Links 8/4/18

Let Us Now Praise Infamous Animals Counterpunch (Tinky)

Kebnekaise glacier melts as Europe prepares for hottest day The Times

The Quietest Place in America Is Becoming a Warzone Gizmodo (David L)

Small Town Couple Left Behind a Stolen Painting Worth Over 100 Million and a Big Mystery Washington Post (Chuck4)

The Pundit Alexander Cockburn, Verso (J-LS). Republished 1980 column.

Report: Meteor Made 2.1 Kiloton Explosion Over Air Force Space Command Base Thule, Greenland. The Aviationist

Capitalism Killed Our Climate Momentum, Not “Human Nature” Naomi Klein, Intercept

The fightback against the bitcoin energy guzzlers has begun Wired. Paul R “Upstate NY (cheap hydropower), Iceland (geothermal) and China are all pushing back against bitcoin miners, not a moment too soon.”

Trump administration asks Supreme Court to vacate Obama-era internet rules Reuters

Air pollution linked to changes in heart structure Guardian

High Speed Internet Is Causing Widespread Sleep Deprivation, Study Finds Motherboard

North Korea

North Korea continuing nuclear programme – UN report BBC


China’s controversies create cracks in Xi’s façade Financial Times. Lambert noted that China’s messaging on trade was no where as consistent as one would expect it to be, and he intuited that it reflected some slippage of Xi’s hold on his operatives.

China’s summer of discontent Asia Times

Google Struggles to Contain Employee Uproar Over China Censorship Plans Intercept (Chuck L)

If Google bows to China’s censorship, it will put tech giant on a slippery slope Columbia Journalism Review (Chuck L)


‘He’s the high priest of project fear: Mark Carney’s ‘Doomsday’ Brexit predictions blamed for fall in pound Telegraph

Brexit: the lies that spread EU Referendum

Israeli diplomat who plotted against MPs also set up political groups Guardian (Chuck4)

The Corbyn Project New Left Review Anthony L

Denmark fines first woman for violating ‘burqa ban’ DW


Saudi Coalition Renews Attack On North Yemen’s Lifeline Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)

The Bleak House of the US-Turkey alliance Asia Times (Kevin W)

Tel Aviv seeks to separate its brand from Israel’s– ‘less than savory,’ ‘contentious’ Mondoweiss. Chuck L: “And some people say that Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is not working. Of course it’s working. It’s advancing this shift in perception.”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

23andMe’s Pharma Deals Have Been the Plan All Along Wired (Kevin W)

South Korea’s spy cam porn epidemic BBC (Chuck L)

Facebook Dating will be a feature, not an app; here’s a peek Techcrunch (Kevin W)

New tool helps users decide which countries their internet traffic transits TechXplore (Chuck L)

Tariff Tantrum

Trump is losing the trade war, according to his favourite measure Business Insider (Kevin W)

China unveils new tariffs on $60b of US goods in latest tit-for-tat trade war (Kevin W)

Why China’s pork producers can survive without US soybeans South China Morning Post

Trump Transition

Federal judge says Trump must fully restore DACA The Hill

Admit it – Trump basically maintains the status quo Spectator

Judge orders intel agencies to answer some ‘dossier’ questions in BuzzFeed case Politico

Long-term care is a vital part of any health system. And the only way to fund it is through Medicare for All. Jacobin (Kevin C)

Keynesian Republicans Are Boosting Growth Bloomberg (Steven C)

A note on internet use and the 2016 U.S. presidential election outcome PLOS. The abstract:

We use data from the American National Election Studies from 1996 to 2016 to study the role of the internet in the 2016 U.S. presidential election outcome. We compare trends in the Republican share of the vote between likely and unlikely internet users, and between actual internet users and non-users. Relative to prior years, the Republican share of the vote in 2016 was as high or higher among the groups least active online.

Zephyr Teachout Is Running for Attorney General. But Her Real Target Is Trump. New York Times (Adrien)


The NRA Says It’s in Deep Financial Trouble, May Be ‘Unable to Exist’ Rolling Stone (David L). The NRA gets a taste of the Wikileaks treatment.

Fake News

From earlier in the week, still germane:

The Oxygen of Amplification Data & Society (furzy). Warning, I have not read this, so it may well be a reader critical thinking exercise.

U.S. Recycling Companies Face Upheaval from China Scrap Ban Wall Street Journal

Physicists’ simple spanks economists’ complex in economic growth forecasts ars technica. Chuck L: “Someone should introduce these people to the works of Steve Keen & Co.”

Wells Fargo Discloses Tax-Credit Probe, Accidental Foreclosures Bloomberg

Passive investing is storing up trouble Financial Times

Silicon Valley billion-dollar valuations are inaccurate, says Elad Gil Business Insider. We were on to this issue a full year ago.

Job growth continues to slow Politico

Guillotine Watch

The posh person’s guide to happiness Telegraph

Class Warfare

There Are Still a Lot of Men Without Jobs Bloomberg (Steven C)

If the Economy is So Good, Why are Wages Flat? Counterpunch

Trump tax cut push for wealthy faces thorny obstacles Financial Times

Antidote du jour. Crittermom:

The smallest bird in N. America, the Calliope Hummingbird migrate over 5,000 miles each year. It’s also the smallest long-distance migrant in the world.

“Despite their tiny size, these territorial birds may chase birds as big as Red-tailed Hawks during breeding season.”

I find them beautiful but hard to film, as I’ve only ever seen one male each season. I was thrilled when this one showed up recently. Still trying to get better photos of it, but grateful for those I’ve been able to obtain so far, like this one…

And a bonus tweet (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. The Rev Kev

      Agreed. How Crittermom ever managed to be able to take a great image like that I have no idea. It must have been a helluva job to do so.

      1. polecat

        I’ve found, through close encounters, that hummers, if they perceive you as no threat, and are used to your presence, will often perch within close proximity to their human … however ,uh, fleeting that may be !
        I had one alight on a Fairy Wand inflorescence a couple of feet away, and procede to scold me for coming bewteen him and his favorite cluster of flowers.

