Links 5/6/18

Volcanic activity settles for now, officials say, but it’s not over Hawaii News Now

Why Scientists Played Bach’s Classics For Crocodiles In MRI Scanners International Business Times

Don’t charge your brain implant during thunderstorms, docs warn after incident Ars Technica

Idaho school can’t find small bit of weapons-grade plutonium AP (SM). Oops.

California is due for a mega-flood that could force 1.5 million people to evacuate and cause $725 billion in damage — and it would hit Silicon Valley hard Business Insider (David L)

Karl Marx statue from China adds to German angst BBC UserFriendly: “rofl.”


As Push for Global E-Commerce Rules Gain Pace, India Starts Taking a Stand The Wire

A Simple Way to Improve a Billion Lives: Eyeglasses NYT

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is using a powerful rocket technology. NASA advisers say it could put lives at risk. WaPo (The Rev Kev)

Musk Hung Up on NTSB Chief in Testy April Call About Tesla Probe Bloomberg

Puerto Rico


Actors were paid to support Entergy’s power plant at New Orleans City Council meetings The Lens (RH)


Brexit: banging the drum EUReferendum

Local elections haunted by Brexit offer little comfort to right or left Guardian (The Rev Kev)

Alan Turing’s chemistry hypothesis turned into a desalination filter Ars Technica

Twitter to All Users: Change Your Password Now! Krebs on Security (BC)

Argentina stuns markets as it pushes interest rates to 40% FT



The Historic Background of China’s Perception of the West – by Carl Zha Moon of Alabama (The Rev Kev)

An L.A. triple-murder suspect was tried in China, and his case could open the door for similar prosecutions LA Times

Our Famously Free Press

James O’Keefe Can’t Get No Respect Politico UserFriendly: ​”politico give him a LONG sloppy kiss. god.​“


Inside the NRA’s annual meeting: Guns, ammunition, family and politics WaPo (The Rev Kev)

Class Warfare

Five Ways Bosses Fight Labor Jacobin

Karl Marx wouldn’t agree that worker power has been killed by the 21st century The Conversation

Tax Cuts Still Don’t Seem to Be Helping Workers Bloomberg (UserFriendly)

Is the Great Recession Still Holding Down Wages? (Wonkish) NYT. UserFriendly: “Krugman gets something half right. They don’t want to raise wages because the demand still isn’t there because the working class is still in a balance sheet recession.​“

Black Unemployment Is at an All-Time Low, But … Bloomberg (UserFriendly)

Three Sectors Explain Most of Deceleration in U.S. Wage Growth Bloomberg (UserFriendly)

How Criminals Steal $37 Billion a Year from America’s Elderly Bloomberg. JTMcPhee: “Disgruntled Millenials and Gen X’ers freeing up old folks’ capital, eh?”

Health Care

How Medicaid work requirements can exempt rural whites but not urban blacks Vox (Judy B)

Does Medicaid Expansion Have A Shot In A State As Red As Idaho? FiveThirtyEight


Once the Syrian war is over, Qatar could become an empire once more Independent. Robert Fisk.

Rouhani: US to face historic regret if nuclear deal ends Al Jazeera

I Know Which Country the U.S. Will Invade Next TruthDig. Lee Camp.

Giuliani: Trump is ‘committed to’ regime change in Iran Politico (SM)

The Saudi Coalition’s Starvation of Yemen Hasn’t Ended American Conservative

Revealed: Trump team hired spy firm for ‘dirty ops’ on Iran arms deal Guardian (UserFriendly) Moi: Wowsers.

It’s not clear if Trump and Netanyahu want a war with Iran – but they may fall into one all the same Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

Allianz to stop selling insurance to coal companies FT (The Rev Kev)

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Spy agency NSA triples collection of U.S. phone records: official report Reuters And the link to the Underlying NSA  Statistical Transparency Report (BB)

The NSA Managed to Collect 500 Million US Call Records in 2017 Despite Targeting Just 40 People Gizmodo (Chuck L)

Trump Transition

CNN panel breaks down laughing while discussing Pruitt allegations The Hill. UserFriendly: ​the video is actually funny.​

Rumors of War: Mueller and Trump Prepare for Battle TruthOut

Trump Turns to Outsiders, Not White House Staff, for Key Advice WSJ. Trump being Trump.

Younger lawmakers ignite new push for term limits The Hill. UserFriendly: “​So only the lobbyists have experience.​”

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: SpaceX risk taking

    The article never once mentions Apollo 1, which is the accident most relevant to objections about densified fuel loading.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        That’s rather formulaic, isn’t it?

        Elites [verb] [possessive pronoun] [perjorative] [noun], don’t see the problem.

        [discussing an article on hacked computers held hostage]
        Elites using their fancy computers, don’t see the problem.

        [discussing an article on heavy metals in asian-grown grains]
        Elites eating their foreign bean bowls, don’t see the problem.

        1. skippy

          I think its a case of when profit and gratuitous self indulgence collide. Down thread comment captures the vibe, albeit I don’t agree with the use of Science in context – see aforementioned.

      2. Jake Mudrosti

        Elites having a joyride, and “journalists” vicariously joining in. I couldn’t read through to the end — too much cringe.

        To start, labeling a high-risk refueling procedure as a “powerful rocket technology.” And then using rhetoric to twist historical events and publicly fellate Musk. Check out this dude’s bio: “covers the defense and space industries … a reporter covering military affairs. He is the author of ‘The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos'”

        Stuff like this explains why it’s impossible to have anything resembling a conversation with the boneheaded “I f***ing love science!” crowd. Bookmarked this important link as a sign of the times.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          I agree with (just about) all of that. The thing I don’t agree with is the insinuation that NASA (and other national space agencies) astronauts are somehow entitled elites (“Elites having a joyride”). Of the astronauts I have met, all excepting one got there on merit and hard work. And I question that one only because they flunked their PhD qualifiers three times and had to pull a lot of strings to get a fourth shot. Even so, some part of that is laudable if only for the tenacity. Sure there are some arrogant pricks in the bunch but their CVs are outstanding.

