Links 7/19/18

Collapse of civilizations worldwide defines youngest unit of the Geologic Time Scale International Commission on Stratigraphy. News you can use!

Lawmaker Questions U.S. Trustee Over McKinsey’s Conflict Disclosures Gretchen Morgenson and Tom Corrigan, WSJ

Senators Want to Sneak Safety Exemptions for Self-Driving Cars Into Law StreetsBlog USA

Can we remove a trillion tons of carbon from the atmosphere? Ecologist

The myth of clean natural gas The Week

Penalty for poisoning Lake Michigan ‘unjustifiably low,’ surfers say as they seek to restart lawsuit vs. U.S. Steel Chicago Reader

People Are Literally Being Poisoned’: How Sewage Problems in Alabama Got So Bad — and Why Other States Should Worry Governing


Brexit: closing in EU Referendum. Yikes.

EU calms Varadkar’s fears of physical Border checks after Brexit Irish Times

Luxury London homes being sold in bulk as demand drops FT

Fast Food Nation: Inside India’s Growing Crisis Der Spiegel


Balding Out Balding’s World (MsExpat). “I am leaving China…” Well worth a read.

Xi Jinping ‘doesn’t intend to follow through’ on trade war talks and local Chinese officials are ‘like mafioso dons’, says top Donald Trump adviser Larry Kudlow South China Morning Post

Trump’s Trade War May Spark a Chinese Debt Crisis Bloomberg

China admits to revising padded corporate profits Nikkei Asian Review

Blood Pressure Medicine Is Recalled NYT. “‘It’s not just valsartan,’ [Dr. Harry Lever, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic] said. ‘It’s becoming very difficult for me to write prescriptions at all. There are so many drugs that are coming in from India and China and companies are buying and selling each other and you don’t know what’s what.'”

AI arms race: the Chinese Communist party entangles big tech FT

AI can be sexist and racist — it’s time to make it fair Nature

New Cold War

Tales of the New Cold War: 1 of 2: Trump & Putin speak of war and treason. Stephen F. Cohen @NYU @Princeton (podcast) The John Batchelor Show. Part 2. Normally, I would never say a podcast with no transcript is a must-listen. But this is refreshingly sane, so grab a cup of coffee.

Helsinki Talks – How Trump Tries To Rebalance The Global Triangle Moon of Alabama

BAR Book Forum: Jeremy Kuzmarov’s and John Marciano’s “The Russians are Coming, Again” Black Agenda Report

A walk on the wild side as Trump meets Putin at Finland station Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

Climb Down From the Summit of Hostile Propaganda Consortium News. Oddly, no coverage of the open letter mentioned in the artiicle.

Why Trump Is Getting Away With Foreign-Policy Insanity Foreign Policy. “Although ‘the Blob’ has reined Trump in to some degree, the relentless drumbeat of criticism from angry liberal interventionists and equally vehement ‘never Trump’ neoconservatives hasn’t had much impact on Trump’s support or on the president’s own convictions. The question is, why?” Because they’ve lost legitimacy. And for good reason.

Democrats want Trump’s interpreter to testify before Congress CNN. I don’t think the Norms Fairy would like that…

* * *

Mueller Reveals Russia Investigation Just Elaborate Sting To Nail Clinton Child Sex-Slavery Ring The Onion

From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered NYT

What Mueller’s Latest Indictment Reveals About Russian and U.S. Spycraft The Intercept. Surely the more sophisticated our techniques are revealed to be, the greater attribution issues become?

Uncomfortable Questions in the Wake of Russia Indictment 2.0 and Trump’s Press Conference With Putin Lawfare

In recording, Netanyahu boasts Israel convinced Trump to quit Iran nuclear deal Times of Israel

Imperial Collapse Watch

War Doesn’t Make Sense Anymore The American Conservative

Special Operations Forces Continue to Expand Across the World—Without Congressional Oversight The Nation

Democrats in Disarray

Democrats’ 2018 slogan: “For the People” Axios. Please kill me now.

Measure to break California into 3 states removed from November ballot after court ruling CNN


Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before) Counterpunch

Health Care

Exclusive: Over 60 House Democrats are forming a Medicare for All Caucus Vice. So long as they don’t water it down. Start with making “free at the point of care” a non-negotiable demand, which would make that pretty hard.

Health Insurers Are Vacuuming Up Details About You — And It Could Raise Your Rates Pro Publica (MV).

Class Warfare

CEOs vs. Workers Jacobin

Huge Increase in Large Work Stoppages Seen in 2018 Medium

Sisters in Arms NYRB

Lula’s party weighs Brazil northeast vote in search for stand-in: sources Reuters

Former Brazilian President’s Kafkaesque Imprisonment: Defense Lawyer Valeska Martins Speaks Out TruthDig

Getting by in Venezuela: Chronicles of Survival and Hope Venezuelanalysis

Dispatches From Mexico’s Southern Border: First in a Series Lawfare

Thai boys recount cave rescue: Voices in dark, then ‘hello’ Associated Press

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. ambrit

    Thanks for the link to the stratigraphy article. The older ‘boundary’ mentioned as a time scale measurement is 11,800 years BP, or, roughly the Younger Dryas period. At the very least, this demonstrates that the idea of severe climate disruptions having measurable impacts on human civilizations has ‘arrived.’ Pseudo Darwinian gradualism is gradually giving was to ‘Punctuated Equilibrium’ as the defining evolutionary mechanism.
    Punctuated Equilibrium:
    Younger Dryas:

    1. John Merryman.

      Keep in mind the equilibrium stage is equally dynamic, but as it is about filling every niche and using every resource, the selection is for specialization and complexity, until they are maxed out. Then the punctuation stage selects for adaptability and luck….
      Expansion, consolidation.
      It’s still survival of the fittest.

      1. ambrit

        Point taken. Die offs have their place in the scheme of things. (I do not posit ‘Divine Intervention’ as a driver of evolution.)

  2. fresno dan

    Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before) Counterpunch

    If that happened, there would be a quick call for gun control from the right. It happened before. In 1967, a coalition of California Republicans and Democrats, responding to “copwatching” by armed members of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, passed the Mulfrod Act (named after a Republican Assemblyman), banning the public carrying of loaded guns. Governor Ronald Reagan quickly signed the bill into law.
    Republicans in California eagerly supported increased gun control. Governor Reagan told reporters that afternoon that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” He called guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.” In a later press conference, Reagan said he didn’t “know of any sportsman who leaves his home with a gun to go out into the field to hunt or for target shooting who carries that gun loaded.” The Mulford Act, he said, “would work no hardship on the honest citizen.”
    Its funny how open carry is never allowed at political conventions….

    1. Expat

      This tactic shows how desperate and divided the country is. This is a logical step from no longer acting “nice”.
      Looking back on history we see that radicalization can make the other side panic and settle in the middle. Without the Black Panthers, would MLK have been allowed to march? MLK would have been tarred as a communist, fascist (well, if GWB had been there) and a hater of America. Instead, white racists looked at Huey Newton and Bobby Seale and decided that MLK looked pretty reasonable.

      Imagine one thousand armed liberals wearing rainbow shirts and sipping espressos chanting slogans at a MAGA rally.

      1. marym

        Chronology for MLK/BPP is:

        Montgomery bus boycott 1955, SCLC founded 1957, Birmingham protests 1963, March on Washington 1963, Civil Rights Act 1964, Voting Rights Act 1965, Selma-Montgomery Marches 1965, Chicago Freedom Movement 1966, BPP founded October 1966

        “allowed to march” during that timeframe is a debatable description, but if you mean that some segments of white people supported a non-violent civil rights movement, that wasn’t directly attributable to the BPP at the time.

        1. Expat

          My comments disappear into the ether. I wanted to amend my reply, but can’t.
          While the BPP was formally founded in 1966, there was already a fear of black violence. The Nation of Islam dates back to the 30’s. The Watts Riots were in 1965.
          In any case, the BPP was not founded on the spot, on a whim. The idea, the politics and the people were acting on the Civil Rights movement through the post-War period and certainly contemporaneously with the non-violent movements associated with MLK.

          1. marym

            There are always white people claiming to be afraid of black violence, regardless of the power balance, who personally or institutionally is actually being violent toward whom, and the specific protest tactics. 400 years of it.

        2. Oregoncharles

          I think the corrected point might be that the BPP (and the Deacons in the South, as well as other, more violent movements) were inspired by the Civil Rights movement, then in turn inspired white racist resignation and an ultimate settlement, which has now come undone. We might have to go through a few more cycles before we’re done.

      2. pretzelattack

        yes and i think that’s one reason lbj supported the civil rights act of 1965. and the bonus army eventually led to the new deal. but our current leaders are loathe to compromise. i’m expecting more ludlow massacres.

        1. Procopius

          1965? I haven’t looked it up, but besides the Watts riots, weren’t there riots in Baltimore and New York that year? Maybe Chicago? I seem to recall there was a Congressional Investigation into the causes of the riots that concluded it was primarily from lack of opportunity: joblessness, school segregation, unaffordable housing, inadequate food stores, etc.

      3. Richard

        I don’t think white racists ever thought MLK was anything but a radical, communist n-word. Nobody was settling for anything, incuding MLK himself. And then they shot him.
        I think you have a point about radicalism pushing certain elites towards reform, but the MLK-Panther dyad may not be the place to find examples.

        1. Procopius

          I believe the right have never given any concession except when they were genuinely fearful of Communism. My argument is somewhat undercut by the fact that they started implementing the Lewis Memo in Carter’s administration, and the Soviet Union didn’t collapse until 1989, and no one (hi, there, intelligence community) predicted it.

    2. Carla

      “Its funny how open carry is never allowed at political conventions….”

      Or in any statehouse, courthouse or other government building.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Armed guards and detectors protect the White House, statehouses, courthouses, and other buildings mentioned above.

        Little people walking down a street can’t be sure of the same level of safety. To get to that level, you have to require people getting out of their apartment buildings to go through a detector and pass armed guards before stepping onto the sidewalk.

      2. pretzelattack

        heh i can picture the nra saying we simply must arm more judges and politicians. “it takes a good politician with a gun etc.”

      3. Amfortas the Hippie

        The Big Pink Granite Dome(*) in Austin, Texas allows open carry, so long as you have the little card.
        But they don’t allow tampons anymore, apparently.

        (* )

    3. Carolinian

      That’s a silly article since the issue is not “open carry” but gun ownership. Only a few wackos feel the need to walk around carrying their assault rifles. What Reagan did as governor was open carry control, not gun control. Therefore it didn’t “work” before.

      1. fresno dan

        July 19, 2018 at 9:55 am

        the vast majority of states allow people to carry. the article is saying that if liberals (well, blacks) actually took gun rights enthusiasts up on it, the laws would change right quick.

        1. John B

          Two other problems with the proposal. First, guns really do result in more suicides, accidental shootings, and domestic murders. Not good things for the left to encourage. Second, all existing gun manufacturers as far as I know are owned by right-wing zealots. It would be senseless to fund them.

          Things might be different if the Navahos had been able to buy Remington and manufacturer safer smart guns. Perhaps a reason their bid was rejected – the NRA may think more strategically about these things.

          1. Procopius

            They (the Navajo) were able to. They just didn’t have enough money and couldn’t afford to buy enough ammunition. Sure, it was illegal, but when has that ever stopped American entrepreneurs?

      2. Andrew Watts

        Deliberately stoking ethnic tension through armed intimidation in this country is unhinged. Not silly. That’s also ignoring the fact that he is openly advocating terrorism as defined by the post-9/11 laws. But hey, it’s not like he’ll ever have to bear the consequences of his proposal.

