Links 1/6/18

Dear patient readers,

The site went down at 5:00 AM. I managed not to notice that I hadn’t didn’t save all the links I had generated after it came back. Sorry!

Who Needs Humans? Australian Shepherd Takes Herself Sledding Sputnik (margarita). She even seems to know how to bank the sled to take the curve at the bottom.

Dog ‘lay beside dead owner for weeks’ in Hungary flat BBC

Dog snatched by swooping eagle dropped off four miles from home in Pennsylvania The Times

Cold snap pushes manatee to springs Citrus County Chronicle (resilc)

Skiers stuck in swinging chairlift at Austrian resort Daily Mail (EM)

How Tiny Ticks And Brainworms Are Bringing Down The Mighty Moose Vermont Public Radio (resilc)

A Former Facebook VP Says Social Media Is Destroying Society Science Alert (David L)

Maybe Sex Robots Will Make Men, Not Women, Obsolete Cathy O’Neil, Bloomberg

Is Your Child Lying to You? That’s Good New York Times. This is not only on the first page, above the fold, but in the upper right corner. Lambert is as appalled as I am.

Intel Security Train Wreck

Woo-yay, Meltdown CPU fixes are here. Now, Spectre flaws will haunt tech industry for years The Register


Spectre Attacks: Exploiting Speculative Execution Spectre. Lambert says this is “incredibly lucid”.

Avoid speculative indirect calls in kernel Hacker News.

Intel facing class-action lawsuits over Meltdown and Spectre bugs Guardian (furzy)


First Djibouti … now Pakistan tipped to have Chinese naval base South China Morning Post

Investigation reveals how Park received and spent nearly $3 million in illegal payments from NIS The Hankyoreh (Bill B)


Hammond refuses to rule out customs union with EU after Brexit Guardian

Sellers slash prices after family home market stalls The Times


The U.S. Wanted to Discuss Iran. Russia Brought Up Black Lives Matter. New York Times (Kevin W). Important.

Saudis Get Extra Pay After Price Surge Sparked Public Complaints Bloomberg (resilc)

Despite failing, UN Jerusalem bid paints Israel, US as alone against the world Times of Isreal (JTM). From last month, still germane.

New Cold War

Undersea cables the Achilles’ heel in lead-up to new cold war Asia Times

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Immoral Misuse of Psychology in Support of Empire Counterpunch

Trump Transistion

Tillerson defends Trump’s mental health BBC

Trumpworld’s Counter-Collusion Narrative Is Beginning to Crumble Vanity Fair (furzy)

Trump asked ‘Why can’t Medicare simply cover everybody?’ before pushing Obamacare repeal CNBC

G.O.P. Senators Call for Inquiry Into Author of Trump Dossier

Trump’s First Year Was a Disaster. Here’s Why I Have Hope. New York Magazine (resilc)

Interior revokes climate change and mitigation policies High Country News (Glenn F)

‘All-encompassing’ China war topped Bannon’s White House agenda South China Morning Post (margarita)

Taibbi: Why Michael Wolff’s Book Is Good News Rolling Stone (resilc)

EPA chief Pruitt is said to be eyeing attorney general job Politico

Marijuana Crackdown by Sessions Leaves GOP Fearing 2018 Backlash Bloomberg (resilc)

Roy Moore Accuser’s House Burns Down; Arson Probe Opened Daily Beast (furzy). Ugh.

Senator proposes sovereignty as a way to economic development Lincoln Journal Star. Mike M:

As Yves and Lambert say, “Kill me now.” Nebraska has managed to avoid becoming North Kansas – in large part because there’s less than two million of us – but the dry rot of term limits in the Unicameral (our one house “non-partisan” state legislature) has given us dimbulbs like this one.

To quote the great philosopher Bill the Cat, “Ack! Thppt!”

Jacob Hacker Rises Again to Stop Single Payer Health Over Profit (martha r)

The Debt Beneath NorthmanTrader (martha r)

Fake News

James Risen, the New York Times and the Sliming of Wen Ho Lee Counterpunch

Black Injustice Tipping Point

A provocative last request for Erica Garner Washington Post (martha r). This omits a point made in a tweet that followed immediately: Garner’s family and close allies were put off by white reporters who had ignored her when alive calling for quotes now that she was dead. I am sure they were talking to Matt Taibbi, for instance.

Costco Wants to Build the Largest Chicken Factory Farm in America—and Local Residents Are Fighting Back Alternet

December jobs report: late cycle mediocre growth reasserts itself Angry Bear

Negative interest rates Jim Hamilton

Class Warfare

The Myth of “Populism” Jacobin (martha r)

Americans Haven’t Been This Poor and Indebted in Decades New York Magazine

Extreme poverty returns to America Washington Post (UserFriendly)

Presidents Clinton and Obama Helped Make the Democrats a Wall Street Party- Thomas Frank on RAI (7/9) Real News Network (UserFriendly)

Foxconn tax subsidies to build Wisconsin plant reach over $4 billion – World Socialist Web Site (UserFriendly)

Antidote du jour. Jim D sent this image from the story It’s -100 Degrees on Mount Washington, N.H.:

Richard Smith is on a roll:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Wukchumni

    We’re going into our 10th day of a cold that is an everlasting gobstopper. If only phlegm was marketable as a commodity, we’d be well off. Talked to a checker @ the supermarket in the Big Smoke, who told me her ordeal lasted 5 weeks, and i’ve been hearing 3 weeks all over the place. And we were the lucky ones that didn’t get hit by what i’m terming “The Christmas Flu” which will satisfy those that despise the other candidate for nom de flu’me, the secular “Holiday Flu”.

