Links 2/28/18

African elephants are migrating to safety—and telling each other how to get there Quartz

Checking in With Alphabet Chair John Hennessy IEEE Spectrum. Hennessy: “When I was growing up, we had extremely strict limitations on when we could watch TV or not; there was absolutely no TV during the week, and only limited viewing time on weekends. We have to do the same with young people and their devices today.”

Google receives 2.4m requests to delete search results FT

Untrue-Tube: Monetizing Misery and Disinformation Medium

Facebook’s algorithm has wiped out a once-flourishing digital publisher Business Insider. If your business depends on a platform, you don’t have a business.

Money Laundering Via Author Impersonation on Amazon? Krebs on Security

Studies are increasingly clear: Uber, Lyft congest cities Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Citigroup Is Refunding $335 Million to Credit Card Customers Fortune. Plus interest?

A banking centre seeks to reinvent itself The Economist. “Switzerland is maintaining loose rules for crypto-businesses, even as other countries are tightening theirs.”

Powell debut steals focus from pressure in the money market FT

In-the-wild DDoSes use new way to achieve unthinkable sizes Ars Technica (DK).


After ISIS, U.S. military confronts challenge from Russia, China in Middle East WaPo

US Military Leaders Worry About Iran’s Media Operations DefenseOne. Ka-ching.


Barnier: open-ended Brexit transition ‘not possible’ EU Observer. “Barnier also said the commissioners will adopt on Wednesday (28 February) the draft legal text of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, which will also contain the EU’s starting negotiating position on transition.” As Yves says: Who controls the documents controls the deal.

Shoppers may be forced to buy inferior milk from America in post-Brexit trade deal with US iNews

Ministers Handed Probation Companies £342m ‘Bailout’ – But Demanded No Extra Staff HuffPo UK

Brussels’ move on digital taxes raises transatlantic stakes Politico

Italy’s Election Is a Shipwreck Foreign Policy


China manufacturing gauge suffers sharpest fall in 6 years FT


Debt burden driving farmers to suicide in Punjab’s food bowl Asia Times

New Cold War

U.S. intel: Russia compromised seven states prior to 2016 election NBC News. Anonymous sources. Thinking systemically for a moment, the obvious solution is to let the intelligence community “protect” our election systems, while at the same time having them set the parameters for acceptable political speech to prevent foreigners (and their, no doubt, unwitting dupes) from “messing with our heads.” What could go wrong?

Russia Not So Much A Rerising Superpower As A Skilled Strategic Spoiler The Conversation

Trump Transition

The killing of the American Dream and Trump’s Tax Reform (podcast) Tax Justice Network

Opinion analysis: Court tees up issue of the constitutionality of indefinite immigration detention for the 9th Circuit ScotusBlog. “In some respects, the court’s decision in Jennings v. Rodriguez takes us back to the drawing board. After sparring among themselves over two terms, the justices remanded the case to the 9th Circuit to decide a meaty constitutional question — whether indefinite detention of noncitizens without a bond hearing as authorized by the immigration statute is constitutional.”

Trump plan would protect student-loan debt collectors from state investigations Los Angeles Times

Security clearances downgraded for Kushner and other White House officials WaPo

Imperial Collapse Watch

U.S. Presence and the Incidence of Conflict RAND. “Stationing U.S. troops abroad may help deter interstate war…. However, provision of U.S. military assistance may be associated with increased state repression and incidence of civil war. These findings have implications for near-term decisionmaking on U.S. forward troop presence in Europe and Asia.” Hoo boy.

What Has $49 Billion in Foreign Military Aid Bought Us? Not Much The American Conservative. Ka-ching.

The Privatization of U.S. Foreign Policy The National Interest

Advice to Washington from Ancient China LRB (MyPrimeBeef).

Commentary: Even in world’s oldest democracies, citizens may be losing control Reuters. Political class: “You say that like it’s a bad thing!”

Democrats in DIsarray

A Certain Party’s Gift for Self-Immolation NYT. The Iron Law of Institutions.

DCCC Advised Candidates Not To Discuss Gun Control Policy Right After Vegas Shooting HuffPo. Classy!

DCCC Internal Polling Presented to Members of Congress Panned Single-Payer Health Care The Intercept. Film at 11.

Sex in Politics… Not.

Monica Lewinsky: Emerging from “the House of Gaslight” in the Age of #MeToo Vanity Fair

Our Famously Free Press

Models for our Media (part 3) Grassroots Economic Organizing

Net Neutrality

FCC Net Neutrality Repeal Published in Federal Register, Triggering Deadlines for Challengers Lexology. Nothing yet from the Internet Association.

Democrats submit plan to save net neutrality, still one vote short in Senate Ars Technica

In Latest Twist in Net Neutrality Battle, Court Rules FTC Can Regulate Internet Providers Variety

How The FCC’s Net Neutrality Plan Breaks With 50 Years Of History Tim Wu, Wired

Health Care

Buffett-Dimon Health Venture to Go Beyond Just Squeezing the Middlemen Bloomberg. But — and I know this will surprise you — “nobody to know what it is.”


Who Was Marjory Stoneman Douglas? Portside

Class Warfare

Justice proposes 5% raise for WV school employees; strike set to end Thursday Charleston Gazette

Hello, Raises. It’s Been a While. What Will Make You Stay? Eduardo Porter, NYT

Opinion: Provide Jobs for All and End Poverty Columbus Underground. MMT and the Jobs Guarantee (!).

Wealth of Congress: Richer Than Ever, but Mostly at the Very Top Roll Call

Marcie Smith, adjunct econ professor at John Jay College (CUNY), on the recently departed Gene Sharp, revered but problematic theorist of nonviolence and friend of the intelligence service (podcast) Left Business Observer (and see thread here).

Keynes’ core in​sight Real World Economics Review. Bracing!

Antidote du jour (via):

Coping with the news flow….

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Emorej a Hong Kong

    Re: Security clearances downgraded for Kushner and other White House officials

    Buried lede:
    >according to … intelligence reports … Among those nations discussing ways to influence Kushner to their advantage were … Israel

    Takeaway: If US intelligence can collect and leak this on Israelis, without “revealing sources and methods”, then why can’t they do the same on Russians’ alleged election interference and collusion etc.?

    1. Procopius

      Maybe because they have nothing on Russian interference or collusion? Not that that proves there wasn’t any, but they got nothin’. On Israel they’ve got a lot, but it’s almost never leaked, and if it is leaked the six owners of the media usually manage to quash it before it gets known?

    2. L

      I admit that when I read that my first thought was “well duh” and my second was “why?” The first because Israel is second to none in its efforts to manipulate our politics and Netanyahu’s old roomie should be an obvious target for them. My second point is why did they bother. Kushner’s support for Israel is stronger than even Pence (who wants it to exist so it will be destroyed by the Antichrist). So why would they need manipulation?

      With respect to the “sources and methods” I doubt that was a concern. This seems less Kirakou and more Plame, that is a clear leak to take down a political rival. Which means that it was probably done by someone who does not think they can be touched rather than a truly motivated insider. This may very well be someone’s way of shoring up his decision in the face of private paternal opposition. I doubt “sources and methods” are even a minor consideration.

      1. Procopius

        Given John Brennan’s public announcement that he had evidence that Putin personally directed the hacking of the DNC computer, and that any counterintelligence officer would immediately think there was either a spy working in the Kremlin’s inner offices or the NSA had cracked whatever encryption method they use on their “secure” phones, I don’t thing “sources and methods” count very highly in their list of priorities. Of course, I believe he was lying, so of course “sources and methods” were not really endangered, but it’s still bad practice.

          1. integer

            One could speculate that the fact you feel the need to mention your ACLU donations suggests you are not entirely comfortable with your investment. If that is the case, why not just divest the defense portfolio?

