Links 11/8/18

Yves here. Apologies for being short on original posts, but the elections plus the Trump outrages du jour ate the news.

Kerala: 96-year-old who cleared literacy exam wanted to learn computer, education minister gifts her one Indian Express (J-LS)

First ‘retirement home’ for showbiz beluga whales BBC

Nothing Like a Fight Over Dinosaur Bones to Put Things in Perspective

World’s ‘oldest figurative painting’ discovered in Borneo cave Guardian (Kevin W)

Runaway train blazes through Western Australia for more than 50 miles MPR (chuck4)

David Attenborough has betrayed the living world he loves George Monbiot Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

Human drugs flowing into the animal kingdom Times Union (J-LS)

Changing temperatures improves corn yield in U.S. — for now ScienceBlog (Dr. Kevin)

What You Have To Fear From Artificial Intelligence Current Affairs (UserFriendly)

Girl Scouts sue Boy Scouts for trademark infringement MarketWatch (Chuck L). Help me. A trademark is a visual image (think of the Nike swoosh), and it has to be registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Use of an English language word as part of your brand is not a trademark.

Scrutiny in Lion Air 737 crash turns to automated systems that command plane’s pitch Seattle Times (furzy)


An end of birthright citizenship in the US and Canada would close more doors for Chinese parents South China Morning Post (furzy)

Trump all but announces trade deal with China Asia Times (Kevin W). Trump noise du jour.

Japan med school to admit dozens of unfairly rejected women Fox (furzy)

Sydney’s final auction clearance rate crashes to decade low MacroBusiness


May’s crunch cabinet meeting over Brexit deal delayed amid row Guardian. I wouldn’t bet on that Nov. 21 EU Council meeting coming off…

Little hope of reaching Brexit deal this month, warns Leo Varadkar The Times

Conservative Brexiteers in pact with Labour to force Theresa May to print Brexit legal advice on Irish border backstop The Sun

Billionaire American Families Seek to Profit From Brexit Chaos Bloomberg

Sir Keir Starmer claims Theresa May is ‘bluffing’ about no-deal Brexit and would not go through with it Independent and Labour’s Keir Starmer heads to Brussels with threat to vote down Brexit deal Express. I hope UK (and Irish) readers will pipe up. Does he really mean this? Does he not understand that if MPs vote down May’s deal, she can’t course correct quickly enough to prevent a crash-out? As in is Starmer really that clueless or is this just posturing?

With Brexit, It’s the Geography, Stupid Jacobin (Anthony L)

Argentina: More Lending Guarantees Creeping Austerity Triple Crisis


Pakistan in the middle of Saudi, Iran and rival pipeline plans Asia Times (J-LS)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Chinese ‘gait recognition’ tech IDs people by how they walk Associated Press. Help me. Put a half inch lift in one shoe and you change your gait.

Imperial Collapse Watch

British Empire is still being whitewashed by the school curriculum – historian on why this must change The Conversation (J-LS)

Sessions Defenestration

Inconsolable Jeff Sessions Tries To Commit Suicide By Smoking Joint The Onion

5 things to know about new acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker The Hill

What we know about Matthew Whitaker, the man now in charge of the Mueller probe after Jeff Sessions’ ouster ABC (Kevin W)

Jeff Sessions firing: top Republicans warn Mueller inquiry must continue Guardian

Election Aftermath

US midterms: Democrats ready to put White House under microscope Financial Times. Expect more screeching for Trump’s tax returns. I forgot there is one thing they might find, which is the reason tax pros thinks Mittens released only one year of his returns. The IRS offered an amnesty to taxpayers with Swiss bank accounts: ‘fess up to them, pay the tax due, and you won’t be charged. Recall that this was shortly after the Swiss were browbeaten into cooperating with the US.

Those who took advantage of this offer had to refile their returns, and the first page was “stapled”. I’ve never seen one, but I gather it is bloomin’ obvious. The tax returns withheld by Mittens would have been stapled if he had had a Swiss bank account then and took advantage of the amnesty program (recall that the return he provided showed he did have one).

Trump threatens ‘warlike’ response if Democratic House investigates him Guardian

Abby Martin: The Democratic Party’s ‘Abysmal Failure’ Presenting a Platform Real News

The 16 Races That Are Still Too Close To Call FiveThirtyEight (UserFriendly)

Georgia’s secretary of state Brian Kemp doxes thousands of absentee voters TechCrunch (Slashdot)

CNN journalist Jim Acosta banned from White House after Trump calls him ‘rude, terrible person’ NBC (furzy). Trump looks like he is lashing out on several fronts. Or maybe he decided to take as much revenge as possible now so as to have maximum distance from the next election. But it still looks bad.

Election of 3 Israel critics to Congress is historic, but far more new Dems’ commitment to Israel is ‘permanent as the sky’ Mondoweiss (chuck4)

Ballot Initiative Results: Climate Change, Criminal Justice Reforms, And More Shadowproof (UserFriendly)

Voters in Missouri and Arkansas just lifted pay for 1 million workers Economic Policy Institute

Scott Walker Thought He Could Get Away With Corporate Welfare New Republic. Chuck L: “I attended an electric utility technical conference earlier this week and one of the presentations was about what’s being done to supply the Foxconn complex with power.”

Monumental Hypocrisy Current Affairs (UserFriendly)

Fargo, ND Makes History: First US City To Implement Approval Voting Center for Election Science (UserFriendly)

October was worst month for hedge funds in 7 years Financial Times

What Wells Fargo’s $40.6 Billion in Stock Buybacks Could Have Meant for Its Employees and Customers Roosevelt Institute (UserFriendly)

Wells Fargo Executives Knew How Screwed Up Their Car Insurance Program Was for Years: Lawsuit Jalopnik (Kevin W)

Companies are holding off hosting holiday parties this year — and it may be because of #MeToo concerns Business Insider

Guillotine Watch

$4.3 Million Diamond-Encrusted High Heels on Offer in Shanghai Bloomberg

Class Warfare. See how all the political news crowded out class warfare stories? That’s a feature, not a bug.

Canada is richer than the US, according to a new wealth ranking — in fact, the US doesn’t even make the top 10 Business Insider

Antidote du jour (John N):

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Huey

    Thanks Yves.

    Shouldn’t the second paragraph under Acosta’s ban be under the FT article where you mentioned the tax amnesty by the way?

    Nice adviceon the half-inch lifts too. Will add that to my repertoire.

    1. barefoot charley

      They say a pebble in the shoe will do. And swap sprains every week or two?

      (to defeat gait-tracking spyware)

      1. Whoa Molly!

        I have to think that the gait monitoring algorithm would be primed to look for the half inch lift or pebble in shoe gait. Kind of “if you see a pebble/lift gait, focus like heck on that person.”

      2. newcatty

        Guess the glamorous women who buy diamond – encrusted shoes could just use a loose diamond, instead of a pebble, in the diamond-encrusted shoe. Life reflecting art…Paul did you know you were so prescient.

      3. zer0

        Or toe in, out, hunch, stand straight, twist your hips, etc.

        This is like how Google thinks I still live in the home I sold 4 years ago, and work at the place I currently live. They think big data holds the key to the universe. I think it is mostly noise with some common sense trends thrown in.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          “…mostly noise with some common sense trends thrown in..”

          Excellent way to put it! – that is the most succinct description I’ve heard anyone use. There are a lot of people worshiping at the altar of big data and I find most of them don’t understand math or logic very well. Recently at work I pointed out a trend in some numbers I’d noticed by doing the actual work necessary to see it. I pointed it out to my supervisor who requested a report be run rather than just taking my word for it. The report showed exactly what I’d already pointed out. Good thing we have big data to waste our time and tell us what we already know.

          Worse than that though is sifting through the data and finding patterns that don’t actually refer to anything real – there’s lots of pareidolia going on in the number crunching field if you ask me.

    2. Lord Koos

      Putting a .5 inch lift in a shoe when it is not needed will mess up your back fast. Unless you were planning a specific (short) activity during which you did not want to be identified it’s a fairly useless suggestion IMO. I wouldn’t care to attend a demonstration crippled by a lift or stone in my shoe, for example. Facial recognition is easier to defeat.

  2. cnchal

    > Scott Walker Thought He Could Get Away With Corporate Welfare New Republic

    Walker came into the race with plenty of advantages, including the best economy of his tenure, with unemployment numbers at just 3.0 percent. But a politician cannot push $4.5 billion into the waiting arms of a prosperous company and not expect blowback, especially when the company doesn’t follow through on its promises.

