Links 4/8/18

Rare owl given the gift of flight after a double wing transplant Telegraph (mgl)

Man resuscitated after heart stops for 18 hours The Times

Why Scientists Are Starting to Care About Cultures That Talk to Whales Smithsonian. Chuck L: “To those who’d tell us to put on our tinfoil hats when reading this, I’d say there’s a lot we western humans don’t know or have forgotten.”

Plastic bag taxes really work Treehugger

Do You Trust This Computer? JCC: “Supposedly available only until Sunday Evening, some of what is covered has been covered on Naked Capitalism. Absolutely worth watching if you have the time.”

Hillary Clinton slammed by critics after saying her loss accelerated the #MeToo movement San Francisco Chronicle. Please go away.

Iceland elects 41-year-old environmentalist as prime minister (UserFriendly)

Our Famously Free Press

Journalism school deans warn Sinclair over media bias promos The Hill. UserFriendly: “​Oh, this should fix it. /s​“

Bill Maher defends Ingraham: Parkland student calling for a boycott is wrong The Hill. UserFriendly: “Why am I not surprised?​”


Britain sees the Commonwealth as its trading empire. It is sadly deluded Guardian

Brexit: the exercise of power

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Muslims win case against NYPD illegal surveillance Al Jazeera

Amazon customers take to social media after mysterious account closures Ars Technica


In Parkland, Shutting Down A Black Lives Matter Statement Days Before Shootingg WLRN (UserFriendly)

I’m not going to be a Gabby Giffords’: Congressman pulls out loaded gun at constituent meeting WaPo (The Rev Kev)


Journalistic predictions of Middle Eastern politics are – mostly – an exercise in futility. Independent. Robert Fisk

Timelines Of ‘Gas Attacks’ In Syria Follow A Similar Scheme Moon of Alabama

Survivors of the Syrian Wars London Review of Books. Patrick Cockburn.

Class Warfare

Don’t believe the propaganda – sin taxes are designed to punish the poor Spectator

Subprime new-car buyers suddenly go missing from U.S. showrooms Minneapolis Star Tribune (The Rev Kev)

Labor Renaissance in the Heartland Jacobin

Oklahoma’s striking teachers are intoxicated by their own demands The Hill. UserFriendly: “​Predictably, the Press turns on Teachers.​“

You need to earn $418,000 to buy home in NYC. Here’s what you need in other major US cities 9 News (The Rev Kev)

Massive Minimum Wage Study Finds Significant Gains for Low-Income Workers and Few Downsides AlterNet

Richest 1% on target to own two-thirds of all wealth by 2030 Guardian

More and more companies have monopoly power over workers’ wages. That’s killing the economy. Vox

The worst job in South Korea? The president Asia Times


India Seeks $15 Billion Fighter Jets in World’s Largest Deal Bloomberg

Insufficient Planning May be the Undoing of Maharashtra’s Plastic Ban The Wire

‘Big Brother’ in India Requires Fingerprint Scans for Food, Phones and Finances NYT. Grey Lady a bit late to glom onto this story.

Modi Government Turns Its Sights on Freedom of Digital Media The Wire

In just 24 hours, the bad news about India’s banks has gotten worse Quartz

New Cold War

Staff at secretive defence centre Porton Down suffer low morale and lack confidence in leadership, survey reveals Independent. J T McPhee: “Everyone is piling on, looking to take a cut off the dead bull. Crappy writing even.”

Recovering daughter of poisoned Russian spy may be given new identity and granted political asylum to live in Britain as it’s claimed her secret boyfriend has ‘links to Putin’s secret service’ Daily Mail (The Rev Kev)

Facebook Fracas

Facebook can’t catch a break: Medical data-sharing plan halted Ars Technica

Facebook a big contributor to the committees in Congress that will question Mark Zuckerberg USA Today (Dr. Kevin)

Facebook heads to Europe to respond to data scandal as Sheryl Sandberg says other misuse of data is ‘possible’ SCMP

As Facebook confronts tough questions, Europe might force real change Daily Herald (The Rev Kev)

Could we build the Facebook-era equivalent of public broadcasting? Columbia Journalism Review

More than 100 Tennessee Dems run to challenge state’s GOP supermajority The Hill. UserFriendly: “​Wow, they actually are trying.​“


Republicans blast Democrat who filed in their congressional primary as ‘political stunt’  Post and Courier (UserFriendly)

Trump Transition

‘When you lose that power’: How John Kelly faded as White House disciplinarian WaPo

Trump’s enemy is not your friend: why we shouldn’t defend Amazon Guardian (PD). Thomas Frank

High Wages Versus High Savings in a Globalized World Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (PD). Michael Pettis.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. integer

    The gaze of the star of today’s antidote appears to be saying:

    “Look at the f*cking mess of concrete, steel, and asphalt behind me. Your species is responsible for this. What have you done with my habitat? Where are the trees? You owe me. Give me something to eat, goddammit.”

    1. Hana M

      Actually, no. Peregrine Falcons, Red-Tailed Hawks and several other raptor species are doing very well in urban environments. Tall buildings make excellent roosting and nesting sites; the grey canyons create thermals that let these birds soar easily; and as for food–pigeons, rats, squirrels, mice, feral cats all make for good eating.

      1. Lee

        Recently, from a busy corner in downtown Oakland CA, a block from an elevated section of I-80, I watched an extended aerial battle between a red tail and a peregrine. Peregrines nest in tall buildings nearby and the hawk probably got too close. Fifty years ago, when the falcon was listed as endangered, some friends and I spotted a peregrine nest with four chicks near Jenner CA. According to Fish and Wildlife this was the only nest reported in the entire state that year. Thank you, Rachel Carson and all who heeded her warning and took action to ban DDT.

        1. Lord Koos

          Banning DDT was a great thing, but unfortunately we still seem to be on track for “silent spring”, since the toll of species extinction continues to mount.

          1. Procopius

            The banning of DDT was taken far too far. DDT is still the best insecticide for killing malaria-bearing mosquitoes, and with reasonable (inexpensive) care can be used without killing birds or too many other insects. A couple of countries in Africa and Thailand still use it, thank goodness. I suspect many thousands of deaths resulted from the total ban that most countries employed. Thailand, by the way, is nearly free of malaria now.

      2. Huey Long

        I work maintaining an NYC high-rise and often find dead bird parts left behind by hawks on the roof.

        They’re doing just fine, maybe even a little too fine judging by the amount of bones I have to clean up.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I’m in Hong Kong right now and there are raptors soaring everywhere, up and down the canyons between the 60-story buildings. It’s weird, but I think they’ve got plenty of pigeons to feast on. They look healthy to me.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            the various raptors(mostly hawks, it seems) are migrating north right now.
            My “neighbor” plowed the field across the road the other day, and there were at least 200 hawks and ospreys and whatnot circling and soaring and diving onto whatever snakes and voles he damaged.
            It was quite a sight.
            during this time, we keep an eye on the sky above the chicken yards…and if a raptor circles too close, someone takes a leisurely stroll in the garden, so the hawk moves on.
            They really like Guinneas, it seems.

      3. Hana M

        For anyone who like watching raptors, Cornell Labs runs several amazing cams. Here’s the link to the Red Tailed Hawk cam where Big Red and her mate, Arthur, are incubating a clutch of three eggs on the Cornell U playing field flood lights (the lights are turned off during nesting season):

        Cornell also hosts cams with Barred Owls and Osprey, both nesting right now in suburban sites.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      These big cities are “like” the high cliffs which peregrine falcons liked/like to nest on. The cities offer a steady diet of park pigeons and other things for peregrine falcons to eat. The big cities may not be as important to the recovery of the peregrine falcon as the ban on DDT was, but they are important. Many big cities have their resident peregrine falcons who have come to nest on the building ledges and eat the park pigeons.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Peregrine Falcons nest on cliffs; tall masonry buildings will do very nicely, as Hana M noted. And so will the pigeons.

      It’s a heartwarming example of nature adapting, especially since peregrines were in trouble not long ago.

    1. Steve H.

      You’ve honed in on a beautiful fulcrum point. For a couple of days, I’ve been struggling with staying universal as opposed to having a gender discrimination in my understanding. Three predominately female occupations are being attacked: sex workers, teachers, and nurses.

      The only two working-class unions that I know of that are exercising political power for the workers have been the teachers and the nurses. (COYOTE isn’t a union at this point.) The teachers actions are current, and the nurses carried weight in the last election.

      Meanwhile it looks like gender numbers are equalizing for elites in a manner that BAR in particular has addressed. I get very little distinction in policy outcomes for men v women in elite positions, whether in government or at a corporate level. But I may be biased by Maggie Thatcher having caught my attention.

      It sure doesn’t seem like the union oppression is independent of the gender difference. But is the difference an intersection (an AND structure) or causal (and IMPLICATION structure)?

      I’ll suggest that the said oppressed occupations have been pushed so far to the brink that they’ve hit a nothing-to-lose rubicon. Several friends who were teachers, and wanted to be teachers, fled the profession from despair. From Janet, I know that when there’s a shortage of nursing staff, those left have to carry a heavier load, and that wears thin over time.

      There is little to suggest that more women in elite positions carries any benefit except to the individuals. And it increases inter-elite competition even more, as the number of positions hasn’t dramatically increased. There is a suggestion that working women, organized, can carry enough moral heft to push agenda change.

      And if the sex workers ever get real in politics, they’re the carriers of the secrets.

      1. Jen

        “Female attorneys sent a warning to state legislators that they’re coming to the Capitol Monday to help mediate a solution for better education in Oklahoma, or there will be consequences.

        Becki Murphy said she and her colleagues spent the past week watching the teacher’s walkout with growing frustration.

        “I’m frustrated at the resistance,” Murphy said. “I’m frustrated that we can be 49th in the nation and that nobody seems to think this is a problem, and that anybody’s blaming this on the teachers.”

