Links 5/31/18

Michael McKaskle: “I have an hour long talk show on Redwood Community Radio this Friday at 7pm PST with CalPERS board member Margret Brown as my guest. Phone calls will be accepted after 7:30. It will be live streamed then archived at”

New Evidence Reveals a 17,000-Year-Old Coastal Route Into North America Gizmodo (The Rev Kev)

‘Sea, ice, snow, it’s all changing’: Inuit culture struggles with warming world Guardian

Growing Up With Steve Miller Texas Monthly

New 3-D printing technique enables faster, better, and cheaper models of patient-specific medical data Chuck L: “A case of making lemonade out of the lemon growing inside your own skull.”

Effects of E.coli Outbreak in Lettuce Ripple Through U.S. Food-Supply Chain WSJ

Details that look sharp to people may be blurry to their pets (Chuck L)

Spiderman of Paris shows the superhuman demands placed on migrants to earn their citizenship The Conversation

Health Care

Senior advocates say new draft guide to Medicare distorts facts. Here’s what you need to know PBS (Dr. Kevin)


Britain to get new Brexit CURRENCY after EU exit as Tory plans BACKED The Express. The Rev Kev: “To go along with those blue passports you know.”

Brexit: Norway plus

Another referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU? It’s a question of when, not if New Statesman. The Rev Kev: “Yeah, I know that you guys have shot this down in flames. Some people still want their sparkly pony however.”

‘Italy Knows the Rules’ Der Spiegel

Class Warfare

Letter to DCP: Don’t Rezone the B&H Warehouse Brooklyn Bullshit. Inaugural post of a new blog by longtime reader Duncan Bryer. Don’t miss this– looking forward to future posts!

What Surfers Understand About Gentrification CityLab

We need a new kind of HGTV Curbed (Clive)


Free Cash to Fight Income Inequality? California City Is First in U.S. to Try NYT

A California church flirts with an unusual social experiment: to never call police again LA Times

Unemployment and the Trade Deficit: It Really Isn’t That Complicated Counterpunch. Dean Baker

New Fed data paint a vivid picture of two Americas The Hill (guurst)

It Takes Walmart Just 24 Minutes to Silence Worker Voices at This Year’s Annual Shareholders Meeting (RK)

Scotland to roll out free sanitary products for low-income women The Scotsman. Dr. Kevin: “Toronto is considering a similar program.”

The Profound Social Cost of American Exceptionalism NYT (DS). Eduardo Porter’s valedictory column, espousing “elitist conventional wisdom.”

The End of Bankruptcy Credit Slips

How a Pentagon Contract Became an Identity Crisis for Google NYT


China in race to overtake the US in AI warfare Asia Times (The Rev Kev)

What Globalisation With Chinese Characteristics Means for the World The Wire

Make China Great Again LARB

In a first, Hong Kong refused US extradition bid following Beijing request, State Department report says SCMP (The Rev Kev)

Trade Tantrum

US threat of tariffs on Chinese imports ‘just a negotiating tactic’ SCMP

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

The Supreme Court Is Stubbornly Analog — By Design FiveThirtyEight

Your Home is Your…Snitch? Marshall Project

Google launches video doorbell with facial recognition in UK Guardian (furzy) Kill Me Now.

How spies can use your cellphone to find you – and eavesdrop on your calls and texts too WaPo


I am microchipped and have no regrets FT. ?!?. Really? This is insane.


In symbolic nod to India, U.S. Pacific Command changes name Reuters

India Resists Lobbying by US Payment Firms to Ease Local Data Storage Rules The Wire

Shimla residents ask visitors to stay away due to water shortages FT


In the Middle East, Putin has a lot to thank Trump for right now Independent. Robert Fisk.

The Syria connection to Iran, Afghanistan and China Asia Times Pepe Escobar

Trump Transition

Sunday morning with the Trumps Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

Little Scalia New York magazine

Trump signs ‘right to try’ drug bill The Hill

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. vlade

    On another EU referendum in the UK – TBH, I’d put quite a high probability there will be one – but it will be are-admission one, not not-exiting one. May be 5 years down the track, assuming EU doesn’t blow up before then, but I’d say it’s not an outside possibility.

    1. Clive

      I think that too. This question will never be truly settled. Unless as you say the EU completely implodes which is an infinitesimally small possibility. And even then, the idea of Europe will re-emerge in some form or other.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Vlade and Clive. I agree.

        There has been some commentary on that in recent weeks. The FT’s Martin Wolf thinks another referendum about leaving will be even more divisive and the last thing the disunited kingdom needs at the moment.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I think its more likely that Scotland will go for another referendum first on independence, with an immediate request for entry again after that (and maybe the euro too, if it still exists then).

      1. paul

        While I do hope for a referendum, and a positive result for independence, the shadow of a hard border with england has darkened things considerably as far as europe goes.

        While I am, in politics and the day to day, all for ‘getting along with neighbours’ (to paraphrase the luckless steve marriot) in an eaa/efta way, I would not like to see a newly independent country getting it’s feet nailed to the floor by the european political project.

        The SNP,to my eyes,have pedalled quietly back from the uncritical, europhile days of ‘independence within europe’.

      2. Bugs Bunny

        Remember that all new Member States are legally required to adopt the Euro once their economies meet the criteria. The opt-out was only for Denmark & the UK at formation of EMU…

        1. vlade

          Sorry, but this is a nothingburger. Look at former post-soviet-bloc countries.

          Few (small ones) adopted EUR (off the top of my head, Slovakia, Slovenia and Baltics) but the largest new entrant economies of Czech Republic and Poland have no plans to do so anytime soon – and I’m not talking next year, or even this election cycle, I’m talking this generation (i.e. next 20 years or so). They are taking this position pretty openly too, so it’s not like EU would not know, but still EU makes no noises.

          The comittment to join EUR is “in the future”, and there is no timeframe, and no penalty. Which means pretty much “when we will feel like it, including never”

    3. m-ga

      There might be scope for a referendum after March 2019, but before November 2020. In other words, during the “vassal state” period in which the UK has formally left the EU, but before it has transitioned to a future arrangement. This assumes there is a transition period!

      Choices might be:

      1. Whatever trade deal Mrs May has negotiated, or is still trying to negotiate.
      2. EEA.
      3. Rejoin EU (probably without the rebate).

      There would need to be alternative choice, e.g. people would vote 3 then 2, or 1 then 2.

      The 2016 referendum would be kinda-sorta honoured, since the UK would have formally left the EU. This in itself blunts the “will of the people” line of attack against a second referendum.

      It could also improve the outcome for the EU. Suppose Mrs May and the Conservatives somehow cling on, right up to March 2019 and beyond. The EU doesn’t particularly want hard Brexit. Granting the extra 18 months gives a bit more time to prepare for hard Brexit, with businesses who haven’t already done so shifting operations out of the UK.

      Then, if hard Brexit happens anyway, it happens in the least damaging way for the EU. And if the UK joins EEA, or rejoins the EU under less favourable terms than previously, that would be OK too.

        1. m-ga

          Yes, I can see that any requirement for the UK to adopt the Euro would dramatically reduce enthusiasm for re-entry to the EU among UK voters, and would be unacceptable to any conceivable UK parliamentary majority.

          So, EU re-entry wouldn’t be on the ballot. It would be a straight choice between EEA, and the Theresa May deal.

          An exception, I suppose, would be if the UK proposes a referendum before March 2019, whilst it is still formally an EU member. Article 50 is nothing if not vague, and does have some wording about “constitutional requirements” which the UK government might gesture towards. Provided the referendum happened while the UK was in the no-mans land of the transition period (or, if the UK had negotiated an extension to Article 50), the EU27 might play along.

          In such a scenario, I suppose it would depend whether the EU27 preferred the UK in the EU or the EEA.

