Links 5/16/18

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Tom Wolfe, Author of ‘The Right Stuff’ and ‘Bonfire of the Vanities,’ Dies New York Times. I really liked A Man in Full, once I got past the first 50 pages. Bonfire of the Vanities didn’t do as much for me….maybe because I’d seen a lot of the environment first hand.

Think chimpanzee beds are dirtier than human ones? Think again PhysOrg

Should nations close the high seas to fishing? Rethink (J-LS)

Pentagon to lift ban on Democrats serving in the military Duffel Blog

A tiny satellite bound for Mars just snapped a photo of Earth that will make you feel puny and insignificant Business Insider (Kevin W)

Rent-a-Rifle: Chicago Art Installation Imagines Urban Weapons Sharing Sputnik (Kevin W)

Astroboffins spy the most greedy black hole yet gobbling a Sun a day The Register

Dutch researchers uncover dirty jokes in Anne Frank’s diary PhysOrg. Chuck L: “So she was a down-to-earth kid, like most of us who weren’t too warped by some ideology or other.”

Greenland ice cores track Roman lead pollution in year-by-year detail ars technica

Online Ad Revenue Overtakes TV For the First Time SafeHaven

Censorship

Twitter will hide more bad tweets in conversations and searches The Verge

Zuckerberg again snubs UK parliament over call to testify TechCrunch

North Korea

North Korea: We Don’t Want Summit Focused Only on Denuclearization Wall Street Journal. Opening para:

A senior North Korean official said Pyongyang isn’t interested in a summit with the U.S. focused solely on denuclearization and accused Washington of trying to “impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq.”

North Korea Postpones Talks With South, Hinting Kim-Trump Summit Is in Peril New York Times (Kevin W)

North Korea threatens to pull out of Trump-Kim summit over denuclearization demands Politico. Makes clearer than some of the other accounts that John Bolton’s aggressive talk was not welcome.

North Korea cancels talks with South, and hints it could do the same with US Guardian

India wants to maximise renewables production with solar-wind-hybrid plants Quartz (J-LS)

Brexit

Theresa May’s Brexit customs plans could be illegal Business Insider

Scottish parliament decisively rejects EU withdrawal bill Guardian

Carillion’s demise spurs call for action against Big Four Financial Times

And for a brief break from our usual programming: Video: Holly & Phil lose it over Royal Wedding swimsuits Metro UK (J-LS)

New Cold War

U.S. fighter jets intercept Russian bombers in international airspace off Alaska Reuters (EM)

Syraqistan

Gaza violence: Israelis and Palestinians in fierce exchanges at UN BBC

Netanyahu Announces Day Of Mourning For Fence Damaged In Yesterday’s Conflict and IDF Soldier Recounts Harrowing, Heroic War Story Of Killing 8-Month-Old Child The Onion

The internet is offended at The New York Times’ description of deaths and violence amid protests on the Gaza border Business Insider (BL)

Forgiveness in the Face of Israel’s Great Global Arrogance and Cruel Indifference Towards the Palestinians Veterans Today. Judy B:

IMHO: A review of history — biblical and otherwise — is always helpful, and this article is excellent in this regard.

But this conclusion with a call for “forgiveness” is a copout. It’s a sit down/sit out posture while Palestinians continue to be killed, tortured, raped, mutiliated by bestial Zionists.

It is white supremacist arrogance to call for the non-white victim to forgive the white sinner while the sinner continues to commit atrocities against said victim.

The Russian-Israeli-Iranian conundrum in Syria Asia Times (BL)

Europe stares down Trump over Iran Politico. Also from the Politico daily European e-mail:

The College of Commissioners today will be looking at options to help ease the burden of America’s secondary sanctions on EU companies, particularly small and medium-sized ones, which have less exposure to the U.S. market. Bottom line: Brussels is taking this seriously. There are three options, according to EU diplomats Playbook spoke to.

1. More EU investment into Iran, and the means to facilitate that via the European Investment Bank.

2. That old policy of disregarding any U.S. (secondary) sanctions.

3. Paying for Iranian oil in euros instead of dollars. “The oil sector is crucial for Iran and there are to be euro payments for oil transactions,” one diplomat told Playbook. Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete is due to travel to Iran later this week.

Yves here. Please note the significance of paying Iran in euros does not have anything to do with “petrodollars.” It is entirely about moving money to and from Iran without using the dollar clearing system. Any financial institution transacting in dollar (unless by happenstance the transaction gets netted within the same financial institution) uses dollar clearing systems. The banks on that system have large intraday exposures to each other. The only way they are willing to do that is the Fed effectively backstops the ultimate end of day settlement. Foreign banks either have to have a US regulated entity (usually a branch bank chartered in NY) or else have a bank like that as a correspondent (which if you operate dollar transactions at any meaningful scale, costs more and is cumbersome). Remember when Benjamin Lawsky threatened to yank the New York banking license of Standard Chartered for doctoring wired to hide that it was trading with Iran? Or when Paribas was fined nearly $9 billion for violating US sanctions against North Korea, Iran and Sudan? That is what this is about.

The US will no doubt attempt to take the view that its sanctions extend to non-dollar operations of foreign banks. It is hard to see how they go beyond huffing and puffing, however, absent specific cases of whistleblowers who supplied records.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Police facial recognition system ‘risks damaging public trust’ Daily Mail (JTM)

Angry nurses want Mark Zuckerberg’s name removed from a San Francisco hospital South China Morning Post (J-LS)

Google Employees Resign in Protest Against Pentagon Contract Gizmodo (Judy B)

Trade Traitors

Liu’s conundrum will be to square the circle in Washington Asia Times

WTO ruling on Airbus paves way for US sanctions on EU Financial Times

Ruling on Airbus Subsidies Could Escalate Trade Tensions With Europe New York Times (Kevin W)

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Pentagon Can’t Account for $21 Trillion (That’s Not a Typo) TruthDig (J-LS)

Trump Transition

China Contributing $500 Million to Trump-Linked Project in Indonesia National Review. Missed this for yesterday….

Volcker Rule Revamp Adds to Trump’s Steady, Bit-by-Bit Deregulation Bloomberg

Rand Paul asks Haspel if she knows of any CIA surveillance of Trump Politico (J-LS)

Memo: Elizabeth Warren steals show at 2020 audition The Hill

Health Care

Medical Mystery: Something Happened to U.S. Health Spending After 1980 New York Times. David D: “Read the comments. 1980 and Reagan. Greed is good uber alles.”

U.S. joins whistleblower case against Insys over kickbacks Reuters (EM)

Due to lots of international news today, I am leaving the recap and commentary on the US primaries to Lambert. But don’t let that stop you from chatting now.

Judge Posner Chastises District Court’s ‘Laziness’… And He’s Got A Point Above the Law (J-LS)

Calif. Climate Plaintiffs Did Not Mislead Bond Investors, Former SEC Official Says Climate Liability News

Investors wake up to insecurity of assets after broker fails Financial Times. A UK issue, but still ugly.

Turnaround Veteran Jay Alix Sues Consulting Giant McKinsey Wall Street Journal. Embarrassingly managed to miss this Gretchen Morgenson story last week. Steve Lubben of the bankruptcy mavens at Credit Slips thinks the case has merit.

Why Rising Gasoline Prices Won’t Cut into Consumer Spending Wolf Richter (EM)

Class Warfare

There’s no denying it — a student loan crisis is coming The Hill

How May 1968 shaped our world Asia Times (J-S)

Undercover Corporate Work Lures Underemployed Actors and Underpaid Workers TruthOut (J-LS)

Uber and the labor market Economic Policy Institute. Tweeted this but after Links were done yesterday AM. From Hubert Horan:

Among highlights–average hourly net compensation is $10.87 if you only deduct vehicle expense, Uber commissions and fees, and mandatory Social Security/Medicare payments; it is $9.21/hour if you deduct the cost of the modest benefits package a low wage worker at a traditional company would get. This is below the minimum wage level in 13 of Uber’s 20 largest markets.

Early in the NC Uber series I citied similar studies of actual earnings of drivers of traditional taxis, which were in the $12-17 hour range in 2015 dollars. This study confirms the point that Uber’s business model always depended on forcing driver compensation below historic levels, and in many cases below minimum wage.

In her newsletter today, Alison Griswold of Quartz notes (1) that there is now a reasonably consistent body of evidence about actual Uber driver compensation – previous studies paid for by Uber didn’t deduct vehicle and other obvious costs affecting net compensation, but if you make those deductions (and recognize that Uber has been taking an increasingly bigger cut of passenger fares in order to shore up its P&L) the bottom line numbers are all similar (2) Driving for Uber in most cities probably doesn’t pay as well as working at McDonalds.

Antidote du jour. From crittermom:

Living in a city for the first time in my life, I’m happy to find some nature still around me. This was my first sighting of what I later determined to be a Great Plains Skink that honored me with some photo ops…

And a bonus from Bill B in California:

We encountered a plump short-haired calico during a neighborhood patrol this evening. It has extra street credibility due to a missing tip of its left ear. Boldly challenging smaller dogs with an arched back.

Despite that it had a remarkably good temperament, issuing a vocal greeting to us and eagerly running up for petting and hand fed meal supplements (I sometimes carry cat treats on the off chance).

Have no idea who it belongs to. The locals claim that it just hangs out. Its winning attitude may account for the poundage as it appears to have a sizeable fan club.

Finally:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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248 comments

  1. Jim Haygood

    David Stockman expounds on why the US economy sucks — brief excerpt:

    Like the case of Rome before it, the Empire is bankrupting America. The true fiscal cost is upwards of $1.0 trillion per year (counting $200 billion for veterans and debt service for wars).

    The generation which marched on the Pentagon in 1968 against the insanity and barbarism of LBJ’s Vietnam War have long since abandoned the cause of peace. So doing, boomers have acquiesced in the final ascendancy of the Warfare State.

    Empire is a terrible thing because it is the health of the state and the profound enemy of prosperity and liberty. Rather than homeland defense, the policy of Empire is that of international busybody, military hegemon and brutal enforcer of Washington’s writs, sanctions, red lines and outlawed regimes.

    A homeland defense befitting a peace-seeking republic would cost around $250 billion per year. The $500 billion excess in today’s Trump-bloated national security budget of $750 billion is the cost of Empire; it’s the crushing fiscal burden that flows from the Indispensable Nation folly.

    We do not believe that the planet is chaos-prone absent Washington’s ministrations. After all, the historic record from Vietnam through Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran suggests exactly the opposite.

    https://tinyurl.com/y97hzptq

    The dismal science [sic] is about choices: we can rake off five percent of GDP perpetually to maintain a value-subtraction empire … or we can spend it domestically to raise real wages for the first time in half a century. One-term Trump and his Republican party have decisively chosen the former. Make them pay.

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      At the south entrance to the University of Texas campus in Austin stands the Littlefield Fountain memorial to World War I, executed in a decadent, over-the-top “Roman imperial bloodlust” style. Take a look:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Littlefield_Fountain#/media/File:Littlefield_fountain_UT.JPG

      Incredibly, this baroque horror was completed in 1933, long after the disastrous aftermath of the Great War was fully apparent in the Depression which followed.

      As Wikipedia notes, in 2015 the university removed statues of Jefferson Davis and Woodrow Wilson made by the fountain sculptor Pompeo Coppini as part of the same commission. In 2017 the university removed the remaining four Coppini statues of Confederate-Texan notables from the South Mall.

      It says a lot about our culture that students found the presence of a Jefferson Davis statue intolerable, but didn’t bat an eyelash at a sculpture mindlessly glorifying a useless war that slaughtered millions. As ol’ H Rap Brown used to say, “Violence is as American as cherry pie” – a fitting epitaph for a dying empire addicted to war.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I had my epiphany in DC about 20 years ago. We were @ the USMC flag raising statue and around the periphery were all of the overseas ‘field trips’ the semper fi’s had since 1775, and it took us awhile to get going, but come the 20th century, there were precious few gaps when we weren’t messing with somebody else’s country.

        …it’s gonna be strange when peace breaks out

        Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            Not to worry, soon there will be scant need for actual human Imperial Storm Troopers. Our tech overlords are busy accommodating the desires of the economic-chair Battlespace Manager generals, to be rid (except maybe for the many personal servants that they cadge from the troop rosters) of those unreliable, ever dumber meat sacks that fill the latest iteration of the BDU, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Army_Combat_Uniform ).

            Reply
          2. curlydan

            Let me propose an easier solution: Re-instate the draft for 18 year olds with the probability of being drafted directly proportional to the parents’ income.

            Rich kids possibly dying=war is over

            Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          Bears reminding everyone that one of the old brown-boot Marines’ Generals, Smedley Butler, was a whistleblower in another age. Worth reading, for those not familiar with it, his little 1935 oeuvre titled “War Is A Racket,” about how he finally realized his glorious career, with TWO Congressional MEdals of honor, was nothing but decades of kneecapping and cement-booting of “wogs” for the benefit of corporations like United Fruit… Here’s the text: https://ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html

          And for those who hope for change, let’s also remember that plutocrats back in the 1930s did not like FDR, and conspired among themselves in 1933 to undertake a coup d’etat, asking Butler as a great hero to be the one to take over the country on their behalf and for their benefit. “The Business Plot:” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Plot The Wiki entry has been Barnaysed to read “an ALLEDGED political conspiracy.” The oligarchs have gotten more subtle since 1933…

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            What those plotters thinking, asking Butler to take over on their behalf, who then exposed them?

