Links 12/5/18

Bees Get Stung by Decision to Scale Back National Monument Scientific American (David L)

Bacteria under stress can live without cell wall PhysOrg (Robert M)

Sustainable palm oil doesn’t make the grade PhysOrg (Robert M)

California wildfires accelerated climate change as much as a whole year of power use Quartz (David L)

Bowel movement: the push to change the way you poo Guardian

Is visiting a robot brothel ok? Most people say yes, if you are single New Scientist (Dr. Kevin)

China?

The Trump-Xi Truce Questions That Are Leaving Markets Flummoxed Bloomberg

Yuan could become next battleground for Trump-Xi Asia Times

China vows quick trade deal as Trump sends mixed signals DW

China Announces Punishments For Intellectual-Property Theft Bloomberg

India

Elections diminish democracy in India openDemocracy

Brexit

Theresa May suffers three Brexit defeats in Commons BBC (Kevin W)

The government’s defeat on contempt was humiliating – but avoidable Guardian

The Brexit Debacle Jacobin (Anthony L). A troubling amount of cakeism here, like the idea that Labour could negotiate a better deal, plus the typical misrepresentation that the EU bars industrial policy (what do you think Germany has, with vocational secondary education and very strong tenant protections to lower housing costs of lesser-paid workers? Plus as we have discussed, the EU regularly allows state aid). It is frustrating to see the left be so unconcerned about accuracy and to ignore that small open economies in a world of globalization of labor and capital flows are not in a strong position and therefore don’t have wonderful choices as far as national sovereignity v. prosperity (see Dani Rodrik’s trilemma).

UK and EU must ‘wake up’ to risk of grounded flights after Brexit, airline body warns CNBC. I had thought the assurances that this was largely handled were not consistent with observable facts.

Trump’s New Immigration Rule Could Threaten Health Care for 6.8 Million Children Who Are U.S. Citizens Governing

Mervyn King: Theresa May’s Brexit deal is like appeasement Guardian

Gilets Jaunes

France’s Latest Protests Are a Rejection of All Things Macron Slate

New Cold War

U.S. to Suspend Nuclear Treaty With Russia in 60 Days Wall Street Journal

Syraqistan

Reuters Creates Fakenews About Iran – Intentionally Conflates Two Different Missiles – Misquotes Official Moon of Alabama (pretzelattack, Kevin W)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

A cybersecurity expert quit Apple and joined the ACLU to help fight government efforts to put ‘back doors’ in smartphones Business Insider (David L)

The Secret Service Wants To Test Facial Recognition Around the White House The Verge

Quora Data Breach Exposes 100 Million Users’ Personal Info CBS

Google Personalizes Search Results Even When You’re Logged Out, a DuckDuckGo Study Finds The Verge

Trump Transition

Maryland and D.C. Seek Trump’s Trust, Business Tax Returns Bloomberg

Trump administration recommends postal reforms that could raise rates, setting up fight with Amazon The Hill

Trump-GOP rift grows over Saudis The Hill

Read: Mueller’s sentencing memo for Michael Flynn Vox. Scott: “Redactio ad absurdum.”

Trump’s Timidity is Letting Comey Off the Hook Consortiumnews (UserFriendly)

IS THIS IT?: A TRUMP-HATER’S GUIDE TO MUELLER SKEPTICISM Vanity Fair (Scott)

What an inflated sense of self importance:

What Does Beto O’Rourke Actually Stand For? Current Affairs (UserFriendly)

Kill Me Now

What It Means That Hillary Clinton Might Run for President in 2020 CommonDreams (Robert M)

UserFriendly: “Wana guess the reaction had Bernie said this? RACIST!!!!! Obama has Class!!!!!!!”

Iraqis Remember George H.W. Bush: A Gentleman Who Bombed Us Shadowproof (UserFriendly)

Mr. Market Has a Sad

Dow Tumbles Nearly 800 Points as Trade Jitters Return Wall Street Journal

Tumbling Stocks Show You Can’t Ignore the ‘Harbinger of Doom’ Bloomberg

Those of you who like to talk about the demise of the dollar (which I don’t dispute will eventually happen but the idea that it is imminent is quite another matter) should ponder this item from Politico’s morning European newsletter:

EURO AMBITIONS: Look at this graph. It shows what a crisis like the Greek one can do to trust in a currency. The euro accounted for 44 percent of global payments back in 2012, with the dollar at 30 percent. In 2015, the picture had completely changed: 29 percent of globals payments were made in euro, 44 percent in dollar. By last year, the ratio was a somewhat more balanced 36 percent euro to 40 percent USD.

The graph comes from a report the Commission will release today and which Playbook has seen, titled “Towards a stronger international role of the euro.” The key gap the Commission identifies is the one between the EU’s economic strength and the use of the euro as a global currency.

Apple Hit With Class Action Suit Over Lack of Dust Filters In Macbook, iMac 9to5Mac

Volkswagen Says Its Next Generation of Internal Combustion Engines Will Be Its Last Jalopnik (Kevin W)

Class Warfare

NEARSIGHTED NEOLIBERALISM HELPED MOBILIZE TODAY’S FAR RIGHT Wired (UserFriendly). Important, but has an annoying ageist theme. Older people grew up with the New Deal and acutely feel its loss. This is a 10% v everyone else issue, not an age issue. Do you really think Mark Zuckerberg or any of the young tech squillionaires would implement better policies for the bottom 90% than the people now in charge?

Everyone loves Paul Volcker. Everyone is wrong. The Week (UserFriendly). Great piece. Wish I had written it.

Corporate tax breaks cost U.S. schools billions of lost revenue: report Reuters (EM)

An AI Law Firm Wants to ‘Automate the Entire Legal World’ Futurism

New York City just became the first US city to set a minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers Business Insider (David L)

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “This little cutie (Pomeranian, I believe) was at the park near the San Clemente pier on Thanksgiving day, basking calmly in the sun – probably with visions of drumsticks dancing in his/her little head.”

And a bonus video:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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150 comments

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      China vows quick trade deal as Trump sends mixed signals DW

      China Announces Punishments For Intellectual-Property Theft Bloomberg

      It reads like China is taking the Yin-will-wear-away-Yang strategy…long term, it’s better for them, if the Beijing can hold unto the mandate from heaven.

      That could mean making sure that there is not another brother-of-Jesus leader in Nanjing, among other worries every nation has similarly.

