Links 12/12/18

Dear patient readers,

Please thank Jerri-Lynn, who due to a scheduling screw-up, wound up providing nearly half of today’s Links.

Don’t stress about what kind of Christmas tree to buy, but reuse artificial trees and compost natural ones The Conversation

Robert Mueller devotional candles BoingBoing (Chuck L). For your Democrat friends.

US Navy funded search for Titanic shipwreck as cover for Cold War mission, oceanographer claims Independent (JTM)

Researchers consider whether supernovae killed off large ocean animals at dawn of Pleistocene PhysOrg (Chuck L)

The Arctic Ocean has lost 95 percent of its oldest ice — a startling sign of what’s to come Washington Post

Comcast rejected by small town—residents vote for municipal fiber instead ars technica (Chuck L)

Report: FBI opens criminal investigation into net neutrality comment fraud ars technica

San Jose Unveils Tiny Home Prototype for Homeless Residents KQED (David L). A good start, but only for singles, when some homeless are in couples or even families.

Should you stop eating ‘blood avocados’? Guardian


China Move to Cut Duties on U.S. Imports Lifts Auto Stocks Bloomberg. Um, this does not look like Trump is losing the trade war.

Xi walks a trade war tightrope Asia Times (Kevin W)


Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou granted bail; judge requires $7-million in cash and $3-million collateral Globe and Mail

Huawei Case Will Split Nations Between U.S. and China Bloomberg

Trump says he would intercede with Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou case if it’s good for trade, security, according to report Business Insider (Kevin W)

Canada ‘deeply concerned’ after China detains former diplomat Asia Times

China detains former Canadian diplomat Financial Times. From Marshall:

Whenever people tell me they long for the days of post US hegemony, I always say, “So long as that is not followed by Chinese hegemony”. Beijing knows it can’t bully the US, so it picks on Canada as well. I happen to have a friend who knows Michael (the Canadian seized). It’s complete BS

And the US clearly has the goods on Huawei and this person. That released email was damning. As you say, had Huawei been even slightly more careful, they could have got away with it. Interesting that Xi knew about it by the time he had dinner with Trump, but chose not to make an issue out of it.


Dirty air: how India became the most polluted country on earth FT

All Indians should be concerned, says ex-RBI governor Rajan on Urujit Patel’s resignation Times of India

Brexit. Please discuss the big news of the day, the Tory no-confidence vote, on our Brexit post today.

Italy’s Di Maio says France risks Brussels budget sanctions Financial Times

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Customs officers searching more travelers’ devices AP

Delete All Your Apps Motherboard. “… and the best way to guarantee privacy would be to have a dumb phone, an iPod Touch, or no phone at all.”

The CEO of privacy search engine DuckDuckGo says Google uses location data that puts entire ZIP codes in politically biased ‘filter bubbles’ Business Insider (David L)

Google+ to shut down early after data from 52 million users exposed Independent

Trump Transition

Oval Office clash ups chances of shutdown The Hill. See the video.

Nancy Pelosi mocks Trump’s ‘manhood’ after ‘wild’ Oval Office meet, says she tried to ‘be the mom’ Daily News

Trump administration loosens nutritional guidelines for school lunches Treehugger

Nominating a crony, loyalist or old buddy for attorney general is a US presidential tradition The Conversation

Mitch McConnell, in reversal, says Senate will vote on criminal justice bill USA Today

Farm bill compromise reached with SNAP changes out, industrial hemp in MPR News (UserFriendly)

Supreme Court Rule Crimps Crowd-Funded Amicus Briefs

‘We Gonna Rise Up, Rise Up ‘Til It’s Won!’: 140+ Arrested at Pelosi and Hoyer Offices as Youth-Led Protests Demand Green New Deal on Capitol Hill Common Dreams

Ocasio-Cortez Vs. The Conditioners American Conservative

Jazmin Headley case: Charges dropped against mother whose baby was torn away by NYPD in viral video Washington Post (martha r)

Uber is ‘hell-bent on stifling competition,’ an out-of-business startup claims in a new lawsuit Business Insider (David L)

NEW STUDY: Digital First Media leads in profits; news deserts expanding DFM Workers (UserFriendly)

Petrified Forest: Fear, says Lewis Lapham, is America’s top-selling consumer product. Lapham’s Quarterly (Chuck Roast)

Elon Musk Mocks SEC Enforcement Above the Law

Carlos Ghosn Planned to Remove Nissan’s CEO Before He Got Arrested in Japan; Weird, Right? Jalopnik (Kevin W)

Guillotine Watch

Yellow Vest protesters erect a GUILLOTINE in Paris bearing French President’s political party name amid revolt that has forced Macron to address the furious nation Monday evening Daily Mail (Paul R). Hate to say it, this is only a toy model. The real ones were much taller, with a very large wood piece over the blade so as to assure it would sever the neck cleanly. The guillotine was intended as a humane alternative to other forms of execution. And since pretty much everyone would have seen animals killed and butchered, the ick factor wouldn’t be as strong as with modern consumers who get nicely packaged meat and don’t think much about how it got to them.

It’s surprisingly hard to give away billions of dollars Vox. Kinnucan: m”It seems the noblesse are having some difficulties obligeing.”

Class Warfare

My So-Called Media: How the Publishing Industry Sells Out Women. Longreads. Far from a perfect piece, but contains some useful information.

The best and worst cities in America for public transportation, according to an urban planner Vox


Antidote du jour. Martha r: “Humpback whale in Sydney harbour.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. David

    Let me cheer you up with the latest from France: a (probably terrorist) shooting incident in Strasbourg, which left 3 dead and 16 wounded at the Christmas market. The BBC has a reasonable version of the story here:
    The gunman seems to have been wounded by a shots from a military patrol protecting the market and the cathedral, but managed to get away; He was under suspicion for his islamist sympathies and proselytising, and had served several prison terms.
    This kind of thing has been the unspoken nightmare of the French authorities for some weeks, already unable to cope with the Gilets jaunes. The government have said they will increase security measures, but it’s hard to know where the resources will come from.

    1. zagonostra

      I’m not how the shooting incident will influence the unfolding events in France, but below has to make you smile, a wry smile that is…

      “France opened a probe into possible Russian interference behind the country’s Yellow Vest protests, after reports that social-media accounts linked to Moscow have increasingly targeted the movement.”

    2. Wukchumni

      We never call mass murders via firearm-a terrorist act here, and really to make the news for a few days in the states, we’ve gotten to the point where it has to be in double digits to have any impact, and to make matters even impossibly worse, the name of the assassin is splashed all over the media, and a dissection of what made him (almost always a male) do it, will be the most important factor, followed by thoughts and prayers, with a finale of forgetting about the event within a fortnight.

      1. JohnnySacks

        The terrorist association completely depends on the perpetrator. Good old boy with suitcases full of military assault weapons – misunderstood disenfranchised citizen, not terrorist. Muslim – Lock down the country, who do we bomb first?

    3. Cal

      David, are you saying the two causes may merge?
      From looking at hundreds of pictures and videos of the yellow vest demonstrations, it appears that the crowds are uniformly white, which would indicate low participation of Muslims?

      Here are the sweetest words I have read in a long time:
      “Emmanuel Macron is set to make a grovelling speech today and announce further tax concessions in a bid to calm the anger that has gripped the country.”