    One promise will be kept. The pollution and poison will flow.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      THOUGHT???? he could get away with “corporate welfare”? He HAS gotten away with it, trading Wisconsin education funds for t-shirt and popcorn selling jobs at the new milwaukee bucks stadium just three short years ago. And who needs an “education” to clean the toilets in the luxury hotel rooms of basketball-loving millionaires?

      Jobs, jobs, jobs is what a governor’s supposed to do, right?

      As was reported by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the bill calls for taxpayers to cover exactly half the cost of a $500 million arena over the next twenty years and in exchange, the Bucks will not move to Las Vegas, Seattle or any other city in the market for a professional basketball franchise. Noble as the cause may be, particularly since the Bucks have been in Milwaukee since 1968, this deal stinks to high heaven.

      First off, more important necessities are being sacrificed for this arena. According to Jordan Weissmann of Slate, citing Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post, Walker cut $250 million from the state’s education budget, and is now asking state taxpayers to pay for half the cost of this proposed arena, with the other half coming from current and past team owners. The $250 million that taxpayers contribute will also go up to $400 million with interest and given how Wisconsin already has a $2.2 billion budget deficit, cutting funding for education and asking the public to finance a new arena is along the same lines of quitting one’s job, then asking friends and family to help pay for a new big-screen TV. It’s a nice thing to have, but a luxury that one can ill afford given certain circumstances.

  3. Teejay


    Did: Those who took advantage of this offer had to refile their returns, and the first page was “stapled”. I’ve never seen one, but I gather it is bloomin’ obvious. The tax returns withheld by Mittens would have been stapled if he had had a Swiss bank account then and took advantage of the amnesty program (recall that the return he provided showed he did have one).
    get misplaced?
    It looks like it was intended to belong with “US Midterms” and not “CNN Journalists Jim Acosta”

  4. Jim A.

    Re: scouts and trademarks. Trademarks are not just graphics. It doesn’t matter what logo you put on them, you can’t make your own “apple” computers and sell them. But apple can’t prevent you from selling apples (the kind that you eat) Generic trademarks like that are necessarily limited to the market that you are using them in. Indeed, the Beatles record company, “apple” sued the computer maker when they started the itunes store because they were then competing under the same name in the same market, which they previously had not. My guess is that the Girl Scouts are suing the BSA for similarly using the term “scouts” for a youth organization for girls. Keep in mind that the BSA has been very strict about anybody else using the term “scouts” for a youth organization for boys.

        1. barefoot charley

          I’m guessing the purpose of the lawsuit is to bring about the forced settlement talks that filing triggers. The judge has to see that interests are irreconcilable for the lawsuit to proceed. In this case meaningful settlement would be about advertising, not word-branding. I’m also guessing this case won’t go to trial.

          1. Higgs Boson

            Given the current condition of the empire, as a political and social commentary it was quite prescient.

            1. Alex V

              While also making historical references. The commercial for the Mobile Infantry references Triumph of the Will.

      1. Plenue

        The Girl Scouts are a significantly less gross organization from what I’ve seen, so it’s probably best for them to stay seperate.

    1. EoH

      Thanks. A “fair and balanced” view. As Fox might attest, words and phrases are often trademarked, if inexplicably so. An accessible comment:

      Common words and phrases can be trademarked if the person or company seeking the trademark can demonstrate that the phrase has acquired a distinctive secondary meaning apart from its original meaning.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      On a side note, I’m wondering if those Girl Scouts in the photo understand that the statue they are standing next to is not a monument to female fortitude, but a marketing gimmick drummed up by State Street investors and mega ad agency Universal-McCann?

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      I have a trademark. It most assuredly is as visual image. The Beatle’s Apple Corps. used an apple as its logo, just as Apple Computer did. They were different apples but the use of a single large apple + the name arguably caused confusion, and the original settlement called for each company to stick to its category (music v. computers) which is also how trademarks work, they are valid only for a particular type of commerce.

      1. ewmayer

        According to my online dictionary, a trademark is:

        “a symbol, word, or words legally registered or established by use as representing a company or product.”

        But I’m with Katniss, they should just merge, forchrissake.

      2. Jim A.

        Apple computer and apple records use very different logos…But they still needed a settlement because the word itself was the same. The existence of a particular logo does not mean that one can’t get protection for a word NOT used in that logo. Similarly, FIAT would have a difficult time getting a trademark for a logo of the word FIAT written in white cursive on a blue oval. That logo would be too similar to the Ford logo, even though the word is different.
        Of course there are limits. You could have a stylized logo of an apple as a trademark for a fruit company, but you could NOT get trademark protection for use of the word “apple” when selling fruit. The goal is to avoid consumer confusion.

        I just don’t think it is likely that the BSA and the GSUSA will merge, the organizations are just too different, and neither would want to be subservient to the other. Indeed, the differences between them are one reason that a girl might choose to join the BSA rather than the GSUSA.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Trump threatens ‘warlike’ response if Democratic House investigates him”: ‘In Florida, Trump-backed Republican Ron DeSantis, accused of weaponising racism for his own benefit, ended Democrat Andrew Gillum’s bid to become the state’s first African American governor.’

    So I was reading this morning that Gillum had Hillary Clinton come down to Florida to campaign and fund-raise for him and I was thinking for the love of god why? Is it really a good idea to tie your campaign to the Clintons and all the baggage that they have? Did he really think that idea through?
    Did a bit of looking and found that he was a Hillary supporter from way back in 2016 when he tweeted: ‘Proud to endorse @HillaryClinton for #POTUS. She’s the change-maker America needs & the leader we deserve #ImWithHer’. In other words, if he had been elected, he would have been a democrat in the Clinton mould. For his district it would have been a case of DDSS as in Different Day, Same S***.

    1. Oregoncharles

      At this point, Gillums – DeSantis will probably go to a recount. It isn’t done. Nelson vs. Scott may, too.

  6. liam

    Sir Keir Starmer claims Theresa May is ‘bluffing’ about no-deal Brexit and would not go through with it – Independent

    “Under the Withdrawal Act the prime minister will have to face a vote in parliament about what to do if her deal is rejected; Labour sources indicated that they are confident there would be no majority in the Commons for a no deal.”

    I think Labours maneuvering for revocation of A.50. Otherwise it makes no sense. They’re claiming, (not unreasonably), that no-deal would be catastrophic. They’re also saying that they’ll vote down an insufficiently detailed deal on the future relationship. Since one of these is the most likely outcome, what’s left is revocation.

    Regarding the sausage making part of all that, I have no idea. I’m not an observer of British political processes. Just the impression I get.

    1. Skip Intro

      Or is Starmer a ‘stay behind’ blairite on a kamikaze mission to kill Corbyn’s Labour to save it? (I really have no idea).

      1. liam

        I can’t answer that either. The thought does enter my head that this could all be theatre, designed to make Labour look relevant and actively protecting the interests of the country. Which is not entirely inconsistent with the thought that it’s a maneuvering designed to create space for Labour by spelling out seemingly contradictory stances. The logical outcome of that maneuvering still seems to me to be revocation, but then, there’s a distinct lack of logic in a lot of what’s going on in the UK at the moment.

  7. zagonostra

    Ref: US midterms: Democrats ready to put White House under microscope

    Yes that is why I waited in the rain early in the morning, taking time off of work to vote, to ensure we examine Trumps Taxes…Jeez!

    It amazes me that with 99% of the population wanting affordable healthcare, college education that doesn’t enslave students for the rest of their lives, fixing crumbling infrastructure, easing highway congestion, etc…we have a “divided government.”

    Oh how the political brokers/power elites/oligarchs, 1%’s – call them what you will – must be smug and happy after this midterm election.

    1. voteforno6

      I don’t know…it would be nice if Congress actually exercised more oversight, as long as they don’t get sidetracked with the silly stuff.

            1. ambrit

              Oh goody! Any ‘dirt’ you care to ‘fertilize’ us with?
              Seriously, are Corporate taxes ‘silly’ too? (Or maybe I should ask; how silly are they?) I remember when my Dad discovered that we could write off the family dog as a business expense; Business truck parking area burglar alarm, Organic Version.

    2. polecat

      It’s absolutely positively most indubitablely NOT about divided government, when it comes to the really important matters at hand — seniority, power, & $$$ !

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      AOC was talking about impeachment.

      Now this personal tax thing. It seems personal…ad hominem.

      And a perfect time for someone to step up and say, ‘let us get back to the business of serving the American people.’

      Maybe Sanders can do that. No Republicans can (‘He or she is just trying to cover up!!!’)

      1. GF

        Do you have a source link for : “AOC was talking about impeachment.”? And if you are also implying she is OK with looking into his taxes, can you supply a link to that too?


