Links 10/6/18

Golden Retriever Surprises Owner With A Baby Koala Whose Life She Just Saved Bored Panda

Tsukiji: Japan’s famed fish market to relocate BBC. :-(

Stone used as a doorstep for the last 30 years is meteorite worth $ 100K Vajuu (Kevin W)

Why the next three months are crucial for the future of the planet Guardian (David L)

This Is Not A Blip The Baffler (Anthony L). Why don’t these people come up with better titles?!?

Researchers Created ‘Quantum Artificial Life’ For the First Time Vice

Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship Areo Magazine (Bill B). I think we’ve managed to link to news stories on this project, as opposed to the overview by the instigators themselves. Apologies for the delay…..

Users are Reporting Lost Data After Installing Windows 10 October 2018 Update ExtremeTech (furzy). Ugh.

Space Force seeking applications for transfer to mobile infantry Duffle Blog (Kevin W)


Interpol president is reported missing after a trip to China CNBC (furzy). Not a good look.

Former South Korean President Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison For Accepting $5.4 Million In Bribes From Samsung NPR


EU may offer post-Brexit trade flexibility to help May secure deal Guardian. Telegraph give this story prominent play, but it is nowhere to be found on the Daily Mail’s UK site, and the FT Brexit story of the day, below the fold, is: EU drafts tough contingency plans for no-deal Brexit. Note this part:

However, the timing of the document indicates that Brussels may use it as leverage in the talks, only to end up revising no-deal plans. An EU diplomat familiar with the preparations said the commission was planning to adjust the tone of the draft according to progress made in negotiations over coming days.

“It will be harder if it all gets stuck and softer if things are going well,” the diplomat said.

Brexit: why we had to leave Richard North

Revealed: May’s secret bid to get Labour to back Brexit deal Guardian

The EU – we’re out in March, stop messing about Morning Star (furzy)

RED RUINS Jeremy Corbyn would be TEN TIMES worse than Brexit for the British economy, experts warn The Sun. Kevin W: “This was so bad that I just had to send it if for no other reason than a good laugh.”

Where in the World Is Denmark’s $2 Billion? New York Times (David L)

New Cold War

How The U.S. Runs Public Relations Campaigns – Trump Style – Against Russia And China Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)

Loans Sour in Turkey, Inflation Hits 25%, Interest Rates Spike, Fears of Contagion Rise Don Quijones, Wolf Street


UK and US Now Overtly Honor Al Qaeda Defend Democracy Press (furzy)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Instagram is testing the ability to share your precise location history with Facebook The Verge

Undercover cops break Facebook rules to track protesters, ensnare criminals NBC (furzy)

Does Your Motherboard Have a Secret Chinese Spy Chip? PC Magazine (David L)

Bloomberg’s Spy Chip Story Reveals the Murky World of National Security Reporting TechCrunch

California Bans Default Passwords on Any Internet-Connected Device engadget

Trump Transition

Trump Mocks Al Franken for Quick Resignation Over Claims of Sex Misconduct New York Times (furzy)

Trump Administration Moves to Open 1.6 Million Acres to Fracking, Drilling in California Sacramento Bee (furzy)

Trump watches North Korean missile launch on Fox News and worries it was actually happening Business Insider (Dr. Kevin)

Eliot Weinberger · Ten Typical Days in Trump’s America London Review of Books (Anthony L)


“Beyond Unusual”: How the Kavanaugh Show Trial Could Hurt the F.B.I. Vanity Fair (furzy)

Murkowski says she opposes Kavanaugh’s nomination, but will vote ‘present’ The Hill

Trump: Kavanaugh protesters paid by billionaire Soros DW

In Letter to Trump, House Democrats Promise to Investigate Brett Kavanaugh for Perjury If Confirmed Intercept. In other words, a protracted wet noodle lashing.

Democrats draft an ‘Internet Bill of Rights’ to regulate Big Tech GeekWire

Even People Insured By Their Employer Are Worried About Rising Health Care Costs FiveThirtyEight (UserFriendly).

Kansas: Aftershocks from the epicenter of voter suppression Columbia Journalism Review (UserFriendly)

Typhus reaches ‘epidemic levels’ in parts of Los Angeles area NBC News (Kevin W). We said a long time ago that our lousy health care system + rising inequality would = more public health problems.

Big Pharma takes rare price cut on hepatitis C drugs, but other drug prices continue to march north DC Medical Malpractice & Patient Safety Blog (furzy)

Tesla’s board is too weak to stop its CEO Elon Musk from tweeting Recode

Secret Amazon brands are quietly taking over Quartz. Charming.

U.S. plans to rewrite rules that impede self-driving cars Reuters (EM). More “charming”.

Guillotine Watch

Sotheby’s ‘Banksy-ed’ as painting ‘self-destructs’ live at auction Art Newspaper

Class Warfare

After Disney, Amazon wage hikes, Bernie Sanders targets McDonald’s The Hill (UserFriendly)

Jobless blacks are jumping back faster into the workforce Axios

Antidote du jour. MGL: “This is a juvenile black-crowned night-heron that perched in a tree just a few feet above our balconey at hotel in Dana Point. It sat there quietly for ~ 45” then vanished.”

And a bonus video (Jeff N):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. cnchal

    > Secret Amazon brands are quietly taking over Quartz. Charming.

    Even moar charming is this link within that article, which leads to this.

    “We have uncovered an unlawful and troubling scheme on the part of Amazon to solicit eBay sellers to move to Amazon’s platform,” an eBay spokesperson said in a statement. “We have demanded that Amazon end its unlawful activity and we will take the appropriate steps, as needed, to protect eBay.”

    The stakes aren’t just high for eBay. Amazon’s marketplace, where third-party sellers can list their goods alongside Amazon’s own listings, is invaluable to the e-commerce giant. In 2017, it accounted for more than half of goods sold on Amazon.

    Amazon is a criminal enterprise.

    1. Carla

      And anyone who can afford to shop elsewhere but chooses to buy from Amazon is complicit. I give a break to those whose circumstances dictate that if they don’t buy from Walmart or the Walmart-of-the-skies (Amazon) they can’t afford to buy Anything. After all, these monopolistic enterprises have systematically eliminated almost all low-cost shopping alternatives.

      But I am fortunate enough that if I need a book or a pair of shoes, I can seek out a brick-and-mortar retailer, often owned by someone who lives in and supports my own local community, and patronize that vendor. And I’m glad to pay more because I understand “the high cost of low prices.”

      BTW, for those who may not have heard of it, if you live far from any independent bookstores and need a non-predatory online source for new and used books, is a good source that offers free shipping on every order.

          1. marieann

            Yes this is what I do, I love my public library.

            My other shopping place is thrift stores and as a last resort….I buy nothing.

          2. Wukchumni

            We are the People’s Consumer Front, not to be confused with the Consumers People Front, please.

        1. perpetualWAR


          If an entity, Amazon/Walmart, is beyond pathetic as a place of business, why would anyone choose to shop there? Boycotts have always worked. It’s just “convenience” is never a good excuse.

          1. Wukchumni

            I go through 5 gallons of gasoline (30 pounds of it!) to get to a brick & mortar retailer and back, versus one UPS truck delivering to my door (and most every other door in the area) and I like the convenience of not adding to the detriment of our atmosphere, and there are other perks, such as avoiding the most common cause of death for a consumer, when you’re also a member of the car go cult.

            1. a different chris

              Yes — this is the dilemma. I don’t buy anything at Amazon, but I don’t buy much anymore and almost no new “durable items”. You know how many used washing machines are out there?

              But this is an effort. And I have a truck to fetch said washing machine. I can’t dump too hard on Amazon buyers, the problem is systemic and Amazon/Walmart are symptoms nearly as much as causes.

            2. perpetualWAR

              When Amazon ruins community in your home town, you never forgive & never forget. I chose to leave Seattle after 30 years of residency because what Amazon did to that city is horrendous. What do you need to buy that is so damn important?

              1. ChristopherJ

                Yes, me too, mate. Just about every single corporation which we license to offer goods to us take that license and then abuse us. Their idea of social responsibility is to provide crap jobs and to make as much fing money as they can in as short a possible amount of time.

                Just do not go back. Maccas is nearly there for me. KFC has gone, several banks, one of my big grocery chains – Dominoes gave everyone my number and email address. Don’t eat their crap anymore either.

                And, I don’t care how inconvenient it is for me not to buy anything from Bezos. He could be half price of everyone else for all I care. All I see is the destruction his company has caused and continues to cause and so he gets no money from me.

            3. shirley1999plus

              Surely you might add needed item pickups during one of those many 5 gallons of gas plus excursions made to the various hot springs and wilderness areas you frequent and discuss – such as those serviced by [Vegas] Desert Adventures – where you acknowledge a vehicle in use to arrive there. Surely most of those excursions can’t all be located within walking distance of you, when they’re vast wilderness areas; especially when lugging hammocks, food, tent, sleeping bag, water gallons, and other ‘roughing it’ ‘needs.’

              1. Wukchumni

                Yes, we have to drive to many of our adventures, trailheads etc., as Amazon doesn’t offer a virtual kind where you don’t have to leave the house, yet.

                1. JTMcPhee

                  Interesting how what we do as individuals can always be self-excused, and gentle answers turn away wrath. Rationalization, or just recognition that we can keep doing whatever we want, because what is anyone else going to do about it? And besides, it brings us personal pleasure and validation, so there..

                  Not to worry, I drive a 14-mpg pickup when I need to, and Amazon or E-bay will likely be shipping me the electric bike I hope to use “around town,” to pretend that I have a conscience, though there’s no shopping for necessities within 4 or 5 miles of home (since I can;t grow enough to feed my little nuclear family on our 50×80 foot suburban plot — 927 sq ft of that is “house,” too— or maybe I am just not smart enough to figure out how to, prior experiments with raised beds and planting boxes have not gone well, not trained up enough to be an accomplished “square foot gardener.)

                  So “I got mine,” too — though I can’t rationalize, or afford, or just breezily report and offer glimpses and tales of, all that travel that some of us “mention” here so frequently.

                  1. whine country

                    Did you ever notice that the land of the free is now the place where we are absolutely free to transfer all of our earnings to those who supply whatever we feel we need to keep on keeping on. Anything else is strictly prohibited.

                  2. Wukchumni

                    Like all Americans, and on the west coast even more so as things are so spread out, the car rules.

                    Local public transport is a joking matter, as a bus leaves about every 5 hours or so from here a few times a day, with the same schedule coming back. There is exactly 1 bus coming and going to the brick & mortars on the weekend.

            4. Amfortas the hippie

              Yup. I avoid walmart.
              try really hard not to ever go there.
              but sometimes, one needs a new box fan(I have a floor fan from the 30’s that still works, which begs a different question)
              and it seems silly to drive 100 miles one way to costco to buy the identical, made in china, crappy and short lived fan as walmart, not 16 miles up the road.
              such entities have made themselves unavoidable.
              so the problem is systemic, not one that can necessarily be tackled by boycotts and DIY.

              1. bronco

                I have a fan from the 50’s that belonged to my grandparents that still works. We call it the Hitler fan , a name we started using when Married with Children did an episode about Al buying Hitlers air conditioner.
                that Bundy episode was in the early 90’s , we thought the fan was ancient then but it still works.

            5. Lambert Strether

              > I go through 5 gallons of gasoline (30 pounds of it!) to get to a brick & mortar retailer

              Two hours each way for me to the Mall, at least, via public transportation. Of course, Amazon helped kill the malls, along with my local hardware store, but that knowledge doesn’t really help me when it comes time to make a purchase.

              1. Wukchumni

                Malls have been dying for donkeys years out here, I remember one in the 90’s in upper middle class Woodland Hills in So Cal that must’ve had only 1/3rd of the space rented out, and somebody figured out that if you walled off the empties and painted a nice floral scheme on it, maybe people would notice there was nothing there anymore.

                That was well before the internet, and Wal*Mart had made hardly any inroads in the area.

                Home Depot & Lowes killed the local hardware store, Staples killed the stationary store, we could go on and on.

