Links 5/17/18

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Can White Canvas Bags Reduce Deer-Vehicle Collisions? Cool Green Science (Dr. Kevin)

Japanese rail company has apologised after a train left a station 25 seconds early, the second such case in months. BBC (Dr. Kevin)

Can Humans Live Well without Pillaging the Planet? Scientific American (David L). “Can” does not equal “will”.

Mysterious rise in banned ozone-destroying chemical shocks scientists Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

Someone, somewhere, is making a banned chemical that destroys the ozone layer, scientists suspect Washington Post (Dr. Kevin)

NASA Satellites Detect Seriously Weird Changes in Earth’s Freshwater Inverse (David L)

Senate Votes To Protect Net Neutrality, But What’s Next? SafeHaven

Preventing an AI Apocalypse Project Syndicate (David L)

Censorship

Twitter Is Going To Limit The Visibility Of Tweets From People Behaving Badly BuzzFeed. Policing for conduct is hard and is worth doing but I have my doubts re the extent of civility problems on Twitter (then again, I’m not Caitlin Johnstone…. and she could be a prime target of this policy, since you can give someone negative points by blocking their account)

North Korea

U.S. Brushes Off Pyongyang’s Tough Talk, Proceeds With Planning for Summit Wall Street Journal

Italy’s populists seek collision course with Brussels Politico

Brexit

Lords inflict 15th defeat on government over EU withdrawal bill Guardian

Sterling tracks Brexit customs union reports Financial Times

Britain will tell EU it is prepared to stay tied to customs union beyond 2021 Telegraph.

Big Four accountancy firms plan for forced break-up Financial Times

New Cold War

It’s the End of the World, and I Feel Terrible TruthDig

To pay for a ‘Russia first’ agenda, Putin takes ax to military spending Christian Science Monitor. Shane: “From last week, but still germane. Interesting account on Putin working to cement his domestic legacy, contrary to allegations by hypocritical US neocons of Russian imperial designs.”

Syraqistan

Gaza shootings: When I was 14 Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

Israel, Like the Nazis, Values “Postenpflicht” by Publius Tacitus Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

Can Palestinians be Killed? Can Israelis Kill them? Or do they only “Die”? Juan Cole (Randy K)

Get Ready for the New Middle East Battlefield: The Golan American Conservative (guurst)

Total Stops Iran Gas Project as Risk From Sanctions Too High Bloomberg (Kevin W)

On the Iran deal:

OPCW report on the events of 4 February 2018 in Saraqib, Idlib OPCW. EM:

Couple key snips, bolds mine – the first is no slight of the OPCW’s work, just, to use a legal phrase, “goes to possible bias on the part of the witnesses, your honor. “Quote:

Through liaison with representatives of several NGOs, including Same Justice/Chemical Violations Documentation Center of Syria (CVDCS), the Syrian Civil Defence – also known as White Helmets – (SCD) and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), the FFM contacted witnesses and confirmed their willingness to provide testimony and potential evidence. Furthermore, the FFM coordinated with the NGOs to organise movement of the witnesses.

6.2 The Syrian Arab Republic replied with a three-page summary report attached to classified Note Verbale No. 23 dated 12 March 2018. In this summary report, the Syrian Arab Republic shared with the Secretariat the following:
(a) Saraqib had not been under the control of the Syrian Government for a long period of time, including the time of the incident; and
(b) a technical analysis of the alleged incident based on open-source media.

So the upshot seems to be that somebody with access to a helicopter flew it in an area long-controlled by rebels and dropped a couple tanks of industrial liquid Cl near a populated area.

Tariff Tantrum

EU Wants to Boost LNG Imports From US in Exchange of Lifting US Aluminum Tariffs Sputnik (Kevin W)

From Politico’s European daily e-mail:

ON (UN-)CONDITIONALITY: President Jean-Claude Juncker told EU leaders behind closed doors in Sofia on Wednesday night about the state of play and preliminary outcome of recent talks between Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and her U.S. counterpart Wilbur Ross. On the condition that there’s going to be an unconditioned exemption for the EU from U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, here’s what the European Commission is ready to offer Trump, according to two EU officials and a diplomat …

1. Tariffs: The Commission is ready to engage in a scoping exercise to eliminate reciprocal tariffs on industrial products (not agriculture); which may also involve liberalizing  government procurement rules. The aim is to conclude these discussions by September.

2. LNG: “We would be working to deepen our energy relationship, notably in the area of liquified natural gas,” one official said.

3. Product safety: The EU would engage in “voluntary regulatory cooperation” of both sides. Don’t count on a resurrected TTIP (not even in a “light” version of that trade agreement), but “on an ad-hoc basis,” the EU will reduce its regulatory burdens (perhaps adding ammunition to America’s argument that they effectively serve as trade barriers).

4. WTO: The EU would engage together with the U.S. in “meaningful WTO reforms,” as one official said. That looks like an attempt to do three things in one: accommodate Trump’s anger about the World Trade Organization, keep the WTO functional by finding a solution to the current blockage of its appellate body and give Trump something to brag about.

Trump Transition

Giuliani: If Mueller subpoenas us, we will challenge it The Hill

Mueller aside, Trump now faces legal peril from a host of sources Christian Science Monitor (furzy)

The man who leaked Michael Cohen’s financial info did so because other information on Trump’s lawyer mysteriously disappeared Business Insider (Dr. Kevin)

U.S. judge refuses to dismiss ex-Trump aide Manafort’s criminal case Reuters. EM: “Very differently-toned ruling than in the other (Alexandria) indictment, where it should be noted that judge Ellis has yet to issue a ruling, pending the FBI’s supplying the unredacted version of key memo he asked them for.” Moi: I recall this judge being visibly hostile to Manafort on some early rulings, to the degree it might set up an appeal if she kept it up.

Some questioning of the math here in the thread where this was debated (hat tip Scott), since this was apparently officers’ wives and of the Air Force, the most conservative service. But still a very visible image of the lack of diversity. No gay married men, or apparently they are not deemed photo-worthy.

The Daily 202: The far left is winning the Democratic civil war Washington Post UserFriendly: “ROFL”

Time to Regulate Proxy Advisory Firms RealClearPolicy (UserFriendly)

LuxLeaks verdict sets ‘strong precedent’, says acquitted exPwC whistleblower Antoine Deltour International Tax Review (Adrien)

Tesla bursts into flames after fatal crash in Switzerland (PHOTOS) RT (Kevin W)

Wells Fargo Employees Altered Information on Business Customers’ Documents Wall Street Journal. This never stops, does it?

Guillotine Watch

New York surpasses London on luxury housing market index Financial Times

The true cost of the royal wedding that the rich and powerful don’t want you to see The Canary (Chuck L)

Class Warfare

Congress Fails to Repeal CFPB’s Crack Down on Predatory Payday Lenders Allied Progress

The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy Atlantic (Dr. Kevin). As Thomas Frank, this humble blog, and some others have been saying for a while…

Births plunge to record lows in United States Yahoo News (Chuck L)

Billionaires Have Too Much Political Power Washington Monthly (UserFriendly)

After Caviar courier’s death, what about gig workers’ rights? Philadelphia Inquirer (Chuck L)

I’ve Paid $18,000 To A $24,000 Student Loan, & I Still Owe $24,000 Bustle

Amazon threatens to move jobs out of Seattle over new tax Guardian

Antidote du jour. Eddie M: “Handsome little skinker:”

And an anti-antidote, this one from Lambert. But this guy has no idea what a cat that decides to get its way looks like. My former cat Blake was capable of terrorizing adult men and cleaning women and when he got old and cranky, would pee on the floor near my desk WHEN I WAS SITTING THERE to let me know he was mad that I’d been out of town.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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269 comments

    1. Alex

      Looks like circular reasoning on his part. He assumes that JG jobs would be as shitty as the current minimum wage jobs and then predictably arrives at the conclusion that JG sucks.

      But he makes some good points, like what is to be done with people who add negative value to the first few JG jobs they get? Should they be fired, in which case it’s not a job guarantee, or should they cycle through various JG jobs until they found something that works for them and the society.

      Maybe some kind of a two-tier system would work with subsistence-level basic income and Almost Guaranteed Job Program with jobs paying normal wages.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        If they aren’t as shitty or worse as the current minimum wage jobs expect serious pushback from those currently employing people in the current minimum wage jobs. Well the revolution will be resisted by the status quo.

        In the Great Depression the private sector was entirely devastated which left a little more leeway perhaps, in the Great Recession this level of desperation was approached if not reached. Now, eh the job market sucks pretty badly, but it’s not at *that* level of suck.

        Reply
      2. jrs

        But yea not kidding on this:
        “Your population of basic-job-needers is going to be disproportionately composed of people who don’t fit into the regular workforce. How do you think that will turn out?”

        Ordinary people or people who don’t quite fit in but are still a very good fit for the right job (high functioning aspergers etc.) may find themselves in need of a job. These are probably decent coworkers for the most part. But yea what will be done with all the *truly* marginal people? And how will a workplace composed disproportionately of them really work? It sounds like a possible nightmare for everyone else working there.

        Reply
        1. Arizona Slim

          ISTR reading a story written by someone who was hired by a company that takes inventory in stores. He worked beside a guy who was bonkers, no question about it. Guy would have shouting matches with invisible opponents, and this went on for hours.

          However, Mr. Bonkers was doing his job while having these shouting matches. So, there you go.

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            One recent question I have about JG and free college tuition is this:

            Say you graduated with a major in Russian literature from a free-tuition university, and finally found work through JG eradicating fruit flies, how fulfilled would one feel?

            Reply
            1. TroyMcClure

              Any JG worth its salt would only require at most 30 hours a week so one could get fulfillment on your 3 day weekends.

              The idea that one’s job should be the primary source of fulfillment is either utopian or a red herring offered in bad faith.

              Reply
              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Shouldn’t that disclosure come before a student spends 4 or more years of his/her life in one major?

                Reply
                1. HotFlash

                  The information is there for anyone who seriously looks for it. I figured it out in 1969 (high school class of ’67). But I gotta say, the important thing is to not believe most adults. Or kids either, for that matter. Easier said than done, I know.

                  Wasn’t there some guy a few years later who said, “Trust but verify.”? Could be it was good advice.

                  Reply
                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    I wonder how many applicants still write on their essays, “I hope to be accepted to your medical school so I can fulfill my life’s dream of healing others?’

                    “Rejected, for being too quixotic.”

                    Reply
                    1. jrs

                      well that type of lying is a useful skill, you will need it on any job application. “Oh yes it would be ecstasy all day long to work for your organization, like an orgasm combined with hit of cocaine as soon as I get to work”.

              2. jonboinAR

                I’m definitely for a shorter workweek as us mopes share in the supposed great productivity surge we’ve all enjoyed since the ’70s , or something.

                Reply
            2. jonboinAR

              As long as it paid the bills I could live with it for awhile. Paying the bills, for me, it’s not all of “fulfillment”. I think I can say it’s the greater part, though, definitely the most urgent.

              Reply
      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A long time ago, it was assumed that even kids had to work, that all must work hard, as there were no free meals in that world.

        We are talking about Oliver Twist here.

        Maybe in the future, people look differently at JG, with respect to both kids and adults.

        Reply
      4. False Solace

        If you “add negative value” (what a euphemism…) to your GJ, you get job skills training, or a mental health referral, or placement in a different job that maybe will fit you better. See? Easy!

        Reply
    1. BillK

      We took over a ginger factory cat after the factory closed. She was feral and had to be handled with leather gloves (which got torn to pieces). But after a while she got used to me and would sit on my lap for stroking, (without gloves!). Though ‘playtime’ needed the gloves for protection. She was a one-man cat. Everyone else risked severe damage if they got near her. :)

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Our kindle’s matriarch got hit up by the only tom around, who turned out to be a deadbeat dad seldom seen, until he started hanging around outside a few years after his kids were born, and so quick with the extended paw was he in drawing small amounts of donated blood from us and the idea that he was colored like a patrol car, that we gave him the name Copper, as he was into claw enforcement. Slowly but surely he became more docile and finally joined the family as an indoor-outdoor feline, but he’s strictly a 2 human cat, all others must be avoided.

        Reply
      2. marym

        For a moment this had me wondering what it would be like for a cat to hang out in a ginger factory… :)

        Reply
      3. Charlie

        I have five ferals, and it took me months of patience and care, but all of them are one man cats and I can hold them for the most part. I was able to trap three of them for TNR before they warmed up to me. Two left, which will be more difficult now because it’s the two who kept outsmarting the trap.

        Reply
        1. jonboinAR

          There must be a difference in kind, in disposition, between actual feral cats and outdoors kitties who might often seem to have gone “feral”. We have 2 of the latter. They are not often handled, held, carried, or petted. They hunt, fight and roam. They come around twice a day, for feeding. At those times they are, briefly, quite affectionate, but still don’t want to be held, or petted but for a moment. However, they have been handled a little bit and fed, faithfully, since they were kittens.