        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          This is from a June 2018 Politico article:

          “I would support impeachment. I think that, you know, we have the grounds to do it. I think what, really, we need to focus on is making sure that we are advocating for the policies to win in November,” she told CNN. “But ultimately, I think that what we need to kind of focus on is insuring that we can, you know, when people break the law, potentially break the law, that we have to hold everyone accountable and that no person is above that law.”

          The link:

          1. Elizabeth Burton

            That sounds like a quite adept sidestep of the original question. “If people break the law, they should suffer the consequences” doesn’t sound like an irrefutable endorsement of impeachment to me. Not like Gillum, who all but ran on it, if memory serves.

            Frankly, if someone can produce actual evidence Trump committed an impeachable offense, I say go for it. What I’m seeing, though, isn’t really about impeachment but literally negating the election so the new Democrat Speaker can move into the White House. Which ain’t gonna happen. So, let them impeach, and then figure out how to deal with Mike Pence and his Koch brothers puppeteers.

    4. nowhere

      Bernie Sanders and Matt Taibbi

      So far what I’ve been reading about the intention of the Democrats in the House is that much of it is focused on investigations; we have 64 subpoenas we want to drop, and —

      Look, people can chew bubble gum and walk at the same time. Democrats can do that. And if all they’re going to do is investigate Trump, that would be, in my view a very, very serious mistake. I think finally we are going to have oversight over Trump’s behavior. And I think investigations are absolutely appropriate. But simultaneously, people who are making $11 an hour are not worrying about investigations. People who have no health care, or can’t afford prescription drugs, are not worried about subpoenas. People who can’t afford to send their kids to college are not worried about another investigation. So it would be a tragic mistake in my view if all the Democrats did is focus on investigations. They must, must, must go forward with a progressive agenda to win the support of the American people.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Democrats should listen to that.

        “Put those long knives back. Go back to bed. Good night.”

      2. Todde

        They couldn’t stop themselves from fing up a supreme court nomination but somehow they are going to impeach trump

  8. liam

    Re: Canada is richer than the US, according to a new wealth ranking — in fact, the US doesn’t even make the top 10 – Business Insider

    That Austrailia tops that list makes me think its garbage in – garbage out. As an Irish person I remember how people here were considered super rich because they had a massively over-valued roof over their heads. It’s a funny concept of wealth that…

    1. makedoanmend

      As an old farmer once commented when we were looking over the townland and talking about the bad old day and these “good” days:

      …In the old days the houses were poor but the food was good and you had neighbors who would help each other, now the houses are mansions but you’d be hard put to find a bottle of milk the fridge…(the implication being that couples were paying so much for their mortgages that food became a secondary consideration)

      Not that the olden days where golden. They weren’t – far, far from it. But the hype and ostentatious wealth on display today often conceal some deeper issues. I suppose all things, including perceived wealth, are relative to a situation in time and place.

      As a species, we do not seem to be able to balance out our concept of types of wealth very well. As a person who tends to adopt a materialist framework of analysis, I definitely think we over emphasize material wealth too much.

      1. liam

        Exactly. Although, I don’t think the materialist view is too far off either. It’s just we tend to only calculate what’s both easy to quantify and granular, (as in, private). It’s assumed by many that externalities are costs. But there’s a return side to that ledger also. And when you see things as having intrinsic worth in and of themselves, measures of wealth become pretty elastic in their meaning.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      Hardly ever mentioned is the perceived need to escape from despair/meaninglessness in many of those who end up addicted to these substances. This would require attention to qualify of life issues, and it’s so much easier to either blame the victim on moral grounds or to blame the evil substance, itself.
      I also grow weary of passing off consideration of those suffering from chronic pain to sinister machinations of the drug companies…
      Pain is entirely subjective, as far as I know. I’ve not heard of any way of objectively measuring the experience of pain. Until there is such a method, we’re stuck with asking people how they feel…and that damned smiley face chart—-I find it useless,lol…since my normal is around 5. I awake each morning under a fallen stone wall.
      The years of disbelief and suspicion and fear I experienced. In trying to just lessen the pain, instead added to it.
      The “ladder” was interminable: trying all manner of gut destroying nsaids before we can even think about a poppy derivative.
      Pain should be taken seriously…while at the same time remembering that it’s often. Apart of life..and indeed one way of knowing that you still exist

      1. perpetualWAR

        I’m so sorry. I have two people close to me who also have to endure chronic pain. The unseen condition that seldom is understood.

      2. Lee

        I’m with you. I’ve been taking opioid medication for ten years. Without it I am immobilized by pain from spinal spondylolisthesis and stenosis. With it I can actually get up and do things. I think more clearly. I only take in the prescribed dose, or on good days less. As with many things, if used properly these medications are a boon, if abused, a curse. This distinction should be acknowledged.

      3. marieann

        As a retired RN I always went with the view that pain level is what the patient says it is…..back then we went by a 1-5 scale.

      4. CanCyn

        I completely agree that pain is real and needs to be taken seriously, in spite of the difficulties in understanding each person’s pain. But it seems to me that the focus on pain has taken emphasis off of proper medical investigation and diagnosis. Amfortas’ loathed smiley face chart is a scale of 1-10 in Canada – an equally nonsensical method of conveying the level of pain. My 5 is another person’s 10 or vice versa. That quick check followed by immediate pain killing medication doesn’t solve the actual problem that the person has. We no longer spend enough time trying to figure out what is causing the pain. People are medicated and dopey and unable to convey more about their condition. And even go into further decline because of the side effects of the pain med …. or outright addiction, cue the opioid crisis stories.
        I well remember the story (linked here at NC some time in the past) about the 90 year doctor who fell down the stairs and knew enough to refuse and/or only take mild pain relievers so that he could stay focused and participate in his own recovery. That is a lesson I’ll never forget.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          In my case, the problem is a wreck almost 30 years ago, and a bad reconstruction of hip and ankle…which led to compensatory behavior which spread the arthritis to everywhere else.( can’t lift with your knees if your knees are damaged,lol)
          I can’t be repaired( makes Steve Austin noises,”…we can rebuild him…”)
          Aside from the way I walk and otherwise move, it’s invisible…and I’ve gotten used to stoically muscling through it…making it even more invisible.
          I’ll need pain meds for the rest of my life, so it’s in my interest to attempt to prolong their efficacy. periodic drug holidays, unilaterally imposed upon myself, to reset the receptors, seem to accomplish this.
          I’m almost Taylorist in my slavery to the prescribed regimen…set my phone to avoid clock watching,lol.
          The point in all this is that these drugs are effective, and can be effectively managed…including their dangers and downsides.
          We each have agency, if we would only use it.

          1. ambrit

            A minor quibble.
            Of what use is ‘agency’ when one is denied the proper tools to wield?
            Your self control regimen reminds me of the study, perhaps in the Lancet, where patients, when given control of the pain medication delivery control, ended up using less pain medication than the outside controllers did, in the ‘control’ group.

            1. Amfortas the Hippie

              For want of a hammer,I’ll use a rock

              That study was one I presented to my doctor. He was aware of his ignorance, which is commendable.
              ( I wanted to avoid “pain management” due to testing for pot)

              1. ambrit

                Cannabis is itself reputed to be an excellent analgesic.
                Sadly, the wife is allergic to same.
                Of course, I think most uncivilized thoughts about the eventual fates of those in the medical profession who blithely say that; “..all drugs come with nausea and throwing up.”

  9. PlutoniumKun

    Sir Keir Starmer claims Theresa May is ‘bluffing’ about no-deal Brexit and would not go through with it Independent and Labour’s Keir Starmer heads to Brussels with threat to vote down Brexit deal Express. I hope UK (and Irish) readers will pipe up. Does he really mean this? Does he not understand that if MPs vote down May’s deal, she can’t course correct quickly enough to prevent a crash-out? As in is Starmer really that clueless or is this just posturing?

    I can’t really work out what Starmer means by this. He’s not an idiot so I assume he knows full well that there is a no-deal crash out if May can’t get whatever she negotiates past Parliament, there is simply no other obvious fall-back.

    My guess is that this message is solely aimed at Labour MP’s tempted to vote with any deal as a ‘least worst’ option. If that is the intention, its a pretty clumsy way to do it.

    1. Marlin

      I thought it is pretty obvious what he means.
      Negotiated Deal not passed through parliament + No Deal not acceptable = Request to rescind article 50 letter

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Runaway train blazes through Western Australia for more than 50 miles”

    Funny thing about that story was mention of the driver and nobody else on that train. When I was much younger I worked on the railways and each train would typically have a driver, an assistant driver and a guard in a guard’s van at the rear of the train. Not that long after I left the railways I noticed that there were no longer any guards and the guard’s van was replaced by a coloured light. I guess that the idea was to save on wages. If that driver was by himself, then that might imply that there was no assistant driver and I wonder if that position had been done away with as well. For what it is worth, trains are big hunks of metal and there are lots of ways to get yourself injured or killed if something unexpected happens. When something unexpected does happen, it can put the wind up you. I hope that there were two drivers and not just one. If recreational drivers are expected to use the buddy system then why not a job that involves controlling thousands of tons of metal and rocks.