            Could the general have worked the the government (no FBI then, I believe) to catch them in the act?

            Reply
              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                From Business Plot, Wikipedia:

                Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. said, “Most people agreed with Mayor La Guardia of New York in dismissing it as a ‘cocktail putsch’.”[48] In Schlesinger’s summation of the affair, “No doubt, MacGuire did have some wild scheme in mind, though the gap between contemplation and execution was considerable, and it can hardly be supposed that the Republic was in much danger.”[6]

                Robert F. Burk wrote, “At their core, the accusations probably consisted of a mixture of actual attempts at influence peddling by a small core of financiers with ties to veterans organizations and the self-serving accusations of Butler against the enemies of his pacifist and populist causes.”[3]

                Hans Schmidt wrote, “Even if Butler was telling the truth, as there seems little reason to doubt, there remains the unfathomable problem of MacGuire’s motives and veracity. He may have been working both ends against the middle, as Butler at one point suspected. In any case, MacGuire emerged from the HUAC hearings as an inconsequential trickster whose base dealings could not possibly be taken alone as verifying such a momentous undertaking. If he was acting as an intermediary in a genuine probe, or as agent provocateur sent to fool Butler, his employers were at least clever enough to keep their distance and see to it that he self-destructed on the witness stand.”[4]

                Reply
          2. WheresOurTeddy

            One of the leaders of the Businessman’s Plot:

            Prescott Bush, who was not prosecuted, and later had assets frozen for trading with the Nazis.

            AKA father and grandfather of two presidents who arguably completed the job, and in the 1933 German fashion, with an election, rather than the 1922 Italian fashion, which they preferred at the time.

            This country. Is not. The Good Guys. Never has been.

            Reply
        2. rd

          I can only think of three major conflict segments since WW II that seemed to be worth fighting:

          1. Korean War until October 7, 1950 when MacArthur sent troops north of the 38th Parallel triggering China’s intervention. Everything after that was a disaster.

          2. 1990 Gulf War repelling Iraq from Kuwait. This was successful because the US stopped when Kuwait was freed.

          3. The initial Afghan invasion. This effectively stripped Al Qaeda of its Afghan base of operations. Once this was done, the US lost its way, got distracted by the disastrous Iraq invasion, and conflated the original invasion with a “democratic nation-building” exercise that has been unsuccessful at best.

          Other than the occasional hostage rescue, I can’t think of any others that made sense at the time or afterwards. Setting limited goals of policing national boundaries to maintain a status quo and nothing else appears to be the guidelines for a successful conflict. Once the goals wander off into saving countries from themselves, it quickly breaks down as we turn into occupying instead of liberating forces. Liberating forces have people cheering them. Occupying forces get shot at. Its that simple.

          Reply
          1. Karl Kolchak

            Even the three cases you just cited were bad examples. Korea wasn’t our war to fight, we fought the Gulf War to save one barbaric dictatorship from another, and the hunt for Osama could have been handled the way the hunt for Ramzy Yousef was handled, as a law enforcement operation. Yousef was captured and tried a LOT faster than OBL was hunted down, and is current imprisoned at the Supermax facility in Colorado.

            All wars are bad wars unless the homeland is genuinely threatened or directly attacked.

            Reply
            1. JBird

              Almost any war is debatable. At least with Korea, it was the actual invasion of the south by the north that justified the war, and we more or less had South Korea as a protectorate; if the North Koreans were going to invade just for the love of conquest why shouldn’t have MacArthur not kept going? It was his myopic arrogance mixed with Mao’s paranoia that really made it into the mess it still is. The only good thing about the First Gulf War is that it ended quickly. The Second Gulf War is just a complete @@@@@@@.

              Reply
          2. JTMcPhee

            Disagree on all three. What was the background of the entire Korean mess? The long tail of imperial policies and behaviors, the US part, the Japanese, and others. Lots of US stirring and messing with post-WW II Korea. The whole thing was a sh!tstorm. Part of idiotic Great Game play.

            Saddam Hussein’s forces, far as I can tell, invaded Kuwait after a message from a US “diplomat,” April Glaspie, to the effect that “the US takes no part in these inter-Arab squabbles.” The history has been worked over pretty seriously by the Bernaysians to obscure the truth, of course. And let us recall that the US involvement there included Saddam as our “friend” to attack the Iranians (8 years of war, million or more dead, use of chemical weapons by Iraq in Iran and against people in Iraq too, US and Euro countries profiting by supplying munitions and the stuff to make the chem weapons. I believe that US oil interests were happy that Saddam was going to absorb Kuwait, a little pipsqueak country sitting on a lot of oil, part of the “greater Iraq” thing.

            Afghanistan, any of it? Our great military and sneaky-Petes let bin Ladin off the hook there. But of course there was a lot of Saudi Arabian involvement in all of this. And gee, why did the world’s greatest most powerful military not do something about the Saudis? Oh wait, I know the answer to that one… And the preconditions for the whole shooting match? Bree thought it would be a good idea to sucker the Soviets into “their Vietnam,” and what were the connections between between our “deep state” and the Pakistani ISI?

            The more we learn, us mopes, the more we need to learn. And the better the sneaks get at covering their “hangouts.”

            Reply
            1. vidimi

              agreed.

              furthermore, afghanistan offered to give up OBL on the presentation of any evidence that he was responsible. the US wanted war for the sake of war and afghanistan was just the most convenient target.

              Reply
      2. Skateman

        It says a lot about you that you see the statues as comparable.

        I, personally, don’t see the comparison. By entering WWI we caused it to end sooner than it otherwise would have, likely saving lives, as the two sides were basically in a stalemate. And we had cause. The Germans were torpedoing our merchant ships and trying to turn Mexico against us.

        On the other hand, the Confederate statues were put up long after the Civil War in the Jim Crow era in an attempt by white southerners to white-wash the history of their treasonous, slave-holding ancestors as well as intimidate black people. There should be no public statues of traitors who fought for an absolutely abhorrent cause.

        Reply
        1. Felix_47

          But as a consequence of getting involved and breaking the stalemate we destroyed the Austro Hungarian empire and destabilized eastern Europe, we destroyed the Ottoman Empire and we brought the Nazis to power, killed 8 million Jews and the settlement was so imbalanced we triggered WW2 followed by the cold war, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine. Yeah Isn’t that the law of unintended consequences Mr. Wilson? We are still dealing with the aftermath of WW1.

          Reply
          1. Biph

            I’m no fan of Wilson, but he did push (unsuccessfully) for more lenient treatment of Germany in the treaty of Versailles.

            Reply
            1. WheresOurTeddy

              Ahh Wilson, the first globalist to get the reins of power and boy did he not disappoint his benefactors

              Reply
              1. rd

                Unfortunately, both Wilson and Roosevelt were sick and weak at the moments when negotiations for the future were at key points (1918 Armistice and Yalta).

                Reply
          2. rd

            The US did not destroy the Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Eastern Europe, Russia, or initiate the collapse of the colonial system in the Middle East, Africa, and Far East. The Europeans, Ottomans, and Russians accomplished all that by themselves without external provocation or assistance.

            The Spanish Influenza was also as effective in decimating European populations as machine guns.

            The US did tilt the war in the favor of France and England but was then unable to adequately influence the peace negotiations so that the result was doomed to repeat in 1939. The US effectively demilitarized between 1918 and 1939. The primary strategic lesson out of WW II was to not do that again.

            Reply
            1. JBird

              Actually the Korean War convinced the American government that it needed a large standing army as North Korea almost overran (as in days or hours) the South before the sorta insta-army was cobbled with garrison, reservists, and quickly re-called former soldiers stopped them. It was either throwing in that almost joke army or just dropping nukes. Add in the very large Warsaw Pact forces and the United States decided after ~1950 to rebuild the military especially the army it demobilized in the late 40s.

              Reply
        2. voteforno6

          The stalemate might have been breaking down already – after Russia dropped out, Germany was free to transfer a lot of divisions to the Western front.

          I’ve also read that, if the war hadn’t ended when it did, the influenza epidemic would have stopped the fighting as well.

          Reply
        3. James

          That’s the great thing about history. You can read it anyway you like long after the fact. Keeping in mind that the victors are the ones who wrote it in the first place, of course.

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        4. ambrit

          One reason the Germans torpedoed American trans Atlantic shipping then was that the UK managed to have banned war goods included in many of those voyages.
          Confederate statues are a case of factionalism run amok. Both pro and anti Confederacy sentiments have held sway over the years. In the final analysis, who won that war anyway?
          Some of the so called Founding Fathers owned slaves. Shall we erase their legacy as well? If so, let’s start by removing that screed penned by the arch slave holder, Thomas Jefferson. Anything he put his hand to is obviously tainted. Destroy it with fire.
          It says a lot about humans in general that they build statues at all.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            When scrap metal prices were a lot higher, a good many statues were made off with, including an attempted pilfering of the gipper, thwarted when said edifice stood pat.
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            Police and politicians were scratching their heads Monday over why someone tried to topple a Ronald Reagan memorial bronze from its spot in a Newport Beach park.

            According to authorities, someone lassoed the statue and hitched it to a pickup early Sunday. The theft was foiled when the rope or chain slipped off as the pickup pulled away. A witness alerted the police.

            The statue, valued at about $50,000, was left leaning from its foundation. It was later removed from its base.

            http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/08/local/la-me-reagan-statue-20111108

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        5. Karl Kolchak

          “I’d rather be hanged as a traitor than go to war for Wall Street.” — Eugene Debs, 1917

          He was as right then as he still is now.

          Reply
        6. Heraclitus

          Americans from all regions had slave holding ancestors, including Abraham Lincoln and his Secretary of State, William H. Seward. Those statues were put up in the Jim Crow era because Confederate veterans were dying out, and the South wanted to honor them in their lifetimes. Besides, there was no money to put up statues in the 19th Century. Mississippi spent twenty percent of on early post-war budget on artificial limbs.

          If you’ve ever read ‘Democracy in America’ you’d know that many of the people who were actually involved in the slave trade in the South were Northerners who migrated South as the number of slaves in the North diminished. Thirty percent of the white population of New Orleans in the early 19th Century was born in the North.

          Whether they owned slaves or not, New England and New York were dependent on slave grown cotton. New England’s economy revolved around slavery in 1800. Forty percent of the tonnage arriving at the port of Salem, MA, that year was slave cargo. And in 1820, Rhode Island elected America’s biggest slave trader to the US Senate.

          Certain regions of the North needed lower cotton prices to make cotton mills viable. They wanted to see the big plantations broken up, because small producers had no market power. By 1875, when cotton production returned to its pre-war high, forty-four percent of cotton was produced by white sharecroppers on marginal lands.

          Reply
    2. Syd

      $250 billion!!!? Why would a “peace-seeking republic” need to waste $250 billion on its military? If Russia can spend $70 billion with the US and China on its borders – and still engage in overseas adventurism – surely America could spend $50 billion to protect itself from Canada and Mexico.
      It shows how crazy the mainstream is when people well outside it are still so enthralled by the Pentagon-mindset.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        There must’ve been 400 potholes on the road leading up to our cabin in the National Park on our drive a few days ago, about 300 on the Tulare County section, and @ least 100 on the NP section.

        They range in size from an apple to a Lhasa Apso…

        Meanwhile, just 75 road miles away, a squadron of F-35’s runs through money as if it was burning pallets of Benjamins to keep warm.

        Reply
      2. WheresOurTeddy

        veterans sleeping under bridges in the largest city north of Sacramento, Oroville dam nearly burst and the news coverage was to the tune of “how much money is this going to cost us to fix?”

        Kind of like going to the doctor and getting the dehumanizing first question as soon as you get in the door: “how will you be paying today”?

        Reply
        1. JBird

          What’s this? Are roustabouts advocating the evils of Socialism. As in wealth redistribution from the Job Creators like some Maoist?

          If you are, I hardily approve.

          :-)

          Reply
    3. John k

      Shouldn’t we also make bush and big o pay, too? Iraq and Libya mentioned… We never did. Or Johnson? Too big to jail?
      Trump is just the latest in a long and robust lime of warmongers and, at least so far, the least damaging.

      Reply
    4. Summer

      “Missing” trillions. Just riffing here, but:
      What could even be worth that much over the period described?
      Like I said before with a previous story about military spending and trillions “missing”, I keep coming back to property purchases (globally). Lots of money is laundered through real estate…buying and selling.
      What would the land be used for and where is it? Not just secret bases (or other things come to mind), but considering how economies and cultures are structured around property ownership, it could have social engineering purposes. Entire populations can be displaced and redistributed based on land ownership.

      Reply
      1. funemployed

        If you do the math on all the ‘smart’ bombs and missiles we drop, it accounts for a not insignificant chunk.

        Literally, we are burning money.

        Reply
        1. Summer

          Those are approved weapons sales. When have they not approved weapons or even felt a need to hide that?
          Why hide or lose track of weapons sales when that budget has to be shown to be spent to get more?

          Reply
        2. Summer

          Follow the money through real estate deals.
          Grubby, greedy hands aren’t going to “burn” what can be used.

          Reply
      2. Oregoncharles

        I assume the “missing” money is mostly in generals’ and purveyors’ secret bank accounts – one reason those are so huge.

        Reply
        1. Summer

          Why would it sit in bank accounts and not be laundered?
          What would be the best place to launder the funds?

          Reply
    5. JTMcPhee

      Thanks for the selection from David Stockman. Posted for general interest, I would guess.

