Links 12/3/18

Despite CRISPR baby controversy, Harvard University will begin gene-editing sperm MIT Technology Review

Scientists, ethicists slam decisions behind gene-edited twins Ars Technica

Why this country parcels babies in boxes BBC

Payless Opens Fake Luxury Shoe Shop Where They Trick Influencers By Selling $20 Shoes For $640 Bored Panda

Don’t you like it here with me?’ AI bot makes ominous debut on board the ISS (VIDEO) RT News (The Rev Kev)

12-Year-Old Charged For Distributing Marijuana-Laced Gummies In School, Several Students Hospitalized International Business Times

Root intelligence: Plants can think, feel and learn New Scientist (David L)

Anchorage earthquake was a big one, but it could have been much worse. Why L.A. should take warning LA Times

Waste Watch

One in six pints of milk thrown away each year, study shows Guardian

Iraq’s ancient pottery struggles to outlive modern plastic Agence France-Presse

Naomi Klein on the Urgency of a ‘Green New Deal’ for Everyone Truthdig

Shell yields to investors by setting target on carbon footprint FT

Poland’s Coal Habit Draws New Fire as UN Climate Talks Begin Climate Liability News

The ‘climate diaspora’ trying to save the Paris agreement from Trump Guardian

Graduate School Can Have Terrible Effects on People’s Mental Health Atlantic (UserFriendly)

A Billionaire Backer and the Murky Finances of the AfDDer Spiegel


Leaked Commons legal analysis of Brexit deal vindicates Trump, contradicts May and adds to Brexiteers’ concerns Brexit Central

EU Doctors Quit Britain as Brexit Looms WSJ


Qatar to withdraw from OPEC in January 2019 Al Jazeera

Senate headed for clash over Saudi Arabia The Hill

Coalition allows evacuation of wounded Houthis before Sweden hosts Yemen talks Reuters

What if Osama bin Laden Had Legitimate Grievances? Truthdig. Maj. Danny Sjursen. More nuanced than the clickbait headline.


Aadhaar usage, enrolments plunge in November after SC order Economic Times

Kisan Movement: The Necessity of Making Climate Change a Political Issue TheWire

Bhopal gas tragedy: Rajiv Gandhi govt ignored help from Italy, reveals note; 34 yrs on, relief still a distant dream FirstPost.Bhopal tragedy occurred 34 years ago, on the night of 2-3 December. Second installment in a three-part series.


Can China tone down its over-the-top weddings? SCMP


Ghosn’s legal woes highlight governance failings in Japan AP

Facebook Fracas

Mark Zuckerberg Has Lost Control of Facebook Project Syndicate

Realignment and Legitimacy

The Problem With Our Democracy Isn’t Gerrymandering. It’s Integers Forbes (UserFriendly)

North Carolina Race Roiled by Claims of Voter Fraud — But Not the Kind the GOP Worries About New York magazine


More than 5,500 women came to Illinois to have an abortion last year amid growing restrictions in the Midwest Chicago Tribune

Class Warfare

Foundations Have a Not-So-Charitable Secret Yes!

Macron to call on U.S. funds to build French start-ups, not steal them Reuters

Debt of a Salesman: Why the Cost of Living Is Making Retirement a Mirage Capital & Main

We Went to a Steak Dinner Annuity Pitch. The Salesman Wasn’t Pleased. NYT

Microchip implants are threatening workers’ rights The Conversation

The Dangerous, Low-Paid World of Nail Salons Truthout

Rich Americans Rank Financial Security Over Love in Relationships Bloomberg

The elusive face of the Paris rioters France 24

Trump Transition

How Trump’s bashing of The New York Times and CNN has benefited all France 24

US’ fresh rules will make it harder to secure H-1B visas Economic Times

The art of the G-20, by Donald Trump Politico

With Trump’s Justice Department Retreating, Who Will Now Police the Police? ProPublica

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. divadab

    Re: Gene editing – and the larger issue of genetic modification: The same evolutionary discipline applies to all mutations and modifications. Evolution can only be stayed in an artificial, human-created environment temporarily – evolution is eternal. For any genetic modification to survive, it must enhance or at least be neutral to the organism’s thriving and fertility. The rest is just blah blah.

    Note that about 20% of neanderthal genetics survive in us – notably in the genetics of immune systems and skin color. A geneticist provided a useful way to think about how much we are still neanderthals – it’s as if we all have a neanderthal great-great-great grandparent.

    Perhaps some of these CRISPR mods will survive long-term and become generally distributed in the population as have neanderthal genetics. We should check back in 1000 generations.

      1. Dave D'Rave

        Maybe 10-20 years. That’s class of 2048.
        They will be good looking, and optimized for speaking ability.

      2. Otis B Driftwood

        Why go to all that trouble? They could produce clones of Larry Summers today and be done with it (as Summers himself has no doubt suggested).

        1. divadab

          I don’t doubt that some very rich humans have already cloned themselves.

          I mean, if you could afford it, how nice to have a miniature identical little you to raise up?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                The blind can, from time to time, follow the blind, or lead the blind.

                But we, who can see, can be too negative on the blind.

                The blind can love or can be loving, for one.

    1. Summer

      “Check back in 1000 generations.”

      You think they are going to lab this for generations upon generations (which would be the only proper way to do this kind of experiment) if they can sell some version of it now or ten years from now?

      And didn’t an article come out recently about the model DNA genome missing so much?

      1. Divadab

        Nope, greed is short term but evolution is generational. The results are the results even though the experiment is uncontrolled, unsupervised, and unaccountable. It will be what it will be .

        1. lyman alpha blob

          I agree – the genie is out of the bottle and there’s no putting it back in.

          The problem is that as a group humans are not known for having particularly good foresight. The world is already facing a tremendous problem with climate change, and I’m of the mind that the primary driver of this is overpopulation. We’ve already shown we aren’t willing to voluntarily limit our own reproduction to the point of putting our existence as a species at risk. And now we’re going to manipulate genes to further increase longevity.

          Three scenarios come to mind:

          1) The gene manipulation works and spreads throughout the population causing longevity to substantially increase. Everybody starves.

          2) The gene manipulation works but the treatment is limited to the very rich who can afford it. As their population grows, they slaughter everyone else to get some elbow room.

          3) See Aldous Huxley’s After Many a Summer Dies the Swan. The treatment doesn’t work as intended and those who opt for gene manipulation devolve into australopithecines.

          Since we don’t seem to be about to wise up any time soon, I choose scenario 3. If something like that happened, it may keep us from implementing any more bad ideas until we’re actually ready for them.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Several substantial human groups have been managing their reproduction downward , Japan for example.

        2. Procopius

          You’re talking as if the “scientists” who sell this procedure are ethical beings acting in good faith. That’s not the business works. We don’t even know yet if the twin embryos are going to be viable. We know that their DNA was altered in different ways, so they won’t actually be twins in the sense of having the same genes. If they see a chance to sell the technology they aren’t going to care if it works or is safe or not. Check back next year and see of they are born live and if they survive.

    2. Lord Koos

      When you say “we” have 20% neanderthal genes, I guess you are referring to white people? Most Africans are pure homo sapiens.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I thought it was 2-3%.

        It is ironic, perhaps, that humans walked out of Africa, and absorbed the genes of Neanderthals, Denisovans, the Flores Man, etc., and with their genes, developed more powerful tools and weapons and returned to Africa (from the 1400’s onward) to exploit them.

        It’s not ironic, if hybrids are generally, or always, more powerful/lethal/cunning/etc.

        1. Divadab

          2-3% in most people tho in some it is higher. Spread over the population it accumulates to about 20% of the Neanderthal genome living on.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Wouldn’t it be interesting if some people tried to track and trace just exactly which of their genetic bits were Neanderthal-derived? And then sought out mating partners with other and different Neanderthal-derived genome fragments? In order to backbreed towards a more Neanderthalized type of hominin?

            They might call their group or project Friends Of The Neanderthal or some such thing.

      2. Synapsid

        Lord Koos,

        Sub-Saharan peoples lack Neanderthal DNA except where it was introduced by back migration from SW Asia a few thousand years ago, but some have DNA from another hominin not yet identified.

        The rest of the human race bears Neanderthal DNA, not just white people.

  2. divadab

    Re: hospitalization of kids who ate cannabis edibles – how flipping stupid and unnecessary and hysterical. Cannabis is non-toxic – the effects of overdose from edibles can be mitigated almost immediately by drinking a pint of buttermilk as cannabinoids are lipophilic and any not absorbed will be soaked up by the fat in the buttermilk. And the best approach is to sleep it off. When you wake up, no hangover, no bad stomach, just a lesson learned about dosage. Admittedly the panic from OD’ing in cannabis can be a bit hard to take but taking a walk with a friend in a safe environment is the best medicine.

    1. BillK

      This is America, remember. The officials involved had to make sure there were no grounds for parents legal actions for damages for lack of care. And also the medical / pharma industry has to keep their profits growing. As Goldman analysts once commented ‘Is curing patients a sustainable business model?’ Obviously not. What we would really, really like are illnesses which require ongoing treatments or medications.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Whatever happened to give um a bag of Doritos and put on dark Side of The Moon or Led Zep. Spiked gummies should have this kind of sponsor right on the package these days.

          1. Hepativore

            I am partial to the Wish You Were Here album by Pink Floyd. The Shine On You Crazy Diamond suite blows my mind even to this day. Welcome to the Machine is not bad, either in all of its 1970’s-era synth goodness.

              1. Hepativore

                Oh, yes, who can forget the Piper At the Gates of Dawn album? It is a reminder of what could have been had Syd Barret not gone insane. Still, I do not think it was entirely the fault of LSD useage, as he was about the age when schizophrenia manifests itself in people who are predisposed to it which would have probably happened whether or not he indulged in psychedelics. It probably did not help, though.

                If I had to pick a favorite track on the album, it would be Lucifer Sam, with the James Bondesque guitar intro and floaty organ chorus. Matilda Mother is also noteworthy for how bizarre it is.

        1. ShamanicFallout

          Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane. One to ‘take you down’ the other to clean your mind like a wind on a bright spring day

      2. divadab

        @Bill K – yes you are right they are bound by quite demanding rules, the failure to comply with could result in damage to career.

      1. Lord Koos

        Meh — practically anything can be toxic if you take too much of it. Cannabis is fairly safe, although just like alcohol (which is far more dangerous and is everywhere), you want to keep it away from the kids.

