the playing field “scandal free”.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There are different types of scandals.

        For example, it was scandalous that the Czar”s soldiers shot their own people in St. Petersburg. That was more than the establishment making a show of their righteousness. That scandal, along with other factors, lead to a revolution, like the other scandal involving eating brioche.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Yes this is the big flaw in the Obama/Clinton coup attempt: she didn’t win. So now the roaches must scurry around a little.

        I wish I could say “I see orange jumpsuits ahead”, but I don’t, we don’t do that tiresome “rule of law” stuff any more for the overlord class. So a few days in the ‘bad boy/girl chair”, a lower social profile for a news cycle or two, then maybe run again in 2020. Perez would be thrilled, get Obama to put down the choom pipe long enough to say some cool and inspiring stuff at the rallies.

        Hilary 2020 slogan: “This Time I’ll Make Sure The Fix Is Done Right!”. Kind of heart-warming: the well-intentioned, wronged female victim gets another chance and triumphs in the end, an inspiring American success story.

      3. Lambert Strether

        Much of what Obama did with regulation and executive orders (e.g., DACA, and environment stuff) was premised on the idea that the Democrats would retain the Presidency. Worse than a crime, a blunder.

      1. Jef

        “free from profit-making incentives and constraints,”

        Thats just another way of saying Government subsidized, you know, like all the other mega-monopoly businesses.

      2. Dita

        I take it that this is a self-insurance scheme, so to the extent they cut out the insurance middle man, there will be profit will be savings from not paying premiums? And god knows Amazon is ruthless; I almost pity big pharma and the lobbyists./sarc.

      3. integer

        They will almost certainly follow the Amazon blueprint, which goes something like this: aggressively go after market share while making zero profit, publicly list the company, and then take profits via share price increases which will be based on market share and potential profitability rather than the company’s actual profitability.

    1. djrichard

      This is fascinating. It seems to be a clear shot over the bow against the health care industry status quo. In which case why? At first blush, my guess is that they think that too much consumer wallet is going to health care and they want to free it up so that the consumer wallet can be pledged to other rent seekers instead. But why would that make a difference to this three? They all win regardless – all the money in our wallets effectively roll up to them and their ilk regardless. OK, maybe Amazon might not be as much in the inner circle compared to Dimon and Buffet. But still.

      Or maybe, they see the democrats in disarray and the risk that they’ll get outflanked by a more bona fide left. In which case medicare-for-all would be inevitable. In which case, this could be a mitigating maneuver – get out ahead of any government-based solution, to make sure the problem is solved by the “market”. In this case, the “market” being these 3 guys. Hmm, maybe we should just outsource the rest of our Fed Gov functions to this “market” of 3 guys too.

      1. Dita

        I agree. And I keep thinking that the tax breaks Amazon will get, that these giants get, with wages so low wage employees still need food stamps — this is already a government subsidy, a form of public-private partnership, no? Not explicitly stated of course, but still a reality. Self-insuring isn’t new and this experiment is covering their own employees first, but the sheer 800-lb gorilla-ness of Berkshire-Amazon-JP Morgan leads to me to agree with your 2nd para

  16. fresno dan

    I’m not done. Other kinds of so-called insurance suck, too. Consider dental insurance, which typically comes with a maximum payout of something like $1,000. That’s the opposite of insurance, because it peters out precisely when you face the most unaffordable situations. It doesn’t even cover one freaking root canal. For some reason, this is par for the crappy dental insurance course.
    As I see so many people at 65 who are actually getting health insurance for the first time when they turn 65, they are very susceptible to the way MA ( medicare advantage, i.e., HMO’s) portray their dental and vision “insurance” as free – generally almost always a bad, bad deal. I think I related before the story of the beneficiary who needed extensive dental work and found out for himself that using his dental “plan” was twice as expensive as just finding a dentist on his own despite having dental “insurance.”

    And speaking of commercials. has anybody noticed that mattress commercial – the one that takes place in the all windows bedroom with the impossibly gorgeous couple….and that now that commercial starts at the hands of the couple as they are laying in bed with the camera focused on the wedding ring on the male’s finger….
    I noticed a while back that the guy who sells pillows started wearing his crucifix dangling outside his shirt.

