Links 12/15/18

Inside the mind of a bee is a hive of sensory activity Aeon (Robert M)

Swarms of Sensor-Wearing Bees Could Monitor Crops Better Than Drones Motherboard. Resilc: “If in North Carolina, buy a ‘save the honeybee’ license plate!”

NASA’s Hubble telescope discovered an ‘evaporating’ planet, study says USA Today

A Storm and a Strike Hit Blueberry Giant’s Global Supply Plans Bloomberg (David L)

How long can an event hold humanity’s attention? There’s an equation for that. Popular Science (resilc)

Eye-Opening Photos and Video Taken Inside Illegal Click Farms Core77 (resilc)

J&J knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder Reuters (martha r)

KFC introduces a firelog that smells like greasy fried chicken Boing Boing. Resilc: “Nothing says USA USA like a lard log for the holiday shopping orgy season.”

Huawei

The Detention of Huawei’s CFO is Legally Justified. Why Doesn’t the U.S. Say So? LawFare

How the ‘Five Eyes’ cooked up the campaign to kill Huawei Sydney Morning Herald

North Korea

Top secret report: North Korea keeps busting sanctions, evading U.S.-led sea patrols NBC (furzy)

Brexit

May threatens to crash Brexit deal after summit showdown Financial Times. May be over-egging the pudding, but depicts May as threatening to throw her toys out of the pram as a negotiating strategy. Gah.

Brexit: playing to the gallery? Richard North

British yellow vest protests spread as pro-Brexit campaigners block traffic by occupying Tower, Westminster and Waterloo bridges in central London Daily Mail. You don’t have to be violent to be disruptive. And look how few people this took (although any repeat will take at least an order of magnitude more now the the police have seen this stunt). Also highlights an issue the polls don’t capture: the intensity of the commitment of members of the Leave and Remain camps to their positions. Although the majority of each group is unlikely to have a deep attachment to their views (for instance, polite Blairites who are pro Remain), it’s not a stretch to conclude that there are more hard core Leavers than their are Remainers.

Brexit: the Conservatives and their thirty years’ war over Europe Financial Times.

Why the EU should fear a second UK referendum Politico. Some readers have made similar observations.

Full speech: Sir Ivan Rogers on Brexit University of Liverpool. Important.

New Cold War

New government in Iraq courts Russian embrace Asia Times. Resilc: “Our wise investment in Iraq 🇮🇶.”

Syraqistan

Australia recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital DW

Decorated Green Beret charged with murder of Afghan man The Hill. UserFriendly: “Shocked they even cared.”

What the Hell Is Wrong With Paul Ryan? The Nation. Resilc: “”The Saudi check is in the mail.”

Europe Loses if the Iran Deal Collapses LobeLog

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Facebook glitch could have exposed private photos of 6.8 million users abc.net.au

Porn Sites Collect More User Data Than Netflix Or Hulu Quartz

Police Drones Expand as Media Shrink FAIR (UserFriendly)

T-Mobile, Sprint Merger Will Reportedly Be Cleared By US National Security Panel CNBC

Imperial Collapse Watch

How the New Silk Roads are merging into Greater Eurasia Asia Times. Resilc:

Well look back years from now and see gwbush et al started this downfall and trumpisimo rolled it way ahead. Sitting here in Portugal, I see no upside for any playtime with USA USA.

Trump Transition

Trump’s border wall funding: Ohio congressman says a WallCoin could pay for it. Slate (resilc)

Guatemala girl, 7, dies in US custody ‘of dehydration, shock’ Al Jazeera

‘The Pentagon Has Steadfastly Stonewalled Against Making Its Budget Auditable’ FAIR (UserFriendly)

The White House Sure Seems Nervous About Trump’s Inauguration! Vanity Fair

Ivanka Trump was involved in negotiations between inaugural committee, Trump hotel: report The Hill. UserFriendly: “SO OBVIOUSLY CORRUPT.”

A federal judge just ruled that Obamacare is unconstitutional, threatening healthcare chaos Business Insider (David L)

DeVos cancels $150M in student loan debt after losing court battle Politico (UserFriendly)

Biden team discussed 2020 run with O’Rourke as VP: report The Hill

No One Wants to Serve on House Financial Services? Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court Leaves the Republican Party, Citing Kavanaugh KQED (David L)

Gunz

This Year Had More School Shootings Than Ever Rolling Stone (resilc)

Boeing 737 Passenger Jet Damaged in Possible Midair Drone Strike Bloomberg (UserFriendly)

The Future of American Broadband Is a Comcast Monopoly Motherboard

Sharp Decline Puts Dow in Correction Territory Wall Street Journal

Recession Signs Hard to Miss If Stock Message Is Taken Seriously Bloomberg

Yucaipa pays $3 million to settle claims from SEC of violating Investment Advisers Act Pensions and Investments. Chris Tobe: “Big investment in CALPERS. Does this type of crime ever get discussed?”

America’s janky payment system, explained The Week (UserFriendly)

Class Warfare

The Robots Have Descended on Trump Country New York Times. Resilc: “And coming for you professional classes….”

Single-Family Zoning Is an Urban Dinosaur Bloomberg (Chuck L)

Single With Cancer? You May Receive Less Aggressive Treatment Cancer Health (Oregoncharles)

In Booming Job Market, Workers Are ‘Ghosting’ Their Employers Washington Post

Antidote du jour. From crittermom: “For Ignacio, NC commenter who liked my Monarch photo & suggested a dragonfly would make a good subject.”

And a bonus (hat tip martha r):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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214 comments

  1. paul

    Ivan rogers presentation deserves a full caps IMPORTANT.

    The politico piece I cannot make head nor tail of.

    The violent Yellow Jackets protests in France show the storms of the past few years are far from over.

    Quite rightly so, even if the author finds them so distasteful

    If the EU wants to ensure its survival, it will have to make far-reaching changes to the way it responds to migration, fights climate change and poverty, manages its security and common currency. For this, it must become easier to govern, easier to understand and more democratic.

    Fair enough, but how?

    For the EU, tackling nationalism in Warsaw, populism in Italy, authoritarianism in Hungary is difficult enough. A U.K. working across the continent to fend off anything threatening its own brittle national cohesion could present the European Union with one of its most insidious challenges yet.

    Ignoring popular disquiet has never been much of an answer and equating it with ‘insidious challenges’ gives the project an authority it has never directly requested.

    Reply
    1. Clive

      I have sympathy for this perspective. I don’t mind compromises and so much in life is only made possible by applying a one-size-fits-all approach which ends up not fitting especially well but is better than trying to find something to please everyone.

      But it’s been a lament that the main agents who enabled Leave were Remainers. Papering over cracks in the EU’s structure is one thing. But being told, initially, by your typical Remainer “I can’t see any crack” only to then, after sticking their hand into a bloomin’ great gaping hole running top to bottom “Oh, that little thing. It was so small I hardly noticed. And it’s not a crack, it’s character and part of the period rustic charm of the place. I don’t know what you’re getting into such a lather about” just leads one to head for the door as quickly as your legs will carry you.

      You’ve no interest in being hit on the head by falling pieces of masonry. Because, for the owner, having someone come round and draw up a snagging list of what’s not right with the building and a schedule of urgent works to keep it (sort of) standing in one piece is viewed as an “insidious challenge”.

      Conversely, if you instead meet a response of “Hmm… yes, that looks bad doesn’t it, we’d better call in a structural surveyor because this looks like it’s not only threatening the whole edifice, it’s getting worse” you at least know there’s a possibility of getting the thing fixed.

      Alas tendinitis induced by excessive handwaving has been afflicting all too many Remainers.

      Of course, Leave as a philosophy has problems of its own.

      Reply
      1. bassmule

        “Alas tendinitis induced by excessive handwaving has been afflicting all too many Remainers.”

        This morning’s belly laugh. Thank you!

        Reply
    2. timbers

      I don’t understand why America isn’t bombing Paris in support of the Moderate Rebels in France and declaring Marcon must be regime changed. Maybe Syria and Russia can jump in and do that for us?

      Reply
    3. Lambert Strether

      > Ivan rogers presentation

      One of my takeaways is that the EU is very, very good at what they do (at least at the tactical level. Strategically, “Europe” is another matter). They completely rolled the UK.

      Reply
      1. Cal

        Consider that for profit colleges are allowed to declare bankruptcy,
        but student loan borrowers are not?

        Guess they’re just Biden their time until they die insolvent.

        Reply
      2. newcatty

        Think this name, “Peak Higher Education”, has already been taken. We received our B.S degrees from the college under the peaks…The San Francisco Peaks. Of course Peak Higher Education could refer to more than the view…oh, referring to the fact that NAU has expanded its “”mission” to provide “excellent ” higher education beyond that beautiful site, especially when snow covered and shining in the sun. Many moons ago…it was a great school for undergrads.

        Reply
    1. JBird4049

      The thing is that having an education is, in isolation, still a very good thing for both the individual and society, but of course neoliberalism’s let monetize everything and enserf the Deplorables, which is becoming the majority, is making trying to get a formal education very foolish.

      Modern political economy is making wisdom folly, and folly wise, and yet we live in a virtuous regime’s meritocracy or so they tell me.

      Reply
      1. Summer

        Time for my ole sayin’:
        There isn’t an invention, innovation, or good idea that this over-fianancialized economic system can’t turn to crap.

        Reply
  2. The Rev Kev

    “Biden team discussed 2020 run with O’Rourke as VP: report”

    ‘Biden described himself as “the most qualified person in the country to be president.’ Now where have I heard that phrase before?

    Kudos to crittermom for that great image of that dragonfly by the way. With her photography, crittermom must has her stuff wired tight.

    Reply
    1. Robert McGregor

      If Hillary thought she was the “most qualified of all time” to be President, and Trump is clearly the least qualified of all time to be President, and yet Trump won and is President, then maybe that “most qualified mantle” will not necessarily carry the day. I’m beginning to think that “Centrist Democrats” self-screen out people with any sort of intellectual creativity or competence. There are intellectually creative people who end up as libertarians and progressives, but how can an intellectually creative person end up as a “Centrist Democrat?” Instead you have the Hillarys, Bidens, and Obamas of the world—effective careerists, but they cannot think themselves out of a paper bag.

      Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          The idea that Uncle Joe “Happy Fingers” Biden, the father of undischargeable student debt and reigning GPVI (General Purpose Village Idiot) has any chance whatsoever of leading our great nation makes me want to take a powder

          Reply
          1. Carey

            What frosts me with JoeBiden- and it does, a lot- is the obvious impunity in that smarmy smile and those roaming fingers.
            Our Marie Antoinette, or worse?

            Reply
  3. a different chris

    This isn’t in the links because it isn’t even news, really.

    Sears Holdings Corp., which filed for bankruptcy protection in October, said it needs to able to offer the extra cash to encourage key employees to stick with the company as it attempts to restructure, according to court filings. The company’s proposal offers bonuses totaling up to $8.4 million to 19 executives

    I think the “key” employees are the ones emptying out the warehouses and turning off the lights, myself.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      Call me wild and crazy, but I’m betting that 1.) most of those key employees are not key at all and will largely not be missed by anyone really trying to navigate the company through the abyss they have been navigated into by key employees and 2.) that most of those of employees have contracts. If they have no contract let them go. If they do tell them their bonus is to work the term of their contract and not being sued for breech.

      But then I’m of the opinion that with few exceptions most executives, you know the people who get the bonuses most of the time, are often more detrimental to businesses that do things – like make products or sell actual products. That many have no clue what has to happen to make, ship, sell, etc. Hence ideas like automation is the answer, when beyond the most basic of repeated production actions it really isn’t.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Aligned but discreet is that “Shop Your Way” the online arm Sears came up with a few years ago is now aggressively promoting schemes tied to ‘Lending Tree.’
        Sears is now approaching ‘Peak Financialization.’

        Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    “How the ‘Five Eyes’ cooked up the campaign to kill Huawei”

    Got riveted by the bit where it said: “in an audacious sting in April, American agents lured Chinese Ministry of State Security deputy director Yanjun Xu to Belgium, where he was arrested for orchestrating the theft of military secrets.” I find that it always pays to play the devil’s advocate so I will do so here. I note that Gina Haspel was the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency until her elevation not long ago and that the post is vacant at the moment. So, with this all in mind, lets flip that sentence-

    “in an audacious sting in April, Chinese agents lured American Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Gina Haspel to Hong Kong, where she was arrested for orchestrating the international crime of torture”.

    There. Does that make it sound any better?

    Reply
    1. Alex

      do you seriously believe there would be less torture under the Chinese-dominated world order? Or that China is not using it internally now?

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Well, playing the devil’s advocate again. Do the Chinese use torture? Of course they do. But at least they keep their torture in-house and do not fly people all around the world and outsource the torture to other countries. Or take them to Cuba to torture and pretend there are no laws there. Or take them to actual US Navy ships at sea to torture sullying those ship’s names.
        I, for one, welcome our new Chinese Overlords and offer my humble services to them in whatever function they see fit. :)

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          You may rethink that after they transform Australia into one of their New Overseas Tibets. Or cook Australia to death with all the coal Australia is eager to sell China all the way down.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Oh well, if that is so, I guess that I will have to move. I understand that Shenzhen is lovely this time of the year.

            Reply
    2. Lambert Strether

      This is riveting too:

      The British delegation led by MI6 boss Alex Younger – a man who signs official documents in green ink with a single letter “C” – had detailed evidence of the brazen attacks in Salisbury, where Moscow had used a military-grade chemical weapon on UK soil.

      Oh, the Skripals. How are they doing these days? And then there’s this:

      A new Great Game was afoot and the West had been slow to act. But it is acting now.

      So, great. We have a supra-national and unaccountable committee of intelligence agency heads deciding matters of war and peace for sovereigns. “Meddling” with elections too, if the UK’s “Integrity Initiative” is any guide.

      And this puff piece looks like their coming out party.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        I always thought that the point of these secret services was to be, oh I dunno, secret? Having a coming out party in front of the world kinda negates that. It’s the same sort of thinking that brought you the Uniformed Division of the U.S. Secret Service. Did they not think that the uniforms might give their identities away?

        Reply
    1. cnchal

      But I give her a lot of credit for getting the $21 trillion reported on in the Washington Post, which has studiously avoided any mention of the stunning report that Mark Skidmore did last fall. None of the mass media has reported on that, so this is the first mention.

      Does the mass media practice censorship or self censorship?

      Lets put two plus two plus two together and see what comes up.

      The military can’t or won’t account for where the money went, Amazon wants to run the computers for the military for a fat fee, just like they do for the spooks, and the WaPooPoo, which is run by the same guy that runs Amazon, doesn’t want to talk about it.

      I come up with six six six.

      Reply
      1. todde

        and Government Waste and Government Fraud doesn’t seem to be attracting the same sort of fever that it usually does with the usual crowd.

        Reply
  5. Sam in Charlotte

    If it’s Biden/Beto, i hope Iceland has room for this Greek-American and a secondary-level teaching position!

    Reply
    1. Ignim Brites

      Seems unlikely that a party whose praxis is so bounded by theoretical anti-racism would have two white guys, too white, at the head of the ticket. Eric Holder with Julian Castro or Amy Klobuchar seems more probable.

      Reply
  6. Wukchumni

    KFC introduces a firelog that smells like greasy fried chicken Boing Boing.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    My 15 degree down sleeping bag has served me well for about a decade now, and probably more closely resembles a greasy fart sack.

    Would said firelogs be available in extra crispy?

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      This fried chicken firelog was available for $18.99 but has since sold out.

      And here I was having hope for our civilization. Barf.

      Reply
      1. BlueMoose

        This could be the start of something really bad, as in: Taco Bell scented logs, Dinty Moore Beef Stew scented logs, etc.. C’mon. Everything is possible in America. Think bigly.

        Reply
        1. newcatty

          Baby it’s cold outside…

          I would love a glass of wine. Wait, what’s that smell?

          I thought a fire would be nice, you know.

          I love a cozy fire on a cold night. But, what is that weird smell ?

          Yeah baby, I scored the very last KFC fried chicken firelog, before they sold out.

          OK, the front door is close. Our heroine slowly stood up, stretched and ambled over to the escape…grabbing her coat draped over an overstuffed chair. She knew she would have to jump in a hot shower, as soon as she got home. And, wash her clothes and light a pine scented candle.

          Reply
  7. Wukchumni

    Nice shot of the dragonfly…

    In the summer @ our swimming hole on the river, there will appear what looks to be WW1 aerial combat going on in the skies overhead, with a squadron of dragonflies hovering 15 feet above, and butterflies 10 feet of elevation higher.

    Never the twain shall the 2 air armadas ever meet for the most part, they occupy zones of influence in an apparently agreed upon altitude.

    Reply
    1. newcatty

      As soon as I saw the dragonfly shot, I knew it was created by Crittermom. Beautiful. We have dragonflies in the summer, too. Always magical to see them as they dart through the trees, often with hummingbirds in attendance at our feeders. My spouse is a wonderful photographer, so count us in as Crittermom’s admirers.

      Reply
      1. Ignacio

        Their flying speed, their ability to keep suspended in the air, their colours, their wings, their aerodinamic body…
        yes they are somehow magical. Thanks again Crittermom!

        Reply
  8. Pelham

    Re Why the EU should fear a second Brexit referendum: The writer makes a lot of good points, but I would take issue in part with this statement: “U.K. voters have been fed the idea that a second vote amounts to a violation of democracy.”

    Well, yes, they have been “fed” that idea. But this elides the simple fact that a second vote would indeed amount to “a violation of democracy.” It’s not just a debatable, cooked-up idea that someone has been spooning out.

    Elsewhere, perhaps here, someone has observed that the rise of populism, far from a refutation, is actually a confirmation and fuller expression of democracy. I’m not sure I agree fully, since a minority of people deeply committed to their cause may thwart the will of a majority. However, in our current circumstance in which people in power for decades at least have turned a deaf ear to the will of the people, I lean toward agreement that populism — even with its ugly parts intact — is a necessary corrective and as such a vital expression of democracy in our time.

    Reply
    1. JEHRj

      May populism that is a “necessary corrective” and “vital expression of democracy” never come to my nation! I’ll just take no money in politics and that will be much closer to a corrective and allow a true expression of democracy. Here’s a lengthier definition of populism.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        The beat dog eventually bites.
        every iteration of left-ish populism that has reared it’s head has been ruthlessly smashed by the power elite…up to and including assassination and smear campaigns and coordinated police/military action.
        currently, i note that its usually the quite comfortable, and their followers, who are pooh-poohing populism and democracy…even while so many of their lamentations regarding the trump era contain wailing about “our lost democracy”.
        there is a long tradition in this country of elites using the rhetoric and trappings of democracy(and small r republicanism) while insisting among themselves that the great unwashed cannot possibly be allowed to have a say in things.
        (see: the history of I&R in Texas for a case study in this)
        given this self-serving history of elite rule, uber alles…I’ll paraphrase Gandhi: democratic republicanism in America? I think it would be a good idea. we should try it…for once…only then can we determine if it’s as horrible as the david brooks of the world seem to think it is.
        Better exegesis:
        https://thebaffler.com/intros-and-manifestos/the-people-no-frank
        https://thebaffler.com/salvos/the-populist-morass-lehmann

        “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”-JFK.

        Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      Why would holding a vote be “a violation of democracy?” You don’t make a case for that. British voters certainly know more about the issue than they did.

      However: the experience here with rerunning initiatives – it’s happened several times – is that the voters double down, as in “Yes, we meant it.”

      I agree that populism is a necessary corrective, but the word has now been largely stripped of meaning by authoritarian movements. To be clear, I don’t know enough about British politics to know which side is which. I do see a possibility that the neglected mopes who voted Leave knew what they were doing: EU membership isn’t really in their interest. Or, of course, it was an uplifted middle finger to the establishment who seemed so fond of the EU, like voting for Trump.

      Reply
      1. Fiery Hunt

        I think the violation of democracy is the “Let’s re-vote until we get what we want!” slippery-slope of re-voting. How many times should it be voted on? Twice?