    It turned out to be the perfect petri dish, the Christmas get together.

    Nonetheless it’s taking down the state and the LA Times just now noticed, funny that.
    So many people have fallen sick with influenza in California that pharmacies have run out of flu medicines, emergency rooms are packed, and the death toll is rising higher than in previous years.

    The emergency room at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica typically treats about 140 patients a day, but at least one day this week had more than 200 patients — mostly because of the flu, said the ER’s medical director, Dr. Wally Ghurabi.

    “The Northridge earthquake was the last time we saw over 200 patients,” Ghurabi said.

    State health officials said Friday that there was no region of the state where people were being spared from the flu.

    In Riverside and San Bernardino counties, ambulance services have been severely strained because of the number of flu calls coming in, local health officials said.

    Plus, emergency rooms are so crowded that ambulances arriving at hospitals can’t immediately unload their patients, so they’re unable to leave for incoming 911 calls, said Jose Arballo Jr., spokesman for the Riverside County Department of Public Health.

    Dr. Matthew Mullarky, an emergency physician at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, said that half of the patients he saw on a recent ER shift were so sick that he had to keep them in the hospital. Most of them were older than 85, with the flu and pneumonia.

    “It’s incredibly scary,” he said.

    1. Tooearly

      Flu meds are of dubious benefit per most authoritative reviews…
      Expect to see them hyped endlessly therefore

      1. neo-realist

        Even if the flu vaccine doesn’t prevent you from getting the flu, it reduces the severity for people who come down with a strain that the vaccine did not contain, which can mean the difference between a day or two in bed vs. a stay in the hospital; or life and death.

        1. tooearly

          “The public health and medical communities generally accept the premise that
          currently licensed influenza vaccines are largely effective in preventing influenza
          infection in most populations.
          We conclude, however, that the currently licensed
          influenza vaccines can provide moderate protection against virologically confirmed
          influenza, but such protection is greatly reduced or absent in some seasons.
          Furthermore, even though TIV provides some protection for healthy adults 18 to 64
          years of age, evidence for protection in adults 65 years of age and older with TIV
          is lacking.
          Evidence is also limited regarding the efficacy and effectiveness of TIV in
          children age 2 to 17 years.
          LAIVs have consistently shown highest efficacy in young
          children (from 6 months to 7 years old), while evidence of protection is not available
          for individuals from 8 to 59 years of age”

    2. human

      Lack of _available_ health care is third world stuff.

      I saw this 15 years ago when my father-in-law passed away. I was speaking with the hospital administrator when I asked him what kind of hospice services the new wing would have. He said, “none,” and turned away.

      1. Wukchumni

        A couple of friends became newly minted RN’s years ago, and they could’ve gone to work for the prison-industrial-complex for $51 an hour or $34 an hour working for the public hospital.

        1. Micky9finger

          That other was just a general comment.
          My comment on the above is – but instead they did…

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      We had a month-and-a-half cold out here in SE Michigan in September. I had it. I wonder if this is the same cold being out there now.

  2. Kokuanani

    Why on earth is there an invite to send flowers to the Erica Garner funeral? Why not instead put that money to use continuing her work?

    1. beth

      I understand your viewpoint. I offer that those near & dear to Erica also need to know that we held her in the highest regard so they might be inspired. I live too far away to send flowers, knowing that the flower peddlers at a distance do not send what you are expecting. Now, if we only knew how to guarantee that our money will be spent as you suggest.

    2. marym

      Beauty, comfort, honor.

      During her last days whoever was tweeting from her account tweeted requests not to send donations. The only tweet I saw about flowers was informational, not an invite. It appears that her loved ones want to keep fund-raising separate from the final days of her life and death.

  3. Judith

    Regarding Richard Smith’s Octopus: Here is a review of two books about the octopus, from LRB.

    I have only read the first of the two books, which is fascinating and thoughtful. From the review:

    “Peter Godfrey-Smith is a philosopher and diver who has been studying octopuses and other cephalopods in the wild, mostly off the coast of his native Sydney, for years. The alienness of octopuses, in his view, provides an opportunity to reflect on the nature of cognition and consciousness without simply projecting from the human example. Because of their evolutionary distance from us, octopuses are an ‘independent experiment in the evolution of large brains and complex behaviour’. Insofar as we are able to make intelligent contact with them – to understand octopuses and have them understand us – it is ‘not because of a shared history, not because of kinship, but because evolution built minds twice over’. The potential worry is that the evolutionary chasm between us and the octopus is too great to make mutual intelligibility possible. In that case the octopus will have something to teach us about the limits of our own understanding.”

    1. HopeLB

      Thanks for the article! I can’t find the article on any of the crapified search engines, but do you remember the octopus that trashed his tank and then hid in a broom/mop closet for eight months? There was a sink in the closet. Lovely creatures.

        1. Byron the Light Bulb

          Order Octopoda, phylum Mollusca. A phylum from which its members gave our species the conch, seashell finance, and imperial purple while nourishing us back from extinction in coastal caves roughly 100,000 years ago. The octopus was once thought to be solitary creatures, but now researchers have found a group of 15 living together off the coast of NSW Australia, dubbed “Octlantis”, whose citizens live in dens constructed of crustacean husks. We don’t know yet the role Octlantis played in the last POTUS election, but I would point out how much better those eight-legged Aussies are at working together in harmony than the current US admin.

    2. Patrick Donnelly

      Octopus are the fallback bodies for souls, should humans become extinct.