          1. beachcomber

            Surely, it’s the Single Market which is the crucial sticking-point? It’s the SM which brings with it an indissoluble tie to forfeiture by a member-state of almost all independent action in regard to trade in goods and services, immigration control, movement of capital, external tariffs (so no trade deals with ROW), etc – via writing it all into domestic legislation and subjecting it to final adjudication by the European Court of Justice – everything, in short, contained in the UK’s Single European Act. All the features of the EU most odious to Brexiteers are embodied in the Single Market Act; without its repeal Brexit is nullified.

            Membership of EEA brings with it full participation in the Single Market. That’s why Switzerland (an EFTA member) isn’t in EEA: a majority of Swiss voted in their referendum to have none of it.

            Membership of EFTA (contingent upon the existing members agreeing to admit the UK) doesn’t entail inclusion in the Single Market or compliance with any of its conditions. Exactly what benefits it would bring is another question.

        2. Sid Finster

          That assumes that Europe will enforce its own rules.

          As we have seen in the past, in Europe and elsewhere, rules are ignored whenever they are inconvenient.

        3. vlade

          See comment above. I believe it’s a red herring. There are no timelines and no penalties for not doing so, and the formal commitment is (paraphrasing) “in the future when ready”.

          From EC web:

          “The Treaty does not specify a particular timetable for joining the euro area, but leaves it to Member States to develop their own strategies for meeting the condition for euro adoption. Seven of the 13 Member States who joined the EU since 2004 have already joined the euro area, most recently Lithuania on 1 January 2015.”

          1. vlade

            TBH, relying on UK press for factfinding about EU..

            I’d thought you’d know better by now ;)

            1. paul

              …or antything else. apart from who is wearing a certain bikini while ‘taking a break’ from being something or other.

              1. ambrit

                OMG Deluxe! Now everyone can be a Page Three Bod.
                All I can say to some of the “celebrities” pictured down the right side of the rags website is; “Your Mama dresses you funny!”

          2. ChrisPacific

            It would be in keeping with the absurdity of the whole process to date if that requirement, for no more than a statement of principle which they need not even pretend to take seriously, were nonetheless to be blown out of all proportion and become an insurmountable barrier to re-entry.

            1. beachcomber

              It strikes me as perilously risky to put all one’s faith in the other party not enforcing the promise that one has given (however insincerely, fingers crossed behind back, etc…). It’s putting your own country’s fate into the hands of unelected, democratically unaccountable, power-hungry Brussels bureaucrats.

              I can think of scarcely anything more foolhardy than that.

        4. Oregoncharles

          See vlade’s comment immediately above. Apparently that “requirement” of joining the Euro is largely symbolic. Several E. European states (including Czech Republic, not really East) are in open defiance. As I noted in relation to Italy, blithe defiance, within the “Union”, is something the EU has trouble dealing with.

          A relevant digression: that’s because it isn’t really a “Union.” It’s a strange, half-way entity – does anyone even have a word for what it really is? Besides “The New German Empire”?

          1. beachcomber

            The dis-confederation? The anti-federation (as in “anti-matter”)? The chimera? Never-never land?

    4. antonyb

      I do wonder what will happen as the Italy situation plays out; if a government is formed with a mandate to push reform in the EU (something Cameron tried & failed, which led to the Brexit referendum) then Remain could certainly argue that the EU the UK voted to leave is different from the EU they’re actually leaving.

      I suspect the timing is all wrong, and unlikely that the reform Italy will push for is aligned with what the UK wanted, but it seems to me that there are parallels, and if May is looking for a way out…

      1. paul

        Cameron did not try anything, he just asked for a few headlines.

        Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s best bud was a white turkey (admittedly swadlled in purple from birth), not a brainy black swan.

        Cameron had a well televised flounce (to show how independent they both were) with sarkozy, and then happily colluded to reduce libya to rubble.

        May they both rot in hell, in eachother’s flabby arms.

        1. antonyb


          Cameron certainly wasn’t very smart and certainly overplayed his hand, but I think he genuinely believed that the EU didn’t want the UK to leave – and nor did he – so he genuinely believed he had leverage.

          Whether the EU thought they were calling his bluff or whether they overestimated British public support, I don’t know. Interesting hypothetical, whether they’d have given a little more, knowing what they know now.

          And that plays in to the Italy dynamic – potentially very similar circumstances, the outcome of which might shed light on whether the EU has become less risk averse.

          I’m no defender of Cameron, and particularly not on Libya (perhaps you can’t be a true modern British PM without a war crime under your belt?) but on the EU I think naivety and stupidity, not malice.

      2. Chauncey Gardiner

        antonyb, I also wonder what will happen as the Italy situation plays out.

        Re “Italy Knows the Rules”, by Der Spiegel, might be time to change the rules. More than a little resemblance to what has occurred in the American Midwest:

        Reuters reported today that Giovanni Tria, who is expected to be appointed economic minister under the Italian new coalition government, has called for a change in the EU’s fiscal rules to allow public investments to help growth and has criticized Germany’s persistently large current account surplus, but has not called for Italy’s exit from the euro.

        But where’s the leverage?… Looks similar to the negotiating position that Varoufakis enjoyed a few years ago.

        1. antonyb

          Presumably the leverage is what happened in the UK. See above; the election has shown that a referendum on the EU is not a slam-dunk. Reasonable change to fiscal policy or a referendum?

  2. fresno dan

    Senior advocates say new draft guide to Medicare distorts facts. Here’s what you need to know PBS (Dr. Kevin)

    Along the same lines:
    Key Findings:
    Out-of-pocket cost information is difficult to understand.
    Provider and pharmacy directories are difficult to navigate.
    Plan comparisons do not permit inclusion of Medigap policies.
    The website layout and display are confusing.
    Language is not user-friendly.
    Navigation and functionality are complex and inconsistent.
    Human support is not available.
    Information on quality star ratings is confusing.
    Plan information is not customized well.
    Information is not consistently accurate.

    My own experience at HICAP is that anybody who needs a lot of medical care is dissatisfied with Medicare Advantage plans. AND my own gripe is that the whole deal is premised on the idea of “shopping for health care” – that you can predict what is going to go wrong with your health in the next year or ten years. I expect my health care to cover WHATEVER goes wrong with me health wise.

    1. Mark K

      Here is the link to the actual letter the three advocacy organizations wrote to CMS Director Varma:

      In addition to the concerns mentioned in the article in to day’s links, the letter objects to the fact that the new guide characterizes the need to get prior authorization as a “right” that Medicare Advantage policy holders have that original Medicare beneficiaries “can’t get,” instead of calling it what it is, a burdensome obligation.

      You gotta admire people who can make stuff like this up.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Lest anyone forget that PBS is part of the Borg, dispensing Narrative tripe, there’s this from down in the report:

        How popular are these plans?
        MA plans have surged in popularity during the past 15 years. They now represent roughly a third of all Medicare, with original Medicare holding two-thirds of the market. CMS bureaucrats consistently supported expansion of MA plans during the Obama years and Trump appointees have if anything stepped up their advocacy.

        In the Trump White House, there is strong support for private insurance solutions versus government-run programs.

        Who supports which plans?

        Under both administrations, there is support for MA plans because managed care has the potential to produce better health outcomes for less money than does original fee-for-service Medicare. The latter doles out health care regardless of whether it is cost effective or even good for a patient’s health. MA plans, by contrast, are better vehicles for tying health spending to positive outcomes.

        This, in a “report” ostensibly “calling out” the ladling on of Bernays sauce.

        How do we mopes resist, or better yet halt, the constant, full-court crapification ?

        1. fresno dan

          May 31, 2018 at 8:52 am

          because managed care has the potential to produce better health
          and pigs have the “potential” to fly….

          ….original fee-for-service Medicare. The latter doles out health care regardless of whether it is cost effective or even good for a patient’s health.