            6. drumlin woodchuckles

              Is Amazon the only company which will ship things to your door by UPS truck?
              Or will other mail order or screen order or phone order companies ship things to your door by UPS truck?

        2. tegnost

          I don’t fight with anyone about it, I just don’t shop at amazon and I suffer no negative consequences as a result. IMO people who shop at amazon are are accepting negative consequences for what passes as convenience, really…amazon cloud is going to keep track of my lightbulbs? Please…the not a blip post applies here, it’s fine because this is how it is, paging dr. pangloss…

          1. a different chris

            >nd I suffer no negative consequences as a result\

            hmmm, you either have to deal with underemployed/jobless Deplorables – who vote! – or pay more in taxes to support them so I’m not sure we – because in truth I behave exactly as you described* – aren’t affected.

            *of course, he says squinting a bit, the “paging Dr. Pangloss” may mean your post was tongue-in-cheek and I fell for it….

          2. Unna

            Allow me this small bit of virtue signalling: I order books from our closest Brick & Sidewalk store which for us is a 1 & 1/2 hour drive one way. I can order by phone, they will hold the books for however long until you can pick them up when you otherwise go to the “big city”, laugh laugh, to “shop” laugh laugh. And the price is good too. I’ll do almost anything to avoid Amazon. Otherwise there’s a decent used book store nearby and the local public library through which you can order inter-library loan from anywhere in BC. Also, when you’re out of town, you can walk into any BC public library, show your local card, take out what you want, go home with it, and return it to your local library with no inter-library loan fees.
            Amazon does not have to be a way of life. A 1 &1/2 hour drive may sound extreme but it’s really not when you are otherwise going to be travelling that distance from time to time anyway. Yes, my ban on Amazon is not absolute but as close to it as I can manage. Everyone should be allowed their own personal thresh hold level of moral, but guilt free, compromise. And I freely admit to my own.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              If you are actually helping a Brick and Sidewalk book store avoid extinction by shopping there instead of shopping at the bussiness-exterminist Meganopoly Amazon run by the power-mad fiend Doctor Evil Jeff Bezos, then you are not virtue-signalling. You are virtue-practicing. And if telling us about it is virtue-horntooting, what is so wrong with a little virtue-horntooting, if there is virtue to be horntooted about?

      1. marym

        For on-line shopping it’s possible to buy clothing, accessories, furniture, housewares, and greeting cards made in USA, from the manufacturer, other distributors, and some stores. For the most part these non-Amazon, non-outsourced, non-junk-that-falls-apart items are in a moderate price range. I can’t speak for whether this is feasible for people needing the lowest possible price, and don’t judge them for that.

        1. RMO

          There are many on-line options besides Amazon and I have used them for things which I can’t get locally – every now and then the reason I can’t get something locally is because a local business can’t be bothered to get what I want for me which is a different issue. What really drives me up the wall is this sequence of events: 1: find something I want, 2: find no-one local carries it, 2: look it up online and try to order it 4: get informed that they cannot sell it to me because I am in Canada 5: look for a Canadian on-line store and find nothing 6: get in contact with the Canadian distributor and find that either they ignore me or send me to retailers who won’t help me or tell me that while they do carry products from that manufacturer they DON’T carry the specific item I want.

      2. beth

        Thanks for the recommendation. I thought that when was bought by Amazon our only other choice was Barnes& Noble. I buy only a few books that I can’t get at my library.

          1. ArcadiaMommy

            I was thinking the same thing re: Powell’s. Their employees provide a lot of great online recommendations and have found some off-the beaten path books here.

            Warwick’s is another great resource. Their online presence isn’t as extensive as Powell’s but if you call or email them with a question, they are very helpful. The brick and mortar store is a great place to spend a couple of hours.

      3. Carolinian

        these monopolistic enterprises have systematically eliminated almost all low-cost shopping alternatives.

        While Bezos studied Walmart when starting out he is arguably far more of a monopoly than Walmart which has lots of low cost competition–even discount department stores where Target very much exists and Kmart still does as well (if barely). Meanwhile stores like Dollar General are popping up like weeds and discount groceries such as Lidl are moving into the US in a big way.

        Bezos’ big advantage is technological and this seems to be a more formidable barrier to competition than Walmart’s size and buying power. Walmart’s klutzy ecommerce website just makes the point.

      4. Procopius

        Interesting. I developed a love for after buying a couple of used books from them through Amazon. The books I got from them were always new or near mint quality and often just a dollar or two. Now in the rare case when I’m looking for a book on Amazon I always check through the used books for them and will order from them even if they’re a dollar or two higher than the cheapest.

      5. Elizabeth Burton

        Better World Books is also, apparently, a third-party seller on Amazon. That’s why I keep saying the situation is too complicated to just tell people to stop buying on Amazon.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Of course we do. In the meantime, I boycott. Amazon ruined my former community (Seattle) and I will never forgive, never forget.

    2. Craig H.

      This week I discovered Amazon had de-platformed Alexander Dugin and I have not been able to find an explanation and I am mystified how this could be justified. I can almost understand censoring hate speech like those spineless godless Euros seem wont to do but there isn’t anything in Dugin that could cause complaint that I can see. I managed to obtain and read a couple of his books before the latter day inquisitors banned him.

      If anybody knows what I missed that has poisoned my mind please tell me what it is. Also if anybody knows where a human who works for the big snake recorded the thought, if any, regarding this move I would like to see that.

      1. Quentin

        Right, Alexander Dugin’s books are not now listed on US Amazon. You need not worry though because Mein Kampf is readily available. In contrast, Dugin has multiple publications listed on Amazon UK. What might this be all about? I’ve never read anything by him but if he’s worse than Hitler he must really be even more than over the top! Forbidden books are always so tantalising.

        1. Carolinian

          I’ve never read anything by him either but I have read that Amazon is now removing books for political content. Presumably Hitler’s book is ok because he liked to burn books too.

          Of course if Amazon is just another book store then they have the right in this free country to stock whatever they like. However one of the complaints is that at least when it comes to ebooks they are effectively the only game in town.

          1. Elizabeth Burton

            Most publishers these days offer the ebook option. I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years. And I try to buy direct to help keep my fellow publishers afloat.

            Is Dugin the 9/11 conspiracy writer? The real target these days is “fake news,” which may be what Amazon is calling “political content”. And anyone who uses the Kindle platform to self-publish (and now print-on-demand) is at their mercy with no rhyme or reason to what sets off their algorithms.

            I don’t think many of those choosing to “let Kindle do it” understand that they’re letting Amazon be their publisher, which means Amazon can take them out of print at a whim. I winced when I recently saw one innocent all excited because Amazon was going to give them an ISBN when they converted the Kindle version to a paperback.

      2. JBird4049

        Amazon has disappeared other writers as well, either because of their adult or political nature, after an apparent change of company policy, or because there have been, often unsupported, complaints about supposed plagiarism.

        Some of these writers have been on Amazon for years and then not. With no warning or any real explanation. It is very similar to what has happened to wordpress users whose sites, and the data within, go poof followed by a generic explanation of service violations and no details.

        1. ChristopherJ

          I have other problem. My two novels* are on Amazon and I have repeatedly told them, verbally, by email and by letter, that my products are not for sale on their platform. I am published through Ingram Spark, with a specific clause for no sales through Amazon.

          Being in Oz, there is absolutely no way that I can compel them to do what I ask. As for their sales figures, total lies, books are selling, but they take the money and no royalties.

          Evilest company on the planet.

          (*not to promote, just proof, Seconds from Impact and Rendition)

          1. JBird4049

            I wouldn’t call them the evilist although the company does seem to be an ethics free company. Anything short of murder or chattel slavery doesn’t seem to be a worry unless it brings bad optics.

            1. ChristopherJ

              Fair enough JB. Consumers and big investors love A, it’s the suppliers, employees, communities, authors and so on that are the ones who have suffered.

              Is there such a thing as an ethical corporation?

              1. JBird4049

                The proto corporations the British East India Company along with the Dutch East India Company had their own armies and navies and were run like a combination Viking/Mafia business only with fewer morals or ethics, with no honor, and greater ruthless greed.

                So I guess not?


          2. Elizabeth Burton

            If your contract has a “no Amazon” clause, you should be taking it up with Ingram, not Amazon. Ingram is the one distributing it, if it’s actually for sale. Is it?

            I ask because most people don’t understand Amazon lists every book published. All of them. The only way to know if it’s actually for sale is if it says it’s available. If there’s some excuse, like “currently out of stock,” then it’s just listed, not actually for sale. The same goes if an edition goes out of print. I have to regularly explain to authors whose rights I revert that our edition will remain listed on Amazon, but cannot be sold.

        1. Craig H.

          I can get them. Why is he banned at Amazon is what I want to know?

          If I was going to ban anybody I think I would start with this one which is available albeit used:

          The Manson File
          Nikolas Schreck

          Charlie promoted (and would still promote if he was not dead) murder and all manner of rabble. Dugin is a traditionalist philosopher ffs.

          1. JBird4047

            Carolinian has some points.

            I think that any writers, including political, social and philosophical, are very likely to be removed by companies like Amazon, WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter unless they strictly support the elite American neoliberal ideology which is socially liberal, economically conservative, somewhat anti-nationalist in the sense of even having independent nation-states, pro internationalist, somewhat anti-religious and even a bit prudish.

            If you are all that or at the very least, like in the Classical World’s state religions, say the approved words at the right time at the temple and do not speak ill of Caesar, then you will be very fine.

            If like the Jews and Christians, you refuse to publicly worship the emperor, even if you are personally loyal to the state, you will be suspect. The Romans could not understand that some people cannot even do a pro forma religious ritual for another god or religion and ascribed madness or disloyalty to that; I suspect that TPTH have the same problem as the ancient Romans and really do not understand that others might have different opinions, beliefs, ideologies, and faiths not because of being evil, or stupid, or traitorous, or even just misguided.

            It is the end of history where “democracy” and free market capitalism along with a ruling meritocracy and increasing internationalism has come just like the Second Coming. But most people don’t believe in all that and want some changes. This growing international class of Deplorables frightens them and rather than truly look and rexaming they double on the folly.
            Of course, the Meritocracy’s gravey train might be derailed otherwise. So block, ban and punish all thoughtcrimes.

      3. Carolinian

        Just to add that after looking at his Wikipedia page–I really know nothing about him–I saw this

        On 11 March 2015, the United States Department of the Treasury added Dugin, as well as his Eurasian Youth Union, to its list of Russian citizens who are sanctioned as a result of their involvement in the Ukrainian crisis.[79] In June 2015, Canada added Dugin to its list of sanctioned individuals

        So perhaps that explains his absence from Amazon US although, if it is a recent absence as you say, then perhaps not.

      4. Unna (Germany) you can get Dugin books in German and English. Also, (France) has Dugin books in English, but not (America) nor (Canada). In America and Canada they are available only in Russian! Russian!

        Sooooo, American and Canadian populations are prohibited from ordering Dugin and reading him in English, but not the Germans or the French. You’ll have to navigate a German or French language web site to order but high school language ability should be enough to make a go of it. Pick your language. Be adventurous.

        The Vatican has its “Index Librorum Prohibitorum”. So now does Amazon have one also? Kinda like in the Middle Ages: You can read any smut you want from Greco Roman antiquity just so long as you read it in Latin.

    3. Carey

      Over and over I’ve ordered things on ebay to avoid Amazon, from sellers that mention
      no affiliation to that evil company, only to have a package arrive from, yes, Amazon.
      They are everywhere. I always leave negative feedback in those cases, but who knows
      if that makes any difference.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Yes, I ran into that, too. I should have known, as the price was the same. I suspect they run a shipping service – does anyone know?

    4. Baby Gerald

      You’re exactly correct, cnchal. Just take the example of this reputable online vendor of wristwatches for another taste of how they operate: Giving Up The Business – Walking Away From Amazon at The Prime Time..

      In this brief video, Mark from Long Island Watches explains how Amazon honed in on his business early in their development expanding beyond bookselling, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, then started working him over while also harvesting all the sales data from his dealership.

