Links 8/7/18

Great Horned Owl who made the police blotter now in the care of Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release YubaNet (Randy K)

The Birth of a Bomb and the Rebirth of a City Angry Bear

Risk of ‘Hothouse Earth’ despite CO2 cuts BBC. See Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene PNAS

Climate And Wildfire Science Specialist Weighs In On Worsening Conditions In California NPR

Cal Fire To Trump: We Have Plenty Of Water. The Problem Is Climate Change. Huffington Post (Kevin W)

A New Material That Could Create Super Batteries OilPrice. Vaporware alert.

Workplace Wellness Programs Don’t Work Well. Why Some Studies Show Otherwise. New York Times (UserFriendly)


Australia’s China reset The Monthly


How Brexit will kill the sandwich Politico

Europe really doesn’t need us as much as we need them Sky

Weber hält harten Brexit für „von Tag zu Tag wahrscheinlicher“ Die Welt. Google Translate: Weber considers hard Brexit “more likely from day to day”

Britain’s Brexit Billionaire Slams the Establishment Bloomberg

Brexit Noise Drowns Out London’s Cry for Help Bloomberg. Vlade: “New term: ‘Neglexit.'”

Labour’s chief economic adviser confirms it is committed to the thinking that will deliver yet more austerity Richard Murphy. Who will have the heart to tell Artist Taxi Driver?


US reimposes sanctions on Iran: What does that mean? DW

EU acts to protect firms from Donald Trump’s sanctions against Iran Guardian (Kevin W)

Saudi Arabia suspends Toronto flights in row with Canada BBC

American Pravda: Jews and Nazis Ron Unz

Imperial Collapse Watch

The American Sea of Deception Truthdig (RR)

Codename Acor Sycamore – The Saudi-U.S.-Al-Qaeda Operation To Reconquer Canada Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Facebook wants your banking information, too Quartz (Kevin W). Original story: Facebook to Banks: Give Us Your Data, We’ll Give You Our Users Wall Street Journal. Readers incensed, many threatened to dump their bank if it shared data.

Trump Transition

Stone Cold: Mueller Wins Key Legal Challenge To His Authority As Special Counsel Jonathan Turley

Rick Gates testifies that he committed crimes with Paul Manafort and embezzled money from him Business Insider

Steel Giants With Ties to Trump Officials Block Tariff Relief for Hundreds of Firms New York Times (Scott)

DOJ Says Judge Ignored ‘Economics, Common Sense’ in Allowing AT&T-Time Warner Deal Wall Street Journal

Kirsten Gillibrand Pays The Price For Speaking Out Against Al Franken Huffington Post. UserFriendly: “LOL Clinton world goes after Gillibrand for being an opportunist.”

Democratic challenger hopes to repeat Ocasio-Cortez’s success in Washington state Seattle Times (UserFriendly)

Did Climate Change Happen Once Before In Earth’s History? Atlantic. UserFriendly: “Stupid headline, it cycled several times, but it gives a good description of how hot the planet can get.”

University of Michigan considers less public investment process Bloomberg (Mlle Detroit)

Fake News

Apple, YouTube and Facebook won’t silence Alex Jones and Infowars — but their bans will sharply limit his reach Recode

Anonymous vows to take down, expose QAnon TheHill (UserFriendly)

Crisis Retrospective. Brace yourself for lots of words, not much insight, and more than you want to see in the way of blame-shifting. Nevertheless…

Ten Years After the Crash, We Are Still Living in the World It Brutally Remade New York Magazine. A lot of perspectives, including Shiela Bair, Stephanie Kelton, and your humble blogger! Although you can tell I have gone feral. My manner of speaking to the reporter was audibly colloquial rather than elite-speak.

Heat and Humidity Slow Down High-Frequency Trading Due To Microwave Links Slashdot

Financial Health of U.S. Consumer Will Determine Severity of the Next Recession Wall Street on Parade. UserFriendly: “That quote from the student could have been from me, practically the same.”

Identity crisis: the insurers moving away from insurance Financial Times (David L)

It Just Doesn’t Let Up with Wells Fargo Wolf Street (EM)

Guillotine Watch

Betsy DeVos’s summer home deserves a special place in McMansion Hell Vox (Clive, John C)

(A Just World) Hang’em High Ian Welsh (Steve C)

Class Warfare

Left Parties & Neoliberalism – The Real Story Jacobin (Anthony L)

The robot paradox Stumbling and Mumbling (UserFriendly)

Gig Firms Ask California Dems to Rescue Them From Court Ruling Bloomberg (David L)

Separate is still unequal: How patterns of occupational segregation impact pay for black women Economic Policy Institute

The two biggest trends on Earth Axios. About inequality.

Instead of houses, young people have houseplants Economist (UserFriendly). I have cats because they are much more difficult to kill than plants (cats are very vocal as to their needs), but I’d have plants too if I were more successful with them.

‘Too Little Too Late’: Bankruptcy Booms Among Older Americans New York Times

‘Why Elect Progressives? THIS’: Shredding of Social Safety Net Blamed as Bankruptcies Soar for Older Americans Common Dreams (Kevin W)

NYC becomes first major city to make jail phone calls free Axios

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “Mr. and Mrs. Grackle sharing a meal”:

And a bonus video:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Olga

    There is an important story from AP: Yemen: US allies strike deals with al-Qaida in war on rebels,-al-Qaida-battle-rebels-in-Yemen
    MoA put in context:
    He asks a question: why – if this has been known for many years – are official media suddenly publishing this?
    Both Samantha Power and N Haley have suddenly condemned Saudi bombing of Yemen – I guess the just noticed. Haley is all of a sudden aware that civilians and infrastructure in Yemen are at risk. What gives?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      My guess would be is that finally there is internal pushback within the military/CIA/State Department against the sabre rattling against Iran and the alliance with SA/EAE/Israel. I’ve just finished Seymour Hershes excellent memoir, and he writes that it was very common for disaffected intelligence officers at all levels to brief journalists to provide some counter-pressure against policies they disagreed with. Whether it was published or not in the mainstream press depended a great deal on the status of the leaks and the political weathervanes of the newspapers. This seems to have more or less stopped thanks to Obamas relentless attack on whistleblowers, but maybe the more sensible individuals within the ranks are a little more emboldened now and some newspapers (nI assume an agency like AP will be less political than the WP or NYT) are willing to publish.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Saudi dictator may have had his recent fluff tour, but my guess is in the realization that there is one war Americans will gladly support, toppling the Saudi regime. Powers, Haley, and denizens of Versailles might be bought, but they need an element of popular support.

      The media blackout may have happened, but certainly anecdotal, I’m chums with a recent veteran and encounter his veteran friends and they aren’t particularly fond of the House of Saud. What questions are they being asked in passing or at public appearances matter.

      9/11 was a huge deal, and no amount of ego stroking for Western elites who are deeply distrusted and meetings with Oprah are going to help change the perceptions of the Saudi dictatorship.

      As far as Power, she who famously called HRC a monster doesn’t have a home in the GOP and is dependent on her celebrity among Democratic voters for status, but the conservative Democrats who invoke Obama are seemingly less popular these days with their own voters. Even if a guy like Crowley had won, he would have been a weak animal and zebras don’t change their stripes. If it was this year, it was next year when he would have lost.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        And obviously with Power especially, isn’t she complicit? Haley can probably claim she knew nothing because well…, but with a multi-year genocide in progress, Power might have a real problem given her advisory position to Obama.

        This isn’t a discussion of “ignoring” genocide such as Rawanda but active participation. It was probably shared by Glen Greenwald, but a few days ago, it was over a year since MSNBC’s last segment on Yemen.

        In this age of information gathering abilities and the NSA, they can’t say they didn’t know. They knew, and it was probably to sell guns to make GDP look better.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Those were the days…the sense of Hillary inevitability and the 2016 Democratic Party triumph through no effort really addled minds as Power and others recognized problems in the past.

            Of course, Power wasn’t inviting Henry Kissinger to Red Sox games at the time.

  2. milesc

    Anybody in a rush should skip to 1:56 on the “Whale jumps out of nowhere” bonus video.

      1. JTMcPhee

        You could make a lot of sushi and whale steaks with that majestic animal! Where’s my harpoon and flensing knife? /s

    1. Eclair

      Ah, but then you miss the tension-filled build-up. Like a horror film, when you just know the monster is going to jump out from the closet, but you want to keep the delicious anticipatory thrill going as long as possible.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Was it an angry, aggressive gesture or was something nice to please the human masters out to sight-see whales?

      1. Oregoncharles

        It certainly appeared to be intended for the boat. I’m sure the whale could see it, and can probably hear the reaction. It was a very showy jump, complete with half twist.

        “They’re too quiet. Let’s get some noise out of them.”

  3. Olga

    While we might not like Alex Jones, his ban from social media was followed by other bans:
    This includes: “Radio host and editorial director of Scott Horton, former State Department employee and author Peter Van Buren, and Dan McAdams, the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, found their twitter accounts suspended on Monday, according to”
    What was that saying about “I did not speak out when they came for the communists because I was not a communist…”?

    1. larry

      As you probably know, it came from Pastor Niemoeller. And the ending we probably both know — Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me. Niemoeller was himself something of an antiSemite, which he later regretted publicly in an interview sometime I think in the early sixties.

    2. zagonostra

      One of the rejoinders most commonly used with respect to one of Alex Jone’s “conspiracies” on the MSM (which should include GAAF) was that if the “Illuminati” (e.g. ruling elites/political class, etc) controlled it why would they ever allow his and programs like his to be aired.

      As repugnant and comical as his program was/is, it did allow for alternate views, views that my less than well-educated friends and family flocked to.

      This move to ban him from social media will probably be met with the same deafening silence as that of Julian Assange – though the two couldn’t be more different – your comment “I did not speak out…” is apropos.

      1. Louis

        One of the rejoinders most commonly used with respect to one of Alex Jone’s “conspiracies” on the MSM (which should include GAAF) was that if the “Illuminati” (e.g. ruling elites/political class, etc) controlled it why would they ever allow his and programs like his to be aired.

        It really isn’t that that complicated.

        Alex Jones, whether you like him or not, brings in ratings, which translates into more money for the networks that air his rants. The “elites”, or whatever boogeyman term you want to use, were trying to having both ways: i.e. be outraged over Alex Jones while also reaping in money and influence.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I’ve seen Alex Jones two or three times and to be honest I thought that he was a bit of a dill. But here is the thing. He was banned from Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify within hours of each other. In other words, this was a coordinated attack so the implication that there was – gasp! – collusion!
      So at the very least, the bosses of Apple Facebook and Google got together and decided who had the right to free speech in America and it wasn’t him. If they wanted to silence him for the midterms I would imagine that he will quickly develop alternate channels of spreading his messages so they might have jumped the gun here.
      This is starting to remind me of Occupy Wall Street when there was a crackdown in several cities all at the same time as in “coordinated”. Idiots like Jones you shut down with facts and your own arguments and not by dropping him down a memory-hole. This way has abuse written all over it. Would a Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have won if she had been given the same treatment? Will this happen to people of her ilk in the upcoming midterms? How would you ever know?

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      According to msnbs this morning, Alex Jones has gotten 20,000 new twitter followers since yesterday. Apparently he did not violate twitter’s “terms of service.”

      Further, according to msnbs, facebook et al. are private companies and, as such, can “legally” erase him for violating their terms. It is not a first amendment issue since he is still “free” to “stand on a street corner” and shout his message.

      Well, I guess that clears THAT up.

      1. Aumua

        It is not a first amendment issue since he is still “free” to “stand on a street corner” and shout his message.

        Right, like he did in A Scanner Darkly. Until he was dragged away and carted off in an unmarked van.

    5. ScottS

      Why is it all-or-nothing? Alex Jones incited violence and the others banned didn’t (as far as I know). I support banning Alex Jones not because he has a different ideology but because he lies to incite violence. The fact that Twitter thought they could sneak those other bans in is on them.

      1. The Rev Kev

        noun: censorship

        1. the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.

      2. witters

        “Inciting violence?” Media that does that to be banned? OK. So there goes the MSM, all of it. Come to think of it…

    6. Elizabeth Burton

      Let’s put on our foil hats for a moment. What I’m about to say is based on my daily use of social media and the observations I’ve made the last few years on it.

      First, it took a personal visit cross-country by Mark Warner for Zuckerberg to “discover” the Facebook accounts allegedly used by Russians to post stuff intended to affect the election. It was the third time the search was done.

      Second, Facebook is widely known as a superb way for anti-establishment groups to organize, both as groups and for events. Twitter is good for broadcasting on the day of, but getting for getting it together Facebook is excellent.

      Third, Zuckerberg (and to a lesser degree Twitter) was literally ordered by the US government to “fix” all that “fake news” being disseminated on Facebook by “enemies of the US.” As a result, a good number of leftist accounts were blocked and/or removed, but the right-wing accounts were barely touched. Oh, they claimed they were, and much ranting ensued; but those who took the time to research things noted the above.