        Reply
        1. Anon

          Well, after getting stuck with a 3 Trillion dollar bill for the Iraq War, I think more than a majority in the US would welcome a re-vote on GW Bush. Alas, the destruction is done. And what is done can’t be un-done.

          Where Brits seem to stand on Brexit appears to be directly related to where they sit (societal situation). Just like Americun’s and Bush, the plusses amd minusses of Brexit will be born by those living in the future. (Not the folks who proposed it.)

          Reply
        2. Ape

          If revoting brings new results then obviously your voting system is just sampling random numbers or conditions have significantly changed. Democracy isn’t merely a formal process.

          Reply
      2. Chris51

        Even the first vote wasn’t a true example of democracy. As I understand it, the UK political system has no mechanism for a matter to be resolved by people’s vote (‘referendum’). The outcome of such a vote is purely advisory, with the outcome determined by parliament, the government, and the Crown.

        Reply
      3. Lambert Strether

        > However: the experience here with rerunning initiatives – it’s happened several times – is that the voters double down, as in “Yes, we meant it.”

        It amazes me that the Remainers are focusing on a process issue — a second vote — instead of being straightforward and making the case for the outcome they want: Remaining.

        It’s almost like they don’t think they have to persuade voters….

        And what happens in the unlikely event that the EU gives them the runway they need for a second vote… And they lose again?

        Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “Australia recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital”

    And people thought that only America and the UK had stupid politicians! Where to start? Saudi Arabia is the largest importer of live meat from Australia so that might be at risk. It will almost certainly jeopardize the signing of a critical free-trade deal with Indonesia. President Widodo of Indonesia has elections coming up soon so you can bet that this will be a major issue featured. Malaysia long ago warned moving the embassy could fuel terrorism in the region. There are also many countries that import Australian agricultural exports including Indonesia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan which all happen to have major Muslim population and they will make their voice felt. He also said that the government will recognize East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital only after a settlement has been reached on a two-state solution and they have “aspirations” not rights. So they should get their capital on the 15th of Never.
    It’s not like Israel has ever been a friend to Australia. Former Prime Minister Rudd tweeted “A reminder: this is the same Netanyahu who presided over forging Oz passports for use in Mossad’s 2009 assassination in Dubai.” Even the venue for his announcement speech was strange. The Sydney Institute? The Sydney Institute is a privately funded think tank of tiny size but has links with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington and attracts very high powered speakers such as Dick Cheney and has major corporate funding. I have drawn my own conclusions as to who and what they are all about. And he gave this speech after Parliament closed for the year so no questions for him there till next year.
    And the reason why? What do we get for this colossal price? It gives Scott Morrison a few additional votes in next year’s elections from the Jewish and conservative Christian voters and maybe win him friends in the White House. I checked Google and it says that there are about 90,000 Jewish people in Australia out of 25,000,000 people. Say 60,00 of them can vote so yeah, that might help against the tidal wave heading the conservatives way next year. Conservative Christian voters? Always a few bible-bashers about but people here have a severe mistrust of when they go into politics and start throwing their weight around. Meantime, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs has warned Australian travelers heading to Indonesia to be aware of protest activity in Jakarta. Great!

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Another coup for the Israel -ites (cf. the first ten or 12 books of the Old Testament.) You know they are scurrying away, to get other national leaders “on board” to achieve that self-serving “prophecy” they wrote into the Holly Bibble, way back when.

      Subtle and dedicated people, all efforts (not directed toward other stratagems and corruptions) constantly applied to the achievement of Eretz Israel, what Wiki calls “the indefinite boundaries,” but here’s a little map that lays out the geographic “vision” of the Israel -ites, http://www.ahavat-israel.com/eretz/future

      The Sixth “I” is Israel.

      The Promised Land on that map is colored yellow, maybe appropriate somehow for people who could be brought to worship a golden bull, but the colors of fresh and dried blood would be more appropriate still…

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Given that so many of our movie actors come from Australia we should just merge and call it Ameristralia. One suspects that many Australians would like this! Great Britain can join too after Brexit. They already seem to be big players in much of our foreign policy.

      Canada, however, seems to have a ‘tude about their pushy neighbor and may stay out, making it the four eyes.

      Reply
      1. wilroncanada

        Carolinian
        Things have changed, dramatically.
        I read some time ago that Canada and New Zealand were, shall I say, hesitant to take part in the US-led gangland attack on Iran. They were under intense pressure from the other three members to see the light (cave in, suck it up, take your pick). The episode of the last two weeks makes clear that the five eyes are again five. The colonies are about to pay their dues.

        Reply
      2. Chris51

        One suspects that many Australians would like this!

        Er, no, and no thanks. You can keep your demented money-riddled political system to yourselves…

        Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      There’s gratitude for you. Israeli officials have stated that they are disappointed in Australia’s decision and said: ‘We expected more’. They expected the full embassy and not just a Consulate. In addition, they are disappointed that Australia referred to West Jerusalem and said that there is no such thing as “West Jerusalem” and “East Jerusalem”. There is only Jerusalem, “the eternal and undivided capital of the state of Israel.”-

      https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-said-disappointed-by-australias-recognition-of-west-jerusalem-only/

      Reply
  10. jfleni

    RE: The Future of American Broadband Is a Comcast Monopoly;

    Not if states and localities act like Charlemont MA, and seriously consider installing their own local broadband;
    a Comcast horror show!

    Reply
  11. djrichard

    The Future of American Broadband Is a Comcast Monopoly Motherboard

    Would Obamacare devolve to that too? One insurance provider for all?

    BTW, don’t you be thinking about nationalizing Comcast (and the rest of its ilk). That’s crazy talk. Think instead about the value that Comcast adds between you and the service you ultimately want.

    Reply
  12. Wukchumni

    Regarding potential open hydraulic fracking leases spread all around me like some form of hover-ian cancer on the BLM map-nicely supplied yesterday, I was freaking out, and sought the thought of a friend on the inside of things, and this was the response:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “I wouldn’t be too concerned just yet. I can’t speak as to the state of the art or economics driving this but from a NEPA/CEQA standpoint it would take years before anything were permitted to occur in these parts. I would caution you to not confuse a planning site map with project implementation. The Valley Floor is sort of a “gimme zone” but fracking operations in the foothills would face stiff resistance at the federal, state, local, and private levels

    Will natural gas requirements nationally and globally continue to drive exploration and extraction? Maybe. Probably. But I don’t really know. More likely the environmental review process to allow fracking in the foothills exceeds the term of the current presidential administration. My guess is whoever comes next is going to be a little more environmentally astute.”

    Reply
    1. chuck roast

      Er…keep your eyes open.
      Your friend doesn’t know about “EA Shortcut” wherein the Feds allow the production of an Environmental Assessment (EA) under NEPA with the presumption that “there will be no adverse impacts” therefore a full-blown Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) identifying “adverse impacts” need not be completed.
      I am told by staff intimate with its production, that this is what happened “over the weekend” at the Department of Agriculture a number of years ago when the importation of beeves from Canada with mad-cow disease threatened the food chain.
      Bah-da-bing!

      Reply
  13. Steve H.

    > How long can an event hold humanity’s attention? There’s an equation for that. Popular Science (resilc)

    There’s Barabási again. I’ve found some of his work useful, but am trying to get read on him. Does he have novel and useful ideas once you scrape back the bs? (See Nassim Taleb.) Is he an excellent communicator of other peoples brilliant ideas? (See Richard Dawkins.) Or is he taking simple ideas, inverting them to make them non-linear, and then putting a fancy bowtie on it?

    I recently came across “Unifying Evolutionary Dynamics,” a 2002 paper that took equations from evolutionary dynamics and showed that “apparently very different formulations are part of a single unified framework.” “Understanding the relationship among evolutionary equations is useful, because results from one system can be transferred to other systems, and specific problems are more easily expressed in one framework than another.”

    The case for rejecting the memristor as a fundamental circuit element” is another very useful article. First by being a strongly made case in itself, even though it refutes a really cool idea. Then the methodology they use is something I’m trying to abstract for my own epistemological matrix. It also allows me to eliminate an interesting distraction: I told Janet “I can generate facts from structured water, I can’t do that with memristors.” More time for my garden.

    Another quote from the article in Links is useful: “Research on memory suggests familiarity, simple rhymes, and narrative templates that make sense out of multiple events at once all help facts stick.” The article headers (Guillotine Watch) are actionable categories. Much is what Jalen calls “broken news.” Like hendiatris, they begin to spring to mind uncalled, Lambert’s ‘bs filter’ imposing on perception. I wish we had a list available, such strong images and phrasing deserve emphasis.

    For example, the repetition in “If your business depends on a platform, you don’t have a business” should make it easier to remember. Good stuff.

    Reply
  14. Wukchumni

    Living easy, living free
    Treason ticket on a one-way ride
    Asking nothing, leave me be
    Taking everything in my stride
    Don’t need reason, don’t need rhyme
    Ain’t nothing I would rather do
    Going down, pizza party time
    My friends are gonna be there too

    I’m on the Huawei to hell
    On the Huawei to hell
    Huawei to hell
    I’m on the Huawei to hell

    Bail bond sighs, can’t leave limit
    Nobody’s gonna slow me down
    Like a big wheel, gonna spin it
    Nobody’s gonna mess me around
    Hey global policeman Satan, paid my dues
    Playing in a Shenzhen brand
    Hey daddy, look at me
    Busted nowhere near the promised land, whoo!

    I’m on the highway to hell
    Highway to hell

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fa82Qpw6lyE

    Reply
  15. ChiGal in Carolina

    As I was last night, at the last minute, re-upping my ACA enrollment for next year, a red banner, THE COURT DECISION WILL NOT AFFECT YOUR 2019 PLAN, suddenly appeared on the screen where none had been before.

    Knee surgeries behind me, I decided to take the extra cost sharing ($35 instead of $10 to see a regular doc; $100 instead of $40 for a specialist) in exchange for a premium reduction of $300/mo and signed up for a bronze plan.