        On one hand, I’m cautiously optimistic about solidarity across professions. On the other, wary of the credentialed elite negotiating. Then again, a law degree isn’t a guaranteed pathway to prosperity anymore, and the work can be as soul crushing as working for Amazon. A woman I work with got her law degree just before the great financial crisis. She had hoped to practice international law but ended up getting a job in real estate law. When she was interviewing for her job, I asked her why she was changing professions. She paused for a minute and then responed: “I didn’t go to law school to file eviction notices on a woman who can’t pay her rent because she has cancer.”

        So who knows. Interesting development, though.

      2. Michael Fiorillo

        The teacher strikes in West Virginia and Oklahoma are wildcat strikes, taking place in spite of the union leadership, not because of it.

        The heads of the AFT (as a NYC teacher, I could go on for quite a while about Randi Weingarten’s betrayals) and NEA are trying to push their way to the front of a parade they tried to prevent, which is protesting policies that they supported and enabled over the past twenty years.

        1. Steve H.

          Thank you, I haven’t followed the situation in-depth. Sad to say I’m not surprised, but I am hopeful.

      3. JacobiteInTraining

        “…And if the sex workers ever get real in politics, they’re the carriers of the secrets…”

        If you haven’t perused her site already, an excellent source is Maggie McNeill:

        She has good info about a lot of things related to sex workers, and I have seen rumors there that there is a google doc being discussed ‘behind the scenes’ and updated with information to out congresscritters and other persons in power who are customers of sex workers.

        Essentially, the new jihad against ‘human trafficking’ has had no-longer-trivial impacts on health, safety, business, and freedom of sex workers and if someone is going to speak out before being finally and completely muzzled….that time is now.

        Pretty obvious that whatever is left of ‘the free internet’ currently is rapidly being stopped, turned off, disconnected, seized by fedcoats, and generally turned into a gulag. Sure, read up on mesh networks and such…but have a plain old mimeograph machine handy as well. Oppressive times are gonna get far worse before they get better.

        1. Stephen Gardner

          Yes, I have thought the same thing. I’m old enough to remember samizdat in the bad old days of the USSR. People typed out complete books by Solzhenitsyn with carbon paper. We have much better methods today. Forget mimeographs a scanner and a printer will do the same thing. Or alternatively, pdfs can be distributed via memory sticks passed hand to hand. Iteration n-1 of technology is often effective when the authorities are looking for n because they always fight the last war very effectively.

        2. bob

          ” google doc being discussed ‘behind the scenes’”

          That’s funny!

          Why wouldn’t google use that to leverage congress critters?

      4. drumlin woodchuckles

        There are any number of males in nursing and teaching. Are nursing and teaching still “womens'” professions?

        Perhaps nursing and teaching unions are being attacked because they still have some real political power and might even get more.

        1. Oregoncharles

          My thought, too. They’re the strongest unions left.

          Now, if the sex workers unionize…

          It sounds like they’ll have to, but they may not be the easiest to organize.

        2. Steve H.

          “In 2011–12, some 76 percent of public school teachers were female”

          “In 2011, 9 percent of all nurses were men while 91 percent were women”

          1. Skip Intro

            It is great to see that men are starting to break through that glass floor. Soon they can expect to experience the same abuse and exploitation, if not the same low low pay.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      That one from The Hill is actually much more evenhanded than the title suggests and hits on one if the biggest problems that needs to be fixed in our education system – the completely unwarranted rise of administrative positions and costs:

      After all, between 1992 and 2014, inflation-adjusted per-student spending in Oklahoma increased by 26 percent, even as average teacher salaries rose only 4 percent. If teacher pay had merely kept up with per-pupil spending, average teacher salaries would be more than $56,000 today — even before the bump contained in the new legislation. Meanwhile, as public-school student enrollment in Oklahoma increased by 17 percent from 1992 to 2015, teacher-workforce growth lagged behind — but non-teaching staff increased by 23 percent.

      The same district leaders who have added outsized numbers of non-teaching staff and failed to rein in benefit costs are now finding it convenient to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their teachers in pursuit of additional funds.

      I see the same thing happening locally. Our district has been suckered in by the perceived need for ‘big data’ on everything, including the performance of elementary schoolers to the point where my kid’s report card is about 5 pages long and nearly incomprehensible due to all the computer generated ‘grades’ being produced. Supposedly this allows administrators to ‘drill down’ to see where the problems are, as if the teachers in the classroom can’t figure out for example whether little Tommy needs extra help in reading by simply asking him to read. But if you collect all this data, then you get to hire lots more administration to analyze it all and come up with conclusions with no basis in anything.

      I wonder if the fact of the administrators jumping on the bandwagon in OK has anything to do with trying to keep anyone from noticing that most of them don’t serve a particularly useful purpose?

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        To truly understand the fury that has driven teachers to strike in the face of total opposition from all quarters requires boning up on the damage done in the name of “education reform” for the last thirty years or more. Short version is the goal is the complete privatization of education in the US; there is also an unacknowledged action to re-segregate schools that has, for the most part, succeeded.

        It’s not just that state education budgets have been cut. It’s that they’ve been cut at the same time neoliberal politicians have embraced the creation of thousands of “charter schools” in the name of “choice” and channeled the depleted funds to their support. These are schools run by appointed boards that have absolutely no responsibility to the taxpayers; in other words, “public” schools that are run like private ones. The level of corruption is appalling, and the much-touted improvement in test results—the only criterion that matters these days—have been, at best, equal to those of real public schools struggling to educate the rest of the kids.

        I urge anyone who cares about the future to take some time and explore groups like Opt-Out and Bad Ass Teachers who are fighting privatization and the dumbing down of the educational process such that the only skill that matters is the ability to pass standardized tests. No less than Diane Ravich, once an eager proponent of charters, is now one if their most ardent opponents, is telling. I can also highly recommend Peter Greene, a career teacher who blogs as Curmudgucation; he’s made an ebook of collected essays for those who might want a crash course.

        Here endeth the reading of our sermon.

  2. Eustache De Saint Pierre

    Meanwhile in Downturn Abbey fears of a backlash against the introduction of Universal Credit. The self-employed have for the last few years been responsible for the largest growth in employment, with the number having risen to around 4.5 million. I imagine that for many who are likely hanging on by their finger nails, reductions in tax credits would likely lead to many falling into the abyss that was once the welfare system. Wage level statistics for the self-employed & those working for SME’s that employ less than ten people are basically non-existent & not used in government figures.

    Next Winter should be interesting especially if another cold one which needs Russian gas & the growing food bank sector might need a not forthcoming bailout. I noticed the headline featuring the above on Yahoo News before going to bed, but this morning after quite a thorough search, it appears to have disappeared.

    1. Jean

      You might enjoy watching “Can’t Pay-We’ll Take It Away” on Netflix.

      It’s about bailiffs that seize cars, property and houses out from under people who have judgements against them in the U.K. It’s a wildly growing business.

      Watching that makes one appreciate the Bill of Rights here.

      1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        I doubt that I would enjoy it – there is a voluntary organisation called Common law NI here in Northern Ireland that does a lot of good work on advising people on their property legal rights, such as they are. They occasionally post such videos, a few of which at least show some signs of community resistance within the British Isles. They are a good bunch who have members with legal expertise who put in a lot of work doing what they can for both communities & here is a link which might be useful to somebody who is also hanging by a thread in the UK :

      2. Lord Koos

        There may be a bill of rights in the US, but it hasn’t stopped the police from seizing private property without warrants.

  3. Olga

    Hillary Clinton slammed by critics after saying her loss accelerated the #MeToo movement San Francisco Chronicle. Please go away.
    Please, please, please… go away. Doesn’t she have grand kids or something to worry about?

    1. johnnygl

      No, HRC, please run again!!! Soak the donors!!! Get 5% in the polls!!!

      She’s become a ridiculous cartoon version of herself and it makes centrist/establishment pols look like the self-absorbed, clueless, clowns that they are.

      1. Clive

        Just watching Democratic Establishment Royalty Kathleen Kennedy Townsend on C-SPAN, waffling on about how the Democrats are “getting involved, gettting engaged… winning elections”. Then added piffle about women and played the same old same old identity politics cards. She didn’t actually clutch her emeralds warmly about her neck while she was speaking, but only because she hadn’t chosen to wear them today.

        They know nothing. They learn nothing.

        1. polecat

          I’ll bet she was clutching a pair of those cool ice-blue ‘whitewalker to defeat’ spectacles instead …

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Your comment posits that instead they should “know” how to do the right thing by their constituents. But they do already: their constituents are Big Pharma, Big Death (MIC), Big Spy, Big Oil, Big Prison etc ad nauseam

    2. Kate Sims

      If you’re so sick of hearing about/from Hilary, why don’t you just stop covering her?

      You’re beating a dead horse (also beating a woman when she’s down). I read more about her here than anywhere else.

      You’re just giving her more oxygen.

      1. mle detroit

        +1000, and the same for Trump tweets. I’m old enough to remember when Andrew Sullivan stopped obsessing about Sarah Palin — life became very pleasant, for a while.

      2. windsock

        Not beating a woman qua woman, but as person, politician and former presidential candidate.

        I do the same to Tony Blair as much as I can, and he is a British male equivalent.

      3. flora

        By her continual carping that losing the election wasn’t her fault , wasn’t the fault of her Dem estab platform (no Medicare for all, never ever ever), she’s also trying to block any policy changes in the 3rd Way Dem estab platforms, trying to block better and more progressive candidates from being elected. Because if it wasn’t HER fault, or her platform’s fault, or the Dem policies’ of the past 8 years fault, then nothing needs to change in Dem estab land.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The supporters of HRC especially the ones who know her best are as responsible for Donald Trump. Now that we are seeing Hillary without filters, the Team Blue elites should be held accountable for their promotion of someone they swore they knew.