        1. jonboinAR

          How about when you’re wearing a bright colored shirt and one suddenly appears buzzing up and down 6 inches from your body like an over-sized wasp. Scares th’ divil outa’ ya, I tells ya!

          1. polecat

            I can generally diSTINGish the sound of a hummingbird vs. a wasp, bee, bee drones … (which come close, but a sustained hover), hornets, etc .. but yes, for a split second, their approach can be slightly un-nerving .. especially when hovering inches from the back of one’s head ! .. before continuing on to feed !
            They are the most amazing of neo-dinosaurs.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              I like to sit watching the hummingbirds at my neighbors feeder. One time a male decided to be possessive about it. When another hummingbird showed up, he charged off his hidden perch and chased it around. They flew past me about 3 feet away, first the chase-ee and then the chase-er. I didn’t hear any wingbuzz from the fleeing bird but I heard a loud wingbuzz from the chasing male. I wonder if the males can alter their wingbeating to make a louder noise.

            2. Jack Parsons

              Yup, it’s not a hum, it’s a deep industrial thrumming you can feel in your chest.
              And, they’re really obnoxious little buggers because they know they’re faster than you.

          2. Synapsid


            Long ago, working on the Continental Divide in Colorado, during a lunch stop when I was wearing a red and black checked flannel shirt a hummingbird flew up to my back collar and proceeded to check out every red square on the back of my shirt: left to right, drop down a row, right to left, drop down a row, and so on–the raster or boustrophedon pattern. Sitting sidewise to the Sun I was able to watch the bird’s shadow as it moved down the shadow of my back. One of my partners said “You’ve been ‘checked’ out.”

          3. Susan C

            When I wear a pink thingy in my hair to make a top of head ponytail when outside on the patio, a hummingbird will come to 8 inches of my face and study it, like it’s figuring out if it’s a flower or not. One time when spraying the garden with a hose, it darted in and out of the fine spray like it was completely delighted. Beautiful picture.

    2. Lunker Walleye

      That is a gorgeous photograph. What skill! Many years ago one of the older architects I worked with brought a dead ruby throated hummingbird, encased in a matchbox, to the office. I took the beautiful bird out of the box and held it in my hand and was stunned by the iridescence, the near weightlessness and beauty of the creature.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I got to rescue one once. It was the proverbial dark and windy night in early spring, and something quite small smacked the window and landed on the ledge. Thinking it was a large insect, I picked it up and was startled to feel its heart beating. It woke up in my hand. After some thought and admiring it, I released it on the downwind side of the house, with best wishes.

        What it was doing flying at night I have no idea, but it was migration season.

        And I’ve had an experience similar to Susan’s, when one flew up to my face, took a look, and then flew away.

        They also perch on the power line, looking very like a row of clothespins.

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      What a gorgeous bird, and a pretty damn good capture for a creature so elusive. Thanks Crittermom for another glorious antidote!

    4. crittermom

      Thank you all for the nice compliments!
      I seem to get my best photos by blending in with the landscape & allowing the creatures to come to me.
      What many consider patience, I consider my favorite pastime–observing nature.

      I, myself, am blown away by the Lynx video below it. Wow! How cool is THAT?

      1. Susan the other

        The Jane Goodall approach. Very nice. This is hummingbird month here too. They are fluttering around the house catching glimpses of themselves in the windows. I marveled at your photo of the jack rabbit last year. I thought it was way zen. Thanks for these treats.

      2. foghorn longhorn

        Had the honor of rescuing a hummer in our sunroom many moons ago.
        First tried by hand, but ended up with a few tail feathers of hummer, probably will be useful for a future potion.
        Finally got him to alight on the end of a plastic flyswatter, the plastic bent ever so slightly, they must weigh a fraction of an ounce.
        Escorted him to the back door and sent him on his way.
        Could of been a girl I suppose, they do have tiny breasts.

        1. Susan the other

          I have a similar story fl – I waited till it rested on a high window sill and I stood under it with my dust mop. It was like telepathy. It quickly fluttered down and sat patiently while I took it out on the deck. cool.

  1. The Rev Kev

    “Report: Meteor Made 2.1 Kiloton Explosion Over Air Force Space Command Base Thule, Greenland.”

    Considering that this base is probably an early warning base against nuclear attack, that would explain Amazon’s emergency express delivery of underwear and panties to Thule the same day.

    1. Oregoncharles


      Yes, it certainly is an “early warning” base, so we’re lucky they didn’t, umm, overreact.

  2. fresno dan

    The Pundit Alexander Cockburn, Verso (J-LS). Republished 1980 column.

    Punditry performs a couple of practical functions for newspapers. On the old principle that comment is free and facts are expensive, it takes care of a couple of pages on the cheap and gives the publisher a proper sense of his own importance to boot. It also provides a stepping stone for those on the way from the newsroom to retirement: a stint as Sage in Residence and then the ink-stained old nag can be quietly let out to pasture.
    I think facts are expensive, BUT NOT because of the cost of obtaining them, but in eyeballs lost as eyes glaze over. How many will listen, see, or read a serious, detailed, and consequently long explanation of the differences between Obama and Trump border policy? (especially as it has gotten ever easier to get the “facts” you want)
    Cheaper, and much, much more entertaining to have pundits arguing tropes over, and over, and over….

    1. Steve H.

      Relevant > The Oxygen of Amplification

      “Further, given the deep performativity of these behaviors, New York Magazine’s Max
      Read encourages journalists to minimize focus on individual motivations or personal
      psychology. While these questions are certainly interesting, indeed while they serve as
      the bedrock for much investigative reporting, profiles that overemphasize motives and
      psychology tend to restrict focus to the individual, and more problematically, to information
      that is often unverifiable to begin with. In so doing, focus is directed away from the
      performative and/or ideological elements of a particular behavior or community.”