      “The 40-year-old French president, elected in May last year, has faced mounting criticism for remaining holed up in his presidential palace, protected by armoured cars. He has also been criticised for not speaking in public for almost two weeks.”

      1. David

        No, they won’t merge, but dealing with both at the same time will be insanely complicated. The worry has been for some time that, whilst the security apparatus of the state is looking elsewhere, different elements who have been quiet recently might stage attacks. This is what seems to have happened. In the end, a government can only cope with so many different emergencies at one time.

        1. Cal

          I just don’t see how you can compare millions of Yellow Vests all over France with legitimate grievances, week after week, often with police and firemen sympathizers versus preventing a singular “terror” event?
          That’s like worrying about a meteor strike while building a series of dykes.
          I intuit you are hoping for a meteor for some reason?

          Have you watched the phenomenal 4 part series on Youtube, “The Lobby”?

        2. JTMcPhee

          Too bad the people that run “a government” can’t see their way clear to sort of focus on serving the “general welfare,” rather than ladling it out to the looters. As a way of reducing the “many different kinds of emergencies” to a much smaller number. People who are secure and comfortable, not being looted for example, tend to be less likely to either be vulnerable to, or to trigger and take part in, those “many different emergencies.”

          Not that the kinds of people attracted to rulership are at all likely to either perceive or try to serve that “general welfare.” Leading to lots of atomized individuals seeking “more” in a deadly competition, or doing that officially-psychology-recognized category of behavior called “running amok.”

  2. zagonostra

    >Guillotine Watch

    I forget if it was Roland Barthes who wrote an essay on how the guillotine was done away with because the crowd began to identify with the person being beheaded. The State’s attempt to have public displays of its authority in an attempt to discourage crimes instead created a spectacle where people began to see the State as the enemy and began identifying with some, not all, the courageous individuals meeting their fate with equanimity and defiance.

    Of course the mock guillotine in Macron’s case would not have many in the crowd identifying with him…viva la France.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The guillotine was better at it’s job. I was watching a doco last night about Elizabeth I’s battle against Mary Queen of Scots and when Mary lost, she was executed. The axe-man botched the whole business though and it was not until the third blow that her head finally came off. I have read of similar cases and I suspect that for a bitter enemy, that a blunt axe was used sometimes. The guillotine because of the weight behind the blade was better a the job.

      1. divadab

        IIRC it was even worse than that – after the first botched strike (by a drunken executioner), Mary got up and ran around shrieking and bleeding and had to be caught and held down for the final cuts.

        Common people were executed by hanging; only nobility had the privilege of execution by decapitation. A royal bastard reputedly hanged but with a golden chain:

        “Ah, my Geordie will be hanged in a golden chain,
        ‘Tis not the chain of many,
        Stole sixteen of the king’s royal deer
        And he sold them in Bohenny.”

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Yes, I recall reading that people who were being executed or close relatives would pay the executioner extra not to screw it up. Not the the inducement would necessarily make a difference.

          1. BillS

            IIRC in a number of german provinces up to the 17-18th century, if the executioner botched his job, he would follow the condemned to the block. Deutsche Gründlichkeit über alles!

          2. shtove

            Before the long drop was adopted, hanging was basically slow strangulation. Relatives sought permission from the hangmen to tug on the victim’s legs to finish him off quickly. Sad.

            1. Wukchumni

              (with apologies to Max /headroom/ Robespierre)

              Most of those guillotined during the French Revolution met their demise not in Paris, but somewhere else in the provinces.

              Only a little over 2,000 of 17,000 beheaded that way.

          3. anon

            relatives would pay the executioner extra not to screw it up

            Was that an example of proto-neo-liberal entrepreneurial behavior if the executioner seized the opportunity, so to speak? Nice beheading we got here, shame if something was ta happen ta it.

            There may be more such instances in history that display how recent and fragile civilization is and how constant vigilance is necessary to be aware of that and protect it.

            1. Briny

              The only difference I’ve seen is that in “modern times” the scale of destruction, and quite often the hideousness of same, is far larger. And that’s from someone who was in that line of work for a career. White phosphorous is terrible. The weapons that we could deliver on, say, one of our Tomahawk missiles would be far worse.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      There’s a YouTube video clip of the very last public guillotining in France in 1939. It was in Versailles, in the square right in front of the Grand Instance Court.

      I won’t post a link (search “last guillotine” if you are so inclined).

      The man who was executed, Eugen Wiedman, was a very nasty sort.

      1. Lee

        The man who was executed, Eugen Wiedman, was a very nasty sort.

        “Some people need killin’.” I think that’s the unofficial state motto of Texas. While I agree with the sentiment, the number of innocents who have been victims of the death penalty is the primary reason I oppose it.

        1. Briny

          Same here and it’s not something you can reverse in the case of injustice. Having worked with a sociologist that specialized in racism and capital punishment and the failure of any change in the process by the Supreme Court making it just, I’m even more opposed. The process is simply perverse and antithetical to the Bill of Rights.

      2. a different chris

        I do not normally feel any inclination to watch ghastly spectacles of “law an order”, the childish belief that executions accomplish anything beyond killing a number of innocents.

        But after reading about Wiedman, I am having a hard time talking myself out of tracking down the video just to watch him die. What a worthless (family blog)er.

      3. vidimi

        i thought that the last use of the guillotine in france was in the place maubert in the 1960s to execute a serial killer.

        eta: nvm it was in 1977 and it was a private affair, albeit in a public square

    3. Wukchumni

      The guillotine was last deployed in the SS HQ in poor little Dresden, where 1,300 people were dispatched…

      The two photographs below are from Dresden. There is a block of condemned cells in a small courtyard of a building at George-Bähr-Straße 7. This is now the Memorial Munchen Plarz but was used by the Nazis as a courthouse, prison and execution site. Until February 1945, when the building was destroyed in an air raid, over 1,300 men and women were executed by guillotine in the court’s inner yard.

      1. Quentin

        And then this from Wikipedia, 1977 in France?

        Convicted murderer Hamida Djandoubi became the last person to meet his end by the “National Razor” after he was executed by the guillotine in 1977. Still, the machine’s 189-year reign only officially came to an end in September 1981, when France abolished capital punishment for good.

        This is correct.

        1. Wukchumni

          Should have said, this was the last time the guillotine was utilized in Nazi Germany.

          Dresden wasn’t as innocent as some would like to believe…

  3. The Rev Kev

    Thanks to Jerri-Lynn for all her hard working putting together such a huge amount of links. Very much appreciated even if the latest antics from May and her government will suck a lot of the oxygen out of comments today.

  4. bassmule

    As noted yesterday in comments, Nancy and Chuckie have no answer to Trump’s citing Israel’s wall as a success. And this morning, Pelosi’s claim that they got him to “own the shutdown” sort of rings hollow since he made it clear that he has no problem with this. Yet, anyway.

      1. RUKidding

        The San Diego Union Tribune is not a leftwing or even leftish publication. Resoundingly, most citizens who live on or near the border are against Trump’s wall because it will be a waste of money and won’t work:

        Here’s another story about a tunnel in AZ:

        I don’t care how deep, high or wide Trump thinks he can build this wall, people will still find ways to get around/over/under/though it.

        It’s a waste of money.