      Fourth, shortly after this, articles began appearing in various mainstream outlets warning us of the pernicious effect social media, and Facebook in particular, were having on our brains. We were warned to escape while we can. A few people got scared and scarpered, but not many. So, next came the dreadful revelation that Cambridge Analytica had gotten data from Facebook and sold it to Donald Trump!!! ™ . Lost in the storm of “Your data was used to elect Trump!!! ™” was the disclosure the campaign actually found the data from the RNC much more useful. The loser, though, was Facebook, which thus became the poster child for privacy invasion, never mind just about everybody else in the netosphere is doing the same thing.

      Now, we have the Tech Giants turning Alex Jones into a martyr by driving him offline. And anyone who doesn’t realize that’s exactly what’s going to happen needs to pause and ponder a moment. And who is it most attracted to the kind of ranting Mr. Jones does? Young men. Young men who are tech savvy, and so for whom tracking him down won’t take a moment. The general public, of course, will now not have a clue what those young men are being told—or encouraged to do.

      As was pointed out, Jones wasn’t the only one affected. Will Jimmy Dore and Lee Camp suddenly find themselves personae non grata as well? Lee already had several of his posts to Facebook blocked in the past.

      Will criticizing the DNC come to be defined as “hate speech”? Will Dr. William Barber be blocked from speaking because telling poor people they need to stand up and fight is “instigating violence”?

      So, yes, indeed, Dr. Niemoller’s lament is very, very a propos, and frankly, I’m getting more scared by the minute for all the brave souls like Yves and Lambert and Lee and Jimmy who are standing up for the truth.

    7. xformbykr

      Paul Craig Roberts wrote on Aug. 4,

      “The Deep State Intends To Destroy Alex Jones—Don’t Let Them

      Fabricated, unwarranted lawsuits are being used in an effort to shut down Alex Jones who raises too many issues that those who rule us do not want raised. At times Alex can be over the top, but overall he has spread a lot of awareness of events that otherwise would have received no notice.

      There is no doubt whatsoever of William Binney’s expertise and integrity. This hour long interview with him is posted on Info Wars, not on CNN, BBC, MSNBC, NPR, or Fox News. It is not printed in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times or the Washington Post. “

      The William Binney interview mentioned can be seen at Jesse’s Cafe Americain,

      Are these dots connected?

    8. Carol

      “I did not speak out when they came for the fascists because I was not a fascist. I did not speak out when they came for the psychopaths because I was not a psychopath.” Alex Jones falls into that spectrum somewhere. It’s been a long time coming. His speech damaged lives and incited people, and all for what? Performance. He’s admitted it’s all a show. Even he doesn’t believe the shit. Just because they came for a psychopath doesn’t mean they’re going to come for you, unless of course….. It’s time they quit protecting them.

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    Hothouse Earth–

    It looks like there are three possibilities at this point:

    1) a massive and near universal spiritual and moral awakening that leads to a drastic change in the way people live and relate to each other and the Earth; or

    2) a smothering, worldwide and almost certainly brutal State that imposes controls on the most fundamental aspects of being human from what we eat to reproductive behavior; or

    3) war, famine and pestilence that reduces the human population and the accouterments of civilization to 5,000 BCE levels.

    Some of our elites aren’t concerned beyond their lifespans. A lot of those private equity bloodsuckers are only worried about how to increase their next set of fees, for example. The rest are busy preparing for option #3 by consulting people like Rushkoff.

    The rest of us, without political or economic power, are on our own to do something to keep life livable for our children and grandchildren.

    1. jefemt

      Highly recommend “Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight” by Thom Hartmann. Written two decades ago– succinct wide ranging identification of issues, and an idea on what we could do.

      My Kool-Aid barrel has been empty for over a decade, and I am not too hopeful— not many indicators that cooperation and living in a different paradigm is in most folks hearts and minds- and the developing world seems to ‘need’ to aspire to our wretched excesses and demands for frivolous convenieces. Frogs boiling in a pot, there will be lots of pain and suffering, and those ‘in the club’ of first-world can’t seem to develop a realistic worldview that the enemy IS us, and that we are ‘they’ and ‘the Other’, and sharing IS caring.

      Are we riding our bikes and walking? Staying closer to home? Moving closer to workplace? Growing gardens, putting food by, and sharing with those who have less? Divesting of stocks and installing solar panels? Using cash? Consuming less? Learning to make music, dance, and enjoy a longer visit with friends, neighbors, and strangers? Buying in bulk in re-useable non-plastic carrying/ storage containers? Writing to our ‘reps’ and demanding peace and programs/opportunities based on social justice?

      Much to do. Just Do It.

      “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”


      1. Fiery Hunt

        While I share your ideals, the truth is there is LITTLE or NOTHING I can do regarding your list that would make a damn difference…Stop driving? I need my truck for WORK. Stay closer to home, move closer to work? I CAN”T AFFORD TO. Growing a garden and sharing with those who have less? I LIVE IN AN APARTMENT(no outdoor space.) Divest of stocks? I DON”T HAVE ANY. Installing solar panels? ON WHAT…MY TRUCK? and on and on…(sidenote…I have been trying to eliminate plastic from my world, but damn, it’s impossible!)

        If you have these things, more power to ya. But if you don’t understand that not everyone is so blessed with WEALTH or ASSETS, you’re misunderstanding the problem.

        Please, don’t mistake my harshness with disagreement on your general ideals. Not intended as an attack…just illustrating the fundamental problems of the tasking the underclass with changing our society.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I agree with your assessment of what we can do. Most of we have few choices for what we can do about Climate Disruption. For that matter how much choice or freedom do we really have. Responding to Climate Disruption requires government action — and the government doesn’t belong us any more than the wealth of this land we long ago stole.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            One government action not mentioned in the article, which lists these:

            So not only are we going to have to stop burning fossil fuels by the middle of this century, we are going to have to get very busy with planting trees, protecting forests, working out how to block the Sun’s rays and developing machines to suck carbon out of the air.

            but not government action to reduce , ban or restrict consumption – buy local or local content requirement, regulate water use, etc.

            It’s as if people are afraid to say the government should ban exotic vacations, or something like that. as part of a comprehensive state-enforced consumption reduction program.

        2. JohnnyGL

          There is no INDIVIDUAL solution to climate change.

          All that stuff is tinkering around the edges. Coordinated government policy is the only possible way to avert disaster (if we can still avert it).

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Keeping with the Joneses is a social thing.

            Can reversing that be also socially motivated?

            1. zer0

              Nothing will change.

              It hasnt from when human civilization started to now. We know no limits, and are all consuming. The current answer is that we will engineer our way out of everything.

              Reminds me of Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan: humanity keeps looking outwards, outwards, and outwards, until the oh shit moment. Then they realize they should’ve been looking inwards the whole time.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        It takes some heat waves and big fires to make Climate Disruption newsworthy for the moment. I haven’t read the most ‘timely’ and recently published PNAS report that seems to have triggered this and some other stories, to assess whether it contains any new information. I grew skeptical of some PNAS reports and publications after reading “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” and a few other of the PNAS pronouncements from earlier in this Century predicting dire shortages of STEM workers for the future. Leaves me to wonder whether our climate and weather guys are pushing for more money for bigger ‘big-iron’ parallel processors to run their models on. I have nothing against ‘big-iron’ or designing and running better climate models. But I am very concerned that it suddenly becomes news — at least on a few news feeds — that there could be thresholds that we might cross if global temperatures rise by 2 degrees C. The 2 degrees C limit was adopted based much less on science than on politics.

        There could be thresholds we might cross at 1.5 degrees C … or that we’ve already crossed. For example many of our food crops, indeed many plants like our trees, rely on a certain regularity and predictability to the weather. A heavy rain storm pounding a seedling crop, or a late freeze or high wind to ruin peach blossoms, or a longer than usual drought combined with hotter than usual weather to kill corn or potatoes, and crops can fail. All these things can happen and have happened in the past but our new 1 degree C weather already seems inclined to misbehave more often, more widely, and with greater strength.

        But the PNAS report stirs things up a little so we all get concerned and worry over what we should do and may add another LED bulb to a lamp or sort our recycling more carefully and the ‘We’ who might actually do something meaningful continues on with business-as-usual while we burn up energy spinning our wheels. In September we’ll probably again discover the Arctic is melting. And is it also news that petroleum, natural gas, and coal are not infinite resources and our current lifestyles rely on access to large quantities of petroleum, natural gas, and coal? Even without Climate Disruption to momentarily deflect of our attentions what are ‘We’ doing about that?

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You and me.

        The enemy is us.

        We are they.

        That’s appealing to the better side of human nature.

      4. John Merryman

        My view on direct action is that a lot of it is like trying to cool off a stove by putting your hand on it. The solution is getting into the wiring. Which are the ideas propelling our society. Western society is ideals based. We think it is all about some goal, or state, from God to nirvana, but reality is process based, not ends based. The pendulum swings too far one direction, it just builds up momentum to swing back the other. Currently our ideal is security and comfort, defined as enough money in the bank. The problem is money(think vouchers) functions a medium, but we try to store it. For example, in your body, blood is the medium and fat is the store. Because we try to pull these notes from circulation, it has become a game to just add more and find ways to store the excess, like having the government borrow it up. The reality of government debt, to those pulling the strings, isn’t so much what to spend it on, but its function as a store of wealth. Eventually we will come to realize finance is society’s circulation mechanism, like government is its nervous system(regulatory, executive) and we need to store value in stronger communities and healthier environments, not as notes in a bank.
        So to get back to nature’s feedback mechanisms, capitalism is creating its own blowback. They are not finished yet either. Disaster capitalism will come home to roost, when the Treasury can’t sell anymore at rates it can pretend to afford and then Warren and friends are going to start trading their Treasuries for highways and you will be paying tolls. Eventually though, they kill their own golden goose.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We have discussed capitalism and man-made Global Warming.

      Another factor is population growth, resource depletion and man-made Global Warming, and the link to, this time, communism (not capitalism). We can ask, is population less likely to grow under communism?

      Historically, there have been a few examples of depopulation under communism.

      1. Stalin and the starvation and deaths in Ukraine.
      2. Mao and his Great Leap forward leading to starvation and deaths.
      3. Pol Pot and his killing fields in Cambodia.

      Of course, wars between communism and capitalism also led to deaths, but we can’t put that on communism (alone or otherwise).

      However, that sort of depopulation (and checking or slowing down consumption) under communism is not desirable.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Pol Pot was a “communist” only for some definition of the word. Don’t blame those vast murders on Marx.

        And to remind people that our fellow humans have not only been plotting to increase consumption of combustibles in full knowledge that greenhouse gases do what they are doing, looking at Exxon and the rest, but that other humans have been plotting to conduct vast geoengineering projects. For a variety of reasons, largely as a weaponization of the climate and atmosphere by the Curtis Lemay and Edward Teller sorts. Here’s a relatively concise history of those efforts and also of the debates held by climate scientists and those wacky geoengineering types who think that just squirting aluminum dust or sulfates (smog) into the stratosphere would fix that nasty global disruption problem just like that! Or trash an opponent nation on the other side of some arbitrary boundary:

        At least a few “responsible” folks have tried to preserve the “precautionary principle” that would require the proponents to PROVE that they would not, by their “innovations and disruptions,” make the situation even worse, by accelerating what is going on or introducing new failure modes. As pointed out in the article, of course, individuals with enough money, and various state actors and maybe little groups of crazies, might just unilaterally on their own go on off and start spewing sh!t into the atmosphere, lobbing stuff into orbit, dumping stuff into the oceans, or stuff injected into the skin of Mother Earth.

        Hey, what could possibly go wrong?

        Why am I reminded of that silly children’s fable by Dr. Suess, that rotten Commie, “The Butter Battle Book”?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Yes, it’s scary when even those with good intentions could possibly do more harm.

          The only one small-step solution, without any known (so far) adverse effect, I can think of is to urge everyone to just sit quietly in his/her room, as often as possible.

    3. JohnnyGL

      To your points, 3 will probably cause 1 to happen. I don’t think the ‘die off’ is going to be quite that drastic, though.

      Regarding 2, “the most fundamental aspects of being human from what we eat to reproductive behavior” — changing those kinds of things won’t stop climate change.

      We don’t need to change diets as much as we need to change food production management.

      Eating meat is perfectly reasonable and a great way to transform perrenial grass/pasture forage for animals into food for humans and can help build soils and store carbon if managed properly. In far northern climates, the growing season isn’t long enough for annual grain crops and managed rotational grazing of animals doesn’t exhaust the soil and require artifical fertilizers (energy intensive to produce).

      To those who would advocate a kind of one/no child policy, first you should close the borders to the rich world.

      Stopping human reproduction has a very long lag time, taking decades to show results, and by the time that happens, the planet is already fried. In any case, just moving people from poor countries to rich ones would increase carbon emissions as previously poor people start adopting host country lifestyles. The planet doesn’t need fewer people so much as it needs fewer Americans, Canadians, Australians, residents of Persian Gulf monarchies (I’m calling out the biggest per capita energy hogs).

