Links 11/27/18

Dear patient readers,

Apologies for the lack of original posts. Nothing seemed inspiring….save Brexit as a case study of mass delusion, but I think you have had enough rubber-necking for now.

NASA InSight nails Mars landing after scary six minutes CNET

An audacious new plan will make all science free. Can it work? New Scientist (Dr. Kevin)

Lawmakers introduce bill to stop bots from ruining holiday shopping CNET

China?

Trump says he will proceed with Chinese tariff escalation Politico (Kevin W)

Trump suggests US could slap 10% tariffs on iPhones and laptops imported from China CNBC

Amnesty International To Stage Worldwide Protests Against Google’s “Dystopian” Censored Search for China Intercept

Health effects of diesel ‘cost European taxpayers billions’ Guardian

Brexit

Media indicator of sorts: Had to scroll WAY down on UK edition of Daily Mail to find any Brexit news, and the big story (across 2 columns) was Trump dissing the deal. And four one-column stories later, this two column piece: Theresa May is mauled from all sides of the Commons for two hours as she begins two-week drive to save her Brexit deal – but it takes an HOUR before an MP speaks up to back her plan. Plus she was wearing very nice pearls, as opposed to her dramatic, bigger scale, and constantly changing necklaces

Trump says Brexit deal may damage UK-US trade Financial Times (Kevin W). Normally Trump saying anything bad about a foreign country’s plans is a boost for the proposal, but getting a US trade deal has been a magic sparkle pony alternative to a worsened trade relationship with the EU.

Theresa May warned not to rely on Labour MPs’ Brexit votes as chief of staff sent on mission to woo them Telegraph. Key tidbit:

….it emerged that a Downing Street task force set up to save Brexit is already resigned to losing the vote on the deal, and is engaged in damage limitation. Aides reportedly believe that if Mrs May loses the vote on December 11 by more than 100 votes she will have to resign immediately, but if the losing margin is lower than 100 she will battle on and try to win a second vote.

Debate with Corbyn set for Dec 9.

Markets Won’t Come to the Rescue In a Brexit Crisis Bloomberg (boz)

Germans & Americans ‘worlds apart’ in outlooks DW

New Cold War

Leaked Transcript Proves Russiagaters Have Been Right All Along Caitlin Johnstone (UserFriendly)

Haley Calls Russia Reckless in Tense Standoff With Ukraine Wall Street Journal

I’m not up on current figures, but at the time of the, um, unconstitutional regime change in Ukraine, about 1% of the population in the western part of the country were members of neo-Nazi parties, but about 15% of government agencies had neo-Nazis appointed to head them. And I saw George Soros say to an INET gathering in Paris (this was a formal session, with Chrystia Freeland interviewing him) that he was proud that his Open Society had funded every member of the new government with grants, either directly or to their spouses.

Syraqistan

In Syria’s Idlib, Islamists see classrooms as a new front Asia Times

With Peace Talks on the Horizon, Saudis Defy Truce to Redouble Deadly Strikes on Yemen’s Civilians MintPress

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

First UK police force to try predictive policing ends contract Financial Times (David L)

IBM CEO Joins Apple in Blasting Data Use by Silicon Valley Firms Bloomberg

Your Credit Score Isn’t a Reflection of Your Moral Character Slate

Trump Transition

Border melee ups ante on shutdown The Hill

Donald Trump rejects his own government’s report on climate change abc.net.au (Kevin W)

Mueller says Manafort violated plea agreement The Hill

The Health 202: Obamacare enrollment is lagging, despite cheaper options Washington Post

The anti-Nancy Pelosi forces just admitted defeat CNN

Politically connected Syracuse group flips NY marijuana license for pot of gold Syracuse. Bob: “Cuomo and his best repub buddy Mahoney neck deep in securing and flipping a marijuana license to several other layers of small time political pick-pockets.”

From dougie: “Well, I like a man who knows where he stands”:

The Proud Boys Are Imploding HuffPost (furzy). Quite frankly, never heard of them, but the Vice connection seems important.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Alabama police offer new explanation for shooting wrong man BBC. Local demonstrations again today, this time tying up local freeways (the mall where the shooting happened is very upscale and near the junction of two freeways)

Fake News

Who Will Fix Facebook? Rolling Stone (UserFriendly)

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg Is Tainted by Crisis After Crisis Bloomberg

GM shuts down 7 plants, drawing rebuke from Trump Financial Times. FWIW, an auto industry supplier who came to the Birmingham meetup said pretty much all of her customers have doubled their orders. Makes no sense to her. Customers mainly international majors.

GM to slash up to 14,000 jobs in North America; 7 plants could close as part of restructuring Associated Press

After Wasting $14 billion on Share-Buybacks, GM Prepares for Carmageddon & Shift to EVs, Cuts Employees, Closes 8 Plants Wolf Street (EM)

Capital-Spending Slowdown Flashes a Warning for 2019 U.S. Growth Bloomberg

Owner of failed nuclear plant might use golden parachute fund in settlement ars technica (Kevin W)

Supreme Court Appears to Lean Heavily Against Apple’s Defense of Its Walled Garden Gizmodo (Kevin W). I hate hate hate the Apple Store. I have a warranty on my laptops (the Apple warranty are one of the few in tech land worth the $) and even with paying hard $, Apple require customers also to have an Apple Store account to get service. These are not the issue at trial but indicate how aggressive Apple is in forcing customers who may have bought equipment from independent vendors to register on and use the Apple Store.

Could Oil Prices Fall To $40? OilPrice

Gulf between Renault and Nissan widens after Ghosn arrest Financial Times. One tidbit, and I confess I can’t recall if I saw it in the pink paper or Bloomberg, which makes the Japanese position more credible, is that Ghosn had put his older sister on a $100,000 a year contact for which she allegedly had never done any work. Even though this is chump change, it bolsters the idea that Ghosn didn’t draw the right lines between company money and his money.

Bitcoin Plunges to $3,738; Whole Crypto Scam Melts Down, Hedge Funds Stuck Wolf Street (EM)

The U.S. Housing Boom Is Coming to an End, Starting in Dallas Wall Street Journal. Having visited Dallas yearly for ~5 years running, even with my very limited contact, it was evident a land rush was underway, due to it being cheap on a national basis + low state taxes, which led some companies to put or expand operations there. And the article centers on Plano, where the boom was particularly evident.

Class Warfare

Poverty in America: Greater Than Statistics Indicate Bloomberg (UserFriendly). Important.

Bake Sales Can’t Fix This: Corporate Tax Cuts Leave Public Schools Desperate Truthout

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “No, not Friskies. TREATS. Please.”

And a bonus video (Kevin W):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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231 comments

  1. Wukchumni

    Goooooooood Mooooooorning Fiatnam!

    It was all about the kill-ratio back in the world, and the idea that a bunch of auto plants in North America were goners, with production possibly to be set up in Vietnam instead, wasn’t lost on U.S.

    Reply
    1. paul

      Its all about making amierca great again, without those pesky workers, and their wages things.

      America is great because it hates its population

      Reply
      1. WheresOurTeddy

        companies love American customers and hate American workers, and do their best to pretend that there is no overlap in the two groups

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          They love, especially, debt-overburdened American customers.

          (The more debt laden a person is, the more powerful FICO looms to him/her).

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            I’ve encountered the trend for employers to check one’s FICO score as part of the hiring process. We can only have good Consumers working here!

            Reply
            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              By saying nice things on the internet about bankers, I think, or hope, one can boost one’s FICO score.

              (Because THEY know what you write, 24/7).

              Reply
  2. Aaron Layman Properties

    I can verify the housing boom fading in Dallas. I have been writing about it for much of the year. After moving to DFW from Houston, it was readily evident there was/is a real estate bubble in the big D. Also fascinating to see how the Real Estate Center at A&M was overstating/estimating actual sales volumes in the DFW area. They (A&M RECenter) seems to have tamed the algorithm on sales estimates (no doubt in response to my actual request earlier this year). Unfortunately that just makes the stagnating sales volumes look worse than they did earlier in the year when sales numbers were being puffed up in the official reported numbers.
    While the upper end of the market is rolling over, we also have a new crop of underwater borrowers taking shape in the affordable housing segment…
    https://aaronlayman.com/2018/11/denton-county-tx-underwater-borrowers-hud-annual-report-fha-loans/

    Reply
    1. perpetualWAR

      I can verify the housing boom has ended in Washington State. Hoping my job doesn’t go boom too. Just getting back on my feet after a decade of fighting JPMC and our collusive courts.

      Reply
      1. Merf56

        Trying to sell my house in suburban Philadelphia. Great location, award winning schools, sits well back from a non busy rd. All the pluses, beautifully maintained.. Bought in Dec 2007. Basically rebuilt, redecorated and relandscaped the entire house and acre. Staged it.
        Comps are putting it price wise at at least 60k LESS than we paid for it. It was well priced comps wise when we purchased it.
        Needless to say…imho the Eastern PA housing market STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN.

