Links 6/13/18

Dear patient readers,

Thanks so much for the suggestions re a Chicago meetup venue. Quite a few seemed very promising. Will report back soon!

Social climber: Raccoon scales St. Paul skyscraper, captures internet Minnesota Public Radio News (Chuck L)

Even the mayor is on the case:

Daredevil raccoon makes it to roof of Minnesota skyscraper Guardian (Kevin W). He should get his own TV show, but he’d probably be happy with some chips or a slice of pizza. But I don’t see how he scales the final run to the top.

Does the US have a pet tiger problem? BBC

Scientists wanted to understand how baobab trees live for thousands of years. Then the ancient trees started dying. Popsci (David L)

Africa’s oldest and most unusual trees are mysteriously dying Independent (Kevin W)

Crisis on the High Plains: The Loss of America’s Largest Aquifer – the Ogallala DU Water Law Review (guurst). From last month, still germane. Key section: “The Ogallala Aquifer supports an astounding one-sixth of the world’s grain produce, and it has long been an essential component of American agriculture.”

The end of net neutrality: The US ruling elite escalates campaign of internet censorship WSWS

Bitcoin’s Collapse Accelerates, Falls to Lowest Since February Bloomberg

Researchers find IQ scores dropping since the 1970s MedicalXPress (Chuck L). If you want a simple explanation, how about television? Passive entertainment not only does nothing for skills or fitness, but watching more television is also correlated with higher levels of depression.

This Is What a Nuclear Attack in New York Would Look Like New York Magazine. JTM: “Sleep well, my pretties…”


Senators See No Trump Pushback on Their Move to Kill ZTE Deal Wall Street Journal

North Korea

Trump Touts Success Of Singapore Summit After Securing $10 Billion Trade Deal To Sell Nuclear Warheads To North Korea The Onion (David L)

Five takeaways from Trump’s summit with Kim Jong Un The Hill

Critics say US-North Korea summit deal leaves Kim the winner Financial Times

First Thoughts On The Kim Trump Photo-Op Summit Moon of Alabama

“One Day This Door is Going to Open”: A Review of “Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang in Pyongyang” (Documentary) Zero Anthropology (Shane)

What Kim Jong-un’s stool might reveal, if he would only let us take a peek MIT Technology Review. (Dr. Kevin). Help me. How about the obvious: he doesn’t want anyone to get a sample of his DNA? If he’s ever deposed, he has some odds of being able to flee and get plastic surgery to mask his identity.


Be sure to read the comments too:

CBI chief: Car firms face Brexit extinction BBC. Um, we actually did call this one quite a while ago. Vlade:

Quelle surprise.

But you could still not make up the idiocies in the text. ‘government said it was “focused on delivering a Brexit that works for the whole of the UK”. Which is impossible.

From the CBI chief: ‘”If we do not have a customs union, there are sectors of manufacturing society in the UK which risk becoming extinct,” Mr Dreschler said.’ I’d have thought they would have enough cash to get explained to them the difference betwen SM and CU. Especially when ‘He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the car industry in particular would suffer unless we get “real frictionless trade”.’ I’m not even going to quote the Brexiter’s idiotic responses (sorry, can’t resist “the excessive regulation that is holding back our economy […] in bold innovation […] in finance”)

And, BBC stands by w/o being able to tell the audience that both sides are spewing rubbish.

Theresa May’s retreat closes door on a no-deal Brexit Financial Times. Clueless reporting by the pink paper (FWIW, Bloomberg takes up the same incorrect theme). Until May retreats on the Irish border issue, which was not what this article was about, a no-deal Brexit is the default scenario. As Richard North said Monday:

But the real issue is that we’re headed for a “no deal” scenario. The logjam over Ireland has not been resolved and there are no indications that it will be. And, on that basis, it might be more appropriate for parliament to be pressing for the government to secure an agreement, rather than indulging in party games that makes its job even harder.

And today:

In all the torrent of verbiage that been devoted to this extraordinary day that was yesterday, not a single commenter seems to have observed that the government is being asked to concede something that it is not within its gift to offer – namely a role for Parliament in the talks with Brussels, should Mrs May’s designated team find it impossible to get agreement on the UK proposals.

Read him in full: Brexit: who cares wins?. This is an important post by North, since he stays on point (sometimes he likes going on about regulatory or legal details, which is great in posts on that topic, but not on ones about the main chance, where they come off as overly long digressions). He does point out that the six month approval process in the EU timetable is generous and frantic negotiations might extend into January, but he sees no basis for that improving the odds of success given the UK refusal to hear the EU on key issues (most of all, being out of the EU means the UK will not have the same privileges as before), and lack of comprehension on others.

PwC fined millions over BHS audit BBC

Fall in fraud prosecutions linked to police and CPS cuts Financial Times (UserFriendly). Carillion alone makes this look like a false economy.

taly threatens to drop France summit over migration criticism Politico

Italy Summons French Ambassador in Row Over Migrant Ship Bloomberg

Daimler forced to recall Mercedes with defeat devices BBC. From yesterday, still germane.

Greece to recognise neighbour as North Macedonia Financial Times

New Cold War

John F. Kennedy and the Question of World Peace Sic Semper Tyrannis (JTM)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Router Vulnerability and the VPNFilter Botnet Bruce Schneier

Tariff Tantrum

Trump was right. The rest of the G7 were wrong George Monbiot, Guardian (PlutoniumKun). Hah, Lambert and I are of the same view…

Trump Transition

IMF Warns Of Doom And Gloom After G7 Circus SafeHaven

Rosenstein threatened to ‘subpoena’ GOP-led committee in ‘chilling’ clash over records, emails show Fox (furzy)

GOP will vote on immigration next week, sinking discharge petition The Hill

People with massive student debt hope Trump will let them declare bankruptcy CNBC (JTM). We’ve repeatedly criticized Elizabeth Warren, America’s top bankruptcy lawyer, for saying absolutely nothing about rolling back the 2005 bankruptcy “reforms” that among other things, ended the ability to discharge student debt in bankruptcy. Student loans are a massive subsidy to colleges and universities, whose employees not only skew heavily Democratic, but whose professors often act in a quasi think tank capacity on behalf of Team Dem. Warren’s cowardice on this issue is likely a manifestation of whose interests are served by this massive subsidy to higher education. And that also explains why Trump might actually deliver. It’s a twofer: Team R wins votes from some of the student debt slaves who get relief, and the student loan program is presumably cut back in light of recognizing the losses on bad loans.

The disastrous German Emperor who was a doppelganger to Donald Trump: Kaiser Wilhelm Angry Bear

Judge approves AT&T-Time Warner merger The Hill

The Democratic Party’s 2018 View of Identity Politics Is Confusing, and Thus Appears Cynical and Opportunistic Glenn Greenwald, Intercept

U.S. Tax Reform — The Slow-Motion Train Wreck Gathers Momentum Frank Hirth (Donald G)

Sanford defeated in primary defined by support for Trump The Hill

Republican Voters Embrace Trump-Style Candidates New York Times. Kevin W: “Because one is never enough.”

Columbus Day to be Indigenous Peoples Day in Mankato Makato Free Press. Chuck L:

Mankato, MN, was the site of the largest mass execution in US history; 38 Sioux were hanged. Whenever we went to the Twin Cities from my home town near the Iowa border we drove by the commemorating monument in the middle of the small city. Now the highway goes on the other side of the Minnesota river and the monument has been replaced by an interpretive center.

Citi issues stark warning on automation of bank jobs Financial Times. From yesterday but noteworthy due to Clive’s comment via e-mail when I expressed doubts about Citi’s ability to cut IT and operations jobs, with my query being: “Sounds bonkers to me. Depends on what you mean by operations, I suppose, but IT???” His reply:

Regardless of which they might mean, they’re just the latest to be taken in by this promise of a magic sparkle pony. I hate to break it to them, but any bulk, routine, repeatable task has already been automated. The low hanging fruit were picked and eaten a long time ago. There’s a possibility of some more complex tasks being automate-able with AI or similar, but if they’re complex, they’re not high-volume processes, they’re rarities or need high-touch interactions. Every attempt I’ve ever seen to do what Citi are suggesting has ended in failure.

Tesla lays off roughly nine percent of workforce TechCrunch. EM:

Another major pop in the shares today, bringing the price back within roughly 10% of its all-time high. I think I’m going to use TSLA as my personal gauge of whether a major market correction is imminent – as long as the Greater Fools leap at every piece of SciFi inanity (Full autonomy just around the corner! Rocket-powered roadsters to Mars!!) that dribbles from Musk’s lips, the everything-bubble remains strong.

Tesla undecimates its workforce but Elon insists everything’s absolutely fine The Register (Kevin W)

Class Warfare

NYC to Offer Half-Fare Subway Rides to City’s Poorest Residents Bloomberg

Ellison introduces bill to curb stock buybacks The Hill

NFL cheerleaders march on the NFL bosses Peoples World (Shane)

Uber CEO says New York City should charge a fee on all ride-hailing trips to help out struggling taxi drivers Business Insider (David L). Help me.

City must pay at least $1B to fix NYCHA nightmare after feds cite Daily News reports exposing the agency’s lies on housing conditions New York Daily News. de Blaiso comes off as whining. Not a good look.

Antidote du jour Steve G:

Robins have decided to nest on top of our solar panel disconnect box -one of the kids decided to pose for a portrait this afternoon.

And a bonus from Bob K:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. taunger

    Bankruptcy for student loans would be good, but leave massive portions of the problem unresolved. Income based repayment plans for loansinted in the past decade (which is a lot of $$$) would be effectively excluded; a doubled edged sword ensures a borrower won’t be unduly burdened month to month, but also that there will always be some payment made regularly.