          Given that, SpaceX is contracted to (eventually) ferry astronauts to and from the ISS and for that mission I agree that their fueling process is too risky/arrogant. Let them over-pressurize the tanks when the billionaires are on-board. I can suggest a few…

          When Lightfoot reminds of the scars, what he is saying is “NASA f**ked up and people died.” It goes back to Gene Kranz and Apollo 1, well before the shuttle failures. When I read the article, I was shocked to find not one reference to the Apollo 1 incident/accident/tragedy. One cannot understand NASA’s scars without understanding that history.

          So, yes, you are absolutely correct in noting that the fellator (“journalist”) is a mindless cheerleader, ignorant of history. Even the white boards that appear on the sets of The Big Bang Theory display better research.

          BTW, the old Apollo mission operation control room at JSC in Houston is a National Historic Landmark. You should visit. Pretty neat place. Was treated to an inspection of the wiring underneath the panels when I took some students there (typical reaction was “We went to the moon with THAT????”).

          1. a different chris

            >and had to pull a lot of strings to get a fourth shot.\

            OK we have 300 billion people, 1/2 the kids want to be astronauts when they grow up, and with only a handful of astronaut positions one person somehow can get the position because he/she knows how to “pull strings”.

            Jesus. Literally makes me sick.

            1. WobblyTelomeres

              Same here. There’s a street named for ’em here in Huntsville. I throw up a bit every time I ride past it. I’m sure there are others, but they are the only one I know of/met.

          2. Jake Mudrosti

            I used the word “elites” here for Musk alone, who uses his wealth to secure a pulpit for preaching demonstrably self-serving catechisms.

            In the meantime… a colleague just sent a link to this piece — not at this link, but at

            The latter was linked from Drudge Report. It’s showing up in many places suspiciously on the heels of Musk’s Tesla PR mess.

            Whelp, this is the media landscape that defines the “elites” whose voices are always heard.

          3. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

            Re Elites:

            Just like the biblical poor, the elite is always with us.

            It all depends of the nature of the elite.


      3. Lambert Strether

        Elites setting up a joy ride for somebody else, then sitting back to watch, so yes, no problem at all!

        I wonder who owns the movie rights on SpaceX launchings?

  2. fresno dan

    Rumors of War: Mueller and Trump Prepare for Battle TruthOut
    My handy Trump-to-English dictionary translates that to mean “I will fire Rosenstein,” even though all the flames of Hades will rise up to boil the marble tiles of the White House … maybe. Right? It’s always “Maybe” around here thanks to heroes like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham. They say all the right things about Trump “paying a price” for firing the deputy director if he actually does so, but I trust that about as far as I can spit a yak.
    “….as far as I can spit a yak” ???

    1. timbers

      Trump should fire Mueller and he should done so long ago, so Mueller can re-direct his talents where they would most useful….indicting old ladies who didn’t return their library books on time. Recently a judge (I apologize it is from a ZeroHedge article so take it for what it’s worth) asked why Manafort was being prosecuted by Mueller on a topic that has nothing to do with the purpose of Mueller’s investigation (Russian meddling/collusion with Trump in the election) and threatened to dismiss the charges. The judged asked why the state DA can’t pursue this tax evasion crime?

      When I point out to my Team Blue friends that the latest indictment of (fill in the blank) has nothing to do with Trump/Russia collusion they reply “what does that have to do with anything?” And they are aggressive in calling me stupid for not seeing what they think is a clear link “proving” Russia worked with Trump to steal Hillary’s presidency.

      On another note, it’s great CNN found the aide’s diversion tactics on his boss’s corruption charges laughable. I only wish they had laughed the same way regarding reasons given by Hillary and her supporters as to why the brides Hillary collected from foreign nations like Saudi Arabia via the Clinton Foundation was not related to all those arms sales she approved to SA, and general access to her official powers as SOS.

      1. Ur-Blintz

        “brides” huh… so the rumors that Hillary is a lesbian are true?

        Multible brides and weapons – well known Saudi proclivities,

      2. Jim Haygood

        A Twitter user with handle Techno Fog got a leaked transcript of the hearing before Judge Ellis on Friday, in which Ellis questioned whether the special counsel simply wanted to turn Manafort against Trump.

        The easiest to follow narrative with commentary is posted on Zerohedge this morning. It is explosive stuff, as the judge just comprehensively rips the SC’s office a new one.

        Mueller’s ill-born inquiry has hit the wall with a sickening splat, comrades. It’s a new era.

        1. timbers

          And notice how Mueller keeps “delaying” Kelly’s sentencing, giving him all the time in the world to change his story to what Mueller wants – to turn on Trump.

      3. Adam Eran

        I don’t know about these Mueller side trips, but they got Al Capone on income tax evasion, so it’s not always the big crime that draws attention

        1. JTMcPhee

          Is Donald trump = to Al Capone, then?

          And I can hardly wait for President Pence… useless and useful fools, doing the Blob’s bidding…

          1. Edward E

            Maybe closer to John Gotti, just he couldn’t get Rudy to switch sides easy like Fouke did…

            Reckon this administration has been testing how vulnerable they are or Iran would already be toast? Also, I saw something about Saddam selling oil in Euro because that was the condition of the oil for food program, something a little different from say Lee Camp’s analysis above. Though the sop make rich jerks richer international banking system agreeably remains a byzantine mystery.

        2. Yves Smith

          You are missing the point. The Special Prosecutor has a narrow remit. Tax evasion is not collusion with “Russia”.

          And my tax expert (world recognized but not willing to be quoted officially) says it’s obvious that Mueller didn’t consult with the tax experts at the IRS. That section of the indictment is so poorly conceived Manafort can probably beat it.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      The favored excuses for what Mueller is doing, and the total lack of any evidence acquired to date to support his alleged search for proof Russian won the election for Trump are “he’s building his case brick-by-brick” and “he’s peeling away the layers of the onion.” So, there’s no point in discussing the matter with the Clinton Cult because they are already convinced and no lack of evidence will shatter their belief.