      Another key to stay non-aligned…friends with all, including Russia, India, etc, but not too close…espeically not to fight anyone else’s war.

      Reply
  1. Big River Bandido

    Thank you for the link to the excellent Current Affairs article on Beto O’Rourke. I can’t believe just read a news article that not only mentions policy and politics but is in fact based on them. The author noted O’Rourke’s past policy positions, votes, the partisan makeup of his district, and the fact that he won a primary against a Berniecrat by co-opting her positions and obscuring his own in a haze of meaningless Clintonian double-speak.

    O’Rourke gives me cramps, too, but not the same kind or for the same reason.

    Reply
    1. voteforno6

      I hope he does run for President…the more, the merrier. It would help Bernie (if he ran), to face off against as many of the Betomala O’Bidenastros of the world as possible, for the same reason that Trump tore through the Republicans in 2016. With so many choices, the establishment would have a hard time coalescing around a single candidate to take out Bernie (and that’s probably more important to them right now than beating Trump).

      Reply
      1. johnnygl

        Bernie’s got to like his chances against either or both of them. He’ll stake out specific stances on policy, as he does constantly…it’ll force he others to either take a stand (which they hate doing) or squirm around talking about themselves and being vague.

        They’re going to end up looking like weasels next to bernie. Debates wil make it abjectly clear, if it isn’t beforehand.

        Plus, bernie will start bringing hefty crowds back, making it impossible to keep the beto-mania narrative that only exists in the minds of consultants who want a payday and media pundits who are sticking to the script given to them by the consultants.

        Reply
      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is it not ironic that open-borders, sanctuary cities Democrats are erecting a wall to prevent Sanders and other similar minded progressives from seeking refuge inside their Make Democrats Great Again fortress in the upcoming 2020 elecion?

        “You people are not welcome, unless you intend to vote for me.”

        Reply
        1. Arizona Slim

          I live in one of those cities.

          And, here in Tucson, Bernie Sanders had not one, but two, presidential campaign rallies. First one was in October 2015 and attracted 13,000 people to the DeMeester outdoor performance center in Reid Park. Second one was in March 2017 and drew 7,000 people to the Tucson Convention Center.

          The Democrat establishment wasn’t too happy about the local enthusiasm for Bernie, but they sure didn’t stamp it out.

          Reply
          1. Jen

            And yet we continue to be treated to breathless accounts of hundredsof people turning out for Beto, Booker (corporate hooker), et al.

            Reply
      3. UserFriendly

        You have far more faith than I do in the democratic base (you know the people that picked hillary) to split the wheat from the chaff.

        Reply
    2. DJG

      I am enjoying this inconvenient writer Zaid Jilani. First the article about Clintonians’ authoritarian tendencies, now the article about the incredible disappearing Beto.

      Operative paragraph:

      But may have been the last time O’Rourke waged a sustained campaign against the Democratic establishment. While the Democratic base is coalescing around single-payer health care and free college, O’Rourke sponsored neither House bill. During his time in Congress, he never joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He has been, however, a member of the New Democratic Caucus, the group organized to carry on the ideas of Clintonite policies. During the 2016 presidential primary, he stayed on the sidelines.

      Keeping his powder dry. Why come out for single-payer health care, why oppose the endless war, when you can let yourself be photographed in a t-shirt eating a Whataburger? The commodification of dissent into support of the status quo. Thanks, Beto.

      Reply
    3. Summer

      “He’s Barack O’Bama, but white,” says article.
      I keep saying: no speculation needed, Beto is in.

      So far you know 4 : Bernie, Beto, Biden and Clinton.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        “He’s Barack O’Bama, but white,”

        Uh…wasn’t Obama’s major selling point a chance to change American history and present a new face to the world matching our rhetoric versus our history? Hence the Cairo speech?

        On occasion, I wonder if I just lived in parallel world in 2008.

        Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        Well that’s lazy that. Can’t they find more names further into their Rolodex than those past the letter “C”?

        Reply
        1. none

          It hadn’t occurred to me that Zephyr might run, but I’m up for it. AOC won’t be eligible til 2024, after Trump’s 2nd term.

          Reply
    4. Jean

      Who is Beto O’Rourke?

      The name on the bumper sticker on a money mensch’s Masarati in downtown Beverly Hills,
      just more Performative Progressiveness.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        I’d like to find that out, too. I understood Reagan’s cocaine was primarily delivered to Los Angeles, and I think it was before the technology to convert to crack was widespread. I gather it was more an ad hoc kind of thing done haphazardly and only a few times before they realized how dangerous it was for the front office (Langley) and stopped.

        Reply
    1. Lee

      The cloying wonderfulness of HW Bush on the news is making me gag. It is times like these that we should recall Emerson’s observation that “Every hero becomes a bore at last”, adding some more when dead than when alive. And, in closing, let us also savor the immortal plea of Miss Sweetypoo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAnVNXaa5oA

      Reply
      1. crittermom

        “The cloying wonderfulness of HW Bush on the news is making me gag.”

        But we all knew this was coming since hearing of his death, didn’t we?
        It seems all presidents now become saints when deceased (in addition to their wives), & the country is to be reminded of that by televising it on all channels.

        Good grief! He was 94 years old. We should all have the privilege of living so long. To me, this is yet another reminder that only those most privileged can afford to, as life expectancy is on the decline for the rest of us.

        Reply
    2. RUKidding

      Once Babs – ‘Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? It’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?’ – finally kicked the bucket, I’ve been steeling myself for the hagiography for her disgusting, despicable husband.

      Good riddance to bad rubbish, as I used to opine as a child.

      Crack cocaine, Iran-Contra, the Iran hostage situation, Carlyle Group, just to name a few. I don’t call it the Bush Crime Syndicate for nothing. No loss.

      Reply
  2. allan

    You say MILO, I say MILA …

    ‘Badass’ national security women offer Democrats a Trump antidote [Reuters]

    Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger had a potent defense against attacks by President Donald Trump and other Republicans casting her party as weak on national security: her career as a covert CIA counter-terrorism officer.

    In November’s elections, she was one of five Democratic women with national security or military backgrounds who captured Republican-held U.S. House of Representatives seats. “The Badasses,” as the women have dubbed themselves, had no political experience. …

    For Democrats hoping to make additional inroads with Trump voters ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections, the women offer a roadmap for connecting with a wide spectrum of the electorate – from a Democratic base clamoring for change to conservatives drawn to their national security credentials. …

    Of course, all this military-intelligence-law enforcement industrial complex goodness does come with a downside:

    … Spanberger said she saw little point in passing bills in the House that would only fail in the Republican-led Senate. …

    Meaning she’s a “no” on H.R. 676?