    3. christy

      Heres the curious thing. And I think that the analysis provided is a very good one but there is ONE thing getting lost in all this “crisis actor” stuff. 
      While many people do try to make money on doing videos to promote conspiracy theories like the US govt using crisis actors, many people pay attention to the patterns. It is a very complex issue starting with the public. 
      The public has a very short memory. Events such as mass school shootings are used as a diversion to the public to kind of have them, ‘take their eye off the ball’. Sort of like yelling the word SQUIRREL! to a labrador.
      While there are PROVEN covert programs such as MKULTRA, voice of god, weaponized mind control, voice to skull technology. The thought behind this is these people who act on these ‘voices in their head’ are usually ‘researched by the governmnet covertly, they are predisposed to certain violent behaviors and are controlled by medication put out by BigPhRma and ‘trigger’ sound freqeuencies. Ask yourself, how many of our mass shooters heard voices? Nearly all of them. How many were on meds? Near all of them. Are there covert CIA programs using mind control. YES. Now ask yourself this, Would it be possible to control a person who is predisposed to violence, using meds and trigger frequencies to perpetrate a horror to distract the public from what is really going on in realtime? YES. 
      Thus, people such as my self notice the PATTERNS of the events. (Crisis actors are merely used to help propagate a fraud onto the public. There are ads on craigslist being posted ALL the time in cities asking for crisis actors. I haven’t researched these allegations myself, but some people are saying some of the SAME crisis actors from Sandy Hook and other mass shootings are some of the same people our corp-owned media want us to believe are witnesses to the latest mass shooting. I really don’t know. Research it yourself.) 
      The patterns. Notice the patterns. When these events occur, what little miniscule piece of info was released by our corp-owned media that the DeepState doesn’t want people to notice, and therefore want us distracted?
      So now, these crazy conspiracy theorists who do Youtube videos think that they are being sensored (and they are) because the ‘shadow govt’ ‘deepstate’ ‘illuminati’ don’t want their covert, mind control secrets currently being perpetrated upon ‘Murican citizens, getting out and spreading. They don’t want the American people getting ‘redpilled’. aka getting the truth. 
      This all kind of started with Trump, btw. He promised to ‘drain the swamp’. These crazy conspiracy theorists believe that Trump is trying to get the word out about these covert actions being perpetrated upon US taxpayers by way of ‘Q’. Q is a lurker on 8chan, kind of the outer reaches of the internet, who many people believe is on the INSIDE of the Trump Admin. He was given the nickname Q because many believe he has “Q” security clearance which is the HIGHEST clearance level without being POTUS and is with the Energy Dept. Q has supposedly predicted many things that HAVE come into being.

  2. Pogonip

    That guy whose parents placed limitations on TV was lucky. My mom used TV as “audible wallpaper.” The damn thing was ALWAYS on, yammering away at least 6 hours a day (until Fox News came along, when it jumped to 10-12 hours a day; my dad used to hide from Fox and Friends in his woodworking shop). The result is that my 30-year-old TVs are like new because they get used so rarely. I hope they last another 30.

    1. perpetualWAR

      I was restricted on TV-watching. We were sent outside to ride bikes, make mud pies, and skip rope. Now, I have no TV. Haven’t since they went to digital output. Don’t miss it until I’m sick and want something mindless to do.

    2. Lord Koos

      We didn’t have a television until I was around 11 years old, and viewing was restricted on weeknights, but on Saturdays we could watch cartoons and old movies as much as we wanted. My two younger siblings grew up with the TV from a younger age and as a result still watch more of it that I do. Now my pre-smart flatscreen is used only for watching movies, we have no cable or antenna.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      And I could watch as much TV as I wanted from the time I was five, but I preferred being outdoors or reading. I also have a lot of memories of all those old movies the channels used to fill up space. And Dragnet. Dragnet was a Friday night religious service. My parents actually woke me up so I could watch the episode where someone had killed an old man’s dog and they had to talk him down from shooting the neighbors.

      And I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to learn that even though Wonderful World of Disney was going to color, I, alas, would still only be able to see it in black and white.

      Here’s the thing—young people are wise to how TV is used to try to manipulate them. And given how their lives are structured practically from birth such that, especially after they reach school age, they have no free time to use for all those nostalgic activities the people trying to control even more of their lives seem determined they need to get going on.

      I should think by now anyone paying attention will have noticed that the young may be the only thing that will save the rest of us, because they hate advertising and they know how to organize using tools that are more efficient than anything all the codgers reminiscing about the good old days had. And although there’s plenty of propaganda to be had in the original material coming from the streaming services, there is also access to information they won’t get from the corporate media.

      I therefore am highly suspicious of all the sudden concern about their welfare with regard to social media and entertainment. As I am likewise about all the sudden concern over my participation in same, lest in my senility and stupidity I be overwhelmed with “fake news” and do something harmful to the status quo.

    4. Amfortas the Hippie

      I’ve fired Cable, unilaterally, twice, now. Hopefully this time it’s truly dead(will take a lot of upfront cash to get a satdish out here)
      For sports, wife and boys go next door…where stepdad has the whole frelling package. I don’t ever have to hear it, if I don’t want to.
      And I rarely have to hear a commercial, either.
      Netflix and youtube and dvd’s…and I encourage Books! and am always leaving selected tomes by everyone’s bedside.
      every time wife gets to hankering for directv, I take her to mom’s and scroll through the “guide”…”look at all the infomercials they pay for with this! More of those than there is actual programming…and most of that sucks!”
      I’ve won this argument for 2 years, now.

      oh, and thanks to Yves! I learned a new word, today: “Ergodic”

  3. allan

    “Buffett-Dimon Health Venture to Go Beyond Just Squeezing the Middlemen”

    to which Tim Cook says, “Hold my beer”:

    Apple will open its own medical clinics for employees [Engadget]

    Apple is launching its own medical clinics called “AC Wellness,” in a move that will allow it to take employee healthcare into its own hands. Following similar news about Amazon’s venture with Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, Apple plans to offer what it calls the “world’s best health care experience” to workers. It quietly published a website for the venture with a careers page seeking a primary care doctors, nurses, an exercise coach, “care navigator,” and on-site lab test personnel. …

    Apple said it will provide a “unique concierge-like healthcare experience … enabled by technology.” It has already gone heavily into the industry via its Apple Watch health tracking, and creating its HealthKit and ResearchKit platform to aid researchers and doctors in tracking employee and patient health.

    On top of providing doctors, nurses and other medical staff, it looks like Apple will focus equally on prevention, via diet and exercise programs for employees. As such, it’s looking for “designers” who will put together programs aimed at promoting healthy living. …

    I love the smell of word salad in the morning. It smells like … like … a company town.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This ought to be a good PR puzzle for Apple – Who is more important: customers or employees?

      If Apple workers get medical care, shouldn’t an exceptional corporation like Apple give the same or better health care to its customers?

      The alternate PR message is this: My workers than more important than you, my customer.

      Apple customers ought to wear ‘Am I not as important as your workers?’ T-shirts to their stores.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        Apple will make them.all wear a fitness device that tracks their biometric data, arguing that they need it for the health clinic. They will make hiring and firing decisions based upon that data (which the company will manage), and keep themselves away from the medical clinics information.

        Win/win for the company.

        1. Lemmy Caution

          Attention employees: We hope you’ve enjoyed the holiday break. We are saddened to report, however, that we’ve experienced a 400-pound group weight gain since our last weigh in. Please report to the rotunda for morning calisthenics.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      The Apple health challenge:

      – Put on an Apple Watch, check your heart rate and other health indicators
      – Have a few stiff drinks, smoke a cigarette
      – Check those indicators again

      Challenge complete.

    3. a different chris

      “Company town”, yes. It’s sad that most of the kiddies that work at Apple don’t know this all has been done before. Heck, I started work in the early 80’s and Westinghouse still had an on-site doctor *and* an a optometerist office.