          Because of two recent events I was sure of a sea-change in our relationship with these cats. Both involved us “doctoring” them. Both were somewhat traumatic. First they had to be wormed, or something. I forget just what the pills were for. Anyway, my son-in-law caught each cat and held it tight. He had it wrapped in a blanket while he wore a heavy coat and gloves. Then I forced its mouth open and jammed the pill down it’s throat. At that moment there was one pissed-off kitty. While being just as forceful as I needed to be (pretty forceful!), I spoke soothingly to the cat the whole time. Then we gave the cat one of its treats which, oddly to me at the time, it was happy to take. We had to do this several eves in a row. Oddly, the cats were both fairly easy to catch each time. By about the 3rd time they were looking eagerly for their treat afterward. The other event, which I won’t go into, was even more traumatic, if possible.

          Before all this I would have been sure that we had just sacrificed any trust those cats had in us. Oddly, though, at no time have the 2 kitties seemed to hold any of this personal invasion against us. They are exactly as loving and distant as they were before. They come up of their own volition, I pet them very briefly, and they move off. Somehow they seem to understand that, misguided though we may have been, we had their best interests in mind. But, somehow I don’t think a real feral cat who had spent all of it’s formative time living wild would have been so forgiving. I don’t know.

          Reply
          1. Charlie

            Maybe, but these cats were born in my shed to a feral mom (the only one I haven’t been able to touch so far, but she will sniff my hand on occasion) and I was their first human contact. And I’m still the only one the others will go near, though they are less afraid of people in general now.

            Reply
          2. Charlie

            I was told by “professionals” that any socialization has to be started before four weeks, however, these kittens were at 14 weeks before they even approached the milk bowl, and now follow me most places, come to my car when I get home, etc.

            So, I’m not seeing much difference. We have been domesticating feral cats for thousands of years. It can still be done.

            Reply
  1. The Rev Kev

    Re the photo of the 52 officers’ wives of the Air Force that are all white when the services are 40% non-white.

    I suppose that there is no chance that 20 of them are married to black dudes by any chance?

    Reply
    1. GlobalMisanthrope

      I was thinking along those lines. My family is huge and we have quite a few interracial marriages, all of them military folk.

      Also, those interracial couples are all married to other military members. Maybe those pictured are just the non-military wives.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The other outstanding feature of that picture is that they all appear to be the aesthetic 1% of the female population, especially with their currently in-favor skinny long legs.

        Can’t they find more average looking wives (who may be Native Americans, but look white)?

        Reply
            1. RMO

              USAF officers skew Caucasian, that may have something to do with it. Of course someone arranging the event who knew that may have made use of the information.

              Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Would that then give rise to the Officers Husbands’ Club to compete with the Officers Wives’ Club? Or would they be combined into a Officers’ Spouses’ Club?

        Reply
    2. Sid Finster

      A woman I know who had served in the Army for a long time told me that the Army inadvertently encourages interracial dating. The reasons she gave are not necessarily politically correct and not all the children of the rainbow sing together, so don’t shoot the messenger.

      To summarize, there are four types of people in the military: white women, black women, black men, and white men.

      According to my acquaintance, the black women are “no nonsense”, to say the least. They joined the Army because it gave them a ticket get out of whatever hellhole they came from and have no intention of turning back, or of letting a relationship and the possibility of a baby screw them up from doing whatever it is that they want to do.

      The white guys, at least the enlisted ranks, are also undatable, but this is because they are mostly losers. They joined the military because they had few or no other options. (This was a while ago, and since then career prospects for most people have plummeted.)

      That left black men and white women.

      Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Both. Her dad was of American Samoan/European descent while her mom was born in Decatur, Indiana. The family moved to Hawaii when Tulsi was just three. A classic American melting pot family.

          Reply
      1. John

        What I find unfortunate is that the military is the best option for anyone wanting to get out of their lower class hell hole in America. This is especially true if they are afflicted with lower class speech signifiers and poor education from living in poor zip code/school districts. Class does trump race, as it tends to do, without ever removing race as a factor. The complexities of the British royal wedding display this wonderfully.
        To call lower class military men losers tells more about the classifier than the classified. True, they have lost the social birth lottery, but it is rarely a pure class descriptor when using the word in American English. It oozes contempt for the ungodly.
        It has always been so in military empires….until the plebs get tired of the game and the military has to depend on mercenaries.

        Reply
    3. RUKidding

      Quite likely that some of these women are married to a black or Latino man. That said… NO women of color at all? Really?

      Reply
    4. ArcadiaMommy

      What non-white people would harass themselves by going to the White House with the current occupant? I know I wouldn’t bother.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think the president of Taiwan or her Taiwanese American supporters would love to visit.

        Reply
  2. Steve H.

    > NASA satellites

    NASA source article: NASA Satellites Reveal Major Shifts in Global Freshwater

    “The twin GRACE satellites, launched in 2002 as a joint mission with the German Aerospace Center (DLR), precisely measured the distance between the two spacecraft to detect changes in Earth’s gravity field caused by movements of mass on the planet below.”

    This was simply awesome. When I was in the Groundwater Modelling Lab, all our data came from terrestrial outflows or well logs. This project seems to have tracked subsurface flows using gravity anomalies. Consider that well data often had a single value, and nearby wells could have years of difference in when the values were collected. We did the best we could with what we had, and it was valid work, but it was purely black-box modelling. This ability to map what’s under the surface, I swear my mouth is watering now.

    Reply
      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Thanks for chasing down the NASA link. That press release was a little more clear to me than the Inverse article.

        As oceans rise I believe salt water will find its way into new areas of ground water. I try to think of the ground as a covering over hidden structures of porous and non-porous rock with an underground topography like the topography of the ocean floor. Where might I find maps of this underground topography?

        Reply
          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Thank you very much! I bookmarked the site. I live on the East Coast so Monterey is a little distant. I believe as the seas rise this kind of information should become a priority.

            Reply
  3. rd

    Mr. Tambourine Man has the wrong perspective. It turns out that white-footed mice are the primary host of ticks that spread Lyme disease. The cat is simply trying to make sure that the human occupant will not get Lyme disease and is using alcohol to sterilize the corpse.

    Reply
    1. Skip Intro

      I believe the red wine marinade is the first step in the preparation of Souris Bourguignon, a classic from French cat cuisine. I wonder if any shallots have gone missing.

      Reply
    2. willf

      I suspect that we are seeing the end result of a rant sauce-rosee’ about how someone hadn’t caught a mouse in a while.

      Reply
  4. rd

    There is no way Trump will settle for exporting LNG to Europe. Gas is a primary export from Russia and a main weapon that Russia uses in negotiations with Europe. There is no way that Trump will want Putin to lose this revenue source and negotiating tool.

    Reply
    1. jefemt

      The Art of The Deal….

      Wonderful to have our Prez beholden to Lenders of Last Resort

      No negative effects on any front… har dee har har

      We shall see… now is that a quote of The Donal’? My mom used to say,

      ” Maybe so…”

      Reply
      1. Sid Finster

        Provide evidence, please.

        For that matter, what is “Russia” going to do if Trump doesn’t pay his loans? Sue him?

        Reply
          1. Sid_finster

            I would have said that pussygate proved that Trump is unblackmail able, but the Stormy Daniels affair shows that to be wrong.

            Reply
    2. tegnost

      Yes I’m sure putin had trump call him so he could instruct trump on how to proceed and trump at the end of the call said yes sir right away sir is there anything else thank you sir, I await further instructions. I didn’t notice the sarc tag so I did not add one myself, but I assume that without any evidence to the contrary we’re just blowing smoke. I don’t suppose that boosting LNG exports has ever been a goal of the US oil industry…/s

      Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      4. WTO: The EU would engage together with the U.S. in “meaningful WTO reforms,” as one official said. That looks like an attempt to do three things in one: accommodate Trump’s anger about the World Trade Organization, keep the WTO functional by finding a solution to the current blockage of its appellate body and give Trump something to brag about

      I don’t know if they consciously or unconsciously are biasing against, or for, Trump here.

      It’s good for a president to be angry at something, like free trade deals or WTO’s neoliberal policies.

      And if something is done to improve that, even the Deplorables would want to brag about it.

      Reply
  5. Wukchumni

    I suppose it’s trademarked by Ford and Tesla would get flamed if they were to call their cars Pintos, but it’s a good fit.

    Reply
    1. Edward E

      Hot Pintos and melted cheese, think they call it Texas crash or trash or something

      There’s the little skinker I took a picture of, I’ll be, it was just swallowing a fly and trying to keep it down while staying away from hawgzilla

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      The Pinto would explode if someone hit you. These Tesla incidents mostly seem to consist of single car accidents. Perhaps the people who buy Teslas–which are marketed as a kind of sports car–are just bad drivers and shouldn’t buy cars with batteries that can burst into flames.

      Which is not to defend Tesla, but lots of cars now have lithium batteries. Then there’s those early Boeing 787s whose lithium battery packs would also catch fire. Pinto airplanes?

      Reply
      1. jsn

        Tesla apparently has a proprietary battery design prone to worse fires than those used in the Chevy Zolt. Both lithium ion but with different cell configurations. IIRC the Tesla delivers more power but with greater fire risk.

        Reply
        1. begob

          I seem to remember footage from a crash a while ago, where the battery was exposed but didn’t short circuit – it looked like a bundle of hundreds of Li Ion 18650s.

          Reply
        2. Altandmain

          The energy density is about 11% higher on the Tesla batteries per kg, but they opted for a much more flammable battery configuration.

          Actually the Tesla might not have weight savings because it needs armor to shield the batteries. It would seem like the armor is not working out very well.

          Reply
    3. Kevin

      Odd the amount of coverage Tesla and Musk get considering he deals in trinkets for the 1%.
      I could give a damn about him or his shiny cars.

      Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Quite true. The difference is that when the gasoline has been burned that is it. The firefighters are having all sorts of problems learning how to deal with extinguishing these batteries and just recently a battery in a burnt car started burning again in a holding yard a coupla days after being towed there. You don’t get that with gasoline. They should call those Teslas mobile crematoriums.

            Reply
  6. Ignacio

    RE:Someone, somewhere, is making a banned chemical that destroys the ozone layer, scientists suspect Washington Post (Dr. Kevin)

    This article left me wordless. Hope we know what’s happening soon.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its very depressing. There does not seem to be clear evidence of who is doing the manufacturing. This 2 year old report indicates that its a widespread problem and doesn’t seem to be related to any one country. But if I was to make a guess I’d say a source in India would be a possible culprit – it has a huge and poorly regulated chemical industry.

      Reply
    2. VietnamVet

      This is part and parcel of deregulation and a neo-liberal, organized crime, global economy. If it makes money, go for it. If caught, pay a fine. Like opioids, if there is a market, manufacture it, sell it. Only the restoration of democracy, secured borders, peace and environmental protections can turnaround the world’s downward slide.

      Reply
  7. Wukchumni

    Any word on whether truffle couriers, or 40 year old single malt scotch couriers have gig rights?

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Ah, yes, the dear sweet gig economy. Which ought to be called the frig economy. Because it keeps frigging workers over.

      Reply
  8. PlutoniumKun

    Total Stops Iran Gas Project as Risk From Sanctions Too High Bloomberg

    Interesting that Total emphasises its vulnerability to dollar clearing houses. I think many countries will be paying close attention now to the role of clearing houses in allowing the US so much leverage over trade.

    On a wider point, this investment applies to the North Dome gas well, which is under the Gulf and shared by Qatar and Iran. The details of their agreement are not public, but it seems to be based on a straightforward 50:50 share of extraction, with each side allowed to monitor the others wells. This leaves the obvious option open to the Iranians to allow the Qataris to extract more, in exchange for a straightforward profit sharing arrangement, so I doubt they are too perturbed by this.

    Reply
    1. RabidGandhi

      The lede undermines the article’s headline:

      Total SA said it will not risk investing in Iran following the return of U.S. sanctions, unless it can secure a waiver…. The U.S. Treasury has given companies up to 180 days to end dealings with Iran. The European Union, also a signatory to the atomic deal, has pledged to take steps to salvage the accord.

      Ah, so we’re still in the brinksmanship negotiation stage. Welcome to the Trump era, where all world affairs can be boiled down to a hotelier pulling contract stunts to extort concessions from suppliers.

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      That should be fairly easy to fix: set up new clearing houses in Euros, etc. Such as the ECB. I wonder what the US’s recourse would be?

      Reply
  9. PlutoniumKun

    EU Wants to Boost LNG Imports From US in Exchange of Lifting US Aluminum Tariffs Sputnik

    This is less a concession than a teaser for Trump. Europe has no method of forcing operators to favour one source of gas, or source of LNG, over another. The only way they can facilitate more LNG imports is to financially underwrite the necessary decompression plants – at the moment, there are significant numbers of unbuilt approved plants around Europe, as there does not seem to be a market for more. And it would be in Europes interest anyway to have a greater variety of sources.

