Links 3/5/18

What an Indian tiger’s bid for freedom says about humans and nature The Economist

Jilted hawk discovers her nest is home to a third bird NY Post

Private equity groups under pressure to take ‘riskier’ bets FT

BOJ’s Kuroda Joins Queue of Central Banks Looking Toward Exit Bloomberg

Government let slip chance to retrieve £364m from Carillion Guardian (KW).

YouTube’s Crackdown Goes Beyond Alex Jones Rolling Stone

The New Arms Race in AI WSJ (DL).


How the Middle East is sowing seeds of a second Arab spring FT

Syria Sitrep – Afrin, Idlib and East-Ghouta Moon of Alabama

The Truth About the Russian Deaths in Syria Der Spiegel. “Hundreds of Russian soldiers are alleged to have died in U.S. airstrikes at the beginning of February. Reporting by DER SPIEGEL shows that events were likely very different.” I’m shocked.

Macron going for broke Le Monde Diplomatique. “Move fast and break things.”


Post-Brexit, no need for a financial freeze Handelsblatt

What “mutual recognition” really entails: analysis of the Prime Minister’s Mansion House Brexit policy speech EU Law Analysis

Sinn Féin set for Brexit talks with EU chief BBC

Five Star shoots to top of Italian politics FT

Italy election: Populist surge prompts political deadlock BBC

UPDATE Handy map of Italian election results:

Analysis: What can we expect after the Italian election, and how did we get here? The Local. Interesting.

Italy Is the Future Jacobin

How Russian networks worked to boost the far right in Italy El Pais. That was fast.

All-out war on the Spanish right Politico

Oppositions New Left Review. From 2016, still germane.


India’s excluded stay poor Le Monde Diplomatique

North Korea

South Korea delegation to propose Pyongyang-Washington talks CNN

Doing Nothing Has Become a Sport in South Korea Vice


China’s loans and the debt dilemma Lowy Institute

Hong Kong risks becoming epicentre of the next global crisis as property boom spirals out of control Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph. Big if true.

New Cold War

What Putin’s Exotic New Nuclear Delivery Methods Are Really About The Diplomat

State Dept. launches $40M offensive against foreign propaganda The Hill (CL).

* * *

Special counsel wants documents on Trump, numerous campaign associates NBC. Note the correction at bottom.

Trump Transition

10 years after financial crisis, Senate prepares to roll back banking rules WaPo. “The Senate is preparing to scale back the sweeping banking regulations passed after the 2008 financial crisis, with more than a dozen Democrats ready to give Republicans the votes they need.” Wait, what? Democrats?!

Five Senators Want To Know Why The FBI Hasn’t Restored Missing Crime Data FiveThirtyEight (DK).

Trade Warz

No exemptions: Trump rules out steel and aluminium tariff concessions Sidney Morning Herald

Donald Trump promised Malcolm Turnbull Australia would be exempt from trade tariffs ABC Australia

WTO complaint possible if US imposes heavy tariffs on Hong Kong aluminium imports South China Morning Post

Health Care

Centers that do surgery outside the hospital are becoming more popular and taking on riskier cases — and it’s having a deadly side effect Business Insider. Next: Order your personalized brain surgery kit from Amazon!

Guillotine Watch

The Northwest Washington lifestyle trap: $500,000 in income and still can’t save WaPo. “Why don’t they just move?”

Billy Graham laid to rest in casket handcrafted by Louisiana inmates KTVQ

Wastewater injection limit set due to earthquake worries, but Oklahoma could get shakier if oil prices soar again Tulsa World. Resource curse?

Class Warfare

Teachers in Oklahoma Might Be Going on Strike Next Newsweek. Here is the Oklahoma teachers’ union Twitter account.

* * *

West Virginia teachers’ strike: Why it’s happening and why it’s historic Fast Company (of all places).

No meeting time set for pay raise conference committee Beckley Register-Herald. Note that most of the headlines tell the pay raise story, and erase the health care story.

The Top Labor Battles in West Virginia History Jacobin

* * *

United is cutting bonuses and asking employees to enter a lottery for $100,000 Quartz. “Employees of United Airlines used to get quarterly bonuses if they hit certain performance targets. Now, they’ll all be entered into a lottery, out of which one—and only one—lucky person will win $100,000.”

Judge rules Seattle homeless man’s truck is a home Seattle Times. News you can use!

The tech moguls driving mass layoffs in the economy want universal basic income as a cure Salon

The Logic of Power n+1. On Evo Morales.

Why Is Brooklyn Barbecue Taking Over the World? Munchies. One word: Globalization. But see this from 2016 on the Michelin Guide for the horrid big picture. Controversial!

There’s a Type of Black Hole That Erases Your Past And Messes With Your Future Science Alert (KW). Original. Make up your own jokes!

Antidote du jour (via):

Good kitty…

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. Olga

    A good article on how we’re all surrounded by persistent, ubiquitous propaganda:
    “Today we live beneath an invisible cultural hegemony, a set of ideas implanted in the mass mind by the U.S. state and its corporate media over decades. Invisibility seems to happen when something is either obscure or ubiquitous. In a propaganda system, an overarching objective is to render the messaging invisible by universalizing it within the culture. Difference is known by contrast. If there are no contrasting views in your field of vision, it’s easier to accept the ubiquitous explanation.”

    1. David May

      Good find. I have been thinking about the colonization of the mind and language lately. One way to fight back is by learning a minority language. I am relearning Irish (Gaelic) and planning on teaching my children. Irish does not have a direct translation for ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or ‘have’. Gaelic culture provides a solace and a haven from the onslaught of the Neoliberal Thought Collective. There are a more than a few Gaelic (Scottish and Irish) speakers and learners in North America.

      I am sure the Native American languages are storehouses of knowledge, culture and tradition that could inspire, empower and educate those willing to learn. English is the language of global tyranny.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Good luck with that! Irish is a tough language to learn. A friend from California is now learning to keep up with her 8 year old who insisted on going to a Gaelic speaking school when they moved to Ireland for a few years. Its been a surprise to many Irish people how many immigrants are opting to send their children to Gaelic speaking schools.

        1. David May

          Weirdly enough, it was because someone here (quite likely you) posted a link to a tweet made by a young Irish teacher in Canada. I forget what the subject was but I read another one of his tweets which was hashtagged #trasnanadtonnta and was encouraging people to make a tweet in Irish. I did, and one thing led to another and now 6 weeks later I have completed the duolingo Irish course and developed a burning enthusiasm for the language. There is a thriving Irish language online scene and it is actually a very cool subculture. Bhuel, sin é an scéal. Slán go fóill!

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        English is the language of global tyranny…

        Every time I see a foreign revolutionary leader on TV being interviewed in English, I always wonder how much propaganda has been soaked up in his/her learning English?

        1. Wukchumni

          TV and the movies are a great place to learn a language. I was in Germany once watching Saving Private Ryan, dubbed in Deutsch.

          The ju-ju was entirely wrong having Tom Hanks spitting out orders in German, but it helped with learning a wee bit more basic knowledge of the language, by having seen the film prior in English.

          1. Sid Finster

            The first time I saw Forrest Gump, it was dubbed into Polish. Poles, at least those from Grade B Poland, got an somewhat different message the film; they saw it as a Catholic morality tale, albeit with no direct reference to the Pope.

          2. Kokuanani

            I learned what little German I know from a month in Germany [waiting for car to be repaired]. We rented a room from an elderly lady who knew only 2 words of English. She did have a tv, and we watched mainly Bonanza [this was 1972] and Hawaii 50.

            Having Hoss Cartright and Steve McGarrett spit out German was quite a laugh.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Ah, memories: I saw “The Third Man,’ Orson Welles’ famous film, in Lausanne, Switzerland. It was subtitled in French, which, at that time, I could read pretty well. So I was hearing English, seeing French. The result was like double vision; very odd.

              There is a famous line in the movie that contrasts renaissance Florence, a violent, corrupt place that produced much of the world’s great art, with Switzerland, where 500 year of peace and democracy “produced…the cuckoo clock.” A nervous titter ran through the audience, rather as if they agreed..

              1. jsn

                Vienna, its on the ferris wheel there that Harry Lime asks his old friend “if any of those “ants” down there stop moving, do you think anyone will notice?”

                That movie had a Hollywood ending, in real life Lime went on to be a Pharma CEO.

          3. The Rev Kev

            I improved my German a lot by listening to German radio stations. Even if you missed more than a few words it gave your brain a feel for the rhythm of the language and to the phrases in common use. After a few months in Germany, speaking English words again was something that you had to get your mouth around with some awkwardness. German sounds quite guttural at first but when you immerse yourself in it the rough edges disappear – nicht wahr?