    4. Lemmy Caution

      Potentially ominous deployment of the word concierge:

      “A person who has charge of the entrance; a doorkeeper.”

    5. ArcadiaMommy

      This is creepy.

      Can I sell my services to wear the apple employees’ “wellness devices”? I have skinny arms, could probably fit 5-6 per arm, maybe the ankles as well?

      I know a bunch of moms that I could sub this work out to….

      1. Jean

        You can write on the medical forms your are required to sign pre exam:

        “All data based on my personal health attributes is owned by me and, except for medical purposes related to my health care administration, is for sale at $1,000 per example to outside data buyers.”

        Write real small and I bet the underpaid staff in the doctor’s office won’t catch it. Take a picture of the “contract” before you hand it in.

    6. Oregoncharles

      Both ventures are essentially self-insurance. Makes sense for deep pockets: why pay someone else to do what you can do for yourself?

      That, plus they reflect the extreme rent-extracting of the medical industry. This is essentially just cutting out the middleman; they figure they can run clinics better than those who already are – and essentially sequester the profits fo rthemselves, and to some degree for their employes. And of course, it also makes employes more dependent. The “company town” someone else mentioned.

      Trouble is, it’s probably a real benefit -that should be available to everyone.

    7. Lambert Strether Post author

      For employees. Not, one assumes, for contractors (including cafeteria workers. Perhaps the Apple Watch will have a food-tasting app….)

      I looked at the site. Put down your coffee if you do…

  4. integer

    Here’s a fascinating article by Eva Bartlett detailing how The Guardian went about smearing her reporting on the White Helmets:

    How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda & the White Helmets in Syria The Wrong Kind of Green

    On December 18, 2017, the Guardian issued a shoddily-penned hatchet piece against British journalist Vanessa Beeley, Patrick Henningsen and his independent website 21st Century Wire, Australian professor and writer Tim Anderson, and myself.

    Many insightful writers have since deconstructed the lies and omissions of the article, which I will link to at the bottom of my own.

    Judging by the scathing comments on the Guardian’s Facebook post, the general public didn’t buy it either. The Guardian, like Channel 4 News and Snopes, whitewashes terrorism in Syria, employs non-sequitur arguments, promotes war propaganda, and simply gets the facts wrong.

    The website this story is featured on, The Wrong Kind of Green, is worth checking out too. Their motto is:

    The road to hell is paved with corporate profits and compromised NGOs

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Integer, for linking this excellent and timely post.

      You mention Channel 4. It’s bang in form this week.

      Krishna Gurumurthy is reporting live from Damascus, when one might think there are more important issues at home, not that this should diminish the suffering in Syria. His reports lead the evening bulletins. I have been in Madrid and Paris most of this month and have not seen this amount of reporting from Syria.

      Yesterday evening, the woman reporter whose name escapes smeared Labour with a story about and interview with Max Mosley, son of Oswald and former head of motor racing. Mosley is alleged to be muzzling the media, especially stories about his fascist past. The stories date from the 1960s. It was mentioned that Mosley is a Labour donor.

      It was not explained that Mosley and his sponsor, Bernie Ecclestone, donated to Tony Blair’s Labour Party, not Corbyn’s, an attempt to get a ban on tobacco and alcohol advertising reversed in the late 1990s, not now. It was also not pointed out that, after the fascist movement ran out of steam in the 1960s, Mosley tried to join the Tories, but was kept out by Ted Heath. Channel 4 could have pointed out that Mosley is a cousin of the Queen, by way of the Queen Mother. Soviet spy Anthony Blunt is, or was, of the Queen by the Queen Mother, too. Murdoch’s Sky repeats the Labour smear often.

      When one takes apart, or down, the above Channel 4 pair, they are quick to scream racist, sexist etc.

      1. integer

        Thanks Colonel. Sounds like a textbook case of lying by omission. Just to be clear, it was the introductory passage of Bartlett’s article that mentioned Channel 4, rather than myself.

    2. jawbone

      WNYC, NYC public radio. is covering the documentaries nominated for Oscars on the Brian Lehrer Show. For the second year in a row, a documentary about the White Helmets has been nominated.

      Lehrer was amazingly…sycophantic…during his interview with the director of the docu. He continually emphasized how heroic the White Helmets were to be digging for bodies and the few survivors of attacks by the Syrian government and Russia. East Ghouta has been the MCM’s (mainstream corporate media) darling for weeks now, the poor benighted rebels the only ones mentioned (nothing about the various other groups which are outright terrorists).

      I cannot believe the reporting of the play acting, the dual roles of rescuers and terrorists the White Helmets play, the use of civilians as human shields, etc., has not made at least some dent in the US propaganda.


  5. The Rev Kev

    “After ISIS, U.S. military confronts challenge from Russia, China in Middle East” WaPo

    Changed to: “After ISIS, U.S. military confronts challenge from Russia on Russia’s borders and China on China’s coastline”. There, fixed it for them.

    1. Aumua

      “After Russia defeats ISIS, in spite of U.S. meddling, U.S. military confronts challenge from Russia on Russia’s borders and China on China’s coastline”.

  6. Darius

    Many years ago, Lisa Simpson listed Marjorie Stoneman Douglas as a heroine of feminism along with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

    1. Steve H.

      “Be a nuisance where it counts. Do your part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action. Be depressed, discouraged, and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption and bad politics—but never give up.”

        1. perpetualWAR

          I wish that employers would also believe that engaging in thoughtful, peaceful protesting like Occupy would be viewed in a positive light. I have been booted from job opportunities because my Google search pulls up my activism. I never thought being an activist could potentially have negative consequences!

          1. rd

            I hate to break it to you, but the last thing corporate America wants is an activist in their ranks stirring things up within the organization.

            Meanwhile, corporate America is baffled about why their employee engagement survey scores are low……

          2. Kurt Sperry

            It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that such a thing could happen; it does surprise me that a prospective employer would make you aware they had done so.

  7. timbers

    Opinion analysis: Court tees up issue of the constitutionality of indefinite immigration detention for the 9th Circuit ScotusBlog.

    “…the justices remanded the case to the 9th Circuit to decide a meaty constitutional question — whether indefinite detention of noncitizens without a bond hearing as authorized by the immigration statute is constitutional.”

    This one’s easy!

    Since the brainiac Ivy League’rs on the Supreme Court and our Law Professor ex-Prez have already told is it’s totally constitutional to imprison U.S. citizens for ever and until death w/o charge – and torture them too – why would anyone wonder if it’s legal to to it to non-citizens? Of course it is!

    Except, of course it’s not. And neither is it legal to do the same to citizens.

    Up next: Corporations are people so we can’t pass laws to regulate them because constitutional rights, and people have no constitutional rights because they are not corporations!

    1. makedoanmend

      “Up next: Corporations are people so we can’t pass laws to regulate them because constitutional rights, and people have no constitutional rights because they are not corporations!”

      Hmmm…satire? satire become reality?

      You may be on to something.

      1. Steve H.

        Here’s a corporate funtime party: Dick Cheney, Jacob Rothschild, Rupert Murdoch, R. James Woolsey, Jr., Larry Summers and Bill Richardson.

        That’s some of the members of the Board of Genie Energy. Can’t make this up.

        1. integer

          Israel Grants First Golan Heights Oil Drilling licence To Dick Cheney-Linked Company Business Insider (2013)

          A local subsidiary of the New York-listed company Genie Energy — which is advised by former vice president Dick Cheney and whose shareholders include Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch — will now have exclusive rights to a 153-square mile radius in the southern part of the Golan Heights.

          That geographic location will likely prove controversial. Israel seized the Golan Heights in the Six-Day War in 1967 and annexed the territory in 1981. Its administration of the area — which is not recognised by international law — has been mostly peaceful until the Syrian civil war broke out 23 months ago.