    1. crittermom

      A friend’s husband broke a molar.
      He is retired & has supplemental insurance, including dental, so he had a crown put on & turned the $1,600 bill into the insurance company.

      His claim was denied, as it seems you have to pay into the insurance for a full year before coverage begins.
      He was ten days short of that year. Swell insurance plan, huh?

    2. RUKidding

      Dental insurance, in my experience, is almost never worth it. We are forced to buy it by our employer (long story). The plan, itself, isn’t that expensive, but as is typical, only covers the basics.

      For many years, I just self-insured my dental. Unfortunately I don’t have the greatest teeth, despite rigorous home care. I’ve needed several expensive procedures, including crowns, root canals and implants. Nearly 100% of those procedures are paid by moi, alone, whether I’ve insurance or not.

      Once I retire, I won’t bother with dental insurance. Not worth it.

      Some Vision plans can be worth it, but in general, they’re mostly not necessary either. Just depends.

      1. Lambert Strether

        When I had dental, I was funneled into a dentistry mill, where they installed a filling with sharp edges that later fell apart, and ran a 360° x-ray on me that was obviously designed to upsell me into getting all my wisdom teeth pulled. Which I did, later, because the filling that fell apart was on one of them. So I waited around 20 years to get my teeth pulled. Which is a good thing, I think.)

    3. ambrit

      This reminds me or one of the reasons why I quit XXXXs DIY store. We had to ‘push’ supplemental product warranty plans on every big, and some small, item we sold. We, the floor staff, all laughed about these plans. Even the 100% gung ho guys and girls admitted that the add on plans were a bad deal for the customers. Since Corporate pushed these plans, the thinking went, they must be of some importance to the company bottom line. Thus, a transfer of wealth from the pockets of the consumers into the pockets of upper management.
      When even so prosaic a product as ACA “Health Plans” turn out to be giant looting tools for Corporate, is it any wonder that Dental Plans are even worse?
      As for the mattress jewelry shot, well, “One Ring to rule them all.”

  17. cocomaan

    I think it’s worth recognizing that we’re at a really dangerous point in discussions about Russia, intelligence, investigations, and so on. I am kind of in a bubble here on NC so it’s worth going outside of it

    For instance, read this reddit thread about the release of the memo:

    ‘Monday Night Slaughter’: Legendary investigative journalist Carl Bernstein calls Trump-GOP attacks on the FBI and DOJ a ‘turning point’

    If Democrats don’t flip the Senate and House this year, democracy and the rule of law in the US will be over. By 2020, it will be a one party dictatorship. RIP USA, 1776-2018.

    I want everyone to get out and vote these fuckers out in 2018, but I’m not convinced that the elections will even be true. We may have already tipped into hostile rule, a la Russia.

    We tried that. That hostile foreign power manipulated the election. If Mueller’s investigation is shutdown, we must take matters into our own hands.

    I’m scared to death that the 2nd amendment is what it will take to save our country in the end. I hope that it won’t come to this. I hope that Mueller will bring down this corrupt administration and take out all the Republicans complicit in this treason. I hope that the election in 2018 will be open, fair, and secured from outside (Russian) interference. I hope that the Democrats will start playing hardball and grow some spines. But with nearly every passing day, more shit like this happens and I lose more hope. I truly fear the day that might come soon when we have to start using violence to save our country. Two years ago, before all this happened, I never thought we would be on the brink of another civil war, but here we are.

    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

      However, if you look at the actual thread, a lot of people accused the last commenter of possibly being non-genuine.

      1. cocomaan

        Thanks, I missed that. Maybe I checked it too early in the morning.

        Still, some of the comments in that thread are frightening. People are getting desperate.

    2. Jef

      Coco – A prime example of how successful this whole Russkie rouse has been. The discussion has completely shifted from the real issue of how manipulated the election process has been and how it is all about the money.

    3. hreik

      Totally agree. Many readers on here think the Russia stuff is for sh*ts and giggles…. and are dismissive of the whole thing. I’m not one of them and read here far less than I used to b/c of it. I too believe we are at a dangerous point in our history. I hope it’s not too late.

      ty for your comment. you’re not alone

      1. Hamford

        The last 2nd ammendment comment was called out on reddit:

        “You’ve copy/pasted this same comment 5 times so far this evening on various articles here in r/politics, with a login you’ve created sometime in the past couple of hours.