    I would never (knock on wood) reach the $4000 deductible for 30% cost sharing to kick in on the silver (vs 40% for the bronze). And anyway, most of what I need either is free (preventive) or in the case of medications has a negotiated BCBS price that (I hope) is the same regardless of plan.

    What a racket. I am relieved to “only” be paying $750/mo in premiums…

    Reply
    1. BlueMoose

      I’m paying approximately $100/month for medical coverage here in Poland. Went to the local clinic a few years ago to get my ears unblocked and other than having to wait a bit in the lobby, no charge. Had some skin cancer removed from my forehead at the hospital a few years before that. Fully equipped, modern operating room, no charge.

      They are starting to modernize visits to the local clinics so you don’t waste all day waiting to see a doctor only to be told to come back tomorrow. And it is true you might have to wait a bit for knee replacement, but if you need urgent care you get (without worrying about backruptcy). I just don’t think about it or sweat it – as it should be.

      Reply
    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      I dealt with a similar unsubtle attack. Except I’d re-upped over three weeks ago, and got an out-of-the-blue phone call from a third party contractor (purportedly) working for healthcare.gov. Friday at 7:30 pm, PST. I was in a professional group Xmas dinner at the time. I stepped outside to listen to the voicemail, since I’d missed the call, and made the requested callback after the dinner, around 10 pm PST. Received the same “THE COURT DECISION WILL NOT…..” boilerplate. Before being required to leave my phone number because they were too busy to answer.

      Found out why here in links this morning.

      Reply
  16. maria gostrey

    re protests in france – how can we help them spread?

    heres a story in the guardian abt the privatization of the royal mail:

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/dec/15/royal-mail-queues-lengthen-as-depots-close-across-uk#img-1

    it features comments from pissed off “consumers” as well as bafflegab from a royal mail spokesbot. there is a photo at the top of the story of “consumers” queuing, but hidden below the fold is a photo of workbot wearing a yellow vest.

    which made me hopeful that next time i see this sort of story abt privatization, the “consumers” will also be wearing yellow vests, & not standing in an orderly queue.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      I wore my yellow vest yesterday afternoon and after brunch this morning (joking!).
      Got a couple of minor double-takes, which is good. It’ll register eventually, is
      my thinking.

      Reply
  17. Wukchumni

    I was giving gas some thought, and it’s a pain to store, goes bad after a time and is really a potentially flammable nuisance, and as a consequence most of our leash on life is what’s in our gas tanks on our vehicles, some 20-40 gallons if full.

    What would a Mini-Mad-Max event look like if things went dark ages on the electricity front for say only a fortnight nationwide, and the pumps weren’t a pumping anymore?

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      it’ll still burn after souring(up to a nebulous point), it just burns worse and worse as time goes on. and it gets dirty.
      I inherited a boat that had been sitting in a garage for 20 years, with one of those flat gas cans, half full.
      I didn’t want to put it in a lawnmower, etc…so i used it in lieu of diesel to get our occasional brushpiles burning. noticeably less explosive than fresh gas.
      preppers/Doomers I have known recommend a product called “Stabil”…or something. apparently available at the feed store.
      diesel stores a lot longer.
      and there’s always the option of changing out all your gaskets and seals and such to run on ethanol, or biodiesel….which can be made on site without too much trouble.
      I’m pushing mom to get a genny to run the other welder(and to run my paraplegic stepdad’s bed long enough for him to get in/out of it)….and I’d like to have a solar/wind array to run the freezers and fridges for a while(save for the 2 kitchens, those are concentrated in the barn for just this reason).
      But for Doom, itself…I expect to do without.

      Got an array of good quality lanterns/hurricane lamps, plenty of extra wicks, and the beginnings of a store of kerosene(to my uncertain knowledge, kerosene keeps a whole lot better than either gas or diesel.)
      Then of course, there’s beeswax, from the bees I hope to install this spring.

      something I notice when i watch everything from game of thrones to hell on wheels to various and sundry post-apocalypse/medieval shows…is the plenitude of candles. Burning all day and all night, as if there’s an endless source, somewhere off-screen.
      even on bright sunny days.
      as someone who has lived without electricity, I can say with some authority that this is just silly….even when candles and such are readily available for cheap.
      if you’re having to make them yourself(or conserving an obviously finite supply of kerosene), you’re gonna use them very sparingly.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        You know how Hollywood is, every car that ever left the roadbed and careened off cinematically, simply has to blow up and/or catch fire mid-air.

        If there are no winds in the slot canyon that leads to Arizona hot springs, we set 100 tealight candles in nooks and niches along the ever closing walls as you walk 1/4 mile up the darkened corridor @ night to the hot water. We’re real careful to make sure they don’t drip wax, and the next morning we pick it all up.

        The look in the lit canyon is perfect, just enough-not too much.

        A glimpse of the lay of the land:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiNGLksM7A0

        Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            That video is only about 30 miles from the Las Vegas Strip as the crow flies…

            The Southwest is a feast for the eyes, Utah in particular.

            Reply
      2. Synoia

        In the middle ages Candles, beeswax candles were a luxury. Poorer people burnt tallow, which smells badly. Really poor people went to sleep.

        Reply
      3. gepay

        Amfortas – About no electric grid functioning – does anybody recall Fukushima? (still a disaster – still unknown exactly where the cores are – still dumping hundreds of tons of radioactive water into the Pacific everyday since March 2011) – sooner or later every nuclear plant in the US including those that are decommissioned would experience some type of nuclear catastrophe after national grid meltdown. There will be very few areas of the US that will not be contaminated by ionizing radioactivity. Conserving candles will be the least of our worries.
        Don’t worry, Be happy.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          my grandpa’s company had a house on the intercoastal around matagorda. you could see the top of the domes of the south texas nuclear plant.
          they rented the place to a few of the engineers working on that 20+ year boondoggle…drunks, all,lol….so the rebuilds and failures didn’t surprise me a bit.
          I’ve driven past that one a million times…and once past the one at glen rose.
          I can see the case for thorium( at the very least, it’s something we can do with all the waste from all the rest)..but nuclear gives me the willies.
          that the entire “industry” was geared from the get go to support the nuclear weapons industry and assorted Madness, just makes it worse.

          Reply
  18. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Ghosting

    Gee, I would have thought an economy of part time and 1099 jobs would produce more loyalty. This is certainly strange.

    Reply
    1. Cal

      Re Ghosting,
      Employers no longer have loyalty to their employees, so why should the the employee have any loyalty to the employer?

      So, “in fairness” the employee is supposed to give two weeks notice? Is the employer expected to give two weeks notice and an exit interview to the employee?

      Most states are “at will” employment, so adios, send my check to direct deposit without any human intervention.

      “We’re in a global economy and you have to compete”,
      (An old guy in his seventies working at Home Depot actually vomited out that phrase when I commented on cheap Chinese crap being the only thing for sale)

      I wonder what corporate shibboleth he would utter when he’s living in his car?

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        lol. I always called that “Firing my Boss”.
        did it a lot before i moved out here, where everybody knows everybody.
        even then, I did it with a couple of the more egregious bad bosses.
        10 cent raises after a year, low pay, blatant disregard for things like overtime, minwage and tax filing(for which I was later called on the carpet by Social Security)…and just being all around asshats towards their employees(throw out the extra/messed up order, rather than let the dishwasher eat for free).
        I’ve been out of the workforce for 12 years, now…and can’t imagine what it’s like now.
        I’ll do whatever I need to to avoid working for someone else.

        Reply
      2. Carey

        I wonder how many times lately that said ‘ghosting’ of employers has happened.
        More likely, the comfortable class selling a “jobs aplenty!” narrative, is
        my take, as the many die of despair… myself not excluded.

        Reply
    2. ChrisPacific

      It’s a feature of precarious and grey market workforces, often ones where employers routinely breach employee rights or fail to meet their obligations on things like health, safety, employment law etc. They typically do this because the workforce is fragmented/not unionized and generally lacks the power to do anything about it. Sometimes it’s built into the economics of the industry, i.e. it’s so widespread (and enforcement is so lacking) that any employer that actually followed the law properly would price itself out of the market.

      The restaurant industry is the classic example, and it’s not a new thing there (in fact by some accounts it’s the most common way of giving notice).

      The story does eventually make this point, although it’s buried in a quote in the lower half of the article:

      “Employees leave jobs that suck,” they said in an email. “Jobs where they’re abused. Jobs where they don’t care about the work. And the less engaged they are, the less need they feel to give their bosses any warning.”

      Reply
    1. Eclair

      Brilliant idea! Extend the ‘I don’t want to pay for other people’s illnesses/education/housing,’ to ‘If you want a War in Afghanistan(Iraq,Somalia,Yemen, …..), donate to GoFundMe for …….).

      And, along with buying goats for poor families in Africa, we could buy a aircraft carrier for some financially strapped military unit.

      Reply
      1. Cal

        “Our wise investment in Iraq”

        Thanks to our “heroes” saving the Oil Ministry in Baghdad, the Chinese now get a supply of Iraqi oil paid for in dead and wounded Americans and trillions of our tax dollars.
        Isn’t globalism great?

        Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Making these arguments gives Republicans an edge they shouldn’t have as silliness replaces sobriety. The choir loves it, but how does it play to a non-voter? Consider the state of the discourse on the msm, what appeals to a non-voter? Most people don’t live on the border. Shouldn’t there be a border? Can people come and go? What about that ebola case? How do we control that? These are natural questions to be raised when concerns about borders are raised. The Chinese built that wall to keep the Mongols out (I know), but its important to address very real concerns and how to solve them.

      As far as hypocrisy goes, Republicans don’t care. If they had shame, they wouldn’t be Republicans. As long as “libtards” are annoyed, they’re happy. Don’t meet them half way either, but the Sanders approach is still the right one. Address issues that matter. Does Sanders ever go anywhere and not bring up Medicare for All? I doubt it. I bet he goes to a local coffee joint and mentions it. We have a nasty border already, and northern mexico isn’t heavily populated. What drives these crossings? People trying to get back in after being hired legally? Drug smuggling?