        There’s tunnels dug under the various border walls and fences all across the border with Mexico. If anyone thinks that Trump’s wall will stop tunnels being built?? Guess again.

        Pelosi and Schumer are far from being my ideal politicians, but their offer of some money to provide better security at the border is more sensible than what Trump is proposing, which is mainly a sop to his ego and red meat to his base.

        1. Wukchumni

          When I was a young adult, the only wall of note was to keep the people in…

          …now the wall in Israel and ours are specifically to keep people out

        2. John k

          It slows them down to the point it’s just transport of thing having a higher value here than in Mexico.
          And remains highly pop with his base in most of the country. It’s less a waste of money than another war.

        3. John

          Most people here without documentation fly in and overstay their visa. The wall is a distraction for the rubes.

  5. John Merryman.

    Wouldn’t the Chinese reaction be to declare anyone dealing with Taiwan to be breaking Chinese laws?
    Admittedly far more drastic, busy given it’s being pushed this far.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s a good question.

      Only for countries that do not recognize Taiwan. And there are only a few countires that do.

      In the US case, I think we have to review what was agreed to, between Nixon/Kessinger and Mao/Zhou, about America dealing with Taiwan. Maybe we are allowed.

    1. polecat

      I’d gladly take .. er .. ‘receive’ .. a bil, or three, from some obliging oligarch wearing a guilty conscience on their lapel.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        I poked around on the calculator after reading that this am(caveat: right after the morning joint walk).
        If Gates split his pile up and shared it with every american(broadest definition), we’d all get a couple of hundred bucks.
        that pile is a fraction of household debt, as well as student debt.
        I reckon the most effective use of that fundage…if he really wants to save americans, at least…would be to purchase the demparty outright, and sweep the house and senate and wh floors of repubs and vichy dems.(and don’t neglect broomtime in Gucci Gulch and K street)
        given recent sales figures, it appears that the going rate is a couple of billion.
        he’d have enough left over for water wells(not the merry go round kind, sheesh!) and bed nets in all of africa.

    2. Adam Eran

      The story is this: It’s hard to make donations (public or private) that make for effective programs.

      The tax breaks given the wealthy for creating private foundations are meant to share the burden of making such donations with the private sector. All too often, however, the foundations are set up, then simply push the minimum donation they’re required by IRS to do out the door. No staff. No review of the programs. No concern except for the tax break. Sad but true. The world of private foundations is certainly a mixed bag, and there are exceptions to the “I just want my tax break” rule, but sadly not a lot.

      1. none

        A heck of a lot of Gates’ “donations” were of Microsoft products, introduced into schools to indoctrinate/addict new users. I don’t know to what extent he was able to write off the retail “value” of the products.

  6. Harry

    “Nancy Pelosi mocks Trump’s ‘manhood’ after ‘wild’ Oval Office meet, says she tried to ‘be the mom’”

    Was chatting to some “insiders” who reported a conversation between Pelosi and Schumer. The idea was to trap Trump into stating on air that he would shut down government, because received wisdom is that the public places the blame on the party which actually shuts it down.

    Schumer suggested a pretty transparent approach and Pelosi is reported to say, that “no one would be dumb enough to fall for that”.

    Schumer. “Dont worry, Just trust me”

    1. The Rev Kev

      I read this story as Nancy Pelosi staking her claim to become the next House speaker by showing how ‘tough’ she was on Trump and willing to go head to head with him. Trying to ‘be the mom’ was her appealing to women that previously supported Hillary. Once she gets the job it is business as usual of course.

    2. divadab

      Ya what stuck me is that Pelosi and Schumer think they won the exchange with Trump. It didn’t seem that way to me, at all – Trump appeared in control.

      1. Wukchumni

        I saw a couple of craven cowards going up against a bully, who beat them to a pulpit. The said dynamic duo could hardly make eye contact with their tormentor, or even rise to the occasion in challenging his lies.

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

        1. Wukchumni

          It was painful to watch, but a miracle of sorts occurred in that Schumer normally just loves to be in the glare of a camera’s lens, but looked oh so ashen, as if he wanted to emulate a tortoise and hide in his shell.

          1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

            Schumer didnt look frightened to me.

            He looked like he wanted to go off on Trump.

            Trumps better at supressing his emotions.

            I felt like i was watching amateur hour.

            BORDER SECURITY. Who cares.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Supposedly, Pelosi has claimed credit for the 2006 elections because of her promise to take impeachment off the table. And Schumer is Schumer. Its quite possible they have as a warped view of reality as Trump and simply can’t see the madness of dealing with Trump. Discussing the details of “build that wall” after the Democrats backed a candidate in HRC who did vote for an insane border fence and moat already, along with supporting the policies that create the refugees and the brutal police policies.

        They have never demonstrated that you don’t debate Republicans. You simply provide an alternative and stick to it. Move to supply and demand, pursuing American companies that abuse the h1b1 visa system is the obvious answer to the political debate, but again, the Democrats are still the center right party of the duopoly with the GOP being the center right right party.

        1. zer0

          There is very little difference between either party.

          The idea that you need to talk to ‘Trumtards’ and ‘Snowflakes’ differently is at the very core of why America has never been able to shed a single pound of its bureaucratic inefficiencies.

          They all work for the corporations & banks, just depends on which ones. No difference besides minor issues like abortion. Everything else changes with the wind: in the 90’s the Democrats were 100% against illegal immigration and lead a DEA rampage throughout the inner cities to rid America of evil. Or pump up the incarceration state.

          Pelosi looked like she was drugged. As being the only non-doctor in a long line of doctors, she looked like someone given barbiturates to deaden pain and emotion. Meanwhile, Schumer seemed like he was on some upper, frantically moving around and raising his voice. Strange thing was, Trump actually seemed the most sane of the bunch. Maybe experience of being around these types 24/7?

          1. Oregoncharles

            The ‘major’ parties like to compete on “cultural” issues like abortion because those are the ones the plutocracy don’t care about. Otherwise, they ask how high.

            The Wall is probably one of those issues – good for a few contractors, but nobody else who matters cares.

    3. anon y'mouse

      so, just as us proles suspected, we are getting “government by PR stunt”.

      this info is disgusting, no matter who said it or why.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Agree, it was disgusting. But Trump’s “Chuck & Nancy” show did serve multiple purposes for Trump. My own takeaways in the “Perception is Reality” game:

        – The border wall and Trump’s related government shutdown threat is a traditional Republican policy threat and kabuki which was intended to dominate the news cycle, at which he again succeeded;

        – Divert Americans’ attention away from other issues; and appeal to his narrowing base, at which he succeeded;

        – The seating arrangements, body language, tone and postures of all parties present, including VP Pence, were designed to depict the president in the superior power position and senior Dem leadership as weak and feckless, at which he also largely succeeded.

        As a subsequent link today titled ‘Petrified Forest’ states, “Fear remains America’s top-selling consumer product”, although I think the number of consumers of elite propaganda & persuasion products is falling.

        WRT to the border wall itself, I thought Trump earlier said the Mexicans were going to pay for it.

    4. Adam Eran

      Matt Taibbi’s take on the whole thing (here) compares Trump to the villain in Professional Wrasslin’… Not a bad metaphor.

      1. ewmayer

        I’ve long seen DJT as a kind of combo wrasslin’ heel and carnival barker – which is why the MSM goodthinkers’ neverending attempts to “fact check” and “psychoanalyze” what is in effect him trolling them are as laughable as they are doomed.