        Reply
        1. Anthony G Stegman

          Americans keep thinking of housing as an investment when in reality it is merely a depreciating asset not unlike a motor vehicle. The housing market relies on debt to maintain the fantasy.

          Reply
          1. Huey

            In a sense, would it not still be possible to see it as an investment?

            Personally I’m against buying a house only to sell it, and despite regular reading here finance remains largely foreign to me; but say for example OP bought somewhere fancy like Boardwalk or Park Place, or realisitically prime real estate in DC, NYC / LA, he’d have pretty good chances of getting out at a better rate than when he got in, just like if he had instead bought into FAANG, no?

            And similarly if he bought in at the height of the 2008 sub-prime mortgage scheme right before it all imploded, he’d be in just as much trouble if he bought into Bitcoin right before it crashed too.

            I’m saying this to say that isn’t the potential for ‘mega-returns’ vs. an inevitable loss regardless, like in the case of automobiles, what makes real-estate purchases a kind of investment?

            Please feel free to correct me, I am by far no kind of expert.

            Reply
          2. Merf56

            Anthony, That is ridiculous. It may be true in wildly overheated markets ( many CA locales) or areas experiencing serious decline (eg Detroit) but not in functioning suburban areas.
            The windfall era is of course gone but people who maintain and update their homes should clearly see a modest price increase over a decade plus if the economy has any legs at all.
            A well built house is most assuredly NOT akin to a car – that is nonsense.

            Reply
  3. Todde

    Bots ruining online Christmas shopping.

    Cant get much more white suburban upper crust soccer mom than that.

    Maybe Congress should look into people who go the wrong way in the grade school drop off/pick up line.

    I hear that is quite a problem for some people.

    Reply
        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Schumer added that when it comes to online shopping, “major retailers should put forth policies that will help prevent future Grinch bots from stealing the season’s hottest toys.” In 2016, he said that the anti-scalper legislation was inspired by the inflated ticket prices for the popular musical Hamilton, and he believes the “same cyber scalpers” have now moved on to toys and other products that are in high demand during the holiday season. At the early stages of the BOTS Act, it was reported that resellers had a feast and bought more than 20,000 Hamilton tickets to sell them for as much as four times their face value.

          Gee, I wonder how “healthcare” or life-saving drugs get on the list of things that “inspire” congressional action when their prices go up due to a “feast” of profiteering. Priorities can be complicated, I guess.

          Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “Middle class folks save up — a little here, a little there — working to afford the hottest gifts of the season for their kids but ever-changing technology and its challenges are making that very difficult. It’s time we help restore an even playing field by blocking the bots,” said Schumer, a Democrat from New York, in a statement.

      This guy’s a real mensch on a bench.

      https://themenschonabench.com

      Reply
        1. ambrit

          Well, I see this as a send-up of “Elf on the Shelf.” A basic, obey or I’ll tell on you toy.
          “New! From Conform Toys!” Now available at your local Tactical Store! Don’t forget! We’ll know if you buy one or not. So, better get down to the Mall now!

          Reply
          1. newcatty

            Ha! Ambit your comment made me think of the scariest and prescient episode of “Twilight Zone” tee vee show: Talking TINA. TINA will be your child’s very best friend. Your little one can confide in her…all their wishes, hopes and sadness. Available now…don’t let your child be left out!

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Oh yes. And, for the downscale cohort, there is “Trailer Trash Barbie.”
              Funnily enough, it is beyond my competence to find a video of a SNL segment where some young girls played with ‘Trailer Trash Barbies.’ It exists, I remember seeing it.
              But Talking Tina now. That was scifi at its best. The good stuff is about ideas.

              Reply
              1. The Rev Kev

                Didn’t they also have a “Minimum Wage Barbie” complete with McDonalds uniform and food tray? The whole set included Barbie’s Low-Rent Apartment and Barbie’s Thrift Store Wardrobe. The package had the words “Girls! This will be you if you don’t study”. Also, Dead-Beat Ken was sold separately.

                Reply
      1. HotFlash

        I clicked on that link and all day long I have been hounded by Menches on Benches. Katniss, you owe me.

        (some time later) Getting on to be night, still being stalked by Hannah the Hanuka Hero and the rest of the gang. Katniss, I will not forget this. Harrumph.

        Reply
    2. JacobiteInTraining

      Not having had any kids of my own, i had no idea what a drop off/pick up line even was until the other day when I needed to pick up the boy I’ve semi-sorta adopted from High School for a time-critical appt.

      Using all my ancient instincts from how we did it when I was in HS in the mid/late 80’s, I parked in one of the many designated ‘visitor’ parking spots quite near the office. Then, as time got closer to the bell, I started seeing car after car after car start lining up…engines idling…with the beginning of the line in a clearly marked ‘police only’ spot, and snaking back through the parking lot towards the entrance.

      Note – not waiting in any of the many open visitor parking spots – just in the actual lanes of the parking lot. In most cases, blocking anyone in who happened to be in an actual spot waiting…of which me and another mid-50s dude seemed to be the only ones.

      We both saw the lines starting to pile up behind us, and we started up our engines in order to escape the lined-up-herds and not be blocked in…..luckily, the moms/dads waiting in the conga line were quite nice and maneuvered forward or back in order to let us both out — and then both us old guys just pulled to the far far end of the parking lot (which also had….dozens of empty ‘visitors only’ parking spots sitting there unfilled) …and waited for our kids to just walk out and find us.

      Back in the line — mobs of students were milling around a snake of cars/SUVs slowly plodding along, and was very glad I didn’t get trapped behind it. If we hadn’t moved….we would have had to wait til basically the very last car in the conga line had pulled thru to pick up their own kids & departed before we could contemplated leaving. Despite, of course, having gotten there 10 minutes before anyone else started forming the line….and, using the designated parking spots as one would *think* a parking lot is to be properly used.

      So yeah, this whole school drop off/pick up line thing merits some serious attention from Congress.

      Maybe a needs-based meritocratic mobile phone app that just picks out any non-rich kids and enlists them into a combat MOS right away for deployment to Persia.

      That might clear up the lines a bit.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        All Security Theatre. Conditioning the masses for later ‘service’ to the Overlords. You are right. There will be an app for that.

        Reply
        1. wilroncanada

          todde & ambrit
          I’ve screwed up my pickup lines in a completely different way.
          But that was before I had kids in school.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Is it still legal to try ‘pickup lines’ on schoolgirls up in Canada?
            “Mr. Smith.”
            “Yes Cassandra.”
            “The school principles office called and said they need to talk with you about your girlfriend’s behaviour problem again.”
            “Blast!”

            Reply
        1. ambrit

          Security Theatre. Just like the TSA at airports. Conditioning to accept and internalize a smaller personal “space” in society.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            When we played parents for our nephews last year, I was amazed at the near concentration camp-lite look of the elementary school, and a few parents walked with their kids to school, but no youngsters were to be seen on their lonesome walking the easy 1/2 mile or so.

            The carousel of cars dropping off little Suzie or picking up Liam after school never stopped at peak, an odd perpetual motion machine.

            Reply
    3. temporal

      So, some “researchers” working for some companies including “Shape Security” are looking to sell Denial of Service (DoS) products that apparently don’t have as much market share as they would prefer. They decide to invent a problem that no one as seen before because buying low and selling high still requires a viable selling mechanism and most people either get the deal they want or they find another. If that weren’t true then Amazon wouldn’t be where it is.

      In the real world if a re-seller wants to buy thousands of soon-to-be-popular things in order to make profit they go straight to a vendor or middle-man and cut a deal. These bot driven toy or shoe “scalpers” would need an outlet to sell these “rare” things as well as the upfront money to make the on-line purchases. Certainly a risky venture. At least in normal retail you can push out payments until you’ve, hopefully, managed to sell something.

      Seems pretty clear some security researchers/vendors are using gullible (purchasable?) dems in the guise of protecting vulnerable Christmas buyers. Trying use legislation to force new markets for their oh so sophisticated captcha and DoS software.

      Even if this was a real problem, stopping these supposed bot owners would simply force the wanna-be re-sellers to fall back on buying in bulk, hopefully with better terms. Or is stopping people from buying popular items in bulk the next problem to be solved?

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        I don’t know about all this scalperbot black friday stuff…learned my lesson by proxy with cabbage patch frenzy, long ago…I’m immune to advertising/fads.
        but buying in bulk is something my extended family has always done(Great Depression made a big impression on my grandparents).
        a few years ago, nearest walmart stopped selling things in bulk…like flour, sugar, mason jars, canned goods by the flat, etc.
        soon after, the nearest big nonwalmart grocer did the same…no more 25# sacks of beans, or tortilla mix/masa.
        everything is in smaller portions, now…although things for pickling/canning…and the sorts of things the tamale makers use…are back in somewhat larger sizes(likely due to complaints).
        Your comment reminded me of this. Felt like an imposition…even my mom said it was some kind of conspiracy to discourage stocking up.
        we are manipulated in so many ways, these days.
        I don’t know if this is a general phenomenon, or limited to rural backwaters, where—presumably–the habit of keeping a well stocked pantry remains.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          I found larger bulk packages for some staples to still be stocked in out of the way places like Mom and Pop Oriental Markets.
          Actually doing what was normal a generation ago is now stigmatized as “Prepping.” I don’t like this new, just in time world. It would be too easy to ‘collapse’ into chaos.
          I really hope that Brexit doesn’t go down that path. It could get ugly quickly.