      It’s that ‘unverifiable to begin with’ that caught me. Punditry is performative, and given our modular mass of behavioral biases, those Sages who managed to navigate the shoals and maintain their pulpit were expressing individual opinions.

      And I am glad for it. Viewing the world through a particular perspective. Dan Schorr and Mike Royko come to particular mind.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Ah yes, old Slats Grobnick
        Royko was quite the treasure, glad I got to experience him in real time.
        A true ink stained wretch.

    2. Carolinian

      the ink-stained old nag can be quietly let out to pasture

      Greatness thy name is Cockburn. It’s a pity his acid wit isn’t still around for the age of Trump. His website partner St. Clair is a bit shrill on the matter.

  3. fresno dan

    And a bonus tweet (guurst):

    It should be against the law to post a movie and not show the ending. Are they standing there yet???

    1. oh

      Hilly and Orangie always make the same kind of noises and that’s how they fight. No ending to that!

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Small Town Couple Left Behind a Stolen Painting Worth Over 100 Million and a Big Mystery”: ‘Something else doesn’t add up. Jerry and Rita Alter worked in public schools for most of their careers. Yet they somehow managed to travel to 140 countries and all seven continents, documenting their trips with tens of thousands of photos.’

    I’ll have a go here. How about this. The theft of the painting was just the first half of this plot. The second half was to find a dealer who would be prepared to buy this stolen painting. I have heard that such people (ahem) are know to be found in the art world. Then after they get the money they do their runner. This is the money that has been financing their trips around the world all these years. They probably kept the painting in case they wanted to pull the same stunt again. Certainly they took steps to protect it.
    Remember that this theft took place back in 1985. You could still disappear back then. There was no internet, no Facebook, no computer networks hooked up to everything. I don’t think that you even needed to flash any ID on a flight within the US. The place they went to was tiny and they were semi-isolated but kept up the pretenses of normal jobs just to get along with the neighbours. Perfect geographic isolation. You can confirm this by looking at a satellite map of the region.
    Their real lives were when they went to the nearest city with an airport (probably El Paso), took a flight to say L.A. and then connected up with an international flight for their next trip. And they got away with it too for over thirty years.

    1. Jessica

      But if the stolen painting was hanging in their bedroom all along, what did they sell to get the money that funded their travel and left 1 million in the bank? Did they steal something else too?

      1. Kurtismayfield

        They could of.. this was hanging in an University art museum. I am guessing the security back in the 1980’s wasn’t very high tech. They could have sold another piece and kept that one for their retirement.. or it was too high profile to sell.

    2. sd

      My hunch is they were selling fake versions of the original on the black market as a “stolen” piece of art – no one would report that their stolen painting was a fake. So yes, there’s an art dealer out there who who would have been working the con with them. But the basis of the entire con relied on stealing the painting to begin with.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You could be right there. I would suspect that they would only have done this once or twice. The big pay-off. Why else go to such an isolated place to live unless you do not want to be found by not only the police but a disgruntled art dealer. I do not think that finding a dodgy dealer would be so hard as I have read that there are people in the art world who would make a Wall Street trader blush in shame.

    1. Plenue

      That’s Econ 101 nonsense; the idea that ‘free-markets’ are just some natural default. The reality is that humans are much more cooperative than competitive, and capitalism had to be imposed, often with force.

      1. Procopius

        Interesting support for your theory, Michael Perelman, The Invention of Capitalism. He says many of the arguments supporting classical economics were spun to force people off the land and into factories. Example: The draconian game laws forbidding people from catching any kind of game, even rabbits, on pain of years of imprisonment or even hanging.

    2. willf

      Saying “human nature is to blame for problem X not being solved” is to say that no one should be held accountable for their actions.

      If Exxon and other companies knew two generations ago that the use of their products would result in global warming, and then covered up this knowledge, it wasn’t “human nature” that was to blame, it was their greed.

      To say that this greed is the whole of human nature is a deliberate falsehood. It is human nature to want to protect one’s children. It is human nature to not want the place where you live to be ruined by climate change, or oil well leaks, or pipeline explosions. Naomi Campbell is correct to point this out.

      1. Charlie

        Well, it’s also a way the elites and their cronies say that only the little people should be held accountable and not them. “We” is us.

        1. The Rev Kev

          So the capitalists are trying to tell us: “It’s not us, it’s you” like in a break-up situation.

          1. Charlie

            How else can one explain the “green” rich neoliberals who harp about global warming while still maintaining their carbon intensive jet setting globe trotting lifestyle?

            Any options to ban the manufacture of Lear jets? Hmmmm.

    3. Massinissa

      Pretty sure people used to say the same thing about Mercantilism, Feudalism, slavery…

      1. Carolinian

        If humans do it then obviously it’s part of human nature unless you assume–as some once did–that the Devil made them do it. Klein’s thesis that global warming might have been solved in some more favorable ideological climate is dubious at best. Since the USA is the main contributor of greenhouse gases then a vast change in our social arrangements would have been necessary to make a significant impact. And yet a known change in everyday behavior–driving smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles–has been widely eschewed as Americans continue to favor light trucks and suvs. The car companies pushed this behavior but it’s also, as with Exxon, an instance of people being told what they want to hear. It’s likely that only active government intervention such as banning large vehicles or heavily taxing them would have made a difference in this particular aspect of the problem.

        We are all the blame in my view. And we will all or at least a majority have to agree to a solution.

        1. a different chris

          Wait a second. I was there, pretty young, but there. People made massive lifestyle changes in the 70s. My parents went from a 400ci Pontiac to a VW Rabbit. The whole neighborhood made radical improvements. Beyond car downsizing, windows got replaced, trips were re-thought (and they actually had decent vacation time then). Scrubbers were added to power plants and factories. There was a nuke guy seemingly around every corner to warn you of the dangers of coal.

          They didn’t “eschew” those changes at all.

          Then Reagan came along and blamed environmentalists for the weak economy. I dunno, maybe he was even correct at that point (unlikely). So we had “morning in America” and still thru the 80’s the best selling car was usually the Ford Taurus, not the F150.