        I’m reminded of the fact that most non-white “extremists” like the Panthers end up dead or in jail and their wealthy white counterparts like the Weathermen lawyer themselves up instead. Gun control is pretty much only a political priority for affluent urbanites. You know, the same people who demand the government institutes strict security measures like the security theater and/or the satanic abuse rituals of the TSA.

        Between this proposal and the number of times I’ve heard “white working class” I think us non-white folks should start taunting the liberal/progressives with a “not your n—-er” slogan. Particularly when they open their mouths with a stupid proposal that heightens the probability of a violent confrontation between people of color and the police.

      3. JBird

        Actually, the law was aimed at blacks, specifically the Black Panthers.

        As many California counties don’t issue cc permits, unless you are wealthy, connected, political donor, celebrity, and preferable white, While being an abused spouse, a courier, or small business owner in a bad area doesn’t count. That means more than half of Californians cannot carry arms at all as open carry is also illegal.

    4. Summer

      There is something to taking advantage of policies and flipping them on their heads.
      Movements should also take advantage of dark money rules. Nothing will work like anti-establisment groups using dark money effectively to prompt a change.

      1. ambrit

        The trouble with that idea is that “money” tends to accumulate in the hands of people who love money. A most un-progressive process. Do notice that the more militant radical Left groups often began their campaigns with “money” raising processes like bank robberies and the like.
        The main difference that I can see is the degree of ‘legality’ associated with the money accumulation processes used by either ‘side’ in this.

        1. Shane Mage

          Yes, it’s not entirely untrue that “radical Left groups often began their campaigns with “money” raising processes like bank robberies and the like.” But it’s often true as well that those “processes” are the work of police agents, always to be found somewhere in every “radical Left group.” An excellent example is a certain Josef Djugashvili who established a police file in Tiflis, Georgia, in the early 20th century, as a notorious bank robber. Djugashvili was ultimately arrested, but the Okhrana made sure he received relatively lenient treatment as a “political exile” (which was a great help to his further activities) rather than being sentenced to one of the Tsar’s brutal penal colonies.

          1. ambrit

            True about the Georgian lapsed seminarian, but, do notice the organization he eventually ended up working in and then leading: the Bolsheviks. He and Lenin both accepted crimes against banks and other property as legitimate methods of raising funds for the Party.
            Also, the Georgian was sent to East Siberia by the Russian State. He had to escape back to Georgia. As with many figures where hagiography has fought it out with opposition propaganda, the first casualty is the objective truth.

            1. Procopius

              Yes, but I still believe in the old (Russian) saying, “Wherever three people meet to plot against the state, two of them are police spies.” During the ’50s we used to joke that if the government was serious about curtailing the Communist party, all they had to do was have all their paid informers stop paying their dues. The Party would be broke in a week. Just as we see almost all the “terrorist” convictions are brought about by paid informers providing the planning, money, weapons, and training.

    5. Elizabeth Burton

      I love how it’s automatically accepted that only right-wing maniacs own guns, so obviously the answer is for all those gun-hating lefties to overcome their aversions an arm up.

      1. Lost in OR

        It’s interesting how this discussion devolves into a left/right dichotomy. Perhaps that’s as it should be.

        Did you notice the restraint and forbearance authorities extended the crew holed at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

        Did you notice the same restraint and forbearance extended Occupy, or Dakota access, or Ferguson, or …

        Perhaps the founding fathers knew something we’ve forgotten regarding defense against a recalcitrant oligarchy and its enablers/enforcers.

      2. RMO

        I’m pretty far left and I like guns and shooting… I’m also Canadian though so I have both a different set of laws around firearms possession and use and come from a very different culture regarding firearms. All I have now are low-powered airguns including an older 10M Olympic target rifle because target shooting is all I ever do.

    6. Seth A Miller

      When I was coming back from the Women’s March, with my wife and daughter and friends, I had the sputtering inspiration to ask, on the bus, after seeing literally over a million people protesting in Washington, “imagine if this was all open carry?”

      Nobody, not even my family and friends, thought it was funny. Or even shrewd.

      OTOH, a million people mustering arms one day after inauguration day would truly be a “demonstration” of the power of protest.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Too bad the culture does not support other means of dealing with nasty human poop and pee, like via composting, or using marshes, stuff like that. Because poop processing just HAS to be done in huge industrial scale “plants” requiring lots of energy and expensive infrastructure and of course, FINANCING AND INSURANCE. And lawyers and economists and all….

      Because corruption and money.

      1. JamesG

        New York City used to dump untreated sewerage in Jamaica Bay, located south of heavily-populated Brooklyn and Queens.

        It stank to high heaven especially al low tide.

        Dumping poop in a “marsh” or a bay makes sense only if there are no people in the vicinity.

          1. JTMcPhee

            The Kolkata system, which is also used in a couple of places in South America, is what I had in mind. And I visited Jamaica Bay by boat and car back when they sewage it directly. There of course were the sewage barges and garbage barges that ran the Big Apple people’s offal out a little ways into the approaches to NY harbor and dumped it, making a dead zone in the public waters… Now, Noo Yawk’s public works are so much more Sophisticated… Fresh Kills, and places like that, great place to dump a body and feed the seagulls…

            It’s only people like most of us who participate or lurk here at NC, that keep somewhere in mind the under-story of how the culture and political economy actually operates. And are aware of, and so frustrated at, how little most people (especially the rich folks) think or care about our own home-grown and bigger-world Godzillas that are breeding up in the toxic muck we generate so heedlessly.

      2. heresy101

        Composting toilets are available and range
        from $1,500 per single toilet

        to $5,000 for central composting toilets

        Compared to costs of septic tanks in clay, these may be the more economic and environmental solutions when a municipal sewage system isn’t available, and when they are available if they aren’t environmentally well run.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Another approach is several 5-gallon pails and some peat moss or similar absorbent and a cheap toilet seat. You can build an enclosure out of a sheet of plywood and some 1x2s and screws or nails and, for extra security, some construction adhesive. Paint it up nice for cleanliness. Plans are readily available, along with lots of anecdotes and experience from people who actually use them.

          I’ve lived with a couple of home-made jobs for a while, and if one takes a little care, they are essentially odor-free. One can add some PVC pipe and maybe a little computer fan powered by your solar array to move any odor from the contents outside the dwelling. Some folks have success putting the urine in with the “stuff,” others not so much. Anyone seen “The Big Chill”? Jeff Goldblum peeing outside the funereal church, observing he “loves nature — it’s one great big toilet.” When the bucket gets a little full, you swap it out for one of the others.

          The $1500 to $5000 systems are not much more complex than the bucket and sphagnum, though “higher tech” of course.

          But not too many folks want to do “icky” stuff like handle their own bucket full of “stuff.” So they don’t know better, or can’t do better, than people in other places who crap in the streams and rivers and canals, with attendant public-health consequences. Outhouses and cesspits are maybe better than septic systems that don’t work because of the soil characteristics.

          1. Grebo

            When my well pump failed recently I procured myself an emergency toilet: one 5 gallon bucket with lid $8, one bag of sawdust $0.

            Fortunately I was able to hold it in until I got to work, but my research indicates it would be fine if a little uncomfortable. Has to beat making like a bear anyway.

  3. David May

    Re: Mueller Reveals Russia Investigation Just Elaborate Sting To Nail Clinton Child Sex-Slavery Ring The Onion

    Giving the Onion’s record of being preternaturally prescient, I would wager that headline contains a whopping, huge nugget of truth.

  4. Clive

    Re: “Democrats’ 2018 slogan: “For the People” “

    Oh pish Lambert, don’t be so sniffy. It’s in fact a very valid tag line and completely accurate. I’d go so far as to call it a policy statement. The key to understanding it is, of course, to determine which people the Democrats are for.

    To retort, that the old adage applies — if you have to ask, you’re not one of them.

    1. Eureka Springs

      My thought as well. For the Rich People.

      The absence of “by the people”, is anti democratic, wholly Democratic, blaring that party’s actual contempt for the rest of the people is implicit in their choice of – for the people exclusively. It’s not like:

      By the People
      For the People

      Wouldn’t fit on a t-shirt or bumper sticker.

      1. polecat

        “for ‘HER’ people” …
        Which leaves out a rather deplorably large segment of the eloi.

        1. Hepativore

          But you see, the baskets of deplorables in the South and Midwestern flyover country are not really human in the eyes of the Clintonites and the Democratic party leadership, so who cares if the ungrateful rabble languishes. After all, it is not like the inhabitants of these places actually matter to the Democrats.

    2. Richard

      I envision a focus group:
      “Now what are we for?”
      “People say we’re not actually for anything you know.”
      “I know!
      “Let’s do it by letter. P!”
      “For the planets!” “For the pants!” “For the parrots!”
      “NO! That gets too interesting. People are going to want to know: Which Planet? Which pants or parrots do you support? Then we get stuck providing concrete material benefits. We need something that technically answers the question, but leaves you feeling dead inside!”
      “What about people?”
      “What about them? Jesus Harry, we’re talking politics. Can we just forget about the people for a second? ”
      “No, I mean, what about “For The People”
      “Oh. Um…bingo.”

      1. fresno dan

        July 19, 2018 at 9:00 am

        considering that they don’t seem to want, or be able to win, why not just be honest:
        F*CK the people

    3. pretzelattack

      the original was probably “to serve the people”, but somebody had seen the old tz episode.

    4. Carla

      This reminds of the directive Jeptha Wade put into the deed when he signed over the site for the future Cleveland Museum of Art. He decreed that the museum would be “For the Benefit of All the People Forever.” To this day, the Cleveland Museum of Art is free and open to the public (there are admission fees for some special exhibitions).

      I think ‘ole Jeptha’s version is a lot better than the Democrats’.

      1. John Wright

        An example of an art minded individual’s (Albert Barnes) legacy wish being overruled by well-connected others is covered by the film

        The Barnes’ art collection was valued at $25 billion and Philadelphia wanted it moved to Philadelphia as a tourist attraction.

        This has a quote from Roger Ebert:

        “It is perfectly clear exactly what Barnes specified in his will. It was drawn up by the best legal minds. It is clear that what happened to his collection was against his wishes. It is clear that the city fathers acted in obviation of those wishes, and were upheld in a court of appeals. What is finally clear: It doesn’t matter a damn what your will says if you have $25 billion, and politicians and the establishment want it.”

      1. Eureka Springs

        Yeah like, despite your constant gagging, little one, you will eat all of your boiled canned spinach. And still vote for us.

        “Love me, I’m a liberal.”

    5. Brindle

      There is an energized segment of the Dem base—the Sanders/ Ocasio-Cortez rally for friday in Wichita, Kansas has been moved from 1,400 person venue to a 5,000 person one.

      “At the Century II, “we can go all the way up to 5,000 if we need to,” Yeager said. “There’s been overwhelming interest . . . and we want to try to accommodate everybody who wants to come.”

      1. CalypsoFacto

        for those who are unaware, Wichita is also the hometown of the Koch family empire and the state has been ridden roughshod by Brownback’s (Koch lackey governor for 7 years) policies. So this big surge of support for socially democratic/Bernie-style policies in this specific area is possibly a significant indicator of things to come?

        See here on the Koch control of Wichita: In Wichita, Koch Influence is Revered and Reviled

        1. Richard

          Thanks for that info, Calypso. It shows that Bernie and AOC have the right idea about where to rally.

    6. bassmule

      I think it provides a refreshing contrast to the Republican 2018 slogan:

      “For The People Who Have The Most Money.”

    7. Altandmain

      Perhaps they should say “For the upper 10 percent and especially the top 0.1 percent of people” as their slogan.