      One wonders why anyone would pay attention to Stockman, who of course contributed significantly to the chaos and now plays off his tenure in the Blob to further enrich himself, while attempting to polish his rather ugly personal curriculum vitae? As he does here: https://billmoyers.com/content/david-stockman-on-the-folly-of-anti-tax-crusades/. One can read the transcript, from his interview with Moyers in Feb. 2012, to see the BS, and then go back and read the comments on the interview, starting with one (in 2012!) that reminds us all that TAXES DO NOT FUND THE US GOVERNMENT, “fiat currency” does. We should forgive, and listen to this creature, as we should forgive McNamara, significant architect of the Vietnam War, for his near-deathbed mea culpa, “I didn’t understand …”?

      As to “we don’t believe the planet is chaos-prone,” the best that can be said of that is it is “ahistorical.” The plutokleptocrats certainly make it worse, but groups of humans have been extracting ‘resources” and looting and deceiving their fellows and slaughtering other humans since way before WW I, which of course was VERY profitable for a certain category of humans, as are all wars.

      Reply
    6. Ignacio

      Jim, you have been commenting/posting several times on this issue lately. Let me tell you that I appreciate that and I hope your compatriots also do it. The article you linked says some common sensical, seemingly forgotten, things that are rare in this world filled with belicose language and attitudes. War, war! Thank you because some hope is behind these words.

      Reply
    7. Lambert Strether

      > The dismal science [sic] is about choices: we can rake off five percent of GDP perpetually to maintain a value-subtraction empire … or we can spend it domestically to raise real wages for the first time in half a century. One-term Trump and his Republican party have decisively chosen the former. Make

      But you can’t do that if you frame the problem as having been created by “Boomers,” as Stockman does. So no matter the accuracy of his perceptions, he’s politically impotent. (“Raise real wages” wages is the tell; do all so-called Boomers work for wages? Or only some? If the latter, what are the implications for empire? And so forth.)

      Reply
    8. Procopius

      Watching the DCCC destroy the Democratic advantage in approval I am no longer confident that this year is going to be a wave election. The biggest hope I have is the number of women who are new to politics running with enthusiastic local support, and a few men who have also been able to counter the DCCC’s money. It has been really appalling to watch them throw away their lead by fanatically chanting “Russia, Russia, Russia,” while ignoring the demand from all sides for policies.

      Reply
  2. The Rev Kev

    “Zuckerberg again snubs UK parliament over call to testify”

    The mind boggles at the thought of Mark Zuckerberg facing a Parliamentary inquiry headed by the MP George Galloway. The words ‘shark chum’ come to mind.

    Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Must have been looking at an old source for that MP bit. Still, George Galloway would make mincemeat of old Zuck and it would be a hoot to watch. I don’t think Mark’s Mister Data impression would really fly over there.

        Reply
  3. vlade

    I’d argue that the Airbus links belong to Brexit section – as they show one thing few people seems to understand. That is, a lot of the rules – including the state aid rules – are actualy done at a global level, and EU is only implementing rules agreed above the EU level – into which of course EU did have input, as a large player, but would not be able to force its own way only.

    Unless the UK wishes to exit not just from the EU, but also from WTO, UN etc. it will have to follow rules, implements laws designed by someone else, and be subject to courts (or even worse panels) that are outside the UK’s jurisdiction. That’s the world it is, and the UK will be a slightly more than a bit player in it.

    As Yves wrote somewhere else (I’ll parahrase, not quote) – unless you’re willing to turn full autarky, and close your land, sea and air borders completely, you WILL have limited sovreignty.

    Or, you can invent a time machine, and go back to 19th century where UK was a world power – but even then, the actions it could take were becoming more and more limited towards the end of the century with the rise of the US and Germany.

    Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    North Korea

    Moon of Alabama just put up an article at http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/05/north-korea-may-cancel-summit-over-boltons-absurd-demands.html which explains some of what we are seeing. The North Koreans “stopped its missile and nuclear tests. It is dismantling its “northern test site” for nuclear weapons. It pardoned three prisoners and let them leave to the States. It held several rounds of hopeful talks with South Korea and the United States.” And what do they get? More military exercises just before negotiations which includes aircraft that are nuclear capable. Trump seems to be under the impression that it is more of a surrender ceremony that he will be attending whereas the North Koreans see it as two nuclear nations negotiating a final peace. Bolton is up to his usual games and trying to set up an eventual war but China will not permit that to happen as in evah. Adult negotiators are needed. You think Trump could borrow Sergey Lavrov for the negotiations?

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Northern test site should be a bargaining chip, unless it is/was not

      It’s curious they are dismantling it now, before the June summit.

      Reply
      1. jonhoops

        The northern test site was reportedly heavily damaged in one of the last tests. So “dismantling” it is just a PR exercise.

        Reply
        1. Andrew Watts

          Not entirely true. Only one of the underground tunnels was reported as damaged. The North Koreans have little need for the test site now anyway.

          Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      I wonder though why the North Koreans made so many up front concessions? Its possible of course that they have completely misread Trump, but I suspect they are aimed not at the US but at South Korea and China. I wonder if their longer game is to say to China and South Korea ‘the Americans are nuts, lets sort this out ourselves’ and essentially cut the US out longer term. If South Korea refuses to play with the US, then the US’s options are much more limited. They can hardly attack North Korea if both South Korea and China refuse to play along.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        If the US proves itself incapable of coming to an agreement, I wonder if China, North Korea and South Korea would be able to come up with a treaty by themselves. The Chinese would have to guarantee the security of the north with a mutual military aid treaty to stop an attack by the US. Russia might come in too as they share a border with North Korea as well.
        Japan could not take part as they would be seen as an actor for the US and neither Koreas has any love for the Japanese in any case. Maybe Trump could be fobbed off with a Nobel prize for peace. But those practice invasion maneuvers would have to come to a grinding halt. Either that or most of those US troops would have to leave. Certainly any nuclear capable US aircraft would have to be totally banned which the US might accept since they can still fly from Japan or even Guam.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          In terms of security, I think that sort of deal would suit China and Russia very well, as it would help in shutting the US out of the Pacific. The South Koreans would have to think long and deep about it, as their ‘alliance’ with the US is at the entire core of their foreign policy. If the US was to retaliate by, for example, saying they are no longer committed to defending them from China, then they may have second thoughts.

          Its less than satisfactory for the North Koreans, as its pretty clear their long term strategy is to follow the Chinese/Vietnamese road – maintain a nominally Communist autocracy while opening up markets for a full throttle export led growth model. The problem is, that to do that they need to be part of international trade accords, and the US has a veto on that. Its taken the Vietnamese decades to ‘normalise’ their situation.

          So from this point of view, shutting the US out by offering major concessions to China/SK would be less than optimal for the North Koreans, but they may see it as a necessary stepping stone to development.

          Reply
        2. Andrew Watts

          The Chinese already guarantee the security of the North Korean state. Nor will China tolerate any foreign troops on their border as their intervention during the Korean War demonstrated.

          But I do think you’re right that China is just waiting and hoping for Trump to fall on his face at the summit to step in and claim the diplomatic victory. That’s far from a guaranteed outcome.

          The cancellation of the North/South Korean summit is a slap in the face and minor diplomatic hissy fit considering that Kim-Moon have their own private line to speak to one another. It’s a warning shot to remind the Americans that their public bluster will only get them so far and that the North Koreans are demanding a certain level of respect.

          Reply
        3. rd

          If North and South Korea agree to a formal peace with China and Russia as guarantors, the US troops are not needed on the peninsula as their jobs is to prevent North Korea from invading.

          If South Korea thinks they can trust China, which they now do business with, then the US may become irrelevant, especially if Trump starts throwing more tariffs around. I don’t think South Korea would cry if US troops left.

          Reply
        4. VietnamVet

          The USA is the wild man at the table. The Western Media is becoming excellent at ignoring inconvenient truths. When China sneezes Korea catches a cold. Mainland Asian nations want to deconflict the Korea Peninsula. South Korea may be willing to quarantine American troops to their bases to serve as an interim tripwire and save Donald Trump some face in order to sign a Peace Treaty.

          The one sure thing is that expanding the 17-year forever war into Iran will destroy the American Empire leaving Asia for the Asians if a nuclear war is avoided.

          Reply
          1. Procopius

            I don’t see how nuclear war can be avoided if the U.S. goes to war with Iran. Iran does not have nuclear weapons, of course, but Israel does. Can you believe that if the U.S. attacks Iran they will not retaliate against Israel? Of course there’s no way Iran can send armies against Israel, but they can use Hezballah, which has troops with recent combat experience in Syria, and good anti-air defenses. Can you believe that if the IDF look like losing too many men Bibi will hesitate to use his nukes? I have read somewhere that twenty nuclear weapons going off would be enough to cause the “nuclear winter” that would basically destroy most life on the planet, so it wouldn’t matter if no one else used theirs, but I have a feeling one nuke going off anywhere would cause the U.S., Russia, and China to all fire all their missiles from fear of losing them.

            Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      China permitting it.

      That relates to Bolton’s claim quoted that the denuclearization applies to the two Koreas,, and not the US…and similarly (?) not Russia nor China when it comes to that peninsula.

      I don’t believe thats what we want.

      Reply
    4. voteforno6

      Those exercises are usually planned out months in advance. So, if there was any involvement from Bolton, it was a failure to stop something that was already in the works.

      Reply
      1. Andrew Watts

        The military exercises could’ve been suspended or delayed without issue. The fact is that the North Koreans have been offering several gracious gestures while the American side is acting like a meeting with Trump and engaging in diplomacy is some yuuuuuge concession.

        Reply
  5. fresno dan

    https://www.politico.eu/article/white-house-to-independently-assess-north-korean-threat-to-cancel-summit-kim-jong-un/

    http://www.foxnews.com/transcript/2018/04/29/john-bolton-on-push-to-rid-north-korea-nuclear-weapons.html
    WALLACE: But just to pin this down, North Korea has to give up basically it’s whole program before the U.S. begins to relieve economic sanctions?

    BOLTON: Yes. I think that the maximum pressure campaign that the Trump administration has put on North Korea has, along with the political military pressure, has brought us to this point. I mentioned President Moon before. Just this past week, President Macron of France, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Abe of Japan, the week before that, this morning, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia, have all acknowledged we are at this point because of American pressure. Relieving that pressure isn’t going to make negotiation easier, it could make it harder.
    ===============================================
    Sooooo….either Bolton has decided to scuttle the summit or Trump had decided to scuttle it.
    But I am of the mind that this is Bolton’s doing, and that Trump won’t like it*. Time will tell….

    *if there is no summit, it reveals that Trump is all bluster, and bluster really doesn’t do anymore than any other president has done….

    Reply
    1. fresno dan

      fresno dan
      May 16, 2018 at 8:12 am

      WALLACE: Now, the joint statement from the two Koreas on Friday called for — and I want to put it up on the screen — a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and some people have suggested the North Koreans will give up everything they’ve got. But in return, the U.S. would agree that we are not going to allow any nuclear-armed airplanes or nuclear-armed ships on the Korean peninsula.

      Is that acceptable?

      BOLTON: Well, we certainly haven’t made that commitment. And again, I’m looking at the Panmunjom declaration as they call it in the context of a series of earlier North-South Korean agreements. And again, looking at the 1992 joint declaration, when they said nuclear-free, they meant with respect to the two Koreas.

      WALLACE: So, you don’t view this as involving any kind of commitment from the U.S.?

      BOLTON: I don’t think it binds the United States, no.
      ========================
      good for thee, but not for me….etcetera

      Reply
      1. Jim Haygood

        Score another own goal for the death-worshiping bomb walrus (h/t Nina Illingworth) John Bolton.

        When USA Today asked former president Jimmy Carter what advice he would give to Trump on North Korea, Carter replied: “You mean, other than fire John Bolton? That would be my first advice.

        Reply
        1. Edward E

          Second would be not showing how sincere you are by conducting a big invasion drill right before the big talks. Actions speak much louder than words. Critics say Boggy Creek isn’t very good at intelligence. Looks like they’ve done a great job on keeping their intelligence secret.

          Reply
      2. Carolinian

        Maybe Bolton sees himself in a rivalry with Haley for loosest cannon. Trump doesn’t seem to have much control over his own administration but at least he did get to pick out the drapes for the Oval Office. Priorities.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I am he as you are he as you are me
          And we are all together
          See how they run like pigs from a gun
          See how they fly
          I’m crying

          Sitting on a powder keg
          Waiting for the war to come
          Corporation cleanest dirty shirt
          Stupid bloody righty tighty
          Man you’ve been a naughty boy
          You let your whiskers grow long

          I am the eggman
          They are the eggmen
          I am the walrus
          Goo goo g’ joob

          Reply
          1. Procopius

            I don’t know why, but that caused me to re-read a few of Langston Hughes’s poems. Good. Thank you.

            Reply
      3. Enquiring Mind

        My take: China is controlling all Nork negotiations and is using them to assess Bolton as they look at how he and Trump may factor into their longer term goals. He won’t disappoint.

        Reply
      4. Bill Smith

        Didn’t the US withdraw all its nuclear weapons from South Korea long ago, in 1991 ish? So what nuclear armed aircraft or ships have been there in quite a while?

        Reply
        1. Chris

          Nuclear capable F22s and B52s (‘strategic’ assets) were added to the lineup for this year’s joint exercise, which led to the cancellation. They’ve now been withdrawn.