          “This action is mostly political – it’s an attempt to deepen Israeli commitment to the occupied Golan Heights,” Israeli political analyst Yaron Ezrahi told FT. “The timing is directly related to the fact that the Syrian government is dealing with violence and chaos and is not free to deal with this problem.”

          1. Jean

            Isn’t there a huge offshore gas field within that radius too?
            One reason that “Palestinian Yachtsman” is an oxymoron and the sea is closed to them?

            1. JBird


              The Gazan gas fields, which are within the territorial waters of Gaza, and for its development the Palestinian government already signed an agreement for about fifteen years ago. Note that existence, or at least its large size, was not discovered until the 1990s when the Gaza Strip’s amalgamation with the West Bank into the quasi-state Palestinian Authority. Israel no longer can legally claim those fields nor be guaranteed all the gas from its own claims especially as they interconnect at least a little. The main Israeli energy company has signed a similar agreement with the Israeli government agreement; the company supplies, or ships into, Gaza its limited amount of overpriced gas, and fuel, is plus whatever is not currently banned. The company also has strong financial connections to the current ruling party’s leadership including Netanyahu’s family.

              Also the Israeli naval blockade has been pushed close enough to the coast that Gaza no longer has access to the field and as a bonus the fishing fleet is cut off from the best fishing areas too.

              The gas fields also intersect with the territories of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Cypress, and (I think) a little with Egypt. Just for funsies, I am just waiting for a field to be discovered between Greece and Turkey. It’s been too peaceful.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Cheney, Summers, Richardson – on stage, they occupy opposite ends, right and left.

          But fortunately, chivalry still exists; after a hard fought battle, knights still treat each other with respect and can sit down for a civil board meeting and a nice dinner.

          And like that movie, the Grand Illusion – ‘We officers must treat each other like gentlemen.’

  8. PlutoniumKun

    Barnier: open-ended Brexit transition ‘not possible’ EU Observer. “Barnier also said the commissioners will adopt on Wednesday (28 February) the draft legal text of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, which will also contain the EU’s starting negotiating position on transition.” As Yves says: Who controls the documents controls the deal.

    Barnier has just issued the draft Withdrawal Treatment and it states that Northern Ireland wills stay in the Customs Union and Single Market.

    The EU’s draft legal text on Brexit has proposed that the territory of Northern Ireland shall be “considered part of the customs territory of the EU” in the event of the alignment option contained in last December’s political agreement coming into effect.

    The legal text spells out in detail the way in which Northern Ireland would remain within the customs union and single market, if other solutions are not found.

    As reported last night by RTÉ News, the text speaks of a “common regulatory area” on the island of Ireland governing customs, VAT, energy, the environment and agriculture.

    The text says that the European Court of Justice would continue to have jurisdiction over Northern Ireland where EU rules apply.

    The full text of the draft Agreement is here. The protocol on NI is on page 98.

    Note Article 168 states that the situation with NI would be indefinite, i.e. intended to stay operational after the transition period.

    The cat just arrived in the midst of the pigeons.

    1. Clive

      Over the DUP’s dead body!

      But of course, if they kick up too much, they risk Corbyn’s Labour and a lot of cosying up to Sinn Fein.

      I simply cannot see a way out of this on current EU/U.K. stand-offs. Unionists would see this as direct rule from Brussels. Which they won’t put up with. As opposed to direct rule from London. Which they are all in favour of.

      Nutty as a fruit cake. The lot of ‘em.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Its worth pointing out that the DUP is a particularly weird party in that its almost entirely run by a fringe religious sect (the Free Presbyterians), and yet they represent a much bigger electorate, thanks to the ineptness of the other Unionist parties. There is a sound argument for considering them the most profoundly weird political party in any government anywhere in the world (yes, even weirder than Trump).

        But they have created a huge problem for themselves in that they know that if they bring down the government over this or any other matter, then there will almost certainly be a Prime Minister called Corbyn, and they fear that more than anything. They genuinely believe he is a closet Provo (i.e. IRA supporter/member). So they are just as boxed in as May is. Their gut reaction is always to dig their heels in and shout ‘no’!, but even they may realise they have to be more subtle now. I’m not sure they are capable of that.

    2. David

      To be absolutely clear, this is a Commission draft, which still has to go through some further procedures in Brussels today, and bits of it could conceivably change, though that’s unlikely. It’s better described not as a “legal text” but as a draft Treaty, and indeed it’s written in Treaty language. That’s important, because this is not a “position paper”, or a “draft proposal”, it is a complete draft Treaty, covering every aspect of the withdrawal process. I haven’t had the time to read all of it, but it’s a very professional and well-drafted text, and a credit to the Commission (not something I often say).
      Then practical effect (beyond those described by PK) is that the EU will achieve the main objective of any participant in negotiations – get your text on the table first. Normally, one would have expected the UK to do this, because, after all, it’s only one country and it’s negotiating, through the EC, with 27 others. It’s a measure of the incompetence of the current government, and the divisions within it, that it doesn’t have a draft text available in competition, and there’s no sign that it will. Under normal circumstances, therefore, you would expect that negotiations would take place on the basis of this draft, with the UK proposing changes to bits it doesn’t like. But I’m not sure that’s going to happen, and not only because of the NI issue, important as that is. The government is going to have a problem coming up with a coherent response at all, and I fear the result will be “take it away, we don’t like it”, which won’t achieve anything. The overall effect is to make what was already a weak UK position even weaker.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thanks for clarifying it, David. I haven’t had time to read through it yet, but it certainly reads like a very comprehensive document, and its set out as a legally binding Treaty, so its pretty clear that’s what the EU want it to be.

        As Clive says, the DUP will go ballistic over this, but I think they may be suddenly aware that they’ve made a big enemy of Corbyn and he could be next PM. They can’t bring the government down over it, so they are in a fix. The Brexiteers will be furious too, and may try to stop it, in which case its an over the precipice Brexit. The NI/Scottish reaction will be interesting. A lot of ‘moderate’ Unionists in NI won’t necessarily be unhappy with whats written, they know they need some sort of EU deal if the remnants of NI industry and agriculture are to survive. The Scots will be thinking hard about how to use this to their advantage.

        The incompetence of the British government in allowing the EU to make the running on this is jaw dropping. In future years, this will become a classic case study in how not to carry out an international negotiation. They may not have had a strong hand to begin with, but they are now completely boxed in.

            1. Oregoncharles

              I don’t think it’s quite in the right place. Interesting, though, that that line is so very old.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I’m just reading through a quick Q and A in the Guardian with John Major. It does show you how far the Tories have gone down when Major is seen as something of a political giant.

        Major says the chances of the UK being able to have its cake and eat it are “between nil and zilch”.

        He also argues strongly that the UK must stay in the Customs Union. I wonder if he is deliberately flying a flag to get more moderate Tories to support the amendment on this – if he succeeds, then there will be a Labour/moderate Tory alliance on this, which can block the hard Brexiters in Parliament (not that this is likely to change the overall course of negotiations, as its far too late).

      3. Clive

        One thing I was on the look-out for was how the EU Draft Treaty would fudge, erm, sorry, make go away as best it can, the TFEU-created problem of — unwisely as it turned out — hard-coding into its provisions the specific references to the U.K. and it’s dependent territories. Reading the TFEU now, you can’t help but chuckle that it’s naivety was such that it assumed that member states would always and forever be EU member states.

        Fast forward a few years and the EU is now stuck with specific Treaty commitments to the U.K. (and territories) by name. How, then, to get out of that free?