        2. oh

          Rules for a Colonial Power:
          First you take away their language. Then,
          Change the way they dress.
          Take away their indigenous industries.
          Change their religion.
          Change their food they eat.
          (I’m sure the list is longer.)

          1. Jean

            Orwell; Language can corrupt politics, but politics can corrupt language.

            “Is he a white man, or, a patriarchal privileged sexist -‘phobe?”

            “Is it a man, a woman or a person?”

            The list goes on and on.

            Don’t let them control your language lest they control your thoughts.

            1. The Rev Kev

              As they are now registering more patents from China than the US, Mandarin may be it in the coming decades. Never mind, we still lead the world in apps!

      3. Mel

        Inapropos, could you clear up a question for me? I’m acquainted, in a tiny way, with Irish through Flann O’Brien’s english novels. In At Swim-Two-Birds, his Irish characters are continually saying things like “It is true that I am not.” Is this the phrase, that we always see in stage-Irish, “Sure, and …”? If so, what is the Irish for that?
        Thanks in advance.

        1. David May

          I would imagine that O’Brien is both exasperated by, and revelling in the Irish gift of equivocation. O’Brien was a literary genius on a par with Joyce; I will have to reread him.

      4. Oregoncharles

        @ David May: Navajo, famously, handles time and space in a way that corresponds to modern physics far better than the European languages. It’s also a tough language to learn. The “codetalkers” during WWII were Navajos speaking their own language – an unbreakable code. Apparently they were confident that no Japanese knew it.

        1. Grebo

          A Navajo tour guide once told me that he could understand his Chinese tourists. It made me wonder whether the codetalkers were such a great idea after all.

      5. Musicismath

        I’ve been listening to a lot of Gwenno lately. She was, if you like, a participant in the commodification of Gaelic identity; a dancer in the Las Vegas run of Riverdance when she was in her teens, then a singer in a girl group, The Pipettes, in her 20s.

        Then she decided to release a solo album in her first language, Welsh. Her second album (which came out last Friday) is sung entirely in Cornish. It’s … interesting, like Broadcast or Stereolab beamed in from an alternate universe where English hadn’t eclipsed its rival languages and extinguished all rival cultures. Her songs are about socialist revolution and the female experience of living under patriarchy. She talks about what it’s like to consciously resist English and sing in your native language in this interview.

      6. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m told that in South and Southeast Asia, a good way to learn the language is to watch the soaps.

        English (both American and UK varieties) still has enormous soft power in Southeast Asia. The other language on signage is always English (and not Mandarin). The English language and Anglosphere imagery is pervasive in advertising, especially to the young (and not Mandarin).

        We have enormous soft power still, which we are busily in the process of squandering, starting with the Iraq debacle.

      7. Procopius

        I’m always skeptical when people claim that a language does not have a word for something. In Thai the word which might properly be translated as, “it is,” is used as the word for, “yes.” I heard somebody claim Thai does not have a word for, “blue,” because the commonest word for “blue” is also the word for “sky.” I know two other words for different shades of blue, one of which could be claimed to mean “silver water,” but it really means “blue.” You might try to assert that Mandarin Chinese does not have a word for “locomotive,” because the two syllables which are combined to make the word “locomotive,” if used separately, mean “fire” and “cart.” That’s not the way language works.

        1. JEHR

          Yes, a lot of movies are not worth watching. I have compensated for that by watching many foreign movies.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I watch old movies, including old foreign movies.

            (Just watched Pagnol’s Marius and Cesar, made in like 1931).

            1. Robert Hahl

              One trick with movies is to look for any director’s first movie. The rest are mostly commercialized crap but they would never have been made if the first one wasn’t good.

          2. gepay

            There is a dearth of really good contemporary movies. Many series are even better at character depth than can take place in the 2 hour movie format – The Wire, 6ft under, Foyles War, Game of thrones are my favorites.

      1. Mel

        Why Is Modern Pop Music So Terrible?

        From what I hear, mainly in the coffee shop, it’s an industrial product, bought by radio stations to fill minutes. The last one I can remember was a medley: I’m Only Human / Don’t Put the Blame on Me, I think by a singer billed as The Rag and Bone Man. Some five minutes of the phrase “I’m only human”, then switching to maybe five minutes of “Don’t put the blame on me.” Each phrase was set musically, and I suppose was no less musical on each repetition. The singer had a good R&B ballad voice, rather like Leon Thomas or Johnny Hartman. Just the product wasn’t pitched to people who were going to concentrate on listening to it.

    2. integer

      “Shortly, the public will be unable to reason or think for themselves. They’ll only be able to parrot the information they’ve been given on the previous night’s news.”

      Zbigniew Brzezinski

      1. integer

        Brzezinski admits: “Worldwide Resistance” is derailing the New World Order Hang the Bankers

        Also consider what Brzezinski wrote in his book Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technotronic Era, in which he advocated the control of populations by an elite political class via technotronic manipulation.

        “The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities,” wrote Brzezinski.

        “In the technotronic society the trend would seem to be towards the aggregation of the individual support of millions of uncoordinated citizens, easily within the reach of magnetic and attractive personalities exploiting the latest communications techniques to manipulate emotions and control reason,” he wrote in the same book.

          1. integer

            Brzezinski joined the Council on Foreign relations, as well as the Bilderberg group, in 1959, so he was already a significant player by the time he joined the Carter administration. Interestingly, the Council on Foreign Relations, along with the Royal Institute of International Affairs (aka Chatham House), trace back to Cecil Rhodes and his De Beers diamond fortune.

            In 1959, Harvard awarded an associate professorship to Henry Kissinger instead of Brzezinski. He then moved to New York City to teach at Columbia University. Here he wrote Soviet Bloc: Unity and Conflict, which focused on Eastern Europe since the beginning of the Cold War. He also taught future Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who, like Brzezinski’s widow Emily, is of Czech descent, and who he also mentored during her early years in Washington. He also became a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and joined the Bilderberg Group.


    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A form of propaganda is censorship. By suppressing contrasting information, the desired message becomes more natural.

      The brain receives so many stimuli and only some are processed. How that censorship (that is what it is) is done, via some algorithm, or by some hidden entity/being inside the brain, we don’t know.

      If it’s done via an algorithm, are we, then, automatons.

      If it’s done by a hidden being, then, we are puppets.

    4. Anonymous

      Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death” just become increasingly relevant. He argues, among other things, that “Brave New World” is a more dangerous dystopic vision than “1984” because at least in 1984 there is awareness of the true state of things. In BNW most are happy to go along with whatever as long as they are kept comfortable.

  2. jcf76

    Here’s an experienced project manager’s interesting take on the complete unlikelihood of Brexit success.

    “At the risk of tautology, this is technically the worst project I have ever experienced, and I’ve been parachuted into some lulus. It is hardly started and we are at the Supreme Court already.”

    1. paul

      That’s a very reasonable take on things.
      Please sign at the bottom and we’ll fill in the details later.

    2. ChrisPacific

      I have also been looking at this through an IT lens and I can’t see it finishing as anything other than a catastrophic failure. Granted it isn’t an IT project, but it will require a lot of new systems and changes to existing systems in order to pull off, and those will be IT projects (sub-projects of Brexit, if you will).

      In my experience the very worst of the worst projects are the ones where the sponsors and steering committee remain ignorant of the problems until very late (sometimes even until the release date) due to poor communication channels, wilful delusion, or a number of other reasons. If your project is halfway done and everyone agrees it’s a disaster, you at least have time to do something about it and come up with contingency plans, or even call it off completely. The ones that will really hurt you are the ones that are trumpeted as a success and then fail catastrophically on release. The pain and fallout from these can drag on for years or decades, and the price tag to fix them is typically many times the original cost of the project.

      Brexit ticks every one of those boxes and it’s clear how it will go if nothing changes. The part that is unpredecented for me is the sheer scale of it and how integrally it is bound into every facet of economic existence in the UK. May, Davis and co. are about to perform open heart surgery on the UK economy, and they still don’t know which bits go where.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The ones that will really hurt you are the ones that are trumpeted as a success and then fail catastrophically on release.

        Brexit reminds me a little of the ObamaCare website debacle. Smooth sailing until the release, whereupon it crashed with just a few users. Nobody held accountable, of course.

        Brexit is is on a different scale, but the epic seems to have similar plot turns.

  3. The Rev Kev

    Something is odd about one of the listed news stories called “State Dept. launches $40M offensive against foreign propaganda”. The story is date-stamped as 02/26/18 which was about a week ago. And yet today there was a story called “State Dept. Was Granted $120 Million to Fight Russian Meddling. It Has Spent $0.” over at the New York Times ( so somebody hasn’t got their story straight. Hmmm.