    1. tegnost

      You mean the income based repayment plans that are intended to bleed the victim of as much “resource” as possible without killing it? How about you don’t loan money no questions asked to a 20 yo and expect to be paid back?

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        LOL we can thank the Dems current leading light Joe “The Fondler” Biden for this gem. So now the #MeToo parade and the student debt relievers can both pile up on him. Prez Mike Pence, double-ugh, how scary will it be to have a president who is just biding his time until The Rapture

  2. The Rev Kev

    “What Kim Jong-un’s stool might reveal, if he would only let us take a peek”: ‘How about the obvious: he doesn’t want anyone to get a sample of his DNA?’

    I think that it is more than that. If a certain country had a copy of his DNA, they may be able to tailor-make a cancer that may only affect him or something else along these lines. It was noted not that long ago the number of South American leaders that were all developing cancer, one after another. In fact, last year the US Air Force put out a contract to get as many samples of Russian DNA as possible. Yeah, the US Air Force is world famous for its medical research. There is no reason fro Kim to trust that an exotic means might be used to poison him and I think that that was why when it came to the signing of the agreement, that Kim’s sister grabbed the official signing pen before her brother picked it up and substituted one she had especially with her. He even brought his own food and water with him. Smart man that. I would have done the same.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > Kim’s sister grabbed the official signing pen before her brother picked it up and substituted one she had especially with her. He even brought his own food and water with him. Smart man that. I would have done the same.

      Yes, I thought that was a telling detail.

      I’m a little stunned that MIT Technology Review would run this story at all. Click-bait, I guess.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      According to Ronald Kessler, the author of the 2009 book In the President’s Secret Service, Navy stewards gather bedsheets, drinking glasses, and other objects the president has touched—they are later sanitized or destroyed—in an effort to keep would‑be malefactors from obtaining his genetic material. (The Secret Service would neither confirm nor deny this practice, nor would it comment on any other aspect of this article.) And according to a 2010 release of secret cables by WikiLeaks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton directed our embassies to surreptitiously collect DNA samples from foreign heads of state and senior United Nations officials. Clearly, the U.S. sees strategic advantage in knowing the specific biology of world leaders; it would be surprising if other nations didn’t feel the same.

      Those wacky Americans. Who knows what those nutters will believe?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Looks like they haven’t stopped.

        Even the genes of little people can be of use and must, consequently, be collected and stored.

  3. user411

    Thanks for bringing up the need to scale back on student loans. It seems many touch on the issue of over-indebtedness, but few jump to the next step of starving the beast (or at least focusing on loaning to those that will get a chance to repay). Considering how much of that debt is owed by students that do not graduate, it seems obvious that lending to students that haven’t academically proven themselves needs to be curtailed. Some will cry foul and talk about limiting opportunity, but I would phrase it as limiting the chances for debt servitude.

    1. tegnost

      limiting the opportunity to create a punishable underclass. Limiting the ability of big Ed to raise it’s prices endlessly, enriching useless layers of administration.

      1. juliania

        When I was a student the modest loans on modest tuition were interest-free. That part of today’s hyperinflation always has seemed criminal to me. With a partial scholarship plus a student aid job, my and my husband’s combined loan after four years of college was a hefty $2,000. We were under an honor-bound obligation to pay that off but we were not even reminded by the college that we had to do so. It took a bit of time, but we did, feeling no other burden than our own consciences.

        Those were the days, my friends.

    2. Adam Eran

      Talk about loans and underwriting criteria ignores one of the major culprits in the student debt problem. Federal funding for higher education has declined 55% since 1972 (if memory serves, that cites David Cay Johnston…you can see more recent state declines in funding here). NC commenters also have flagged state austerity as a culprit for increased educational costs.

      Anyway, when America was “Great,” a white mail could get a job good enough to support his family without the spouse working, send his kids to land-grant university, save for retirement and get a defined-benefit pension. The kids could work part-time and summers and graduate relatively debt-free. Not so true more recently

  4. notabanker

    Anecdotal and all, but I live in a fairly rural and wooded area. The hardwood woodland trees around here seem to be getting wiped out over the last couple of years. The ash are gone because of disease, maples and apples have been snapped in half due to storms, the large cherries are stressed and rotting out large limbs. The cottonwoods are the only species that seem to be thriving. Poplars and beech are hanging in there. Maybe I’m just paying more attention as I get older, but it didn’t seem like this when I was younger, and I never had any tree issues in my wooded property (in a different state) 20 years ago.

    1. Linden S.

      The mass die-off of trees in the Western U.S. seems like it is happening so fast, it can only be a harbinger for things to come on the east side of the Rockies. Drought + pests + disease + damaging weather just might work a bit slower where the climate is wetter. I hope I am wrong.

      1. Fat Feller

        Hard to believe, but it seems that I will most certainly see the demise of several tree species in my lifetime.
        While growing up in Baltimore, the majestic Elms that lined the 33rd Street corridor offered a dense canopy of shade that offered a wonderful respite while walking to the late great Memorial Stadium to catch the Orioles play during those hot humid summer days that Baltimoreans can appreciate. These wonderful trees dotted the landscape outin the countryside as well. Butler Road was lined on both sides until the Dutch Elm disease caught up with them and ultimately caused their death. I witnessed a survivor in Baltimore a couple of years back. It sat in a small back yard and spanned over four yards and an alley way.

        The Hemlock tree is rapidly loosing its footing in the lower Appalachians as the wooly adelgid is laying waste to these ancient sentenils of our forests. Around Camp David, these creatures are just old gnarly bleached skeletons standing quietly as they await their ultimate demise until they fall to the forest floor and provide soil and shelter for smaller creatures. It should be noted that while the hardwood foests of Oaks and Hickories filled the void of our unfortunate Chestnuts, Hemlocks have no cousin to do such a thing. As an aside, should you find a living Hemlock [tree, not not the poisonous bush –lambert], do yourself a favor. Pull some young growth from these trees and put them into a boiling pot of water. You will be rewarded with a delightful treat.

        Finally the Ash is quite a remarkable species falling to the emerald ash borer as quickly as one can imagine. The insect is ravenous and has consumed entire swaths of ash tree woodlands. It is indeed a tragic landscape in North America that is unfolding before our eyes.

          1. KLG

            Hemlock tree being destroyed by the wooly adelgid: genus Tsuga.

            Hemlock bush, an extract of which was used to execute Socrates: genus Conium.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Poisonous hemlock is in the carrot family and somewhat resembles giant carrot or parsley, but with purple spots. Water hemlock, which resembles parsley even more, is even more poisonous.

              There are edible wild members of that family, but you need very positive identification before consuming them. The hemlocks, especially, leave NO room for error.

              The hemlock “fat feller” was talking about is a large coniferous tree, not likely to be mistaken for poison hemlock. I didn’t know you could make tea from them.

          2. Meow, Baby

            Evergreen hemlock is not the same as the biennial herbaceous poison hemlock (Conium maculatum)

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Thank you all. Learned something new today.

                That’s why this is a great place.

                Still, I am not touching anything hemlock, just in case…you know, no one is always 100% focused…witness my typing.

        1. marieann

          We lost and Ash to the borer a few years ago. 2 years ago we lost a Locust, both native trees to our region.
          When the locust fell down I noticed fungus rings all over the limbs, a google search told me it was a common fungus that locusts get and because of the proliferation of Locusts (they are a very popular lawn tree) the fungus was growing and destroying trees. I also have a locust in the backyard :(

          I replaced the Locust with a Serviceberry (another native tree)….I hope it does well.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > The hardwood woodland trees around here seem to be getting wiped out over the last couple of years. The ash are gone because of disease, maples and apples have been snapped in half due to storms, the large cherries are stressed and rotting out large limbs. The cottonwoods are the only species that seem to be thriving. Poplars and beech

      Trash wood is doing fine, then…

  5. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: Crisis on the High Plains

    In Kansas, the state’s chief engineer has the statutory power to designate an Intensive Groundwater Use Control Area to preserve the aquifer when required by the conditions.

    Who chooses the Kansas chief engineer? Does Brownback select this person?

    1. JTMcPhee

      How it works is that the looters concentrate on gaining power to control such appointments and then install a fellow looter to play a sharp game of fending off any motions or policies that might serve the General Welfare. Because they all know they can loot with impunity behind the shield of faux-electoral-legitimacy immunity. Secure in the knowledge that the collapses and horrors they are initiating and fostering won’t touch them personally, and they will live out their rotten lives in comfort, and die comfortably, with the best of care from lovingkindness from doctors and nurses. Because “Apres iOS le deluge.”

      No consequences, no change.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        JT I used to think your hyperbolic style didn’t really suit the real-world facts and was over the top, that people and institutions couldn’t possibly be as evil and corrupt and self-serving as you describe.

        I no longer think that. To paraphrase Einstein, the world isn’t more corrupt than we imagine, it’s more corrupt than we can imagine.

        Mes compliments

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That’s a great quote by Einstein.

          By that standard, one should probably refuse any scientific work.

          1. Synapsid


            Einstein didn’t say that–it’s a paraphrase of a quote that’s been attributed to Haldane, Eddington, Heisenberg and maybe Einstein.

            As I recall the statement, it was “The Universe is not only queerer than we imagine, it’s queerer than we can imagine.”

            That’s why science (well, the natural sciences) is fun.