        If you’re sincere, maybe think about how it looks when you spam this kind of thing.”


        Let’s say everything was true about Russia,Russia,Russia.

        1) If Russia took DNC and/or Podesta emails and gave them to wikileaks, are the emails not true?

        2) If Putin or Russian citizens spent 100-150k on facebook ads, how was this so effective against Billions of Hillary/DNC spending? (Maybe the DNC should hire these consultants with a 10000x ROI over the status quo).

        3) Are bots generated by foreign agents so believable to be trusted over known social media accounts or the MSM? (The NYT article today indicates that bots are pretty awesome at generating numbers, but perhaps ignored, unconvincing, or dubious as individual actors).

        4) What else has Russia done to hack/influence/interfere/collude/mettle with the election?

        1. hreik

          I don’t care about bots, I don’t care about DNC emails, (true, of course they are true) I actually care less about the interference than I care that a candidate seemingly participated with a foreign power w/r/t our elections. The fact that tRump has refused to follow the law and impose the sanctions speaks volumes. Of course Russia interferes in elections, all over the place.

          1. Hamford

            Why is not imposing Russian sanctions and freezing their economy a la post WWI Germany a bad thing? Has a frozen, desparate Russian economy been good for the West?

            When Obama lifted sanctions against Iran via executive action, I recall the Republican dominated congress being quite perturbed.

            IMHO this administration has been quite, quite “energy” friendly- see Solar panel tarriff, dismantling EPA and NEPA protections, lifting Obama’s regulations to “clean coal” etc., Exxon Mobil CEO at helm of State Dept. In my recollection, western oil companies even had to be subsidized by the US due to sanctions preventing unrealized profits in Russia. Is it possible that not enforcing sanctions has something to do with Western stability and energy interests rather than a Trump “thanks for the assist”?

            (Note: The previous argument goes out the window if post presidency, Trump goes on a 500k a pop Russian speaking tour)

          2. lyman alpha blob

            Is it illegal for foreign citizens to comment on or voice an opinion regarding US elections?

            If so, why was it not illegal for Obama to very publicly weigh in on his preference during the last French elections?

            If Russian ‘interference’ included overturning the results of the elections, ie actual vote tampering, you’re going to need to come up with some proof of that. If there were actual proof, wouldn’t the Democrats be screaming for an overhaul of our election process? And yet we hear crickets about that, and it really does need a complete overhaul.

            At this point there is a lot more proof that the Clintons tampered with the results of the Democratic primaries than there is for any Russian tampering in the general.

          3. Roady

            Of course Russia interferes in elections, all over the place.

            I suppose we would need some evidence of that.

            Also, internationally powerful nations routinely interfere in other countries “all over the place.”

      2. cocomaan

        I’m actually not all that concerned about the possibility that the Russians interfered with anything, because A) We can expect it happens and B) Attribution of cyber warfare can be faked by the CIA, so it’s hard to take it seriously.

        My worry is that I don’t think there’s actually a good outcome to ANY investigation at this point in history. It’s starting to feel like Rome around the time of Caesar.

        Remember why Caesar crossed the rubicon with his army? Because he was facing prosecution.

        1. The Rev Kev

          You’re completely right about Caesar’s choice. Real Game of Thrones rules at play. “Win or die!”
          Sun Tzu could have told the Senate about making sure that a trapped opponent should always have one avenue of escape, however illusionary.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      I don’t know what you’re worried about – democracy and the rule of law in the US died way before Trump came along.

      IMNSHO the reason we have Trump is because all the politicians/corporate shills who’ve been so diligently killing it off were quite successful in their efforts.

  18. John

    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan: most terrifying words in the English language, I’m from Amazon, Uncle Warren and a bank and we’re here to help you when you’re sick. Taking “go die” to new levels.

    1. Lemmy Caution

      I can hear their soothing bedside manner now:

      “May we remove your watch, your ring and everything from your pockets to make you more comfortable?”