          It took a while and a lot of “fake news” to get America to backslide. Yeah, I’m damn well saying the Devil, more like an assortment of small-d devils, made them do it.

        2. a different chris

          ….to further rant, the problem was that they accomplished* so much with the visible and affective (eyes, throat, lungs) pollution gases that the skies were clear enough for Ronny Raygun’s BS to get traction. Nobody in the industrial East would have listened to him in 1974.

          *yeah, they were starting to offshore, rather then eliminate, quite a bit unfortunately

          1. Carolinian

            To “stop” global warming would take far more than what happened in the 70s when cities were so dirty that you could spend a day in Manhattan and be coated in soot. There was a very visible problem then and people acted. To fix AGW would mean overturning our entire oil energy driven economy.

            There’s that altruism experiment where people do show altruism but only up to a point when it means an excessive impact on their own perceived welfare.

            Guess what I’m saying is that Klein’s argument–IMHO–is too glib.

            1. witters

              Well, Carolinian, what I think we have here is what Albert Hirschman called “the reactionary mind” in operation. The RM objects to all serious change, no matter how life or civilization necessary because of (i) perversity (reform will inevitably create problems more wicked than those it seeks to address); (ii) futility (reform changes little or nothing as the underlying patterns and structures are stronger); (iii) jeopardy (any new reform will endanger the achievements of the previous one).

              There is, in fact, a fair bit of RM on NC.

              1. Carolinian

                Think I was just reacting to Klein’s article which I find superficial. But ad hominem on. I’ll put up my carbon use to yours any day.

                Words are easy….actions not so much. Which was kinda my point.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I could be wrong but are those two lynxes using the road to mark the boundary of their territories? I’ve read that wolves mark the limits of their territory by peeing but this is something different if this is what they are doing.

        1. pretzelattack

          it’s interesting. the edge of the road seems to be the point of dispute. “hey why don’t we use these handy markers, humans have to be good for something, right?”

  5. JTMcPhee

    Re NRA financial distress, the creeps should be glad they don’t yet have to try to pull the Oral Roberts scam— telling his cultists that if they didn’t pony up $8 million (1987 dollars) in 3 months, God was going to call him home.

    I thought the gun makers provided most of NRA’s operating money. Maybe the extension beyond all reason of those 2d Smendment “rights” has become a turnoff and liability in the good will line item?

  6. tokyodamage

    re: NRA article

    First, thanks for the link, which i never would have found on my own – I avoid RS like the plague unless Taibbi is involved.

    Second, The comments are a HOOT.

    Also, if this makes NRA people start exercising their 2nd Amendment rights directly at insurance executives instead of schoolchildren . . . .

    1. JBird

      Russia!Russia!Russia! again? Only now it is the NRA as evil Russian agents??? The insanity is spreading everywhere. However, good riddance as what is being done to the NRA is sleazy but the NRA is just a group of slimy grifters now.

      Like many, many large advocacy groups and NGOs, think the Red Cross and its various BS attempts at aid recently, or far too many churches, the NRA has become organized con using the mask of what it was to steal get donations from the marks supporters.

      The NRA’s now represents gun makers, or more accurately it represents money, not gun users. It is certainly not a honest supporter of 2nd Amendment or even general gun rights. Further, it has morph into some monsterous White Citizens’ Council/gun rights group.

      Look at all the nonwhite legal gun owners killed by police even when they are unarmed them because of the police’s fear that they are legally carrying. Never a word in support of the victim, unless the victim is white, Then there is the all guns, all the time, in all places because FEAR but only if you are white.

      There are a number of other gun rights groups, some explicitly leftists. If one is a supporter, join one of those.

      Just watch out for those dirty Russians!

  7. edmondo

    Further proof that Evil only began on January 20, 2017:
    One of President Trump’s most vocal critics in the U.S. Senate said Friday that he once cried “tears of rage” over the Trump administration’s rhetoric.

    “I’m a big believer that if America, if this country hasn’t broken your heart, then you don’t love her enough,” Booker continued. “Because there’s things that are savagely wrong in this country.”

    One place where Booker claimed to have had his heart broken was Newark, N.J., the struggling Northeast city — with poverty and crime rates typically among the nation’s highest — where Booker served as mayor from 2006 to 2013.

    “Newark has gifted me a wisdom that can only come from wounds, a sense of purpose that can only come from shared pain,” Booker said, according to the Times. “It’s a city that at times where my heart has been broken but I’ve learned that the heart is this interesting organ that, it’s the only one that really works even if it’s gotten broken.”

    “Tears, wounds, love and hearts” all in one big package. Cory Booker must have hired a Hallmark card as his speechwriter. Funny how he never had any of these emotions when Obama was bombing babies in the Middle East.

  8. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Federal judge says Trump must fully restore DACA The Hill

    “DACA” is not a law, it is the result of a “memorandum” written by then secretary of homeland security, janet napolitano, in June, 2012 dictating the exercise of “prosecutorial discretion with respect to individuals who came to the united states as children.”

    Here is the actual “memorandum.” It’s a quick three page read.

    I presume the author of this article knows this. I also presume this “judge,” regardless of who appointed him, knows this as well, and that he understands that “prosecutorial discretion” is a tool used by prosecutors to avoid prosecuting lawbreakers for whatever reason and nothing more.

    The Trump administration has no more obligation to “legally justify” its use of “prosecutorial discretion” than the obama administration did, and the “judge” should have made it clear that this issue can only be addressed by the legislative branch, which made the law in the first place. Instead he chose to overstep his “authority” in service of the “resistance,” and the hill chose to make it seem legit.

    I honestly don’t know what “benefit” these “resisters” can possibly hope to gain by shredding the protections provided in the Constitution to all citizens. And can they really be deranged enough to not see that such recklessness will come back to haunt them as this DACA mess already has?