          Reply
          1. Procopius

            They could have simply cancelled the exercises altogether. The cost would have been the equipment that had already been shipped to South Korea having to be sent back to its point of origin, which would have to be spent anyway. It could have come out of the extra $175 billion the Congress added to the military appropriation above the budget request from DoD. Someone who is knowledgeable about military logistics might could explain other reasons why the exercise could not have been cancelled this far in advance, but we’re not talking about the trains already in motion for the Schlieffen Plan in August 1914.

            Reply
    2. RabidGandhi

      My pie-in-the-sky hope is that Trump’s desire to get a deal done will prevail over his Blob minders.

      On the liabilities side, personnel is policy, and the personnel moves Trump has made range from wacko hardliners to bloodthirsty compulsive invaders.

      On the assets side, however, Trump has made it clear that what makes him a totally awesome super duper president is his ability to get deals done. Tolerating attack dogs like Bolton may just be his (potentially-planet destroying) idea of an opening volley in the negotiations. Furthermore, he can’t have missed the fact that the Korean rapprochement coincided with a boost in his poll numbers.

      Lastly, I think the élite panic about the advent of Trump was directly linked to situations such as these. As a tacky parvenu, he is not reliable enough to understand the accepted beltway wisdom that no Serious Person would ever even think of withdrawing US troops.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        I hope you are right. But so far in the ongoing Trump vs The Swamp the swamp seems to be winning. At the end of the say it may simply be that Trump is a bit of a wimp.

        Or not. He’s still a big mystery to me. The Blob on the other hand are all too familiar and predictable.

        Reply
        1. fresno dan

          Carolinian
          May 16, 2018 at 10:27 am

          I believe the universe is driven, not by super symmetry, but by super irony. I expect Trump to duplicate Obama’s Iran deal….except Trump will explicitly allow NK to have ballistic nukes as soon as they can develop them (with money funneled by Trump associates), except the missiles will be expressly forbidden from targeting any properties that have the big gold TRUMP on them….
          There will be the usual b*tching and whining, but ask yourself, what law is being broken?

          Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          ” He’s still a big mystery to me.” My own interpretation, because he flutters in the breeze, is that there simply isn’t any there there. He simply doesn’t believe in anything, besides his own self-glorification. OTOH, he can’t be as dumb as he acts, and appears to have surprisingly good political instincts.

          If he can make peace in Korea, apparently by accident, and shut down some trade agreements, we’ll count ourselves lucky. The domestic damage seems very real, unfortunately.

          Reply
          1. ChrisPacific

            I predict that the summit will be a great success, Trump and Kim will get along famously, and a deal in principle will be hammered out verbally (but nothing written down). After that things will go gradually south again as it becomes clear that (a) the USA has no intention of complying with any of the agreements that were supposedly reached and (b) Trump is not going to do anything about it, and in fact now denies that he said a lot of the things that he said.

            Reply
          2. jonboinAR

            He seems like my boss. He basically has good instincts, but almost nothing in terms of things like long-term vision or strategy, or the focused determination that goes with implementing those kinds of policy. He can turn on a dime, but also BE fairly readily spun around in his decisions. Therefore, there’s a real danger that someone in his orbit who does have strategic vision, whatever that may be, or any kind of determination, is liable to become the real director of policy. (This tends to happen where I work. Lots of conflict and throat cutting just below the “boss”‘es level, with the winner(s) determining how things go. Not the yugest deal in the history of the world in an itty bitty company, but a wee bit scary when talking about the US gub’mint.

            Reply
    3. Lambert Strether

      Trump needs a (perceived) success for the mid-terms (though September or even October would be nicer than May). That’s not Bolton’s priority (given that he’s a lunatic ideologue with fixed ideas). So Bolton’s priorities and his boss’s priorities are mis-aligned. Bolton, therefore, is not long for this world, assuming Trump prizes loyalty above all else.

      Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps.

      And a couple of billions more could get all the tariffs against Beijing removed???

      Reply
      1. Edward E

        Wonder what amount would get collaboration with IMF efforts at reset of the international monetary system around the SDR as global reserve currency… without the big crash

        Reply
    2. Lambert Strether

      From the link. I feel like underlining the “this is awful” and the “this is awful but not quite awful enough to get the bastard” parts in different colors….

      The project will include a number of Trump-branded hotels, a golf course, and a residence. While the $500 million loan will not be directly allocated to any of the Trump-branded features, Beijing’s contribution of half the project’s total operating budget ensures the success of the broader theme-park venture.

      The Trump properties are considered flagship elements of the theme park, according to MNC marketing materials, and internal documents obtained by Agency France-Presse show Trump’s sons have been directly involved in its planning.

      Though negotiations began prior to Trump’s election and his pledge to cease engaging in new business dealings with foreign governments, the project raises questions about the extent to which the Trump organization is dependent on Beijing amid contentious trade negotiations with the U.S.

      “Even if this deal is completely and entirely above board, it simply furthers the perception of impropriety” surrounding Trump’s business dealings, Christopher Balding, an economics professor at Shenzhen’s HSBC Business School, told AFP. “Especially with the potential trade war, this is not a good look….Critics will be entirely right to demand answers.”

      I love that the hotels are part of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. That is so perfect. And I may be too cynical, but this looks to me like a consequence not only of Trump gotta Trump, but oligarchs gotta oligarch. The world is tightly interconnected, there aren’t all that many people at the tippy top, and those people are one or two degrees of separation away from most everything, structurally. As a thought experiment, if Bloomberg or Tom Steyer were President, would it be hard to write a similar story? I doubt it.

      Reply
  6. Ede Faren

    I’m concerned that the Veterans Today link is a mishmash of accurate contemporary news, and the worst conspiracy theories linking Zionist-controlled news, rothschilds, Brandeis supposedly blackmailing Wilson, dragging up Talmudic references to nonjews as a mistranslation of goyim as cattle in the same way anti Islamic propagandists cherry pick the Qoran, jumping from the death of Jesus immediately to the creation of Israel, and the editor worrying he might be offed by the same “bloodline bankers” and “Talmudic Overlords” that “almost got” conspiracist Jeff Rense, while spending the last part of the article promoting his own nonprofit. The article’s historical/biblical recount is not, as JTM posits, “excellent”. IDF crimes against the Palestinian people are diluted by this kind of ill informed ‘unified conspiracy’ stuff.

    Reply
    1. diptherio

      Yeah, a little disconcerting to see that kind of thing linked to here. The quotes from the Talmud, purporting to prove that Jews view non-Jews as subhuman is classic fodder for bigots. I’m a little surprised he didn’t mention the Protocols….

      It is, obviously, possible to be opposed to Zionists policies without being anti-semetic…but then, it’s also possible to be both anti-semetic and anti-Zionist. This article leans heavily towards the latter, imo. “Bloodlines”…jeebus.

      Reply
    2. WheresOurTeddy

      plenty of ammunition against the modern state of Israel and Zionists without resorting to this.

      Reply
    3. Craig H.

      I did some searching on the internet because I was thinking VT was a politically incorrect Onion. The amazing finding is the subject of VT is the one and only time I found what looked like the best data was to be found on the prison planet wiki.

      Veterans Today is a website that runs an editorial line that is strongly against Israel [1] and Saudi Arabia [2] but has few negative words to say about Pakistan, [3] Iran, [4] and Russia. [5] As of 2014, Veterans Today describes itself as “The True Voice of the World’s Clandestine Community.”

      VT claims to be an “independent and unaligned” voice. [6] It shares many contributors and news analysts with Iran’s Press TV. VT’s articles are also reposted widely on the Internet, primarily on pro-Palestine[7] and right-wing extremist websites[8] on topics such as 9/11 conspiracy theories, zionism [9] and the “Jewish question”[10] The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have criticized it for promoting anti-semitic and extremist viewpoints and conspiracy theories.[8][11] Veterans Today carries contents directly from the Iranian press outlets such as Press TV and Mehr News, some of which are affiliated with Iranian intelligence agencies (reference needed). Contributor Mark D. Siljander pled guilty to obstruction of justice and acting as an unregistered foreign agent related to his work for an Islamic charity with ties to international terrorism.

      This is my first time ever citing the prison planet wiki. I pray there will not arise any occasions for a second!

      Reply
    4. ewmayer

      Can’t we all just agree that the reason YHWH created the gentiles is because someone has to pay retail? :)

      Reply
  7. Darius

    Yves, by putting sanctions back in Iran, did Trump unwittingly knock the dollar off its throne and elevate the euro? Did he think he was protecting the dollar?

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “Did he think he was protecting the dollar?”

      “Think” is probably the word I would least associate with Trump. Besides the neocons, I believe Trump is looking for low hanging fruit. The Iran Deal wasn’t complicated because all the problems were largely on our end, but Versailles on the Potomac hated it as you can see from the bipartisan reactions or lack of reaction despite the high polling for the Iran Deal.

      Weak countries with targets that might make the evening news have been hit, but in my estimation, those have been hit since 9/11. The apocryphal story about Dempsey trying to explain to Kerry that Syria wasn’t Libya and could retaliate was likely a true discussion in some fashion. I tend to believe our elites have a childish belief in American military dominance without any kind of understanding of how supply lines or support for combat operations work. Its just magic to be used against the little foreign devils for Versailles.

      Trump, as a President who is popular with the rank and file GOP but not in Washington itself, a fairly significant change from the Reagan and Bush Administrations where the town loved them, is on a quest for what appears to be low hanging fruit. I think Trump wants a win of some sort to show everyone how he would have done it, but a Libyan style operation simply doesn’t exist. The official bad guys are way too powerful to be dealt with that way. Versailles will support rolling back as the Iran Deal which was only accomplished because Europe was making noises about ending sanctions without U.S. oversight which would have turned DC against Obama so he picked the most palatable action for him. The easiest course of action for Trump’s short term political machinations is to undo the Iran deal which will make the lobbyists of Israel and Saudi Arabia love him. The status of the dollar probably never entered his mind.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether

        > a Libyan style operation simply doesn’t exist.

        I continue to think that the question “Given the givens, why aren’t we at war already?” is an interesting one. At the risk of bathos, I quote from John MacDonald’s The Turquoise Lament (Linda Brindle, “Pidge”, is the heroine to be saved by MacDonald’s hero. Howie is a serial killer):

        Or, revising, we have US + O + M = V + W (U.S. plus Opportunity + Motive = Victim + War).

        But the equation is stalled, short of completion. Why?

        Adding, it seems clear to me that the political class, and in particular The Blob, is thirsting for war. That’s what Clinton’s proposed no-fly zone in Syria was all about, for example. That’s what the demonization of Russia is all about. That’s also what the framing of potential critics or opponents of war, Creel Commission-style, is all about. And yet, their thirst remains unsatisfied. Odd.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          I think that there is an X factor in that equation not accounted for. As a guess, perhaps if Trump attacks Iran then oil would go through the roof, pushing the US into a recession as a result (I believe driving season starts in the US soon) and thus blowing up his chances for winning in the mid-terms. Just a guess.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether

            If the reasons are that trivial I’m a happy camper based on the outcome.

            I should say that are other potential flash points besides the Middle East and North Korea:

            1) Africa, where we seem to be doing a lot of quiet killing, which has the advantage that mostly colored people would be slaughtered. Unfortunately, this would be a proxy war against China, but The Blob has put all its effort into demonizing Russia.

            2) Some damn thing in the Baltics (Ukraine, despite Joe Biden’s involvment perhaps being just too crazy and corrupt, even for the neo-cons?). I should see what the Atlantic Council has to say about the Baltics.

            3) Some damn thing in the South China Sea. I’ve toyed with the trope that China has turned the sea into land (with the islands) and the land into sea (with OBOR) but I’m not sure if that trope really works (since it doesn’t take the financial and capacity aspects of OBOR into account).

            I guess what I’m saying is that quiet preparations for war could be going on in areas we (and our famously free press) aren’t following closely….

            Reply
        2. PlutoniumKun

          My guess would be that Trumps deepest gut level belief is that when you have the biggest stick, you don’t need to use it, you just need to wave it around in a a suitable manner, and everyone else will back down. He believes this worked in North Korea where his ‘crazy man with nukes’ talk (in his mind) brought Kim to the table. He is convinced this will also bring rewards in the Middle East, especially with Iran.

          The problem of course is what happens when the bluff is called. None of the major players – Assad, Putin, or the Iranians – will back down, but they are also smart enough to play the game for as long as it can be played (i.e., they will not respond to provocations, but they won’t make major concessions either). This can’t go on indefinitely.

          Reply
          1. Procopius

            I’m thinking about an analogy with physics. In theory if you shoot a cue ball at a billiard ball, if you are able to measure the forces and angles with sufficient accuracy, you can accurately predict the outcome. On the other hand, if you kick a dog, no matter how accurately you measure the force and angle you cannot predict accurately what the outcome will be.

            Reply
  8. zagonostra

    Reference: Student “loan” crisis.

    It’s interesting that the The Hill uses the word “loan” instead of “debt.” I have two girls in college and the amount of money that getting them through to earning their degrees is extracting from us is nothing less than criminal. The aim is nothing less than debt peonage by a minority over a majority.

    This story is related to the one on Healthcare “Mystery” and as NC suggested it was worth reading the comments (reader’s pick of course) on this NYT article which I’ve copied below. I would just add “Democrats” as well as Republicans, because they are two horses owned by the same WallStreet/Banker/Political Elite owners.

    ——————————————
    Reagan was elected in 1980 and with him came a different Republican party. 

    These were not the Republicans of Eisenhower or even Nixon; they took their philosophy from the Powell Memorandum and were dedicated to re-directing upwards all the value that had accrued to the middle class after WW2 thanks to strong unions, progressive tax rates, an expanding economy and good public education systems.