        The late Muhammad Ali also notably took inspiration from a then-popular wrassler named Gorgeous George for many of his PR antics – his way of saying “Controversy Creates Cash” was “I put butts in the seats”. Many of his opponents fell for the shtick, usually to their detriment, by way of letting emotion interfere with their ringcraft.

  7. Jason Boxman

    I’m glad to read about the Comcast rejection. At least in Cambridge, they’re the only game in town for most of the city. I’m fortunate enough to live in Somerville where RCN is an option. It works great and the price is good as well.

    1. The Rev Kev

      What’s the bet that some businesses that need fast internet will decide to move to Charlemont which will make it even cheaper for the residents there as well as possibly providing local employment opportunities and becoming local tax payers.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        I have spent a lot of time in Charlemont, Massachusetts, on the Deerfield River, one of the finest little towns in the Bay Commonwealth. One of the things that makes the self-governing, directly democratic New England Town great is its great powers under the Massachusetts Constitution — cf. Charlemont here, but also Wellfleet, on Cape Cod, telling Dunkin’ Donuts they couldn’t put in a drive-through that would snarl the very confined roads of the small, remote, coastal community.

        As far as businesses moving to Charlemont: while you might see some ventures from western Mass. communities like Northampton or Amherst move to Charlemont, I think it’s important to emphasize two things: 1) Charlemont, despite being on Rt. 2, is really quite small and quite remote; 2) The Blue Metropole of Boston’s Bourgeoisie does not know anything exists outside of Rt. 128. Hell, I’d bet you a lot of yuppies gentrifying South Boston and Jamaica Plain have never even heard of the place.

        Frankly, if I were an inhabitant of Charlemont, I wouldn’t want them coming my way. Rural gentrification is real, and it’s just as bad as its urban counterpart.

        Some of the best farmland in New England on the intervales of the Deerfield, by the by….

    2. zer0

      Ive one question about the whole town-owned network article. See, with networks, you need to eventually plug in or piggy back on another network to reach what we call the internet.

      So which network are they plugging into? My guess is it is Comcast or a subsidiary of Comcast, unless they are lucky enough to find one of the other 2 or 3 independent service providers in the US.

      I ask because I remember reading a long and detailed story of a couple of extremely talented computer scientists trying to open up their own service provider, only to find that they basically had to eventually piggy back onto a large service provider due to major capital & policy restrictions regarding laying down transcontinental cable lines.

  8. bwilli123

    Re Meng and … “the US clearly has the goods on Huawei and this person. ”
    This would appear to be a major escalation of previous US practice towards either its own, or foreign executives whose Corporations have allegedly broken US Law.

    Comment from Jeffrey Sachs.

    …The US rarely arrests senior business people, US or foreign, for alleged crimes committed by their companies. Corporate managers are usually arrested for their alleged personal crimes (such as embezzlement, bribery or violence) rather than their company’s alleged malfeasance.
    Yes, corporate managers should be held to account for their company’s malfeasance, up to and including criminal charges; but to start this practice with a leading Chinese businessperson, rather than the dozens of culpable US CEOs and CFOs, is a stunning provocation to the Chinese government, business community, and public.
    Meng is charged with violating US sanctions on Iran. Yet consider her arrest in the context of the large number of companies, US and non-US, that have violated US sanctions against Iran and other countries. In 2011, for example, JPMorgan Chase paid US$88.3 million in fines for violating US sanctions against Cuba, Iran and Sudan. Yet chief executive officer Jamie Dimon wasn’t grabbed off a plane and whisked into custody.” …

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, I read the same article. Apart from JPMorgan, it also included since 2010

      Banco do Brasil, Bank of America, Bank of Guam, Bank of Moscow, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Clearstream Banking, Commerzbank, Compass, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, JP Morgan Chase, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, National Bank of Pakistan, PayPal, RBS (ABN Amro), Société Générale, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Trans-Pacific National Bank (now known as Beacon Business Bank), Standard Chartered, and Wells Fargo. None of the CEOs or CFOs of these sanction-busting banks was arrested and taken into custody for these violations.”

      If Trump is thinking about making Meng’s release part of a trade package, then it is not a law & order issue but the old Roman practice of taking hostages to get favourable terms in negotiations. I read, but do not know if it is true, that the US Justice Department has not actually made an official request for her transfer into US jurisdiction yet. If true, that may be how Trump can squash the whole business if he so chooses.

    2. Olga

      Was about to post this JS’ article. Amazing how some folks, invoking the rule of law, cannot see the sheer hypocrisy of this arrest. Never mind that, historically, kidnapping Chinese princesses was never a good idea. The Chinese tend to take it very personally.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        But is this taking it personally involviing an innocent former diplomat?

        From above:

        Whenever people tell me they long for the days of post US hegemony, I always say, “So long as that is not followed by Chinese hegemony”. Beijing knows it can’t bully the US, so it picks on Canada as well. I happen to have a friend who knows Michael (the Canadian seized). It’s complete BS

        1. Olga

          Whatever it takes… Kidnapping people is opening up a Pandorra’s box. The Chinese can do it, too. Where will this lead and were will it end? As things stand, China is p-oed at Canada for slavishly carrying out empire’s orders. Hence – Canadian ex-diplomat. And just because someone knows a friend of a friend of the diplomat, means absolutely nothing. Of course, a friend would say that it is BS… what else do you expect?

          1. Yves Smith Post author


            This is not “kidnapping people”. This is extradition. Happens every day.

            There was a sealed indictment, which mean a US grand jury heard the charges and the evidence and indicted her. The arrest warrant came out of the indictment. The US and Canada a have an extradition treaty. The extradition order is subject to court approval in Canada. Meng had a bail hearing and will in due course have her case heard. She can appeal in Canada if she loses.

            No one was upset when bankers were extradited.

    3. JTMcPhee

      Seems like most people realize, as Sachs says, that in actuality “Meng is charged with violating US sanctions on Iran.” But here is what our regime says about the legal basis of the US indictment, which only at several removes connects to violating the (illegal under international law?) sanctions (sorry, I have not been able to find the text of the indictment itself):

      Meng, the Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”) of Huawei, has been charged in connection with a conspiracy to defraud multiple international financial institutions. The alleged fraud conspiracy was perpetrated at Huawei’s highest levels, with Meng personally making key misrepresentations to one of Huawei’s banking partners. As a result of those misrepresentations, among other things, multiple financial institutions engaged in millions of dollars of transactions in which they would not otherwise have participated. [Presumably referring to “violating US sanctions” and thus exposing the “unindicted” bank corporations to criminal liability per the US fiat sanctions.] As detailed in the Statement of Facts included with the government’s Provisional Arrest Warrant, the government’s evidence against Meng includes, inter alia, testimony from numerous witnesses and extensive documentary evidence, such as financial records, emails and internal Huawei documents, including a detailed PowerPoint presentation personally delivered by Meng to one of Huawei’s banking partners that contains multiple material misrepresentations as to the nature of Huawei’s business in a high-risk jurisdiction… This is from one of the US Attorney’s letters to the Canadian government in support of its opposition to bail by the Canadian court.