      Like most of these private monopolies of content delivery (YT, Twitter, FB, etc) they use the canard of ‘negative customer feedback’ to suspend selling privileges and put the screws to the vendor with little to no appeals process.

      1. Carla

        I knew I’d get push-back for my comment, and I appreciate it. It’s been really good hearing from everyone. Y’all always make me think.

        1. Wukchumni

          It all fun and games until somebody’s feelings get hurt, and aside from a few scrapes, no biggie.

          The conversation is similar to that of those that would never have a non organic vegetable/fruit/whatever pass their lips, versus the rest of us.

            1. Wukchumni

              There’s 100+ million Prime members, versus a small fraction that are in utter contempt of Amazon-not dissimilar to the organic/non-organic gig, and one of the only things the naysayers ever bring up is books (and vitamin supplements as of late) in the defense of their position.

              I never read on here about a better place to buy toasters, metric socket sets, hiking boots, or really anything. It all boils down to one thing.

              1. Elizabeth Burton

                I sell on Amazon for the reason I noted in an earlier post on the subject—when the independent digital presses were first starting out they were the only way to get a wider market for on-demand paperbacks. We’re still there, and Kindle is still our largest market, but we’ve expanded to other venues…which people don’t use. And the paperbacks are now listed at both B&N and BAM online, so…progress.

                I’ve actually found better prices for much of what I buy elsewhere, to the point my Prime membership is mostly used for streaming video and music. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case for a good many people. That said, I apparently saved $250 in shipping so far this year, probably because I have a subscription account for some stuff I’d probably have to hunt all over creation to find, and some of it’s heavy.

                As I said, if I can buy a book directly from the publisher, that’s my preference, and one I recommend. The catch is that because of Amazon’s stranglehold, it costs a fraction to drop-ship from their printer or what it costs to ship from our other one. Which charges have to at least be shared with the buyer when you aren’t Random Penguin or Hachette. So, if someone orders a paperback, it will likely show up in an Amazon package, unlike the other printer which says my company shipped it.

                Why? Because my author gets a bigger royalty if I drop-ship from KEP (the new Kindle/Createspace hybrid), and that’s where my first responsibility lies. There is also the point that on-demand books ordered via an Amazon channel are likely printed in the distribution center nearest the delivery address, which means less transportation (which may also contribute to that lower shipping cost).

                For those seeking another alternative, especially for small-press titles, check the list of stores with Espresso Book Machines. Any title printed on demand by Ingram’s Lightning Source can be listed for printing via one of those. And you can watch while it happens, which is kinda neat.

                As for other stuff, like appliances, I prefer Best Buy or Target or whatever because if I don’t want to pay for shipping I can pick it up in a store. A lot of the bigger retailers offer that now than used to, taking advantage of their physical locations. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s not why Amazon is suddenly hot to have physical stores. Pure cutthroat competition.

                For those who don’t know, I’m sufficiently disabled that shopping in the real world isn’t an option, so online shopping is a godsend. Like everything else, it just requires the mindset of looking for the best deal, which may not always be the same as the lowest price.

                All of which is likely more than anyone wanted or needed to know, but hey—we all have our areas of expertise.

                1. RMO

                  “I never read on here about a better place to buy toasters, metric socket sets, hiking boots, or really anything.”

                  OK, biased to my particular location but there are equivalents all over North America. In order: London Drugs or the Bay, Snap-On (or MAC) truck or website if you want something really good, Canadian Tire, Ace, Rona or Home Depot if you don’t and Mountain Equipment Co-Op or Atmosphere.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Interpol president is reported missing after a trip to China”

    He’s missing? They should report that immediately to the police. What? It was in China? If only there was some international police organization that they could report that to so they could investigate his disappearance.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Interesting parallel with the disappearance of Khashoggi when he visited the Saudi consulate (and met a squad of hit men, according to Turkey). Right about the same time.

      Of course, the US vanishes people all the time, just not usually IN the US.

  3. Wukchumni

    Eliot Weinberger · Ten Typical Days in Trump’s America London Review of Books

    This is a must read, although you’ll feel as if you’re on a glass bottom boat looking down @ the abyss…

    Hurricane Florence causes basins containing more than two million cubic yards of coal ash – enough to fill a large sports stadium – to spill into the Cape Fear River and the surrounding lowlands. (The many hundreds of coal ash basins in the US were regulated under Obama and have been deregulated under Trump. Coal ash, the residue from burning coal, contains lead, mercury, selenium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and boron, and is known to lead to cancer, neurological conditions and reproductive problems in humans, and bizarre deformities in fish. Among those promoting the deregulation was Andrew Wheeler, for many years a lobbyist for Murray Energy, the US’s largest coal-mining company. He is now the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. In his first speech in his new position, Wheeler said: ‘I get frustrated with the media when they report I was a coal lobbyist.’)

    If you get coal ash in your stocking and it’s nowhere near xmas, was it as a result of being naughty?

    In New York State, Republican Chris Collins – the first congressman to endorse Trump for president – is broadcasting a television ad showing his Democratic challenger, Nate McMurray, speaking in Korean, juxtaposed with a photo of Kim Jong-Un, and claims that McMurray is offering to outsource American jobs. It ends: ‘You can take Nate McMurray at his word.’ (McMurray has served on various US-Korea government trade panels and is married to a Korean. Collins has been indicted and is awaiting trial for insider trading carried out in text messages he sent during a Republican congressional picnic on the White House lawn.)

    2, 4, 6, 8
    How long
    Til Collins
    Is incarcerated?

    In California, Republican Duncan Hunter – the second congressman to endorse Trump for president – claims in television ads and speeches that his Democratic challenger, Ammar Campa-Najjar, is named after Yasser Arafat, and is supported by the Muslim Brotherhood in an attempt by ‘Islamists’ ‘to infiltrate Congress’. Campa-Najjar is of Mexican and Palestinian descent and is a practising Christian. (Hunter has been indicted and is awaiting trial for spending at least $250,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses, including trips to Italy and Hawaii, his family’s dental work, his children’s tuition, movie tickets, video games, groceries, international travel for nearly a dozen relatives, and a $600 plane ticket for the family’s pet rabbit. He also purchased golf equipment for himself which he declared on finance forms was for wounded veterans. He first tried to blame his wife for these expenses, but after an outcry took responsibility. He is currently leading in the polls.)

    Duncan haiku:

    Semper finance with
    Government funds and get caught
    Under indictment

    ‘Fearic Victory’

    A study from Iowa State University states that Iowa farmers will lose $1 billion because of the trade war, and the CEO of Ford announces that the tariffs on metals will cost the company an extra $1 billion. (The governor of Washington has said that his state will lose $1.8 billion, and among other estimates of losses from the US Chamber of Commerce are: Wisconsin, $1 billion; Kentucky, $1.5 billion; Pennsylvania, $1.7 billion; Alabama, $2 billion; Michigan, $2.3 billion; Ohio, $3.3 billion; Texas, $4 billion. All of these states, except Washington, voted for Trump in 2016.)

    1. John k

      Not included in this calculus is the past cost to workers of lost jobs as factories and jobs outsourced to China and Mexico.

      1. Wukchumni

        It’s been a long way to tipperary, and you can plot a course how we got there.

        Remember hearing about that lady that got a bunch of money when coffee from McDonalds burned her, and then a cavalcade of expensive lawsuits later in every possible guise, including employees getting in on the action, and if you’re an employer, why would you want the headache, and besides in the Orient, AROP (Asian Rates Of Pay) rules, and no lawsuits and yeah there’s the tyranny of distance and all that, but that’s why they make gigantic cargo ships, right?

        But we still have the farmers, er well, as long as the reign of error reimburses them for losses incurred thanks to tariffism a, tax.

        1. JCC

          The McDonalds coffee incident was great propaganda on the part of Corps to end lawsuits against them for grievous and/or stupid actions on their part.

          The woman ended up in the hospital for a few days with 2nd and 3rd degree burns on her thighs, crotch and stomach. That particular McDonalds had been cited on at least 3 previous occasions for keeping and serving coffee just below the boiling point, typically 210F, when most coffee drinkers understand that 180F should be the max temp.

          The son of the scalded woman only asked that the extensive hospital costs that were unaffordable for them were reimbursed and the McDonalds Franchise owner told him to take a hike. At that point he hired a lawyer and won. McDonalds appealed and practically won (McDonalds settled out of Court for an undisclosed sum) since the woman and her son ran completely out of money. I assume it was for the cost of the lawyer and the hospital bill.

          McDonalds wisely made a rule for all their stores, both Corporate owned and franchised, that coffee was no longer allowed to be served at near-boiling temperatures.

          Sometimes you gotta sue stupidity on the part of Corps. otherwise nothing improves.

          1. Wukchumni

            I found that in many other countries, people live much freer lives, as lawyers are lonely there, and absurd amounts of money aren’t a given, in fact it isn’t tolerated.

            Really our motto ought to be E Profit Unum, as that’s all we care about, making a buck.

            Every industry has to be configured in such a fashion-lawyerdom being no different, other countries look at prisons as a necessary evil, we look at them as a way to make money by confining ever more amounts of our citizens there.

            Why does it cost nearly $50k a year to house a convict in California?

            It’s not hard to follow the money trail, as it’s everywhere.

            1. JBird4049

              Why does it cost nearly $50k a year to house a convict in California?

              The prison guard union is very powerful in California, more so than the teachers’ union, and so they get fabulous pay and benefits, and have lobbied for harsher laws and prison expansion; If California was a separate country it would have the sixth highest rate of incarceration; a gigantic money tree for California’s connected.

          2. pretzelattack


            Liebeck was taken to the hospital, where it was determined that she had suffered third-degree burns on six percent of her skin and lesser burns over sixteen percent.[12] She remained in the hospital for eight days while she underwent skin grafting. During this period, Liebeck lost 20 pounds (9.1 kg) (nearly 20% of her body weight), reducing her to 83 pounds (38 kg). After the hospital stay, Liebeck needed care for three weeks, which was provided by her daughter.[13] Liebeck suffered permanent disfigurement after the incident and was partially disabled for two years.[14][15]

            she wound up getting 640k, and i’ve read that it affected her for the rest of her life. i don’t think anybody wanted any of that action, but the lawsuit, along with numerous prior lawsuits, eventually made the companies provide slightly safer coffee.

          3. Amfortas the hippie

            “Tort Reform” was a major topic of “discussion” for Texas Republicans for decades…and that case was the one they always pointed at as proof that the People couldn’t be trusted with the courts. I knew it was BS from the get-go, and said so, often.
            Now, you can’t sue anyone…but you can shoot them, apparently.
            During our 8 year prowler experience, I was told by the coppers “…you have the right to protect your property”.
            It never occurred to me to sue the guy.
            I think it’s interesting that both of these “reforms” come out of the “party of personal responsibility”.

          4. John Wright

            I remember reading a newspaper report on the incident that I judged was quite sympathetic to the woman’s point of view.

            Of all places, the newspaper was the Wall Street Journal.


            “’s Callousness Was Real Issue, Jurors Say, In Case of Burned Woman.pdf”

            ( It would be good if people would avoid spaces, apostrophes and commas in links )

            It is the power of US media that this case became a “big business taken advantage of” story rather than a “customer harmed, as prior customers had also been, and then treated poorly by big business” story.

      1. Wukchumni

        I remember the abyss that terrified me the most when I was young, was the always feared quicksand, which was featured an awful lot in the 60’s, but seldom nowadays.

        Nobody really gave 2 shits about the New Orleans levees before Katrina, but it became ‘ssshrubery’s fault after Katrina.

        Natural disasters have a way of connecting with human disasters.

  4. Basil Pesto

    Broadsheet is typically a journalistic non-entity, amounting to nothing more that third party press releases for restaurants, bars etc. aimed at the 10% in Australia, but this article does involve some actual journalism, reporting on how these businesses are none too pleased with delivery services like Uber Eats and Deliveroo as they don’t especially benefit their businesses in a meaningful way. Makes me think of Yves’ line (I think) about platforms not actually being viable businesses – one wonders when/if that particular penny will drop

  5. hemeantwell

    Re Windows update disasters, a PSA for a PITA. Make sure your Documents directory is backed up if you have it under Users. Better yet, migrate it.

