Links 12/17/18

Volcano WARNING: Naples supervolcano showing ‘signs’ of possible ‘Vesuvian-style eruption’ Express

Parrot uses owner’s Amazon Alexa to order shopping, play music Fox News

California transit agencies have 21 years to build zero-emissions bus fleets Ars Technica

Investors push Exxon to list emissions targets in annual reports FT

Climate change: The massive CO2 emitter you may not know about BBC

Now we know: Air Pollution Makes You Stupid Asia Sentinel

People eat so much chicken that it’s changing the geological record TreeHugger

Brighton shock Times Literary Supplement

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

It’s time for a Bill of Data Rights MIT Technology Review

Malaysia files criminal charges against Goldman Sachs FT

Huawei Hullabaloo

Why the US needs to stand with Canada and set aside politics in the prosecution of Huawei’s CFO SCMP

The long (American) arm of the law: how Huawei CFO’s arrest reopened an old wound in China-US relations SCMP

When will electric airliners make sense? Ars Technica

Dreaming of a green Christmas? Here are five ways to make it more sustainable The Conversation

Hate Christmas? A psychologist’s survival guide for Grinches The Conversation

Ebola outbreak reaches city of 1 million residents Ars Technica

Fighting Corruption in the U.S. Criminal Justice System American Conservative

Waste Watch

Lush is selling lipstick that fits into old packaging to reduce plastic waste

Court Tosses Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipeline to Cross Appalachian Trail NBC 29 (martha r)

Guillotine Watch

Rex Murphy: Boogieing to Beyoncé at a $100M wedding, Hillary plots her comeback National Post

Democrats in Disarray

DNC Chair Tom Perez goes to war with state parties Politico (martha r)

martha r:


My Father Needed a Liver. Did It Have to Be From Me? NYT

Mastercard Will Erase Indian Cardholders’ Data from Servers The Wire

India is ‘planting forests’ to forestall the impending water crisis. It is a fool’s errand

Modi govt about to roll out a mega jobs programme for undergraduates Economic Times. Just ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha elections.


Saudi denounces US Senate vote as ‘blatant interference’ Al Jazeera

Health Care

Dr. Google Is a Liar NYT (Dr. Kevin)

New Cold War

An historical journey into Crimea Asia Times. Pepe Escobar.


Brexit: no lessons learned

Brexit: EU immigration to UK ‘to be slashed by 80%’ after we leave bloc Independent

Brexit Could Drastically Change English Soccer FiveThirtyEight

War on Cash

Apple may haul Germany into the age of digital payments Handelsblatt

Gilets Jaunes

To Exist in the Eyes of Others: An Interview with the Novelist Édouard Louis on the Gilets Jaunes Movement New Yorker. nvl: “His novel, a depressing read, is a fine introduction to the crushing life of small town France, especially if gay.”

Scuffles break out at Belgium protest against UN migration pact

Class Warfare

‘Slave law’ protests turn violent in Budapest CNN (martha r)

Purdue’s secret OxyContin papers should be released, appeals court rules Stat


Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out Common Dreams. Ralph Nader.

‘The Ugliest Chapter Since Slavery’: How Illicit Financial Flows Thwart Human Rights in Africa Foreign Policy in Focus

They Grabbed Her Baby and Arrested Her at a Welfare Office. Now She’s Speaking Out. NYT (martha r)

Democracy Can’t Survive Without the Welfare State Jacobin

martha r:

Trump Transition

Child’s Death Highlights Communication Barriers on Border NECN (martha r)


Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Livius Drusus

    Re: Hate Christmas? A psychologist’s survival guide for Grinches

    I find that saying I have family obligations gets me out of Christmas stuff that I don’t want to attend. Most people accept it because they think I am busy cooking and picking people up from the airport so they cut me some slack. The truth is that my family hasn’t cooked for Christmas in years. We buy a huge amount of Italian cold cuts and let everyone make their own sandwiches. Everyone else brings the sweets and desserts. Years ago we decided that cooking was just too much of a pain in the behind so most of us just buy our food already prepared.

    I find that some people seem to be getting sick of all of the fuss surrounding the holidays. I don’t think people enjoy them as much as they let on. But there is social pressure to be happy around the holidays and with social media you are now pressured to present a blow-by-blow account of your holiday parties along with photographic evidence to compare with everyone else and see who had the grandest party of them all. Thankfully most of my family members and friends are as Grinch-like as I am.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      aye! I’m as humbug as they come…I loathe this time of year…and not just because of the holidays: hunting season..wherein wannabe rednecks descend on my hill country to shoot up the woods and otherwise disturb my peace. Football!…gladitorial excess…treated as a religion out here(note: my eldest son will be playing the state high school championship game in Cowboy Stadium on thursday. sigh. #55 on the purple and white team. I travel along painfully, both to show support(he understands) and to be wife’s nurse and deaccess the chemo port on the side of the road).
      cold, low light, seasonal affective disorder,lol.
      Cold is painful to me…in my bones and all my joints….and lack of sunshine and green things…and cold means work: firewood, making sure the pipes don’t break, busting ice on water troughs…
      and Family!—mingling in close quarters from their far flung places…bringing their far flung germs,lol…I’ve lobbied for decades to do this in June.
      combine all this with the enforced Joy, and the hated earworm music everywhere and red and green and cinnamon smells and that damned shiny filament that gets into everything…and the greatest sin of all is letting slip that you don’t like any part of it…
      all I wanna do is hibernate from the end of november to the end of february.

      the only good in this is that my little bunch are not hypermaterialist Consumers….so we avoid the sales and mobs and stampedes.

      1. jrs

        I dislike it but here in southern California, I just try hard to pretend it’s a rather cold summer (xmas no that’s months away …) and all is well.

      2. Oregoncharles

        I actually enjoy the carols, if not overproduced; they’re beautiful old songs, and nostalgic.

        Otherwise, we just keep it to a minimum; I think of it as a Solstice celebration, which maybe we’ll actually have it on the 21st this year. Nice when the sun starts coming back. Our winter days are even shorter.

    2. marieann

      I found much of my stress around Christmas decreased after I stopped watching TV and reading magazines.Now it’s usually the first week of December before I realise Christmas is coming up.

      Of course I am retired so I’m not out and about as much……either way I am happy to do christmas only in December

      1. polecat

        I found much of my stress around _________ decreased after moving hundreds of miles away from family dramas …

        1. marieann

          Yes well…there is that. I am 3000 miles away so I never have any family drama…unless I start it.

          1. ambrit

            I always tell Phyllis how lucky we are to have our children live at least a state away. She tells me I am in some ‘alt’ state. Meta humour from Phyl.
            She says that no “real” grandma would say such a thing. I reply with the observation the therapist I went to once mentioned. About all the mother daughter “couples” she encountered who were “joined at the Id.”
            “Stop admiring your ego,” Phyl says, “and come here and look into the mirrors of my eyes.”

              1. ambrit

                Thanks Rev Kev.
                I like that subtle “women” joke. Too true by half.
                She avers that keeping me ‘in line’ is half of her purpose, the other halves are the kids and art. If that adds up to three halves, well, who said we understood everything?
                The best part is that we both stumbled upon each other after we had given up looking. That seems to be a cosmic law.
                Happy Antipodeal Holidays to you and yours.
                And a Joyous Solstice to the rest of you Sothrons.

                1. The Rev Kev

                  Merry holidays to you and Phyllis with best wishes for 2019. I too married late and in my home it has been established that I am now the boss. And I have my wife’s permission to say so. :)

            1. Oregoncharles

              I had a cousin living in Tacoma. When her mother, my aunt, moved to the West Coast, she moved to Newport, 40 long miles due west – and just far enough from her daughter. As well as far prettier than Tacoma.

              They got along better that way. Too much alike, you might say.

              Personally, I also live 2000 miles from most of my family – but then, we’re scattered from coast to coast.