    Everything became a profit center from retirement plans to health care to education etc. Everything was to be looted and the benefits redistributed upwards to the people who were financing the politicians and calling the tunes.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/14/upshot/medical-mystery-health-spending-1980.html

    Reply
    1. funemployed

      In a somewhat similar vein re: student loan rhetoric, I’ve long been annoyed that articles almost always exclusively talk about the debt held average “graduate.” Well, more than a third of people who start college don’t earn a degree and those who don’t finish are much more likely to be poor to begin with than those who do.

      IIRC nearly half of those dropout borrowers are in default with no reasonable prospects for ever paying off the loans, yet apparently they deserve nary a mention in the media.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        My niece & nephew managed to rack up $400k in student loans between them.

        When I was their age, $400k would’ve bought me a very nice home in Beverly Hills.

        Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            One is a nurse practitioner and you might’ve seen the other rush out on the field of play for a few seasons with a couple of other Rx types, when a USC Trojan football player went down, injured.

            He’s in sports medicine

            Reply
            1. Clive

              My sister, who was always the clever one, got a masters degree — a masters, for goodness’ sake — from a top five U.K. university for free.

              She still, to this day, says she cannot believe her luck. We look back on those times (the late 1980’s, so that’s, like, such a long time ago isn’t it not) like they are some ancient, fabled, miraculous era that’s the stuff of legends.

              I would not be born now, not even if you paid me. Well, you’d have to pay me c. £500,000, just to put me on an even footing.

              Reply
      2. marym

        Are you recommending that people do this individually? If so, what are the likely consequences for the borrower, any co-signer, their families? What can they expect from collection agencies, garnished pay, seizure of assets, loss of a job?

        Alternatively, maybe you’re suggesting an organized movement. If so, it needs to address the individual consequences, enlist support from the wider community, organize protests, provide legal support.

        Would the effort to create and sustain such a movement be better directed toward organizing for a debt jubilee?

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          Yes, the alternative. Might even be a catalytic event for an actual renovation…

          How much can the people crushed under the debt be worse off than they are? The full weight of the state and lots of bleeding by private debt collectors.

          Reply
      1. marym

        A student loan and medical debt jubilee coupled with tuition-free public college and universities and Medicare for All.

        People who managed to struggle and pay their debts, or had to forgo college or healthcare because of the expense, would still benefit from the whole package, for themselves and their families going forward.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I wonder how the rest of the world would take to us having our cherished jubilee and eating it too?

          Jubilees happen all the time, in the aftermath of hyperinflationary instances. Old money & debts become null and void for all intents and purposes.

          The other day on the news there was a lady in Venezuela holding up a plantain that she said cost more than her house in Caracas 20 years ago.

          Reply
        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          As always, some will ask, why only student debt, or only student and medical debt?

          One alternative is a fixed sum of money for everyone.

          And also the question, what other essential products or services should also be now free, and not just college tuition?

          Reply
          1. marym

            We have to start somewhere. Student and medical debt are widely understood issues, and the solutions of debt forgiveness, tuition-free public colleges, and M4A are at least in the air now.

            I think we have to build an understanding that in a system with multiple inequities, fixes won’t directly benefit everyone equally in the short term, but we’ll build in some mechanisms to share the benefits as broadly as possible.

            I don’t have an opinion on a fixed sum for everyone as far as the technical impact – that’s for the NC experts to discuss. I don’t think it’s a way forward if the project, beyond meeting immediate needs, is to build a better world with systems based on caring for each other.

            Reply
            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I think free clean water is more essential than free college tuition.

              It this free clean water issue is not widely understood, it is not less felt.

              Reply
              1. Summer

                And well funded K-12 public schools should take precedence over more subsidization of the bourgeois.

                Reply
            2. Antifa

              If a nation’s intent is to dominate the planet militarily and economically, it’s going to have to ignore potholes and bridges in favor of ever better and ever more weapons. Along the lines of the US Empire currently.

              A debt jubilee won’t cut the mustard. If the government mailed a check for $100,000 to every citizen, it would only be a matter of a year before all of that money was in the hands of our .01%. That’s how our economy works — like a big money vacuum cleaner.

              The fix is to put a cap on wealth. Make it something merely fantastic, like $100 million per person. After that, any wealth acquired is taxed away at 100%. It goes back into the national kitty for redistribution. This solves the vacuum cleaner problem of allowing addiction to money to be socially acceptable.

              Another necessary fix is to tie executive compensation to some multiple of worker income. Say, no CEO or other top officer can earn more than 35 times what the lowliest worker earns.

              Any plans for debt jubilees or guaranteed basic income or even job guarantees are moot unless we first unplug the money vacuum cleaner.

              Reply
              1. Charlie

                Wouldn’t even need to hand out money to people. Just nationalize all the banks and forgive the debt. It basically came from nothing anyway.

                Reply
    2. Procopius

      I was left puzzled by that article. I do not see what default has to do with “crisis.” Kindly old Uncle Joe Biden made sure that the debt will continue as long as the peon debtor lives, and any money he/she earns can be seized and the interest continues to accumulate. I can see that when the debtor dies the outstanding debt will have to be written off, but usually the beginning amount will have been repaid many times over. Default, in the case of student debt is not the same as, say, mortgage debt. Nothing can free the debtor from the burden except repayment in full or death.

      Reply
  9. allan

    Democratic overreach is key to rising Republican prospects in November [The Hill]

    Republican Pete King represents the second District in New York and is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Andrew Stein is a former president of New York City Council and chairman of Democrats for Trump.

    Given King’s history as a fund-raiser for the IRA, this is rich:

    A victory for the Democratic Party, under its current left-leaning leadership [as if!], would result in weak and inadequate border security for America, a weaker military, even higher deficits [so the Cheney Rule is off again?]. It means tax increases instead of tax cuts, more regulation instead of less, and a renewal of the politically correct culture that threatens the First Amendment and the support for the brave men and women in law enforcement.

    Offer not valid for British constables and troops in Northern Ireland.
    Or those that are suspected of cooperating with them. Or innocent bystanders.
    Here’s King in 1982:

    … “We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry,” Mr. King told a pro-I.R.A. rally on Long Island, where he was serving as Nassau County comptroller, in 1982. Three years later he declared, “If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the I.R.A. for it.” …

    Reply
  10. Wukchumni

    Greenland ice cores track Roman lead pollution in year-by-year detail ars technica
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    A very interesting article…

    If you’ve been to Pompeii, there’s exposed lead pipes all over the place. From the looks of it, an ancient plumbing convention must’ve been in town when Vesuvius did it’s thing.

    The author kind of hints @ one reason for less lead pollution during Roman times, on account of debasement of the denarius, but doesn’t go all the way with the synopsis, where the fineness of the coins went from 95% to 80%, on it’s way to essentially 0% silver-which doesn’t get mentioned, as the coins were by then copper, and silver washed to give the appearance of the real thing. It wasn’t on account of silver being recycled, as only a dummy would try and spend a genuine silver coin in commerce. (try it yourself, spend a silver 1964 quarter-see how long it lasts in circulation when it’s metal value is close to $3)

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Agreed that that was a very interesting article that and a lovely piece of research. I would never have thought how trace amounts of lead pollution would show up in traces like this. I wonder how far they will be able to push this technology to find even more data from those traces.

      Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What is Roman lead pollution? Pollution of lead in Rome that somehow ended up in Greenland?

      And 2,000 years ago, there were a few empires, not just the Roman empire.

      Perhaps that gets cleared up if I read the article, but now I feel I am compelled to, that I must read it because the title is ambiguous.

      Reply
    3. Big River Bandido

      This isn’t really breaking news, though it is fascinating…Tom Holland wrote about this in his book Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic, which he published in 2003.

      In a nutshell, lead pollution levels in the atmosphere during the late Republic and early Empire were the highest recorded until the industrial era, due to the Romans’ extensive and gargantuan silver mining and smelting operations in what we now know as Spain. (Contemporary sources express awe and horror at “what the Romans have done to that country”.)

      Those emissions eventually became “encased” in the Greenland ice core. Like the rings inside a tree trunk after it has been felled, they allow us to date and measure atmospheric emissions by their concentration, and how deep they appear within the core.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        The scale of Roman mining (and the associated environmental destruction) was mindblowing – only exceeded by the industrial revolution. The biggest damage though seems to have been deforestation to provide fuel for all the smelters. If they’d learned to use coal, maybe the Roman Empire would never have faded away.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Legionnaires were paid in denarii…

          That alone accounted for an awful lot of silver output.

          Why, it would be akin to us cutting down trees to make paper money out of it to pay the troops~

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            Troop pay is via direct deposit. No trees were injured in those transactions. (Though when I was in the “service,” ‘66-‘69, we actually got paid in cash and then checks, counted out by the payroll officer. Who often managed a little scam of his own… corruption everywhere, and always.)

            We, whoever “we” are, need more of what George Washington Plunkitt spoke about, over a century ago — more “honest graft.” https://www.panarchy.org/plunkitt/graft.1905.html

            Reply
              1. JTMcPhee

                i have a few MPCs left over from my little soujourn in the former South Vietnam/French Indochina… As you say, beautifully crafted, lots of symbolism.

                Reply
      2. petal

        I remember this from watching one of Mary Beard’s documentaries about Rome. Can’t remember which one exactly, but she went into a cold room with one of the scientists and they examined one of the cores that had been taken. Really neat!

        Reply
  11. DJG

    From the Politico article, and considering Yves Smith’s comment:

    –She [Federica Mogherini of the EU] said there would be “protection of European Union economic operators and … last but not least, the further development of a transparent, rules-based business environment in Iran.”

    The law of unintended consequences, because the Anglo-American elite does not understand cause and effect: Brexit is the training program for the EU in handling U.S. overreach, incompetence, and intemperence.

    But, snookums, we’ll still have the Ministry of Silly Walks and Americans using the word “bespoke.”

    Reply
  12. Jim Haygood

    Did pressure from Cynthia Nixon finally force New York to stop its medieval War on Minorities Drugs?

    Faced with fresh evidence of the racial disparity in marijuana enforcement across New York City, Manhattan’s district attorney said Tuesday he will largely stop prosecuting people for possessing or smoking marijuana.

    The move by District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. came the same day that Mayor Bill de Blasio promised that the city’s police department would overhaul its marijuana enforcement policies in the next 30 days. Brooklyn’s district attorney also said he would scale back prosecutions.

    About 87 percent of people arrested for pot in New York City are black or Hispanic.

    “The facts have changed,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “You have states that have legalized it now. It is no longer a question of legal or illegal.”

    Cuomo spoke after his Democratic primary opponent, actress Cynthia Nixon, called for the legalization of marijuana as a matter of racial justice.

    https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/manhattan-da-says-hell-stop-prosecuting-pot-possession/

    Contrary to Cuomo’s assertion, the facts haven’t changed one whit since a hundred years ago, when the war on cannabis was conceived as a way of locking up “black jazz musicians” and “Mexican peon tomato pickers.”

    What’s changed is that an unconcealed, unapologetic war on minorities just won’t wash no more after candidate Nixon spoke out against this long-running white supremacy campaign.

    Reply
    1. Pavel

      Brava, Cynthia! Even without winning the primary or general she is having a real positive effect.

      And a reminder to all film/TV buffs to see her in one of her first roles, in the brilliant “Tanner ’88” television series made by Garry Trudeau and Robert Altman — she played Michael Murphy’s Tanner character’s daughter. Far more interesting than her SITC role :)

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether

      > Did pressure from Cynthia Nixon finally force New York to stop its medieval War on Minorities Drugs?

      Can’t say, but it could be.

      If so, in some ways it’s similar to Margaret Brown at CalPERS; introducing even one person into a corrupt and deeply stupid system can have positive effects. Probably not enough to radically change the system, but positive nonetheless.

      Reply
  13. Pavel

    Lord knows I don’t agree with Rand Paul on all things (or even most things) but given he seems to be the only senator on either side of the aisle who consistently stands up against torture, unlawful surveillance, arms sales to foreign despots (e.g. the Saudis), and illegal military interventions (i.e. without following even the watered-down War Powers Act let alone congress properly declaring war)… I wish he were the president. Is it so hard for any Democrat to stand up the same way?

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Regarding the donkey show:

      When the only spine you have is spin, it’s hard to stand up and be counted.

      Reply
      1. Sid_finster

        Exactly. I could tolerate some of Rands other antics if he were to stick more firmly to his principles.

        Reply
        1. RUKidding

          Agree!

          Rand may be one of the few that Talks the Talk, but he almost NEVER walks the walk.

          Talk is cheap. I rarely pay attention to Rand anymore, as he almost never (maybe never) follows through. I don’t know why he even bothers, other than it gains him some temporary attention in the media.

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            He’s the exception, however fraudulent, that proves the “rule” that the legislature represents the views of all the people… Gotta have ONE standout who occasionally steps off the Narrative path to get us to think that ‘there’s still hope, Marge.”

            Reply
            1. Procopius

              The thing is. “Libertarianism” is self-contradictory. Since it is irrational, it is foolish to expect consistency from people who espouse it. His father was a white supremacist (don’t remember if he was also an anti-semite, it’s not important to me). Rand is Aqua Buddha. Both are nuts.