    8. hemeantwell

      There’s more than a little unintended reference to the presidential candidate in Scorcese’s Taxi Driver, so vapidly “For the People” that it made DeNiro’s plan to pop him understandable.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Luxury London homes being sold in bulk as demand drops FT

    For obvious reasons, the UK media are restrained on this topic, but I think the overall evidence is that the housing market in London (at least) has just gone over a cliff. There is usually a significant lag – maybe 18 months or so – between the evidence of a property boom peaking and a drop in supply (since banks are usually very reluctant to pull the plug on a development once work starts on site as they don’t like the message this sends). There is a huge wave of supply hitting the market just when it seems both domestic and foreign buyers have dried up.

    The big question of course is just how exposed the major UK banks are to something like this. With a no-deal Brexit just 8 months away, we could be looking at the perfect storm for the UK economy.

    1. vlade

      A friend of mine was trying to sell his Kensington 2bd apartment for 18 months now? He just missed the peak (and he managed to buy at the 2008 peak too, poor guy).

      1. PlutoniumKun

        And based on the link above:

        Trump’s Trade War May Spark a Chinese Debt Crisis Bloomberg

        Chinese investors could save the day …

        Chinese investors have been buying official assurances for a year that the renminbi would be a fortress, but now they’re not so sure and are exporting money again: May saw net capital outflows and a decline in the foreign-exchange reserves. The currency is the most visible sign of slippage in the image that China tries to project of an economy so brilliantly managed that the bright sun of GDP expansion is untroubled by even temporary clouds on trade, employment or consumption.

        But probably won’t, as they’ll surely note that they are in danger of losing their shirts if they buy London property as a hedge against a weakening Yuan.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          China still has plenty of options because they have a sovereign currency. Unfortunately the U.S. does not have a sovereign currency, because the USD is created by commercial banks

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Can we remove a trillion tons of carbon from the atmosphere?”: ‘George’s collected scientific data was destroyed under Canadian federal warrant before the experiment could be completed for review.’

    I bet that would have been under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. That man has a lot to answer for.

    1. liam

      That was a fascinating interview, but it left me wondering how we’d disrupted the natural seeding of the oceans with iron dust, and what are the objections. It was unclear on neither point.

        1. Shane Mage

          The “natural seeding of the oceans with iron dust” is described with total clarity: the iron dust is a component of the natural deposition of sand raised by winds from the Sahara and similar deserts. Which have not been intensified by anthropogenic disruption (unless it turns out that global heating also *intensifies* such storms, which would be a slight positive). What has been disrupted is–everything else important to the health of the oceans.

          1. liam

            So the green photosynthetic productivity in the ocean is down by 40-50 percent. That is the conservative data backed numbers for the collapse of phytoplankton in the worlds ocean…

            …But in every five year period of time since 1950, there has been a loss of green plant life equal to an entire Amazon in the worlds oceans. So here we are. A dozen Amazons have gone missing from the world.

            I might be a bit dense, but it seems to me that he’s talking in absolute terms, not relative. The decline in absolute biomass levels is not explained. He posits a straightforward link between iron and biomass in certain contexts. The contexts are skimmed over.

            I’m not trying the criticize the interview. It was fascinating, but left me with questions.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yeah, its a very difficult issue. I think most sensible people are rightly wary about geoengineering proposals, but at this stage we may have no choice whatever, but to look very hard and very quickly at proposals like this. There is simply no realistic possibility of reducing CO2 emissions within the necessary time period through conventional means. The problem is that these ocean experiments seem to be currently illegal under international law – it seems ironic that you can chuck as much carbon dioxide or methane into the atmosphere legally, but you can’t do something like this.

        I’m no expert on the topic, but from my reading other experiments with iron seeding have been disappointing. Unsurprisingly, ecosystems tend to turn out to be far more complicated than we can predict. It may only work in very localised areas where the conditions are particularly suitable, such as where you have very powerful ocean eddies.

        I’ve done some reading in the past on the use of Olivine for ocean treatment. The theory is that if you dump large quantities into active coastal zones natural wave action will break down the rock (a magnesium iron silicate) and this will cause a reaction with will both take in CO2 and alkanize the sea waters. I’ve seen an estimate that just opening one large mine in Norway and dumping it off the UK and Ireland could sequester about 5% of world emissions while benefiting ocean ecosystems by reducing acidity. Maybe a combination of this and iron seeding in territorial waters might be a ‘quick and drity’ way of buying us more time.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Like a faithful religious believer, I pray it will work…if we say, here, that the scientists involved are not 100.00000% sure, and all knowledge is provisional.

          Others will choose not to pray, realizing that life is a gamble.

          “As the science officer on board this starship, I won’t say I hope you get well from your bad health. It’s not about hoping. You have a 40% chance. What is is. We Vulcans don’t pray.”

        2. Brooklin Bridge

          I see at least two problems with this. One is the same problem with any “risky” technology such as nuclear power – less with the technology itself than the corruption saturated environment (political, social, economic) of those wielding it. Too easy for politicians and big business to use as political football, or as another profit making scheme whose defining principal is to ignore and minimize dangers and safe guards. The other issue is that focus on Hail Mary(s) diverts attention from critical core issues such as the dependence on perpetual “gwoth” that we seem to have built into our collective global psyche, never mind our political and economic systems and regardless of their type.

          Curiously, I still agree that we may not have a choice in the matter – but that doesn’t negate the above concerns.

      2. Oregoncharles

        It might be just plain cyclic, like, eg, the ice ages.

        So what’s different here is huge load of CO2 from human interference, requiring a much higher level of iron fertilization to deal with it.

        Aside from raising soil humus levels, unfortunately a relatively tiny area, this is the one form of geo-engineering that appeals to me at all. Destroying the data was profoundly irresponsible, and I suspect it was caused by some environmentalists freaking out. Yes, there would doubtless be disadvantages; there always are. But if he’s right about the salmon returning, they might well be worth it.

        The obvious disadvantage is that the effect is temporary; you have to keep doing it. The long-term suggestion is to apply the fertilizer over subduction zones, so the fixed carbon that doesn’t get eaten has a shot a t long-term storage.

    2. JTMcPhee

      A little thought experiment: you are a scientist who discovers, working mostly on your own, the actual butterfly wing that it turns out can in fact be directed and tuned to affect the weather (for bad or good) anywhere in the world, over a fairly short period of time. How would you put that knowledge and capacity to use?

      Change the fact pattern: you are the general in charge of the super secret Weather Command of the US imperial forces. Your loyal staff, dedicated to the mission, reports success in tuning the flutter of a butterfly wing to affect the weather, for good or bad, anywhere on the planet. How would you put that knowledge and capability to use?

      Last case: You are Dr. Evil, and your laboratories and genius have figured out how to use a fluttering butterfly wing to control the weather (for bad or good) anywhere in the world. How would you use that power?

  7. Expat

    Tales of the Cold War:
    The speaker is misrepresenting much of history. While the CIA was often (always?) a rogue agency, much of what he cites as being justified, analyzed or promoted by the CIA was created and driven by the White House. No one at CIA told Nixon to bomb Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam. CIA told Bush and Rice that there were no WMD in Iraq.
    I don’t trust the NSA, CIA, et al, but we now have the FBI as well as foreign intelligence and counter-intelligence agencies saying it occurred.
    Trump’s denial have never been about denying that Russia interfered. It has always been about collusion and the legitimacy of his election. He will not admit to facts, even if we have to think carefully about the source, no matter what.
    Based on Trump’s record, I must, while swallowing back a bit of bile, side with CIA on this one. How dreadful is that!

    1. pretzelattack

      tenet wasn’t the cia? remember “slam dunk, mr. president? the fbi as legitimate source? cointelpro?
      make the evidence available so we can judge it for ourselves. the sources and methods excuse is, imo, bullshit, as it was in the runup to the second iraq war.

      1. Carolinian

        Indeed. The notion that these agencies are some sort of disinterested truth tellers is not reflected by the history. They greatly exaggerated the Soviet threat in order to justify the Cold War. If you say they were told to do that by the politicians then why have an “intelligence” agency at all except as some sort of window dressing to deceive the public?

      2. Expat

        Cointelpro was domestic.
        Tenet maintains (yugely, strongly, loudly, and proudly) that his quote was mis-used. He said that they could fabricate a case for public consumption. Bush wanted to invade and told the CIA he wanted a reason. CIA said they had none but could make stuff up to suit. This doesn’t exonerate them, but it shifts the initiative to the White House.
        Basically, the intelligence community is the president’s private army. He directs them to do things and selectively chooses intel to suit his own plans, not theirs. I don’t think the CIA has any master plan other than keep the coke flowing from Colombia and the heroin from Afghnistan and Laos. It’s all money and power. The use and abuse of these agencies depends on the White House.

        1. todde

          The new leader of Democrats in the Senate says Donald Trump is being “really dumb” for picking a fight with intelligence officials, suggesting they have ways to strike back, after the president-elect speculated Tuesday that his “so-called” briefing about Russian cyberattacks had been delayed in order to build a case.

          “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Tuesday evening on MSNBC after host Rachel Maddow informed him that intelligence sources told NBC news that the briefing had not been delayed.

          That doesn’t sound like “The use and abuse of these agencies depends on the White House.”

          1. Expat

            There is a difference between attacking them and using them for whatever purpose the White House deems necessary, good, or in the interest of the corporation du jour.
            And I am not defending Tenet or CIA. If Tenet is telling the truth, it was far worse than if his quote is as per it was used by Bush. He himself is saying, “I don’t have proof, but I can cook it up since that is what you want.”
            The level of paranoia indicates that many of you believe that all the covert and not-so-covert operations and wars were carried out by CIA directly on their own initiative and then various administrations decided it was better to take the blame than be terminated with extreme prejudice. Who really thinks Kissinger was a terrified stooge and not a sociopath?

            1. Elizabeth Burton

              I have had a lifelong distrust of those who tell me they can’t tell me why, but that I should just take their word for something. That’s not paranoia; it’s common sense.

              When those vaunted intelligence agencies present me with actual, public proof Russia hacked the DNC and sufficiently interfered with the pre-election process it resulted in the election of Donald Trump, I will not accept their analyses. Period. There is no reason on earth that can’t be done if they actually have it; and since they have not once suggested such evidence would in any way threaten national security, they can put up or shut up.

              1. todde

                If the IC wants to take out a sitting President, they are going to have to burn some intelligence assets to do so.

                And if their ‘assets’ are of more concern to them then Trump being Putins stooge, that will tell us something.

            2. todde

              There is a difference between attacking them and using them

              Well, Trump IS attacking them, so I don’t see your point.

              The level of paranoia

              And if you want to call insisting that allegations be proven in open court “Paranoia” before I offer an opinion on the allegations you are welcome to do so.

            3. foghorn longhorn

              The elder bush the stupid was the director of the cia, his youngest spawn followed in his foot steps, the low energy spawn was slated to run against the hildebeast.
              Nothing to see hear, move along little dogie.

        2. Rojo

          That military branches and intelligence services have their own agendas isn’t particularly controversial. All bureaucracies have agendas that often conflict with the political leadership. Look at how big city mayors in the US tip-toe around police unions.

          We’ve seen the world over — Egypt recently — militaries overthrow leaders, even “strongmen” like Mubarak. And then an elected leader like Morsi.

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Basically, the intelligence community is the president’s private army. He directs them to do things and selectively chooses intel to suit his own plans, not theirs.

          And Trump is not taking advantage of that?

      1. t

        Allegations of KGB ties, which were denied and ruled defamatory in nature in court, included former (and current) Premier Romano Prodi, named as the “KGB’s man in Italy”, his staff, Hon. Massimo D’Alema, Hon. Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, General Giuseppe Cucchi (current director of the CESIS), Milan’s judges Armando Spataro, and Guido Salvini, both in charge of the Imam Rapito case, as well as La Repubblica reporters Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe D’Avanzo, who broke the Yellowcake forgery scandal. Also known as the “Niger uranium forgeries”, this latter affair refers to falsified classified documents provided by the Italian SISMI to US intelligence. These forgeries depicted an attempt by the regime of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger during the Iraq armament crisis, and was part of the rationale for the Iraq War cited by the Bush administration to invade Iraq in 2003.