  11. Maurice Hebert

    Monumental Hypocrisy article seems yet another iteration of the long line of Northern apologia for the Confederacy and neo-Confederacy. It seems a part of the banality of evil. It is perhaps why any progress towards justice is so tentative and fleeting; there are always apologists and excuse-makers to muddy the waters.

    A counterpose:
    We never cleaned up after the civil war, never made it anathema, as the Germans have since the second world war, to support the losing side. We never had a truth and reconciliation process like South Africa did. We’ve allowed statues to go up across the country glorifying the traitors and losers, treated the pro-slavery flag as sentimental, fun, Dukes of Hazzard, white identity politics. A retired general, Stanley McChrystal, just wrote a piece about throwing out his portrait of Robert E Lee that he’d had for 40 years, and why a US soldier should celebrate the leader of a war against that country says everything about the distortion of meaning and memory here.

    1. Goyo Marquez

      The U.S. flag represents quite a few things, many good, some bad.

      The Confederate flag and the statues honoring those who fought for it represent only one thing, slavery —the kidnapping, imprisonment, torture, rape, abuse, and robbery of human beings for profit— and the defense of that system using the worst possible kinds of violence against fellow human beings.

    2. Art

      Agreed. Can we also take down monuments to the genocide and displacement of indigenous Americans too? Still one of the least talked about skeletons in our closet.

  12. Wukchumni

    Gooooooood Moooooooorning Fiatnam!

    The kill-ratio from a gun last night was a dozen or more, and on the nightly news tonight, thoughts and prayers will bring none of them back, but it’ll make us feel less impotent in terms of actually doing anything to stop these mass murders from happening.

    1. JerryDenim

      I know these shootings happen far too often nowadays, but considering 12 people were murdered senselessly in cold blood the tone of your comment strikes me as offensively flippant.

      I think it bears mentioning the shooter was a ex-Marine with PTSD. That tiny bit of information will receive a brief mention in the news. Questioning whether or not mass shootings by returning veterans traumatized by our permanent foreign wars is an inescapable cost and direct repercussion of our belligerent foreign policy will not be discussed ever. As our never-ending foreign wars fought by a volunteer force of mostly lower-class, opportunity-starved Americans drags on, year after year, so does the halftime military shows, the obsequious deference of military personnel, and yellow ribbon bumper sticker patriotism. The right-wingers can tar and feather Colin Kapernick, but they can’t stop PTSD chickens from coming home to roost. Our society desperately needs less war, less inequality, and more social services. A few less guns probably wouldn’t hurt either.

      1. todde

        the tone of your comment strikes me as offensively flippant

        I believe that was the point.

        This is what we get: platitudes.

        1. Lee

          Yes. I’m sure Wuk was being Byronic, as in: “And if I laugh at any mortal thing, ‘Tis that I may not weep”

        2. JerryDenim

          So mass murder calls for offensive flippancy and is on point according to you? The guy that sits next to my wife in one of her law classes issued a mass-shooting threat aimed at the entire school on social media on Monday, and today I awaken to find out Pepperdine law students in a community where I used to live, and planned to travel to on Saturday, were gunned down in cold blood last night for no apparent reason.

          Pardon me, but I seemed to have misplaced my sense of mass-murder humor today. Perhaps if someone else could pip up and explain it to me in more detail I could laugh Byronically at the twelve dead people who were murdered last night.

          1. Jeotsu

            We can take on Onion approach, using the headline they use for mass shootings now.


            Sadly, “Thoughts and Prayers” are effectively as meaningless as flippancy and humor.

            As a society the US has decided that mass shootings are okay. Otherwise they would have done something to stop them. Like Australia did after the Port Author shootings. Or we can look at other societies which have a lot of guns, but due to differences in law/culture/civility manage to not shoot each other up all the time.

            The US will keep having mass shootings until it decided they are a problem. As it is not doing anything right now, they are clearly not a problem. So all the media activity is about making money from “eyeballs”, not anything useful or moral.

            1. todde

              Billie Lee Boyce, 10/29/1987, 1515 E. Melrose St.

              On Oct. 29, 1987, the body of 13-year-old Boyce was found propped against a chain-link fence in an alley in the 1500 block of Melrose Avenue. She was wearing only red ankle socks and a cross necklace. She had been beaten and strangled.

              Six months after the murder, police arrested a man with a long criminal record, but charges against him were dismissed in September 1988 after a delay in DNA testing prohibited prosecutors from taking him to trial within the required 120 days.

              Boyce was last seen alive by a 12-year-old friend who had walked with her to the corner of Eighth Street and South Grand Avenue, where they parted ways.

              I was Paul Bearer at this murdered girl’s funeral. I was going to murder the guy who killed her, but as I got out of the car to gun him down her brother stopped me. He saved my life.

              I killed her kitten the day she died. Broke it’s neck on accident closing the refrigerator door. I was pretty upset about it, but then it didn’t matter.

              When they went to identify her, her head was swelled up beyond recognition. It was the necklace that gave her identity away.

              O, but some maniac in your wife’s law school threatened to shoot up the place. Sounds horrible.

              I remember when maniacs “with long criminal histories’ used to threaten to commit a mass shooting.

              We used to call those rare situations “Friday night” and sometimes Saturday night too.

              1. JerryDenim

                I have no interest in competing in the victim Olympics today, if I did I would surely lose, I’ve lead a mostly pleasant life, but I am truly sorry to hear your sad story. Overall my week has been pretty nice and carefree really and I wasn’t attempting to imply I was owed sympathy by anyone, just explaining why I might be a little less than receptive to humor directed towards mass shootings.

                I was not scandalized or victimized by anyone’s commentary, but I do stand by my original comment that I find flippant commentary, Byronic, ironic or otherwise, the morning after a mass shooting to be in poor taste. This week or any week really. If you feel otherwise, carry-on.

                I found it alarming that among the survivors of last night’s mass shooting in Thousand Oaks there were multiple people who also survived last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas. My wife mentioned that among her law class of 120 there were at least 3 people who had survived mass shootings. Based on those numbers I would guess there are probably mass shooting survivors reading this blog today.

                Good day all.

              2. todde

                charges against him were dismissed in September 1988 after a delay in DNA testing prohibited prosecutors from taking him to trial within the required 120 days.

                if anyone here, perhaps a lawyer can explain why the case was dropped, I’ve spent 30 years thinking about it.

          2. Wukchumni

            I had no idea it was a veteran that was the mass murderer, which makes it even more ironic in our ‘every veteran is a hero’ world.

            I’m currently ensconced in Whittier, Ca. which on nearly every lamp pole on Whittier Blvd., there’s a sideways American flag (a good many of them faded) and below, something that says:

            “Whittier Salutes:

            Fred Smith


            As far as I can tell, all Fred et al did was enlist, nothing more.

            This has to stop, this absurd hero worship.

            And yes, I was being as flippant as possible, as i’m sick of these mass murders happening so often that it’s become ho hum.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        Oh, it’s worse. CNN said on Twitter they weren’t going to mention the shooter’s name or show his picture. Am I the only one who sees this sudden attack of journalistic ethics as driven by the fact they couldn’t scream across the planet that another neo-Nazi Trump supporter just killed a lot of people?

        Coincidentally, someone else on Twitter noted there were 11 (count ’em) other mass shootings between this one and Tree of Life, yet not one was apparently deemed worthy of attention. Again, I have to wonder if the absence of a way to connect it to Trump was a factor.

      3. lentilsoup

        Some people are saying “thoughts & prayers” is a b.s. response to these mass shootings. They say that a real response would be gun control [favored by the Democrats], whereas “thoughts & prayers” is an impotent and insincere response [favored by the Republicans; that is, by those who don’t really care, b/c if they did, then – gun control].

        It’s saying that any sympathetic response on a personal level to such a tragedy is inauthentic unless it is also matched by agreement to a certain policy response on a legislative level.
        Um, no. This is just a way of using tragedy as a convenient excuse to paint one’s political enemies as monsters – which itself seems pretty monstrous.
        Intelligent people can always disagree on politics, but ought to come together to mourn a tragic event, no?
        Not in America, I guess.