              1. ambrit

                Being English born, if not fully raised, I have relatives all over: Miami, Kansas City, Colorado Springs, London, the West of Scotland, Oxford, and farther afield, like South India, (a distaff branch,) South Africa, Poland, and perhaps Uganda.
                The relics of Empire. Will American families be as diverse in a century hence?
                A subtle bit of reverse causation is that physically separated families reduce opportunities for ‘well meaning’ relatives to meddle in one’s affairs.
                You are lucky to be getting in on the ground floor of the future Duchy of Cascadia. Aim for a demesne at the least. Lord Charles sounds good.

    3. Paul O

      For the first time in 40 years I am not cooking Christmas dinner. No planning, no hours and hours of cooking, no cleaning up. It is going to be great (though I like to think dinner won’t be up to the usual standard).

      I did still make the Christmas cake – starting back in mid-year and being iced tonight. Some things can’t be delegated .

    4. Wukchumni

      On one trip we flew from LAX on December 24th to Auckland and arrived on Boxing Day, having exorcised xmas thanks to the international dateline.

      1. Wukchumni


        If you go to the South Island of NZ around that time, you’ll be treated to an invasive non native that’s downright gorgeous, in the guise of Russell Lupins, which put on quite the pastel show. The best display we saw was on the way down to Milford Sound, before the Homer Tunnel.

        An interesting article on them, with some beautiful photos:

        1. Tom Bradford

          When I lived in the UK the lights, warmth and gluttony of Christmas at a time of sixteen hours of darkness followed by eight hours of grey colourless daylight, foul weather and cold, was very much appreciated. However living now in New Zealand, Christmas is ludicrous – most people are in bed before darkness falls making fairy-lights pointless, Christmas day is warm to hot making a light snack far more inviting than a three-course Xmas blowout and who wants to be stuck in a room with relatives all day when you could be down at the beach.

          Fur-wrapped Santa Clauses and fake snow in show windows and on the desks of TV newsreaders just looks ridiculous, and makes all the fake bonhomie simply and all too obviously insincere.

          In consequence there’s been a move here towards a ‘Mid-winter Christmas’ in June, adopting all the light and cheer appropriate to the occasion – the mid-winter solstice – but stripped of the religious baggage and Victorian pretension. And I’ll drink to that!

          1. jrs

            Do they play white Christmas there too? Listen idiots if your dreaming of a white xmas: get real and move somewhere else! Yea if the pagan festivities (and that’s what all those trappings are) was at all matched to seasons one actually experienced it would make a lot more sense, but instead it’s wildly detached from nature (here in SoCal too) and jarring.

            1. Tom Bradford

              jrs asks; “Do they play white Christmas there too?”

              Yes, and if you really, really want snow there’s still some left in the Southern Alps tho’ it takes more than a sleigh ride to get up to it.

              In the 28-years I’ve lived here, tho’, I’ve noticed a distinct lessening in Christmas as even a pseudo-religious celebration – retailers still push the gift-giving aspect of course but I’m happy to say ‘religion’ isn’t strong here. Less than half the population identify as ‘Christian’ and of those only 15% identify as active so there isn’t a lot of mileage to be gained for shops etc. to push it.

              Fun fact: in the 2001 NZ Census so many people identified their religion as ‘Jedi’ that it would have been New Zealand’s second largest religion.


          2. Wukchumni

            We spent New Years in Christchurch on the aforementioned trip, and yes, xmas is no big deal in NZ, similar we thought to the on the down low xmas in Mexico when we were there about 15 years ago.

            With Mexico, it’s Easter that’s the big shindig, so i’m told.

          3. Yves Smith

            Christmas in Sydney was sort of odd, went to a friend’s house, had a very nice vegetarian meal and played Scrabble, but New Year’s there was terrific. Fireworks are part of Sydney’s branding and they do a glorious display at the harbour. Plus Australian parties are a very very good bet.

      2. Paul O

        We did it the other way around. We Christmas day arrived just after taking off from Auckland. When we arrived in LAX it was Christmas Eve. Then we drove straight to Las Vegas where Christmas day seemed to be ignored (c1995).

        Think about it now – that was the other time I did not cook dinner. Dinner was a mediocre quality eat until you die buffet at the highly authentic hotel Excalibur (In its favor the room was very comfortable and very cheap).

    5. CanCyn

      I have officially given up celebrating Christmas. I do a little bit for Solstice, the return of longer days here in Canada is worth a celebration IMO. I always enjoyed the cooking and the food and the lights so I’ve just transferred that to the 21st and host a small dinner. Otherwise, nada, no presents, no tree, no decorations inside the house. Candles inside and lights outside are my nod to decor and really more about lighting the darkness. For the most part it is easy enough to plead other obligations when invited to stuff. Close friends and family know that my spouse and I have stopped and we’ve all agreed to disagree, mutual respect for choices made has sunk in over the years. To each their own, whether you enjoy it or do it out of obligation, or avoid it all together, we all gotta do what we gotta do. I use this time of year to reflect on the year past and think about next year, not so much in form of resolutions but just some general planning for the year ahead.
      One lovely thing I learned this weekend is that these are actually the Halcyon days! Read about the Greek myth here:
      I also learned this secular greeting from a social worker, works for all, regardless of religion or lack thereof, which I use if I absolutely have to:
      Merry Everything and Happy Always!

      1. polecat

        I try to get a jump on things. The Winter Solstice is 5 days forward … after which we’re headed Back to the Sun ! That, and the Vernal Equinox .. are MY days of worship !! In this age of monetheistic orthodoxy (and I include modern atheism in that set), being of a neo-paganish bent can make for a rather lonely celebration.

      2. jrs

        I don’t enjoy lights (lights are a waste of electricity). There is not much time to reflect, since I seldom actually get more than a day off for xmas and new years and that in the middle of the week this year (thanksgiving is at least sometimes a real 4 day weekend).

        1. CanCyn

          to jrs at 2:02pm
          LED lights use very little electricity and we don’t put them up after Halloween like most people do. I recognize the privilege of having time off and time to reflect and plan. And while there is much about work that is pretty terrible, I am grateful for the good things. I spent many years working in retail with very little time off over the holidays, believe me, I know what it is like to just go, go, go this time of year. Not to mention be subjected to the stress and and awful behaviour displayed by many this time of year. My time in retail is a big part of what caused me to dislike Christmas. It has taken me many years of pretending and going along, more and more reluctantly every year before finally just giving it up over the last couple of years. I am finally able to find peace at this time of year.
          jrs, in spite of how little time you have to yourself, I hope that you do have a lovely Dec 25th and Jan 1st – doing whatever it is that will give you some joy and peace.

      3. Unna

        The Solstice for many is the most sacred time of the year. Confronting the existential dread of the loss of the Sun, the Light, and all Life, the Solstice represents the cessation of this loss on the 21st, but then for three days, the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th, days of suspense and lingering apprehension, the Sun appears to “stand still”, the literal Latin meaning of Solstice. In ancient times the sun for those three days didn’t appear to the naked eye to rise any higher in the sky at mid day than it did on the Solstice. Then on the 25th the Sun does appear to the naked eye to rise in the morning a bit more to the North, and to ascend higher in the sky reversing the diminishing Sun of the past six months. So the rebirth of the Sun on the 25th, and so the birthday of many gods, with the resulting feasting and celebration. “Joy to the World!”

        “Grinchism” is a foreseeable result of our cultural forgetting of the spiritual and psychological significance of this solar phenomenon, no matter in which tradition it may be celebrated. Grinchism is understandable in our materialistic society which celebrates everything only according to commercially created expectations and sanctioned behaviours which have no spiritual meaning and so only serve to empty us of joy and feeling causing alienation and depression.

        So for the Winter Solstice, at Sun Set, turn off all electric lights, light a fire, light a multitude of beeswax candles all around the house and keep them lit well past midnight, heat up a large batch of Glühwein on the stove and assemble an array of other intoxicating goodies. Roast some pork, roast a turkey, have pumpkin and other pies, cookies, roast root vegetables and so on to eat. Go find a warm cat and invite over some pleasant human company as well, play traditional Christmas carols (no commercial kitsch), or other kinds of traditional music from which ever culture you wish, maybe use your own instruments for music. Small kids love playing “music” by banging and ringing “musical instruments” so indulge them. Gifts should be only things you’ve made yourself such as bags of nuts, small bags of homemade cookies, candied fruits, fruit preserves, and so on. Get a natural Christmas tree, string it with popcorn and ornaments you’ve gathered over the years. Grinchism be gone!