      1. JTMcPhee

        So maybe a person I knew several generations ago had the right idea. This person had a nice set of credentials, as a Ph.D in toxicology and microbiology. And offered the opinion, when slightly inebriated, that humans, especially in the West and at the top of the economic pile, have forfeited their place on this planet. And that the best thing that could happen would be the advent of a nice virus or other pathogen that is 100% fatal to humans but to no other species. A pathogen that can be transmitted by all kinds of vectors and means. Like, maybe some person with a CRSP-R setup (that person I speak of was kind of a genius with stuff like that) might assemble some molecules and wave them off into the breeze… I’m betting that said person is not alone in thinking that way, or in having credentials and skills that would enable that outcome…

        1. Norb

          You just gave a pretty good overview of Margaret Atwood’s 2003 novel, “Oryx and Crake”.

          The novel explores the idea of wiping the slate clean concerning humans and starting anew- and all the uncertainty and tragedy associated with such an endeavor.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Remember “Rainbow Six”? A bio weapon to wipe out most of humanity via aerosolized viruses spread at the Olympic events?

            Supposedly after 8/11 the state security apparatus assembled Hollywood writers and action novel authors like Clancy to brainstorm potential off-the-wall terror attacks. One writer was Dale Brown, whose 1994 novel “Storming Heaven” was one of several based on the terrorist use of commercial multi-engine jets as kamikaze weapons.

            One wonders what other inspirations the inventive minds of “fiction” writers have given to the Blob…

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      I guess I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t have all three of your options. You just need to re-order them. First #2 & #3 and remember it is a big world which allows for considerable parallelism of events. Any survivors of #2 & #3 — once they settle down since as with large fires there will be flare-ups and new flames starting wherever some fuel remains to burn — will experience #1 although I would characterize #1 less as a ‘spiritual and moral awakening’ than as a bitter resignation to drastic changes and a harsh new way of life.

    5. Iguanabowtie

      Not to quibble, but there are lots of intermediary steps (at least 7018 years worth) between options 1/2 and 3.
      Failing 1/2 I personally agree with JM Greer’s ‘long bumpy decline’, he forsees stabilization at something like 1850s standard of living if I recall correctly.

      1. Antifa

        Methinks the human race will have to live more or less underground for quite a few centuries.

        We won’t have the wherewithal to geo-engineer the planet by the time agriculture becomes nigh impossible, and so we will do the profoundly obvious — abandon the surface to its own natural recovery. You sure can’t grow any potatoes out there when it’s 140F in the shade.

        The easiest thing to do about heat anywhere in the world is to drill a hole. About 250 feet is plenty for the average house plus a big greenhouse for year around growing of food. Once you have geothermal heating and cooling, powered by solar-powered fans, you can more or less carry on with agriculture as we know it, but under the wrap of a greenhouse. The government can send drilling rigs to every county in the country, to every nation in the world, and chill the situation very effectively.

        Elon’s boring machines can be put to use — tunnel deep under every city, and pipe the 55-degree air up to the buildings on the surface. Or, build houses, even entire communities, underground entirely.

        There’s water deep underground, and water can be extracted easily from an overheated atmosphere loaded with moisture.

        These methods will work right now in the middle of the Sahara. They will prove useful when entire regions become more desert than cornfields. The restricting principle is that food will have to be grown entirely locally, for local consumption.

    6. Brooklin Bridge

      That’s a great perceptive list.. All three, or parts of them, in no immediately sensible order would be one answer. A big mess strikes me as being almost guaranteed. I do wonder if survivors would indeed be, in any significant number, of the spiritually advanced or motivated? Or would that come in the following generation? Or much later but as part of that chain of cause and effect? All very interesting possibilities.

    1. Clive

      I hate to break it to y’all, but if you use ApplePay, GooglePay and their imitators, your card-based transactions and their geolocation data is already available to those who wish to pay Apple or Google for the privilege of obtaining it.

      Which should surprise no-one with a functioning brain cell. Silicon Valley’s “free” services are self-evidently costly networks to set up and maintain. And someone’s paying all those stores to put those stickers on their doorways and on their cash registers.

      I do hope regulars will correct me if I’m misremembering the quote here, but I think it goes something like “if you’re not paying for it, you are the product”.

      Sharing account balances for banks is a logical next step. Much — much — harder to do in the EU, thanks to GDPR regulations.

      1. pretzelattack

        reminds me of another aphorism, from poker; “if you sit down at the table and don’t see the sucker, it’s you”.

      2. Ignacio

        I really hate these deceitful business models that have become so common. TV channels are not offering entertainment, news outlets are not offering information, Facebook is not an online contact tool. Google is no longer a web search tool. Those are all BtoB service companies. They are like the carnivore plant that offers sugar to insects before digesting them or the abyss fish offering light in the darkness.

        Why are we so easily misled is the question.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Ask Obomba and so many others — all a matter of straight Bernaysian manipulation. The grab us by our limbic systems and give a little tweak, and voila! Wealth transfer to the grabber.

      3. oh

        “you’re the customer and you’re the product” is what I’ve heard often. The companies from the viper’s nest (Silicon Valey) have devised several ways of snooping on you. People use their products because they’re “convenient”. Android phones are built in spy systems same as Chrome, Gmail, Google Voice, Google Maps, Google Chat, Google Groups and a myriad of other Google products. Facebook, Netflix, Linkedin, Yahoo, and others are the same. Once you start using Ubertaxi (ugh!) or AIrBnB, they track your every movement or stay. Not enough that we have these snoopers, States and Cities use traffic cameras, license plate readers and other devices to intrude on your privacy. They sell the data to private companies without your consent. It’s well nigh impossible to remove your credit card info from AIrBmB, Amazon and others.

        The other day I asked an insurance agent about a quote for auto insurance. He just needed my name and address and gues what? He was able to give me a quote for my automobile without my giveing him info on make, model or year. We need to know that anything you say, do, or write that can be digitized will be sold by these crooked companies for profit without your consent. The EU’s GDPR regulations are a good start. These companies should be broken or better still, taken down. A business model that thrives on stealing data from consumers should not exist.

        I try to tell my friends to use tutanota and protonmail (for e-mail) and they’re too lazy to do so. I refuse to write e-mail to those folks. They don’t care if they compromise my communications to them.

        I reommend a book entitled “They know everything about you”. It describes to the great extent that these snoopers have intruded your privacy.

      4. buck

        do you have one shred of reporting, let alone proof, that apple is selling its apple pay transaction and geolocation data to anyone?

        if it’s “already available to those wishing to pay” , this should be an easy task for you.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          As far as I can tell (and I will certainly differ to Clive, who knows his s…). Apple doesn’t “sell” the data to outside companies…it sells advertising based on that data collection.

          A distinction without a difference, IMHO.


        2. Clive

          It’s right here, Apple can’t not disclose it:

          The pertinent sections are listed here. They’re a doozey in fintech sleight-of-hand. First we have:

          When you use Apple Pay we don’t track what you’re buying

          Well that sounds great doesn’t it? But it’s not — they don’t record that you paid for coffee or bought that potentially embarrassing adult toy. But the exclusion is only phrased as the “what you’re buying”. So every other piece of data is up for grabs and nothing in their Policy excludes that.

          Let’s continue…

          so we can’t build a purchase history to serve you ads.

          So they can’t build a purchase history to serve you ads. Okay. But again, any other purpose is absolutely fine by Apple.

          It just keeps getting better and better….

          We may receive anonymous transaction information such as the approximate time, location, and amount.

          So now Apple are ‘fessing up to location tracking and transaction amounts. And “approximate” is nice and specific, isn’t it? How “approximate”, exactly? To the nearest mile? Yard? Inch?

          And now, for the money shot:

          This is used only to help us improve Apple Pay and other Apple products and services.

          And what would Apple like to think are things which would help “improve” their “products and services” ? Would that also include selling the data to third parties ? You-bet-cha. Apple certainly don’t exclude the possibility because they’re hiding behind that “anonymised” get-out. So they can sell the “anonymised” data and not violate the “your personal data won’t be sold” clause.

          So now a third party has your “anonymised” data, because Apple has sold it to them, all without breaking any of its Policy terms. But what use is that?

          And now, what happens if your bank also sells your cardholder name, address and transaction dates / times — “to improve service and to help with fraud detection” (check your bank’s card policy Terms and Conditions, this is a boilerplate clause) or some other stated reason? If it sells it to the same third party who had just bought your “anonymised” ApplePay data does it take more than loading these into Excel to match the two up? Except of course it’ll be done on an industrialised scale in massive databases, nothing so harmless as Excel. Perhaps you think your bank wouldn’t be, oh, I don’t know, so money-grabbing?

          Hey-presto. Apple’s just sold you out because your so-called anonymised data is sellable (and you signed up to that when you signed up to using Apple Pay, you agreed to it, Apple never claims it won’t sell it and explicitly states it will “share it” (yep, that’s a whole other Apple policy which sits atop of the ApplePay-specific stuff) which sounds kind-a nice, but do you really think this will be handed over for free out of the kindness of their hearts? And which can be combined with any other data you also “agreed” that another company can “share”.

          And Apple gives complete latitude to both its own sharing of data with your card issuer and then their sharing of data:

          Information may also be provided by Apple to your card issuer, payment network, or any providers authorized by your card issuer to enable Apple Pay, to determine the eligibility of your card, to set up your card with Apple Pay, and to prevent fraud.

          (emphasis mine) Ooh! “provided”. What a jolly, happy and neutral little word that is. So much less pejorative that “hawk around licking its lips with avarice salivating at the prospect of grabbing that dough”.

          With people as naïve and gullible as you seem to be, no wonder the tech giants are having such a good time of it, lately. And you think they’re protecting your privacy!

          Do consider reading this AdAge article for a more in-depth study. I can’t help but highlight this quote:

          I can think of a lot of bad ways that data could be used by law enforcement, or very large scale tech companies or financial institutions […]

          “tech companies” and “financial institutions”. Remind me again which industries ApplePay aggregates?

    2. Eclair

      Nightmare …. yes. And apparently all this data … written, spoken, thought (??) goes into some vast ether-space where it is sorted, analyzed and monetized. Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, all dump stuff into this space. How do I know?

      My recent scary epiphany…
      I visited my daughter last week. She lives in New Jersey, a six hour drive from our house. I used Google maps to navigate to their house, since they have recently moved. The map app pinpointed their location …. with her and my grandson’s names attached.

      Alexa lives in their kitchen, and I jokingly used it, as instructed by my grandchildren: “Alexa, set timer!”

      My granddaughter and I, sitting in the kitchen, had a conversation on her upcoming college visits. I asked her where one of the colleges was located, and we mentioned the town a few times. It is not a tourist destination!

      Back home, the next morning I checked into NC and one or two other news sources. Right in front of my caffeine-deprived eyes, there scrolled across the screen an ad for hotel accommodations in the university town I had discussed with my granddaughter. The ad never appeared again (unlike some other ads I could mention, mostly ones about getting rid of ‘unwanted belly fat;’ how do they know about that!?) So, it might have been a figment of my paranoid and overly suspicious mind. But, I don’t think so.

      1. bobo

        That’s interesting, another friend made a comment that he was talking of KoA campgrounds and later that afternoon on his Facebook feed what should be there but a KoA ad.

        They’re listening.

        1. Baby Gerald

          So I guess I’m not the only one with the feeling I’m being snooped.

          I was having lunch with a photographer friend last week. I asked him about cinema cameras I’d seen in an electronics store ad. We discussed the exorbitant prices of lenses, he showing me an example that cost $40K. I mentioned that it would probably be more sensible to rent these things. He agreed and told me that was common in the industry.

          After returning home, I open my Chrome browser, open YouTube, and wouldn’t you know the ad that pops up just happens to be from a cinema camera rental outfit?

          This would be less disturbing if it was me at lunch viewing cameras on my phone since it would have all been linked to my Google account, but it was my friend who used his browser on his phone to show me the pricy lens.

          1. Mel

            How would that work? Geolocation? Two cell phones in proximity travel together to the same restaurant? So they’re probably there together? Query made by one, therefore ads get targeted?
            If they target wrong, nobody will care or even notice. And when they target right, who knows? Maybe PROFIT

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            What if the conversation had been in another language – Russian, for example?

            Are they ‘that’ capable?

            1. Baby Gerald

              I wish I had some idea. I don’t usually leave my phone’s gps on because my 5+ year old phone is usually on its last legs by around lunch, otherwise. For this reason, I’m often putting it in ‘airplane’ mode because I work in a building with sketchy reception and take a subway each day.

              I was seeing ads for B&H because I had just bought a new mouse from them. Seeing an ad for the cinema camera prompted the conversation with my friend. But it wasn’t until after the conversation with my friend and the discussion about renting that this rental shop ad started showing up. Just creepy.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          They most assuredly listen.

          I hardly ever talk on the phone.

          One time I was discussing….something related to construction..

          For the next week, I am being shown ads for industrial steel.

          Another time, I am discussing what I know re expat options (not much).

          Next week, I am seeing ads for living in Ecuador.