    Reply
  10. PlutoniumKun

    Get Ready for the New Middle East Battlefield: The Golan American Conservative

    Lambert speculated yesterday that the future ground zero for a Trump war could be somewhere not immediately obvious right now, such as in Africa (if, say, he suddenly started looking for an easy, winnable conflict for electoral reasons). But this article makes quite a convincing case that the Golan Heights could be the key area. For the first time in a quarter century, the Syrian Army looks formidable, and they will soon be moving with armour big time into the south to flush out the last of Isis and Al-Q on the border areas. The Golan Heights, as the name suggests, is quite defendable, but this is certain to make Israel very nervous. This won’t be like shooting Gazan teenagers with snipers rifles.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, not so much fun when your targets actually start shooting back at you. Almost unsportsmanlike that. Bullying grannies and arresting children is one thing but coming up against combat vets who have been six years in fighting Jihadists is another.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        There are indeed protests; but we need to remember the utter futility of the gigantic protests against the War on Iraq. Futility lowers turnout – and means that some new approach is needed. Our masters have gotten very good at ignoring polite, legal demonstrations, firmly worded letters, etc.

        Reply
        1. SimonGirty

          True that. I just can’t help but remember my boss calling, for me to go on a gig, as thousands of folks simply all were walking into midtown, here in NYC. Some punk cops had strangled a guy for being big and the wrong color to be selling cigarettes. The media caught on, that they could cash in… this is different, somehow? I’d thought there’s be huge protests. The blog aggregators would align with social networking to tell folks where we were most needed… Oh well, wonder what’s on Netflix? https://www.facebook.com/NYC2Palestine/ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/16/israel-palestine-protests-american-jewish-groups

          Reply
  11. juliania

    The student loan piece is a must read. Parents need to recognize that their kids have no ability to forsee the debt they are about to incur, as also to recognize their own vulnerability in the matter. It is not responsible parenting to agree to stand behind such horror accruing to their loved ones. There are other ways to get an education than continuing to support this travesty – it behooves our younger generations to just say “Hell no, we won’t go!”

    The piece (very well written, by the way) ends by saying that 40 is the new 20. I would say rather that considering how the process ages those trapped within it, 40 is the new 65.

    Reply
    1. jefemt

      And the elephant in the room is that by age 50, your working/earning trajectory is done.

      Old and in the way.

      What a world!

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        The phrase seeing the elephant is an Americanism which refers to gaining experience of the world at a significant cost. It was a popular expression of the mid to late 19th century throughout the United States in the Mexican–American War, the Texan Santa Fe Expedition, the American Civil War, the 1849 Gold Rush, and the Westward Expansion Trails (Oregon Trail, California Trail, Mormon Trail). (Wiki)

        Reply
    2. cnchal

      What I found puzzling. There was no mention and apparently zero awareness that if she had extra money when a payment was due, paying that extra would go directly against the principle, unless for some rather odd reason that is not possible to do on student loans.

      It’s like paying the minimum on a credit card. Almost all of it is interest, the principle barely get’s touched and the next month it bites you in the ass again.

      What I found hugely annoying and makes Bustle unreadable was the idiotic GAP ad.

      Reply
      1. nycTerrierist

        not sure where you see she might have had ‘extra money when a payment was due’?

        She makes it clear she was scraping by – couldn’t afford basic amenities ‘like
        a metrocard’

        did you read the entire piece?

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          Wonder what would happen if all the people currently being crushed by “student debt” #juststoppedpaying? Something happened in the 1930s when a whole lot of people stopped paying because they couldn’t. And yes, different and also complex situation. But the faux hypocritical righteous Puritanical crap about how mopes “must pay their just debts” to collection scammers and such, with none of the exits that corporate slime have via the bankruptcy “fresh start” processes, that “righteous notion” that includes “because I was able to pay these leeches somehow, all the rest of you should too” is kind of nausea-inducing… “We” can do better, by tackling one huge vampire squid that is fastened to the face of us, our children, our “fellow Americans” (note how little used that trope is any more? in this land of “sauve qui peut” and “apres moi le deluge.”?)

          All together now: #juststoppaying

          Reply
          1. David Carl Grimes

            Why is Biden another Teflon politician? Wasn’t he responsible for making student debt almost non-dischargeable in bankruptcy? Bankruptcy is a simple and existing solution to this problem. Why don’t more people blame Biden? Not many people know about this.

            Reply
            1. nycTerrierist

              x a million!

              The stench of non-dischargeable Student Loans should precede him wherever he goes!

              Reply
            2. GF

              It appears corporations have more rights than people as JT describes above. There is an interesting new book out called “We the Corporations: How American Corporations Won Their Civil Rights” by Adam Winkler that explains the history of corporations in the USA since Jamestown. Very eye opening to understand that America was founded as a corporation and the corporations have been fighting in the Supreme Court since 1809 to gain personhood rights. Seems they have succeeded and then some.

              Reply
          2. Solar Hero

            I love #juststoppaying but if you are a licensed professional (nursing, teaching, finance) they can garnish your wages or even revoke your license! Incredible but true!

            Reply
        2. cnchal

          > did you read the entire piece?

          Yes, and wondered why there is no mention of potentially slaying the debt beast cut by cut with extra payments. It didn’t seem to cross her mind.

          What is truly bizarre, and pisses me off, is that after years of piling up debt for an education, a $20,000 per year jawb is the result. I mean, FFS, at that point her entire education experience is based on education fraud, selling hope with no hope in hell. Let’s be honest and call it what it is, child sacrifice.

          Reply
      2. coboarts

        No, it isn’t really possible to pay extra on the principle. If you pay additional money it is credited to the next payment. I tried to make payments to principle. Others I’ve spoken with had the same experience. And try contacting your student loan servicer for this….

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s the same with pay property taxes, I believe.

          When you accidentally overpay, the excess amount is returned to you.

          Of course, you can’t prepay next year’s insurance. The insurance company retains the option to hike it. There is no way you, that is anyone, could have locked in the rate 10 or 15 years ago, and prepaid it.

          Reply
        2. cnchal

          Well, look at this.

          http://www.finaid.org/loans/repayment.phtml

          And this.

          http://www.finaid.org/loans/prepayment.phtml

          Why Prepay?

          Prepayment can save you money by paying off your loan earlier and by reducing the total interest paid over the lifetime of the loan. Since the loan balance is reduced, more of your subsequent monthly payments will go toward further reducing the loan balance and less toward interest.

          When you have more than one loan, you should apply prepayments toward the more expensive loans first (the loans with the highest after-tax interest rates). This strategy will save you the most money.

          FinAid has a prepayment calculator which you can use to calculate the impact of different prepayment strategies on your loans. It shows the reduction in the loan term and the total interest saved.

          How to Request Prepayment

          Federal regulations allow the lender to apply a prepayment to “future installments by advancing the next payment due date” unless otherwise specified by the borrower.2 For this reason it is important to include a note with any prepayment indicating that you want the prepayment applied to reduce the principal balance of the loan. Otherwise, the lender will treat it as though you had paid your next installment(s) early, and may delay the next payment due date(s) as appropriate.

          Without the note, you get ripped off. Probably even with the note, unless you record and detail everything you will get ripped off, but there is a way to do it. The system is deliberately designed backwards to automatically rip students off.

          The way it should be is that any pre or over payment at a due date goes towards reducing principle, but that would take money out of the bankster’s pocket.

          The circular logic goes like this. Bankster pays politician to write laws in such a way as to favor the bankster, the casualty in this transaction is you, the student treated like a mushroom so you can’t figure out a way to pulverize the debt millstone, which enriches the bankster, unjustly of course, so that he or she can pay the politician in the next reelection cycle to tighten the noose evermore. I call it circling the drain.

          Your student loan servicer is a criminal, period. The system is set up to help the creepy crawlies within the system, and not you. Treat them as an enemy.

          Reply
    3. perpetualWAR

      I was going to add: after she hits 40 and debt-free, she has just 15 more years before she becomes “aged-out” of the workforce. I’m now 55 and believe I am being age discriminated against.

      So, there’s that to contemplate too.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Don’t feel alone. This is standard procedure now.
        The cynic in me feels that the ‘topped out’ workers should, if at all possible, leave some ‘land mines’ in the systems they are being forced to exit from. Then sit back and watch the fun as the younger replacements wrestle with ‘business as usual.’
        I had an interview last week with the head of maintenance at a local medical industrial complex concern. I had all the skills he wanted, since one of his two plumbers was leaving for ‘greener pastures.’ However, it would be, he said, at least three or four weeks before he could get back to me. “Upper management demands that I interview a wide range of applicants. Such as different ethnic groups and especially younger people. Why? What you have and I need are skills that take a few years to learn. You don’t just jump into the middle of this sort of stuff straight out of trade school.” We looked at each other and I started to laugh. He joined in a moment later. No words needed to be spoken.

        Reply
        1. freedeomny

          And it is going to get worse. I applied for a job that I was More than qualified for, however it’s hard to fudge my resume re my age. Then just for giggles, I went on Rover & Wag – 2 sites for dog walking and pet boarding. I could not believe how many people in my area were on there and a majority already have full time jobs – they are just doing this on the side. My old dogwalker started her business before these two gig site arrivals…and she makes a good living. She would not be able to compete if she was starting her business today…..

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Agreed. I’m just wondering how much of observed ‘ageism’ is population to available tasks density driven and how much is driven by ‘primitive acquisition?’

            Reply
    4. bronco

      They also need to hit the kids with a clue stick as regards to signing up for degrees with no future earnings potential. If you go to med school you will have a lot of loans but be able to pay them off. However If you decided to major in mythology maybe you just check out a few books on Zeus from the library , read a few comic books and go work for a living like a normal person. There are plenty of instances of schools and lenders scamming people but there are also precious snowflakes that want to do things that don’t pay money and parents that enable them.

      Adulting is not t-ball , its big league ball , some people hit home runs , some sit on the bench and pinch run now and then , and most sell hot dogs and take tickets . Chances are little Suzi and little Jimmy going to be ticket takers and hot dog slingers , not the next babe ruth . You don’t need a degree to sell hot dogs so maybe don’t take out any loans in the first place

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Good on the surface, but the phenomenon of creeping credentialism comes into play.
        First, many jobs that previously were subject to in house training and promotion have fallen prey to the outsourcing of the training process. A lot of the present day degree courses are really glorified apprenticeships.
        Second, credentialism is an artifact of the process of limiting the available pool of ‘qualified’ applicants for any position. Such exclusivity is a mask for the mismatch between the population of potential workers and the population of jobs.
        Thirdly, the enforcement mechanism for credentialism is wage inequality. The average Hotdog seller at the ball park will make less than needed to survive. So, the Second Job makes an appearance. However, the Gourmet Hotdog seller, through the rigorous training and certification process needed to guarantee the Quality of the Gourmet Hotdog product, must earn higher wages to offset the extra expense incurred in gaining the requisite credentials. When the wages earned from the pursuit of this ‘Higher Calling’ do not provide adequate recompense, always a possibility in our ‘Dog eat Dog’ economy, the Second Career makes an appearance. To assure that the more deserving members of the workforce are given their due, defined by their superior credentials of course, the second job is reclassified as something needing a more rigourous vetting regime.
        This fun never ends.

        Reply
        1. bronco

          A debt free hotdog seller might do ok, a hotdog seller with a degree in ancient etruscan and 50k in debt , ? not so much

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Yeah, but, what if the ballpark required the sellers of some “High Quality Franks” to have a degree in Etruscan Pork Products, their production, preparation, and, for the Masters Level, proper Etruscan Magical Spells to Insure Divine Approval? Such as, no $50k debt load, no living wage at all? Assuming, of course, that the potential employee, er, sub-contractor, is not an ascetic of some sort and will actually approve of a 1000 calorie daily food intake. Said sub-optimal food supply guaranteed by the sub-optimal wages the ‘Average’ Hotdog seller receives.
            I have observed something on the order of ‘Creeping Credentialism’ in the construction trades. I’ve seen newly minted ‘Golly Gee Whiz’ Construction Management Graduates flounder about while a non credentialed, and lower paid ‘up from the ranks’ employee ended up running the job. Whenever the new grad screws up royally, and it happens with great regularity, the ranker continues running things while another ‘upper management’ type is slotted in to the contentious position. The first thing the older hand does, if he or she has sufficient honesty, is to take the rankers out to lunch for as long as it takes to get a handle on the problem project. You would be depressingly not surprised to see how many of the long term managerial class doesn’t have sufficient self-honesty to blur the class lines within the workforce, even temporarily.

            Reply
      2. Alex V

        The thing is that we are able to provide materially for everyone, probably several times over. A disturbingly large portion of jobs are “BS jobs”, as David Graeber terms them. Industries like PR, marketing, the FIRE sector add little if any value to society. The only reason a job in mythology pays little or nothing is strictly a moral judgment of that profession. We can change that judgement whenever we want, as a society.

        Reply
        1. bronco

          Well thats true but , when I started school in 1992 I had at least a vague idea that there were job prospects at the end of the associate degree I chose. Then I transfeered those credits to a 4 year school , or at least 75% of them. Help from my family was in the form of a place to stay at lower than market value. They didn’t pay my tuition.

          Also I chose a local state school to keep costs down , went part time days and worked as I went and managed to not need any loans .

          There are 18 year old’s choosing private schools over state schools , choosing to live at school instead of commute , and choosing degrees that will never pay their way in the world. That’s fine if you are a 1%’er and mommy and daddy are writing the checks.