          1. JohnnyGL

            You’re helping me make my case! :)

            We need MORE HRC, not less. She’s the ghost of establishment consensus’s past.

            She reminds us of just how depraved and awful the Democratic Party leadership is and has been. The endless fund-raising, the endless playing the victim, endless false-empowerment, the bizarre cult-of-personality assembled around her by her followers. The willful ignorance of the effects of her, and her husband’s, ‘accomplishments’ since the 90s, combined with the refusal to reflect and learn anything or listen to anyone else’s opinions outside her inner-circle. She’s a horrible example of self-absorption and power-seeking for the sake of power-seeking and paying no mind to the costs. Raising billions to advance herself and bombing people every chance she got!!! Don’t forget she knowingly aided and abetted Al-Qaeda in Syria. That’s the level of depravity we’re talking. (If you’re not clear on what I’m talking about google “al qaeda is own our side in Syria”. Her staff knew all about what was going on).

            They let her achieve near-unanimous consent within the party and in the media. This party and their media allies gave her everything they could to help her succeed, including her hand-selected opponent. They genuinely thought (and still think) she’s the most qualified candidate ever. Look at Michelle Obama’s telling quotes from the other day. They’re still dripping with condescension for the public for taking a pass on electing Clinton president.

            The establishment knows she’s toxic now and wants to move on and build around either Biden or Harris or Kennedy or someone else.

            Please, don’t let them forget what they did! Never! These people made Trump possible! Make them own her! She’s embarrassing them now, and they know it.

            1. YankeeFrank

              I agree with you. Completely. I can’t get enough of “honest” Hillary. From her recent statements in India to this about her supposedly spurring on the #MeToo movement, she is a continuing reminder of the soulless leadership of the Dem party. Let’s recall that FDR, even at the height of his presidential power, had to fight against attempts from within the Dem party to neuter his progressive left policies. The Dems as a whole were always at best an uneasy ally of the people, as the ease with which concentrated wealth corrupts those of lesser character is a timeless danger.

              Let Hillary’s freak flag fly I say. Her endless self-regard and haughtiness are the honest face of the current Dem party.

              A good post related to this subject from Chris Lehman at the Baffler from February:

            2. Procopius

              Note that Saudi Arabia is allied with Al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, because previously the Houthi were somewhat successful fighting against them. If you see a DoD announcement that a Special Forces Operator was killed in a raid on an Al Qa’ida “fortress” in Yemen it’s a lie. Or maybe a mistake because some “intelligence” analyst didn’t get the word that Al Qa’ida is now our ally, not our enemy.

            3. John k

              The dem elites love and respect her because they love and respect themselves. They are the best and brightest, the most qualified of the dem elites ever, of course only the unwashed could not appreciate her, and their, precious gift of themselves.
              Do they tally believe this, or do they realize they’re all corrupt crooks on the take? What difference does it make?
              Granted they’re the same as the reps, but the latter never claimed to be for anybody besides their owners.

        2. Oregoncharles

          @ flora: Hmmm – well, maybe we should encourage her to keep venting, since that will urge the party on over the cliff. Really, we need a fresh start.

      4. Sid_finster

        Because Lady Macbeth cannot and will not retire to a quiet castle near a loch somewhere and putter around the castle garden and spoil her grandkiddies.

        Lady Macbeth gonna Lady Macbeth.

      5. kareninca

        She ran for president. She is still aggressively putting herself in the public eye. She is still making herself news. She is news. So, she should be covered. If she’s being beaten when she’s down, it is entirely her choice. Every other politician that I’ve seen lose, then retired with grace. She is special that way.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            and her Hilltrolls and flying monkeys infest Liberalish social media still.
            as an indicator, perhaps, of google search’ crapification…I remember that Billary were involved in the generation of the bad russian oligarchs…I remember this, from that time.
            But all i could find is a glen ford article and a Nation article from back then.
            Memory hole,lol.

      6. The Rev Kev

        Stop giving her more oxygen? You mean stop it like with a pillow? No seriously, you have to call out these people every time they stick their heads up above the parapet. You know what happens when you don’t? They come back and they get “redeemed”.
        Tony Blair is trying it in the UK but they know what he is all about now. George Bush is being redeemed and I see that he is sharing tweets with Obama right now ( Given enough time and you will see the media redeem Dick Cheney as everyone’s favourite uncle.
        In this case, you stop unloading on Clinton – either one – then they will get ideas about entwining themselves in the 2020 election and wanting to run things and selecting the “right” people to run. That is one albatross that the democrats do not need

        1. Procopius

          Yeah, they’re doing that with Lovable Uncle Joe Biden, too. Well, I’ll grant that he’s not as evil as Cheney, but he did enough to harm ordinary Americans that they have to cover up.

    3. pretzelattack

      first photo i see is clinton hobnobbing with celebrity donor harvey weinstein, all smiles on both sides.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      The longer she hangs around and stinks up the place, the better a chance there is of some of the stench wiping off on each and all of her supporters and assistants, every single one.

      If such a process leads to a purging and a burning, then it is worth having her hang around longer and stinking up the place more.

  4. cnchal

    High Wages Versus High Savings in a Globalized World

    Michael conveniently quotes Wikipedia to explain the high savings model and it begins with:

    Key aspects of the East Asian model include state control of finance . . .

    Ironic. Key aspects of the American model is finance control of state. The high wage model has been a myth for American peasants for decades.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If we could avoid dragging caused-by-Russians-installing-hidden-cameras-with-faulty-wiring into this tragedy, the world would be a little less dangerous.

  5. Olga

    Recovering daughter of poisoned Russian spy may be given new identity and granted political asylum to live in Britain as it’s claimed her secret boyfriend has ‘links to Putin’s secret service’ Daily Mail (The Rev Kev) – why does this look to me like a plan hatched to avoid the two from talking to Russians and the world about what really happened? I was wondering how the Brits would solve the problem of their recovery – and, thus, an ability to tell of their experience. This seems pretty clever… Although, we all know that Mr. P is omnipotent and could still find them…

    1. The Rev Kev

      I wonder how the UK will handle it when the Skriplas have to give testimony to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons inquiry? Maybe the UK will say that it can only be done by delivered questions and answers on paper and not in person as they must stay in hiding ‘for their own safety.’ No doubt they are telling the Skripals that they were attacked by Putin’s henchmen.
      You know what bugs me about the whole incident? Not the attack itself, not the accusations, not the diplomatic expulsions. It is the reckless abandonment of following the rules of law, international procedures and practices, diplomatic standards and customs. And all for political expediency. Rules are there for a reason and perhaps the present generation of politicians should watch the Devil’s speech from “A Man for All Seasons”

      1. Olga

        That is certainly a great speech – more than ever relevant today.
        On the other hand – not to quibble too much – western hypocrisy regarding the applicability of laws has a VERY LONG tradition. As for today – just note the virtual imprisonment of Julian Assange…

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          There’s nothing “virtual” about Assange’s incarceration. Just because his cell is in an embassy doesn’t make it any less a cell, and his deteriorating health I suspect is comparable to that of many a prisoner in a formal prison. After all, do you dictate to your guests what they can and can’t say online, and then send them to what amounts to solitary confinement when they “violate the terms” of their stay?

          That the British government is determined to send him to formal prison for “bail jumping” says it all, and definitely reinforces his contention the entire mess is designed solely to put him where he can be extradited to the US and disappear into Uncle Sam’s gulag.

      2. Ed Miller

        That short video reminds me of a post at the “Cassandra Does Tokyo” blog. Posts are infrequent these days. I don’t believe this poster is a progressive but there are interesting remarks which are worth reading. The first post is the long version of the eventual impacts of ignoring the advise in the video.

        From 2014: The Rule of Law is Vastly Under-Priced.

        “Those benefitting most from the secure property rights might be forgiven for conceptual ignorance – introspection being a scarce commodity amongst the wealthy – but the vociferous and cynical denial of the asymmetric benefits of securing property rights, both intra- or inter-generationally, whether due to some combination of attribution bias, feigned religious belief, or simple greed is less excusable. In a new gilded age, the idea that the rule of law is vastly underpriced by those who benefit most should be anything but contentious.”

        Another good one there from 2015 was this one – Dear Mr Activist – What Have You Wrought

    2. Doug Hillman

      The Skripals would be safest requesting political asylum at the nearest Russian embassy. If not, a new troupe of CIA/MI6 clowns is likely to attempt to finish the botched attempt. Calling MASH’s Colonel Flagg!

    3. HotFlash

      Recovering daughter of poisoned Russian spy may be given new identity and granted political asylum to live in Britain

      This is so sad. It means she is being disappeared, and in full view of the world.

  6. integer

    ‘Drunk’ American diplomat kills sole breadwinner of family Pakistan Today

    ISLAMABAD: A local resident was reportedly killed and another injured after a vehicle belonging to the US Embassy in Islamabad rammed into a motorcycle on Saturday.

    According to details, the accident occurred in the Daman-e-Koh area of the capital in the afternoon when the defence and air attache Col Joseph Emanuel’s vehicle, bearing no. QM-058 (64-48) hit the bike bearing no. ARM-900. The impact of the accident killed Muhammad Ateeq Baig, son of Muhammad Idrees on the spot, while his cousin Raheel, son of Changez, was injured.

    According to police sources, the envoy was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident.

    The police couldn’t arrest the diplomat since he enjoyed diplomatic immunity; however, the vehicle was impounded at Kohsar Police Station. Police sources said that Col Joseph Emanuel ran away from the police station after a scuffle with police officers.

    How to win friends and influence people.

    1. flora

      Meanwhile, China’s Belt and Road trade route build continues. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor includes China pledging to spend $63 billion to build roads, railways, and energy infrastructure across Pakistan. * (pledges and follow through aren’t alway the same. still…)

      *Here’s long read on the current state of the Belt and Road project. (whilst the west screams ‘russia russia russia’)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think Taiwan would receive more than just $63 billion, though, if she would join the co-prosperity circle.