    6. Ford Prefect

      You may enjoy this documentary:

      Canadian jews take an outsider’s look at how American jewish immigrant songwriters bought into the American dream in the middle of the 20th century and helped create the modern Christmas. It also looks at how Christmas originated and has been re-imagined over the past couple of millennia. It really sharpens the focus on friends and family (as well as understanding outsiders in a culture).

      The background on some of the great modern Christmas music is fascinating.It gives a different perspective on things like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “The Christmas Song”, and “Do You Hear What I Hear”?

    7. RUKidding

      I live alone far away from my biological family. I wouldn’t mind spending Xmas day with them but hate traveling at the holidays. I have an active social life where I live, so I’m busy anyway. I don’t mind spending Xmas day (or Thanksgiving) on my own. Those are 2 days where I can be quiet and at rest. But people are always sort of shocked if I don’t say I’m having dinner or something with someone or with family. It’s seems like it’s a social taboo just to hang out and not do much and not really care one way or the other.

      This year, though, I’m going with friends to hand out candy and gifts in a less wealthy part of town with a group that does this annually. But even doing that, I STILL get people asking me: but but but what are you doing after that???? Eh? Nothing.

      1. ambrit

        Too many people don’t or can’t tell the difference between being alone and being lonely. Enjoy the silence, there is so little of it left.

          1. flora

            adding: the difference between ‘I and thou’ and ‘I and it’ in one’s relationship to existence is pretty big, imo. It existance is an ‘it’ then one can often feel alone. If existance is a ‘thou’ then one can be objectively alone yet not feel alone. and…. When I see all the holiday lights this time of year, I think there’s some subconscious recognition of this ‘I and thou’, even though the lights might – on the surface – be done because of expectation, or ‘it looks nice’.
            That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it. :)

          2. ambrit

            Yep. Buber and Jung. Two archetypal ‘thought leaders.’
            Psychology and mysticism are heavily intertwined fields.

  2. allan

    Want to run an agency? It helps to know be related to Mitch McConnell [Politico]

    Trump’s nominee to run pension agency has a thin resume.

    The Trump administration, staring down a $54 billion pension crisis, is placing its faith in a man who is a stranger to most of Washington but for one big connection: His brother-in-law is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his sister-in-law is Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

    Gordon Hartogensis has little professional paper trail, and has largely just managed his family’s sprawling investment portfolio after striking gold in a ’90s startup and retiring by the time he was 29. But he is expected to gain Senate confirmation before the end of the year to run the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the troubled government backstop for people whose pension plans have become insolvent.

    Hartogensis, 48, who’s married to Chao’s sister, will oversee an agency with nearly 1,000 employees that manages $100 billion in assets and handed out $5.8 billion to more than 861,000 retirees in 2018. …

    The family trust that Hartogensis has been managing since 2011 includes “private equity, venture capital, and real estate assets,” according to his LinkedIn profile. Among the ventures it’s invested in are “immunotherapy, artificial intelligence, cryptography, streaming video, financial services, and marketing automation.”…

    Just the sort of guy you want running the PBGC as we head into a downturn.
    Another major win for the working class of the deindustrialized American heartland.

    1. a different chris

      How do you even have a conversation about pensions with a guy who retired at 29? Let alone have him in charge of them?

      1. Olga

        Good point. Reminds me of the first run for Congress by gWbush in mid-to-late 1970s. The main part of his platform was “abolish social security.” Who needs it when you’re young and a scion of a wealthy family?

        1. rd

          I am still baffled by the assault on Social Security. The primary thing that has kept the US economy rolling over the past 30 years has been the American consumer, many of whom have borrowed money to keep the economy rolling.

          So that generation is moving into retirement without substantial savings and will be unable to borrow at the rate they used to which will hamper their spending. It would be suicidal for corporate America reduce their customers retirement income to impoverish their consumers more than they have already by restraining salaries and wages and eliminating pensions. Social Security checks are immediately recirculated back into the economy within days of their receipt unlike, say, a tax cut for their wealthy which may never be recycled at all.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            There was the joke about the blue blood college student returning home for the break to find his mother comatose in great distress muttering about the poor dears. The son asks his father what’s wrong, and the father says, “your mother just learned about the stock market crash.” The son replies, “Dad was 25 years ago. Its 1954.”

            If passing universal healthcare might increase the nominal net wealth of the rich, but it would empower workers at the same time. What the hell good is money if you can’t buy and sell people with it?

            Then just from the profit rent extraction model, where is the money that can’t be squeezed? Pensions were turned to IRAs already. Benefits have been wrecked. Consumers are tapped. Borrowing against the mortgage. So you got to go where the money is.

          2. JTMcPhee

            As to the fate of SS, well, maybe some parts of corporate Empire would feel a pinch if SS money was sent to Wall Street in smaller amounts, but how many Goldamn Sx executives in the halls of Imperial power does it take to roll the representatives of ‘the people?”

            Wondering if any commenter will chime in about how the Oldsters are impoverishing the Youngers via those SS payments, showing how little they understand about how SS is funded and how the system works… But hey, divide and conquer, no? And it would take so little, like lifting the cap on WAGES subject to FICA enforced savings, stuff like that, not even the “unthinkable” of making Richers just pay more into the general revenues (yes I get MMT) and stopping the wars and war machinery, or at least spooling it down to a fraction of current fraud and ripoffs, to fund SS on into the far distant (maybe to precluded by global collapse?) future…

      2. zer0

        How does Congress have a separate healthcare plan than the rest of the US, yet they make healthcare decisions for all of us?

        How is it that 100 people amongst 50 families represent the boards of over 200 Fortune 500 companies and make decisions for say Walmart but also JnJ or Disney?

        I could go on and on and on…..

    2. Ford Prefect

      He will be donating his expertise in managing inherited wealth to an agency that hasd inherited wealth form bankrupt companies. We should all be grateful for his service. After all, he could just be playing polo in charity events to help widows and orphans in Africa.

  3. Eureka Springs

    It took decades of work to establish a life like this but it can be accomplished. I haven’t heard so much as a note of an x-mas jingle in at least a couple of years. That said, my favorite has long been James Brown’s – Santa Claus, go straight to the ghetto.

    Ralph Nader the kettler. Suggesting there is any possibility in the system we have of representation is beyond pathetic.

    Perez wants to make more profit on kettling:
    The DNC wants to gather all the data points on voters into a new, massive for-profit database but needs to convince state parties on the idea.

    Aaron Mate continues to impress.

    What the hell are we doing to Nicaragua again? Or have we ever stopped?
    Every Single Member of US Congress Approved Crushing Sanctions on Nicaragua What better way to keep migrants, I mean desperate cheap labor supply flowing?

        1. Huey Long

          I heard about Vulfpeck at a music festival in July 2017. The guy in the tent next to ours had a tape of them and played them all weekend on his 1970’s tape deck.

          They’re a great act, especially the bass player Joe Dart.

      1. Huey Long

        Salsoul Orchestra “Christmas Jollies” is the Xmas soundtrack in my house.

        Its an orchestral disco Xmas album with a smattering of Philly mummers tunes in there too.

    1. JeffC

      No Christmas music here either except Handel’s Messiah (Christopher Hogwood, Academy of Ancient Music, with the awesome Emma Kirkby et al.) to be played just once in Christmas or the day before. A two-day season is plenty. (OK we sometimes play Lorena McKennitt’s early-90’s wintery stuff, again just once.)

    2. Cal

      Re State Democrats and Perez. Our family took the absolutely refreshing and liberating step of changing our party preference from “Democrat” to “Decline to State.”

      The best candidate wins our vote rather than the ones anointed by that greasy little weasel Perez.

      I suggest that the word “democrat” be always place in quotation marks and lower case when they are the usual corporate cash crowd.

      True Democrats who represent the working and middle class have earned and deserve the capital D.

    3. rd

      Its not coincidence that the migrants in the recent “caravan” came from the countries that each have their own Wikipedia page entitled “CIA activities in …..”

