Links 11/30/18

NASA turning over moon landing efforts to companies in the private sector Associated Press :-(

How the Next Generation of Plastics Could Flip the Scales on Climate Change Inverse (David L)

High-tech search company claims to have discovered Atlantis BGR (David L)

Patents on pot? U.S. lawsuit puts cannabis claims to the test Reuters (EM)

CRISPR-baby scientist fails to satisfy critics Nature (Robert H)

Asian ticks have arrived in the United States, and they’ve brought disease with them BGR

China?

Godzilla’ in Buenos Aires: Asia cowers as Trump battles Xi Asia Times (Kevin W)

Brexit

Brexit: Cross-party bid to stop ‘no-deal’ BBC. Moar cakeism.

Brexit: it’s a strange old world Richard North. About this article in The Times, Europe ready to offer Britain more time for a softer Brexit, which despite the attempt to position it otherwise, looks to be from UK sources (the “Norway-style” is a tell). No other media outlet has reported or independently confirmed it. Given The Times’ particularly poor record on Brexit (breathless pieces on major developments that were dead wrong), I would not treat this as gospel.

Second referendum campaigners split over parliamentary tactics Guardian

TERMAYNATOR PM tore up key Irish backstop proposal that could have sealed perfect Brexit deal — because she wanted to please EU negotiators The Sun

‘Botched Brexit’ could spark electoral wipeout for Tories, rebels say Guardian

One hundred Tory MPs denounce Theresa May’s Brexit deal as the value of her ‘sell the deal’ tour is questioned. Telegraph. Her personal selling has never worked well.

‘My desire to be an Irish citizen was increased by Brexit’s follies’ Irish Times (PlutoniumKun)

Theresa May makes a meal of it at Brexit breakfast meeting Guardian (Kevin W)

New Cold War

Trump confronts new Russia test with Ukraine crisis The Hill

Why Everything You’ve Read About Ukraine Is Wrong Forbes. 2014 piece recommended by Olga.

By Terminating the Treaty of Friendship with Russia, Ukraine Renounces Its Territorial Integrity Vineyard of the Saker (furzy)

Syraqistan

CNN Submits to Right-Wing Outrage Mob, Fires Marc Lamont Hill Due to his “Offensive” Defense of Palestinians at the UN Glenn Greenwald, Intercept

CNN: Reverse Firing of Marc Lamont Hill For Endorsing a One-State Solution to Israel-Palestine Crisis Action Network

Ukrainian leader calls on NATO to send warships after clash with Russia abc.net.au. Kevin W: “Not a good idea. The average depth of the Sea of Azov is about 20 feet while the draft of a Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is 30.5 feet.”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Google Shut Out Privacy, Security Teams From Secret China Project Intercept

Dems demand info on law enforcement’s use of Amazon facial recognition tool The Hill

Home Routers Under Attack by NSA-Spawned Malware: What to Do TomGuide (David L)

Trump Transition

Border Fence Quietly Slated to Expand as Congress Debates “the Wall” Truthout

Comey Files Legal Challenge to Block House Republican Subpoena Bloomberg (furzy)

Climate Concerns Increase; Most Republicans Now Acknowledge Change Monmouth University Polling Institute (UserFriendly)

Democrats Taking Key Leadership Jobs Have Pocketed Millions From Pharma Kaiser Health News

Bernie Sanders not stepping into Senate Energy void as liberals fear Manchin Politico. UserFriendly: “lol I love how this all gets pinned on Sanders.”

Comey challenges House GOP subpoena in federal court The Hill

Bernie Sanders Puts Forward a Program That Could Split the Democratic Party Glen Ford (GlennF)

Gunz

For Defense Against Active Shooters, University Hands Out Hockey Pucks NPR (David L)

Fake News

Sheryl Sandberg Is Said to Have Asked Facebook Staff to Research George Soros New York Times. Notice FB had the head of communications, Elliot Schrage, fall on his sword to protect Sandberg. Looks like that may not be enough to save her.

Mark Zuckerberg Has Lost Control of Facebook Project Syndicate (David L). The standard “I’m the CEO and I know nothing” defense catches up with Zuck.

Assange Never Met Manafort. Luke Harding and the Guardian Publish Still More Blatant MI6 Lies Craig Murray (fury mouse)

This Guardian Fake News Story Proves That The Media Can’t Be Trusted Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)

Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., Music Producer DJ Khaled Agree to Settle SEC Cryptocurrency Charges Wall Street Journal

Bond Traders Everywhere Reprice Rate Outlook as Growth Sputters Bloomberg

Payless sold discount shoes at luxury prices — and it worked Moneywatch (Kevin W)

South African lawmakers accuse McKinsey of possible crimes Financial Times

Hard Choices Harvard Business School (Scott)

October new home sales plummet — but take it with a big grain of salt Angry Bear

Sedans Aren’t Dead. American Sedans Are: The supremacy of Japanese cars has been 40-plus years in the making. Joe Nocera, Bloomberg

Class Warfare

‘This Is About Systematically Impoverishing People’ FAIR (UserFriendly)

Calling for Policies That Work for World’s Children, “Not a Handful of Billionaires,” Bernie Sanders Delivers Keynote Address at Sanders Institute Gathering CommonDreams

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “Pleeeeeease, may I have another biscuit?’ (Merlyn)”

And a bonus (hat tip Janice G):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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164 comments

  1. Isotope_C14

    Payless sold discount shoes at luxury prices — and it worked Moneywatch (Kevin W)

    Thanks for the laugh. This is true of “high-end” wine too often also. Many of the ranked-growth Bordeaux are mediocre at best, and don’t even get me started on $100+/bttl Champagne. I’ve heard some rumors about some of the wine-writers who do like to have a “good time” at certain wineries and suddenly they seem to score quite a few mid-ninety point reviews.

    I find it funny when people complain about calling people sheeple when a prank like this comes to light. I wonder how many suckers are born per minute these days? With the population explosion it has to be more than one/minute.

    Reply
    1. Phillip Allen

      According to UNICEF, “an average of 353,000 babies are born each day around the world. The crude birth rate is 18.9 births per 1,000 population or 255 births globally per minute or 4.3 births every second (as of Dec. 2013 estimate).” Let’s be generous and kind and assume only 10% of people are suckers. If that’s true, then 25.5 suckers are born every minute.

      Reply
      1. Isotope_C14

        Phillip.

        That is some excellent statistics. I suspect that 90% are suckers. Those are numbers I don’t like.

        :)

        Reply
    2. Eureka Springs

      Best crapification story ever on NC. 99 plus percent of us have no idea what quality design, construction and materials truly means. Especially when it come to clothing. Every US fashion mag is to blame for this. They encourage ignorant bliss.

      Reply
      1. Huey

        Actually I find for hard materials, like clothing and walls, it’s fairly easy to tell what’s garbage and what’s quality. It’s why I love clothes shopping in person. Some of the stuff you can spot a mile off, but a lot of stuff you can just touch and tell this isn’t gonna last 3 months.

        Not saying I know much about building a house though, for that I will require help. Wine and haute cuisine is also lost on me, but I don’t see the point in either of them, really.

        Reply
      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Generally, it’s easy, for any of us, to fall for the fallacy of ‘argument from authority.’

        And it happens with shoes, restaurants, books, weather predictions, political-economy theories, etc.

        Reply
    3. Wukchumni

      Whenever fashion is bandied about on the runway on draped on a really important woman, there’s always an emphasis on how much the frocks cost, and you never hardly see that when it comes to mens’ clothing, almost forbidden subject matter.

      It’s mostly how women have been taught in a coarse fashion, look at the Oscars or any other entertainment awards venue.

      When you hear constantly hear about $7k dresses, $600 shoes with an aura of exclusivity seems like a deal.

      Reply
    4. Bugs Bunny

      I’d have to object about the expensive Champagne (’tis the season here in France). There truly is a magnitude of difference between a basic say, Mumms and a Krug Grande Cuvée or a Cristal. If you get the chance to drink some for free (or have the big bucks), you must try these.

      That said, I think Dom Perignon is a quality bottle but definitely not worth the price.

      Reply
      1. Paul O

        Agree. The cheap stuff is unpleasant and poor value. The tasty stuff is normally out of my range.

        That said, it is my birthday weekend and I have come by a bottle of Perrier-Jouet Grand Cru. I am hoping the might be on the better side of somewhere in the middle.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          When I was in high school, the liquor store that would sell to anybody (I scored a sixer on roller skates, just to see if it could be done) sometimes on Friday or Saturday nights had a couple of female students in a car in the parking lot, and when I was approaching the store they’d ask if I could get them something, and i’d come though, and the choice was almost always ‘Andre Cold Duck’, and I cringe just typing it, let alone the thought of having to drink that carbonated plonk.

          Reply
        2. oliverks

          I recommend looking away from Champange to other sparkling wines. If you want the Champange style, the US has several French producers that make superior offerings and much reduced prices (and a few independents that make wonderful stuff). Italy’s Franciacorta can be excellent (especially their vintage wines) and offer significant increases in quality to price over French Champagnes.