    Apparently, if you have documents saved in your user directory, i.e. users/JohnDoe, and not one drive, the update will delete EVERYTHING in that locat1on. So if your “Documents” or “Pictures” don’t have a one drive symbol, MIGRATE IMMEDIATELY!

    Do the *&^%$((s really want us to load everything into OneDrive?

    1. SimonGirty

      Well, it’s the most obvious place to hold “our stuff” hostage, charge us rent, sell snippets to the highest bidder… until they can figure out if they can sue us for copyright infringement, mine anonymous metadata, slap together a kidnapping letter… if there’s anything worth making their stuff? Economy of sharing, y’know? Sharecroppers for a neoConfederacy.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Yep, that is it exactly. But wait, there’s more. Not only will your programs be eventually cloud-based but in the end, your operating system will also reside in the cloud with your interface being reduced to your browser. That means that you won’t even need a hard drive. It will all be in the cloud. If this sounds vaguely familiar it is because it is based on old technology. You might of heard of it. Your computer will in the end be a dumb terminal-

      1. Synoia

        That describes the Chrome Book, used by many students.

        Save a copy of your data on an SD card.

        No backups is playing with fire.

        1. MichaelSF

          My definition of a backup is “the spare copy you failed to make before you lost all the data”.

          Once you go through the hassle of trying to get data off a dead drive (without success) you get more serious about backups.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        Telnet at millions of times the bandwidth. Amazon as Sears without the value added. Kind of like steampunk, but the dumb way around.

        Switching to Linux was a bear for me, mostly because I’m a picky user. But having my next forced upgrade at 5 years out is wonderful.

        What is even being done with these upgrades? What front-end function has changed at all in the last 15 years? Is it just changing our desktop into a phone interface? Or is adding backdoors now just a revenue source :)

    3. georgieboy

      Windows Users: It appears you can at least Pause the automatic Windows 10 updates, a month at a time.

      Go to Settings — Updates — Advanced Options. Hopefully your version (mine is 10 Pro) allows you to Pause updates. Just did it today, and supposedly Microsoft will stay off the machine for 30 days…

      This may be useful going forward, to at least stay off Microsoft’s bleeding edge of arrogant stupidity.

      1. Anon

        I have Win10 Pro. There is no “pause” update download option available. YMMV.

        I hate MS products. The automatic updates are a full-on PITA. Not only are they buggy, but you need to limit the time of day they deploy since they can take forever to install.

        However, the October 2018 update seems to have installed without incident: no apparent unscheduled deletions (C: Drive has no noticeable volume changes).

    4. beth

      I am far out of date at my age, but if I have my files under ThisPC is it in the correct place. I did my coding on a mainframe and never learned PC coding. If not tell me where to move it. I had Office10 taken off my computer last week because ms kept finding new ways to try to force me to use the new word, rather than my LibreOffice files.

      1. Unna

        I check this website out from time to time: Lots of info on updates . It saved me from losing Win 7 to some update to Win 10. Have Win 7 Pro, and am happy with it for what I need. MS seems to have become even more evil than they were back in the day.

  6. timbers

    South Korean President convicted on bribery charges:

    “Lee served as president of South Korea from 2008 until 2013. A court ruled Friday that before and during his presidency Lee accepted $5.4 million in bribes from Samsung, South Korea’s largest conglomerate.” And he’s the fourth Korean President to be arrested on such charges.

    During his presidency? Guess Koreans haven’t refined it like we have, with speaking fees before/after presidencies and endowments to foundations run by wives and such.

    Bill, Hillary, and Obama should set up a Good Government University/Foundation/Think Tank Training Center with a mission to teach government officials and elected leaders ow it’s done. They could call it the O’Blinton Foundation. The Clinton’s especially are masters it. That way, they can show the world how to be like America, the AMERiCAN way.

  7. timbers

    This might be big or it may be just puff at RT.

    A mistake nations make is to allow it to be cheaper to borrow USD than their own sovereign currency. This creates USD dependency and erosion of national sovereignty to the U.S.

    Maybe the difference this time is a growing number of nations are seeing how blatant USD polarization has become and the reasons for getting off of it? And maybe there is a healthy dose of neo-liberalism in the plan but it may still move in the right direction?

    “The Russian Finance Ministry has announced a plan to wean the country of dollar dependence. It is expected to be a long and painful process. RT has asked analysts to explain how this could be done.

    According to the plan published this week, Russia seeks to de-dollarize the economy by 2024. The program is long and complicated, but its key point is that Russian exporters who use rubles instead of dollars would get huge taxation benefits including quicker VAT returns and other stimulus to ditch the greenback.”

  8. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. plans to rewrite rules that impede self-driving cars”

    You have now been warned! It’s game on and survival goes to those fleet-footed enough not to be hit by Robocar. I say that us pedestrians should lay down the law ourselves with these Robocars and by LAW I mean the M72 Light Anti-Armor Weapon as it is small enough to carry on your back or be strapped onto your bicycle. Here is what it looks like-

    To see this in use, got to the following video clip and advance to about the 50-second mark-

    1. JTMcPhee

      “Instructions for making Molotov cocktails…”.

      For the tech inclined, I’m sure there will be apps to do something similar.

      “Stand your ground” apply to autonomous devices!

      1. Wukchumni

        “Stand your ground” apply to autonomous devices!

        If the grid went down, every last gun would continue to function as always.

        Could get weird on us in a hurry…

      2. polecat

        I’m gonna go old school .. all ‘Fremen’ like .. with a thumper and a trusty pair of Sandworm hooks.

        “Yippykiyay .. MUAD’DIB !!”

  9. pjay

    Re ‘This is Not a Blip’:

    I agree about the title. I almost skipped it and only checked out the article because it was from the Baffler. It’s also a long read and builds slowly, but the cumulative effect of each point made is powerful. Keep reading. Strongly recommended.

    1. Tex L

      Yes is a good one. Except the end is a bit too optimistic for my liking. Need more than hope and imagination to save us. We is screwed I reckon.

    2. Carolinian

      It’s a good article even if it goes on at length on an idea that is–at least to anyone who hangs out around here–fairly obvious. Since the author appeals to history one could point out that intellectuals, sometimes they are called priests, have always had the job of defending the status quo. That too is not a blip. Occasionally a few dissenters will rattle their cages and make a difference.

    3. bruce wilder

      I agree: “This Is Not A Blip” is an excellent article — the slow build at the beginning ended up working for me, as did the odd title.

      Aaron Timms is taking on the originators of “There is no alternative” and he is pretty good at showing where they hide public responsibility ( behind brand management, natch).

      I am not inclined to get on his case about not having an alternative outlined. What he seemed to be saying by implication was that leaving the status quo ante behind would require both acknowledging that elements of the status quo ante stand as proximate causes of our present maladies — he was brief but specific about financialization — and that slouching off political responsibility by letting the magic market decide is not a dodge that should be accepted.

      As a critique of capitalism, decrying growth and accumulation does have disappointing elements of “now for something completely different” socialism, but what can be done. No one seems to have any practical notion of how anything works ( c.f. Brexit). That is a marker for our moment. And, it may not be a blip.

  10. Henry Moon Pie

    My spouse came across an article in a local newspaper about Medicare Advantage plans requiring intrusive home nurse visits. The author of the article argued that the real purpose of the visits was to list as many health issues as possible–legitimate or not–to up the plan issuer’s reimbursement from Medicare.

    While that article is not online, it was simple to come across other discussions of this facet of Medicare Advantage.

    There are a lot of things about Medicare that need to be cleaned up. It’s become a cesspool for hustlers looking to take advantage of us oldsters.

    1. marym

      This is one of many reasons why tweaking current systems, incremental changes, “public option” – blah blah blah solutions won’t work. There are so many twisting threads of privatization and grift woven into all our systems now. We need to restore or implement publicly funded, publicly administered, universal solutions.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Both my significant other and I have Medicare Advantage plans. He gets those calls all the time–or he used to.

      The last time he got a call, I took it and reminded the caller that he had declined a home visit several times previously. Then I asked why they seemed so keen on SNOOPING around our house. The caller claimed the company just wanted him to get “the most” from his Medicare. I told him that I hoped he’d remember that in the event that my significant other had a heart attack or some other expensive emergency. We haven’t heard from them since.

      My significant other is convinced they’re looking for guns.

  11. Wukchumni

    This Is Not A Blip The Baffler (Anthony L). Why don’t these people come up with better titles?!?

    Yeah, there’s a lack of title meant there.

    IN MARCH, THE COLORADO RIVER RESEARCH GROUP published a report urging water watchers to stop using the word “drought” to describe environmental changes in the southwestern United States. “Drought,” the group wrote, implies that “the condition is temporary—a deviation from a norm that is expected to eventually return.” But what is happening in the Colorado River Basin is not temporary. There will be no return. The old norm is dead. A better word to describe emerging conditions, the researchers suggested, would be “aridification”: the period of transition to a permanent condition of increasing water scarcity.

    We do a overnight kayak trip on the Colorado River every year, sometimes twice a year, and we’ll be going next month (always go in the spring or fall and avoid summer like the plague, as it’s 106 on the river, with motorboat traffic as an added bonus) and have been doing this trip for 15 years now. It’s the pg rated part of the Colorado, as we put in about 1/2 a mile below Hoover Dam and it’s all flatwater, with about a dozen hot springs in 3 canyons, and tons of birds and either a dozen desert bighorn sheep sightings gamboling along precipitous cliffs, or none.

    It’s less than 25 miles from the Vegas strip, but feels hundreds of miles away, nature rules there.

    We typically head for Valley of Fire state park afterwards and it’s many panels of 3,000 year old petroglyphs and fabulous car camping among what looks like a stand in for Mars- in a brief sea of red, and you drive along Lake Mead for a long time to get there-around an hour or so, and as a result I have a mental baseline of watching the lake go away, and initially boat ramps were moved in to accommodate the new normal, but they gave up on them a long time ago, and many are as stranded as boats on the Aral Sea, they ain’t going nowhere, and nobody is using them anytime soon.

    And as an added bonus, Quagga mussels have infested the Colorado River for about as long as we’ve been enjoying it, and they breed like underwater rabbits, and are really good at clogging pipes.

    1. pjay

      No offense intended toward your observations Wukchumni. But I don’t want readers to get the idea that this is an article about water scarcity. The opening paragraph on “drought” vs. “aridification” is a metaphor for the fundamental contradictions of neoliberalism vs. the rosy language neolibs use to describe them and their condescending treatment of its critics. Many good historical examples are noted. Even the title is effective *after* one reads the article: ‘This is Not a Blip’, as in ‘This is Not a Drill’ or ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.’

      1. Wukchumni

        There’s a number of outfitters, we like Desert Adventures.

        You can a 1-day trip 11 mile paddle down to Willow Beach either guided or on your own, or do an overnighter and stay @ Arizona hot springs, and head down to Willow Beach the next day.

        It’s quite reasonable, around $100-150 per person in any way you want to go, they supply kayaks/canoes/paddleboards, lifevest, and they put you in @ the river and pick you up on the other side downsteam and then take you back to your car, easy-peasy.

        A lay of the land:

        1. pjay

          I hope I do not appear dense or argumentative, but can you see how, in the context of the article referenced, these responses might appear insulting? Or oblivious?

          1. Bugs Bunny

            Here here. Glad there’s a fundraiser coming up. Hopefully someone puts their money where their mouth is.

    2. Wukchumni


      Another poignant scene is the islands the emerged out of Lake Mead nearer to Hoover Dam around say when viewed from in the distance from Boulder Beach, in that they were little nothings, now could classify as grand duchies perhaps, as they’re quite sizable.

    1. crittermom

      Thanks for that correct link. I’d been wanting to read the article.

      Now having done so, I’m shocked at the poor writing of it. Can they spell ‘proofreader’? Geesh! One was badly needed.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    Brexit: why we had to leave Richard North

    North shows his true colours here with this nonsense:

    Then, watching the national BBC television news at 6pm, the lead story was an emerging scandal on the failure to dispose of clinical waste, arising from the failures by contractor Healthcare Environmental Services (HES), which handles such waste for a majority of health trusts.