      In this game, it seems to me, the “law” provides a patina of “due process” and crafted-for-the-public “criminal-violation” dressing for the reality of straight-up “public-private” corporate politics. Having been a not very big or successful player in the US legal system, both as an enforcer with government agencies and in private Big Firm practice, I’d offer that selected bits of “the law” can always be found, and arguments constructed around them, to set up a defense of, or attack on, pretty close to any position or person a client (private or public) wants to undertake.

      As to how a “case” proceeds from “investigation” and then in court, anyone who thinks power and politics don’t affect the jurisprudence and outcome can just review something simple like the judicial foreclosure mills in Florida, or the municipal courts in those small towns like Jefferson, MO, out there in “Flyover country,” or the bankruptcy court shenanigans described in recent comments here at NC. Or of course the “quasi-judicial” activities of ISDS panels, and stuff like Citizens United and even Roe v. Wade. This particular case, I think, is a hypocritical show trial, to underscore “policy goals” of the rulership.

      In the big frame, this “case” we are invited to peer at only through “the government’s” set of filters and lenses, is just part of the great globalized neoliberal project, the inevitable confluence of Great Game state politics and hegemonic supranational corporatism.

      I guess those of us who might like to see an industrial policy that heads down the road Russia is traveling, toward increased autarky and care and feeding of the mopery, and even, God Forbid! actions to try to mitigate climate collapse, will have to be satisfied with, and endure (until the Jackpot?), this kind of ersatz “look! over there!”ism. And of course more places being Venezualized and Yemeized, and more gases being emitted by our systems and institutions.

    4. Carolinian

      Like Assange she is guilty of defying a bs law. As for Trump, unclear whether he is playing multidimensional chess or simply was not told about the upcoming arrest and might not have approved. The blob that runs things behind the scenes seems to have a mind of its own.

      1. kgw

        Trump is -not winning anything…He says he is, but he’s not. An intellectually challenged man, he is. The only people who could call what Trump is doing “winning,” are incapable of of a long term perspective.

        1. kgw

          Thought to add this:

          “People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right. The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing compared with that of the rich.”

          John Kenneth Galbraith

        2. Carolinian

          If aimed at me I don’t believe I said he was winning. Indeed it’s hard to believe he could be re-elected if the Dems offered up any sort of reasonable candidate. Therein lies the real problem.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        So you approve of the people outed by the Panama Papers hiding assets “offshore”? They broke the same law you deem to be BS, bank fraud, lying to banks about what the ultimate source of the money was behind their paper companies. So you are all on board with the mechanism which allows the super rich to escape taxes, which are critical to funding government in Eurozone and US states (and in countries that don’t get MMT, which means pretty much all of them).

        1. Carolinian

          Sachs is saying that it is the US justice system itself that is undermining banking laws by only pursuing a company executive when our foreign policy objectives are at stake. By this reasoning the BS law is the one that mixes up the banking system with a desire to punish our so called “enemies” like Iran or Russia–the sanctions law. The confusion induced by mixing up criminal justice with foreign policy is no doubt quite deliberate as attacks on international rivals can be deemed as “only following the law.”

          At least that’s how I see it. Doubtless the motives of the Huawei executive were profit rather than some sort of noble defiance. But as a matter of justice the punishment should fit the crime and they are threatening her with thirty years in prison. It’s very doubtful that those “enemies” are going to see this as just or reasonable.

    5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Bloomberg link above, on the Huaiwei case, mentions ‘national security’ concerns.

      And that would make the corporation an exceptional one, unlike, say JPMorgan.

      You can try to make money, but you pose a different threat if your corporation is perceived that way. Is it linked to the Chinese state? How are they connected to the military over there, or their intelligence organizations?

      I think we need to look at why it’s in the news about ripping out Huaiwei products here, and already in Japan by three phone companies. And if these factors make this a special case.

      1. Wukchumni

        In days of old kidnapping someone to put them on a sailing ship as a forced sailor was called “Getting Shanghaied”.

        Would the parlance change with Meng*, as in she was:


        * Yes, I know this instance is completely different from days of yore, and besides, she’s from Shenzhen-not Shanghai

      2. Carolinian

        So you are saying she is like Al Capone–being indicted for tax evasion instead of murder? This assumes all those national security claims are valid (there wasn’t much question about Capone being a murderer).

        I think Sachs is dead on by focusing on the illegitimacy of sanctions not ordered by supposed keepers of world peace like the U.N.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I was trying to see if a different case can be made between JPMorgan, and all the other examples, and Huaiwei.

          If it is different, then the examples are not comparable.

          1. Carolinian

            I’d say Sachs’ “selective prosecution” argument is pretty airtight but it’s true we don’t know all the facts. The Trump administration doesn’t seem willing to say more about their supposed case.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              If Huaiwei is a special case (due to national security), then it was selected on that basis.

              Is that so? I don’t know, but it would be consistent…special and selected. And we can leave out JPMorgan…in that case.

              1. JTMcPhee

                What does “national security” mean, can I ask? How does seeking to punish a citizen of another country for trying to do that universally approved (sort of ) thing called “profit-making globalized trade” by evading sanctions imposed by imperial fiat on another country which only the neocons and likudniks think poses any “threat” to the US Homeland, count as actions to protect “national security”? Unless “national security” is just code words for “what the US Hegemonic Elite says, goes,” which is what I mostly think it means if one looked at all the ways and instances in which the words are used? Tapping all the communications in the world and sorting, storing and setting up options to act on parsing of all the “data” in there is claimed to be “protecting national security.” The F-35, and more aircraft carriers, and “battlefield nuclear weapons,” and autonomous war robots, are all “necessary to national security,” as is the hiding of all the frauds and failures and deceptions of Government behind that “classification because national security” curtain. It’s a blob of a phrase, that triggers a visceral agreement reaction among most of us trained monkeys, who ar just sure we know what it means or pretend we do.

                The “free movement of capital” with all that involves and implies is part of what is killing us mopes and driving “inequality,” and that involves various kinds of fraud and “illegality,” as defined by such legislative processes and enforcer interpretations as are allowed by those in power to run. The monetary behaviors of the looting elites are bad for all the rest of us, and like child molestation and spouse murder ought to be proscribed and punished. Is what we can see of the US case against Meng based on “bank fraud,” of the sort practiced by the clients of Mossack Fonseca, or on “violations” of unilateral sanctions of the sort routinely launched by the Empire? On sanctions:

                According to the Charter of the United Nations, only the UN Security Council has a mandate by the international community to apply sanctions (Article 41) that must be complied with by all UN member states (Article 2,2). They serve as the international community’s most powerful peaceful means to prevent threats to international peace and security or to settle them. Sanctions do not include the use of military force. However, if sanctions do not lead to the diplomatic settlement of a conflict, the use of force can be authorized by the Security Council separately under Article 42.

                UN sanctions should not be confused with unilateral sanctions that are imposed by individual countries in furtherance of their strategic interests[5]. Typically intended as strong economic coercion, measures applied under unilateral sanctions can range between coercive diplomatic efforts, economic warfare, or as preludes to war.
                If the Neocons and Likudniks have their way, serving their interests not those of the rest of us, the Empire will be involved in a shooting war with Iran, especially as the other players in the global game of “trade” and diplomacy and power just work around the US unilateral sanctions.
                “Strategic interests” pretty clearly are whatever the power elite says such interests are, like weapons sales to fund the military structures and suck in the corrupt governments of other places, and regime change to put “our SOBs” in power or try to create a military lockdown, so everyone not part of the Imperial operation has to “say uncle” or to favor and succumb to the supranational corporations that are big parts of the Imperial structure and clout, and benefit from the looting opportunities the Empire provides.