            1. JTMcPhee

              So would the question then be, aside from the attribution and provenance bit, whether the original paraphrased statement offered by OTPBDH is correct, in the structural, observed, confirmed, “reality-based” sense…

      2. Lambert Strether

        > the looters concentrate on gaining power to control such appointments and then install a fellow looter to play a sharp game of fending off any motions or policies that might serve the General Welfare.

        Not in this case, or at least not precisely on point:

        The Kansas Div of Water Resources Chief Engineer is a Kansas Civil Service job.

        The looters will have to rely on cognitive regulatory capture instead of installing one of their own

        1. JTMcPhee

          Not to chew too long on this end of the bone, but do we know how the Kansas civil service works? how candidates for that position get selected and vetted? Here in FL, positions like that are under the power structure of the governor, like the Public Service Commission that is supposed to regulate utilities, the several Water Management Districts. Others, like the guy who passes out stuff like concealed-carry permits, are “elected offices,” but the nominations for such positions go through the choke point veto power of the political parties. Which is to say for the last decade and a half, the “Republicans.”


          Appointments Office — The Appointments Office supports the Governor in meeting his major obligation to appoint qualified, representative and appropriate people to a large number of important leadership roles throughout the State….

          The Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council is accepting applications to fill the two term vacancies on the Florida Public Service Commission with official headquarters in Tallahassee.

          Applicants must be competent and knowledgeable in one or more fields including public affairs, law, economics, accounting, engineering, finance, natural resource conservation, energy or another substantially related field.

          An electronic copy of the application packet can be obtained at The completed application must be received in the Council’s office by 5:00 p.m. EST, Tuesday, June 12, 2018. Late applications will not be considered.

          Which, not surprisingly, leads to this:


          1. flora

            I know very well how the Kansas Civil Service works. It works very well to purpose of hiring people fit for job by expertise and protecting the people hired from political pressures in the exercise of their job duties – the whole point of civil service, both state and national.

            I will also say that former Gov Brownback did have a keen understanding of water and groundwater issues with regard to the western half of Kansas’s agriculture and cities and economy. He evinced a deep appreciation of the importance of water sustainability, without regard to any political pressure or partisanship or outside influence. Please note: This is probably only one of two issues (the other being fracking and earthquake correlation and cause issues) where I will give props to former Gov Brownback. I do give him props on this one. (aside: the ‘old west’- aka the high plains – can maybe be best understood as a water scarcity area, particularly surface water.)

          2. flora

            Longer comment lost in skynet. Lets just say the KS cs is nothing like what you describe in FL.

            1. Procopius

              Michigan used to have a similar excellent water management set-up for drinking water. I would have to do some digging for the details, but in the telling of the tale of how the Flint water poisoning came about (friends of Rick Snyder wanted to cut off income of the Detroit Water & Sewage Dept.), somewhere along the line the requirement that the officeholder be a certified engineer was eliminated. That was all it took to allow a looter to take the job.

    2. flora

      The Kansas Div of Water Resources Chief Engineer is a Kansas Civil Service job.

      see item K.S.A. 74 506d. in this pdf:

      Chief Engineers have historically each served many years. There have been only 5 Chief Engineers since the position’s creation in 1927. The current Chief Engineer took the job in 2007, during then Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’s (D) administration.,_Division_of_Water_Resources

    1. Ted

      Let’s rehearse that again. Please repeat after me: “the federal government is not an individual, it is not a household, and it is not a business. It has the power to print money.”

      Please add that to your daily meditations.

      1. nothing but the truth

        At the end of the meditations, affirm to yourself

        “money is an illusion.”

        “the real is not money”.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s only tempting for top households the align themselves to the top levels of the federal government so that they can benefit from the power to print money.

        In Buddhist terms, these household attain financial Nirvana and exit the cycles of monetary suffering.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Donald Trump was right. The rest of the G7 were wrong”

    Ummm, I think that I am going to have to say here that a sunset clause to the Nafta trade agreement of five years would be a way to destroy it though with Nafta that may not be necessarily a bad thing. I do not know if any studies have been done as to what a post-Nafta North America would look like. Think of it like this. If that trade agreement was up for renewal every five years, that means that it would become hostage to local American partisan politics. It would be a political football of choice each and every five years.
    Does anybody think that Barry Businessman would be willing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in plants, equipment and personnel if the whole agreement underpinning it may only have a horizon of five years? Would Tim the IT worker invest years of his life in working on interoperability of code between different countries if the whole thing could fall over just as it was ready to be deployed? No, I don’t think so.
    Its kinda like saying that marriage licenses should be up for renewal every five years. Yeah, good luck trying to get your fiancee agreeing with that! And supposing that the trade agreement is sunsetted after five years. As is being discovered with Brexit, trying to unscramble the eggs of how the different countries are connected is proving to be a nightmare. So, who picks up the tab with Canada, the US and Mexico if Nafta lapses? I can guess what Trump would say here.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I agree that continual re-negotiation would be a nightmare, but at the same time it is hardly democratic that these agreements are specifically designed to be almost impossible to reverse. Even the EU has its A.50.

      It should not be beyond the wit of negotiators to ensure that all provisions of major trade agreements are due to compulsory re-negotiations on a revolving basis. As to whether this will slow down the interconnection of supply chain systems, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing….

      1. Enquiring Mind

        It should not be beyond the wit of negotiators to ensure that all provisions of major trade agreements are due to compulsory re-negotiations on a revolving basis.

        That may presume that the negotiators are acting honestly, instead of being influenced by various parties with other agendas. If that influence works in domestic policies and programs, why not in the trade policies and programs?

        1. Lorenzo

          That may presume that the negotiators are acting honestly, instead of being influenced by various parties with other agendas

          I don’t see how’s that the case. It’s just presuming that it’s rather unlikely there’s that one time when you somehow aren’t impeded by these limitations.

      2. JEHR

        Right now NAFTA allows countries to leave the agreement with notice of intent (“A Party may withdraw from this Agreement six months after it provides written notice of withdrawal to the other Parties. If a Party withdraws, the Agreement shall remain in force for the remaining Parties”).

        We know, however, who would pay the biggest price for the five-year sunset clause and it wouldn’t be the US. Canada’s economy is about 1/10th of the US which is a blimp on the US economic radar so that investors might decide that five years made any investment deal too risky in a small economy. Great for the USA though.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I don’t like the idea of a trade agreement being used in perpetualness forever either. The only thing that comes to mind is a sort of ‘try it before you buy into it’ clause when it is first signed. That is, after the agreement is signed, the parties have five years to try it out and if it is working, then go for an agreement for a much longer time frame. Otherwise you are tying future generations to something that was signed back in 1989 with Nafta.
        What this all reminds me of is where Australians, for example, are supposed to owe allegiance to the British Queen. If I remember my history, over three centuries ago the English made an oath of loyalty to the British royalty, not only for themselves but their descendants unborn as well. Yeah, so a coupla centuries later we are supposed to be loyal to the British Crown from birth because of what a coupla hundred men did in an era before even toilet paper was invented.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Well, hey, we USians got a “Constitution” of a similar age, written by white slave owners and rentiers to protect their property interests. Of course that is now effectively a dead letter, crushed by even more All PowerTo The Owners “law” and concentrated power and wealth.

          1. Oregoncharles

            That’s why constitutions, and amendments, must pass a very high bar. They are not ordinary legislation. (Admittedly, Oregon law is somewhat confused on this point, especially when it comes to initiatives. Those are at least a vote of the people.)

            1. The Rev Kev

              Can you imagine what it would be like if someone took a copy of the US Constitution and updated it to fit the reality of the 21st century? So, as an example, where you have described-

              War Powers. Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to declare war.

              It would have instead-

              War Powers. Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the U.S. Constitution grants the President the sole power to declare war.

              Probably a whole new section would have to be written to accommodate the deep state and the powers it has. The Constitutional amendments would also need a total rewrite but at least they could be shortened.

              1. JTMcPhee

                Already been done: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Full stop.

      2. Bugs Bunny

        The whole point of these agreements is to make them equal in power to the US Constitution – they’re treaties after all. Trump should just walk away from it. Mex and Canada would be better off as well but they’re run by neolibs who can’t see farther than the ends of their powdered noses.

        1. EMtz

          No neolib prez or much of the legislature here in Mexico after July 1 elections. Lopez Obrador’s plan is to disentangle the tycoons from an astoundingly corrupt government (the real cartel) and build a more self-sufficient Mexico, especially in food and energy. The orientation is broadening to the rest of Latin America in particular and the EU and Far East in general. Trade is all well and good but not at the price of impoverishing half of the population – 49% are below the poverty line here because of unconscionably low factory wages and the collapse of the campesinos, both due to NAFTA. If NAFTA blows up, the short term will be ugly but many people here feel it could very well be better in the long term despite all the pearl clutching of the bankers and business community. If Trump walks away, it will offer Mexico an opportunity. We’ve survived worse.

        2. Oregoncharles

          They are not treaties under US law; they’re agreements implemented by legislation – so they have to pass both houses of Congress. (Some other countries regard them as treaties, and things like the WTO may actually be treaties.)

          Does anyone know whether treaties can be challenged because they violate the Constitution? I haven’t heard of that, bu tthe the Constitution treats them as “law of the land”, not coequal.

    2. todde

      Stock Market is as high as it’s ever been.

      Bitcoin, which is bytes on a computer, sell for 1,000 each.

      We can create money at will.

      I don’t think we need Barry Bussinessman’s investments. I’m certainly not willing to trade my sovereignty for it.

      I’m also not willing to trade my sovereignty for an IT worker who decided to specialize in some niche market.

      1. tegnost

        then maybe you should reconsider some of your apoplexy towards trump, because team D loves these things, lots of dough for Wall St. and TINA for the rest of us.