  19. allan

    SF tourist industry struggles to explain street misery to horrified visitors [SFGate]

    As president of the Handlery Union Square Hotel, part of Jon Handlery’s job is to scour travel websites to find out what tourists are telling one another about his hotel and San Francisco.

    He tries to respond, thanking his customers for their patronage and acknowledging their gripes. But he’s stopped even trying to explain the No. 1 complaint: the city’s miserable street scene that’s made all the more stark against the backdrop of so much wealth and luxury.

    Tiffany’s and tents. Neiman Marcus and needles. Macy’s and mental illness. …

    Think of it as Poverty Tourism on a shoestring budget.
    Not everybody can afford to go to the Davos Refugee Camp Experience.

    1. RUKidding

      Yeah, SF around Union Square – which is where most of the high end hotels are – is a real picture in stark contrasts and quite shocking to those tourists who haven’t realized that they’re visiting a bona fide, certified, real Third World Country, replete with its own heavily militarized police state and banana republic corrupt “government.”

      I sitll have USA friends who say they won’t visit India or Africa bc they “don’t want to see that level of poverty.” I say: Oh, and what do you do when you visit downtown Sacramento or San Francisco? Wear a blindfold?”

      1. JamesG

        The SF mess is created by government.

        Even with its current Marxist Mayor New York City officials do not permit Fifth Avenue to function as the open air home of the “homeless.”

        All it takes is for government to accept anyone’s “right” to reside anywhere and you get today’s SF.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Their ‘right’ to reside anywhere, except inside City Hall and other public buildings.

          Where are Sanctuary Public Places, where, once you step inside, you can’t be forced out? So, if you can get into, sneak into, the San Francisco Opera House building, you get to stay.

        2. RUKidding

          What is your definition of Marxism?

          And where are the homeless supposed to go? What solutions do you suggest?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            For sure the person is not Proudhon’s anarchist, for property is theft, public or private.

            Or more critically, there is no such a concept as property. So, they should be able to reside inside government buildings.

            But even if he’s a capitalist, it’s still the case, with a government of, for and by the people, that public buildings can be used ‘by’ the people, in the case of the homeless, as shelters.

            1. RUKidding

              Eh? I dunno. I’m not sure that just opening up City Hall at night and saying: OK folks, here ya go! is the answer. It’s easy to say that, but it’s a lot harder to make that work for all concerned.

              Libraries have been “housing” the homeless in day time for years now, and they’ve had a plethora of issues to grapple and contend with. Libraries are spending money on a variety of social services in order to work with and assist their homeless patrons, including providing a range of training for the library staff so that they know how to cope and what to do.

              This also ensures that other patrons can still feel comfortable about using the library when a lot of homeless are camped out in the library. It’s not always easy to meet competing demands. It takes thought, training and good planning to make it work well and to ensure that staff can handle everything competently.

              So it’s easy to say: hey, just open all the doors of public buildings and voila! problem solved. I don’t think that would work in practice.

              IOW, we need credible shelters, and in particular, the types of shelters one sees now in many cities where the homeless are not just housed and fed, but there are staff there to work with them to see if they can be provided with more permanent housing, as well as gaining assistance in finding jobs.

              This is a complex problem, and there simply are no easy, much less facile, solutions.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I believe there are 770,000 empty government buildings. That was from the LATimes in 2016.

                And if that doesn’t solve the problem, it might still help a lot.

                Certainly they should be able to use bathrooms even, or especially, in buildings currently in use, and showers that are currently used exclusively by rich athletes at publicly financed stadiums.

                1. RUKidding

                  Ok. Empty buildings are another story. But still have to be repurposed for a different use plus staff to manage it.

                  A good idea but not necessarily a super quick fix.

                  Thanks for a credible solution. RU

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I had a glass of wine with a well-off, left-leaning, Dem-voting reasonable guy the other day. His suggested solution for the homeless? Water cannons. Spray them into the next neighborhood over.

            Q: what happens to a society when its members have lost all feelings of compassion towards each other?

            1. RUKidding

              Q: what happens to a society when its members have lost all feelings of compassion towards each other?