      On other worlds they are the dominant species. Bats on yet more worlds. The animal life on Earth (Adam) is an indication of the evolved forms available in the enormous volume of space within Eden (Sun). Any new planets ejected by the plasma pinch we call a star may surprise us, if they survive the journey. Souls are an energy based life form and may transfer to animal bodies, if they wish.

  4. The Rev Kev

    That foto of Marty the cat in today’s Antidote du jour just goes to show you that they are indeed the dominant life-form on this planet. Even mankind’s high-tech devices such as laptops are casually dismissed and re-purposed as bed warmers by our feline overlords. If you ask me if in a century’s time whether mankind will be serving cats like the ancient Egyptians did, I would answer ‘Yes, so nothing will change.’

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        My cat that died in 2016 had pulmonary cancer. How could a cat get pulmonary cancer? He did like to sleep on monitors. But he also lived to be 18.

      2. Steve H.

        The RF from WiFi, probably. I’ve been measuring 10x+ Swiss standards from friends cellphones.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Pakistani politician Imran Khan skewers the US in a series of incendiary tweets using the harshest words of all — FACTS:

    From the start I had opposed Pak becoming part of US-led so-called “War on Terror”. Now, after suffering 70k dead, over $100 bn loss to economy, when we had nothing to do with 9/11, constant “do more” US taunts & after nation has been humiliated by Trump, GoP saying the same.

    Lesson to be learnt by us is never to be used by others for short term paltry financial benefits ever again. Our society became radicalised and polarised as we helped CIA create jihadi groups; then, a decade later, we tried to eliminate them as terrorists on US orders.

    And now Pakistan being blamed for US failures in Afghanistan by an ignorant and ungrateful Donald Trump.

    Finally Pak suffers ultimate insult: being made scapegoat for US failure in Afghanistan. A couple of thousand or so Haqqanis allegedly in Pak are supposed to be cause of why the most well-equipped mly force in history, 150k NATO troops + over 200k Afghan army could not succeed?

    Found jihadi groups, then spend years and trillions to “fight” them — that’s the way of the arsonist firefighter who styles hisself as our Uncle Sam.

    1. Carolinian

      One could argue that Trump is actually doing the world a favor by exposing America’s own naked id to full view. No more smooth Obama platitudes about the US as benevolent indispensable nation. Trump is a PR disaster for the MIC, which is undoubtedly why they were so vehemently against him.

      The above assumes that he maintains his blowhard status and doesn’t start any actual new wars

      1. Wukchumni

        I’d say the United Stasi is teetering, as we are now in the “Sinatra Doctrine” part of the final act, mirroring the USSR’s iron curtain call.

        “Sinatra Doctrine” was the name that the Soviet government of Mikhail Gorbachev used jokingly to describe its policy of allowing neighboring Warsaw Pact states to determine their own internal affairs. The name alluded to the song “My Way” popularized by Frank Sinatra—the Soviet Union was allowing these states to go their own way.

        The phrase was coined on 25 October 1989 by Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennadi Gerasimov. He was speaking to reporters in Helsinki about a speech made two days earlier by Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. The latter had said that the Soviets recognized the freedom of choice of all countries, specifically including the other Warsaw Pact states. Gerasimov told the interviewer that, “We now have the Frank Sinatra doctrine. He has a song, I Did It My Way. So every country decides on its own which road to take.” When asked whether this would include Moscow accepting the rejection of communist parties in the Soviet bloc. He replied: “That’s for sure… political structures must be decided by the people who live there.”

      2. Jim Haygood

        But it’s only a little war:

        U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel outlined details of the American battle plan in Afghanistan on Tuesday, a battle plan which will depend heavily on the new influx of 3,900 U.S. troops into the country approved by President Trump late last year.

        American and NATO commanders intend to “focus on offensive operations and … look for a major effort to gain the initiative very quickly as we enter into the fighting season,” the general said in an interview with The Associated Press.

        Doubtless our ARVN Afghan allies will fight valiantly under the visionary leadership of President Thieu Ghani to win hearts ‘n minds. /snark

        1. Rhondda

          “American forces in Afghanistan will pursue a more aggressive battle plan for the 16-year conflict in the coming year, with U.S. troops more engaged in the fight against the Taliban and other extremist groups…”

          I’m guessing that “other extremist groups” must include Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), recently tagged as terrorists by USA.

          I have a feeling of foredoom about all of this.

      3. timbers

        Excellent point, and it happens to be similar to what MOE is saying today in his most recent post. Trumps positions are so extreme it’s causing EU and others to grow a spine and detach themselves from the U.S. lock step and that also means the neocon/neoliberal interventionist imperial agenda – a good thing.

        If Germany detaches itself from being in lock step with the U.S. – which seems more and more possible as it sees itself losing so much by sanctioning Russia – that may drive a nail in the coffin of U.S. imperialism.

        And note it’s America not Russia that is growing “isolated” as time goes by.

        1. Dr. Roberts

          I’m not really seeing much of this, to be honest. If anything leaders in Europe, who have been following the US lead on so many issues, are trying to ignore Trump and make token efforts at resisting him. They’re waiting for a more palatable face to return to the White House so they can go back to never making their own decisions on foreign policy. There really have been no major new foreign policy initiatives from the EU during this time, they just seem to be refusing to go along with some of Trump’s more out of line policies.

          Sept. Of 2016 I was in Europe and while everyone was terrified of Trump, I told them I was optimistic because it would mean Europe would have to go its own way because Trump was too offensive for Europeans to let their governments continue their relationship with the US as before. Alas I underestimated the institutional inertia and lack of dynamism in the European political class.