        1. barefoot charley

          Yes, the problem with commercial cannabis is exactly that of commercial alcohol a few hundred years ago: chronic users set the standard for casual users, with unhappy results. In olden days ale drinkers resorted to cheaper gin joints, which were more appropriate for serious alcoholics. Today pot concentrates made for saturated chronic users are offered to casuals, who fairly predictable fall over from a chronic’s dose. The old 80/20 marketing rule applies: 20 percent of users consume 80 percent of product. So ale becomes gin, and pot becomes poison. Caveat toker!

          1. RUKidding

            You make a good point. Those who haven’t partaken of MJ either ever or for quite some time need to tread carefully with these new products. No doubt these kids ate something that was way to strong for their smaller bodies. Could have had some deleterious effects on them.

            1. a different chris

              Crap what comedian – uh oh, I’m afraid it was one of the now-disgraced cohort but (and I agree with the disgracing) funny is funny – said he hadn’t toked for like 10 years, and then he was standing by the bus and “some kids” were passing a joint around.

              He took his turn and did not expect what he got. At all. And he considered himself a “heavy user” in his youth.

              As a never-user, I would be totally screwed. I need to research this to meet my “when I turn 70 try everything because WTH” plan.

            2. polecat

              Well, even so-called adults, uh, um .. ‘misapply’ .. themselves, when imbibing in edibles … just take exhibit A – Maureen Dowd … Of course, SHE chased down her entire pack with a bottle of burgandy, or Rose’, or some such .. so give the little tykes SOME credit, for goodness sake !

        2. Hepativore

          In regards to marijuana, there are some health issues that I do think that people overlook. it is not cannabis itself that is the problem, but people often do not realize that smoking burning pieces of dried plant material is not the best thing in the world for your lungs, as a typical marijuana joint has several times the tar of an average cigarette. “Vaping” is less damaging to lung tissue, but it still causes irritation.

          With that being said, I have heard of pure aerosolized marijuana solution being put into inhalers like the ones used for people who take asthma medication. That strikes me as being optimal, as you do not damage your respiratory system that way. You can also make a tincture by soaking marijuana leaves in a high-proof ethanol solution like Everclear or Vodka, and then mixing it with juice and drinking it.

          1. todde

            You can also make a tincture by soaking marijuana leaves in a high-proof ethanol solution like Everclear or Vodka, and then mixing it with juice and drinking it.

            That is how we used to make hash oil. Kids these days use butane.

            1. Hepativore

              Which is also very dangerous if you are trying to boil off the butane on the stove if you want to concentrate it.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        Name one other medicine/drug with a lower toxicity. The LD50 of cannabis can’t even be calculated. Go ahead. You’re probably more likely to die from a lightning strike in your house or a car crashing through your bedroom and running you over during an “OD” situation than you are from the cannabis itself. Water overdose toxicity is more likely. Going to an ER or seeking medical intervention in response to a cannabis “OD” is risibly over-reacting.

      3. rob

        neither of those links actually say anyone was in a coma because of pot. and 6 people with heart issues are easier to find in high school sports fields.
        I know of no one ever actually dying from marijauna alone. Usually the story goes, they had thc in their system….. yada yada yada,,,, the cocaine and alcohol that was in there didn’t help either. never mind the fentanyl.
        People knocking marijauna are just inheritors of a lost wind. the “reefer madness” propaganda we all have been exposed to since the thirties.That despite real world proof to the contrary, is still being propagated by sources of bogus information playing the DEA game.the cops are the criminals, and they lie.
        And considering the high degree of safety in cannabis, as opposed to alcohol and tobacco and pharmaceuticals offered by the ton…… to every age group and demographic; only someone who has been seduced by the propaganda could come to such a conclusion on their own.
        0 deaths last year to cannabis
        70,000 or something from opioids ,PER YEAR. most sold by publicly traded pharma manufacturers… making billions in profit…… What lopsided assessment of the dangers of weed?

      1. Lord Koos

        One problem is that producers are making these cannabis candies and desserts to look like conventional sweets. Many are packaged very colorfully, exactly like products aimed at children. The industry needs to market and package this stuff to look more like medication and less like candy. They could also package the stuff in child-proof containers like prescription meds that make it difficult for young children to open.

        It is worth remembering that it’s rare for anyone to suffer long-lasting harm from a cannabis overdose. I’d like to see some stats comparing cannabis overdoses with children ingesting or being exposed to much more dangerous and more common household products.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > One problem is that producers are making these cannabis candies and desserts to look like conventional sweets.

          It’s almost like corporate involvement is going to cause a lot of problems.

          My view was always that we should optimize legalization for small growers and local sale, and forbid advertising except on-site, like a farm stand, but this is America…

      2. rob

        really, who ever overdosed? not just got too high, or was unaware they were going to get high and were “alarmed”, but who actually overdosed? I’m curious.

    2. Reader

      Depending on the dose, this could have been an extremely distressing experience for a 12-year old. I have no experience with today’s edibles but recommends that people with minimal tolerance who want to achieve strong effects start out with 5 to 15 mg of thc.

      According to the story, the gummies contained 100 mg which happens to be the upper limit on Leafly’s dosing chart and is recommended for people with high tolerance.

      There are many people who can’t use thc because it causes them severe anxiety.

      1. CitizenGuy

        When I saw the “100 mg” THC content, I assumed it referred to the content of the whole bag of candies. In Oregon, a typical bag of edibles is 55 mg and features 10 pieces. Thus each piece (a single gummy) contains a little over 5 mg of THC. Chocolate bars/cookies tend to have a bit more (10-15 mg). It would have to be a helluva gummy to contain 100 mg in a single piece.

        Still, this is an assumption. I could be mistaken. It is Florida after all…

      2. witters

        A logician once told me he couldn’t smoke dope as it “made him paranoid.” I asked how he came to know this. He said, “I got a joint from a friend, I wet all my towels and rolled them up and put them under everydoor . I pulled the blinds and tightly closed all the windows, then i locked myself in the bathroom and lit the joint…”

    3. Jeotsu

      I find my opinion on cannabis changing due to the stories I get from a good friend who is a community-health psychiatric nurse. He deals with a lot of substance abuse issues, and has seen too much psychosis and induced schizophrenia in cannabis users. He can’t see it as a harmless drug.

      For many people using pot may be relatively harmless, but for those who have an induced schizophrenia, it is utterly-life changing in a very-not-good way.

      1. Lord Koos

        While true, it’s worth noting that alcohol is likely far more damaging to both individuals and society than cannabis will ever be. I don’t know the statistics but I’d wager that your nurse friend is seeing a tiny percentage of users.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I feel we are not in the middle area at the moment, as the pendulum swings from one extreme to another…from under to over.

        Another example of going from one end to the other, similar or not at all, is the abused becoming the abuser.

      3. Roger Bigod

        The standard story for schizophrenia is that someone around age 20 starts hearing voices and/or believing that there’s a conspiracy against them. Inquiry shows that they’ve had problems relating to people for a long time. Appropriate drugs will improve matters, but they have to be taken indefinitely.

        Cannabis is often associated with anxiety and paranoid feelings, especially on the first few occasions of use. It’s a reasonable theory that individuals who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia after first use would have been diagnosed sooner or later. IOW, cannabis precipitates the first breakdown, but doesn’t cause schizophrenia.

        It’s possible that by precipitating the first attack, cannabis may cause the individual to get help sooner. But there’s no practical way to test this.

        1. berit

          The standard story for “schizophrenia” serves the guild of standard psychiatrists and their brethren in Big Pharma. The constructed label was invented a hundred years ago in order to give psychiatry a scientific veneer, by Emil Kraepelin and Manfred Bleuler. During WWII the label was a death sentence in most of nazi-occupied Europe, as brainwashed, unscientific doctors and psychiatrists sought to purify the “arian race” by killing off whoever did not conform to their perverted views of humanity. “Schizophrenia” is an invalid, unreliable, unscientific, stigmatizing and deadly construct. It should be buried. Psychosis is a usable, descriptive concept for extreme states of being outside commonly shared reality. Several Asian countries have ditched the stigmatizing label, Japan leading the way.

      4. rob

        In a community psychiatric setting, everyone there has an issue right. How many have had a glass of milk before they got there. Was it the milk who caused their issue?

      5. Roger Bigod

        I notice that you used the phrase “induced schizophrenia” twice. This seems to be a sneaky way to advance the argument that cannabis _causes_ schizophrenia in an otherwise normal person.

        The bogosity of this is apparent from a little common sense applied to public information. We have a good idea of the prevalence of schizophrenia back in the 1950’s. Among other reasons, that’s when the potent anti-schizophrenia drugs were introduced. We also have a rough idea of the amount of cannabis consumed in the 1950’s. Close to zero, and mostly in minority ethnic groups. Beginning in the 1950’s pot use exploded and is probably 10 times the level of the 1950’s. If there were a corresponding rise in the rate of schizophrenia, we’d have heard of it long ago.

        Clearly there’s no such thing as “induced schizophrenia”. There may be people on the verge of a first schizophrenic episode whose onset was hastened by cannabis, but this is not causation.

  3. Lee

    Google image searches for antidote photos are a constant source of amusement. Google’s best guess on today’s birdie pic had at the top of the page the Wikipedia article on concrete.

    “People worry that computers will get too smart and take over the world, but the real problem is that they’re too stupid and they’ve already taken over the world.”

    ― Pedro Domingos

    1. Craig H.

      It’s a raptor. It has an arctic coloration. (If there are Antarctic raptors I have not heard of them.) So it’s something like a Finland snow falcon. (I invented this name and eagerly look forward to being corrected.)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          This is one of the interesting sections from the page:

          In the 12th century AD China, swan-hunting with gyrfalcons (海东青 hǎidōngqīng in Chinese) obtained from the Jurchen tribes became fashionable among the Khitan nobility. When demand for gyrfalcons exceeded supply, the Liao Emperor imposed a tax payment-in-kind of gyrfalcons on the Jurchen; under the last Liao emperor, tax collectors were entitled to use force to procure sufficient gyrfalcons. This was one cause of the Jurchen rebellion, whose leader Aguda annihilated the Liao empire in 1125, and established the Jin dynasty in its stead.[30]

          There are jade pieces from the LIao dynasty depicting a small gyrfalcon attacking a bigger, fatter duck.