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      >Spanberger said she saw little point in passing bills in the House that would only fail

      The point is easy, Abigail: It writes in big red letters what you stand for and what the other side is against. Oh, that’s right, your whole career has been based on obscuring who you are and what you are doing. Not a good fit, according to the Govt 101 textbooks.

      But sadly a really good fit for the crap gummint we have today.

      So if you aren’t going to propose laws because the Senate is Rethug-dominated, how do you intend to inspire voters to change it in 2020? I’m betting on vacuous speeches, public vs private positions. Lordy.

      Reply
      1. John k

        Perfect clintonista.
        Or Obama excuses… couldn’t do anything good because those mean reps, so let’s just bomb everybody and call it a day.

        Reply
      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Hah! My 22 y\o female cousin, Lea made that very same comment yesterday after her car got a flat tire.

        I blame New Orleans’ streets…

        Reply
  3. The Rev Kev

    “Bowel movement: the push to change the way you poo”

    Not surprised that this article is appearing in the Guardian after all the sh*t they put in there recently about Assange supposedly having a secret meeting with Manafort. The modern Guardian – your go-to place for cr*p information.

    That bonus video by the way. That cat was resting its head on the smart phone in the end. Could it be that it was listening to the voice of its late owner in that video?

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      No picture of the beneficial and plastic – plastic? – squatty potty.

      That lack of pictures makes it hard to come up with a self-help, home-made version.

      Can one do it (raising one’s feet) while sh-tting* with a few philosophy books, for example?

      *Apprently sh-t is the America’s most popular or used word on Twitter. Fake news?

      Reply
      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Just squat without resting on the seat (as noted but buried in the article). No plastic products needed.

        Reply
        1. TimR

          A true squat requires the asian style hole in the floor. To recreate w thrones, squat barefoot with feet on the toilet seat. Beware splashback from this height. Also requires average to low body weight, or risk shattering the toilet due to concentrated pressure on bowl edges…

          Reply
          1. ChristopherJ

            In Cairns airport, there are signs warning people (from Asia) not to squat on the toilet, asking them to sit on the seat instead, as the toilet is designed. If you climb up and miss, however, the mess can be ugly.

            Reply
    2. Lost in OR

      Brings back memories of trying to hit the squatter on the train out of Bangkok. Not a pretty picture. And we didn’t know it was byotp.

      Reply
  4. Darius

    I remember GHWB had agents lure a high school teenager to Lafayette Square to sell them cocaine so he could use it as a prop in a nationwide address on the crack epidemic, which actually was a racist panic. It seems you can buy crack right in front of the White House. Except poor people don’t hang out in front of the White House. The kid didn’t even know where it was. The agents had to spoon feed directions to him.

    I couldn’t stand that phony $&@%.

    Reply
    1. oh

      Glad that murderer is gone but I can’t stand all these politicians, especially DimRats praising him to the skies. What gall!

      Reply
  5. The Rev Kev

    “An AI Law Firm Wants to ‘Automate the Entire Legal World’ ”

    Well that is not good news for the US. Right now there are approximately 1.34 million lawyers in the America which is over 70% of the world’s lawyers. They are not something that you can simply export when you have a surplus of. It’s one thing to put out of work taxi-drivers, plant workers, truck drivers, etc. but lawyers are supposed to be part of the top 20% of the food chain. Think that they could sue to stop that law firm? Some of them may even consider working pro bono.

    Reply
    1. Eureka Springs

      “Code is law”. And punishment. Or as a title above today suggests “Google Personalizes”. But what do I know, for I cannot imagine visiting a robot brothel except perhaps to find my lawyer and tell them to get back to work.

      Reply
  6. Zagonostra

    >Gilets Jaunes

    Coverage of the Gilets Jaunes by most media outlets reminds me of Sherlock Holmes’ “Dog that didn’t bark.” If you go to the front page of the online NYT, nothing. What appears to be an incipient movement that is willing to disrupt the daily “normalcy” of life for a better future seems not to be front page material.

    It’s sad that you have to go to YouTube videos, ignoring all the MSM stories that are always ranked at the top, and find on-the-street interviews with those doing the protesting. When you do that, you’ll notice, the gas tax is not what the protest is all about, might be the spark, but it’s not the core issue…

    It will be curious to see if the French people can sustain their protest and oust Macron…

    (hope to read that Slate article once link is fixed)

    Reply
        1. David

          Agreed. Better than the Slate article in the links.
          Things are not looking good for this weekend, especially if your name is Macron.

          Reply
      1. JEHR

        The article nicely sums up what is wrong with the Euro:

        This is why cutting expenses and balancing the budget is his obsession. Because that’s what he was chosen to do by the oligarchy that sponsored his candidacy. He was chosen by the financial oligarchy above all to save the European Union from threatening disintegration caused by the euro. The treaties establishing the EU and above all the common currency, the euro, have created an imbalance between member states that is unsustainable. The irony is that previous French governments, starting with Mitterrand, are largely responsible for this state of affairs. In a desperate and technically ill-examined effort to keep newly unified Germany from becoming the dominant power in Europe, the French insisted on binding Germany to France by a common currency. Reluctantly, the Germans agreed to the euro – but only on German terms. The result is that Germany has become the unwilling creditor of equally unwilling EU member states, Italy, Spain, Portugal and of course, ruined Greece. The financial gap between Germany and its southern neighbors keeps expanding, which causes ill will on all sides.

        Reply
      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Interesting that the comments reveal Black Panther, movie not group, had this song on its movie trailer.

        Let the watering down of history begin…

        Reply
    1. jrs

      haha if you got americans to protest taxes of all things that would benefit the right so hard, we’d never see the end of it. been there, done that. It would be an invitation to complete co-option by all the wrong people. Now the NYT does it cover the kind of protest we really need here, like the poor people’s movement?

      Reply
  7. crittermom

    RE: Facial recognition
    Wasn’t there an article here within recent months about facial recognition being tested that (wrongly–ha, ha) identified numerous politicians as being criminals?
    IIRC, that test used only photos of them rather than actual people, but it seemed to prove that facial recognition is not yet reliable. (I can’t find the link)

    Then again, it was probably spot on!

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think of the one that identified a turtle as a pistol.