    1. Shane Mage

      The judge (a Bush appointee) found that Trump’s action was “arbitrary and capricious.” Which it quite evidently was. No government entity at any level is entitled to act in an arbitrary and capricious manner. It has nothing to do with the merits or demerits of prosecutorial discretion. It has everything to do with the most basic principle of law in a republic–the government is prohibited from arbitrary and capricious actions.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Yes, it appears that the issue is a process issue, the DoJ acted as if it harrumphed, the courts would fall in line. The ruling said the DoJ had no legal argument supporting its position. That is a problem.

      2. Fraibert

        I’d like to review the law in more detail, because I think Katniss’ point is essentially correct.

        Before applying the “arbitrary and capricious” standard, the district judge first had to conclude that the Secretary of Homeland Security’s actions in connection with rescinding DACA were subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”). Apparently the law in the D.C. CIrcuit is that courts can undertake APA review of a general enforcement policy of the executive branch when that policy is based on an interpretation of what the law requires. (I have not reviewed the cases, but that’s what the court in the DACA case indicates.) Essentially, because a key stated reason for the Secretary’s rescission is that DACA is contrary to law, the court previously found that it can review the rescission, which is a change in a general enforcement policy.

        However, by finding rescission of general enforcement policy to be reviewable under the APA, the court has effectively claimed the right to decide how the executive enforces the law and even when the executive may change its enforcement practices. Enforcement policies and practices _are not_ laws or regulations, but simply a decision on how to implement the above. To my mind, this is reaching into the zone of prosecutorial discretion.

        For what it’s worth, I don’t the D.C. CIrcuit’s rule would survive Supreme Court review–especially as the the general rule laid down by the Supreme Court is that the executive’s enforcement decisions are not reviewable.

        In any case, it would be astonishing (and I believe unprecedented) to hold that a court has the power to compel the executive to undertake an enforcement action, even if the court found under the D.C. Circuit’s rule the executive was acting under a misapprehension of law. At best the court could issue a declaratory judgment clarifying the law. This is a basic separation of powers issue.

        Likewise, it’s hard for me to see why a court can claim the opposite power–the power to prevent the executive from changing how it enforces preexisting (and unchanged) legal rules governing behavior. Even if the reason for the change is new or varying interpretation of law, the change is at bottom an executive exercise of its right and power to decide how it should enforce the laws.

  9. Summer

    “And that’s the curious dynamic we’re beset with in the age of Trump, where the most dominant interpretations of his presidency are also the most extreme. Feeding off one another, they together create this weirdly polarised discursive landscape, in which an imaginary Trump sets the terms of the debate…”

    That phrase “an imaginary Trump” activated the memory banks. The most likely explanation for this is that, in general it may not be the “age of Trump” or “age of Obama,” but we are in the age of the “imaginary Presidency.” Everybody fighting over perceptions, while issues go unresolved, unacknowledged, or undone.

    So remember:
    “Consider his latest. Picking up a thread from Charles Kesler’s I Am The Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism, Will argues that Obama is the “real radical” in the campaign. Why? Because Obama is “a conviction politician determined to complete the progressive project of emancipating government from the Founders’ constraining premises, a project Woodrow Wilson embarked on 100 Novembers ago.”

    Will doesn’t even bother to find examples of Obama’s policies that support this charge. That’s because he’d have a trouble time doing so. None of Obama’s policies as President are major departures from the contemporary center-Left.”
    “The book “incorporates more than eight years’ worth of writing” Chait did on this subject with the aim, primarily, of rebutting Obama’s critics from the left who view his presidency as lacking.

    This level of humility gives you the right frame of reference to understand the attitude that pervades the rest of Audacity’s pages. In Chait’s view, Barack Obama is a level-headed Rudyard Kipling hero; he describes Obama as the embodiment of the counsel of “If” on the importance of keeping one’s head “when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you.” He is a level-headed pragmatist with tendencies toward liberal Republicanism and a deep interest in policy and statesmanship, and any facts in discord with this unified theory of Obama are either dismissed outright or explained away as having nothing to do with the president himself….

    But it is also true that Obama leaves a nation more divided on racial lines than it was upon his election. He leaves a world in which American ground troops are spread even wider, and still on the ground in Iraq. (Chait’s foreign-policy chapter, “To Stanch a Bleeding World,” is notably spare.) And he leaves a Democratic party at its weakest point in a century, not just at the federal level but all the way down. There are reasons for this, reasons Jonathan Chait would be smart enough to see were he not so caught up in his own fantastical vision of an imaginary Obama…”
    Imaginary Barack was invented in Hawaii, sneaked into the Oval Office, and has no legitimate claim on the presidency. As for the real tall black guy posing in Washington, go ahead and treat him any way you want. You can jab your finger in his face, shout him down, call him a Muslim, a Kenyan, an illegal alien, you can invent all kinds of lies about him and then you can tell him – get out of that chair.

    In reality, the president is a more-or-less mainstream, smarter-than-average pol, left-of-center on some things, to the right on others, like guns, disturbingly hawkish on ordering the killing of American citizens suspected of terrorism, on national security, executive secrecy and immigration. He is, too, an inveterate compromiser who used to bend over backward to make deals — sometimes in advance! — with Republicans.

    But that guy is not as scary as Imaginary Barack.

    1. Lorenzo

      this was very well put! is now reminding me of Chomsky’s sober comparison between JFK and Reagan’s actual foreign policies in Understanding Power , and who how it too revealed an ‘imaginary presidency’ on which many people’s basic opinions about each President were formed.

  10. allan

    GOP trickle-down economics finally reaches the back row kids from Omaha:

    Berkshire Hathaway Inc, the conglomerate run by billionaire Warren Buffett, on Saturday reported a 67 percent increase in quarterly operating profit, as insurance underwriting rebounded and several businesses benefited from a growing economy and improving demand. …

    Net income rose to $12.01 billion, or $7,301 per Class A share, from $4.26 billion, or $2,592 per share, a year earlier.