        The irony is — if only that mass shooter had taken some time for “thoughts and prayers” before he acted, to get some mental distance from whatever was tormenting him … thoughts and prayers to find the strength to let go of his anger, his rage and desire for vengeance … thoughts and prayers to forgive, or cool off, or at least make it through to the next day … when things could change for the better.
        Thoughts and prayers are not impotent at all. There is nothing more powerful, if we could only use them in the right way, in the right time.

        1. Skip Intro

          Now now, there’s nothing wrong with the standard ‘thoughts and prayers’ schtick, I mean, that virtue’s not gonna signal itself is it?

  13. allan

    “The 16 Races That Are Still Too Close To Call”

    Actually, one of these is now decided:

    Democrat Kim Schrier flips Washington House district [The Hill]

    Particulary satisfying since Schrier was on the receiving end of one of those “Jews with fistfuls of your dollars” ads
    that the GOP ran against many Jewish Democratic candidates.

    Sadly, her issues pages states,

    … committed to moving us toward a Medicare for All system that guarantees affordable, high-quality care …

    1. a different chris

      She got the “affordable” part right but messed up the beloved Dem “fighting for….” locution. Wait until Pelosi finds out that Ms Schrier actually teased her constituents with real movement.

  14. efschumacher

    On the Continued Misrepresentation of the British Empire

    One thing you find when you systematically visit the great English cathedrals is who gets memorialized in them, over 800 years. Usually rich robber barons, of course, as well as the Upper Clergy (i.e.the younger brothers of rich robber barons). However starting sometime toward the middle of the 19th century, fallen heroes of Imperial British adventures begin to make an appearance. These adventures tend to include British regimental deaths at the hands of natives of India ,Sudan, South Africa, and other choice bits of annexed real estate. I can’t help but be embarrrassed when I see nationals of these now independent countries visiting the cathedrals, and seeing these monuments tothe subjugation of their ancestors. Personaly I think every one of these,monuments should also memorialize the victims of British greed.

    Though you might also argue that mass killing should not be memorialized at all in a Christian building.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Not only are there British dead in the cathedrals in England. There must be perhaps millions of British dead – men, women & children – scattered around what was the old Empire and an ungodly number died in India alone. Often you see their graves scattered in old cemeteries in places like Goa, Jerusalem and wherever but I have also seen the markers of their graves on the lonely plains of Zululand in South Africa at Isandhlwana. A sad sight that-

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That was a good movie with Michael Caine.

        The scene with the missionary family from the film would suggest similar stories of scattered graves around the world. I believe some Dutch missionaries were killed when Koxinga from Fujian took what is now Tainan, from which the Dutch forwarded their Chinese and Japanese products to their main base in Java before their final destination in Amsterdam (and all the oriental objects – silk, tea, porcelains – seen in Old Masters’ paintings came through that Taiwanese port) and kept their young daughter as a concubine.

  15. Wukchumni

    The key question of the Aussie-Kiwi housing bubble (most NZ banks are owned by Lucky Country bankeratti) is do both governments prop up badly fading real estate markets, as was done in the USA post 2008?

    If not, it’s gonna get messy…

    1. ChrisPacific

      I think the NZ housing bubble is fundamentally different from the US one in some ways. In particular it’s supply constrained to a much higher degree, for varying reasons based on geography, but one common factor is the Resource Management act and the high cost of consenting.

      The complication is that the Resource Management Act is generally supported in principle (it’s what allows local neighborhoods a degree of control over their character and evolution) so most people don’t want to just get rid of it. They would however like it to work more efficiently than it does, and respond to change more effectively.

      The only thing I can think of that might have the potential to cause a genuine crash would be an economic downturn relative to Australia resulting in a mass exodus of workers. If that was to kick in around the time the supply side measures took effect (which have a lead time and therefore a limited ability to respond to events quickly) then we could see a correction. I suppose the other possibility would be a breakdown in the housing market of the type seen in the US, where there were record numbers of homeless at the same time as many houses were standing empty for long periods. That’s possible, but I think the NZ government would be much more inclined to intervene in that case than the US government has been.

      Despite being a homeowner with a large paper gain, I would quite like to be wrong about this (I see myself as a lifetime consumer of housing, and while price appreciation may enrich my estate it won’t be of much financial benefit to me in my lifetime). But I just don’t see a US style price crash as a plausible scenario here. We could however end up with a soft crash where prices remain flat for up to a decade or so.

  16. Alex morfesis

    One and done…emperor distracto attempting to get impeached so he can hide behind it and not deal with the fact he is now a lame duck President… Florida is gone…one million new voters from restored rights are probably not Republicans… Governorships of Wisconsin Nevada and Kansas… Pennsylvania remains Democrat…there is no path to victory…his bearded wonder from Texas running his campaign won’t be able to find enough magic, even if his old air force intelligence buddies in san antonio try to go along for the ride again this time…lame duck emperor…

    His only hope is Hillary helping him again….

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      The political prognosticator graveyards are littered with the bodies of those who have underestimated Trump.

      They are also littered with the bodies of those who have underestimated the willingness of elected democrats to betray the diminishing number of voters who are inclined to trust them because “there’s nowhere else for them to go.”

      1. Alex Morfesis

        Emperor Jones trump will soon run into the “ohhh daaahd” moment when the world realizes he has run out of one liners…he is not dynamic…he just has a deeper list than most…but he has already run out of gas…its over…the only question is will pence and company push him out to try to imagine pence(…oops…sorry…fell off the barstool laughyn…) can win in 2020…the news ratings will start to slide and trumps usefulness will have run out…its over…

    2. Oregoncharles

      Very interesting. We can hope, but so far, the 2-full-term alternation of the parties has held. If necessary, I think the Dems will cheat to maintain it. One reason they had to keep Bernie out – he might have won.

      And OTOH, for the next 2 years Trump should have no trouble getting nominees confirmed. He’s remodeling the judiciary, and Justice Ginsburg just had a sinister accident.

  17. Carolinian

    Re David Attenborough

    “Real success can only come if there’s a change in our societies, in our economics and in our politics.” But what change? What economics? What politics? He had given us no clues.

    Anyone who watches Attenborough on PBS in the US knows that he talks quite a lot about climate change. And no he doesn’t talk about “economics” or “politics” or Monbiot’s preferred solutions, whatever those may be. Indeed Monbiot’s view that there is a nature program transmittable solution could suggest that it is he who is fleeing from reality. The real problem is not getting people to accept the science–few these days don’t (they may pretend to reject)–but rather of getting them to do something about it. That will indeed involve economics and politics and things that are not within the expertise of a biologist. Honestly one wonders whether they are within the expertise of a Guardian writer who likes to play the gratuitous scold.

    1. juliania

      David Attenborough is a very old man who does what he does very, very well. We all should know by now how terribly our natural world is suffering at our hands. The difficulties of finding nature in her natural beauty only redounds to his credit – he is lately showing us what we could have to keep, if only we tried harder.

      1. SKM

        re Attenborough and the environment, I have long felt uncomfortable about that aspect of his beautiful programmes and remember that it took him a long time before he included any mention of global warming at all.
        I feel here Monbiot has got it right in that A`s programmes actually induce complacency about the state of the planet in just the way he describes.
        The other aspect of A`s attitude that I find galling is the emphasis on (by implication, absolute) population levels having a chief causal role in AGW. Even if this were true, it is a counterproductive message to put out, especially to the Western public, as it says nothing about consumption (and therefore capitalism, and our whole, originally Western way of life). It also (by design or not) ends up by implication being racist, as I`m sure the wealthy and/or privileged of us Westerners are talking about dark-skinned hoards in far away places and all that that implies about how to address climate forcing.
        I`m not denying that sheer numbers of humans, even those not leading our lavish life style, are destrctive in varying degrees to the environment in general. However most of the 400ppm CO2 or 480 C equiv up there was put up there by capitalist consumption and until relatively recently this was largely Western.
        I have to admit though that I was truly shocked at Monbiot`s quotes of Attenborough`s actual words about famine in the “developing” world; a horrendous confirmation of my worst fears about his mind-set.

        1. Oregoncharles

          From the BBC, today: “‘Remarkable’ decline in fertility rates”,

          HALF the world’s countries ( the more prosperous half, apparently are at or below replacement, and the article wastes a lot of space worrying about having more grandparents than grandchildren. The economic impact is real, but this is a problem we desperately need to have.

          Sometimes there’s good news.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          It’s also possible that Sir David understands enough about ecology and evolution to know that we (H. Sapiens) are just another species doing our job: exploiting our niche as best we can with the capabilities we have. For a while.

          This may (does) mean the permanent decline of a large proportion of other current life forms on the planet. Then our turn will come, and we will vanish too. We’ll just be an interesting (hopefully non-radioactive) layer for future cockroach anthropologists to ponder, and the planet will evolve an entirely new set of inhabitants. Our layer will be interesting indeed: lots and lots of plastics, metal alloys, concrete, and concentrated rare earth elements.