      “Do not bring your turtle too close to the WH!!!!”

      Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    “Is visiting a robot brothel ok? Most people say yes, if you are single”

    Why the hell would you want to go to a robot brothel in the first place? I can’t picture them being warm and cuddly much less having a good sense of humour. Might as well stick it up a drain pipe. This will not be like that sex scene with the android in the 1973 film Westworld (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40CUuyOxUZs) but more akin to an oversize Barbie Doll.
    There are already side-effects of these sex dolls taking place that most people had not thought through. An example is a company in the UK that will, for a few thousand pounds, accept images of real women and model those dolls accordingly. This could be for a Kim Kardashion (eww!) or your neighbour or workmate. These women won’t even know that they even exist as the company says they are only likenesses and so do not need those women’s permission. Story at-

    https://www.rt.com/uk/443185-custom-sex-doll-model/

    Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Mud…dirt…or clay.

        It was in Carl Sagan’s Cosmos book (I think) that I first read about the replicating clays

        So, Bruce was either consciously or unconsciously linking the family-blogging to mud.

        Reply
    1. edmondo

      This is great news for Eric Holder.

      Remember the 2008 meme that everything was great news for John McCain’s pointless campaign?

      Reply
    2. RUKidding

      I read somewhere that Michael Avenetti sent out a super serious “announcement” that after much thought and deep discussions with the family, he, too, would not run.

      To quote Moon Unit Zappa: Like, Oh MiGawd!

      Say it ain’t so, Micheal!!

      (yes, snark)

      It’s like running for POTUS has become some sort of hobby or something.

      Reply
      1. Todde

        I too, after much consultation with my family and prayers to Dog, have decided not to seek my parties nomination for President.

        Reply
  9. flora

    re: France’s Latest Protests Are a Rejection of All Things Macron – Slate

    if you’re tired of the anecdote-based reporting that has characterized American
    media coverage of Trump supporters, you’ll hate reading about the gilet jaunes. There’s nothing to do but interview them. Whatever Trumpian currents have flowed through their movement—the whiteness, the claim to working-class status, violence against journalists, hatred of the urban elite…

    That’s the standard US MSM dodge : ‘gosh, we don’t know what’s going on so we’ll fall back on stereotype, personality, and anecdote. Don’t ask us to examine deeper issues or events. And whatever you do, don’t ask us to examine the economic impacts of the last 30 years on working class and middle class people.’

    All Europe (and the US, too) seems to be suffering from the same economic illness witnessed by France, UK, Italy, Spain and others. 50-80% of the populations are losing economic ground, or barely keeping up, while the top 10% and especially the very rich .001% take all the gains, thanks to govts policies. The govts’ response and the response in the rich metropolitan enclaves to rising economic inequality seems to be to ignore and disregard those who have been struggling, especially since the GFC of 2008; to blame “those peoples’ ” – les deplorables – problems on personal failings instead of govt economic policies.

    But don’t expect US MSM to look any farther than their owners’ politics for an approach to reporting. I’m glad NC exists and commenters here from around the world can shed light on what is happening.

    Reply
    1. flora

      adding: In fairness I should add the story did have a few facts reported at the end. You have to wade thru a lot of ‘filler’ to get to them.

      They got the diesel tax suspended. But other Yellow Vests say they won’t stop short of Macron’s resignation. There’s a burgeoning sense among political leaders that Macron’s original sin was reducing taxes on France’s richest citizens by some $3 billion. The unemployment rate remains high.

      Reply
    2. flora

      adding: People want social justice and fairness from govts that have too long ignored them. Making the rich richer at the expense of almost everyone else has passed its sell-by date, imo. I’m not anti-rich, I’m also not a believer in Thatcherite “there is no society” nonsense. That’s what’s brought us to this point, imo.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I’m not anti-rich,

        I can rationalize a leisure class, but I’ve always felt the key mistake was the JFK tax cuts. Allowing the leisure class to play with lives the way they play with toys can not be tolerated. I remember one of the Byzantine Emperors after putting down a revolt by the Senate caused due to the new emperor’s land reforms targeting the oligarchs asked the general of the Senate’s forces how to avoid another conflict. The defeated general, who exiled to a monastery, told the emperor to never take his boot off the necks of the would be oligarchs.

        Occasionally, scraps will be doled out and a good rich person will come along, but why risk it?

        Reply
    3. JTMcPhee

      Let’s remember that “gov’t” is largely a wholly owned subsidiary of that 0.001%. Interesting mental gymnastics by most of us — believing that “government” is supposed to “govern” in the interest of the “general welfare,” that somehow putting people in positions of power to declare, based on some substrate notion of “legitimacy via electoral process,” plus “somebody has to say what the rules are and supposedly enforce them,” could lead to anything better than what we live in — an empire ruled by an oligarchy, at the US scale, or smaller simulacra of the same hierarchy of wealth for less potent “nation-states,” and fractal on down to state and local and “district” organs of government.

      Why does the mopery believe that somehow, a “government, ” subject to capture and ownership by the few, via bribery and infiltration and lobbying, is going to somehow provide decency and comity and “fairness?” I think we all yearn for what we sense ought to be possible, but there’s a significant fraction of us that happily “sees their opportunities and take ‘em” if ever they cross over whatever the divide is that separates actors in politics from the mopes who just go heads-down to be acted upon. We look at an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes with awe and wonder and hope — “Will she break the system and reform it? Please?” — while cynically expecting that she will turn, like a Patty Murray, the “tennis shoes Liberal” from WA, into just another Player in the looting game.

      And then along comes the Gilets Jaunes phenom — following the Occupy moment — can the Crowd become the driver of government? Or are we only able to try to say “NON!”, or alternatively, “just die, after building lootable wealth and paying rent and incurring insupportable and non-dischargeable debt, until you can’t”?

      Reply
        1. Eclair

          Yes, flora. A high taxation rate on the wealth and income of the rich is certainly a cause around which the workers and other peons could rally.

          To counter the blatantly absurd reason of ‘the rich are the job-creators,’ we must argue that we will prevent them from buying the government.

          Moreover, the very wealthy have, for the most part, become that way by being enablers of the despoliation of the environment, the pollution of our water and air and soil, and, ultimately, the main producers of the carbon dioxide that is making our world uninhabitable.

          They and their activities are the main reason our Planet is warming, our cities are sinking, our farmlands are turning to desert. And why millions of humans have been turned away from their homes and lands to wander unwanted throughout the world. They must pay ‘reparations.’ And taxing away their ill-gotten gains is just a start.