    Results also reflected a decline in Berkshire’s effective income tax rate, to 20 percent from 28.9 percent, following last year’s cut in the federal corporate tax rate. …

    Berkshire also ended June with $111.1 billion of cash and equivalents, some of which Buffett could use to repurchase stock under a new policy giving him and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger more freedom to conduct buybacks. …

    1. Felix_47

      7300 dollars of income for a 300000 investment. Does that make sense? Would that not be like buying a 300000 house and getting only 7300 dollars a year rent net after expenses?

  11. Tomonthebeach

    New tool helps users decide which countries their internet traffic transits – waste of cash, but not without need.

    Tools like this matter because the internet is still full of segregation based upon geography.

    We live in Bulgaria part of each year so my spouse can stay connected to old friends. I cannot even connect with some of my banks from there. “Sorry, people from your country are not authorized to view this site.” “Sorry, your region is not authorized….” You never know what sites will slam the door in your puss till it happens. Way around? I use an app that routes my VPN through other countries like Sweden and UK. Ta da! But what gives with that?

    1. Andrew Watts

      I almost feel sorry for Mueller’s goons. Almost. I’ve known some judges who acted just like Eillis. In one instance this local judge who will remain nameless openly mocked the local PD in court over their sting operation and told the defendant what an idiot he was. He’s also been known to sentence jurists to an overnight stay in jail for not paying attention and/or messing with their cell phones in the middle of proceedings.

      When I went into the courthouse for jury duty I was going to attempt to high five him but chose not too. I’m pretty sure he’d have the bailiff haul me off to jail for contempt of court or something. I’m still a fan.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Another noted courtroom confrontation, with more of the vitriol coming from the antics of the defendants than the “excessive zeal” of the prosecution: “Tales of Hoffman,” on the conspiracy trial of the “Chicago Seven.” Included in the cast were Judge Julius Hoffman,, crotchety senior status former law partner of Richard J. Daley and straight Chicago Machine guy, and Abby Hoffman, “frazzle-headed Yippie” and his compadres, with William Kunstler and other notables in attendance. Here’s words from Haahvaad’s “The Crimson,” complete with lots of typos:

  12. nothing but the truth

    wages are flat because new jobs are basically min wage jobs.

    and “disruption” is actively destroying well paying jobs and turning them into profit, ahem … rent.

  13. Burritonomics

    Re: There are Still a Lot of Men Without Jobs

    Every time I read these articles, I think “I’m right here!”. Devastated by the Great Recession, I found myself without much of a career. Time to go back to school! Went back (in my late 30’s), got a degree (quant Econ – don’t laugh!), even learned some programming (R, Python, SQL) and now find myself unable to find a job. I suspect taking 4 years off work to go to school (luckily, wife has a good job that keeps us barely afloat) has made me damaged goods. Last interview I had one month ago (a 2nd interview no less!) ghosted me. One foot in front of the other, etc, etc.

    My point isn’t to grouse, it just amazes me that there’s still head scratching over the labor force participation rate. And on top of that, it give real perspective to “job training” programs. Teaching an unemployed person some microsoft office skills is not gonna get them a job in this environment.

    1. fresno dan

      August 4, 2018 at 1:15 pm

      to get a good job, get a good education
      As long as that shibboleth is put forward as the “solution” to unemployment (and I heard this in the 70’s – was it said before than?) we will have a reserve army of the unemployed. Whether it is shipping jobs overseas or importing H1-B tech workers to undercut all those computer scientists, lack of education or intelligence is not the problem.
      The problem is that the policy of the country is to advance the interests of the wealthy, and to take the money of everyone else.
      Now, stop breathing the rich’s air, and a Mr. Thiel would like the blood flowing through a body that you may believe you have ownership rights to….

      1. Lambert Strether

        > to get a good job, get a good education

        As long as the good job is educating others to get a good job.

        Like the Gold Rush, the only people making real money are the ones who sell the picks and pans…

      2. polecat

        For many the ‘modern school of hard knocks’ is an eduction in, and of, itself .. !!
        Self discovery and independent learning … and chucking much of what has been considered ‘Progress’ these last 30-50 years (or longer ..) .. is ‘the way of the future’ for those fed up with the grift engine.

        1. Carey

          Christopher Lash is (well, was; RIP.) good on this, with ‘The True and Only Heaven: Progress and its Critics’ being his magnum opus. A book to be
          lived with, IMO.

        2. foghorn longhorn

          Hard Knocks University
          Go back in time, try to live like your grandparents or even great grandparents.
          Everybody has a skill, try to monetize what your childhood dream was, it might be raising horses or cows or growing plants, my grandma was a seamstress, her hubby made candy.
          There are many paths to the finish line, follow the one that resides within you.
          Hope that doesn’t come off as corny or condescending.

          1. ambrit

            No it doesn’t. However, I doubt that many here would adjust well to subsistence living. Consider it a form of “just in time” living. The anxiety levels there were well attested to during the Dickensian times by the high rates of alcoholism and drugs use among the ‘lower orders.’
            We’ve been pretty lucky, but we still consider ourselves as Adjunct professors at “The University of Hard Knocks.”
            (I’ve got to find the School Tee Shirt.)
            Ah ha! Here it is, very popular:

            1. JTMcPhee

              The people of the lower orders in Dickens’ time, many of them, had been forced off life on the land by enclosures of the commons and rack-rents and other fun by the ownership class. The perilous life of the lower orders in the cities was pure and simple the result of the concentration of wealth, the policies that encouraged population and consumption growth, and the rest of the ills that Marx and Dickens described.

              There’s too many people to go “back to the land,” which is also largely despoiled and poisoned and unable to revert to sustainable agriculture. So the precariat is well named, and not too many have the health, reserve resources and capacities to move to a simpler life.

              So it seems to me, anyway. My sister and her ex had a great organic farm on the Oregon coast, but were too “into” it, and as they found out, not well suited to each other, to make a go of it over time. The new owners are, I hear, doing quite well, feeding themselves and with a surplus to share and sell…

              1. foghorn longhorn

                I suppose my point wasn’t about going back to the land, but about adjusting when corporate-land tries to leave you in the dust.
                You can try to hang onto the bumper and crawl back into the driver’s seat or say eff it and adapt a simpler lifestyle.
                Neither option is easy, either way is living on the edge.
                Just like the 22 dollar seamless avocado on toast that you cam make yourself for 1.89, there are options.