      2. Synoia

        As an experiment I have been mining “Ether” things since September last year, on two Nvidia 1060 GPU cards.

        For six month of mining, it was turned off for a period, it has “mined” 0.49 Ether things. I do have solar panels on the house, and my electrickery bills are modest, especially in summer.

        I fail to see the revenue stream. I have yet to realize enough Ether things to pay for the GPU cards, let alone enjoy the “cough” windfall from the “mining.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Are we seeing a bit of the Jevon’s Paradox here, if a lot of people are installing solar in order to affordably consume a lot of solar generated electricity to mine “Ether” things?

          When I see solar panels, I’d be wondering about that.

          And when I hear drought here in California, I’d be wondering about water used to grow marijuana, and the carbon its smokers will release into the air – a twofer here.

          1. Superposition

            Alternate experience here, I started mining coins in November, prices rose, I sold my coins, then gpu prices rose, and I sold those at a profit as well. At my height I was running 28 cards, electricity use was less than my hot tub. All told ROI was about 30% on 10k investment in 4 months. A little work, but I’m an IT guy to begin with. I find the wild west of it all fascinating.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            Any carbon that marijuana smokers release into the air by smoking marijuana is carbon which marijuana pulled down out of the air to begin with as part of its growth process. So the carbon emissions directly resulting from smoking the marijuana itself are net-net zero.

    3. a different chris

      >would be willing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in plants, equipment and personnel

      Not following you? A free trade agreement allows “Barry” to not invest anything at all in 2 out of the three countries. All he has to do is cost-arbitrage, aka find the most willing country to roll over and give him what he wants.

      Now NAFTA itself is a more complicated than that, but I still don’t see what you are saying?

    4. Paul

      Another reason to run-not-walk away from TISA (Trade In Services Agreement), currently being negotiated in near-total secrecy.

      One clause explicitly states that once a service is privatized, it can never be re-nationalized. What could go wrong?

    5. tegnost

      “Does anybody think that Barry Businessman would be willing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in plants, equipment and personnel if the whole agreement underpinning it may only have a horizon of five years?”

      Why are we required to protect berry businessman when he decides to put his biz in another country in order to escape regulations in the one he lives in?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Hey, I never said that I agreed with the concept. I am just talking about the present setup and how things are done. In idle moments, I wonder what would happen if each country had basic industries set up and an import tax was imposed to bring imports up to the same costs as for stuff locally produced. That way, consumers would choose by quality as both the imported article and the locally produced item would be about the same price.
        Now it happened a coupla decades ago that at its height, Japan would pay Japanese car companies a big whack of money for every car that left the docks so that as the cars hit foreign shores, they could undercut that country’s car companies. The Japanese car company would reduce the price by the amount that they received from their government. It didn’t work for France as when those Japanese cars hit the docks, the French imposed an import tax equivalent to that of what the Japanese government had paid the car maker. Now that’s how you do it.

    6. JohnnyGL

      “Does anybody think that Barry Businessman would be willing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in plants, equipment and personnel if the whole agreement underpinning it may only have a horizon of five years?”

      Being a business leader requires coping with uncertainty. Real leaders plan for these sorts of things. They often have lots of experience in their fields and are compensated handsomely for getting a grip on how to make complex decisions. I’m sure they can figure it out!

      One way might be to build factories in the countries that you plan to sell the cars in. Just a thought….

    7. danpaco

      NAFTA already has a mechanism for renegotiation and updating, it’s what Trump triggered to start the current round. Having a fixed date for renegotiating is destabilizing and will only add to the urgency of negotiation when the date comes, akin to the debt ceiling. There must be additional language in the proposed sunset clause that Mexico and Canada find unpalatable.

    8. flora

      From Monbiot’s article:

      In Rights of Man, published in 1791, Thomas Paine argued that: “Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself, in all cases, as the ages and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies.” This is widely accepted – in theory if not in practice – as a basic democratic principle.

      I agree.

      1. Anonymous2

        That is nice in theory but in practice the past rules much of the time.

        Take England. Athelstan, I think it was, created England. The present inhabitants of England could in theory vote to dissolve the state but in practice it would be very difficult to engineer it. I guess the same applies in the US. Would a state be allowed to break away? They were not allowed to in the C19.

        1. flora

          Nor were the slave holding states allowed to continue owning slaves in the second half of the C19. So the past has great and usually moderating influence, but even under the U.S. Constitution the past in its particulars is not an iron grip on the future. Otherwise, we’d still have slavery and only while men of property would be able to vote.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            From History of Cotton, Wikipedia:

            Prior to the Civil War, Lancashire companies issued surveys to find new cotton-growing countries if the Civil War were to occur and reduce American exports. India was deemed to be the country capable of growing the necessary amounts. Indeed, it helped fill the gap during the war, making up only 31% of British cotton imports in 1861, but 90% in 1862 and 67% in 1864.[44]

            Additionally, the main purchasers of cotton, Britain and France, began to turn to Egyptian cotton. The Egyptian government of Viceroy Isma’il took out substantial loans from European bankers and stock exchanges. After the American Civil War ended in 1865, British and French traders abandoned Egyptian cotton and returned to cheap American exports,[citation needed] sending Egypt into a deficit spiral that led to the country declaring bankruptcy in 1876, a key factor behind Egypt’s occupation by the British Empire in 1882.

            Was it possible that the South had their right to break away, and the proper response was then economic sanctions?

            From the Wikipedia article, we know it was possible to source cotton elsewhere, though it was more expensive.

            The issue with that view is that, in the 19th century, there were slaves in other countries. It would be hard, then, not to sanction all those nations. Hard, but not too costly, perhaps, because international trade was not as pervasive as it is today.

            1. JTMcPhee

              “The South had their right to break away?” Which South? The Ruling Elite in the South wanted to break away, to protect their particular looting project that was inconsistent, sort of, with the different kind of looting project growing in the North — would the po’ white folks and slaves have any kind of say in the matter? Would it matter, really, truly, if they were polled and said “No Exit”? Given that everyone was involved in the Great Rape of the Continent, and then on to the rest of the Manifest Destiny?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                That’s a different, and good, question in an interconnected web, which is still relevant today – which America? Which Mexico? Which China?

    9. derechos

      “Its kinda like saying that marriage licenses should be up for renewal every five years.”

      I think The Donald has this written into his pre-nups now. Melania’s contract is up for renewal soon (I hear she may opt out). It’s where he got the idea that this should be included on all future negotiated contracts.

    10. Lambert Strether

      > If that trade agreement was up for renewal every five years, that means that it would become hostage to local American partisan politics. It would be a political football of choice each and every five years.

      Make it ten years, then, and stagger the renewals in off-years.

      I’m not sure what’s wrong with making it a political football, though. Isn’t that framing designed to avoid democratic accountability for professional trade negotiators and their backers?

      1. The Rev Kev

        I seem to have struck a very raw nerve in my original comment on Nafta above and ‘Barry Businessman’. My own thoughts are that is was a really bad deal but that is besides the point. I am of the opinion that you negotiate bad deals or even refuse to sign them. Calling something a national security concern as a get-out-of-jail-card to bail is a dangerous precedent. It was like when the UK called the loans that Iceland owed to UK entities as coming under the Terrorist Act laws back in what, 2008? This is the sort of stuff that makes corporations only concentrate on next quarter’s profit rather than look to the long term.
        Partisan politics is killing America. As an example. America’s policy to Cuba is probably more to do with electoral considerations in some parts of Florida than national policy. And the same I have seen with US economic policy in the past. Obviously a balance is needed but let us take a example. Would the US be able to formulate a common water policy to protect the Ogallala Aquifer if after going through the negotiations, Kansas decide to call a national security clause and pull out and pump the aquifer for all that it was worth? Or supposing that one was agreed across the whole continent – how well would it work if the whole thing was up for negotiations EVERY five years. That is my concern here.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Not really. It is the principle that I am trying to point out here and that is if you make a commitment, you should keep it. Not to do so means that you get a reputation of not being agreement-capable. It scales from the personal level right up to the national level. And you don’t go looking for dodgy reasons to get out of an agreement but do honest negotiations instead.

            1. flora

              I understand your point that calling such-and-such a national security issue in order to change course on a non-security item is misdirection (at best) for a wholly domestic political calculus. And may undermine the respect for the party who changes course.

              However, (you just knew there would be an ‘however’ :) ) : comparing a wholly domestic fight (Ogalalla aquifer resource use ) to an international fight seems apples and oranges to me. The, as you call it, national security card, is used for, yes, domestic political purposes. However, if the international deal was entered into without regard to or in direct opposition to domestic political feeling then the nat. sec. card is the only playing card on offer. (No one said politics was bean bag.)

              I fear you are conflating non-democratic deal making with polity consensus, when the point is the deal was made without polity consensus in the first place. And so, the tension is between democratically derived consensus on the one hand and political establishment and politicians’ legerdemain on the other hand. Conflating the two only adds to the dilemma, even in best ‘he meant well’ worlds.

              Shall countries remain hostage to past politicians ‘he meant well’ fumbles solely in order to save face? (see Brexit) I think in democracys the answer is ‘no’.

              1. The Rev Kev

                I know exactly what you are saying and I am not sure there are any ‘good’ answers to be found and I think that I can guess why. There was a study done not long ago that found in the US that the government listened to its citizens basically zero times while the ‘payers & players’ were listened to all the times. I believe that it is this disconnect that means that with any agreements, treaties, etc that there is no buy-in on average people’s part. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about Nafta or a water-sharing agreement or whatever. In fact, it is this this disconnect that is at the heart of Trump’s election as no-one was listening to the average voter’s wants and needs. For you it is apples and oranges but for me, this is historically how you end up with getting ‘enabling acts’.