          I really wish I could disable the mike on my laptop.

          1. integer

            I’m no expert in this kind of stuff but my understanding is that the default settings of most browsers gives permission to websites to access location data, the camera, and the microphone from/on the computer on which they are installed. On Firefox, my browser of choice, I have it set up so that all requests from websites to access location data, the camera, or the microphone are automatically blocked. I have also removed all search engines except DuckDuckGo from the toolbar search function, in case it enables, for example, Google to get around my permissions settings. As a serious internet user, I expect you have already taken these measures, but if not I suggest taking a close look at your permissions settings.

      2. Louis Fyne

        Understand ably many people can’t completely drop out of Facebook….. Delete the mobile app and use it from a computer.

        And if possible use/migrate a social media platform that isn’t reliant on adverts for its revenue. Check out “Kakao ” as an example.

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          Delete the mobile app and use it from a computer.

          Exactly. I made the mistake of putting the mobile app on my phone years back and it was not only a kludge but used massive amounts of battery. Which suggested to me it was eavesdropping. Bye-bye.

          I do have Messenger on one phone and my iPad, but that’s because I use it for business purposes and most of those with whom I do business aren’t going to load up some obscure messaging app on my say-so. That’s not being lazy, btw, and saying so tells me the person is very tech-savvy and doesn’t “get” that most people are lucky if they can manage to use Gmail.

          Migrating to another platform with a less user-friendly interface isn’t an option, either. It’s fine if one is comfortable with the tech, but the fact is most of those alternatives are designed exactly like techies design things—the way they would use them instead of the way average mokes would. Consider Lambert’s question about Mastodon yesterday, and you’ll get what I mean. Frankly, I consider myself relatively tech-savvy, but learning a new system takes time I don’t have. Average people just aren’t going to do it. Heck, even the busy savvy people I know lose interest in new social media for the simple reason most of the people they know won’t switch.

          And speaking of Messenger, Facebook’s PR flack says that’s all their queries to the banks was about—collecting information to determine whether Messenger could be set up to allow bank customers to handle business that way instead of waiting on a phone line for “the next available assistant”. No explanation why that information needed to include where the banks’ customers were spending their money, which was apparently part of the data being sought.

      3. Katniss Everdeen

        Several years ago I met a man, from whom I had been divorced for 30+ years, for a drink. The first words out of his mouth were, “So, you’re not paying your cell phone bill.”

        Apparently, in an ultimately futile attempt to collect the $435 termination fee I had refused to pay verizon when I cancelled my shitty service before the “contract” expired, they (or the company that bought the debt) had decided to out me to my ex-husband in order to effect collection by humiliation.

        I have also heard of cases in which student loan collectors with the same idea have called the neighbors of delinquent students’ parents to out them all as deadbeats in the “community.”

        All of this predated “social media” of which I have never been a member. Can you imagine what could happen if facebook got its hands on this “data” and, as is its wont, sold it to anyone with a few bucks and a pulse? “Nightmare” hardly does that scenario justice.

      4. fresno dan

        August 7, 2018 at 9:44 am

        The ad never appeared again (unlike some other ads I could mention, mostly ones about getting rid of ‘unwanted belly fat;’ how do they know about that!?)
        I am constantly solicited by Russian mail order bride sites…why in the world would they think I’m interested in that???

        1. ambrit

          It’s the pink bunny slippers. Someone, somewhere has a picture of you wearing the Comrade Approved footwear on their social media site. From there, it’s easy. Six degrees of separation means that everyone will soon be getting every ad.
          “Prepare to be commodified! #Resistanceisfutile!”

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            The ol pink bunny slippers. Always right there. I knew I shouldn’t have worn those things today but they are soooo comfy.

            I use a combination of duckduckgo and private browsing and by in large it works. Then again, I have become unconsciously trained to simply NOT see adds on the web just as I stopped hearing or seeing them (or all but the truly obnoxious ones) long ago on TV. Only the pop ups still irritate. Perhaps it’s because I’m still running XP and their spyware no longer supports it or because I buy something off the net only about once every two or three years. And when I do buy it, I call the place up by phone and make my order (without giving my email) that way.

            1. ambrit

              The antennas of my ‘Krasny Bunny Slippers’ keep hitting my shins.
              So, I generally only wear them when communicating with Moscow. Of course now, why just Moscow? We all know that The East is Red. Peiping should be in the loop. It certainly was during Bill Clinton’s administration. Did the ‘Lolita Express’ fly to the Orient? We’ve heard rumours of Very Important People speaking in hushed tones across cocktails about flying “Around The World” on Jeffrey’s shuttle service.

        2. polecat

          Maybe it’s that ‘telescoping redhot attenna’ of yours .. pointing east-northeast !

    3. anon

      Exactly, further we’ve got privacy violators, liars and deceivers determining who is allowed a larger platform for their lies and deceit.

      On the bright side, it may have the effect of Alex Jones fans closing their Facebook accounts, and to my mind the more who close their Facebook accounts, the better. Glad I never had one, but I’ve been agonized by the amount of activists I might have otherwise connected with who use Facebook as their platform (and Gmail accounts). That has always struck me as utter insanity given the countless horrid privacy violations, discrimination, and deceptions Facebook has perpetrated since its inception. And I can’t help but wonder how many weren’t offered that jawb, credit, apartment, date, etcetera, they needed or desired because: of something written by, or about them (without even having a Facebook page); someone connected to them who has a Facebook page which hoovered up their contact data; or because they had no Facebook page, and therefore were considered to be suspicious and unreliable.

      Facebook should have been loudly and clearly discredited since its inception — by Silicon Valley’s local editorialists and business and tech journalists, at the [San] Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the West Coast Branches of the New York Times; Wall Street Journal and The Guardian – in earlier days when they were far more powerful. But they didn’t; as Corey Pein wrote in his book, Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey Into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley:

      I’d seen the obsequious behavior of the tech press at the Startup Conference. A panel of experienced reporters and editors dutifully took the stage and told a roomful of founders and investors how to better promote their start-ups. It should have occurred to them that giving such advice was not the job of a journalist. It was the job of a publicist. Out in the hall during a break, I met one of the panelists, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who’d gone on to edit CNET, a large and well-established tech site owned by CBS Interactive. In the course of our conversation, I made a critical remark about Facebook’s manipulation of users’ News Feeds. He responded with the company line, a fine example of the sort of circular reasoning that eliminated the need for moral judgment. “Facebook is a reflection of what you see on the internet,” he said, “so if you don’t like what you see on Facebook, it’s your own damn fault.” I knew that his argument was bogus — Facebook’s story-selection algorithms came with the biases of the engineers who designed them built in. But in the mind of this high-level tech journalist, there was no reason to doubt Facebook’s assertion of political neutrality, or question how the unexamined race, class, and gender biases of its designers might have influenced the decisions they made as programmers, and thus the daily media intake of billions of users.

      At times, examples were made of those who departed from the script. This rarely took nudging by the industry — like overzealous hall monitors, the tech press policed their own. I met tech reporters who regarded sharp critics such as Evgeny Morozov as “cheap” and “nasty,” practically spitting his name. Anything but cheerleading was grounds for suspicion. Every moderately skeptical tech reporter I met had a private stockpile of anecdotes about company press reps threatening his or her editors — sometimes subtly, other times brazenly — with retaliation after receiving even slightly critical coverage. The publicists would often demand the assignment of reporters known to be more pliable. Or else they’d threaten to blacklist the publication. This kind of thing did happen in other areas of journalism. The difference was that in the tech press, it was not seen as a scandalous breach of ethics, but rather accepted as the way of the world. Since I’d written a number of censorious articles about the industry over the years, I feared people in Silicon Valley might not want to talk to me. But I was only flattering myself, for I had never drawn blood. Besides, very few techies were avid readers. A surprising number barely followed the news about the companies that employed them.

      But when a powerful person in the Valley seriously resented his own press coverage, the offending writers would be made to pay. Never was this made clearer than with Hulk Hogan’s successful privacy lawsuit against Gawker Media in the spring of 2016, infamously bankrolled in secret by the billionaire VC Peter Thiel, who regarded Gawker as a “terrorist” organization. Although the East Coast press saw Thiel’s subterfuge for what it was — an attack on free speech — Valley players and even some in the tech press rallied behind Thiel, believing, as his fellow billionaire VC Vinod Khosla put it, that disfavored “journalists need to be taught lessons.” It worked. After Gawker filed for bankruptcy, a larger corporate media property, Fusion, bought its assets and immediately shut down the flagship site,, for fear of further legal harassment.

      Evgeny Morozov was the earliest online critic with a large audience I remember. And Gawker, especially it’s Valleywag section, were the only large online tech publication I remember regularly revealing any of the horrid behavior and underbelly of Silicon Valley in the years when something might have been done to curtail the increasing power of — and damage being wrought by — the Tech Industry birthed in Silicon Valley. Thankfully Evgeny Morozov has survived, but now those Gawker archives are at threat.

      1. anon

        Sorry, that was meant as a response to Olga’s comment:

        On Facebook wanting users’ financial data:
        “Citigroup acknowledged holding talks with Facebook but declined to comment on its willingness to share information about bank card transactions, checking account balances, and geolocation of purchases made by their customers.”
        Welcome to our nightmare…


        1. anon

          sh*t, I meant to write, it was a response her comment:

          While we might not like Alex Jones, his ban from social media was followed by other bans:

          This includes: “Radio host and editorial director of Scott Horton, former State Department employee and author Peter Van Buren, and Dan McAdams, the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, found their twitter accounts suspended on Monday, according to”
          What was that saying about “I did not speak out when they came for the communists because I was not a communist…”?

          (Bad day dealing with the Medical Industry and trying to do too many things at once.)

  5. larry

    Anyone who wants to know Labour’s likely economic policy position should they win an election, especially that of McDonnell, check out Richard Murphy’s blog post listed above. They are still committed to continuing austerity. It is unclear how assiduously they would prosecute such policies. Murphy, unfortunately, does not indicate whether Corbyn harbors the same delusion about how the national monetary system works. It looks as though McDonnell is hopeless and needs to go. I think McDonnell is also advised by Ann Pettifor.

    1. Paul O

      It was a good read all the way down. I am not sure if (or even how) McDonnell could be (at least somewhat) converted – that would be the ideal as it is rather unlikely he will go. It read like the departure of the relevant adviser would be a good start.

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Larry.

      If that’s the case, Labour continuing Tory austerity, and Labour being at sixes and sevens over the EU, one wonders why the neoliberals bother trying to bring down Corbyn. It would be good for neoliberals to let Corbyn win and con the public into thinking elections mean something and then watch the Tories (blue or red) sweep back to power after a term. Let Corbyn own Brexit.

      I can see why EU27 diplomats consider Corbyn an irrelevance and think the Tories, not led by May, will win the next elections.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’d agree – I think the establishment is quite convinced it can box Corbyn up if needs be, so they aren’t quite as scared of them as they were (although of course the scaremongering can end up digging the scaremongers into their own holes, if you know what I mean). It seems pretty clear that bar a calamity*, a Corbyn government would not have a big majority or mandate, so would be constantly fighting just to stand still.

        I don’t think anybody outside the UK knows much about Corbyn or cares one way or another, contrary to what some of the more excitable left wing Brexit supporters think.

        *which of course is not impossible, given a possible no-deal Brexit, but in that case Corbyn would be fighting a spiralling economy, so again, he wouldn’t be a big threat to the establishment).

        1. albacore

          It might be worth checking out this article from the New Left Review to provide some additional perspective on the Corbyn Project. It is certainly not Blairite; and while McDonnell’s adviser James Meadway is a macroeconomist but not a fan of MMT, it is going too far to say that a Corbyn government would continue Tory austerity. There are other internal arguments around the fiscal responsibility rules but that is normal in political parties. Ann Pettifor is still on his advisory group.
          And thank you Col Smithers – I’m not surprised that EU27 diplomats apparently consider Corbyn “irrelevant.” So did many of his colleagues in the UK Labour party – at first.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            Austerity took a long time to properly put in place and IT had the support of all big economic players, banks, finance, big real estate, VC’s and industrial – for a few. Corbyn will have all of that against him and he will have one term, not 40+ years, to convince people of another go. It can happen, but it’s not a slam dunk and while Corbyn certainly has a proper moral and ethical compass, he seems -by Brexit comments alone- a little crusty on strategy in a very hostile environment.

          2. Michael Hudson

            I had dinner with James Meadway and my statistician Howard Reed last month in London. It was not until I had breakfast with Ann Pettifor the next day that she told me he had come out of the Trotskyist party, and that she had tried many times to argue in favor of public money creation (MMT) without success. I then had lunch with another financial colleague, who told me the same identical conversation.
            I realize (from experiences going back 70 years) that Trotsky and Trotskyists did not have an economic program. Trotsky was a great literary reviewer and cultural critic, and inspiring speaker and writer. But there was no economics there, or among his followers. They were political.
            James Meadway was clear that they want to de-privatize, starting with the abominable water companies. But how can they do this without money creation.
            Murphy did not mention it in his article, but the main reason he was out (I’m told) is that he did not support Corbyn. (Perhaps monetary policy as a contributing reason.) Meadway and McDonell did, so it became a case of personal loyalty, not real theorizing.
            In the discussion, Carol Wilcox made good points, and of course Howard Reed also. I think it would be good for us to have an MMT meeting over there. I suggested that and, I hope, lay the groundwork for it last month.