    1. Sid Finster

      Fake news. The State Department couldn’t take a decision whether to change the brand of toilet paper in embassy bathrooms for less than a billion.

      1. Procopius

        That’s kind of what I was thinking. I’m so old I remember when a million dollars was real money. Nowadays $120 million isn’t much. $40 million is peanuts. They cut the West Virginia teachers’ health plan by more than that.

  4. integer

    The AIPAC conference started yesterday. Here’s an article from last week on the speaking lineup:

    AIPAC conference will feature lots of liberal Democratic speakers Mondoweiss

    We say often here that the Democratic base is abandoning Israel. Young Dems, women, people of color — they’re gaining sympathy with Palestinians and seeking a fairer U.S. policy. But those Democrats are not represented at AIPAC, an organization that supported the Iraq War and opposed the Iran deal.

    No, AIPAC’s heart is rightwing like Israel: And its coalition goes from Schiff and Wittes on the center-left to the far right. Countless neoconservatives are speaking: Bill Kristol, John Bolton, Mark Dubowitz, Shmuel Rosner, Jonathan Schanzer, Dennis Ross, and Jennifer Rubin. Not to mention Ralph Reed and Israeli rightwingers Ayelet Shaked, Naftali Bennett, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

    I hope Al Jazeera releases the US version of The Lobby soon.

    1. Christopher Dale Rogers


      Whist the neocons & neoliberal suck it up to a criminal State, at least some members of that entity tell it as it is and don’t beat around the bush. Here’s Gideon Levy talking on Saturday night prior to this murderfest:

      And here’s Prof. Norman Finkelstein being interviewed on the UK edition of Russia Today:

      As Chris Hedges instructs us: Resist, resist, resist.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Integer and CDR.

        When The Lobby interferes in British sovereign affairs, even threatening British nationals, not a peep is heard, but when it’s Russian, oh, dear.

        Speaking of Russia, it’s interesting to hear the BBC report allegations of cheating by British athletes as pushing ethical boundaries, but not cheating. As Derek “Degsy” Hatton commented a quarter of a century ago, only foreigners cheat.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Netanyahu — who rudely snubbed Obama by showing up to lecture Congress without a presidential invitation — proposes a fresh humiliation for America:

        Jerusalem (AFP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will discuss the possibility of US President Donald Trump attending the May opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem when he meets Trump on Monday.

        “I’ll definitely discuss with him that possibility,” Netanyahu said in response to a journalist’s question on whether he planned to invite Trump for the occasion.

        When your country’s preparing to make an epic diplomatic blunder, might as well go whole hog and wallow in America’s cringing vassalage. Is it true that Netanyahu has a US-flag doormat at his prime minister’s residence?

        1. JohnA

          Actually, Netanyahu might be avoiding a snub. Trump has refused to go to the official opening of the new US embassy in London on the grounds it is in an unfashionable area and acc to the Donald, the US got ripped off over the development (because it is in a ‘grotty’ area). Or some such excuse.

      3. Stephen V.

        I highly recommend this *interview.* Finkelstein is a man on a mission and his assertions about Gandhi and non-violence are well worth the price of admission. Thanks for the lingk.

  5. Marco

    $500K and still can’t save. My heart aches!! So much for Keynes vaunted 15 hours-a-week of toil. We are still slaves. I do think most people would gladly give up the $$ for 20-30 hour-a-week jobs but our masters won’t allow for that. It’s all or nothing.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Hey, it’s all about “price discovery in a free market!” Don’t like it? Well, just move to another market fraction space! It’s what the 0.01-to-10%ers advise the mopery to do! (Please forgive the schadenfreude here.)

      All part of that invisibility-by-ubiquity-and-obscurity TINA compulsion of the Narrative/propaganda web in which the ruling scum have enmeshed us too-often-willing mopes, that was noted in the first comment today. Which I just notices was made by Olga (and of course “Olga” is a RUSSIAN NAME, so one may assume that THIS IS ALL PUTIN’S DOING!!!!!) /s

      And as to the mopes living the “HopIng To Be On The Right Side Of The IPO” techslave life in the Seattle Market Statistical Area (SMSA), as has often been observed, “expenses expand to fit available income,” and let us remember the corollaries to that observation that segue into the various restatements of Murphy’s Law… and the bit about wanting to be the next-to-last sucker in the game — kind of dilutes the sense of comity that one might feel for the poor tech workers and their $500,000 paydays…

      1. Wukchumni

        While the article header makes you think it’s people in Seattle that can’t make do on half a million a year, it’s actually about Humordor, and the duopoly of Columbian cartels that hold sway there.

        …why don’t they just move?

        And relinquish the grip on power that everybody in DC feels they have?

      2. Procopius

        Errr… minor quibble, but that

        “expenses expand to fit available income,”

        is a corollary of Parkinson’s Law, and I don’t see how it can segue into Murphy’s Law. Both can be operative at the same time. /pedant

    2. Mark Alexander

      I do think most people would gladly give up the $$ for 20-30 hour-a-week jobs but our masters won’t allow for that. It’s all or nothing.

      Very true. When I was working for a Big Software Company in Silicon Valley in 2003-2015, after a few years of saving like crazy I started asking my manager regularly to cut both my salary and hours in half, but no dice. No part-time jobs allowed, plus I’d lose my health insurance.

    3. Timmy

      I live in the NJ equivalent of Northwest Washington and I am familiar with the “rich-but-can’t-save” paradigm. Keeping up appearances plays a big role in wasteful spending…particularly the use of three year leases on luxury imported cars which get rolled over as the lease expires…the single most expensive way to own a lot more car than one needs.

      And then what passes for “mandatory”…stepping outside in my suburban neighborhood on this past powerless Saturday morning, I heard the chorus of tens-upon-tens of whole-house generators which no doubt powered the massive downloading of cellular data since cable and internet services were also down. I mean what else were people doing on a Saturday morning? Cleaning up their yards with rakes? Bwahhhaaaahahaha!

      1. JTMcPhee

        Hey, this is AMERICA, man! You “clean up your yard,” or your Mexican does, by use of a gasoline-powered 300-mph “yard blower.” Which in a perfect metaphor for how is USians do EVERYthing, whooshes the detritus, from your “estate plantings” and your un-policed dog poop and gum wrappers and stuff, “away,” either onto the adjoining ‘estates’ or into the “commons,” the socialized public streets, where it “disappears” into the mass of random bits of waste-crushed-fine, to be swept up by socialized fuel-burning street sweeper trucks, or washed into the public sewers and drains by the pleasant rains of spring and summer….

        As to “raking?” Raking is accomplished, in my neighborhood, by homeowners (if they do such menial stuff themselves)” with a garden hose — using a jet of potable water to attack the errant bits of dirt and detritus, to again force them off site into “the commons” or onto the adjacent “estates…” Most have us have maybe seen the behavior — “sweeping the jet back and forth,” then getting down close with the nozzle, maybe using a toe to loosen a recalcitrant bit of offensive dirt or partially composted leaf litter or grass clippings, then sweeping the jet back and forth some more to move it off the property… each pass, because “physics,” splashing and driving some offensive dirt back up the driveway or sidewalk, necessitating yet another dozen or two gallons of drinkable water to ‘clean-sweep” the area again…

        God forbid that one would use a rake, a broom, and a shovel to police up one’s junk. Sweat labor! Not for ME, mate! (Let alone turn the “estate” into a kitchen garden and food forest, gotta have that putting-green perfect carpet of a lawn…)

        Confront the “estate owner” on these little behavioral tics, and get hostility in return, along with an arrogant sniff, “I do it (particularly the waste of water) because I can AFFORD it!”

        1. polecat

          JTMcPhee, speak for themselves …

          Polecat is a menial .. a super-menial in fact ..
          …. and that antidote above .. ?? That’s me, at the end of a real bad menial kind of day.
          … but I wouldn’t freetrade it for all the Amazonz in Seattle !

          Oh .. time to get menial once again, and repair some bee hives … ‘:]

        2. WobblyTelomeres

          Why rake? I mulch with my $129 electric mower (and really long extension cord) as I’m far too cheap to buy fertilizer. Works really well to disperse those presents left by my puppers, too.

        3. Synoia

          un-policed dog poop and gum wrappers and stuff, “away,” either onto the adjoining ‘estates’ or into the “commons,

          The bold text part is trespass. I’m surprised that the lawyers have not tapped into the potential Rich vs Rich revenue stream.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Maybe public nuisance, too, when discharging filth onto the commons:

            The legal definition for “nuisance”, though not quite as broad as its common usage, is still broad enough to encompass a variety of activities and conditions. In fact, one judge has even called it “a sort of legal garbage can.”