              Reply
  14. DJG

    Pentagon Can’t Account:
    A must-read article, just so that you can get the figure of 21 trillion dollars unaccounted for during the years 1998 through 2015 into your brain. The result is that the bipartisanly malfunctioning economy of the U S of A just no longer provides for the civilian population. (Hmmmm. Wonder why life expectancy is dropping…)

    From the article, which is by Russian running-dog and commie stooge Lee Camp:
    “That’s right. The expenses with no explanation were 54 times the actual budget allotted by Congress. Well, it’s good to see Congress is doing 1/54th of its job of overseeing military spending (that’s actually more than I thought Congress was doing). This would seem to mean that 98 percent of every dollar spent by the Army in 2015 was unconstitutional.”

    But the Anglo-American elites are more concerned with propping up the Israelis and the Saudis and bomb bomb bombing Iran.

    I don’t believe that we deserve Gina Haspel, but you can see how we are going to end up with Gina Haspel and the non-accountability of our ruling classes.

    Reply
    1. Procopius

      It’s a little disingenuous. For example, the $21 trillion is the sum of both Departments of Defense and Housing and Urban Development reports from 1998 through 2015. Secondly, he lightly skips over that the report was not of spending, exactly, but “unsupported adjustments.” I guess I’m going to have to go to the original report to find out just what “unsupported adjustments” consist of, but it’s pretty clear from the rest of the article that it wasn’t spending. You want actual cases of corruption, crony no-bid contracts, and outright theft, read the reports from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). I think there was a report from Iraq on the theft of the shrink-wrapped pallets of hundred dollar bills under J. Paul Bremer. Still, I greatly enjoyed the article. It was effective, I think, and should be studied by anybody interested in the art of rhetoric (which more people should study). We do need to get the Pentagon and the “Intelligence Community” under control.

      Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Wasn’t the plot to Dumb & Dumber, essentially, they come upon a suitcase full of money-spend it all on frivolous fooferal, and then put handwritten IOU slips into said suitcase, as it empties out?

      …are we that much different?

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        “That’s as good as money. Those are IOUs. Go ahead and add it up, every cent’s accounted for. Look, see this? That’s a car. 275 thou. Might wanna hang onto that one.” -Lloyd Christmas

        So officially, Harry and Lloyd are more responsible than the Pentagon.

        Reply
    2. Eustache De Saint Pierre

      It does appear to be an extraordinarily large sum – I wonder who has been tasked with the audit & whether it would be one of the big four, assuming that they operate within the US.

      Reply
      1. Summer

        And real estate is about the only thing that could be valued at those astronomical levels. Great place to launder money and can lead to all kinds of social transformations here and abroad.
        What else could actually be valued at those levels over the period of time in question? Open to other suggestions….

        Reply
      2. Procopius

        I wonder who has been tasked with the audit

        Oh, that gets even more fun.

        To carry out the audit, the Pentagon says it will deploy 2,400 auditors to go over records and examine bases, property and weapons of a federal department that had a budget of $590 billion last year.

        They’re auditing themselves.

        In January, the Government Accountability Office said, “serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense (DOD) that have prevented its financial statements from being auditable.” The agency listed the Defense Department as its prime example of major impediments to attempts to render an opinion on the U.S. government’s financial statements.

        and

        In late 2016, reports emerged that Pentagon officials had “buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, as The Washington Post reported.

        Yeah, they’re afraid Congress will slash their budget. Na ga hapn. What might happen is that enough people will get pissed off because we can’t have nice things and start voting for people who will not be all in to increase the budget.

        All quotes except the first from NPR

        Reply
    3. phemfrog

      I also don’t get it. For this to be true, doesn’t the Bureau of Engraving and Printing need a secret facilty or something? We have an accounting of the number of dollars printed. Or are these digital dollars, deposited in an account with no cash involved? Someone with a better understanding of money creation should weigh in.

      Reply
    4. ex-PFC Chuck

      Never underestimate the resourcefulness of people who can organize the shipment of Benjamins by the pallet load to Iraq.

      Reply
      1. Summer

        That would just be a skimming of even larger funds gone “missing.” I don’t think this is a “few bad apples” problem.
        And even at that level, what is valued high enough for spending and provide cover for the missing money?
        I keep coming back to real estate….

        Reply
    5. Enquiring Mind

      Whose war chest has some of that loot to use in an LBO of the world, or significant portions thereof? There may be many offsetting errors due to roll-overs from one year to another but that still leaves quite a lot of money to siphon off.

      “Picking up pennies nickels dimes quarters in front of a bulldozer is good business, as long as you keep your eyes on the bulldozer.”

      Reply
  15. Louis Fyne

    In her newsletter today, Alison Griswold of Quartz notes (1) that there is now a reasonably consistent body of evidence….–previous studies paid for by Uber didn’t deduct vehicle and other (expenses)…

    Crikey. Commenters here were crying shenanigans the next day. It was blatantly obvious,. if one has an ounce of critical analysis/skepticism those studies used ‘earned” = “gross passenger revenue”

    Reply
  16. Wukchumni

    Someplace between apathy and anarchy is the stance of the thinking human being; he does embrace a cause, he does take a position, and can’t allow it to become business as usual. Humanity is our business.

    Rod Serling

    Reply
    1. newcatty

      History rhymes:

      There’s something happenin’here

      What it is ain’t exactly clear

      There’s a man with a gun over there

      Tellin’ me I got to beware

      (I think it’s time we stop, children,

      What’s that sound?

      Everybody look-what’s going down?

      There’s a battle being drawn

      Nobody’s right, if

      Everybody’s wrong…

      Buffalo Springfield, January 1967

      Reply
  17. Henry Moon Pie

    Re: Tom Wolfe

    I liked Man in Full too.

    It was The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test that first brought Wolfe national attention along with arguably being the first instance of “New Journalism.” He hung out with Kesey, Casady, Mountain Girl, the Dead and the rest of the Merry Pranksters during their heyday. Kesey and many Dead Heads weren’t all that happy about his account, but the book is still a fun read because the Pranksters’ ability to turn perceptions upside down–with a little help from Owsley and the Brotherhood of Eternal Love–is a reminder of how big the task ahead really is.

    Feed your head.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      My 1st Wolfe was The Right Stuff, and each page felt as if pure adrenaline was coursing through my mind as I polished it off, eager for more, and then came TEK-AAT and processing pure uncut furthr, dude.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Thoroughly enjoyed his book “The Right Stuff” but then I found some of his other books like “The Painted Word” which mocked modern art and “From Bauhaus to Our House” which tore strips off modern architecture.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Many of the 1960s era public buildings in my area are being replaced–often because their flat roofs are chronically leaky.

        Of course the great Frank Lloyd Wright had a few issues with practical engineering as well.

        “This is what happens when you leave a work of art out in the rain.”

        https://www.bobvila.com/articles/famous-houses-leaky-roofs/

        I am less fond of The Right Stuff and the movie that was made from it.

        Reply
        1. rd

          Arthur Erickson did really cool buildings in the ’50s-’80s with innovative use of concrete and glass. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Erickson

          I knew a couple of glaziers who said that his buildings typically were difficult to install glass in and had window leaks….

          The spectacular “Falling Water” by Frank Lloyd Wright has beams of insufficient strength and a leaky flat roof. Restoration cost $11.5 million on a house that originally cost $155k to build. http://old.post-gazette.com/lifestyle/20011208lowry1208fnp3.asp

          Details matter.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            When in Buffalo, do go check out the Martin House, a 1905 FLW masterpiece. When we saw it, the docent showed us a photocopy of a 1904 Buffalo newspaper article, with the title:

            “Martin Abomination Almost Finished”

            There was more than a little contempt for doing it your own way, back then!

            Meanwhile across the street is a home also built around the same time, and it looks so dowdy and old, whereas the Martin House looks as if it was designed and built in Laguna Beach in 1973.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_D._Martin_House

            http://www.martinhouse.org/

            Reply
            1. Carolinian

              I think Tom Wolfe’s point was that Bauhaus was sold as a new democratic esthetic but the architecture itself was impractical and, in retrospect, rather ugly. It may have seemed new when the world was crammed with Victorian gingerbread but commercial architects took this plain boxy style and ran with it producing the soulless inner cities of average town America in the late 20th century..

              Turns out not everyone is a genius like FLW and even his houses were rather expensive and impractical (he didn’t believe in closets). Which is not to confuse him with Bauhaus. I don’t think he had much use for “modern” architecture either.

              Reply
              1. PlutoniumKun

                One of Tom Wolfes best points was that so much of the modernist creed, such as the need to ‘express the structure’ turned out to be nothing more than another form of decoration. When Mies van der Rohe designed the Seagram building with exposed steel beams it was pointed out to him that this was a fire hazard and needed to be covered with concrete (the steel could conduct heat from a fire through the building), he was unfazed. He simply applied external steel on top of the concrete – this steel had no structural purpose whatever, it was just decoration. In later versions, this was covered with bronze, at enormous expense, supposedly to reduce corrosion, but again, it was just because it looked kind of cool.

                Reply
                1. Carolinian

                  Great sidebar!

                  Needless to say Wolfe was dismissed as a philistine by art and architecture critics and commentators. They didn’t like being targets.

                  Reply
      2. Robert McGregor

        @The Rev Kev, Thanks for the references of his other books, “The Painted Word,” and “From Bauhaus to Our House.” I forgot about those, and will look them up!

        Reply
  18. Tertium Squid

    Please note the significance of paying Iran in euros does not have anything to do with “petrodollars.” It is entirely about moving money to and from Iran without using the dollar clearing system. Any financial institution transacting in dollar (unless by happenstance the transaction gets netted within the same financial institution) uses dollar clearing systems. The banks on that system have large intraday exposures to each other. The only way they are willing to do that is the Fed effectively backstops the ultimate end of day settlement. Foreign banks either have to have a US regulated entity (usually a branch bank chartered in NY) or else have a bank like that as a correspondent (which if you operate dollar transactions at any meaningful scale, costs more and is cumbersome). Remember when Benjamin Lawsky threatened to yank the New York banking license of Standard Chartered for doctoring wired to hide that it was trading with Iran? Or when Paribas was fined nearly $9 billion for violating US sanctions against North Korea, Iran and Sudan? That is what this is about.

    Explain like I’m 5?

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      The key thing to understand is the nature of a clearing house. Essentially, its an intermediary in large scale commercial transactions. In practical terms, the significance of using dollars in trade is that you have to go through dollar clearing houses which are beholden to the Fed directly or indirectly (even if the clearing house is not in the US).

      So if you trade oil in dollars and you don’t want the US government interfering, you have to ship over massive wads of notes in exchange for your oil, or take it entirely on trust that one or both parties won’t cheat, which is obviously risky and impractical. So better to use other currencies and clearing houses that are not directly or indirectly under US law and regulations.

      **disclaimer** I’m not a finance expert, I might be wrong.

      Reply
    2. Clive

      I’m afraid that if you’re looking for simplification of reasonably complex issues to the point where you risk missing the salient points, you’re probably reading the wrong blog.

      That might be harsh and I do have a twinge of angst because one of the ills of our modern societies is seemingly exponential increases in complexity, just to operate a smidge above the most basic of functioning. An agrarian idyll, this it ain’t.

      Dumbing down, however, does not strike me as being a sustainable solution to this problem.

      https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/media/research/epr/08v14n2/0809prei.pdf is a reasonably approachable introduction to this topic. Look up on line any terms you come across which you’re not sure of. And I had to start at the bottom, too. Knowing nothing then educating myself. After 30 years, I know to the point of expertise about 5 percent of the global financial service landscape to be able to talk with authority on it. And I can confidently but not infallibility opine on maybe another 20 percent of it. The rest is rather hazy. So I come here to wise up.

      Or you can continue to stay in the dark about things. Whatever works best for you.

      Reply
      1. Tertium Squid

        Whoops, pardon my meme-speak. Here’s the ELI5 of the acronym “ELI5” from Reddit’s ELI5 channel:

        E is for Explain – merely answering a question is not enough.
        LI5 means friendly, simplified and layman-accessible explanations – not responses aimed at literal five-year-olds.

        Thank you for the link – I’ll check it out.

        Reply
        1. Clive

          No, sorry, my mistake, that was all my fault. Apologies again.

          I’m such an old fuddy-duddy that I’m just about up to date with what was the online parlance vocabulary of about 5 years ago. What I now use by way of expressions about online communication norms was hopelessly passé to a teenager in the valley when Justin Bieber was the in thing. I really should broaden my online horizons, but just can’t face Reddit.

          Reply
  19. lakecabs

    CITY: ORLANDO
    -uberX -> Base: $1 – Minute: $0.13 – Mile: $0.75 – Minimum: $4.85 – SRF: $1.85 – Cancel: $5

    If you made 2 runs in Orlando with no dead time and no travel to pickup time at 45 miles an hour for a total of one hour gross would be 43.55.

    After Uber’s 25 percent 33.75. This would be a perfect scenario.

    However it is more likely to be 1 dead mile for every paid mile.

    We are now down to 16.87

    Take 15 minutes for waiting for a run and loading and unloading passengers.

    We are now down to. Got to do a run will come back to finish.

    Reply
    1. lakecabs

      If you base your figures on 45 minutes of drive time. One mile paid to one mile empty. Gross 20.11

      After Uber’s cut 15.11.

      After subtracting .30 a mile for expenses. Which seem to be a number everyone agrees on. 1.61

      With a tax deduction of .56 a mile I don’t think they have to worry about taxes.

      Reply
    2. WheresOurTeddy

      how the people with taxi medallions in large cities that they paid tens of thousands (or even 6 figures) for are not locked and loaded and calling Ubers for rides out to old warehouses with no surveillance cams I’ll never understand

      Reply
  20. Wukchumni

    Apple news:

    Still some in blossom, and of 50 or so different varieties, half have fruited.