          1. Carolinian

            Hey the anti-Rome wasn’t built in a day. Yes the poodles (no offense EU) continue to wag their tails but many US policies are genuinely against their best interests. It’s not only a PR matter.

          2. Sid_finster

            Moreover, euroelites love using “the mean Americans twisted our arms!” as an excuse for doing what they want to do anyway.

            Europe doesn’t want to go it alone, and is hoping that Trump will go away like a bad dream.

      4. HopeLB

        Completely agree and this idea seems to extend to his economic and environmental pillaging. Trump does us a favor by his boorish flouting of rapacious policies.

    2. David May

      That’s an interesting article. Thank you, Jim. Regarding your last point on US govt military spending: the neoliberal takeover of the state is truly frightening, but I seem to recall that you favor big business over Uncle Sam. Be careful of what you wish for; schoolboy fantasy economics are devastating in reality.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Having spent 15 years running a small business, I regard big business as a gov-subsidized enemy, as most NFIB members do.

        1. todde

          NFIB gets a lot of money from the Koch brothers.

          The fact that the NFIB fights the estate tax more than the payroll tax makes it look like it was money well spent

      1. djrichard

        Why, they hate us for our freedoms of course. If there was any good from GWB’s administration, it was this bit of the marketing to war that exposed the cheerleading for what it was: pure mendacity. I re-use it whenever I can in the comments sections to articles that reek of banging the drum. My comments recently:

        Why does Venezuela hate us for our freedoms?
        Why does Iran hate us for our freedoms?

        The TV series Braindead (which didn’t get nearly the viewers it should have) perfectly reveled in the braindeadedness of DC in general, but also did a perfect skewering of this legacy from GWB:

        Braindead 1×08: “The Path to War Part One: The Gathering Political Storm”
        Back at the Intelligence Committee meeting, Wheatus has wrapped up with his weirdly cooperative witness. Ella takes the mic. She thanks Ahmed for speaking, and asks if he blames America for his radicalism. He obviously wasn’t prepared for this question, so he stalls while she presses him, wasn’t the drone made of American technology? “Why do you hate America?” she finally asks. “Because of your… freedom?” he guesses.

        If you’ve never seen that series, I highly recommend finding it and watching it. It is rewarding.

    3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      And look: Americans don’t care! Millions of people are dying for no reason, the highways and airports and schools are falling apart, lifespans are getting shorter, the list of countries that hate us grows every day. So what?

      1. ambrit

        “So what?”
        Have you seen the frothyness happening in the futures markets for guillotines?
        (I wish I’d gone long on pitchfork futures when I still had some money in pocket.)
        Also, I’d ask, what Americans are we talking about here? America has become defacto a financially segregated society. Actually, looking back over American history, this is a resegregation. One reason that the, for want of a better term, Conservative Elites have fought so hard and so long to roll back the New Deal programs is that those programs, by and large, worked. Worked for the generality, that is. The wealthy had to do with less. Smaller yachts, smaller limos, smaller mansions, smaller entourages; all meant a visible diminishment of perceived status.
        The downtrodden Americans that I meet every day now may not be able to articulate their rage and frustration, but they feel those feelings, and recognize that something in American society is gravely wrong. Trump had a chance to become a famous President by redressing some of those popular concerns. That he failed so far to do so is more a reflection of the lack of a coherent Left in American politics to carry the banner of the People. Whoever, Left or Right, picks up on this vital need in the body politic will find power laying in the street to be picked up.
        Finally, somewhat off topic, but germane, is the observation that “Poor but Honest” is a false assertion. Poor people, anywhere, anytime, will do what it takes to feed their families. If that takes the rejection of the rule of law, so be it.
        Dangerous times are ahead.

        1. Norb

          Its going to take an elite faction breaking away from the corporate mob, using their power and financial resources to support local communities built and maintained under the principle of the common good. Without that, everything will be left to chance and what freedoms the other elite faction grant the plebs.

          Disenchantment with the corporate model has not nearly progressed far enough for radical change. Wishful thinking prevails and there is still plenty of resources available for plundering. All the while, new schemes are dreamt up by MBA’s to fleece a captivate public. For example, I just paid $75 dollars to RENT a chemistry textbook for my daughters nursing coursework. Just one book of many required. That on top of tens of thousands of dollars in tuition fees. No wonder small businesses are failing. There will be no discretionary funds available. Good intentions are driven from the public sphere leaving only greed and corruption to flourish- or self delusion illustrated by the excuse of “good people” having to do terrible things. No, a good person eventually has to refuse to participate in exploitation in order to remain sane and whole. No wonder the American public is insane. We live under a political system that breeds schizophrenia. Evil outcomes are masked by good intentions, and only delusion or violent outbursts provides relief from the contradiction.

          Instead of supporting a middle class with humane public policy, our corporate overlords are hell bent on creating a peasant class.

          Historically, I don’t believe nations are well defended by peasant armies or mercenaries.

          1. Sid_finster

            Revolutions never happen because the 99% overthrow the 1%, because the 1% will do whatever it takes to hold power.

            Revolutions happen when the 1% is divided amongst themselves, either as to policy, as to share of spoils, or as to response to external threat.

            Take that one to heart.

        2. foghorn longhorn

          Trump was “hired” to break the sob, not fix it.
          He seems to be accomplishing that task.
          It will be the task of the next one to fix it.
          Turbulent times for sure, but a process that must be carried out.

        3. flora

          I think this agrees with your point.

          How Polanyi best explains Trump, Brexit and the over-reach of economic liberalism – Jeremy Smith

          From Polanyi:

          “A self-regulating market-system is a utopia. No society could stand its devastating effects once it got really going. Hardly had laissez-faire started when the State and voluntary organizations intervened to protect society through factory laws, Trade Union and Church action from the mechanism of the market.”