      I told my Social Fixer app on Facebook to block anything referencing “Trump.” The stress relief was amazing.

      1. MichaelSF

        he’s building his case brick-by-brick” and “he’s peeling away the layers of the onion.”

        Those sound like eleven dimension chess moves to me.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I wonder if Mueller will have finished his “investigations” by the end of Trump’s second term? He seems determined to investigate every single person working for the US government trying to find link that will make the Clintonites happy – the law be damned. Actually American law is getting a bad reputation through stuff like this and having a judge rule that Iran was responsible for 9/11 doesn’t help here either.

      2. ChrisPacific

        And if it all ends up coming to nothing, or something so inconsequential as to be practically equivalent, it will be “How did the Russians manage to flip Mueller?”

      3. Lambert Strether

        Unless, of course, there’s a big reveal in the form of, say, “newly discovered” documents. To quote myself from 2017:

        That horrible human being, Frank Rich, was a theatre critic before he became a pundit. From an interview with Rich:

        But beyond the fibs and fallacies of the Bush administration, or singing the praises of Barack Obama’s inexperience, Rich works hard on what he calls a “self-imposed mandate” to create a cultural narrative for the politics he writes about.

        “To a certain extent,” he says, “that’s what I’m going to be talking about in San Diego. In essence, I believe in the well-made play and that there’s a story beneath the story that’s interesting to tell.”

        So what are the features of the well-made play? Encyclopedia Brittanica:

        The technical formula of the well-made play, developed around 1825 by the French playwright Eugène Scribe, called for complex and highly artificial plotting, a build-up of suspense, a climactic scene in which all problems are resolved, and a happy ending. Conventional romantic conflicts were a staple subject of such plays (for example, the problem of a pretty girl who must choose between a wealthy, unscrupulous suitor and a poor but honest young man). Suspense was created by misunderstandings between characters, mistaken identities, secret information (the poor young man is really of noble birth), lost or stolen documents, and similar contrivances. Later critics, such as Émile Zola and George Bernard Shaw, denounced Scribe’s work and that of his successor, Victorien Sardou, for exalting the mechanics of playmaking at the expense of honest characterizations and serious content, but both playwrights were enormously popular in their day. Scribe, with the aid of assistants, wrote literally hundreds of plays and librettos that were translated, adapted, and imitated all over Europe.

        (An example of the “lost documents” plot device is Miss Prism’s self-penned three-volume novel in The Importances of Being Earnest.)

        So, if Rich’s view of the world is correct, and Russian hysteria/gaslighting/what you will (not using “-Gate”!) is like a well-made play, then we can expect to see an instance of the “lost or stolen documents” plot device. In fact, we’re seeing it already with Comey’s notes*, but perhaps there are more documents to be discovered — or “discovered,” as the case may be. See Whitaker Chambers v. Alger Hiss, from our previous McCarthyite period….

        NOTE Gwendolyn’s “something sensational to read on the train.”

        Fortunately, there aren’t any players in the Russia! Russia! Russia! saga with expertise in faking documents, and faking their discovery. Oh, wait….

    3. neighbor7

      “spit a yak.” — I noticed that too. I think he meant “As far as I can spit Adam’s off ox.”

    4. Lambert Strether

      Headline: Trump Team Takes a More Aggressive Stance on Mueller Probe (WSJ):

      For Mr. Mueller, the clock is ticking. With six months until November’s midterm elections, the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign will soon run into a dead zone of sorts, in which former prosecutors say they expect Mr. Mueller either to wrap up or lie low and take no visible steps until after November.

      Though Mr. Mueller doesn’t face any specific legal deadline, the fall midterms amount to a political one, according to experts and prosecutors. He will reach a point this summer when Justice Department habits dictate he would have to go dark so he doesn’t appear to be trying to sway voters’ decisions, which would be at odds with Justice Department guidelines for prosecutors.

      The URL, which often shows the original headline, includes:


      July 4 would seem late to me.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Younger lawmakers ignite new push for term limits”

    How about putting an age cap of 65 years old instead on lawmakers. Be nice to clear out some of those politicians that have gone past their use-by date (cough-Pelosi-cough-Walters-cough) who were born back in the 1930s and 1940s.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Term limits might work if office holders were selected at random from all party members, like jurists, and bound to represent a binding platform.

    2. Summer

      Actually, I’d care more about term limits. The age won’t matter. It’s not the age as much as it is culture of corruption…which is all ages.
      And as for the “experience of lobbyists”. Much of that is the experience of keeping the plutocracy alive.

      1. dcblogger

        term limits mean that lobbyists are the only ones with institutional memory. it also means that lobbying is the only career path and elected office is just auditioning for your lobbying gig.

        The catastrophic California energy deregulation was passed in the first session after term limits were instituted, no who understood what would happen was there to block it.

        1. Summer

          I’d say age limits would damper institutional memory.
          And the whole point of turn over is to get people in that will do battle with corpo lobbyists, not let them write the bills.

          “The catastrophic California energy deregulation was passed in the first session after term limits were instituted, no who understood what would happen was there to block it…”

          You’re sure the dismissed long-termers (who still probably knew how to contact other office holders)would have blocked it?

          1. dcblogger

            And the whole point of turn over is to get people in that will do battle with corpo lobbyists, not let them write the bills.

            why would they do that when their career goal is to land a plush lobbying gig?

        2. Lambert Strether

          Term limits were bad for Maine.

          On landfill policies, literally the only people to turn to for the institutional memory on landfill laws and regulation were landfill lobbyists and the lawyers who worked for the landfill companies.

          The idea that “If only we got good individuals into office, corruption would disappear” is one you hear all the time in the Third World, so no wonder we’re hearing it in the United States….