          Reply
          1. Old Jake

            In a similar vein, the local (regional?) Costco stocks bulk pinto beans, rice (several kinds), and sugar, but not flour or oats/oatmeal.

            Happily Sunny Farms, a locally owned upscale/downscale farm outlet (caters to the Escalade set and the 78 Ford pickup-with-a-mixed-breed-herding-dog-in-the-back set) has all those things plus eggs by the gross and livestock feeds.

            There is still hope, I hope.

            Reply
        2. JBird4049

          >>>Felt like an imposition…even my mom said it was some kind of conspiracy to discourage stocking up.<<<

          It is not to discourage stocking up, but to increase profits by nickel and dime'ing the customer. Selling in bulk has less profit than selling in small amounts, rather like wholesale and retail.

          Reply
    1. divadab

      The Credit score is not meant to be, never was meant to be, and is not a reflection of your moral character. It’s a rough measure of your credit risk – i.e. the likelihood of your paying back debt. Period.

      It may be an indirect indicator of moral character, or perhaps self-discipline, or bad luck, or any of a number of factors that affect a person’s relationship with debt.

      I used to work for a company whose policy was not to hire smokers. Purely motivated by the cost of health insurance and the desire not to have to provide smoking areas. They also checked the credit reports of candidates for management positions. Paradoxically, (sort of), they did not have a problem with hiring managers who had heavy debt – “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go” – but rather looked out for people who had a history of default (an indicator of indiscipline and impulsivity in the view of the company).

      And it worked, generally, although not many people with poor credit were rejected on that basis – there were generally other issues as well.

      So I have to say I have no objection to using the credit score to vet immigrants. Why not?

      Reply
      1. perpetualWAR

        I really dislike your comment.

        Credit scores have been used against the population. So, you’re saying, let’s now use them against immigrants? Low.

        Reply
            1. perpetualWAR

              For example: the Latinos were targeted in HousingCrisisOne to sign up for no-down loans. When the crash came, those people just walked away, because no money down. However, BECAUSE of these walk-aways, these people have had crappy credit scores to contend with. What costs more with crappy credit scores: everything you buy on credit.

              Same goes for those of us who purchased with a lot of money down, but lost our jobs for years. Credit scores are being weaponized. Cannot get jobs sometimes because of credit scores, which IMHO, is insane!

              Reply
              1. knowbuddhau

                Yes, exactly. I fell off a ladder and the parasites stuck me with a $20,000 bill. Told myself, “I’ll just work more,” but there aren’t that many hours in a week.

                So now I’m in bankruptcy purgatory. Along with employers, landlords also check credit. Is falling off a ladder, helping friends paint their house, really a good reason to make a guy highly likely to end up jobless, homeless, or both, for 10 years?

                They more you need it, the less you’re deemed worthy.

                And this credit score in which divadab puts so much faith: how is it designed? Who says whose worthy? On what criteria? Etc.

                divadab, you know they aren’t downloaded from Vulcan, right? More like Ferenginar. And the effort it takes to correct mistakes can be herculean.

                To “job-lock” we can add “credit-lock.” Lock-down nation, because “free” markets.

                Reply
                1. divadab

                  @know; @perpetual – ya I had my puritan hat on when I wrote the comment. I’ve lived periods of no credit and I am still mad at my credit union for turning me down in 2009 after my business dried up in the crash. If not for the HARP program, which for some reason the credit union had no idea of, but my bank did and I’m still with them despite their wall street ways, we were looking at shylock rates and food bank level poverty. All because credit dried up in the panic.

                  I think credit scores are mostly used for pricing. Lower score = higher rates and therefore lower amounts available. But the overall liquidity of the market or how much credit is available is independent of credit scores.

                  I’ve been tracking my credit score for years and it’s clear what causes it to move up or down – the amount I owe and the if there are any delinquencies or write-offs. Or new loans – a sure way to cause your score to drop is to borrow new money.

                  Anyway since roughly 80% of bankruptcies are the result of medical bills, the problem seems to me to be not the Credit score system but rather the for profit medical system – if we had medicare for all a medical situation would not send a family to the poorhouse.

                  Reply
            2. Kurtismayfield

              That is a court ordered payment, and should get you an arrest record. Nothing to do with credit worthiness, and the arrest record will ping you on a job application.

              Reply
            3. tegnost

              I thinking more student loans and other predatory debt that is designed to enslave you and rob your productive efforts in order so the great maw of wall st has something to chew on. Anyone who embraces that position will of course suffer in one or many ways, I’m just talking about whether it’s moral to tell a collector to go elsewhere. Regarding child support I think people should give money to those who need it and child labor laws prevent sending your kids to work. We should all care about each other more and give away more money but corporations are not people, even if they can talk.

              Reply
              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I agree that, regarding child support, people should give money to those need it. That’s a moral position for those who hold such an opinion. For those under court, it is, additionally, a legal requirement.

                To the issue at had – for some bills, paying then is the moral position.

                (Here, I use the Cambridge English dictionary definition #1:

                bill meaning: 1. a request for payment of money owed, or the piece of paper on which it is written

                Other definitions add, for goods or services provided).

                Reply
      2. ewmayer

        “It’s a rough measure of your credit risk – i.e. the likelihood of your paying back debt. Period.”

        Sorry to willfully disgregard your intended discussion-ending “period”, but what you omit from your comment is that ‘likelihood of your paying back debt’ implicitly assumes ‘willingness to take on debt’. Those of us who strive to live debt-free have our credit reports negatively impacted by the resulting ‘lack of credit history’ and suffer discrimination as a result. I moved to an apartment in a new area this past August and had to jump through hoops to convince my new landlord that I was a safe ‘credit’ risk, despite not having a single missing or late rental payment in nearly 20 years at my old place. None of that paying-one’s-bills-on-time-and-in-full appears in one’s credit report, you see. This is a feature, no a bug, as far as the debt-merchant industry which foisted this scheme upon society is concerned.

        “Paradoxically, (sort of), they did not have a problem with hiring managers who had heavy debt” — nothing paradoxical about it – ‘nudging’ all of society into debt slavery is the whole point of the thing. Someone with heavy debt but who continually struggles to keep ahead of the collections agencies is the ideal customer for Big Credit Inc. From the same perspective those who take on debt but then default are bad, but still not the worst, because their indebtedness gives the creditors leverage over their lives, which can be exploited in other ways (e.g. secondhand, by way of their friends and neighbors going into debt to keep up with the eventual defaulter, lifestyle-wise). But the worst of the lot are the scum who resist taking part in the scheme – those apostates must be convinced by any means necessary. Denial of equal housing opportunity, in my recent example.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          yup. until wife got a beall’s card a couple of years ago, neither of us had any debt…I’ve never had a credit card, at all.
          so my car insurance is higher than it would be, and never goes down…in spite of not even being pulled over in 20 years(touch wood).
          Las t time I asked a banker buddy to run my number…more than a decade ago…he actually laughed, having never seen a credit score that low,lol.
          Wife got that beall’s card specifically to build a little credit, in case the boys get to go to college.
          Nonparticipation will not be tolerated.

          Reply
        2. knowbuddhau

          A lot of young people are living with family. If they get a chance to move out, even if they’ve been diligent, they could face the same “show me your papers” dilemma.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            my main goal, at this point in my life, is to provide a homestead that my kids, and my brother’s kids can come home to.
            ie: I’m planning for them to have the same problems I had trying to “make it” that I did, only worse.
            That’s where the trendlines point, to me.
            My granddad, living on the homestead, didn’t even know the great depression was happening, until a car broke down on the highway, and those folks lived with them for the next ten years.
            That’s the kind of hedge fund I desire.

            Reply
            1. jrs

              I wonder how many people had a homestead (or at any rate owned a bit of property) in places like Paradise. Bad choice in retrospect.

              Reply
              1. Amfortas the hippie

                it’s always been a gamble. we’re geologically stable and too far from the coast(currently) for hurricanes, and not downwind of any reasonable nuclear targets…and a big reason for choosing this area was lack of oil, gas, timber, railroads, or anything else the empire might desire.
                little did I know then that sand would be mined,lol.
                with thorough assessment and prudent forethought, one can plan ahead for many of the things like fire or tornadoes.
                (the before pics i’ve seen of some of the california fires indicated that a lot of folks chose form over function, and left no fire barrier)

                Reply
        3. divadab

          @EW – glad my comment generated some more, I’m just catching up since my power was out for six hours in this unprecedented cold snap and snow in the northeast.