      The big refugee crises in Central America and the Middle East were manufactured by Western democracy policies. This is similar to the Irish refugee crisis from the 1800s that was manufactured by the British and led to the invasion of the US by the undesirable Irish then.

  4. efschumacher

    Another one for the Brexit file. This is an interview on LBC by James O’Brien, of Rory Stewart, a junior minister in the May government. This is the only example I know of a convincing argument for a form of Brexit. It is well worth the 19 minutes listen:

    He argues that the Referendum was in essence a Pandora’s Box moment, that no matter what the next steps: a hard Brexit, a Referendum, unilateral Article 50 withdrawal, May’s deal, the healing process comes through an exercise in damage limitation. He wants a (near) future where Britain is economically close to Europe, but politically separate – because not only is Britain’s position in the world changing, but Europe is still struggling with its own political (vs economic) settlement, and it is better that we stand just outside and formulate our own relationship with whatever change is coming. He argues compellingly and with integrity. I highly recommend listening to his point of view.

    Those of you who had access to the BBC IPlayer, until outside UK access was shut down by the Beeb, might remember a documentary called “Border Story: the story of Britain’s lost Middleland. Blurb about that is here: This was produced in the run-up to the Scottish Referendum of 2014 (the one where Cameron argued Scotland should remain in the Union, stronger together within Europe. Wonder how that turned out?)

    If the British future must include Tory governments with Tory Prime Ministers, it would be good to see Rory Stewart as one of these. He has an authenticity, grasp of facts, ability to confront difficult trade-offs, and a humbleness rare in a Tory politician.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Rory’s a very impressive chap– fiendishly clever. And also adventurous — he walked solo across Afghanistan and wrote about it.

        1. Mirdif

          Absolutely no surprise if he was a spy as his dad was one of the movers and shakers in SIS. He has kinda sorta denied that he (Rory) was a spy but its the sort of denial where he is actually confirming.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        He’s an interesting character – he reminds me of one of those highly literate old style adventerers like Robert Byron, English and Scottish public schools used to churn them out once upon a time.

        He was actually a Labour member when younger. Given his extremely posh and upmarket background and his travels I can only assume he is in the intelligence services in some capacity or other, and will no doubt have shady connections. And no doubt he is hugely ambitious, someone with his opportunities in life wouldn’t have gone into politics just to be a local MP or junior Minister.

        I suspect he is one of the prime candidates for being the sort of ‘clean skin’ the Tories will need in the next few years to stake a claim to clean up the mess that will no doubt be left by the current crew. That speech he made sounds exactly the sort of one you’d expect from someone who wants to leave a clean trail behind him so he can’t be blamed for the chaos and mistakes.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          Agreed with all of you above; I noted him back in the mid-2000s when he did his Afghan walk — very much out of a late-imperial short story.

          I do also sense that he is more of a One Nation Tory a la’ MacMillan or Disraeli, as opposed to the Manchester Liberalism of Thatcherism (reading John Stuart Mill or Spencer through the lens of a vindictive shop-keeper’s child gives you Thatcherism, in my view).

          Of course, I’ve been wrong before….

          1. Ignacio

            reading John Stuart Mill or Spencer through the lens of a vindictive shop-keeper’s child gives you Thatcherism, in my view

            Hahaha, so astute!

          2. PlutoniumKun

            Yes, I’ve read a few of his writings over the year and he always came across as open minded, extremely smart, and reasonable.

            Which of course raises the question on why on earth is he in this government of crooks and dunces? I suspect there is a lot more to his motivations than meets the eye.

            1. Conrad

              I enjoyed his two part documentary on Afghan history as well.

              Sometimes you’ve just got to work with what you’ve got I guess.

            2. Swamp Yankee

              Well, as Henri of Navarre said — ‘Paris is worth a Mass.’ He’s probably looking to the 5 to 10 year horizon, right?

              Agreed that eyes ought to be kept on what lurks beneath the surface.

              Still, compared to the various arrant toffs and mediocre incompetents running the Tory Party, Stewart seems refreshing.

              Then again — meet the new boss….

  5. timbers

    Read the Atlantic Security Council article from yesterday’s Links, about Obama crack down on Occupy in which the FBI shared private info with banks to target Occupy leaders, threatened to assassinate Occupy figures, seized them and tied them up so long the went the bathroom on themselves (torture) etc etc.

    How long before France starts doing this to crush the Yellow Jackets? And all of Europe for that matter as Yellow Jackets seems to be spreading in Neo Liberal Paradise Euro land.

    Know I’m sounding pessimistic but I do expect the neo liberal “leaders” and their backers to adapt and change tactics in any way necessary to retain control and continue to implement their agenda to transfer all wealth from the working class to the Ultra Rich.

    After all, look at Greece. Totally crushed with devastating poverty and not a peep from her to speak of since she was beaten down…if I were a neo liberal Eurocrat, what happened in Greece would look like a repeatable policy from my perspective.

    1. tegnost

      yes, yesterdays video of the protesters pepper spraying the police led me to think that next time there will be more police, but I’m an american and when during the wto protests I needed to go to the downtown library to access the manual for my old gmc I found that public space was closed and the city filled with military. Bill Clinton was in town selling the neoliberal dream of borderless finance and kettled labor. I seem to recall some police officers acting like protesters who were there to disrupt and discredit the disaffected protesters. Simply put, in the us the movement would be squashed through whatever means necessary.

      1. Robert Valiant

        It doesn’t take much in the US. I was gassed at the WTO protests in Seattle, and I went home to the U-District and didn’t come back.

        Choose your poison:

        Leaderless uprisings: rubber bullets, gas, truncheons, then whatever it takes.

        Leader directed uprisings: co-option.

        Until way more people are too cold in the winter, too hot in the summer, have limited access to Facebook and McDonald’s, can’t afford to drive single occupant 3/4-ton pickups, I don’t imagine it’ll change. :(

        1. neo-realist

          Leader directed uprisings: co-option.

          Fred Hampton treatment?

          Until way more people are too cold in the winter, too hot in the summer, have limited access to Facebook and McDonald’s, can’t afford to drive single occupant 3/4-ton pickups, I don’t imagine it’ll change. :(

          They have to lose their cable and internet too:/

      2. Bugs Bunny

        If the French police took actions as violent as the American police, the escalation would overturn the government in a few weeks. Moreover, police would start defecting to the GJs. I’m almost certain that it has started already. Tomorrow, blockades of police headquarters start, across the country. Let’s see what happens. There will be an Xmas break through.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Court Tosses Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipeline to Cross Appalachian Trail”

    This is good news. Ever since I read Bill Bryson’s 1998 book “A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail” I thought that that was something that should be preserved in eternity. I don’t think that Bryson would be impressed by having an oil-line cut across it and through the forests.

    1. SimonGirty

      ACP is a 42″ fracked natural gas pipeline. Dominion, Duke and apparently the Obama administration apparently hoping to sell methane at a higher price in the south, by building hundreds of new power plants to run folks’ air conditioners (as Baby Jesus™ SMITES ’em fer homosexul marriage ‘n sharia law?) It’s welded DC/ AC, at the same mill as Columbia’s Leach XPress which lasted entire weeks, before exploding due to “subsidence,” according to PHMSA.

      That BBC feels they need to inform viewers that calcination of clinker, in cement/ concrete production is resuming it’s role in global warming, as developing economies mimic white flight suburbanite 1950’s US levels of production is sure heartening. I imagine, DeVos’ A Beka textbooks simply portray the Interstates, malls and cul-de sac gated communities as God’s gift to White folks, like some piss-poor peckerwood promised land?

      1. Carolinian

        Gee Simon, how do you feel about White folks? Always good for a rimshot at least.

        Rumor has it that some of them live in the un air conditioned North.

        1. SimonGirty

          Suckins ‘ere, Bubba. The Appalachian “streetcar suburb” this piss po’ honky hillbilly hails frum, we’d leave the windows open, bituminous being cheap. We’d been taught clathrates would percolate out from where the permafrost used to be, before the Kennedy inauguration. That we’d never live long enough to see, what we’ve been experiencing for decades now? Going to be everybody, especially down south, paying for the fracking Ponzi scheme. Multinational conglomerates setting whatever price they want. I’ve bad feelings about the girth welds?