          HORRORS!!!! The FREE MARKET (is not “fee-for-service” in fact more ideally “free market” where YOU ARE FREE TO CHOOSE your individual provider and specific service????) subject to abuse and manipulation???? SAY IT ISN”T SO!!!! BUT somehow the Medicare Advantage market system is immune to the lust for profit…and never EVER denies/diminishes care because it can reduce profit….???
          I can remember when doctors were bound by codes of conduct and ethical strictures. Once everything becomes monetized, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, a “profitable” hospital knows to charge an arm and a leg, but not the value of an arm and a leg.

        2. Expat2uruguay

          For me, this part stood out:

          MA plans, by contrast, are better vehicles for tying health spending to positive outcomes.

          It reminded me of “death panels”. Same thing, described with different words, no?

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Ah, but if your plan is to gut Medicare and turn it into Obamacare for Old People and Cripples in the next six or seven months, it’s important you have the instructions for next year correct. Interesting that none of those complaining about the “misleading information” have the courage to offer that as a consideration.

    3. jackiebass

      I’m a retired senior citizen with a MA in Mathematics. It , for me , is difficult to read an insurance policy and really understand what it says. The idea of choice is sold to people as something good, when people really don’t understand what the various choices mean. Health or auto insurance policies are a couple examples. I believe people would be better off generally in the field of health care with fewer choices. In fact I believe there should be one universal policy covering everyone. Under our system unfortunately price determines the choice a person makes. This may end up being harmful to the person.

  3. voteforno6

    Re: “Compromise” Jobs Guarantee Bill

    That bill seems less a compromise, and more a distraction to forestall any momentum towards a real jobs guarantee. In that regard, it has a lot in common with Obamacare.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “I am microchipped and have no regrets”

    Sigh! Look, just because “We have the technology” doesn’t mean that we have to actually use it. I was wondering how far the writer of this article would go in getting bionic implants. You just know that if a bionic eye became available like from the six-million dollar man, that there would be people who would be willing to have a real eye replaced with a bionic eye. No concept how things could go wrong.
    OK, so 4,000 Swedes have these things in their hands. Big deal. This is the same country that has almost done away with cash entirely and is one blackout away from a nation-size Donner Party. I remain seriously unimpressed with idiotic trends like this. Resistance is never futile.

    1. paul

      What, with health inflation, would col steve majors cost today? 6 mill might get a bionic toenail.
      I will admit the slo mo sequences would be a lot less costly thanks to the good people at samsung.

    2. Quentin

      And it’s also the country that frivolously and falsely accused Julian Assange of rape, not once but twice, to snare him politically. A real piece of work, that Sweden, a long cry from the days of Anita Ekberg. I’ll keep using my cash, thank you very much, and if you won’t accept it I’ll go somewhere else. Then don’t forget that the Swedish government has kindly informed every household how to prepare for a terrorist attack or war. Do the Swedes need to be afraid? Government’s answer: no but you never know.

      1. ambrit

        Since the Eucadorans threatened to defenestrate him, Assange has fallen off of the radar. Anyone know the ‘inside dope’ on this case?

      2. Bill Smith

        “And it’s also the country that frivolously and falsely accused Julian Assange of rape”

        What was frivolous about it? Two women filed a complaint. Should the woman’s complaint not be investigated?

        1. Grebo

          As I recall:
          Two women went to the police to ask if there was a way to force Assange to take an STD test. An enthusiastic police officer wrote up a complaint. One woman refused to sign it, the other tried to withdraw it later.
          The prosecutor questioned Assange and decided not to proceed. Allowed him to leave Sweden.
          An attention seeking attorney lodged an objection and another prosecutor took up the case…

        2. The Rev Kev

          At any time Swedish prosecutors could have visited him and at least gotten a statement or even questioned him in London but refused for what, six or seven years? Does that sound like normal legal procedure to you?
          Here is a clue why they did what they did. Sweden has absolutely refused to guarantee that if he went to Sweden that he would not be sent to the US where there are secret indictments waiting him. Note also that US politicians have made death threats against him, including Hillary.
          We have seen torture practiced in US prisons against high profile prisoners so if you were Assange, would you voluntarily go to Sweden then? Knowing too that the Swedes literally broke their own laws to carry on this this prosecution? To answer your question, the women did not want to go further and one even went off to Israel to get away from it all.

    3. JBird

      Look, just because “We have the technology” doesn’t mean that we have to actually use it.

      American greenbacks, whenever they are printed, at whatever denomination, are supposed to good,” for all debts, public and private,” forever, but there is a ongoing effort by the TPTB to get rid of it. To prevent crime and increase efficiency and whatever other rot they can think of. Just wait until the “War on Cash” morphs into the “War on the Unchipped.”

  5. PlutoniumKun


    In the Middle East, Putin has a lot to thank Trump for right now Independent. Robert Fisk.

    Fisk nails it as he so often does.

    As for what the “experts” like to call geopolitics, Putin immediately understood the need to uphold the Iranian nuclear accord when Trump tore it up. At one stroke, he became a closer ally of Iran, he could sympathise with Europe and he was able to present himself as steadfast in a treaty he signed with China. But he is entering a potential market war with the US – a dollar war – alongside a Europe whose governments may be prepared to stand up to Washington (some of them, at least), but whose big businessmen are already showing their usual cowardice in the face of American profit and loss.

    There is something scornful about all this. Putin is not going to worry about Russian mercenary deaths in Syria; their activities are intended to test American military willpower in Syria. Nor does America weep for its Kurdish mercenaries, or protect them in Afrin.

    Putin is not going to scream about human rights abuses in Gaza – the shooting down of unarmed demonstrators or the Israeli destruction of clinics or hospitals – when his own jets have been destroying clinics and hospitals in Syria. He sticks to the “war on terror” – and being an ally of all. The children may rattle their toys, but the tsar has the keys to the nursery. The crackpot in the White House neither knows nor cares nor, one suspects, understands. He long ago opened the door for Putin – and Putin walked straight through it.

    The Russians have managed their role in the Middle East skilfully in the past few years and so are now immeasurably more influential and powerful than just a few years ago. But they didn’t have to do anything dramatic – they just stepped in as the US has blundered. And Trump has blundered around, compounding the terrible policies of Bush II and Obama. It cannot have escaped the notice of so many players in the Middle East that the US is a chronically unreliable ally.

    1. JTMcPhee

      “Trump” being the generic label for the “interests” that actually run the policy apparatus of the Empire, the “interests,” that over a century or more have put all these pieces and incentives on the board and in play…

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Just to add to this, the excellent Asia Times article also linked:

      The Syria connection to Iran, Afghanistan and China Asia Times Pepe Escobar

      Escobar writes:

      Zarei also notes that “America does not have a specific policy about the democracies of Turkey and Iran. There is not any specific strategy about democracy in Iraq and Lebanon too. America talks about democracy as an American value and tries to generalize it, but in this region, we see that the best friends of the US are countries where there is no election in their political systems.”

      The bottom line, according to Zarei, is that “the US strategy is not coherent in the Middle East. I think this is the main reason for the failure of American policies in this region.”


      But most of all, China will be deeply involved in Syrian reconstruction; towns, villages, roads, railways, bridges, schools, hospitals, all connectivity networks. Syria will be rebuilt by China, Russia (energy, infrastructure) and Iran (power grids), not the US or the Gulf petro-monarchies. US and EU sanctions are still in effect, banning commercial operations both in US dollars and euros.