          Then there are a host of other sparkling wines that are not Champagne styled. Spain, Italy, France, and Germany, offer a host of wonderful selection of well made sparklers at very reasonable prices. I suggest going out and tasting some. In the USA it is hard to get anything sweeter than Brut, but in Europe you can find demi-sec which is often a very nice way to start a meal or party, especially if you are serving it with rich foods.

          Finally, most inexpensive French Champagnes are sold far too young. I recommend buying them and putting them down for 2-3 years. They will improve with a bit of bottle age. Vintage wines are usually pretty much ready to serve.

          Reply
      2. Kurt Sperry

        I can splash out on a 10€ bottle of prosecco and feel like I’m splurging. Beer snobbing is cheaper, I can do that.

        Reply
      3. Isotope_C14

        I’ve had many years of experience in the wine production/wine consuming trade.

        Set up a blind tasting, you’ll be shocked at what you really like without seeing the label.

        My issue with the big-price brands is that they are often of inferior quality compared to very small producers that are not well known. I’ve had Krug a number of times, and was never impressed. All those 100+ USD bubbles are purchased grapes anyway, nothing unique, nothing amazing, just somewhat consistent quality. Some of those small producers are at quality levels that beat the big-boys, but you might not be able to find them in your region sadly.

        I wonder if I could put some US sparklers into some French bottles with big price tags and people would sing their praises? Would WS and Robert Parker help us out with some 100 point reviews?

        Reply
    5. rd

      I always thought this was the point of high fashion. Its just not places like Payless that can pull it off most of the time. You usually have to spend money on runways and models in NYC and Paris. And now the Kardashians have to Instagram it.

      “I Love Lucy” had fun with this in 1956. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0609256/

      Reply
      1. flora

        Behind the times (pun intended).

        Teh Supreme brand has to be the leader in this contest, imo. Especially if the item of wear has “Supreme” written on it.

        Reply
  2. The Rev Kev

    “NASA turning over moon landing efforts to companies in the private sector”

    I understand that at the moment, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation has the highest bid in.

    Reply
    1. Summer

      I also thought about the premise behind the Alien franchise, which is the privatization of space.

      But it also struck me that this kind of govt/corp, large scale planning is what some have expected to occur around environmental issues.
      So this planet can and will outlive us all, but there is no plan to save “humanity.” There is a plan to save “some” humans.

      Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      A tiny little nothing of moon rock fragments just fetched nearly a million bucks @ auction, ex a Soviet robot landing on the Moon in 1970 and retrieving the bounty.

      Of course with the private sector being involved, it’d turn into a Yap Stone debacle, with heretofore lunar rich dreams, dashed.

      In 1871, the Irish-American David Dean O’Keefe was shipwrecked near Yap and was helped by the natives. Later, he assisted the Yapese in acquiring rai and in return received copra and trepang, which were valuable exports in the Far East. O’Keefe provided the Yapese with iron tools. As a result, a form of inflation set in and rai stones acquired with his help were less valuable than more ancient ones.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rai_stones

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        How much can one get for a Martian meteorite?

        From the article in Wikipedia:

        A Martian meteorite is a rock that formed on the planet Mars and was then ejected from Mars by the impact of an asteroid or comet, and finally landed on the Earth. Of over 61,000 meteorites that have been found on Earth, 214 were identified as Martian as of October 2018.[1] These meteorites are thought to be from Mars because they have elemental and isotopic compositions that are similar to rocks and atmosphere gases analyzed by spacecraft on Mars.[3] In October 2013, NASA confirmed, based on analysis of argon in the Martian atmosphere by the Mars Curiosity rover, that certain meteorites found on Earth thought to be from Mars were indeed from Mars.[4]

        The term does not refer to meteorites found on Mars, such as Heat Shield Rock.

        On January 3, 2013, NASA reported that a meteorite, named NWA 7034 (nicknamed “Black Beauty”), found in 2011, in the Sahara desert, was determined to be from Mars and found to contain ten times the water of other Mars meteorites found on Earth.[2] The meteorite contains components as old as 4.42 ± 0.07 Ga (billion years) [5], and was heated during the Amazonian geologic period on Mars. [6]

        Reply
  3. Steve H.

    > ‘This Is About Systematically Impoverishing People’ FAIR

    “And that is another purpose of our book, is to bring the gender lens”

    “But what didn’t happen is, we didn’t talk about it in terms of women and gender, and we did not talk very much about poverty, and especially women’s and children’s poverty.”

    The embedded link makes it even clearer. This is an attempt to undercut Sanders and the universal approach. The delusional tell:

    “I kind of wanted Hillary Clinton to apologize. Like, that was my secret desire in starting to do this research, that at some point Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, would say, “You know what? We were wrong.”

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      Unh-hun. Jay Gould could, famously, ‘hire 1/2 the people to kill the other half’, but nowadays They don’t have to spend the money, they can just talk us into killing each other. OK, costs some money, but $$$$ goes to The Perception Influencers, not the Other Half. Oh, oh, would Mr. Zuck be one of those Influencing Persons? Never did figger how FacePlant got all those billion$.

      Reply
    2. Amfortas the hippie

      I have loathed the clintons for all that they did, top to bottom(especially bottom) ever since.
      ex wife and I had just moved to Austin, in 93, I think… when my last paycheck from the college town bounced…sending us into eviction, trouble with the law, and never ending, cascading poverty…including living in the car, in winter. we even lived in a cave for a time…on one of the greenbelts, with about 50 other people who were suddenly in similar straits.
      But the zeitgeist of the time was that it was all our fault…our immorality, our lacking a trust fund, our being irresolute…and we had jobs, throughout!…minimum wage, already far behind the cost of living…I remember taking an extra job, off-books, for some cable company, hanging ads on people’s doorknobs in one of the highfallutin’ parts of town.
      short drives between staging areas, radio on, and all the talk of “responsibility” and “dignity of work” and not feeding the animals(us).
      the impossibility of Life in Austin after that bad paycheck…3 years we lasted…is one of the main reasons for me moving out here to the homestead mom had moved away from Houston. at least out here I didn’t hafta worry about rent…or permits…or parking…
      My hatred of the Clintonists and their ilk runs very deep…and that the party they hijacked won’t have me because of that well earned hatred is just the icing on the shitcake.
      The bipartisan war on the impoverished…and now, on everyone else(“we’re all indians, now”-R. Means)…is still relegated to the status of conspiracy theory in Team Blue Land.
      “just move to where the jobs are…”
      “here’s a path to education…”
      a potential means tested revolution…”let them eat cheetos”.

      Reply
      1. Mark Gisleson

        All true and all horrible and no jobs that come close to paying enough to let you claw your way back to even. But writing resumes I learned of an even more horrible trap: the middle class. My hardest squeezed clients were those who got ‘good’ jobs but then had to have a ‘good’ house and ‘good’ cars and their kids had incredible opportunities to take school trips, etc.

        When the disaster hit (lay off, health) their worlds blew up overnight. One ‘successful’ client found himself delivering newspapers before going to work at an airline, then chopping and selling wood when he got home at night. He still couldn’t keep up and I watched as his hair fell out in patches.

        The problem is that when Americans go underwater financially, they cover it up out of shame. If we could see how much poverty actually surrounds us, we’d all feel shamed.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          Happening to a dearest family member as we talk. Triggering event was when a huge sugar maple, three trunks, fell on their million-dollar house in one of those big storms. They had UNsurance, which company has been playing a long game of bad faith to bankrupt them. They’ve lived at least in two rooms in a decent hotel, now a rental house (which the owner hopes to sell before the price collapse hits,) not reduced to living in their Land Rover yet at least. One “good” six-figure job to pay the mortgage, another for spouse to pay for all those “middle class advantages and opportunities.” All to “live up to the family standards” that don’t even apply any more. The pain is felt over thousands of miles.

          The real horror is that they have come to awareness of the futility and vulnerability of their situation, just a little too late. If they can get the house repaired soon (no honest offer from the UNsurer yet, they need to hire a lawyer to shake the tree) they might at least avoid going under water, but you can bet the USurance thieves know the state of play in the real estate market where they live.

          Reply
        2. ChristopherJ

          We are all just one step removed from homelessness. Don’t think ill of them, help them, it could be you there next year. Only takes a bit of bad luck.

          I married once (well three times actually) and we honeymooned in Hawaii (1990). Never saw a homeless person there. What’s it like now?

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            I’m helping them all I can, from 2,000 miles away. Hardly think ill of them, love them dearly. Sad that they got snared in the web of expectations.

            Reply
          2. wilroncanada

            No personal experience, but my wife went two years ago to help with grandchidren while my son-in-law worked a game convention. First, their Air-B&S apartment hotel was infested with giant cockroaches. The beaches at night were laden by homeless, as were storefronts, those who were not rousted by the police, whose presence was overwhelming. Wife said there was a police vehicle at virtually every street corner.

            Reply
            1. ChristopherJ

              Thank you JTM and Wilron, yes I had picked up that homeless people were very evident in the streets.

              This is the failure point for me in society, particularly where the State ignores children who are also caught up in the cycle of poverty. It is the State who is turning a blind eye to something it could fix. There are people permanently camping in the parks in Sydney, Melbourne etc. At least Hawaii has good weather, eh?