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      An outsider president can always hire experienced advisers or lawyers.

      Let them counter those ‘been there, done that’ lobbyists.

      Hopefully, the politician has new ideas, even without experience, sent to DC with new, urgent demands from the people, maybe, from a changing world.

      “We have never seen self-driving cars before. We need to regulate or ban them.”

      1. JTMcPhee

        So many simple solutions… all “we” need is an “outsider president…” who could hire experienced advisers from the (cess) pool of such creatures… and leave stuff like self-driving cars to just develop as they will, with all the expensive infrastructure required, and environmental and social impacts all nicely externalities and liability shifted off the corporations and onto the mopes, that will be paid for by mopes who have no voice in the political economy? Bespeaks a certain hopeful naïveté, maybe?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That was not offered as a solution, simple or not.

          An example was given.

          The leader of a team tackling a problem does not always have the experience necessary. And you need a team.

          In the case of self driving cars, likely no one, lobbyist or otherwise, is experienced (as of now)

    4. voteforno6

      I’m not sure if term limits would make the situation any better. How would a legislator spend his final term in office – working for his constituents, or trying to line up that next job?

    5. Altandmain

      I am not sure that age is the right way to do it.

      We would not have politicians like Bernie Sanders if that were the case. There are older politicians with a sense of integrity and younger ones without. I would take a Bernie Sanders any day over a Generation Y Goldman Sachs alumni.

      It’s term limits and campaign financing reform that are needed. There also need to be strict limits on what politicians can do after they retire (Ex: you cannot join the highest paying lobbying firm).

        1. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

          Re OregonCharles: ‘… I don’t get why they want to keep working.’

          My response: to retain power and its prerogatives, or just to avoid becoming another mope waiting for the grim reaper.


        2. Robert McGregor

          If you have a job you like, “working” is what keeps you alive in your senior years. My father is 90 and still practices as a physician 20 to 30 hours a week. There’s a story about a physician who was still practicing at 102. He explained it by the story of what happens to many who “retire.” The first year they play golf every day, and go to “happy hour” at 5:00pm. The second year they go to happy hour at noon. The third year they dispense with golf altogether, and the fourth year they die.

    6. drumlin woodchuckles

      How do you remove a Pelosi by the subterfuge of “age limits” without also sacrificing a Senator Sanders to the same subterfuge?

  4. Craig H.

    The Entergy ad live-action actors in New Orleans . . .

    They were paid $60 each time they wore the orange shirts to meetings in October and February. Some got $200 for a “speaking role,” which required them to deliver a prewritten speech, according to interviews with the actors and screenshots of Facebook messages provided to The Lens.

    Say the meeting from beginning to end was ninety minutes + 40 minutes commute each way (+ that’s 170 minutes you can’t be schlepping tourists about on your uber gig if you wanted to compute the precise opportunity cost). That is $21.18 per hour for a professional actor stooging for a big corporation in New Orleans.

    I wonder if the hobbits and elves have heard this yet. If you do not know what I am referring to you maybe would like to watch the Lindsay Ellis youtubes on the Hobbit movies and their impact on relations between the film industry and the actors union in New Zealand. It is one of those well-told and infuriating tales. Not as good as her series on the Transformer movies but it is close.

    This is the first episode (35 minutes).

    (She doesn’t put the hammer down on the movie production corporations until episode three, though. Most of the first two episodes are how bad the Hobbit movies stink it up. Also if you haven’t seen her series on the Transformer movies they are really great; like maybe the best thing ever put onto the youtubes.)

    1. perpetualWAR

      Many of us yesterday questioned if the “construction workers” yelling back at CM Sawant weren’t, in fact, Amazon-paid professionals. Guess this article continues to make us question that, doesn’t it?

      1. clarky90

        Two of my friends work professionally as “crisis actors”. During exam times, they work at the local Medical School and Dental School as fake patients. My friends are given a script describing their patient/character. For instance; middle aged man, divorced, smokes, goes to gym twice a week, white collar manager….) and a list of their symptoms; insomnia, high blood pressure, blood sugar…) and a list of their current medications/treatments. All scripted

        There is an examination room (in both senses of the word) with the (1) actor/patient, (2) the teacher/examiner and (3) the student (medical or dental). The student has a set time to take a good history, perform the correct series of physical examinations……. Students are graded of their diagnosis, “bed side manner” and thoroughness of their history taking. A good student-doctor will ask the actor/patient about dealing with the fall-out on their family, friends and employment……

        My friends get a few weeks of work at examination times. They have been doing this for at least 15 years.

        Simulated crash exercise puts medical students to the test

        “Dr Radue said they use trained actors as ‘patients’ and they are excellent – several of them have been coming back year after year….”

        Years ago I auditioned to do this, but could not stay in character, thank God. Visualize spending two weeks with a “fatal disease” with all of its symptoms and repercussions?

        IMO, not a healthy way for an old man (me) to make a buck.

  5. Susan C. Mills

    The illustrated overview of the relationship between China and the West posted by Moon of Alabama is most interesting as it provides a number of details of which many of us aren’t cognizant.

    The narrative here is that the West could be China’s friend, if only it were better behaved. While the points made in the article are essentially valid it’s essential to be mindful that the Chinese civilization is a very old one and that it’s helpful to view it on its own terms.

    A recent article on Al Jazeera written by Dr. Stein Ringen* – The Maozedongism of Chinese Politics and the Xi Factor – provides valuable insight into more current developments.

    *Visiting Professor of Political Economy at King’s College London” and Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Oxford.

    1. Lambert Strether

      One paragraph from the Moon of Alabama piece:

      Opposite of Wellington Koo is the Japanese diplomat Baron Makino, a skilled go player. Makino played his hand tactically. He knew Wilson’s baby is the League of Nations. He proposed a racial equality clause knowing full well that the U.S., with its Jim Crow Laws, would oppose it.