          Reply
      1. oh

        We must be very skeptical of all govermental actions couched as being for the common good. The Bernays sauce flows freely!

        Reply
    4. Bugs Bunny

      I’ve been wanting to chime in here since I’ve been out and about over the past few days and managed to get into Paris a couple times yesterday and today and see things and talk to people. Note that all this is anecdotal since I’m the compiler.

      1. Everyone I’ve talked to, from my best friends (left, socialist) to neighbors (right, Catholic), professionals (right, pro-market) and working stiffs in supermarkets, shops, etc. to a person voiced support for the cause of the Gilets Jaunes. Most say they are put off by the violence (especially people on the left, for what it’s worth) but all say that these voices needed to be heard and responded to with concrete measures. The most common comment is “it’s very hard for these people [to get by]”.

      2. More specifically on the damage around the Place de l’Etoile. It’s somewhat worse than I expected. Usually the media will focus in on an incident and (imho) blow the damage out of proportion. In this case, I think it may have been minimized in media reporting. I did not see one bank spared from having windows smashed, in a radius of about 500m around the roundabout. There is burn damage in spots along all of the spoke avenues. There is some remaining graffiti but mostly it’s been blasted off – though you can see where that was done.

      3. The violence seems to have been well organized. A witness I talked to said that the GJs (or others wearing vests) that were involved in burning cars or attacking the police seemed to have military training since they were moving in formations, breaking off for retreats, regrouping in side streets, and using phones to keep up with other groups. The attacks on the police were so fierce that the CRS (elite riot squads) ran for cover behind their armored vehicles. Also there were thousands of tear gas cartridges used and people were affected inside their homes and offices in the general area. One witness (a doctor) told me that he wouldn’t be surprised if people indoors with respiratory problems had needed emergency treatment from exposure to the CO gas used by the police

      That’s all I have for now, folks.

      Reply
      1. Late Introvert

        “I did not see one bank spared from having windows smashed, in a radius of about 500m around the roundabout.”

        Thanks, I can’t imagine Americans ever mustering that kind of focused anger against the banksters.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          The Battle for Seattle fhat set the WTO back on its heels. But the anti-globalization demonstrations that drew me into politics gradually tapered off. Interesting to see them coming back in new garb.

          This is much more like the Cairo uprising of the Arab Spring than Occupy ever was.

          Reply
            1. Late Introvert

              Thanks for the corrections. My comment was historically accurate, sorry!

              How do we take it to the next level though, where it can effect policy and not get shut down, as the Frence people have clearly done time and again. I have a notion it involves people who live in places other than Seattle and NYC.

              Reply
              1. Late Introvert

                IN-accurate, is what I meant to say, and French people, and time and time again. Sigh, my apology needs an apology and two corrections.

                Reply
      2. Lambert Strether

        > moving in formations

        Could be the right, or the black bloc, or agents provocateurs (with overlap between). Black bloc is good at this, especially in Europe. Did you notice any insignia or class/cultural markers?

        Reply
        1. Bugs Bunny

          It was someone else who gave me the description. He said that they were young men in gilets jaunes, provincial types who looked like they had military training. I thought hard right or black bloc as well but he said no masks, no military gear.

          Reply
    5. Amfortas the hippie

      aye, Flora. That’s the paragraph I highlighted.
      MSM wants badly to load it all into easily pooh-poohed stereotypes…”Bernie=Trump”…and maybe it works so well in the usa due to the long habit of 2 party duality, baked into the cake(single member/first past the post).
      The last two changes to the “Party System” in the us….Reagan and FDR…were big…but the parties still chugged along as if everything were the same.
      We hafta go back to the end of the Whigs and the birth of the GOP to get to a clean overturning of the existing duopoly.
      These Yellow Jackets are what Occupy, perhaps, should have been. Of course, the Machine would have just brought out bigger guns, and caused the MSM to paint them even more readily as a threat to all that’s good and holy.
      The NC Commentariate was talking about losing Team Blue friends of late…for daring to criticize. Yesterday, I think.
      On the other side…a woman I talk to sometimes at the plumbing/propane store mentioned trump as a savior for the small bidness class…specifically the tax giveaway.
      I threaded the needle…a “pox on both their houses”…neither party is on our side, and both do nothing that doesn’t ultimately benefit the corporate titans—as I’ve said, her company, and every other small gas company for a hundred miles around, have been bought up by a single all but nameless corp—I endeavored to connect the first with the last, and am sure that I at the very least introduced doubt. But her opinion of me as a weird but very smart dude is overshadowed by Rush on the way home, and Faux Newts when she gets there, and her senile husband’s ramblings after that.
      social media won’t fix this…and neither will flinging poo at the “deplorables”(or the “commies”, for that matter).
      One on one evangelism…at the bus stop, at the counter in the tire shop, in the aisle at the wally whirled…and in the waiting area at the hospital!…
      sadly, this is the hard path.

      Reply
      1. Todde

        Discuss payroll taxes with her.

        If we want to use tax cuts to create more jobs why wouldn’t we start with cutting the actual tax on jobs?

        Then tell her to pull out her income statement and her tax return and compare the number for payroll taxes vs what was.paid for income taxes on her return.

        Payroll taxes are the #1 tax that destroys small businesses, yet we want to discuss income and estate taxes.

        It will expand on your pox on both their houses arguement

        Reply
        1. flora

          Payroll taxes are deductions for Social Security and Medicare, and State and Local tax with holdings.

          Careful you don’t indirectly try to undermine Social Security and Medicare by cutting those funds. That’s exactly what the privatizers would like. They would use it to claim SS and MC are insupportable as is and should be privatized.

          Reply
          1. Todde

            Somebody should tell them that taxes dont fund spending…

            We have overpaid ss taxes since r-squared raised them, probably to help combat consumer inflation.

            Reply
            1. drumlin woodcuckles

              FDR and the passers of Social Security made SS benefits based on FICA taxes so that every eventual SS recipient would feel invested in and rightfully entitled to his earned benefits. I believe the FDR quote is to the effect that he did it that way so that “no damn politician can ever cancel this program”.

              About doubling the FICA tax to “combat consumer inflation” . . . . I don’t think so. I think Greenspan engineered it to build up an accounting surplus which could be later evaporated in upper class tax cuts.