    2. Procopius

      That’s odd. Obviously a spy, but of the type that are openly allowed to go about their spying business. Wonder why he ran.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Amazon customers take to social media after mysterious account closures”

    Maybe the activities that caused their accounts to be closed were not actually related to their activities on Amazon but elsewhere. Remember when people were being put on the no-fly list because of such things as anti-war activities? That article never did come up with a solid answer.

    Just asking here. Is tonight’s antidote du Jour a young Sparrowhawk? Good looking bird in any case.

    1. integer

      Bird species identification is not really my thing but the Twitter account that posted the pic says it’s a Peregrine Falcon.

        1. wilroncanada

          Maybe it WAS a Sparrowhawk with a good makeup man. Just falcon around.
          …takes off tinfoil hat after reading about Skripals, wondering if that really is the daughter, or if she is already in the US disguised as a novichok.

    2. Judith

      Sparrowhawks have yellow eyes and that falcon appears to have a dark eye. I thought a Peregrine, who is also an urban nester.

    3. Edward E

      Close, that’s a duck hawk or also known as the peregrine falcon.

      Two peregrine falcons were perched high on broomstick hill* when an F-16 fighting falcon went roaring by overhead. First falcon says wistfully, “Man, I sure wish I could fly that fast!” The second falcon remarks “If you had two butts, and both of them were spewing fire, you probably could!”
      *Hillary’s old launching sight overlooking Beaver Lake)

  8. todde

    Of course Clinton loss accelerated the me too movement, just not in the way she imagined.

    Harvey was a Clinton supporter, and none of this would have happened if hills won

    1. johnnygl

      Yeah, i recall some talk about how her crew might have pushed media to bury the story. Weinstein had had success getting stories buried in the past and got the NY AG to lay off.

      Let us not forget that #metoo is a story about POWER, more than anything. The power to get away without being held accountable.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Bill Maher defends Ingraham: Parkland student calling for a boycott is wrong”

    Bill Maher is totally right here! No, seriously. If what happened to Laura Ingraham became common practice it would be terrible. I mean the anguish! The humanity! Instead of a tiny handful of corporations deciding what Americans get to watch, this could become a tool for taking down other corporate shills until they are replaced with people that Americans do actually want to listen to. Jimmy Dore was saying a few days ago that Los Angeles is a pretty left-wing kinda town but you turn on to the radio stations there and they are all right wing to a station. Strange that, isn’t it? You start attacking the sponsors that make people like Laura Ingraham possible and you will have people deciding who they want to listen to. Next thing you know, you will be listening to people on the radio and TV like Phil Donahue, Jimmy Dore, Thomas Frank and Mark Blyth. My god, it would be the end of the America media as we know it.

    1. Fraibert

      I suspect Mr. Maher is simply looking out after his own interests. My understanding is he has said some unfortunate things in the past, and thus it would be, from his perspective, most undesirable if a future “error” of speech were to result in similar calls for advertising boycotts.

      Social media seems to make an ass of anyone who uses it too much.

  10. temporal

    re: Subprime new car buyers go missing

    Through February, sales of vehicles priced at $40,000 and up rose by 4 percent, J.D. Power said, while those priced at less than $20,000 fell by 19 percent.

    In the small town I live in there are quite a few people in their 70s and 80s driving cars that are less than three years old. Of those, most are not economy models. Scanning “Consumer Reports” new car issue there appear to be less than 30 new car models with prices that start below $20,000. Most of those can optioned into the $30,000 range, which means that the pool of available new car models below $20,000 is very small. Even the newest “Smart ForTwo” starts at $25,000.

    “New cars selling for less than $20,000 go missing” might have been a better title.

    1. Jen

      I’ve been struck by the number of older cars that I’ve been seeing on the roads around here lately. I’m not talking about 5 years old. I’m talking 10 years older or more. One of our local mechanics has, from what I can tell by the rotation of vehicles on his lot, a brisk business going in old hondas, subarus and toyotas, and the occasional BMW or Mercedes. None of them a more recent vintage than 2008, and all between $1500 and $3500.

      Meanwhile another local mechanic’s used car business consists largely of 2-5 year old used cars. Not seeing much turnover on his lot.

      On the other hand, my neighbor just bought a new honda civic, with 7 year financing.

      1. crittermom

        Sounds like that first dealer has some pretty good bargains @ $3,500 & under. I’d be interested in some of those older models. I have no desire for a new car with all the computer stuff. Can’t even change your own plugs nowadays.

        Meanwhile, your neighbor just bought a new car with 7-year financing? SEVEN years? Yikes! Ouch!

        Me, I’ll just continue driving my now over 31-yr old Jeep. Still runs well. Just needing some maintenance, which I won’t complain about since it has over 330,000 miles on it. (Going to mechanic this week for water pump last replaced 18 yrs ago, & new valve cover gasket, last replaced 18 yrs ago, as well).
        Pretty sure I’ll be getting another 300,000 miles out of it, if not more.
        It may no longer be ‘pretty’ in most folks eyes, but it’s still beautiful to me. Ol’ Reliable!

        1. Roxan

          I’m also driving a 30 year old car! If you have someone who likes working on old cars, they keep on running. We painted mine last fall. It turned out to be quite easy, and we could have started a business. Passersby kept asking if we could do their cars.

        2. Inode_buddha

          You made my day. My Wrangler is 28 yrs old, quarter million miles of pollution and still going… bonus, I save tons by being able to do my own repairs.

          1. roxan

            The bodywork turned out to be sorta fun. We learned how to do it from youtube videos. I cleaned out the glove box this week and found old receipts from various garages proposing all sorts of expensive work that I refused–it’s been years, and the listed items still never needed work. I would love to put a secret camera in the car and take it around to garages. So crooked!

          2. JohnnySacks

            Kind of sucks for the guy stuck buying a $15,000 used Tacoma with close to 100,000 miles on it then having to go through a yearly motor vehicle ‘safety’ inspection which increasingly is more of a computer thumbs up or thumbs down than a safety inspection. One engine light initiating an abusive cycle of repair extortion can make a normally rational person wish he could ship what is otherwise a perfect running, safe vehicle to the junkyard and head over to Toyota for a new model at close to $40,000. Ka-ching! Damn do I love my 10 year old car, only 40,000 miles on it and i can do brake and suspension work blindfolded but I know without a doubt that I’ll be driving an otherwise perfectly running vehicle to the junkyard with dashboard lights blinking like a pinball machine and no other recourse but to take it to a dealer with a blank check on a yearly basic at inspection time.

        1. Jen

          Yeah, no kidding. She’s “glad” that she’ll have breather of 3 years or so before she’ll need a new car.

          Probably went to the dealer for repairs and got the scare job that sent me running to a new mechanic. “We put it up on the lift and…[proceeds to list 6K worth of bogus repairs]” The unfortunate part is that for her, 7 years of payments is probably more doable on a cash flow basis than 3 repairs that would require her to shell out a couple of grand in a short period of time.

      2. Sid_finster

        My summer grocery getter was built in 1969, close to 250,000 on the original engine and transmission.

        It also has aluminum heads, Edelbrock intake, big roller cam, 750 double pumper Quick Fuel carb and close to an open exhaust, so the cats can get to the vet quicker.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Make America Great Again…by Cubans.

          Let’s not forget all those still-running Made-In-America gas-guzzlers in Havana.

          No Japanese cars I am aware of can make that claim. (Not sure if they have any USSR cars from the 60s’)

          “Be proud. You can do it again.”

          1. Sid_finster

            Well, my Vette does go through prodigious amounts of high test, like a raging alcoholic that can only drink French cognac.

      3. Brian

        I went looking for cars at about 7K two years ago to replace one of that value. I went to a used car lot and asked for the carfax on one. It was in an accident. I asked the guy which cars didn’t have accidents. He asked me why I wanted a car without one. Don’t buy anything without finding out the history or they will eat you and sell you garbage. (I ended up getting the same make, model and year with less miles for the 7K.

      4. Altandmain

        Most people in the US cannot afford the costs of new cars these days.

        The CFPB’s report shows that longer-term loans—those with terms of six years or more—increased to 42 percent of auto loans originated in 2017, compared with just 26 percent of those originated in 2009. There has been a corresponding decline in five-year auto loans, which until now had been the most common term for financing a car purchase.

        The fundamental problem is that capitalism is eating itself. Workers are also consumers.

        This is not a sustainable trend. If a car requires heavy maintenance before the car payments end, the borrower is much more vulnerable. The other risk is that they will be in negative equity if they trade in early. This can also lead to it being harder to reach a mortgage.

        1. Grebo

          I’m reading John Sterman’s Business Dynamics and GM’s leasing practices is one of the case studies. At the time the trend was for shorter leases but the used car market started eating into the new for the first time. They didn’t understand why so they commissioned a model. The upshot was leases were lengthened to four years, against the wishes of the salesmen. So longer leases is actually an example of long term thinking in the car industry, for their own benefit of course not the customer’s or wider society’s.

      5. marieann

        Our Fushion is 3 years old…still like new.
        We had a call a few months ago inviting us to a “do” to see the new car line up…..I said we just bought a new car…reply “you mean that one that’s almost 3 years old.”

        I did explain that this new car will be driven till it died…so no we were not interested.

        1. Richard

          That is a traditional pitch in the auto industry, and has been a long time dying. I was watching a short from 1950 the other day, about sales and the auto industry. One actor playing the head saleman says to a customer, “You see Mr. Wig (not his real name), we can afford to make you a good deal at our dealership, because we want your repeat business. We want you to buy your next ten automobiles here.”
          I don’t think very many people bought new autos that often, even in the 1950s. I think you need to account for the auto industry playing up and trying to normalize something that really shouldn’t be very normal at all!
          I guess I could look up the stats somewhere, but meh, I’d rather have a loosely informed opinion.