            1. Susan the other

              Ann Pettifor wants to get economics under control. Whether she might see the usefulness in MMT, I have never been able to decide. I like Murphy’s direct affirmation of MMT. He has good clarity. So too did the post from Jacobin above on Neoliberalism for the left. Neither Jacobin or The Left or Ann Pettifor make the link to MMT as a means to achieve social equity without crushing capitalism. But the Jacobin article was very clear in its timeline of how the Left sold itself out to neoliberalism. Its clarity was worthy of your style of analysis. I thought of you immediately, because Jacobin is usually tedious. Not this time.

          3. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you.

            I don’t disagree with your final sentence, but having worked in and with Brussels and for and with the 1%, convincing a few hundred thousand Labour supporters is very different to taking on Brussels and the British establishment.

    3. paul

      It is staggering that while the year zero faction can promote, and might well get, a batshit crazy no deal brexit and all labour can do is fret about appearing responsible.

      1. Musicismath

        I’m currently reading Vincent Sherry’s The Great War and the Language of Modernism. As Sherry points out, one of the liberal left’s greatest weaknesses is its intellectual vanity—its desire to appear reasonable and sensible at all times. Even more infuriating (and compromising) is its desire to provide a rationale for ideas that weren’t even its to begin with. Sherry charts the lengths formerly anti-war liberal commentators went to during WWI to provide reasonable justifications for the slaughter taking place on the Western Front. Efforts that ended up discrediting the entire movement. To this, we can add more recent episodes like Iraq and the desire to implement austerity more rationally and sensibly than anyone else.

        It’s a form of neuroticism. No wonder the reaction of so many supporters is to finally walk away.

  6. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you to Anthony L for the link to Jacobin (Left Parties and Neo-Liberalism).

    I remember clearly how from 1992 onwards Bill Clinton’s victory was being sold / marketed by the likes of the Guardian and Observer, especially when Will Hutton was there, and Independent. One Guardian journalist, Martin something, was at Oxford with Clinton and was then assigned to the US after the 1992 presidential election. Around then, Newsweek International had a British editor who pushed a similar agenda.

    After Blair’s election as leader, that marketing grew stronger. Regularly, visits by Blair, Brown and younger associates like Ed Balls (just left the FT) and Yvette Cooper (then at the Indy) and the Miliband chuckle brothers to the US would be covered, including Labour attendance at Harvard and Martha’s Vineyard seminars. Larry Summers became a regular in the UK media.

    One also noticed the slow decoupling of Labour from European social democracy to Democratic Leadership Committee positions. References to like minded souls overseas tended to be US, not European. Even Gordon Brown wanted to be photographed in Martha’s Vineyard, not the Med. Readers may recall the sight of Brown walking on a beach with his wife and boys dressed in a blazer and trousers.

    Before whoever it was in George II’s administration talked about Old Europe, New Labour shared its distaste in similar terms. At EU meetings, Brown would lecture attendees of the benefits of DLC policy and then not pay attention to what was said in reply by not putting headphones on, for the translations, and reading his papers.

    A dozen or so years later, a Canadian colleague and Justin Trudeau fan told me about the young American and Canadian staff hired by Sigmar Gabriel as part of his reinvention of the SPD.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks CS – it is one of those things I’ve never quite understood – the absolutely obsession with New Labour types with Washington (very ably satirised by In the Loop). I used to blame The West Wing for feeding those weird fantasies about the type of person who stalked Washington, but maybe there was something deeper.

      But again, I think we sometimes go back to the intellectual shallowness of much of the elites. Many simply don’t have the intellectual depths to understand there are more models out there for running a society than are reported in The Guardian or Telegraph.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you and well said, PK.

        You are right to highlight the intellectual shallowness, but the shallowness goes beyond intellect.

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Further to the article and calling out the need for experts from the left, it’s noticeable how few, if any, left of centre economists etc. are ever on the airwaves or make their own waves. A generation or two ago, there were household names, e.g. Wynne Godley, Nicky Kaldor, Maurice Peston et al. Some became life peers.

      It is noticeable that few, if any, central bank monetary policy committees ever have such economists, either from academia or trade unions, as members. When writing my masters on central bank independence in 1994 – 5, I recall one at the Bank of France. I don’t recall trade unions clamouring for such representatives, either.

    3. paul

      I think it started around 1895 with the ‘The British American Project for the Successor Generation’

      ‘The Project’s annual four-day conference brings together 24 exceptional people (aged between 28-40) from each side of the Atlantic to tackle a specific issue of importance to both countries. Delegates are chosen for proven leadership in their field, and are drawn from a wide range of backgrounds and views; they include senior representatives from business, government, the media, voluntary /non-profit organisations, medicine, and the armed forces.

      Say what you like about them, the organisers certainly know how to pick winners.

      1. HotFlash

        I believe that should read, 1985, not 1895. Sourcewatch also mentions the founders — J. Howard Pew and Ronald Regan. You see, it pays to organize.

        1. ambrit

          The mindset on display is definitely more 1895 than 1995.
          The article hypertexted to mentions parallel organizations, all of which look to be Elite groups. Look to see this site, ‘Centre for Media and Democracy’ taken down over ‘conspiracy theory’ mongering concerns.
          The Game Plan is now clear. The gradual suppression of dissent. All to ‘keep us safe’ of course.

    4. Carolinian

      Way back some of us used to watch Tony Blair take on the Tories at question time (shown here on CSPAN) and think he was a cool guy–proving that Yanks really are dumb. On the other hand I don’t think anyone this side of the pond was fooled by Bill Clinton. He was tagged as Slick Willie long before he left Arkansas.

      At any rate cross pollination has clearly been occurring between the cousins with the Steele dossier being the most recent. For our side perhaps we can blame it on the longstanding elite fascination with the British upper class. On Downton Abbey this class affinity was literal with the British lord taking on an American wife. To both the peasants would doff their caps.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Carolinian.

        Marriage to Americans, heiresses and otherwise, was common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

        I live half an hour from Blenheim Palace, resurrected with Vanderbilt money in the late 19th century. The Astors once owned nearby Cliveden.

        The family who own Magnolia, the Draytons, come from the north of my home county, Buckinghamshire. I drove around your home state in 2011.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Winston Churchill was a good example as he too had a wealthy American mother and an English titled father.

    5. Robert Hahl

      The Jacobin piece is yet another attempt to explain the rise of neo-liberalism that doesn’t mention the end of Breton-Woods in 1971, and the adoption of MMT, as a primary enabler if not cause of the whole thing.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Instead of houses, young people have houseplants”

    Forget plants – you have to water them or they die. Best to bring back something from the 1970s that would be perfect for today’s young people. Pet rocks! You don’t have to feed them, water them, pick up after them and they don’t rip up your lounge or your curtains. You can leave them while you go away for a few days or even weeks and they will still be there waiting for you. Back then, you could even send them away to camp with a geologist on 24-hour call. More on this at-

    1. makedoanmend

      When I left home to seek new horizons, I decided it would be too traumatic for my rock (which I found on the ground) to leave the only home it ever knew. I left it behind in good company.

      Some years later when on a visit, I noted the rock had disappeared. I was duly informed that ‘it had run away’. hey ho

      1. ewmayer

        Perhaps Mr. (or Mrs., or Ms.) rock got tired of his/her new owners ‘taking him for granite’? [Best pun I could come with on short notice – please be gneiss.]

        One of the – dwindling – number of great things about living in CA is the ease of growing things – when I moved into my current SiVal apt. 19 years ago I noticed the previous tenant had planted a little Meyer lemon out on the patio, but in the absolute shadiest spot under the balcony of the apt above. It clearly hadn’t grown significantly since being planted, very ‘Charlie Brown Xmas tree’ aspect. Moved it to a nice sunny corner in good soil, took 2 years to recover from being uprooted and start putting down enough new roots to grow. Now it’s tall enough that the upstairs neighbors can reach down from their balcony and pick fresh lemons off the uppermost branches, and it flowers thoughout the year – bumblebees especially seem attracted to it – and bears a crop nearly year-round.

        The irony of course being that after dipping a modest amount in the wake of the Great Recession, our rent has doubled since 2010 [Just shy of $4000 for a 950 ft^2 2br/2ba which hasn’t been rehabbed in 20 years and is looking fairly shabby as a result], and I’m basically priced out based on any sane value-for-the-money measure. Currently apt-hunting in the NoBay [San Rafael-Novato-Petaluma corridor], still far from cheap but not completely nuts, and closer to my sister and her family.

        I just hope the next tenant likes lemons! [And bougainvilleas, and jasmine].

    2. Mark Gisleson

      At the age of 65 I’m a first-time home buyer. Giddy with power, I set the thermostat at 62° for most of the winter, turning it off at night (SE MN, house never got below 55° thanks to good insulation).

      Are there any houseplants that could survive a winter with me? I know they’d love the minimal use of AC in the summer, but can they handle life with a Norwegian-American come winter?

      1. HotFlash

        First of all, congrats on the house!

        You could grow about any house plant in that range. Citrus would be happy, and even fussy-pants plants like gardenias should do OK. Cactus and succulents (like jade plant) are surprisingly tolerant of low temperatures, some of the opuntia are even Canadian natives. A bonus of low winter house heat is that the humidity stays up. A central-(over)heated house rolls around 25-35 percent, which is pretty well a plant-killer. Hard on your furniture, too.

        1. Mark Gisleson

          Good to know. Decades ago a roommate lost several succulents when we lost our heat, but those temps were considerably lower than 60°. I do like succulents but thought they’d be at risk.


  8. PlutoniumKun

    Betsy DeVos’s summer home deserves a special place in McMansion Hell Vox (Clive, John C)

    A couple of weeks ago I did a tour of one of the finer Irish houses, Russborough House, owned by a series of rather dubious aristo’s who mostly made their money from African gold. But damnit, those people had fine taste in architecture and art. It doesn’t seem much to ask that your ruling classes at least know their Vermeers from their veneers.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Absolutely agree. The young men in that era though went on a Grand Tour ( of the continent and came back with much more refined tastes with you can see in the number of Palladian-style buildings in the English countryside as an example.
      I am given to understand that in at least the US years ago, it was almost a matter of pride for many in the elite not to even own a passport which explains why George Bush had to get one when he was elected President. In decades to come will there be appreciative tours of Betsy DeVos’s summer home?

      1. Clive

        Looking at the generally shoddy standards of construction (that sadly pervades the US residential real estate market, certainly for single family units (and has just as sadly caught on here, too)) of Chez DeVos, I doubt it would survive a moderately severe storm. And there’s not much level difference between the waterline and the slab, so a modest flood would do the trick, too.

        Come on climate change, please do your worst. A little, light, collateral damage would have me looking for how to spell schadenfreude.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Apparently, those Grand Tours, and getting to know other European cultures and Europeans, were not enought to prevent two World Wars.

        It did allow German officers to be more gentleman like with their British counterparts in World War I, in some cases, whereas before the Grand Tour Age, the Germans would simply take King Richard hostage.

        Today, with all the travel shows, and cosmopolitan cities, one does not necessarily have to travel far to know other cultures. The learning can come from one’s neighbors…possibly and increasingly likely.

        Hopefully, that would reduce the need for long distance travel…which contrasts with being a long distance tourist (in that case, there is very little learning, and we can most likely do without and afford to ban).

        1. Shane Mage

          It wasn’t Germans who imprisoned King Richard, It was the French and certainly had a lot to do with Norman claims on the French throne (you know, Jeanne d.Arc and all that).

            1. ambrit

              That’s what I read too. Maybe the French put the Austrians up to the fell deed. Also, I’m told that many Germans consider Austria as being South Germany. They certainly did with the Anschluss.

              1. todd

                Captured by the Duke of Austria, given to the Holy Roman Emperor(German King) who received the ransom that he then used to put down peasant revolts, if I recall.

              2. ewmayer

                “I’m told that many Germans consider Austria as being South Germany.”

                Just as many Austrians consider Bavaria to be Austria’s northernmost province. :)

      3. Harold

        The grand tours were a feature of 18th century education, not 20th. What the upper classes throughout Europe did have in common was a common humanistic general education that was supposed to prepare them for an active, worldly life, and which was rooted in the study of languages, ancient and modern. The 18th c. grand tour was just the icing on the cake.

        According to the German and later American scholar of Renaissance humanism P. O. Kristeller, as understood in the Renaissance:
        “the [term “humanities”] came to stand for a well-defined cycle of studies, called studia humanitatis, which included grammatica, rhetorica, poetica, historia and philosophia moralis, as these terms were then understood. Unlike the liberal arts of the earlier Middle Ages, the humanities did not include logic or the quadrivium (arithmetica, geometria, astronomia and musica), and unlike the fine arts of the eighteenth century, they did not include the visual arts, music, dancing or gardening.”