                And of course Huawei is just another large, corporate, public-private blob that is serving interests of powerful sets and individuals, and doing the stuff that all the other big corporations do or try to do, in the accumulation of power/money and domination. But “our” looters are apparently losing ground to “their” looter, in the “markets” that Huawei plays in — in their Milton-Bradley world of The Game of Risk ™ meets Monopoly ™.

                So bank fraud in all its manifestations (including bank control fraud?) is not BS or a small thing, or not worthy of regulation and enforcement of laws of general applicability, laws that further, and do so honestly, the “general welfare.” A whole lot of the global economy is based on various kinds of fraud, so it’s a target-rich environment for decent people to armor up and go hunting in. I guess as this episode develops, we mopes will at least get some glimpses of what is actually driving this particular “case,” and how the power relations play out, and what interests, imperial, private and “public,” are in play and being served..

  9. UserFriendly

    Ha, just found video of Bernie ‘getting handsy’ with AOC. It was not some ill time joke like that mother jones hack reporter implied. It was literally him reminding her of the specific talking point that fox news spent time talking about her shoes rather than that climate report from the white house.

    But than what were we expecting from someone Clara Jefferys hired? competence?

  10. Carla

    Many thanks to Jerri-Lynn AND Yves for these links, and for your hard work on NC every day — and to Lambert — and to the various “silent” worker-bees who toil to bring us our daily fix of this indispensable site!

  11. diptherio

    If you’re interested in following the Spectrum workers strike, here is the official twitter account:

    The striking workers have a plan to incorporate a multistakeholder co-op to take over the NYC contract. They deserve a lot more notice than they’re getting imho.

    1. diptherio


      Force roughly 1,8000 workers into a punishing 20-month strike — and then force the decertification of their union. That was telecom giant Charter/Spectrum’s plan all along, according to the head of IBEW Local 3.

      “They knew that strike would result in hardship,” IBEW Local 3 Business Manager Chris Erikson recently told thousands of trade unionists rallying in front of Charter/Spectrum’s East 23rd Street headquarters in support of striking families. “They basically had 1,800 people out of work; they starved them into submission — and, unfortunately, some of them went back to that company under the implemented terms. Very tough decision — I know that. But the fact is, that was the plan from the beginning: force the strike and then force the decertification of the union.”

      This week’s massive trade unionist rally in support of striking IBEW Local 3 workers at Charter/Spectrum HQ came after the latest round of talks between the corporation and the union to end the nearly two-year strike, broke down again last Friday.

      “[Governor Andrew Cuomo] got the parties together a month ago, and we made every effort to make an agreement,” Erikson said. “And as we got closer, very close, [Charter/Spectrum] realized, if they make an agreement, then they would lose on the decertification and the workforce would want to have a union contract. And what did they do? They walked away from the negotiations. That’s why we’re here again today to send a message to this union-busing company: it ain’t going to work here. And if we don’t get a contract, we’re gonna run Charter/Spectrum out of New York.”

  12. Olga

    Strength in numbers?
    France risks EU censure over its latest “Gilets Jaunes” budget concessions, Italian Deputy Prime Minster Luigi Di Maio declared, adding that he expected Brussels to treat Paris and Rome in the same fashion. The European Commission has rejected Italy’s draft budget which targets the deficit to rise to 2.4% of GDP in 2019, while France’s 2019 deficit is now likely to rise above 3%. More news headlines are anticipated today as Italy’s Giuseppe Conte meets with Jean-Claude Juncker.

    1. Jeff

      Tax “avoidance” in France is over 100 billion euros, ten times the budget concessions. So, no worry, as soon as the government starts upholding and enforcing the law, budget troubles are over.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “The CEO of privacy search engine DuckDuckGo says Google uses location data that puts entire ZIP codes in politically biased ‘filter bubbles'”

    Can you imagine if Google ran the US Army? Democrats would be funneled to some Brigades while Republicans would be funneled to other Brigades and never the twain shall meet. You would have odd Brigades composed of Greens or the like but each would have their own reading materials and training but would not be allowed to see that of other Brigades. Red Brigades would be stationed in Red States while blue Brigades would be stationed in Blue States. Even in exercises the different Brigades would never train with each other but would be kept in their own bubble. Hmm. Good thing that Google doesn’t run the army – yet.

    1. Eduardo

      Good thing Google is not going to create a censored search engine for … China.

      Imagine if they censored US search? It’s easy if you try (a search on google).

    1. kgw

      Surely you jest..”Trump was seen as willing to fight for what he believes in,” and what would that be?
      Dreaming shit up does not qualify as much in my book.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        I don’t know.
        I loathe the guy, but this :”Trump earns points for authenticity. Pelosi and Schumer repeatedly urged that their negotiating be done in private, but Trump countered with talk of “transparency.” “…is sadly true, in my eyes.
        I caught only a couple of minutes of the “interview”, walking by, and what jumped out at me was how calm trump was, how evasive nancy was, and how smug chucky was.
        using israel as an example of a “successful wall” was either brilliant or clumsily lucky.
        I despise all three of them in pretty much equal measure at this point.None of them is likely to do anything to make my kids’ lives better, and all are likely to continue to make them worse.
        they don’t differ on militant imperialism, only on targets.
        and they ain’t none of them against hyperfinancialisation and privatisation…only which collections of rich folks get to benefit.
        It’s like a choice between the old boys club of the medium sized town, and that of the big city.
        it’s still essentially a mob(Puzo belongs on the econ shelf)

        1. GF

          When they televise the meetings between Trump and Bolton or any of the other cabinet members in the name of transparency, then I will give Trump his due. Humiliating dems before TV cameras doesn’t qualify as being transparent.

    1. newcatty

      This is the tip of an iceberg. Put together all of the awful stories of children being used and abused by adults, mostly men. Indeed, adult women and men being abused is absolutely reviling. But, the fact that children are used by adults is evil. Until these adult predators, and any enablers, are prosecuted and receive the fullest extent of legal consequences, such as prison time, then they are being protected by power. Sex trafficking happens because it is allowed. Children being abused anywhere happens because it is allowed. Until children are protected in this country, then the utter disrespect for human life will not end. We rightly decry children being removed from parents at our borders. What about children living in desperate situations in the country? What about neglected, abused and hungry kids all around us? More families are homeless now, not just single persons. College kids, though,mostly, over 18 years old, are hungry. Not talking about kids from monied famiies, or families that make their children a priority of whatever income they have. Kids live in cars or tents, and go to school for a meal. At least so far…The corrupt economic system, that is creating more poor people, is a major contributor to this amoral mess.

  14. rd

    Its hard to give away billions…..

    Henry Blodget touches on this in a good talk he gave earlier this month pushing the concept that we need to increase the minimum wage and median household pay if we want a stronger economy. He gives a good example of how trickle-down can’t work simply because the wealthy can’t spend their money fast enough.