              If you tell people that “taxes don’t fund spending” then you may well have to tell them just exactly what taxes do fund. Because the FICA taxpayers were not/ are not able to issue their own fiat money to pay their taxes with. They ( we) have to work and suffer to be paid in “money” out of which we pay TAXES to the FedGov.
              Those TAXES are definitely a real-time loss of worked-for and suffered-for value to we who had to earn them in order to pay them. So if you tell us that our taxes never funded anything to begin with, you will have to tell us why the Superior Experts who explain that our taxes never funded anything to begin with . . . can’t just turn around and tell us that they never funded our Social Security either. Meaning Social Security was a big joke from the start and we won’t be getting any benefits because “taxes don’t fund spending” so our FICA taxes never funded anything to begin with.

              Which is exactly what Dubya Junior Bush said when he told us that SS might as well be privatised anyway because the bonds held by the SSA are worthless pieces of paper, because “taxes don’t fund spending”. So you will have to explain to us why your motives and outcome would be any different for us.

              Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          This is why I oppose introducing any new payroll taxes: they penalize hiring people. I’ve had a small business, too.

          SS, disability, and unemployment taxes make sense, because they’re directly employment related. Like property taxes for services to property – fire, police, water, etc. The available alternative, income taxes in some form, at least correspond to ability to pay.

          We need new sources of revenue, especially for state and local governments; or ways to pull money out of the economy, for the feds. Extraction taxes would make a lot of sense, since they penalize environmental impact, not employment.

          Reply
  10. KB

    Thank you Yves for pointing out that those of us who grew up with the New Deal feel acute loss….Indeed. We have been pushed down and somehow picked ourselves up by most of neoliberalism’s destructive changes. With every “recovery” we said to ourselves “We could never even have imagined” that this was possible.
    The sense of loss was as hard or more to process than the actual crisis.

    Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. to Suspend Nuclear Treaty With Russia in 60 Days”

    Not really hard to work this one out. The US signed this treaty with Russia yonks ago but since then China has developed their own missile technology which does not fall under the provisions of this treaty since they are not a signatory. Instead of just mutually withdrawing on these grounds, they want to blame Russia on some bogus trumped-up charges which will justify the US putting nuclear-tipped missiles back into Europe. It will be like the 80s all over again.
    The thing that bugs me is the mentality behind such decisions and how deluded they can be. Proconsul Pompeo just gave a speech in Brussels called “Restoring the Role of the Nation-State in the Liberal International Order” which shows the thinking behind this and other important decisions. For those interested, the speech is at-

    https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2018/12/287770.htm

    Just be warned. Do not try to turn it into a drinking game where you have to have a drink for every stupid thing said or your will not make it far.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      America can’t put into EUrope any missiles which the EU OverLords of EUrope don’t want there. If the EUropeans want American missiles in EUrope, force the EUropeans to say so at High Noon on the Courthouse Steps.

      Reply
  12. Another Scott

    A $211 million suicide barrier won project of the year from Utility Dive.

    https://www.constructiondive.com/news/project-of-the-year-golden-gate-bridge-suicide-barrier/538934/

    I hadn’t heard about the project until know, but it seems to me that it’s a lot of money to stop the 30 people who end their lives that way, especially if they instead seek alternate methods. Spending that money on other programs that address the factors that actually lead to suicide would likely cost less and prevent more deaths.

    Reply
    1. Annib

      I wonder. Is the motivation for building a barrier really to prevent suicides? Or is it a city public relations project to prevent the Golden Gate Bridge becoming known as the bridge of last resort? That would not be a great tourist attraction.

      Reply
      1. Jean

        A captive audience of drivers has not other viable alternatives. The Golden Gate was supposed to be toll free once the construction bonds were paid off, something like fifty years ago.
        But, they built a bus system, a ferry system, kept paying for them with toll increases, fired the toll takers to save money with automation, now the tolls are going up again to pay for this boondoogle that will save as you said a few people who can’t figure how to climb over the edge of the net or use alternate means like train tracks etc.
        The board of directors of the Golden Gate Bridge District is made up of local politicians who go on junkets and hold meetings in Hawaii and get paid nicely.

        The absolute worst of them is local Marin supervisor Kate Sears who lives in nearby Sausalito and owns Shell Oil stock while chairing various transit committees.

        Reply
      2. JBird4049

        Spending that money on other programs that address the factors that actually lead to suicide would likely cost less and prevent more deaths.

        And

        Or is it a city public relations project to prevent the Golden Gate Bridge becoming known as the bridge of last resort?

        What? People from all over the world make the trip to the bridge in order to kill themselves. It is the United Nations of Death. So while better mental health programs would be nice there would still be plenty of people trying to die by bridge.

        The Golden Gate has been a suicide magnet for eighty years and for most of that time people have been arguing over ways to reduce the deaths with a barrier being a serious idea since at least the 1980s and probably earlier. It being a tourist attraction as a well as a death bridge has put been a great hindrance to even ameliorating the death rate because that would possibly affect affect the money coming from all those tourists. Money being more important than people’s lives you understand.

        Over 75 years about 1,600 bodies were recovered and a lot of bodies have never been found, even when people have witness the victim jump due to the fog, weather, and strong and fasts currents even the nearby coast guard rescue boats cannot find them. I would be very surprised if the number of deaths did not exceed 2,000 over the eighty years the Golden Gate has been up.

        Reply
        1. barefoot charley

          The Chronicle concluded in an article years ago that most Golden Gate jumpers were local, much to their surprise. The bridge symbolizes murkier more to Bay Area folk than to the rest of us, who don’t think much about it at all.

          Reply
        2. Jean

          Good, then maybe the U.N. or a national suicide prevention agency could pay for the hundreds of millions the net will cost.
          Why should I as a local driver trying to make ends meet have to?

          Reply
          1. JBird4049

            We should not pay for it as they keep bumping up the prices for “reasons.” Got rid of the toll collectors too, but the board always whines about money problems and jacks the toll.

            With that all said, some two thousand people have died and it would be nice to stop that. Most of those suicides were impulse decisions. Make it just a little harder to kill one’s self and most will not die. A barrier should be put up despite the costs or appearance. Had they installed one thirty years ago maybe hundreds more, or even a thousand, people would be alive today.

            Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    I may be wrong on this one but I seem to recollect that an Australian TV program was somehow mentioned here about the beginning of this year. It was about a train called “The Ghan” and went for about 17 hours in what is called Slow TV. Don’t ask me why it got popular in some circles it just did. Some people found it soothing and I am assuming that it could be accessed worldwide.
    The reason that I bring it up is that in the new year there will be four new shows along this line for those interested. One will be ‘The Indian Pacific: Australia’s Longest Train Journey’. Then ‘The Kimberley Cruise: Australia’s Last Great Wilderness’ which will be done by boat. Then ‘All Aboard! The Canal Trip’ which will be aboard a Canal boat in England’s Kenet and Avon Canal and finally ‘North to South’ in New Zealand going by railways, sailing and driving. Details at-

    https://www.sbs.com.au/guide/article/2018/11/26/its-back-get-set-long-hot-sbs-slow-summer

    Reply
    1. RUKidding

      I really wanted to do the Kimberly Cruise, myself, but boyohboy is it ever expensive, even given the exchange rate for US/Aussie Dollars. Maybe I’ll watch that show.

      As an aside, I have watched the Ghan go by whilst driving past the tracks in the NT. Perhaps will take that trip one of these days. Also would like to go across the Nullarbor on the Indian Pacific. So many things to do, so little time, alas…

      Reply
  14. Aaron

    Hagiography is the order of the day in the land of the not so free and those would prefer to cave rather than be brave. That was a masterful post on the Volcker legacy. Just solidifies my opinion that the Fed is simply the wealth extraction PR department of a corrupt financial system and morally bankrupt leadership.

    Reply
  15. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you to Pretzelattack and Kevin W for the link to Reuters making stuff up. One should not be surprised, especially by a firm that employed Chrystia Freeland.

    Three friends, including two former colleagues, have been made redundant from the London HQ in the past 18 months. They report poor morale, Thomson family negligence and the sort of atmosphere where such fake news is required to keep one’s job and / or prepare for another, perhaps at the Grauniad.

    Reply
  16. Anthony K Wikrent

    Yes, there is some ageism in Nearsighted Neoliberalism Helped Mobilize Today’s Far Right, but what I think is extremely important about the essay is that it explicitly identifies the root problem and its solution. We need to abandon the “unquestioned article of faith” of “freeing the market from the dumb overhang of government involvement, and ” propose a new vision of the appropriate role of government.”

    But it is not really a “new” vision. It is simply a return to insisting on the “promotion of the General Welfare” as the paramount object of government.

    But the left cripples itself by believing that the present systems that have “cut social services to the bone, lowered taxes, celebrated public-private partnerships, and enthusiastically embraced the idea of limited government—eliminating hundreds of civil service jobs in the process” are following “original intent” of the founding of these governments. If these systems are the “original intent” then WHAT, i must ask, has been the purpose of the incessent multi-billion dollar lobbying and “education” efforts of the Smith-Richardsons, Kochs, Adelsons, Milton Friedmans, Mont Pelerin Societies, American Enterprise Insititutes, and the rest of the ghoulish gang of “small government” ideologues who insist selfishness is a virtue?

    Has their purpose been to preserve the “capitalist” original intent from the “road to serfdom” of the modern welfare state?

    Or has it been to reinterpret history, to squash the idea of republicanism and the promotion of the General Welfare, and impose their own alien, reactionary, feudalistic ideas, which limit and cripple government?

    History has been a war of ideas, and the purest form of an idea has seldom been embodied in reality. That leaves us to pick and choose from the vast depository of the historical record those actions, statements, and conditions that we each think best conforms to our preferred interpretation.

    Here is what I have chosen:

    “In a republic “each individual gives up all private interest that is not consistent with the general good, the interest of the whole body.” For the republican patriots of 1776 the commonweal was all encompassing—a transcendent object with a unique moral worth that made partial considerations fade into insignificance. “Let regard be had only to the good of the whole” was the constant exhortation by publicists and clergy. Ideally, republicanism obliterated the individual. “A Citizen,” said Sam Adams, “owes everything to the Commonwealth.” “Every man in a republic,” declared Benjamin Rush, “is public property. His time, his talents—his youth—his manhood—his old age—nay more, life, all belong to his country.” “No man is a true republican,” wrote a Pennsylvanian in 1776, “that will not give up his single voice to that of the public.”
    — Gordon Wood, Creation of the American Republic, pp. 60-61.

    “The great fault of the existing Confederacy is its inactivity. It has never been a complaint against Congress that they have governed overmuch. The complaint has been that they have governed too little. To remedy this defect, we were sent here.”
    James Wilson, USA Constitutional Convention, Saturday July 14, 1787.

    Reply
  17. Anthony K Wikrent

    Jeff Spross’ attack on Volcker is a very welcome corrective to the hagiography.

    I would be more harsh: Volcker was faced with a choice between usury and real economic production, and he choose usury.

    The details are clearly presented in Willian Greider’s The Secrets of the Temple. Volcker forcibly “advised” state governments to repeal their usury laws. Volcker granted millions of dollars in support to large banks that got caught in the Hunt brothers’ squeeze on silver. Volcker at about the same time rejected giving millions of dollars in support to Chrysler. Volcker lauded and proclaimed the inventive genius of new financial products, such as interest rate future and swaps. Volcker refused to follow the evidence that much of the funding for mergers and acquisitions and leveraged buyouts was coming from organized crime.

    Reply
    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Amen. From the article:

      Volcker explicitly viewed breaking the power of organized labor as a critical piece of his anti-inflation crusade. “The standard of living of the average American has to decline,” Volcker declared shortly after becoming Fed Chair. Trace the modern trends in wage stagnation and inequality, and they lead back to Volcker’s recession.

      There’s also the lesson Volcker taught the Fed. In many ways, the institutional culture of the Fed remains fixated on the moral narrative of the 1970s inflation and guided by Volcker’s tough-love disciple. Fed Chair Alan Greenspan, Volcker’s successor, argued that keeping workers “traumatized” was key to restraining prices.

      And from the original 1979 NY Times (penned by Steve Rattner, journalist):

      WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 — Paul A. Volcker, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, asserted today that Americans must accept a reduction in their living standards, if inflation is to be reduced.

      In Congressional testimony before the Joint Economic Committee, Mr. Volcker maintained that, because of the drain of American wealth to the oil‐producing countries, Americans would have to accept less. If they try to keep up, he warned, the result would be a new burst of inflation.

      “The standard of living of the average American has to decline,” he said. “I don’t think you can escape that.”

      A Familiar Argument

      In that logic, Mr. Volcker was following not only similar remarks of his own of recent weeks, but also the identical line of argument that the Administration has put forward for many months. Administration economists regard as their top anti‐inflation priority preventing the recent surge in energy and housing prices from spilling over into wages.