        Pazienza claimed that Michael Ledeen “was the person responsible for dreaming up the ‘Bulgarian connection’ behind the plot to kill the Pope.”

        Ledeen admitted to the Vanity Fair to having been paid $10,000 by the SISMI in 1979 or 1980, allegedly on extradition matters with the US

        On December 1, 2006 several Italian newspapers published interceptions of telephone calls between Paolo Guzzanti and Mario Scaramella, a consultant on the Mitrokhin Commission, who became involved in the events surrounding the death of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in Great Britain on 23 November 2006[19]

        In the interceptions, Guzzanti declared that the Mitrokhin Commission’s unstated goal was to depict Romano Prodi and Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, leader of the Federation of the Greens and current Minister of Environment in Prodi’s government, as “agents of the KGB”, financed by Moscow in order to discredit him.

        The Mitrokhin Commission was shut down in March 2006 without any concrete result provided, and not one political figure was exposed by the allegations, despite months of press speculation alimented by Berlusconi family newspaper Il Giornale.[

    2. Shane Mage

      How can you have any trust at all for *anything* emanating from the “J. Edgar Hoover Building?”

      1. Olga

        Yes, anyone who is willing to state that he/she trusts cia should spend some time reading its history (or have the head examined).
        My distinct sense is that one big reason for the summit hysteria is that it was held in private. Imagine that! No way for the blob to influence what was said! And sure enough – sen. Sheehan called for a de-briefing of the translators!

      2. flora

        I wonder if politicians were shown their own files, as an inducement to “trust”. J. Edgar may be gone but his methods survive… ;)

        1. flora

          Call it a guaranteed job tenure for agency heads.

          The moment [Hoover] would get something on a senator,” said William Sullivan, who became the number three official in the bureau under Hoover, “he’d send one of the errand boys up and advise the senator that ‘we’re in the course of an investigation, and we by chance happened to come up with this data on your daughter. But we wanted you to know this. We realize you’d want to know it.’ Well, Jesus, what does that tell the senator? From that time on, the senator’s right in his pocket.

          But all that has changed, right?


          1. flora

            And, in no connection at all, in 2017 the FBI opened an investigation into Bernie Sanders’ wife Jane for fraud allegations during her time (2011) at Burlington College. The investigation is ongoing. Probably a coincidence.

            1. fresno dan

              July 19, 2018 at 12:23 pm

              It is simply astounding how Brennan was excoriated exposed in the media and now is used as a source of UNIMPEACHABLE info….

              1. fresno dan

                so much for my ability to “strike through”
                I wanted to just strike through “excoriated” and substitute just “exposed” but it struck through the rest of the sentence. I used in front of and in back of “excoriated” so I don’t know why the rest of the sentence was affected.

            2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Also coincidental that Sanders is for ‘investigating Russia.’

              We should not assume that being shown ‘his file,’ has influenced that position.

          2. Lord Koos

            The theory that the CIA has dirt on everybody important in D.C. would explain a lot. Who knows, maybe they had stuff on Obama too.

            As far as the CIA operating under presidential directive, I think sometimes yes, sometimes no. Wasn’t the CIA implicated in the assassination of JFK? Who ordered that one?

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      This entire fiasco was set up to, among other things, raise questions about the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency and to crucify him when he pushes back. Pure and simple.

      The idea that the cia is made up of “patriots” just doin’ their jobs is batshit crazy in the extreme. The cia has no right to expect or demand that the public accept its pronouncements without proof. The cia is not a religion and is not entitled to having its “findings” taken on “faith” in the institution.

      I recently watched and older movie called The Good Shepherd about the early days of the cia. In discussing the “agency,” one of the higher-ups is talking to agent Matt Damon. I’m paraphrasing:

      “Someone asked me why we don’t refer to ourselves as the cia, but only ‘cia.’ I told him that you don’t use the word ‘the’ when you’re talking about god, do you?”

      If they don’t produce real, verifiable PROOF, they need to STFU. This propaganda campaign is the surest sign yet that they think of the u.s. as just another one of their banana republic playgrounds. And if it’s allowed to happen this time, the game is well and truly over.

      1. Carolinian

        Ah but The Good Shepherd was about the old days when the CIA was the plaything of the Dulles brothers and the Skull and Bones WASP elite, not about our current two fisted terrorism fighting CIA. Treason expert John Brennan would never use his position for a “Chicago style” takeout of an opponent from the other party.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        Thanks to Obama, it is now one of their banana-republic playgrounds, since he signed off on allowing them to propagandize in the US.

      3. Aumua

        I think the average Joe liberal/anti-Trumpist is wiling to overlook a lot of uncomfortable things about the investigation simply because it makes Trump look bad. Their mindset is that the ends justify the means here, the ends being impeachment in some alternate universe or something.

    4. Plenue

      Facts, eh? Our spies haven’t provided any. They’ve just offered up a series of assertions. Even if for some insane reason we accept the IC as trustworthy, no in-depth look at the claims and indictments reveals any evidence. We’re just given accusations and told the evidence is all classified and we can’t see it right now, but trust us, we have it, honest.

      1. Bill Smith

        Assertions form the basis of an indictment. Facts about an assertions in an indictment are seen in a courthouse. In the case of the 12 GRU members the facts are unlikely to ever see the inside of a courthouse.

        1. Procopius

          I agree, the 2nd indictment was better thought out. I wish someone was covering the case of Concord Management, one of the three companies named in the 1st indictment. They actually sent some lawyers to the arraignment and demanded their right to enter a plea. When the DoJ lawyers tried to scramble back, saying they could not provide proof of proper service in Russia, the Concord lawyers waived the requirement and entered a demand for speedy trial. Now, I don’t know about civilian law, but under the UCMJ this demand puts tight time constraints on both sides, and the penalties for not meeting those deadlines are severe. The arraignment was back in May. The DoJ lawyers have been begging to judge to let them off the hook for discovery, saying that if they turn over the evidence they will reveal investigative techniques. Not classified techniques, but techniques used in ordinary investigations. I believe the judge is not buying it.

    5. Bill Smith

      The CIA believed that Saddam had WMD.

      The guy who wrote large parts of the CIA’s internal report on that intelligence failure wrote a book on it afterwards.

      “Why Intelligence Fails” by Robert Jervis

  8. Jim A.

    Brexit:There’s nothing really wrong with beginning negotiations with an implausibly long “wish list” of what you want. There’s REALLY something wrong with the fact that internal politics in the UK have meant that only now, with the sword of Damocles just 8 months away are the ready to START negotiations on the most momentous, complicated, and contentious piece diplomacy of the last 40 years. Only now has the UK chosen whether they will ask for a candy-crapping unicorn, or a flying fire engine that squirts chocolate. Neither of which is possible, but at least they give you something to negotiate away so that you can perhaps get to what you need.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Future historians will have some fun trying to work out how the hell the once mighty UK governmental system could make such an almighty mess of things. It defies believe that anyone thought issuing the A.50 decaration before having a clear idea of what they wanted was a good idea.

      The fact that they’ve wasted 18 months still arguing is downright criminal. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t going to have so many negative consequences for so many people.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Good point, PK, about future historians having fun trying to work out what these people were thinking. Thing is, we are living through it and we don’t get what is going on with the UK government so how will they have a better chance? Sure they will have access to all sorts of files and self-serving memoirs but will it really help?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Its true that some decisions remain inexplicable no matter how hard historians have looked into it. You could call it the Dieppe Raid syndrome – nobody still has a clue why everyone thought that was a good idea at the time.

      2. Shane Mage

        ” It defies believe that anyone thought issuing the A.50 decaration before having a clear idea of what they wanted was a good idea.” Remember, Corbyn called for it right after the “advisory” poll of a fraction of the populace, which he pretends to “respect” as the will of the “many.”

        1. PlutoniumKun

          He lost a lot of respect from me when he did that – for me it was obvious that he should vote against A.50 and insist that the Tories produce a real concrete proposal for exit. Politically, this would make the Tories ‘own’ it. But I don’t think he has ever had a grasp of the topic, its not not something that particularly interests him.

          1. vlade

            the fact that something does not interest him does not make it less important

            if he cant tell important from inetersting…

        2. windsock

          Corbyn has always been anti-EU, I think on the basis of the free movement of CAPITAL. not PEOPLE. Why would he change horses now? The basis for his ongoing popularity is that he is a man of his word, and a man of the people.

    2. Expat

      I would modify that to say that there is nothing legally wrong with that. Morally wrong, intellectually wrong perhaps. Wrong from the point of view of sanity. Wrong from the point of view of history. Wrong from the point of view of logic.
      The UK has nothing to negotiate. The continent is not heart-broken to see them go except on general principles. Britain has always been a cold, difficult partner for the EU. They kept their silly pounds and pretended the Channel was one thousand miles wide. They are now shocked to discover that the French and Germans don’t love them, that their trade is not essential and that the City of London is not made of bricks and steel and can flit from there to Luxembourg, Paris or Dusseldorf in the flashiest of flashes.

      Britain can make all the ridiculous wish-lists that want. It boils down to this. They can leave under good terms (i.e. friends with the EU) or bad terms (sulking and whining) but they will leave with exactly the same conditions either way.

    3. ChrisPacific

      It’s actually even worse than that. Not only have they not progressed at all, but May has stated outright that they have no intention of honoring the terms of the agreement they made back in December (namely the backstop for Ireland). Considering that the December agreement was a precondition for moving forward with trade discussions, I wouldn’t be surprised if the EU were to politely stonewall on anything trade related and keep returning to the Irish border problem. And indeed, from today’s links that appears to be exactly what they are doing.

      In hindsight it does look to have been a tactical error on the EU’s part to agree to let the UK kick the can down the road further (a point I remember Yves making at the time). It might have looked like a win on paper for the EU, but it showed a lack of understanding of the psychology of the negotiating parties. It’s like agreeing with a child that yes, they can have a pony if Santa Claus shows up to deliver it in person, but if Santa turns out not to exist then they must donate all of their toys to goodwill. What happens when the child realizes that they might be held to a clause in an agreement that they never considered a serious possibility until now, in the emotional context of having just discovered that there is no such thing as Santa Claus? That’s easy: a tantrum. (Ask any parent).

  9. PlutoniumKun

    Brexit: closing in EU Referendum. Yikes.

    Following this:

    In anticipation of failure, real world measures are being taken, with the Dutch government hiring nearly 1,000 customs officials to deal with Brexit. Pieter Omtzigt, the rapporteur on Brexit for the Dutch parliament, confirmed the recruitment had taken place.

    The Irish government has just announced that it will also be hiring 1000 additional customs officers and veterinary inspectors. Note, however, that this is in expectation of a ‘normal’ Brexit – the staffing won’t be in place until 2023.

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said Ireland will have to hire about 1,000 new customs and veterinary inspectors by 2021 to prepare our ports and airports for Brexit.

    He added: “In the unlikely event of a no-deal Brexit next March, of course it will not be possible to have 1,000 people in place for then but we will make contingency arrangements in the event that might arise.”

    However, he said that the main scenario the Government is preparing for is one in which agreement is reached at October’s Brexit summit.

    The Irish government, which has always been very cautious about inflaming Northern Ireland Unionist opinion, seems to have pretty much despaired of getting an agreement and is now openly hard line.

    The Taoiseach also warned that UK planes could be restricted from flying in EU airspace in the event of a no deal Brexit.