  15. Wukchumni

    The Arctic Ocean has lost 95 percent of its oldest ice — a startling sign of what’s to come Washington Post
    I feel shaken-not stirred though. Climate change events transpiring far beyond our reach that don’t effect any humans living there, are ho hum to us.

    But add in a porpoise on purpose that can co-mingle with penguins on top of what ice is left, and we’d be all over it.

    I wonder what sort of news this will elicit with the couple of posters on here warning of the big chill about to manifest itself, according to their way of thinking?

    1. Arthur Dent

      I was doing design in the Arctic Ocean in the early 80s. The dominant loading event to consider was a large sheet (many miles in length) of 5-foot thick multi-year ice cruising into the strucutre driven by the wind and current. Multi-year is different from first year ice because it has developed a different crystalline structure that is much stronger so the multiyear loads were much bigger than first year ice sheet loads.

      So if nothing else, development and shipping traffic will be completely different in the Arctic Ocean if multi-year ice disappears.

      It also means the Arctic Ocean will warm faster than it did before because much of it won’t be covered with ice all summer and fall. Open water absorbs more solar radiation (24-hr daylight for several months in the summer there) than light snow and ice that also acts as an insulator for the water below as well as a reflector.

      It will change weather patterns because there will be open water much longer over bigger areas in the Arctic Ocean. Contrary to what people think, our coldest air is not created in the Arctic Ocean, but on land in the Canadian Arctic and prairies and Russia since water has a lot of heat energy that it can impart to the atmosphere. However, historically the Arctic Ocean would have thick ice cover that would reduce that energy transfer to the atmosphere. That ice cover will now be reduced and for shorter periods. The resulting changes in atmospheric profiles are a likely contributing cause to the wobbly cold patterns we are getting now in the lower 48 where big burps of cold air generated over land in northern Canada careen down towards the Gulf which has lots of warm moist air (e.g. this week’s snow storm in the South).

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        as the differential between the cold polar and the warmer temperate lessens, the circumpolar jet slows, and meanders, causing the lower lat. jet to also meander. High differential means stronger jets, that don’t meander…creating essentially a wall of cold fast air that keeps the deep cold bottled up.
        That’s failed, now…so us in the south get those blobs of supercold thrown off the arctic, and lobbed down to us by a lazy, wandering jet stream.
        the satellite movies of this in process are quite elegant.
        I’d rather it were July.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      As the Arctic melts we approach one of many Climate Chaos tipping points much faster than expected. Most of the Climate Chaos reports assume Climate Chaos will progress as linear transitions of an increasingly hotter equator region with climate zones slowly slipping further up in the latitudes. The record of Paleoclimate changes does not support this relatively hopeful idea of smooth climate transition. Past climate transitions occurred rapidly and they were not smooth or gentle. Adapting to rapid climate change is problematic at best. I’ve pointed to this link before and remain impressed by Jim White’s presentation “ABRUPT CLIMATE CHANGE: THE VIEW FROM THE PAST, THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE” . This presentation was made as the Fall AGU (American Geophysical Union) 2014 Nye Lecture and this is the start of the Fall AGU Week 2018 being held in Washington D.C. Dr. White’s presentation is readily accessible to the lay public and builds a powerful case for the likelihood of rapid climate change.

      As for the commenters “warning of the big chill about to manifest itself” — they may get their wish, depending on where they live, although they’ll have to wait a few epochs before they can enjoy an Ice Age like in the good-old days. The AMOC has been slowing and no one knows for sure how it might respond to an influx of warmer fresh water from the pole.

  16. Darius

    The Vox article about transit is very interesting. One tidbit. America spends more on highways even in areas with high transit usage and light car traffic. I attribute that to an iron cultural imperative in the US that privileges car use and ownership far above any other way of getting around. Americans don’t even know they’re doing it. Just like a fish doesn’t know it’s wet.

    1. Cal

      IF politicians and municipalities were serious about fighting climate change, they would make transit either free or so low cost that people would give up cars where appropriate.

      Buses are cheap, flexible and serve where and when they are needed. Light rail is expense and rigid. Bus fares in L.A. went up to subsidize rail with an overall loss of ridership as a result. Think of the carbon emitted by building subways, concrete viaducts, stations etc.

      Transit is often politicized and money is spent to favor the rich:

      “The Expo Line from downtown LA to Santa Monica has exceeded its ridership expectation. It turns out there are a lot of people who want to make that trip, and that rail line is a very convenient way to do it.”

      Yup, most of riders are Hispanic maids traveling to their jobs in the rich westside around Santa Monica, Techbro Central, from the poor eastside.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        in austin, houston (and dallas, maybe?) the light rail is apparently intended to be sh%%tty and dysfunctional….at least for working folks at the lower end of things.
        like, on purpose.
        and it’s been a while, but the bus system in Austin left much to be desired(i remember the last bus pulling away just as i got off work,every night…and many other such indignities/PITA)
        somebody, somewhere…likely in a nice chair…wants to make sure that public transit is proven to be bad, if not a danger to the Texas Soul.
        poor design, and poorer integration into the rest of the (car centered) transportation system.
        the car-centeredness, is of course, the main problem.
        My recent experiences in the medical center part of San Antonio(north west quarter) shows the bus system to be at least a little better than the other two. I don’t know if it’s that good in other, poorer, parts of the city.

    2. SerenityNow

      @Darius you make a great point. We can talk transit all we want, but until we change our spending priorities away from private motor vehicles it probably won’t make a huge difference.

  17. Wukchumni

    Ran this the other day on a change is inevitable thread, thought i’d repeat my thoughts:

    You want change?

    Render the object of their fervid desire worthless…

    For years now, every month or so, we hear of another ginormous computer hack, the Marriott episode being the latest.

    Sooner or later somebody is going to be able to do something other than steal pertinent information, and instead of robbing a bank, imagine doing the opposite?

    Flooding the system with so much computer generated fiat money, that nobody can tell the ‘good’ fiat from the ‘bad’.

    …the world stops rather suddenly

    1. JEHR

      Yes, Stop indeed. If everyone in the world were to be given a million dollars, then what? Inflation? Changeover to Bitcoin? The End of Poverty (at least for awhile)? Everyone can own a house? Great swathes of workers retire? No more hunger? No more growing poppies? Billionaires aiming for Trillions? Healthcare for all? Love to see that scenario!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Into their own accounts? That’d be too obvious to get caught.

      Into everyone account, equally? That would be Universal Basic (and more) Income. In that case, get ready to be elected, and to self-pardon. Totally sci fi stuff.

  18. Stanley Dundee

    CJ Hopkins weighs in on the gilets jaunes:

    By Sunday, the corporate media were insinuating that diabolical Russian Facebook bots had brainwashed the French into running amok, because who else could possibly be responsible? Certainly not the French people themselves! The French, as every American knows, are by nature a cowardly, cheese-eating people, who have never overthrown their rightful rulers, or publicly beheaded the aristocracy. No, the French were just sitting there, smoking like chimneys, and otherwise enjoying their debt-enslavement and the privatization of their social democracy, until they unsuspectingly logged onto Facebook and … BLAMMO, the Russian hackers got them!


    1. Wukchumni

      Most Americans if they have any inkling in regards to the French, it’s something along the line of GI’s handing out Hershey chocolate bars to street urchins in Paris, whose parents were killed in the war.

      That’s what grandpa said, how could it not be true?