        Kristeller goes on to say, “The humanities also failed to include the disciplines that were the chief subjects of instruction at the universities during the later Middle Ages and throughout the Renaissance, such as theology, jurisprudence and medicine, and the philosophical disciplines other than ethics, such as logic, natural philosophy and metaphysics.”

        1. Musicismath

          Yeah, in the Europe of early 1914 it wasn’t the Grand Tour that was the site of cultural exchange; instead, it was the University campus. German elites sent their sons to study at Oxbridge; English and Scottish elites sent theirs in turn to Heidelberg. Right up until 4 August 1914, the newspaper press harped on this shared intellectual lineage, depicting Britain and Germany as the shared standard bearers of Western Civilisation against the autocrats of Eastern Europe. The script then had to be hurriedly rewritten.

      4. sleepy

        Up until the post 9-11 era, most of North America and much of the Caribbean was a passport-free zone for US citizens, which doesn’t explain the lack of passports for the elites. As a kid I traveled all over Canada and Mexico with nothing more than a TN drivers license as an ID and in those days it wasn’t even a picture ID. To go in and out of Canada involved nothing more than mumbling a yes to the question “are you a US citizen?” and with Mexico filling out a 30 second tourist form.

        Nowadays, far more US citizens have and need passports.

        1. JBird

          And are so much more easier to track and control. Isn’t that nice? All for our “safety.”

          Back then traveling was much less of a hard fearful ordeal. One might think that was not an accident.

    2. Paul O

      Russborough does have a degree more gravitas. I don’t think that is just my British sensitivity showing through :-)

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The issue here is that she has a summer home, in addition to her principal residence, whereas many Americans can’t even afford one.

      Lest we forget FDR also had a few.

      And Bernie Sanders also owns a vacation house (or used to, not sure if he had since sold it).

      1. cnchal

        And who knew Betsy is a yacht hoarder? She has moar of those than dishwashers.

        Her ecological footprint could asphyxiate a herd of elephants.

      2. HotFlash

        No, the issue here is that she has a wasteful, butt-ugly summer home. There are summer homes and summer homes. The 10 yachts, well, I think that is probably too many. My next-door neighbour back in the 60’s, a union machinist, had a cottage (modest, but still, a summer home) and a powerboat (also modest). It is not about what she has as much as about what the rest of people can’t have b/c she has it. IOW, severe inequality.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          A summer home when so many can’t afford a first home?

          I feel this is similar to the discussion of the 0.1%, the 1% and the 10%…a matter of degrees.

  9. John Beech

    I’m sure holding the feet of youth to the fire with respect to student loan debt is good for bank’s bottom lines but it sure seems unfair to the youngsters who went in too deep. Where was the guidance counselor and the teachers when they wanted to become English and Biology majors with insufficient resources for earning a master or doctorate degree, and thus, no realistic plans for employment. Stupid is as stupid does and now they’re hung. What would help is HARP for student debt – e.g. make it interest free, or nearly so and rescue a generation. Combine it with hanging the counselors and teachers who let them down so they don’t continue conning so many into going to college when they’ve no clue what they really want to do.

    1. Arizona Slim

      One of my Tucson friends would beg to disagree with the above. Link:

      Quoting from his blog post:

      “I graduated from a state college with a degree in English and no prospects. After teaching adult ed and deciding it wasn’t for me I joined the USAF as an officer and became a fighter pilot. My liberal arts education gave me a huge leg up in my military career. Most military officers would rather storm a trench naked, or go into a dogfight with no missiles and an inoperative gun, than write a position paper for a commanding officer or get up on stage to deliver a briefing. I know many military leaders with liberal arts degrees, from infantry unit commanders to submarine skippers.”

      1. SerenityNow

        But if the military becomes the primary avenue for young people seeking success or stability, what does that say about our country overall?

        1. Wyoming

          That we are committed to full employment?

          And it is not like we are incapable of finding a use for them. It is a tradition after all.

        2. Arizona Slim

          Good point, SerenityNow.

          In my friend’s case, the USAF was like his life’s mission. He really came into his own during his time in the service.

          OTOH, I’ve heard many stories of people who stayed and stayed and stayed in the service because they had no prospects in the civilian world. Many of them had families to support, and there certainly was something to be said about that steady military paycheck and all of the benefits.

          1. Synapsid

            Arizona Slim,

            “…those people who stayed and stayed and stayed…”

            I remember back in the 1960s Navy hearing that NCO meant No Chance Outside.

            In four years in I only encountered one of them but he embodied the saying all right.

        3. Kevin

          it says our country would probably be empty…except for those knuckleheads who choose to live in a country where the only means of success is through the military.

          1. zer0

            So basically, perpetuate war and the MIC because the US government cant ‘afford’ free education? Or dont want to?

            Sounds like a roundabout way of saying to all future generations “keep going to uni to get your debt so you can be owned by us, the gov, when you graduate”.

            Going to work for the government, especially military, when the government perpetuated and allowed 18 yo’s to take out $250k loans for ‘higher’ education must feel like stepping off the boat and into the plantation.

    2. UserFriendly

      Where was my stupid guidance counselors and teachers when I decided to go to a state school (out of state tuition) to study Chemical Engineering? They should have told me that it didn’t matter what I learned at all because when I graduated in 2008 the only kids who got hired had family connections. They should have told me that working my tail off for a hard degree was no guarantee of anything and that I should expect 4 years of trying to pay back $120k in student debt with 3 part time jobs before a friend of a friend finally got me a job; which paid about $20k/yr less than I was expecting to earn right out of college. Then they could have warned me that all the financial stress, only two weeks of vacation a year, and a constant feeling like I needed to work harder and longer to prove myself would lead to a mental breakdown after 4 years of work. Then they could have told me I’d be more likely to win the lottery than get a job in my field with the holes in my resume. So I keep cycling through applying to a bunch of places, getting nowhere, feeling like crap and wanting to die because I don’t see any end that is anything other than miserable.

      But yeah, let’s blame everyone but both totally corrupt parties, the oligarchs who buy them, and this totally worthless shithole country for letting it happen.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The teacher played by Robin Williams in Dead Poet Society was good, though he didn’t seem concerned about their career prospects.

        Counselors should definitely talk about it.

        But should teachers also?

        “Make sure you do this for love, because you are not likely to get a job.”

        Can one ask for refund from the university?

        1. JBird

          Yeah, but the movie was set in the 50s-60s wasn’t it? It certainly had that feel. There was no need to talk about career prospects as anybody with any type of college degree could get a halfway decent job quickly. To many think, or want others to think, that this still true. It’s good propaganda for the business of higher ed.

    3. CalypsoFacto

      it’s not just the counselors and teachers… their parents urged them as well, did whatever they could to make it so their children could and would go to college because they thought it was an assured route to a good future. what parent wouldn’t want that for their child? how many parents do you know have the capability (mental, emotional, psychological etc) to refuse to cosign or tell kids straight out that college is a bad idea for them and help them figure out what a better option might be? only relatively recently are trade schools becoming a sort of class-acceptable thing to pursue instead of college (not so much for women yet). and the military doesn’t do a lot of recruiting at private and charter schools unless its for officers.

      college degrees are mostly useless, but they’ll persist until as a society we collectively agree they’re useless and start referencing other proxies for skills. the college debt – all of it- should be erased and anyone who paid off a loan be credited the amount they paid so as to get out of the trap of ‘well i paid for mine, they should pay for theirs’. the loan servicers and parasite corporations built around the student debt ecosystem should all be allowed to collapse with only the students being made whole.

      1. marieann

        I was a parent who advised one of my sons not to go on to university, we knew it would have been a waste of our money.
        We paid for our other son and myself to attend University and collage, granted this was in the 90’s. Both my sons have done well.
        Today I would probably do the same…not all people are meant for university.

        1. HotFlash

          Whew. That’s probably ‘college’, not ‘collage’. Sorry, sorry, sorry, old-time proofreader.

          1. marieann

            Well I did used to be a good speller until the internet :)

            I’m fine with proofreading.

  10. Arizona Slim

    So, my alma mater has a $13 billion investment office. With that kind of money, I think the University of Michigan would be able to offer a tuition-free education to every student who gains admission.

    1. curlydan

      only if you pry the endowment away from the “cold, dead hands” of every administrator, rinky dink department chair, financial aid department, athletic department, gym operator, etc

      if only a squillionaire philanthropist could use their “wisdom” to create a stripped down university or college with out all the fluff, it easily could be done

      1. HotFlash

        if only a squillionaire philanthropist government of the people, for the people and by the people could could use their “wisdom” to create a stripped down university or college with out all the fluff, it easily could be done.

        Just another view.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is it possible to allow

      1. Drug importation
      2. College degree importation

      And if medical treatment abroad is increasingly an option, will college education be far behind?

      In Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next, there are a few American college students taking advantage of free college in Slovenia.

      ‘But no (American) football in this college though.’

      1. Buck Eschaton

        Fortunately my high school daughter is fluent in German, we’re seriously starting to look at college in Germany as a distinct possibility.

      2. ambrit

        College degree importation is on view with most H1B visa applicants. These degrees are from foreign schools that produce ‘qualified’ foreign work units for American Corporations. (Otherwise, how do the H1B applicants qualify for the status of ‘desired work unit?’)
        Drug importation now; that’s a long story.
        Medical treatment abroad is available to those with the wherewithall to travel. That disallows a huuge part of the American public.
        One does get the impression that an American Underclass is being formalized.

  11. Ignacio

    RE: Labour’s chief economic adviser confirms it is committed to the thinking that will deliver yet more austerity Richard Murphy. Who will have the heart to tell Artist Taxi Driver?

    Depressing. Reminds me the advices of the AEI to PSOE in Spain. Very depressing… fuck”ngly depressing and very close to kill me now department.

  12. Pylot

    Regarding the increase in elderly bankruptcy filings. This is another case of inventing reasons that suit or emphasize a point of view. It is nonsense.

    The boomers who are declaring bankruptcy did not take ownership for their own futures. They are victims of their own actions. There are going to be a lot of them just as there are a lot of boomers who did plan for old age. I am sick of this everyone is a victim baloney.

    If you spent like the proverbial drunken sailor, stayed in debt up to your eyes and then got too old to continue to work to support your bad spending habits the logical thing to do is to discharge your debt in bankruptcy.

    The so called increase is just the daily wave of those turning too old keep up with their debt. Its going to be a long and sustained wave. It has nothing to do with anything except the overall size of the population who screwed themselves.

    1. Eureka Springs

      I recall some thirty years ago in a conversation with an attorney who said just to initiate bankruptcy proceedings with them would cost over 10k. And I thought to myself if someone had that much money they wouldn’t be bankrupt.

      There must be many millions of deplorables trapped without ability to utilize such tools.

      Also was just at the Dollar Store and the clerk asked me if I knew anyone hiring part time. She can’t make it with the two jobs she has now. Articulate, attentive, pleasant. I told her there is no way to catch up, much more, get ahead. Figure out how to enjoy life without fighting such losing battles. That’s the spiritual bankruptcy worth avoiding.

      1. ambrit

        I’ve been meeting exactly such younger people lately as well. When it finally becomes impossible for the younger generations to convince themselves that there is going to be an old fashioned “middle class” lifestyle for them and theirs, there will be blood in the streets.

    2. Pat

      I’m sure none of it has to do with the legalized theft of pension funds by private equity and vulture capitalists. Nor could two major crashes in their working lifetime, both of which left more of those who aren’t in the FIRE sector further behind in the investment plans and gains. And do you really want me to start in on stagnant wages, inaccurate cost of living reports, and yes even the decades long attack on Social Security. But let us also talk about age discrimination, you know where there is copious evidence that job loss after fifty largely results in the worker never recovering a similar or equally compensated job. (Something that truly screws with the 401k version of retirement as that is largely designed around stable or increasingly lucrative employment)
      Now let’s talk about how those deeply screwed with cost of living indexes severely underestimate the cost of aging.

      Just hope the coming crash doesn’t clear out a significant segment of your savings, lose you your job, and maybe even end up allowing a bank to illegally foreclose on your home (being fully paid for didn’t stop that the last time around). Or maybe the system’s grinder does need to chew you up so you can get it isn’t always the fault of the victim, even most of the time.

    3. Julia Versau

      Pylot, there are about 4,985 things you apparently don’t know about the current economic climate and the longstanding one that has contributed to a dearth of retirement savings. You need to educate yourself (start with income loss dating from the 1970s and the death of pensions, etc). These are all the sentences you deserve for your ignorant and hostile comment.

    4. Burritohound

      Not much in the article supports the “spending like a drunken sailor” angle.

      From the article: About three in five said unmanageable medical expenses played a role


      Given the rate of increase, Professor Thorne said, “the only explanation that makes any sense are structural shifts.”