    He said UK could not take back its waters and expect to use EU skies.

    “You can’t have your cake and eat it,” he said.

    It will be almost impossible for the Irish government to have enough trained staff in place for next March, although it states that contingency plans are underway. If I was in the Irish police or army I wouldn’t be booking an Easter holiday break…

      1. PlutoniumKun

        While they’ve been weakened over the years, Irish public service Unions are a lot more powerful than in the UK or the US. I can pretty much guarantee a well timed strike if the government even suggested this approach.

        One interesting point though on this topic – I was talking a while ago to a friend who works as a Union organiser. She said that in her experience modern IT projects have helped unions in surprising ways. One of them is that they are often so user unfriendly and difficult and prone to hacking when you have internal access, that it makes it impossible for employers to bring in temporary outside contractors for a whole range of work, as they can’t do the job without access to the IT system, and even if its given, providing security and help to them becomes so complicated that its not worth the cost and hassle. Hence, more permanent workers have to be hired.

        1. J Sterling

          This doesn’t sound like it’s helping unions, but rather that it’s helping workers without unions having to go to the effort.

          Historicaly, the work that has least needed unions has been the work that provided its own protection by the very obscurity of the skills required. The workers would say, “Organize? No, if my employers don’t treat me nice, I’ll walk. I’ll find another employer soon enough and they won’t find another me. And they know it. So why do I need a union?”

          Unions are most necessary where the workers are most disposable. By applying the principles of “one out, all out”, “when out, picket so blacklegs can’t get in” and “nobody gets to work here unless they commit to the first two principles”, the union artificially makes dismissing one disposable worker as painful as dismissing a highly-sought-after skilled worker would be.

          Just to avoid misunderstanding, I’m in favor of organized groups of “easily replaceable” workers making themselves irreplaceable by striking. I disagree with the complaint that they are useless drones artificially terrorizing employers by organized action, or rather, I agree and approve.

    1. windsock

      It’s reciprocal. It will take Irish airlines further to for around British airspace too. Varadkar seems a little out of his depth. Maybe he is a sleeper agent of the British government.

  10. Eclair

    Re: Pepe Escobar’s article.

    Good points, as usual. But the picture! Putin, delicately handing Trump a … ball?! “Here, this will give you at least one.” Aaiiyee!

  11. La Peruse

    Enjoyed Baldings article on China. A libertarian in China is probably just a contrarian in a foreign culture. Most of his complaints are cultural. Can’t queue, blame the party. We host many Chinese on our very off-grid property in Australia straight off the plane, culture shock in total. We find them all interesting, although, along with their European counterparts, they are probably not representative in that they have had the initiative and ability to up and travel to the other side of the world.

    We recently had a young women who was in the first graduate intake into the Red Army. She was traumatised by her experience, for many reasons, some of which would be common to all military cultures, some of which were peculiar to the Chinese army. Wonderful, beautiful, warm fellow member of our human race. Culture is a strong normative denominator. I would surmise the Chinese are no more immune to its sub-conscious tentacles than we are. We also had a young engineer who, at 22, already has his own patents, had grown up on a peasant farm, and was looking to pursue post-graduate studies at Stanford. Unbelievable social mobility within a generation.

    The Chinese culture is not anti-libertarian, it is different: competitive, unforgiving, unbelievably crowded. A different world, but not inhuman.

    1. Summer

      The author said America is an experiment with its immigration history.
      Maybe, despite the age of the culture, China also is an experiment with its over 1 billion people. There is no precedent in history for those types of numbers of people living in a region.

      1. ambrit

        There are precedents of populations spiking above the regions’ carrying capacity and then either crashing or going on campaigns of conquest to steal other peoples resources.
        How do you say “Lebensraum” in Mandarin?

          1. ambrit

            Ouch! I didn’t think big enough! I was thinking of Thibet and the Shan States.
            We know that the Vietnamese have fought China off once or twice recently. As for Laos, well, I’m all in that the Plain of Jars is really the dreaded “Plateau of Leng.”

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Yes, far, far away, long ago…

              We have forgotten the ancient Egyptian origins in Chinese civilization. King Tut looks like he could have been born in Suzhou.

              So, it would the lost tribe going home again.

    2. MsExPat

      From my perch in Hong Kong, I quite disagree. China is exactly what Balding writes: they have created a post modern authoritarian society that utilizes sophisticated technology in the service of repression at best, genocide at worst. To call Chine merely ‘competitive’ is the sort of head-in-the-sand thinking that Balding warns against,

      The links today from Escobar and Moon of Alabama are “great game” analyses that are spot on. In the global balance of things the US absolutely should be shifting back to Russia and making alliances with China’s foes. There are many ways that Trump is idiotic, but in this his instinct is spot on.

      1. patrickD

        Alfred McCoy’s In the shadows of the American century explores at length the “Great Game” interpretation of the present and future China / America competition. Early chapter in the book provides a concise summary of Mackinder’s “world island” thesis from 1904.

        “In short, the world’s two most powerful nations, China and the United States, seem to have developed rival geopolitical strategies to guide their sruggle for global power. Whether Beijing can succeed in unifying Asia, Africa and Europe into that world island or Washington can maintain its control of the Eurasian continent from its axial positions on the Pacific littoral and in Western Europe will not become clear for another decade or two. “

        1. Lord Koos

          Within another decade or two there may be enough unexpected “black swan” events that to predict how things might unfold, will be difficult to impossible.

      2. Livius Drusus

        I am always perplexed by the enthusiasm some people on the Left have for the People’s Republic of China. The PRC strikes me as an extreme version of the United States with its obsession with money, technology and authoritarianism. As much as I complain about the U.S. I would much rather live here because at least we still have some degree of liberty although that seems to be eroding every year.

        My guess is that people see China as a rising power that is building things and therefore many people see it as a model. But there is a lot more to a political system than its ability to have a growing economy and build large infrastructure projects. I am not a libertarian but civil liberties mean a lot to me as do worker’s rights and political freedom. I would not want to live in an authoritarian state no matter how good it was at promoting growth and building infrastructure.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I agree that the fondness some on the left (usually the authoritarian left) have for China is perplexing. I have a lot of respect for the way the CCP has managed the transition economically – they’ve been rigorously systematic and strong minded. But its delusional to think they have any interest whatever in equality or fairness or even the loosest definition of freedom. And those who think that China is less imperialist than the US really should go talk to some Vietnamese or Laos or Tibetans or Bhutanese, or anyone else who shares a border with China.

        2. J Sterling

          The Right in any society is the party of Establishment, and the Left is the party dissatisfied with them. It follows they must like anything, or at least some thing, which is not the heart of their own society. Certain people in the Left even flirted with Nazism at one time. Before and since, they have flirted with revolutionary France, the infant United States, Soviet Russia, Venezuela, Islam, anything that is not of them. A large part of British liberal infatuation with all things French was that they were not the despised Britain.

      3. FluffytheObeseCat

        I’m on the U.S. west coast, and I agree with you. “Unforgiving” is a common euphemism for unacceptable. Or vile. And China can be remarkably forgiving of the well-connected, just like the U.S.

        The main difference here is that carefully measured aliquots of forgiveness are made available to the upper middle class at large, not just Party members and their families. It keeps them obedient on the issues that matter.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The links today from Escobar and Moon of Alabama are “great game” analyses that are spot on. In the global balance of things the US absolutely should be shifting back to Russia and making alliances with China’s foes. There are many ways that Trump is idiotic, but in this his instinct is spot on.

        The “Great Game” is enormous issue, which neither our political nor our national security classes are addressing. Who then is the fool?

        1. VietnamVet

          The rebirth of the Great Game is deeply disturbing in the nuclear age. The proxy western operations to overthrow the Russian and Iranian governments remains in play despite the refugee blowback tearing the EU apart. The forever wars for profit are incompetent disasters. Worse, the West simply avoids recognizing the real problems; the increasing inequality that germinated Donald Trump and Brexit and the rise of Communist China whose aim is to restore the glory of its ancient cultural empire. Russia is the EU’s natural ally against the new Moguls; if they ever could stop fighting each other despite the brief respite during the First Cold War.

    3. curlydan

      I just got back from my 7th trip to China in 15 years. I don’t agree with most of what the author said in the article…he’s a bit too optimistic about the United States and maybe if he’d spent time in the US over the past 10 years, he would see many of the negative things in China also occur in the U.S.

      Yes, the line cutting, money at all costs, and easy surveillance (e.g. WeChat and other methods) gets annonying. Frankly, it’s the aggressive Chinese grandmas with their spoiled kids who annoy me the most. I’ve never wanted to punch a grandma except in China.

      But don’t blame the Chinese for loving money. They are working in the system given to them–it’s one party. If you want to do well for your family, you better work well in that system, and the Communists are saying grow all you want just don’t mess with our authority. Not too different from Singapore. And yes, if the party collapses, people would turn on a dime–that’s pragmatic.

      Here’s one quote: China “is a deeply illiberal, expansionist, authoritarian, police state opposed to human rights, democracy, free trade, and rule of law”. OK, I don’t really see how that’s too different from the U.S.

      Another quote: “there was almost no concept of justice even if people recognized the person had done what they were accused of having done. The discipline stemmed not from their behavior but they were cannon fodder for some game chosen by a higher authority.” Again, don’t we see this in the U.S.? Big bankers go free. The SEC turns a blind eye to large fraud and focuses on small fraud.

      I also agree with some NC comments above about immigration. China is a vastly diverse place and amalgam of cultures and religions. It’s kind of amazing some of these Chinese dynasties could rule such a wide expanse of land.

      As for China being relatively closed, again, what do you expect China to do? It’s experiences with England, France, and Japan from 1840 to 1945 were disastrous for them. China calls much of the period a “national humiliation”. The Communists wisely use that humiliation to build up patriotism and urge a uniquely Chinese way to grow the economy.

      Maybe as an academic still trying to leave the country, he cannot reveal the large extent of his issues and troubles. But it’s a foreign country and culture…living there is going to be difficult.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        All countries have strengths and weaknesses, positives and negatives.

        Perhaps we look at how many Americans are in the process of becoming a permanent resident or a citizen* in China, and how many Chinese are doing the opposite.

        It’s sort of an informal polling.

        *probably citizenship is more relevant. I have heard older Taiwanese Americans and Chinese Americans returning or retiring there.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        As for being relatively closed, China can be more like the other China – ROC, Taiwan.

      3. Lord Koos

        China is not that diverse in some ways — it is what, ethnically 99% Han Chinese? Although official China will talk about diversity, and likes to put pictures of various ethnic groups on RMB currency, it is very far from the diversity of the US.

      4. The Rev Kev

        I think that you nailed it curlydan. That was my reading of this article as well. The author was looking at China from the viewpoint of a liberal but what I saw was a people that were becoming the way they were through capitalism on steroids.

    4. djrichard

      I recently took advantage of one of those $500 ballpark 10-day trips to China. So my experience base is tiny tiny. That said, what struck me was how less foreign it seemed to me compared to Japan (which I had visited for work in the 90s/00s). Now it could be just the difference of where my head was this time around compared to my previous travel, but I seemed to intuit the Chinese better than I did the Japanese that I encountered. Bottom line: I was glad to get out of Japan after three weeks. In contrast, I would have loved to have stayed much longer in China.

      Anyways, for those that are interested, I would greatly encouraging doing one of those cheap packages to China. Money wise, it’s a no-brainer, you’re getting more than your money’s worth. More importantly, it gives you a flavor – that you’ll probably find attractive.

  12. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: BAR Book Forum: Jeremy Kuzmarov’s and John Marciano’s “The Russians are Coming, Again” Black Agenda Report

    “During the early Cold War, a period of labor militancy and momentum for the expansion of the New Deal was destroyed by McCarthyism and the Cold War.”
    “Backed by the corporate media, these interests will consistently invoke the specter of the Russian threat as a means of defusing social movement organizing and class conflict.”