    2. Craig H.

      When the Alaska Pipeline was built there was much ado about making them build sections with “caribou crossings”.

      Here is a picture of one with a caribou!

    3. Big Tap

      The judges in their opinion cite “The Lorax”.

      1. rd

        The problem is that the Lorax went to a different high school and law school than Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. So his pedigree is unlikely to sway the Supremes.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That’s strange that. I know that in American schools the kids usually give their pledge of allegiance in the morning saying the words-

      I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

      Did they change it recently to include the words “the State of Israel” as well? And are they going to reintroduce the Bellamy salute while they are at it?

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        Pflugerville is an exemplar of the white flight teabilly conservatism often found in exurban orbit around the more lib.prog urban cores. Williamson County is Angrywhitemanistan, fer sure.
        cops are notoriously touchy(my long haired a$$ doesn’t go there), and the crosseyed superiority is evident in every bit of news from that place that I can remember for the past 30 or so years.
        so it’s no surprise that those folks think the First Amendment wouldn’t apply to someone with a vaguely Arabic name.
        she should go down the road a bit to Austin, proper.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          But aren’t those the “moderate suburban Republicans” so coveted by the Democratic elites? I bet they go to Panera.

        2. diptherio

          This isn’t about Texas. All you New Yorkers have the same law on your books, thanks to Democratic luminary Andrew Cuomo.

      2. Eureka Springs

        Glenn points out this requires higher allegiance to Israel.

        In order to obtain contracts in Texas, then, a citizen is free to denounce and work against the United States, to advocate for causes that directly harm American children, and even to support a boycott of particular U.S. states, such as was done in 2017 to North Carolina in protest of its anti-LGBT law. In order to continue to work, Amawi would be perfectly free to engage in any political activism against her own country, participate in an economic boycott of any state or city within the U.S., or work against the policies of any other government in the world — except Israel.

        1. GF

          Can the someone link to the names of the Israeli companies doing business in the US by business category? If not, can someone direct me to the lists online through URL links? Also, can the lists include the names of American/EU companies currently majority owned by Israelis or Israelis with dual US and Israel citizenship? The names of the owners are not necessary. I am assuming that Israel is not required to state country-of-origin on all of its products that eventually end up in the USA.

      3. The Rev Kev

        “Constitution? We ain’t got no Constitution! We don’t need no Constitution! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ Constitution!”

      4. chuck roast

        Yeah, Stanley…he pointed the way to the future. But, as a dual-citizen I’m guessing that as a recovering Papist I won’t be able to vote…prolly could man the checkpoints though, if I was a yute’.

        From Wiki:
        Stanley Fischer is an Israeli American economist and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve. Born in Northern Rhodesia, he holds dual citizenship in Israel and the United States. He served as governor of the Bank of Israel from 2005 to 2013. He previously served as chief economist at the World Bank.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          It is quite baffling indeed that our leaders and lawmakers are even allowed to maintain loyalty to countries other than the U.S., I mean how does that even work? When they stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, which nation are they pledging their allegiance to? Is it OK if they kept some hidden fingers crossed? And wouldn’t Israel be upset that one of their citizens had pledged themselves to another nation? Or: is there no functional difference between the two nations, if that’s the case then let’s just come out with it.

          Along with the usual suspects this list includes Bernie Sanders. Maybe someone should ask him what he thinks about the situation in Gaza.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Un-bee-lievable! What’s that old quote again? Oh yeah.

            “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”

      5. JeffC

        Usually? Yes when I was a kid in the 60’s. My children and nieces and nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews (even those in Kentucky and Tennessee) never had the pledge experience. They go all wide-eyed when I tell them about it.

      6. Synapsid

        Rev Kev,

        That’s “…one nation, under God, indivisible…”

        I was in maybe 4th grade when that insertion occurred. Eisenhower occupied the White House but I don’t know who originated the change. We kids just went ahead and learned it.

        1. Wukchumni

          ‘Under God’ was added to the pledge in 1954, and ‘In God We Trust’ on the paper money in 1957.

          We had to push our acceptance of dogma hard against our Cold War adversary, who could claim no such higher ground.

    2. cyclist

      Not surprised about this one. A few days ago I was going over the response to an RFP issued by a public body in Michigan. As part of the bidding package, a respondent in that state has to certify that they are not linked to Iran (this was for installation of fiber optic cabling, etc.). Who comes up with this stuff?

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      I will just note that if, as the ACLU says, an amendment outlawing BDS is being inserted into the spending bill, with the firm support of the Democrat establishment, as we speak, then what happened in Pflugerville will be completely legal.

  7. zagonostra

    >Democracy Can’t Survive Without the Welfare State.

    Nothing has been learned. You don’t use loaded words like “welfare state” if you ever want to get past the autonomic nervous system response. What happened to using a word like “Just” to describe a better social/political system.

    A society built on Justice, what an archaic notion, eh Plato?

    1. William Hunter Duncan

      Every time I read a Marxist dissecting boss/labor relations in the industrial market I get the chills. It is like no Marxist could ever be honest about Communism in actual practice, or what the Welfare State in Capitalist America has become. Minnesota has surely one of the most generous welfare arrangements, and yet has some of the worst economic outcomes for African Americans and Native Americans particularly.

      Work can provide a sense of dignity, it can be empowering, it can be meaningful. Marxist obsession with power imbalances seems oblivious to this somehow, like we would all be in a better place if we were all stamping widgets as long as no one is getting richer than anyone else off our widget stamping.

      There is so much meaningful work that needs to be done. I fell like neither the Capitalists nor the Marxists have any idea how to get any of that work done.

      1. Olga

        Not sure why one would need to drag Marxists into this.
        “It is like no Marxist could ever be honest about Communism in actual practice” – I take it you speak from personal experience? How else would one know about “actual practice?”
        Never mind that there has never been “Communism in actual practice” on this earth.
        Better to stick to facts…

        1. William Hunter Duncan

          USSR and China? Just because their “communism” was not the Marxist ideal does not mean the ideals in practice lead to the communism of these two examples…

          1. William Hunter Duncan

            “won’t lead”, that is. Or stated more clearly, Marxist ideals in practice have in the form of communism lead to communists eventually embracing a kind of hyper-elite favored capitalism or facing collapse…

          2. skippy

            State capitalism with a monolithic political apparatus which on one side of the ledger seeks an ideological utopia and the other is embroiled in a cold war that sucks the resources into the black hole of military expenditure…. Sorry I forgot which country I was referencing again ….

            1. William Hunter Duncan

              I’ve long thought of it more like National Socialism 2.0. Now it’s just a casual extermination of species.

        2. ChrisPacific

          If there has never been “Communism in actual practice” on this earth, that’s actually the whole point. It’s certainly been attempted, more than once. What went wrong? Is there a way it can be done successfully, or is every future attempt doomed to fail in the same way?

          In answer to the original question, Outis Philalithopoulos made a pretty good attempt at addressing this question last year:

      2. GF


        Just try to imagine where African Americans and Native Americans would be without the “generous welfare arrangements”.

        1. William Hunter Duncan

          Maybe if liberals would pull their heads out of the clouds, they might see that favoring corporations, banks and billionaires over regular people and local economics in no way helps poor African Americans, American Indians, Caucasians or anyone who happen not to be connected to the owners of capital.

      1. William Hunter Duncan

        I’m hoping then we can have a “Welfare state” where good pay for good work is emphasized, and subsidies of any kind are kept to a minimum, which goes for the poor as well as Bezos and his ilk.

        1. zer0

          But welfare is for those that dont or cant work.

          Look, welfare in the US isnt really welfare. It doesnt bring about any of the innate benefits seen in actually well run countries like Sweden or Czechia.

          Czechia has the lowest number of poor in the EU. Why?

          1) The never reduced the welfare state
          2) They kept poverity to a minimum post communism and kept up with the standard
          3) Very high immigration standards
          4) Did not take part in the EU currency BS – they control their costs/currency very well. Super low cost of living. Welfare checks are about $300 equivalent a month, and that is plenty for Czechs to live and live well (because socialist policies allow for free education, healthcare, daycare, etc).