                1. drumlin woodchuckles

                  NAFTA was not an honest agreement honestly arrived at. NAFTA was a secret conspiracy between the International Free Trade Conspirators ruling the three countries concerned. Zero honor was involved in conniving its passage through Congress and zero honor is lost by America rejecting it unilaterally.

                  Just as, in fact, Mexico would lose zero honor by rejecting it unilaterally for its part. If Mexico rejected NAFTA, Mexico could re-protectionize its agriculture and exclude alien agricultural product . . . including government-subsidized petrochemical GMO corn from the Midwest. The Mexican corn market could be returned to the Mexican corn farmer, and some of the millions of Naftastinian economic exiles now living in America might be able to return to Mexico and take up their former livings.

    11. JCC

      I think a lot of people are missing one of the main points made in this article, the Investor-State Dispute System.

      Monbiot didn’t go into some of the gorier details of the MBTE dispute, for example. California banned the additive for very good reasons, a highly volatile substance that evaporated out of storage tanks primarily located in California and ended up in the water tables surrounding the areas of storage. Among other health related issues, California started noticing that rates of spontaneous abortions in those areas skyrocketed, so they banned it. The Canadian Mfg sued and won and since the suit, per the treaty, was against the US Govt, not CA, Congress threw a fit and passed a law stating that in future disputes the payment would be taken out of national highways funds to the offending State.

      Canada Legislature attempted to fix a serious cigarette problem, the intentional advertising to children/teenagers, by getting rid of logos such as Joe Camel on packs of cigs. The law, favored by the majority of Canadians and the Govt, stated that all cigarette packaging would have to be black & white, no logos. R.J Reynolds sent a lawsuit warning across the bow of Canadian Govt, so the legislation was pulled.

      And I think everyone here knows what Monsanto, GMO corn and Glyphosate has done to Mexican farming community over the last 20 years or so, after all, we get to hear Trump ranting about immigration almost daily, which also skyrocketed after NAFTA.

      And Monbiot’s points on eco-destruction are also accurate.

      (And there are tens of more examples including trucking corridors for unqualified Mexican long-haul – and poorly paid – drivers on U.S. highways, the recent closing of the profitable Nabisco Oreo factory and loss of well over 300 jobs (some of them 3rd generation employees, that was moved to Mexico in order to increase C-Suite bonuses at Nabisco, etc.)

      It was a crap-filled trade agreement, strongly supported by the Clintons even though the majority of Dems and most of the American, Canadian, and Mexican working class were against it at the time.

      As Monbiot says at the finish of the article

      Those who defend the immortality of trade agreements argue that it provides certainty for business. It’s true that there is a conflict between business confidence and democratic freedom. This conflict is repeatedly resolved in favour of business. That the only defender of popular sovereignty in this case is an odious demagogue illustrates the corruption of 21st-century liberal democracy.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Crisis on the High Plains: The Loss of America’s Largest Aquifer – the Ogallala DU Water Law Review (guurst). From last month, still germane. Key section: “The Ogallala Aquifer supports an astounding one-sixth of the world’s grain produce, and it has long been an essential component of American agriculture.”

    I was curious to read this, because at least for me, the issue of the Ogallala seemed to have gone quiet for years – plenty of environmental writers in the 1980’s and 1990’s were highlighting the depletion of the Ogallala as the biggest single threat to world food supplies. It seems its been depleting away quietly, while various initiatives have done little more than slow it down a little.

    The ‘good’ news is that the Ogallala is an interconnected series of waterbodies in general (and not always well understood) hydraulic continuity rather than one big geological body – in other words, its not a case that the last drop extracted from a New Mexico well will cause immediate drought in Nebraska. But it is still possible that catastrophic depletion could occur over a tight enough timescale to cause a major disruption of food supplies, especially in the light of disruptions elsewhere due to climate change.

    As so often, the primary cause is the decision of farmers to grow crops which are generally unsuitable for the local climate – invariably for financial reasons. The only solution is a long term retreat from high water demand crops grown in semi-arid areas in favour of more suitable varieties – but the process of managing this seems beyond us – I say ‘us’ as this seems an almost universal problem across the world.

    1. Timmy

      Granddad grew the dryland wheat
      Stood on his own two feet
      His mind got incomplete and they put in the home
      Daddy’s cotton grows so high
      Sucks the water table dry
      Rolling sprinklers circle round
      Bleedin’ it to the bone

      “levelland” james mcmurtry

      1. curlydan

        Of course, if someone from the “Deep South” saw West Texas cotton, they might be shocked how short the cotton plants are even with aquifer water. Poor Levelland.

      2. tomk

        Worth a full quote, James McMurtry is an incredible songwriter, and a great performer, if you don’t mind real. So many great songs.

        Flatter than a table top
        Makes you wonder why they stopped here
        Wagon must have lost a wheel
        Or they lacked ambition one

        In the great migration west
        Separated from the rest
        Though they might have tried their best
        They never caught the sun

        So they sunk some roots down in this dirt
        To keep from blowin’ off the earth
        Built a town right here
        When the dust had all but cleared

        They called it Levelland

        Grand dad grew the dry land wheat
        Stood on his own two feet
        His mind got incomplete
        And they put him in a home

        Daddy’s cotton grows so high
        Sucks the water table dry
        His rolling sprinklers circle back
        Bleeding it to the bone

        And I won’t be here when it comes the day
        It all dries up and blows away
        I’d hang around just to see
        But they never had much use for me

        In Levelland
        They don’t understand me
        In Levelland

        Well I watch those ships trails comin’ out that big blue sky
        Coast to coasters, watch ’em go
        And I don’t blame ’em one damn bit
        If they never look down on this
        Ain’t much down here they’d want to know

        Just Levelland
        You could wash your hands
        In nothin’ but Levelland

        Mama used to roll her hair
        Back before the central air
        We’d sit outside and watch the stars at night
        She tell me to make a wish
        I’d wish we both could fly
        I don’t think she’s seen the sky
        Since we got the satellite dish

        I can hear the marching band
        Doing the best they can to play
        Smoke on the water
        And joy to the world

        I payed up all my debts
        Got some change left over yet
        I’m getting on a whisper jet
        Going to fly as far as I can get

        From Levelland
        Done the best I can
        In Levelland

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      “……..the decision of farmers to grow crops which are generally unsuitable for the local climate…….”

      And who are theses “farmers?”

      While it does not appear from the article that Arizona draws water from the Ogallala, I suspect similar situations occur on farms that do. I also suspect that the ownership and motivation of those “farmers” makes cooperation in water conservation difficult, to say the least.

      Outside of Phoenix, in the scorching Arizona desert, sits a farm that Saudi Arabia’s largest dairy uses to make hay for cows back home.

      That dairy company, named Almarai, bought the farm last year and has planted thousands of acres of groundwater-guzzling alfalfa to make that hay. Saudi Arabia can’t grow its own hay anymore because those crops drained its own ancient aquifer.

      Reporter Nathan Halverson tells NPR’s Renee Montagne that Almarai bought about 15 square miles in the Arizona desert.

      “They got about 15 water wells when they purchased the property. Now, each one of those wells can pump about 1.5 billion gallons of water. It’s an incredible amount of water they’re going to be drawing up from that aquifer underground,” Halverson says.

      The land in question had previously been under cultivation for corn, cotton and other crops, including smaller amounts of alfalfa for hay, he tells The Salt. Halverson’s sources told him that the farm is now consuming significantly more water, since alfalfa is a particularly thirsty crop.
      The remarkable thing about Saudi Arabia’s story is that it’d done something similar in the desert until the water ran out. The aquifers essentially went dry. Ancient springs that were mentioned in the Bible began drying up, and the Saudi Arabian government told its dairy companies to start importing their hay and their wheat from other parts of the world.

      It turns out that hay yields in the desert are the best in the United States. You can literally get three or four times as much hay growing in the desert because you have a very long growing season: It’s hot, so the hay dries really quickly once you cut it. But the rub here is that you need … lots of water. The temperatures are so high that it takes a lot more water to keep that barren soil moist for the alfalfa to grow.

      It also turns out this was such a good idea, the UAE decided to buy a farm in Arizona too.

      Having given away our manufacturing capability and gutted the rust belt, we’ve apparently decided to now “export” our water and gut the rest of flyover country. Amber waves of grain and all. Because “free trade.”

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Bizzare. I remember reading about Saudi Arabias dairy industry years ago, I could scarcely believe it. The cows were mostly kept in air conditioned sheds. But its largely been cut back due to the impact on aquifers. There is a huge dam in the mountains in Saudi Arabia near Yemen – it was built in the hope that holding back seasonal rains would allow aquifer recharge (in other words, it was designed deliberately such that the water would soak through the reservoir base), but apparently it didn’t work.

        The reason deserts can be so fertile is simple – long term weathering can release lots of minerals – add a little organic content and water and you have a super productive farm so long. And if you bought the land cheap of course and can find a source of water you don’t have to pay for…. its all good. For the investor.

        1. ambrit

          Then there was the huge earthen dam near Marib in the Yemen. It goes back to at least the middle of the first millennium BC. One proposed reason for the fall of many early polities is ecological degradation or climate shifts, especially changes in rainfall patterns. A region of the Hindu Kush in Tibet called Mustang was once inhabitable until the constant rising of the Himalayas blocked monsoon weather from crossing the peaks and raining on the north side of the range. Agriculture crashed and so did the population.
          This is an ever changing world. Sometimes all we can do is hold on tight and try to ride it out.
          The lesson we have to re-learn is that fresh water is not an infinite resource.