        The Draft seems to bind the U.K. into letting the EU off the TFEU hook for both itself and territories with regards to what it was granted under that Treaty. A similar situation applies to Euroatom (again, there is the hard-coded references to the U.K. in that). The U.K. might just be tempted to tell the EU “fat chance”. I guess it depends on what, if anything, the U.K. can extract in return for allowing the EU to extract itself from the now optimistic (you could say sloppy) wording of the TFEU.

        Another no-brainer would be to say that in the case of a dispute over the implementation of the new Treaty, the CJEU has no jurisdiction (this is specified in the draft). Well, that’s a nice try by the Commission, but the International Court of Justice is the customary jurisdiction for treaty disputes. There’s no reason why the U.K. would agree to the CJEU having jurisdiction — unless it was getting something in return.

        That all said, the U.K. government couldn’t hit an open goal from 5 metres, so I doubt, unless someone comes up with a version of the draft Treaty in a colouring-in book version, they’ll appreciate the few strengths they have in their negotiating position.

        1. David

          Normally, a draft of this kind will have some negotiating fat in it – things that the drafters are prepared to give up or trade. That’s always difficult when you’re negotiating multilaterally, but it’s not impossible. The two cases you mention may well fall into this category. If I were a UK negotiator, I’d reply by saying “I accept paragraphs 1-3 of Article 162 but not paragraph 4”. That would make any reference to the CJEU contingent on both sides agreeing, which is effectively a veto.
          But as you say, that supposes a competent negotiating team, playing by the usual rules, not the bunch of clowns we have here. And strengths are no good unless you know what practical use you want to make of them.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Clive – the Article 50 process doesn’t free the EU, as well as Britain? Seems like it would – though now they’ll have to change the texts.

          1. Clive

            Yes, A50 frees the EU. But only up to a point. It’s like termination clause in a contract. Most contracts have a termination clause — something that says the parties have a right to terminate the agreement and the goes on to say what they’ll do in terms of the provisions stipulated in the agreement, things like payments accrued, work in progress not completed, non-disparaging clause continuation, that kind of thing.

            A50 is a termination right but doesn’t contain a termination clause. It gives the parties the right for two years to work up the termination clause. Nothing more.

            The draft is the EU’s attempt at a termination clause. It’s like having a marriage annulled where there’s no pre-nup. It’s easy enough to simply not be married any more. But if there’s property, future income, children and so on — which didn’t exist at the time of the marriage contract — you want a court to make a binding agreement on what happens to these things. Otherwise, neither party can ever really know what their rights are both to legacy matters which arose or were created during the marriage or, worse, future matters derived from legacy matters which were created in the marriage and aren’t static, immutable things but rather variables which might well change in the future and create future assets or future liabilities. You need to get a divorce lawyer, usually, to work out these specifics so everyone can move on and know where they stand. A50 does none of these things.

            Some of the existing inter-EU treaties make specific references to the U.K. which might be finessable but would leave the EU27 open to potential legal challenges both within member states of the EU27 and also from the U.K. — treaties are “four corners” agreements, there’s no “implied terms” or “unwritten assumptions” which can be invoked to say “yes, but what we really intended was…”. The EU would much rather spell out how the U.K. releases the EU27 from future liabilities and makes sure that U.K. liabilities to the EU are fulfilled. There’s a lot in the draft concerning those aspects — it saves the EU having to make a legal challenge where the basis for the legal challenge is sketchy at best.

            And then there’s the treaties between third nations and the EU (like Euroatom). The EU27 would much prefer how the U.K. would commit to those going forward but without the EU27 having to be involved or get the third country to formally vary them.

            1. Oregoncharles

              So that’s why the EU intermittently plays nice: they need an agreement, too. I wondered, given the disproportionate power relationship. Especially considering those over-specific references to the UK.

      4. Yves Smith

        Yes, that’s a critical point that I’ve made in passing before: in negotiations, the old saw is “he who controls the document controls the deal”. And in December, the EU was crystal clear that one of the tasks for the UK was to “operationalize” (or some other bureaucrat- speak word that equalled “codify”) their Ireland solution. The EU put that particular ball in the UK’s court and the UK has no one to blame but itself for having the EU’s language foisted on it as a result of doing squat. But you’d never figure that out from the squealing from the UK pols and press.

        It is really shocking that the Government couldn’t be bothered to rouse itself and provide draft treaty language at least on those issues it regarded as particularly important and/or sensitive. It seems the Government would rather present itself as the EU’s victim than protect its interest.

        And while I haven’t tracked down the various EU position papers, I have been impressed with all of the output of the European Council re Brexit, like their paper on the arrangements they published at the end of April last year.

        1. Oregoncharles

          This does support my theory that they have no intention of carrying out Brexit – May didn’t support it beforehand, and neither did the Tory party aside from a cabal. They only held the referendum because they thought it would fail.

          Maybe it isn’t incompetence; maybe it’s kayfabe.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Just how strong is the DUP in N. Ireland itself? Because this could trash the peace agreement and start fighting again.

      Personally, I think it only makes sense to re-unite Ireland and leave the Unionists to stew in their own juices; I just wonder how much support they have on their own territory, keeping in mind.that many of their supporters would be badly harmed by attempts to enforce a customs border across the island. (I said “attempts” because several Irish commenters were fairly colorful about how enforceable that border is.)

      1. Clive

        The Draft wording is pretty strong stuff. I’ll quote in full, forgive the length but this is necessary to get a proper appreciation of the EU’s approach:

        Article 3

        Establishment of a common regulatory area

        A common regulatory area comprising the Union and the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland is hereby established. The common regulatory area shall constitute an area without internal borders in which the free movement of goods is ensured and North-South cooperation protected in accordance with this Chapter.

        Article 11

        Supervision and enforcement

        1. As regards Chapter III, the institutions, bodies, offices, and agencies of the Union shall in relation to the United Kingdom, and natural and legal persons residing or established in the territory of the United Kingdom, have the powers conferred upon them by Union law. In particular, the Court of Justice of the European Union shall have jurisdiction as provided for in the Treaties in this respect.

        2. Acts of the institutions, bodies, offices, and agencies adopted in accordance with paragraph 1 shall produce in respect of and in the United Kingdom the same legal effects as those which they produce within the Union and its Member States.

        This is just plain flat out incendiary to Unionists. NI is, to all intents and purposes partitioned from the U.K. and made an EU protectorate and dependent territory. And when, and as we are talking about the culmination of Project Europe it is a when — not an “if” — in 10, 20 or 30 years down the line the EU becomes an independent state and there are no longer individual member states, NI is effectively subsumed into that. Never mind NI’s constitutional status in the Island of Ireland, it is merely a part of a United Europe.

        There’s no way the Commission can seriously think either Unionists or the U.K. government can sign up to this, as currently drafted. Which makes me think the Commission, which isn’t typically dumb, really doesn’t expect this Draft to get anything other than laughed out of town.

        1. Oregoncharles

          You’re in a better place to observe, but I for one don’t believe there will be a United States of Europe. They’re already shedding countries, both west and east, and quite likely south, as well. Remember that an anti-Euro party is likely to win the Italian election.

          Otherwise: it is, after all, a bargaining position, if the UK ever gets around to bargaining. It also underlines the degree of difficulty: if this is the real solution…

          I still think May will call off Brexit, then take her lumps. But you know more about this than I do.

          1. Clive

            Alas no-one knows nothing ! Certainly not me.

            Unfortunately it’s what you could call “an overly dynamic situation”. The only thing that’s reasonable to assume is that the draft, as written, will be unacceptable to NI unionists. Even moderate ones are likely to find it too much to stomach.

            And the demands are such that, even if there are moderate unionists, not, it has to be said a commodity in huge oversupply, they’ll be hardened by the EU’s stance. In NI, there as elsewhere, many have seen exactly what happens to those who put their trust in middle-way grand bargain compromisers. There’s a reason Trump won. There’s a reason Brexit was voted for. There’s a reason Merkel is struggling to form a coalition of the willing. And so on.