          If I’m discussing school with my college age child I’m saying , don’t borrow money to live at school , don’t talk to me about fraternity or sorority life . As your parent I’m not paying for either of those things , you want to get drunk go stand in a cornfield in front of a bonfire like your dad that graduated with zero debt did. You really want to be paying off loans because dorm life sounded so much cooler than driving back and forth? I’ll buy you a case of ramen noodles chump , there’s your dorm life.

          Reply
          1. JCC

            Although I agree with most of what you have said here, regarding “don’t borrow money to live at school” is getting to be a big problem. Since an awful lot of small and large private colleges/universities that are close enough for commuting for many have also borrowed boatloads of cash to improve “student life”, many of them also require that you spend at least the first two years in school housing as part of your attending that school (not to mention that those boatloads of cash has forced tuition raises that give the student no additional ROI)

            This, for example is one list, a couple of years old and not a good list in that it is very very short, missing quite a few schools that I know have this requirement. The list, I might add, is also misleading. The below schools I mention had this requirement long before the list was published.

            https://www.washingtonpost.com/apps/g/page/local/colleges-that-require-students-to-live-on-campus/1826/

            For example, in Upstate NY alone, within commuting distance of the area I used to live in, we have Elmira College, Cornell University, Ithaca College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Syracuse University, and Rochester Institute of Technology. All require that full time undergrad students live on campus, a few for the entire 4 years. I have no doubt there are many, many more that have this requirement.

            Reply
      3. TroyMcClure

        Freddie deBoer has does exhaustive research on this canard of students “signing up for degrees with no future earnings potential.” Over half (53%) of ALL (yes all) current college students are enrolled in some type of “business” degree track.

        Also your metaphor stinks. Life is not a sport. The ball game ends and we all go home. There’s no going home from needing food, clothing and shelter.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Unless, of course, the mass of humanity goes back to being ‘beasts of the field.’ (That’s the horrible subtext of the “Shepherd and Flock” philosophies.)

          Reply
      4. marym

        I’m so old (and lucky) to have studied “Zeus” at a time when corporate, public, and ngo-type employers saw a liberal arts degree as evidence a potential employee was literate, “well-rounded”, able to do research, or had similar other qualities deemed important for the job.

        In addition to in-house training, companies offered tuition reimbursement (!!) for college and advanced degrees, and didn’t expect employees to be on-call 24/7, so going to school part-time was feasible.

        Students of “Zeus” who may have had youthful dreams of literary, academic, or artistic careers found our way into entry-level jobs that may have been tangentially connected to the dream, or not even.

        However with reasonable schedules, defined benefit pensions, and health insurance, people were able to earn living, often doing something reasonably interesting or socially useful, and still have energy to enjoy books, music, mythology, community work, etc.

        A system based solely on corporate greed, public austerity, and a general siphoning of wealth to the few now tells us to devalue education if we want to eke out a living.

        At the same time the beneficiaries of this system tell us that not only education, but anything that doesn’t transfer wealth – anything to which liberal arts dreamers, and social justice warriors once aspired, are out of the question, being replaced by robots, too costly, blah blah blah.

        It’s just another way of robbing us of our inheritance and future generations of our legacy.

        Reply
        1. bronco

          I personally enjoy mythology I’m just saying. At 18 no one is equipped to plan their financial future because they have very deliberately not been given any exposure to how things work. It would be pretty easy for high school to give them a clue about money but none of them seem to have thought of it. I wonder why that is?

          Some adult has to be the voice of reason and say no I’m not cosigning that loan its a disaster. No, you don’t need to go to that private school 1000 miles from here and borrow to pay room and board , and no you can’t use your fafsa money to go to Mexico on spring break either.

          I will go so far as to say to my kids (which is at least decade off ) you have to go to work after high school for a few years or I’m not going to help you financially at all with school.

          Lets face it even 6 months of working for a living would go a long way towards wising an 18 year old up to the concept of debt.

          Reply
          1. marym

            As parents people need to give their kids practical advice to navigate the world as it is. That seems to be an ever-narrowing range of choices for education and career.

            As a society we need to say that’s not good enough. Mythology is a great example – a very early part of our human heritage of knowing the world.

            If we relegate most human knowledge, and the work and art exploration and service that people do with that knowledge, to the dustbin, to a book we read on the subway, or that we may never even know exists, or that the library discards because no one has read it for a generation, we’re doomed.

            Reply
          2. jrs

            working for a living will probably discourage them from ever going to college, working for a living tends to do that, pretty soon your just on the hamster wheel, work, eat, sleep, and the last thing you want to give up is your new found independence, even if all it will ever amount to is work, eat, sleep and your friends have all graduated and well you can’t really aspire to that, because you feel ancient now to start school at an age when the others are graduating, and dad wasn’t into the college thing and maybe you’ll go back to night school *someday* …

            Reply
      5. Copeland

        According to a certain Archdruid, you don’t need a degree to be a teacher – or even a doctor.

        See “Retrotopia” by John Michel Greer.

        Reply
      6. FluffytheObeseCat

        Imaginary dilettantes racking up 6-figure debts for “Mythology” degrees are………….. mythological constructs. Except possibly in families where money is no object. In the vast majority of the nation’s households, college-aged students are not pursuing degrees that focus on “mythology” or “Etruscans”.

        The vast majority of debt-ridden former college students sought marketable degrees, like dental hygiene, or ‘criminal justice’. However, the ‘market’ commonly does not pay them enough to pay off their credentialing costs.

        You – and far too many other aging time-whilers in comments sections – are willfully clueless about the demands placed on young (would be) workers today. You need to throw out your 40 year old copies of Bullsh*tfinch’s “Mythology”. You can’t re-sell them, I assure you. No one takes those lovely, stuffy classes anymore. They can’t afford to, not even at the lesser satellite campuses of mediocre state schools.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          ” In the vast majority of the nation’s households, college-aged students are not pursuing degrees that focus on “mythology”.”

          Never heard of Regent University, eh?

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Also, anyone who pursues a degree in “Communications” had better be ready to deal in mythologies, lies, and hagiographies.

            Reply
    5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Parents need to recognize.

      And teachers.

      As for colleges and universities, they have played their parts in debt-enslaving these students. Will there be reparations one day?

      Reply
  12. allan

    The 9.9% article is part of a well-organized and funded campaign by the ultra rich and their camp followers
    in the pundit class (David Brooks) and think tank (Richard Reeves at Brookings) to distract attention
    from what is actually going on at the top end.
    As a reminder, in 2016 the 9.9% of the income distribution starts at $109,000.
    Yes, someone making that much is doing better than 90.1% of the population,
    but hardly fits the (cleverly phrased in the first person plural) description

    … So what kind of characters are we, the 9.9 percent? We are mostly not like those flamboyant political manipulators from the 0.1 percent. We’re a well-behaved, flannel-suited crowd of lawyers, doctors, dentists, mid-level investment bankers, M.B.A.s with opaque job titles, and assorted other professionals—the kind of people you might invite to dinner. In fact, we’re so self-effacing, we deny our own existence. We keep insisting that we’re “middle class.” …

    $109,000 is also wildly insufficient to engage in many of the activities and behaviors the author describes. Buy your precious a place at Harvard ($2.5 million for little Jared 20 years ago)? Be an overpaid orthopedic surgeon?
    Buy a house in Brookline? Give me a break.

    But the officially approved narrative must be narrated, so expect the author to show up on NPR in the next week.

    Reply
    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Allan.

      Is this Richard Reeves the Brit who used to work at the Guardian and some so called think tank? If yes, if he’s there, he’s not here. Sorry, USA.

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Here’s the essence of the article

      Every piece of the pie picked up by the 0.1 percent, in relative terms, had to come from the people below. But not everyone in the 99.9 percent gave up a slice. Only those in the bottom 90 percent did. At their peak, in the mid-1980s, people in this group held 35 percent of the nation’s wealth. Three decades later that had fallen 12 points—exactly as much as the wealth of the 0.1 percent rose.

      In between the top 0.1 percent and the bottom 90 percent is a group that has been doing just fine. It has held on to its share of a growing pie decade after decade. And as a group, it owns substantially more wealth than do the other two combined. In the tale of three classes (see Figure 1), it is represented by the gold line floating high and steady while the other two duke it out. You’ll find the new aristocracy there. We are the 9.9 percent.

      Are you quarreling with the article’s statistics? He’s not letting billionaires off the hook but saying that the upper middle class deserves to be on the hook as well. Nitpicks about how much money constitutes upper middle class are not really relevant but are the standard comeback for the elite seeking to defend themselves. If Brookline is so expensive maybe they should move somewhere else.

      Reply
      1. Cat Afficionado

        “He’s not letting billionaires off the hook but saying that the upper middle class deserves to be on the hook as well.”

        What is the argument that you/the author are trying to make? Honest question.

        From the data, it looks like the 0.1% has been enriched at the expense of the bottom 90%, with the intermediate 9.9% remaining consistent in its share of the pie. I can’t tell if you are arguing that:
        a) The 9.9% deserves to be gutted by the 0.1%, just like everyone else, since that is “fair”.
        b) The 9.9%, whose percentage of the pie has not changed, in fact “owes” the underlying 90%.
        c) Something else?

        Honestly, I would not be surprised if the author wrote an alarmist piece about how a full HALF of all Americans earn below the median income, and why we should be upset about it.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Speaking only for me I’d say that the 10 percent are giving political cover to the 1 percent. Example: the Democratic party. These days it is populated by ten percenters while advocating–quite often–the agenda of the one percent. After all, they have nothing to lose by being neoliberals.

          Reply
          1. Cat Afficionado

            Hmm, I think that we sort-of agree. The 9.9% is indeed providing cover the the 0.1%, but I am more of the opinion that the 0.1% is deliberately pushing for it to be that way so that the 90% sticks their pitchforks into the 9.9% while the 0.1% jets off to their bunkers.

            As with all discussions involving demographics, we should also not pigeon-hole all members of a certain group. While SOME 9.9%’ers may be the wannabe 0.1% and lick the neoliberal boots of the DNC/RNC establishment, many do not. Given that the DNC & RNC are entirely beholden to the 0.1%, boot-licking is clearly a futile strategy for anyone paying attention since the 0.1% is now actively scapegoating this demographic.

            As I have been saying for a long time, based on my limited reading of history’s socio-political upheavals, when the pitchforks come out it will be bank tellers and branch managers (and engineers, sales managers, and anyone who dared to break into a 6-figure income) being drug down the street and lynched, not the Jamie Dimons and Lloyd Blankfeins. The mob will seek appeasement, and whoever is conveniently available will be consumed, despite it generally being counterproductive to whatever stated outcomes the mob seeks. As someone who worked hard and is (apparently) in the 9.9% thanks to years of frugality and savings, I have some issues with this.

            Reply
    3. precariat

      The Aristocracy article is supposed to be a warning to the well-off that their privileges have come to them not so much out of meritocracy but as a result of a terrible zero-sum game.

      But he Atlantic writer, as 9.9 percenter himself, mirrors the group’s insulating disdain for the “unreasonableness” of the struggling 90%. It’s not the .1% or their “aristocracy” that is unreasonable, it’s the 90% and their reaction to denial of opportunity and active predations. Classic passive agression.

      Reply
      1. dcrane

        I guess I read it as saying that there is an explanation for the unreasonableness of the 90%, and it ain’t mainly their fault – they are being unfairly left behind and they know it. How do we expect people to react when they see this and perceive themselves as having little power to change things (by respectable democratic channels, that is)?

        Reply
      2. False Solace

        The article struck me as quite strange. 9.9% of anything isn’t an aristocracy, it’s the bourgeoisie. Maybe they feel better if they think of themselves as aristocrats?

        Reply
    4. Cat Afficionado

      Thank you. Yes, that article was difficult to read because it is so bad and so wrong in many areas. Honestly, I had to stop reading at this line:

      Inevitably, I begin rehearsing the speech for my daughter. It’s perfectly possible to lead a meaningful life without passing through a name-brand college, I’m going to say. We love you for who you are. We’re not like those tacky strivers who want a back-windshield sticker to testify to our superior parenting skills. And why would you want to be an investment banker or a corporate lawyer anyway? But I refrain from giving the speech, knowing full well that it will light up her parental-bullshit detector like a pair of khakis on fire.

      Perhaps this is uncharitable, but this person is an unfit parent. He rehearses EXACTLY the correct guidance to give his kid, and then chickens-out because he is afraid she will roll her eyes at him. A zillion words about how “the 9.9%” guarantees its children continue to reap benefits, and he does exactly nothing about it by letting his daughter tumble down the success-neuroticism hole in pursuit of an Ivy-League education while dropping 5-figures on special counseling. I think that I can say with a high level of confidence that, yes, he is in fact one of those “tacky strivers” which he is in denial about being.