      2. Jim Haygood

        The Central Arizona Project, signed into law by Lyndon Johnson in 1968, was driven by riparian rights doctrine in the west, which gives priority to historical first users.

        Under this doctrine, California was laying claim to more and more Colorado River water. Arizona felt compelled to establish its own claim before the window disappeared.

        Down in Pima County north of Tucson are miles and miles of irrigated fields growing Pima cotton. Were the water needed for residential consumption, farmers’ water rights could be bought out.

        Absent a crisis, it’s not a front-burner issue. But if Lake Mead falls below the 1,075-ft line in the sand at end year, it will become a crisis. Whether this happens depends on the July monsoon, anxiously awaited after winter rains and snow failed to materialize. Lake Mead level:

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      How much of the Ogallala Aquifer’s ” One Sixth of the World’s food production” is thrown away on feeding confinement livestock confined in feedlots anyway?

  8. zagonostra

    Refer: Greenwald.

    “Otherwise, people may start suspecting that the Democratic Party establishment does not have any genuine belief in these lofty principles of diversity and identity politics it likes to invoke. It may start to appear that party leaders instead only cynically and opportunistically embrace these precepts when doing so helps their preferred candidates, only to ignore and violate them when they want to rally behind centrist white men like Cuomo and Crowley, at the expense of more leftist challengers like Nixon and Ocasio-Cortez.”

    Please, “may start suspecting!?” Your concluding paragraph by all measures should read, “DO KNOW.” But I “suspect” you may have your reasons for framing it in the subjunctive.

    Anyone who believes that these two Parties owned by the same corporate owner hold out any hope for genuine relief for the mass of people struggling to pay their debts secure healthcare, see their kids through college,and save for retirement, to name but a few items,is self-delusional – or, what would a word be for delusions that are carefully fostered and propagated? Propaganda perhaps?.

    1. Oregoncharles

      His reason for stating it that way is ironic understatement – IOW, sarcasm. Greenwald has no party loyalties.

  9. Jean

    Re: IQ scores dropping

    The dataset includes the IQs of men in Norway’s compulsory military service (data collected from 1970 to 2009 – why start at 1970, why stop at 2009?). However, according to the article below, people don’t have to serve if they don’t want to, and many started bailing on military service when the Cold War ended (“Those who do not want to serve can often find a reason, such as university studies, to avoid the draft.”). Maybe the trend of lower IQ scores coincides with college-apt people (who usually score well on IQ tests) avoiding military service and taking themselves out of the dataset. Also the article mentions that, “since the end of the Cold War the Norwegian armed forces have become more selective in choosing conscripts as their needs have changed”, but it doesn’t give examples of the selection criteria. All I can really say is that the data was collected over a long period of time, and that the inputs changed over time.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Those scoring less well on IQ tests actually benefit more from getting a college education.

      But in another country, an imperial power, who needs the most powerful weapons to be developed by the most talented graduates, there is no time to waste but to admit those with higher IQ’s.

      We’re talking, here, about producing killers in economic wars, cyber wars, low tech wars, etc., and not of enlightening students.

      One alternative is to object conscientiously…thoroughly, objecting even the free-tuition version of it.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        In a ” no money = you die” society, the conscientious objection you recommend to others is really recommending to those others that they go die. Unless you plan to support them during the entirety of their no-earnings-possible lifespans.

    2. Petter

      Here’s a link to how conscription works in Norway, and you’re correct, not everyone is conscripted, not by a long shot. My son was studying in Sweden when he turned eighteen and was called in to a session, where they do a series of tests to see if you’re qualified for military service He informed them he was studying in Sweden so his session was postponed and then a couple of years later he got a new notice to appear, but he again informed them that he was still at school and didn’t hear from them again, to his relief.

    3. millicent

      There are other data conflicting with this finding. The so called Flynn effect says that scores on intelligence tests that tap abstract reasoning (solving complex design analogies as on the Raven Test of Progressive Matrices) have actually increased. One offered explanation is that schooling improves this kind of abstract, nonrepresentational thinking.

      Which test is used is going to make a big difference. IQ is one way of testing intelligence and not necessarily the best way.

    4. Elizabeth Burton

      As with the Norwegians avoiding the army, the case could be made that dropping IQ scores reflect the steady implementation of changes to the tests designed to make them suitable for use on non-white, non-middle class individuals. The cultural biases of standardized tests haven’t been cured, and likely never will be because the people doing the revisions are the same people who put the biases in them in the first place.

      A case could also be made that in that 30-odd year period the levels of chemicals in our air and water, which means also in the soil and our food, have been steadily worsening; and many if not most are known to affect intellectual development in both foetuses and growing children. Some do the same to adults.

      So, let’s not go for the simplistic “I blame TV/video games/smartphones/[insert personal hobby horse here].” mmkay? :-)

  10. Pookah Harvey

    Interesting that the article on the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer doesn’t mention Frank and Deborah Popper’s Buffalo Commons. These two New Jersey geographer professors first saw the coming catastrophe in 1987 and came up with the idea of a sprawling national park.

    Over the last 150 years, the North American Great Plains, once a region of native grasses and wildlife, has become largely agricultural. During the same time, however, many have responded to the changes’ environmental, social and economic costs by proposing preservation. In the December 1987 issue of Planning, we contended that the future of the rural parts of the region lay in a vision we called the Buffalo Commons. To us the Buffalo Commons meant more bison and less cattle, more preservation and ecotourism and less conventional rural development and extraction–in short, a Great Plains that nurtured land uses that fell between intensive cultivation on the one side and wilderness on the other.

    From the Wikipedia article on the Buffalo Commons:

    The Buffalo Commons is a conceptual proposal to create a vast nature preserve by returning 139,000 square miles (360,000 km2) of the drier portion of the Great Plains to native prairie, and by reintroducing the American bison (“buffalo”), that once grazed the shortgrass prairie. The proposal would affect ten states: Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas.

    Here’s a High Country News article:
    A later Daily Kos article:
    A very interesting book was written by Anne Mathews about the Poppers and their campaign for the Commons entitled Where The Buffalo Roam that is worth a read.

    1. Eclair

      The Buffalo Commons suggestion seems sensible, but it would involve massive property rights redistribution. The West has a ‘my land’ mindset that is difficult to overcome. So many people there, ranchers, farmers, as well as descendants of those who have moved to the city, talk about how they have lived on, and ‘protected,’ the land for over a hundred years. When gently asked how their ancestors got the ‘rights’ to the land, they do a lot of hand waving and mutter about ‘treaties’ and ‘land grants.’

      Native American acquaintances, Utes, Arapahoe, Lakota, herded together onto Palestine-like ‘reservations,’ pass down histories of their ancestors following the buffalo, moving across the plains according to season, hunting and fishing in the summer Mountains. They also tell the sad histories of the massacres at Sand Creek and Wounded Knee. And remember, as a commenter mentioned yesterday, the mass hanging of the 38 insurgent Dakota warriors near Mankato, on the day after Christmas, 1862.

      The Ogalalla Aquifer article mentions, optimistically, that, if everyone reduces their usage by 20%, like right now, the aquifer should last another 100 years. That’s the generation of my great-grandchildren (as yet unborn.) The indigenous people lived lightly on this semi-arid land, so lightly that after maybe 10,000 years, the aquifer level was close to the surface, the stampeding of thousands of buffalo sounded like thunder and made the earth shake, the birds darkened the skies, the waters ran pure. Contemplate what we have done to the land in a little over a century. If we believed that the land should ‘belong’ to those replenish and renew it, rather than to those who can monetize it most profitably, our property rights laws would be different. But we don’t and they aren’t.

      I have little optimism over how this will play out over the next 100 years. The land was wrested from its inhabitants by violence and murder. Our culture is predatory, like flocks of vultures and herds of wolves, coyotes and jackals that move in to feast on the fat of the land, thinking only of gorging and getting fat. Ignoring the fact that when the spoils are eaten, there is no more. And we turn upon ourselves.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I scanned a number of their documents and all I saw was repeated promotion of mixed crops of perennial grains as their ‘answer’ to the future problems of food production. What did I miss?

          1. flora

            Nothing really. Perennial grain crops could change grain agriculture practices enormously: deeper root structures, less irrigation (see deeper root structures), less plowing and sowing, less fossil fuel use (see less plowing), etc.

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              Thanks! Some of what I read at the Land Institute was scary after I thought about it for a while — for example — after you grow and eat all your vegetables did you forget your corn, wheat, rice, oats, or rye, or perennial grain. That put a dent on growing vegetables in the city. We need more calories than just a plate of veggies might provide — other than maybe from a plate of potatoes.

      1. Pookah Harvey

        The Poppers at first were received with animosity in the region to the point that they had to have police protection when delivering presentations. When the problems they predicted became more obvious reaction to them slowly changed. The Poppers approach also changed:

        their Buffalo Commons no longer resembles a government-run human relocation scheme, where buffalo totally replace people. “We now see the federal government as unreliable,” says Frank Popper, not to mention a political liability in rural America. “Now,” he says, “we see the effort as largely taken up by private groups, NGOs, states, provinces and tribal groups with room for all sorts of possibilities.”

        They now work through groups such as the Great Plains Restoration Council

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If Mr. Gabe Brown of North Dakota is telling the complete truth about what he says he has been achieving on his private-family-owned farm in North Dakota, then Buffalo Commons has nothing to offer Gabe Brown, and Gabe Brown has nothing to gain from Buffalo Commons.