              There is a distinct lack of empathy with the people in charge. They should all be replaced with ‘ordinary’ folk.

              Reply
      2. Brian (another one they call)

        Hear Hear Amfortas; It is hard to imagine how our country has altered itself into permanent hallucination. Thank you for the Firesign quote as well, truer words never stated.

        Reply
    3. ambrit

      I can understand the emphasis on women and gender based issues because that is the woman’s specialty. However, I also found her to be long on ‘storytelling’ and short on concrete policy suggestions. What clued me into her ‘priors,’ and internal biases was the early remark; “I almost hesitate to say this, because, of course, Donald Trump is horrible…” which softened the remark right after about Bill Clinton’s betrayal of the American people. “Bill Clinton was a pretty good liar too.” All Hillary gets is a “I wish she had apologized,” wrist slap.
      The basic delusion here is that the Democrat Party can be reformed.

      Reply
      1. Expat2uruguay

        As far as concrete policy Solutions go, she did say that the last chapter of her book included several policy recommendations from 10 years ago. That seems like as good a place to start as any, given the fact that the Obama years were a dearth of progressive policy thought.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          I’ll go out on that limb again and say that we will have to go back to Franklin D Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” to get clear of the clusterf— the Clintons foisted on us all.
          Ten years ago was long after Bill Clinton sold the American people out. The ‘failed’ health care proposal of 1993 was an early version of what later became ‘Obamacare.’
          See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinton_health_care_plan_of_1993
          Honestly, Dick Nixon proposed policies to the left of what the present DNC nomenklatura are propounding.
          As someone earlier suggested; if the DNC cheats Bernie Sanders out of the 2020 Dem nomination, it’s days will be numbered.

          Reply
    4. Expat2uruguay

      In response to Steve H’s original comment way up there I have some things to say. First off, I am also a fan of Bernie Sanders. Secondly I don’t think it’s necessary to focus on women and feminism in discussions of poverty and safety net Solutions. But the article discusses a new book by a woman whose career is in gender studies, so what do you expect?

      I really enjoyed the article, and I think it’s rather unfair to criticize it based on some imagined link to Bernie bro slander.

      Reply
      1. Steve H.

        The link isn’t imagined, it’s titled ‘Why It Matters If Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Talk About Race or Gender.’ (The link is highlighted “we didn’t talk about it” in the main article.)\

        I don’t think you’re intentionally putting up a straw man, but I said nothing about Bernie bro slander. This is FAIR taking her interview and using it to undercut the Universal part of Universal, Concrete, Material benefits. Kornbluh reads as someone caught within the Clintons presented world-view, within which gender is a wedge issue, and Kornbluh is trying to use the tool for a join function. She may be earnestly delusional, but FAIR directly linked to Rewire News, “a website focused on reproductive and sexual health from a pro–reproductive rights perspective.” That is an opinion piece attacking Sanders strength and calling it a weakness. It’s Board of Directors includes fundraisers for Clinton, and for Clinton appointees. That’s not Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, that’s a shunt to the DNC fundraising pipeline.

        Reply
        1. Steve H.

          Perhaps there is a misunderstanding which is my fault. I also found Kornbluh genuine in her motives. The ‘this’ in “This is an attempt” refers to FAIR, not to her. My apologies for the ambiguity.

          Reply
          1. Expat2uruguay

            Thank you. I feel I’ve learned a lot from your comments and realize I should have reviewed that “we didn’t talk about it” link before I made the comment. You have been so helpful for me to develop a better understanding of your comment and of the underlying article, thanks again!

            Reply
            1. Steve H.

              Thanks goes both ways, Expat2uruguay. Your comment got me to re-read my own, and I caught that the quotes were from her but my ire was with FAIR, and that was unfair to her.

              All love. The Naked Capitalism commentariat is the best commentariat.

              Reply
  4. allan

    Certification in limbo in N.C. House race as fraud investigation continues [WaPo]

    Mounting evidence of fraud in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District could indefinitely delay the certification of a winner, as state election officials investigate whether hundreds of absentee ballots were illegally cast or destroyed.

    The North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement has no plans to certify Republican Mark Harris’s 905-vote victory over Democrat Dan McCready, according to an agenda of a board meeting scheduled for Friday morning.

    The board is collecting sworn statements from voters in rural Bladen and Robeson counties, near the South Carolina border, who described people coming to their doors and urging them to hand over their absentee ballots, sometimes without filling them out. Others described receiving absentee ballots by mail that they had not requested. It is illegal to take someone else’s ballot and turn it in. …

    Oddly, or not, absentee ballot fraud was not something that Trump’s voting fraud fraud squad cared about.

    Reply
  5. Carolinian

    That’s an important Moon of Alabama post–following the lead of Glenn Greenwald and Craig Murray–on The Guardian’s utterly false and mendacious Assange/Manafort story. If some of us see America’s journalistic elite as unhinged then surely their British counterparts are unhinged squared.

    Of course it wasn’t so very long ago that The Guardian was publishing Glenn Greenwald so perhaps it’s just current management that so deservedly should meet the chopping block. But until that happens it’s hard to disagree with B’s summing up:

    Unfortunately no western main stream media can any longer be trusted to publish the truth. The Guardian is only one of many which peddle smears and disinformation about the ‘enemies’ of the ruling ‘western interests’. It is on all of us to debunk them and to educate the public about their scheme.

    Reply
    1. nippersdad

      “Unfortunately no western main stream media can any longer be trusted to publish the truth.”

      The fix is in for another “WMD’s in Iraq,” and even Bernie doesn’t appear interested in voting against it this time. The Senate just passed a resolution which reaffirmed their “support for the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian government and Ukraine’s territorial integrity.” No mention of how Ukraine is ruled by Nazis or ignored their own treaties with Russia by sending military ships into an area that they had formally agreed not to unless certain conditions were met.

      I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked that they aren’t interested in some kind of resolution of all of their other failed wars before they start new ones with Russia and Iran, they haven’t shown much common sense in years now, but this seems incredibly irresponsible. Poroshenko looks desperate as his country goes down the tubes, by why would we start a war to save a Nazi? Even Congress cannot be so wedded to the gas industry that it cannot see the bad PR in such a move.

      https://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/419039-senate-passes-resolution-condemning-russian-aggression-against

      https://thehill.com/policy/international/418874-ukrainian-president-putin-wants-to-annex-entire-country

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Fortunately it doesn’t appear that Trump is on board with this although with him who knows?

        As for Bernie, he gets a boost up in links from BAR which once called him a sheepdog–now hopes he will reform and or deep six the Dem party. I hope that too and therefore he should run in 2020 even if–IMO–he has little chance of winning. Sand in the neoliberal gears is what’s needed.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Trump did cancel his scheduled meeting with Putin but says he hopes the Kerch dispute can be worked out and to meet with Putin later.

          Reply
        2. Expat2uruguay

          That’s a good point about the evolution of Bernie opinion at BAR. By the way that was a really great article, my favorite for the day.

          Reply
        3. nippersdad

          That was a great article, though I think reform may not be expected in BAR circles given the previous stories that were linked within it describing him as a corporatist pig. One can only imagine the maniacal giggling going on as he typed out his premise for splitting the Party.

          I hope he is right; they have proven prescient in the past.

          Reply
    2. apberusdisvet

      The global deep state must be nervous. The ramping up, in just the past quarter, of misinformation, disinformation, and outright easy-to-discern propaganda, is a key tell. Also the various false flags and the incremental genocide to meet the elite agenda of eliminating 2/3 of the world’s population. All sorts of evil psychopaths in power positions. The anomalies concerning the California fires are breathtaking; 1000s of homes dustified (including chimneys, appliances???) when all the surrounding trees don’t even have a singed leaf. Never happened before in any usual forest fire raging through communities. The heat required to melt the aluminum in cars (many videos show this) is double that of a normal forest fire. Lots of supposition and evidence that a DEW (Directed Energy Weapon) was used.

      Be very worried folks. You could be next.

      Reply
      1. pjay

        Is this for real? Far be it from me to cast doubt on false flags and incremental genocide. But there are a few *red* flags in this post. It would be very hypocritical for me to draw the line on conspiracy theories, since I’m probably in tin-foil hat territory myself to many NYT readers. But this is the type of post used to discredit legitimate conversation. It’s tricky. I certainly don’t want to police others’ opinions. But I do have some beliefs I wouldn’t state openly at NC for fear that they would be used to either discredit my other comments, or (more seriously) discredit the site. I’m kind of surprised to see this one here.

        Reply
      2. tegnost

        The surface area and combustible nature of house likely sucked up all the oxygen in this particular tragedy

        https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/763-fire-behaviour

        FTA…Surface area: The bigger the area of the surface of the fuel, the more oxygen molecules can collide with the surface. The more oxygen molecules that collide per second with the fuel, the faster the combustion reaction is.

        You can increase the surface area of a solid by breaking it up into smaller pieces. If you chop or break up wood into small pieces, it will ignite and burn more quickly than larger pieces of wood. People often start fires with kindling (small pieces of wood) that they criss-cross to allow greater surface area and lots of oxygen getting in and around.