          They also do not have the ludicrous stanglehold on welfare recipients as seen in the US. In Czechia, they want you on welfare as short as possible, so they allow you to buy and own land and a car. In the US, if you receive welfare, you cannot own any property or be leasing a vehicle. So in the US, welfare recipients are HELD down at the lowest possible level in society, without much chance (and therefore, much drive) to get themselves out.

          Add into that the pharma industries lucrative practice of legalized opioids & other highly addictive ‘pain killers’ and you have the modern day American society: chemically destroyed by food, drugs, and the environment, poorly educated, and oppressed with all kinds of fees for nonexistent services.

          1. Harrold

            Wasn’t Slovakia the impoverished part of Czechoslovakia?

            Is getting rid of the poor areas a strategy that can be emulated by the US?

          2. William Hunter Duncan

            Held down, encouraged to blame themselves primarily but also those even less powerful than themselves, or some amorphous other instead of the few who dictate a state of economic bondage.

          3. crittermom

            “So in the US, welfare recipients are HELD down at the lowest possible level in society, without much chance (and therefore, much drive) to get themselves out.”
            Well stated & so true.

            Health care is an additional factor. If elderly, poor, & thus receiving (limited) Medicaid & standard Medicare, & you receive an income (even just low SS) that exceeds a certain low amount (just under 100% below poverty level, I believe), you will lose Medicaid coverage, as well. So that stops recipients from even getting a part-time job to better themselves, as supplemental health care can amount to much more than earnings.
            Just one more way the poor are being “HELD down”.

  8. DJG

    The interview with Edouard Louis in the New Yorker is deeply insightful. Note the language of the body, which Lambert Strether has been writing about here off and on: The way that capitalism destroys the body, and the way that our renewal as citizens must also entail embodiment.

    I pulled this off my Facebook page, from an Italian amica:

    “La Rete ha creato un mondo di solitari che aspettano ogni giorno una parola che non arriva e se arriva non è mai bastevole. Primo e ultimo gesto della giornata: accendere e spegnere il telefonino. È come portarsi dietro una bombola di ossigeno vuota. Non c’è aria in Rete, è solo un traffico di ombre. E quello che una volta si chiamava mondo reale è un deserto.”

    Diminished embodiment. Starving for air, we together become depressed.

  9. DJG

    Compliments to Aaron Mate’ for not trying to salvage Obama: Obama has spent years and years creating–and embodying, to refer to my previous comment–a Hollow Man. A year ago, one of my sisters gave me the Obama photo book–by the official photographer. You know, the bestselling book chronicling his presidency in photos. But the photos are repetitive. Obama in a the usual sack-like three-button suit. Obama wearing the usual tie–never with a pattern–in some safe color like dark blue or some snappy beige. The tie is always tied in a very large knot–a tribute to Ronald Reagan. He wears the same unadorned black shoes in almost every photo–nothing so daring as wingtips. This is the man who is the “elegant thinker.” But if I apply as above, so below, as inside, outside, I don’t see it. He embodies emptiness.

    There are one or two shots of him playing basketball–because he is “fiercely competitive.” Like Trump?

    So this empty man has now signaled that he is empty. I have a feeling that here in Chicago we figured it out earlier–only to be confirmed by the empty archive promised as his presidential ziggurat (thanks to the fellow groundling who came up with “ziggurat”).

    So the elder states-peeps of the Democratic Party consist of zombie politicians lurching along, unable to retire from the public scene because they are shoveling in the Tubmans. No wonder the war in Yemen started as an exercise in war profiteering and now continues as an expensive genocide.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Since Michelle has a memoir out, I imagine Obama has worked on a book, and its probably not shaping up to be:

      I don’t care much for body language, but I imagine he’s been getting a full heaping of “history will redeem” from Michelle’s “partner in crime” and its not sitting well.

      He’s older, and the energy of a campaign rally can be fun. I wonder how much of Aaron Mate’s reaction and the replies in his twitter feed are simply people listening to Obama instead of bobbing their heads along.

      There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.

      Garveyism isn’t an issue anymore, and it really hasn’t existed in any form since the 1950’s.

      We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

      I’m reminded of Churchill’s line about Americans doing the right thing after exhausting other options, and I should not Obama’s speeches were largely easy answers. In the wake of a war built on lies and continued occupation, this is the non sense Obama came up with, not to mention the free speech issues with the Morning Prayer to the flag idol. Racial problems in America? Solved! Easy answers aren’t solutions. Obama has always been short on both identifying problems and offering solutions. Oh, but it was soaring rhetoric…

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The audacity of hope!

        In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us,

        Wow, I just reread this. Yeesh, I’m not a believer and find Washington’s reference to the “Almighty” in his first inaugural to be unbecoming, but I would expect a guy who employed an on-site christian minister to send him daily scriptures he wouldn’t have missed his Saul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The Obama video made me yearn for a time when we do not have sociopaths like this arise, I mean after presiding over the biggest transfer of wealth from African-Americans in U.S. history, after codifying the Stasi state spy creep stuff Bush started, after expanding Bush’s drone wars and adding to the list of nations we summarily bomb, after genuflecting to the worst Big Pharma and Big Insurance has to offer, and after deciding banks cannot commit crimes…he has the unexamined and conscience-free gall to keep spouting his inanities and pretending his gobbledegook no-speak has any meaning at all. It’s outrageous.

    1. efschumacher

      Indeed, there’s not one but three nightly Ghost Walks within the Walls of York. Go to the one that starts at the King’s Arms (if it isn’t a flood day, as it is right next to the river). We did it last year and it was 4 pounds each for an hour and a half of peripatetic entertainment. The dearest one, that starts near the Minster, is 7 pounds 50 a pop. haven’t done that one.

      The Golden Fleece is allegedly the most haunted building in York. Though with 2000 years of history there is plenty of scope for yarn spinning. And with plenty of fog on damp winter days, there’s the right atmosphere for the event.

      If enough of you came to York we could have an NC Meetup :>. This is the original York, not one of those pale imitations in NY, PA or Toronto.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Don’t forget Maine!,_Maine

        I’d take an NC Meetup in either one, were money not an issue. Folklore around ghosts is one of my favorite things — though here rather than Celts and Romans, we tend towards Wampanoags and Pilgrims, witches and pirates and haunted cedar swamps.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      It didn’t mention that when the plumber saw the Roman legion ghosts pass by he only saw them from the knees up…because the ground level was so much lower when they were around. Nice detail.

  10. bmeisen

    e-aircraft: Thanks for tagging this one. Will aviation shares react before Miami real estate prices collapse?

  11. rjs

    FWIW, some are apparently taking that Obamacare unconstitutional ruling seriously…i just got the following email:

    By brother in law in Farmington N.M. was told his hospital will no longer accept his insurance companies coverage connected to Obamacare.
    He will now have to drive to Albuquerque 182 miles away to try and find a different hospital. He has a lot of medical problems.
    His daughter is studying to be a doctor, but now has second thoughts.

    1. a different chris

      >was told his hospital will no longer accept his insurance companies coverage connected to Obamacare.

      But that sentence doesn’t even make any sense? He has insurance coverage, regardless of the source. Why are they “no longer” accepting it? Do you mean they aren’t going to accept it next year?

      If the mandate is making the whole thing “unconstitutional” – which means whatever TPTB want it to mean at any given point, but no matter – that doesn’t mean that if you buy an insurance policy it somehow isn’t an insurance policy.

      1. JTMcPhee

        As to a hospital denying treatment for the snuffed Obamacare patient: I believe there are several parts to the “UNsurance” racket. Yes, the “covered individual” has a contract with the UNsurer to turn premiums into payments on to providers (taking a what, 30% vigorish on the gross transactions?) But the providers including hospitals also have contractual relationships to the UNsurers, and there are a lot of ways that can be tied to denying service to people who don’t have the ‘right UNsurance,’ as in the provider is not “in network.” So as with the doctors I used to work for, they “took” only certain UNsurance companies’ “coverage.” The UNsurers insist the doctors sign up to THEIR contracts, in terms of what can be billed for treatment and what treatments and meds are covered, and some of those terms (looking at you, InHumana, but others too) are not survival-capable for providers. The Walmart cram-down phenomenon — the supplier loses a bit on each widget, but is suckered into hoping to make it up on volume.