          The meaning to them was quite clear – the smaller gyrfalcon is the Jurchen state, and the bigger, fatter duck is China.

          That tradition or belief continued with the descendants of the Jurchens – the Manchus (who finally conquered all of China, something the Jurchens failed to do). The Last Manchu Emperor Fuyi mentioned the gyrfalcon as their tribal totemic bird.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              You’re welcome. I have learned so much, I figure I should give bakc some when I can.

              I want to also add that the earliestmentione of the gyrfalcon in any Chinese writing is in a very ancient document called the Classic of Mountains and Seas.

    2. Barry

      Except – when you look at the images that Google found – the most detailed one has the description
      ¨SELECTIVE FOCUS PHOTO OF WHITE AND BLACK HAWK PERCHING ON GRAY CONCRETE PAVEMENT¨ and when you look closely you can see that the birdś feet are on concrete. I don´t know why it gave the emphasis to concrete rather than hawk

      1. audrey jr

        My favorite bit in the article on chipping humans is near the end of the piece – in which chipped employees are referred to as ‘data subjects.’ Wowsers.

  4. Christopher Dale Rogers

    Quick comment on “EU Doctors Quit Britain as Brexit Looms WSJ”, which is also doing the rounds on Social media in the UK presently.

    As a Lexit voter, the Tory Policy of holding EU nationals hostage in their negotiations with Brussels has been shameful and brings my nation into disrepute.

    Any decent government, when the result of the EU Ref was known, should have stated clearly that any person legally within the UK’s status would not change whatsoever, indeed, a sensible Government would have instead stated clearly that all persons legally working within the UK, but not UK citizens, would gain an indefinite right to remain, with the option of electing to become a full UK citizen if desired, which is what Corbyn would have done if PM, instead we’ve had the horrors of Ms May and her detestation of anyone not British and not residing in the Home Counties.

    For the record Ms May’s immigration policies, which she implemented as Home Secretary have blighted my family and made life a living misery – if it were not for Ms May and the racist Tory Party i’d be back living in the UK with my non-EU wife, instead I’m stuck in limbo preying for a Corbyn Government.

    1. Summer

      Corbyn is only going to be as good as the Labour Party around him.
      You’ve got a lot of praying to do.

      1. Christopher Dale Rogers


        Despite living 6000 miles from the action, I’ve managed to be a highly active supporter of Corbyn, been involved directly with many twitter campaigns and actually did one month in the UK before the last election voter registering and batting for Corbyn in South Wales – whilst the bulk of the PLP may oppose the Corbyn project, 500K members are fully behind him and working diligently for a Labour Government. And we may be very close indeed, for if Ms May fails to deliver the full legal advice her administration has been given with regards her Brexit deal Labour can force a GE with a 50% plus one vote of no confidence against Ms May – the Fixed term parliamentary Act not being as watertight as the MSM would have many believe. And that really would make a great Christmas present, namely Corbyn in Number 10 leading a minority Labour Administration until another General Election after the New Year.

        1. ambrit

          Be careful what you wish for.
          Labour does not want to be in power when the full horror of Brexit hits the U.K. public.
          As example; Obama, for all his faults, got saddled, willingly no doubt, with ‘Romneycare,’ which was really ‘Heritage Foundation Care.’ It was rebranded as ‘Obamacare.’ The damage to the Democrat Parties reputation will linger on for a generation, even though the base plan was a Reactionary Republican production. The same could happen to Labour with Brexit.
          At this point in the game, it looks like the end result of the Brexit fiasco is now set. Labour should stay as far away from this as it can. “The Horror! The Horror!”

          1. Lambert Strether

            > Labour does not want to be in power when the full horror of Brexit hits the U.K. public.

            In danger, opportunity. FDR did pretty well. It would be useful if Corbyn, or Labour as a whole, could rise to the occasion in a similar fashion.

          2. Anonymal

            Wow what a revision of history here… his celebrated and the crowning DNC achievement (perhaps apart from the detention camps/child separation at the border), suddenly not a DNC thing but Romneycare?

            Pathetic, I’m no GOP fan, but to claim that the DNC gives a hoot about anything but power is hilarious.

        2. jonhoops

          Does Labour really want the Brexit Tar Baby. Might be better to let the Tories fully own Brexit and its consequences.

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, CDR.

      I am sorry to hear of your family’s shameful treatment. I first read about it years ago when you used to comment at the Guardian and we met in HK and hoped that things would get better.

      1. Christopher Dale Rogers


        Thanks for your concern, and whilst I certainly suffer being separated from my now elderly parents, my daughter has been treated with much decency in Hong Kong – our local Primary School has been brilliant and she’s thus far had an excellent education. alas, had she attended a Welsh Medium school in my own little country I’d have said the same. That it was Ms May that prevented my own flesh and blood learning her own language, namely Welsh, has filled me with much anger, hence my support for Corbyn and a decent UK we can all be proud of.

        1. ChristopherJ

          Sorry to hear, Christopher. It will take all of Corbyn’s skills to win, let alone bring the changes that workers in the UK have been praying for for many years. He may have the backing of the majority of the grass roots membership, but he has many enemies within his own party.
          As a scouser, I retain much of my Englishness and only wish Australian Labor politicians had their focus on workers like your JC. Good luck to you.

  5. David

    As regards the identity of the Paris rioters, Le Parisien had an analysis of the 380 who were arrested on the net yesterday. If you don’t read French you’ll get a sense from the graphics of what went on.
    In essence, and making due allowance for some experienced rioters being able to evade the police more easily, it looks like most of those arrested are “gilets jaunes”, often young, usually from the provinces and with no previous involvement in actions of this kind. According to the police, there were some extreme rightists present in the morning, but they were rapidly dispersed. Groups of ultra-left demonstrators appeared later, and seem to be at the forefront of most of the actual damage. The GJ seem to have stayed away from direct confrontation with the police. Finally, there was a certain amount of opportunistic looting by individuals with no political agenda. So in essence this was part of a popular uprising, not linked to any special political tendency.

    1. Wukchumni

      From what I saw most invested in yellow were casseurs blanca.

      It’d be as if the Rodney King rioters were all WASP’s…

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks for that information David – I must admit my first reaction to the gilets jaunes was scepticism – it seemed odd and a little suspicious to me that a relatively minor tax on fuel would provoke a strong response than Macrons other actions. But it does seem a pretty genuine reaction, but its so unfocused its inevitably drawn in nearly everyone with a grievance, which in France always seems a very long list. Such unfocused reactions have a general tendency to burn out pretty quickly unless leaders do something stupid.

      Its unfortunate though in that it will make other leaders think twice about fuel taxes.

    3. DJG

      Thanks, David. The article is almost a textbook case of French logic. The analysis of the various “strate” is remarkable (even that rather hamhanded infographic).

      The article asserts that some of the pillagers / looters came from “les banlieus.”

      This assessment, from a higher-up police official is worth quoting here:

      « Ce qui est réellement surprenant, c’est cette rage qui pousse ces pères de famille, souvent sans antécédents judiciaires, à vouloir casser du flic, à s’en prendre à des gens qui pourraient être leurs voisins de palier, poursuit le commissaire. A l’évidence, le mouvement des Gilets jaunes se radicalise. »

      La rage. That famous French rage that during the Middle Ages and Renaissance used to terrify the Spanish and the Italians when French knights and footsoldiers would pour into their countries. When Americans talk about such things happening here, they don’t account for how different France is from the U S of A: France is a famously orderly country that now and then engages in days of rage unheard of in “let’s get along” America.

      1. Wukchumni

        I mentioned just how common the Vietnam War protests were in the USA yesterday, with no internet to easily pull people together en masse, but it wasn’t an issue as tens or hundreds of thousands made it happen repeatedly over a 5 year period.

        We used to be world class, but the powers that be have largely stifled protest and/or it’s been limited in scope such as the Rodney King Riots, where the rioting, burning and pillaging was done almost in entirety by those living in the areas burned out.

        We do silly ineffectual protests now for the most part, can anybody remember what the pink pussy hat brigade marched for?

        It seems to me that unlike France, the pressure cooker here is constantly building up steam, with no release valve.

        1. Tom Doak

          You might add that the Vietnam War protests came on the back of the Civil Rights riots of 1967-68, where young people saw firsthand just how much destruction would be tolerated, and what police reaction could be expected.

          Without others doing that trial run, I wonder if the Vietnam protests could have gone as far as they did?

        2. neo-realist

          There were quite a few Iraq War demonstrations in the early to mid 2000’s, but corporate media (As a strategy to dampen dissent in all likelihood) gave little to no attention to those protests.

          Nowadays, a lot of people blow off steam on the political situation via twitter and facebook.

          1. Wukchumni

            I was one of perhaps a quarter of million people on the streets of San Francisco in protest against the potential of a war with Iraq-a month before shock & awe, and virtually all of the press coverage was in regards to a plate glass window or 2 that some hooligan threw a rock through.

              1. The Rev Kev

                I read that Facebook is doing its part – by blocking protesters so that they have been using Telegram instead. Have not heard much what is happening with social media and the protests nor the media itself. I saw a foto of a French new-stand during the election Macron got in and his name and face was on virtually every newspaper bar one. I wonder how they are reporting on these riots in their own country now. An Irish writer wrote how when these riots are in places like Libya Syria Iran & Ukraine then these people are fighting for freedom but when it is in one of the western countries, then it is a matter of law and order.

          1. VietnamVet

            Also, the lottery was introduced. But, most importantly, Dick Nixon started the pullout from Vietnam. I got an early out in September 1971 because so many had returned that I was surplus. I am convinced that Watergate was the Intelligence Community response to having their rice bowls broken. We are now 17 years into an even more pointless war. Military Contractors learned their lessons: No draft. Joblessness. Surveillance. Jail. Propaganda.

        3. Left in Wisconsin

          One of the most depressing features of contemporary USA is the complete absence of meaningful social protest on college campuses. And I agree that the end of the draft – and now the decades that have transpired since, expunging all historical memory – was probably a large factor.

          On my local campus, which has a long proud history of social protest, there is now NO MASS PROTEST over anything. My observational conclusion is that the vast majority of the student body has been raised neoliberally – that is to say, with an ingrained competitive rather than cooperative outlook and also with an excessively large sense of (individual) self. This is why the protest that does emerge – mostly about identity, a bit on sexual assault, a tiny bit a few years back on the awful working conditions in Asian factories making university-branded apparel – is of the liberal rather than the socialist sort, even among self-identified (but probably delusional) student socialists.