            A nuisance is any human activity or physical condition that is harmful to the health of another person, is indecent or offensive to the senses, or interferes with another person’s reasonable use and enjoyment of his or her property.

            Examples of a public nuisance include indecency, pollution, noise, and contagious disease.

            Of course public nuisances, like “pollution” and such, are supposed to be within the purview of health departments, other local government bits, and things like the Environmental Protection Agency (hawhawhaw). But the only crime in America is the one that enforcement action is actually taken against. And of course without an enforceable remedy, in the context of civil law, there is no “right…” There have been some monumental cat fights between rich folks over “rights,” the lawyers being the most consistent winners, of course. A nice example, with lots of little tie-ins to The Current Situation:

            And the defense bar is all over the attempt to use nuisance law to halt noxious profiteering externalities:

            Plaintiffs have attempted to use public nuisance law to evade the requirements of other causes of action for almost half a century. In the vast majority of cases, courts have barred such suits. However, that is not always the case, and defendants must remain prepared to resist expansive new theories presented under the guise of public nuisance. For example, recent cases filed in some parts of the country against financial institutions allege that the institutions have created a public nuisance by offering subprime mortgage loans. The key to defending a public nuisance action is to distinguish the actual cause of action the plaintiff should have brought from public nuisance, both in terms of the elements and the purpose of each.

            In my neighborhood, the “code enforcers” come around regularly, to enforce the Narrative of Appearances, and “ticket” malefactors, ensuring a revenue stream for the municipality…

            1. wilroncanada

              Surely the neighbours don’t use just garden hoses; how gauche! In my neighbourhood the neighbours all have pressure washers. Far more effective in wasting water plus electricity or gas. Mind you, they do hold them at rakish angles.
              The smart ones even use pressure washers to wash their cars, in order that they can sign up for a new paint job much sooner, thus increasing the GDP.

        4. a different chris

          >Let alone turn the “estate” into a kitchen garden and food forest

          Not even allowed to in most of those yuppsburgs, as I’m sure you know. The “because I can afford it” trope is, I hope anyways, the most American thing ever.

        5. integer

          Ha! You really should write a Great American Novel for the 21st century. I’d buy it. Thanks for the laugh.

          I’m sure you already know this, but anyway:

          The idea of the Great American Novel is the concept of a novel of high literary merit which shows the culture of the United States at a specific time in the country’s history. The novel is presumably written by an American author who is knowledgeable about the state, culture, and perspective of the common American citizen.

        1. ambrit

          It may be more of a “superior person virtue signalling” phenomenon up North. Down South (American Variety) we have the odd smaller partial house portable electric generator. [We have one, a hold over from the ‘Katrina Experience (TM)’.] The engine provides electric for the electric stove and refrigerator. (Preserving food and then cooking it.) Here, when something goes out, it will usually be everything at once.
          Up on the Main Drag of our fair metropolis, there is a ‘Panic Room’ vendor builder situated in the old house that used to contain the local television stations’ Hattiesburg office. This enterprise is pitched to the college kids and their ‘enablers.’ The ads I have seen over the past years have mentioned, if my memory is reliable any more, safety and security, engaging the parents of college kids. “Is your maiden fair safe from nasty dragons? Call Saint George today! Etc., etc.”
          As a plumber, when I worked for the plumbing outfit that did a lot of upper end house construction, whole house generators were not very common, but still something to look up the technical aspects of for future use. You have to size the gas feed extra large if one of those monsters is being installed.
          First, the residential variety of whole house generators were then dependent on local gas services being intact and running during any ’emergency.’ This is not to be assumed, however. After the ‘Katrina Experience,’ one of the first things I did when we came down from out of the attic was to go around the neighborhood turning off the gas feeds for the houses that had been destroyed. The first morning after the ‘Experience’ one could smell the natural gas supply leaks strongly. The utility didn’t get around to turning off the regional gas supply for three or four days! Major gas leaks were occurring continuously for that entire time. The main lesson I took away from that event was to not trust any local infrastructure authority to have the bareist of clues as to what to do in an emergency.
          Second, things like hospital emergency electric generators usually have their own liquid propane tanks to supply motive power for the rig for a pre-determined time period. During my plumbing days, I can only remember one prescient home owner insisting on an LP tank backup fuel supply for their generator.
          As Sr. Strether implies, the ‘deplorables’ will muddle through with their kerosene lamps and portable bar-b-cue grills.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      That fact that someone like Dave Ramsey has presumably become an extremely wealthy man by simply trying to teach people to balance their checkbook boggles my mind. Who knew there was so much money to be made telling people not to spend more than they have?

      The reason I know this is because my wife listens to him quite extensively. When she regaled me one day with his wisdom, I realized what he was teaching was exactly what I had been trying to convince my wife of for years, which I learned from my frugal yankee parents. Somehow hearing it from someone other than me made the message hit home – I’m sure married readers can relate ;)

      Funny thing – I bought some lunch the other day and used a debit card to pay and got some chuckles from the cashier when I got out my check register to record the payment. I hadn’t realized balancing your checkbook was such an anachronism. Sounds like some of these broke people making $500K could use a refresher course.

      1. The Rev Kev

        “I’m sure married readers can relate”

        I have no idea what you are talking about. In my household I make all the rules and what I say goes – and I have my wife’s permission to say so!
        Might want to do yourself a favour and grab yourself a copy of the 1926 book “The Richest Man in Babylon”. Yeah, that book is so old that it has a long white beard down to here on it but the words in it are never out of date.

      2. ambrit

        “I’m sure married readers can relate.”
        Yes indeed. If they do not, they won’t stay married for too long.

  6. dbk

    Re: WV teachers’ strike, Democracy Now has a live segment up – interviews with a teacher, a labor organizer in Pittsburgh, cut to Oklahoma, and report on the UUK strike after the break.

    Guess everybody noticed that the CWA Union went out on strike against Frontier in WV and VA; 1400 people – references to Solidarity by both groups of strikers.

    Imho, this is probably the biggest story in the US the past week.

    For links to good articles/interviews, see the Twitter feed #55strong.

      1. polecat

        Howsabout we contract that down to “Bevil” .. as in the lesser of the two sensors (google, youtube), although I haven’t quite decided which is the worst offender.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Special counsel wants documents on Trump, numerous campaign associates”

    “fishing expedition”:
    1. A search or investigation undertaken with the hope, though not the stated purpose, of discovering information. Example – ‘they worried about an FBI fishing expedition’

    Interesting that electoral map of Italy by the way. I notice that Five Stars did well in were in Italy’s poorer regions in the south while the Center-Right did well in the north where so far as I know Italy’s industries are located. This, if true, then makes it similar in outcome to the Brexit vote and the 2016 US election where the poorer neglected areas voted for one choice and the more well-off areas voted for another. Probably another factor is that the southern regions have been the hardest hit by refugees from Africa since Libya fell.

    1. Mel

      Big northern industrial cities (except Milan and Venice) provided pockets of Center-Left, and even 5Star support. And who’s in that big territory in the mountains north of Venice?

      1. The Rev Kev

        I read that the Centre-lefts (red) are an amalgamation of parties which may explain why it did well in the urban centers of Florence and Bologna and that mountainous part of the country hard up against the border. Fellow travelers and so forth.

      2. Livius Drusus

        German-speakers in the South Tyrol. I suspect that they are more pro-EU than many Italians these days. One reason why I don’t think Italy will leave the EU is because of the South Tyrol issue. I could see an Italian exit triggering a secessionist crisis in South Tyrol. Italian politicians don’t want to lose an economically valuable region like the South Tyrol.

        Central Italy and the big industrial cities have always been left-wing going back to the days of the Italian Communist Party.

    2. Sid Finster

      I have said this from the beginning, and more than once.

      An aggressive prosecutor can always find an excuse to bring charges against anyone, especially anyone involved in higher level business or politics. Look hard enough, and there will a report unfiled, an over-optimistic tax position taken, a a misstatement in an official form, and viola!

      If nothing else, ask enough questions and subpoena enough documents and sooner or later, the target will make a statement that can be construed as perjury or lying to investigators.

      1. Synoia

        There a book out somewhere: Harvey Silverglate estimates his book “Three Felonies a Day”

    1. JohnA

      The Guardian blames all the ills of the world on Putin and Trump. In the case of the latter, because he is a puppet of the former.