              I think we’re seeing “what happens” right now in our country with a Congress and President who push for tax cuts for the extremely wealthy, while cutting all sorts of social services because allegedly “we can’t afford them, and anyway, anyone who ‘needs’ social services is by definition a lousy lazy welfare queen expecting something for nothing.'”

              And we end up with a huge and growing homeless population, whilst our POTUS and Congress and the 4th Estate crow about how GREAT our economy is and how there’s jawbs aplenty, yadda yadda.

              And we have commenters and others who suggest that the homeless should bascially be, uh, ??? wiped out of existence… or at least sent to some sort of Siberian hellscape where “good white citizens” don’t have to see them starve to death. Or something. And because that’s what they deserve, obviously.

        3. False Solace

          > All it takes is for government to accept anyone’s “right” to reside anywhere and you get today’s SF.

          Wait, what? If the government accepted our right to reside anywhere, we could go live in all those empty houses the wealthy own and intentionally keep empty. According to Links the other day there are 2 empty houses for every homeless person in the country. So, if we were so inclined, we could be generous and let them keep one.

      2. JBird

        One gets… use to the sights? I hate to say it, but as you keep walking around the city, the disparity’s visibility starts to fade, although for me it it never completely goes away. I think the well off don’t want to notice so it disappears. I am close enough to the edge that I can’t. I still do not understand those who keep saying it’s all the homeless’ fault that they are homeless.

        1. RUKidding

          People say it’s all the homeless’s fault that they are homeless because they listen to propaganda that simplifies the situation and tells them that it’s all the fault of lazy homeless people. People simply don’t want to recognize that there’s a myriad of reasons why people become homeless, and that many citizens are only one or two paychecks away from it through no real fault of their own.

          But it’s always easier to blame the victim than to really confront the powerful and demand real change.

  20. Summer

    Re: Obsession for the Perfect Worker Fading in Tight U.S. Job Market. Bloomberg

    Good points about the busy work for managers and power aspects.
    But it there could also be a bit of psychological boost for some to think that it’s difficult to find someone that can do what they do. I understand more pickiness for workers that may engage in work that is damgerous or involves the handling of dangerous materials, but, indeed the oickiness went overboard.
    Then there is the tyranny of the algorithm that has been inserted as the “middle-man” for job searches. Remember the story about the HR person who applied for one of their own posted positions after issues with recruiting and found themselves rejected?
    I would love to know the age of that HR person.

    1. Rojo

      In 2016 I found myself pounding the pavement after being laid off from a job I’d held for 14 years.

      It was eye-opening. You now have to meet (and I assume) win approval from about a half-dozen people, even staff you won’t be working with.

      The reasons for this I surmise are:

      1.) CYA — if the new hire turns out to be an absentee crack-head, you can always say “well, we ALL liked him.

      2). It feels due dilligence-y.

      3.) Country day-school snowflakes value EVERYONE’S opinion.

      4. Because, in this job market, they can.

      You usually end up with the person who doesn’t bother anyone.

  21. allan

    Senate Dems call Trump’s reported Census Bureau pick ‘deeply unqualified’ [The Hill]

    Two Senate Democrats are pushing the Trump administration to reverse course on reported plans to name Thomas Brunell the deputy director of the Census Bureau.

    In a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Sens. Cory Booker (New Jersey) and Brian Schatz (Hawaii) called the University of Texas at Dallas political science professor “deeply unqualified.”

    “Dr. Brunell’s well-established partisanship, indifference toward civic engagement, and lack of managerial experience make him ill-qualified for the responsibility of carrying out a decennial census already in peril,” they wrote. …

    The Democrats cited a Mother Jones report detailing Brunell’s past work defending North Carolina’s voter maps in 2011, which were ultimately struck down by federal courts as racial gerrymanders. …

    Legal advocacy groups, including the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University Law Center, raised concerns over the legality of the Commerce Department naming a deputy director ahead of a Census Bureau director.

    “First, a provision of federal law duly passed by the Congress and signed by the President requires that the ‘[Census] Bureau shall be headed by a Director,’” the groups wrote. “This is not permissive statutory language—it is mandatory.” …

    Staffing critical positions (US Attorneys, CFPB, Office of Government Ethics, Census Bureau …)
    with temporary appointments who can be fired at will.
    Dick Cheney must be kicking himself for not having thought of this.