      I say that thinking “everyone that didn’t retire a millionaire to defray spiraling medical and housing expenses deserves what they get” is another symptom of bankrupt (haha!) linear meritocratic ideology. We have the means as a society to do better than this.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Medical expenses played a role.

        I think that includes also those with Medicare who still must spend…incur expenses.

        As Lambert mentioned, Medicare in its present, and when expanded, should be expense-free.

        And I put that on par, if not more urgent, than free college.

    5. RUKidding


      Why how nice.

      Speaking only for myself and my friends and acquaintances, I know a number of older people who are on the edge financially it has absolutlely nothing to do with “spending like drunken sailors” or otherwise living beyond their means. Yes, certainly, there are people/boomers out there who are in trouble financially because they did overspend and didn’t save, etc.

      I have one friend who worked for many years for Montgomery Ward (remember them). She was contributing to their pension plan, as was MW. When MW went bankrupt (back in the ’90s), her pension was gone. This friend continued working at a number of different jobs until she was 83 and literally could no longer work. She was on edge financially because wages have stagnated since the 1970s. She tried really hard to pinch pennies (believe me, this person was not leading some lavish lifestyle), and her pension was effectively “taken” from her.

      I have numerous other stories of a similar nature, including another friend in her late ’70s who is desparately seeking a job in order to keep paying the rent. This person also has worked all of her life but has never made enough to put a lot in savings.

      Easy to cast stones when you don’t really truly know people’s circumstances.

      If one reads the article, one can easily see that the stories provided are not about profligate people who spent like drunken sailors.

    6. nippersdad

      I can remember quite clearly when A scale turned to B scale, and B scale turned into minimum wage-on call. When managed pensions were turned into 401K’s, and all of the schmucks I worked with then had to learn how to invest their retirement funds overnight. Lots of proto-millionaires, until they weren’t. When our managed healthcare plans were turned into HMO’s that no one could understand. Lots of formerly covered people that no longer went to the dentist or the opthamologist.

      I remember when our Social Security payments were doubled to make the fund secure, and when Obama decided that it just wasn’t enough and they would have to be cut anyway. When interest tax deductions on consumer loans and credit cards was phased out over three years, and we lost our deductions overnight. When my Wife’s student loans for the career that never went anywhere overtook her ability to pay them, and the guy who always wanted to attend college had to do so instead; and then never got to go himself. When we had to move fifty miles out of town to afford a shack in the sticks furnished with junk. The time arbitrage of having to renovate/maintain the shack whilst working full time with a hundred mile per day commute vs. the minimum wage job one could find out here. When the cars, and even lawn mowers, were no longer affordable. When just going to get free things ultimately became too expensive. When the vacations that one had never taken became the norm because fixing the stray dog took precedence.

      I’m sure glad that things worked out for you. After all, there but for the grace of God go I, but your views are simplistic. It is difficult to overspend when, even now, repairing the tie rods on THE twenty five year old truck eat almost the entire monthly discretionary budget. You have clearly benefited from an economy designed to screw people like myself, and that’s nice, but, fair warning, crowing about it could get dangerous.

      Some of us are just a little bit bitter, and would like nothing more than to take it out on someone like yourself. Discretion might just be the better part of valor when it comes to opinions like that. Be careful where you air them.

      1. ambrit

        I fully concur. There’s a reason the more forward thinking ‘high wealth’ people are moving to gated communities with private armies for security. They’ll need those henchmen sooner or later.

        1. nippersdad

          Which should remind them that, as Mark Blythe so eloquently put it, “the Hamptons are not a defensible position.” There are some rising tides that high wealth individuals could actually find themselves sinking under, for a change.

          And I don’t think that would be a bad thing. Humility is good for the soul.

        2. Arizona Slim

          And even gated communities aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

          Case in point: One of my friends was a pet sitter. She had a client couple who lived in a gated community. They never failed to remind my friend about it.

          Yeesh. As if my friend didn’t realize that she had to enter a passcode in order to get that gate to open.

          Then came the bored offspring of another resident couple. The kids jacked the family car and went on a joyride throughout the gated community. ISTR my friend telling me that they did $13,000 worth of damage.

    7. Ed

      American government actually provides a welfare state or safety net for the elderly, who get a basic income in social security and medical insurance. There is some welfare for children, but pretty much none for able bodied non-elderly adults. So even if bankrupt the elderly should not have to worry about basic living expenses and some if not most medical expenses. Its not luxury, but its better than most Americans get.

      One reason for the rising suicide rate for middle aged American men is that they wind up broke, unemployable, and still about a decade too young to get social security and medicaid.

      This is not a complaint, and I support these programs. But the point is that one problem that the federal government solved was old age poverty.. These stories at at the least very misleading.

      1. ambrit

        I beg to differ about Social Security ‘solving’ old age poverty. The SS system has been degraded slowly over the last decades concerning what constitutes an adequate standard of living. Putting aside medical issues, the fact that one’s SS payment is indexed to one’s past income stream means that many of us who lived our lives in the lower middle and working class cadres have been given substandard pensions. “You didn’t make much, so you don’t ‘deserve’ much now.” Yes, someone back in the mists of time doubled the SS payroll tax. So what? The earnings subject to taxation cap was essentially retained. The idea of a basic transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor was demonized.
        Let us not even get into the Boondoggle that is Medicare. If it was designed for maximum effectiveness, there would be no “donut hole” for the ‘Advantage Plans’ vultures to exploit. There would be no co-pays required. There would be a mandate that, if one wanted to practice medicine in America, one must accept Medicare patients.
        If the ‘solution’ to our problems turns out to be “The Jackpot,” then a lot of us are going to make sure that the “Uppers” share the pain.

      2. knowbuddhau

        What is this “the elderly should not have to worry” but hand-waving? You point to the mere existence of programs, as if that were enough. Where on earth do you get the idea that the federal government had “solved…old age poverty”? More like, the very least they can do, so far.

        I should not have to worry about my meager SS pension being stolen before I get there. I should not have had job after job stolen, either. I should not be as broke as I am. I should not have my health care rationed by a for-profit third party. I should not have to worry about the one and only known biosphere in the whole whathavuverse collapsing in my lifetime, with me and everything I love going with it.

        I should not have to go on. But I could, all the livelong day.

        I’m glad you support the program. Still, I don’t think it means what you think it means.

    8. Elizabeth Burton

      Actually, it’s the Boomers the corporate media choose to focus on that may fit your description. I can assure you there are plenty of us who can’t afford to declare bankruptcy but are reaching the point where survival is precarious not because we spent like millionaires but because despite college degrees we were told were the key to the future we ended up working for barely enough to make ends meet most of our lives.

      In other words, the future we thought we were taking ownership of turned out to be based on real life, which (as John Lennon liked to note) is what happens while you’re making other plans. And then, belatedly, we learned that future had been taken over by the oligarchs we had once aspired to be, because that’s what we were told would result if we just got that degree and worked hard.

    9. tegnost

      Comments like this crystallize the most evil thing about the bailouts and the Obama presidency. Here pylot is lecturing us about personal responsibility, when he/she should have lost everything but was paid in full by the fed and the Obama administration who appointed Bernanke to another term, and allowed the banks to land on a runway foamed with citizens. The resultant income inequality and the fuel for pylots self satisfied parsimoniousness should never have happened, but apparently he/she is among the chosen winners and so feels justified in judging. This is Obama’s unforgiveable sin…he made people like pylot whole. Unforgiveable.

    10. Yves Smith Post author

      Divorce is often a very big contributor:

      Despite the common perception that women make out better than men in divorce proceedings, women who worked before, during, or after their marriages see a 20 percent decline in income when their marriages end, according to Stephen Jenkins, a professor at the London School of Economics. His research found that men, meanwhile, tend to see their incomes rise more than 30 percent post-divorce. Meanwhile, the poverty rate for separated women is 27 percent, nearly triple the figure for separated men.

  13. allan

    New Details About Wilbur Ross’ Business Point To Pattern Of Grifting [Forbes]

    … Over several months, in speaking with 21 people who know Ross, Forbes uncovered a pattern: Many of those who worked directly with him claim that Ross wrongly siphoned or outright stole a few million here and a few million there, huge amounts for most but not necessarily for the commerce secretary. At least if you consider them individually. But all told, these allegations—which sparked lawsuits, reimbursements and an SEC fine—come to more than $120 million. If even half of the accusations are legitimate, the current United States secretary of commerce could rank among the biggest grifters in American history. …

    Hard to believe, I know.

    1. Eureka Springs

      $120 million

      could rank among the biggest grifters in American history

      Ha! I wonder if they typed that with a straight face?

      Trump change.

    2. RUKidding

      And what will be the consequences?

      Will he even get a tap on the wrist?

      The grifting goes on and on.

      The rich can steal as much as they like because there are no consequences.

      The poor better not steal a stick of gum, or they’ll have the book thrown at them.

      One law for the rich and another different law for the rest of us.

    3. ewmayer

      Someone remind me – how many $millions in cap-gains taxes did former Goldman CEO Hank Paulson dodge by ‘being forced to divest his GS shares in order to devote himself to public service’ when he became TSec and helped organize the colossal bailouts-sans-consequences-for-the-perps for GS and the other Wall Street fraud cartels? ISTR it’s of the same order as what Ross is accused of stealing.

      It’s a small club, and you ain’t in it…

  14. flora

    re: Britain’s Brexit Billionaire Slams the Establishment

    There isn’t one person on our Brexit team that has a clue.

    That’s one point with which I agree. I thought after the Brexit vote the UK Govt would take time to analyze and plan for all of the important requirements to insure continuing trade, travel, and border station up-manning *before* they triggered Article 50. I was wrong. (Just as I was wrong that once the US Govt saw the rot in the US financial sector that caused the financial meltdown in 2008 they would clean it up and re- regulate for financial stability. I was wrong about that, too.)

    1. Clive

      Me too. I am continually in a state of being stunned that, having adopted a high-risk approach (and relying on a negotiating position that requires the EU27 to make such concessions that, should they make them, they would no longer be the EU in the form that it currently exists in is a high-risk approach) the U.K. government didn’t throw everything it had into no-deal planning.

      And I also thought that the one, brief, moment in 2008-ish where for a short while (with the system on the verge of collapse) the requirement to remake capitalism into something other than that which it was (is) would be seized and exploited. Nope. It picked itself up, patched its wounds as best it could, took an infusion of fresh Kool-Aid and continues to stagger around much as before (only worse) to this day.

      Crikey, can I blunder about in search of wisdom, failing miserably at every turn — or what?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The old joke of some Brexiteers being like the dog that caught the car is increasingly looking like reality.

        Of course, the irony is that it is precisely these billionaire Brexit libertarians who did their best to destroy everything functional about the public sector and the political system, and are now rather shocked to find that in order to create their libertarian paradise in the Atlantic, they actually need a functioning competent public sector.

      1. Arizona Slim

        True confession: My visualization of Yves was nothing like the real person in the photo.

        1. Whoa Molly

          True confession: I had never visualized her. Odd, that. When I thought about it the first image that came to mind was Meryl Streep.

          1. pretzelattack

            i’ve never really visualized most of the people here. i’m sure i would be wildly inaccurate, though.

      2. Whoa Molly!

        Maybe Bannon’s faux blue collar language better captured the raw rage and desperation that I see.

      3. Richard

        I was impressed by his clarity; a lot of anger over Obama that the “left” is missing, he’s seeing and interpretating correctly, IMO.
        His populism is just a facade, but he does appear to know the truth.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Australia’s China reset ”

    Bit too much hoo-rah for my liking and also too much China bashing. I see more and more of this sort of stuff where they are trying to stir up fear of China. Yeah, that sort of stuff always works out well. The author puts the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull in a very heroic light here but it should be noted that this guy was also working once as a Government Senior Advisor – to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Is China trying to get influence in Australia? Of course they are along with any number of other countries. Its known as international relations but you learn not to sweat the small stuff. You let it mess with your mind and you end up with ‘Russia! Russia! Russia!’
    I would be more concerned about other countries having influence in our country. China, for example, cannot get Australia to change its vote in the United but when you see a vote held in that same body condemning the latest Israeli atrocity and that there are only three countries on the planet voting against this motion – Israel, the United States & Australia – you do wonder which of the two has more influence here.
    To be fair, Turnbull is in a tight spot. He has only a marginal hold on power, there is an election coming next year which is not looking good for him and he has the previous bloke he kicked out of his job breathing down his neck – a real neocon who is always shouting that we must build more coal power stations like he had shares in coal. Still, the country is being pushed into directions very strange for Australia. They are building up the military and announcing that they want to build a huge arms industry for export with our neighbours. You wonder what they have planned. Strange times ahead.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, that was a strange article, it seemed a bit of a post-hoc rationalisation for some very dubious policy decisions made in the past.

      It seems to me as an outsider that the Australians are playing with fire in essentially trying to ride two horses simultaneously – the China horse for the economy and the US one for security . I don’t see how that is possible long term, there will eventually be an irreconcilable conflict and they’ll have to decide on which one they prefer. Given the extreme reliance of the Australian economy on the twin pillars of natural resource extraction and house price inflation, it seems to me that the Chinese will be able very easily to call the shots.