          1. ChristopherJ

            Well said LIW, competitive not cooperative. Part and parcel of a paid for education.

            Is why Aussie students aren’t going to get up over anything. Life’s too much of a struggle to protest about any of it

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            During the 60s and 70s, America was a rich country with jobs for any college grad who wanted one eventually. People could protest, march, etc. without fear of being branded unhireable for life.

            Nowadays, with many students competing for each post-college job, how many students would dare risk a lifetime of sleeping under Bill Clinton’s bridge to the 21st Century for the passing pleasure of protestery or activism in college?

            The Old Nostalgia Left should think about the Fear of Not Even Surviving which is the current Grid Matrix Forcefield which today’s young people of today grow up in.

            1. Left in Wisconsin

              Agreed. Interestingly, though, many of these same students are more than willing to post “exploits” on social media that might well be employment-disqualifying. So it’s not just fear.

      2. Alfred

        May I offer a loose translation of the passage quoted in French? “What’s truly surprising is the rage that drives these family men, few of whom have police records, to want to bash some cops, to take it out on folks who could well be their neighbors across the hall, the official continued. It looks like the Yellow Jackets are getting radicalized [literally: radicalizing themselves].”

    4. DJG

      David, if I may add, an analysis / interview from Libération, which editorially has been somewhat circumspect with regard to les Gilet Jaunes:

      Again, violence in French popular movements–back to the Middle Ages. Noiriel explains why the issue isn’t just a tax on diesel fuel and motorcars. It is the unfairness of the tax itself.

      Noiriel also talks about some notable weaknesses of Macron: Macron has no understanding of the working / middle classes because of his own privileged background and because he didn’t serve as an elected official. Macron, thus, has little feel for “retail politics.” Also, Noiriel has some interesting things to say about the role of social media in Macron’s campaign and Macron’s self-creation along with how social media helped to create le Gilet Jaunes outside the party system.

      I’m not sure about the last paragraph on arts and spectacle. Someone who is French may have to guide us.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        Please note that the main investor in Liberation was Macron’s boss when the pair were banksters. The former boss now runs horse racing, having succeeded his elder brother. Macron dined with the racing pair at Deauville a month ago. The racing pair are more likely to meet working and middle class people, if only their employees in Normandy and Bordeaux, than Macron.

      2. David

        I gave up Libération in disgust a few years ago, and I confess I haven’t looked at its site this week. This article is actually quite sensible, even if it gives the impression of an anthropologist being solemnly asked about a new tribe – ordinary people – who have just been discovered. The last paragraph is a bit complicated and has to do with disputes in the arts world in recent years, as well as referring back to Guy Debord and 1968. What he’s saying, I think, is that the GJ can go one of two ways, either towards a kind of counter-culture with an alternative model of society, or towards violent confrontation. The problem is that historically, as Noiriel himself acknowledges, it’s probably the response of the State that’s going to decide what happens. If it reacts with violence then violence is what it will get in return. You don’t push the French around easily.

        1. barefoot charley

          Liberation two days ago had a fascinating piece on its mid-week nationwide poll, which showed 80 percent support for their protests across the country. Against were only Parisians and other rich.

          nb: Paris was immunized against revolution after the 1870 Commune was slaughtered by eliminating local government until enough proles were driven from the central city. Now they’re replaced by tourists and yuppies, and Paris is safe for a mayor. (The first one in 105 years was Jacque Chirac, who went on to become a conservative President.) Liberation too has gone yuppie, so I was glad to see some sympathy for reality there.

          1. Bugs Bunny

            Libération is a useless paper aimed at Parisian bobos but what really gets me worked up about it is the despicable quality of the reporting and writing. It’s hard to read an issue without getting seriously angry about the lack of editing and obvious plagiarism from English-language media (such as running an identical story but just translating it – and sometimes misunderstanding the original!).

            I haven’t been in the city yet but will write something tomorrow or Wednesday in the comments.

            Today’s BFMTV reporting was on the “shocked residents” of the swell neighborhoods where the clashes and rioting took place. No comment.

  6. Richard

    Re: Wisconsin’s democracy…this appears to be a trend. They are doing the same in Michigan.

    “With Democrats set to take over top statewide offices next year, Michigan Republicans are considering proposals that would allow the Legislature to intervene in legal battles and shift oversight of the state’s campaign finance law to a new commission.

    The lame-duck power plays would limit the power of Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Democrats have not held all three posts since 1990.”

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Their side plays to win. According to news reports, the incoming Wisconsin Gov and AG are asking people to “contact their legislator” and register their opposition to these efforts intended to “thwart the will of the voters” and “hamstring efforts” to repair some of the damage of the last 8 years (3 decades).

      No evidence yet that our side plays to win.

    2. HotFlash

      Lemme see, would the MI state govt be at all worried about being sued by Flint residents?

      Agree, it’s ALEC and others. In the ’60’s MI was pretty blue, what with all those union autoworkers, then the Powell memo laid out a plan for Patricians to organize.

      Justice Powell, (Democrat, by the way), offended and perhaps frightened by all that hippie wrong-thinking, zeroed in on ‘liberal’ universities and press. He recommended that businessmen, through the Chamber of Commerce, fund think tanks to develop and issue business-friendly policy papers, aimed at legislators, businessmen and the press, make endowments to universities and colleges so that college graduates would, um, have their minds right, and institute speakers bureaus spread the word. The first think tank to be set up under this plan was the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, slogan “Advancing Liberty and Opportunity”. Could the Port Huron Statement have influenced that venue for First Tank? Perhaps.

      Joe Hill was right, but it was them who organized, not us.

  7. Amfortas the hippie

    Re: Naomi Klein:
    I am weary of the perfunctory dragging of racism into every damned thing:

    “….Activist Gus Newport, who was mayor of Berkeley, Calif., from 1979 to 1986, told the panelists that the name “Green New Deal” gives him concern because “redlining came out of the New Deal,” referring to the practice of racial discrimination in mortgage lending.”

    The past was imperfect, and Jefferson owned human beings…the implication being…what?
    How about “let’s do better this time”? or “let us act as if we’ve learned a thing or two in 80 years”?
    I admit that I’m a little raw from learning that “Baby it’s cold outside” was banned from radio, somewhere, due to very large toes, and a desire to scrub all of history.
    But we are faced with very large, interconnected problems that threaten everyone…to so narrowly parse who is to be an ally is foolish.
    For 3+ years, I’ve been warning the Team Blue hordes that this perfection they seek…this orthodoxy…is a recipe for 300 million parties of one…and therefore powerlessness before the organised and ruthless Machine.
    It’s almost funny that they turn around and lambaste me(and the Sanders Wing in general) for being perfectionists.
    I sincerely hope that Maureen Dowd…newly reborn as a curmudgeon…is right, and that the whole Clintonist nonsense is dying out at last.

    1. Summer

      “I sincerely hope that Maureen Dowd…newly reborn as a curmudgeon…is right, and that the whole Clintonist nonsense is dying out at last.”

      Partly a reference to her article about the Clinton book tour stop in Canada.

      But does third-way Clintonist, neoliberal nonsense die – or just rebrand? They love branding and rebranding and branding some more….Did I mention branding?
      Michelle Obama sold out the Forum on Thursday night, the second stop of a book tour that will take her through 12 cities. Fans clutched Obama’s new book “Becoming” like it was a sacred text.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Michelle might “run” so to speak, but she’s not HRC and hasn’t been scrutinized in any way. She’s officially pro-planting vegetable gardens as long as she has a staff to do it I guess.

        What is particularly telling is the people who weren’t 18 in 2000 for Gore simply didn’t vote for HRC in 2008 or 2016 in both primary seasons. There is a drop off between the 18 year olds from 1996 to the ones in 2000 in their support for the Clintons.

        Obama ran as a “change” candidate officially, and then of course, there was Sanders. Obama was a television candidate. I don’t know how well he would do as more people receive news from social media where its harder for him to control what is put out or in the absence of a Hindenburg candidacy. How would the Harper’s magazine article (about a cool but obviously corrupt Springfield State Senator) have spread today versus 2007?

        There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. An example of the “soaring” rhetoric of the Great Orator of the Age. Its also stupid.

        How does this speech fair on twitter now versus 2004?

        1. neo-realist

          I don’t think Michelle has any interest in being President in any way shape or form. But I do believe she wants to be a “celebrity”, an Oprah 2.0. Book Deals, TV and Film deals, speaking engagements. Just pushing her brand and cashing out.

          1. Summer

            This from the nation article:
            AW: That was my thought. This is a carefully scrubbed book. She’s left so much politics out. Who does that? Who leaves politics out of what they say? Politicians do. I concluded that she’s running for office and with this book she’s kind of clearing the stage. It’s true that, at the end, she says, “I have no intention of running for office. Ever.” But do I believe that? Not from reading this book.”

            And her childhood included being friends with the Jesse Jackson family as he ran for President.
            And more politcs all day with her father’s role in Chicago politics.

            She’s running for something. Maybe not now.
            The scrub down of this book at least indicates her importance as a mjor fundraiser for establishment Democrats.

        2. Summer

          You probably won’t read the book. Neither will I.
          But that nation article is a WoWser.

          Even if she doesn’t run for any office,Michelle O will be a mjaor fundraiser for the Democratic Party establishment for years to come.
          Hence the scrubbing of politics in this book.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            She will try to scrub politics, but Sanders didn’t make headway because he’s a cult figure. People want real answers more now than ever.

            I made the mistake of reading both of Obama’s books.Its a couple of hours of my life I feel Obama owes me. At least I borrowed the books.

            1. Summer

              But that book is designed to get donations and votes from people who think more about shopping than politics.
              That’s a lot of votes and donations.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                “think more about shopping”

                I got to tell you the weak economy plays here. People aren’t shopping when their healthcare premiums spike. This will play in certain places, but HRC had a real celebrity going for her as at least she has held jobs where she might impress after living in the White House where she was an active participant. She didn’t dance on late night shows as much as advocated for policies or even (though mishandled) did oversee major concerns of the Administration. HRC might not be Eleanor or Dolly Madison, but except for a traffic fatality, Michelle is Laura Bush. Tell me about her. She’s a nice lady.