          As a practical matter, having a credit card, using it, and paying it regularly, will be good for your credit score, as amfortas mentioned. And here’s a tip which I’ve fortunately never had to use – if you have several cards with available credit and the discipline to use them moderately but always pay them off monthly, the available credit can be a useful tool if you need to get out of town quickly and need traveling money. Load ’em up and get the heck out of dodge. You;ll never be able to borrow again, but, wtf.

          Reply
          1. ewmayer

            “the available credit can be a useful tool if you need to get out of town quickly and need traveling money”

            Inciting America’s impressionable youth to criminal activity, are we now? ;)

            Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      More information on this group at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proud_Boys but I am going to guess that though this organization may be shutting down, their members will simply disperse to other groups while still maintaining contact with each other. You can’t shut down an idea – no matter how stupid it is.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        If you or I said this to someone in public, “If I find you, I WILL kill both you and your family.”, I would expect to be arrested.
        There are already laws against terroristic threats.
        Given the long history of cops using kid gloves and winking at such odious barbarians, this feels like a gaslighting op.
        However, I still don’t think that this lot…or others like it…are “on the rise”…or “coming for us”.
        The only new thing, here, is the megaphone….and the attention the MSM and it’s online analogs pays to these morons….apparently to provide a ready scary monster to shore up the failing Lesser Evilism of our neolib Dems.
        I grew up in Klan country…it was well behind the scenes, and I was shocked when I learned how embedded it was in the structures of local and regional power.
        But things have changed much in the last 30-40 years…overt racism is a faux pas, at best, among the majority of right-leaning people I have known. Exposure to the Other…whether it’s Black or Brown People or Gays…has done it’s work…and even in my east texas hometown being vocally racist is akin to pissing in church.
        From my own wandering, online, and IRL, it looks like the “Far Right”…the True Believer Core, at least…is the same 10-15% that it’s always been…just with peripheral “likes” on-line as an unconscious expression of inchoate fear, uncertainty and doubt.
        (I’m pointing, here again, to the stark difference between online behaviour and that of the same person being met on the street)
        Of course, the surest method of increasing the real world numbers of this revanchist nuttery is to continue austerity and rapine….something Team Blue seems to have difficulty understanding.

        Reply
        1. todde

          I am one of the rare people that is actually nicer on the internet then in real life.

          As far as skinheads coming for us – when the skinheads go into Cabrini Greens to ball up some GDs let me know.

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            Since Cabrini-Green the hosing project is demolished, maybe you are concerned about the violent tendencies of the Yuppies and developers that are in-filling the former boot print of one of the Chicago Machine’s legacies: http://chicagoist.com/2015/09/29/photos_inside_the_demolition_of_the.php#photo-1

            Round here, on New Year’s Eve a couple of years ago, when I still lived on a sailboat in the downtown city marina, the “festivities” included a city-funded fireworks display. But they also included Rich Sh!ts on a couple of balconies in the upper reaches of the condo towers that look down on the rest of us, firing full-auto rifles ( recognized the distinctive clack of AK-47 7.62 rounds, and the snap of M-16/M-4/AR-15 rounds, and “as fast as they could pull the trigger” pistols, out into the night air. Paralleling the other celebratory gunfire from the ‘hoods where black folk live, jst west of the Yuppie/Elite strip along Tampa Bay.

            As I recall, there were at least five people who were injured to one degree or another by “stray bullets,” you know the kind, the ones that get off their leashes. The cops do nothing about either source of falling full-metal-jacket rounds — the black neighborhoods because, well, you know how dangerous it is to drive a police cruiser or SUV into a place full of impoverished and angry sloughed-off people who, thanks to the Second Amendment and ready access, have just massive amounts of firepower… and the Elite’s towers because, well, I’m sure you know why, Todd.

            Team Blue understands perfectly, amfortas…

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              firing full-auto rifles

              Full automatics, not semi? Oh my, I pretty much guarantee that they were all illegal weapons just for existing. Yet if the cops there or in much of California catch you carrying a .22 target pistol or revolver without all the right paperwork on you, illegal search or not, you’re probably going to prison.

              I can understand the War on Guns, but like the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, it all devolves into an excuse to have a War on People; things are seriously off in America as it always becomes a profitable war on (some) people that causes more damage than the thing ostensibly being fought.

              Reply
              1. JBird4049

                Lead poisoning from water is a problem across the United States especially as the water systems get old and fall apart. Then there is still are all those old homes and apartments (and weirdly in public schools) with lead paint from decades ago. Then all the defunct factories that poisoned the ground miles away where gardening is dangerous.

                Tens of millions of people are suffering from it. Perhaps it’s caused more shortening of Americans’ lives and general injury then then our current wars, and 9/11, and perhaps even gun violence combined. People generally don’t directly die from it; however, it is nasty, pervasive, and insidious, but since it’s not sexy like terrorism and it is mostly tens of millions of poor people it don’t matter. America. We’ve got our priorities right.

                Reply
        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          “….overt r*cism…”

          Is it worse to see r*cism morph into its covert version?

          Has what the Identify Politics advocates have done actually worsened the situation? Will its present not-so-overt form allow it to persist much longer?

          Reply
          1. todde

            the internet has people thinking they are anonymous.

            but if the internet ever finds out who you are, then it is unmerciful.

            Mix that with Identity Politics blow back, and here we are.

            Reply
        3. JB

          Interesting that the Proud Boys were led by Vice Media’s Gavin McInnes. The early years of Vice were focused on building a young, devout audience by covering fashion, art, music, tattoos, drugs, and hipster life in places like Brooklyn, San Francisco, Montreal, etc. and no holds were barred (e.g., nudity, drugs). It built up quite a following, stores like American Apparel would run out of free issues. Then, once Vice blew up into a media brand and started reporting on issues like foreign policy, I noticed it could get an interview with Joe Biden to discuss the situation in Ukraine, but then not ask hard questions or address the U.S. role in what had transpired in Ukraine. So, while Vice does some good reporting on certain topics, I think it has sold out when it comes to addressing U.S. policies (or the lack thereof). The emergence of the Proud Boys via Vice makes me wonder if it’s now just a vehicle to report or create the news that certain entities want on the airwaves.

          Reply
      2. todde

        from the link:

        The group takes its name from the showtune “Proud of Your Boy,” a song cut from the Disney film Aladdin, in which the title character apologizes to his mother.[17][18]

        lol

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          That article also mentioned that it was forbidden to use masturbation at all in that group. I suspect that this was so that nobody could accuse them of being a bunch of bankers.

          Reply
            1. barefoot charley

              Weirder still (warning, read on on a need-to-know basis), the masturbation rule is that one can indulge just once a month–but a female person must be there with you. Why? My inquiring mind hurts.

              Reply
              1. Sparkling

                Ancient Jewish/Christian/Muslim attitudes about sex. It must never be for your own gratification, which is why masturbation is a big no-no. If a member of the opposite sex is there and deriving pleasure from the sight it is now a two-person act and therefore no longer masturbation.

                Reply
              2. todde

                I heard that you can’t jerk yourself off, but you can jerk off a fellow Proud Boy member.

                Kinda like the 5 eyes domestic spying scenario…

                Reply
  4. Wukchumni

    Devil’s Ombudsman Dept:

    Housing bubble part deux was a doozie, whereas the first version mainly concentrated on certain large cities, the latter blew up markets such as Denver, Seattle et al, to prices approaching SoCal numbers.

    What happens if the financial powers that be can’t come though with a 3rd version and prices fall by 2/3rds across the country?

    Could get choppy out there on the seas of despair.

    Reply
    1. Eureka Springs

      prices fall by 2/3rds

      Considering that’s about the amount of a banksters grift on the final cost of a 30 yr mortgage I would have to call it a good thing.

      Reply
        1. Eureka Springs

          Borrowing on your “rich” house if it’s the only one you have to live in is not much better than a trip to the pawn shop. And it certainly isn’t rich. If ones morale is built on a house of cards and card sharks, well then.

          Reply
          1. wilroncanada

            Eureka Springs
            But paying your 25% down, making payments for 5 years on your 30 year mortgage, only to find that the lender is no longer interested in renewing because your mortgage is still double the “new” value of your home is certainly ALL YOUR FAULT?

            Reply
    2. perpetualWAR

      Most state houses are actually getting ready for Housing Crisis II. In Washington State, last year a bill was passed that allows the foreclosure process to begin with absolutely no evidence the bank owns the note. The requirement used to be they needed an affidavit they held THE promissory note. That language has been changed to ANY promissory note.

      Convenient for the banks. Collusive of our government.

      Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some people are so nimble they sold their bitcoins last year, bought and sold a house (or houses) since then (or, sold their house, then bought and sold their bitcoins), and are already in gold coins.

      That’s how I remember the early 2000’s, when people (probably the same nimble artists) sold their NASDAQ stocks, before the crash, and moved into flipping houses for a few years until 2007.