  8. Craig H.

    Love the Italian red-blue(-yellow) map! Venice is blue and Florence is red. I do hope they can avoid any Guelphs Ghebellines skirmishes. That stuff is nasty.

    Does anybody know of any respected Italian think-tanks saying they should leave the Euro? I have seen a few places but I read kooks for entertainment and I’m pretty sure those are the only ones I have seen so far.

    1. Wukchumni

      All of western Europe pre-euro, was a mixture of currencies cleverly designed to whittle away at a traveler’s savings lest they keep too much of one after departing for another currency next door. The bureau de changes & banks would pencil whip leftover Marks into Francs of France and then do a double reverse in Belgian Francs, in anticipation of touchdown in Luxembourg, where yet another set of Francs waited to get it’s 3% for the effort.

      Italy was my favorite currency, as you always felt wealthier in it’s embrace, blowing 50,000 Lire on a leisurely lunch in a restaurant with a view, halfway through walking the Cinqueterre…

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, W.

        You should try dining in Zim. :-).

        I know what you mean and enjoyed doing so in South Tyrol.

      2. visitor

        Yeah, but they gave you back change in sweets, postage stamps, telephone chips or even scraps of paper with “50 lire” scribbled on it.

      3. Chris

        We took a European road trip in a campervan with our four kids in 1988. Petrol was 1010 lira a litre, and supermarket red wine was 1000.

        Needless to say, I gave up drinking petrol…

      4. The Rev Kev

        The way that I got my mind around it was comparing it to my own currency where they got rid of dollars and all prices were in cents. Thus a $10 meal would be priced at 1,000 cents. Made things easier to work out that way.

  9. DJG

    Two valuable posts on the Italian election. Yes, the election results are in Italian. Most U.S. coverage is going to do the usual “Italy, Country of Mystery” trope and then end with reminiscences of “brooshehtuh.”

    One from Jacobin in English: Note how often Democratic Party acquiescence comes up. This may seem familiar:

    Let me just point out that the Italian Democratic Party’s ability to lose Umbria is the equivalent of our own Omnishambles Democrats’ ability to lose Wisconsin.

    Turin and Milan remain leftist, Turin more so than Milan. Turin currently has a mayor who is 5Stars, and she has been only somewhat effective.

    The Five Stars swept the South. I’m not sure what that means, given that Sicily has also been swept by Forza Italia a few times. Is the South voting for real change or pretending to vote for change?

    The Veneto went solidly right: Those of you with fantasies of moving there should be forewarned that the Veneto now functions as the Texas of Italy. Verona isn’t exactly a beacon of enlightenment.

    1. DJG

      The article in The Local is acceptable but makes a couple of bonehead errors: First, the Italian Communist Party ran on policy. James Newell has to be peculiarly tuned out not to know of the PCI’s commitment to the rights of labor, its involvement in running clean regions with functional government (Emilia-Romagna and Umbria being two of these), and PCI’s use of ARCI to create civil society–that is, civic groups with agendas that weren’t in the orbit of the Church. So PCI’s policies were important, and the PCI was known for its astute theorists and writers.

      Quoting Mario Monti is typical Anglosphere. Ahhhh, yes, “our” Mario, the ultimate technocrat, spouting off. I guess that Luigi Zingales was unavailable to grand-stand.

      There is a good observation at the end: The FiveStars have been a protest movement. When they were more protest-y, they were more attuned to civil rights and civil liberties. As they have approached power, they have become more institutional but remain untested. Let’s hope that they stick with their visceral dislike of Berlù, which should make talks about coalition governing rather interesting.

      In the end, though, Renzi is pretty much the Italian Hillary Clinton. The results are no surprise. I congratulate the Clinton-Blair-Obama blob on exporting its dysfunction.

    2. lou strong

      “Turin and Milan remain leftist “. Ok, they voted for PD more than others, so they voted for a party which is as leftist as all the neolib US democratic party factions for the Us or the Blairites for UK .In the political spectrum,the brand “left ” was unfairly occupied –
      by some old self-exiled well-known dodgers leaving the PD for reason of internal power feuds, they founded Liberi e Uguali who took the 3.4, so with the threshold at 3% some of them succeeded once gain to go and heat their chair in the Parliament, and more fairly but more madly at the same time
      -by the far-leftists of Potere al Popolo ( Power to the People, so you know in which parallel dimension they live ), who did nothing with their 1,1 of votes.By the way, after the big prelectoral show, any important decision regarding Italy will be taken as usual outside Italy so any comment about the elections is both interesting and useless.

      1. DJG

        lou strong: Heck, even I took one of those on-line Choose Your Party tests, and I am Liberi e Uguali. But as a finto LEU, I can tell you that D’Alema’s loss was gratifying. D’Alema? Don’t these people every go away–he’s like the Joe Biden of Italy. (And he lives in Umbria, so maybe he’ll spend some time with his family contemplating how the PD lost Umbria.)

        1. lou strong

          As for your test , you shouldn’t be worried about the results :-)
          As for PD, leftism and so on, I’ll tell you a real life personal experience . Last year, a few times after the congress that crowned once again Renzi but after approx. a quarter of century of neolib policies by that party, my wife ( an architect) was invited to lecture about metropolitan developments in a PD-organized urbanisation conference , so I had to follow her.There were some aged base militants , which I’m sure started militancy a long time ago with PCI, and my ears catched a woman saying this sentence ” We began with Marx and now we are with Renzi” . After a while I realized that she was speaking seriously, without feeling of self-sarchasm or delusion…

    3. Livius Drusus

      Veneto and the northeast have always been more religious than the rest of Italy. That is where the Catholic subculture was always strongest. It was an important region for the Christian Democrats back in the day. It doesn’t surprise me that the region votes for right-wing politicians.

      You are right about the loss of Umbria. Central Italy is still more left-wing than the rest of Italy but the left seems to be losing even there. That is why you are correct to compare the loss of Umbria by the Italian Democratic Party to the U.S. Democratic Party losing Wisconsin and other Rust Belt states.

      The South is the poorest region of Italy so I think Southerners went for the Five-star Movement because they are seen as the most anti-establishment party. It is hard to believe but at one time Silvio Berlusconi was an anti-establishment figure in Italian politics. He is a Trump-like figure who likes to make big promises about creating jobs and the like so I can see why his parties have done well in the desperate South in the past.

      1. DJG

        Livius Drusus: D’accordo. My concern about Sicily in particular (being of Sicilian descent) is that the voting there is gattopardesco–that the Sicilians vote for the new big guy, never expecting or demanding that things change. That’s what Prince Fabrizio points out Chevalley in Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel, and Sicily hasn’t departed much, if ever, from the pattern that he describes.

      2. you're soaking in it

        I would think the 5 star promise of a guaranteed income factors into their showing in the South.

    4. Alberto D

      My mother is from Veneto, Bassano del Grappa to be exact. They aren’t right-wing per say, although some people are. For example, the migrant issue is front and center. Italians, whether in Sicilia, Campania, or Veneto, have simply had enough. They’ve had enough of the moral preening by these neoliberal elites about how they’re under some moral obligation to import a foreign and largely hostile population.

      Lastly, and I saw this first hand, the introduction of the Euro in Italy has been a disaster. Growth is anemic, unemployment remains high, and youth unemployment is extremely high. If things don’t improve, Italexit will be a reality within five years.

      1. Oregoncharles

        From what we’ve seen here, it would TAKE 5 years to do properly, so they better get started soon.

        That would be an interesting test of the ECBs policy of destroying economies.

        1. Alberto

          I agree. NC has done some great work regarding payment systems by actual IT experts in the field. It is way more complicated than reintroducing the Lira and abandoning the Euro as a national unit of account.

          Italy isn’t Greece, so they have more bargaining chips. If the technocrats in Brussels don’t tread lightly with Italy, it will go from bad to worse before the blink of an eye.

          My two cents. :P

          1. Oregoncharles

            Both 5 Star and Lega propose to throw the Eurozone budget restrictions out the window, so the test would arrive soon.

            Italy’s advantage is that it’s a good question whether the EU, or the ECB alone, for that matter, can afford to wreck such a big part of the area’s economy – and/or precipitate a confrontation. Apparently when Germany ran excessive deficits, a blind eye was turned.

            Assuming Italy manages to put together a government, the Eurozone may well be confronted with an insoluble dilemma. Which after Greece, is richly deserved.

    5. Kurt Sperry

      Almost every anglophone story I’ve read today about yesterday’s Italian elections at some point lumps (or attempts to lump) the M5S in with the populist right or center-right when doing their shallow analyses. At reaching that point in the articles, I generally stop reading as it exposes the author as unfit for purpose. The whole simplistic two-dimensional left-right continuum is, in fact, quickly losing whatever descriptive utility it may once have possessed.