      The rapid extent to which Russia and China are extending themselves into the Middle East while Trump and the neocons bluster is staggering. Qatar seems to have seen the way the winds are blowing and is rapidly catching that wave. European businesses must be furious to see the way they’ve been sidelined thanks to being tied too closely to the anti-Russian side. The Chinese and Russians must be unable to believe their luck.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The discontent is spreading. According to a report, India and Iran are considering dropping the dollar in oil trade to bypass US sanctions as Iran is India’s third-largest oil supplier. Probably didn’t help when the US threatened sanctions if India goes ahead and buys Russia’s S-400 missile defense system.
        The US and Europe could have had contracts rebuilding Syria but have stated that they will only do so if Assad and his government steps down and makes way for western-favoured Jihadists, errr, free Syrians. I’ll make you a bet. If Trump reconciles with countries like Syria and North Korea, it will be under the condition that America has the status of most favoured nation in trade thus crowding out European and other companies. Gotta Make America Great Again, right?

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          It will be interesting to see how India works this financial thing out, as they say they can’t use virtual money like Venezuela’s petro. Will they decide on an alternative currency—or change their banking laws, given Venezuela’s offering them a 30% discount on oil?

      2. David

        Yes, “post-war reconstruction” is a huge business today in every sense of that term, and provides big opportunities for essentially the same set of actors (international organisations, NGOs, development ministries, contractors) to do essentially the same thing (demilitarisation, justice and police reform, military integration, improving “governance,” “strengthening civil society”). But unlike in the period after WW2, for example, the “reconstruction bit” tends to be ideological and organisational rather than actually, you know, reconstructing things. The final product, if you like, is a state conceived on abstract liberal principles but without any actual infrastructure, a kind of empty box. So, you may have a parliamentary security committee but no parliament building, a programme to computerise court records in a country where the electricity supply often fails and a Ministry for Women largely staffed by foreign consultants, and which works in English. Actually it’s often worse than that.
        But it’s been obvious for some time now in Syria that AID, DFID, GIZ and the rest of the development alphabet soup won’t be present for a long time, or perhaps ever. In this sense, as in many others, Syria is the point where the ball changes hands, perhaps definitively.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Its probably to Syria’s benefit that they won’t suffer a wave of helpful outsiders offering ‘advice’. Its a hard thing to measure, especially after all the destruction, but I’ve always had the impression that for all its corruption, Syria had a better than average (for the region) administrative system, so if its largely intact they should be more than capable of organising reconstruction.

          They also have an advantage in that they are not at the mercy of one ‘rescuer’ – they’ll be able to play Russians, Chinese and maybe others against each other to get better deals and to be a little choosy about their development partners.

        2. oh

          Unlike “post war reconstruction” after WWII, where US products were foisted on the countries being “re-built”, the products being forced on the countries in the form of “aid” will be of Chinese and other origin but will be billed at exorbitant prices. Not much money will find its way to the US economy. As usual, the multi-nationals will shelter their income to pay minimum taxes.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Let’s hope the double-down fantasy of ‘post-war reconstruction in Iran’ that it will be all done by the US. does not come to pass.

            ‘You can reconstruct Syria. We’re reconstructing Iran.’

      3. HotFlash

        The rapid extent to which Russia and China are extending themselves into the Middle East while Trump and the neocons bluster is staggering.

        The stellar record of US companies in reconstructing Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and before that Russia, is a *totally* convincing sales pitch. Not to mention the current state of US infrastructure.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Sir Isaac Newton once said: “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants” but I think that in Putin’s case, he can honestly say: “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of pygmies” aka Trump, May, Macron, Merkel, etc.
      Be nice to have as a leader a man who can talk in articulate sentences rather than sound-bytes, is willing to be interviewed by his people for several hours each year, can articulate a vision longer than the next political cycle and who is backed up by a professional diplomatic corps instead of party bundlers.

      And is tonight’s Antidote du jour a Kingfisher by any chance?

          1. crittermom

            Thanks! I couldn’t find it until your info (it says it’s also known as a white-throated kingfisher). I was only familiar with the belted kingfishers we have here in the US.
            This is an incredibly beautiful bird. Nature is amazing…

    4. liam

      And yet he still believed that Obama might have played the same role as Putin is now playing. Maybe!?! He has Libya against him, but Iran in his favour.

      I really do wonder about this Putin derangement syndrome. I was listening to Morning Ireland and a Russia correspondent/specialist for the Christian Science Monitor was being interviewed regarding the bizarre resurfacing of the not quite dead journalist in Kiev. The assumption must have been that an American commentator would naturally pile in on the Russians, because when the answers to what were quite tart questions suggested otherwise, the interviewer, a lady, (I don’t know her name), lost all of her usual composure and became quite rude. At the mention of the backdrop to the whole affair and the nasty state of affairs in Kiev, she cut him off – literally. End of interview.

      We are usually a polite people, even in disagreement, so it caught me by surprise. It really did make me wonder.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Interesting, isn’t it, when the mask slips a bit and reveals what’s beneath? “We are usually a polite people”? That applies maybe to most folks, but the ones who serve the neoliberal neocon God are not. They are “on message” 24/7, and use “politeness” as a club to beat beat down us mopes. We are polite, us ordinary folks, by and large, and that amity and sense of comity and unwillingness to believe the worst, even when it is manifestly in our faces, keeps us from pickup up billhooks and broadswords and going after those who are looting and killing us and the planet we live on, all for their personal titillation and satisfaction.

        Of course, we can be and have been and will continue to be cajoled and tricked into going after each other, or those even less fortunate than ourselves, by subtle, serpentine and insidious propaganda. Look at the “left” in the US, where our “liberal heroes” like Rachel Maddow and other faces, and the Voices of the National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting System direct our justified ire and distress at targets that are actually the legs that we could otherwise stand on against the assaults of the worst among us.

        It’s hard to set aside that native politeness, that unwillingness to believe that the earnest person in front of us is actually sticking that knife between our ribs, in service to his or her Lord Mammon… And so we go down.

        1. Wukchumni

          The leaves of grass will not pass on
          Though the millstones grind them into dust
          For the earth shall give new life to them
          But only the grass will grow once more

          And the brave must fall to honor the names
          Of the ones who have gone before
          And the earth shall give new life to them
          But only the grass will grow once more

          If people could look into each other’s eyes
          What a wonderful place this world would be
          All strife would end, we could start again
          And dreams like these must not pass on

        2. liam

          You know, I’m not even sure it’s all that. I honestly don’t think anyone’s going to war with Moscow, at least not anytime soon!!!

          I once years ago was watching Question Time, a British political show with a panel full of politicians and commentators and a live audience that asks hand selected questions. I can’t remember exactly when. It might have been a good twenty years ago. In any case, after one audience member said that, “trouble always comes from the east and help from the west,” a hearty round of applause ensued. That certainty struck me, so that I remembered it.

          I think people believe what they want to believe. I’ve spoken to enough intelligent people who hold, to my mind at least, utterly delusional views.

          In 2005 Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize for Literature. His acceptance speech should be required reading, but I somehow think that it wouldn’t matter. There’s a mass act of hypnosis that he himself describes.

          Everyone knows what happened in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe during the post-war period: the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought. All this has been fully documented and verified.

          But my contention here is that the US crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognised as crimes at all. I believe this must be addressed and that the truth has considerable bearing on where the world stands now. Although constrained, to a certain extent, by the existence of the Soviet Union, the United States’ actions throughout the world made it clear that it had concluded it had carte blanche to do what it liked……..

          …….Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it.

          It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

          As I’ve said, I’ve spoken often enough to quite intelligent people, even some who know considerably more history than I do, and what I’ve consistently found is a) a desire to not know the crimes, and b) when forced to acknowledge the crimes, a willingness to forgive that doesn’t exist for others, such as the Russians. I really do find it remarkable, as though there’s an emotional investment in that far away city on the hill. Maybe it’s just that childhood associations are powerful. It would impress me if it didn’t disturb me so much.

          1. Sid Finster

            Want to tork off a Polish person? As in provoke a spitting mad Donald Duck meltdown?

            Remind them that, whatever its other crimes, that the only reason Polish people are alive in Poland today is because of the Red Army. Meltdown ensues forthwith.