      1. Musicismath

        I was in Australia last month for the first time in a few years, and I have to admit to being struck by the sizeable Chinese imprint on the country. Much larger even than during the ‘00s, when I last spent time there. Bilingual street signs on the road in from Adelaide airport; special counters to welcome (Chinese) international students in the arrival terminals. I was also struck by the aggressive and completely in your face munitions advertising in Canberra airport.

    2. gordon

      I, too, thought it a poor and actually misleading article for anybody who doesn’t live in Australia. I spent a bit of time critiquing it downthread under a new heading because what I have to say isn’t really a reply to RevKev or others.

  16. marym

    Now the Trump administration wants to limit citizenship for legal immigrants

    The Trump administration is expected to issue a proposal in coming weeks that would make it harder for legal immigrants to become citizens or get green cards if they have ever used a range of popular public welfare programs, including Obamacare, four sources with knowledge of the plan told NBC News.

    The move, which would not need Congressional approval, is part of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller’s plan [*] to limit the number of migrants who obtain legal status in the U.S. each year.

    Immigration lawyers and advocates and public health researchers say it would be the biggest change to the legal immigration system in decades and estimate that more than 20 million immigrants could be affected. They say it would fall particularly hard on immigrants working jobs that don’t pay enough to support their families.

    [*] The link is to an article about the current detention crisis. Here’s a link to a general idea of the Miller “plan.”

    Just as supporters of immigration, immigrant rights, and abolishing ICE are called on to distinguish their positions from “open borders,” so Trump/Miller/Sessions ought to be called on to distinguish their policies from “white supremacy” and “gratuitous cruelty.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That welfare program usage test seems to be more class warfare than race.


      Since the switch has been done too often, is it up to us to distinguish that (for our own sake)?

  17. Jason Boxman

    Kirsten Gillibrand Pays The Price For Speaking Out Against Al Franken: “The 2020 race is still years away, but as donors start to shop around, her comments on Clinton and Franken could be a factor.”

    As the next crop of hopefuls prostitute themselves to the monied class. I can’t wait for 2020. Yay.

    1. Shane Mage

      It wasn’t Germans who imprisoned King Richard, It was the French and certainly had a lot to do with Norman claims on the French throne (you know, Jeanne d.Arc and all that).

      1. ambrit

        We’ve seen you somewhere else Mage. And, no, it was the Austrians who ‘ransomed’ Richard. (The wily French could have put them up to it.)

        1. ewmayer

          Ah yes, Dürnstein castle – a lovely place to visit on your next drive-along or river-cruise-down die Donau. (The wineries in that limestone-geologic region also produce some very fine white wines.)

  18. Patricia

    Note from poll station in Michigan: more than three times as many people have voted in four hours as voted in all thirteen hours of last primary. Poll volunteer whispered, ‘ our democracy is in danger and we are glad to see people waking up.’ Volunteer next to him said, ‘amen. Hope it is enough.’

  19. Livius Drusus

    Re: The robot paradox

    Commenter “TG” writes:

    There is no paradox. What’s going on is that an excessively high rate of third-world immigration is flooding the market for labor, thus driving wages down and profits up. With labor getting cheaper, there is no reason to invest in expensive and risky automation, which is why investment and productivity are lagging.

    But that doesn’t sound good, so instead the press lies about it. We are about to run out of workers and we desperately need to either have more babies or import ever more third-world refugees or we will run out of workers and the crops will rot in the fields etc. And when importing a massive excess of labor does what anyone expects it to do, lower wages, we hear that oh it’s those evil robots making human workers obsolete. But these are both lies, aren’t they?

    I basically agree with this. Why invest in technology when labor is weak and cheap? The decline of unions and the rise of the gig economy are part of the picture but immigration is also a contributing factor. This is an area where the press is either confused or outright dishonest.

    We are supposed to be worried about a shortage of jobs due to automation and yet these same people are demanding more fertility from native populations (this often involves blaming native-born workers for supposedly being morally dissolute for not getting married earlier and having a lot of kids) and more immigration because supposedly there will also be a worker shortage. You also get attacks on the elderly in the form of scare stories about our “greying” populations. It is the usual mainstream media story of deflection and “blame the victim” while never looking at elite policymaking.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Funny how no one who writes yet another article about immigration pauses to note that the reason there’s a flood of immigrants are the deadly wars and regime-change actions taking place in the countries from whence the immigrants are flooding. Shouldn’t we be considering that along with fussing over cheap labor and whatnot?

      1. Oregoncharles

        Yes, fixing the sources would be the closest thing to a genuinely progressive or left solution.

        However, this fails to address the massive refugee movements that global cooking will soon produce – already we have a California invasion of Oregon, including various friends and colleagues.

  20. georgieboy

    The Ron Unz piece is fascinating history, some surprisingly recent. Not your NY Times, that is for sure. Although maybe Sarah Jeong will look into this and enlighten Times readers now that the seal is broken.

    As I recall Unz and a Colorado congressman named Tom Tancredo rang the alarm years ago about the negative impact of large-scale illegal immigration on US working-class citizens.

    Tancredo became a bogeyman for both the Time and WSJ (you know you are right when they both hate you!). Unz got shunned by the all-things-correct-thinkers, like Kevin MacDonald.

  21. fresno dan

    Hospitals will be required to post online a list of their standard charges under a rule finalized Thursday by the Trump administration.

    While hospitals are already required to make this information public on request, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said the new rule would require the info be posted online to “encourage price transparency” and improve “public accessibility.”
    Its a start. Is there ANY reason that pharmacies shouldn’t be required to post the price of every drug they sell?

  22. Patricia

    Note from poll station in Michigan:

    More than 3 times as many people have voted in 4 hours as voted in all 13 hours during last primary. Volunteer whispered relief to me because “our democracy is under huge threat.” “Amen,” whispered volunteer next to him. “Hope enough people are now awake.”

    Outside at the 100 ft line, a lot of various supporters were sitting on chairs with their flyers. Big discussion about how blacks, hispanics, and mid-easterners are now deciding to get into the fray themselves. Much satisfaction and laughter.

    1. Patricia

      Apologies for double posting. Was on my phone for first one, while at poll station, and it said it didn’t take.

        1. neighbor7

          Concur! And to earlier post, the masters writing program at U of M fully funds accepted students. Too bad they didn’t have that in place when I was there!

          “In the first year, all MFA students accepted are offered a full tuition waiver and a stipend of $16,000, as well as $6,000 in summer funding. The total first year package equals $22,000.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Not even an overly vocal Siamese? The kind that would go “Me-e-e-OWWWW!” repeatedly?

        1. pretzelattack

          one of those attack siamese that supposedly guarded the royal family of siam. then give zuckerburg some sardine scented aftershave.

  23. Brooklin Bridge

    NYC becomes first major city to make jail phone calls free -Axios

    I thought the general trend was passing legislation to eliminate prison visits so more Ka-ching on phone calls. Good news for a change.

  24. gordon

    “Australia’s China reset”

    I suppose the thing about Prof. Garnaut’s article which first caught my attention was his statement about “…the values and institutions of the European Enlightenment that underpinned the development of capitalism in the West”. Well, there you have it – modern economic history in a nutshell! Poor old Prof. Tawney and Max Weber are overboard, and Karl Marx may as well have saved his breath. In fact most if not all economic historians are now exposed as being on the wrong tracks. Capitalism was invented by – the Encyclopedistes? Montesquieu? Voltaire? Maybe over drinks at a conference?

    Reading on, I was glad to discover that Clive Hamilton, whose book “Silent Invasion: China’s Influence In Australia” (Feb. 2018) is widely read did get one mention, though his book didn’t. Since Hamilton and his book have made a major contribution to exposing the extent of Chinese influence in Australia – which Prof. Garnaut certainly hasn’t done – I thought that more than a little mean. I suppose Prof. Garnaut felt he couldn’t really ignore Hamilton altogether, though I got the strong feeling he would have liked to. I was disappointed to find that the “Four Corners” investigative report from 5 June 2017 got no mention at all:
    That program was very influential in alerting Australians to Chinese influence. Television investigations into the Chinese adventures of (ex-)Senator Sam Dastyari were also important and also not mentioned by Prof. Garnaut.

    Persisting (maybe against my better judgement) I found paragraphs under the subhead “Authoritarian Onslaught” describing China’s increasing influence in terms of horrified discovery analagous to a description of a spreading plague or sea of pollution. Yuk! Horrible! Then I realized that you could substitute “United States” for “China” or “the Party” in many instances without upsetting the meaning. Try this on for size: “The modus operandi is to offer privileged access, build personal rapport and reward those who deliver. It seeks common interests and cultivates relationships of dependency with chosen partners. The Party uses overt propaganda and diplomacy, quasi-covert fronts and proxies, and covert operations to frame debates, manage perceptions, and tilt the political and strategic landscape to its advantage”. I think that could easily apply to US tactics in Latin America, and also in other places like maybe Ukraine.

    Finally I got to the part where Prof. Garnaut describes the Australian Govts. new anti-foreign-influence legislation. I went back and checked the date of the article. It is dated August 2018, but Prof. Garnaut seems to be describing the version of the legislation introduced into Parliament back in December 2017. There is no mention of the storm of protest that first attempt aroused, with charities, journalists, business people and just about every interest group in Australia (including Chinese officials!) claiming that if taken literally that legislation would shut them down. What we have now is a very extensively revised and watered down version of the legislation that Prof. Garnaut is describing – in prose so glowing that you might think he had drafted it himself.

    The legislation hurriedly passed by Parliament in July 2018 is a version which exempts foreign companies and individuals unless they are closely related to a foreign government. That would seem to mean that everybody who isn’t actually wearing a Chinese Communist Party card in their hatband is perfectly safe. Sadly, there aren’t many good reviews of how the original and final versions of the legislation compare, but try this:
    The funniest part is that the Australian Government (via Michel Porter, the Attorney-General) has denied the new legislation is aimed at China. I can say with confidence that absolutely nobody in Australia believes that.

    I’m afraid Prof. Garnaut’s article doesn’t give a very good account of the Australian situation. I think what has happened is that the Australian ruling class has been pressured into being seen to be doing something by TV and book revelations. However I wouldn’t call the resulting legislation very effective against foreign influence. It’s likely to have more effect shutting down whistleblowers, journalists and charities.

  25. William

    Not too sure how to take Unz and his obsession with Jewishness. Seems that the site in general has a rather racially overcharged emphasis, and I have to take his word on the quality of scholarship he cites. Never a safe thing to do in this area. He makes some very strong assertions here and in other essays I read tonite, I.e.the Jewish libel of old being true. Hmm. I find him plausible, he writes as a reasonable man, but as a Jew(Unz that is) I get a feeling something else may be going on here. Anybody else have insight here?

    1. Philip

      William, my personal opinion, FWIW: Mr Unz is a scholar and a Gentleman. His research and analysis is top notch, and that includes the one in Links 8/7/18. Thank you Yves!

      Anecdotally, my family’s historical records – letters and diaries spanning mid 18th through end of the 19th century when my Grandparents came to the US – support Mr. Unz’s research and analysis.

      Also, Yoav Shamir’s documentary “Defamation”– An Israeli’s examination of the ADL and anti-Semitism. (available on youtube) His interview segment with his granmother supports Mr. Unz’s analysis. (note: this segment is about 10 minutes in, the whole film is worth your time)

      You wrote: “… but as a Jew(Unz that is) I get a feeling something else may be going on here.”
      I would offer that the something else going on here is nothing more than a Jew confronting the lies and illusions which have been perpetuated for generations among Jews. Mr. Unz is not the only one, fortunately. Israel Shahak, Noam Chomsky, Ilan Pappe, Moshe Menuhin, Benny Morris, Victor Ostrovsky, Gideon Levy, Miko Peled, Philip Weiss, Norman Finkelstein, Yoav Shamir, Max Blumenthal, David Sheen and so many others have stepped forward with the courage to tell some truth to a world in denial. I say Bravo to all of them!

      Keep reading! I highly recommend State Of Terror by Thomas Suarez (2017, Olive Branch Press)

  26. Susan the other

    Great Links. Sorry I’m getting here so late, just want to get in this comment before the thread closes. About Truthdig. Paul Street. A good blast of fresh air. And he claims to be very anti-capitalist… I’d like to remind him that capitalism is almost innocent and we need to be more specific. It’s a mess because it mutated. Nowhere does Capitalism claim that “money” used for capital must be anything – not gold, not credit, not debt, not currency backed by various other thins, not sovereign currency backed by taxes or natural resources, certainly not the private hoards demanding interest and usury; not stolen nor earned. Nada. “Capital” remains as undefined as “money”. Except by contract, express contract between two or more parties who agree to a transaction. Because contracts are backed by contract law and (supposedly) contract law is backed by society. And the whole thing is supported by simple human cooperation and morality. No contract that lacks mutuality will hold up in court. Change our thinking about “money” and the abuses of capitalism disappear. Maybe

Comments are closed.