    1. DonCoyote

      Although it’s always nice to see 2016 Dem VP nominee Tim Kaine join in in his quest to protect the little guy financial company with “only” $250 billion in assets.

      #Kaine2020 the K stands for ka-ching

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    BOJ’s Kuroda Joins Queue of Central Banks Looking Toward Exit Bloomberg

    If so, how big is the exit?

  11. diptherio

    I’m taking an on-line course from Prof. Jem Bendell and Matthew Slater on community currency systems. The first few classes have focused on the history of money and competing monetary theories. One of the resources they link to is a documentary film I hadn’t heard of before, but that seems pretty good:

    Princes of the Yen

    Tells the story of Japan’s boom and bust. A lot of it sounds spookily familiar….

  12. Ed

    The thing about the Northwest Washington article is that certain jobs and careers are located only in certain urban areas, and these are precisely the urban areas where there are no cheap places to live anymore.

    Certain jobs associated with lobbying the government or consulting for the government are only in the DC area, and the entire area is now the wealthiest in the country and expensive, not just Northwest Washington. Northwest Washington is now probably the nicest place to live in that area, but its pretty much all expensive. Its not just a matter of moving, many of these people would have to change careers too. Same with some finance jobs and New York.

    Yves noted once that companies have gotten very good at pricing their wages just barely above the cost of living in wherever those jobs have concentrated.

    1. Chris

      In case any NC readers aren’t familiar, the problem with living in and around DC is traffic. So. Much. Traffic. It’s horrible. The Metro system has been unreliable for the past several years due to chronic underinvestment and iffy maintenance. We have access to high speed lanes via EZPASS on most major highways, which use congestion pricing. But the traffic levels, accidents, and so many distracted drivers means you can get into a lane, pay anywhere between $4 – $20, and still be stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. The people who have to commute to work in DC get as close as they can afford in order to have some semblance of a life. Those who can’t live close endure commutes which last anywhere between 1 hour to 4 hours each way depending on traffic. I know a lot of people who rent efficiency apartments so that they can live in and around DC/NOVA during the work week and then go home on the weekends. Even though home is less than 60 miles away, it still makes sense for them. Talking about people working for those high power jobs, and not talking about how they can’t work those hours and live someplace affordable, misses a big part of the problem around the Capitol.

  13. Wukchumni

    No exemptions: Trump rules out steel and aluminium tariff concessions Sidney Morning Herald

    Donald Trump promised Malcolm Turnbull Australia would be exempt from trade tariffs ABC Australia
    Who knows what will happen with Zinke’s assertion that the Sunshine State alone among all coastal states would be exempt from offshore oil exploration, but a shotgun wedding between Australia & Florida is a must if I know the reign of error’s promises record, and they’ve both got a Melbourne, so there’s that.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Blowback from the orange fruitcake:

      The Dow Jones Industrial Average was being dragged firmly lower on Monday, with shares of Boeing Co. serving as the biggest weight on blue chips. Boeing’s stock was down 1.9%, cutting about 40 points from the Dow in early trade. — Marketwatch

      Boeing is a major aluminum consumer. Indeed its location benefits from the cheap hydropower which made the PNW a center of aluminum production.

      Econ 101: crank up input costs with a gratuitous 10% tariff wall and profits … go down. Guess they don’t teach crap like that at Wharton no more.

      1. Synoia

        Aluminium is a small part of a plane’s costs. Engines and Avionics are large parts of the cost.

        (Note the extra “i”)

        1. Jim Haygood

          Last chance for the Fordney-McCumber [tariff of 1922] republican party:

          In a statement emailed by his spokeswoman, Ashlee Strong, House Speaker Paul Ryan said:

          “We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan. The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardize those gains.”

          Reportedly the orange fruitcake has already blustered that he’s “not backing down.” In Ryan’s home state, Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson — which Europe has threatened to tariff to its knees — reached a 52-week low on Friday.

          1. bob

            HD’s customer base is finally realizing they are way too damn old to be buying, let alone riding motorcycles.

            Track them with the boomers. Retire, turn into an “outlaw” with a $20k bike purchase, ask about AC options.

            1. bob

              With the boomers finally returning to toddlers after their teenage years, this is probably a better bet for a while.

              One more tire.

      2. ewmayer

        So how does finishing the session up a robust 1.37% comport with your early-session orange-fruitcake snark? In light of the rebound, wtf does your quoted article’s “firmly lower” even mean, anyway? Methinks some folks are expending far too many pixels reading a whole lot of things into the hourly gyrations of the markets which said gyrations don’t warrant.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    United is cutting bonuses and asking employees to enter a lottery for $100,000 Quartz. “Employees of United Airlines used to get quarterly bonuses if they hit certain performance targets. Now, they’ll all be entered into a lottery, out of which one—and only one—lucky person will win $100,000.”

    It’s almost like college admission. A school has, say, for example, 50 spots (instead of one lucky winner), regardless of how many are qualified (hit certain performance targets).

    1. pretzelattack

      call me cynical, but at this point i suspect the lottery contest will be rigged.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It happens with college admission as well.

        “We like you a lot, as you can throw a ball very hard…”

    2. RUKidding

      Sheesh. It’s not like United’s staff aren’t already surly and rude and bullying and obnoxious enough to hapless “consumer passengers”. Now they get to compete with each other Hunger Games style. Great! No doubt that will make them even nastier than ever.

      Note to self: keep avoiding United like the plague and pox on humanity that it is.

    3. paul

      BLAKE (to everyone): Oh, have I got your attention now?

      BLAKE (still to everyone): Good. ’Cause we’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado $100,000.

      BLAKE (still to everyone): Anyone want to see second prize? Second prize’s a set of steak knives lottery ticket.

      BLAKE (still to everyone): Third prize is you’re fired.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Hah! Funny that. You think it would hurt United if they re-branded themselves as Glengarry Glen Ross Airlines?

    4. Paul Harvey 0swald

      “United Airlines Employees Individually Roll Dice To Determine Whether Or Not To Show Up For Work”
      Headline I did not see.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The tech moguls driving mass layoffs in the economy want universal basic income as a cure Salon

    Will tech moguls stop their mass layoffs if these ex-workers have no universal basic income? What do they care? They will continue their mass layoffs.

    Or maybe they care, and thus, they want and need UBI so they can continue their mass layoffs

    “Poor guys. Now I feel better. Who else can we let go, now?”

    My money is on they don’t care.

  16. Summer

    RE: Tech moguls wanting universal basic income

    How about paying content creators – those people that use social media and other internet platforms – and not just if they are corpo sponsored? For any and all posts?

  17. Wukchumni

    I wouldn’t be worried about arming that black panther with an assault rifle, as it has no opposable thumb and forefinger.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Billy Graham laid to rest in casket handcrafted by Louisiana inmates KTVQ

    They didn’t check who made the hearse’s license plate?

    Should we all ask our DMV?

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    North Korea

    South Korea delegation to propose Pyongyang-Washington talks CNN

    Doing Nothing Has Become a Sport in South Korea Vice

    Proposing Pyongyang-Washington talks is not doing-nothing.

    The result may be nothing, but it’s not doing nothing.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Judge rules Seattle homeless man’s truck is a home Seattle Times. News you can use!

    What if you live on your horse or horse-drawn wagon?

    1. Roger Smith

      ‘Seattle Judge declares horse property sole property owner, Horse master tenant to pay back past due rent”

      The next day: “Horse landlord hit by IRS for tax evasion…”

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      30+ years ago, during my Wild Years, I tried this tactic.
      Cop wanted tp search my van, and I refused, citing Fourth Amendment and the Castle Doctrine, since I did, indeed, live in my van…ie: it was my Home.
      cop laughed nervously…looked uncertain…and went ahead and searched anyway.
      He let me slide on the 12 gauge, and the blotter acid was cleverly disguised as numerous book marks in numerous books on philosophy poetry and edible weeds.
      I still think he should have gotten a Warrant.