      Wilson really was a very bad President. Speculating freely: What we got when populism curdled into progressivism.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Oh, I don’t know about that. Take a look at some of his works. He segregated blacks in the US government, introduced the Federal Reserve System, demanded Mexico hold democratic elections, pushed through the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 to suppress anti-British, pro-German, or anti-war statements, intervened in Mexico in 1914, Haiti in 1915, the Dominican Republic in 1916, Cuba in 1917, and Panama in 1918, invaded Russia, brought in Prohibition, held off women’s suffrage, etc, etc, etc. He would not be out of place next to Bush or Obama. In fact, I would call him a template for the modern Presidency. If a guy like Alexander Hamilton could be redeemed, then so could a guy like the stiff-necked Woodrow Wilson.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I’ll amend my comment. Upon further reflection, I think that there is a great opportunity to have a song to redeem Woodrow Wilson in the same way that Alexander Hamilton has been redeemed by that play. If Gilbert & Sullivan were still around, they could modify one of their famous pieces and rename it “I am the very model of a modern President”. It would be a hit!

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks, that article on China is excellent, it really cuts through the nonsense to describe the Chinese government as it is.

      The MoA article is a good reminder of one of my favourite bugbears – how foreign policy ‘pragmatism’ is anything but. History is littered with ‘pragmatic’ betrayals which were quickly forgotten by the betrayer but caused lasting resentment, eventually bouncing back, decades or even centuries later to bite the perpetrator. The British are discovering this with Brexit as many an ex colony now senses an opportunity to put the boot in. There is a lot to be said, even in foreign policy manoeuvrings for being honest and transparent and treating the weak with decency.

  6. David, by the lake

    Re term limits

    I’d argue for a limit to consecutive years in Congress, say 12 or so. I have no issue with someone leaving and returning. But one ought not be able to spend an entire career in Congress building personal fiefdoms. We ought be a modest republic and citizen-led democracy, not a massive imperial bureaucratic machine headed by a cadre of professional politicians. Terms limits are only one aspect of a broader solution, but an important one nonetheless.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Karl Marx statue from China adds to German angst BBC ”

    I know that Trier was his birthplace but you wonder what would have happened if this statue had been erected in what was once East Germany instead. I don’t think that the locals there would have been so sympathetic to all these wowsers that keep on crawling out of the woodwork. Too much historical revisionism at work here and those who lived in East German know what has been gained and what has been lost since reunification. You wonder if Karl Marx could have been brought back to life last century if he would have called himself a communist. I doubt it.

    1. Wukchumni

      The Kaweah Colony was a utopian socialist community in central California founded in 1886. Located in the Sierra Nevada range, they lived near groves of giant sequoia trees. The colony officially disbanded in 1892. The establishment of Sequoia National Park in 1890 contributed to the colony’s demise. Some of their descendants still reside in the area.

      Inspired by the writings of Laurence Gronlund, colony leaders attempted to apply the ideals of scientific socialism. The writings of United States socialist Edward Bellamy also influenced the project. This colony based its economy on logging. Membership cost $500 with $100 payable upon application and the remainder in installments of cash or labor. Estimated nationwide membership peaked at 300-500 individuals, many of whom were non-resident supporters. The colony published the local area’s first newspaper.

      Kaweah Colony was noteworthy for its exploration of giant sequoia groves. The colony originally named what is now known as the General Sherman tree the Karl Marx tree.

      That would have been a hard one to explain during the white heat of the cold war if the original name had stuck, the largest living thing in the land of the free, home of the brave, named after a commie sympth.

  8. Wukchumni

    California is due for a mega-flood that could force 1.5 million people to evacuate and cause $725 billion in damage — and it would hit Silicon Valley hard Business Insider
    Major floods in California happened in 212, 440, 603, 1029, 1418, 1605 and 1862. Notice the pattern between them?

    We’re due from that perspective alone…

    The 1605 version made the 1862 flood look tepid in comparison to it, and most of the Central Valley was a big lake as a result of the latter.

    As the Central Valley is increasingly more of a food forest, in the event of a big flood, most all of the trees would be lost.

    Hard thing to prepare for though, a once in every 163 years to as much as once in every 426 years event historically.

    I remain in hurry up and wait readiness.

    1. ewmayer

      “Notice the pattern between them?”

      So – based on this limited sample – every 150-400 years CA gets hit by one of these, which means we are at present at the very short end of the historical interval range of recurrence. IOW “We’re due” is unduly alarmist – we could go another 250 years ’til the next one and still fall comfortably into the historical pattern.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        “We’re due” is equivalent to “I don’t understand probability”.

        1. Oregoncharles

          In many cases, like volcanic eruptions or earthquakes, there is an accumulation of pressure (broadly defined) over the time. In that case, while there remains uncertainty about the precise timing, it makes sense to say that an event is “due.”

          Whether that applies to storms is another matter – but the regularity is very striking. Some sort of cycle we don’t know about, perhaps?

    2. Anon

      These historically large storms affect NorCal and SoCal differently. While both parts of the state would be inundated with water beyond measure, coastal SoCal (where most of the population resides) would be inundated with both water and mud (recall Montecito (1/9/18). The coastal mountians from Point Conception to San Diego are highly erodable. There is NO amount of ‘flood control’ for these large ‘atmospheric river’ type storms.

      In 1920 the famous Olmsted Bros. (landscape architects) presented LA county with a commissioned proposal that combined ‘flood control’ and open space for all of LA county (which at that time included some of, now, Orange county). The commissioners rejected it. (Too much pressure from land developers who wanted home sites, not parkways and waterways. The 1938 flood event referred to in the article exceeded the capacity of the minimal earth-berm floodway existing at the time, creating havoc in cities south of LA. (Compton was completely flooded.)

      That event led to the Army Corps of Engineers developing plans for what today is known as the ‘LA River’. The 51 mile concrete channel that runs from San Fernando Valley thru LA to Long Beach, and the sea. An ARK Storm event has been calculated to overtop that channel and cause 260 Billion dollars in damage.