    Interestingly, the BBC had Unison’s head of health, Sara Gorton, describing the situation as “simply horrific”, saying it was “unlikely that such a distressing situation would have happened had the service remained in-house”.

    What, of course, no one asked was why such services are handled by independent contractors. Certainly, this has not always been the case. When I first qualified as an environmental health officer, hospital waste was most often incinerated on-site or removed by local authorities and buried under supervision deep in controlled tips – at minimal cost.

    But, with the progressive encroachment of the EU into waste management, and pollution control, it has become virtually impossible for hospitals economically to provide their own waste incinerators. Simultaneously, the number of controlled tips has been savagely reduced under the assault of EU law, reducing opportunities for the safe disposal of the less offensive, bulky waste.

    Oddly enough, HES says that some of its problems arise because of the reduction in the UK’s high-temperature incineration capacity for the last few years to the UK government, NHS bodies and the Environment Agency. It does not say that much of this is due to the costs of meeting stringent EU emission requirements.

    The waste situation in the UK was disgraceful up until EU Directives forced upgrades and a proper national strategy. Hospital incinerators were a particular source of pollution. And yes, it had to be done at EU level so that somewhere like Italy didn’t become a dumping ground (anyone who’s seen the film Gomorrah would see why that would be a terrible idea).

    However, the Environment Directorates good work was largely undone by Competition Directives which undermined many local initiatives – its caused particular chaos with domestic collections.

    But the things North is complaining about here are entirely due to UK bungling. The Directives on recycling and upgrading waste facilities have been in place for decades. If the UK hasn’t put in place sufficient capacity for treatment, thats due (as usual) to the governments insistence on sitting back and waiting for the private sector to solve all its problems, while the private sector tries to game the situation by creating a crisis. If it wasn’t for the EU they’d still be burning clinical waste in chronically inadequate small hospital burners.

    1. DJG

      Plutonium Kun: Thanks. I suspected that the estimable North had gone irrational.

      The tell is that he said that local councils are now scheduling regular trash pickup every two weeks. That is a health and environmental disaster no longer even waiting to happen.

      All in all, what Brexit is coming down to is that the English-Speaking World Knows Better. That isn’t what I’d call a poitical program.

      Too bad that Yves Smith published that graph a couple of days back with the levels of mental illness. The top five were USA (We’re number 1!), UK, NZ, Oz, and Canada.

    2. Mirdif

      I have to concur. North is an intellectually dishonest lunatic and once again proves it. A lot of this particular problem is down to the lack of funding and misuse of funding in the British public sector. This has happened particularly in the past 10 years and is compounded with long term employees retiring or leaving for the private sector usually through being poached.

      There is now a severe lack of people with contract negotiation skills in the public sector. Foremost, the public sector seems to be missing people who are either capable of understanding, or have the time to consider (in addition to other jobs they’ve had added to their job descriptions in lieu of hiring people to those positions), the aspects in a contract where cheating could occur, how to detect it and what mitigating conditions to put in the contract.

      Add to this situation, the reality that so much has been outsourced that consultancies and external contractors are able to get a very good look inside “the business” and poach anybody who is even halfway good and you have outcomes like this. Without looking too deeply in to this, what should have happened is a robust oversight mechanism specified in the contract with proof that actions are carried out within timescales and then penalities when HES failed.

      As for North being intellectually dishonest, this is the man who posted about the disaster of crash out but then suddenly changed tack in mid-August and even claimed that it would all be sorted out by summer-2019 completely repudiating what he’d been writing about previously. Then there’s his nonsense plan (Flexcit) which includes a referendum on the outcome of Article 50 negotiations; you’d think he’d be campaigning for said referendum and yet he’s opposed to it. That’s not to say I’d be in favour of a referendum.

      All his current schtick is about is angling for post Brexit next year to demonstrate that he was on the leaver side when he starts campaigning for his UNECE stuff or some such. My guess is, he’s going to be ignored even moreso than he’s ignored and disliked at present among the establishment. Yet another defeat masquerading as victory for Britain. Seems no lessons were learned from that skirmish with Germany in the 1940s which led to Britain losing her empire and coming to rely on the cousins across the pond; cousins I might add who are not exactly non-hostile based on what they are taught about history. Plus ça change…

  13. Musicismath

    On Sokal Squared—I dunno. I’ve experienced enough … whimsical … peer review over the years to be realistic about the limitations of that system. But the article’s selective manner of quoting the reviewers’ comments set my teeth on edge. For the rejected articles, we generally saw only the supportive comments. I wanted to see the ones on which the journals based their decisions to reject. And the tone of some of the apparently supportive comments was more ambivalent than the authors recognise. It’s the tone of someone being ostensibly supportive, while hoping someone else takes on the hard work of actually rejecting the work.

    There’s this thing I call “academic nice.” Every conference paper is “brilliant,” everyone you meet “can’t wait to read your article!” Do they ever? Well—not often. You recognise it after a while and make allowances for it. It’s not you and it’s not them. But in an economy of academic scarcity, people have to come up with coping mechanisms for pushing the reject button 90% of the time. “Academic nice” is a part of that.

    1. Ted

      Yes, the whole effort reflects an immaturity and naivety on the part of the pranksters. Note than only one holds an academic post (for now, but he will surely be fired for this) and none are active scholars in their fields. Even their appeal to “humanism” and “modernity” come across as ill informed, as if they stopped reading published anything on Liberalism after 1880.

      They also don’t seem to understand that a lot of scholarly work is aimed not at “truth” but at engaging in a dialog of ideas (even bad ideas). Bad ideas circulate in all fields, some become so entrenched that those who traffick in them are incabable of seeing just how bad they are (both in terms of being objectively false and incredibly harmful). Not too long ago, this very blog did a lot of work exposing the bad ideas of economists. Others are doing good work now exposing just how silly and evil genetic determinism and neo-darwinism has turned out to be. And let’s not even start with the increasing likelihood that much of what psychologists and doctors peddle is false. Nevertheless, these bad ideas still happily circulate, wreaking havoc as never before. The purveyors secure in the belief that their ideas are “objective” and “scientific”.

  14. The Rev Kev

    Cute cat in tonight’s bonus video. If there is any redemption to be found, it is to be found with cats. Remember that Terry Pratchett story?

    “I meant,” said Ipslore bitterly, “what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?”
    Death thought about it.
    “Cats”, he said eventually. “Cats are nice.”

    1. fresno dan

      The Rev Kev
      October 6, 2018 at 10:37 am

      So the neighbors cat, Molly I think her name is, I just call her kitty, came bounding over to me last night as I checked the mail. Usually I sit on the steps and pet her. She has started to invite herself into the house, and she has started inviting herself onto my lap. She is quite the affection oink-oink. Besides wanting the behind the ears scratching, and nuzzling her face into anything near, she has decided to look me right in the eyes (which is somewhat disconcerting) and use my chin as her nuzzle object.
      About 7 or 8 minutes worth, and than she sits at the door to be let out. She knows what she wants….

      1. Unna

        “…she has decided to look me right in the eyes (which is somewhat disconcerting) and use my chin as her nuzzle object>”

        This Cat loves you.

  15. begob

    Is it just me, or are today’s links unusually stuffed with crazy?

    Here’s another – Jeremy Corbyn could be personally sanctioned by the US:

    U.K. Labour Party leader and anti-Semite Jeremy Corbyn could be slapped with U.S. sanctions due to his material support for the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas, according to a British legal report.

    The law firm behind the report had their head honcho appear on a Cyber Panel in Washington with the FBI and SEC in 2016.

  16. Wukchumni

    Sotheby’s ‘Banksy-ed’ as painting ‘self-destructs’ live at auction Art Newspaper

    Some art can’t be digitalized (once you’ve seen a variety of Van Goghs and those impossibly deep brushstrokes he made, it hits you what a genius he was) but a lot of it can be easily replicated so as to look exactly like something that’s worth 985 thousand quid, even if it wouldn’t fool the experts or anybody really, but the bottom line is it would give off the same appearance in an apartment, versus a captain of industry’s wall.


    It’s pretty common practice for those with works of art @ Burning Man, to have their efforts on display all week for everybody to see, only to be tossed in a pyre as the celebration ebbs later, and the exodus begins.

    1. Plenue

      A million pounds for that? I can find better art for free on DeviantArt. I genuinely wonder how much of ‘fine art’ is just a dick measuring contest between people with more pretension than sense. And how many of the artists who cater to them are just seeing how much bullshit they can get away with and still get the rubes to pay for it.

      1. Duck1

        Some are of the opinion that there is a certain amount of money laundering going on in the high end art scene.

  17. taunger

    The tone of articles on global warming seems to have changed significantly in the past 3-6 months.

    I don’t see much news beyond NC links. Anyone have an idea how much this is actually making into msm?

  18. Polar Donkey

    Some of my friends are involved in the lawsuit against the Memphis Police Department. They were on city hall blacklist. The trial went poorly for mpd. As an organization, it has an appalling lack of self-awareness and an ignorance of the law. The blacklist also served as a way for mpd to track activists speaking with city council members about civilian law enforcement review board and mpd budgets.

    1. a different chris

      “the Memphis Police Department…. has an appalling…. ignorance of the law.”

      Needed to be repeated. What the (family blog).

      1. JTMcPhee

        The cops there and elsewhere likely are not “ignorant of the law,” they are taught how artfully to get around it. A whole lot of them just IGNORE the law, a different thing altogether. Though let it not be forgotten that “there is no rule of law” any more. And as many of our great rulers have pointed out, since the Exceptional Nation was born, “the law is to protect property, not individuals, unless the individuals have a lot of property.’ The Leona Helmsley and Dickless Cheney principle, brought to fruition by the likes of Obama and the Clinton Gang and Bush League.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Does Your Motherboard Have a Secret Chinese Spy Chip?”

    Want to know the difference between having a Chinese spy chip and a Western spy chip installed on your motherboard? Based on what they find on your computer using that spy chip, the Chinese can’t send a SWAT team crashing through your doors for the crime of dissent.

    1. bruce wilder

      Assuming you are not in China (on on the belt or road).

      Credit score means something else in China, too, but not so different perhaps.

    2. Anon

      Dell has a line of laptops that has a Intel chip embedded that allows remote access to these (usually corporate) laptops. They could be accessed even when turned OFF. I ended up with one through an eBay purchase.

      Backdoor, spy-chip it’s all the same to the NSA. (Ditched that laptop.)

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      I have a Lenovo—of course it does. I suspect the Chinese who may be viewing it are bored out of their minds. It’s standard procedure, though, when purchasing a Lenovo to wipe the hard drive and do a clean reinstall of the OS. The amount of crapware they come with is awe-inspiring. Good machines, though.

    1. Wukchumni

      A favorite backpack of ours is to Willett Hot Springs, and it’s a 10 mile walk to get there along the Sespe River, and once upon a time up until the late 60’s, the road that is now a trail, was open to vehicle traffic. In 2006, a conflagration called the Day Fire burned through like a blowtorch (we saw amputated 2 inch wide trees with nothing left but a few inches of stump) and did away with the understory leaving nothing but dirt and 50’s and 60’s metal & glass trash thrown from cars. The following year after the fire, we walked there, and came across so much antiquated trash, there was no way we could pick up more than a tiny amount of it. Before the fire happened, you would have never guessed how much was around, as it was all well hidden.

      1. Carolinian

        Well sifting through the detritus of ancient civilizations is what archeologists do so it’s not just us.

        Someday they’ll be digging through our soil layer and exclaim “ah yes, the iPhone era”…..

        1. Wukchumni

          Sometimes when i’m off-trail i’ll come across a fire ring and attendant rusted cans of yore from the 40’s or 50’s, and oftentimes they’ll just crumble in my hands when I pick them up, as if i’m the hero that shows up to put them out of their misery, and a magician that turns steel into dust!

    1. Wukchumni

      My favorite Martian er meteorite, or wherever from whence it came.