        Of course the hospital corporate owners might just be using this as an excuse to not use their resources that they can bill at higher rates to other patients and their payment sources. Just as a guess.

        “Then we’re stupid and we’ll die.”

    2. Pat

      Was he informed about this from the Hospital or the Insurance company?

      I’m pretty sure the agreements between the hospitals and the insurance companies are not dependent on the legal ruling. They either have a contract with agreed in network payments or they don’t for the policy. My bet is that the hospital was no longer going to be in network for that policy in the new year regardless of the ruling. That the hospital and the insurance company was not able to reach an agreement. The hospital probably wouldn’t take a cut in agreed fees.

    3. jrs

      yes 1/5th of the economy working in healthcare is actually taking it seriously, so uh yea it probably makes sense to. Now I do think *probability* is it is overturned, but probability is not certainty. I thought it improbably Trump would win afterall.

  12. tokyodamage

    the holiday grinch guide was sad to read.

    (“I tried to like it, i really did! I even watched the DVDs!”) . . . she’s apologizing for not liking it – in an article directed specifically at other xmas-haters? Even using the framing of ‘grinch’ in the first place is a loser’s game. Sounds like the ordeal of resisting forced xmas cheer has psychologically broken her. . .

    I’m by no means a tough guy, but I do have a self-destructive streak. So, if I had to a work customer service job with xmas carols on the PA 24/7, I’d be in jail by the end of one shift. And if my co-workers tried an ‘xmas intervention’ on me . . . people walking past my office building would be treated to a parade of cop cars and, assuming I’d had my Wheaties that morning, some ambulances as well.

    Anyway, good morning everyone!

  13. William Hunter Duncan

    Based on the comments on that Obama speech on The Hill Twitter feed, methinks there are not very many thinking people who believe his schtick either….LOL

  14. Chris

    Anyone else hearing a rumbling push back from the Ms. Hadley story in the NYT? Several colleagues and some family members have expressed varying degrees of “she shouldn’t have resisted” and “she’s on welfare after breaking the law she doesn’t deserve to be well treated.”

    I find both attitudes surprising considering this is Advent and every heart is supposed to be making some room. I’m also just plain shocked at the lack of awareness from some of the comments I’ve read online and heard in person. This woman is clearly in a bad place and most of that appears to be because she made a number of poor decisions. But her son shouldn’t be physically threatened for that and she’s a US citizen. She has rights.

    But I guess we only care about making sure white collar criminals get help and second chances?

    1. JBird4049

      But I guess we only care about making sure white collar criminals get help and second chances?

      More accurately only the right people have rights and the poor, the sick, and the unlucky are not the right people. No Constitution, no respect, no consideration of you as a human being, just go leave and die please.

    1. wilroncanada

      But, the wine market is just as rigged, just as full of corruption and fake value, as the stock market.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Art outperforms equities, too. In the wealthy family my father worked for, the wife’s painting collection (including a Monet) far outperformed the stocks my father was managing.

      And now I see an example in my family: a piece that was probably quite affordable when they bought it is now a major part of our inheritance. Not that any family member can afford to keep it.

      A friend’s inheritance consisted largely of his father’s stamp collection. bought them a very nice house in Portland – back in the 70’s, admittedly.

      Of course, these things ARE equities, of a sort; just not financial. And not predictable.

    1. ewmayer

      If you read the Express-rag’s piece you’ll see the volcanologist “cited in the headline” explaining that the volcano has a long history of eruptions both large and small, and the odds of a Pompeiian-style eruption in near future are actually quites remote. Headline is shameless clickbait. See “Related reading” links below article for further examples of that, complete with scare-words rendered in LOUD CAPITAL LETTERS:

      Climate change SOLVED? Harvard plans to mimic volcano ERUPTION
      Yellowstone Volcano eruption could trigger GLOBAL volcanic WINTER
      Yellowstone volcano eruption: Biggest geyser erupts RECORD amount

      No “REVEALED: Shlocky UK tabloid uses OUTRAGEOUS clickbait tactics to garner page views” link, oddly enough.

    1. makedoanmend

      Thanks for the link Olga. We shall see, we shall see. I remember last year about this time that somebody cited a video of a fella sitting inside a 4×4 vehicle with a high powered rifle shooting and killing a bison.

      It left me sad and still does. (And I’m no vegitarian, and grew up on a farm where death is a fact of life. But life was never for wasting.)

    2. todde


      I have a neighbor with a bison herd, cute babies for sure.

      I worked for a company that raised Bison. One got away and destroyed the car of the cop who was sent out to handle the situation. We got rid of the herd after that.

      it took the car out.

      1. crittermom

        “it took the car out.”
        Not surprised by that at all. Amazing strength, & they can jump a 6′ gate from a standstill.
        More than once I encountered a buffalo free-ranging as they can even break through the double fencing most of those ranches have.
        One of my favorite memories is of the night I was returning home in my former 1961 Rambler & noted one keeping pace with me running down the shoulder.

        What did surprise me was when one rancher introduced 3 Yaks onto his buffalo ranch.
        They soon killed the top breeding male buffalo. Yikes!

        1. Judith

          My first car was a 1961 Rambler station wagon. Three speed on the column. It was a great car. It took me back and forth between NJ and Wisconsin many times.

          1. Wukchumni

            I’m a 1961 Rambler, with 2 on the floor, and currently nursing a sticky transmission that causes the vehicle to limp along.

            The upholstery is strictly original and shows no sign of balding attire-with just a few dents to the body, and the headliner droops a little, got to get that fixed.

    3. crittermom

      Thank you for that link!
      I’ve admired buffalo, probably my favorite animal, for many years & miss the buffalo ranches that surrounded me in my former home in CO.
      Good news, indeed.

  15. Ignacio

    RE: Dr. Google Is a Liar NYT (Dr. Kevin)
    The very same article is also a liar by omission. Overstates the statin case by not mentioning it is not indicated in pregnancy and liver disease and that statins are associated with serious muscular problems, not to mention risks yet to be discovered about long term consumption of statins and negative interactions with other compounds. Not to mention that much before having statins is preferable trying other strategies as physical exercises.

    Take a look at this article about prescribing statins:
    Finding the Balance Between Benefits and Harms When Using Statins for Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: A Modeling Study

    Conclusion: Statins provide net benefits at higher 10-year risks for CVD than are reflected in most current guidelines. In addition, the level of risk at which net benefit occurs varies considerably by age, sex, and statin type.

    If you don’t have cardiovascular disease, if you are healthy, it is not so clear that pre-emptive use of statins will reduce your CVD risk significantly while having a potential to suffer secondary effects. Puhan, the autor of the article says that when evaluating pharmacological compounds for general use the results of clinical trials are insufficient (short term, and low numbers). And there is always a bias that favour overprescription simply because the recommendations are made by those physicists involved in the problem, in this case, cardiologists. The author states that phisicians involver in primary care should be involved on the valuation of such prescriptions rather than specialists.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve learned through experience to always be extremely skeptical of any prescription offered by a physician without a careful review of the existing evidence. The pharmaceutical and medical industry is as much to blame for distrust as any ‘fake news’ is.

    2. JohnM

      The value of statins for secondary prevention (ie, for individuals that have already suffered a heart attack) is fairly widely accepted. Their value for primary prevention (individuals that haven’t had heart attacks), not so much. Curiously, the doctor in the article is deliberately misleading the patient he is trying to convince to take a statin by making a comparison with his post-heart attack father. He has to know the patient does not recognize the substantial difference in secondary versus primary prevention.

      To use this example while lamenting patients who make poor risk evaluations because they obtained misleading information off the internet is a bit ironic. But par for the course for the NYTs?