        Reply
        1. Expat2uruguay

          Thanks for providing a serious response to the conspiracy theory that a couple of my friends have been putting forward and I did not know how to respond to. Like Pjay above, since I do believe in some conspiracy theories it’s hard to know where to draw the line. I need information to backup my decisions and that’s what you’ve provided.
          Pjay also discourages this comment saying that it is bad for legitimate discussion. I disagreed with this, and your reply shows why. We don’t want to silence discussion of things that are being discussed out in the real world, that makes this site smaller. Far better for someone to post the wacky stuff and then are very accomplished commentariat can deal with the details.

          Reply
      3. FluffytheObeseCat

        Self-pleasuring Internet conspiracy drivel is particularly disgusting when it revolves around sexy lies about mass deaths. Over 88 people died in those fires. There are less repulsive ways to get your morning thrill.

        Reply
      4. anon in so cal

        Not trying to be mean or inflammatory. But this sort of post can get legitimate critics (who base their criticisms and reporting on solid evidence that is suppressed by the MSM) of “deep state” aggression and evil deeds labeled “conspiracy theorists.” There are plenty of false flag ops, but the fires are not an example. It is often the case that deadly fires can leave trees unscathed or merely singed, while nearby houses are burned to the ground. This article is one explanation:

        https://www.nationalforests.org/our-forests/your-national-forests-magazine/how-trees-survive-and-thrive-after-a-fire

        Didn’t something along these lines befall the ‘sane progressive’? Debbie used to be immensely insightful but then she appeared to…..

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          It would appear that an answer to making these neighborhoods-in-the-woods more burndown-resistant would be to make the houses ember-proof in particular. The outer surface of the houses should have zero ignitable anything. Steel roofs, steel siding ( or other ember-proof siding), zero wood or construction styrofoam or anything ignitable anywhere on the outside surface of the house.

          Houses with any detectable trace of exterior wood or vinyl or tarpaper or anything else that could possibly be ignited by even the weakest little lonely ember should be decreed un-insurable. They should also be made un-mortgageable. Make it a hard-time prison-crime to sell insurance or lend money for a house which could possibly be ember-ignited.

          Reply
    3. JTMcPhee

      Bernhard (Moon) i believe noted the sudden change in “editorial policy” after the MI 5 or 6 goons ran over the place and took all those hard drives and stuff after the formerly slightly courageous management of the Grauniad published Greenwald and the Wiki information.

      How many horse heads in a bed does it take to scare a set of Demi-toffs into kowtowing to the thing we are all discouraged from saying actually exists? What can be done about any of it, since these bland and vicious monsters can throw more sh!t on the walls of public awareness than any number of diligent sh!t-picker-offers can begin to hope to keep up with, let alone get ahead of? And in a world that is on the way to a dying biosphere, because of all the intersectionalating vectors of Human Stupidity that move all us mopes closer to the cliff edge, every moment of every day, one wonders what can possibly be done to wrest control of the brakes and steering from the murderous parasites and pathogens who have their bloody claws locked on both?

      It’s not like, in the deep valleys of greed and obfuscation and DYSinformation, not just “dis”information, there are hobbits and elves that have organizing principles and understandings and life patterns that actually resist the onslaughts of the orcs and Nazgul, and the vast seductions, of the Lord of Mordor…

      On Human Stupidity, forgive my repeated recourse to this set of observations, but: http://harmful.cat-v.org/people/basic-laws-of-human-stupidity/

      Reply
    4. pjay

      Yes. A very good overview with many key references. It will be “interesting” (i.e. depressing) to see how quickly this blatant propaganda overreach falls down the media memory hole.

      Re the Guardian: I do think the problems are deeper than “current management,” and they seem to exist at every mainstream media outlet today, as b’s quote suggests. Sometimes good work still gets through. For example, Greenwald’s essay posted today on CNN’s firing of Hill is excellent and goes much deeper into the Israel lobby than the title suggests. Yet the Intercept is another compromised source. “Eyes wide open,” I guess.

      Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    “For Defense Against Active Shooters, University Hands Out Hockey Pucks”

    Sigh! And people wonder why universities are ineffective in teaching kids stuff. OK, I’ll try some basic maths using Google as a source of info. A semi-automatic Bushmaster AR-15 has a maximum effective rate of fire of 45 rounds per minute according to its manual. I believe that most AR-15-type rifles are sold with a 30-round magazine so what is that, 40 seconds to unload that clip? Now, how many hockey pucks can a teenager throw in that 40 seconds? Actually, if he misses with that first one, then I am assuming that you can forget the others.
    This is like that time a school in Pennsylvania (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43523797) supplied kids with buckets of river stones to throw at attackers. Again, if you miss with the first one you can forget the rest. I loved the bit where “The police chief also suggested that a group of students could ‘rush’ an active shooter with their pucks”. Who the hell would that be? Police Chief Wiggins? Must of been high on a sugar rush from too many donuts when he came up with that bright idea. All this is gunna do is encourage kids to go all heroic and get themselves killed. Forget hiding – put a chair through a window and bail out. If the school wants, they can bill you later for it. At least if you are caught up in a school lab, there may be a chance of making up a molly or two. Otherwise, they should tell those students to run.

    Reply
      1. shtove

        I keep a pair of steel cap boots on my feet, velcro strap-ups. When the Terminator comes charging down the corridor at me, I plan to rip them off and Bam! Bam! that sukka.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          You’ll know it’s me, on account of being draped in a kevlar cape at all times-red in hue, and like the torero, i’ll ward off high velocity thrusts by going from cowl to caped crusader in the face of a lone stampede.

          Reply
      2. wilroncanada

        Todde
        But can you operate the 3-hole punch fast enough to make enough confetti to really make a difference. Myself, I have a 7-hole punch, for letter and legal size confetti holes.

        Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      here, there was talk of locking all the outer doors, with chains, no less…currently they open from the inside.
      They had to be reminded that there’s a reason against doing this…fiery death if some old aluminum wires gets frayed and the asbestos(!) fails to contain…and the whole cinderblock edifice becomes a flaming retort.
      never any consideration about the homelife, the despair that’s contagious, if unconscious…the lack of hope for the future that kids can feel like a stirring in the air.

      and again, the feral philosopher who sees meaning in everything:
      Caprica Sharon:
      [to Commander Adama] “It’s what you said at the ceremony before the attack, when Galactica was being decommissioned. You gave a speech, it sounded like it wasn’t the one you prepared. You said that humanity was a flawed creation, and that people still kill one another for petty jealousy and greed. You said that humanity never asked itself why it deserved to survive. Maybe you don’t..”

      Reply
      1. Sparkling

        I’m beginning to wonder how much of the unwillingness of our “betters” to discuss the mental health of the shooters is their unwillingness to consider their own mental health. After all, if they started talking about these people’s problems it would make them reflect on their own, and as anyome who has tried to get a suffering friend/family member to therapy and/or rehab knows it can be a monumental struggle to get someone with serious problems to be willing to do that. I say can because some people are willing to get help once they realize there is a problem but for other people it is apparently an incredibly terrifying process. Rulers are human too.

        (+100 for the Battlestar Galactica quote.)

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          added issue…maybe Texas-centric: if you opened a free psychology clinic in my little town, you would have few customers/
          That’s what church is for, is the mundane evaluation.
          enlightenment/dragging from the Cave….must be on an individual basis, on their comfortable ground.

          Reply
          1. Sparkling

            That’s a good point and a huge reason why I don’t go around trying to pry people away from religion. Some people would be lost without it.

            Reply
    2. cgregory

      the farther away you get from a shooter, the easier it is for him/her to draw a bead on you. But if you throw something– anything, it doesn’t have to be a a hockey puck; it can be a sheaf of papers, a cup or a bouquet– the instinctive flinch will ruin his/her aim long enough for someone to get close enough to render the use of a weapon ineffective. Once a person is close, it becomes much easier to foil the shooter– simply by diverting the barrel, jamming one’s own thumb into the trigger guard, or going for the shooter’s eyes. The hard part is overcoming the thought that the closer you get to the gun, the more likely it is you’ll get shot. The reality is that there’s a proximity within which you’ll actually be safer.

      Reply
      1. JCC

        The hard part is overcoming the thought that the closer you get to the gun, the more likely it is you’ll get shot.

        The problem, of course, is that it is not just “the hard part”, it is the really, really, really hard part.

        For those with little to no experience with guns and/or shooters, Run, Hide, Fight is still your best bet. At 40 rounds a minute, you would probably have only a few seconds to get close enough to do any good, which means you would have to be awfully close to start with, i.e. then you fight… for a couple of seconds.

        Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        Yeah, in the movies. If one has actually had some experience of close combat. And knows the weapon the shooter is using, so as to know where to put that disabling finger. And if the brave “student” rushing the person with the gun is not clumsy or panicked or half the size of the gunner. The finger in an AR trigger guard won’t work to stop a strong person from just pushing it out of the way, and at least one bullet will go out the barrel when you jam your finger in there. And some shooters have used seem-auto pistols with 18 or 19 rounds in them. Good luck in your brave scenario, wresting control of the handgun or “rendering it ineffective.” See the outtakes from Jackie Chan movies — even when there’s a script, a cooperating “bad guy,” and multiple takes of a scene, even Jackie, with his training and reflexes, muffs the magical takeover of the bad-guy’s gun.