      As far as terrorism goes (I know 9/11 has tended to go down the memory hole because it really doesn’t paint the CIA in a positive light), where did the terrorists come from? Newark International Airport via Prague. Bring this up.

      The stupidity of the wall is obvious in comparison to other solutions. If you build a wall, someone will build a tunnel. If an army tries to come, we will know ahead of time and react accordingly. Present the other solutions. Don’t Schumer it and offer to build a smaller wall or celebrate the time you built electrified fences and moats but somehow don’t need a wall.

      Reply
      1. ObjectiveFunction

        See, I know something you and the Duke don’t know. We’ve only got so long before Mr. President don’t mean a whole lot.

        Reply
  19. coboarts

    How the New Silk Roads…
    Riddle me this, how come China, Russia and the non-western world are planning great economic advances around gas, coal, nuclear – aren’t they worried about climate change? Don’t they have scientists posting apocalyptic warnings?

    Two points:
    Do they not know that the world will end shortly?
    Do states like California think it is going to fix the planet all by itself?

    I know some of you have already suggested that questioning the religion of climate change should be a crime, but before you completely lock down your mind, just why doesn’t evil Mr. Putin fear the future? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      It’s a fait accompli.

      There’s no way we could ever slow down our need for oil, we’re all hopelessly hooked. I drove to the Big Smoke the other day when clad in yellow, and the distance is around 66.6 miles roundtrip.

      I pulled off the sojourn for around $13.13 & 9/10ths of a Cent, and confidently knew that i’d be able to do it in a little over an hour of driving time, so much so that aside from a Topo Chico, and a liter Nalgene full of H20 in the backseat, I took no other survival preparation.

      Sans oil, there and back on a push bicycle is probably a multi day ride one-way, and you’d be limited in what you could carry.

      The few horses around are mostly pets these days from what i’ve seen, you couldn’t count on them to become draft animals all of the sudden.

      And that leaves walking. Which the automobile and gas consumption taught us to not bother doing as much anymore.

      It’s one of those marriages of convenience, oil & us.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        few realise the significance, but all the little towns out here, and points west, are around 35-40 miles apart.
        That’s a day’s ride on horseback.
        Barring inclement weather, or Comanche.

        and here, there’s 2 kinds of Horse Culture: rich folks, with big spreads and numerous horse-related outbuildings(large overlap with Cowboy Church, pressed jeans and little rodeos/prayer meetings)
        …and people who do ranch work.
        The latter ride down the side of the highway for miles and miles for fun, and their horses are used to work…so I’m sure they could transition well.

        Reply
      2. BrianC

        66 miles round trip isn’t that bad. I’ve done ~70 miles in one day commuting around the Portland metro area carrying ~15 pounds of gear on my bike. (Multiple clients, each with their own laptop which I had to have to do the work.)

        I know people that will ride one way up to 80 miles, camp for a day or two and then ride back. Part of the concept of a “ride shed”, the bicycle travel equivalent of a water shed.

        Really depends on the terrain, your bike and your fitness. Pulling the West Hills twice in a day is a lot. (Sometimes I cheat and ride the MAX through the tunnel.)

        Yes, you are correct, this isn’t for everybody, and I’m probably towards the 6 sigma end of the bike commuter distribution…

        Reply
    2. Jeotsu

      I think the answer is more grim. They know it is coming, and they are making their own adjustments for that rather terrible future. It is a competitive race to the bottom, to see who will rule over the wasteland. Russia can hope that their vast resources of (now frozen) land might give them extra resources. China wants to be strong enough to prevent future humiliations. Saudi Arabia is a nihilist regime that wants to wallow in pleasure today, with no real thoughts, especially about the future.

      When your leadership class is all in their 70’s, why should they care about a disaster 20 years in the future? They’ll be long gone, sealed away in their gilded coffin. If they had any capacity for cognitive empathy they would not be as rich and powerful as they are today.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        I’m in my 70’s, and certainly care what will happen 20 years in the future. For one thing, I may still be alive; for another, my son and his cousins will be, with a little luck. More to the point, I want to leave something, and someone, behind.

        You’re really saying the “leadership class” is composed of sociopaths.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          “…the “leadership class” is composed of sociopaths.”

          that this is still somehow a revelation is the most curious thing of all.
          Big Magic, indeed, to cloud the minds of so many, for so long, and in spite of the wealth of evidence—and increasingly shameless behaviour.
          I’d swerve around a Bernie, or an AOC…the rest…well, Oops!

          My closest contact with that bunch was when I worked in the kitchen in the basement of the Democratic Building in Austin…cooking hash browns for the likes of Bob Bullock and Lloyd Bentsen.
          cold, clean and soft hands…ice cold…as well as a cold indifference…although they believed they meant well. Bob and Lloyd I remember well as personable. the former coming back to stand beside the grill with me, making small talk. But that high and mighty-ism was there behind it all, like a shadow.
          Lil George had just come into the goobernor’s mansion, so their self assurance had yet to be checked by wholesale defeat.
          would that I had then the knowledge and world weary experience I have now…so as to have the wherewithal to ask impertinent questions.

          Reply
    3. Oregoncharles

      Russia is a petro-state; Putin’s job security depends on selling oil. That answers your main question.

      As far as China, they’re in a close race between their people’s aspirations and demands, and the world energy supply. That’s one reason they’ve been pushing solar so hard. If they lose the race, their leadership lose their jobs and likely their heads. China is like that, long term.

      The answer to your question is, as always, narrow self-interest by the PTB.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Russia is presently the world’s largest exporter of wheat, and it’s *non-GMO* wheat. They also sell the USA titanium, and rocket engines, among other things.

        More than a petro-state, though that slur has really taken hold.

        Reply
    4. coboarts

      I appreciate your thoughtful replies. My concern is that by making the climate change issue all black and white while ramping up the hysteria, the real work of environmental planning and stewardship gets lost in the mania.

      Reply
    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      Mr. Putin thinks global warming will warm up enough of Russia and Siberia to increase agricultural production in these areas. He also thinks a Year-Round Ice-Free Arctic Ocean will be to a Future Russia what the Mediterranian Sea was to the Roman Empire.

      In short, Putin welcomes what he believes will be global warming’s future benefits for Russia.

      You’re welcome.

      Reply
    6. Massinissa

      Russia is basically the one country besides maybe Canada that might actually be able to benefit from climate change, so I don’t see how it’s a surprise how it isn’t that high on their agenda.

      Reply
  20. William Hunter Duncan

    A few thoughts, reading through the links:

    J&J, like Nestle, is clearly run by nazi types. Clearly neoliberalism is like National Socialism 2.0.

    A revote on Brexit to remain would destabilize the UK in much the same way that America would be destabilized if lifestyle liberals collude with the imperialist neoliberal State to impeach Trump.

    Those cheering for Minneapolis and their 2040 zoning plan have no clue about the real state of economics. As a builder/remodeler, I can assure you, building triplexes in residential single family neighborhoods, no matter how many you build, will not reduce rents. Building costs are simply too high relative to wage growth. This is liberals following holy market supply-side dogma, flood the market with rentals and the cost will go down. Well, not without most of those builders going broke, QE-type monies then consolidating control. Minneapolis has a long history of providing millions for low-income housing that has been proven to do absolutely nothing to reduce rents. Until liberals pull their heads out of the clouds, and do something about the cost of health care, education, debt-servitude of millennials, and neoliberal coddling of big money at the expense of wages and benefits for the majority, flooding the city with housing units will just create a bubble that will go boom and bust. In the near term too, this will make the most crowded neighborhoods that much more so, snarling traffic in a city where traffic is already hopeless.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      “…America would be destabilized IF the lifestyle liberals collude with the imperialist neoliberal State to impeach Trump”? I’d offer that IF is far too conditional — it’s already in play, that collusion.

      So if the Dumocrat-majority House does bring in articles of impeachment, what will the Senate do? One can hear the already sharpened knives being whetted and honed, there in the Imperial Bubble…

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The Republican Senate would vote to NOT convict and remove.

        And IF the “articles of impeachment” were to carry a distinct whiff of Clintonite sewage about them . . . then Senator Sanders could VASTLY enhance his credibility throughout the length and breadth of Deploristan by joining the Republicans in voting to NOT convict and remove. And by “VASTLY”, I mean BIGLY.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          I wonder… how many Republican senators are on board with the Blob, in wanting to “be rid of this troublesome sideshow barker” in favor of someone more aligned with their preferences and priorities (looting and blasting and dominating and en-serfing the mopery, for the benefit of those who pay them the large bribes)? Enough to come up with the requisite 2/3 majority? We are talking about a Senate that resembles the Roman precedent at a certain stage in the Decline and Fall of that Empire, let’s remember… and the intrigues and plots and “interests” at play in that vastly Byzantine and corrupt Imperial Capital will only by inadvertence and fortuity act to serve the General Welfare.

          Almost every participant in the Game of Empire looks to use their spiked golf shoes to clamber up the scrum on the backs and shoulders and necks of every other player, occasionally forming little teams to propel bunches of them ahead of the larger pack…

          Reply
    2. Craig H.

      I read the wikipedia article on asbestos yesterday and it looks like the first workers noticeably crippled by asbestos were around 1910. Mineral geologists will tell you that asbestos is often entwined with talc pretty tight.

      Decades might be a bit of an understatement. Six billion dollars for 20 plaintiffs is a lot of punishment. I know a guy who was a shipyard worker who got a big check to settle his lung cancer case. He bought a really cush cemetery plot.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Recognition of the link between asbestos exposure and disease goes back a looong way, and the for-profit corporate collusion and cover-up does too. https://www.bergmanlegal.com/asbestos-resources/the-asbestos-cover-up/ The J&J litigation showed that Corp’s bosses knew the health issue and also covered it up. And now “reasonable people” are supposedly agreeing that big punitive damage judgments are “too big,” and somehow “shock the conscience.” This where, sadly, tort litigation has become the ersatz substitute or default social mechanism for criminal penalties on executives and revocation of corporate charters. Tort actions seem an ineffective deterrent, don’t satisfy the public need for retribution, and provide “restitution” to people whose lives are ended or shortened and filled with sickness and pain. And are sort of self-destructive: big paydays for tort lawyers paid on contingency leave a bad taste in our mope mouths, and fertilize corporate propaganda to sell “tort reform”
        which means, of course, removing causes of action and vastly restricting access to even the poor justice of a damages judgment.