  21. The Rev Kev

    YouTube’s Crackdown Goes Beyond Alex Jones

    Can anybody here help me name a term? It is when you criticize a bad idea or practice but you do so by using as an example someone who is normally repugnant to most people. An example would be to say that German Shepherd dogs are greatly misunderstood animals but then, at the risk of invoking Godwin’s law, using Adolf Hitler as the most famous German Shepherd dog owner as an example. By the end of the article you wonder if the criticism is perhaps unearned against that bad idea or practice.
    I’ll use a more familiar name for ‘crackdown’ as mentioned here – censorship. That is what it is plain and simple. Jimmy Dore, who is a progressive left critic, says in each video to make sure that people check that they are still subscribed as people tell him that they are constantly being unsubscribed by YouTube themselves. Worse, some people are saying that they found themselves subscribed to CNN and MSNBC without knowing it which may explain the increasing numbers for those two channels. He mentioned also, for example, that a clip on a teacher that barricaded himself in a classroom and fired a pistol was demonetized without any explanation.
    A Syrian-Australian girl named Syrian girl found herself under attack when she posted a video of election fraud when the Iraqi Kurds were having their referendum so she had to open up another channel instead. Another example is a YouTube video I mentioned a coupla days ago of a Russian flash mob ( singing a well-known WW2 love ballad. I watched it a coupla times when it came out and saw the viewing numbers go well over one million. A few weeks later when I thought to check it out again the numbers were only about ten or twenty thousand.
    As is said on this site, never let a tech-billionaire decide what you can and can’t watch.

    1. Wukchumni

      “An example would be to say that German Shepherd dogs are greatly misunderstood animals but then, at the risk of invoking Godwin’s law, using Adolf Hitler as the most famous German Shepherd dog owner as an example.”
      An even earlier example would be the renaming of German Shepherds in the UK during WWI, to ‘Alsatians’. You couldn’t very well have a Kraut guard dog now, could ya?

    2. apberusdisvet

      The incremental march to marxist totalitarian control appears to have changed to a 100 yard dash, soon we can kiss the Bill of Rights goodbye. First Amendment going…going. 4th and 5th Amendments flat lining. Be careful what you wish for, all you Progressives out there who are feeding the frenzy.

      1. johnoops

        I think you got the terms Fascist and Marxist confused. I fixed it for you: “The incremental march to fascist (corporate) totalitarian control appears to have changed to a 100 yard dash, soon we can kiss the Bill of Rights goodbye. First Amendment going…going. 4th and 5th Amendments flat lining. Be careful what you wish for, all you Right Wingers out there who are feeding the frenzy.”

      2. Plenue

        Oh boy, we got ourselves an Alex Jones fan here. Railing against the ‘cultural marxists’.

        Google is a corporation. It doesn’t want its name and platform associated with publicly toxic personalities. This is you beloved free market at work.

  22. Alex Morfesis

    Deanchoring your supporters…many politicians do it…trump climbed up by promising fringe players fifteen minutes of fame and then finds reasons to make them toxic by pointing to issues everyone knew about or should have noticed, or by asking the player to do the improbable yesterday and then tweeting them to no end…

    But what if as secret ancient alien technologists may one day ask…was the release of emails by $hillary and her minions a similar operation…to shake off tentacles and attempt to enter the white house with a clean slate…exposing her own baggage so she can leave it at the front door as she entered the white house ??

    Maybe moi just amused the person investigating why certain things in power happen and did someone not investigate properly or thoroughly or did someone influence an important investigation is “the” genius who thought Riyadh is in iraq and khobar is in afghanistan…he is a trust fund choo choo train baby with the john kerry narrative of pointing guns at some distant way over there somewhere vietcong in front of a camera…

    A California prosecutor who saw nothing but surf and sand and the need to fill in some time with some low level perp walks and a career of “gosh darn it” we almost got the big fish, but here are some guppies for page three under the fold…

    Although his time as a prosecutor in mass and then in calipornia does seem to match up with the time a certain “whitey” was on a long staycation…

    Will marvin the martian be the next person to get a grand jury subpoena ?

  23. Arthur Dent

    2008-9 worked out so well for the 0.1%, that they are doubling down on a repeat. first you start a trade war to induce recession while weakening financial regulation to turn that into a financial crisis redoux. With any luck then, Congress and the Fed will throw even more money at them to “save the world.”

    Looking forward to another generation of financial road kill working at Amazon warehouses (Walmart greeter positions probably won’t exist) and living in trailer parks.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      I amuse myself by asking Walmart greeters if they could better greet customers by facing outward…

      1. ambrit

        At that time of life, one is best served by “looking inward.” Mortality and all that.

  24. Livius Drusus

    Re: the Italian election. Immigration was a huge issue as was the bad economy, particularly the unemployment problem. Italian politics is not as byzantine as Anglophone writers like to paint it. Yes, there are issues involving corruption that are probably worse than in many Western countries but if 2016 proved anything it is that American “democracy” is far from perfect. Many of our own forms of corruption are built-in like gerrymandering, legalized bribery (lobbying, “dark money” and astroturf campaigns) the two-party system practically guaranteed by our plurality voting system and voting laws that make it hard for poorer people to vote.

    The left lost in Italy because the mainstream left is dominated by the usual neoliberal types who also dominate the U.S. Democratic Party, the Blairite faction in the UK Labour Party and the French Socialist Party before it collapsed. More traditional left-wing parties (Marxist ones, for example) don’t seem to be doing well either. It looks like the current state of Western politics is a choice between right-wing populism and “extreme centrism” of the Clinton/Blair/Macron variety.

    1. DJG

      Livius Drusus: Agreed. Although the immigration situation in Italy is quite particular. In many towns and cities, immigrants are quickly settled and start learning Italian right away. They are quickly assimilated. There were a few videos of children that circulated last year during the debate about ius soli (birthright citizenship, in U.S. terms), and when the interviewer would ask their favorite foods, all of the kids, who spoke perfect Italian anyway, would announce Pizza! Ravioli! And most Italians are fully aware of how fast immigrants assimilate.

      Yet, and this is where the exploitaiton gets sketchy and double-edged, you had rightwingers going into makeshift camps of migrants who refuse to accept landed status in Italy because they want to go to northern Europe. This situation is somewhat isolated yet easily exploited. Like Greece, Italy is the first place migrants get to, and then the other EU countries keep the migrants locked up there. Not pretty.

      1. Anonymous2

        It is interesting that 5 star is strongest where organised crime is thought to be most powerful – Sicily and the South. Perhaps someone more familiar with the situation could shed light. Is it in significant degree a vote against organised crime?

        1. Kurt Sperry

          The French would set up (tighter) passport controls for trains leaving the Ventimiglia station on the French-Italian border, as they have in the past when migrant fluxes crest. It’s a natural checkpoint as very few trains actually cross the border—most passengers will have to change from Trenitalia to French SNCF-run trains. Crossings into Austria and Switzerland aren’t going to be any easier either.

  25. Wukchumni

    I let loose with about 200 cans of use by 2016 & 2017 foodstuffs from our strategic stockpile of Spaghettios, et al, last week @ our local food bank, and they were giving it out on Wednesday along with other food including fresh produce that comes from the state, and I asked if I could be a ‘teller’ and they said sure.

    A few of the faces who pass through I know-most I don’t, and one thing that belies their financial status, is that their cars I take a box of food out to for, are often 3 year old Hondas, that sort of ride.

    You’d never know they were needy, based on vehicular appearances.

    1. Mel

      The used car market seems to have changed. Four years ago, just before the last time I bought, four-year-old cars seemed to be the mode. Lately the flyers from the big used-car dealers are stressing two-year-old cars; 2016s in the recent issue. Don’t know exactly what’s happened to cause this.

      1. a different chris

        They’ve been basically dumping new cars the past couple of years is what. Even *I* bought a new vehicle (my 3rd of all time? No, maybe my second… hmmm) as the incentives were crazy. So there are late-model cars everywhere.

        It’s a good sign of the late stages of, well anything. The flip of “it’s always darkest before the dawn” —
        it’s always brightest before the dusk.

      2. ambrit

        Lucky you. Most of the people we know are driving fifteen year old boxes with wheels, or even older. Being able to maintain ones’ own vehicle is a modern survival skill. I’ve read that lease conditions have become ‘looser’ of late. Anyone know for sure?

        1. Mel

          I’m planning to get 10 or 12 years out of this one. My mechanic, who’s going to perform the miracle, has complained that newer cars are harder to service. Flexible manufacturing methods mean that they can use different parts in every model, or in successive years. And of course pre-programmed microcomputers might not be replaceable in the years to come.
          Wolf Richter might have written about lease terms. We suspect credit is looser all-around to bring in sales.

    2. fresno dan

      March 5, 2018 at 10:43 am

      Hmmmmm….Spaghettios, after doritos, cheetos, and fritos, your best source of orange goodness…..and probably lasts as long and provides as much vitamin C

      1. ambrit

        Spaghetti-‘Os.’ I detect the whiff of ‘letterist’ discrimination here. What about Spaghetti ‘Is’ or Spaghetti ‘As?’ Indeed, aren’t all vowels supposed to be treated equally as per statute?
        As can be seen, we of the Vanguard are on the job.
        See, to burnish your street cred:

        1. fresno dan

          March 6, 2018 at 3:05 am

          The group was a motley assortment of novelists, sound poets, painters, film-makers, revolutionaries, bohemians, alcoholics, petty criminals, lunatics, under-age girls and self-proclaimed failures.