          Commented on by Kuttner:

          “We have been here before. During the period between the two world wars, free-market liberals governing Britain, France, and the US tried to restore the pre–World War I laissez-faire system. They resurrected the gold standard and put war debts and reparations ahead of economic recovery. It was an era of free trade and rampant speculation, with no controls on private capital. The result was a decade of economic insecurity ending in depression, a weakening of parliamentary democracy, and fascist backlash….”

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      I read that when we were ramping up aid to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan . . . routing it through Pakistan . . . that the CIA was taking the Pakistani ISI’s word for it on which groups to fund up. Mohammed Shah Massoud of the Northern Alliance warned those Americans he had any contact with that many other Mujahid groups were nasty Islamist antiAmericanitic antiAmericanites. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was among the very worst of these. So naturally the Pakistani ISI picked the Gulbuddin Hekmatyar group to receive the most American aid, training and weapons.

      If my memory is correct, someone should counter skewer this so-called “Imran Khan” with THAT. And also remind him of Pakistan’s role in the 9/11 attacks. As well as Pakistan’s freely chosen creation and support of IslamoJihadi terrorism against India.

      1. Sid_finster

        All true. The Pakistani government are far from being babes in the woods. Rather, they, or at least some factions and Institutions, were enthusiastic participants in their American friends’ adventures.

        That doesn’t mean that Imran Khan’s larger point is not valid.

      2. Rhondda

        Why do you say “so-called ‘Imran Khan’”?
        He’s a real person and that’s his name. He used to be a cricket player, then ran for office…

        And I thought his twitter comments were quite incisive and needed saying.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Fair point. Just expressing my irritation. This whole subject deserves a more better reply than my remaining few minutes of lunch break will permit. I will come back to it though, even if the thread has gone stale by then and everyone else has moved on to other things.

      3. witters

        “someone should counter skewer this so-called “Imran Khan” with THAT. And also remind him of Pakistan’s role in the 9/11 attacks. As well as Pakistan’s freely chosen creation and support of IslamoJihadi terrorism against India.”

        And don’t forget to remind this so-called “Imran Khan” of all the frredoms you enjoy! He’ll hate that!

    5. The Rev Kev

      It’s not like Pakistan had a choice after 9/11. Richard L. Armitage, then the deputy secretary of state, threatened Pakistan’s intelligence director back then that if they did not do what the US wanted, then: “Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age.”

    6. Off The Street

      Trump and his counter-intuitive actions make me think of an FDR ploy. The latter would tell legislators and others “Now go out there and make me do it” to get them to say in public what he couldn’t or wouldn’t. With Trump, one asks what he might not say, given his proclivities. However, at some nth level chess playing, he could be maneuvering for some defense budget reductions by exposing the massive waste and ineffectual behaviors. I could be talking myself into that, thinking of some way to get more of a handle on intractable budget problems.

  6. Jim Haygood

    A study published last month set aside the fantasyland 7.34% average assumed return used by public pensions, and instead discounted their liabilities at a 15-year Treasury bond yield of 2.14%. Hilarity did not ensue:

    Unfunded liabilities [at 2.14% discount rate] of state-administered pension plans now exceed $6 trillion. The national average funding ratio is a mere 33.7 percent, amounting to an $18,676 unfunded liability for every resident of the United States.

    The Pension Protection Act of 2006 regards large private sector pension plans at risk of default if they have less than an 80% funded ratio under standard actuarial assumptions, or a 70% funded ratio under worst-case assumptions. By 2011, this standard was fully phased in for private defined benefit plans.

    However, the Pension Protection Act does not apply to public sector DB plans. If the Pension Protection Act were applied to the public sector, every single state would be considered at risk of default assuming a risk-free rate of return. Even using their official optimistic return assumptions, 35 states would fall short of the standard.

    CalPERS, which is using a 7.375% assumed return in this fiscal year, gets special mention for forcing exiting municipalities to value their liabilities at 3.8% — an almost realistic return that CalPERS actually expects to earn.

    At a risk-free rate of 2.14 percent, CalPERS has more than $987 billion in unfunded liabilities. That’s equal to five and a half years of the state’s entire $180 billion budget.

    It’s gonna take a lot of weed sales to raise a trillion dollahs, so let’s get started. :-)

    1. Fraibert

      I’ve been wondering how exactly the states reached this outcome.

      I suppose the general outline is that the states overestimated their pension investment yields so that they could put less money into the pensions and spend that money elsewhere.

      But feels like there’s a lot more going on here. Pensions are part of total compensation. I suppose part of the idea for state pensions in the first place is that pensions help address a deficit between public and private wages? Or what are we trying to do preserving state pensions while private pensions have been eviscerated?

      Probably need an overview of the situation. Anyone know a good one?

  7. The Rev Kev

    Normally I don’t comment on links that I suggest but here I will make an exception. Earlier this week, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova advised the US to remember its own experience in “putting down protests,” including mass arrests and crackdown against the Occupy Wall Street movement and operations against protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. “There is no doubt that the US delegation to the UN has something to tell the world,” Zakharova said in a Facebook post. “Haley can, for example, share the US experience of putting down protests, tell [the Security Council] about the mass arrests and crackdown against the Occupy Wall Street movement or about the ‘clean-up operation’ in Fergusson.” if you have not seen Maria Zakharova in action, she is a sight to be seen. She is smart, accomplished, passionate and does not suffer fools gladly.
    If “America First” was all about rebuilding America’s infrastructure, reforming the financial sector, re-calibrating foreign policy and rationalizing the military, I think most of the world would have cheered them on. But trying to pretend that it is still the 1950s and that the US can do whatever it wants without consequence is leaving the US in a very vulnerable position. Who would go into a future ‘Coalition of the Willing’ in case of a major campaign? How dependable is a treaty or agreement with the US? How reliable an ally are they at the moment? It is just not Trump doing this, to be fair, but a whole raft of elites that habitually put their personal welfare and ambitions above that of their country. I think that most people would tolerate a set of elites so long as they share some of the wealth around and prove themselves competent but that appears to be no longer the case and I am not just talking about the US here.