      The Sylacauga meteorite fell on November 30, 1954, at 12:46 local time (18:46 UT) in Oak Grove, Alabama, near Sylacauga. It is commonly called the Hodges meteorite because a fragment of it struck Ann Elizabeth Fowler Hodges (1920–1972).

      The Sylacauga meteorite is the first documented extraterrestrial object to have injured a human being. The grapefruit-sized fragment crashed through the roof of a farm house, bounced off a large wooden console radio, and hit Hodges while she napped on a couch. The 34-year-old woman was badly bruised on one side of her body, but was able to walk. The event received worldwide publicity.

    2. fresno dan

      October 6, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      Need I point out that’s an illegal alien, taking a job away that a ‘Merican rock could be doing?

    3. ewmayer

      Despite the local-historical interestingness of the find, the estimate of $100k seems rather high for what is a fairly standard iron-nickel meteorite … I have a 100lb such from the large many-chunk Argentinian Campo del Cielo fall sitting on a display stand next to me here in my apartment, bought for ~$2500 on ebay 10 yrs ago.

      So $100k for a softball-sized Fe-Ni? Good luck with that – if the seller(s) can anywhere close to that, good on them. I just wouldn’t start building that new addition to the family home just yet.

  20. flora

    re: Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship – Areo Magazine

    Good stuff. Thanks.

      1. flora

        Yes. Here’s a shorthand of the problem; radical constructivists claim scientific knowledge is nothing more than dogma by power arrangements. (Galelio would be surprised by the assertion.) And therefore, scientific knowledge, validated by testing and results in the physical world, can be replaced by any politically or socially dominant dogma with no loss of validity. From the article:

        “The center of the problem is formally termed “critical constructivism,” and its most egregious scholars are sometimes referred to as “radical constructivists.”

        “Underlying these alleged “social constructions” is the most deeply concerning of them all. This is the belief that in urgent need of “disrupting” is the simple truth that science itself—along with our best methods of data-gathering, statistical analysis, hypothesis testing, falsifying, and replicating results—is generally a better way of determining information about the objective reality of any observable phenomenon than are non-scientific, traditional, cultural, religious, ideological, or magical approaches. That is, for grievance studies scholars, science itself and the scientific method are deeply problematic, if not outright racist and sexist, and need to be remade to forward grievance-based identitarian politics over the impartial pursuit of truth.”

        (my emphasis)

        The fact some of these papers got published is startling. Did the reviews see only the “correct language of the discipline” without understanding the basic claims contained in the paper? Or did the reviewers agree with the basic claims? Either way, it shows a problem in the field.

  21. Hameloose Cannon

    “But why was ISIS leader Baghdadi feeling so safe so close to US troops???” Good point, but nobody is feeling safe. Abu Kamal is at 34°27′13″N, 40°56′12″E, east of the Euphrates. Within three miles, there are Syrian Kurdish positions, Iraqi Shite Militia positions, “Syrian” Army positions, and yes, US military positions. Belligerents tend to “hug” each other in close to avoid indirect fire, so I hear. The day of the Ahvaz attack, Iran happened to fire missiles at Kurdish positions in Northern Iraq, so things are messy. Al-Baghdadi is just one of many shark-eyed lunatic mercenaries never sleeping in the same place twice. Al-Baghdadi, if he had looked up, would have seen a squadron of Iranian drones making their way to and from Iraqi airspace, which was unusual.

    1. Wukchumni

      “We are in control, they are in a state of hysteria. Losers, they think that by killing civilians and trying to distort the feelings of the people they will win. I think they will not win, those bastards.”

      Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf

      1. Hameloose Cannon

        Yes, well nobody won. But my larger point, considering the human geography, Abu Kamal is the hometown of the Al Jarrah clan, kin to the Al Uqaydat, and lots of other people in Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq [entire Anbar Province], Saudi Arabia, Kurdistan [shout out to the internet on this]…Basically, every blood feud, tag team grudge match of the entire Middle Eastern region is trying to sort themselves out in this little border town.

    2. Plenue

      “Abu Kamal is at 34°27′13″N, 40°56′12″E, east of the Euphrates. Within three miles, there are Syrian Kurdish positions, Iraqi Shite Militia positions, “Syrian” Army positions, and yes, US military positions.”

      And it’s been that way for months. As in at a minimum six months (I’d have to go and refresh my memory of when the Kurds ground to a halt to give the exact time). A tiny pocket, completely surrounded and with total control of the air. Pretty sure the Kurds are on their second or third ‘offensive’ to finish ISIS off. Even if we assume the bulk of the Kurds best forces have been transferred to face the Turks further north there’s no excuse for this.

      The question of why he feels so safe stands. In fact, ISIS is apparently so comfortable in their security east of the Euphrates that they regularly cross the river (under the watchful eye of the USAF, the same USAF that bombs Syrian forces if they attempt to cross the Euphrates, a river in Syria, to secure land also in Syria) to attack Syrian forces on the west bank.

      The job hasn’t been finished because someone high up doesn’t want the job finished.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Actually, I think the Iranian are pretending innocence. Their missiles hit a spot only 2 or 3 miles from a US base ….right in the middle of the current standoff between Iran and the US. Does anyone seriously think that’s a coincidence?

      It’s called a “show of force.” And I don’t blame them a bit.

  22. Andrew

    I found that Morning Star article rather odd and conflicting. A working class union member complaining that the EU and successive Labour & Conservative governments have combined to run the UK into the ground. Which they have, to a certain extent (our own politicians take the lion’s share of the blame if you ask me). But then somehow believing that the much maligned UK political system/establishment will come to the rescue or be overhauled sufficiently to allow the damage to be repaired.
    This brings to mind something I’ve been pondering for a while now: why is it so many people who voted to Leave not only thought they were giving the elites a bloody nose and an unsolveable problem to deal with also naively believe that the system they so despise is going to fix it? It’s clear to those who aren’t wearing blinkers that as things stand a successfull Brexit is beyond us. The government isn’t taking it seriously. It’s a fudge. It’s going to be a disaster. It’ll set the UK back decades. Working class communities will be hit the hardest. And yet we still have plenty of people, who, like Major Kong at the end of Dr Strangelove, are sat on the bomb, gleefully cheering on the events that will lead to their own destruction.

    1. flora

      Maybe people still believe that if they can “just get the current politicians’ attention then the politicians will listen to the people and do the right thing.”

      I still fall into that hope vs experience thinking too often.

      1. Andrew

        A lot of people are still drinking the Brexit Kool Aid. They’re due for a rude awakening next year (and the years after that). Predictably though, rather than focusing their ire on the incompetent ruling class who failed to deliver the wonderful Brexit they were promised, they’ll blame the EU instead (egged on by the press and politicians no doubt). *Sigh*… what a mess. It sure is going to be ugly..

    2. Monty

      “Working class communities will be hit hardest”

      I have seen many of those communities, and I think they have been hollowed out by decades of neoliberalism. They are already decaying ghettos with no good jobs. How much worse can it get?

      The people who are really going to get reamed are those that are up to their eyeballs in debt, in homes they can’t afford if they can’t flip it to the greater fool. Homeowners in UK are not usually working class anymore. A brexit related property crash is going to ruin an enormous number of lives in the upper and middle classes…. and that’s one of the reasons the working class voted overwhelmingly for brexit.

      1. witters

        And I think (well, I’m pretty damn sure!) that reports from that class are rarer than that of the other here on NC.

  23. oh

    Former South Korean President Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison For Accepting $5.4 Million In Bribes From Samsung

    Of course in our country we changed the definition of bribes and inside trades for Congress’ sake. Hw convenient!

  24. Wukchumni

    Was anybody here ever on a private teletype network back in the day before this here series of tubes, took over?

    1. carycat

      Even today, if you have to go a significant distance, you have to be riding on a fairly small number of carriers. So private just means you are leasing communication resources for your exclusive use (ignoring the eavesdroppers). Back in the early 70’s, I happened to be the US side teletype operator for a friendly pro-am match between some Japanese GO professionals and US amateurs (there were no US pros at the time, nor anybody strong enough), not being strong enough to provide any sort of competition even at the highest handicap. This was courtesy of some Japanese trading firm whose US office was located in the Empire State building and allowed the GO club to use their TTY back to the home office for the evening. Text only, the bandwidth was extremely limiting. Hard to imagine, but transatlantic TTY makes the 300 Baud dial up modems of the day feel blazing fast.

      1. Wukchumni

        I was on a teletype network of perhaps a few hundred users, in the late 80’s.

        Can still hear the news banging away @ warp speed as it printed out…

        1. Duck1

          Back in the early sixties there was a storefront in Chinatown SF on Grant Ave that had a teletype in the window, connected to Reuters or AP as I recall, about 10 years old at the time. Loved to walk by that place, and man I was going to get one of those one day. Funny, don’t remember what the actual business was to put that thing in the window as an attraction.

  25. notasweeper

    RE: Kavanaugh

    I friend of mine told me this last night.

    I feel like everyone viewed this situation from completely the wrong angle. They treated it like a criminal trial. Where the reasoning was “If we can’t prove he’s guilty of assault, then we must vote yes on his nomination.” That’s BS. This was a JOB INTERVIEW. It’s about finding the BEST PERSON FOR THE JOB. Was this person the best person for the job? Or even one of the best few? Indisputably, NO. His conduct during his testimony alone rules him out. Regardless of whatever he did or didn’t do in the past. He couldn’t get a job at McDonald’s with the way he behaved during that interrogation.

    Does he have a valid point? Or his he naive to current politics? Thoughts?

    1. a different chris

      >Does he have a valid point? Or his he naive to current politics?

      Sigh. I would say: both are correct.

      And even I don’t think McConnell, Manchin et al. are so stupid that they didn’t know this. They just chose to pretend that he had to somehow be disqualified, rather than earn the job. Susan Collins is giving the game away as she is doing the “doth protest too much” thing. Somebody smarter would just shut up.

      Again, can we please have an age-limit on Congress?

      1. m

        An age limit on supreme court judges, if Kavanaugh drinks as much as they are suggesting he could end up with alcohol related dementia.

    2. djrichard

      It’s a factional process for flipping individuals in factions based on their personal electoral risk. The target of the process is the congressmen themselves.

      The weapon is public opinion: how we’ll vote in elections based on how this drama plays out. So the idea is to weaponize us. Which means we need to be flipped as well. And if that means engaging us as if we’re part of a jury, then so be it. And if that means engaging us as if we’re part of a group of decision makers making a job hiring decision, then so be it. Bottom line, whatever it takes to make us part of this drama.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      No, it is not a job interview because the President nominates Supreme Court candidates, not the Senate. The role of the Senate is to “advise and consent” which not the same as as being, say, a boss. See this from the ABA:

      Under Article II of the Constitution, presidential nominations for executive and judicial appointments take effect when confirmed by the Senate, and international treaties become effective when the Senate approves them by a two-thirds vote. When those Constitutional provisions were ratified, U.S. Senators were not directly elected, but were appointed by state government legislative bodies. Likewise, the founder’s society was small, relatively self-sufficient, and agrarian. Today, our country extends across the continent; we are no longer a nation of farmers; and, our economic and security interests are closely tied to those of other countries. The founders never envisioned the great need for, and expansion and increased role of, the federal judiciary. They never envisioned the great need for international cooperation so vital to our country’s prosperity and security. The recent debate over the judicial filibuster, covered extensively by a media network, also never envisioned by the founders, was no less than a debate about the role and powers of the three branches of government in a country that is quite different in 2005 from our country in 1787.

      How should the President and Senate work together under the advice and consent clause of the Constitution? Of what value today are the arguments made by the writers of the Constitution about the role of the Senate and President in judicial appointments and treaty making? Should we focus more on the advice rather than the consent role of the Senate in judicial nominations and treaty making? The discussion starters under this topic explore the contemporary and historical meaning of “advice and consent.”

    4. Elizabeth Burton

      There was never any real question Kavanaugh would be confirmed. The entire media circus was nothing but a cheerleading session to get the Democrat base all whipped up about a point of outrage so the business of screwing them even further into the ground could continue unabated. Which it did.