            Yet Poles see themselves as the adoring younger brothers of the Germans “because Germany is a part of Europe!” (boy howdy, do Poles love their slogans!) and yet will forgive Russia nothing, acknowledge nothing, the folks that saved Poland from going up the chimneys of Auschwitz and Majdanek.

              1. JTMcPhee

                A lot of Poles went along happily with whichever big power was currently occupying their Ojczyzna. As people are wont to do everywhere, unfortunately. Quislings, Lord Haw Haw, the Vichy folks, etc., and our own Henry Fords and the rest of that gang, including the Prescott Bushes and on and on…

                What ought to be a central organizing principle that leads to decent lives for humans at large, and an end to the ending of habitability of the planet?

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              Or you become zbigniew brzez…., insinuate yourself into the upper echelons of power in your “adopted” country, and spend the rest of your life writing blank checks on your adopted countrymen’s checking account to settle your demented, delusional score.

              1. Carolinian

                If Pence was Trump’s biggest personnel mistake then surely Zbig was Carter’s. At the time we all thought of him as Carter’s Kissinger wannabe.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            Its a great quote. If your outrage for abuses is selective, its not true outrage.

            I’ve had my own version with this whenever I’ve heard the condemnation of Japan for its failure to acknowledge its war crimes in WWII. Fair enough, the Japanese Empire was responsible for appalling atrocities all over Asia. But that this condemnation is uttered by citizens of countries which did similarly appalling things in the 1950’s and 1960’s in Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam, not to mention by proxy in Cambodia in the 1980’s – without any apparent irony – always astonishes me. There is nothing the Japanese did (and I include in this the ‘comfort women’ issue) that was not done at a later date by the western powers in their wars in the later 20th century.

            1. Wukchumni

              A really fine book I enjoyed was Flyboys, by James Bradley.

              He rather adeptly combines threads of American & Japanese history from Perry’s opening of Japan only enabled by having coaling stations-one of the key ones named Chichi Jima, onwards through to the Spanish American War and Japanese-Russian War, where we tortured Filipinos, whilst the Japanese treated their Russian prisoners of war with utmost respect.

              And flash forward to WW2, and Chichi Jima was a prime Japanese listening post and somewhat impregnable, but in spite of that we sent many aircraft to attack it, and one of the planes shot down was GHWB’s, who survived being late, for dinner. The other 8 or 9 aviators captured by the Japanese weren’t so lucky, their livers were prepared for consumption by the garrison commander to serve to his troops.

              …no word on whether chianti was served

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                In ‘Born Fighting, How Scots-Irish Shaped America’ by James Webb (the film), he mentioned something similar on the Atlantic crossing voyages…low on food, and probably no chianti.

            2. JTMcPhee

              In lots of places during the US investment of Vietnam and neighboring countries (“investment” in the military sense) you could pay a monthly rental of a few bucks for a “hooch girl”’ who not only might “comfort” you but wash your uniforms and undies, polish your boots, keep your hooch looking “STRAC,” ,and some would cook meals for you.

              I was going to post a link to a long list of US military atrocities and murders, going back to “the only good Indian is a dead Indian” days, by both the military “militias” and the spooks, but it’s too disheartening and depressing to even look it up again.

              Nothing is going to change. We are what we are. FB’ing hypocrites. Coprophagists almost to a man/woman/alt.

            3. David

              See John Dower’s “War without Mercy” for more than you probably really want to know about this aspect of the war in the Pacific. Both sides had an equally grim record – stories of Australian troops practising cannibalism do seem to have some substance, for example. But it’s always worse when the other side does it.

          3. Lee

            IIRC, Trump of all people did acknowledge the fact U.S. skulduggery was morally equivalent to that of Russia.

            Funnily, the Goog won’t cough up the quote so I can link it. Hmmm, wonder why that is?

    5. Altandmain

      The pathetic part about the whole situation is how self inflicted America’s situation is. The US has been at this for decades, especially since the Dulles Brothers.

      The neoconservatives should never have waged war in Iraq in 2003 to begin with.

      The whole Middle East situation has caused US foreign policy to backfire badly. Russia and China are now more influential than before. Meanwhile the US is declining in both public perception and their ability to earn the trust of national governments.

      It kind of reminds me of the Washington Consensus. To destroy the American middle class, they largely set in motion the rise of China to begin with. The fact that China has risen has been a self inflicted wound.

  6. cnchal

    This could have been filed under “Kill Me Now” or perhaps a new category called “Glad I didn’t Have Children”


  7. Wukchumni

    ‘Sea, ice, snow, it’s all changing’: Inuit culture struggles with warming world Guardian

    We were out on a backpack last weekend and ran into a couple from Texas that were climate scientists and got to comparing notes on things, and I mentioned how curious it was to see so many wild cucumbers @ 4,000 to 5,000 feet, as they are common @ in the foothills, but i’d never seen so many @ altitude.

    Things that can move up into different climate zones are doing so in order to survive or it’s now possible for them to thrive where they hadn’t previously, the poster child here being Pikas, little beasties with big ears actually in the rabbit family, that are going to run out of real estate as they move into the highest climes of the Sierra Nevada.

    1. Synapsid


      To my surprise, pikas were found living in the Columbia Gorge between Washington and Oregon, not all that far above sea level. It was always cool there and the boulders from the Gorge walls gave them the exact landscape they need. There is Hope for Pikas.

      Population re-surveys of pikas in the Great Basin, though, in the last couple of years, have found that most of the populations formerly recorded there are missing.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Scotland to roll out free sanitary products for low-income women The Scotsman. Dr. Kevin: “Toronto is considering a similar program.”

    A part of free ‘healthcare, wellbeing & enlightenment for all.’

    That should be, like free organic Bok Choy for all, before we have free college or at least at the same time (they are as important, if not more).

    One concern I read is the potential inflation in such products (previously subsidized by too low wages, in the case of Bok Choy. We are seeing pressure for higher wages now. Good news.), or since they are free (and inflated prices are not paid by their consumers but the federal government ideally), shortages.

    Hopefully supply can catch with new demand.

  9. Jim Haygood

    Flake-o-nomics goes nuclear:

    (Reuters) – Washington will announce plans to impose tariffs on EU steel and aluminum imports, two sources said, while a magazine reported U.S. President Donald Trump was now focused on pushing German cars from the country.

    U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was due to hold a news briefing at 9 a.m. to announce “Section 232” national security-related tariff modifications, the U.S. Commerce Department said.

    German magazine Wirtschaftswoche reported on Thursday that Trump had told French president Emmanuel Macron he wanted to stick to his trade policy long enough that Mercedes-Benz cars were no longer cruising through New York, news that dented share prices in BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen.

    The Trump administration launched a national security investigation last week into car and truck imports, using the same 1962 law that he has applied to curb incoming steel and aluminum.

    One could substitute ‘Kim Jong Un’ for ‘Trump’ — ranting that ‘Mercedes-Benz cars will no longer be cruising through Pyongyang’ — and no one would be surprised. But coming from a Western ‘leader,’ this is epic flakery.

    Europe, naturally, will retaliate against Harley-Davidsons, Kentucky bourbon and Florida oranges. But not until Europe ejects the yankee occupation troops billeted on its soil throughout Boomers’ lifetimes will it be taken seriously in imperial Washington.

    1. Wukchumni

      This administration is akin to an incredibly rich uncle whom you were counting on for an inheritance, who decides to blow all his money on meth-and becomes homeless, and as it turns out, you have to take him in, lest he become another zombie on the streets.

      1. ambrit

        The trouble with that is that the addled uncle has sold the deed to your house to the drugs dealer too. Now you’re both on the street, and your former abode is now a for profit drug rehabilitation halfway house.

    2. Louis

      The Trump administration, and anyone who supports them, seems to to think it’s still 1958 when the U.S. had no major competitors and had a lot military and economic leverage over the rest of the world.