    2. steelhead

      My 1997 Ford Explorer XLT is still going strong @ 187,500 miles. Who needs a new car? Snark…

      1. Jen

        I’ve got 205K on my 2008 Honda CRV, and have no plans to get rid of it until my mechanic refuses to fix it. There’s nothing wrong with it, and I don’t need the status marker of a new car.

        It does seem, though, like there are more and more people who either would have bought new, or, shall we say, less used, are gravitating towards old, cheap and reliable – and not necessarily by choice.

        1. Lunker Walleye

          I have a Honda Fit, 2008 with fewer than 50,000 miles. The only problem is the engine warning light won’t go off unless a mechanic fixes it. After being ripped off twice at the dealer, I take it to my brother’s mechanic about 40 minutes from here — a long commute for someone who does not like driving. But he is honest — and busy. Thinking about investing in a new gas cap to see if that would fix it.

          1. pretzelattack

            i found an honest auto repair shop, but the guy i trust most is retiring, not looking forward to a new search.

      2. Pat K California

        Not to make you sick or anything, but my 1995 Chevy Blazer is still going strong at 83,500 miles! The cherry red finish even polishes up as good as new … and the interior is still pristine. I can’t afford to replace it at present, so it’s a game to me to keep it in tip top shape until I retire in a few years and no longer need the cargo capacity. New car? Pffffftttttt. Excellent maintenance will keep a used, low mileage vehicle running for a looooooooooong time.

        1. polecat

          My scratced, moss laden, and lightly dented mid-90s Ford Ranger is still at it .. hauling junk, compost, lumber, and groceries. A new vehicle ?? .. NO WAY !
          …. and as the NEXT big economic slump downward occurs, I will most likely see lots of yuuuuuge unscratched ‘vanity’ Tetosterone Trucks bearing FOR SALE placards ….

        2. bob

          1995 is the last year. After that, a check engine light is enough to fail inspection. This renders the car effectively useless. No inspection, no drive.

          1. ambrit

            That depends on where you live. Here in the Buckle of the Bible Belt of the American Deeep South, the state just got rid of automobile inspections altogether. No more having to leave an extra ten or twenty in the pile of ones you hand to the ‘friend of a friend’ running the Inspection Station to pay for said inspection.
            We’ve also begun to see, in the more out of the way places hereabouts, cars without license plates. Not just temporary or dealers plates, but full outlaw rigs. One I saw was a BMW. So far, all such sightings were on back roads.
            Really, it is little signs like that that show the decay in respect for the Law amongst the public at large.

            1. polecat

              Our check auto light has been on for years .. it’s alive , while we just drive, and drive, and drive. No problemos !
              Old enough to be grandfathered out of annuainspections .. or maybe I should say grandmothered .. gotta meet P C standards and all that …

            2. JohnnySacks

              The pain of living in a blue state where the legislators are completely out of touch with the burden shouldered by poor people when that little “Screw me now – here’s a blank check” light comes on. Just buy a new one – problem solved. Should be that after x number of years, say 7, no visible smoke gets you a sticker. (and sorry, of course making sure the wipers and lights work and the tires, brakes and suspension are not death trap)

    3. BobW

      Sold my 20 yr old Civic last summer, and bought a 2 yr old Accord. I figure it will be the last car I ever buy.

      1. Lunker Walleye

        I had a 1990 Civic which was a fantastic “sewing machine” of a car and bought it new off the lot. The body wore out from the salt and sanded streets and it did not have airbags. Wish I still had it. I could see all around in that car with no bars or obstructions.

      2. ambrit

        Hotrodders swear by the 1985 Civic with the cast iron block engines. It can be tricked out something fierce.

    1. The Rev Kev

      “The suffering of children.” That is how the news started on an Aussie TV station and then came all the pictures of kids under hoses (no adults) with all footage coming direct from Jihadist Public Relations. Gah! Personally I like my propaganda subtle so that I can taste and enjoy it as I chew it over. Not this raw mince version.
      The Syrian government has taken back about 90% of east-Ghouta and the remainder basically contain the bitter-enders. They have two choices – evacuate or die! All the other Jihadists are all long gone now. The Russians and Syrians have been saying for months that a BS gas-attack was planned and here it is.
      I think that though if countries like the US and France attempt to kill more Syrians and likley some Russians into the bargain with air strikes or missile strikes, that the Russians will strike back somehow. They might even declare western Syria as a no-fly zone and use their S-400s and Pantsir missiles to back it up with. Watch this space.

      1. Edward E

        Just discovered something a while ago, wondering why today is so sad… I’m just a simple, silly old man but twenty one years ago today we lost a young, always elegant treasure and her dream, then the world just seemed to get mean.

  11. Emorej a Hong Kong

    New centrist party gets £50m backing to ‘break mould’ of UK politics Guardian

    A new political party with access to up to £50m in funding has been secretly under development for more than a year by a network of entrepreneurs, philanthropists and donors … appears to have a centrist policy platform that borrows ideas from both left and right.
    … there are plans to reach out to MPs deemed to meet its non-partisan approach.

    You gotta love the “non-partisan” branding.

    This reconfirms the necessity for Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters to de-select many centrist MPs, because they cannot be trusted to remain in the Labour Party after the next election.

    1. windsock

      It is up to individual Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) who they choose to have as their representative in any Parliamentary election. Sitting Members of Parliament (MPs) cannot be de-selected by central party diktat. Many CLPs are still strongly Blairite and won’t be replacing sitting MPs with Corbyn-friendly candidates any time soon. Some CLPs are, however, undergoing power struggles between “centrists” and a newer, more left-leaning membership. Momentum is leading the charge, and is sometimes, but not always, succeeding.

      The leader of Haringey Council has (thankfully) been forced to stand down after a strong leftist campaign against her plans to hand over council assets to a private company. Many of her colleagues have chosen not to run again in next month’s council elections because of the unpopularity of her plans and they have been replaced by more left-leaning candidates. The MPs in constituencies covering that council area opposed her plans, and many others have watched the situation and have taken it as a warning that their positions are not 100% secure.

      Also, de-selecting “centrists” now gives them the incentive to join a new party straight away and immediately give it representation in Parliament. A sitting de-selected MP would not have to stand down until the next General Election and could use the intervening time to build up a public image for the new party. That M.P. would then run against any subsequent Labour candidate at said General election, possibly splitting the Labour vote, especially if they have actually been a good MP and have built up personal loyalty. Best wait until the election is imminent, and that could be a cat and mouse game.

      There has been talk of a new party for some time. I can’t see it happening. Memories of the “Gang of Four” splitting from Labour under Michael Foot to form the SDP have not been erased. Also, Brexit has yet to play out.

    2. Altandmain

      It looks like they are trying to make the UK equal of French President Emmanuel Macron and En Marche. I suspect that if Bernie and the left gain control of the Democrats, while a real right wing populist (read: not Trump who has sold his base out), we will see a serious similar attempt in the US.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “The Communist Manifesto” is a glorified pamphlet in length. I would file it under a minimum level of expected behavior, so its an easy assignment where the whole thing can actually be assigned given potential work loads. Be honest, who actually read “Leviathan”? Skimming through the list, there are a bunch of reads which shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, half an hour, and an hour. The rest I’m unfamiliar with or remember being assigned specific parts. The Communist Manifesto obviously will show up in pretty much an European history class, political theory class, and abstract views of history course.

      I’m astonished by Frankenstein, but I guess its due to its novelty in the world of sci-fi and the author’s gender. There is a great deal to unpack.

    2. Massinissa

      Well, its required reading in basic political science classes. Part of the reason, I think (as a poli sci student), is that the manifesto is very, very short. Its not the same as reading Das Kapital or something.

    3. JCC

      I am not surprised at all.

      I took an economics class at R.I.T. about 16 years ago and that time I was told that the most commonly taught economic theorist at American Colleges and Universities was Karl Marx. I am assuming that it is probably still true

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is it a case of

        1. Great book. Let’s do it for the world.


        2. Now that we get that out of the way, I am ready for Wall Street, and America’s cash-rich, neoliberal corporations, with my credentialed degree?

      1. Matt

        This book caused a bit of an intellectual scandal in France, when two of the more careful authors publicly disagreed with Courtois in his attempts to run the death toll up to 100 million. There are much better historians of the Soviet Union out there.

      2. Massinissa

        Since when is a propagandist hit piece an ‘antidote’ to anything? Also why is an almost 900 page book required to be an ‘antidote’ to a 48 page glorified pamphlet?

      3. Lambert Strether

        Taking the cite in good faith, do we have a net figure? For example, the UK’s neoliberal policies knocked off a million in Ireland, and then there are the 20 or 30 million while they ruled India. I suppose we’d want to throw the Middle Passage (2 million) in there. Just off the top of my head.

        If we want to have a discussion about the lethality of alternative systems of political economy, that’s fine…. But this seems more like a drive-by comment than an invitation for discussion.

    4. Harold

      What really astonishes is the cultural continuity. Things come and go, but, considering all the recent cultural upheavals, Aristotle, “the father of Western thought” is surprisingly resilient. For my part, I was sorry to see Gulliver’s Travels missing from the list — also Herodotus.

  12. Charger01

    Jen, I think Wolf R. From Wolf Street has detailed the subprime auto push for the past few years. Cheap credit extended to anyone who can fog a mirror isn’t going to end well. My 8 year old Subaru and 13 y-o Nissan are still running well even north of 156k. I’ve been saving since last year to purchase a new family hauler when the Nissan starts failing the commute.