        Reply
        1. Olga

          I once testified at a legislative hearing about asbestos damage – so had to learn a lot about it fast. Funny story.. that… There is a book about Johns Manville (JM), a company that used lots of asbestos. As early as 1921, its board knew about the potential damage… but – surprise – did absolutely nothing to protect the workers. Fast forward to the 1970s, when some creative Texas trial lawyers got a wind of this… they sued and won millions. In one funny instance, the plaintiffs’ lawyer received boxes of materials (discovery) from JM and lo-and-behold – they contained minutes from board meetings, at which the link between asbestos and cancer was discussed – yes, going back to 1920s. No wonder they won millions…
          Ten years later, the insurance cos embarked on efforts for tort reform – as in ‘we got to stop those large verdicts.’ Trial lawyers tended to support democrats back then… Karl Rove gets wind of this… and starts pushing tort reform as a way to damage donors to the Democratic party. Now, tort laws in all of US have been way watered down.

          Reply
        2. Chris51

          The use of asbestos cement sheet is still pretty big in Asia, including Indonesia:

          http://worldasbestosreport.org/articles/killing_future/Indonesia_experience.php

          and China:

          https://www.made-in-china.com/products-search/hot-china-products/Asbestos_Cement_Sheet.html

          And Chinese asbestos sheet still turns up in new buildings in Australia.

          More than 50 building sites across the nation are suspected of illegal asbestos contamination from China, in a problem described as the “tip of the iceberg”.

          Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency CEO Peter Tighe said he was aware of 64 sites where asbestos-tainted concrete fibre sheeting has been used in construction.

          https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-14/australian-building-sites-contaminated-with-chinese-asbestos/7166674

          Reply
    3. KB

      Thank you, William. I live 2 blocks south of Minneapolis in a suburb that follows whatever Minneapolis does….Many tried to stop this and environmental lawyers have sued. Don’t know where that is now, as they still managed to vote yes.

      All Democrat council persons in Minneapolis and where I live. I keep pestering my new mayor how her liberal ideology sits with the destruction of the environment. I have not heard back from her and those of us attempting to resist the high density advocates have no idea what else to do anymore. Am guessing lots of YIMBY advocates coming out of the UofM and their urban planning campuses. Lots of us homeowners of long standing, 20,40,60 yrs feel hopeless and unable to move out as no health care available out in the boonies..

      Almost wishing for a financial crash soon, to stop this tearing down of single family homes in order to build “low income housing” or affordable housing,…won’t happen but homeowners are being severely pressured to sell.

      Imagine if we had a mountain range like LA and our unhealthful air alerts of the last 4-5 days would have been more frequent and at least more visible…hmmm.
      Also they are expecting people to give up their cars and start biking!….not most of us seniors will, however.

      Reply
      1. William Hunter Duncan

        KB, actually, another financial crash could exacerbate a restructuring of residential neighborhoods, if the Fed prints another 4 trillion out of the ether, and hands it to private equity etc financiers, to purchase properties with cash. That is one of the reasons rents are currently so high, that last round of funny money for monopolizers. I tried to remind our city council of that, but I don’t think they can hear it.

        I tried once to get a job writing and editing for a UofM publication focused on the “environment”. My advocacy for re-localization and food resilience didn’t fit in with their advocacy for GMO and Cargill etc. I gave up after I read a statement by the chief editor that suggested most of the environmental damage in the world was due to poor people.

        That said I might try resurrecting my writing career by dissecting this 2040 plan and environmental treatment of this State, which is a lot of neoliberal devastation getting worse to matter which party runs the place.

        Reply
    4. chuck roast

      With all due respect, developers and planners have been chipping away at the R-1, R-2, R-3 model since the supreme court found that building and operating a brick factory in a residential area was not a good thing.
      Here on the urban east coast – at least in my urban area – the problem is not a mix of uses in largely residential areas. The problem is “dark houses” in the winter when the Summer Theme People go off to their other Winter Theme Town and the lively commercial mix croaks because demand withers. This compounded by ordinary home-owning schlubs copping the rentier mindset and ejecting long-term tenants for cheap-ass Air B&B visitors. This puts even more pressure on economically marginal locals and legitimate hostelers who have complied with zoning.
      Land use codes are heavily infected by neo-liberal viruses.

      Reply
      1. William Hunter Duncan

        Well, they are colluding, but they won’t actually be able to remove him from office likely, without some false flag type arrangement. If it comes to that…the shit will hit the fan.

        Reply
  21. Ignim Brites

    “No One Wants to Serve on House Financial Services?” Important and incisive. Levitin could have substituted conservative or libertarian for peogressive and the meaning would be just as accurate.

    Reply
  22. Wukchumni

    The GJ are the sans-culottes of the French Revolution, but just updated in a fashion.

    I only had one, as I wear it when doing roadside trash pick-up, in a see me-don’t hit me gig if you dig.

    But how many other basic joes & janes would have one in the USA, as opposed to in France?

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      A lot of ‘les deplorables’ who do occasional work with any labour service would have a yellow or orange vest after the first time they got dinged with a ‘rental fee’ for a safety vest supplied by the ‘labour service’ to the short term contract worker so as to satisfy the client job’s safety rules.
      Those sharks will ‘rent’ you the vest and the hard hat by the day. Luckily for me, I already had, and still have my safety gear from years of commercial construction work. I once walked away from a short term job where the ‘organizer’ for the service said that only ‘approved’ safety gear was allowed. It’s bad enough being paid like a peon. Then to be expected to pay for that privilege? No.
      Here in the American Deep South, I’d be afraid that Yellow Vests would be mistaken for a County Prisoner work crew.

      Reply
  23. WobblyTelomeres

    Yet Another RE: The Future of American Broadband Is a Comcast Monopoly

    From the article:

    Most DSL providers still fail to deliver the FCC’s base definition of broadband (25 Mbps) to huge swaths of their footprints. Why? Despite billions in subsidies over the years, upgrading these aging networks isn’t profitable enough, quickly enough, for Wall Street’s liking. As a result, many telcos have shifted their focus elsewhere, leaving frustrated users in their wake.

    This is true. The problem is that DSL was, at best, a temporary solution. A little background:

    The ability to transmit high-speed data is constrained by a function of power, bandwidth, and distance. Technologies which transmit over twisted wire copper pair (often called POTS for plain ole telephone service), such as ADSL, or asymmetric digital subscriber line, tops out at a few Mbps downstream and a Mbps upstream (hence, asymmetric). To achieve 25 Mbps high speed data traffic requires a different, though related, technology solution called VDSL (Very High Speed DSL). But, the bandwidth over twisted wire pairs is limited. To achieve higher speeds requires reducing the distance. ADSL works up to 20,000 feet or so. VDSL (or the related xDSL) achieves higher speeds at far shorter distances; 1000 feet or so.

    These shorter distances are great for a basement DSL access multiplexer (DSLAM, basically a box of modems) but are really expensive compared to ADSL. To see how much more expensive, compare the area of a circle with a diameter of 40,000 feet vs the area of a circle with a diameter of 1,000 feet. 1256637061 ft^2 vs 3141592 ft^2, or 400 times difference. That is essentially the problem. To cover an equivalent area with VDSL requires 400 more DSLAMs vs covering the same area with ADSL. These aren’t cheap, btw.

    Coax cable, as used in cable modems, has the inherent advantage of far higher bandwidth. This is why Comcast (and other, smaller, cable providers) is beating AT&T (and other, smaller POTS providers) with high speed data connections.

    If it is too expensive to rewire your building, say an older multi-story apartment or office building, from POTS to cable, then the best you may get is VDSL if, and that’s a big if, your telco is going to pull a fiber to the basement (FTTB) and dedicate a DSLAM to your building. If your house is too far from the central office, where locating a DSLAM is cost-effective to install, then you’re not getting anything faster than ADSL from your telco. Ever.

    Sure, the telcos took the money. And they knew they would never put high speed in.

    Hope that helps.

    Reply
    1. djrichard

      Verizon’s FIOS business case had a payback of something like 13 years, when deployed generally. Too long for a Telco which likes a payback of 2 years for revenue-generating investments and at most say 5 or 6 years for cost saving investments. Even so, they invested in FIOS, but they also ignored a lot of neighborhoods (those that wouldn’t generate as much revenue) which probably helped their business case.

      What’s interesting in the low interest regime that we’re in today (until the Fed pulls the rug) is how the low cost of debt/capital was supposed to help rationalize CAPex spending, e.g. by allowing for long investment horizons (longer paybacks). So much for that idea, at least with the Telcos. Instead it’s lower risk to buy back shares.

      Reply
    2. djrichard

      One other thought. “net neutrality” is less of an issue when you have FIOS to your home. So what if Verizon prioritizes some traffic over others. Will the user even notice? But when you have skinny pipes to the home, net neutrality becomes much more of an issue. And if you’re a Telco and want to exploit that, then perhaps having skinny pipes to the home is not such a bad thing.

      Reply
      1. Grebo

        Net Neutrality is not just about speed, unless you want to characterise your favourite political economy blog being blocked as “throttled to 0 bytes per year”.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          Fear not! Our Democrats are on the case, and having heard well the vox populi, net neutrality will be restored in short order.

          just kiddin

          Reply
  24. anon in so cal

    —-Minneapolis and “Single Family Zoning is an Urban Dinosaur”

    There’s an attack on R-1 zoning (single family/single unit) in Los Angeles, too. We’ve fought tooth and nail to preserve open space in our neighborhood, as have other neighborhood groups throughout the city.

    Changing zoning regulations to eliminate the R-1 category means legalizing the currently illegal “granny shacks,” filling in backyards and remaining open space areas with concrete and multi-family housing, and increasing urban density.

    IMHO, this would make Los Angeles uninhabitable. Increased density raises stress levels, pollution, noise, lights, eliminates wildlife habitat, and means additionally increased traffic. Los Angeles surface streets and freeways are already over-capacity.