    2. knowbuddhau

      True dat, and well said. Episode 3 of his Great Barrier Reef series is called, Survival. There’s another, about the oceans, I found too depressing to finish.

      Imagine, though, a documentary narrated by say, Spock, Data, or 7/9. The hewmon narration is distinctly colored by the narrator’s worldview; religion and politics come through loud and clear. If you’re listening for that kind of thing, I suppose.

      It’s the worst thing about my otherwise favorite things. Take the discussion of the eusocial insects. WT actual F is royal nomenclature doing in there? There are several forms of ant bodies. Why do we call the reproductives by royal terms?

      Attenborough and the Empire of the Ants is a perfect case in point. Watched it the other night. It’s about wood ants in the Swiss mountains that don’t go to war with each other. That’s right, they co-operate. So why TF does the BBC insist on using the obvious misnomer, *Empire? Go figure.

      It’s fantastic. DA marvels as a “worker” grabs a “queen” by her prodigious mandibles and drags her below. They’re only allowed up in the sun for a short time, then it’s back to the “royal” chamber, whether she’s willing or not.

      To his great credit, he does mention the oddity of it. But the great biologist is aka *Sir David. BBC docs are distinctly, even pungently British.

      And the Koch’s PBS show, NOVA, is far worse.

      Can you imagine if, say, Indian Country Today had the budget to do something like Planet Earth? I so wish.

        1. knowbuddhau

          It’s said, whole worlds pivot around imagination. Ok it was Jodie Whitaker as the new Dr Who in the latest ep. Still, truest thing I think I’ve ever heard on TV.

          From where else will a future come that’s other than where we’ve already been?

          Here’s another case of the above:

          “‘This fight is a lot like the one that David and Goliath could have had if the little guy didn’t have such good luck with his sling shot,’ said Dr. Mackey from the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at ANU.”

          Huh? This would be a D&G situation, but it’s not. So why call it that, especially in a scientific context?

          Because that’s his worldview, expressed in metaphors, and metaphors act as perceptual filters and projectors. Reality is produced, not found.

          It’s called maya, a central principle of Hinduism, known to other cultures by other names, one of the most important aspects of Campbell’s “power of myth,” and it’s thousands of years old, but don’t look for it in Western psychology.

          1. knowbuddhau

            That’s a bit over the top. You can find it in Jung, who was strongly influenced by Eastern thought. But I’m new to it, tbh. Only know the broad outlines. Studied the wrong type first.

            But fwiw, when I need counseling, I will literally drive over 100 miles to see the nearest available Jungian.

            We find ourselves at hypercomplex equilibria among dynamics of the age-old human earthling psyche, dynamics of mythic proportions represented as metaphors that are intelligible and well known.

            Or at least, we try, amirite?

      1. Oregoncharles

        @knowbuddhau: ” There’s another, about the oceans, I found too depressing to finish.”

        And there’s the real reason Attenborough, and others, make the kind of films they do.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Sydney’s final auction clearance rate crashes to decade low”

    This is actually a long term good sign. Real estate prices have only a nodding acquaintance with reality here and are way, way overpriced. Good for investors but not so good for young people starting off trying to get their own home. If the Australian economy comes unstuck, I am willing to bet that it will be through real estate being a weak point.
    Big shout-out of thanks, by the way, to whoever recommended the book “Lords of the Sea” about a fortnight ago. Just got a copy and it looks like a great book on ancient Greece.

    1. Wukchumni

      A basic home in L.A. was $100k in 1980 with nearly 20% a.p.r.

      Now that same home (probably really tired looking) is $700k with a 4% a.p.r. loan.

      Most anybody with a middle class income job could have afforded it 38 years ago (our neighbor a few doors down was a school custodian) and currently not so much.

      I’d imagine the same thing happened down under…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        By the late 80’s, it was about $200k.

        That’s doubling in a decade, which would project to $400k by 1999, and $800K by 2019, and $1,600,000 by 2019.

        Perhaps, like the universe at the very beginning inflating at faster than the speed of light, there was a less-than-the-speed-of-light (fortunately) inflationary phase (the 1980s, or 1970’s…how much was that $1980 100k house in 1970?).

  19. Steve H.

    > The US has a median wealth of $61,667 per adult, which puts the country at number 18, well behind others, including Ireland ($72,473), Taiwan ($78,177), and Korea ($65,463). Canada, on the other hand, comes in at number six, with an average wealth of $106,342 per adult.

    Yeah, kick your mean ass with median! That’s robust, baby!

    > baby trust fund system. His idea is to give all kids in the US a chunk of cash when they’re born, ranging between $500 and $60,000 based on their family’s wealth.

    no no no, the rentiers’ll just suck it up. Those kids need Jobs, straight out of the womb!
    o wait

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      $500,000 or more to all the kids, in the US, at the time of their birth?

      Is being born work?

      The ‘$50 every time a citizen votes’ idea pales in comparison, though voting is more likely to be perceived as work (or maybe not).

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The second comment relates to median wealth.

      Is this correct total private wealth = total private sector saving?

      And if (public sector debt) = (foreigner savings) + (private sector savings), and assuming similar wealth distribution (not a given, but let’s assume that and see where this leads to), does it mean, for example, Ireland has more public sector debt, compared with the US, or that more foreigners own a bigger chunk of that public debt (leaving less for private sector savings or private sector wealth, if they are correlated)?

      That is to say, to boost the US median wealth, do we print more money and/or letting foreigners take less of it?

  20. Charlie

    This may not be the place to ask this but wallstreetonparade has not had a post since Oct 10. I hope it’s a long vacation and not illness or other problem. Anyone know? I love the Martens work.

  21. Ignacio

    RE: David Attenborough has betrayed the living world he loves George Monbiot Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

    If Attenborough’s environmentalism has a coherent theme, it is shifting the blame from powerful forces on to either society in general or the poor and weak. Sometimes it becomes pretty dark. In 2013 he told the Telegraph “What are all these famines in Ethiopia? What are they about? They’re about too many people for too little land … We say, get the United Nations to send them bags of flour. That’s barmy.”

    Oh my! Ethiopia, too many people for too little land… what about England? Sustainable?

    1. Carolinian

      Well of course Attenborough is right that humans are crowding out the nature that he loves. And while those in the third world aren’t doing much car driving or flying around in jets they are taking away the forests that help the planet breathe.

      Monbiot is mad because Attenborough won’t do what Mombiot does–take a complex problem and pretend it’s a simple problem of oil companies or rightwingers or an uninformed public. Virtue having been signaled he can go hop on a jet.

      1. jrs

        The oil companies and rightwingers and so on are why it’s can never be addressed as the complex problem it is. I mean we never even get to the point of problem solving due to those forces. Religion in some manifestations doesn’t help: the go forth and multiply type, the waiting for the rapture type. Oil companies are probably a significant force behind the election in Brazil as well. So they are a global menace.

    2. SKM

      re Attenborough and the environment, I have long felt uncomfortable about that aspect of his beautiful programmes and remember that it took him a long time before he included any mention of global warming at all.
      I feel here Monbiot has got it right in that A`s programmes actually induce complacency about the state of the planet in just the way he describes.
      The other aspect of A`s attitude that I find galling is the emphasis on (by implication, absolute) population levels having a chief causal role in AGW. Even if this were true, it is a counterproductive message to put out, especially to the Western public, as it says nothing about consumption (and therefore capitalism, and our whole, originally Western way of life). It also (by design or not) ends up by implication being racist, as I`m sure the wealthy and/or privileged of us Westerners are talking about dark-skinned hoards in far away places and all that that implies about how to address climate forcing.
      I`m not denying that sheer numbers of humans, even those not leading our lavish life style, are destructive in varying degrees to the environment in general. However most of the 400ppm CO2 or 480 C equiv up there was put up there by capitalist consumption and until relatively recently this was largely Western.
      I have to admit though that I was truly shocked at Monbiot`s quotes of Attenborough`s actual words about famine in the “developing” world; a horrendous confirmation of my worst fears about his mind-set.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “CNN journalist Jim Acosta banned from White House after Trump calls him ‘rude, terrible person’ ”

    Hate to admit it but Trump may have been right here. I saw the clip of the confrontation and that Acosta was spoiling for a fight. OK, Trump is Trump but he is still the President and should be shown some respect for that fact alone. Did they ever do the same for Obama for some of the stuff he pulled? Acosta refused to give up the mike and stopped his colleagues getting their own questions in while pushing away an intern who tried to pass the mike. Now he’s out. CNN can still send a reporter – just not Acosta. Having reporters at the White House is a right. Being selected to be one to represent your news organization is a privilege. By having his credentials pulled, Trump just made that obvious.