        Brave words all right, so easy to say. Informed by what, visions dreamed up after looking at videos and reading the many advice columns on line and in gun and outdoorsman’s magazines on how to win a street fight or confront and defeat an “attacker.? How’s that work out in real life? How many school children are in any position or condition, in the mass panic, to do all that stuff?

        We’re in a world where the elements that trigger and facilitate this kind of “running amok” are just part of the background noise. And I doubt it’s going to get better. But like the doomsday preppers, I guess imagining how self and others “ought best to react and plan” gives some chimaerical comfort…

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          In real life, aside from being in a bank in the midst of a takeover robbery, i’ve never seen a gun brandished in anger otherwise in public.

          How does that square with others experiences?

          Reply
          1. Todde

            I think i am what is commonly referred to as an ‘outlier’.

            I’ve seen 3 people shot.

            But guns brandished in anger, might as well.as.me how many times i went to the movies.

            Its not something that happens very often, but enough to not think too much about it or be able to put a number on it

            But i would say its been over a decade since the last time it happened.

            I just quit hanging around my friends

            Reply
        2. a different chris

          I believe you’re supposed to hook your finger around the guard and behind the trigger. Hard to dislodge that, and no “one bullet”.

          Otherwise agree with your post. I used to be “pretty fast for a white guy” and intend to run like (family blog) unless close friends/family are in danger.

          Reply
      3. Todde

        If you’re interested in safety and outside 50 feet of the shooter stay low and run for cover.

        Keep running from cover to cover moving away from the shooter.

        If you can’t get away find a hiding place.

        Inside 50 ft throw something and follow it in.

        Reply
    3. Wukchumni

      If you got in a perfect throw and nailed the would be assassin in the temple-killing him instantly…

      …would that be called ‘icing the puck’, in campus parlance?

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Badabump — kssshhh! Got a million of ‘em.

        Granted, sarcastic humor milked from distresses of others might be the only rational response to the world as it now exists..

        Reply
    4. windsock

      Meanwhile, in Brexitannia, the Bonkers is now at pandemic proportions:

      https//www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2018/11/something-crazy-happened-parliament-last-night-and-no-one-talking-about-it

      Reply
    5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If the government has the money (and they have), they can buy and put a robot guard dog (or two) in every classroom.

      A flying robot guard dog can (hypersonically) rush to the shooter to distract him (or her) and the other one can aim for the shooting hand (also hypersonically), etc.

      I think this is a better bet than banning (because it’s possible to get guns even then).

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I’d work my way up the sports equipment ladder with an emphasis on track & field, and we’re talkin’ javelins, shot puts and hammer throws, in defense of learning.

        Reply
      2. shtove

        They should subsidise private equity to gene-sequence those face-sucker aliens from the original Space Trek series – when the Terminator enters the class room, these rubbery clam-muscle thingies drop from the ceiling and clamp onto its face. Or am I violating the Alien patents?

        Reply
    6. Synapsid

      Rev Kev,

      A molly would be a Molotov cocktail perhaps?

      I can see the headline: School burnt to ground by chem students fighting off attacker. Fire fighters ineffective, laughing too hard.

      Reply
    7. kgw

      Silly, of course. Unarmed in a crowd, I’d go with the lightning tackle from the shooter’s blind side(s). A gang tackle.

      Otherwise, runway! Like a rabbit, zig-zag style. Hiding under desks is a bad idea…

      Much more effective, for those who are able to do so, would be a shotgun.

      Reply
    8. Jeremy Grimm

      Maybe the pucks might be more effective if they exuded smoke? Instead of pucks — arm students with smoke grenades! That might be more effective and I can’t imagine any problems with that idea — a campus of University students armed with smoke grenades.

      [The students won’t throw pucks at a bad professor in a lecture hall would they?]

      Reply
      1. wilroncanada

        Jeremy Grimm
        Maybe in colours, like the lights following pucks on US television broadcasts of hockey night, so US hockey watchers in deplorable zones can see the action on their 12 inch televisions. Puck vapour trails.
        It might be better, mind you, to create bullets that have vapour trails. So much easier for the investigators, as long as there is a video camera in the room. Separate the deaths by shooter from deaths from friendly fire.

        Reply
  7. zagonostra

    Refer: Dems/Big Pharma: “…the three-person House Democratic leadership team has collected more than $2.3 million total in campaign contributions from drugmakers since the 2007-08 election cycle”

    Eisenhower in the original draft of his famous speech warning against the “military-industrial complex” original was written as a warning against the “military-congressional-industrial complex” but was urged to revise it.

    We can see from the article referenced how Pharma/Banks & Pharma along with military contractors have effectively taken over the machinery of government through PACs and other means of influence. Legislation is crafted to increase the profits of special interest over the interest of the the majority of the population.

    From Dylan lyrics:

    God don’t make no promises that He don’t keep
    You got some big dreams, baby, but in order to dream you gotta still be asleep

    When you are going to wake up, when you going to wake up
    When you are going to wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

    Counterfeit philosophies have polluted all of your thoughts
    Karl Marx has got ya by the throat and Henry Kissinger’s got you tied up in knots

    You got innocent men in jail, your insane asylums are filled
    You got unrighteous doctors dealing drugs that’ll never cure your ills

    You got men who can’t hold their peace and women who can’t control their tongues
    The rich seduce the poor and the old are seduced by the young

    Adulterers in churches and pornography in the schools
    You got gangsters in power and lawbreakers making rules

    Spiritual advisors and gurus to guide your every move
    Instant inner peace and every step you take has got to be approved

    Do you ever wonder just what God requires?
    You think He’s just an errand boy to satisfy your wandering desires

    You can’t take it with you and you know that it’s too worthless to be sold
    They tell you, “Time is money,” as if your life was worth its weight in gold

    There’s a Man up on a cross and He’s been crucified for you
    Beleive in His power, it’s all about you got to do

    Reply
    1. human

      As Michael Hudson has recently so succinctly written, Christ died for our debts, which was historically propagandized as sin by the then Powers That Be.

      Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    “Sheryl Sandberg Is Said to Have Asked Facebook Staff to Research George Soros”

    Actually I do not see the problem here. Soros made an attack so Sandberg did her job and tried to find out if there was some financial interest in him doing so. Remember, this was the guy that had the reputation of breaking the Bank of England so that he could pocket a cool $1 billion. Tough luck for England at the time. Sandberg was just scoping out a possible hostile attack on her organization and would have been derelict in her duties if she had not done so. So why the outrage on Soros’s behalf? Do all our oligarchs get such a free pass?

    Reply
    1. Sparkling

      Agreed. The difference is that Soros has enough money to buy/influence all the big media companies (he is an investor) and the sense to donate to enough good causes that he can pass himself off as “one of the good ones.”

      In this context, the utter absence of any meaningful scrutiny of Google makes more sense when you learn they were the biggest donor to Hillary’s 2016 campaign.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        It is getting difficult to tell, sometimes, who is the good guy and who’s the bad guy.
        This might be by design, it seems to me, depending on what outcomes the Few
        need at a given time, even if that outcome is merely the perception management
        du jour.

        Reply
        1. Sparkling

          Good people can do bad things and bad people can do good things. That’s why even though I don’t trust a wealthy hedge fund manager that meddles in the politics of almost every country on the planet I can understand why some people have been suckered.

          Say what you want about the Kochs, at least they’re openly advocating for the upper class.

          Reply
    2. Yves Smith Post author

      1. She lied about knowing anything about it…and in particular, hiring the oppo firm that went after Soros.

      2. Soros did not fund any of the groups Facebook tried to claim he was funding. This was repeated uncritically in the NYT story.

      3. The oppo firm they hired ran right-wing anti-Semitic smears. See this from CNN: Smearing Soros to stoke hate: You too, Facebook?:

      According to the Times report, Facebook had been trying to convince reporters that our campaign to push the social media giant into better behavior was secretly part of a coordinated effort undertaken by organizations funded by Soros. This is a thinly veiled version of a more sinister, increasingly pervasive theory: that organizations fighting for social change are secretly controlled by Soros and some master Jewish plot to take over America.

      White nationalists have been targeting Soros, an investor and philanthropist, for some time. Knowing that their conspiracy theories are echoing around the right-wing blogosphere is one thing. But hearing that those theories are being advanced by a company with the eyes of over 2 billion users is quite another.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        I’ve been reading up more on the firm that she hired at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/21/technology/definers-public-affairs-tim-miller.html?module=inline and I can understand better where she came unstuck. You would reckon a professional firm of investigators would have been a better, and more discrete, choice to make. Looks like Facebook did not have their own in-house investigators to use. That would have saved them a lot of grief.
        This new firm built up lots of clients in the past year like Lyft, Lime, Juul, Facebook and Qualcomm but used dirty tactics and that seems to have been the attraction – that as well as a Republican link. She should have used professionals as they usually have no axes to grind. It was worse than a crime what she did – it was a mistake!

        Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “Trump confronts new Russia test with Ukraine crisis”

    Poroshenko may want an entire NATO fleet surrounding the Ukraine’s coastline but there is a problem. To get to the Sea of Azov, you first have to go transverse the Bosporus Straits and the Dardanelles first which is controlled by Turkey. More to the point, access to the Black Sea is controlled by Turkey through the Montreux Convention (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreux_Convention_Regarding_the_Regime_of_the_Straits) which puts strict limits on how many warships can pass into the Black Sea from nations that do not have a coastline on it. That is why there is no NATO Fleet based in the Black Sea in a friendly NATO country like Bulgaria. Probably too why the US offered a couple Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates to the Ukraine – as they would not count.

    Reply
    1. David Mills

      The Hill also omits the coup in Ukraine, the fact that Poroshenko is facing an election i March with an 8% approval rating, an explanation of “innocent passage” versus (that old Murican favourite) “freedom of navigation”… I could keep going but its too hard to type on my phone.

      Almost (?) as crapified as the Guardian.

      Reply
  10. Chris

    I’ve been thinking about the distribution of skills and resources needed to afford maintenance of a home/life lately and whether that is one more reason we’re seeing problems in the suburbs and the cities with people who have traditionally earned middle class wages not being able to afford things. The recent Onion article on shop class for affluent high school kids just being lessons on how to haggle with contractors set me off in this direction.

    As a personal example of what I mean by this, we had an issue with our well pump control system this past week. Now, if you can’t afford to wait for water, or can’t afford to wait for any repairs, an emergency visit from an experienced well pump contractor/plumber is a minimum of a few hundred dollars. That gets them to your property and pays for the initial diagnosis. If they have to pull the well pump, even if they don’t replace it they just decide to check it, it means you’re still without water for another day or so because they’ll need to shock the well and you shouldn’t drink or bathe in that water until it’s diluted the shock for 24 hours. A well pump costs around $700 dollars and usually comes with a host of other minor items that need to be repaired. There’s also often electrical issues related to the wiring supplying power to the pump. So it’s not uncommon to have a single well pump related maintenance issue cost several thousand dollars and leave you without water for a few days. If you don’t keep an emergency store of water or have relatives close by, that can be a huge hassle. And while not everyone who moves to the suburbs in DC/MD/VA knows about well pumps or septic tanks, sooner or later they learn that these things can fail and that no city utility is coming to save them when that happens.

    I’m fortunate. I’m an engineer. I know about plumbing. I’ve worked on domestic supply wells. I’ve helped my neighbors fix their wells. I’ve pulled about a dozen or so by hand with a crew of other men. I can do basic electrical work too. I have tools in my garage for working on all kinds of things. My wife’s family lives close by. We have reserve water supplies just in case we lose power. Because of all that, my issue was resolved in about 2 days, we didn’t go without water, we had a back up if we did, and instead of paying the minimum $700 I was quoted by local plumbers to begin diagnosing the problem, I paid $35 for parts and fixed it all with the help of my father in law.

    Because I had a job with a supremely flexible schedule, I was home to catch the pump misbehaving and turn it off before it ruined my house. I did not have to take any time off of work either. I just fit it in around my schedule for fixing the plumbing and checking the pump control system. So, just in terms of what it saved me to have these skills in repair, I figure having knowledge of plumbing, electricity, and home maintenance saved me several thousand dollars this week. If you factor in the potential loss of income due to needing to take time off of work and anything we would have had to spend repairing and replacing anything damaged by a flood, it’s many thousands of dollars more that I saved. This is the kind of thing that can come from out of no where and send a family into a spiral of debt and misery. But like I said, we’re fortunate, and it was just an inconvenience for several days. And if it had turned into something more, we had a shower and a kitchen down the street we could have used for free.

    But if none of that were true? What would my family have done? What would another family do if they didn’t know how to fix things and didn’t have several thousand dollars of disposable income to pay for repairs in the days before Christmas? How long could I send my kids to their nice suburban school if they weren’t able to shower? How long could I afford take out every night because there was no water for cooking and cleaning dishes?

    City utility systems are getting a bad reputation because of mismanagement and lack of funds. Lots of people stretch themselves financially to move to wealthy suburban areas for clean air and clean water. Most of my neighbors don’t know how to fix their well pumps and related plumbing. This seems like a bad combination.

    It’s also frustrating to see plumbing and home maintenance skills not being taught anymore. I think about a family who manages to escape a bad area in the city to move to a suburb with good schools only to find that they can’t take it for granted that water comes from the tap automatically and then they lose their house and/or a job because they had enough money to pay for a mortgage but not enough money to pay to maintain systems they can’t even see and didn’t even know about and yet are essential for living. And these nice suburban schools offer days of coding instead of basic pump maintenance.

    It feels like there’s this random shadow tax on people. That there are so many who can’t really afford the life they’re living and don’t understand that until it’s too late. And we as a society have denigrated all the skills that are required to handle the situations that cause such misery if you’re ignorant. But when I look into economic research on the benefits of these skills, or the need to distribute them, there’s nothing there. So I’m asking the NC commentariat, is there anyone publishing on research regarding the mismatch of skills in people compared to their living conditions, not their employment? Anyone studying the problems and costs of people living who live on farmsteads but don’t know how to fix things like a farmer, or move to the city and don’t know how to survive in that environment either?

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Like everything else, all this is now up to the individual. “Because Markets. And Just Die.”

      I am like you, I can do a lot of that stuff, like my neighbor the air conditioner repair person. Others in my little neighborhood have “pirate wells:” the public utility enforces use of the public system of distributed water and sewer lines because of funding via rates — only “legal” use of groundwater is for lawn and plantings. There’s another reason, which is the limited amount of aquifer water thanks to overuse and looting by developers and Big Ag and certain buisinesses.

      I am old and actually can’t physically do a lot of the stuff I know how to do any more. The conditions of life in my neighborhood, the atomization, militate against the kind of sharing that might make things better for all of us and even lead to awareness of how we are all being played and looted, and while we still have “the vote,” maybedoing something short of that destructive rev olution that might eventuate.

      The stuff that gets valued, the “rights” people have, all that is subject to control and management and allocation and denial by the Few, who have no use for us mopes except as creatures that can generate rents and Real Wealth for them to siphon and use to further their domination. And when we can’t? “Just die.”

      Reply
      1. Chris

        That is one of the reasons I am pessimistic about decentralized power distribution. When poor people are responsible for their own electric power, and the maintenance of it, they will lose it. De-coupling centralized utilities from things like power generation is going to create systemic risks for fires and maintenance and health concerns. People who don’t understand the costs of being responsible for their own systems will decrease their ignorance in one rude step sooner or later.

        But onto the topic I raised, why is it that we have Martha Stewart as a patron saint of making your own marshmallows type of home craftiness, but no one seems to want to step up and value repairs and maintenance? The closest kind of artisanal experience journals of a similar sort I can find are the “Fine” series of publications by Taunton Press. Fine hombuilding, fine gardening, fine woodworking, etc. And why no interest in academia for understanding the skills mismatch for maintaining necessary systems in modern life?

        It reminds me of a conversation I had with some of the staff at colonial Williamsburg. They said that making things by hand was not valued until after it became rare. That tailors and such did not charge for their time or skill in making jackets in the 1700’s, just materials and processing essentially, because everyone made stuff by hand. When machine fabrication of clothing and other staples become common, handcrafting became valued.

        So now we live in a time where being handy is rare and repairs for essential systems are costly. Yet high schools aren’t teaching basic electrical repair to students and people make nasty jokes about plumbing. Hiring contractors costs a lot of money. Yet we don’t have the cultural or education interest in reviving this kind of training it seems. Economists aren’t talking about it when modeling the value of education or discussing it in the same terms as coding when it comes to a skills mismatch for society’s needs. Why?

        I agree it could be as simple as the elite don’t value it so there’s no interest. But there is such widespread ignorance of this problem that I think something else is happening. Knowing how to use tools used to be a sign of adulthood, not just manhood. Why did that go away?

        Reply
        1. Duke of Prunes

          My recollection is that the strong push that everybody must go to college or risk being a “loser” came right around the time that the student loan laws were “enhanced” to eliminate bankruptcy protection. Herd more sheep to slaughter more or less.

          I’ve lately seen a resurgence in “the trades” among my friends’ offspring. As you say, it’s hard work. From the kids I know, there’s a 50% washout rate (2 out of the 4 I know quit their apprentice programs – not just the hard work, but also the crap the older guys do to them and the lack of respect from society in general). On this last point, my son (in college) worked as a laborer for a residential HVAC company this summer, and he had some shameful stories about how some of the home owners treated them. For example, one guy lectured him on the importance of staying in college so he doesn’t turn out like “that guy” (i.e. the HVAC tech he was working with… right in front “that guy” as if he wasn’t smart enough to comprehend the conversation).

          ~30 years ago, kids who didn’t want to go to college would generally join the military (at least here in the middle). After all, it was “peace time” and war a thing of the past. Maybe 20+ years of war since, the kids are getting clue. I sure hope so.