                I actually HRC could have gone down to Arkansas and played for the 2002 seat and been a real voice force for change. “Mom dancing” on Jimmy Fallon won’t hold up.

                Bernie Sanders had a number of structural problems, but still made a credible challenge against the entire Washington establishment. If the economy was even remotely decent, HRC might have won 40 states.

                Buying the Michelle book is closer to a sign of desperation for some kind of divine revelation.

        3. Summer

          And you have to remember that Obama ran with a scrubbed background and positioning himself as not HRC (then immediately hired a staff full of Clinton U alumni).

      2. Lambert Strether

        > But does third-way Clintonist, neoliberal nonsense die – or just rebrand?

        Rebrand. That’s what the pink pussy hats and especially Indivisible are all about.

        The Democrat center of gravity shifted conservative in the mid-terms — despite powerful individual voices like AOC. That’s what selecting and electing all those MILOs was about. Ditto Pelosi re-upping PayGo and proposing a supermajority for tax bills. Red meat for suburban professionals.

    2. Carolinian

      If your baseline premise is that the world is divided up into good and bad people as opposed to good and bad actions then naturally someone like Jefferson has to be cast into the outer darkness by musicals named Hamilton and the New Deal viewed as a racist plot.

    3. JBird4049

      For 3+ years, I’ve been warning the Team Blue hordes that this perfection they seek…this orthodoxy…is a recipe for 300 million parties of one…and therefore powerlessness before the organised and ruthless Machine.

      We used to be world class, but the powers that be have largely stifled protest and/or it’s been limited in scope such as the Rodney King Riots, where the rioting, burning and pillaging was done almost in entirety by those living in the areas burned out.

      It seems to me that unlike France, the pressure cooker here is constantly building up steam, with no release valve.

      Wukchumni and Amfortas,
      to quote JFK, those who make peaceful change possible, make revolution inevitable. The various riots and protests in the 60s were the result of some serious pressure buildup especially with the century of black repression with the Vietnam War insanity being piggybacked onto it. Add the politicians, the police and intelligence agencies overreaction and cities burned. Thing is, the economy was in much, much better shape, and the government, especially the federal government, was more functional. Today the economy is melting and devolving into an feudal like, pre-capitalist society, the various levels of government are being very dysfunctional for various reasons, and the evolving police state is becoming more militarized, violent, and incompetent itself.

      If the various powers that be were willing to push forward with any reforms, the upcoming fun and games would either be reduced or prevented altogether as most Americans are not anxious to have a civil war, which I think is possible. It almost certain to be at least civil unrest because TPTB are some combination of too scare, too arrogant, too stupid, or just foolish and will demand a cramming down of the lid. Of course, the very poverty and governmental incompetence that they created is creating the very explosive pressure and the defective lid being used.

      All of this is easily seeable if one just did a little serious study of history but since their position depends on them not seeing it, I guess they are actively avoiding history books.

      1. KPC

        You horribly misquote.

        President Kennedy said “those who make peaceful change IMpossible, make revolution inevitable”. Emphasis mine.

        Errors like these especially on this web site are a very big part of the problem.

        President Kennedy’s words here are greatness. They are leadership. They are leading to greater peace and grace especially in this season.

        Minimally, the real human editors here need to pay a little more attention and I say this respect. This is not easy.

    4. KPC

      Sir, THANK YOU!

      You are a breath of reason in a sea of chaos.

      Definitely late to this thread but, again, thank you.

      For those of us directly working on this mess, bless you, again. Exhausting but you energize.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      The broader Clintonite Movement is looking for new young Clinton-figures to pick up the fallen standard.
      Clintonist nonsense won’t die out on its own. It will have to be killed.

  8. John

    “Let them drive Teslas” should be Macron’s slogan. France’s elite have a history the current crowd should read more closely.

    1. Lee

      France’s elite have a history the current crowd should read more closely.

      Likewise, the French people have a history that the current elites should read more closely.

    2. flora

      imo, the entire “balanced budgets, no deficits” fettish by central banks on national spending results in Pay-go economics in the US, UK and Eurozone. Pay-go, imo, is a trick designed to funnel money upward without raising interest rates; rising interest rates might cause a fall in asset values, most of which are owned by a very narrow slice of the super-wealthy, the billionaire set. So, give tax cuts to billionaires or big business, or run endless expensive military adventures and then, per Pay-go, “pay” for these budget “holes” by cutting social services for the many, or raising sales tax, or raising retirement age and cutting pensions, etc.

      It’s a clever trick “justified” by the asserted unquestionable importance (never mind who asserts this) of balancing the national budgets…. if France or UK or US are a Zimbabwe-in-waiting. And, no, the national budget is NOT like a household budget; you’d never know the national budget is completely different from a household budget if you listen to market captured politicians.

      /end rant

      1. flora

        adding: the US state of Kansas’ failed economic “real time experiment” should be learning point for politicians, imo.

      2. flora

        adding : Assuming for argument’s sake that the national/central bank budget is like a household budget (it’s not), why should the rich and the markets escape the shared burden of budget reconciliation? Why should normal market signals be suppressed to make everything look rosy? They shouldn’t; that’s the tell that national Pay-go is voodoo economics.

      3. KPC

        Madam, could we please try generational accounting?

        MONEY is nothing more nor less than the conveyancing system?

        1. KPC

          We sometimes use MONEY as the measuring stick.

          And when one tries to restore this office with both metric and imperial measuring sticks – as Roger the Santo of Cement… .

          When MONEY divorces from value, let us in Central and South explain this gig … all Hades breaks loose and that dollar is not immune.

          1. KPC

            Flora, someday I would be honored to do so. Perhaps now. But to do justice is a bit more than comments on a blog. This gets into one of my doctoral thesis.

            The St. Louis Fed published a paper back in maybe 2003 using that as its title. I have been trying to find it. I have no clue… . If you do or can find it, I would be very grateful. I have to teach this stuff too…we have the internship program back up and running.

            It discusses all of these issues with which you struggle on this web site and a few more on MMT. I find this perplexing as Ms. Smith is really brilliant in this area, if I read correctly. MMT is printing money and you better believe USA can do this and has and is. Furthermore, apparently, people have lost sight of the fact that other nation states can and do print USA dollar without your permission?

            We need to do and it is happening what is called by some “reset” which is jarring but it can help. I am one of the few who has actually done this and It was not in USA. We did a light version here in the land of Law and Diplomacy in Central America just a month ago.

            I would happy to engage. My initials are real. So, if Ms. Smith or someone wants to send you my e-mail address or even telephone, it really might be welcomed?

            1. flora

              Thank you for your reply.
              If I read your comment correctly, you are talking about fiat currency and inflation. My point is not about fiat currency. My point is about the process by which politicians and economists and central banks have setup a system that funnels money upward and pays for the redistribution by cutting govt spending into the real economy, using the excuse that spending into the real economy must be cut to preventing inflation, thus hurting Main Street. It’s a question of fairness and democratic process vs govt manufactured rising economic inequality, imo.

              The fiat currency issue is a different discussion.

              1. KPC

                Flora, you misunderstand money. And I mean this with great respect.

                I also understand your true genuine and appropriate concerns.

                Money is how we convey that which we need and want, one from and to the other. If one “gets a lock” on the conveyancing system, there are, indeed, easily great crimes. But this is not the issue you wish to address in a kind, thoughtful and appropriate manner.

                This gets into issues of the millinial charge to us human beings to be good stewards of both labor and capital. Das Kapital is planet earth.

                So, to go to your public pension system known as Social Security, it can be properly and thoughtfully corrected with grace and peace. We did this when we correcedt the FORMER USSR and it worked. We did this in the unification of the Germanies, the portion upon which I worked. And it worked to fairness and justice.

                No one, no single soul, gets it all. There are limits in this temporal world. There limits for us all.

                This is reset. It can be done.

                But it is not done via the conveyancing system or mere money. There most assured are issues which need to be addressed. Never ever doubt.

                But this issue you speak to so properly and, dare I suggest, spiritually in your way, is done generationally and can get to such extraordinary results. I know this. We know this. It can be a bit rough. This is truth.

                But it can be done. There are, indeed, solutions.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Why this country parcels babies in boxes”

    This is absolutely brilliant and I have read about it before. In fact, it was mentioned on NC a coupla years ago. As you can guess, expecting mothers and fathers eagerly open them up to see what they contain and they have become part of family tradition over the generations. I wish that more countries adopted this idea. For those curious, here is what is in this years box with images included-

    Come to think about it, they seem to do a pretty good job with education too. I have a file on my computer called “What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success” which is also worth reading though several years old. It can be found at-

    1. DJG

      Rev Kev: Both the Finnish baby boxes and the article about money over love renind me to recommend once again Anu Partanen’s insightful book, The Nordic Theory of Everything. She discusses the history of the baby boxes, which go back to a time when poverty was prevalent in much of Finland.

      She also has some excellent observations about how her U.S. female friends seem unduly preoccupied with marrying men who are “good providers” financially. She is a writer and her husband is a writer, so neither is a great provider, which brought the problem to the fore for her.

      The Finns, being more egalitarian, now marry for love (although it is hard indeed to imagine a whole bunch of romantic Finns). Partanen writes about how the Scandivanian countries prize independence–but Americans, for all of their talk of being fiercely independent, are confined by the classes, by their company-provided health insurance (if they get it), and by their company-provided 401k programs (the financial scam of the past fifty years).

      1. JohnnyGL

        “She also has some excellent observations about how her U.S. female friends seem unduly preoccupied with marrying men who are “good providers” financially. “
        — Well, I’d consider this evidence that people adapt to their environment.

        Of course, the flip side of masses of insecure, somewhat impoverished people is a small-ish number of wealthy, propertied-class members who keep to themselves because they feel like everyone in the ‘real world’ they encounter is looking at them as a meal-ticket. They’re not entirely wrong, but I can see how it’d make the wealthy more paranoid and inclined to close themselves off within their own citadels.

        This, of course, is a terrible feedback loop over time for a society to cope with.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We have an over-population problem.

      On the one hand, we should welcome those who are coming into this world, and the box is very thoughtful, on the other hand, shouldn’t there be a box for those who decide to go childless?

      1. HotFlash

        Don’t need a box, thank you. But free contraception for all, and, if needed, abortion on request, might be a good alternative. Would that work for you?