      As you (Allan) point out, this reeks of divide-and-conquer by the 0.1%. The 9.9% may have a seemingly outsize share of net worth (which the author notes has not changed in decades, unlike the 0.1% vs 90% shares), but in terms of high level decision making which affects everyone in the country, that is almost exclusively the domain of the 0.1%. All of this “group A is taking away from group B” line of dialog has some thin basis in truth, but at the same time the author also explicitly mentions that “the pie is getting bigger”. It is clear that the growth is being concentrated by the 0.1%, maybe even the 1%, at the expense of everyone below. Stoking the fires of anger and envy at the 9.9% is so transparently an attempt to divert attention from those who are actually in the pilot’s seat of the wealth shift that it hurts. OF COURSE the 0.1% will see to it that the next 9.9% gets gutted as they attempt to keep the pitchforks at bay!

      (anecdotes / mild rant)
      He (the author) needs to speak for himself, and himself alone, when making up caricatures of how vapid the 9.9% supposedly is. He basically sounds like the stereotype of the ladder-climbing NYC’er. At least by the numbers he cites as the entry point to this group, my wife and I apparently qualified a couple of years ago. We have ZERO envy of the 0.1%, or even the 1%, because of the insane lifestyle it generally demands to get there, at least without being of a lineage that birthed us into it. We drive cheap econo-box cars, live in a modest neighborhood and take modest vacations occasionally. My wife’s family had not even a pot to piss in when she was born, and her parents swam a dozen miles across open water with empty bottles tied to them to escape communist China. My wife and her family ultimately came to the US and built a solid upper-middle class life through blood, sweat and tears. Is she now supposed to wallow in guilt over that? Do you get a one generation free pass at success, after which you are expected to give it all away and re-join the poor? Where we live, a huge swath of those who numerically qualify as the 9.9% have similar stories…coming to the US with nothing, working hard and smart, and now reaping benefits of making good choices. The author even tries to demonize this line of thinking, as though referencing one’s own good decisions is a cop-out and that somehow hard work is actually of no consequence because any benefits someone reaps are all really unearned entitlements stolen from those with less. That can be true in some cases, notably in the 0.1%, but directing justifiable frustration by the bottom 90% onto the remainder of the people who still have to consistently make good choices to remain where they are is idiotic and a clearly obvious appeasement play by the oligarchy to give the angry masses an accessible outlet for their rage (the 0.1% is not very accessible, given their private jets, armed private security and bunkers in New Zealand).

      Reply
      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        A few things:

        he […] let[s] his daughter tumble down the success-neuroticism hole in pursuit of an Ivy-League education while dropping 5-figures on special counseling. I think that I can say with a high level of confidence that, yes, he is in fact one of those “tacky strivers” which he is in denial about being.”

        I believe your assessment of the author is accurate, however, he states further down in the article that he never ponied up for this academic counseling-BS.

        this reeks of divide-and-conquer by the 0.1%. The 9.9% may have a seemingly outsize share of net worth (which the author notes has not changed in decades, unlike the 0.1% vs 90% shares)”

        Fairly lame divide-and-conquer IMHO. Take another look at the embedded income chart: the upper 9.9% has been sinking wrt the 0.1% as well, just not for as long or by as large a relative amount. There is a visible post-1990 sag in percentage of national wealth belonging to the 9.9%. The author couldn’t break from his narrative long enough to rationalize it away; he simply ignored it.

        It is a clear graphical explanation for why the upper middle class is so fawningly dutiful. And perhaps for why the coastal intelligentsia is so pitifully frantic about college acceptances. Like him, they are acutely aware that it would be easy for they, themselves, to end up like his ‘Aunt Sarah’, droning on about their august history…..while working at a Wendy’s after pissing away their patrimony.

        Reply
    5. Kurtismayfield

      That is about my household income. After everything deducted it’s about $5600 a month take home. Then mortgage, insurance, and taxes takes a chunk. Trust me in the Northeast you ain’t a mover and a shaker at that income.

      Reply
    6. False Solace

      I don’t know where the $109k figure comes from. Maybe that’s just for individual earners. For a household, you actually need $160k/year to be in the highest 10% (2014 numbers). (source)

      Reply
  13. Colonel Smithers

    Off topic, readers who speak French may be interested in this news report from France 2 last night, https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/usa/etats-unis-les-americains-de-plus-en-plus-nombreux-a-dormir-dans-leur-voiture_2755549.html. It featured two homeless, but employed, women living in car parks in Santa Barbara and touched upon obesity. One of the women is an accountant at the local university and earns USD2k per month, barely enough to exist. About 18 months ago, France 2 featured Silicon Valley employees living in tents and caravans. Even if readers don’t speak French, please do watch – and sharpen your pitchforks.

    Readers won’t be surprised that the BBC does not bother with such features. Trump and identity politics, this month featuring Meghan Markle and her (or their, to be accurate) BS identification as black, trump everything. The BBC has more “journalists”, really ill informed and opinionated family bloggers, in the US than it has in the EU27, even as Brexitannia is about to roll over the cliff.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      The caste-aways here have widely different levels of homelessness.

      One sight I see all the time now is a 5th wheel, or trailer ensconced in somebody’s driveway, often named “Wilderness Adventurer” or “Montana”, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, probably the best off of all domicileless. Having 4 wheels is a must, be it a supermarket tumbrel or a fuel injected chariot. If you’re living in your vehicle, you can fake it and have a job still, but that doesn’t work so well, living out of a tent on a sidewalk, or hidden away in a canyon.

      Very seldom is the obesity angle touched upon anymore by the mainstream press in our country, although it’s obvious, eh?

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think In Santa Monica, or some nearby place or places, you can’t live in your vehicle.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          We’re fast approaching a breaking point, communities are fed up with transients in their face all the time. The compassion savings account is overdrawn across the country.

          Reply
    2. Bugs Bunny

      Incredibly sad video. Thanks for the link.

      These are “upstanding” members of the community, left to their own devices, wandering, lost. We’ve seen articles here on the car-sleeping phenomenon and I don’t see how it can improve short, medium or long term without major reforms.

      Agree on Sparkly Markle. Her obese, light-skinned father will not be allowed to attend the Royal Wedding™. Some things are just not done.

      Reply
      1. annieb

        Re: the car sleeping. Yes, there are sad stories and it shouldn’t be happening in this or any other country with our resources. There are also many videos on YouTube made by youngish people who live out of their cars while working their careers. They do it for economics, or adventure, or other reasons. I know it’s off the topic but there’s also “van life” which has appeal not just to the young but the old retirees as well. Most of them find it a way to live an interesting life within their means. That said, none of this would be happening as much if our economy was run for the benefit of ALL citizens and not merely our corporate overlords.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I think the scariest part of seeing so many homeless for a good many of the citizenry, is they themselves aren’t all that far off of being in the same predicament.

          It’s the oddest race to the bottom, our society.

          Reply
  14. disc_writes

    So, I understand that Politico wants to scare the foreign readership about an Italexit. Fear sells.

    However, one more time: there is zero chance that Italy will leave the Euro via democratic decision-making. Zero.

    – The Constitution enforces external constraints like the EU. A government would have to have a stable 2 thirds majority to change the Constitution. The process will take several months, during which the economy will collapse, the stock market will shut down, banks will shut down, people will not get paid, companies will go bankrupt. Not happening.

    – The Italian head of state, President Mattarella, would dissolve Parliament immediately if he thought that the government wanted to get Italy off the Euro. And he would be perfectly within his mandate.

    – Mattarella would not even allow the creation of a government if he suspected that one of the ministers, let alone the prime minister, might want to leave the Euro.

    – Italian governments are weak and short-lived by design. The checks and balances are heavily skewed against the executive, which can fall for even frivolous reasons. There is no chance that a government will survive the complexity of an Italexit.

    – M5S and Lega is a bad match, and everyone knows it. They agree on nothing, except for the fact that they disagree with the traditional parties. The parliament majority would not survive a debate about leaving the Euro.

    – There is no evidence that any Italian party understands the situation of the Euro, let alone that it would be able to write a half-workable plan to leave. There is no Italian Bernd Lucke. This is even more true for the two newcomers, who lack friends in the right places. Sure, Salvini boasted about his friendship with an anti-Euro economist, Bagnai. But that is mostly a façade: even if they really wanted to leave, M5S-Lega would have no idea of how.

    – Leaving the Euro would require the co-operation of the Italian central bank, Bankitalia. Which is of course not willing to play ball. Remember that Bankitalia is owned by the banks themselves, as opposed to France, Germany or the Netherlands where the central bank is owned by the State.

    – There are practical constraints. As explained on this site on several occasions, reprogramming all banks IT systems takes months.

    – There are hidden constraints. There are powers in Italy that you do not want to mess with. Salvini and Di Maio know very well that they would write their own and their families’ death warrants if they were to do something stupid. Italian politics was very violent until not very long ago. Well, let us see… until the 1992 Maastricht Treaty. That is not a coincidence.

    – The story of the coalition agreement is just grotesque. If it had been truly their intention to push for exit or blackmail Draghi, they would have immediately denied everything and denounced the document as a fabrication. That is not the sort of things you put black-on-white with your name next to it.

    The fact that it was not denied is, in my eyes, the real proof that it was a lie.

    They fabricated the “draft agreement” to appeal to their voters, making sure that the press reported its content, then said that it was not on the table anymore.

    M5S and the Lega are making noises about the Euro because the negotiations are not going well. They are simply looking for a scapegoat for their electors. The evil Germans are simply an obvious candidate.

    Italy will not leave the Euro via democratic decision-making. Not a snowball’s chance in Hell.

    Reply
    1. Sid Finster

      Probably all true, but a much simpler reason that Italy will stay with the Euro, even if the Eurozone implodes:

      The Italian political class will never allow it, and will do whatever they have to do, legal or extralegal, to prevent it from happening.

      Reply
    2. lou strong

      I agree with much of your points except the starting ones about Constitution , Mattarella etc.The Constitution enforces international treaties/constraints under the clause of parity, and by the way until now the political and institutional system has always accepted and interpreted EU, Euro and a lot of other stuff under the clause of parity, but there’s no direct enforcement rule.It’s even more juridically questionable to say that Mattarella would act within his mandate whenever he should decide to break an eventual parliamentary majority and related government in order to respect the above constraints . By the way , with the approval of the mainstream media and the booohs of some few dissenters who observed that he was acting against his mandate , he preemptively said he would do exactly something in that groove just a few days ago, with special reference to the , let’s say, Euro management constraints, quoting AFAIK the dear old-neo-liberal President Einaudi, the first-time member of the Mont Pelerin Society.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        This discussion is sketching the beginnings of a really major political meltdown. That would be almost as much of a problem for the EU as an open exit.

        Afterthought – a new election is more likely to make it worse than better.

        Reply
      2. disc_writes

        The role of the President has been getting increasingly important in the last few years. I surely do not need to remind you that the ousting of Berlusconi was orchestrated by the former President Napolitano.

        Mattarella can and will get a half-way presentable government.

        Reply
    3. Oregoncharles

      “But that is mostly a façade: even if they really wanted to leave, M5S-Lega would have no idea of how.”
      Maybe its just a quibble, but there are people who do know – Galbraith fils, for one. I assume they’re paying close attention.

      But I”m not going to argue Italian politics with someone who’s there.

      Reply
      1. disc_writes

        I am not there, I am observing from the outside – the Netherlands. Which does not make me very reliable as an observer, of course.

        But I am not saying that no one in Italy knows about the intricacies of leaving the Euro: we have good economists in the right places. Of course there are Italians in the know. And of course we could recruit international experts (Yaroufakis himself?).

        Not to mention that a whole lot of economists have been thinking about the most practical way to leave the Euro before the currency was even introduced (I remember my economics courses in the 1990s).

        All I am saying is that leaving the Euro is a red meat issue for the electorate, and no political party has actually bothered to look into how it would have to work in practice.

        Reply
  15. Amit chokshi

    The 9.9pct is ok but i think it is not stratified enough. If it takes 1.2mm net worth to break in you are one 2008 or 2002 away from going backwards.

    I’m guessing 30-40pct of that worth is home equity, then maybe another 20pct in retirement accounts. The balance in some stocks and cash. If you have a mortgage and you try to keep up with the joneses a bad market knocks you out , and or your job gets impaired your future real earnings and net worth may be permanently impaired. Like you have your own output gap like the 1T gap the us economy has had.

    I think most of those people in that 9.9 pct with say 1-3mm that are w2 employees feel that fear.

    If you get a w2 you are a nobody on this country. Only asset owners matter and have power

    Reply
    1. Carey

      So if we in the USA! have an economy such that even this 9.9% group is not so far from precarity, and those in the 90% below are much worse off, do we have the right kind of economy?
      Right, that is, for the bottom 99.9%?

      Reply
  16. Edward E

    Wyoming should have world recognition for the good work that they do to help avoid wildlife and vehicle collisions. The interstates are fenced off extremely well with like eight-ten foot fences.

    Knock on wood, had some close ones but I’ve never hit a deer or elk. One deer caved in a passenger side door of my ol country caddie after coming to a complete stop to avoid her back and forth on a rural paved road.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      When we had our bear invasion of several hundred bruins in the fall of 2015, around 6-8 were killed when they got hit by cars. They just had no concept of what a few tons going 45 mph could do, being from the wilderness.