      Obviously that isn’t the case anymore, and hasn’t been for awhile, but Trump and anyone who supports him are going to be in for a rude awakening when other countries retaliate against the U.S. tariffs.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think China has already retaliated back.

        But with striking truckers in Brazil, it would be hard to get more, or any, from them for a while.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          ‘…get more, or any, soybeans…’

          America is still the only (big) game, if the Brazilians can’t deliver.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Rage of a poodle:

        (Reuters) – The European Union will impose counter measures after the United States decided to no longer exempt it from steel and aluminum tariffs, the head of the bloc’s executive Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday.

        “This is a bad day for world trade,” Juncker said in a speech in Brussels. “So we will immediately introduce a settlement dispute with the WTO and will announce counter balancing measures in the coming hours.”

        “It is totally unacceptable that a country is imposing unilateral measures when it comes to world trade.”

        Nobody in Washington cares, until the day fifty thousand yankee occupiers are frog-marched out of Ramstein Air Base and its support facilities, and told to go back where they came from.

        It’s a great day for Peter Rabbit Navarro, though.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          When we left Berlin in 1994, many Germans came out to thank the Yanks.

          Some remembered the chocolate bars they received during the Berlin airlift. One lady (a kid then) wrote that she didn’t get any, and ask the pilot to drop them off near Tempelhof field. And he did, on the next trip.

          1. Wukchumni

            A friend brought a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar with almonds on our backpack trip last weekend, and I hadn’t indulged in the waxy HFCS laden mud-like sugary taste in donkeys years, and if anything it had somehow gotten worse, which hardly seemed possible.

            Happily though, I must admit the almond slivers were tasty, it being the one thing they couldn’t completely cheapen out on.

            1. a different chris

              Agree in general, but it’s not HFCS? Apparently you were feasting on:

              Milk Chocolate (Sugar, Milk, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Lactose, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin, PGPR, Emulsifier, Vanillin, Artificial Flavor), Almonds (Roasted in Cocoa Butter and/or Sunflower Oil).

              Uh, yum I guess.

        2. Chauncey Gardiner

          It won’t be such a great day for we Americans when we see this, though: “There will be big news coming soon for our great American consumers. After many decades of every-day low prices from cheaper imports filling shelves and dealer lots, you’ve been spoiled long enough and will now see your real incomes squeezed!” (hat tip Canadian economist David Rosenberg)

          Of course, this will help the Fed hit its inflation bogey, so we have that going for us.

        3. wilroncanada

          He has also announced that he is imposing those same tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum. He and Wilbur Ross claim that the imposition of tariffs is the result of too little “progress” in NAFTA talks (not enough ‘step’n fetchit’).
          Canada has announced some counter-measures, including against US steel and aluminum, soy, cheeses, wines, and others I can’t recall immediately. It should be an interesting G7 meeting at Whistler resort next week, I think.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I notice that he is not complaining about too many affordable Japanese cars, but too many luxury European ones.

      Does he discriminate against Europeans and like Japanese or Koreans better? That would be r*cist.

    4. Edward E

      They seem to do these gobbledygooks when Fed is doing QT or… possibly they want exactly that and this is part of the reset process. Wilbur Ross schild stated at Davos they would be open to US$ give up being the Reserve Currency. All of this looks intentional to get ready for the SDR. ROW be happy with letting the US go.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And for gold, directly or indirectly?

        Russia and China have been buying the barbarous relic.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Mexico beats Europe to the punch:

        (Reuters) – Mexico responded to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs by imposing wide-ranging “equivalent” measures on farm and industrial products, the economy ministry said on Thursday, ratcheting up tensions during talks to renegotiate NAFTA.

        The Mexican measures, which target pork legs, apples, grapes and cheeses as well as steel, could hit farm states that are a bastion of support for U.S. President Donald Trump, ahead of American midterm elections in November.

        “Mexico profoundly regrets and condemns the decision by the United States to impose these tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Mexico,” the ministry said.

        Between European retaliation against Wisconsin-based Harley-Davidson, Chinese retaliation against sorghum and Mexican retaliation against pork legs, the midwest is going to be vigorously punished for electing the Orange Charlatan.

        Vote Republican; starve an Iowan.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There is that North Korean market though.

          Picture all the Harley-Davidsons cruising around Pyongyang.

          And pork legs and sorghum. North Korean Korean-food can now compete with South Korean Korean-food.

          “In exchange for giving up n. bombs, you get these.”

  10. allan

    American Airlines’ Tiny New Bathrooms Test Limits Of What U.S. Passengers Will Put Up With [Forbes]

    … the airline that flies more people more miles than any other in the world is, for the most part, ignoring the complaints of its own flight attendants — and those of airline bloggers and consumer advocates — that at just 24 inches wide the tiny restrooms installed on its brand new Boeing 737-MAX airplanes are too small and problematic for use by most adults. …

    … American Airlines officials believe – and may well be right – that they hold most or all of the cards and can get away with forcing 156 coach passengers to share just two lavatories that are so small a passenger only has room to wash one hand at a time. Indeed those restrooms are so narrow that passengers reportedly must decide before entering whether to walk in facing the toilet or to back in. That’s because once inside with the door closed there’s not enough room to turn around. …

    Rather than carping about the absurdly or even (according to flight attendants) dangerously small restrooms,
    shouldn’t we be praising AA’s management for forcing their customers to up their geometric problem solving skills?

        1. ambrit

          Not for the ‘A’ class who can travel in private aircraft. I don’t see the ‘Lolita Express’ going out of business as long as the Neo-liberal Dispensation continues.

          1. Wukchumni

            Job Procreators such as the ‘A’ class must be granted special dispositions not available to lesser alphabetic classes.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Had Senator Larry “Wide Stance” Craig not been drummed out of office for lewd conduct, he could’ve done something about this constrictive outrage.

      Meanwhile, bring your own modesty blanket and empty Gatorade bottle [and she-wee, if you’re of the distaff persuasion] to fly the tightly-caged skies.

      1. Wukchumni

        Please though, whatever conveyance you choose upon, DO NOT call it a ‘trucker bomb’ whilst on board.

        1. Lord Koos

          Ha, “trucker bomb”, hadn’t heard that before. That reminded me of being on tour in the late 70s when our bus driver accidentally dumped the contents of our full toilet while we were heading down the interstate. There was a shiny white Kenworth cab right behind us, too…

    2. RUKidding

      Domestically, I mostly fly Southwest, which has introduced a new plane. I’m not “up” on the what model it is, but, per usual, the seats are smaller (narrower) with less cushioning (very hard) and even less leg room I guess to add at least one more row of seats. I’m pretty small and don’t weigh that much, and I find the seats insanely uncomfortable. I can’t imagine how anyone taller and/or larger feels.

      They even managed somehow to mostly dispense with the valued exit row extra leg room. Now the exit row only has a teeny tiny bit more leg room than any other row. The front row of seats are now really uncomfortable because they’ve been made narrower by having a stupid inserted tray in the arm. One of THE most uncomfortable planes I’ve experienced to date. I’ve complained, of course, but… ha ha. Like that’ll do any good.

      The bathrooms don’t seem to be quite as small as the ones depicted in the American Airlines plane, but I did wonder how anyone tall/large could manage to shoe-horn themselves in there. Certainly those over a certain weight might have to back into the bathroom.

      It’s really awful, and yet the prices for flying keeps rising. All while passengers on Southwest get to play roulette as to whether they’ll be sucked out of the plane to their instant death or not.

      1. Wukchumni

        I must’ve flown a million miles in coach internationally in the 1980’s, and my ace in the hole was the smoking section in the back of the plane.

        Wasn’t a smoker, but i’d grown up in the horrible smog of L.A. in the 60’s, so it wasn’t a big deal.