  22. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Russia is aiming to interfere in US midterm elections, warns CIA chief

    The dems are going to need to resurrect Emily Litella if they keep this “Russia, Russia, Russia” thing up much longer AND take the House in November as they are wishin’, hopin’ and predictin’ they’re going to.

    “Never mind.”

    Is pompeo setting them up?

  23. LovesCats

    Re: “Doctors Refuse to Treat Trans Patients More Often Than You Think: Vice

    What an awful article. The author made no attempt to discuss the very difficult ethical and physiological issues surrounding trans health. The lede describes the situation of a nurse who expresses reluctance to inject testosterone into a transmasculine child. The ethics of medically transitioning children is not at all settled, despite a virtual media blackout on any distressing voices. The long-term effects of testosterone treatment has not been tested in young females, and has permanent and irreversible effects upon female bodies: not only cosmetic effects, but unknown effects upon skeletal tissue and cognitive development. The clinicians who refused to inject testosterone into a child may well have valid concerns about the child’s welfare.

    Approximately 80% of gender non-conforming children who suffer from dysphoric feelings will desist by the time they reach adulthood. More ominously, nearly 3/4 of gender non-conforming children are actually same-sex attracted, and so medical transition is seen by many LGB activists as conversion therapy for gay and lesbian kids. The site 4thWaveNow has a lot of good info on this subject. This article discusses issues surrounding children with dysphoria:

    Adult transgender people may have health issues that are more than a small rural clinic can handle, thus “refusal” to treat may not always be motivated by transphobia. Gender-confirmation surgeries such as vaginoplasty and phalloplasty are complex and specialized, and have a high rate of complications. Most medical providers have zero training in dealing with specific aspects of trans health. Many trans people go overseas for surgery due to cost, but then have no way to return for followup treatment.

    But the author of the Vice article chose to ignore all the many real health issues that trans people face, and instead throw out a few vaguely applicable statistics and chalk it all up to transphobia.

      1. LovesCats

        Massinissa, you’re welcome. There’s a tremendous amount of misinformation and gaslighting around the transgender issue right now. I am especially concerned about the trend of medical transition for children–if I had a gender non-conforming child now I would be terrified of the pressure to sign my kid up to a lifetime of untested medical treatment. Many trans-identified kids have other issues such as a history of self-harm, disassociation, or are on the autism spectrum, and as such deserve comprehensive counseling, not just a proclamation that they were “born in the wrong body” and need to be “fixed” with hormones and surgery.

        It’s telling that a lot of the “YAY trans kid!” articles are about religious and/or conservative families, delighted to find a “solution” to their child’s disturbing gender presentation and/or hints of “gayness.”

  24. Synoia

    EU to UK: You won’t set rules during Brexit transition Politico. Totally consistent with EU position. We also predicted this even before the EU cleared its throat, because it was obvious that the only deal possible was a standstill (as in UK staying in EU legal/regulatory framework).

    Which is also entirely consistent with the perceived issues with the EU.

    Dictatorial, and not democratic, and merciless in its flaws – a predatory currency union with no internal adjustment mechanism for surpluses and deficits. Accompanied with a deliberate policy for no plan nor program to address the common currency issue.

    While not the conventional wisdom here, the EU has all the appearance of entering Brexit with the intention of punishment, as in a bad divorce, and not the reaction of a sovereign people abandoning an institution they perceived as not worthy of the current relationship.

    Dammed if Brexit, but free to make own decisions, dammed if no Brexit, and subject to a Dictatorial EU regime.

    An example of Hobson’s choice?

  25. Oregoncharles

    Well, we MIGHT get to see the “super blue blood moon” – an aristocratic moon? – on Wed. Right now it’s beautiful, which was not forecast, but the fore cast for tomorrow night is for some rain and fog. Sigh.

    At least the solar eclipse was in the summer.

  26. Oregoncharles

    “That’s like saying the US ‘defies’ Spain, since that’s the size of the Russian economy.””
    Spain doesn’t have nukes of its own, nor is it winning in Syria.