    Thinned out nearly a full 5 gallon bucket of little green apples yesterday, the 5 out of 6 in a cluster that don’t make the cut, so eager are the trees to please with bounty that their limbs can’t support.

    The vanguard of the early July crop, Dorsett Golden, is off to the races in terms of size, easily twice as big as Red Astrachan & William’s Pride.
    We had an Anna that the gophers did in last year, and a replacement tree is just getting going.

    The early ripening apples have no staying power, you better eat em’ quick. Of the 4, we like William’s Pride the most. Red Astrachan tasted like you were biting into applesauce, Dorsett Golden & Anna are decent apples, nothing special though.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCObqiL4o5Q

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      What happened to Jonagold Apples? For a while they were all over and then … gone from the markets. Also — just out of curiosity — are the little green apples you culled to keep branches from breaking sweet enough to press for cider you can harden? [I became a big fan of Johnny Appleseed after reading the chapter on apples in Michael Pollan’s book “The Botany of Desire”.]

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Jonagold is still around, but it’s a variety that doesn’t work well in our torrid summer heat, so a no-go.

        Don’t know about the potential for the culled apples, but i’m a long way away from thinking of making cider, the most apples on a given tree might be 30-40, and less on the majority of them.

        Reply
    1. rd

      This is very, very big.

      The emerging contaminants are showing up all over the place. One reasons is that they have been a component in fire-fighting foam and so they have been used on every military base and in every community. The burned materials end up in relatively uncontrolled C&D landfills where the contaminants then leach into the groundwater.

      They are recalcitrant (don’t biodegrade readily, unlike things like benzene) and can move from groundwater into surface water. So they are being detected in groundwater and surface water all over the country. Military bases are a significant source, which would put the federal government on the hook for clean-ups.

      There are sites around old industrial plants where emergency water supply and well water treatment systems are getting set up as home-by-home testing is showing PFAS showing up their drinking water. The actual risks have been poorly defined to date and the buried report is one of the attempts to better quantify what standards are needed.

      At this moment, it is the states that are taking the lead on doing testing and requiring re-testing (or adding new analytical suites to current groundwater sampling) to identify the presence of these emerging contaminants and forcing redress. They are called “emerging contaminants” because they weren’t previously thought about and have just emerged as contaminants requiring action in the last five years or so. They are also emerging because the agencies themselves are unsure of how stringent they need to be on forcing cleanups as the science behind the toxicity is lagging behind their ability to detect the presence. But recent debacles like flint in Michigan and Hoosic Falls in NYS have concentrated the state politicians’ attention unlike USEPA.

      This is going to get ugly fast as the potentially responsible parties (PRPs) are going to include local volunteer fire departments unlike most past Superfund actions where they have been able to target large industrial polluters. This is going to be a bit like lead paint and leaded gasoline in urban soils with a problem but no obvious funding solution. However, this contaminant will hit rural and suburban communities the hardest because they are the ones dependent on well water. As we saw in 2016, these communities vote but don’t like state and local tax increases which may be the only way to cover the costs of clean-up.

      Another example of how we are Making America Great Again by returning to 1940s-1960s environmental regulation. Presumably the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Acts are examples of how the liberal left (like Richard Nixon) undermined the economic success of the country.

      Reply
  21. Edward E

    “The hunt is on to find even faster-growing black holes,”
    They obviously haven’t seen our supermassive Hawgzilla in action.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Who needs a viable defense as the court of law is closing in on you, when there’s a war to prosecute?

      Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      I don’t think the neocons give a damn about the economy, but I do fear that in a downturn Trumps hypersensitive ego will see him decide to follow the old tactic of having a good old fashioned distractionary war. If he was knowledgeable about the world he’d pick someone who can’t fight back (a nice little Caribbean island maybe), but since he probably couldn’t identify the US on a world map, he might make a very big mistake.

      Reply
  22. PlutoniumKun

    The Russian-Israeli-Iranian conundrum in Syria Asia Times (BL)

    This is a far more balanced article than the previous Asian Times one on links here a few days ago.

    Shorter version: Russia is not engaging in secret deals with Israel, but is determined to maintain good relationships with everyone in the region unless there is a good reason not to do so.

    Russia I think have given a lesson to the US in how to operate as a major outside power in the Middle East. They have protected their historic ally Assad and developed excellent relationships with Iran, but are clearly showing both who is in charge and is refusing to be led by the nose by the ‘weaker’ partner. They are certainly not going to get dragged into a war with Israel if its not in their interests. In the meanwhile, the US gets dragged into Israeli and SA conflicts for no good strategic reason.

    Reply
    1. Ignacio

      Good observation. I would add to the equation that the reason US is dragged into so many conflicts is that it is its way to justify stratospheric military expenses. No wonder who pushes to be dragged into conflicts.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy Grimm

        How was the U.S. dragged into the second Iraq War? or the Spanish American War, or World War I, or Vietnam to select a few from many candidates? As for justifying stratospheric military expenses I don’t believe we needed any real-life enemies to do that quite nicely. I still maintain that expenditures for operations tend to pull against expenditures for procurements.

        Reply
        1. Ignacio

          I have a contrarian view: investing heavily in weapons makes it necessary to use them. This is particularly true when such expenditures and procurements give you a perceived military advantage. Why getting the advantage if you don’t use it?: first bully your enemies, then demonstrate that you are ready to use your weaponry (this is necessary if you want your bully to work). Wars are also used to see how newly developed weaponry works in real conflicts. So, contrary to your thinking, I believe that expenditures in operation tend to press for more expenditures and procurements, keep stocks, renew them, remove what you have seen as impractical and substitute for new items etc.

          Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        I suspect they didn’t do much more than swap bland pleasantries. But from Putins point of view it was an excellent way of keeping Erdogan, Assad, and the Iranians on notice that Russia pursues its own interests, not anyone elses.

        Reply
  23. jax

    https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/more-kids-especially-girls-are-attempting-suicide-it-s-not-n874481

    Apologies if this story has already been linked, but it confirms a suspicion lurking in the back of my mind that the decrease in life expectancy for middle aged Americans is taking an equally tough toll on much younger people. This study tells us that suicide rates among teens have doubled between 2008 and 2015. While providing all the usual caveats – what was the methodology of the study? Was it peer reviewed? Is the doubling simply a matter of better data? Do teens feel more at ease reporting suicidal ideation? et al – I find the dates and rates chilling.

    2008? Isn’t that the year that millions of families lost their homes, setting their financial well being back by a decade if not more? Is this data another ripple from what some people call the Great Recession, in which millions of American families are still caught in the whirlpool?

    I don’t know the answers, but I do know that a huge proportion of the population is in despair. I can see it in the opioid crisis, the malnutrition of poor kids, the absurdly cruel health ‘care’ system we continue to perpetuate, debt peonage for the 99%, and the escalation of violence in popular entertainment. There are many days when I despair as well.

    Reply
    1. JBird

      …but it confirms a suspicion lurking in the back of my mind that the decrease in life expectancy for middle aged Americans is taking an equally tough toll on much younger people. This study tells us that suicide rates among teens have doubled between 2008 and 2015.

      Death by any means, especially an early, preventable one, has a ripple effect. However, why they died matters.

      If a loved one dies after living a long good life, or even just an accident, that’s life and is acceptable even if only horribly bearable. Life happens. If a loved one unnecessarily dies because of craptastic healthcare, homelessness, suicide, or the effects of unemployment that is far, far worse. That is crushing and far less bearable.

      So it is not just the dying or the suffering as that is the perhaps necessary, certainly normal part, but knowing that people you care about are being effectively disposed of by society and you can do nothing about it is often unbearable. People become not necessarily desirous to die, they just don’t care to live.

      So we a continuous rain of unnecessary death, often by suicide, and that becomes ripple of even more death. Rather like how abuse can go down generations, this does too. It is also a reason for President Trump and a good reason to get President Sanders. One of the most important things that FDR did during the Great Depression was not ending it, but giving hope to people that not only would it end, that somebody cared enough to try.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Canada had what were called ‘Relief Camps’ and they were dreadful in a Bizarro World fashion to our CCC Camps, which were generally thought of as the best thing FDR had accomplished say pre 1939.

        We talk in billions and trillions pretty effortlessly on this here contraption, and it makes it hard to imagine and most importantly the will and the way to do such things as plant 3 billion trees, and create infrastructure across the country, still used today.

        Of course everything about FDR has to be tempered in that:

        We were the largest producer of oil by far
        We were the largest creditor by far
        We were the largest owner of all known gold by far

        Contrast that with today’s economic tableau…

        Reply
      2. precariat

        Case and Deaton deserve the Nobel for calling the crisis that the ‘other
        America’ is in. If I recall, at first the press covered it by talking to the usual suspects academics who did not question the study, but nevertheless undermined the coverage of it by being bewildered by it. I remember thinking how could one *not* know this was going on? It’s painful, demoralizing and illusion shattering, but the truth can empower.

        Reply
      3. precariat

        If the agenda is to rig the economic system for themselves and corporations, then those who are dispossessed by the economic re-ordering are a political threat. It’s far-ranging group — and its not just Hillary’s deplorables who are are strawmen. Its those who grew up with good public schools and affordable universities who are now in middle age — who expected more. The betrayal and knowledge of how much has been sold out is a danger to the status quo.

        America is not impotent; so when it seems that no one, no institution will address the devastation and exploitation and lack of support that result from the extraction economy, one has to realize that on some level this is seen as at least ok, if not beneficial.

        Reply
    2. WheresOurTeddy

      the American ruling class and their lackeys in the press have as much concerned for the quality of life of the American citizen as they do for the Palestinian.

      Reply
    3. Livius Drusus

      Social media and smartphones are playing a big role in this rise in suicides and suicide attempts, especially among girls. Cyberbullying means that bullying doesn’t stop at the schoolyard gates but continues all day and night and even on the weekends and during vacations. Image sharing also means that body image issues are getting worse as everyone has to have the perfect gym body. This is worse for girls than boys but I have read that eating disorders and things like steroid use and plastic surgery are up even for boys and men.

      I also think that school is becoming more competitive. Parents realize that there are fewer and fewer middle-class careers these days so the competition for the few good jobs left is extreme. In the past if you weren’t academically inclined you could still get a good middle-class job working in a factory or some other blue-collar field. Now that many of those job have either been shipped overseas or crapified by union busting and other elite tactics most Americans see college and academic success as the only path to a middle-class lifestyle.

      My own anecdotal observations tell me that most Americans are under immense pressure to be successful because the costs of not succeeding are extreme. Whereas before there were many ways to make a decent, dignified living, today only the path of the well-educated professional remains. But only a handful can have a professional job so what you have is a brutal race to the top where only maybe 10-20% of the population can be “winners” while everyone else has to work jobs with bad pay, no benefits and precarious contracts under increasingly vicious management. The “compare and despair” aspect of social media bragging exacerbates these problems and contributes to despair.

      Reply
  24. Wukchumni

    Skink, I just enjoy saying it.

    What a beauty with an artful body, it almost has the appearance of ancient Roman mosaics.

    Reply
    1. crittermom

      I, too, find the patterns & use of color by Mother Nature incredible.
      I’m happiest when trying to capture that beauty with my camera, to share with others.
      I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Reply
      1. Edward E

        That is a spectacular snapshot. I took a few photos of one that is brown with pepper colored specks and a red/pinkish chin/belly. Watched it catch a fly, really something.

        Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Thank you! I hadn’t made that connection with the patterning of its skin — but now that you point it — thank you!

      Reply
  25. Masonboro

    The separate pictures of a small cat and skink today came together yesterday on my porch as a small rescue cat I feed walked up to the door with a 8 inch or more coastal NC skink in her mouth. When she meowed to be let in with her prize it squirmed free and ran for freedom with Lucy (the cat) in hot pursuit. The skink won the race and has not been seen since. Real life meets wild life pictures.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Wild turkeys used to be about a mile away for years, but now some picked up and left for here, and we hear them more than see them, but they are mother nature’s clean up hitters, they’ll eat anything recently expired. I’m not sure how the crew of the all cats and no cattle ranch feel about it, having some ghastly prehistoric looking butterball staring ya down?

      Reply
    2. ChrisPacific

      Our cat used to bring us skinks as prizes. They were small enough that it wasn’t always easy to tell when she was carrying one, so she brought them inside a few times without us noticing. Then they would escape, run for cover and wedge themselves into a crevice under the furniture somewhere.

      Reply
  26. Wukchumni

    Our friends who are big tree hunters, are coming up this weekend in search of the Dean tree with us, with a side excursion to the Diamond and AD trees.

    The 31st, 19th & 24th largest living things in the world.

    It’s all off-trail and hunting for prize size Sequoias is tricky business, each of the trio is around 20 feet wide @ eye-level, and the rest of the forest for the trees is 10-15 feet wide, being a mature grove containing thousands, many of which are thousands of years old, and the bigguns are hiding in plain sight lost in a savanna of sorts.

    When looking at a tree on an embankment from below, they always look bigger-as if they need the angled subterfuge for even more grandiosity, such interesting sentinels that are really photo shy, too big to be framed into whole images of them, only parts.

    Reply
    1. Enquiring Mind

      Seeing is believing. I spent a lot of time among old growth Douglas Fir and other evergreen forests in my youth, then visited California and experienced some new great sights. That started with a Bay Area side trip to Muir Woods and Mt. Tamalpais (well worth it when in that area) to whet the appetite. Subsequent trips north on Highway 101 to see the redwoods helped start to prepare me to seek out the Sierra Nevadas and those Sequoias!