        My m/o was this:

        There were fewer smokers, and thus large clumps of empty seats, and just before they closed the door, i’d stake out a row or say 4 seats in the center of fuego, laying claim to sleeping rights during the long flight.

        Never failed to get @ least 3 seats…

        1. RUKidding

          That was then. Not happening now, both bc there’s no more smoking rows in any airlines (I’m pretty sure), plus it’s extremely rare whether flying domestically or internationally that there’s a bunch of empty seats. I fly a fair bit, and it’s rare to see more than 4 or 5 empty seats and definitely not all in one row.

          In the way back machine, I used to routinely stake out empty rows and grab them, esp on international flights (and not necessarily in the smoking section).

          Those days are long gone.

          1. Wukchumni

            It was fun flying in the 80’s, cheap and they even trusted you with real cutlery…

            My favorite was the around the world one-way ticket that allowed you 6 months worth of travel. It was around $1200 or so. You had to go either west or east, but you couldn’t backtrack.

        2. Kurt Sperry

          I took a flight last month from Heathrow to Seattle on Virgin Atlantic and there were 112 passengers on a plane with 180+ seats. I had *four* seats together to sleep in! I had a couple of complimentary Sapphire G&Ts, a not-terrible korean pork dinner followed by seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. Hadn’t got that lucky since a Rome-Cincinnati flight where I had a whole row and slept like a baby from the seat belt sign going off until final approach.

      2. polecat

        I predict, that in the not so distant future, the airlines are going to dispense with seating altogether, and instead replace them with .. straw ..

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I will never fly any airlines that drops off passengers with parachutes.

          “This is an express flight, with several stops. We’re approaching Santa Clara. Those disembarking here, please have your parachutes on, stand by the gate and wait for the green light. Have a safe landing.”

          Never, I say, never will I fly those.

          1. ambrit

            Back then they called it Comedy. Now it goes by the name of Maximizing Shareholder Equity.

        2. pretzelattack

          by signing a liability waiver, you can avail yourself of lines hanging from the aircraft. experience the thrill of flying high above the earth, without a metal skin between you and nature.

    3. Carolinian

      At least they aren’t making coach passengers flying in a semi standing up position which was the now discarded proposal of one British airline (Ryanair I think).

      Middle Passage much?

    4. sd

      It’s an opportunity! A clever entrepreneur should open a kiosk that offers adult diapers prior to boarding.

  11. Ellie

    Regarding the Class Warfare links:

    Among the relics from the 1990s that I still miss:

    HGTV when it had craft and gardening how-to shows
    Borders bookstores
    Marshall Field’s

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Also from the 1990’s: Surveillance-free dual-use (for weight lifting) cellphones.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Marshall Field’s……..Wistful sigh.

      I still have a few treasured Christmas ornaments stored in original Field’s boxes. You know, the dark green or white ones that you didn’t have to fold up yourself or “purchase” separately. The ones that were so sturdy they could be used over and over again. The ones where the sides didn’t cave in when you wrapped them and you could get perfect corners and knife edges and always contained an abundance of perfectly layered tissue paper. The ones printed with the iconic logo that guaranteed that what was inside was exactly what you always wanted.

      More. Wistful. Sighs.

      Yikes, I just read what I wrote. Maybe I should get a grip. But I really, really miss it. Amazon is the shopping experience now. Cheap, fast and more boxes and packaging than you can shake a stick at.

      1. Ellie

        Yeah, me too. At Christmas time, those boxes were bright red. I still have a couple tucked away in the basement.

        My policy toward Amazon is that I will only buy from them if I absolutely must have it and can’t find it elsewhere.

    3. Mike Mc

      Back from two weeks in Japan, mostly in Kyoto. A complete noob to international travel at 63, we flew from Nebraska to San Fran then directly to KIX (Kansai International) for a total of around 14 hours in the air (oy!).

      Kyoto – even in 2018 – was like being a kid again in the early 1960s.

      1) Trains and buses all over the place, easy to use, plenty of help – the Kyoto Station Bus Concierges with small bullhorns to shepard the teeming masses of locals, school children in uniform (thousands) and random tourists like us a particular favorite.

      2) Plenty of help – parking lot crossing guards with uniforms and lighted batons to keep pedestrians and cars from colliding. Usually two per parking garage or lot. Lots of people cleaning, stocking, offering help even in tiny shops and restaurants.

      3) Department stores – the 11 story Isetan one built into Kyoto Station – with 11 escalators – was retail store heaven for my wife, a doctor’s daughter who knows from good clothes. Again, packed with both customers and help, spared me a wedding tie faux pas (we were in Japan for a beloved foreign exchange student’s marriage) and generally made you feel like a human being instead of a wallet or pocketbook.

      I could go on but it was exciting, nostalgic and depressing to see a society functioning quite smoothly and for the benefit of the vast majority of its members. It looked a lot like the America of my childhood: I was ready to retire there after a few days (alas too much family in the States, the wife says though she wasn’t ruling it out completely either). Explaining to our wonderful host how exactly tragedies like the Texas school shooting – happened right after we got there – take place, and American culture in general and gun culture in particular made us both feel about an inch tall.

      P.S. Buy and wear the awful compression socks your experienced friends recommend! Worked like a champ – we had ankles instead of water balloons at both ends of the flying.

      1. Ellie

        Japan, and Kyoto in particular, on my bucket list. I find Japanese culture in some ways as inscrutable as they (and many other nationalities) find ours. Heck, some aspects of American culture are incomprehensible to me.

      2. Wukchumni

        Glad you were able to experience Japan…

        Did you happen to notice all of the vending machines everywhere, for about every conceivable item?

      3. Katniss Everdeen

        ….. to see a society functioning quite smoothly and for the benefit of the vast majority of its members.

        Yes, but…..I hear that the Japanese economy “stinks.” Stagnant, not “robust,” no growth, not dynamic, insufficient “investment” potential.

        Sounds just like the kind of “bad” economy the deplorables are pining for.

  12. rd

    Here come the tariffs on our allies:

    I am baffled by what the Us thinks it will gain. Canada and the EU have similar worker pay and environmental policies as the US, so there aren’t significant cost advantages to siting manufacturing in those places unlike China etc. Steel has many different grades, and many grades are not even manufactured in the US because it is cost-inefficient to produce lots of different products with competitors when you can focus on a few you do well with few competitors.

    I think this is an attempt to resurrect Appalachia coal mining because Appalachia coal these days is primarily metallurgical coal used in steel production.

    Maybe at some point in time we will actually go after the countries that pay their workers significantly less and do not have the environmental regulations, so the environmental footprint of their products is much larger than if they were manufactured here, in Canada, or the EU.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      US threat of tariffs on Chinese imports ‘just a negotiating tactic’ SCMP

      Bluffs have to be credible. And here, China is calling Trump’s. Will he up his game?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It is more likely a holographic poker game.

          “A giant hologram…with many games.”

  13. allan

    American health-care workers are committing suicide in unprecedented numbers [The Hill]

    … Why physicians and health-care workers are more likely to complete suicide is unknown. It perhaps has to do with a work-related mental health syndrome called disengagement and burnout, which has reached epidemic proportions in health-care providers and nurses. Excessive pressures and expectations at work, paired with seemingly unattainable goals for quality and productivity as well as societal loss of trust in physicians, has led to a loss of meaning of work and of self for physicians. This is not the norm that physicians or nurses expected when we answered the call to be care-providers. …

    EHR are not mentioned, but you have to wonder.

    1. Lord Koos

      I’m sure the corporate structure of most health care facilities is not helping…

    2. HotFlash

      Why physicians and health-care workers are more likely to complete suicide is unknown.

      Possibly because they know how to do it right and have access to the means? I once dated a nurse who kept a tiny stash of purloined KCN — only a couple of tablets — just in case.