          Reply
        2. False Solace

          Everything’s on Youtube. Something breaks, not sure what to do, go look on youtube and you’ll find a video that explains exactly how to fix it. You can get spare parts from eBay and similar parts of the web, they usually come from China and take weeks to arrive but the repair guy would face the exact same thing and charge you $400.

          There’s no better motivator than poverty, and that’s not in short supply.

          The technical press has taken a beating but if you like to learn by watching 12 minute videos you’re in luck. The thing I wonder about is “how to” FAQs for people doing their own health care. I’ve heard of many millennials resorting to superglue to avoid $3000 emergency room bills and things along that line. Makes one shudder to think about, but that’s where we are. Third world USA!

          Reply
          1. gepay

            I have found you tube self fix videos to be of widely varying quality. Sometimes they do tell you that little thing you wouldn’t intuitively do but is absolutely necessary. sometimes they tell you the wrong thing to do.Or they can be like Microsoft help – telling you more than you want to know about the area of your problem but not what you need to know to fix it. Last week my son replaced the starter on his Chevy SUV. The you tube he watched didn’t tell him he needed to take the wheel off and remove the wheel well cover so he could get to and take off the starter wires first – so as to move them out of the way so there was enough room to remove the starter from the incredibly tight space. – it didn’t he tell him he needed to disconnect the battery as the wire to the starter remains hot. fortunately he had me to help him.
            The other thing is using tools. there is a big learning curve. Except for the extremely gifted it takes years to learn how to isolate problems and solutions from the infinite way things break or f**k up.

            Reply
        3. The Rev Kev

          ‘why is it that we have Martha Stewart as a patron saint of making your own marshmallows type of home craftiness, but no one seems to want to step up and value repairs and maintenance?’
          You know, that is quite an astute observation that. Makes you wonder about our priorities.

          Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      My son is on-again off-again about deciding what to do with himself. He’s very smart but I can’t see him as college material. His interests rapidly run deep to the purely practical. I’ll point him to your comment as an encouragement to learn a trade.

      More broadly, consider the impacts of a month long power outage — or longer. And consider how much of our current way of life including little things like food, water, heating and cooling, food preservation …. and sewage handling, is entirely dependent on a complex infrastructure of industries and transportation networks. What could you do without parts for your pump?

      Reply
      1. Chris

        Given the creek in my backyard and the options I have for solar? A lot. Also, I make the system work any number of ways with simple components. Nothing fancy. And everything can be made locally.

        As for your son, tell him I know several welding supervisors who make $100k in six months of the year, and then manage their own farms or real estate in the off season. I have similar stories for plumbers and electricians. It’s not an easy life. But it can be a good and rewarding life. You do have to get dirty. You will be cold. You won’t have fancy stories at cocktail parties. But you’ll have a better job than most around you.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          The crafts supervisors today have to treat their workers like s— to make their budgets. Here Down South, that 100k supervisor is riding herd on a crew from way down south, with one or two spanish-english speakers to do the translating. Keeping the materials coming on time gives him or her headaches. Schmoozing the inspectors gives them migraines. Keeping the home office off of their backs gives them myocardial infarctions. I have seen all of this.
          The myth of the rugged individualist today is just that, a myth. When the towns go bye bye, and the hordes of starving urbanites swarm over your rustic homestead, you’ll go down with the rest of us. Unless you become a real Mountain Man.
          The word ‘civilization’ ultimately derives from the Latin word “civitas” for city.

          Reply
    3. Summer

      I think more time and study is being spent convincing people that HAL9000 can be their caretaker.

      Sales pitch: You can be stupid as long as you have a smart home.

      Reply
      1. Chris

        SMART = Surveillance and Monitoring by Accessing (other people’s) Remote Technology

        [Not original but can’t remember/find the source]

        Reply
          1. Chris

            My son plays music at home by asking Siri to queue tracks from Apple Music. I’ve recently bought a new turntable, amp and speakers, and scour op shops for old LPs.
            Nobody (except the neighbours) knows what I’m listening to.
            Spent yesterday converting old shipping pallets into duckboards for the vege beds.

            Reply
            1. c_heale

              Been converting old pallets into sidewalls for vege beds. Have a friend who repairs old analog stuff, has a load of old reel to reel stuff, he uses sometimes. Old tech is great. Been resewing old bags to make them more useful. These kind of skills give you patience and are a reward in themselves.

              Reply
          2. Jean

            Another crime of PG&E was forcing everyone to switch over to a ‘Smart Meter’.
            If you have one, demand they remove it and reinstall an old one. We did, it cost us $375 total. ($75 plus $10 a month for 3 years) When they soon institute Time of Use tariffs, which can’t happen with the old meter, we will be saving way more than that on money well spent.
            Here’s the lowdown on why they are bad for health reasons.
            http://emfsafetynetwork.org/smart-meters/smart-meter-health-complaints/
            more
            https://stopsmartmeters.org/frequently-asked-questions/radio-frequency-radiation-issues/

            Reply
  11. Jason Boxman

    For what it’s worth, after an annoying video started playing for the 7,200th time, I Googled and found that at least for Chrome, there’s a hidden setting that will disable auto playing for HTML 5 videos. I’m going to give it a shot. It escapes me why someone thinks I want to watch a video. If I wanted that, I’d be watching TV, not using a web browser. Ugh. (I used to block Adobe Flash, but now everything is using HTML 5 video.)

    Crapification of the Web continues apace.

    Reply
  12. Todde

    When we owned the liquor store i had my buddy take on an armed robber by throwing beer cans at him.

    Gave me enough time to get away from the guy as i was working the register.

    He chased him right out the store while dude was shooting at him.

    Not am active shooter situation but one of the craziest thing ibe seen

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      There’s a few “security-cam” videos on YouTube showing brave/foolish actions by shop owners and the mopes who work there against robbers armed with guns, knives, machetes and such, the defense being everything from pulling one’s own concealed pistol and blasting away, to using a mop (a little Asian woman is one I remember) or a chair or a chips display.

      On the other hand, there’s also lots of videos I watch so the rest of you won’t have to that show the brave or cowed shopkeeper or employee getting killed by th eBay guy(s), whether they put up a defense, try to hide or run away. The world is a random place.

      And think of all those million-hit videos of cops, trained and cautious, getting killed by “bad people” who they stop for traffic violations and maybe on suspicion of being suspicious.

      Your buddy and presumably you were, as I am sure you are aware, darn lucky.

      Reply
      1. Todde

        I had to explain to him that paper beats rock and bullet beats beercan.

        He got free tax return prep for his life out of it.

        I appreciated the loyalty

        Reply
  13. allan

    Sensibly centrist bipartisan problem solving that we should all support:

    Why America needs low-yield nuclear warheads now [WaPo]

    By Jon “I Was Paid to Lobby For and Then Voted as McCain’s Replacement to Confirm Brett Kavanaugh
    – Is That a Problem?” Kyl
    and Mike “Americans May Well Die at the Hands of Terrorists Because of Edward Snowden’s Actions,
    and also I’m With Her” Morrell.

    Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Thousands of rice bowls are filled by the “programs” that bring us all closer to the edge.

        Interesting that there are so many humans ready, enthusiastically, to have jobs they go to every day where, over coffee and a donut maybe, they participate in the run up to the end of the world as we know it.

        Reply
    1. thepanzer

      In good news the 500+ comments at wapo seem 99%+ pointing out how completely bonkers the low-yield nuke thesis is. Every now and then my faith in humanity goes back up a few points.

      Reply
    1. a different chris

      Alexandria went on to attend Boston University, where she started out as a science major, but later graduated with a degree in economics and international relations.

      Sh*t. I am beginning to think the DC homies don’t know what just landed on their turf. “She doesn’t understand economics”, we heard- the sniggering emphasis being on the “she” part, of course. How could a women, especially an ethnic one, understand money, they believe in their very bones.

      Dude, she has a degree in it. More people like her, please. Don’t care what sex, color, or ethnicity.

      Reply
    1. Watt4Bob

      Thanks for that fantastic link.

      It really is one of the discussions we should be having now.

      My wife, who has a lot of experience working with the very poor, just surprised me with a heated discussion of the way the #Metoo movement was co-opted by well-off white women, when it was essentially a movement of poor women of color, who because of the stark realities at the bottom of the economic ladder are powerless in the face of sexual predation.

      Nothing is changing for those at the bottom, the only place #metoo is making a difference is amongst the credentialed class, and the Pantsuit Nation is doing less than nothing for the masses of women at the bottom.

      Less than nothing!

      Reply
      1. newcatty

        Completely agree: “one of the discussions we should be having now.”

        When identity politics are a pivotal way that elites of either major political party, and their hierarchy and funders, continue to plot one ID group against the other than real, concrete policy is not gonna happen. The myth that people (and we can emphasize women, though ,of course, it includes men, too) who are poor are mostly people of color is
        not playing as well to the people anymore. Poor people are of every color. The increase of poor, or nearly poor, is all around us. And, to emphasize that children, often along with their mothers, or other primary caregivers, are slipping into living lives of quiet desperation is to see that it is the most vulnerable among us that the cruel and radical so called “welfare reform” harmed. One other thing that should be discussed: Why are so many separated or divorced women, living as single mothers , barely living above the federal poverty line? MOST mothers work very hard and , and even if receiving some child support, due to exhorbiate rents extracted from their incomes are just “Making it day by day.”