      1. Anon

        Off-by-One Error: The Olmsted Plan was submitted in 1930, not 1920. (Off by one decade.)
        William Mulholland had recently (1927) completed the LA Aqueduct that brought Owens Valley (Sierra runoff) water to thirsty LA. Land developers were licking their proverbial lips.

  9. Quentin

    ‘Don’t erect a statue to Karl Marx because of the misery Communism caused’, some smugly say according to their neoliberal political correctness and historical ignorance. I say, ‘Tear down all images of Jesus Christ because of all the horrific killing his teachings were used to justify around the world, just take the genocides in the two continents today known as North and South America. The BBC spouts propaganda again: trash Germany, you know, because Germans are Germans and responsible for Brexit. Could the BBC’s slur be secretly antisemitic, after all Karl Marx was, you know? Everyone can play the British Blairite and right-wing establishment’s game of smearing Jeremy Corbyn. May he live to show Donald Trump what draining the swamp really looks like!

    1. Dr. Roberts

      Marx was not jewish. He was born and raised a christian by converted ex-jewish parents. The Nazis would have considered him a jew, but I don’t think he ever considered himself jewish. He was an avowed atheist. Just one thing that article got wrong. As for East Germany, there are still quite a few statues of Marx in East Germany, even if most were removed. East Germans are not of one mind when it comes to marxism and their country’s past.

    2. JTMcPhee

      You left off a couple of continents affected by the Forces of Christian Principalities and Nations— Europe, Asia, Africa too. Bearing in mind that humans of all creeds and skin tones have been looting and killing each other since Cain slew Abel…

    3. Doug Hillman

      Well said WRT genocidal “Christian” crusades; ditto for “Christian” capitalism. Most “Christian” denominations are in fact worthy candidates for the Orwellian prize.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “California is due for a mega-flood — and it would hit Silicon Valley hard”

    The Chinese would never allow Silicon Valley to be flooded but would build a wall around the place first. How else would their spies in Silicon Valley be able to deliver to them all those high tech technologies otherwise? :)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The apt lesson from Chinese history here about flooding, is not their great wall, but from Yu the Great, the founder of the Xia dynasty, and the first to see his son take the next throne (before that, the king or emperor ceded to the most able man in the realm, so goes the legend),

      From Wikipedia:

      Yu the Great (c. 2200 – 2100 BC)[1] was a legendary ruler in ancient China famed for his introduction of flood control, inaugurating dynastic rule in China by establishing the Xia Dynasty, and for his upright moral character.[2][3]

      Was he Chinese answer to Noah (but not with an Ark)?

      Are we talking about prophecy here – with Yu’s flood control, Silicon Valley witnesses dynastic Chinese rule?

  11. Sam Adams

    Re: How Criminals Steal $37 Billion a Year from America’s Elderly
    All anyone needs to do is look at the New York Incompetency proceedings and its courts to see the wholesale financial abuse by attorneys, judges and experts. The system is rife with appointments of a few connected attorneys who are appointed to various roles to the most lucrative estates as payback by Sitting Judges and then paid without any meaningful oversight from the elderly “incapacitated persons” estates. But the ultimate payoff is to be appointed the guardian and dole out money to connected accountants, investment advisors, care facilities and planners.

  12. Indrid Cold

    Whenever some actual credentialed scientist puts out an intriguing idea or comes to the conclusion that some pattern of microwave pulses from alpha whatari could be alien transmissions, some statement always comes out of NASA saying, ” nothing to see here folks. No life outside earth. Evolution is a random walk, nothing has any meaning or purpose and consciousness is an illusory epiphenomenon of chemical activity in the brain. Go back to your widget tightening bench or watch cat videos on the intertubes” it’s as if NASA were the scientific community’s self designated wet blanket. So no surprise they’d want to douse interest in what Musk is doing bedsides ripping off Wall Street.

      1. Aumua

        Well I’m sure they thought it then. Just like them to think that. Freakin NASA…

  13. Jason Boxman

    If you want to read more in depth about the short thrift given China by the West, I also suggest reading “Forgotten Ally”, about China’s involvement in World War II.

    1. JTMcPhee

      And read about that wonderful political thing, the Kuomintang, our ally, and Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek and his lovely wife and associates. History is written by the looters and elites. Pretty much none of it is ever what we think it is, even those who try to dive deep enough to see through the murk…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        People can handle their own affairs. Outsiders are often told that the solution has to, and can come from within.

        “The Chinese problems can be handled by the Chinese,” the leaders proudly proclaimed.

        And a few decades later, it is still (or back to) neoliberal looting by the elites, in China as well as many other countries.

  14. DJG

    Today’s NYTimes e-blast inadvertently reveals how sclerotic and foolish our elites are.

    The article teaser:
    “Mr. McCain urged former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to “not walk away” from politics, and said he wished he had chosen Joseph I. Lieberman, not Sarah Palin, as his running mate in 2008.”

    So Miles Gloriosus McCain, who squandered whatever moral authority he may have had, if he ever had any, is urging Joe “Well Past His Prime” Biden to continue his overripe career and then issues regrets for not asking Bipartisan Disaster JoeMentum to help him defeat Obama.

    All that is missing is the No GIRLz Allowd sign and the ritual denunciation of the evil nasty bastani-making Iranians plus a servile doubleplusgood reaffirmation of “no shadow between us” support of Netanyahu.

    And we’re worried about the Italians not being able to form a government? Why bother?

    1. Barmitt O'Bamney

      Not being able to form governments is one of the most endearing of Italian qualities. I’d move there tomorrow if I could.

    2. beth

      Would you have voted for someone as president who did not know the difference between the Sunni and the Shia? That was all I needed to know.

      1. JTMcPhee

        How many people know the difference between Catholics and Baptists? OrbAnabaptists, for that matter?