    2. Cal

      Watch Joseph Paul Watson’s take on the Yellow Vests on Youtube.
      It’s a Middle and working class take on things without the highfalutin verbiage.

      Lots of comparisons between globalist’s use of language and authentic revolt’s use of language, i.e. When mass demonstrations go against globalists, it’s “controlled by Facebook and is fascistic”, when demos promote something they like, it’s a “grassroots movement aided by social media.”

  19. Mark Gisleson

    Not going to win any popularity contests by saying this in the comments, but I think the Naked Capitalism “staff” deserves to take some time off for the holidays. Like more than a week.

    Not sure it would increase our already high appreciation for the work you do, but not gathering or reading news would make all our holidays happier.

  20. Adam Eran

    Matt Taibbi’s take on the whole thing (here) compares Trump to the villain in Professional Wrasslin’… Not a bad metaphor.

    1. JEHR

      I agree the metaphor is appropriate, but I would never attend a wrestling match and never have, and when the president puts on a match, it is difficult not to watch because you fear for the results (tariffs, trade agreements, bullying, etc.) It is hard to know how to deal with such a person in such a position. I get angry at those who created this almighty wrestling match between Trump and the World. Sometimes one has to look away and make one’s mind a blank for awhile.

  21. Odysseus

    “It’s surprisingly hard to give away billions of dollars”

    Only if you stick to certain well defined channels. The IRS Saver’s Credit has a constituency that could suck up well over $10B/yr if people were only willing to help the people who qualify. Participation rates are very low.

    Luckily, Illinois seems to have found a way to get some of that money flowing.

    Saver’s Credit

    Illinois Secure Choice FAQ (PDF warning)

    1. Todde

      Ya, get money flowing to Wall Street where it will be skimmed off by fund managers.

      Somebody should be shot for that plan.

  22. JBird4049

    Black woman goes to the Administration for Children’s Services, no seats available, she sits on the floor. Security guard calls cops because she wants to sit and not stand. 3 NYPD officers rip her baby out of her hands and srrest a woman posing no threat to anyone.

    Ah, but she did not OBEY!

    As one who has had the joy of going for public services, I can it can get interesting as in grueling, uncomfortable, and actually painful, but I always had a seat somehow when needed. Not walking, but just standing for two hours with a baby in one’s arms just has to torture. Two guards and three police officers all to stop a woman from being a human being and she was charged for endangering her baby. And black, how surprising! I wish, but I don’t believe, that those prison guards public servants are ashamed of themselves at all. Probably thought it was all in a good day’s work.

    1. KFritz

      This is going to elicit anger, methinks, but here goes regarding the Jazmin Headley incident in NYC.

      First, that’s a crowded public space, with plenty of activity. If everyone who couldn’t find a seat on a chair picked a random place to sit down, the eventual result would be pandemonium, of and on some level. The guard, quite properly, didn’t want the woman to plant herself. An intelligent and humane response, however irresponsible the woman’s behavior, would be the guard finding a patron willing to surrender a seat to someone who needs to sit down. That didn’t happen. Instead, she was ordered “up,” and she didn’t comply. The guard is not technically at fault, but neither was he/she subtle or sensitive. Again, the police would have been well advised to seek some sort of compromise to seat the woman, and they didn’t. Since they’re better payed and trained than security guards who aren’t moonlighting peace officers, they are much more at fault than the guard. That being said, they weren’t in any way excessively violent–otherwise we’d be reading about injuries. The mother would have done better to surrender to the situation and get up once the police arrived. She could have made her argument without putting the child at risk. This also dovetails with the good advice that’s all over the internet about not resisting peace officers once a confrontation has begun. Especially with small children in hand.

      Also, it would be interesting to know if Ms Headley owns any sort of stroller/pram/baby conveyance, and if she’d been to the office before. If so, she darned well needed to bring the carriage if she knows the lines can be vexatious. I ride public transit frequently, and see mothers managing their young ones in all sorts of situations. Ms. Headley doesn’t get high marks.

      1. Oregoncharles

        “Especially with small children in hand.” You just said that “peace officers” (now there’s a euphemism for the ages) are willing to injure small children when they’re annoyed. Which is probably all too true, but doesn’t serve your point.

      2. JBird4049

        Not anger, just concern. Look, people in that woman’s place (like me) often don’t have money to buy luxuries like strollers or time to spend as in her case two hours, before the incidence, in line to only leave for another day. If one is waiting to get vouchers for food, or daycare, or whatever, they are probably on the ragged edge. Telling them to leave is not acceptable as often they do not have the time to start over.

        Furthermore, public welfare offices are usually understaffed, which means lines, phone call waits/holds, and paperwork processing that can take f o r e v e r, but here the city could afford to send four police officers to deal with a probably exhausted, hungry, frustrated woman with an angry screaming baby. It was incumbent upon them, not the woman, to be understanding, considerate and flexible. However, the police for whatever reason found it necessary to disrupt everyone else in the office by using violence albeit not extreme. I assume because they could not be bothered to be public servants for why would taking a little extra time to do the right, not the easier for them, thing be hard?

        I think that only considering someone as unimportant with, honestly, less consideration one might give a dog, is this acceptable. The police just wanted obedience and the problem to go away, which is all they would accept. They did not get it so they punished her, not for breaking any laws, but for not being servile.

  23. Oregoncharles

    “Don’t stress about what kind of Christmas tree to buy,”

    We don’t do Chrismas trees any more, although there’s a Christmas tree plantation next door (it’s also a boy scout camp); what I do is make a large bouquet of conifer and holly boughs, since we have those available; and drape a strand of lights over the bottle palm we’ve had for decades, which now scrapes the ceiling.

    Another option is a live tree, either planted outside (choose a type that stays small), or in a pot. Being brought inside shocks trees; keep it outside if you can. If it is, you can even put candles on it safely. Or bird treats, leading to live decorations. Helps if you have a patio door to put it outside of.

  24. anarcheops

    “San Jose Unveils Tiny Home Prototype for Homeless Residents KQED (David L). A good start, but only for singles, when some homeless are in couples or even families.”

    Other major downsides to the whole tiny homes thing is if you have pets (a lot of people are homeless with animals because shelters and landlords won’t take them) or any kind of mobility disability. You’re not going to get a walker in one of these things let alone a wheelchair, and the fancy ones with partitions that slide around to give you different “spaces” require physical coordination and strength.

    And honestly can we please just call them mobile homes.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I wonder if the blueprints for San Francisco’s “earthquake shacks” are still in their Archives somewhere. Might be time to dig them out again.

    2. JTMcPhee

      A whole lot of Americans, if they have anything left after the great looting and are not too decrepit or ready to “just die,” have discovered the “tiny homes” called “recreational vehicles” and “travel trailers” and “motor homes.” Lots of them live generally precarious existences with little in the way of amenities, in wooded areas and getting kicked from the Walmart parking lot to Target to a closed Sears store to spaces “under the viaduct” and suchlike. Seems from observing some of the “RV Resorts (sic) where many of the not completely homeless live, there often is a nice kind of small town comity and community and commensalism that develops. Of course most of these folks have little in the way of “legal status,” and are prey to the officials enforcing the deadly dream of Middle Class America or partitioning them off from the enclaves of the Elite.

      “Uhh, uhh, uhh, uuuhhh, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive…”

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