  9. RenoDino

    Unblocked, and worth a look…

    The fact is America is in decline and the causes are many.

    I, for one, believe it’s the price of Empire and the corresponding lack of social justice that comes with the high social and economic costs of world domination. Patriotic Propaganda attempts to fill the void caused by the despair that sacrifice is necessary to rule the world.

    I’m not buying the idea of a spiritual void. Europe is overrun by atheists and is thriving in comparison. Inequality of opportunity for higher education is the biggest dividing line based on the findings. That takes me back to a lack of social justice that overhang of the costs of Empire. We are unique in the world in this one respect which makes me conclude that it’s the driving force behind the trend.

    It’s also why I go crazy when I see Bernie going after Russia. Superpower pissing contests are the reason why we don’t have single payer and other nice things.

    1. perpetualWAR

      I think ‘spiritual’ doesn’t necessarily mean religious.
      Also, I think it’s social connectivity. Europeans have their local butcher, grocer and bakery. We have mega-stores. No connections there.

      It’s multi-faceted for sure. You bring up good points.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If having local merchants . . . the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker . . . is part of what is involved in “living like Europeans”, then the better-off American college towns have some people who are “living like Europeans”. Both the people who pay their local merchants for local goods and services, and the local providers of goods and services who work for pay on behalf of people in College towns who are prepared to pay fair prices to live like Europeans.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Just for comparison, and not a conclusion.

      “Ask not what the empire can do for you.

      Ask what you can do for the empire.”

      It would not be surprising if some ancient Roman orator had used that before.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I recently watched the Battle of Okinawa, a film produced by Toho Co. LTD. and released in 1971. So, it’s an old movie.

        The soldiers of the Imperial Army, the pilots of Tokko planes, even the civilians, they all remind me of that (what one can do for one’s empire).

      2. LifelongLib

        Happened to have read recently a George Orwell essay on Rudyard Kipling. Orwell notes that when Kipling asks “What have you done for England?” the working-class response is likely to be “What has England done for me?”

        1. JBird

          Exactly. Without citizens contributing to the state things go badly, but the state, and its ruling elites, too often expects its people to keep giving and giving evermore of whatever they have to an increasingly narrow group without receiving anything in return. Give me everything and who cares about your children, peon? It’s how societies, states, and empires collapse. While the United States is worse than Europe, the E.U. is political troubles are increasing because of the same neoliberalism. So it’s Russia!, or Racism!, or Evilwhateverism! to distract from the general population’s beating and robbery by TPTB.

  10. johnnygl

    I’d love a net neutrality vote in the senate. It’d be great to put these clowns on record and let us know who needs to be sent to the unemployment office and who we can actually work with.

    Just in time for primary season so upstart challnegers can make it a campaign issue!!!

  11. UserFriendly

    FYI Jordan Chariton is back on his own youtube channel now.
    He has a new video talking about Levi Sanders (Bernie’s son) getting interviewed by CNN about his run for congress in New Hampshire’s 1st CD.

  12. Tom Stone

    That article on the wealth of Congresscritters doesn’t seem to to include the assets of spouses.
    I Suspect that Richard Blum ( Mr Dianne Feinstein) is worth a tad more than $58 Million.

  13. Ed

    “Italy’s Election Is a Shipwreck Foreign Policy”

    Unfortunately this article is skipable. I’ve found this to be the case with articles in Foreign Policy generally, that magazine has a high gilbness to content ratio.

    The article is supposed to be on the upcoming Italian election, and doesn’t mention the election until the second paragraph from the end to the article. There is very little hard information about Italy at all. We learn that it is a pleasant country to visit.

    It also contains something that I’ve been noticing more and more in mainstream publications, which is to claim that a place is growing or even booming economically, with the implication that the ungrateful peasants are unhappy anyway, and providing no evidence to back that up or even presenting contrary information within the same article. The article then goes on to claim that if a young Italian is bright and honest, his or her best chance is to emigrate (almost an exact quote) because of the high youth unemployment. Well which is it? The economy is either doing well or there are no jobs for people entering the job market, but it can’t be both. One of those two claims has to be incorrect.

    1. Dr. Roberts

      I’m not going to attempt to scale the paywall, but I’m going to wager that if they gave some kind of run-down of polling or the parties involved, they completely omit mention of the far-left parties, as is tradition.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        Realtors and others write the news for Forbes, and no doubt many other publications. In the old days, there was at least a small print *Advertisement* notice at the top of the page to serve as some type of fig leaf or caveat.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      There’s one great quote in it anyway :

      While the inability to devalue might impact the amount of export, it is not obvious why it should impact productivity. In fact, the competitiveness lost in the exchange rate should have pushed firms to increase their efficiency.

      In other words Italy should have been forced into 3rd world status like Greece but it somehow managed to avoid it.

  14. Dr. Roberts

    The killer analogy to make for the response to Russia’s propaganda efforts is the attempt of the USSR to jam Radio Free Europe broadcasts. It allows you to bring up the history of the Broadcast Board of Governors, as well as highlight the totalitarian nature of responses that call for censorship of foreign propaganda. It’s an elegant argument we should all be making to put things in perspective for people swept away by the hysteria.

    1. Romancing The Loan

      Thanks, I’m definitely going to use that. Been having some very frustrating conversations with people who seem to have forgotten everything they ever knew about what this country is supposed to be like.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    African elephants are migrating to safety—and telling each other how to get there Quartz

    That shows intelligence, and why elephants deserve to be free from our violence towards them.

    But what about not-so-smart animals, or plants?

    Doesn’t they deserve the same as elephants?

    We should not limit ourselves to sentient beings, or to beings capable of feeling pain. Are animals capable of feeling pain more worthy than those who don’t? Is it less on a vegan’s conscious to chew on a stick of carrot…a living carrot?

    And ability to pain is a poor guide for us.

    There are people (animals as well, I think) who are born not able to feel pain…a medical condition. Do we believe we can then beat them up?

    So, dumb or not, able to feel pain or otherwise, they all deserve to be free from human cruelty.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is that related to Jain vegetarian diet?

        There is one question I have with that. From the named Wikepedia page:’

        Also, consumption of most root vegetables involves uprooting and killing the entire plant, whereas consumption of most terrestrial vegetables doesn’t kill the plant (it lives on after plucking the vegetables or it was seasonally supposed to wither away anyway).

        1. Is that (plucking) like tearing a limb away from an animal, so it doesn’t die, and eat that part?

        That would be no-kill.

        And one more question.

        If the animal is already, on the side of the road, can you eat it? You didn’t kill. In fact, it could be that no one killed it.

        1. LifelongLib

          Seems to me that cutting off the limb of an animal would be like cutting a branch off a tree. Plucking fruit is more like pulling out hairs. Or you could only take fruits, nuts etc that have fallen off.

          Good point about an animal that’s already dead. Maybe you shouldn’t eat it for health reasons (disease, decay)?

    1. JEHR

      MLTPB, there are no “dumb” animals. All the animals and insects that exist show that they have learned how to successfully survive which shows aptitude and probably intelligence. Each animal alive has learned how to stay alive successfully and to me that is “smart.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You’re right.

        And dolphins are not more special than other animals, though we seem to marvel at how smart they are.

        I believe all animals deserve the same, and whether one is intelligent or dumb should not enter the equation (whether they are all not dumb, or if some are smarter. It doesn’t matter).

  16. Eureka Springs

    Let’s see.

    Keep net neutrality as useless as possible and feign despair that ya can’t even get a vote on it.

    Lie, obfuscate, but most of all don’t even talk about health care for all at rates similar to say scores of countries who do so very much better than us on nearly every metric.

    That goes for gun debate too.