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Once the Syrian war is over, Qatar could become an empire once more”

    Seems like Qatar want to be a legend in their own mind. The Syrians must know that Qatar was at the heart of shipping all those Jihadists into Syria the past coupla years and even profiting from it. I rewatched a video clip from Syrian Girl which featured oil gear being shipped out of Aleppo. The text underneath read: “The oil excavators that have been liberated from the Assad gangs will now be transported and delivered to the brotherly nation of Qatar”. If they want to patch things up, maybe they could buy Syria new gear to replace the stuff Qatar swiped.
    In any case, if they want to be a power, they need a good military to defend themselves first. I took a look at their table of military equipment and it is really thin. Though not a military person, I have the firm impression that Qatar uses its wealth to purchase not so much weapons but support from the country that they are buying from. For jet fighters to defend the place they only have a dozen Dassault Mirage 2000s. I guess that is why they hedge their bets by having both a US and a Turkish base on the peninsular. For the Navy, Wikipedia describes as “under-manned, under-trained, and under-equipped to be able to effectively defend its waters”. As far as I can see, their only real defense would be to threaten to take out the Saudi Arabian oil fields if attacked.
    They may decide to use some of their wealth to rebuild parts of Syria but that all comes down to if the west lets them without the proviso that “Assad must go’. Certainly Saudi Arabia will have thoughts on that little idea. My own reading? Qatar, Qatar, wouldn’t wanna be you.

    1. Lord Koos

      Qatar are trying to be a neutral state, which is nearly impossible in the middle east.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Then they shouldn’t be interfering in their neighbors – like Syria.

        In practice, they’re playing off one regional power (Iran, Turkey) against another (SA) – while paying off the American Big Dog.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Assad and the Syrians will I think be pragmatic once the war subsides. Ultimately, they will need tens of billions in investment to rebuild all those shattered cities. Russia and Iran can’t provide it – China would only be interested in specific investments. They need a sugar daddy, and Qatar seems the only reasonable possibility. Qatar also needs friends closer to home (i.e. within missile slinging distance of Riyadh), and Syria (along with Russia and Iran) fits the bill. I think Qatars now mostly deceased jihadi friends will be quietly forgotten by everyone.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Is the Great Recession Still Holding Down Wages? (Wonkish) NYT. UserFriendly: “Krugman gets something half right. They don’t want to raise wages because the demand still isn’t there because the working class is still in a balance sheet recession.​“

    Supply & Demand, and raising US wages.

    American corporations can hire workers globally.

    American workers can not work for global employers, on the same scale as American corporations hiring international workers. For example, the Chinese aircraft carrier building contractor does not hire American welders.

  17. Rates


    Gets boring after a while.

    1. The Rev Kev

      And before the fourth Thursday of November, turkeys all around America are fat and contented.

      1. Edward E

        Think I resemble that remark, but you left out that turkeys meet allus says, “See you after the holidays, hopefully!” Je vous doom cerf. If you’re so sure why over do it?

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Medicaid, rural whites and urban blacks.

    From the article:

    But the Michigan plan comes with a twist: People who live in counties with higher unemployment rates — above 8.5 percent — are exempted from the requirement. That is likely to lead in practice, as Kaffer observes, to rural whiter counties, where unemployment is higher, getting a break from these work requirements while urban areas with a higher share of black residents would still be subjected to them. Which means that black Medicaid enrollees would be more likely to lose their health insurance.

    Interesting that white people in rural areas have higher unemployment than city dwelling blacks.

    And we hear about about that racial imbalance occasionally, though not constantly (talking about it more than once would have made, it’s just a guess here, the person talking about that sound like caring more about whites than blacks).

    Sometimes, you run across articles about more white children in low income families than any other.

    Or more whites receiving food stamps.

    Those are absolute numbers. What about percentage wise?

    There are also articles about black poverty differing from white poverty.

    So, it’s not a simple straightforward picture, except there are many poor people in this country, more every year, whatever the race.

    1. marym

      It isn’t necessarily the case that Michigan’s “white people in rural areas have higher unemployment than city dwelling blacks.”

      The unemployment rate for this bill is calculated for counties, not cities, so high-unemployment urban areas of a county can be off-set statistically by lower-unemployment suburban areas.

      Additional coverage from the Detroit Free Press:

      [Detroit]’s unemployment rate is higher than 8.5%, but the unemployment rate in surrounding Wayne County is just 5.5% — meaning Detroiters living in poverty, with a dysfunctional transit system that makes it harder to reach good-paying jobs, won’t qualify for that exemption. The same is true in Flint and the state’s other struggling cities.

      …Rural residents of up-north counties with high unemployment are protected; urban Michiganders who live in high-unemployment cities in more prosperous counties are left to twist.

      The bill’s sponsor projects that 20% of Michigan Medicaid recipients will lose coverage, and it’s expected to cost about $30 million to administer. It’s a shameless project to further stigmatize and do material harm to the vulnerable. Based on the information in this article, it appears to be racist in intent and impact.

    2. Lord Koos

      > Interesting that white people in rural areas have higher unemployment than city dwelling blacks

      Thus we have Trump.

      Percentage wise, I’m sure black poverty is higher.

      1. JBird

        Either way the unemployment level is so high as to guarantee that a large number of people will lose their medicaid regardless of how hard they try to find work.

        Reduce the state’s costs, spread some propaganda, and split voters into smaller weaker more controllable groups. They just needed to lack a heart. How nice.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      Having spent the first half of my life in rural counties full of white people (myself included) the fact of life is Walmart and its ilk killed off the local business and family farms that once provided income. “Other employers” tend to consist of sweatshops that shut down at the first sign they might be called on to pay taxes like everyone else. Some well-known corporation might have a tiny branch present, but they’re there because they got major tax breaks and such, and because they can pay less there than in other areas. And they, too, pack up and disappear at the first sign of worker discontent.