                1. bob

                  It is condescending.

                  “there are options.”

                  No, they’re aren’t. That the point of this thread. There are no “options”, for way too many people. Most, some would say.

                  Painting anything as an “option” between “simple” and “other” is condescending. Painting a job search as a choice between avocado toast is an insult. How many times have you seen jobs on a menu, or at a supermarket?

                  Or maybe you were referring to the lifestyle market? Who orders “destitute” off the menu? Do they get a refund upfront?

                  “it’s just math, bro! Adjust and/or adapt and/or die.”

    2. bob

      “Teaching an unemployed person some microsoft office skills is not gonna get them a job in this environment.”

      No, but it does create jobs for the credentialed means-testing class.

      1. ambrit

        I’ve noticed that the phenomenon you refer to also goes along with the rise of HR departments and the application of algorithmic sorting systems to employment processes.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      At the collective level, this problem will need a political and social solution. But perhaps one-in-a-thousand disemployed individuals can make a personal individual escape from the killing fields.

      I graduated university with a degree in dishwashing . . . basically, and a minor in security guarding. After years of economic fear and despair, a chance emerged to take Pharmacy Technology at County Community College. Pharmacy Technology is not a career. It was never going to be. It was only just a job . . . but a much better job than dishwashing and security guarding. I got a job as Pharmacy Technician in my late twenties. At my current place of work ( for 31 years now and counting, I have seen people in their 30s get hired. So perhaps the approaching-middle-aged man who can’t start a career in a no-careers-available situation . . . can still get a job, just-a-job, after a 1 or 2 year Community College program in some particular just-a-job job skill.

      The question also arises — are you living in a house with a real yard around it? Does this yard offer scope for enough gardening to grow a significant amount of food?

    4. tomk

      “Teaching an unemployed person some microsoft office skills is not gonna get them a job in this environment”
      Probably true, but it might be a temp job for you. In my area there is a real need for computer tutors to help folks set up and function without stress on their computers. Just basic stuff like storing photos, email, and such can be overwhelming for those not so inclined, especially if one wants to have some measure of control over their data and not turn it over to apple or google. Learning computer skills may not get someone a job but it can make a retired person’s life a lot less stressful. I know the gig economy is not generally a good thing, but…

  14. Andrew Watts

    RE: North Korea continuing nuclear programme – UN report

    The utter futility of maintaining sanctions on North Korea was acknowledged in the report too. Neither China or South Korea will be willing to uphold sanctions much longer in spite of the fact that Russia was the only party implicated in ignoring them. Nor have they ever produced the results anticipated by American policymakers.

    The next diplomatic hurdle in the Korean saga is an official declaration the ends the Korean war. Both North and South Korean leaders have publicly expressed an interest in an official proclamation before the end of the year. China has also made positive sounding noises supporting it so it appears that only Washington is the holdout.

    If such an end to war declaration isn’t issued by that date it’s likely America will be blamed and it’s influence will suffer accordingly. The North Koreans aren’t going to grovel for it at any rate. To do so would be a massive loss of face considering that have always believed the Korean War a victory over the US.

  15. Susan the other

    ArsTechnica. Chris Lee. Physics does economic predictions with accuracy. I was going to say this looks like a rationalization for austerity (keeping the fitness of the economy from overheating) until I realized how profound this actually is. It eliminates all the wiggle room of the fudgers. It seems like a no-brainer that high economic fitness (variety) is a good predictor GDP…. so then the question dawns out of the fog: Why had this obvious analysis been ignored? I can think of a few reasons. The one quibble I have with physicists reducing the economy to a single (but complex) statistic (“economic fitness”) and predicting the obvious (GDP) is that the complexities of the input really do become black swans – like global warming; environmental devastation; human overpopulation; you know, all the qualitative things. But I do certainly think it is high time to bring all the nonsense economic analysis to heel. It can be much more logical.

      1. integer

        And the NYT’s has a point about her intent.

        Many of Jeong’s most offensive tweets were not replies to other tweets, let alone tweets that would constitute harassment, so the justification that she “responded to that harassment by imitating the rhetoric of her harassers” seems a little disingenuous IMO.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Enough of this sort of thing being made known to a wider audience, and eventually the acronym RPOC ( pronounced ” arpock”) will enter the language.

      RPOC stands for Racist Person Of Color.

  16. anon

    Re: 23andMe’s Pharma Deals Have Been the Plan All Along

    For those interested in the subject, here’s another piece, from Tuesday: Uninformed and Uncompensated: Between 23andMe and Ancestry, Who Owns Our Genetic Data?, which, among others, made this important point:

    Is this data—which is inherently skewed toward white people and those who can afford the tests—going to actually give us better drugs? Just as much of scientific research is done on male rodents and subjects, therefore harming woman, trans, and intersex patients, the lack of ethnic and racial diversity in this data pool might ultimately minimize the positive impact new drugs might have.

    Which brings to mind 23andme’s designer baby patent; filed in 2008, awarded in 2013.

    I’ve been worried about 23andme ever since its Google backed inception; particularly after viewing that hideous 23andme zeppelin in front of the NASA/Moffet Field naval air strip ( ); distracting everyone doing 60 to70 miles per hour on highway 101 (it was even worse than Apple’s Gandhi billboard, located in the same Silicon Valley vicinity).

    Like ex-husband, like ex-wife: we want to databank the dna of the entire world, to paraphrase the initial 23andme founding statement, unfortunately (and of course) I can no longer easily find that initial mission statement.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      I found the idea of people paying a company to sell their own DNA to government agencies and Pharma such a sign of the times we live in. That is right, they paid a company to analyze their DNA, and the company sells it to anyone with a checkbook.