      So, while the points are valid, they’re based on a false belief that any of what obsessed the public for the last two weeks was anything but political theater. The gods of the plutocracy knew who they wanted, and they got him.

  26. fresno dan

    Last week the technology burst into the news when Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accuses Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her as a teenager, said that she had taken a privately administered polygraph test to help bolster her account of the incident. “While not admissible in court, they’re used by various governmental agencies and many people believe in their abilities,” *** Douglas Wigdor, a former prosecutor who now represents victims in sexual harassment and sexual assault cases against high-profile men, told The Washington Post.
    In 1999 the Department of Energy asked the National Academies of Science to review the scientific evidence of the validity and reliability of polygraph examinations, particularly as used for screening.

    The resulting committee visited governmental polygraph units and reviewed almost a century of scientific papers and data. Its comprehensive report, which took four years to research and write, was damning. “Almost a century of research … provides little basis for the expectation that a polygraph test could have extremely high accuracy,” wrote its authors. “Polygraph testing yields an unacceptable choice between too many loyal employees falsely judged deceptive and too many threats left undetected. Its accuracy in distinguishing actual or potential violators from innocent test takers is insufficient to justify reliance on its use in employee screening.”
    I didn’t mention it at the time, but Ford utilizing a lie detector made me think she was either not a very well read psychologist, or someone just paying a consultant to give them the results they are paying for.

    *** you can believe in lie detectors, but than you don’t believe in the scientific method.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      My very early experience proved otherwise…

      When I was 7, *someone* used an ice pick to poke holes in all the cans in our cupboard. My father, a pediatrician, suspected one of his children. He lined up me, my sister (6), and my brother (4), pulled out his stethoscope, and proceeded to ask us, one at a time, in descending order of age, if we had done it while listening to our hearts. When he got to my 4 year old brother, he stopped, grinned, and yelled, “YOU!”. My brother took off running for cover.

      Maybe it just depends upon who is being tested…

  27. Wukchumni

    Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and it’s us.

    A tiny department in SKAT, run by one man, approved thousands of applications for refunds. Most of the applications were filed by self-directed pension plans in the United States, a type of retirement account for individuals.

    But experts and lawyers familiar with the scheme say those people were fronts for cum-ex trades. Deploying a kind of financial sleight of hand, the trades made it appear as if the pension plans had purchased shares of Danish companies and paid taxes on the dividends. Neither was true.

    To the Danes, it was a fraud, one executed and conceived by Sanjay Shah, a 48-year-old, London-born financier. With an assist from employees, he found the Americans, helped facilitate the applications and ended up with much of the money.

  28. Wukchumni

    You know, with the Danske Bank fiasco and this other one, you wonder if those $2.99 metal tins of Danish butter cookies weren’t just a front for fiendish financial foibles, I could never figure out how they made a profit on them?

  29. fresno dan

    So I got my California election ballot.
    A few interesting points:
    Senate: no republican candidate – just two dems, Feinstein & De Leon
    Lieutenant governor is two dems as well. as lieutenant gov is not worth a small bucket of warm spit, I will say no more….
    I’m in congressional district 16, so I don’t have the opportunity to vote against Nunes
    As usual, some of the initiatives are interesting. Of course, what they REALLY are as opposed to who they really screw is the question. #8 appeals to me because it prohibits dialysis centers from NOT treating patients based on payment source (I am aware that Medi-cal patients can’t get treatment sometimes because they can’t find a provider they will accept Medi-Cal) but I will have to research it some more.
    #10 is rent control, so lots of commercials about this.
    #11 requires private sector ambulance employees to remain on call during breaks. I had always thought they just took their coffee and donuts with them if they got a call while at Dunkin Donuts (have they changed their name?)….perplexing.

    1. Daryl

      Here in Texas, I noticed the Dems are actually running someone in my dinky house district. He won’t win against whatever MENSA member currently represents us, of course, but it’s good they’re finally doing it.

  30. how is it legal

    Re: Undercover cops break Facebook rules to track protesters, ensnare criminals, and:


    Creating an undercover social media profile often starts with a good photo.

    Unlike Reynolds, the officer behind the Bob Smith account, many investigators seek to use the image of a real person, to make their creation appear authentic.

    “You look for pictures of someone overseas, to make sure that person isn’t going to run into your circles,” said the New Jersey investigator, who created a fake Facebook account about five years ago.

    The investigator said his goal was to lure gang members, so he chose a photo of a woman who was “cute and well put-together.” Then he began building out the page with “filler pictures” and began liking and posting content. He had no problem getting friend requests, or getting his own accepted by his targets. He became so close to them that he was able to watch them boast about making large amounts of money or flash stacks of cash. He was invited to parties. His agency sent out plainclothes detectives to sit in a car nearby, to watch for people suspected in violent crimes.

    Shouldn’t that be illegal using photos of people without their consent, while renaming and pretending to be them; and why didn’t the NBC reporter ask about that (never mind, and it might of been their beholden Editor who disallowed the discussion)? What happens when Face Recognition becomes totally ubiquitous (if not already) and the woman who was “cute and well put-together.” is accused of using a fake US identity despite never knowing she had one – and having no means of finding out who stole her identity – via the unnamed New Jersey investigator who was never required to even notify her, and at least ask her consent in the matter.

    I suspect most of our ever exploding: privacy violations; computer backdoors; identity theft; predatory phone number rerouting and RoboCalls (and Texts), have everything to do a with a lack of decades of no brainer technocratic regulation; because the initial technocratic abuse was desired and initiated by agencies within the US Government.

    (Side Note: The above paragraph, along with RoboCalling/texting Politicians [re-]running for office, who disgracefully never offer a campaign phone number anymore so you can call and tell them how offensive and hierarchical their unsolicited and anonymized communications – which you’re then unable to respond to in any meaningful way- are. And what about the millions in this country (still) with no internet access, how would they quickly contact those campaign offices with voting citizen concerns? They can’t.)

    1. Jean

      We have come up with a great way to get back at cold calling home service and contractors.
      We answer the robot and ask to talk to human. Ask them to take us off their call list.

      If and when they call back, ignoring our do not call list, we click through and make an appointment.
      Sometimes they have our real address. We tell them we moved.
      We schedule it at the worst possible time for commute traffic and send them to the most remote and awkward address in our area.

      They call at the appointed time and ask where the house is, where we are etc.
      Here’s where it gets fun. “How did you get our number?” “Are you actually paying for those referrals from the Indian call center? Those people are crooks, you have been pranked by them, we told them we did not want your service.” “I’d get your money back for this call etc.”

  31. Wukchumni

    We’ll have to come up with a snappy name for our ‘stan box adventure tour, as we’re closing in on 17 years of futility there. And really who can put a price on learning names of places such as Helmand Province or Kamdesh?

    …any suggestions?

  32. ChristopherJ

    Thank you Yves another set of great links.

    The Guardian article correctly points out that we need to act collectively now to avoid 3 to 5 degrees (that’s Celsius ones) of warming. And there are several important world forums where countries will be making sounds like they care and are actually doing something.

    Everyone can see that the time for talk is way past and that we are cantering toward a cliff edge that is falling into the dying oceans before our very eyes. Even wasting time pointing out their lies and obfuscation, corruption and so on is time that you could be spending preparing.

    And, I don’t mean preparing to survive. The sort of warming now being opening talking will destroy our ability to grow crops and livestock at scale. 200 species are becoming extinct every single day.

    They have all the power, all of it and, as soon as they can kill us all, I think they will. Whether it is through climate inaction or something more nefarious, it is actually looking more and more probable that they will succeed.

    None of their life boats are going to work, but it won’t stop them. They know our and our children’s lives are whats at stake, but appealing to non existent empathy has been, and will continue to be, futile.

  33. Jake Mudrosti

    Genuinely brilliant to link Vice’s pop-science “Quantum Artificial Life” next to “Corruption of Scholarship.”

    Separate from groupthink pressures, there’s the pressure of self-promotion in an overcrowded academic environment. Same basic problem: very little work in any field is ever really read anymore.

    As a funny example, readers of the Vice article would naturally assume that Schrodinger wrote about Life as it relates to quantum mechanical processes. Nope. Thermodynamically, yes; in light of his lifelong fascination with the Upanishads, yes that too. Even in light of his musings on sensation, perception, memory and attention. Even in light of some pretty creepy Eugenics principles. That too. But just not the thing that the article suggested.

  34. marym

    The Lancet: Notions from Kavanaugh hearings contradict medical facts

    A survivor’s reluctance to come forward should not be labelled as part of their pathology but rather reflects the sad reality that they feel they will not be believed, that family and friends might not see them the same way afterwards, that they might be ridiculed, or that they might experience retaliation as a result of speaking out. They are also afraid that the gaps in their memory will be scrutinised as being a reflection of untruthfulness, as we witnessed this week in Washington, DC. The notion that gaps in memory reflect deceit is unscientific and simply untrue…

    …What we witnessed this week was nothing short of an unscientific and biased attempt to cause shame to survivors and to deny the most basic realities of sexual assault. It defies all well established knowledge about how the brain experiences trauma…

    1. a different chris

      …What we witnessed this week was nothing short of an unscientific and biased attempt to cause shame to survivors and to deny the most basic realities of sexual assault. It defies all well established knowledge about how the brain experiences trauma…

      Well duh. And it had the also wonderful side-effect of distracting us from all the other problems with Kavanaugh, plus the further problems that have nothing to do with Kavanaugh at all. Awesome. I hate these people but I can’t help but be impressed.

    2. tegnost

      …What we witnessed this week was nothing short of an unscientific and biased attempt to cause shame to survivors and to deny the most basic realities of sexual assault. It defies all well established knowledge about how the brain experiences trauma…

      with an unseemly amount of divorce court retribution (“I’ve been completely cleared of these allegations”). Another nail in the coffin of the late, great, U.S.of A.

  35. Pat

    Does anyone else have some version of my favorite recurring dream, where a whole bunch of CEOs, Executive Officers, and Board Directors (I may not recognize most of them, but know what they are) are in a room being told that with Labor costs being so high their jobs are being sent to India/Japan/China/Malaysia and they are only getting one week or the equivalent of one week’s pay.

    “Good luck and be sure to pick up the lists of training programs available from the HR rep at the back of the room on your way out. If you want to stay in a desk job, I particularly recommend Medical Transcriptionist, by the time you finish training they’ll probably all be in another country as well but there are still a few American positions currently. Otherwise your best bet might be trucking, at least until they get those self-driving trucks.”
    “Have a good life.”

    I have it or versions of it a lot. Maybe because it is a huge waking fantasy for me as well. This week, I’d like a version with most of Congress and the Supreme Court, and cynically a small part of me can’t shake the notion that having an outsourced Congress might not be better if only because we wouldn’t have as much posing.

    1. fresno dan

      October 6, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      I was going to respond with a Twilight zone clip, Mr. Whipple, but I couldn’t find a snippet that had the requisite irony, where the guy getting rid of everybody’s job had his job gotten rid of.
      Hmmmmm…..does Goggle do that on purpose???

  36. fresno dan

    Wow, I actually got a visit from two young volunteers for Elizabeth Heng (she is the republican running against democrat Jim Costa) for the Fresno congressional seat. That is the first time that has happened in my life!
    Portions of her campaign literature:
    Side one portion
    Over 30 years ago, my parents*** came to the U.S. with only determination and a dream. No other country would have given them the same change for success. In Congress, I’ll fight to stop illegal immigration and bloated government from threatening the American promise of opportunity.
    Side two portion
    Elizabeth will fight to fix our immigration mess for good by tying reforms to national and border security.
    We can prevent gang members and terrorists from infiltrating our country while also providing stability for DACA recipients as well as a functioning guest worker program.
    *** so, her parents were……immigrants
    AND, her campaign literature doesn’t actually identify her as a ….republican

    1. ewmayer

      “*** so, her parents were……immigrants” — A red herring, as the issue is not immigration per se, but the legal vs illegal varieties of such.

      I see her Elizabeth Heng for Congress homepage does not use the word Republican, but “conservative” is a bit of a tell.