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘Video of French police taking off helmets in solidarity with yellow vest protestors’

      When you have lost the support of le Flic…

  10. Summer

    Re: OBL Grievances

    “The U.S. military remains mired in wars across the Greater Middle East that have now entered their 18th year.”

    I started to read and stopped. Why continue with this frame of it being a military folly?
    It is corporate business ventures, including contractors, with the US military and other militaries as partners that has continued for all these years and more.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Despite CRISPR baby controversy, Harvard University will begin gene-editing sperm”

    Now this one is a bit of a worry. I suspect that any treatments found would be only those who could afford it. and not for the common mopes. That is how you seal a legacy for a wealthy family. When you go to have a baby, it would be like that scene from the film “Gattaca”-

    As to their claims ‘What if a new killer virus arises and sweeps the world?’, this is reckless beyond belief and that scientist must know it. OK, suppose you do some genetic editing so that never again will humankind be ever afflicted by the plague again. Great! Wonderful! That is until you discover that the genes that you edited out also kept worse diseases at bay but were not obvious. But they have been edited out now so now you are stuffed. A weakness is not always necessarily a weakness.
    I believe that lots of blacks in America have sickle-shaped cells which is not all that great. That is, until you remember that this arose in Africa as a defense against malaria ( This is good until you remember that there is not that much malaria in America and this mutation leaves them more susceptible to HIV infection. Having said that, it also increases the survival of these HIV patients by an average of two years. See? It is just not that simple. This. Will. Not. End. Well.

    1. savedbyirony

      Bright Born babies for the 1%. (I love the series “Orphan Black”, in which it’s also selective sterilization for a large population of the mopes.)

  12. Summer

    Re: The Problem With “Democracy” Isn’t Gerrymandering, It’s Integers…

    All that math and it didn’t occur to him that only 2 parties could never provide the representation needed. No acknowledgement that his half- Republican, half Democrat set up ignores that the majority of registered voters do not claim D or R. Democrats and Republicans re the majority of candidates, not voters.
    Integer THAT.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Hear hear. And that neither major existing party has any obligation to represent whatsoever. The exception of course – representing their rich owners.

    2. drb48

      Also fails to deal with the Senate – a far bigger problem than gerrymandering in the house. Or the fact that most legislation originates on K Street. The problem with our “democracy” is that it isn’t one and no amount of fiddling with integers will fix that.

    3. Ed

      If the author of the Forbes article can do all that fancy math, you would think he would have heard of the “single transferable vote”.

      However, the article completely misses the point. The main problem with gerrymandering is politicians drawing the lines to benefit other politicians, or themselves. The secondary problem is that the lines are not intuitive to voters and break up communities of interest. Independent authorities drawing the lines largely solve this, both outside the USA where this is the norm and inside the USA in the states that have instituted them. The issue is not really that complicated.

      On a nationwide basis, the overall composition of the House of Representatives usually winds up being more proportional than you would think due to there only being two parties. There still actually have been only a few cases of one party winning the nationwide popular vote for the House and winding up in the minority. The effectiveness of partisan gerrymandering (the practice actually is mostly incumbent protection) tends to fade the further you get from the Census used to institute the gerrymander, so the victim party tends to gain against the scheme in the elections at the end of the decade.

      Of course, the two party duopoly itself limits voters options. However, its maintained primarily by the unholy trinity of ballot access laws, the elections being administered and votes counted by commissions staffed by the two party duopoly, and campaign finance. Other parties that use single member district have multiple parties represented in their legislatures. What proportional representation accomplishes is to ensure a match between the partisan composition of the legislature and that of the votes, but its not needed for multiparty politics.

      And the argument for expanding the House is just due to population growth meaning that federal districts have populations of over 700,000 people, which is just two large. Only districts for the federal legislatures on the Indian subcontinent are larger. Legislative chambers can have up to 700 members without getting unwieldy so there is room to expand. But increasing the importance of state and local governments and reducing that of the federal government would also address this problem.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Legislative chambers can have up to 700 members without getting unwieldy so there is room to expand.

        Individual chambers can get that big, but the U.S. has 535 electeds between two houses with very different districts (geography and population), a powerful Supreme Court, a Federal structure with significant powers, and powerful President in charge of the bureaucracy. Then you have to add individual governments such as New York City in addition to the states. Certain individual positions such as the governor of California are worth three Congressman so to speak when we get to the managing process. How big is the management process in reality?

        Going to 700 is not a simple fix. The whole system needs to be restructured. Our system is almost dependent on having a dictatorial like President and everyone falls in line or simply opposes it. Its quite possible the Imperial Presidency isn’t linked to the World Wars but to the size of the government, too many representatives.

        I personally think we need to go to a parliamentary system, possibly still bicameral with a Senate maybe not directly elected, abolish the 50 states, and institute a new regional federal structure, around 10 to 13 regional structures.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Don’t forget, our Senators are the most powerful individual legislators on top of the power that particular house of Congress wields.

          1. Sparkling

            I think the “Imperial Presidency” is linked to both. By taking Britain’s old position we needed to act like them to keep it but the expansion of the executive branch was already happening before that. One could theoretically pin this all on the politics of the 1930s, a decade that has never ceased haunting mankind in one way or another.

            Even without any of that the failure of the Articles of Confederation has made a lot of Americans think the legislative branch running the show is a bad idea.

          2. JBird4049

            The Congress for over a century added congressional seats as the population grew after each Census. It was only after some political disputes around 1900(?) that they stopped and so our House of Representatives is sized for a country of no more than half our current population.

            Congress could add seats for the next session tomorrow but they won’t, not because only because they are corrupt, incompetent f***wits, it also makes keeping power easier. More districts means more people can influence politics from the smaller, more numerous districts. It is the reason that the House of Representatives was created after all with its easily expandable seats; it is a means of giving the People, the unruly (to the Founders) a way to counterbalance their expected betters in the Senate and perhaps the Presidency and the Supreme Court. The Founders did not like or trust the general population really but they also weren’t to found of a possible corrupt oligarchy/aristocracy and president/dictator so another counter was put in.

            But as we can see, the House has been subverted.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              They could do it, but its a utility issue. Yes, 700 person legislatures exist and have demonstrated they can function. 2,000 member legislatures have about as much functionality as a mosh pit. Those legislatures tend not to exist in our more complicated federal system. We can call it corruption until the cows come how, but you’ll have a hard time arguing the government from 1932 to 1970ish was worse than much of what came before.

              If we cared about representation, the issue would be abolishing SMDP districts anyway; although some ranked voting systems with the ability to vote yes on every candidate is interesting.

              During Pelosi’s first tenure as Speaker, she actually delivered on every part of the Democratic platform from 2006 but one which was a pipe dream at the time. Those promises were made with an estimation of the Senate and dealing with W. They weren’t epic promises, but could she manage a bigger house? She pretty much ceased to exist as soon as Obama became President, and we had a popular President again. An overlooked aspect of 43 was he seemed to believe veto power was for constitutional questions. Large programs weren’t passed, but he did sign what made it to his desk. In a way, he removed himself from the process.

              1. Sparkling

                “We can call it corruption until the cows come how, but you’ll have a hard time arguing the government from 1932 to 1970ish was worse than much of what came before.” I dunno, I’m pretty sure Jefferson wasn’t assassinated halfway through his first term.

                  1. JBird4049

                    That is true although really bad government exists when not only bribery, collusion, vote rigging and selfishness rules, but, as has happened in the South, when the opposition is just plain murdered, sometimes in job lots.

                    That is something else too few Americans realize about our past. It has never reached the bloodiness of some countries like Mexico (unless you count the Civil War) but has been episodes of election by gunpoint or club in every part of America in the past. That is another reason why I am concerned about our strengthening police state. The Southern elites maintained, and in someways still do especially in areas like Mississippi and Alabama, maintained their regime using proactive methods similar to that of South Africa’s Apartheid regime. Some of the states had intelligence services or programs for that purpose. Just like how the police were patterned on the Slave Patrols in the South. Of course those methods also work for controlling the general population like poor whites, and reformers.

                    So when does it become corruption and when does it become other? Unionists, activists, and politicians have all been assassinated in other countries especially if they refused the offered bribes. It blends together when being offered silver or lead becomes routine.

                    1. Sparkling

                      And some of the “unionists, activists, and politicians” from other countries you brought up were assassinated by the United States during the Cold War!

                  2. Sparkling

                    I was trying to make a joke about the JFK assassination conspiracy theories, all of which involve someone in the government paying someone else off to kill Kennedy and get Johnson as President.

    4. Carey

      Another person paid to not see the obvious? And that same class does *love* its
      complexity, does it not? The solutions are to many if not most of “our” problems
      are clear; too bad there is a tiny, corrupt, entitled class dedicated to subverting,
      not implementing them…

  13. Summer

    Re: Root Intelligence, plants…

    Really and no kidding, I was just thinking the other day that a house plant is smarter than AI.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Plants can think, feel and learn…


      Soul searching time for vegetarians, vegans, Jainists, etc.

      “Did you just now, with your teeth, grind that LIVING, FEELING vegetable to its painful death?”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          One non-violent option would be to sit by the plant, and wait for it to die.

          Then, you wouldn’t be doing any killing when you eat it.

          1. bstamerjon

            But what about the microbiological culture living on the plant? They could be sentient, too. Sterile dirt, I tell you. It is the only honorable way.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Didn’t think that far or deep…you’re taking the discussion to the next level.

              Perhaps these micro things can’t feel. ‘Where is my antibacterial soap?!?!?’

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            But if you starved to death waiting for that plant to die before you non-violently eat it, you have just violently killed yourself through self-willed starvation.

            Life involves violence. We kill things to eat them. Vegans too. And the more we learn about plant intelligence, plant awareness, plant consciousness; the more laughable the moral-superiority claims of the vegans become.

            Salad is murder.
            Bread is mass infanticide.

        2. polecat

          You’d have to exterminate all the micro-flora and fauna in said ‘dirt’ first, to make it sterile enough for your dining pleasure .. ur .. penance…

      1. HotFlash

        An haiku, published in my small-town ‘underground’ newspaper back in the mid 6o’s. Sorry, cannot recall author’s name.

        Last night
        While peeling a carrot
        I thought I heard a small organce scream.

    2. Tomonthebeach

      Root intelligence: Plants can think, feel and learn?

      I have several plants that are bi-polar. Somedays that are flowering and erect while other days they are droopy and depressed. I am thinking of enrolling them in mindfulness training (or maybe mindlessness?).