      Reply
  5. Dan

    Re: An audacious new plan will make all science free. Can it work? New Scientist (Dr. Kevin)

    In only what could at best be described as ironic, just below the fold, just below a link entitled “Time to break academic publishing’s stranglehold on research”, one runs into this…..

    To continue reading this premium article, subscribe for unlimited access.

    Reply
  6. Amfortas the hippie

    is it irony that the New Scientist thing about paywalls is, itself, behind a paywall?
    (save for the first 2 paragraphs)
    This is one of my biggest peeves with monopoly and the web…when I first found the intertubes, I was amazed at all the sciencey journals available at my fingertips.
    That Swiss company(elsevier?) is evil.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      If “no human is illegal!,” as the protest chant goes, the Left is implicitly accepting the moral case for no borders or sovereign nations at all.

      and

      During the 2016 Democratic primary campaign, when Vox editor Ezra Klein suggested open borders policies to Bernie Sanders, the senator famously showed his vintage when he replied, “Open borders? No. That’s a Koch brothers proposal.”

      It does seem paradoxical that many on the left–the supposedly pro government end of the political spectrum–favor an open borders concept that is the negation of government and of national sovereignty itself. But then other extreme–MAGA nationalists–are often busy violating the sovereignty of other countries like Honduras and Venezuela so that the crossing the border thing goes both ways. It’s hard not to conclude that this whole debate boils down to a mishmash of confusing and contradictory talking points with little substance. Immigrants, being the little known or understood “other,” can serve as poster children for emotional appeals from both sides.

      Bottom line: if we are going to defend sovereignty then we need to quit disrupting other country’s affairs and provoking their citizens to head north.

      Reply
      1. zapster

        The confusion really is that there’s no left and right. There’s top and bottom, really. Kleptocrats vs. their marks, Employers demanding cheap labor vs. their workers, etc. Immigrants really do no harm to us in aggregate. Continually focusing ire on the the powerless while ignoring the powerful’s abuses of us all is playing into their hands.

        Reply
    2. pjay

      Yes. Part of Lambert’s “Leftist ‘Useful Idiots’…” post yesterday. Very good, and followed by a very good discussion in Comments.

      Reply
      1. Lee

        I would add, that my Celtic forbears suffered quite enough of that. There was a time that they were the dominant group in Europe and then were pushed to the hinterlands. Nation states are often justifiably blamed for terrible large scale human conflict. I’m hardly convinced that a borderless world would be any better at this point in history.

        Reply
  7. Wukchumni

    As per terms of my probation from working, i’ve been doing roadside trash pick-up for about 5 years now, twice annually.

    It’s an archeological expedition albeit nothing you discover is more than 6 months old…

    Yesterday, once again as always, cigarette butts were by far the commonest item I picked up. Were they lit projectiles when defenestrated?

    No way of knowing, but I did a count of how many I picked up in our mile stretch, and now there are 187 less of them as litter.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Edward Abbey said he always threw his beer cans out the car window as a matter of principle since the highway itself was a blight on the wilderness.

      I’m a “leave no trace” fanatic myself and think littering the public commons–even highways–should be condemned.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I’m a “leave no trace” fanatic myself and think littering the public commons–even highways–should be condemned.

        If drivers see other trash on the side of the road, it’s almost like a go ahead for a select few to toss out theirs, and now that our section is squeaky clean (7 large 40 gallon bags worth) it’ll stay that way for awhile, until it picks up garbagetas.

        One of the cabin owners in our community reached the level of being a superintendent in the NPS after starting in 1960, and along the way had a 4 year stint @ Grand Canyon NP where he was a sub-district ranger and Edward Abbey worked there at the same time.

        He told me that Ed was quite the loner…

        Reply
        1. Arizona Slim

          He was indeed. Abbey lived in the Tucson area when I first moved here. “Reclusive” was the nicest word I heard as a description.

          Reply
          1. Carolinian

            Supposedly his friends buried his ashes somewhere in the Arizona desert–no one knows where.

            Of course Abbey was a bit of a ribber as well as a great environmentalist. H’wood keeps threatening to make a movie of The Monkey Wrench Gang but it still hasn’t come off. In our identitarian era (both Mormons and Mexicans were among his targets) it doesn’t seem likely that it will.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              I spread some Ed Abbey a couple of summers ago when I bought friends copies of Desert Solitaire @ Arches NP visitor center, when we were on a roadtrip together.

              Reply
      2. Eureka Springs

        And this is another reason why “rental cars” especially, should encourage use of ashtrays in cars rather than forcing peeps to discard into the tinderbox.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          Never, never try to enforce a no-smoking thing, of course — because AMURica is Marlboro Country, the home of the Free and the land of the Brave, and terminally stupid and selfish… Much less put any thought into how to encourage people to take the kind of pride in their place that I and told the Swiss and Germans do. (Please correct any misapprehnsion on that point.)

          I hate being in the US Northeast. Most of the public spaces and “infrastructure,” roads and rail lines and such, are just open dumps. No amount of virtuous butt-picking people “on probation from working” can make up for the actions of the rest. Likewise also at the bases of the Soviet-Realism-appearing apartment and co-op towers: piles of filth, looted vehicles, th occasional human corpse. And rats, and roaches, our natural heirs and companions. And out into the Slurb areas too — everything is dirty and used and slimed.

          And it’s spreading even into the “newer,” more recently “developed” parts of Florida, from the East-Coast-ized Atlantic side.

          Humans are worse than the pigs we castigate for their captivity-enforced pre-slaughter lifestyles, though the wild pigs in AMURica seem to do as good a job of tearing up the landscape as some developer with his graders and backhoes and trucks and bribe-obtained “it’s all legal” permits… Just a filthy species, speaking now generically, all exceptional exceptions please to forgive, with filthy habits and not a clue as to how to live in harmony and minimize impacts (or G_D help us, figure out how to integrate the waste products and extractions into a sustainable and decent presence in the Great Ecology.)

          Gaia, you are watching, and awaiting the proper moment… Don’t wait so long that ‘the blue planet, steeped in its dreams,” is all turned to cigarette butts and rust and fetid desert. http://www.academia.edu/2254117/Earthrise

          And speaking of “free science” and the liberation of content, there’s this exemplar of the virtuous paywall: http://muse.jhu.edu/chapter/364219

          Reply
    2. Jason Boxman

      Thanks for this.

      I always find it shocking that some people throw stuff on the ground as if it magically disappears.

      It gives me little hope for humanity in general.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        That stuff disappears from their awareness. That’s all that matters. It’s been consigned to “AWAY,” that magically elastic but rapidly encroaching mindspace…

        Reply
      2. MichaelSF

        I’ve watched people here in San Francisco drop trash to the ground when they are standing literally right next to a trash can; they wouldn’t have to take a single step to use it. With a 7-11 and a street car/bus stop at the corner of my block the trash blown down to my house is a truly renewable resource.

        Reply
  8. Steve H.

    “A training exercise like that with explosives and guns at 2 in the morning? At a real school and in a residential neighborhood? Absolutely unacceptable,” Inman said.”

    “Capt. Jesse Bien, a public affairs officer based at Camp Atterbury, confirmed it was not police, but 75th Regiment Army Rangers being trained to blast their way into locked rooms. About 25 soldiers who have been at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville since Nov. 5 traveled 90 minutes to Ellettsville for Thursday night’s training exercises.”

    This is a local story, with no follow-up. I am concerned in many ways. Search the quotes to find the links.

    Reply
  9. ocop

    Is it even remotely possible that GM would be steeling itself for a stock/commercial loan implosion (much discussed here and elsewhere in the independent financial commentariat)? My initial reaction to the cuts was that either something is very wrong in GM-land, or they are making one hell of a call with respect to the medium-term health of the global economy/their company/the future of the car industry.

    From an uniformed outside look in, it feels less stupid than Ford’s decision to abandon cars altogether, but otherwise don’t know what to make of the announced “unallocations” (that’s some top tier corporate white washing…).

    Reply
    1. Off The Street

      Tenish years ago Ford did the same thing, loading up on cash to ride out the impending car industry crash. That helped them avoid the problems that led to the GM and Chrysler bankruptcy/bailout route.

      Sometimes companies let you know exactly what they are really thinking, as their own type of revealed preference.

      Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “In Syria’s Idlib, Islamists see classrooms as a new front”

    Yeah, I bet they do. Probably they want to raise a new generation of Jihadists to make the occupation of Idlib province permanent. I have seen how they really regard children. When the Jihadists took over Palmyra, they had a whole long line of captured Syrian soldiers kneeling on the ancient stage. Behind each soldier was a young boy in uniform and armed with a pistol to execute those POWs. Another time, I watched a Jihadist father as he proudly prepared his two little girls to go into a police station while strapped with explosives to let them off. Plenty more examples.
    I do wonder about one thing that was mentioned in this article though about the people who are enforcing these new style classes – the Guardians of Religion group. The article mentions a coupla times that this group is mainly made up of Asian foreign fighters. Could it be…….Is it possible…….That just maybe these ‘Asians’ are in fact those warm, fuzzy Uighurs that everybody is supposed to get behind and feel sorry for against the mean Chinese?