      Not saying she deserves your vote, but let’s at least avoid the dishonest partisan prejudices, shall we?

      1. Daryl

        > A red herring, as the issue is not immigration per se, but the legal vs illegal varieties of such.

        What makes an immigrant legal, or illegal? At times it was illegal for people of certain ethnicities to immigrate to this country, period…

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I suspect you have not tried to live outside the US. Most advanced economies make it very easy to visit up to 90 days as a tourist, but are very bloodyminded about non-citizens or student or work visa holders staying longer. For instance, Australia has about 64,000 people who are estimated to have overstayed their visas, and further estimates that 20,000 are working illegally. If you gross that up to the equivalent for the US (as in adjust for the difference in population), that is tantamount to 870,000 illegal residents. Contrast that with our roughly 12.5 million illegal immigrants, per FAIR.

      2. fresno dan

        October 6, 2018 at 5:50 pm

        I quoted from HER (Heng) literature provided to me by her volunteers – WHAT is dishonest about MY quote? I DID NOT SAY whether her IMMIGRANT parents were LEGAL or NOT. SHE says her parents were immigrants, and doesn’t speak to whether they were LEGAL or ILLEGAL….
        There is the question of what immigrant is determined to be LEGAL versus ILLEGAL

          1. fresno dan

            October 7, 2018 at 12:58 am
            However, it’s not a very difficult question to answer

            than answer it

            1. nervos belli

              If you are properly registered with the authorities of the immigration country, then you are legal.
              If you are not properly registered, you are illegal.

              You can fairly easily change status while in country from legal to illegal and vice versa btw.
              Since we both know the answer was totally obvious, please stop your childish behaviour and bring your actual argument(s).

  37. Plenue

    Re: Kavanaugh confirmation

    So, right now the liberal sphere is losing its mind. Lots of self-righteous, grandiose “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” rejected Hollywood script speech type of stuff Here’s probably the most cringey I’ve come across:

    I don’t even necessarily disagree with the substance of what they’re saying; Ian Welsh said much the same recently in regards to Ted Cruz. ‘Civility’ is often cynically deployed as a shield. It provides a veneer of respectability to disgusting people and policies.

    But, and I’ve said this before, *this* is what people are pulling the stops out for (rhetorically, anyway. I very much doubt anything will come of it other than a bunch of pink pussy hat type non-protests. No one is going to have the guts to throw a Molotov cocktail at Kavanaugh or anything similar)? I don’t at all want to downplay the import of rape, but 130 kids are dying in Yemen on a daily basis, and all I hear from these self-righteous liberals is silence.. In the grand scheme of things, Kavanaugh’s transgressions don’t matter. In fact they’re downright petty. How many Houthi women get raped everyday because of our war, I wonder.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      And The Trumptards are cheering the installation of a Neoliberal judge that will vote against their financial interests for the rest of their lives. What a country!

      1. edmondo

        And he will be joined by the other 8 neoliberal jurists who were put in place by the previous presidents before him. It didn’t start on January 20, 2017..

  38. McWatt

    As regards Denmark’s missing 2 billion: Has anyone checked our country’s dividend return piggy bank?

  39. marym

    WaPo (paywall if you have exceeded whatever is the limit of free reads)
    D.C. Circuit sent complaints about Kavanaugh’s testimony to Chief Justice Roberts

    Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has received more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints in recent weeks against Brett M. Kavanaugh, who was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice Saturday, but has chosen for the time being not to refer them to a judicial panel for investigation.

    That judge, Karen LeCraft Henderson, had dismissed other complaints against Kavanaugh as frivolous, but she concluded that some were substantive enough that they should not be handled by Kavanaugh’s fellow judges in the D.C. Circuit.

    Roberts’s decision not to immediately refer the cases to another appeals court has caused some concern in the legal community. he [sic] Now that he has been confirmed, the details of the complaints may not become public and instead may be dismissed, legal experts say. Supreme Court justices are not subject to the misconduct rules governing these claims.

    Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson was appointed by Reagan to the US District Court for the District of South Carolina by Reagan and to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit by GHW Bush (Link).

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      The Neoliberal World Order got their man installed to SCOTUS. The Feckless Dems coughed up a vote so Kavanaugh would win his nomination 50-48. It all went according to plan. Oligarchs and the Corps win again at the expense of the working class. Same as it ever was.

      1. flora

        Of course the Dems did. Was there ever any doubt that they would? (But send money now to defeat those horrible, terrible, no good, very bad Republicans. ….)

    2. flora

      Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson was appointed by Reagan to the US District Court for the District of South Carolina by Reagan and to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit by GHW Bush

      Once upon a time the GOP had a decent respect for the appearance of propriety and probity and rule of law. That was long, long ago, when they were still philosophically independent (of globalist corporate control) institutions. Same for Dems. Funny how being a now wholly owned subsidiary can shape actions.

  40. lyman alpha blob

    I would really love to play poker with Susan Collins.

    Collins, a moderate who supports abortion rights, defended Kavanaugh’s judicial opinions as well as his sometimes-partisan Senate testimony. She added that she had been persuaded that he would uphold Roe v. Wade during private conversations the two had over the past few weeks.

    Go ahead Susie, raise me, I promise I don’t have more than a Jack high.

      1. flora

        About Collins: Was there ever any doubt? Her “undecided” schtick is so old it’s pickled itself by now. /s

        1. Llewelyn Moss

          Right. And I believe Flake’s temporary hold and calling for the bogus FBI investigation only happened because Repubs did not yet have all the votes confirmed and they needed a little more time to bribe remaining holdouts. No proof of this but my cynicism hasn’t failed me yet.

          1. flora

            I agree. And I think Collins is a red herring as a first jump. Obama could have appointed Garland in a recess appointment. But no…. (Nevermind Perez saying the DNC would support Dem sens who vote for Kavanaugh. GOP sen Collins was not the problem. imo.)

            an aside: went to use my Uni’s gym weight room yesterday evening and the TV entrance screen had a still image of K with the caption, ” FBI probe seen as a coverup.” I was there during Greek (frat sorority) hours. So, was this a slam on K that appealed to the younger set, or a nod that being connected works? ho hum.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Obama could have appointed Garland, but Garland’s time on the Supreme Court would have ended with the new Congress around January 3rd 2017.

              If my memory is correct, there may have been a couple of cases where Garland might have made a difference in which case his appointment would have made sense.

              From a political angle, yes, Obama should have forced the issue to see if he could force a vote especially from Senators who might be vulnerable.

          2. Lambert Strether

            > And I believe Flake’s temporary hold and calling for the bogus FBI investigation

            Which all the Democrats did, too (as opposed to actually interrogating Kavanaugh). So, they got “an FBI investigation” and that was that. At best, a pathetic performance, if you assume stopping Kavanaugh was the goal.

  41. GroundZeroAndLovinIt

    Well, I see it all played out pretty much like I thought it would. The Dems mounted a feeble, ineffective campaign against him; and the Reps – after a short period in which the FBI performed a kabuki-theater inquiry based on cherry-picking witnesses and enough “evidence” to create the appearance of thoroughness – did what they intended to do from the beginning. At least he’s got a ready-made name, Judge Keg-anaugh.

    Watch how fast more of our safety net unravels now.

    1. Tom Stone

      The confirmation of Kavanaugh sends a very clear message.
      It is indisputable that he committed perjury during the confirmation hearings and he is now going to sit on the highest court of the land.
      And it was Bi Partisan support that put him there (Is collusion a better word?).
      There are a lot of nuances involved, among the most obvious is a complete and public renunciation of any pretense of honesty and decency on the part of the Senate.
      I predict that a lot of people involved in the legal profession will get drunk tonight after witnessing such a telling blow against the very concept of the Rule of Law.
      I weep for my country.

  42. skippy

    Wrt the Chinese chips…

    I think a quick wiki check of foxxcon brings questions about single agency, not to mention the part about 40% of market share.

    1. flora

      This has been known for a long time. Huawei has been considered a bad actor for a very long time, as in ‘don’t buy these products because they have built-in back doors’. Interesting it’s getting play now. Is the reporting cutting edge, or is it a distraction from something else?

      1. skippy

        “bad actor” is a bit difficult to distinguish these days… as the whole thing is lit up like vulgar Christmas tree.

        Which one actually shines the brightest or the longest – ????

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Not a distraction. The target has always been China. They have the potential manpower and brainpower to drive the U.S. out of much of the world without starting a conflict. TPP targeted China. The aim to humiliate Russia and make them look bad has been to separate them from China, and yes, our FP establishment is stupid enough to think the Chinese wouldn’t see the obvious.

        The free trade types always promised the US would maintain edges in defense, finance, and tech (even legal advice; this was an actual pro free trade argument). The size and scope of the US allow a foreign entity to only have to deal with one set of rules to get everything they need in the U.S. In the long run, the advantages the U.S. had in the 90’s were the result of the collapse of the USSR and China’s problems both with colonial powers and their own civil war. They wouldn’t be down forever, but for a long time, there was a perception they would be because the US foreign policy elites are heavily attached to the idea the U.S. is an exceptional nation.

        I would say the elites are threatened by China because China threatens to undercut the U.S.’s main advantage. The Russian Federation, which is too small to compete in all sectors, along with China isn’t going to conquer the U.S., but its like opening a Burger King across the street from a McDonald’s. The Golden Arch’s might outdo the King, but they are going to take a hit. When the Democrats and msm politicized “OMG Russia” and stopped talking about anything else other than deranged conspiracy theory, they turned off the potential “OMG Russia.” The Democrats being so “woke” can’t attack China the way they can attack Russia, but essentially Chinese firms could win every contract.

        Whether its protecting Western business elites or world wide dominance, China has been the warned about the threat for years from establishment Washington.

        1. Pat

          I would add that our culture of accepted political corruption, corporate greed and arrogance have advanced the disintegration of any advantages that America had. That globalists, who destroyed our manufacturing base for short term profit, refuse to fund research and development, and never considered that cheaply hiring “excess labor” in a country with goals of their own and a history of strategy was any kind of a risk.

          We are now deeply dependent on China and have no secrets from them. And the same brain trust and their specially selected heirs that got us here are now floundering in their efforts to head off a destruction they have been enabling for decades. (Seriously, they thought the TPP was going to do it?)

          1. Lambert Strether

            China has its own contradictions, which by sheer dumb luck or design, Trump’s trade war will exacerbate. Their Gini coefficient is even worse than ours, IIRC. There’s a reason Chinese with money are so anxious to move it out of the country.

            1. skippy

              Lots of new networks already in the pipe Lambert, not to mention one of the key choke points in the world web is located at the bottom of the south china sea. I don’t have it handy right now but you should search for a topical graphic on that.

              Not picking sides here but Trumps advisors don’t empress me, don’t think any of its his doing and with many attempting de-dollarization and looking at alternatives wrt trade…. it might just be an catalyst.

  43. VietnamVet

    The Brett Kavanaugh nomination was a complete fail for Senate Democrats. They tried to exploit their primary political wedge, women who are 50.8% of the population, and got nothing; not even, after a job interview that gave Freddy Krueger a run for his money.

    October is starting out as a horror show. The incompetence is startling. I just can’t decide which one will crash the party; short term; sanctions, tariffs, malinvestment, rising interest rates and a strong dollar, mid-term; occupation of Eastern Syria, or long term; climate change.

    1. Wukchumni

      We have the late 1930’s politics of France, combined with the late 1930’s military of Germany.

    2. flora

      The Dem estab teaches that we can only lose, that we can never win – even when we think we have won (as in Obama pres.) They never fail to teach losing. That seems to be their mission in life – destroy the oppostion to the right wing by demoralizing energy on the left. People say they’re useless, but they’re very useful to the right.

      1. flora

        And by “we” I mean New Deal Dem voters. The current Dem estab makes sure the New Deal Dem programs and positions always lose.

        1. Richard

          I sometimes think that is the dems only real job: Policing the left, mocking, marginalizing, red baiting, mischaracterizing and ignoring. Lord knows they’re not interested in winning or governing. They only attack Trump in ways delinked from the public interest, almost pathological about shedding votes and support. Fu*&ng losers on purpose.

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