    Is this really what folks want?

    The Bloomberg article’s author is in the Business/Finance department at SUNY. Developers would be pleased.

    Reply
    1. KB

      It’s not what most Minneapolis folks want, nor I who live 2 blocks away from the border in a neighboring suburb. Same thing starting to happen here. Residents fought hard against it and some local attorneys have sued the city on Environmental grounds for this zoning change. Don’t know what the status of that is but the City Council passed it.

      All City Council member of Minneapolis and my suburb are highly partisan Democrats. I am constantly nudging my new mayor how does this fit with her liberal ideology?….still waiting for a reply.

      We don’t know what to do about this anymore..I know there are many YIMBY activists and high density proponents of this change, also using the excuse that it will create low cost housing options…..Ha!

      After 4-5 days of recent inversion with high pollution levels, and having also lived in Los Angeles for 20 years before, I keep reminding friends if we had a mountain range to trap it all in for all to see it might change their minds.

      Reply
    2. Alex

      Except LA is probably one of the least dense cities of a comparable size in the world. And there are plenty of denser cities that are, to put it mildly, more inhabitable than LA.

      So it makes it a valid choice for the Minneapolis city council: isn’t it exactly the kind of a issue they are supposed to decide? Has there been outside interference, compulsion or fraud?

      Reply
    3. Andrew John

      I’m genuinely curious what the folks against denser development have in mind, though. Barring a catastrophic pandemic, cities will have expanding populations, especially as petroleum grows more expensive (I have zero faith that electric vehicles will be affordable to us mopes in my lifetime). Where are they going to go if not within current urban boundaries? Is the answer greenfield development and sprawl?

      Reply
      1. Joey

        Above this post is some Montana type justifying their carbon clown shoes because nothing is close by. I guess medium sized cities are greener. > 20k, < 120k. Bikeable yet full service.

        Reply
      2. King

        Agreed. Getting from every adult who can having a car (including many who shouldn’t) to single car households and eventually many no car households needs to happen. How we do that is not going to be easy in any sense, politically, logistically or financially. Criticism is great but we need to get to work.

        Reply
  25. Cal

    “Janky payment systems”
    The article sounds like propaganda.
    Learning to read between the lines is a great advantage of this site.

    Is the current system for profit?
    Will the New and Improved private system be for profit?

    The current system works fine. It’s astounding how efficiently our money goes from our bank account into corporate creditors’ accounts. Shortfalls of cash? How about planning ahead?

    If Walmart and Target are for it, then decent Americans should be against it. Just another way to get rid of cash and most importantly, credit card fraud clawbacks perhaps.

    The “it’ll help people of color do transactions more equitably” sounds like bullshit and resembles other Bills of Goods we’ve seen, heard of and are paying for.

    If the fed runs it, it smells like an entree into a
    Cashless Society National Identification Card Payment System.

    “But smaller businesses, local and community banks, and consumer advocates all like the idea of the Fed getting involved” Really? How about some attributions for that statement? Interviews, names, titles, bona-fides?

    Reply
  26. noonespecial

    Reuters – U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will leave his post at the end of the year

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-zinke/as-zinke-departs-trump-says-he-will-name-new-interior-secretary-next-week-idUSKBN1OE0I3

    Maybe that micro-brew business launch is ahead of schedule, or maybe he wants to make the most of his Gold Pass ski deal.

    If the following quote turns out to be true, team R & Co. and that guy from West Virginia (now head of a certain committee in Congress) can rest easy:

    “Jamie Williams, president of the non-profit Wilderness Society, said he expects Zinke’s deputy and likely successor, David Bernhardt, to continue with the ‘drill everywhere’ agenda…’Deputy Secretary Bernhardt has made it his mission to stifle climate science and silence the public so polluters can profit,’ said Williams. ‘Unfortunately, even with Secretary Zinke out, the Interior Department remains disturbingly biased in favor of special interests over the health of American communities and the public lands that they love.’”

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Maybe that micro-brew business launch is ahead of schedule, or maybe he wants to make the most of his Gold Pass ski deal.

      Ouch! that left a stem christie on the tracks of my tiers\

      This is my 40th year of skiing, and i’m getting over an injury and not getting any younger, and we’ll see how I do, and my ‘Gold Pass’ to Mammoth ski resort is $599, and if I recover to do most of the planned on ski days, i’ll have paid around $40-50 a day per, hurling myself down a steep embankment repeatedly.

      This will be the 3rd year of skiing with a bunch of over the hills skiers, me being the youngest, with the oldest now 70. We’re content to cruise around the blues all day with a 1 1/2 hour break for a brown bag lunch and a glass of wine, before going till closing.

      That said, whoever succeeds Zinke can do no worse, or can they?

      Reply
      1. noonespecial

        Maybe you or someone you know has read the book “Growing Old Is Not For Sissies”. I, for one, enjoyed it.

        BTW, Shred away!

        https://www.betterworldbooks.com/product/detail/growing-old-is-not-for-sissies-ii-0876544782.
        From the link:
        “Description: This sequel to the best-selling Growing Old Is Not For Sissies [1] reminds us to forget the recliner and the remote control, the days spent doing relatively little because of advancing age. As this book proves, growing old — for senior athletes — is not the slow decline many of us have come to expect. Presenting one hundred portraits of senior athletes accompanied by personal statements and poems on aging, this book is testament to the joy of physical activity and of living to a ripe old age.”

        Reply
    2. Wombat

      Yes Bernhardt an on-and-off DOI employee since 2001 has been part of the extractor-DOI revolving door. He has lobbied for Haliburton and other extractor companies and groups. Another fox resumes the post… a la Wheeler taking over for Pruitt at the EPA. Keep the pressure on though.. Give to groups, like the ones in Virginia that just made a difference, and at least in the short term stopped a pipeline from cutting through national forest.

      https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-virginia-atlantic-coast-pipeline-20181213

      Reply
  27. Oregoncharles

    “Why the EU should fear a second UK referendum”
    Hmmm – a little ironic to worry about UK disruption if they stay in the EU, while posting pictures of the massive disruption on the streets of France. Which is more of a threat? The Gilets Jaunes are a direct response to EU austerity measures – and, for that matter, to Macron’s cheerleading for a tighter union. He’s in real trouble; I think it isn’t going to happen, at least not anytime soon.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      Ah – at the end there, “I think it isn’t going to happen” means the “tighter union” Macron has been pushing, at least unless it involves a much-shrunken EU.

      Too bad, really; peace in Europe was such a good idea.

      Reply
      1. Synoia

        The EU never addressed class war, it only addressed war between groups of the upper classes.

        Free for warring with each other, they have perfected war on their “lessers” money.

        Reply
  28. Carey

    The War Against Globalism, by Philip Giraldi:

    “…The fact that globalists of every type consider nationalism a threat to their broader ambitions has meant that parochial or domestic interests are often disregarded or even rejected. With that in mind, and focusing on two issues – wholesale unwelcome immigration and corrupt government run by oligarchs – one might reasonably argue that large numbers of ordinary citizens now believe themselves to be both effectively disenfranchised and demonstrably poorer as rewarding work becomes harder to find and communities are destroyed through waves of both legal and illegal immigration.

    In the United States, for example, most citizens now believe that the political system does not work at all while almost none think that even when it does work it operates for the well-being of all the citizens. For the first time since the Great Depression, Americans no longer think of upward mobility. Projections by sociologists and economists suggest that the current generation growing up in the United States will likely be materially poorer than their parents. That angst and the desire to “do something” to make government more responsive to voters’ interests is why Donald Trump was elected president…”

    https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/12/13/war-against-globalism.html

    Globalism is working very well for the very Few, though, and that’s what matters.

    Reply
  29. BrianC

    RE: Single Family Zoning. Discussion about this has been percolating in Portland OR for awhile.

    From the Oregonian:
    https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2018/12/oregon-house-speaker-proposes-to-abolish-single-family-zoning-in-many-urban-areas.html

    Some links from a local bike blog:
    https://bikeportland.org/2014/04/23/maybe-this-is-why-you-cant-afford-an-apartment-in-the-central-city-104887
    https://bikeportland.org/2015/06/19/11-buildings-illegal-portland-144633
    https://bikeportland.org/2016/04/22/housing-affordability-group-to-city-single-family-neighborhoods-need-more-units-181495

    Reply
  30. Oregoncharles

    Gorgeous dragonfly – there are a great many species, often amazingly colorful. Iridescent blue, for instance.

    I have a dragonfly story: We were eating at an outdoor restaurant near the water, in the midst of a huge termite flight. After a while, bits of termite started falling on our table. We looked up to discover a large dragonfly circling above us, eating the tender bits and dropping the rest. Stayed there quite a while, as we picked bits of termite off our plates. We figured they were pretty clean.

    Reply
  31. Summer

    Re: Britain Yellow Vests

    I’ve done some quick online front page surfing.
    Intersting that what happened in London today is not being highlighted in some mainstream and fairly mainstream publications.
    If you go to the Guardian online, you get a “US” version of their site. Don’t know if the BBC site unofficially does the same thing.
    Didn’t see any up front coverage in NYT or LA Times, HuffPo (just some quick front page scanning).

    However, it is good that what happened in Texas has put the healthcare crisis in the USA back to front and center.

    Reply
  32. Summer

    Re: J&J Baby Powder

    Another exhibit for why the USA needs to do away with the meme that somehow everyone can be responsible for their own health.
    For years, people in this country have been lied to about the products ingested and pollutants all around us. The govt itself has long colluded with corps, keeping information vital to our health from us.