      1. Wukchumni

        A few months ago my Hudson’s Golden Gem apple tree died and I hadn’t noticed for a week or so, and when I tugged on it, it turned out to be a Hudson’s Golden Gem apple stick, and i’m certain it felt pain when the gophersassin chewed through it’s trunk underfoot.

    3. Judith

      The key paragraphs for me were:

      “Plants may even feel pain, a sign they could have a kind of consciousness Such notions are extremely controversial and, even Baluska agrees, speculative. To avoid simply pitting one side against another in the debate, we need a different framework to start thinking about notions of intelligence and consciousness, says Michael Marder of the University of the Basque Country in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. The lone plant philosopher for now, he argues for a phenomenological approach to understanding plants, which involves asking: what does the world look like from the standpoint of plant life?

      “Our task is to think about these concepts of attention, consciousness and intelligence in a way that becomes somehow decoupled from the figure of the human,” he says. “I want [us] to rethink the concept of intelligence in such a way that human intelligence, plant intelligence and animal intelligence are different sub-species of that broader concept, which can somehow encompass these different life forms.”

      A fascinating article for me. I wonder what part the plant-fungi interface plays in all of this.

      1. ewmayer

        “Plants may even feel pain, a sign they could have a kind of consciousness.” — ‘Could’ is doing a lot of work in that sentence, don’t you think. And this sort of fact-free rubbish is beyond ‘speculative’ – most humble single-celled organisms have mechanisms for avoiding adverse stimuli of various kinds, because evolution of such mechanisms conferred a survival advantage. But possessing such a mechanism does not imply said organism has any kind of subjective experience of pain, i.e. ‘suffers’, much less implies consciousness by any reasonable definition. Similarly, plants chemically communicating in response to environmental stimuli confers a survival advantage, but does not imply that said mechanism is anything but an automatic evolved one. The pseudoscientists – which is what repeatedly making wild claims unsupported by any reasonable evidence makes them, irrespective of their academic credentials – pushing this stuff would have us believe that every time our immune systems fight off a pathogen, we should observe a moment of solemn silence and mourn for the lost little pathogen lives, while some Alec-Guiness-style thespian invokes the line from Star Wars: “It was as if a million tiny little microbial voices cried out, and then were silenced.”

        None of which is to say that we who are undeniably conscious should devalue the lives of our fellow living things which happen to be brainless. But we can become more responsible inhabitants of planet earth without inventing fairy tales. Trees are nice to have around even if they’re not really talking about tree politics amongst themselves like Tolkien’s Ents!

        Also, consciousness is unlikely to be a binary thing – so e.g. plant structures which act like neurons might well confer a low-level form of flatworm-style consciousness, for sure – but does that imply we need to give them full legal rights?

        1. KPC

          Define “consciousness”?

          You might take a look at some real quant physicists in this very area… . They rock!

          There is a fabulous young computer geek, ballet dancer and physicist sourced in Switzerland and New Zealand who is astounding in his insights… .

          Please excuse typos. We are working this firm’s systems in 77 languages with tech that is just mind numbing… .

          New tech?

          1. ewmayer

            Interesting speculations != reality. Look at string theory by way of a prime example, to use your example of theoretical particle physics.

    4. Chopspoon

      A TED talk gave a figure of rye plants having about 300 spiking “neurons” per root apex, with a typical rye plant having about 10 million root apexes. So not inconsiderable.

      1. newcatty

        We used to go to a farmer’s market where we lived for many years. Most of the fruits and vegetables sold were organic. Most of the farmer’s had certification as organic growers. So, it was easy to try to determine another factor that would draw our attention to that particular seller. I still remember the first time we saw the growers at a specific table. The man and woman had beatific smiles and radiated goodwill. The vegetables and fruits from their farm radiated freshness and brilliant colors. We chatted for a few minutes…found out they farmed in an area known for farms nearby. I tasted a sample of an apple and pear. Delicious! I asked them if they did anything special to nurture their plants. The man looked into my eyes and softly said they did. They talked everyday to their plants and played music for them. Oh, what kind? Light and beautiful music from classical to Celtic. Sometimes friends would serenade the plants,too. Still miss the veggies and fruits of their enlightened labor. I asked if they thanked the plants for sharing themselves with us people to nourish us. That was a given. Reminds me of the wisdom of many native people’s, who do the same thing.

        1. knowbuddhau

          Thanks, this choked me up.

          It’s all one life. We’re just sharing it. Some more than others, while others can’t extend it beyond their own noses.

            1. witters

              Well, remember, you and Knowbuddhau are sharing the one life, so you and KB are 1. And thanking yourself is a trifle gauche.

        2. KPC


          I am from the Americas and wisdom of my first teachers of the law… .

          You can look to Dr. Karl Jung as well.

  14. Down2Long

    This is an interesting take on the financial crisis and what little was done afterword to mitigate future crises. I think the part where Kolitkoff speaks of banks runs on banks and firing their customers is especially relevant.

    Had the banks hung in there with me instead of trying to grab everything at the bottom and forcing me into bankruptcy protection, everyone would have been made whole. The four properties I managed to hold on to post bk (one I lost post-bk when a crooked judge let Chase foreclose on a current loan which hase got for free from WaMu, but that’s an Obama appointee for you) are now worth more than they were at the.peak, and I have been current on the loans for 10 years.

    This of course does not account for Ocwen and Wells returning my payments for 5 years in an effort to trigger a foreclosure. But it does reinforce Koltokoff’s point of banks firing their clients and making matters worse.

    1. Annieb

      I found the Forbes article by Kotlikoff perplexing. Seems the author doesn’t ascribe blame for the Great Recession to any one event and titles the article The Big Con but also fails to describe then exactly what was the cause and the con. Perhaps I am not getting his point exactly.
      I would appreciate input from readers more knowledgeable about finance than I.

      1. Brian (another one they call)

        To add; I can’t find a situation that would involve me reading articles from MarketWatch(WaPo) Forbes, Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, Fox MSBS. I do pass their channels every so often, but far less often than I pass gas.
        These folks expect you to believe them, they are so earnest about that of which they spew. But there is little to nothing that isn’t propaganda. And what isn’t propaganda is spin and what isn’t spin is nonsense. If you should notice that you have been propagandized for years, why would you expect anything else?
        And video news, Jeez. They tell you what you should believe you are watching. I saw “Wag the Dog” and that was primitive crap being used in the 90’s that required film cameras and editing that was slow and expensive. I no longer expect to see any video that is real if it is coming from a TV corporation. You just can’t accept it is real in any way without support from human beings on the ground.
        World ends, film at eleven, ten central. Check out tomorrows bargains.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is part of the “American Exceptionalism” rot. Brooks and his ilk such as Obama believe the opportunity to bask in the glow of the “indispensable nation” is a great deal for anyone we bomb. The inability to create a “Jefferson style democracy” (which coincidentally Mr. Jefferson envisioned along the lines of rural New England with town halls and small farms) is a moral failing and not worth the time of American elites. Libya isn’t an embarrassment for Obama and company because its the fault of others for not believing.

      A good deal is based in historical illiteracy. One myth would be the American Revolution was dependent on French support. The French foreign minister, Vergennes, didn’t send support until after the Colonial forces were an ill trained Washington mishap away from having destroyed two of the three British armies and liberating Philadelphia in 1777. Vergennes wasn’t backing a losing horse. Washington might be killed, but the British would inevitably lose. Even then, the forces sent were minor until the war started to kick off around the Caribbean, and french forces were ready to move to Virginia to catch the fleeing (an orderly withdrawal) Cornwallis. As the available Continentals were too far away. What has happened is we have created a myth where Americans can simply attack and invade our way to freedom in other places.

      1. Wukchumni

        Seldom mentioned as one of the causes for Americans being triumphant in the revolution, is the deadliest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, the Great Hurricane of 1780, which caused the destruction of the English fleet in a way comparable to the Spanish armada losses of 1588…

        Among the ships lost from Rodney’s fleet were the frigates HMS Phoenix, which was wrecked on the Cuban coast, and HMS Blanche, which disappeared without a trace. The sixth rate frigates HMS Andromeda and HMS Laurel were wrecked on Martinique with heavy loss of life. By far the worst losses in the British fleet, however, were under the command of Vice Admiral Peter Parker and Rear-Admiral Joshua Rowley. At the time of the hurricane, Rowley was off the coast of New York with a portion of the fleet, including HMS Sandwich. Parker was in Port Royal, Jamaica. Many of their ships, however, were in the hurricane’s path. Among the losses were HMS Thunderer, HMS Stirling Castle, HMS Scarborough, HMS Barbados, HMS Deal Castle, HMS Victor, and HMS Endeavour. Almost all of their crews died. Seven other ships were dismasted.

          1. Wukchumni

            Isn’t it interesting that nobody really knows about this, and it’s not as if it’s been hidden away from view, but it was far enough away from the action that it never got all that much traction historically, which is a shame.

            1. Andrew Watts

              It isn’t as significant as you think because only a few spice islands in the Caribbean traded hands. Neither side had an appetite for a major naval engagement that would prove to be decisive. The British were outnumbered by the combined numbers of the Spanish and French navy, yet they still had enough naval ships to blockade France that prevented them from sending another division to the New World. Nor did it have an affect on the land campaign in the Thirteen Colonies due to the fact they couldn’t possibly anticipate that de Grasse would send his entire fleet northward.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Wait a minute. What about the battle of Yorktown? The French Navy under de Grasse beat a British fleet in the Battle of the Chesapeake and forced it back to New York. This left the way clear so that a combined French-American force could besiege the British at Yorktown until eventually the British were forced to surrender which effectively brought the war to a close.

                1. Andrew Watts

                  We’re talking about the period before that. I don’t think the naval battle of Chesapeake Bay or Yorktown was a decisive battle. Nobody was ready for peace with the surrender of Cornwallis’ army. Not yet anyway.

                  The Spanish and French continued with their plans to seize Jamaica and other desired islands in the Caribbean. When France lost the Battle of the Saintes any plans for further conquests were over. The Thirteen Colonies couldn’t count on French financial support or military forces to take back British-occupied New York either.

                  If France had somehow won that battle and successfully invaded Jamaica I imagine the war would’ve dragged on. New York City might’ve been re-taken by joint French-American forces. Perhaps the Continental Army and French forces would’ve even attempted an invasion of Canada.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Not long after the Allied landed and captured Naples, Vesuvius erupted in 1944.