  13. tegnost

    “And this is where we are now in the world’s greatest democracy. We have the billionaire Republicans, with their bigotry and their war on all things public, and the billionaire Democrats, with their oblivious ideology of globe and technology. To the common people, assembled in all our majesty, the momentous question is posed: who do you hate more?”
    Amazon. Trump may eventually catch up, but amazon has been destroying the country for years. Bezos easily out evils the current president. Also the tweeter in chief is welcome comic relief in the DC sideshow (ducks…yes the other family blogging family bloggers were that much worse, and had the full support of and gave their full support to the bezos) while bezos’ imperial dreams and market power are nothing short of frightening. Also probably the worst employer in the nation. Plus the CIA and the Cloud. The hero of grifters everywhere, bezos has no positive qualities, he’s not even funny.

    1. Brian

      I have watched with wonder and haven’t seen ol’ WalMart included side by side with the destructor Amazoid. WalMart set the stage for this and destroyed 30% of small businesses in my small town when it showed up in the 90’s. Both had plenty of support from the governments down the line to wreak havoc on our community.
      Please don’t forget to include those that have done this before so the pattern is well observed.

  14. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Talking to whales

    I agree with Chuck L. I saw this fascinating program about orcas cooperating with people to hunt baleen whales several years ago:


    For years the orcas would help whalers hunt the larger whalers, first the aboriginal people and later Europeans. The orcas would alert the humans to whales in the area, the humans would finish off a whale and then leave it in the ocean until the orcas could eat the tongue, which is all they wanted to begin with, and the humans would take the rest. Until one day when one white guy decided he didn’t want to share with the orcas and took the whole carcass and that was pretty much the end of the whole arrangement.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Universal Basic Income.

      Maybe yesterday, talking to whales wasn’t considered work. Hopefully, we have progressed since. A little enlightenment at a time.

      And we may ask, what other activities (or non-activities) that we don’t consider as work in general, and do not qualify as work in any proposed Job Guarantee, are in fact work to people in other cultures, and may prove one day to be very necessary.

      1. Brian

        Talking to whales and bees makes quite a lot of sense if you think about it. Ignorance of what they have to say may just kill us all, no?

      2. polecat

        Personally, I’d prefer to work as mind-melder …. just between me .. and the cetaceans .. ‘;]

    2. ChrisPacific

      I thought the interesting part of the whale article was the set of rituals and practices that sprung up around the whale hunt. It seems to have performed a similar function to tapu in Maori culture, i.e. enforcement of societal norms, protection of the commons etc. It’s easy to forget that religious and spiritual leaders used to perform this function in cultures without a secular legal system.

      I think it’s likely many of the beliefs in question weren’t true, but I don’t think any serious scholar of history would suggest that makes them unworthy of study or irrelevant. Try studying Medieval or Renaissance European history without factoring in the role of religion and see how far you get.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Anthropologists call this “myth” – not necessarily literally so, but says something important about the society, or codifies necessary behavior. Sometimes, it’s an outright lie that covers up an inconvenient truth. We’re quite familiar with those.

        For instance: Claude Levi-Strauss came up with an amusing example, deep in the Amazon. The village he studied had an elaborate marriage system that appeared to tie the village’s multiple clans together. But when he analyzed it closely, he realized that there were really two groups there who didn’t intermarry and had no kin connection. That was the inconvenient truth they were covering up.

  15. blennylips

    I have discovered a most interesting propaganda filter.

    Try these searches in google (include the quotes):

    “Syria” “false flag”

    compared to

    “Syria” “false flag” -inurl:facebook -inurl:twitter -inurl:instagram -inurl:pinterest

    Dial both for the last 24 hours and spot the differences. Do not miss comparing the Images tabs for the last 24 hours (goog tends to play with the date control when you switch tabs).

    1. Jim Haygood

      Heh heh … he said “false flag.” Ain’t it strange how this happened the weekend after Trump proposed leaving Syria and his generals resisted, begging for more time:

      Donald J. Trump

      Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad.

      9:00 AM – Apr 8, 2018

      Well, there you have it, folks. Just as in the Skripal case, our side has psychic remote viewers who can review their mental videotapes and determine with 100% certainty who done it. Verdict first, trial later!

      As Tyler Durden put it,

      Now that war hawk John Bolton is Trump’s National Security Advisor … Assad is desperate to be bombed at any cost. Assad decided to gas some “rebels” again, despite now overwhelmingly winning the war against US-backed insurgents, and despite knowing very well that exactly one year ago an alleged “chemical attack” prompted Trump to launch dozens of Tomahawks at Syria.

      Last time the US “intervened” in Syria, on April 7, 2017, the US did not need confirmation; Trump just needed a geopolitical distraction. It seems that he needs another one again, and ideally one that shows just how angry he is with Putin now that an interview with Mueller is reportedly imminent.

      Lots of high-fiving and back-slapping in the Lobby this morning, as Trump is U-turned to stay mired in forever war in Syria, and Iran is blamed along with Russia Russia Russia.

      1. pretzelattack

        it’s just getting to be one of those unquestioned things, like saddam’s wmds. we must do something now!!

      2. polecat

        Wouldn’t “psychotic” remote veiwers perhaps be, in this case, a more apt description .. ?
        ….. and what is the U.N.’s response with re. to this ‘event’ ..are they to play along and make use of the ‘farce’ against the Syrian Gov. and its people ??

      3. Elizabeth Burton

        Russia Today and Sputnik News have been putting up articles for weeks reporting someone leaked to the Russian MoD there was going to be another false-flag gas attack.

      4. The Rev Kev

        Apparently the Israelis are also desperate for Trump to attack Syria as that will take the spotlight off the Gazan killings. Also, the Israelis know that when Ghouta has been cleared out, the Syrians will be clearing out all the other Jihadist pockets including the one near the Israeli border. You know, the one where pictures have been taken of Israeli soldiers and Jihadists hanging out and shooting the breeze. The one where ISIS attacked some Israeli force and then immediately apologized for it and said that it was all a mistake. That border pocket.

  16. Craig H.

    > Don’t believe the propaganda – sin taxes are designed to punish the poor

    ‘Poorer people would benefit more from a sugary-drinks tax, so it would be progressive in health terms’.

    I don’t think the headline or the response is relevant. If the people being taxed don’t have lobbying leverage they get smacked with a tax is all there is to it. Do even half voters know what a regressive tax is? The tax on tobacco gets raised in CA every two years by the voters and in the last election it was something like 65-35 to boost that regressive tax in this progressive state.

    How many jurisdictions stick the sugar tax on all soda, sugar and sugar-free?

    1. Scott

      People always vote to raise taxes on other people, especially if they know they’ll never pay it. I’m surprised that it won with that little support given that only 11.4% of adults in California smoke.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Actually, most of the people who support regressive taxes are clueless just how much they shell out for same on an annual basis. “I don’t smoke, so raising the tax on [insert item used by lots of people but looked down upon by the upper classes here] is a really good idea.” You’ll notice that the only regressive taxes that ever make the news are the ones that encourage that kind of thinking.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Facebook a big contributor to the committees in Congress that will question Mark Zuckerberg USA Today (Dr. Kevin)

    We will see how that plays out.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Oh I could see one way that this could play out. A Congressman asks Zuckerberg a hard question and immediately notices on his mobile that he has been “unfriended”. Another hard question to Mark and the Congressman may then notice on their mobile that they have been blocked. Any more hard question and they then may find that their account has been totally deactivated.

  18. Jean

    [Sin] “Taxes on tobacco, fast food and soft drinks are doubly regressive because people on below-average incomes tend to consume more of them in the first place”.

    Isn’t the goal of the taxes to discourage them from destroying their bodies?

    As a thought experiment, what would hand wringerss howl about if tobacco, soft drinks and junk food were subsidized for the poor? It would be chemical racism and genocide.

    Why are taxes on plastic bags good, but taxes on tobacco bad? That’s hypocrisy man.

    1. HotFlash

      As a thought experiment, what would hand wringerss howl about if tobacco, soft drinks and junk food were subsidized for the poor?

      Great idea! Only how about we subsidize organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and animal products (esp from small and local farmers), pass a $15 minimum wage, insist that employers provide full-time jobs and/or schedule three weeks in advance with no ‘on call’ and institute rent controls, guaranteed Federal funding for schools K-12, free college tuition, and Medicare for All. That might work better for modifying people’s behaviour.

      And I forgot, end subsidies to Big Ag, Big Oil, and Big Retail monopolies,

  19. Summer

    Re: “As Facebook confronts tough questions, Europe might force real change”Daily Herald..

    The last two sentences:
    “Europe’s tough stance on U.S. tech companies may end up benefiting users around the world, if Zuckerberg follows through on his promises.

    But in Europe, many already fear that the latest regulations aren’t enough.”

    So their stance isn’t that “tough.”

    1. polecat

      I first read about that in Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine” … and have felt a lack of genuine contrition on his part going forward, similar to Bremer’s after the initial Iraqi Invasion kerfuffle … pallets of US dollars et. al. …

  20. JCC

    Regarding the link I submitted above “Do You trust This Computer”, I should have been more explicit. It supposedly will be available for free this weekend only. If true, it’s too bad. More people need to be aware of the accelerated state of this technology.

    To summarize, it is a well done video discussing the advances in AI and Deep Learning including interviews of top people in the field. Some of the things talked about have been discussed here at Naked Capitalism such as the fact that the people writing these neural networking algorithms have no idea how these have morphed or what they are actually doing within the networks they have created.

    Another key point of the video is that the tech is evolving much faster than most realize and that those most involved in this Deep Learning technology are completely clueless about the direction this evolution is taking.

    Disturbing is a mild description, and it really is well worth checking out.

    1. Brian

      the gods, the gods. Please beware of greeks bearing gifts. Vimeo was one of the first companies cought spying on its users. It was cheap junk that failed often as well, when other brands equivalent or better products are still working 20 years in. It was a Walmart exclusive at first, no?
      the roadmap is there if you get it. the history of these “off” brands is telling.