          If the Buffalo Commonists are prepared to respect ecological restoration and regeneration where they see it, then they will respect Farmer Brown’s eco-stable soil-restoring farming practices on his farm and they will see no need to forcibly Buffalo Commonize it. This will leave Farmer Brown feeling non-threatened by the Buffalo Commonists and investing zero effort or emotion in resisting their work.

          ( Not to say that he and Buffalo Commons have ever actually even heard of eachother. I am letting “Farmer Brown” stand for the whole handful of eco-restorative farmers who are re-upgrading their land already).

  11. Summer

    “I think I’m going to use TSLA as my personal gauge of whether a major market correction is imminent – as long as the Greater Fools leap at every piece of SciFi inanity (Full autonomy just around the corner! Rocket-powered roadsters to Mars!!) that dribbles from Musk’s lips, the everything-bubble remains strong.”

    What if the bubble remains strong because it has to as a matter of faith? What if all that is left is the confidence fairy? What if it has to because the levels of simmering discontent would explode if one more thing is proven to be a lie? What if it’s just that warm cocoon of denial? What if the day comes when popping it will be politically useful to some?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am reminded of the Oracle of Delphi, except our Pythia does not have to rely on sulfur fumes.

  12. DJG

    Thanks for the notification, Yves Smith, that the Chicago location is shaping up. I will abbreviate my work day and pop down on the Clark 22 (the bus route in the twilight zone).

    I was going to make a reservation for fifty at the Cheesecake Factory. The Oreo White Chocolate Quinoa cheesecake comes with a free EKG. But the bars suggested sound better: A good nip of rye clears the arteries.

    Looking forward to F, 6 July.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “This Is What a Nuclear Attack in New York Would Look Like ”

    Sorry, but it wouldn’t be a crappy old van like that but a clean, modern one that would attract zero interest, especially from police. I am afraid that there would be no major rescue efforts in New York if it got hit by a nuke. What would probably happen is that doctors, nurses, cops and the like would be evacuated out of the area. The calculation would be if that they stayed to help out, radiation sickness would kill them in the end and because there would be a huge need for them in the coming months, they should not be ‘wasted’ in the first few weeks. People there would be left to fend for themselves. That video annoyed me no end as it was so cut and dried and not very relatable. Here is a clip from a film showing what the effect for the people of one building would be like in case New York was to get nuked-

  14. Jim Haygood

    Why have a group of US senators suddenly developed a burning desire to put China’s ZTE out of business?

    ZTE’s offense was selling some phones containing export-restricted US components to Iran. In an extraordinary example of extraterritorial long-arming, these senators assert that the US can go beyond imposing swingeing fines and unilaterally snuff out a foreign company for a relatively minor infraction.

    Who ARE these senators? The WSJ names four: Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.). The first two are notorious neocons; the latter two are pro-Israel Democrats.

    In its twitter feed, AIPAC picks up an over-the-top rant from little Marco Rubio:

    Marco Rubio
    3 hours ago

    Now is a good time to start getting rid of your #Huawei investments. Because while #ZTE poses a very serious threat to the U.S. Huawei is 100 times worse.

    The Lobby’s keeping discretely behind the scenes, but its minions in the Senate clearly want a trophy kill to show the rest of world that trading with Iran now incurs the economic death penalty.

      1. Synoia

        ZTE’s offense was selling some phones containing export-restricted US

        components to Iran.

        Got specific info on the components? A list? And their functions?

        I’d place my money on a refusal to keep an Google inspired backdoor in the Android code on the phone.

        1. Olga

          This ZTE drama deserves much more attention/analysis than it’s been getting. A recent NYT link to it being “China’s Sputnik moment” was a good start. If you’re the government of some country and you see US exercising unilateral power to destroy another country’s company – what conclusion would you draw? If they can do it to China, they can do it to anyone – and under any pretext. (In the years past, US limited itself to overthrowing misbehaving countries’ governments; now, it is perfecting economic warfare/destruction.) What’s the solution? Today, at least, it’d be to accelerate the creation of a parallel system, one that cannot be reached by uncle sam’s long arms. The more sanctions US throws around, the more the rest of the world should understand the urgency of getting from under any kind of dependency on the US (with the de-dollarisation being the first step).
          There is another consideration – it was said that ZTE bought 60% of parts from US companies. When ZTE was shut down, those US companies lost a big customer – how is that not cutting your nose to spite your face? Maybe that was why DT made such a quick turn-around and started negotiating a fine.
          However one looks at this, it seems to me that the ZTE drama more than anything betrays the loss of US power – the Chinese will draw a lesson on the need to develop chip industry internally and cease reliance on US companies; many other countries will confirm the budding sense that reliance on the US carries major (and unpredictable) risks. Good job, DT!

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            1. China’s Sputnik moment probably occurred long ago, as we have seen the move away from using the dollar for trade, the Confucius Peace Award, One Belt One Road, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, etc.

            2. Not sure if losing ZTE is not made up for by more sellig to other existing maker-customers (who use US parts) who are likely to take business away from ZTE.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                1 China’s Sputnik moment happened before this one?

                2. That losing the ZTE customer doesn’t necessarily imply losing all the orders?

        1. ambrit

          I’m using a cheap Lenovo desktop with Firefox. I too have the occasional non-editable comment.
          It goes like this:
          Click ‘Reply’,
          Box opens,
          Type comment,
          Click Post Comment.
          Then it gets interesting. Every once in a while, in no discernible pattern so far, a comment will disappear and you are given the masthead of the post. Look to the most recent comments column to the right of the screen. The ‘new’ comment is not there. Click on the refresh icon, on my computer, top left corner. The page will blank and then reform at the ‘new’ comments location in the thread. The ‘new’ comment will be there. This screen will not have the edit function for the comment. (I guess that refreshing the page eliminates the edit function. Guessing here.) This happens often enough that I can reconstruct it from memory without trying hard.
          The Joy of Skynet. No comfort here.

          1. ambrit

            It just happened to me again. The same as my previous comment. I scrolled down after the jump to the masthead. I found no comment, and the ‘Reply’ box was sitting unused at the foot of the column.
            When I refreshed, the comment appeared, in the thread and on the side bar. The ‘Edit’ function and the timer were nowhere to be seen under the suddenly installed ‘new’ comment.
            This is starting to remind me, in a weird way, of Colin Wilsons’ science fiction horror book “The Mind Parasites.” That would make a good plot for a sci fi book. Someone has their consciousness uploaded and finds that there are ‘monsters’ lurking in the cyberian realm.

          2. Oregoncharles

            Like that for me, but consistently. I’ve been working around it, bu tmiss the chance to edit.

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          I too have seen the edit wait disappear on occasion. I’m running a recent install of Linux and using the Firefox browser. I haven’t noticed any pattern to the problem — other than noticing it did seem to occur when I made a ‘reply’ rather than added ‘comment’.

          [I was able to edit this reply.]

        3. Oregoncharles

          Also, and temporally related, the system doesn’t return me to the place where I tried to post; nor does it “land” properly when using some links, like the new-comments links up at the top. In that case, it hits the column somewhat above the right spot. In others, it seems to be random; but using the back button after following a link in comments works correctly. Go figure.

          All that, mainly in case it’s useful to your technicians.

          1. ambrit

            Same here for the peripatetic ‘return’ function. Same with secondary linking.
            Perhaps AI is already here, and like Uncle H.A.L. is non-sane.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think, for long term planners in Beijing, the 10 year monitoring period offered by the Trump administration is just a minor setback for them, and perhaps the Senate is right, here, to not go along with that point, and from there, the whole deal.

      If so, AIPAC is just a side show.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Benjamin Lawsky threatened to put Standard Chartered out of business by yanking its US banking license (as in its NY branch license) for doctoring wires to cover up trading with Iran after it had been caught and sanctioned for doing that before. Great hysteria in Washington and London ensued and Standard Chartered groveled and paid fines….and then paid fines again because they were caught cheating again.

      So to your point, when we’ve made threats like this before, we’ve allowed the perp to grovel and accept its punishment.

    3. Mickey Hickey

      Not to worry, China has got the message and will now focus on eliminating its reliance on US manufactured parts. It is usually called import substitution. American exceptionalism has a new meaning these days as Trump tears up multilateral agreements and Congress tells importers of US goods that their supply can be cut off without notice. Empires usually crumble from within and we are now witnessing exactly that.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        China has focused on self-reliance for a long time.

        They bought an aircraft carrier from Ukraine (undercover, sort of). Now, they’re building their own.

  15. Jim Haygood

    Flake-o-nomics on a roll:

    President Donald Trump is expected to impose tariffs on Chinese goods as soon as Friday or next week, according to two sources briefed on internal deliberations, a move that is sure to further inflame tensions and spark almost immediate retaliation from Beijing.

    The administration on Friday is planning to publish a final list of Chinese goods that will take the hit. The aggressive stance calls into question the future of talks between the two trade powers.

    The Chinese will see this as the US version of a Pearl Harbor attack. Walmart shoppers will see it as nasty price hikes on formerly cheap stuff. US exporters of value-added goods will see it as a loss of competitiveness.

    Flake-o-nomics don’t pay.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      But China won thattrade war, according to SCMP.

      Are you saying Pearl Harbor Trump is reacting to the harsh Versailles Treaty imposed on his allies, the Deplorables?

    2. Synoia

      There is a desire to remake the “free trade” and “neoliberal” regime under which we live.

      How does one go about process without taking actions?

      Something has to change, and I’d take some change over none. Similarly the concept of Sovereignty and Brexit.

      Personally I have no idea about how to move to a different, regime than the current sovereignty limiting “free trade” and “capital flight” because “markets” regime.