    As clear an explanation of the current Russian hysteria as one will find, as far as I’m concerned.

    Since both Trump’s and Bernie’s 2016 candidacies represented a clear rejection of the status quo and, added together, completely overwhelmed the status quo candidate, I guess we should have expected this reaction from those most heavily invested in maintaining it.

    Also as clear an explanation as you’ll find for the denigration of the “humanities,” most notably HISTORY, as a “productive” educational pursuit.

    1. juliania

      Actually, if you listen to the Stephen Cohen podcasts (thank you, Lambert!) you will learn there is a far more problematic historical reason for the hysteria – the treatment of Russia by our ‘strategists’ right after 1991 and the fall of communism left a lot to be desired, and Trump was acknowledging that this country, the US was largely to blame for what was happening as we ‘helped’ Russia on its way to becoming a democratic state, and nearly destroyed it in the process. That is something the folks (I use the term advisedly) do not want the public at large to know.

  13. Expat2uruguay

    What a poor quality of reporting in today’s links. The first article I read was about the California 3 Way split proposition being struck from the ballot by the California Supreme Court. The article says they were very concerned about problems with the proposition, but it gives not a whiff or hint of information as to what those problems might be.
    The second article I read was about the sewage problems in Alabama. The author develops in the article that sewage systems don’t work in the soils in the region, and then ends the article by reporting that Senators tried to put in a assistance program to help people install sewage systems. Huh? Plus there’s a teaser about some process to turn the sewage into energy, but no more information.

    On a separate note, I have a fix for the Democratic party slogan:
    “For the Idiots”.

    And with such poor quality reporting, where all idiots now… Feature, not bug. Dims for the win!!

    1. PlutoniumKun

      As for the sewerage systems, the issue is as I understand it that Alabama has many communities on relatively impermeable clay soils. Septic tanks can work pretty well if you have enough space, a low water table, and moderately permeable subsoils. Then the effluent cleans itself naturally through microbial action in the soil. The problem is that septic tanks are rarely installed properly if people don’t have a lot of money (e.g. a pipe into a pit instead of a proper percolation area), and if you have poor geology, then you need both some form of pre-treatment system and a constructed polishing/percolation area (i.e., a pile of sand to run the effluent through before it goes into a ditch or the subsurface).

      So I assume the background to that article is that instead of paying for proper municipal sewerage systems, it may be cheaper to give people grants to rip out their septic tanks and put in better quality and designed ones. This can help up to a point, although all systems need ongoing maintenance, and if people are poor, thats not going to happen.

      1. J Sterling

        Again, it’s all in Ricardo: the margin of occupation stops moving into less pleasant land when it’s physically impossible to raise more children anywhere, not when life for the people on the margin is merely unpleasant.

        It’s sometimes said that if the population were to shrink, some land would become uninhabited. Yes, but by definition that would be the land people least want to inhabit. It’s a good thing, not a bad thing, except for the landlords of that marginal land.

    2. J Sterling

      Sewer systems work just fine in any soil, the whole point of them is, as the article says, to “whisk wastewater away” without touching the soil.

      Septic tanks are the alternative to sewers, but it’s septic tanks that this soil isn’t suitable for.

      1. whine country

        A septic tank is merely a part of a properly designed septic system. Properly designed septic systems work just fine in most any type of soil. Any home with a properly designed septic system must also maintain it properly or it will fail. The article describes poorly designed and maintained systems which are failing. The lesson to be learned from the article is that “the market” will inevitably create these types of health problems if left to its own infinite wisdom.

        1. rd

          A septic system over clay soils is pretty expensive as you have to construct the leach field with imported materials. The septic tank collects the solids. Composting toilets and waterless urinals would address most of the major disease and parasite causing problems:

          Water from showers, laundry, sinks, etc. is much less of a problem and could even be used for irrigation water (commonly known as “grey water”). This is where most of the water volume comes from but far fewer of the pathogens. An efficient way of addressing this type of water is a simple constructed wetland where the water flows the root zone and then exits from the far end where it can be used for multiple purposes.

          However, this would require some recognition that this is an actual public health problem with societal implications that requires a coordinated response. That is not compatible with the goal of returning rural US to third-world country status to reduce taxes. Like putting a man on the moon, this is a solvable problem if somebody wants to solve it.

          Many of the households this impacts probably have incomes of less than $25k, so a few $k is a lot of money for them to spend, Also, many third world countries have NGOs coming in focused on providing cost-effective solutions (Gates Foundation, etc.). In the US, it is more likely to be a shyster firm with 30% interest rates for something that won’t work as the free-market is always right and efficient.

    3. steve

      There are suitable septic systems available for the soils in the area, they are more costly to install and maintain and require electricity to operate. They are also more prone to failure because they rely on mechanical parts. Access for these systems are exposed and thus more susceptible to damage. I believe the author was referring to traditional pit and field septic systems not being suitable for the area, which they are not.
      @PlutoniumKun- yes. note: there will be a high failure rate with the appropriate septic systems and thus I don’t think they are the ideal solution. Like you pointed out, they are an ongoing expense for the property owner.

  14. pretzelattack
    current article “Israel Declares Itself Apartheid State”
    i’m starting to feel like a european in early 1914. tensions just keep rising. what event will kick off the next world war–last time it was an assassination.

    1. Carolinian

      “B” not mincing words

      It is historically crazy that a number of humans, living in dozens of mostly east-European countries, would suddenly define themselves as a unique ‘race’ by virtue of believing in the same religious fairy tales. The concept mirrored and enabled the racism of the fascists. The self declared ethnicity then laid claim on far away land in west-Asia based on old stories of temples for which there is little to no archeologic evidences.

      1. Shane Mage

        On the contrary, “b” is mincing facts even more than words. The jewish people did not “originate” in E. Europe or the other countries subjected to Hitler’s genocide. “Sephardic” jews, as the name declares, find their origin as such in “Al Sepharad”, i.e.., the Iberian peninsula especially Andalusia. “Ashkenazi” jews, as the name declares, find their origin as such, as Saadi Gaon made so clear, in the territories of “Ashkenaz,” specifically the Khazar kingdom of Central Asia (as did the Hungarian jewry who reached their new homeland together with the magyars fleeing after the Mongol conquest of Khazaria. Koestler (“The Thirteenth Tribe”) establishes that.

        Worse in putting blame only on the Americans, English, and French for the establishment of a “jewish” state in historic Palestine he omits not merely the Western refusal to take responsibility for resettling the concentration-camp survivors, but the identical refusal by Russia to do that– and above all the active role of the USSR in partitioning Palestine, especially the fact that the Zionists were armed by Russia (via Czechoslovakia), without which they could scarcely have been so successful in ethnically cleansing their new State.

        1. Harold

          Shane Mage, I think that what you say about the refusal to take in displaced Jews before and after WW2 is correct. However, as I understand it, “The Thirteenth Tribe” has been pretty completely discredited.

          Historically and genetically, Eastern European Jews (Ashkenazi) are a Middle Eastern people with a very large admixture of Northern Italian (acquired during the Imperial Roman period.) This population appears to have mixed relatively little with local East Europeans, including the Khazars, even if some Khazar leaders may or may not have converted. Members of the so-called Sephardic group, on the other hand, have genetic profiles not much distinguishable from the populations among whom they lived — in Spain, Turkey, Egypt, North Africa, Iran, India, and so on. But as to origins, there is a definite ancestral connection to the Middle East: “Jewish genetic history is a complicated mixture of both genetic continuity from an ancestral population and extensive admixture.”

          Using this as a justification for putting a modern ethnic state armed with nuclear weapons there is a stretch. The whole situation is tragic beyond words.

          1. Shane Mage

            How was The Thirteenth Tribe, and the earlier Jewish historians who (along with his own heritage) inspired Koestler, “discredited?”. And who are you, me, or any contemporary, to argue with Saadi Gaon? And why shouldn’t Ashkenazi jews be found to have middle-eastern ancestry when it was precisely to what became the Khazar lands (ancient “Armenia,” “Scythia,” “the cities of Media”), “beyond the mountains of darkness,” where Sargon II exiled the Israelites in 712bce.? Of course none of this has the slightest relevance to the present-day conflict among inhabitants of Palestine., whatever the fantastical misuse some partisans in that conflict make of their historical notions.

        2. Carolinian

          You might want to follow the link before attacking

          Is there a Buddhist people, a Catholic people? Do they deserve their own nation and land? No. Even the though of such is weird. Are Jews originating from Ethiopia, India, Lithuania, Iran and Poland a common race? Why then is there supposed to be a ‘Jewish people’ as the new law stipulates?

          And you are the one distorting history by suggesting the inhabitants of Israel are all “concentration camp survivors” or descendants of same. Indeed many come from Brooklyn or post WW2 Soviet Russia and many were there before WW2. At any event I’m not quite sure why “the West” had a responsibility for resettling those survivors. Wouldn’t that be Germany? Perhaps they should have been given Bavaria.

      2. Plenue

        Regarding the whole idea of a Jewish ethnicity, part of the problem is that terms like ‘ethnicity’ are inherently rather vague. Putting aside entirely the issue of genetics, which I’ll get to later, I think it’s hard to argue there isn’t such a thing as a Jewish cultural identity. Is there not a distinct set of Jewish/Hebrew rituals and customs, of holidays, of a preserved language etc? I’m not even talking about Judaism as a religion, because secular Jews are definitely a thing. What does it mean to identify as Jewish when you don’t actually believe in Yaweh or the stories about Noah and Moses and so on? Well, what does it mean to identity as Japanese when you don’t literally believe your home-islands were birthed by Izanami or that your people are descended from a sun goddess?

        Certainly there’s plenty of historical evidence that the various disparate groups of Jews around the world (including even a small one in Eastern China) identified themselves as such. They viewed themselves, and were readily viewed by others around them, as distinct, separate groups. If they claim to be ‘Jewish’, and the other people around them, for good or ill, accept their separate grouping as ‘Jewish’, can we really say that ‘Jewish’ doesn’t have a coherent meaning? I find it hard to say that all these people, practicing many of the same customs and preserving the same traditions, across large amounts of space and time, don’t constitute some sort of distinct cultural grouping.

        And in regards to Koestler and his Khazar hypothesis, at a minimum the genetic evidence doesn’t at all support it, and I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to just outright say the evidence completely refutes it. Not only does the DNA show that Ashkenazi Jews maintain a significant degree of cohesion and continuity with ancient residents of the Levant, but (and this really doesn’t make Zionists happy), so do the Palestinian ‘Arabs’.

        Also I really have to note that quite aside from apparently being objectively wrong, the ‘Khazar hypothesis’ is beloved by many anti-semites. This is particularly stupid, even by Neo-Nazi standards, because they’re claiming Ashkenazi are fake Jews, while simultaneously constantly ranting about and hating Jews. They hate Jews and those they are claiming aren’t real Jews, all in the same breath, and applying the same ugly smears, slurs, and stereotypes to both ‘real’ and ‘fake’ Jews without distinction. There’s something inconsistent going on here. I can only speculate that it’s being used as a way to undermine Zionist claims to have a right to land in the Levant. European Jews can’t have a claim to ancient Israel because they aren’t really Jewish, would be the argument. What’s weird is that this implicitly accepts fraudulent Zionist ‘logic’ about a blood right by virtue of descent.