    2. cnchal

      The brains behind AVs. When the next one runs someone over the cops should ask it, “what were you thinking?” and arrest it if it won’t answer.

      What can go wrong? A multitude of electronic sensors with all sorts of output that has to be massaged by intermediary devices which then send it to the brain in a form so the brain can create “vision” to decide on what’s next and then send the instructions out to all sorts of electronic intermediary devices to control the vehicle’s motion. In all sorts of weather, temperature and road conditions. So, lots will go wrong at the most inopportune time.

      1. HotFlash

        Indeedy! For AI criminals, we need the equivalent of AI cops, with suitable tools. “Please submit your algorithms for analysis immediately!” It would be like a Breathalyser for computers, no?

    3. Brooklin Bridge

      I watched it in its entirety and agree it is well done, particularly some of the examples of its present state and its explosive, uncontrolled and unfathomable growth. The end is a little breathless and perhaps self serving – “We can’t stop it”, (probably more accurate to say we won’t stop it), “might as well join it.” – Elon Musk mixing in the trite with the PR. But then to be fair, (I think it’s) Musk who also brings up one of the more subtle but disturbing aspects of AI – that it does not have to be “against humans” to be a danger to them just as a road builder doesn’t have to hate ants to get rid of the ant hills along with the ants that are in the way without a second thought good or bad.

      Most of the experts interviewed clearly had a lot vested in AI and seemed loath to throw out the good with the bad (the brain surgeon for instance) – but were also concerned to varying degrees of where this is taking us. They brought up very salient aspects of the dangers involved, particularly the lack of controls, but there was also an element of titillation that I suppose seems required as part of an assumption that one must keep a modern audience riveted.

      The one thing I found largely missing (though perhaps I’m the one who missed it) was discussion of the part the financial incentives supporting the current unregulated explosion of AI play in the technology being unstoppable. Mention was made that AI is a multi billion dollar industry, and unregulated, but little said about the influence the multi trillion dollar ‘big players’, not to mention our whole financialized system of perpetual growth, have on the lack of regulation or the social, political and legal aspects of AI.

      1. JCC

        Good review, and no offense, of course, but I’m not so sure about the self-serving and breathless description. Two things struck me regarding this, and pointed out clearly in the film:

        1) The mention of the advance of war machinery, from disgust on the part of the British and Americans of the German use of submarines in WWI to the full embrace of submarines by the Brits and Americans by WWII – meaning the advance and acceptance of autonomous drones and other weapons systems may very well be inevitable, (if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em), and

        2) The complete acceptance by children (our future) of “thinking” computers as being perfectly acceptable and logical.

        Number 1 tells us that we may as well accept it because that is human nature, just as we accepted ‘smart” phones, cars, planes, submarines, et. all (also clearly mentioned in the film).

        Number 2 reminded me of a lecture by R. Buckminster Fuller, who was born before Kitty Hawk, saying that he was out walking his daughter just after she was born (1926) when a rare bi-plane flew overhead. He thought to himself, “How remarkable. My daughter has known nothing else and will find airplanes flying around perfectly logical.”

        As for your noticing the missing portion on financial incentives to leave all this unregulated, I think that is left as an exercise for the viewer. Although you are correct that it was not directly discussed, the tremendous amount of money invested by Google and others was discussed. The tremendous amount of lobbying money spent on a generally tech clueless Congress essentially saying “Trust Us” that we are all aware of is a big hint at what is going on in this arena.

        Add all this to the heavily represented sociopath contingent at the top of the societal food chain and what have we got? Minimal regulation until some of those at the top are threatened by others at the top, internally and externally, and the inevitable advancement of autonomous, relatively “smart” machines, including autonomous war machines. The film was done, I think, to question whether we, as human beings, are ready for this and have the ability to control the results. That is a very legitimate question.

        I’m not sure we are and regulation of all this is needed quickly. As one of the interviewees plainly stated (and by definition), “Machines are psychopaths.”.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Thanks JCC, no offense taken at all. It may be just a question of degree. My reservations were minor and largely impressionistic. I got the sense, impression, that there was an underlying acceptance, albeit a rather lucid one, of going forward with AI as opposed, say, to calling for legislation to stop everything immediately for a much needed national review of a potentially looming catastrophe. We couldn’t do it over carbon based energy in the early part of the 20th century either, but that is not an excuse.

          I think the film (or video) did an excellent job of evoking the scope and seriousness of what’s happening in this realm when even the experts have a hard time in fully grasping it. And I very much appreciated the detail that they gave (though I would have loved even more).

          On another aspect of this, I find not only the sheer number of existential challenges we (humans) are facing but the nature of of them taken individually or collectively to be simply overwhelming. They are so far beyond the scope of anything humanity as a whole has had to deal with before, that the very reality of them seems impossible to wrap one’s mind around.

    4. other james

      This was one very disturbing documentary.

      If corporations were the psychopaths of the 20th century, relentless, immortal, human, then AI is shaping up to be the psychopath of the 21st century, relentless, immortal, inhuman.

        1. blennylips

          Note that the one hit was for some vacuous “Strategic Forum on Artificial Intelligence, an event organized by the Montreal Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce (CCMM)”.

          The (IMHO) excellent polemic was only found by finding the source of the images and it had an exact match to the search. The CCMM link just happened to have the two phrases on the same page.

    5. cnchal

      Thanks for the link. I find no comfort in the tech bros million dollar grins.

      Were an AI platform be tasked with the goal of reducing global warming, humanity would be the anthill and AI the road builder.

    6. ewmayer

      “We cannot understand these [artificial super]intelligences … the best we can hope to do is to survive them.” — Person of Interest

    7. Aumua

      It was a great documentary that mostly tells the truth, in my estimation, although it veers off track in several places, such as in refusing to acknowledge the role of class warfare in all of this. The question remains: how can we assume that this technology is going to serve us, any more then we are going to serve it? We can’t assume that, but that’s what we have been running on so far. I’ll tell you every time I see one of those Boston Dynamics videos, it creeps me out because I can’t help but imagine them as military (or domestic police) killing machines. Undoubtedly that is where much of the funding is coming from for developing these robots. My friends share these videos like “Oh, isn’t that cool?” I’m like I don’t know…

      As mentioned above, since the AI will work relentlessly to solve the problem it is asked to solve, when we start asking it to solve many global level problems, our own prominent role in those problems and our refusal to change will put us right in the crosshairs. And maybe that will be fair and just, and good riddance. I hope not.

    8. makedoanmend

      It was a film that needs to be fermented.

      I couldn’t really take anything tangible away from the film as I keep thinking that a significant amount of factual data is missing from the story line, and the meta message(s) of the film seem to be in contradistinction to each other: “watch out for AI, it’s going be harmful to humans”, “AI is innovative and unregulated (silence ensues)”, “and it’s coming whether we like it or not”. Maybe the intention of the film maker is to entice us to draw our own conclusions out of these seemingly disparate messages.

      It does seem that the technologies to displace workers in entire industries is again upon us. The USA already experienced this labour dislocation when their financial system dismantled entire smoke stack industries in North America starting in the 80’s (if not before), so we’,ll have to see if this new wave is as harmful to the long term of the US job markets in terms of quality jobs.

      All in all, it was a worthwhile film to watch. Food for thought for long time digestion and assimilation. Thanks for posting it.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Insufficient Planning May be the Undoing of Maharashtra’s Plastic Ban The Wire

    ‘Big Brother’ in India Requires Fingerprint Scans for Food, Phones and Finances NYT. Grey Lady a bit late to glom onto this story.

    Perhaps fingerprint scans for plastic bags.

  22. JCC

    Regarding the article “Could we build the Facebook-era equivalent of public broadcasting?”, sites like Diaspora (open-sourced and not supported through paid advertising) are already in gear and have seen large growth recently due to #DeleteFacebook.

    But just as we’ve seen with Public Broadcasting, eventually they will be compromised by Corporate Money and Surveillance… if they haven’t been already.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      The bottom line with every effort like this is…well, the bottom line. There is simply now way to run something of any size for free, and if one has to depend on donations the chance the entire thing will disappear overnight is high. I am constantly receiving pleas for support from many of the alternative news sources, and I wish I had the wherewithal to help them all.

      If people truly want a real alternative to Facebook, they are going to have to pay for it; but given the whining I hear every time Netflix or some other streaming service says it has to raise the fee, I’m not holding my breath. Before a “People’s Social Media” can work, you have to convince people that there are two definitions of “free” and one of them isn’t going to work if they want a working, efficient social media platform not based on ad revenues and data-mining.

  23. fresno dan

    Piketty just puts numbers behind an observation that anyone covering recent American presidential elections could have made: That huge pluralities of voters on both sides of the aisle feel unrepresented and even insulted, and increasingly see both major parties as tools of the very rich.
    An example was an organic farmer from Vermont who talked with disdain about the money the Democrats took from big agribusiness corporations who were his competition. This theme, that big money owned both parties, was prevalent at the (occupy) demonstration.

    In Jacksonville, people were being thrown out of their homes by a hi-speed foreclosure court that shamefully swallowed without protest the robo-signed or phony documentation offered by banks and lenders. The victims in these courtrooms were not, by and large, the same people as the kind you’d find at an Occupy Protest.

    They were overwhelmingly either the ethnic poor – predatory mortgage lending disproportionately targeted people of color – or what pundits today would derisively call the “white working class.” Both of those groups were there together, however, victimized by the same malefactors.
    I wish the two parties would disintegrate, but I think Piketty does not sufficiently understand that the American system was designed from the get go to represent the elite (wealthy). And as Lombardi said, more or less, Money isn’t everything, its the ONLY thing.

    The system is designed not to even allow THE question of naked economic interests to ever get put before the voters….

    1. JCC

      Even if it is put before the voters, the indoctrination of our system’s citizens seems to overwhelm their own gut feelings.