      1. The Rev Kev

        There is a good website where you can see her on called YouTube :)
        She can also dance a mean folk dance from what I can see there.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They don’t talk about reparations for Native Americans, and we won’t talk about reparations for Native Siberians.

      Similarly, there is no need to talk about Tibet, with China, if both sides can focus on something more important, like North Korea.

  8. allan

    “Jacob Hacker Rises Again to Stop Single Payer ”

    It’s distressing to see how many of the Dem candidates coming out of the woodwork for 2018
    buy into Hacker-style incrementalism.
    Contrast the discussion of health care on the issue pages of two candidates who will remain anonymous:

    Access to affordable, quality health care is a right for every American – and to date, our nation has failed to live up to this promise. Republicans in Washington have offered policy ideas that will kick people off of their health insurance plans and raise premiums for all [residents] – [Candidate 1] knows this is the wrong approach. Instead we must come together to fix the problems and strengthen the system we have with a public option to ensure all families have options available to them, while also bringing down costs.


    Instead of partisan politics, [residents] need predictability and a Congress that will work to fix the ACA where it’s broken, while protecting its core mission of making high quality healthcare more affordable and accessible at every step. [Candidate 2] knows that the best way to find common-sense fixes to the ACA is to bring people together around shared … values. Common ground for doctors, nurses, small business owners, and patients together means protecting the things we value most, changing the things that aren’t working, and all sharing in the benefits of healthy [residents].

    with this:

    Health care is a human right

    The healthcare crisis is driven by many factors. Endorsed by state and national health care experts,
    Rebecca Otto’s Healthy Minnesota Plan will achieve universal, affordable, comprehensive, guaranteed, publicly financed health care.

    1. edmondo

      Well, the one big take away from that is we now know Rebecca Otto won’t be getting any help from the DC Democrats.

      1. allan

        But the DCCC is undoubtedly excited about this one.
        From her health care issue page:

        … In Congress, Gina will make affordable, accessible, quality healthcare for every American – regardless of sex, age, income, or employment status – a top priority.

        Accessible is the tell.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Health care a human right.

      What do animals get – animal rights? Do those rights include health care, or just ‘humane’ treatment?

      Often, they make only a much humbly-asked request (not quit a right demanded) – LEAVE US ALONE!!!

      But that sounds a lot like Libertarians.

  9. Wukchumni

    How Tiny Ticks And Brainworms Are Bringing Down The Mighty Moose Vermont Public Radio (resilc)

    A permanent NPS employee (the holiest of holy jobs in the park, it only took him 20 or so years of being a seasonal to attain it) I know, told me earlier this year that he encountered ticks @ 6,000 feet in the forest for the trees, which shocked him as they typically hang out no more than 5,000 feet, but that was then and this is now.

    The cyclone of warm pleasant weather here will be a blessing for the bark beetles on their reunion tour with the various pine trees from 3,000 to 7,000 feet that they missed on their last concert dates. I’d guestimate that they killed 1 out of 4, and initially the newlydeads are termed ‘red trees’ and they look more ocher in color, but ‘ocher trees’ sounds funny. When they’ve been expired a few years, the new term is ‘grey trees’ as they’ve lost all of their needles and the bones are bleaching out. They have a skeletal look after being deadreds. One vast ridge above me @ 5,000 feet as i’m typing has about a 90% mortality rate, and we call it Cemetery Ridge.

    Like the tiny ticks taking down the mighty moose, it doesn’t take much for a bark beetle to lay waste to 150-200 foot tall upright standing members of the community. Once they compromise the tree’s vascular ability to transport water to the upper branches of management, they’re toast.

    I’ve seen trees go from looking very much alive, to being dead as doornails 4 days later.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Trees dying.
      Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have birch borers which are killing off our birch trees. I understand the ash trees are experiencing a huge die off in Kentucky.

      When the trees and oceans die…..

  10. fresno dan

    The news she heard came as a shock: A UPMC representative stood in front of the group and told them their jobs were being outsourced to a contractor in Massachusetts. The representative told them it wouldn’t be a big change, since the contractor, Nuance Communications, would rehire them all for the exact same position and the same hourly pay.
    Her first paycheck at the per-line rate worked out to just $6.36 per hour—below the minimum wage.*

    A perhaps more striking way to put it is that during those 10 years, all net job growth in the American economy has been in contingent jobs.
    * It worked out for her former employer: In the four years since the outsourcing, UPMC’s net income has more than doubled.

  11. Jim Haygood

    Saturday morning cartoons, comrades! I am not making this up:

    Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!

    7:30 AM – Jan 6, 2018

    Share it with your kids. Just to goes to show that with a healthy enough dose of self-esteem, nothing is impossible.

    *wipes away tears of admiration*

    1. Wukchumni

      Twas the day before Christmas in Russia
      When all through Vladimir’s house
      There was merriment and laughter
      The emperor’s new disclosures-a disaster

    2. MK

      He’s purposely, like, triggering folks.