            The outcome of that particular battle was not changed by Nature.

        1. Massinissa

          I like how us Americans had our own ‘kami kaze’/divine wind to save us from British Imperialism the way similar storms saved the English and Japanese

          Wooden ships are just so very vulnerable to mother nature.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          I mentioned a specific event, but the real cause of victory was the population in 1776 was under 18. Every dead Continental would be replaced by more people, not just one. Iraq is a similar situation. For all of our wunder weapons, half the population was under 18 in 2003. We were going to just tick them off and lose out right or drive them to Iran. The German and French birthrates rapidly diverged after 1918 despite similar populations. Guess who had the higher birthrate?

          Realistically, the UK had no national interest in changing the 1763 arrangement (I think the UK wanted the Demarcation Line of 1763) which is basically a vast area open to British commerce and resettlement with no way for foreign powers to occupy (the American oaks are better for ships than the English Oaks), and so the undertaking necessary to win was never going to happen. There are other issues too. We (you, me, and Dupree) are more familiar with the Napoleonic era Red Coats, but the British soldiers who went to the colonies in the 1770’s were part of a recruitment drive directed at the second sons of farmers to see the world and learn a trade. These were not soldiers willing to engage in the climate of terror necessary to pacify a region and would have no natural desire for revenge as at least the people in the major centers were English. The Scots and Irish were further inland.

          The war in New England where it started except for a Paul Revere blundering in Maine was over by the start of 1778. The English knew they couldn’t win there. Like the Hurricane example, its still a matter of transporting men and materials and staggering logistics. The other problem is believe it or not transportation in the Colonies was fairly swift. The ability to move information where Red Coats couldn’t go was an incredible advantage.

          1. Andrew Watts

            Comparing the American revolutionary war and the Iraq war is just bizarre. Historians like to arbitrarily divide the support base among the population, but most people never supported one side or another. If a significant minority had supported the Patriot cause the Continental Army would’ve easily amassed 100,000 troops. Washington never had anything close to that amount of troops under his command at any time.

            The second Gulf War was a debacle from the very start, but that’s what happens when foreign policy is run by a born-again nutter and a cabal of Trotskyites “spreading democracy”. When the insurgency broke out the vast majority of the US military wasn’t even conducting counter-insurgency warfare. The military tried to fight it conventionally just about everywhere in the Sunni Triangle. Petraeus experienced something resembling success and implementing a strategy because he kept the Baathist institutions intact.

            That made it easy for the Islamic State to grow and take it over later on.

      2. Andrew Watts

        Both France and Spain supported the American revolution as early as 1775 through Roderigue Hortalez and Company. I doubt that colonial resistance could’ve been maintained through 1776 without increased foreign aid. The Continental Army received almost all of it’s gunpowder, most of it’s arms, and uniforms from foreign sources running out of the Dutch-controlled port of St. Eustatius at that time.

        Furthermore, Vergennes was in favor of war with Great Britain after it captured Canada in the Seven Years War. Proclaiming that Great Britain was France’s natural enemy. Not only were there more French troops at Yorktown but the French paid for the entire campaign. Washington didn’t have any money in his war chest so the French generously covered the expenses of moving the Continental Army to Virginia.

        1. Wukchumni

          The Continental Army received almost all of it’s gunpowder, most of it’s arms, and uniforms from foreign sources running out of the Dutch-controlled port of St. Eustatius at that time.

          Barbara Tuchman’s “The First Salute” is all about this, what a great writer she was!

          1. Andrew Watts

            …and it’s quite typical. People keep pretending that the Houthi are still using stockpiles from the Yemeni Army!

            “Will Mueller go that far back?”

            Probably not. Most Americans can’t handle the thought that this country was really just a proxy in the battle for global supremacy between the British and French in that period.

  15. Summer

    Re: Nail Salons

    I’ve never been a big nail painter, the chemicals being a big reason.
    My nails stopped growing immediately after a visit to a salon. Once it all wore off, they were growing as usual. It just seemed way too unnatural for me.
    Other people have to notice that, too.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps less visible than plastic, but still as bad, or maybe worse.

      Where do all those chemicals go? Do they get washed into the oceans, or do they infuse our atmosphere?

  16. Alex morfesis

    Bloomberg giving corp credit card advance lenders a free ride on “confession of judgment” scam…new York state case law is very tight and the way it is being abused suggests court clerks and chief judges, along with the new York bar, are doing a sgt shultz…have helped lawyers bounce these toilet paper slapstick judgments in three states…amazing how many lawyers just sit there and tell their clients… Oh well…Sol…

    There are rules that are required to be followed with specificity and conformity…

    Have never seen even one of these clown car fake and shake rubber stamp robo judgments come close to following the requirements…

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    12-Year-Old Charged For Distributing Marijuana-Laced Gummies In School, Several Students Hospitalized International Business Times


    Maybe it’s just me, but the order of that headline seems to focus the reader’s attention on the 12 year old charged, and not on the victims.

    “SEVERAL STUDENTS HOSPITALIZED from 12 year old classmate’s marijuana laced gummies. Charges were filed.”

    Gun owning parents can lock away their rifles. Marijuana consuming fathers and mothers can do the same as well, except not with this 12 year old…perhaps.

    1. Wukchumni

      I was 12 when Billy-a classmate, brought a fifth of hooch to school, and we got hammered under the monkey bars, about half a dozen of us. It didn’t take much to get us all wobbly and such.

    2. Wukchumni


      How many 12 year olds have killed themselves or others with guns laying around the house, versus the amount that died from ingesting cannabis?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There could be a ‘catching up’ factor here.

        Perhaps we will know more in the future years, in CA, and elsewhere as it spreads to other states. The numbers could likely go up.

            1. Wukchumni

              You never know, a friend in her mid 50’s got onset peanut allergy, after having eaten goobers for 5 decades.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                That’s not unlikely

                When younger, I looked more like my father. Now, I am starting to look a little more like my mother.

                As we age, our body changes too…and our political leaning as well, some say. That is, more left when younger, and more conservative as we, or they (they, meaning the bad guys, it is said) get older.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Can China tone down its over-the-top weddings?

    In a round reality or round world, a position is as good as as any other position.

    It’s the same with a round table. That’s the story with the Round Table – every knight is equal…more or less. And the symbol for enlightenment in the East has been the Moon, for its roundness, and shining on all equally.

    So, with humans, spatial positions are not that relevant – you live there, and he lives here. etc. And we experience velocity more acutely. That can be misleading though, and thus the famous quote – it’s not how fast you’re going, but in what direction (Oliver Wendell Holmes).

    When you are in a world of 8% or about GDP growth rate or speed, even if your per capita income is not as much, you feel better, even more potent.

    And you see over the top weddings, among other manifestation of false or misleading sensations.

  19. JohnnyGL

    at the 2:55 mark, it’s clear that Bernie speaks a different language than the creatures of the Beltway.

    CNN Host: You don’t have to convince me it’s a serious issue, you have to convince Republicans in the Senate and the White House.

    Bernie: No, I have to convince the American people to tell Republicans.

    This is the kind of stuff that makes the establishment so squeamish more than any particular policy proposal. The idea that someone who’s not a lobbyist with a big checkbook can call up their rep. and make demands of them to take action on any particular issue.

    With answers like that, Bernie is trying to undo decades of work by media, consultants, pundits, and the political class to disempower average people, by convincing them that: “I’m a powerful government official, but, I can do nothing to help you, but still, make sure you vote for me”, and get them to direct their concerns elsewhere, other than their elected reps.

    That, right there, might be the greatest political project ever undertaken. That of re-democratizing America!!!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “…convince the American people to tell Republicans.”

      Republicans are also Americans.

      Part of the work is to convince Americans to tell Americans, voters to tell voters, Democrats to tell Democrats, Republicans to tell Democrats, Democrats to tell Republicans, Republicans to tell Republicans, etc.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Graduate School Can Have Terrible Effects on People’s Mental Health Atlantic (UserFriendly)

    That’s similar to the national exam in China. And a few other Confucian countries, like Taiwan and Japan.

    1. Tomonthebeach

      Grad School Stress?

      Perhaps the researchers did not consider the possibility that many Harvard econ grad students are depressed because of the nature of the curriculum – they are studying economics! It is also likely that maturity plays a role. Too many youngsters go to grad school because they frankly are still too immature to know what they want to be when they grow up.

      CURRICULUM: In contrast, my graduate studies in psychology had a notable positive effect on me emotionally. I studied till 1AM, slept like a baby, and bounded out of bed at 9 eager to attend my 10AM class. Of course, I found psychology to be very interesting.

      MATURITY: Admittedly, I served 4 years in the military between my BA and PhD studies (drafted) and I had clear career goals by then. In contrast, I had a classmate who entered from his BS program and clearly was extending his adolescence. Often depressed, I was amazed to learn that he got his PhD. I was not amazed to learn that he never worked a day as a psychologist, and went into insurance or something.

      TOPIC: Okay, economics can be just as interesting as psychology. When I retired at 65, I started studying economics and continue to do so (otherwise why would I be writing in NakCap, right?). I think econ fascinates me today because I have a PhD in something else. For some of us, it might take a few decades to notice that economics is the study of how Maslovian needs motivate individual and group behavior.

      1. Synoia

        The best part of engineering is “Destructive Testing”.

        Followed by asking Math Instructors “What do you use that for”.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    US’ fresh rules will make it harder to secure H-1B visas Economic Times

    Does it or will it extend to other visas?

    And the other area is people already here overstaying.

  22. Jean

    “Steak dinner annuity pitches”
    We get a bunch per year. Do whatever is necessary to ‘register’, then hand the mailer to people who we know are short on money, or are even living in their car.

    They get a nice meal, a chance to socialize and make contacts for jobs at the expense of the vultures.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I have neighbors who used to make the rounds of these dinners. They never bought any of the investments, but they sure ate well!

    1. Carey

      Oh man, the Helm’s trucks! That drawer filled with goodness that slid out of the back…
      awesome. Haven’t thought of that in so long.

  23. ChrisPacific

    Brexit and the leaked document: One thing that struck me was that the Good Friday agreement was specifically referenced by name and date, so the UK is obliged to maintain its obligations under the “1998 Good Friday Agreement.” That might be problematic, if, for example, the UK and Ireland sought to change the details of the agreement.

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