    I’m detecting an anti-democratic tendency here. Dare I say extreme contempt for the very idea of a democratic process with strong preference for deceptive evasion among that so-called party.

    Oh yeah, we gotta fix it, save it, bring it back to some past glory day where the same things happened only in smoke filled rooms.

    These people, this party, thinks we are all deplorable. Hell, I treat those I find deplorable much better than this.

    This is no way to hire people if you actually expect them to work FOR you. The D party has got to go.

  17. Duke of Prunes

    Anyone who is still unclear about US “meddling” in foreign elections, listen to the Gene Sharp webcast. That guy literally wrote the book on it – except he called it “non-violent social change”. It’s just a coincidence that this keeps happening in countries where the US MIC has “interests” – often just after he visited said country.

  18. dcblogger

    Bipartisan group of governors unveil new health reform proposal
    “The plan hinges on the idea of shifting the health care system from one that pays providers for their quantity of services to one that rewards the quality.

    “We don’t want to pay for quantity in medicine. We want to pay for quality,” Kasich said at a press conference Friday.”
    this would penalize providers who care for chronic and incurable diseases

    1. jawbone

      My first thought at reading that Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and Chase were going to create their own heath care service for their employees was that this was primarily to keep Sanders and Dems who support Medicare for All Improved from getting much attention. Suck oxygen out of Sanders’ campaign and keep the Congress as nicely Corporatist as possible.

      The governors’ plan fits the bill for undermining Sanders as well.

      Of course, they may be totally sincere….. Right.

    2. Yves Smith

      Right, and MDs who treat difficult cases, like the surgeons who get the people with particularly tricky brain and heart procedures because they are seen as stars. As you know, those doctors will have lower success rates by virtue of getting patients on average in a more dire condition.

      This is going to be a big challenge to the Sandernistas: can they mobilize to stymie this? Doctors themselves will be on their side regarding the problem of “quality” metrics,, plus local media is way less dominated by the legacy parties and is always interested in having a slant on important stories. So writing letters to the editor, op eds, calling the producer of your local station is productive.

    3. Tooearly

      This pay for quality nonsense needs to be seen for what it is: risk shifting from insurers to doctors to patients.
      In many ways it is the same bs as NCLB

  19. John

    The MMT jobs guarantee is meaningless without living wage guarantee. Our current overlords would reduce it to prison labor at $1 per hour and buying your food out of the company store. That would be the neo liberal dream for the little people. Serfdom with no way out.

  20. Sutter Cane

    Trump plan would protect student-loan debt collectors from state investigations

    A friend with an arts degree got word that her retail position was going to be eliminated, so she jumped ship at the first opportunity, to avoid unemployment. She has substantial debt from her degree (from a state school) and no degree-related job prospects. She found an opening at a small, private, non-profit arts college in admissions and thought she got lucky.

    The job seemed good for the first couple of weeks of training – health insurance, decent pay, and helping low-income students realize their dreams and attain creative careers! Until reality set in, and she realized that the school was simply a scam to collect student loan money from poor kids too naive to realize that their expensive degrees would be worthless. They won’t be getting cool jobs as graphic or video game designers or photographers, but the student loans will be forever. Rather than working in admissions at an arts university, its really a Glengarry Glenn Ross-style call center, looking for suckers to bilk. She’s now on the job hunt again, while trying not to sucker any poor kids before she finds something else.

    There is a need for a school like this, the kids being admitted generally did poorly in high school and wouldn’t be able to get accepted anywhere else, even though they may be creatively talented. While no bank would loan them 90,000 to start a business, they can easily rack up that much debt to get a worthless degree. The students think it will be their ticket to get out of working at McDonald’s, when in reality they would be better off doing that, and posting their art on deviantart or whatever. They’d still be poor with a crappy job, but at least not in debt, with Trump-enabled collectors constantly on the phone.

    She now sees little difference between this school and the respected state school that suckered her with her degree, except maybe there’s no football coach getting paid millions there, at least. Everything is a scam in America in 2018. Wish my friend luck in finding something else.

    1. begob

      So that’s what Ladybird ended up doing after the housing crash! I hear her father passed away under the stress of repossession and her mother is one of those nomad retirees.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Guessing: Lady Bird is a movie character. begob is questioning the happy ending, suspects she wound up rather like your friend.

          1. Sutter Cane

            Ah, I forgot about that movie. I was trying to figure out how either the late former first lady and wife of Lyndon Johnson, or Hank Hill’s dog, figured into things

    2. kareninca

      “Trump-enabled collectors constantly on the phone”

      Biden-enabled collectors constantly on the phone. Soon likely to be additionally aided by Trump. Give credit where credit is due.

  21. XXYY

    Medium: Untrue-Tube: Monetizing Misery and Disinformation

    Re. this:

    In other words, due to the increasing depth of the content offerings and ongoing optimization of YouTube’s algorithms, it’s getting harder to counter these types of campaigns with real, factual information. I hate to take the dystopian route, but YouTube’s role in spreading this “crisis actor” content and hosting thousands of false videos is akin to a parasitic relationship with the public.

    Not to take anything away from this analysis, but making money off tragedies and having a “parasitic relationship with the public” has been the bread and butter of the commercial media for at least a century. “If it bleeds, it leads” did not become a news mantra for nothing. The only reason we *know* about the various mass shootings in the US is because they are given wall-to-wall coverage by the for-profit media. For the same reason, it’s very difficult to “counter” the prevailing media take on any subject, even when it’s obviously absurd. YouTube can certainly be accused of extending this practice in new and horrifying directions, but they certainly didn’t invent it or make it a staple of American society.

    (BTW, psychologists, socialists, and criminologists have repeatedly made the point that the vast coverage given to mass shootings is largely responsible for making them happen. That is, when a depressed and mentally ill non-entity reaches the end of his rope, he (it’s always a he!) knows he can go out in a blaze of glory and achieve everlasting fame by committing some kind of camera-ready massacre. Whether he lives or dies, people will know his name throughout the land! I have never seen the media as a whole chastised about this, nor heard any proposals to studiously ignore and downplay mass shootings in the hope of preventing future ones.)

  22. Edward E

    China manufacturing gauge suffers sharpest fall in 6 years: CHINESE LUNAR NEW YEAR EFFECT and fake data, fake data, fake data
    U.S. Jan. merchandise trade deficit surged to 74.4B. Dec. deficit was revised up to 72.3B. U.S. trade position deteriorating pretty rapidly. $74.4 billion goods deficit in January the second largest on record, the deficit not counting oil export is the biggest in history … and widening fast.
    I’m worried that the downgrading of Jared Kushner’s security clearance will hinder the ability to help his father-in-law make us friends all over the place.

  23. Jason Boxman

    Inferior milk. Am I the only one that has the cheap $2 or $3 gallon start to smell within less than a week? I finally started paying for organic. It lasts for over a MONTH. It’s amazing. I spent 3 weeks in Florida, came back, and the milk was STILL good. One of those rare cases when I can justify springing for organic because the benefit is very clear: no wasted milk in the trash.

    1. cyclist

      It probably has more to do with the major brands of organic milk (Horizon, Organic Valley, etc.) being ultra-pasteurized , whereas the local dairies usually aren’t. I remember fondly visiting my grandfather’s house in the 1960’s where down the road was a dairy farm with Guernsey cows in the pasture. In an annex attached to the barn was a small processing facility and a walk in cooler with glass bottles of fantastic milk, unhomogenized with cream on the top. Sold by the honor system, put your money in the box. The whole thing would probably be illegal now.

      1. Oregoncharles

        It was probably illegal then – Systeme D. I was getting similar milk from a family with a cow – even with 6 kids (combined families), they couldn’t use it all.

        1. cyclist

          I can assure you it was not illegal. The milk was pasteurized and they even had a truck to make deliveries in the surrounding area. Absolutely delicious milk which would probably fetch $$$ if it were sold today at Whole Foods. That upstate NY community will never see a WF, given its current demographics.