      One time we were driving down the main road and a woman was waving as if she needed help, and we turned around and stopped, and she was a member of the Tule reservation, and a bear had been hit and died about an hour earlier, and she had it on a tarp and needed help getting it into her car, so she could take it to the reservation for a proper tribal burial.

      I’d never touched a bear before, and the fur was so soft, and the claws so long, yikes.

      Reply
    2. Brian

      Canada is building under and overpasses for their wildlife. Cost is greater than $1.50 per bag. Wyoming has a long way to catch up with humanity and animal welfare.

      Reply
    3. Oregoncharles

      Weve hit deer twice – do a lot of country driving. One hit the windshield right in front of me, fortunately the passenger side. So we drove home with a map spread out on my lap to catch the bits of glass.

      That deer literally jumped into us, from the other side of the road.

      Reply
  17. zagonostra

    Reference: $18K to $24K Student Loan.

    Thank you NC for publishing this piece from Bustle, it gives the 1.5 Trillion dollars in student debt a human dimension.

    The owners of this country (George Carlin phrase) and the miscreant politicians who serve them have allowed young people to be financial devoured by doing no more than seeking an education; they deserve the strongest condemnation and scorn you can muster, they are moral cockroaches.

    The two presiding political parities have created an environment where the old eat the young, they remind me of one of Dante’s circles in the Inferno where a father is contemplating eating his child. This is where the home of the “brave and the free” has devolved to, cannibalism of its offspring.

    I can’t contemplate anything short of replacing both the Republicans and Democrats (Biden helped pass legislation making it harder for student loans to be processed through normal bankruptcy law) as a rational response to making education and healthcare any better any time soon.

    Reply
        1. ambrit

          You’re too right.
          Time for #JustBurnTheBanks?
          As Lambert pointed out about the French Revolution, one of the main acts of the peasant class was the burning of the land ownership records.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Land ownership by the clergy, played a big role in the French Revolution, in that it turned out to be ad hoc bank backed money of the realm~
            ~~~~~~~~

            “Assignats were paper money issued by the National Assembly in France from 1789 to 1796, during the French Revolution, to address imminent bankruptcy. They were backed by the value of properties formerly held by the Catholic Church, which were confiscated, on the motion of Mirabeau, by the Assembly on 2 November 1789, and the crown lands, which had been taken over by the nation on 7 October.”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assignat

            Reply
          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Today’s world is a paperless society.

            Nothing to burn, but solar storms would be useful.

            Reply
        2. Katniss Everdeen

          Bingo.

          To paraphrase a “respected” lawmaker, the “industry” has “nine ways from Sunday” to get back at the debtor for not paying. From wrecking a credit rating, certain death in an “economy” in which debt has become a synonym for “income,” to holding a transcript hostage to satisfactory performance on the loan agreement.

          This is on the parents–both of the existing debt slaves and those yet to be minted. Like it or not, they are complicit. This situation could not have happened without their cooperation. A few suggestions:

          1. Do not sign the FAFSA–the “Free” Application for Federal Student Aid. Until your kid is 26, this “application” is required every year for any financial “aid,” the preferred euphemism for life-crushing loan, to be “awarded.” Re-orient your own thinking, steel yourself for the fallout and recognize that saving your offspring from a lifetime of debt peonage is one of the best gifts you can give. Starving the higher “education” beast of the sustenance of unlimited student lending will give this issue the traction that laments like those in this article have not. People WILL notice when enrollments go down.

          It’s free, legal, and the downside is entirely personal and doable.

          Have your kid take the core classes at community college and make sure the credits will transfer before your kid signs up.

          2. Never, EVER, cosign. The reasons for that are obvious to readers here.

          3. Disabuse yourself and your offspring of anachronistic, romanticized notions of “college” such as this from the article:

          I knew racking up one more loan and another $24,000 wasn’t ideal, but what was the alternative? Dropping out? Transferring to a new school and hoping my credits would translate? Leaving all the relationships I had cultivated with students and professors alike behind?

          Maintaining “relationships,” such as they are, has never been easier. Texting, face-timing, visiting for a tailgate at a football game are massively cheaper alternatives to a lifetime of debt for a two-minute conversation on the quad. Unless you’re going to harvard or yale, these “relationships” aren’t likely to mean much in a year or so anyway.

          Stop attributing exorbitant “value” to the “experience.” If it’s all about the “degree,” concentrate on getting it as cheaply as possible. Own your fiscal responsibility. Broadcast it even.

          Apologies for the length of this rant. This is an issue that gets my blood boiling like no other. And in case anyone thinks I’m just talking, I have done all of the above and a few more. It made for a rocky road between my daughter and me for a few years, but things have gotten back on track and we are both the stronger, and closer, for it. She’ll get her degree a few years after her high school classmates, but she doesn’t owe ANYBODY $170,000.

          Reply
          1. zagonostra

            Katniss, you have given some good suggestions, but my original focus was on the corrupt system that has created conditions in which millions of young and not so world-wise youth have been ensnared, who weren’t as lucky as your daughter in having a parent guide them through the treacherous man-made financial shoals designed to sink them in a sea of debt .

            I don’t want to let these scoundrels go quietly off into the sunset, to their sea-side villas, I want them to know how repugnant they are in the eyes of those who they punitively serve, I want them to know that when they are outside their circle of courtiers and sycophants (read MSM) that we common folk see them as they truly are, morally deformed and diseased and a blot on the legacy of working/struggling families that made this country and who would do anything for their children…my blood boils on this one too…

            Reply
          2. FluffytheObeseCat

            “Do not sign the FAFSA–the “Free” Application for Federal Student Aid.

            Katniss, you need to sign it to be assessed for any discounts from selective colleges. Refusing to take out loans is a great idea; refusing discounts is not.

            Reply
            1. Katniss Everdeen

              I get it. But is the possibility of some sort of discount really that important? Or even widely available?

              The problem, and this is one I had, is that once you sign that fafsa, all parental control (and influence) is over. The financial “aid” office dangles ten or twenty thousand dollars in front of an eighteen-year-old who’s just itchin’ to get out from under your thumb and the parent can’t prevent it. Once you sign that fafsa, you’ve nothing to say about it. Unless you’ve had the foresight to have your kid sign a waiver, you’re not even entitled to see their grades.

              The only “adults” in the room are the ones that want the kid to take the check and sign it back over to them. That’s “mission accomplished” in the universe of financial “aid.” It’s straight outta Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

              Maybe my kid was different. In a bad way. Maybe my parenting skills were significantly lacking. But I’m here to tell you, one year is nothing when compared to a lifetime of suffocating debt. Recently, I think it was here, I read an article about a 30-something guy, with two young children of his own, who was contemplating SUICIDE as a result of his relentless, unpayable student debt. His wife happened to call him just as he was putting the gun to his head and he didn’t go through with it.

              I almost liken it to a parent who wishes they’d just insisted that their kid take Ibuprofen instead of oxy for an athletic injury and lived with the complaining. Or a parent who’d wired money to Canada, against their better judgment, when their kid dodged the Vietnam War draft.

              And I can’t help thinking that if enough people just refused to play the game–just refused to pay the tribute for a year or two–that things would change. The discounts would come back. They’d be begging the students to come back. The issue could not be ignored.

              Just my two cents. But I’ve put my money where my mouth is and, at least in my case, it staunched the bleeding. It certainly wasn’t the easiest course, but, having gone through it, there are two of us in this family who sleep much better at night.

              Reply
        3. JohnnySacks

          The asset didn’t burn to the ground when it was foreclosed and now it’s resurrected to enslave another family to a life of indentured servitude.

          Reply
  18. Jim Haygood

    As we were discussing in Water Cooler last night, today London-traded Brent crude earned an OIL $80 top billing at Drudge Report, though it has since receded to $79.70. Chart:

    http://bigcharts.marketwatch.com/quickchart/quickchart.asp?symb=lcon8&insttype=&freq=&show=

    Battle of the round number remains on. It’s more likely than not that the top isn’t in yet. After all, 100 is the big round number … and we were far above it in 2008.

    Flake-o-nomics don’t pay.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      Good news for Venezuela, and any other petro-socialists – like Russia. Or S.A., unfortunately.

      Reply
  19. Edward E

    There’s a brand new summer special deal going on at 23andMe.com for Arkansans this year, they’ll check your DNA results to see if Bubba Clinton is your father. Be sure and add that to your cart if you live in Arkansas. You all have fun now, the little yoga instructor from New York City and I are heading up to Branson. Gotta go get this Yankee early, last time he spent twenty minutes looking at an orange juice box, because it said concentrate. They don’t like my jokes up there either, especially if I’m late…

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      D–n! That special offer should include a DNA check to see if Web Hubbell is your pappy too. I worry about the results though.
      Edward E, I gather from the gender usage in your comment that you are a she? (Just asking.)

      Reply
  20. The Rev Kev

    “To pay for a ‘Russia first’ agenda, Putin takes ax to military spending”

    This should not be that big a surprise in light of recent news. Since the disastrous 90s Russia has had to rebuild itself from the ground up. Seeing Russia’s weakness, Bush pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty back in 2002 so that the US could station nuke-tipped missiles and radar detectors on Russia’s borders in order to have a first-strike ability. That opens up the possibility of a pre-emptive nuclear strike. Since then Putin has done a credible job rebuilding Russia.
    He has stocked the vaults full of gold, cracked down on corruption, insulated Russia against financial attack in case the US has it isolated from the SWIFT network, built up the armed forces, etc. More to the point, he set his scientist busy developing a whole array of weapons to negate the US first strike ability and which he was able to announce several weeks ago. Russia is now safe from a first strike now and in fact it is the US that is now vulnerable.
    He is now reallocating resources back to the main economy to give Russia a solid base and as an example has just today announced they are now working on a national plan for a new network of highways to improve transport across the country. It kinda reminds me of a video game that I often played called “Age of Empires 2” where you had to balance your economy with building up your military and it was always a judgement call on how much to allocate to which sector.
    As to Putin, all I can say is well played sir, well played.

    Reply
    1. Montanamaven

      Oliver Stone on Russia’s new nuclear capabilities. Oliver Stone on Russia’s New Weapons
      We have threatened many countries hundreds of times with nuclear attack. Crazy people like Curtis Le May contemplated first strikes against the Russians and Chinese, says Stone and were willing to kill over 600 million people. We are still thinking about it. But Russia has quietly devised really really bad weapons. I also read and I’ll try to find it that Putin said that if there was no Russia, then what would any Russian want to be in this world for? Or something like that. In other words, “don’t poke the bear”.
      If “The Death of Stalin” is playing in an art theater near you, go to see it. Steve Buscemi plays Khrushchev. Hilarious and scary at the same time. Russians seem to be able to take dying in large numbers for Mother Russia. I doubt we are ready to fight them, so why don’t we just play nice?

      Reply
      1. Ranger Rick

        Doubt that the US is ready to fight them?

        They’ve only been planning and preparing to fight World War Three since the 1950s.

        Reply
        1. Wyoming

          Well in a sense perhaps.

          But in another sense there has never been a viable, practical, rational plan to fight them, nor have we ever even attempted to actually be prepared for such a conflict. The Russian military has always been primarily oriented towards stopping the repeated invasions of Russia from Europe and has never had any meaningful amount of expeditionary forces. So they were never coming for the US. The US military is primarily oriented towards expeditionary forces and was lightly prepositioned in Europe for decades but in such small numbers that they could never have had a chance of success in invading Russia. So we were never ready to fight them on the only field such a fight could occur on.

          That was the whole purpose of nuclear MAD so that we would not have to plan and prepare for WWIII. MAD would not be WWIII it would be the end of the world so it doesn’t count as being ready to fight because it is suicide as well as murder.

          I posit that almost all of that planing and preparing you refer to was to facilitate the making of a lot of money by the MIC and associates.

          Reply
  21. Louis

    Regarding the Bustle article the money quote is here:

    Here’s how I now know student loans work: When paying any money toward the loans, the amount you send over is immediately applied to interest before it can touch your principal balance. Each day a percentage of interest on your outstanding debt (including yesterday’s unpaid interest) is calculated. If you don’t pay that interest, that amount gets added to your total due, and tomorrow’s interest charged will be a percentage of that new total. Every day that you don’t pay off your loans, more interest piles on.

    Paying interest before principal, and interest accruing when you don’t pay the full payment amount is how pretty much all loans work, including car loans and mortgages, as well as credit cards. This fact isn’t some insidious conspiracy hidden in legalese in a long contract but rather common knowledge to anyone with the most basic understanding of accounting and finance.

    Reply
    1. jsn

      “Basic understanding of accounting and finance”, like your typical high school student looking for a college education. And of course the loan officers fully inform them and their parents of all the risks, all those defaulting graduates took serious advantage of those naive underwriters.

      In a just world, double entry bookkeeping and the basics of finance would be part of junior high school math, before algebra, and the Financial Instability Hypothesis would be covered in social studies.

      But then Financialization could never have happened.