    1. EoH

      Trump picked the fight, and he made it personal with his specific insults, which were not limited to Acosta. He always does.

      In this case, it feeds his admitted marketing campaign to declare journalism he does not like or which challenges him as “fake”, because, as he says, “it works for him.” He calls it, “fighting back,” but it looks more like propaganda.

      1. EoH

        The Guardian’s Suzanne Moore, writing about yesterday’s press conference, thinks that the American press has to learn to stand up to Trump, and for themselves:

        Journalists are too complicit in the ritual degradations at the president’s press conferences. Why not just walk out?

    2. Hameloose Cannon

      Cutting to the chase, Acosta’s dialogue: Do you disapprove of the investigation? *yes* Will you shut it down? *no* You won’t shut it down because it would be a potential crime to do so? *yes* It would be obstruction of justice? *pause* Because you did things you should not have done? –Money going into one pocket. Favors out the other? *long pause* Trump: You’re a rude person.

      It’s basic logic. Continuing to pretend the contradiction does not exist is a condition shared with totalitarian regimes. And Whitaker’s appointment won’t pass a constitutional challenge, NLRB v. SW General, Inc 2017 SC opinion, “the Advice and Consent of the Senate” is settled law. The President cannot create the emergency conditions that justify avoiding confirmation.

    3. g

      I mean, presidents should be confronted by adversarial journalist *more* not less. Acosta was trying to nail him down on a question that no one has been able to, and that’s a good thing. I’ll accept that there are probably norms or rules in that environment for how you behave around your journalist peers, I have no idea if he broke them or not, you’d have to see what other journalists in the group were saying.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Adversarial journalism matters when its really an unexpected question or an issue that is being exposed publicly. Presidents need to be the targets of investigative journalism (leaks, records, the date book). The White House Press Corp was a joke assignment of being a glorified stenographer.

        I decided the whole White House Press Corp was a sham well over a decade ago. My memory wants to connect Andy Sullivan to being a Bush go to guy for questions when W wanted a softball question.

        Adversarial journalism works when regular people are there with an issue of direct importance (Iraq War vote style questions will rankle Democrats in public) and can be informed of problems other journalists who ask cookie recipes or repeat the same question don’t. I mentioned the date book. We know Cheney had meetings with Enron officials because they recorded the meetings. Asking questions of Cheney has never worked because he simply won’t answer or will move on. As a disclaimer, interviews with current subjects (Retrospectives are interesting) and debates are more or less epic wastes of energy.

    4. JEHR

      There is so much respect shown to the “office” of the president (as opposed to the occupant) that as someone said, A dog could occupy the office and still be respected.

    5. The Rev Kev

      Getting a bit of pushback over my comment I see. I grew up when there was a distinct adversarial relationship in the US between the press and Presidents like Johnson and Nixon. The past few decades it has been more of a case of the White House Stenography Corps in operation but now with Trump it is once more adversarial. Shame it was not so during the Obama administration.
      Remember when Obama said: “We tortured some folks” and the press called him out on it demanding names, dates and places. And how they hounded him until Congress had hearings resulting in those tortures leaving government service – people like Gina Haspel – because this was an internationally recognized crime? No, I don’t remember that either.

  23. John Zelnicker

    Re: Trump Tax Returns

    I’m not sure what is meant by “stapled” in this context, but I do know that any time a taxpayer files an amended return under a special program, there has to be identifying information at the very top of the first page, such as the program name or the IRC Section number. This would be the giveaway if Trump took advantage of the Swiss amnesty program.

    1. todde

      there were two additional forms you had to file to claim Amnesty I forget what they were. I know one had you list all the foreign accounts but I don’t know if dollar amounts were included.

      I don’t understand the ‘stapled’ reference either.

      but who cares anyway? how does any of this affect me?

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        but who cares anyway? how does any of this affect me?

        Righteous rant last night from Tucker Carlson on this very subject, and he doesn’t spare the republicans either. (Starts 20 sec. in.)

        In addition to the tax returns, includes a recap of the priorities expressed by likely dem committee heads when they take over in January–jerry nadler: impeach kavanaugh; adam schiff: “intensify” the Russia probe (Oh, brother); maxine waters (yes, she is likely to be the chairman of an actual congressional committee): impeach, impeach, impeach.

        No mention of “healthcare,” opioids, minimum wage, immigration, student loans, endless war etc. His logical question, “Is that what dems voted for?” Moi: Less than 48 hours ago the dems “knew” the issue was “healthcare.” Could it be they just don’t give a shit? (That would be sarcasm.)

    2. Craig H.

      > The tax returns withheld by Mittens would have been stapled if he had had a Swiss bank account then and took advantage of the amnesty program (recall that the return he provided showed he did have one).

      This may be an anachronism. The big monkey tax evaders in this millennium use shell corporations and floating addresses, Caymans to Jersey to Virgin Islands to Vanuatu.

      Treasure Islands Nicholas Shaxson

      (my copy has a blurb from Yves Smith on the flyleaf of it)

        1. todde

          yes, PR makes you actual live there to get the tax breaks.

          Others just put their money in a Caribbean island and let the money work for them.

          The Weathly’s money has better working conditions then we do. It’s on a beach sipping cocktails in the Caribbean…

          The Wealthy do take money abuse seriously. If they find you abusing it, they take it way from you and treat it ‘nicely’.

  24. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: Changing temperatures improves corn yield in U.S. — for now” — A sentence at the tail of the PNAS article this article referenced should not be missed: “Despite overall reliable predictions, our model underestimates yield loss during the 2012 drought… This underestimate can be understood in that the 2012 drought coincided with the most sensitive phases of crop development, silking and tasseling, whereas our model groups these sensitive phenological periods into a single, longer early grain-filling phase” [p. 5 of PNAS Report] This sentence points to the way crop yields depend on the right combinations of weather at the right times. I believe the weather patterns may be growing more chaotic.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Amazing that film clip. Thanks for that link. I have been in the Sion valley several times and not once did it ever occur to me that that valley must have been host to flowing glaciers many times in the past (shakes head).

        1. Edward E

          You’re welcome, I’ve deep dived into whether there were ever glaciers here. We used to have a ski slope at Marble Falls in the seventies/eighties but for that pesky global warming. There are signs of possibly major melt water runoff but no glacial slides on limestone ridgelines. Here’s an interesting graph, but I do consider it like a Rorschach test. Regardless of which side you’re on you will likely see what you want to see to confirm your position.

        2. Edward E

          A graph that is more current with levels of CO2. The Lappi plotted the data from the ice cores and indicates past trends. There were technical reasons that it began at 95 years due to contamination.
          Are Modern Temperatures “Unprecedented”? Greenland Ice Core Research Finds They’re Not Even Close, U.S. Climate Agency

          Some say that crop failure contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. What about the Minoans, did they burn fossil fuels?

  25. noonespecial

    Argentina and Austerity – Something wicked this way comes…
    Gino Brunswijck writes:
    “For instance, the Argentinian government was required to present a budget in line with the zero deficit target to Congress to secure the next tranche of the IMF bailout loan.”

    The following data points are some of the measures by which the budget achieves a zero deficit:

    – 39% reduction in public education spending;
    – 27% reduction in public works spending (i.e. infrastructure); and,
    – 21.45% reduction to the Ministry of Children, Adolescents and Family, which include cuts to health
    services and foster care services.

    One article that highlights these issues:

    In December 2017, Argentine President Macri issued a vision statement in preparation for this month’s G-20 meeting. Outlining goals for sustainable development, the statement’s section entitled “Unleashing peoples’ potential” includes this vision for education:
    “Education is at the crux of this debate. Education empowers people to shape their own futures. It enables them to create their own endeavours and form an active citizenship able to contribute to the development of a world that is both fairer and more sustainable.”

    I think the 3 data points support one of Lambert’s dictums re. neoliberalism – die faster.

  26. JTMcPhee

    So we have a recount going in FL. And instantly I am getting an email from something called “The Progressive Turnout Project,” asking for a lot of money to help fund the “incredibly expensive process” of running a recount. Here’s a description of this particular bunch, and the DCCC “fundraising” activities generally:

    Not that NC-ers would be clicking their dwindling cache of money to these folks. And if the Democrat “Party” (closed private club) gave a crap about keeping berfiuddled old Bill Nelson in the Senate seat, I bet they could write a check for the cost of the “terribly expensive” recount out of the loot they already have Hoovered up.

    I wonder if Sick Rott is at all concerned about how the recount might “cost some money.” He’s got plenty of that, from his own thieving and the Rep PACs.