    It’s a great system for keeping ’em sick and keeping ’em paying and making money from bundling all types of insurance into securities.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      Thanks for that link, which has some good analysis in it:

      “Again, public discourse has not caught up with the new realities, but over time, we will start having to ask ourselves entirely new questions: not what forms of work can be automated, for instance, but which we would actually want to be, and which we would not; how long we are willing to maintain a system where the more one’s work immediately helps or benefits other human beings, the less you are likely to be paid for it.”

      and especially

      “About the only class of people who seem unable to grasp this new reality are intellectuals. Just as during Nuit Debout, many of the movement’s self-appointed “leadership” seemed unable or unwilling to accept the idea that horizontal forms of organization were in fact a form of organization (they simply couldn’t comprehend the difference between a rejection of top-down structures and total chaos), so now intellectuals of left and right insist that the Gilets Jaunes are “anti-ideological”, unable to understand that for horizontal social movements, the unity of theory and practice (which for past radical social movements tended to exist much more in theory than in practice) actually does exist in practice. These new movements do not need an intellectual vanguard to provide them with an ideology because they already have one: the rejection of intellectual vanguards and embrace of multiplicity and horizontal democracy itself.”

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      From the Graeber link: ” one must still speak of tax policy as if it is primarily a way of government raising revenue to fund its operations, whereas in fact it is increasingly simply a way of (1) ensuring the means of credit-creation can never be democratized (as only officially approved credit is acceptable in payment of taxes), and (2) redistributing economic power from one social sector to another.”

      (1) is a very different way to think of MMT – from the underside, so to speak. If you aren’t an anarchist, it isn’t necessarily a disadvantage, but it’s certainly something to keep in mind. It casts a new light on the various local “currencies” – like the Hour Exchange in my town. Among other things, they’re an alternative to government power.

      Reply
  33. Richard

    Completely out of left field, but: I’ve noticed some curious misspellings among the commentariat lately. Words we wouldn’t normally miss. Is there some cool Big Data avoiding reason for this? Like, people doing it on purpose? I seem to recall someone mentioning…
    Even if the reason is not cool, I want to hear it. But I have my fingers crossed for William Gibson.

    Reply
    1. Joey

      Lots of grammar errors as well. Not in mine, so suggests either voice recognition malware, or Google hasn’t tagged me as a big enough threat to sabotage. Doubt it’s a trendy purposeful diminishing of gravity. Yves and Lambert have both had some strange malaprops, so I do wonder…

      Reply
    2. ambrit

      I’m all for the theory that since commentary on the internet is basically instant and done ‘on the fly,’ that malapropisms and alt-literate usages are artifacts of the essential lack of the editing function. I’m sure that the Media Moguls saw this and figured that, hey, go with the flow guys, fire the editing staff. More money for us!

      Reply
  34. Olga

    How the ‘Five Eyes’ cooked up the campaign to kill Huawei Sydney Morning Herald
    Thanks for the link… Just another proof that the arrest of Ms. Meng Wanzhou is just a part of the hybrid war against China. Regardless of whether it is ‘legally’ justified – as some have tried to argue.

    Reply
  35. WobblyTelomeres

    A question born of ignorance. I just read an article saying that China’s debt fueled building spree could lead to the next global financial collapse. I thought their debt was in their own currency, just like ours (US). Is this not so? If so, how could this lead to a GFC? Their economists seem to have been less, um, distracted during their macro courses (Stanford?) than ours.

    Asking as I just signed up for a spring macro topics discussion class.

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      Three points

      1. You are correct, they are Sovereign in their own debt
      2. They are not a dollar debtor nation
      3. Those who are misled can learn, but “there ain’t no fixin” the legions of those paid to not understand.

      Reply
    2. Yves Smith Post author

      The building spree is taking placing at the local government level, typically both with local government and “wealth management product” funding, which is one of their forms of shadow banking. Local governments most assuredly can go bust just like the Jefferson County sewer authority because they are currency users, not currency issuers.

      Reply
      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Ah. Not central government spending. Explains much.

        Follow up question. Why not central government spending?

        Reply
    3. ewmayer

      Since you invoke the GFC, let’s think about it this way – all those US megabanks that whose reckless bad-mortgage-based leverage caused them to fail or need to be bailed out, what currency was the debt they held in? IOW, you had a case of a tsunami of unpayable debt overhwhelming the financial system which had recklessly issued it. Just as is threatening China, especially with its huge opaque shadow-banking and ponzi-financial-products markets.

      Holding debt in a foreign currency is more of an issue in selected markets where e.g. it becomes de riguer to take out mortgages that way, thus exposing the private borrowers to currency risk, and for sovereigns which borrow in foreign currencies, which epitomizes notorious serial defaulters like Argentina.

      Reply
  36. The Rev Kev

    “New government in Iraq courts Russian embrace”

    I guess that the Iraqis figure that the Russians don’t want to establish their own military bases everywhere and have a say in how the country is run. They have certainly proved to be far more reliable in servicing any military equipment sold to the Iraqis as with the American vs the Russian tanks. I found the last sentence in the article ironic where it said: “Iraq is also relying on Russian assistance to combat its chronic electricity shortage problem, which triggered large anti-government demonstrations in the city of Basra last summer.” Under Saddam Hussein the electricity stayed on. Even before the invasion, if the coalition struck the electricity grid the Iraqis got it back up and running pretty quick because when your boss is Saddam Hussein of course you do. The US has been in Iraq for the better part of two decades and was never able to get the electricity grid running properly ever again. Why? because the big corporations got massive contracts to do so but kept the money and outsourced the actual work which never got done. They didn’t care as they already kept on getting paid billions. But the lack of electricity was a major factor in sapping Iraqi support for the occupation which led to fatal consequences for coalition troops.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether

      > Lack of electricity was a major factor in sapping Iraqi support for the occupation which led to fatal consequences for coalition troops.

      Lack of electricity = lack of air conditioning. Worthy considering as a legitimacy issue in future…

      Reply
  37. ewmayer

    “Guatemala girl, 7, dies in US custody ‘of dehydration, shock’ | Al Jazeera” — Also saw this story in my Reuters newsfeed. A crucial question of course is whether she was already in some kind of exposure-caused downward spiral when her group surrendered to the border patrol, and to what extent the subsequent holding conditions may have been contributory. Looking at the timeline implied by the article, it seems the group surrendered in the evening and early the next morning her state of physical distress became obvious. That would seem to make e.g. an “oven-like holding facility” less likely, but even were that the case, was she checked soon after being taken into custody by a qualified medical professional, etc. Tragic obviously, but I’m not gonna leap to point blame without knowing more of the facts.

    Reply
  38. a different chris

    Oh this is too funny. We are not so different, Mr Fruit Fly.

    The molecular biologist Galit Shohat-Ophir at Bar Ilan University in Israel and her colleagues discovered that fruit flies stressed by being deprived of mating opportunities reportedly seek out alcohol, which is widely present in nature in the form of fermented fruits.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      I wonder. I was told, back in Genetics 210, that fruit flies are attracted to fermenting fruit because they eat primarily yeast. They also spread the yeast. How do you tell seeking out alcohol from seeking out yeast?

      Reply
      1. Isotope_C14

        We always had tons of fruit flies at a winery I was managing.

        After harvest, and many of the wines were in barrel, they seemed to be attracted to particular barrels of wine. The ones that had high-sulfide (H2S) odors seemed to be their favorites. They would surround the rubber stoppers in the tops of the barrels.

        I’d suspect they are attracted to a variety of odors, all of which are signalling food… That said, wouldn’t that be a good place to find a potential mate? Picking up the lady fruit-flies at the diner might be a pretty good plan.

        Reply
  39. a different chris

    On a less happy note than the fruit flies, these…these sad excuses for people (from the Five Eyes article)

    The British delegation led by MI6 boss Alex Younger – a man who signs official documents in green ink with a single letter “C” – had detailed evidence of the brazen attacks in Salisbury, where Moscow had used a military-grade chemical weapon on UK soil.

    This guy barely seems to qualify as a grown-up. Green ink? I don’t even want to know why the letter C.
    Anyway, I think the sentence would better read with his presenting of evidence as the “brazen” part. Moscow (queue Benny Hill) has got to be worrying about their “military grade” chemicals if they couldn’t even take down an old man. Give. Me. A. Break.

    I can make a detailed drawing of what looks like a spaceship. Doesn’t mean there is any way to get from there, or any relationship at all, to to a working model.

    Reply
  40. JTMcPhee

    I just happened to read some of the consumer questions being asked about “yellow safety vests” on offer at Amazon. Here’s one little entry I kind of liked:

    Question: Is this the vest they are sporting in Paris?
    Answer: Looks close enough!

    It is time to bring all the globalist, tyrant, pedophile, treasonous scum to justice in every western nation, and for those nations to embrace the constituion given to us by God.

    Don’t Tread On Me!
    MAGA! See less
    By Jerf Beeky on December 10, 2018

    I would get bulletproof vests personally.
    By DSDdaycare on December 9, 2018
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0761YKMTV/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A2VSGG9H0R43IP&th=1

    “Something’s happenin’ here
    What it is just ain’t very clear…”

    Not clear whether all this leads to sustained exercise of comity and a jump-switch to sustainable patterns of living…

    Reply
  41. The Rev Kev

    “Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court Leaves the Republican Party, Citing Kavanaugh”

    Always thought it strange how judges in high positions retain memberships in not only political parties but partisan organizations right up to the Supreme Court. You would think that a point should be reached where if you are a judge, that you should automatically renounce all such memberships so as not to be thought of as biased. Caesar’s wife and all that.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      In Oregon, they sure are expected to. I assume they can register by party, which makes them “members” of the party; but they’re expected not to be involved with the party.

      I know this because a friend, formerly very active in the Green Party, is now a judge and had to curtail his involvement.

      Reply
  42. Big Tap

    Second mention of J&J this week. The other was by AOC on the corporate heads and lobbyists that were part of the new Congress people orientation she attended. She said four CEO’s were present. One of them was the J&J CEO Alex Gorsky.

    Reply
  43. Ignacio

    Oh! I almost miss this!!!

    Antidote du jour. From crittermom: “For Ignacio, NC commenter who liked my Monarch photo & suggested a dragonfly would make a good subject.”

    Thanks a lot crittermon!!! Another superb picture!!!
    Aren’t dragonflies incredibly beautiful?

    Reply
  44. Ignacio

    RE:Trump’s border wall funding: Ohio congressman says a WallCoin could pay for it. Slate (resilc)

    Just waiting a congressman from Ohio or any other state coming up with creative ideas to figth against climate change instead of that stupid xenophobic wall.

    Reply

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