      Reply
      1. Brian

        In the 1980’s I signed up for a technical school for electronics. Myself and fellow students soon found it was a fraud. (the teachers didn’t speak English) I had a student loan bill and informed the Department of Education that I would rather expose the fake school. My loan was expunged.
        juststoppaying

        Reply
      2. perpetualWAR

        The only “financial literacy” I was taught in high school was how to write a check (no kidding) and how to balance my check book (a little better, I might add).

        So, this poster thinking all high school students should understand how debt works is simply mad.

        Should our high schools teach financial literacy? Yes. But should our financial system be able to target the uninformed? Heck no!

        Reply
        1. Geo

          Thank you.

          Like you, my high school economics education was rudimentary at best. And I was dumb enough to think they wouldn’t give me a loan or credit card if they thought I couldn’t reasonably pay them back. “They’re the professionals, I’m just some dumb twenty year old wannabe artist” I thought at the time. Little did I know my ability to pay (or my wellbeing) had nothing to do with their decision to throw debt at me.

          If a restaurant served customers rancid fecal-soaked beef patties made from the floor sweepings of a code-violating butcher shop and blamed the customer’s food poisoning on their culinary illiteracy we’d be outraged as a society. But, the banks brag about duping customers and investors and it’s called innovation in the market.

          Reply
    2. Kurtismayfield

      Student loans do not work like any of those examples you gave. The loan is guaranteed payments of interest. You cannot pay down principal until that interest is paid. If I overpay it is not applied to principal, it just goes to the next months payment. That is the semi nefarious nature of it.

      Reply
      1. oliverks

        There seems to be confusion in peoples minds between interest and principal. There is no distinction. There is an interest rate, which is part of the cost of borrowing money.

        You are not paying off interest, you are paying off what you owe. What you owe goes up every day (in a positive interest rate environment). Hence your next payment only goes to what you owe, nothing more and nothing less.

        Reply
        1. False Solace

          At the beginning of a loan’s lifetime, the payment overwhelmingly goes to interest. Only a tiny fraction goes to the principal. In addition, if a student loan racked up additional interest or fees due to late payments or forbearance (e.g., you’re still in school, or unemployed), the payment goes to that before it reduces a penny of principal.

          Hence we get student borrowers like the article writer who see their payment not reducing their outstanding balance by much.

          Loan servicers sometimes take extra payments and use them to reset the loan repayment schedule, lowering the monthly payment by a tiny amount and not reducing the loan’s duration. They’re legally allowed to do this without notifying the student. If the student has automatic deductions (servicers practically demand they do), the student might not notice what happened. The CPFB complained about this a while back. I doubt anything was done.

          Reply
          1. oliverks

            This is a case of compartmentalization of money.

            OK lets say I start a bank. I tell you, hey my loans are great, because what we do is we apply every dollar on your mortgage to pay off your principle for the first 10 years. For this special loan, I will only charge you 1% more interest than the bank next door.

            At the end of each month, you get a statement. It shows interest accrued and principal owed. And sure enough the principal column goes down every month by your mortgage payment.

            Would you take the loan?

            Because if you do, I might need to go and start a bank.

            Reply
          2. Odysseus

            At the beginning of a loan’s lifetime, the payment overwhelmingly goes to interest.

            That’s the math of amortization, not some devious plot.

            Reply
    3. Tangled up in Texas

      And you are talking about children, sir. You sure are expecting a lot from children, imo.

      It seems to me the adults in the room should be looking out for the children. . .and that includes the U.S. Government. Yes, the same U.S. Government that holds 70%+ of the student loan debt in this country. They certainly didn’t have any problem taking $50.1 billion in interest payments from these children in 2013 according to USA Today.

      USA Today. Adults too.

      Reply
  22. Plant Fox

    “Preventing an AI Apocalypse” presents a very interesting dilatation between AI functions. AI are siloed right now and that gives the human operators control. As the article mentions, when a system wide AI is introduced how exactly are humans going to constrain it?

    There is danger in creating an intelligence greater than ours. At a certain point this “new” intelligence’s aims and goals will become undecipherable by the lesser intelligence (read humans). To some extent this currently happens. Ask anyone who uses AI “how exactly an AI produces a solution?” ; they probably will posit generalities and guesses. These models are called “black boxes” for a reason, data goes in solutions come out while the specific inner workings are unknown.

    Moral is when you create an intelligence that evolves constantly, there is no telling what it will do or become. Slippery slope indeed.

    Reply
    1. oliverks

      I think we know how AI produces a solution, it is not that there is some mystery code in there that does something we can’t understand. Perhaps the more interesting question is, is intelligence really so simple?

      It is fair to say we lack a good theory about how to construct networks right now. It is a bit more of a guess and try and guess and try to get a network that produces good results. I expect overtime that a more comprehensive theory may emerge allowing AI researchers to produce better networks with more a priori predictable properties.

      Reply
      1. cnchal

        > . . . it is not that there is some mystery code in there that does something we can’t understand.

        My understanding, limited as it is, is that indeed there is a mystery within the AI chip. There is an input layer and output layer, and in between there are either a hidden layer or multiple hidden layers, and we don’t know what those hidden layer connections are, and a chip can’t be “frozen” in action and dissected to determine what those connections are. All we know is the input and expected output and how the AI chip decides to perform that task is up to the chip.

        There are enough examples of AI chips coming up with “innovative” solutions that were
        unexpected after being trained to perform a task, so using AI will, in my opinion, ultimately have devastating consequences.

        Reply
  23. Jim Haygood

    ‘Japanese train departs 25 seconds early’

    In a meeting back in the bad old days when the NYC subway was called the “electric sewer,” New York officials asked their Japanese counterparts about the mean distance between failures in Tokyo. In New York at the time, subway cars averaged about 6,000 miles before having to be pulled out of service for a failure.

    The Japanese gave blank looks, then whispered among themselves. The answer came back: failures in service were so rare in Tokyo that an MDBF statistic wasn’t kept, though they supposed off the cuff that it might be a million miles or so.

    Of course, the cost of such reliability is regular major replacements of parts, which keeps equipment vendors in the green. Japanese auto owners face a similar auto inspection regime called sha ken. After four years the maintenance costs of complying are so extreme that most 4-year-old Japanese cars are traded in, to be exported to the rest of Asia.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      When I first visited NZ in 1981, the parade of cars on Queen St. in Auckland or on any road in the country more resembled Havana of current day, although no 57′ Chevys were in sight, but a plethora of 1958 Morris Minors, the ersatz oversized UK VW Bug competitor of it’s era, and other interesting 50’s makes, as the cradle to grave socialist economy of the time there had punitive import duties, I think 200% for a 4 cylinder car and 300% for a 6 cylinder, so as a result every car that could be kept going, was.

      And then in the mid 80’s NZ went full on anything goes capitalism pretty much, and before you knew it the roads were full of those 4 year old perfectly good ex-Japan jalopies, a perfect fit, as they have right hand steering wheels in Nippon.

      The only quibble I ever had with them was the radios never worked very well, as they were dialed in to some frequency back in the land of the rising sun.

      Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      So, if you have ‘regular major replacements of parts’ for auto owners, and maybe even for railways too, it is not environmental friendly – because you force people to buy new cars?

      Sure, some will be dumped to the rest of Asia…cheaper so that some would not have bought otherwise.

      The trick then, is to replace not too soon, and and too late. But at what mile interval is it considered reasonable – 6,000 miles, 10,000 miles, 500,000 miles or 1 million or more miles?

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        The way of the Japanese is different from most everybody else.

        When they were riding high on their housing bubble, a friend had stores in Guam & environs that catered to tourists and oh how he loved the Japanese tourist, as they would buy 25 of the very same item to give to friends and family, easiest sale you ever made.

        And then when the bubble went bust, they still went to Guam on vacation, but only window shopped, so as to not lose face by going in and not buying anything.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Probably everyone has the same watch, with exactly synchronized time, because I would not know, never could tell, if I’m 25 second off.

          Late or early.

          The clock in my car, in my office room, on my phone, etc are all different, by more than a few seconds.

          Reply
  24. freedeomny

    re: 9.9% is new American Aristocracy: “We gaze upon the 0.1 percent with a mixture of awe, envy, and eagerness to obey.” This says it all for me. Is this behavior/attitude any different (historically) from how privileged classes looked up at their “masters”? I always thought of the divide as a 20% vs 80% but never did any research, so maybe it is 9.9% vs 89.1%. Regardless, you can’t have a society where a small minority of master wannabes are doing great when the majority is suffering…well you can, but at a certain point the shit hits the fan.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Divide and conquer.

      They (the 0.1%) split the 99.9% into the 99% and the 1% or the 0.9%. The 0.9% and the 99% then fight it out.

      Then, they split the 99% into the 89.1% and the 8.9%. Now, the 8.9% and the 89..1% can quarrel and antagonize each other.

      Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      This thread is spread throughout the comments but this seems to be the last extension — so I’ll toss in my penny’s worth here. I had been a long time subscriber to the Atlantic, but stopped my subscription long ago as I found less and less of interest in the articles it contained. And besides losing interest in what the articles had to say I was displeased by the number of words needed to express nothing of particular interest. This article from the Atlantic on the 9.9% helped me feel good — even better — about my long ago decision to cancel my subscription.

      The title of the article and all the later discussion in the article which I could relate to the title — after granting wide latitude in claiming such relationship — left me wondering whether the author had ever read any of Barbara Tuchman’s book “A Distant Mirror” before asserting the 9.9% constituted a new American Aristocracy. I doubt a lord of the aristocracy of former times might find any of today’s 9.9% even remotely his equivalent. From the title … the article moved desultorily widely … and only remotely near the title’s assertion. As the sections of the article ranged and rambled on I felt as if I were being punished for my continued desire to comment on this link. However I did feel gratified in my much earlier decision to cancel the Atlantic and any lingering doubts I might have had were quashed in a stream of divergent words flowing away from the topic.

      Reply
  25. marym

    The Whitening

    ICE claimed a Dreamer was “gang-affiliated” and tried to deport him. A federal judge ruled that ICE was lying.

    On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez shot down the federal government’s efforts to strip Daniel Ramirez Medina of his DACA status. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement had arrested and detained Ramirez last year, then falsely claimed that he was affiliated with a gang and attempted to deport him. …The judge did not simply rule against ICE. He accused the agency of lying to a court of law.

    Martinez, a George W. Bush appointee, was plainly incensed by the agency’s lies. ICE’s “conclusory findings,” he wrote, have “been contradicted by experts and other evidence.” The government “produced no evidence” to contradict multiple experts’ testimony discrediting ICE’s bizarre interpretation of Ramirez’s tattoo. And its claims are “completely contradictory to the government’s own previous findings after extensive background checks that were meant to uncover evidence of ‘known or suspected gang association.’ ”

    “Most troubling to the Court,” Martinez continued, “is the continued assertion that Mr. Ramirez is gang-affiliated, despite providing no evidence specific to Mr. Ramirez to the Immigration Court in connection with his administrative proceedings, and offering no evidence to this Court to support its assertions four months later.”

    Trump Administration Sought Negative Information on Haitians

    In the spring of 2017, a high level Trump administration official asked for details on how many Haitians with Temporary Protected Status were on public benefits, how many were convicted of “crimes of any kind,” and how many had been in the country unlawfully before being granted TPS.

    “Keep in mind that this is in no way relevant to deciding whether to extend or terminate TPS designation to a country under the statute,” said Seja Zola, legal director of the National Immigration Project…”It really suggests that they were attempting to manufacture a basis to deny TPS. That they went on this fishing expedition to paint all Haitians as criminals and as unauthorized immigrants.”

    Last month, the National Immigration Project released another batch of communications that showed the Trump Administration ignored parts of an internal report that argued the situation in Haiti had not improved enough since the 2010 earthquake to warrant the end of TPS.

    Reply
  26. Jim Haygood

    Yesterday the NYT published a blockbuster article on the FBI’s Russian counterintelligence investigation, code-named Crossfire Hurricane. It seems to be a Watergate-style “modified limited hangout,” in that it acknowledges damaging information which has become public, but seeks to reframe it as well-intentioned and even beneficial.

    This is the core of the NYT’s modified limited hangout:

    “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected,” FBI agent Peter Strzok wrote, “but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

    Mr. Trump says that message revealed a secret F.B.I. plan to respond to his election. “‘We’ll go to Phase 2 and we’ll get this guy out of office,’” he told The Wall Street Journal. “This is the F.B.I. we’re talking about — that is treason.”

    But officials have told the inspector general something quite different. They said Lisa Page and others advocated a slower, circumspect pace, especially because polls predicted Mr. Trump’s defeat. They said that anything the F.B.I. did publicly would only give fodder to Mr. Trump’s claims on the campaign trail that the election was rigged.

    Mr. Strzok countered that even if Mr. Trump’s chances of victory were low — like dying before 40 — the stakes were too high to justify inaction.

    Mr. Strzok had similarly argued for a more aggressive path during the Clinton investigation, according to four current and former officials. He opposed the Justice Department’s decision to offer Mrs. Clinton’s lawyers immunity and negotiate access to her hard drives, the officials said. Mr. Strzok favored using search warrants or subpoenas instead.