    2. alex morfesis

      the world has been at total war for over 100 years…the theatres of conflict keep moving…but the wars for fuel have been continuing…just between battlefield photos there have been thrown in a few mind soothing distractions…from fatty to OJ and infotainment in between…

      the truth is hardly ever what it appears to be…and it doesn’t have to be…

      just enough war…and just enough deprivation…and homelessness…so you can repeat the required mantra to keep you from thinking too much…

      bettuh you den me….

      the new narrative is replacing the old narrative…

      take two…ready camera one…ready camera two….and…action….

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      See the brilliant diplomatic history Sleepwalkers, reviewed at NC here.

      My takeaway is that World War I was brought about by mediocrities in the national security class of that day plus some second-rate politicians, who wanted war. This was true in all the European capitals, not just Berlin. “And the war came.”

  15. Jim Haygood

    SacBee on Cal3:

    “Apparently, the insiders are in cahoots and the establishment doesn’t want to find out how many people don’t like the way California is being governed,” Draper said in a statement on Facebook. “Whether you agree or not with this initiative, this is not the way democracies are supposed to work. This kind of corruption is what happens in third world countries.”

    The Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst, in a review of the measure last year, also raised the question of whether state lawmakers need to sign off on the plan. Both the state legislature and the U.S. Congress were required to approve Virginia’s split back in 1863, the last time an American state was divided. The ballot initiative process did not exist in 1863.

    Artfully worded, that second graf. Breakaway West Virginia supported its own secession, naturally, but Virginia — the state being dismembered — was not consulted on the matter.

    Thus while secession was determined — via bloody warfare — to be illegal, seceding from a secessor was “all legal” in West Virginia’s case.

    So the best plan for inland California may be to egg on California’s increasingly radicalized one-party government to leave the US. Then inland Californians can secede from coastal California, presumably with the full support of Congress (which will be more Republican-flavored after Calexit) and the precedent of West Virginia on their side.

    Inland Californians then will be well-qualified to be appointed to govern coastal California in Reconstruction II, after the coastal rebellion is quelled by Republican “redcoat” troops. :-)

    1. voteforno6

      The way West Virginia got around it was that, at the time, its representatives there represented all of Virginia (the rest of them having run off to the CSA). So, technically, they seceded from themselves.

    2. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      July 19, 2018 at 10:03 am

      I’m all for it, as long as the guvmint keeps their paws off my social security….

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump’s Trade War May Spark a Chinese Debt Crisis Bloomberg

    Do we back down or does China back down here, looking at the pending debt crisis?

    Here, we have a fervent merchantilist country, promising often to re-direct its economy more domestically, that functions alongside an unregulated shadow banking. A debt crisis there will impact the whole world.

    It’s not unlike the situation where you borrow so much money that the bank has no choice but to help you, instead of not borrowing sufficiently that the bank can simply take you over.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its an interesting topic, but I think there is a general concensus on those who’ve looked into it that a Chinese debt crisis would be ‘containable’ in a global sense – by which I mean that since the Chinese financial system is not well interlinked to the global system it would not be systemic. The chief problem for the world would be that a weakening RMB will end up exporting deflation which could be very damaging. It would certainly lead to more calls for protectionism internationally.

      Incidentally, on the topic of China and globilisation and tourism, I saw a sight on a Dublin city street on my lunchbreak I thought I’d never see- a Chinese campervan with Beijing registration plates. The sticker on the side seemed to show its a family on holiday, who have driven from Beijing, hoping to get to the west coast of Ireland, and back again. I don’t think I even saw a campervan in China, let alone a Chinese one outside.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        How can deflation ever be a serious problem when curing it would seem to be as easy as printing money when it becomes incipient? Seriously.

  17. Brooklin Bridge

    Why Trump Is Getting Away With Foreign-Policy Insanity

    A novel approach in the ever popular competition to make Trump Hysteria look like responsible reporting and analysis. Reduced version:

    If the establishment would just apologize for mass murder, mass immiseration, mass destruction of the environment, mass austerity, mass torture, mass extinction, and so on, then we could get on with the far more pleasurable task of throwing a good ol’ hissey fit over such inexcusable vulgarity as Trump. He’s too vulgar for my love, for my love, for my shirt, for my shirt…

  18. Jim Haygood

    Today Ed Yardeni’s fundamental economic indicator busted out to a fresh high, as Bloomberg Consumer Comfort also ripped to a 12-month high of 58.8. Chart:

    Also supportive was a drop in weekly unemployment claims to a miniscule 207,000, the lowest level since 1969. This brought down the four-week average used in the Yardeni indicator.

    Finally, industrial raw materials prices eased for the fifth week running, the only mild negative in the picture.

    With the first estimate of second quarter GDP due in a few days, the New York Fed’s nowcast remains at a solid but not alarming (from an “overheating” point of view) 2.8%.

    1. Olga

      It is also seriously biased, and we can only infer what got the author into trouble in the first place. His observations may be interesting, but provide no historical context for why China is the way it is.
      Illiberal? The word is never explained – and really, I have no idea what it means. Control in the west is practiced in a somewhat subtler way… so the west is liberal. Is that what he means?

      1. Shane Mage

        We know what “got the author into trouble in the first place”–he organized an effective and successful public protest against the Chinese government’s attempt to impose censorship over the Cambridge University Press.

      2. flora

        My take away was the west places importance on the value of the individual – in the overall philosophy, at least, if not in actual everyday practice – and that this very important and is the basis for our form of rule-of-law. That if we jettison that in the name of momentary personal gain or political favor, particularly by stoking mob hysteria or kangaroo courts, we are in danger of losing something very important. imo.
        That a self-described libertarian would come to this conclusion after spending time in a truly heavy handed authoritarian country is interesting to me. He suddenly understands governments differ and the form of government and its laws, and impartial and consistant enforcement of laws turn out to be important. I think most of us could have told him that.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Anecdotally, this is something I find that Chinese people find both disconcerting and exciting when they visit the west. The fact that in some ways ‘they matter’ as an individual. I remember a Chinese aquaintance talking about his astonishment when he made a complaint against a public body when living in a European country and recieved a detailed apology letter, with follow-up phone call. He said he made the complaint just to vent (a very Chinese thing) and found it almost disconcerting when it worked.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            He will probably experience the same in the Chinese-majority Singapore, that values Confucian values, including an emphasis on individuals (I suppose one can say the importance of individual is valued as well, under the traditional Confucian system, in some ways – for example, the importance for an individual to study), but also on the importance of how that individual fits in the overall society, to ensure harmony and prosperity, so that, an individual, as a son, should be filial towards his parents, and look up to those ‘above him,’ etc.

            And the same individual is likely to experience the same in Taiwan, as in Singapore, if likley not in China nor in today’s America.

        2. Olga

          Yes, your take is likely correct, although it raises a number of other issues. China – for some reason (what is that reason(s)?) – has evolved differently. Pls do not overlook the fact that for capitalism to evolve as far as it has, emphasizing the individual and individual rights was essential. (Was enlightenment hijacked by capitalist forces – or was it a willing enabler of the new system?) There are simply cultures in which the concept of a “group” is more important (regardless of the fact that, just like any other idea or concept, it can get misused, abused, or over-emphasized). In and of itself, it does not necessarily pose a problem.
          What has the west got for all its insistence on individualism? That the Waltons own more wealth than 100 million of Americans, who are at the bottom? China OTOH has managed to lift many millions out of poverty.
          Now, I am not really defending Chinese authoritarianism. It is no fun… But when attempting to judge it, one ought to remember that it is difficult to be completely “free” internally, when outside forces try to undermine your society. (Been there, done that – more on that here:
          Here, it is rarely mentioned, but a lot of the current Chi. approach is rooted in trying to avoid what happened to the country around the time of Opium Wars (and through 1949), when the Brits tried to cause chaos in China. Can you imagine what would happen today if the west succeeded in stirring up 1.4 billion Chinese? (Kinda like “stirred up Moslems” – as the US has not for a minute given up on the hope of getting rid of the ruling party in Ch.).
          We are not called upon to approve, but we ought to try to understand…

          (And “That if we jettison that in the name of momentary personal gain or political favor, particularly by stoking mob hysteria or kangaroo courts, we are in danger of losing something very important. imo” – correct, but I do think that even the US has passed that point quite a while ago. And we are not getting it back any time soon.)

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            1. Without outside forces, the tradition is one of heavy censorship.

            From Qianlong emperor, Wikipedia:

            Some 2,300 works were listed for total suppression and another 350 for partial suppression. The aim was to destroy the writings that were anti-Qing or rebellious, that insulted previous “barbarian” dynasties, or that dealt with frontier or defence problems.[21] The full editing of the Siku Quanshu was completed in about ten years; during these ten years, 3100 titles (or works), about 150,000 copies of books were either burnt or banned. Of those volumes that had been categorised into the Siku Quanshu, many were subjected to deletion and modification. Books published during the Ming dynasty suffered the greatest damage.[22]

            The authority would judge any single character or any single sentence’s neutrality; if the authority had decided these words, or sentence, were derogatory or cynical towards the rulers, then persecution would begin.[23] In the Qianlong Emperor’s time, there were 53 cases of literary inquisition, resulting in the victims executed by beheading or slow slicing (lingchi), or having their corpses mutilated (if they were already dead).

            2. The focus on the years during those two Opium wars.

            Is the focus to return the country to the situation in Asia before that? That would be attractive to many…the hegemon of the Far East.

            To answer that, we have to look back to what it has done in recent years, and keep watching as events unfold.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        China is what China is today, though it’s possible to be something else.

        Traditionally, the main three philosophy schools are Taosism, Legalism and Confucianism.

        In some ways, Taoism is libertarian, and can be seen, at times, as anarchy. Only a few emperors experimented with that to some extent…Han Wendi and Han Jingdi, are two swell-known examples.

        Legalism, on the other hand, is strictly authoritarian. You can unite China with that, but to govern, you need the Confucians who let everyone know his/her proper place in the society.

        Even in today’s Marxist-Leninist-Capitalist (all foreign ideas), two main traditional ones still persist (not so much Taosim, which is often associated with rebellions tradtionally).

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I would like very much to know what’s happening in the Chinese equivalent of the flyover states (which probably include cities with populations of tends of millions).

          I think — projecting perhaps — that the tiger Xi is riding is to be found there, and not in with the urban elites.

          I also don’t think there’s been any dimunition in Chinese elites moving their money out of the country and often putting it into bolt-holes like Vancouver. There’s probably a life-style component to this — pollution in Beijing, as opposed to clean Vancouver — but I also speculate they’re like Chinese preppers, except with money. Like Elon, they would go to Mars if they could.

          1. Lord Koos

            Not just Vancouver, Sydney, London, New York, Seattle, the bay area, and other slightly more “downscale” US cities for those Chinese with pockets that aren’t as deep. Like the USA, the wealth in China is generated primarily on the coasts.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Evidently Neil Young was wrong when he claimed that “rock ‘n roll will never die.”

      If anything can kill it, the OZYFEST crowd can.

      THINK EAT NAP, as they say at the Home for Older Democrats.

    2. ambrit

      Apply the same process as Alpert used with “Be Here Now.”
      iteration 1: “THINK EAT ROCK”
      iteration 2: “THINK ROCK EAT”
      iteration 3: “EAT ROCK THINK”
      iteration 4: “EAT THINK ROCK”
      iteration 5: “ROCK THINK EAT”
      iteration 6: “ROCK EAT THINK”
      The basic progression from a poster “Catchphrase” to a declaration of the Neo-Democrat Party core value is breathtakingly honest.

  19. antidlc

    Re: Health Insurers Vacuuming Details about you

    Other links:

    The layoffs at the end of May cut a swath through the Watson Health division. According to anonymous accounts submitted to the site Watching IBM, the cuts primarily affect workers from three acquired companies: Phytel, Explorys, and Truven.