          …. alcoholics, petty criminals, lunatics, under-age girls and self-proclaimed failures…
          well, except for the under-age girls, of which I was just to damn lazy to edit from my copy and paste job, that describes me to a tee…or tea….or tii…or sumthin’

  26. allan

    Congress requires many unpaid interns to sign nondisclosure agreements [Vox]

    … Employment lawyers reviewed two Hill NDAs obtained by Vox and said they are written in a way that could discourage interns from speaking up about anything, potentially protecting members of Congress and their staff even in cases of harassment or abuse. …

    The NDAs came from a Democratic House office and a Democratic Senate office. Four lawyers reviewed the agreements and said some of the requirements looked standard but others did not. The lawyers questioned the scope of the language, the absence of an exception for incidents of harassment, discrimination, or abuse, and the fact that interns are not guaranteed a copy of what they signed. …

    … a DC employment lawyer … said a responsible NDA would have in “very clear bold and capitalized language” a disclaimer that the signer “does not waive the right to make a complaint against anyone, including a member, about harassment or discrimination.”

    Quite the role model.

  27. Colonel Smithers

    Further to links and comments about Italy, there are nearing a dozen Italians on the floor. One is British, but of Italian parentage. All have a long wanted out of the Euro, but not the EU, and chuckle when northern Europeans, especially Germans, rabbit on about corruption.

    I live in the Tory one party state of Buckinghamshire, possibly the most corrupt county in these islands, and agree with the Italian contingent.

    1. lou strong

      Not to deny the impact of corruption in Italy, but as it is kind of competing with football as a petty conversation issue in everyday life , I often get bored with this trend .Sometimes ago I suggested to a friend of mine, after his usual refrain , to imagine a fictitional Good Policy Association bribing our former Finance minister Padoan so that he might do something right once in his lifetime about banking crisis , instead of doing all that mess without taking ( I’m reasonably sure ) a single penny of dirty money.

    2. ambrit

      Wait, wait, wait.
      Don’t you work in the ‘real’ heart of Corruption in the UK, the City? Not to cast aspersions. Some of my best friends are financiers. Wait. That’s a lie. [Do I have a second career waiting for me in politics?] One of Phyls’ nephews ‘originates’ high end loans for a bank in Dallas. He does quite well for himself. He got into that line of work because, the legend has it, he wanted a more ‘respectable’ trade than his dad, who sold liquor at the wholesale level, and did spectacularly well for himself. When I once twitted him about it he replied; “You do ‘honest’ work, and get screwed for your trouble. I do ‘dishonest’ work, and get lionized. Even if I can see the absurdity of that, and I do, it still pays the bills and a little left over.” I saw the truth of that, so I finished fixing his toilet, for free of course, he being ‘family,’ and slunk off back to my hovel to self medicate away my feelings of self loathing.

  28. JohnnyGL

    Ho-Hum….it’s Groundhog Day all over again on Syria. More gas attacks, More Hitler comparisons. Everything immediately blamed on the Syrian Government without any interest in investigating or evidence. Bloomberg more calls for ‘red lines’ and all that.

    When Assad kills people, it’s because he’s a big meanie. When USA kills people, it’s the price of freedom.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Like the GDP announcements, a few months later, the revised responsible party could be someone else.

      One’s skeptical if not the same ministry is in charge.

      You may call it a skepticism struggle or “Mein Skeptizimus Kampf”

  29. Ed Miller

    From KHN: Need a Medical Procedure? Pick the Right Provider and Get Cash Back

    I admit to not reading this carefully yet, and I need to run, but my first reaction is: What could go wrong?–5OV8X1NKJx_hra-WW–RgUAI0KJcKXH8zgUr2Y3-ZyiNfAcuoZAYwlFcoSNTGpenTuz2Ishb4Kyuh8PQKffPGtC8VFQ&_hsmi=61107023

  30. susan the other

    Mmmmm, what a delightful piece of wonderland -There’s a type of black hole that erases your past and messes with your future by becoming an ‘infinite instant.’ Infinity is just another dimension then? One that is very difficult for us to experience. An infinite instant sounds suspiciously like an eternity…. And how do we know we are not already experiencing the obliteration of our past and future at some velocity we think is just normal? I mean, since both things, the disappearance of the past and the future (and we should toss in the present too just to be consistent, no?) already confuse us so much. We have never understood time at all. Except as a frequency, and that’s only because we buzz.

    1. Lee

      “I feel my death moving backward through time bringing to an end all the moments of my life.” Or something like that from from the ever cheery Jean-Paul Sartre, IIRC.

    1. subgenius

      If United are running a lottery to determine which lucky peon gets a bonus (remind me the ratio of the bonus to executive compensation?), I fully support the regular workers in running a lottery to determine which one goes in to work on any given day.

      1. ambrit

        How about one price for every passenger and a lottery for who gets First Class and The Rest?

  31. Jim Haygood

    Bad times for the Venezuelan diaspora:

    Panama’s hit single is about a Venezuelan woman who “fears nothing but immigration officers,” and “was famous in her own country but here does something else” — the something else presumably being prostitution.

    In Panama, the sympathy that greeted early arrivals from Venezuela is giving way to fear and resentment of the poor and desperate. Hyperinflation has made Venezuela’s currency worthless and malnutrition is now endemic. Almost 2 million Venezuelans are living outside the country.

    Into this charged atmosphere arrived ”La Chama,” with its reference to “my Venezuelan girl … who’s famous on the street corner.” Producer Christian Maldonado said the singer meant it as harmless fun. Yet some Venezuelans say it exemplifies their uneasy relationship with their adopted home.

    According to dolartoday it takes 217,262 bolivars to buy one US dollar on the streets of Caracas — up from 100,000 on Dec 1, two weeks after Venezuela defaulted.

    1. John k

      Depends. There is a much lower rate available to the elites moving wealth out of the country, a paltry 25000/dollar… granted, the official rate is now much closer to the black market rate.

    2. Lee

      During the American revolution, the nascent U.S. printed $240 million worth of paper money. A $6 note at the beginning of the war was was equal to a soldier’s monthly pay. But by the end it couldn’t buy a pound of butter. The money was guaranteed to redeem six Spanish silver dollars from the U.S. hard currency reserves. Those reserves did not exist. Because of this the U.S. government collapsed and the Brits won the war. ; )

      I saw it on TeeVee, so it must be true.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Good story you found on PBS by the way. I heard that the Continental Congress did have land to pledge for assets but that mostly went to speculators. Don’t know if that story is true is not. I guess that the $240 million worth of paper money that you talked about were just for the little people.

  32. Andrew Watts

    RE: The Truth About the Russian Deaths in Syria

    This article is problematic given it’s factual inaccuracies. There wasn’t any SDF/American presence in Khushan. The Syrian Army captured it from IS in October and none of the mapmakers following the Syrian Civil War have marked it as being held by SDF. It was one of the sites where the SAA & friends got hit by airstrikes. It also strains credibility to say that the second attack came from the village where Russian mercenaries were stationed but they didn’t participate. What were they doing there while their allies were preparing to attack? Although this piece is a good indication that international concern is running high as illustrated by this quote.

    Could the attack be a foreboding of coming skirmishes between the Americans and Russians?

    In any case I’m more inclined to believe Russian media reports then Der Spiegel whether they are exaggerated or not. The Kremlin doesn’t have anything to lose by hiding anything. Putin will easily gain more support for his re-election campaign by stirring up ultra-nationalist sentiment while drowning out his pro-Western opposition.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Not for nothing do the Germans call their press the “Lügenpresse” – the ‘lying press’ which is a name from a very dark period in Germany’s history. The Germans are getting quite jack with their press which has all the integrity of the Washington Post or the New York Times.
      You are right about factual inaccuracies – such as when it said that the Americans and Russians agreed to use that river to decide their forces. The Americans decided it and attacked any formation approaching the river and using an upstream dam to flood the river to hinder attacks against ISIS.
      Truth be told, a lot of the forces working with the Kurds on that side of the river were previously allied with ISIS so are still, you know, Jihadists. Remember when Trump said that the US should have taken Iraqi’s oil and kept it? It appears that Trump now wants Syria’s oil – or to keep it off the market at least to keep oil prices higher. This is not just Trump being Trump, however, as I have seen a Rand study map showing the US partitioning Syria and keeping the oil-rich parts for itself.

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