    In both cases, his argument lost.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/16/us/politics/crossfire-hurricane-trump-russia-fbi-mueller-investigation.html

    Peter Strzok — a veritable paragon of restraint and even-handedness. Who knew? But Trump isn’t buying it:

    Donald J. Trump
    @realDonaldTrump

    Wow, word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI “SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN EMBEDDED INFORMANT.” Andrew McCarthy says, “There’s probably no doubt that they had at least one confidential informant in the campaign.” If so, this is bigger than Watergate!

    8:45 AM – May 17, 2018

    Who you gonna believe?

    I was born in a cross-fire hurricane
    And I howled at the morning driving rain
    But it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas

    — Rolling Stones, Jumping Jack Flash

    Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Discussion of that nyt article from TheConservativeTreehouse entitled “The Origin of the Feces.”

      The leaky obfuscation goes on to say in retrospect the FBI and DOJ couldn’t tell President Trump about their spying, wire-tapping and campaign surveillance…. because it would reinforce Trump’s impressions of the FBI and DOJ wire-tapping, spying and surveillance upon him….. Seriously, that’s their excuse.
      ——
      Political operatives, contractors, used deep-state access to FBI and NSA databases for campaign opposition research. Then they needed justification… then came the sketchy counterintelligence operation…. Then they needed justification…. then came the use of the sketchy Dossier to get a FISA warrant….. Then they needed cover…. then came the Russian Conspiracy…. Then they needed cover…. Then came the Special Counsel….

      https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2018/05/16/the-origin-of-the-feces-corrupt-intelligence-community-now-leaking-to-justify-unlawful-election-surveillance-operation-crossfire-hurricane/

      Reply
      1. Jim Haygood

        The NYT article was planted by potential victims of Inspector General Horowitz’s soon-to-be-released report. It’s nice to have a PR agency that masquerades as an independent newspaper. ;-)

        Jack Posobiec
        @JackPosobiec

        Crossfire Hurricane was the codename for Brennan and Comey’s operation in London

        Strzok, Steele, Downer, Papadopoulos, Misfud, Halper, and Page meetings were all based in London

        Who was the CIA London Station Chief in 2016?

        Gina Haspel

        10:55 PM – May 16, 2018

        Senator Rand Paul is onto the possibility that Haspel may have been a player in planting a mole within the Trump campaign. But today’s Senate approval of Haspel undermines his leverage to do anything about it.

        Reply
  27. perpetualWAR

    So now all of you can see Amazon visibly blackmailing Seattle. If this action does not prompt a #AmazonBoycott, I’m not sure what will?

    Reply
      1. Newcatty

        Sorry to hear that….The last thing Tucson needs is warehouse jawbs of the exploitative Amazonian monster offers as “jobs” for the serfs. I am sure the chamber of commerce and the FIRE are drinking tequila and are looking forward to the PR bulls*** that will spin this as a coup for our sunshine city.

        Reply
    1. Geo

      I have never purchased from them so cannot boycott. I’m a book lover so had a distain for their assault on bookstores from the beginning.

      It pisses me off when my lefty friends trash talk box stores and corporate greed but are diehard Amazon Prime customers. I try not to get preachy but that will set me off. The online sales aspect means their impact is invisible unlike a WalMart that blots the landscape or Starbucks that moves in where a local coffee shop has thrived. So, it’s easier to ignore the detrimental effects of the Amazon empire. Like frogs in a boiling pot.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That invisibility is a blind spot all the time.

        For example, the invisible wall in one’s heart versus the very physical wall along the border.

        Or being aware of physical violence, but not emotional or intellectual violence.

        Reply
  28. Jim Haygood

    Poodles of the world EU, cast off your shackles:

    (Reuters) – The European Commission will launch on Friday the process of activating a law that bans European companies from complying with U.S. sanctions against Iran and does not recognise any court rulings that enforce American penalties.

    “As the European Commission we have the duty to protect European companies. We now need to act and this is why we are launching the process of to activate the ‘blocking statute’ from 1996. We will do that tomorrow morning at 1030,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

    “We also decided to allow the European Investment Bank to facilitate European companies’ investment in Iran. The Commission itself will maintain its cooperation will Iran,” Juncker told a news conference after a meeting of EU leaders.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/iran-nuclear-eu-response/eu-to-start-iran-sanctions-blocking-law-process-on-friday-idUSL5N1SO4W2

    Ya se armó! as they say in Spanish … it’s on!

    Reply
    1. makedoanmend

      This, I did not expect.

      First thought – President Trump will not like this
      Second thought – may he won’t care
      Third thought – let’s make a deal?

      Can the EU take the heat? – and it will be a coming – that’s the big question

      Reply
    2. RabidGandhi

      History fans will recall that the ‘Blocking Regulation’ (Council Regulation [EC] No 2271/96) was passed in 1996 in response to the Helms/Burton Act, which fined EU companies for doing business with Cuba. In that case, the Clinton Administration dragged its feet on Helms/Burton and the Blocking Regulation never got put to the test.

      While reinstating the Blocking Regulation or enacting other similar legislation would be a possible threat, the US has upped the ante with the 2014 Paribas fine, which in and of itself would be a major deterrent to even contemplating running afoul of US sanctions. Interestingly, the Blocking Regulation was extremely (purposefully?) vague, envisaging fines to EU companies for “complying” with the new US sanctions. In court, substantiating this “compliance” would effectively require proving a negative: that a company is not investing in Iran due to US sanctions. In short, there would be total legal uncertainty about the potential risk until it gets challenged in court.

      Moreover, Juncker’s more potent threat seems to be the latter one: bilateral credits, not only from the EIB but also between EU countries and Iran to help companies run the blockade. I don’t have time to look it up, but if memory serves Italy has already signed a €5bn credit agreement with Iran. To put this in context, following the JCPOA, total EU investment in Iran was around €6bn.

      Lastly, I think a lot of this will play out like 1996 redux, with both sides baring their teeth, but with their bark much worse than their bite. (Back then, the EU even threatened to freeze US assets in retaliation). As I noted above, Trump has shown a penchant for brinksmanship to define his negotiating position, but above all he wants to be known as the Monty Hall of US history. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him unveil a newer, awesomer JCPOA that he will sell as being totally better than Obama’s.

      Astor Piazzolla: Se Armó

      Reply
  29. Summer

    Re: US Birthrate Plunge…Yahoo News

    “The latest downward trend began around the onset of the global financial crisis in 2007 and 2008, but has not abated even as US jobs rebounded and the economy has improved.”

    It’s like a programmed, algorithmic mantra stuck in with any mainstream news on the economy. But I figure a lot of it has to with wanting to keep the fantasy finance stock market from being spooked.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Which means that a lot of colleges and universities are going to have to rethink their business models. Because that coveted 18-24 demographic is about to get a lot smaller.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Especially if more young people opt for vocational schools, like those offered in, say, Germany.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          A few are run by unions, but mostly those are called “community colleges.” Theyre a much better deal compared to 4-year degrees, a business model that has probably run its course.

          Reply
      2. jsn

        The Universities and Colleges can just go on with their fund raising from alums and cut out the teaching.

        That will eliminate all the inefficient parts of the system and leave all the money for administrative salaries.

        Another race to the bottom won! Our current sociopathic elite are hell bent on liquidating civilization.

        Reply
      3. The Rev Kev

        Hey, that crash started 10 years ago. That means that that 18-24 cohort is a lot sooner down the track than most people think. Somebody should email the Pentagon and tell them that maybe they should set up a Foreign Legion if the recruit numbers start to drop to much.

        Reply
  30. Summer

    Re: The far left is winning the Democratic Party Civil War..WaPo

    Remember when people thought only a looney would call Dwight D. Eisenhower a communist? Well, that’s off the rocker far-right the mainstream alleged center has become. These clowns would consider the argument with a straight face.
    Just explaining the headline….

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is it true that ‘if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal?’

      Was the author of that quote wrong, intentionally or otherwise?

      Reply
      1. roxy

        Emma Goldman, author of that quote, was deported in 1919 to the Soviet Union, so she was probably right.

        Reply
  31. dcblogger

    To say that Twitter has a serious civility problem does not cover it, Twitter has a Nazi problem. Nazis, full stop. As in swastikas. Women, GLBT are their usual targets. Twitter has known about this for years and has done almost nothing. They pick out individuals as targets and go after them relentlessly. GamerGate is the most obvious example, but there are others. Now Twitter is trying to institute “reforms” that will empower the most repressive elements among the kleptocracy rather than just ejecting the Nazis.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      And Yours Truly was cyber-bullied on Facebook. It got so bad, I had to close my business page.

      A couple of the bullies left bad reviews of my business on Google, and I need to get those reviews taken down. Wish me luck, people!

      Reply
  32. Oregoncharles

    More Italy vs. EU, in case you haven’t seen these:
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eurozone-banks-monte-dei-paschi/italys-league-wants-to-keep-monte-dei-paschi-in-public-hands-idUSKCN1II2FP?il=0

    The “right-wing” League wants a state bank – in defiance of EU rules?

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/17/populists-rise-to-power-in-italy-sets-perilous-precedent-for-eu

    Probably the most difficult situation for the EU is blithe defiance, without actually exiting. We already see that with Poland and Hungary. The ECB was able to (against its own mission – not quite so rule-bound) sabotage Greece’s economy; what about the 5th largest economy in Europe?

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      THIRD llargest, and deeply entangled with the rest.

      Incidentally: how does a country with such an unstable government compile such a large, relatively successful economy?

      Reply
  33. Oregoncharles

    “It’s the End of the World, and I Feel Terrible TruthDig
    Norman Solomon comes in from the cold. Its a very black version of “On the Beach.” Glad to see it – I was going to post it if it wasn’t already.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      The “On the Beach” scenario seems much less likely than business-as-usual until we reach a point of collapse. Following business-as-usual the collapse will be about as bad as possible without specially planning to create a worst possible case.

      I remain hopeful Trump is an evil clown and his minions are but mini-Trumps — all part of a splendid entertainment to the end.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Solomon’s piece presumes a full-scale nuclear war, making the point that thats what the Dems and their “Russiagate” pseudo panic are taking us to.

        Hes come “in from the cold” in that he’s now returned from his excursion as a Dem Party flunky, and is in full-blown condemnation mode.

        I have history with Solomon – actually knew him, when we were both young; he’s finally reached the point where his betrayal can be forgiven.

        Reply
  34. zagonostra

    It’s amazing how 100 years later Rauschenbush resonates with what I managed to find time to read from “The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy ”

    From:

    CHRISTIANIZING
    THE SOCIAL ORDER
    BY
    WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH

    The antagonism between private interest and
    public welfare is most glaring where private interest gets its profit
    out of social conditions which the moral sentiment of the
    community has outgrown and repudiated….

    Capital is cosmopolitan. It does not follow the flag; it follows its one guiding star — Profit,
    Individual business men may be keenly patriotic and loyal, but Capital collectively comes close to being “the Man without a Country,” If higher returns are offered abroad, it will seek investment there with the dispassionate single-mindedness of water seeking its level. American capital is now building up Chinese railways and industries, and so speeding the day when American industry will have to meet the full force of Chinese competition.

    The distorting influence exerted by private financial interests on American political life is so familiar that it
    scarcely needs discussion. It is fair to say that back of every chronic corruption has been some private interest that needed silence or favors,

    The journalist has become the hired man of a corporation, A paper is owned and controlled by one
    or more capitalists, who are in the newspaper business for profit, directly and indirectly. By their other investments, their business relations, and their social sympathies they are in touch with the interests of property, and if they were not, their advertisers would compel them to be.

    Reply
  35. ewmayer

    o ‘Can Humans Live Well without Pillaging the Planet? Scientific American (David L). “Can” does not equal “will”’ — But to flip this around, “Can’t” certainly *does* imply “won’t”.

    o ‘Wells Fargo Employees Altered Information on Business Customers’ Documents Wall Street Journal. This never stops, does it?’ — Not without actual jail time and real fines/clawbaks with teeth, it doesn’t.

    o ‘So my cat fucking full on just walked in and dunked a fucking dead mouse in my fucking glass of wine and honestly I’m livid’ — Mr Pottymouth tambourine man seems not to realize that this is a classical form of food-leftovers-offering-to-my-best-bud by cats. So swallow your ‘Ewww”, praise the kitty, dump the contents of the glass in the yard and pour yourself another. If this Twitter twit finds that overly taxing I’d love to see how he “copes” with real adversity.

    Reply
  36. Brooklin Bridge

    I note that Aaron Mate is not listed (no longer?) on the Real News Network’s staff or management. Hopefully, I’m missing something.

    Reply
  37. John k

    Can humans live well without…
    Depends. 1000,000, yes. 1 billion, maybe. 10 billion, no.
    Seem to be well past the point of no return.

    Reply
  38. J Sterling

    “The 9.9%” is just the rediscovery of the same old Middle Class as the Brits always defined it, before we misidentified “has a job and a house” as “middle class”. That’s working class. The true middle class is a privileged minority more numerous than the 1%, and sandwiched between them and the working class, characterized by higher education and professional employment.

    Those who forget terminology are doomed to reinvent it.

    Reply

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