  14. Jim Haygood

    Ed Yardeni’s fundamental economic indicator ticked down again this week, falling a bit farther below its Permanently High Plateau of March to mid-May. Chart:

    Another rise in the four-week average of initial unemployment claims to a [still low] 222,250 was the culprit for the indicator’s decline. By contrast, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort was flat, while industrial raw materials prices rose slightly.

    Yardeni was featured on Barry Ritholtz’s Masters in Business podcast last weekend. He referred to the oil price meltdown in late 2015 and early 2016 as a “rolling recession” which flattened the energy sector without taking down the whole economy. Doctor Ed, who leans to the bullish side, suggested that it could happen again.

    A rolling recession in the banking sector, anyone? Then open wide the Treasury vault … bankers in distress!

    1. ambrit

      Curious. I noticed yet another rise in the prices of basic food goods last week when out doing the shopping.
      So, ‘rolling recessions’ in the anointed realms opens the gates of Paradise, savings and loan. Similar disruptions in domestic realms trigger the Whippings to Morale Inversion Algorithm.
      As for petroleum prices, I suggest that we resurrect the Gas Rationing System used during WW-2, with slight adjustments for modern circumstances.
      To wit; from lowest price per gallon to highest:
      ‘A’ class: ‘Aristocrat.’ Job creators, entrepreneurs, custodians of capital, etc.
      ‘B’ class: ‘Bootlickers.’ Enablers of the ‘A’ class. Higher credentialled academics, thought leaders, upper management, etc.
      ‘C’ class: ‘Contributors.’ Actual mid-level managers, graduate students and other academic associate functionaries, etc.
      ‘D’ class: ‘Deplorables.’ People who do actual physical work. Rotating shift workers, gig economy toilers, ‘on call’ and zero hour employees, etc.
      ‘E’ class: ‘Exempt.’ Those who have fallen through the cracks. Having no exploitable function, therefore of no calculable ‘worth’ to “Our Glorious Society.” [The ‘E’ class sticker denotes “Do Not Sell To This Person.” ‘E’ class people must resort to the underground market for fuel, with appropriate price mark ups.]
      And there we have it. A visible manifestation of inner social grace.

        1. ambrit

          The motto for the ‘B’ class: “Assume the position!”
          This to be yelled, often, at the lower ‘C’ ‘D’ and ‘E’ classes. CDE being an acronym for “Collateralized Debt Exploitation.” CDE being the guiding design of the Social Tranche Warfare.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        I love this!

        — reluctant member of the ‘credentialed’ Bootlicker class

  15. Lord Koos

    I met Steve Miller once several years ago at a party hosted by a guitar-building friend who has built quite a few instruments for him. I have to agree with the author that he is a very nice guy.

  16. Lord Koos

    I’m surprised to learn that Yuma AZ is some kind of lettuce growing capital – lettuce needs a lot of water & it seems crazy to be growing it in a desert climate that gets 3-4″ of rain a year.

      1. Lord Koos

        I wonder how much of the water used for agriculture there is from aquifers and how much might be from dams?

  17. precariat

    “The Supreme Court is Stubbornly Analog…”

    A narrow excusing of the Court’s lack of action with regard to technology being used to sidestep/erode constitutional protections. The judges on the Court are (mostly) highly intelligent. To insinuate they are somehow living in cave relying on lawyers to paint a picture for them is not believable. They have young and tech immersed clerks who work for them, just for starters.
    What is believable is that the Court feels little pressure to challenge law enforcement and corporations. Sotomajor exempted.

  18. makedoanmend

    “Britain to get new Brexit CURRENCY after EU exit as Tory plans BACKED”

    Maybe they could call the new currency the Lira. They could then annex Italy.

    After all, Italy was once considered the soft underbelly of Europe.

    1. Wukchumni

      I don’t know how to break this to you, but Lira means pound (sans a ‘b’), in English.

      Lira (plural lire) is the name of several currency units. It is the current currency of Turkey and also the local name of the currencies of Lebanon and Syria. It is the former currency of Italy, Malta, San Marino and the Vatican City, all of which were replaced in 2002 with the euro, and of Israel, which replaced it with the old shekel in 1980. The term originates from the value of a Troy pound (Latin libra) of high purity silver. The libra was the basis of the monetary system of the Roman Empire. When Europe resumed a monetary system, during the Carolingian Empire, the Roman system was adopted, the so-called £sd (librae, solidi, denarii). (Wiki)

    2. ambrit

      No. London should use, since it’s appropriate, something from the Empires colonial period, the Maltese Cross (Of Gold.)

  19. precariat

    “How spies can use your cellphone to find you…” Wapo

    An example of the harm that is done when areas of law/regulation concerning the safety of citizens is ignored for the benefit of corporations and LEAs. Surprise! Criminals are using it too; and the the costs/barriers for criminals is ever increasingly small while the payoffs are huge. This (intentional?) grey area is where everyone wins except the preyed-upon citizen.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Potato, potahto…

      As a sage once said, fortunately for society, most criminals are rather stupid. When they are not, they tend to become the government…

  20. Oregoncharles

    “New Evidence Reveals a 17,000-Year-Old Coastal Route Into North America ”
    17,000 years ago. The article is based on hilltop evidence, completely omits mention of the much lower sea levels during the Ice Age. The real route is underwater now and would have been open earlier – perhaps throughout the Ice Age, unless conditions were just too cold. It also omits the likelihood that people were using boats. There are very early remains on one of the California islands, which was never connected to the mainland.

    People using boats could have made the trip to the tip of S. America even faster. Boats are very rarely preserved, even more rarely found.

  21. Mo's Bike Shop

    I haven’t read it yet, but the research is by geologists. Earlier pieces I’ve read about the route related how researchers were doing a lot of work to discover sea-level areas from the ice age that were now raised above sea level by all the crusty action in that area. My understanding is that at peak ice age the Cordilleran was a big enough blob on the coast to inhibit gunkholing.

    I personally root for evidence of pre-ice age migrations because I’m an irresponsible person.

  22. Savita

    Above is a good description of the man who saved the child in Paris, met Macron, received a bravery medal, residency status, and a fast track to citizenship. Oh, and a job offer from the Paris Fire Brigade. It’s a sublime bit of news, and the link includes the video of him meeting Macron

    Australia. Stemming from the ongoing Royal Commision into Banks, Criminal cartel charges to be laid against ANZ bank (Australia New Zealand Bank) for a deal that was underwritten by Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan.

  23. ewmayer

    Re. “The Profound Social Cost of American Exceptionalism” by NYT’s departing Eduardo Porter: Alas, he appears to lay all the blame for the last 40 years’ neoliberal depredations at the feet of the Republicans. Blinkered tribalism and party-line-hewing other-blaming is no way to actually make progress, Eduardo. The NYT of course has been a stalwart promoter of American Exceptionalism, whether it be in the area of rampant financialization or imperial slaughter abroad (and, by way of dropping life expenctancy and a raging epidemic of deaths of impoverishment and despair, now at home, too). Similarly, Porter approvingly quotes a fellow journo at the propaganda rag owned by the world’s richest man, whose success has been entirely a result of taking ruthless advantage of mass economic immiseration and further deepening it:

    As Catherine Rampell noted in The Washington Post, populism — understood as a political movement shaped around giving the working class a “fair shake” — is pretty much dead.

    Hmm, let’s see – in the run-up to the 2016 election there were two populist candidates who were bucking their respective party establishments and talking about issues in a way which was resonating with their party bases. One of them, the right-wing (and now proven to be faux) populist, won his party’s nomination and is now president as a direct result of the other party’s flagrantly crooked nomination process whereby party apparatchiks installed the candidate of the Looter Elite and of Big War. So if “populism is pretty much dead”, Eduardo, which party did more to kill it? Looking at a sample of Porter’s Obama-era columns I see a bunch of neoliberal hagiography. So I for one shed no tears at his departure.

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