      So, those seeking to throw a bone to said rural counties can say with a straight face that people of color in urban areas thus have more access to jobs so no excuses for not having one. Thus, they continue to peddle their snake oil to the country mice while ensuring the divide between them and their country cousins remains firmly in place.

      1. JBird

        That’s the joke. Here having “having more access” really means having slightly more of little access to jobs. That’s if one can find, apply, be hired, and have reliable transportation to fairly scarce, undependable, low paying jobs.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that you might be right on that being a red crested turaco. Very unusual head and body shape going by Google images. Great article that on bird feather colouring, by the way, and am bookmarking it.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    But my situation is different from yours.

    Spy agency NSA triples collection of U.S. phone records: official report Reuters And the link to the Underlying NSA Statistical Transparency Report (BB)

    More than a few Americans want to leave.

    ‘Do unto others as you would have them do to you.’

    Do you then warn them about not coming to America? Will you be against immigrants?

    “Everyone is different. Forget doing unto others as you would… Let them come.”

  20. Susan C. Mills

    The illustrated overview of the relationship between China and the West posted by Moon of Alabama is most interesting as it provides a number of details of which many of us aren’t cognizant.

    The narrative here is that the West could be China’s friend, if only it were better behaved. While the points made in the article are essentially valid it’s essential to be mindful that the Chinese civilization is a very old one and that it’s helpful to view it on its own terms.

    A recent article on Al Jazeera written by Dr. Stein Ringen* – The Maozedongism of Chinese Politics and the Xi Factor – provides valuable insight into more current developments.

    *Visiting Professor of Political Economy at King’s College London and Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Oxford.

    1. Sid_finster

      Russia and China are not natural allies, not by geography or economics or strategy. The United States is a much more logical choice as an ally, and the United States was a traditional Chinese friend.

      However, by its pigheadedness and bullying, the United States has pushed Russia and China together.

  21. John k

    I wonder if Syria distraction prevents Iran invasion… especially if hezbollah gets active on the Golan after Russian air defense installed.
    Plus, does Iran already have the air defense weapons Russia is providing Syria?
    And, won’t be able to use Turk base. And carriers might be vulnerable.
    Certainly saudi oil fields are… nothing moves thru Hormuz… frackers might be profitable! Along with conventional oil. Incentives for red states… of course recession in blue ones… wonder what Koch bros think…
    Kind of a tossup.

  22. Chauncey Gardiner

    Re Puerto Rico, it is unsurprising that Utah Republican Rep. Bishop is spearheading an effort by large fossil fuel companies to force feed the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico natural gas pipelines and LNG facilities on behalf of his undisclosed donors rather than supporting more resilient distributed renewable solar energy generation on the island. Consistent with the disposition of toxic coal ash on the southern part of the island, which according to a recent segment on PBS Newshour has led to widespread cancer, hear and respiratory diseases in that area and contamination of drinking water. Unfortunate that Rep. Bishop also enjoys political leverage afforded by his leadership of the federally appointed Fiscal Oversight Board, which is promoting aggressive austerity policies in Puerto Rico and attempting to sell the assets of the publicly owned Puerto Rico Power Authority to a private pipeline consortium. The Board’s harsh austerity measures led to civil protests last week which were reportedly suppressed with tear gas and rubber bullets. Seems they have taken a chapter out of Naomi Klein’s book on disaster capitalism. Disgusting, really.

  23. Jean

    “The Trump administration is creating more unauthorized immigrants than it can deport”

    On November 2, 2018, approximately 1,000 Sudanese will lose TPS and become vulnerable to deportation. On January 5, 2019, approximately 5,300 Nicaraguans will lose TPS…[ETC]
    That’s nearly 400,000 people who have temporary legal status right now but who, by 2020, will become unauthorized immigrants.”

    How many lower cost housing units do these folks and other undocumented migrants occupy, and where are they?
    How would their deportation, [no matter how one feels about it], affect housing availability and rents?
    Will the slumlord-anti union low-wages-forever wing of the Republican party put a stop to Trump’s policy?

  24. Lord Koos

    Re: eyeglasses — I have a friend, a retired optometrist who moved to Ecuador, he hands out free reader glasses to older vendors in the markets, and they are much appreciated.

  25. WheresOurTeddy

    “California is due for a mega-flood that could force 1.5 million people to evacuate and cause $725 billion in damage — and it would hit Silicon Valley hard”

    So if it hits Silicon Valley, it matters, as opposed to say, the Oroville Dam in February 2017, which is in a rural part of California that voted for Trump so NDB

    One recalls the threat of North Korea’s nuclear deterrent being downplayed as “it’s likely they can only reach Alaska”. Economic Sacrifice Zones, indeed.

    The Capitol never misses an opportunity to let the proles in District 12 know where they stand.

  26. WheresOurTeddy

    “I Know Which Country the U.S. Will Invade Next TruthDig.” Lee Camp.

    ‘Confessions of an Economic Hitman’ elucidated the post-WW2 three-option Western approach to imperialism in 2005. Find me a country without a central bank tied to the IMF and World Bank and I’ll show you someone who’s on the Pentagon hit list. Smedley Butler elucidates the late 1800s through WW1 in “War is a Racket” for those interested in the old-school approach when you didn’t have to pretend to care about human rights and representative government outwardly while doing whatever United Fruit or whoever the parasite for that particular country was set to be the parasitic benefactor wanted done.

    NGOs to buy off the ruler (or ruling class), then the spooks cause a plane crash or a generalissimo gets very ambitious if NGOs can’t get you to sell out your country, then the marines if the first 2 don’t work (preceded by a several-months long media blitz where you were branded a communist to get part of the American public to cheer while most do not care. Note: “Communist” updated to “Harboring and Aiding Terrorists” in the early part of this century).

    It’s worked for decades.

  27. Tracie Hall

    Oops, I must have forgotten to look here yesterday. What a stunning image-beautiful colors & clarity and nice pose.

Comments are closed.