      I want my government to have the power, and exercise the power of sovereignty. I do hope that some of the efforts will be personally beneficial. But, I do know that if sovereignty is removes, and budgets controlled, that any semblance of sovereignty is removed.

      I see the current system, and do not like what I see. For all its faults I’d prefer the print 1980 system return.

      Here on this site, where the is little satisfaction with the current world order, would it be more productive to discuss how that may be achieved, as well as discussing the issues of how difficult and expensive is such change ?

      1. JTMcPhee

        Only problem, of course, is that given how the game has played out, IT’S NOT “YOUR” GOVERNMENT.

        And there are a few commenters here, and maybe more lurkers who come here not for hints on how to make Change, but insights on how to play the market.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Dunno, Jim.

      As grateful as those formerly known as the Middle Class are for the valiant efforts of the global “capitalists” to make stagnant, pitifully inadequate, gig wages go as far as possible, I think we’d just as soon have our stable production jobs, middle class wages and benefits back.

      We can take the consumption “experience” from there.

      As for “Pearl Harbor,” I’ll quote my favorite essay from Andy Grove:

      The first task is to rebuild our industrial commons. We should develop a system of financial incentives: Levy an extra tax on the product of offshored labor. (If the result is a trade war, treat it like other wars—fight to win.)

        1. The Rev Kev

          I’d second that. It is working to a large extent with Russia. Not only too have they developed a SWIFT alternative in case they get the chop but they are also developing their own internet in case, again, they are given the chop.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Italy threatens to drop France summit over migration criticism”

    I didn’t see France sticking its hand up to take in that ship. In fact, I read that they are stopping any of these migrants crossing into France from Italy with border checks. Bit of hide that then.

    1. anon

      EU migrant policy is undergoing review in light of disastrous impacts in so many countries. See article about Timmermans remarks.

      Too much, too soon appeared to swamp the absorptive capacity of the host communities, similar to how desert thunderstorms overwhelm thin, hard soil to absorb the runoff, leading to inundations.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Moreover it was a French charity group running the ship. I heard on French radio (France Culture) that they were going to dock in “Valence” thinking, that’s weird, Valence…? Then I realized that it was the French translation of Valencia, Spain.

    3. Kurt Sperry

      A recent train border crossing from Italy to France at Ventimiglia was nothing like crossing from one Northern European country to another. There were soldiers with submachine guns and papers were being checked as the passengers were being transfered to French trains—and you can probably guess who were being specially picked out for checks by the French authorities. And it’s been like this for a while. The EU border between Switzerland and France, which has ungated small roads crossing it, is probably less controlled.

  17. Jean

    “The study by the team consisted of analyzing IQ test results from young men entering Norway’s national service (compulsory military duty) during the years 1970 to 2009.” “…researchers found that scores declined by an average of seven points per generation.”

    Have demographics changed in Norway since 1970?

  18. Jason Boxman

    The nuclear blast story doesn’t get into the non zero possibility that we mistake attribution and launch a nuclear strike that precipitates a full scale nuclear war.

    As it happens, I just ordered “The Doomsday Machine : Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner” yesterday. I’m tempted to get Perry’s “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink” as well.

    For interesting history, I recommend “Brotherhood of the Bomb” as well. I don’t specifically seek out books on the topic, it just sort of happened that way.

    1. voteforno6

      I remember a classroom lecture once, from someone who had been a missile launch officer with the Air Force. He mentioned that one of the ideas kicking around the strategic community in the Air Force, was to detonate a small nuke in an unpopulated part of the USSR, as a show of resolve. I was more than a little gobsmacked at how this could even be a serious suggestion.

  19. Jim Haygood

    Qualcomm chipsets such as Snapdragon 820 and Snapdragon 617.are said to be used in half to two-thirds of ZTE’s phones.

    US Dept of Commerce’s 7-year ban on Qualcomm sales to ZTE, announced in April, likely would be a fatal blow if not reversed. Likewise, ZTE’s loss of its Android license would be a nuclear winter event for the company.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s a lesson Beijing is quite familiar with.

      From Wikipedia:

      Killing the Chickens, to Scare the Monkeys is a 2011 short film directed by Jens Assur. The story is set in the People’s Republic of China and consists of nine scenes where national politics and strategy have unforeseen consequences on a young teacher’s life. The first scene of the movie is a 15-minute single take, without cuts.

      The idea for the movie is based on a photograph, smuggled out of China, depicting a group of prisoners kneeling, awaiting their execution. Around the group, people can be seen chatting and even laughing.

      The title paraphrases an old Chinese idiom “Kill the chicken to scare the monkey” (杀鸡儆猴, lit. kill chicken scare monkey), which refers to making an example out of someone in order to threaten others.[1] The movie implies that the Chinese government policy of executing dissidents is meant to deter others.

  20. Louis Fyne

    The backstory of the raccoon is that it was (ironically) scared up higher by well-intentioned, but misguided efforts to bring the raccoon down from a ground floor ledge.

    Happens with cats and lower levels of trees too.

    Leave wild animals alone. They’ll figure it out. Unless someone scares a raccoon up 28 floors. Then you have to intervene.

  21. LC

    RE: Uber CEO says New York City should charge a fee on all ride-hailing trips to help out struggling taxi drivers

    A horrifying lack of humanity, I hope I live to see the day that CEOs like Khosrowshahi, Bezos, and so many more, meet their just deserts, but it won’t undo the unleashed misery and lives lost.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Or Uber and its ilk could take some to the billions they harvested killing off public transportation and set up a nice fund that would provide a minimum basic income for all those drivers. And then we could make all the other job-killers contribute via, say, a tex, er, I mean fee.

      The absolute arrogance of these people is so pre-French Revolution I truly expect to hear from Marat any day now.

  22. diptherio

    Bartlett Naylor: The Banks Are Becoming Untouchable Again [Seeking Alpha]

    “The President signed S2155 last week. This bill has 40 or so provisions in it. The most troubling one reduces what’s known as enhanced supervision for a class of banks that are between $50 billion and $250 billion in assets.

    Enhanced supervision means tighter capital controls. Capital is assets minus liabilities — the amount of net worth, if you will, of the particular bank. You think of banks of being very solid; but in fact, they’re in hock. They are highly leveraged. 95% of their assets are financed by debt. They really don’t own that much. They mostly owe things.

    Stress tests will be reduced…

    Collectively, these are two dozen banks. So you’ve got 25 o[f] the 38 largest banks took about $50 billion in TARP money. They’re not the Boy Scout banks either. We’re talking about all the misconduct at JP Morgan. About half of them have misconduct charges against them just in the last half decade. That’s the most troubling provision.

    It also turns back the Volcker Rule. That’s the restriction on gambling within the bank, a general restriction…

    There are also a dozen or more consumer protection rollbacks….”

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Antidote. Cat gets confused when glass top removed.

    Hopefully we don’t have that problem with the glass ceiling removed.

    And even if we do, that’s no reason to not remove it.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That was a smart cat that. Went through the table so turned around, stretched up and then felt for the glass surface to see what had gone wrong. Want to know the difference between a human and a cat? The human would have tried jumping onto the table a second time.

    1. Poopinator

      The Dems have been cozying up to the intelligence and law enforcement agencies for the past 20 years now. They defend the likes of criminals like Clapper while turning their backs on ethical whistleblowers almost reflexively at this point. Their midterm efforts are completely dependent on the efforts of federal prosecutors and intelligence services while they completely ignore any social and economic messaging to drive the vote. Odd that these agencies used to be at war with traditional Democratic principles, but it’s hard to deny that Democrats have long abandoned defenses of the 1st and 4th amendments while forging much stronger alliances with their old foes.

    2. JTMcPhee

      So it’s not really a political party at all any more, just an appendage of the thing the Dulleses and Wild Bill Donovan and Bill Casey and the rest have wrought, that looks so much just like the world’s largest, best funded, nastiest, most powerful Syndicate operation. I wonder if the Genovese familiglia or one of the drug cartels might take a run some day at knocking off the Director and installing themselves as the capo di tutti capi… money, power, violence, unaccountability, obscurity, ubiquity, oh, and don’t forget the opium crops turned to heroin, and all the rest. They do “Intelligence” only to augment their power and reach. All to make sure “their SOBs” end up ruling everything.

      More and more, it seems to me that there is no way to ever rid the larger human structure of such vicious parasites. Short of burning down the house, or nuking it…

  24. PKMKII

    Rees-Mogg’s comments are a clear indication that the hard brexiters have moved into the preemptive damage control/blameshifting for when everything goes belly up. Start attributing all the problems Britain will have to those deceitful continentals for not rolling over and giving Britain everything it wants. Not the Tories’ fault, and certainly not a reason to vote for Labor.

    Tangentially, except the same sort of maneuvers from Trump if any of his trade bargains end up screwing over America.

  25. derechos

    The Angry Bear article is derived from a review of a book authored by Miranda Carter. But Ms. Carter has just authored an article in The New Yorker “What Happens When a Bad-Tempered, Distractible Doofus Runs an Empire?” It’s a better read than the Angry Bear, and from the source.

    “The real lesson of Kaiser Wilhelm II, however, may be that Trump’s leaving office might not be the end of the problems he may bring on or exacerbate—it may be only the beginning.”

  26. ChrisPacific

    Re: Brexit

    I think when North goes off on one of his detailed legalistic tangents, he is trying to make the point that details are important, they matter, there are a lot of them and nobody in the government is actually engaged in the work of dealing with them. I agree that it’s not an effective tactic for reaching the general public. I find them useful for understanding the scale of the problem in different contexts, but I’m not the kind of reader he is trying to convince.

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