    Reply
    1. divadab

      Yes. This is why the Chinese are involved in Syria – they don;t want radicalized Uighers returning to CHina. The Russians feel the same way about all the Chechens fighting in Syria.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Uyghurs are not Chinese – that’s Beijing’s one fear.

        Will they want independence?

        The last time Mongols struggled for freedom from China, after the 1911 Revolution and the end of the Qing dynasty, where Manchus and Mongols were the elites, the USSR lent a helping hand, against China.

        Who will it be this time?

        Reply
        1. Olga

          They are one of 55 recognised minorities in China. If their passports are issued by the Chinese central government, they are Chinese.

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Put it in another way – Beijing’s fear is that the Uyghurs want independence (then, they will not be Chinese).

            They are currently Chinese. But that is something they don’t want to see, along with independence for Taiwan who are currently China, Taipei, or the Republic of China.

            The same with Tibet, who are currently Chinese.

            That Tibetans are not Chinese is also something Beijing fears.

            Reply
      1. Andrew Watts

        Oh, a lot of the ones from Syria were real. A gifted individual, or group of said individuals, could divine the location of a militant group’s base through geolocation occasionally. In more then one instance somebody followed up and called in an airstrike to the Russians/Americans over social media.

        Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        That particular incident of the little girls in the police station actually made the international news at the time. I remember the father – a great big bear of a man with a curly long beard. I believe that he was killed not that long afterwards to no-ones regret.

        Reply
    2. Andrew Watts

      I watched a Jihadist father…

      Good, I’m not the only one here on a half-dozen government watchlist(s).

      …and yeah they do train kids as fighters and/or suicide bombers. It’s horrific.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Even watched an ISIS video once to see what their military acumen was like. From my unprofessional eyes, it looked like nothing to write how about and I would reckon that professional soldiers would have them on toast. The editing of that video, however, was on par with a Hollywood production unit. That is our tax payers dollars at work right there.

        Reply
  11. Pavel

    I haven’t been following this “migrant caravan” story very much at all, but stumbled on a few YouTube clips this morning discussing it from opposite sides (Young Turks and Tucker Carlson).

    Apparently a lot of “liberals” (e.g. the YTs) are raging against the use of tear gas against migrants storming the border gates. Others point out that Obama’s administration did the same in a few cases.

    I should merely point out that a much more outrageous offence is the use of drones actually killing innocent people — a practice eagerly engaged in by Obama and continued by Trump. Where are people’s sense of perspective? There is so much hypocrisy on both sides.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Seems to me that has something to do with what seems so apparent — there is no generalized core of decency and comity to human existence, no “organizing principle” broadly applied, despite a statement of a significant one that is found in almost all religions’ dogmas: Treat others as you would wish to be treated.

      Apparently humans almost all fall into the exceptional footnote category of sado-masochists, for whom the Golden Rule clearly means continuing the viciousness and self-abuse that characterizes the current state of play in the World Game…

      Reply
    2. Partyless Poster

      Especially the tear gassed kids line.
      Is it moral to take your 5 year old to try and illegally bust through an international border?
      There has to be some responsibility on the migrant end too, no country in the world just lets mobs of people rush their borders.
      Interesting that you don’t hear about the racism angle as much now that Mexico doesn’t want them either.

      Reply
      1. John

        My understanding is that it is legal to enter the country then surrender yourself to the authorities and ask for asylum.

        Reply
  12. Eureka Springs

    I wish I could understand the angle of both Apple and now IBM in this argument about facebook and google and surveillance? It’s difficult to think any of these players are about to stop surveillance as a business model.

    The CEO of IBM is clearly maintaining/promoting several of those models mentioned in the article:

    She has since been trying to steer IBM toward more modern businesses, such as the cloud, artificial intelligence, and security software.

    My several year old iphone still asks me several times a day to register with google/gmail and according to the peeps at the apple store there is no way to make it stop. That’s not taking several thousand NOs for the answer. If that’s not two peas in a pod (Ha!) pushing surveillance, I don’t know what is.

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      Actually, I think you just need to properly reinterpret the article headline:

      “IBM CEO Joins Apple in Blasting Data Use by Silicon Valley Firms | Bloomberg”

      Armonk, NY, on the other hand – that’s far from the evil that is Silicon Valley.

      Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    “Commentary: Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem”

    I am afraid that this is also starting to be an American problem too. A bit of recent history. A lot of those neo-Nazis are gathered in the Azov battalion and they are really hard-core too. Not a lot of love between them and the regular Ukrainian Army either and I have read reports of firefights between the two. Anyway, the US, EU and the Canadians have given this group (and other neo-Nazi groups) advanced firearms and tactics training over the past few years. Even Bellingcat, would you believe, felt compelled to cover this group-

    https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2018/08/30/ukrainian-far-right-fighters-white-supremacists-trained-major-european-security-firm/

    So here is the kicker. This battalion is also a magnet for White Supremacists from around the world, including a few Americans. Thus from a coupla days ago-

    Last month, an unsealed FBI indictment of four American white supremacists from the Rise Above Movement (RAM) declared that the defendants had trained with Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, a neo-Nazi militia officially incorporated into the country’s national guard. The training took place after the white supremacist gang participated in violent riots in Huntington Beach and Berkeley, California and Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. Story at-

    https://consortiumnews.com/2018/11/17/blowback-us-funded-ukraine-neo-nazis-mentor-us-white-supremacists/

    I bet that you didn’t see that coming. In spy trade craft, this is what is known as “blowback”.

    Reply
    1. shtove

      The battalion has its own wikipedia page – it mentions a foreign recruit, “Frank Horrigan” from Brazil. Probably a name taken from a Clint Eastwood character and figure in a video game. How odd.

      Reply
    2. Olga

      Yes, kinda like weaponising jihadists in Afghanistan in late 1970s to undermine USSR. Since that worked out splendidly for all involved, why not go even further… Those IC types, who after WWII nurtured Ukrainian nazis, sure had lots of foresight.

      Reply
  14. perpetualWAR

    Warning about slow U.S. growth:

    This little tidbit buried within the article:
    “That means less room for wage gains, which have been the missing piece of the strengthening job market throughout this expansion.”

    Tell us something we don’t know.

    Reply
  15. Carolinian

    From the Apple app store story.

    Breyer laid out his point of view on the arrangement with an analogy:

    If Joe Smith buys from Bill, who bought from the monopolist, then we have something indirect. But, if Joe Smith bought from the monopolist, it is direct. That’s a simple theory.

    Makes sense to me. Indeed I thought it was now clearly illegal for, say, computer printer makers to require customers to use their brand of ink cartridges. And it’s hard to see how requiring iPhone owners to use the Apple app store (if that’s true–I have Android) is any different. The Android “allow apps from other sources” option–which has persisted throughout all versions of the os–may be there for just this reason.

    Reply
    1. John

      The easiest way to put an app on your iPhone is through the App Store. You can download source code and run it through Xcode and put it on your iPhone. Businesses can download their apps directly to employees. Developers could supply you apps via web apps with no money going to Apple.

      This reminds me of the children’s story about the little red hen. No one wanted to help with any preparations but they all wanted to eat the bread. Apple curates the App Store, keeps out nearly all of the malware, it maintains the servers so apps download relatively quickly, apps are backed up so they are quickly restored anytime you get a new device or have another reason to restore. Developers can distribute free apps which serve as advertising, Apple doesn’t charge for this.

      Apple takes 30%. My understanding is that most retailers take a higher fraction of sales in return for providing a store front.

      You don’t have to buy an iPhone or iPad. Apple has a minority share of sales. It is not a monopoly. My feeling is that because it is famous and has deep pockets Apple makes a better target for the lawyers than some other retailer.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Apple’s app store is not really comparable to a real store that has rent to pay and shelves to stock. And the fact that people or businesses can create their own apps doesn’t do much for consumers.

        But I’m hardly a knowledgeable commenter about the workings of Apple and it doesn’t matter what I think. It sounds like the Supreme Court isn’t going to agree with you.

        Reply
  16. charles 2

    Re: Nissan Renault. Another Tidbit is the fact that the alleged tax fraud was about the inclusion (or not) of golden retirement package into tax declarations of foreign executive. The idea is that the money only vests when they leave Japan, so they don’t pay tax in Japan for it. This is the official line of defence of Ghosn’s lawyers. (sorry, link in French). If this is really the heart of the matter, this is going to cause quite a stir in the gaijin investment banking community because these schemes are quite common…
    If only Ghosn falls for it, then it will be a confirmation that it was a joint precision strike by Nissan and Kasumigaseki, and the Gulf will indeed widen !