      Awesome, as that word used to be used, like when one sees in Yosemite, the Grand Canyon or other natural wonders.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I never tire of seeing the pseudo sumos, and they’re especially comforting to be around if you’re of the Lilliputian persuasion in comparison, in the land of the giants.

        Fluted columns of red that were saplings when Julius Caesar had his salad days.

        When taking friends that have never been up close and personal with Sequoias, I always take a diminutive pine cone from the ground and give it a twist or 2, and then shake it hard against my palm, and a few really lightweight seeds will come out, and from that a tree is born.

        Reply
  27. Dug

    Re: the Bonus – While I love the idea of the cat having street cred (and maybe it does), the docked ear tip simply means that it was taken in to a vet to be spayed or neutered, then released. It’s an easy way to tell if a cat has been fixed.

    Reply
    1. crittermom

      While the clipped ear is usually representative of feral cats that have been fixed, that’s not the case with one of my two cats.
      When she was a kitten she continued to ‘bug’ my 100lb Airedale when he was eating & one day he’d had enough & bit the tip of her ear, resulting in the same effect.
      I was not happy with him that day! (Yet will always miss him)

      Sidenote: I have always had my cats & dogs neutered & spayed. Strays break my heart & I can’t even enter an animal shelter as I’ll want to adopt ’em all, yet all my critters have always been ‘rescues’ of some fashion, including my beloved Airedale who came from an Airedale Rescue.

      Reply
      1. crittermom

        I’m still smiling over the description accompanying the cat photo… ‘Poundage’ = “Sizable fan club”.

        Reply
  28. rd

    Cyber-bullying has completely changed bullying, especially for girls. One of our daughters was in high school during the rise of texting and became subject to bullying by some of the other girls via texting to groups. The big change that occurred with texting and social media is that the bully no longer has to be present to bully. Texting and social media allows for instantaneous communication among large groups 24/7/365. Even the old telephone social networks required a lot of effort to communicate with large groups. Now it is an infinite number of people with the press of a button.

    So it means that the bullying doesn’t stop after school. It goes on all night, on weekends, and even over vacations unlike the old days (pre @ 2006 when cellphones became common in schools). I can only imagine it has gotten worse with the rise of Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram etc.

    We were very concerned about our daughter’s state of mind. We ended up moving our daughter to a different high school where she didn’t know anybody and changed her phone number. That stopped it. She might have been one of those statistics in the absence of our actions.

    What I found astonishing was how much effort the bullies put into trying to destroy somebody’s life.

    Reply
    1. Enquiring Mind

      Our kids knew of many who chose to go to college out of state or well out of town in part to escape the mean girls (predominantly girls). That baleful bullying trend hasn’t seemed to earn its own lasting hashtag.

      Reply
    2. newcatty

      Rd, so sorry that your daughter and family had to go through that emotionally wrenching situation. Cyber-bullying is reflective of tech enabling some of the evolution of the greater darkNess of societies and our feudal world. Snipers can precisely shoot children and young people, who in their despair, throw rocks and fly kites at armed soldiers. I was so surprised when my teenage granddaughters related, as we got into talking about school, that there are still entrenched cliques and groups in high school. The strange thought that popped into my mind: Still! It’s 2018. I think with the general malaise, subconcious, if not concious saddness of the world around them, that the herd grouping is a way for them to emotionally cope. This does not excuse mean girls. Most grow up to be damaged queen bees or female drones. Your daughter was fortunate to have you as insightful and loving parents. I was one of the girls who was an outsider, but by having an escape to college, it gave me the strength and hope to carry on. I found out that I was right!

      Reply
    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I am old so I don’t see much sense in texting or carrying around a smart phone so I can be reached anywhere, anytime, anyplace. I do use emails and get enough spam. I check where the email is from and if I don’t like the sender [usually a vendor] I don’t read it. It goes directly into the spam folder or the trash. Texting puts a new weapon into the hands of the vicious but it provides a nice package for documenting attacks. Verbal attacks and shunning probably accompany texting attacks — I don’t know for sure — but if they do they are much more difficult to document. The cliquishness and viciousness of high school girls is an old story and I gather growing more pernicious. Why isn’t the texting of viciousness welcomed as an easy means to document it? Am I missing something? Is text-bullying really so much worse than the physical and verbal abuse it supplements — or perhaps augments? Isn’t there some way to turn cyber-bullying back on the attackers? Does the new media increase bullying or is bullying on the increase and the cyber-bullying little more than a new channel for the increasing attacks — perhaps something to make parents more aware of a problem that was there all along and growing worse?

      Reply
  29. Oregoncharles

    “Liu’s conundrum will be to square the circle in Washington Asia Times” leads to a blank page.

    I was trying to find out who “Liu” is.

    Reply
  30. Cat Burglar

    The NYT is hard at it, doing the noble work of keeping the managerial class all on the same page, with “The New Health Care, Medical Mystery: Something Happened to US Health Spending After 1980.”

    Kind of a nice list of what the large-donors are willing to allow us to damp the Sanders challenge — universal coverage, more funding for early-childhood care and low-income people while somehow also paying doctors less, “more competition.” No mention of universal provision of care.

    You have to treat this stuff with the seriousness it deserves. but you can’t let the anger consume you. It would be bad for your health.

    The author, Austin Frakt — I mean, is this a nom de plume?

    “The New Health Care” — In The Man Without Qualities I remember Robert Musil wrote that advocates of a new age are always and everywhere imbeciles.

    Frakt works for something called the Partnered Evidence-Based Policy Resource Center. Where do you start? Is the Center a 21st century descendant of Jaroslav Hasek’s Moderate Party Of Peaceful Progress Within the Limits Of The Law? Are they opponents of the Diffuse Impoverished Inconsistent Confabulating Lonely Independents? Who are their partners, and is it legal in all 50 states? Just try reading the title without having Voltaire’s joke about the Holy Roman Empire flash though your mind! I dare you!

    If I have to go to the trouble of crunching the numbers, doing the analysis, following the money, paying the bills, paying close attention to NYT articles about WMD threats sourced to men in baseball hats (and I write that as one who wears a baseball hat professionally), then I will be damned if I won’t treat these people with all the seriousness they really deserve.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      Yes, our friends at the NYT never cease with the gaslighting and obfuscation, do they?

      “Something Happened to US Healthcare Spending after 1980” Confusion by design.

      Reply
      1. WheresOurTeddy

        “Something happened” is to economic reporting what “Palestinians killed in clashes” is to international reporting

        Killed by who? In clashes with whom? Did the clash have asymmetrical power dynamic? If only there were journalists who could find these things out.

        Always remember: The rich never do anything immoral, all negative outcomes are unintended consequences, and this is the best of all possible worlds. TINA.

        Reply
  31. WheresOurTeddy

    Minor complaint: This is a blog I take seriously and read every day.

    That being said, if I don’t see the two words “Royal” and “Wedding” in that order ever again, that’d be great.

    Reply
  32. precariat

    The Gizmodo article on the Google employee resignations does indicate the dire seriousness the ex-employees have for black box technology and military targeting and killing; however, the open letter to Google from tech scientists, researchers and professionsals — and these people should and *do* know — protests the inevitablity of the

    “integration of Google’s data on people’s everyday lives with military surveillance data, and its combined application to targeted killing.”

    https://www.icrac.net/open-letter-in-support-of-google-employees-and-tech-workers/

    Very little is in place to stop this from happening. And without civil society
    awareness and oversight how would we know we’re being subjected to it until it is too late?

    Reply
  33. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

    I was a little surprised that The Onion put up headlines like those, not because they were excessively harsh, but because of the whole ‘ownership by Univision/Haim Saban’ thing. I vaguely recall a few controversies owing to the latter’s pro-establishment-Dem and pro-hardline-Israel views.

    Reply
  34. Hana M

    “But this conclusion with a call for “forgiveness” is a copout. It’s a sit down/sit out posture while Palestinians continue to be killed, tortured, raped, mutilated by bestial Zionists.
    It is white supremacist arrogance to call for the non-white victim to forgive the white sinner while the sinner continues to commit atrocities against said victim.of is to be “the non-white victim to forgive the white sinner while the sinner continues to commit atrocities against said victim.”

    I so, so very, very deeply dislike wading into this swamp and I have the greatest respect for Naked Capitalism but this quote is over the line for me. This is one of those issues where most people observing from a distance lose all sense of perspective. I have always thought that NC tries to see more than one side and its something I’ve always appreciated here.

    The land that it now called (by some) Israel has always been contested and many-peopled; existing on a land bridge between Africa, Asia and Europe and as a water bridge between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. Its boundaries have shifted for thousands of years, across many empires, nearly always violently.

    Over 50% of Jewish citizens of the state of Israel are of non-European extraction.The largest proportion hail from Morocco and other parts of North Africa, the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan); plus Yemen, Sudan, Kurdistan, Iran, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Indian subcontinent. These mostly very dark-skinned Jews face their own complex socioeconomic challenges within the nation of Israel and disproportionately serve in the IDF. They have few places to go, except perhaps France and the US.

    The Israeli political and economic elite is dominated by the wealthy internationalists who have abandoned the socialist principals that guided Israel’s early days. This makes me sad. Probably too may of the elite are of European extraction. But in Israel, as in the US, the issues are more often of economics and class rather than melanin skin content or religion. I am sad that NC seems to have forgotten this and ignores the nuances and complexities of Israeli society.

    Full disclosure: I am a Jew. I’ve lived in both Israel and the US. I’m deeply saddened by what is happening in Gaza but I am also glad that there is one country that will take me in even if I’m ancient and down to my last dollar. Does that make me a Zionist? If so I will wear the label.

    Reply
  35. Bean Counter

    Re: Angry nurses want Mark Zuckerberg’s name removed from a San Francisco hospital South China Morning Post (J-LS)

    Don’t even bother asking why this story did not emanate from the two historic San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley “News” sources, or nbcbayarea…news/local.

    I’m making an educated guess that If the Silicon Valley Local: [San Jose] Mercury News; the San Francisco Chronicle and its associated sfgate; or the nbcbayarea…news/local site had written/reported pieces on how many San Francisco General Hospital employees had contacted them and opposed the renaming from the historic San Francisco General Hospital from the beginning, it would have never happened.

    Unfortunately, such ‘news’ sites as the Mercury News ; San Francisco Chronicle/sfgate; and nbcbayarea, require ‘dna’ and photos [face recognition] from little people whistleblowers who will definitely lose their jobs and become unemployable; while not batting an eyelash as to giving anonymity to those in high positions.

    On a side note, it’s bleakly fascinating that a current data breach at that Zuckerberg hospital, has inexplicably (though not surprisingly) been reported under the Hospital’s historic name, versus its current name:

    May 11, 2018 Data breach affects nearly 900 patients from two San Francisco hospitals

    The personal information of nearly 900 patients of San Francisco General [HUH??? it is now the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital – Bean Counter] and Laguna Honda hospitals was breached after a former employee of one of the hospitals’ vendors got unauthorized access to the data, the San Francisco Public Health Department said Friday.

    Reply
  36. meeps

    Re: Lee Camp on the Pentagon’s $21 Trillion black hole

    Camp uses this opportunity to remind his readers that if the US government can “create as much as it wants for bombing and death” it can “create endless money for health care, education, the homeless, veterans’ benefits and the elderly…”

    It was the link in the following paragraph that caught my attention, though:

    “Obviously, our government could do those things, but it chooses not to. Earlier this month, Louisiana sent eviction notices to 30,000 elderly people on Medicaid to kick them out of their nursing homes. Yes, a country that can vomit trillions of dollars down a black hole marked “Military” can’t find the money to take care of our poor elderly. It’s a repulsive joke.”

    I’m sharing an anecdote because I know NC readership is broad and I wonder if residents outside of the state of Louisiana are noticing nursing home closures and evictions of Medicaid patients. I live in the notoriously “liberal” (not to be confused with generous) state of Colorado.

    My last living grandmother is a Medicaid patient. She has resided in a nursing home since my grandfather’s passing 20 years ago. She had a fall in April, was briefly hospitalized, and was subsequently moved to a physical rehabilitation facility. After a week or so in rehab her children received notice they’d need to find Grams another home because Medicaid won’t pay for her room at the nursing home until her return. The family was initially given one week to find new quarters.
    Not having previous experience in these matters I’ve no idea whether it’s commonplace for elderly Medicaid patients to be denied the right to return to their home because a visit to a medical facility created a cost in addition to the cost of their room rent. Has policy always been one benefit or the other but not both? Are there lifetime benefit limits? One discovery my family made during the mad dash to find a new home was that several nursing home facilities in the area recently closed. Grandma’s longtime facility was simultaneously giving tours to prospective new residents. Perhaps they have “private” provisioning (in other words, means).

    It’s unclear at this point whether my Grams fully understands that she’ll not return to the same home she left before her fall. It’s unimaginably cruel to force her to move under such circumstances. She’s already not long for this world. Couldn’t the turning of a profit or some penny-pinching have been postponed just a wee bit longer?

    Mr. Camp is right about the role of political will in this and rightly calls it repulsive, but it’s no joke. How widespread are these facility closures and Medicaid evictions?

    Reply
      1. meeps

        Thank you. I’ll return if anything pertinent comes to light, hopefully at a more reasonable hour. ;)

        Reply

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