  27. XXYY

    Re. “Russia is aiming to interfere in US midterm elections, warns CIA chief.”

    The “interference”, in rare cases where it’s actually described, always amounts to such laughably small potatoes:

    The CIA concluded that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election – leaking hacked Democratic communications and flooding social media with misinformation…

    Even assuming this is somehow all true, (a) the “Democratic communications” were genuine, not fake; revealing nefarious true facts about US elites is celebrated in this country and would probably have won someone a Pulitzer if done by someone else. And (b) AFAIK anyone is allowed to post anything to “social media”, and does, including corporations and political parties, who are never accused of “interfering” with elections or anything else by doing so. Evidently Pompeo is somehow shocked, shocked to find there is “misinformation” in the media. He should pick up an NYT on pretty much any day.

    The US spy chief told the BBC countries could collectively do more to combat Chinese efforts to exert power over the west. “We can watch very focused efforts to steal American information…”

    Um, I was working in tech in the 90s and 00s when US elites were tripping all over themselves to move their operations to China and teach the Chinese how to build aircraft, design and fab semiconductors, and master every other strategic technology possessed by the US. No “stealing” was involved, it was a huge, deliberate technology transfer done in the belief that it would increase short term profits of US firms. Of course the Chinese welcomed and encouraged it, just as a nascent US encouraged Europe to move key technologies to the US in the 1800s.

    The only thing wrong here is trying to rewrite history to suggest this was a nefarious process somehow done behind the backs of US leaders.

  28. WheresOurTeddy

    “Russia is aiming to interfere in US midterm elections, warns CIA chief”

    sounds like

    “Russia narrative will continue regardless of lack of evidence, says professional liar with no accountability”

    to these ears

  29. ewmayer

    Re. “Hung out to dry twice, Tennessee city stumped by Trump’s washer tariffs | Reuters” — I fwded that link to the NC PTB, along with the following comment:

    This makes no sense – I would think the tariffs would add to incentives to quickly finish the US factory, whose output would presumably not be subject to the penalty. The comparison to the defunct hemlock solar plant strikes me as specious, because the planned LG plant would presumably be making appliances predominantly for US consumption, whereas in the solar-plant case, “Hemlock’s main market for polysilicon, a core ingredient in solar cells, dried up after Beijing responded to U.S. anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar panels with duties on U.S. polysilicon.” Am I missing something?

    Would appreciate some of my fellow readers’ takes on this.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Unless it’s just an assembly plant with too many Korean made parts that would boost over the threshold and qualify the finished products as Made in Korea.

  30. Ping

    Re: Humane Society CEO investigation.

    Political clout paired with expertise is needed to make real change challenging industries that abuse animals. There is no other organization like HSUS for that and should not be sullied for what a few upper level exec may or may not have done.

    HSUS is the only org that has called out Safari Club International who is possibly the most corrupt damaging inhumane organization globally using it’s wealth to eliminate endangered species laws to fuel grotesque trophy hunting contests involving millions of animals including rare and endangered.

    Safari Club sponsored Interior Secretary Zinke…..who immediately reversed bans on trophy importation of elephants and lions and is in the process of massive environmental destruction.

    I work with a coalition of wildlife advocates backed by HSUS who are attempting to ban trophy hunting of Arizona Big cats and the Safari Club is throwing money at defeating this ban.

    Arizona is the GLOBAL HEADQUARTERS of Safari Club who has captured our AZ Game and Fish so our state operates like a game park where predators are decimated to increase trophy game and got plenty for it’s agenda (fighting federal wildlife protections etc) from Arizona’s 2016 budget while governor implemented draconian cuts on children’s health care and education….already the lowest in US.

    There is plenty of corruption to address with Safari Club and their perverse destruction wildlife protections HERE IN THE US, NOT JUST IN AFRICA so the uber wealthy can compete in amassing the most trophys of rare and mega fauna.

    I live in Arizona where Safari Club is globally headquartered. Only HSUS has put their clout behind opposing this.

    1. ewmayer

      Humane Society CEO: “In my defense, when I said I wanted to grab her pu**y, I meant I wanted to have a closer look at her rescue cat!”

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