      1. wilroncanada

        I agree with your summary of what doctors and the medical association here are recommending, in terms of so-called “preventive ” use of statins for otherwise healthy people. I do have CVD, but do not take statins even so. The first prescription 18 years ago after an angina attack, was for Baycol, which was soon afterward withdrawn because of an unfortunate side effect in some patients–death. I have tried two other statins after a heart attack about 8 years ago, both with considerable undesirable side effects. So, I’m looking after my own health at the moment through exercise and nutrition.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The massive CO2 emitter – concrete.


    More infrastructure projects will often require more concrete. And they have been placing a lot of it in China, and other places busy constructing.

    Sea walls (to hold back the rising seas) – also more concrete.

    1. Anon

      Yes, sea walls will be attempted in some locations to “mitigate” rising sea levels, but with only modest effect. Seawalls simply transfer the power of ocean waves to somewhere else on the coast. Retreat and a re-introduction of stream/river sediment into the coastal zone is a better alternative.

      The article makes this statement:

      A mix of sand and gravel, a cement binder and water, concrete is so widely embraced by architects, developers and builders because it is a remarkably good construction material.

      Concrete is actually NOT a good construction material (other than compressive durability) because it has minimal tensile strength. It is structural engineers (not architects) who developed the idea of embedding/encasing structural steel (rebar) at discrete interior locations that give concrete beams and columns their structural/building quality. (And, after years of practice it is now known that coating the rebar with a water repellent (moisture/ocean water can be transmitted through concrete) is necessary for structural integrity.)

      Of course, both concrete and steel manufacture release CO2. (The breakwater in my seaside local was constructed from found material (natural rock).

      1. ewmayer

        “Concrete is actually NOT a good construction material (other than compressive durability) because it has minimal tensile strength.”

        I’m pretty sure the article was referring to concrete as actually used in modern construction, i.e. the reinforced variety, which as you admit, does have excellent tensile strength. The article also says “embraced by architects, developers and builders”, not “invented by” same, so I’m not sure what your precise beef is.

        Being able to pour it into more or less any desire opening or shape is a also a huge plus. There is good reason its use is so widespread that it now is a major factor in concerns about global warming.

        1. The Rev Kev

          There are all sorts of concretes as not all concretes are made the same. The concrete the Romans used for their docks was so solid that you can still use them today and if anything, that concrete is more solid than when it was first poured. It is my understanding that the concrete that they use these days starts to deteriorate after about 20 years if used by the sea. And take a look at the Pantheon. What concrete building made today will still be around in 2,000 years – or even 200. In any case there is a world shortage of sand to make concrete with so they are going to have to re-think about the economics of this one.

          1. ewmayer

            “that concrete is more solid than when it was first poured”

            Similarly, Hoover Dam is still getting a tad stronger every year. So depends on the quality used, and whether said quality is appropriate for the expected lifetime of the structure. Lots of Roman buildings fell into ruins pretty quickly, too – maybe using slave labor had something to do with that, a sort of delayed-action “screw you” by labor to management, if you will. ;)

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From yesterday’s links: legal palstic limit in anmial feed.

    I how what happens to the acrylic plastic in acrylic nail polishes? Where do they end up? Do they go into animals and plants?

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    When will electric airliners make sense? Ars Technica

    Another area is to reduce flying and shipping of parcels purchased online.

    1. Monty

      “shipping of parcels purchased online.”
      It’s got to be much more efficient than everyone to drivng their cars all around the city to energy intensive shops, trying to find what they need!

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Democracy Can’t Survive Without the Welfare State Jacobin

    If we say the sovereignty of a democracy lies with the people, then, for the people to have the power to spend money into existence is not related to, technically, welfare.

    In that case, it is not a welfare state when everyone in a democracy can always have money, and, the people, as a whole, can never go bankrupt (in that case).

  20. Oregoncharles

    “Dreaming of a green Christmas? Here are five ways to make it more sustainable”

    Another: don’t buy a Christmas tree. Christmas tree plantations are a blight on the landscape around here. There’s even one next door, though it’s small, cultivated by hand, and helps support the Boy Scout camp.

    As I’ve said before, a couple of options:
    A live tree, in the courtyard or in a pot. Taking them inside damages them, so this is a commitment to an outside tree (a large patio door helps), the original model. Decorating with bird treats adds living decorations. And you could even safely put candles on it.

    Instead, I make a large bouquet of cedar and holly boughs, since they’re available, and hang a few decorations on it; and put lights on our ceiling-high bottle palm, an approach as eccentric as we are. The traditional boughs over the fireplace also would work (hmmm – flammable, so don’t leave them very long.)

    Granted, Christmas is no longer a big deal in our house, but you could adjust these ideas to the level of commitment you want.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    An historical journey into Crimea.


    Crimea was the site of a groundbreaking historical encounter. Imagine Greek colonists, essentially urban, who had reached Crimea after navigating at least one month from the Bosphorus to southern Russia, finding themselves face to face with nomads from Central Asia who had crossed a sea of grass; the Scythians – an Indo-Iranian speaking confederation who were already deploying their nomadic skills around the Crimean steppes when the Greeks arrived in the 8th century BC.

    Then came Sarmatians, Goths, Huns, Khazars – Turkic-speaking pastoral nomads from Central Asia, the Cuman (other Turkic-speaking nomads), Mongol-Tatars of the Golden Horde, before Byzantium, and the Ottoman empire. Crimean Tatars converted to Islam in the 14th century. The khanate went on until Catherine the Great conquered Crimea in 1783.

    Some Sarmations ended up in England.

    There was a recent movie about the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table that included some Sarmatian knights and their famous chain mail armor.


    The Ancient Silk Road brought silk, spices, porcelain, bronze and gold from China, Persia and India, while the Greeks exported wine, pottery, jewelry and ornaments first made in Greece and then in the Bosphorus kingdom in Kerch.

    Peace in the steppes translated into free passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

    The Silk Road, the Mongol armies, traders and the Black Death.

    From Black Death Migration, Wikipedia:

    The Ancient Silk Road brought silk, spices, porcelain, bronze and gold from China, Persia and India, while the Greeks exported wine, pottery, jewelry and ornaments first made in Greece and then in the Bosphorus kingdom in Kerch.


    The Nazis had designs on Crimea. Two months before Germany invaded the USSR, it was decided that Crimea would be separated from Russia and handed to a puppet Ukraine; that was the Gotland project.

    Wonder if the Gotland project was linked to the historical kingdom of Gothia, of the Crimean Goths. I think that’s what I read somwhere (in a book called Black Sea?).


    There are roughly 300,000 Tatars in Crimea out of a population of 2 million.

    Most of the Nazi collaborators in Crimea during WWII were not Tatars. Still, under Stalin, the Tatars were the first ethnic minority to be entirely deported. When Soviet power was back in Crimea, those who remained were expelled en masse to Central Asia because of “treason to the Fatherland”. Now their sons and grandsons are coming back in droves.

    According to Wikipedai, there are 4,000,000-6,000,000 of them in Turkey today.

    And until the 19th century, they constiuted the majority of the population in Crimea, verus about 12% today.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “The long (American) arm of the law: how Huawei CFO’s arrest reopened an old wound in China-US relations”

    Stories like this remind me of what happened way back in 2003. A Russian oligarch named Mikhail Khodorkovsky had gotten control of a large part of Russia’s oilfields and had decided to sell them to some American oil company. That would put the west in firm control of Russia’s oil and its output forever. So Putin had him grabbed and thrown into the slammer on tax charges which of course were all provable and seized his assets. It was decided to put up those oil fields onto an auction.
    It was at this point, and you know that I am not making it up, that a judge in Texas put an injunction of that auction. I am not sure what jurisdiction the great State of Texas has in the Russian Federation but there it was. The auction went ahead anyway and the oil fields went to a Russian company but the point of this story was a court in the US trying to impose its laws in a foreign jurisdiction. You would think that just an amusing story but over the years I have hear similar time and time again and this is due in large part in how the deep state has sought to militarize the law in its service just as it has done the State Department. Trump has already admitted this is just more of the same with Meng.

  23. Unna

    Thanks for the New Yorker article on the French author Édouard Louis and the Yellow Vests. I’m tempted to put his novel, The End of Eddy, on my “to read” list.

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