        Well, why don’t they just move! Usually due to child custody arrangements and/Or no funds to move to more affordable place. Until, people start to see a bigger picture, that the poor are in the same sinking boat, than prejudice and avarice win. Environmental,Social justice is something that will have to be a revolution of the human spirit.

        Reply
        1. Odysseus

          due to exhorbiate [sic] rents extracted from their incomes are just “Making it day by day.

          Money can be exchanged for goods and services.

          You want to stop rents from rising, buy houses and don’t raise the rents.

          Reply
      2. nippersdad

        Which immediately reminded me of the Lilly Ledbetter Act. So many people were throwing that at me in defense of Obama at one point, but they never could answer the question how the poor women that it was meant to help could afford to use it. Wealthy women could always afford to sue their employers, McDonalds employees not so much. And not much has changed as a result of it.

        Reply
    2. flora

      Interesting article, but doesn’t talk about B. Clinton trying to please the bond market at R. Rubin’s (Goldman Sachs CEO) urging. Pleasing the bond market meant cutting govt. spending, and slashing govt spending on citizens in the bottom 20% of the population was just a start.

      Then, of course, B. Clinton wanted to please all the banks and financial sector and so bailed out Lehman and other banks in ’98 after their Mexico bets went bad. Then, instead of reining in the banks from reckless betting, B. Clinton deregulated them. And ten years later in 2008 Lehman collapsed and nearly took the financial system with it. And so, Bush and Obama again bailed out the banks and again cut social services, unemployment benefits, and other govt funding to the average citizen in order to keep the bond markets and Wall St. happy.

      I keep thinking about this 2009 Simon Johnson essay, “Economic Donkeys”. A quote:

      he real problem with our financial system is that our economic and political system work together to encourage excessive risk, and this risk in turn leads to cycles of prosperity and collapse. In 1998, a much smaller Lehman Brothers was placed in financial peril by the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis and failure of Long Term Capital Management, a major hedge fund. The Federal Reserve responded by lowering interest rates and other central banks followed suit. This reduced the cost of obtaining funds, effectively bailing out Lehman and other institutions in trouble.

      This policy of responding to the aftermath of bubbles, rather than addressing them before they get going, through tighter regulation, has become the mantra of most central banks. It is usually combined with fiscal policy stimulus and other measures to support the economy. Each time banks fail, by bailing the system out again, we teach our finance sector a lesson: you can safely take too much risk because, when you lose, the taxpayer will pick up the bill. We also send a simple message to creditors: it is safe to lend to Goldman Sachs, or Barclays Bank, because taxpayers and our nations’ savers are standing by to cover your losses.

      https://baselinescenario.com/2009/09/13/economic-donkeys/

      The taxpayer gets the bill in the form of slashed pensions, govt services, govt spending on infrastructure and safetynet programs, with never a rein put on the financial sector.

      The Clintons don’t think they made a mistake. They are smart people, as they endlessly remind us. They wanted this outcome, imo. Even after more than 20 years of increasing economic disaster for most of the country, the Clinton controlled Dem estab still insists on pay-go for Mainstreet, with talks about cutting safetynet programs even further, all to protect the reckless financial sector , and Wall St., and a few billionaires.

      Welfare as we knew was sacrificed to Wall St deliberately, like so much else.

      Reply
      1. Harold

        Forgive me, but I don’t quite understand how how slashing (or eliminating) the safety net it please the bond markets? I say this as someone who was/is horrified by Clinton’s “reinvention of welfare as we know it” but I am not up on the ins and outs of the relationship.

        Reply
        1. flora

          See this 1994 LA times article:
          http://articles.latimes.com/1994-06-16/local/me-4587_1_bond-traders

          He [Clinton] accepted the proposition that if you worry the bond markets by talk of stimulus or expansion, then interest rates will shoot up. On Wall Street’s orders, he became a deficit buster. Long-term interest rates went down. But now they’re up again and long bonds are off from last year’s peak by 30%, back where they were when Bush was in office.

          Clinton threw in his lot with the bond market, has nothing to show for it, hasn’t got an investment program and is locked on a path of deficit reduction in a sluggish economy with no prospect of long-term improvement.

          When interest rates go up the value of bonds issued at lower interest rates goes down. If interest rates go up the bond market loses money, roughly speaking.

          Shorter: cut govt spending to reduce the deficit. Reduce the deficit to keep interest rates low and the bond market happy. (That’s been the excuse for 25 years and going. That’s the impulse behind pay-go, even as congress cuts taxes for the billionaire set.) And where were the cuts made? On welfare and safetynet programs, among other places.

          Reply
    3. flora

      I had a longer comment eaten by skynet.

      Much shorter: the economic bottom 20% have been erased from view by politicians for the past 25 years. OWS’s “I am the 99%” was effective in recalling to mind who is and is not being addressed by our elected congress.

      Reply
      1. flora

        ah. skynet released the longer comment. I’ll add one more bit from “Economic Donkeys”.

        The “collapse or rescue” decision forced by Lehman’s failure is a symptom of a much larger systemic problem. We need leaders, both in the financial world and in public service who recognize that our financial sector too often causes social harm. …. Yet too often these activities cause losses, which, either directly or indirectly, become a burden on the rest of society.

        Reply
  14. Savita

    https://www.ethical.org.au/3.4.2/get-informed/issues/conflict-minerals/

    This is an Australian site but siblings will exist for your country. It rates products according to ethics – which is a extremely wide net, includes toxins in foods, and a great number of other metrics. Extremely comprehensive. I was inspired to find it after wondering about chocolate. Turns out, the fair trade, certified organic 85% chocolate I eat is evil in a long list of categories! The link I provide above is more promising. It’s the sites reference to conflict minerals in consumer electronics. Turns out over two thirds of mines in the Congo, where most of these minerals are sourced, have been demilitarised, and this is not even in the best interests of the huge multinational mining corps (Australia has at least 7 associated) because without conflict the minerals profit margin falls away radically. Also, Intel said all chips from 2014 will be conflict mineral free.
    here is the chocolate list from the same site. Clicking on the company name brings up the granular issues with their production.
    https://guide.ethical.org.au/guide/browse/guide/?type=126

    Reply
  15. Roger Smith

    Why does Greenwald’s title defer blame from the Israel Lobby to “Right Wing Outrage Mob”? More evidence of the Intercept’s lack of gusto. Even in the opening Greenwald calls them “right-wing defenders of Israel”. Come on man! Israel’s corruption knows no bounds, they take what they can pay for, threaten, or otherwise obtain. The very fact that criticism of one aspect of non-religious state policy is instantaneously equated to a call for genocide is ample evidence of this lobby’s success. NYT “antisemitism” is a euphemism for criticism of Israel. Anyone offended is under psychological conditioning. Greewald’s central argument is about free speech, so why does he even feel the need to qualify this stuff (or let an editor do it)?

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      Don’t think one can blame First Look Media owner Pierre Omidyar for this slant, since he’s of Iranian extraction. So, yes, Greenwald wanting to stay out of the crosshairs of the AIPAC anti-semitism-shouter-downers seems quite possible.

      Reply
  16. Todde

    Usually when i see nonsensical policy like the hockey puck to fight off shooters i figure somebody has a family memeber who owns a puck manufacturing company.

    Reply
  17. The Rev Kev

    “Why Everything You’ve Read About Ukraine Is Wrong”

    Olga came up with a good link there. The more you get into it the worse it gets. Those nationalists are in the west of the country but are trying to impose their values on the rest of the country. Unfortunately the western Ukraine also has large Polish-Ukrainians and Hungarian-Ukrainians so they will be on the chopping block sooner or later until they confirm exactly to how the nationalists see a future Ukraine.
    That fire in Odessa was a coordinated setup. I saw videos of police in a park beforehand and a lot of them were wearing yellow (unofficial) armbands. A lot of the police in that city threw down their riot shields in disgust at what was happening. The head cop in charge giving the orders was found dead a few days later so his testimony became unavailable as to his part.
    Those who provoked the fight ran towards that union house but the video shows them turning into a street blocked by riot police who opened up to let them through and then close ranks. The rest of the crowd mostly went onto that building. Those trying to escape the fire were shot at and those that dripped to the ground were beaten to death by that mob. That is what the nationalist are all about.
    And that Igor Kolomoisky is certainly a nasty piece of work. If things go too bad for him, he also has Israeli citizenship so he gets to flee the continent to safety and beyond extradition. You can track a lot of the death and destruction to what he has financed which is strange. You would think that he would want to protect his fellow jews in the Ukraine as they are not exactly at the top of the love list of the nationalists. They seem to be on par with the Russians and the Gypsies which is not good. Maybe this is a way of encouraging to go to Israel as well. Not exactly a tourist’s paradise.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Oh man. Fassbender nailed that character. The shape of things to come?
      As in Frankenstein, this “Monster” will want to become God himself.
      I’m glad I’m old, because I’ll not be around to see this in the “real” world.

      Reply

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