      Just a suggestion if you truly want your DNA sequenced for medical reasons.. contact a large hospital system with the means to do so. Tell them you want the data encrypted, and on a portable drive. Make sure that they actually will follow HIPAA, and will not use your data for anything. This will cost you a lot of green ($5-10k depending on the coverage).

      Full disclosure.. I worked in a DNA sequencing lab for years back in the dark ages.

      1. anon

        Quite unfortunately, Medical Institutions, at least here in Silicon Valley (of course), are already partnering with 23andme: :

        Please load your genotype file
        For genotype files, please load an unzipped .txt file.
        At this time, only raw files from 23andme and Lumigenix are supported natively.

        1. Kurtismayfield

          That is a genome comparison tool for researchers. It is not the same as what 23andme is doing. But yes I get your point that they are infecting even Stanford.

          1. anon

            Thanks much for responding, Kurtismayfield.

            I just realized that you likely saw an entirely different web page than I. I had scripting turned off, and there was no notification on the page (which there usually is) that a very large amount of information was missing as a consequence. The page I saw was very bare bones, mostly ’whites space,’ and the above quote I posted was about 70% of the bare bones text on the page. (And, frankly, even then, there still seems to be an unspoken partnership of sorts there, given that the Stanford website is specifying 23andme files.)

            This is a far more clear, July 2016, partnership between 23andme and Stanford: 23andMe partners with Stanford researcher on MPN , here’s another, May 2015, partnership: Researchers from Stanford University and 23andMe Discover Genetic Links to Rosacea

            And yes, Stanford University – along with way too many of it’s Tenured™ folk™ – does not have a good record (and that’s not at all just a recent issue) when it comes to the blurring of the line between tech billionaires (and historically: eugenicists, warmongers, etcetera) and Stanford’s Institute of Higher Learning™. Perhaps that’s because Stanford ‘nurtured’ so many of those tech billionaires it quietly allows in, through a side entrance, to obscenely commoditize the human data they’ve surreptitiously collected for enormous profit — and even audaciously charged for the collection of, as in the case of 23andme.

    2. anon

      Here’s a 2016 report (of course, not from the US) regarding the ethical issues brought about by 23andme, 23andMe: a new two-sided data-banking market model:


      In this Debate, we highlight the likelihood that the primary objective of the company was probably two-fold: promoting itself within the market for predictive testing for human genetic diseases and ancestry at a low cost to consumers, and establishing a high-value database/biobank for research (one of the largest biobanks of human deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and personal information).


      By dint of this marketing approach, a two-sided market has been established between the consumer and the research laboratories, involving the establishment of a database/DNA biobank for scientific and financial gain. We describe here the profound ethical issues raised by this setup.

      Unlike the Wired piece, and the piece I linked to in my above comment, the report specifically discusses the implications of the Google backdrop:

      Another link that would merit closer scrutiny is that connecting 23andMe to Google. Google was one of the principal investors in all four rounds of financial investment in this company. Google may be interested in the web behavior information for its search engine activity, and in the self-reported information and genetic information, which may be of use to subsidiary companies, (e.g., X, originally Google X lab) (Fig. 5). This idea raises other ethical issues due to the transhumanist vision of Google, with its growing monopoly on the emergence of new technologies, ultimately resulting in a lack of competition and, in some instances, a possible threat to democracy. Indeed, after five years of investigation, the European Commission accused Google of abusing its dominance of the market in April 2015 [50]. This example illustrates the difficulties inherent to companies attempting both to provide services and to relay information. 23andMe should therefore carefully consider the risks they face, because, in this instance, the products are biological materials and health data.

      And speaking of that Google China Censorship fracas, the report above only included VC funding received through September 2015; it doesn’t include the first time, October 2015 funding from, among other VC funders (which include Google), the Venture Capital arm of WuXi. In March of this year, WuXi’s genomics organization — which sells consumer-oriented products in ChinaWuXi NextCODE, entered into a partnership with Google Cloud .

  17. RiverboatGrambler

    I’ve noticed Youtube has taken to telling me when certain videos are funded by the Russians, and just yesterday I was informed that one of the videos I watched was put out by the Australian Public Broadcasting company. I thought “Oh shit, did the Australians tell Hillary not to campaign in Wisconsin?”

  18. ewmayer

    “If the Economy is So Good, Why are Wages Flat? | Counterpunch” — As most NCers know, the apparent contradiction is easily resolved by changing the silly declarative “the economy is good” to the question “for whom is the economy good?” Why, for those getting rich from ongoing wage suppression, naturally.

  19. JTMcPhee

    Under “the painful ironic humor keeps writing itself,” here’s another one from Gizmodo, relating that “The DNC is telling Democrats [candidates and their staffs] to dump their ZTE and Huawei devices, even if they’re cheap,” . One fun part:

    …The DNC has ample reason to be concerned: During the 2016 campaign season, their email systems were successfully targeted by (allegedly Russian) hackers who orchestrated a phishing campaign. The U.S. intelligence community has been publicly floating separate concerns about both Huawei and ZTE since at least February, when officials from the FBI, CIA, and NSA testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that either company could be spying for the Chinese government.

    FBI Director Chris Wray told the committee, “We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks… [purchasing Huawei or ZTE products] provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.”

    Earnest advice from the NSA and CIA and FBI that “share our values…” Just who is the “we” that “our” refers to?

    Too bad that Will Rogers and George Carlin are gone…

  20. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. Recycling Companies Face Upheaval from China Scrap Ban”: ‘Some cities and towns could decide that keeping their recycling services is simply too expensive.’

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When your recycling plan is to send your trash to another country, its not a recycling plan, It’s making your problem somebody else’s problem. Kinda like sorting your garbage and then throwing the worse of it in your neighbour’s backyard and then taking pride in being environmentally friendly.

  21. Daryl

    > If Google bows to China’s censorship, it will put tech giant on a slippery slope

    Oh my. Hope they don’t trip over Cisco or any of the many other companies aiding and abetting the world’s censorship scheme on that slope.

Comments are closed.