      Full honeybadger mode and he should get a cut of the book proceeds, easily quintipled sales with his statement, tweets and lawsuit.

    3. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      January 6, 2018 at 10:05 am

      like….wow….really wow, DUDE

      but when you got a big button, you need a stable genius
      Seriously, does anyone here, know anyone, other than as a joke, who would ever speak like that? Is this intended as a joke, and Trump is a really funny guy?

    4. ambrit

      Comrade Jim;
      Whether by design or accident, POTUS Trump, (P-Trump for short,) has discovered a really near genius way to wield power. He is bypassing the MSM and various previous gatekeepers to Power by using the Twitter to communicate directly to the public. He has already displayed a facility with branding and other forms of public relations, vide the television programs and franchising of his name. He could parlay all this into a real Cult of Personality. I’m just glad he isn’t into racehorses. The Senate would never be the same.
      (Of course, it could be this poor horse.) See:

    5. FluffytheObeseCat

      Throughout his life, his, like, greatest asset has been his daddy’s money. I think that would qualify as not smart, but rich…. and a very stable rich at that!

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    An octopus named Otto caused an aquarium power outage by climbing to the edge of his tank and shooting a jet of water at a bright light that was annoying him. He’s also been seen juggling hermit crabs, throwing rocks at the glass, and re-arranging his tank surroundings.

    I understand some artists are like that…maybe not the juggling part.

  13. Rates

    A Former Facebook VP Says Social Media Is Destroying Society

    He’s feeling guilty, so he’s giving back his billions right? Or is he using it to create another platform? Shouldn’t this be under Guillotine as another example of billionaire stupidity?

    1. Fraibert

      I think one of the consequences of the current emphasis on virtue signaling is that people start thinking that saying they feel guilty is enough to expiate the underlying wrong.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They are the two extremes, it seems to me.

        In a more unforgiving environment, like the 50’s America or Edo period Japan, you would have done everything possible to cover up things like excessive drinking, etc.

        The other end is to address an underling wrong by just talking about felling guilty.

        “I was vulnerable to your best girl friend’s sexiness at a moment of personal weakness. I feel so bad at being unfaithful….just like all the previous occasions.”

  14. Fraibert

    I find that New York Magazine article linked in the “Class Warfare” section very curious. The author writes that:

    “Still, there may be a separate, secondary explanation for why Republicans have failed to benefit from presiding over a good economy: That economy isn’t nearly as good as the past year of jobs reports and stock tickers would have one believe.”

    As readers of this blog are well aware, the same phenomena were happening in the Obama years, but it didn’t seem to interest the mainstream media at that point. If the economy isn’t good for fundamental reasons, the media need to just state that, instead of reserving it as an additional political point against the Trump Administration.

  15. Enquiring Mind

    Social media developers appear to have little to no conscience, so all is well in eNeo-Liberal.comland. As a recent 60 Minutes episode showed, website and software features are designed in to stimulate dopamine response to get and keep users hooked on the latest incarnation. When you see people shuffling along with their noses buried in devices, or taking selfies just because, they can’t seem to help it. :(

    Some on the other end of such behavior are starting to notice, ranging from the average parent whose patience is wearing thin over the intrusion of devices into mealtime, conversations and any prior human togetherness. Performers also have started to react, when they are treated like part of the landscape instead of the reason for the devicee attendance. Witness a recent comment from a singer decrying the audience turning its back on him so they could pose for that have-to-have selfie for immediate posting to whatever platform is Hot Right Now.

    Such overt displays of self-absorption would seem to be cries for help, manifested as Look-At-Me attention-grabbers. Who wonders about the mental health of those shuffling and stumbling from one selfie opportunity to the next, when the sense of self is being submerged in the process? That is the modern bread and circuses, with no calories or nutritional benefit. In other contexts, that would qualify as abuse or harassment.

    1. RUKidding

      And then there’s those selfie-takers who do so in dangerous places like ledges, cliffs & such who fall off to their death, or worse, to horrible life-long injuries.

      Sometimes that’s just Darwin’s law in action, but how self-absorbed do you have to be to take a selfie teetering on a cliff edge or bridge trestle?

      What burns me now is attending an expensive performance like a play or symphony and all the dolts around me who insist on tweeting emailing & posting throughout the whole thing. Totally rude & distracting to have those bright lights flaring up along w various chirps & tweet noises.

      Seems like almost no one anymore can go to a show of some sort & just watch & enjoy it.

      1. wilroncanada

        Note to Enquiring and RU
        Thanks, both of you, for the comments. We live on southern Vancouver Island, BC (that’s Canada). I’ve visited Victoria’s famous Butchart Gardens on occasion. Notable especially during tourist season, is the number of visitors who travel the gardens as we do, from one end to the other, and never actually see a live flower or shrub. People travel with their devices in front of them, taking constant pictures or short movies of the beautiful sights. They see the gardens only through the intermediation of the cellphones and tablets in front of their eyes. Fortunately, the family company banned selfie sticks. People were climbing into the middle of flower beds!
        The town of Chemainus nearby has live theatre, which we enjoy. They announce to the audience before each performance that all devices must be turned off, and it is enforced by expulsion. It is also clearly stated on programmes for each performance. My wife and I laugh sometimes at the number of attendees who make an urgent grab for their cellphones during intermission. Imagine! 90 to 120 minutes unhooked!

  16. djrichard

    The Debt Beneath – NorthmanTrader

    Ignoring the bits about Fed Debt in the article, it was interesting to see the analysis on private debt. Notice the scales:
    – corporate debt is in trillions of dollars
    – consumer debt is in billions of dollars
    – margin debt (for players in the stock market) is in billions of dollars

    If corporations start to use their reduced taxes to unwind their debt (taken on for stock buy backs), that has to be deflationary. But given consumer inflation has been tame while they took on the debt, would their unwinding of that debt have any noticeable effect?