    All three companies, acquired in 2015 and 2016, brought with them hefty troves of health care data as well as proprietary analytics systems to mine the data for insights. The companies also brought existing customers: health care providers that used the analytics to improve both their care and their finances

    IBM acquired the three companies Phytel, Explorys, and Truven for their databases of patient information and their data analytics, which helped physicians and insurance companies provide more effective care. (A fourth acquisition, Merge, brought in analytics relating to medical imaging, a very promising field for AI.)

    With IBM’s planned $2.6 billion acquisition of Truven Health, the company will add “200 million lives” to its data trove. “Lives” is a term typically used in the healthcare business for a data asset or record.

    And when it comes to big data analytics, the more data, the better, said IBM (ibm, +0.37%) Watson Health general manager Deborah DiSanzo. Truven brings still more data into IBM, which has already assembled quite the data pool, both on its own and via acquisition.

    With Truven, IBM gets “200 million lives which we can combine with 100 million patient records. We can combine our data sets together, including one of the largest democratized health records with electronic health records from Phytel, Truven, claims data, imaging data, genetics, medical health data and from all of that we can run analysis,” said DiSanzo told Fortune in an interview.

    IBM dropped another cool $1 billion for imaging software company Merge Healthcare last week, continuing a string of acquisitions from the beginning of the year. Last quarter, IBM announced the acquisitions of Cleveland Clinic spinoff Explorys and population health analytics company Phytel on the same day, rocking the annual HIMSS conference with the announcements.

    Around the same time, IBM also announced the formation of the Watson Health unit and teamed up with Apple, Medtronic, and Johnson & Johnson. The intent was clear. Gain access to as much medical data, as quickly as possible, to feed the Watson engine. The acquisition of Merge Healthcare would appear to be just another tidbit in the grand scheme of things (behind the paywall)

    The IBM initiative raises questions on how data is handled and about privacy. Mr. Kelly said the data scrutinized by Watson will typically be anonymized and often be read by Watson but not removed from hospital or health company data centers. “There will be no big, centralized database in the sky,” Mr. Kelly said.

    “typically” anonymized.

    1. Zachary Smith

      You’ve provided a fascinating addition to the link story. Getting down to a more ‘localized’ level, consider those ubiquitous store cards. Yesterday an employee at a national drug store chain casually mentioned to me that purchases on their card were made available to the insurance companies. That would tell a lot more about me than I want the ******** to know. If one of the stores is doing it I’d give high odds they all are.

      Ditto for the grocery store cards. People around here act like trained seals to get a ten cent credit for their gasoline. As with the drug stores, analysis of food purchases tells a lot about people. Linkage is easy because most folks use credit cards to buy things anymore, and I know for a fact this has been done with me, for I’ve gotten some mailings from places who would not have otherwise had my post office address.

      1. ambrit

        The same here. Unfortunately, the Mandarins and Boffins of mid-level data crunching have revived the old trick of tying use of the proprietary cards to some useful and near universal products. When the card, and only the card will get an average shopper some half price deals on basics, the card gets used. This melds the best of marketing with poverty with data analytics with social control.

      2. Craig H.

        If United Health Care does not have a database with names, SSN’s, tobacco purchases, alcohol purchases, and junk food purchases I would be very surprised. They may even track things not yet known harmful waiting on the research of 2020, 2030, 2040, &c when they find out for example that people who buy cable TV are at high risk of Alzheimer’s; (this is hypothetical–I do not own a crystal ball and I am not a time travel person.)

  20. Jim Haygood

    After reading yesterday’s repartee in Links about market cap wars (prompted by a query from Fresno Dan), the WSJ thought they had better post an update for their NC-deprived subscribers: is making another run at the title of world’s most valuable company.

    The e-commerce giant ended Wednesday’s trading session with a market value of $894 billion, according to the WSJ Market Data Group. That puts the Seattle-based company just $42 billion shy of Apple’s world-topping market capitalization.

    Amazon’s share-price surge in recent months is threatening to unseat Apple. Amazon’s stock is up 80% over the past year, while Apple shares have gained 27%. Both are far outpacing the S&P 500’s 14% gain over that period.

    Upcoming earnings reports could serve as the catalyst for the two companies swapping places. Amazon’s results are expected July 26, and Apple will report its earnings about a week later on July 31.

    Amazon is expected to report second-quarter earnings jumped to $2.47 a share from 40 cents a year earlier and sales growth about 40%, according to FactSet data. Apple’s earnings are expected to rise to $2.16 a share from $1.67 a year earlier, while revenue is expected to rise 15%.

    Warren Buffett, among others, has explained why 40 percent growth is not sustainable. Ultimately, after taking over the world and all its commerce, your sole superpower company cannot increase revenues beyond the rate of GDP growth. At least, not without finding new planets to conquer. :-0

    1. Burritonomics

      At least, not without finding new planets to conquer

      Well, we all know the squillionaires are working hard on that. If not for them, for their heirs.

    2. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      July 19, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      you may find this interesting:

      Warren Buffett, among others, has explained why 40 percent growth is not sustainable. Ultimately, after taking over the world and all its commerce, your sole superpower company cannot increase revenues beyond the rate of GDP growth. At least, not without finding new planets to conquer. :-0

      Obviously, your not considering MARS…..

  21. Zachary Smith

    Democrats want Trump’s interpreter to testify before Congress

    If any more evidence the neocon faction of Democrats has gone mad is needed, I think this is a clincher.

  22. Jean

    Blood pressure rising, better than coffee.

    Re Netanyahu

    So it OK to abrogate a treaty concerning Iran, but it’s not OK to abrogate the NATO or the Paris Accords?

    Gee, I wonder what the TDS hysterics would say if a Russian dual citizen decca-billionaire that owns casinos had heavily influenced the elections? Or, if Putin had come to America and lectured congress?

    “For The People” –of the Plutocrat Donor Class.

    How about “We’re Just Folks”–“Who are kind of rich”?

    We cannot re-import American made inexpensive Canadian packaged drugs that can save lives “for safety”, but we can import cheap Chinese made drugs for profits? Got it.

    1. JohnnyGL

      The inescapable conclusion is that Bibi’s got nudie pics of the whole Trump clan! And maybe even pics of them all on the toilet!

      Re: Paris accords….oil execs must have copies of the nudie pics!

      (I’m just going to keep pushing this ridiculous idea, because the entire idea is that peace with Russia is bad because it’s contingent on Putin having blackmail material)

      1. Olga

        Many good points – but P. Jay’s speculation that VVP & DT are plotting a war on Iran is just NUTS!
        All Russia knows very well that if Iran were to fall, Russia is next. I am baffled by P Jay, since he is usually much more perceptive.

  23. Kris

    Not to miss: excellent longform article by Matt Taibbi on a court case in which a man is challenging his status on the U.S.’s Kill List (Disposition Matrix). It’s incredible to me that it is even a question that a citizen would need to request that the government provide him with its accusations and allow him to defend himself against them before it kills him/her. Of course, where did our government get the idea that it’s ok to secretly and unaccountably assassinate anymore, for that matter?

    How to Survive America’s Kill List

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I cite to Taibbi’s article in today’s post.

      It’s confusing, though. It’s the “intelligence community” that’s whacking U.S. citizens with drones and no due process, and yet that same “community” are key players in The #Resistance.

      I’m sorry, I meant to type “and so,” not “and yet.” My bad.

  24. Regarding generic meds

    Re: Blood Pressure Medicine Is Recalled NYT. “‘It’s not just valsartan …

    I discovered, when forced onto a generic cancer med – after a very successful time on a brand name I had spent at least a weeks time researching – that the generics industry is a nightmare; likely made more so because the political class does not serve the class which has no option but to take generics.

    After at least two week’s time reading up on the generics companies and preparing an enormous comparative excel spreadsheet I chose a generic manufactured at one of the last labs in the US, Roxane Labs, in Columbus Ohio. This generic appeared to be perhaps even better than the brand name I was taking. It contained less inactive stuffer ingredients – which can cause problems – than even the brand name.

    Much to my horror, very shortly afterwards, Roxane’s German parent company, Boehringer Ingelheim, sold Roxane Labs to Hikma Pharmaceuticals which renamed them West-Ward Columbus. West-Ward Columbus promptly shut down production of the generic I was so pleased with and started producing a clearly shabbier product in 2016.

    Hospital doctors do not really have the ability to spend any energy on this issue, unless their patients repeatedly have severe reactions which can clearly be pinned to a specific generic (such as glass in the med, which has actually happened with some generics). In the case of many cancer meds, the worthlessness of a particular generic may not be evident (if at all) until an operation. Worse, cancer is tricky, that increase in cancer will likely not be attributed to the worthless generic.

    The patient generally is stuck having to research the generics and hope they can find a pharmacy which stocks, or will order them. Ordering them depends on the pharmacy’s pharmaceutical wholesale distributor[s]/warehouser[s] (i.e. McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health, for three of the largest in the US). Those distributers may not distribute that particular generic; good luck trying to call any of those distributors as a patient with questions unanswered by pharmacies as to accessing a particular generic med.

    At the time I prepared mymain excel spreadsheet, I found this website of use (I’ve linked to their valsartan page, the generic written about) in my comparisons. Note: when you click on a particular generics packager or repackager [1], clicking on View Package Photos at the upper left will usually (though not always) note the manufacturer and where the manufacturer is located.

    [1] Hospitals repackage, among others; in which case, clicking on the Source NDC [National Drug Code] code(s) link shown in the top paragraph, under the words This is a repackaged label, will cough up the FDA approved supplier/licensee, such as Teva, etc..

  25. Oregoncharles

    “Also, president Juncker and my EU colleagues have on many occasions said that they wouldn’t require us to put in place a physical infrastructure and customs checks on the Border between Northern Ireland and Ireland,” he [Varadkar] said.”

    Huh? How?

    1. Oregoncharles

      Afterthought: somebody’s blowing smoke, and it isn’t clear whether it’s Varadkar or Juncker.

    2. Chris

      By ensuring that Nortern Ireland effectively remains within the EU for customs purposes, with the UK/EU border located in the Irish Sea.

      The DUP probably won’t like that…

  26. ChrisPacific

    The Venezuelanalysis link is very good. The phrase that kept coming up was “an economic war on the people.” The people of Venezuela are clearly under no illusions about the coercive power of capitalism. What can be done about it is a trickier question.

  27. Jeff W

    Re: Thai boys recount cave rescue: Voices in dark, then ‘hello’ Associated Press

    The whole news conference is available here [starting roughly a half hour into the video] from Singapore’s Channel NewsAsia, with a pretty decent voiceover translation.

    It’s worth watching if only to see how composed but good-humored the boys and their coach are. They certainly kept their wits about them in the cave. As the article linked to points out they decided “to calm ourselves first, to try to fix the problem and find a way out. Be calm and not shocked,” in the words of Ekarat Wongsukchan (Bew).

    The coach, Ekkapol Chanthawong (Ake), makes it clear that the cave excursion was not a birthday celebration—in fact, they wanted to leave the cave by 5 pm because one of the boys, Peerapat Sompiangjai (Night), had his family at home waiting to celebrate his 17th birthday that day. Another boy, Pipat Bodhi (Nick) was also celebrating a birthday that day—he turned 15. (He’s not a member of the soccer team; he just wanted to hang out with his friend Bew.) And a third, Prajak Sutha (Note), became 15 on July 1. I suspect their families will not have forgotten their birthdays now that they are back home.

    And when asked to volunteer to leave the cave first, none of the boys rushed to do so, according to Coach Ake—“because we were so close to one another”—including to the Thai Navy Seals who stayed with them in the cave.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The Prime Minister at the time who pushed through the gun control laws was in the US a few years later and was at a conference of Republicans. He was asked what his greatest accomplishment was as Prime Minister by them by a member of the audience. He called out “Gun control!”

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