    Reply
    1. YY

      There is no tax fraud alleged as yet. Only false corporate reporting. If the issue at hand is whether or not the future payout should or should not have been part of corporate financial reporting, where the defense suggest that the income was not a certainty therefore not reportable, income taxes do not begin to enter the picture,

      Leaks suggest matters related to variety of instances of having a hand the till. Theft is more of issue than whether taxes were payed on ill-gotten gains. Unless one believes the myth of going after taxes on thievery is more effective than going after the theft, a la Al Capone.

      Reply
    1. todde

      meant to be a reply to Rev Kev.

      White racist, they exist. Not real powerful in America.

      That is why that Spencer character gets punched in the face by random skinny white guys and nothing happens to the guys battering the ‘nazi’.

      Reply
  17. Wukchumni

    Poverty in America: Greater Than Statistics Indicate Bloomberg
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    We lie so much more effectively than the clumsy Soviets did, I mean what were they thinking returning their leaders to power in 97% voting pluralities, amateurs!

    The unemployment numbers are @ Apollo 11 era record lows currently, so why all the Hoovervilles when I go to the big cities in SoCal?

    It’s easy to fall into the abyss of being a caste-away, truly our untouchables, in that law enforcement really wants nothing to do with them, nor do employers.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Worse-than-statistics poverty here in America, and yet, this country is attracting people from all over the world.

      Reply
    2. Sparkling

      I scoff when California says they have a better economy than Texas. Oil is mined and processed and sold all over the state, that’s why when the price goes down we all suffer. Where is California making money? Who is making the money? The answers to both probably involve less places/people than in Texas (incidentally a state a lot of Californians are moving to in search of a better life).

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Not all states can build $70 million high school football stadiums, and I feel those fleeing California further afield, are drawn to such niceties.

        Reply
        1. Sparkling

          Frankly, we probably can’t either. It’s an issue I’ve seen liberals and conservatives alike describe as a massive waste of money and given how stingy the state government is school districts REALLY should not be doing that. But I guess there’s enough approval for it to keep happening somehow.

          If people are leaving California to move all over the American West for reasons like that then I’d rather they stay home and learn some financial responsibility instead.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            We’ve been well trained to expect to pay $14 for a lite beer @ a pro game or concert, so expensive Friday night fun when there is nothing else to do, is a good match for those newcomers awkwardly trying to fit into the lifestyle.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Bloody H—! $14 for a beer? I won’t pay that for a suitcase of the stuff.
              As for concerts. We all bought our own ‘mood altering substances’ to the venue.

              Reply
        1. Sparkling

          Really!? That’s how our state government makes a lot (probably most of) its money and we are certainly not a self-declared “eco-conscious” state. Payback to big donors indeed…

          Reply
      2. jrs

        whether it’s a better life depends entirely on a lot of factors. If you can conform perfectly to the middle class playbook then maybe as the cost of that is significantly less there (and middle class people imagine that they and their descendants can). If you or a family member needs an abortion, ends up in prison, wants workplace and consumer protections etc.. then I’m not sure it’s Texas that’s better. There are many times I’m pleasant surprised to find CA has some law protecting me that directly applies to me, that other states don’t. That’s the blessings of a blue state (maybe Texas will go blue someday, it’s said to be bound to happen eventually). But it’s costly to live in CA and the economics in terms of costs and fiercely competitive job market are really harsh, so it’s hit or miss on making it here.

        Reply
        1. Sparkling

          Indeed. Texas is a high risk high reward state in some respects– there isn’t an extensive social safety net but it’s a lot easier to make money.

          Reply
        2. newcatty

          Making it in CA…this is mostly from anecdotal sources, though plenty of chatter about in the noose. The cost of living in big CA cities or in lovely enclaves on the coast or in Northern CA is costly. Now, how does one define “costly”? Why is it surprising that people in, or near the official federal government poverty class are moving ( migrating) to other states in the West like Texas, Arizona, Nevada or Utah? It would be cute if people really thought about a state of the sport, tricked out high school football stadium as a nice perk in their new hometown. Maybe if your kid would be a player. I would wager that most people flocking to these, and other states, are not just looking for niceties like that, but are looking beyond just “a better life”, though that will be so for many middle or above classes. Most are choosing to move(if they can come up with the costs) or are fortunate enough to have a helping hand from someone(like family’s) to having the ability to afford basic, decent housing. If the rent (Or in some cases mortgage) is low enough, they can have enough income left to afford niceties like, more decent food, gas for car (other transportation means), clothing, utilities, phone bill, car insurance, etc. If they have kids…maybe sports’ necessities, a birthday present, etc… A lot of children qualify for school lunch programs for low income families, now. I don’t think blaming the victim, as in not being financially responsible, for most people is fair or right. If you are working low wage jobs in your family and still living in near or actual poverty…maybe adios to CA is a good choice. BTW, we are in AZ and are grateful more and more…

          Reply
          1. Sparkling

            The remark about financial responsibility was a joke. I’m well aware that San Francisco is a disaster zone. The cost of living in California is awful and it’s definitely understandable why a lot of people are leaving.

            “BTW, we are in AZ and are grateful more and more…” Same here (in TX). We have problems with predatory development, etc ourselves but it’s not on their level.

            Reply
            1. wilroncanada

              Sparkling
              Just a little hurray-for-me gets a few suckers into silly arguments every time.
              It’s no wonder football and brain injuries are currency.

              Reply
            2. newcatty

              Sparkling, Appreciate your reply. Feeling sadden about the state of things for so many people. Don’t always see a joke, though I often do… ready to lighten up, now.

              Reply
              1. Sparkling

                No problem!! I’ve done the same thing myself; it’s difficult to tell when people are being sarcastic on the internet sometimes.

                Reply
  18. verifyfirst

    Re: “…an auto industry supplier who came to the Birmingham meetup said pretty much all of her customers have doubled their orders. Makes no sense to her. Customers mainly international majors.”

    I imagine the foreign automakers are delighted to have been given the entire market for “sedans”. Guess who won’t have any product next time around when sedans become popular again….

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Our local BMW factory hasn’t yet switched to pickup trucks. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time. They do make SUVs.

      Alabama has Hyundai and Mercedes factories.

      Reply
  19. Wukchumni

    With the exception of China & Russia, collectibles and the hobby of collecting is really tired in the older developed countries, and Millennials don’t care about the past if isn’t in the palm of their hand, and thus prices on all sorts of antique’y items are falling as Baby Boomers look to lighten their loads on a marketplace that is saying whoa!

    Chinese antiques on the other hand, went up tremendously in the past quarter century.

    This 1928 Chinese “Auto Dollar” with a Packard on it used to be worth around $1000 in nice condition in the 1980’s…

    A grade of AU58 is considered very good for this coin type, and one such piece graded by the PCGS is a featured lot in the Stack’s Bowers April 2015 Hong Kong auction. It has an estimate of $45,000 – $60,000 USD. Similarly, a coin with an identical grade sold at a Heritage auction in April 2011 for $74,750 USD, including the buyer’s premium of 15%. So it can be seen that these pieces have great potential at auction, especially in good condition.

    https://www.chinesecoins.com/1928-auto-dollar/

    One of the most valuable items brought up in sunken shipwrecks, is brand new Ming Dynasty porcelain in the holds that were bound for Mexico. The contents of an entire galleon worth of it recovered from I think around the Philippines, was auctioned off in the mid 1980’s in the Netherlands, it’d be worth a fortune and then some now.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There was another recovered ship, the Hoi An wreck, sunken also during the Ming dynasty.

      The ceramics on board were mostly Vietnamese made, though a few were said to be from China. I have a small blue-and-white jar. The unglazed clay at the bottom is very smooth. I suspect it was from Jingdezhen.

      Reply
    2. HotFlash

      Collelctibles, esp v expensive ones, are used to park excess $$ in a portable form, independent of a national currency, and which will, hopefully, appreciate. Well, and money laundering. So, who is buying this stuff?

      Also too, maybe I hang with different millenials than you do, but many of the ones I know do collect stuff, but it is usually small stuff that works without the aid of digits or electrons — vintage cameras, bicycles, the odd fountain pen, clothing, etc.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        The ne plus ultra of any given field will always be in feverish demand by the see me-dig me people that end up buying 20th century paintings for over $100 million, or a $48 million Ferarri younger than me.

        It’s the middle ground stuff that most collectors are likely to have, that’s a real nowhere, as the kind of people that bought such items in the past were middle class, a shrinking market.

        Reply
      2. Sparkling

        HotFlash– That is also true. My brother collects baseball cards. It really depends on the person and their interests!

        Reply
    3. Sparkling

      “Millennials don’t care about the past if isn’t in the palm of their hand” That is moral panic horsesh*t. Who primarily supported Sanders during the election? Who are his enemies constantly trying to smear him by association with? As far as using solutions that worked in the past to fix the present go, the people most opposed to that right now are Boomer Democrats.

      If Millennials want to collect for fun, they’ll buy a Pokemon game for $40 and do a bunch of virtual trading with their friends/online. Significantly less expensive and doesn’t waste as much space.