    Yah, “we” need to “reform” the Demparty, all right. Right out of business. Not that such a victory for the common folk would be possible, or that it would change the vectors of destruction that are so well institutionalized.

  27. Summer

    Does education really “allow” people to shape their own future? That is wholly dependendent on the content of the education. And the place of education also is loaded with perceptions that can take away agency.

    And if students, especially in higher ed, are more treated more like consumers and clients of education, are they “shaping” their own future being deluged in that mindset?

  28. Kurt Sperry

    Couldn’t the issue (hard to argue it’s much of a probelm) of birthright citizenship be easily enough addressed using only the generously broad discretion customs and immigration agents already have? Just make some defined class of obviously late-term pregrant women with no discerable ties to anyone in the US inadmissible at the C&I checkpoint? No Constitutional jiggery pokery required at all.

  29. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: With Brexit, It’s the Geography, Stupid
    I particularly enjoyed the writing in this link with its many colorful and apt turns of phrase — some invented — “‘safe seats’ — the kind where a stuffed effigy with the right party label would get elected…” or “Simply put, it’s a waste of lives on an industrial scale…” — and some cleverly adopted — “Shit Life Syndrome” [adopted from FT].
    [After the last election and the choices on offer I’d almost rather vote for a stuffed effigy than the candidates in my district. At least the effigy would do no more harm than that already well underway.]
    I also liked: “Asking people to vote for the status quo is always a risky move, never more so than when the status quo has entirely failed people.” [Hillary? DNC?]

    Getting past the beauty of the writing it was easy to see why the author finished with concern “…to prevent the UK increasingly resembling the polarization of the US.” Even the photo of the alleyway in Burnley, England was all too reminiscent of some of the nicer alleys behind the row houses of too many East Coast cities in the US and row houses in I’ve seen in Chicago but not even close to some of the tenements in our cities.

    What I believe is the key message of this link:
    “But a huge number of people had simply had enough of an entirely rigged economic system that is happy to see their local area collapse into ruin and year after year have all public services winnowed away. My hometown voted Leave, as did most areas surrounding it in Wales: this wasn’t remotely a surprise given that for decades the areas had seen no improvement, and they were treated purely as electoral fodder to boost the number of MPs in Parliament to reach a working majority.”
    To me, this echoes many current feelings in the US and more disturbingly echoes feelings in many countries of Europe in the early 1930s.

    1. juliania

      Thanks for this comment! You persuaded me (and I hope others) to visit the article, and to add this quote:

      “…in 2015, 29.3 percent more 25-34-year-olds died in the north of England than the south. For those aged 35-44, the number of deaths in the north was 50 percent higher than the south…”

      50 percent is some statistic, even if actual numbers are small. And though my added quote is probably explainable in terms of other factors, it remains to be said that indeed the status quo has entirely failed the ordinary citizens of that lovely little island.

  30. crittermom

    Did anyone else here just receive an email from Tim Canova, blasting DWS & saying, “There is no rational reason to trust the election results here in Broward County, where the elections office is literally a criminal enterprise acting with impunity. Yesterday’s election results are simply not credible.”?

    He’s not happy & considering whether or not to demand a recount.

    He also says he’ll go back to teaching, but that the final push of his campaign has left it in debt by tens of thousands & is asking for donations.

    DWS made the list of my least liked people when Bernie was running.
    It’s quite believable she has not changed her ways. Why would she?

  31. a different chris

    Another in my “what use is the Navy, exactly” series.

    The frigate was lying in the water almost on its side with its stern under the water. The Maltese-flagged tanker, Sola TS, was not damaged

    At least there were some paint scrapes on that tanker that crunched up the US Navy’s finest earlier this year. As normally visualized, “weapon of war” vs “civilian” gins up an image of a tank vs some poor sucker on like a bicycle. But has anybody noticed that the roles are pretty much reversed at sea nowadays?

    1. Oregoncharles

      My father was on a destroyer in WWII. Fortunately for me, they saw little action. Much the worst was being rammed by a friendly freighter in a British harbor. Put them out of action for a month – huge hole in the side.

      And his personal stake: he was supply officer, and the freighter hit them right on the newly-loaded meat locker. He had to supervise the unloading, a warm week later.

      His wasn’t the only warship rammed. Apparently that vulnerability has always been there – frigates are not large ships.

  32. allan

    CMS is developing a rule that could curtail Medicaid transportation access [Modern Healthcare]

    The [Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services] is drafting a proposed rule that would make it easier for states to stop paying for non-emergency medical transportation for Medicaid beneficiaries, a move that could drastically cut into providers’ revenue. …

    Medicaid enrollees already have a high no-show rate, and that could get worse if the CMS finalizes the rule, according to Dr. Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, a practicing pediatrician in Indianapolis and associate professor of clinical internal medicine and pediatrics at Indiana University.

    Many Medicaid enrollees lack access to vehicles due to their low incomes. There are also few public transportation options … especially in rural areas …

    The Culture of Life™ extends from (pre)conception to delivery – after that you’re on your own, Jack.

    Yet another massive win for the back row kids, delivered by Mike Pence’s pick to head CMS.

  33. Oregoncharles

    “Runaway train blazes through Western Australia for more than 50 miles MPR”

    My son was astounded that they had no way to stop a runaway train short of derailing it, and I agree. For one thing, this is West Australia: lots and lots of room, granted I don’t know how far from the port it was.

    There is the movie scenario of landing someone on the train from a helicopter; or there should be a device they could place on the tracks that would slow it gradually – although 68 miles an hour and 268 loaded cars represent an enormous amount of momentum. A remote control “off” switch and brakes would be sensible, and technically simple. Maybe now they’ll do it.

    Aahh – only one person on the whole family blog train. Maybe that extra salary would be worth it.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Mittens is a less than affectionate nick name for Mitt Romney because he reminds so many of the kind of kid who wasn’t allowed to use scissors.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        So you can imagine what people who call Mittens “Mittens” think of Paul Ryan who was Romney’s running mate to give Mitt the appearance of being smarter and more compassionate than at least one other person.

  34. Oregoncharles

    About Kemp “doxing” Georgia absentee voters, here’s the problem: ” the names and addresses of state residents who mailed in an absentee ballot — including their reason why, such as if a person is “disabled” or “elderly.”” Everything after the hyphen is protected information.

    Granted, my expertise is limited to Oregon, but the article says REGISTRATION info is public, as here. That’s on the SOS website, and every political party receives free copies of the list. Some registrations include phone#’s or emails, which can be handy if the county elections office wants to check on your ballot – or if the party wants to contact you without paying for postage and printing. I actually use this as a reason for registering Green: your political values become a public record, and can potentially influence the parties, which keep track of registrations.

    Your reasons for absentee voting are another matter. You might not want everybody to know that you’re away from home or disabled, along with your address. It’s quite possible Kemp can be sued for his back teeth for exposing that info, as well as for cheating in the election.

    Some chance of a runoff in both Georgia and Florida, so that might keep this going for quite a while.

  35. Fastball

    I found Ryan Metz’s article on AI to be refreshingly candid, measured and lacking in the hysteria that so typically accompanies AI articles.

    Unless, of course, Ryan Metz is a bot.

  36. KFritz

    Re: Brexit geography.

    The Jacobin article presents no data to support its thesis–that economic despair led to the yes vote on Brexit. It’s title might be, “This is what I want the cause of Brexit to be.”

    1. KFritz

      Pardon my incompleteness. For the thesis to hold water, It’s still necessary to know which voters in pro-Brexit areas voted pro-Brexit.

  37. Edward E

    RE: Changing temperatures improves corn yield in U.S. — for now” —
    Improved levels of CO2 is making the corn grow better. Just like it did for Michael Mann’s hockey stick trees, not the temperature. Some years some of the corn crop gets planted early. Rarely is a large percentage planted early. Most years it’s a last week scrambling to get it in the ground in time, or switch to soybeans when late. I follow crop reports. Thanks to improved equipment more gets in the ground. It’s not warming here right now, the desert plants are in retreat and the ice age relics are doing well.

    Methane is what you need to focus on. It’s easier because it doesn’t stay as long.

    1. Edward E

      We started our descent towards the next ice age some three thousand years ago. I’m more worried about that accelerating. Take a look at Greenland Temperature Evolution Last Eleven Thousand Years. Don’t miss that the glaciers will still retreat until the next coming ice age gets really serious. Then big freeze up time.

      “The scientist. He will spend thirty years in building up a mountain range of facts with the intent to prove a certain theory; then he is so happy in his achievement that as a rule he overlooks the main chief fact of all–that his accumulation proves an entirely different thing.” Mark Twain

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