    Separately, article notes the trend of the 10Y yield going down since 1982 (the Volcker administration) and in spite of that the calls for that to reverse to some degree. I’m with the author, I don’t see that happening. Unless the Fed Reserve starts letting the little people into the party again, like they did pre-1982.

    And separately, looks like the chart they had on margin debt was pulled from this article. Look at the last chart in particular to better see the correlation with the S&P500.

    Getting back to the topic of Fed Debt, the article reminded us of Yellen’s mendacity, “It’s the type of thing that should keep people awake at night”.

  17. Wukchumni

    Our Cara Cara navel orange tree only fruited for the first time in it’s 4th year and has about 8 large orbs to show for it. They have a reddish flesh and a more complex flavor than Washington navels. Yum.

  18. Filiform Radical

    Re: The U.S. Wanted to Discuss Iran. Russia Brought Up Black Lives Matter.

    Another lovely example of editorial spin by way of headline. The actual article is about the overall resistance to America’s potential use of the protests as a pretext for getting rid of the nuclear deal, and the actual story is that this included countries which we might not normally expect to go against the US, but of course the headline is about the objection by a country which large portions of the population regard as our implacable foe. This downplays the heel-dragging among our allies, makes the whole thing seem purely politically motivated and disingenuous,* and further plays up US conflict with Russia.

    * To the aforementioned portions of the population, that is.

  19. Jim

    The Jacobin article on Populism asks an excellent question at the end of its analysis:

    ” When writers…continue to describe populism in ways eerily similar to Hofstadter’s definition, we should wonder why this particular vision of the movement has proven so successful?”

    One answer is that Hofstadter used static categories of analysis which were totally inadequate to the social realities he sought to understand. By linking his definition of populism to a “yearning” or to some kind of “romantic attitude” he ends up relying on literary traditions, rather than looking directly at the the lives and activities of more than two million participants who eventually formulated a political/economic strategy based on their actual struggles against railroads, bankers and concentrated power.

    At a deeper cultural level I would argue that Hofstadter’s vision of populism has maintained its hold because his findings then, and perhaps even more so today, harmonize nicely with a conventional wisdom that maintains an almost instinctual condescension towards any attempt at popular assertion led primarily by average citizens.

    Many, many intellectuals continue to approach populist politics through the lens of condescension.

    1. roady

      The Contractor’s yacht is named “ECP”* because that’s where the money came from.

      The money quote: “Service leaders and their partners (and far too often future colleagues) in the defense industry keep pursuing unrealistic programs and Congress keeps voting for them.”

      It’s interesting that to find examples of successful competitive prototyping, they have to go back to the Boyd/Sprey programs from the 70s. The Tom Christie quote completes the trifecta. Also, due to industry consolidation (and our decades-old national project of de-industrialization), the opportunities for competitive procurements are often very limited.

      Lastly, I wonder how much it cost to develop that “Raider” font on the B-21 slide…

      * Engineering Change Proposal

  20. Patrick Donnelly

    Lying has survival value.

    Humans are not the only species on this planet to lie to others of their kind or to predators.

    Schools make pupils compliant and therefore suit armies and corporations. Home schooling does not!

    Lying was so easy for me that I eventually stopped doing it! Boring! Now I offend with the truth! More fun!

    A truth anyway….. gotta keep some secrets!

  21. Etherpuppet

    Re: Is Your Child Lying to You? That’s Good New York Times. This is not only on the first page, above the fold, but in the upper right corner. Lambert is as appalled as I am.

    I read the linked article and was wondering where the disgust was coming from. Are you upset at the title of the article and the clickbaity nature of the conclusion? The page placement? Or by the research in the article? I’m not pleased by the article title personally, but certainly not appalled.

    I have three boys – 6, 4, and 4 – and they all lie about things from time to time. My experience closely follows the researcher’s points regarding limiting dishonest behavior. Every child learns to lie; rewards of treats/money/etc. have diminishing returns, spankings are useless against lying, while rewards or incentives that play to approval/appreciation/dignity have the highest rate of success and far less diminishing returns.

    Anyway, Yves, Lambert, and Co., thank you for running a great site here. Excellent articles and thought-provoking comments. Bravo!

  22. D

    Re: The Immoral Misuse of Psychology in Support of Empire

    Thanks much for that (ever since Counterpunch started to depressingly note: Join the debate on Facebook , I rarely visit the site, though I used to quite frequently).

    I had meant to thank you for the link yesterday, but got wrapped up in the Amazon piece and forgot.

    To my thought, enough cannot be said about this issue; particularly the difference between being mentally ill, versus being temporarily traumatized, yet permanently overmedicated (particularly as regards the consequences of being labeled poor and, mistakenly, permanently mentally ill in a world where no one except the wealthy can expunge the internet of life threatening false ‘data’ which prevents them from livable wage employment).

    Then, there are the horrid, mostly hushed up, differences in ‘care and treatment’ (for the Poor, military ‘grunts,’ and prisoners of The State, who are generally doped up in a hideous Government partnership with Big Pharma (or worse), versus one on one, non medicated discussions) determined by class and ‘enemy’ status on so many levels.

    When a wealthy, or even upper middleclass, person talks about their shrink, they are not only not considered a danger, but they are considered highly rational by those who sign their paychecks. When anyone else does, the likelihood is that they will be marked (and over medicated) for life.

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