      Reply
        1. Sparkling

          Of course. My point was that this idea Millennials are yuppies with no attention span or thoughts in their heads is disconnected. Many are deeply connected to the past and interested in their roots, which is why nationalism is ascendant again. Many also believe in economic ideas that Boomers wrote off as outdated. It’s ironic that Sanders and Trump are considered relics of the past by their also-elderly peers in the upper class but have very passionate online fanbases with people of all ages and all economic classes in them.

          As for why collecting has become more popular in China and less popular in the United States, Millennials are the most prosperous generation in Chinese history and the first generation to have a lower standard of living than their parents in American history.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Many also believe in economic ideas that Boomers wrote off as outdated.

            Please elucidate more on Millennial economics…

            Reply
            1. Sparkling

              Basically every alternative to neoliberalism that has been discarded by Third Way fanatics. There is no such thing as “Millennial economics,” just attempts to return to what worked for our countries in the past or to come up with a solution that hasn’t been tried before.

              Reply
  20. Jason Boxman

    On Amazon offices…

    When I was visiting my sister in Alexandria VA, she said it was readily apparent that Crystal City, about 5 minutes away, was undergoing a surge of building before the Amazon deal was officially announced. A good guess by developers there? It certainly seems like the fix was in long before the bids went out.

    The area is essentially several large uninspiring residential and commercial towers. Other than being next to Crystal City station, I don’t see the appeal of the area from a standpoint of actually living there. A train ride to Old Town in Alexandria is quick and that area has plenty of upscale shops and restaurants, at least, and DC itself is less than 20 minutes in the other direction.

    Oh, and the airport is about 5 minutes away, too. Makes sense.

    Reply
  21. Jason Boxman

    On poverty, I actually saw the Evicted exhibit at the national building museum this weekend in DC. They quoted Matthew Desmond, and I had no idea who that was until I read the Bloomberg piece.

    I find it instructive that, if members of Congress actually went to these museums within walking distance from the hill, they might actually learn something about the world they don’t inhabit and perhaps even take some positive action. But that seems much to ask.

    Reply
  22. Summer

    With all the speculation about who is running for Pres in 2020, no speculation needed here:
    “In order to beat Cruz, O’Rourke raised $38 million — the most of any Senate candidate in history — and although he lost the election, the closeness of the campaign in the deep red Lone Star State has led many Democratic donors to view O’Rourke as a strong presidential prospect for 2020.”

    Yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Record breaking fundraising. Count Beto in.
    That’s all that matters to the dialing for dollars Dems.

    Only thing that can stop his entering is a scandal – of the sexual sort – this being the USA (and that’s a comment about politics here and suggesting anything about Beto).

    Reply
  23. Craig H.

    > Your Credit Score Isn’t a Reflection of Your Moral Character

    According to Dave Ramsey the FICO score is a measurement of how much you are attached to debt. If you never borrow money you will not have a FICO score.

    The Truth About Your Credit Score

    (Dave is more than a bit of a kook but he has helped a lot of people who were drowning in debt to get afloat)

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      “If you never borrow money you will not have a FICO score.”

      As I noted in my reply divadab above, not having a credit history is often as bad or worse than having a poor one, the whole system is set up to impose a form of ‘nudging’ toward debt serfdom. Funny how there is no “person X avoids debt and pays all bills on time and in full” score, isn’t it?

      Reply
  24. David

    Yves, is your problem with the Apple Store (bricks and mortar, online) or the App Store (online for apps only)?
    If you don’t want to use the App Store, a lot of software (I’ve just been using Omnifocus) is available direct from the developer, having been certified by Apple. You can, in fact, install any software you like on your laptop provided you explicitly override the security controls. There is no need to use the App Store. Likewise, you can buy Apple equipment from other sources , including on line (at least in Europe) and you are only required to create a username and password to start using it. You can register the equipment but you are not required to. I know people who, apart from an Apple username, happily use Apple machines with no involvement with the company at all.
    The fact is that this rather silly article, like many of its type, is an exercise in nostalgia, and an evocation of the 1990s, the Stallman era, when “information wanted to be free” and there were no evil people on the internet writing viruses and trojans, and no-one needed to be protected from anything. You can prefer a totally open system without protection, or you can have a policed system, but you can’t have, and have no right to demand, both at the same time.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, I am so opposed to the Apps Store that I already don’t use it but am pissed that I can’t escape it when I need a Genius Bar visit….which they make ungodly hard to set up. And yes, if I need something immediately (like at 2 AM), the Apple Store is the only option, which again means being put through the Apple ID nonsense. They make it very hard to buy without giving them an Apple ID or setting one up.

      Reply
      1. Jean

        At least set up a free dedicated email to use as your Apple I.D. and for no other use. Wall them off from the rest of your internet experience.
        Protonmail is very secretive, being regulated and having all their servers in Switzerland.

        When visiting the Genius Bar for updates Apple employees will back up your data, should it be lost in the process, to the cloud which infuriates me.
        Bring your own portable hard drive as a backup to avoid this.

        One advantage of their setup is that you can use Apple as a free rental resource for certain peripherals. For example, we needed to read some C.D.s of which there is no drive on newer desktops. Apple store sold us one, we used it and returned it for a full refund.
        That’s not honest? It’s A-OK to use, abuse and steal from big corporations, especially those that pay few taxes and hold you captive.

        Reply
  25. David

    I don’t mind having an Apple ID that much. It comes relatively low in my list of trials of life. And I have walked into Apple Stores in various parts of Europe and been looked after straight away without an appointment. May be different in the US. In the end, you make certain compromises and you receive certain benefits. I’m always open to better offers, but so far …

    Reply
  26. John Beech

    Leaked Transcript Proves Russiagaters Have Been Right All Along Caitlin Johnstone (UserFriendly)

    Hello, did you read this tongue-in-cheek article? I thought it funny as Hell.

    Reply
    1. Huey

      Oh god this was the absolute best. Good job of Caitlin. I can’t believe I’m saying this but it appears RussiaRussiaRussia was actually accurate all along…

      Reply
    2. ambrit

      Definitely fun to read, but it points up a deeper problem than the insanity of the ‘Russia! Russia! Russia!’ propaganda meme. The actual MSM reporting about Trump is just as delusional and fictitious as Johnstone’s parody. The headline of the spoof would not feel out of place adorning the masthead of a “real” MSM outlet.
      The inmates are running the asylum.

      Reply
  27. Matthew G. Saroff

    One reason that Dallas may be imploding, the US Treasury has expanded its Geographic Targeting Orders (GTOs) to Dallas.

    This means that shell corporations buying real estate with cash (i.e. the mob, oligarchs, and people who launder money for them [Trump]) have to reveal who is behind the purchase, which makes the deal far less attractive.

    Expanding a program already in place in New York City and Miami, the US Treasury will be requiring full purchaser information on all cash real-estate transactions.

    It’s called Geographic Targeting Orders (GTOs), and it has been expanded to include Boston; Chicago; Dallas-Fort Worth; Honolulu; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; New York City; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; and Seattle.

    Look out below.

    Reply
    1. Summer

      That’s an important way to get real information about the health of the housing market.
      Just blind figures about the number of units sold or not sold says absolutely nothing about the housing market. Blind numbers only say something about prices, not the market.

      Reply
  28. dk

    Bitcoin Plunges to $3,738; Whole Crypto Scam Melts Down, Hedge Funds Stuck Wolf Street (EM)

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch, but this could make them even meaner and hungrier. The non-linear affects of this could be more punishment of their hapless acquisitions and workers.

    My favorite thing about the “crypto” bubble/scam is that it redistributed quite a hunk of (eventually) real currency. The market cap of $833B didn’t all collapse into itself, some chunk was taken at profit and spent into the economy, and specifically the consumer economy that the lower 90% are involved in an live from. A few big spenders bring windfalls to some medium and small businesses, and so on. I haven’t found any serious estimate, but the amount must be in the billions, even if it’s just a small faction of the traded volume.

    Which means it could have boosted the main-street economy in the last few of years, more than, oh i dunno, Trump’s tax cuts for example. If this is the case, the circulation of these profits could be masking deep economic disturbances.

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      “some chunk was taken at profit and spent into the economy, and specifically the consumer economy that the lower 90% are involved in an live from”

      Perhaps, but that ignores the curtailed spending power of those who end up losing money on the scam. While the (invoking Galbraith’s “bezzle”) near-term “net increase in psychic wealth” may well have fueled some shopping sprees (starting with purchases of mining rigs) and thus pulled some demand forward, the piper must be paid. Bottom line is that the whole Ponzi scheme created nothing of real economic value and arguably was of negative net economic benefit, in terms of massive electricity usage and equipment manufacture being used to produce nothing benefiting mankind. Also all that human time and ingenuity wasted on the mania.

      Reply
  29. dk

    “… that ignores the curtailed spending power of those who end up losing money on the scam.”

    Which according to the article includes hedge funds. So if that’s who’s losing spending power… no I get it, they’re not the only ones.

    Reply

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