      I have an anecdote from this morning that I think demonstrates this. I checked in with a very conservative friend whose mother is in a limited care nursing facility because that is what he can afford. As the only surviving family member, he’s responsible for, among other things, Sunday meals. He himself is going through some serious health issues partly brought about by the stress of maintaining his mother for the last couple of years as well as his own present medical issues.

      He mentioned to me this morning that he may be soon financially drained and he blames a lot of the present situation of his mother’s condition (bed-ridden and with severe Alzheimer’s Disease) on Big Pharma keeping her alive for profit. I mentioned that it’s too bad that the American ethic of Corporate Profits have become more important than a decent sustainable life. His reply, even though he stated his problem clearly, was, “C’mon, who has the right to determine what is ethical when it comes to profit?”.

      I said, “How about our Society?”, and then quickly changed the subject for obvious reasons. I don’t believe he is an outlier, but instead a typical, well-indoctrinated, American Citizen.

    2. polecat

      So, as a result of an ever reduced, chained and captive .. and increasingly ignored voting public .. we go continue to rage forward into the Century of the American Collapse.

    3. SKM

      Absolutely spot on re Picketty!!
      If Thomas Picketty had anything heterodox (in the sense of an economic analysis of a kind that would pas muster with regulars of NC!!) to say, he would never have been promoted as a “rock star” of economics as he was when the US press launched him as such. For an excellent analysis (take down) see “Avec Thomas Piketty, pas de danger pour le capital au XXIe siècle” by Frederic Lordon (Le Monde Diplomatique, also available in a good English translation). David Harvey has also written in a similar vein re Picketty (useful data, mal-applied).
      Before that wild promotion in the Anglo-saxon press, his lack of vision had been obvious to anyone alert to such things following French economic debates. These had been pretty lively around the time of the GFC and the main stream media in France often allowed full spectrum debate for a while – people like Frederic Lordon, Paul Jorion and other “heterodox” economic thinkers were given air time. This was mind boggling for any British or American exposed to it. Unfortunately such an open debate has long since completely disappeared and it has been utterly dismaying to see the rise of the bankers` chosen candidate with very little critical appraisal in the media of just what Macron is about.

  24. Jim Haygood

    After a mysterious week of radio silence, Dr Hussman has been permitted by his captors to publish his April market comment. It starts promisingly with this sensational quote:

    Sooner or later a crash is coming, and it may be terrific.
    – Roger Babson, September 5, 1929

    Oh, my! But connoisseurs of bearish red meat such as myself will find his missive strangely disappointing. After an exhaustive review of his valuation indicators — such as an S&P 500 median price/sales ratio that’s nearly 50% higher than it was in the Internet Bubble — Dr H ends with this curiously reticent anticlimax:

    “Again, we’re not quite pounding the tables about immediate risk, and our recession warnings aren’t yet active, but the recent deterioration is certainly worth watching.”

    Bearing [sic] in mind that this milquetoast passage may have been penned by an impostor, let me supply the missing nightmare narrative. After running up nearly 40% in the first eight months of 1987, the S&P 500 index fell 8% (following a Fed rate hike) by Sep. 21st.

    After a rally back to only a 3% loss on Oct 5th, on Oct 12th the S&P closed below its Sep 21st low by one point. From there, it took but five sessions for the S&P 500 to crash to a 33% loss on automated program selling.

    A crash is always a long-shot, 100,000-year flood sort of event. But this time round, if the S&P closes below its Feb 8th low of 2,581, selling by Wall Street’s self-driving algos could produce a cascade decline driven by bots gone wild.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Meanwhile, the Fed actually seems to be front-running the slow demise of Bubble III by dumping securities into a stalled market. This chart from Wolf Street shows that the Fed’s balance sheet has shrunk by $74 billion to the lowest level in almost four years, thanks to its unhinged normalization program:

      Hiking its policy rate and shrinking its balance sheet simultaneously rhymes with the Fed’s epic policy error of 1937, when it hiked rates and upped banks’ required reserve ratio at the same time. A brutal recession promptly followed.

      Slamming on the foot pedal brakes while yanking the emergency brake lever at the same time is a time-proven way of initiating a nasty skid. As the standard disclaimer goes for this sort of daredevil hijinks, “Professional driver on a closed course.

  25. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From Guardian’s Richest 1% owning two thirds wealth:

    An alarming projection produced by the House of Commons library suggests that if trends seen since the 2008 financial crash were to continue, then the top 1% will hold 64% of the world’s wealth by 2030. Even taking the financial crash into account, and measuring their assets over a longer period, they would still hold more than half of all wealth.

    New polling by Opinium suggests that voters perceive a major problem with the influence exerted by the very wealthy. Asked to select a group that would have the most power in 2030, most (34%) said the super-rich, while 28% opted for national governments. In a sign of falling levels of trust, those surveyed said they feared the consequences of wealth inequality would be rising levels of corruption (41%) or the “super-rich enjoying unfair influence on government policy” (43%).

    It sounds like a financial crash can be quite effective in slowing the march to two-thirds wealth ownership.

    Also note that with a financial crash, it’s not the end of the world, as the richest 1% would still own more than half…and the 99% own the balance.

    In any case, it doesn’t have to be a crash, or we don’t ahve think of it as a crash, if the bubble is deflated such that we return to the pre-bubble state, adjusted for time, inflation and population growth, among others.

    Regarding who will be most powerful – the super rich or the national government, we remind ourselves that when we, for example, delete our accounts, even a giant corporation can be humbled.

    As users, as consumers, we have more power than we realize.

    You don’t need to buy a car every 3 years, nor clothes every 10 or 20 years.

    A sliver spoon is worth more, and lasts longer, than 1,000 disposable ones.

  26. Sid_finster

    Re: Porton Down – I am certain that if Porton Down had followed instructions and returned the desired result, we would be hearing how morale has never been better.

  27. Daryl


    Interesting to me as an indication of where the wind is really blowing. This guy is probably a scumbag, but it’s interesting that someone who chose his platform as though he were shopping for a car or house ended up with things like a $15 minimum wage and single payer health care.

    1. willf

      Also, the headline of the story is misleading.

      The candidate is not a “Bernie-Branded Millionaire”, but a “Self-Branded Millionaire Bernie Wanna-be”.

  28. RMO

    So Skripal’s daughter may be given a new secret identity because her secret boyfriend has ties (secret ties?) to Putin’s secret police? That’s a whole lotta secret. Shouldn’t they have kept this all secret?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Since numbers of people read Naked Capitalism, those numbers of people would see an ongoing masthead entry called Skripal Watch – – where is the kidnapped daughter? or some such thing.

        Would the embarrassment caused to whichever government personnel hope to kill her in secret be worth the work and effort of keeping the embarrassing exposure going? and going? and going?

  29. allan

    Like Libor for barometric pressure:
    Mexico’s disaster bonds were meant to provide quick cash after hurricanes and earthquakes. But it often hasn’t worked out that way [LA Times]

    … With the help of Wall Street and the World Bank, Mexico had issued a series of complex insurance securities called catastrophe bonds, which promise quick payouts when powerful storms or earthquakes strike.

    Known as “cat bonds,” they were designed for events just like Odile — a storm U.S. officials would describe as the “strongest hurricane to make landfall in the satellite era in the state of Baja California Sur.”

    Indeed, from all reports the government had seen, including from the U.S. National Hurricane Center, they were going to collect $50 million.

    And they might have, had it not been for a storm chaser from Los Angeles, whose atmospheric pressure readings from a beachfront hotel would upend the entire system, denying the battered government any payout, while keeping the funds secure for investors through a shell company in the Cayman Islands.

    A year later, the same thrill-seeker’s data would help lower another projected payout, when Hurricane Patricia, the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, hit the western state of Jalisco. …

    Weird, huh? Not at all, says the World Bank:

    … “This is a sophisticated country, with a sophisticated understanding of the capital market, of the risk market,” said Alex Klopfer, a World Bank spokeswoman in Washington. “At the end of the day, the sovereign has all the information to make a decision.” …

    When you hear the word “sophisticated” thrown your way, reach for your wallet.

    1. ewmayer

      “Weird, huh?”

      I think it would be worthwhile to find out who is paying said storm chaser’s thrill-seeking expenses. Not that the beyond-reproach Wall Street outfits which issued said “sophisticated financial instruments” have any financial incentive to do something totally crazy like, oh, say, send a paid fixer into the heart of a storm to issue a bogus barometer-measurement result which just happens to trigger a fine-print clause negating any payout irrespective of how bad the storm damage actually is or of what the other barometer readings in the area were, or anything…

      1. polecat

        “Weird, huh?” … as if we’re all living in a Gihan Wilson cartoon !

        > stranger than life

        > stranger than fiction

        I’m confused ..

  30. The Rev Kev

    “India Seeks $15 Billion Fighter Jets in World’s Largest Deal”

    Now that reads as strange. The Indian army is it a pretty bad state of affairs with 68% of its equipment obsolete and now they are talking about a new $15 billion deal? An article at says that first the first time ever, they have an Rs80 billion deficit in their budget which is a first. Here is a key quote from that article-

    “Every year the military has to allocate a large part of its capital budget to pay for old and ongoing projects. This is known as the ‘Committed Liability.’ The actual amount left for new purchases is about 10% to 12%. But this year we have noticed that the Indian Army is actually facing a deficit,”

    I’m not taking anything from the Indian soldiers themselves. They have a proud military tradition, but they only have enough supplies to fight a war for a matter of weeks, if not days. I have read that their procurement system is pretty messed up and this seems to confirm what I have read. It looks like the Government wants to go for the new flashy toys instead of sorting out their basics first.

  31. Bulfinch

    Those median house price figures and the attendant requisite income #s seem bizarrely disconnected to me from any reality that I enjoy.

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