    2. jawbone

      Any thoughts on why organic milk is lasting longer than run of the mill(k) grocery store milk? I just had the experience of early spoilage with two gallons in a row. And I always make sure I buy the gallon with the longest time on the sell-by date.

      And the two gallons were from Wegman’s which is supposed to have a high satisfaction rating from customers. This is a new store in my area. Good prices on some stuff; quite high on some others.

      The last two gallons I bought at ShopRite, where, for some reason, the sell by dates further out than Wegman’s.

      I will definitely check out the organic milk. And am still very curious about what affects the longevity. More care taken with the product as soon as the cow is milked? Or…?

    3. Ook

      I sometimes drink raw milk. You can taste subtle changes in the flavors with the seasons, depending on how the cow is grazing.
      And it lasts weeks. The repressive laws are to allow large operations to run unsanitary facilities producing
      unclean milk, with the nasties (and the goodness) zapped out by homogenization.
      A clean facility doesn’t need that, but clean costs money.

      1. wilroncanada

        Re milk quality:
        Ook, I think you meant zapped by pasteurization.
        My summer job the last two years of high school was working for a hospital which had its own farm with dairy cattle. The dairy was right beside the office of the ‘transportation department’, for which I worked. Inside the door was an old metal milk pail with lid, about 10 gallons, I think, into which what was dumped the end of a variety of batches, from 1% to about 9%. We could go in and fill glasses from that pail whenever we wanted. I think I gained about 10 pounds each of those summers.

        Incidentally, in addition to a dairy, the hospital grew many of its own vegetables and fruit. The central building included the kitchen for the hospital (our office and the dairy were in the basement of that building. I was connected by tunnels to the other buildings: a general hospital building; a TB hospital building housing mostly northern inuit and the nuns who got TB from them or brought the TB to them; an admin building; a nurse’s residence; and a morgue. We ‘transported’ food to the hospital buildings and the nurses residence, picked up laundry from those same buildings, took patients from hospital to the x-ray and other test labs in admin. and moved dead bodies from the hospital to the morgue, usually at lunch time when other patients were in their rooms eating.

        Add note:
        We kept goats for 13 years, and brought up our daughters on mostly raw goat’s milk, milking in clean condition, keeping the goats healthy, and immediately filtering and chilling it in the refrigerator.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      The Santa Clara matter that initiated the eventual total fall into corporate personhood wasn’t a SCOTUS decision. It was an annotation to the decision reflecting one justice’s comment, placed there by the court clerk. I wish some enterprising Constitutional lawyer would see if it’s possible to reverse all the later decisions allegedly based on that “decision” because it never happened.

      1. LifelongLib

        I was under the impression that “corporate personhood” was originally just a convenience so corporations could be named in legal actions as single entities, rather than having to name all the owners, employees, stockholders, etc. Not so?

        1. visitor

          The likelier reason is taxation. If a corporation is not a person, only its owners can be taxed, not the firm as such.

  24. fresno dan

    Donald J. Trump

    Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!

    6:34 AM – Feb 28, 2018

    for some reason to paraphrase our other illustrious leader seems apropos
    Richard Milhous Nixon: If, when the chips are down, the world’s most powerful POTUS, of the United States of America, acts like a pitiful, helpless giant, unable to say “YOUR FIRED” the forces of bad guyism will just f*ck all the beautiful, beautiful, truly beautiful marble we have installed….

  25. Henry Moon Pie

    Along somewhat the same lines as yesterday’s link about tidying up vacant lots leading to less crime, here’s a Monbiot piece about an English town promoting community as a way to improve health:

    The Compassionate Frome project was launched in 2013 by Helen Kingston, a GP there. She kept encountering patients who seemed defeated by the medicalisation of their lives: treated as if they were a cluster of symptoms rather than a human being who happened to have health problems. Staff at her practice were stressed and dejected by what she calls “silo working”.

    So, with the help of the NHS group Health Connections Mendip and the town council, her practice set up a directory of agencies and community groups. This let them see where the gaps were, which they then filled with new groups for people with particular conditions. They employed “health connectors” to help people plan their care, and most interestingly trained voluntary “community connectors” to help their patients find the support they needed.

  26. BenX

    I had what I thought was consensual sex with Jennifer Lawrence at a party two years ago. Now I see that I was a victim of her abuse of power. Don’t judge me!

  27. jaxbeau

    Who can keep up with the many ways our corporate overlords are killing us? This morning CBS News tells us there could be between 50,000 and 70,000 fewer hospital deaths per year if the sterile ‘balanced fluids’ formula was used in the IV instead of saline. Vanderbilt led the study with 28,000 patients and the New England Journal of Medicine published it yesterday.

    One doctor, a critical care specialist at the University of Pittsburgh, tells us ‘docs have been sounding the alarm for twenty years’ but it’s just ‘inertia’. Which tells me that 1,300,000 Americans have died needlessly.

    But it’s just another story in the avalanche of bad news about what is laughingly called health ‘care’ in this nation. Though the feel good aspect here is that undoubtedly a few of the 1% got their saline during the slaughter.

    I’ll check my evening news to see if Jared Kushner pushes this completely off the agenda.

    1. JBird


      Same function, price, availability, and manufacturers, but the dangerous product is what’s being used; I assume that it is uncontroversial, so why hasn’t the switch been made. I would get angry except I’m baffled as to why using a slightly different catalogue number during the regular ordering hasn’t been done.

  28. perpetualWAR

    Wealth of our Congress-critters:

    The worst one that jumped out at me was Trott, who was Michigan’s foreclosure king. Still chaps my [family blog] that slime can buy a Congressional seat. Disgusting.

  29. fresno dan–law/breaking-teacher-custody-after-shot-fired-school/Yszy9v7Z9Vy86bTp9ygdWJ/

    OK….to stop someone with a gun at a school, give teachers guns…except the bad teachers….which I guess you will determine who the “good” teachers are the same way you determine who the “good” guys you give guns to, which kinda makes you wonder if you know who the “good” guys are, you must know who the bad guys are, and why don’t you not give them guns? Well, maybe if we give everybody guns it can all be sorted out in heaven…..

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      With or without being armed, it’s always a problem identifying the perpetrators, when law enforcement arrives at a scene.

      Who is the bank robber?

      Who planted the bomb?

      Is that student the one we want, with a gun hidden under his snow jacket? Maybe he/she put the gun on the floor somewhere and is walking out now?

      I think it will be even harder to work out the different scenarios than to program a self-driving car. And at the end, we don’t know if it helps in more cases or fewer cases.

  30. nothing but the truth

    Just now on PBS newshour – the connecticut official making a big deal of Russian IPs “scanning” our systems “and thank god we are safe because of the firewalls”. (and of course we need mo’ money from the Federal deficit to pay for more extravagant stuff of no use).

    Every server on the internet is scanned hundreds of times a day by all kinds of IPs from god knows where.

    To make this a newsworthy item – potentially a war drum like the Colin Powell bottle – is disgusting.

    There are people who actually understand this stuff.

  31. integer

    Exclusive: Russian Army in Damascus Voltaire Network

    Moscow has moved new planes to its base in Hmeimim, including two Su-57 stealth aircraft – jewels of technology that the Pentagon imagined would not be operational before 2025.

    Above all, Moscow, which until now had limited its engagement in Syria to its air force and a few Special Forces, has now secretly moved in infantry troops.

    On the morning of 25 February, the Russian land army moved into East Ghouta alongside the Syrian Arab Army.

    It is now impossible for anyone at all to attack Damascus, or attempt to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic, without automatically provoking a Russian military riposte.

    I expect this is the reason for the noticable increase in the shrillness of Syria related propaganda over the last few days.


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