      Good times.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Yes, in William Greider’s book on the Fed, Secrets of the Temple, he reported that during the period when he was raising interest rates to the moon, he kept a card in his pocket. He was tracking weekly construction wages as his proxy as to whether “unions were getting the message” as Volcker put it.

        Reply
        1. Todde

          I remember him giving testimony to Congress where he said ‘you have your constituents, and i have mine’ when questioned by a congresscritter.

          I assumed i wasnt ome of hia constituents

          Reply
      2. pjay

        “…Mr. Volcker was following not only similar remarks of his own of recent weeks, but also the identical line of argument that the Administration has put forward for many months…”

        Carter, of course, made our acceptance of this decline a moral imperative, while Reagan happily promoted what Herb Stein called “the economics of joy” (or “voodoo economics,” in honor of you-know-who). Reagan won, Volker carried on, and here we are. Reagan got his hagiographic moment; Volker gets his while still living (as the article points out). I’m curious about what the blob will say about Carter.

        Reply
  18. ambrit

    Off topic, but I don’t know…
    Has anyone else noticed a sudden descent into “journalistic excrementalism” by the Yahoo “news” site lately? I used to complain that roughly one in five “articles” were ‘sponsored content,’ otherwise known as commercials. Now I notice that about half of the remaining content consists of advertising thinly disguised as ‘news items.’ The sheer magnitude of pieces on nip slips, Royal couturiere, ‘celebrity’ gossip and the like is making the site an actual detriment to the search for meaning in the universe.
    Now that Yahoo reserves the right to read the customer’s e-mail for “advertising targeting purposes,” I’m kind of gobsmacked. Warning against this sort of thing used to be derided as “conspiracy theory” nuttery.
    Cynicism now needs must enter into the higher realms of transdimensional existence.
    Applying the above, today’s human must imagine the worst case scenario for any situation, and then take one giant step onward, into the unknown.

    Reply
    1. Jean

      Plus the obvious padding of “news stories” that end up with long Hemingwayesque descriptions of the subject at hand before the meat of the article–all to create space to insert ads in and alongside the copy.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        True that. Plus, on the internet based media, the enormous amounts of computing power tied up in routing and rendering the advertising. I try to read the items scrolled at the bottom left of my computer screen when I first ‘open’ a site. They show the progression of “requests,” “caches,” “connecting to”s, and identifying ‘handshakes’ that go on before a site will settle down and supply something approaching actual “consumer related content.” On Yahoo, at least, it is almost like the “News Scroll” on the Jumbotron in Times Square; an endless progression of arcana.
        Happy Ex-President Burial Day.

        Reply
    1. Sparkling

      I still remember when they bought Tumblr in late 2012 and a bunch of Clintonite nonsense started appearing on the site. That was actually where it all started this decade– the increasingly vicious rehashing of social justice talking points from the 90s spilled over into other parts of the internet and then into real life. So I find your comment both ominous and a clear sign Hillary is going to run again.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Interesting point. I had not considered the political dimension to this. A case could be made that the DLC, ie. Clintonite elite’s playbook would be to infantilize the electorate and then feed that electorate a constant stream of identity politics enhancing “news” items.
        Riffing off of the obvious thematic similarities between Hillary Clinton and Marie Antoinette, let us take the purported Antionetteism, “Let them eat cake,” and set up a “Cake Party” spoof of the DLC elite’s political operations. Much hilarity can be generated and some ‘Consent” deconstructed.

        Reply
        1. Sparkling

          Honestly, I don’t think they needed to infantilize anyone. There are already a lot of Millennials with developmental delays (ex: autism) and even when you consider people that develop normally there are always people who will be the same petulant as*holes they were in high school forever. As you can imagine, identity labels mean a great deal to that crowd. (Sometimes I wonder if that’s why there are so many “my best years were in high school/college” comments.)

          Reply
          1. drumlln woodchuckles

            Anti-Millennialism seems like the flip-side of anti-boomerism. The worst of the Jonestown Clinties and Pink Pussy Hat groupies are too old to be Millennials.

            Reply
  19. Summer

    Re: AI / Automating legal world

    The extent to which this automation is allowed to occur is the perfect test of the higher education system.

    Reply
      1. wilroncanada

        Maybe jamming again with Ronnie Hawkins and whoever his backup band is now. Levon Helm and the Hawks (The Band) and Crowbar with King Biscuit Boy (Richard Newell) have long since departed. In fact, many have long since departed this mortal coil.

        Reply
  20. johnf

    NEARSIGHTED NEOLIBERALISM HELPED MOBILIZE TODAY’S FAR RIGHT. Important, but has an annoying ageist theme.

    And considerable psychological projection. As someone who has been living through what the author writes about, I had some trouble understanding the article. Until I supposed it was really about the United States, not Germany – then the article made a great deal more sense.

    Reply
  21. NotTimothyGeithner

    Its interesting, but it feels much easier to escape than the beautification ritual for Saint McCain. It was probably Greenwald (maybe Atrios?), but someone described the McCain funeral as a funeral for the end the current Washington consensus amid the recent primaries.

    Reply
  22. Summer

    Re: France protests /rejection of Macron

    You have to admit that when speaking to the public Macron makes Hillary Clinton sound like Huey Long.

    Reply
  23. dk

    Here’s a different angle on the Gilets Jaunes protests, I think it’s important:

    Here’s How Facebook’s Local News Algorithm Change Led To The Worst Riots Paris Has Seen In 50 Years

    This isn’t the first time real-life violence has followed a viral Facebook storm and it certainly won’t be the last. Much has already been written about the anti-Muslim Facebook riots in Myanmar and Sri Lanka and the WhatsApp lynchings in Brazil and India. Well, the same process is happening in Europe now, on a massive scale. Here’s how Facebook tore France apart.

    So, in less than two weeks, what you end up with is this: A Change.org petition with fewer than 1,500 subscribers gets talked about on a local radio station. The radio appearance is written up by a local news site. The article is shared to a local Facebook page. Thanks to an algorithm change that is now emphasizing local discussion, the article dominates the conversation in a small town. Two men from the same suburb then turn the petition into a Facebook event. A duplicate petition goes viral within the local Facebook groups. Then a daily newspaper writes up the original petition. This second article about the petition also goes viral. So does the original petition. And then the rest of French media follows.

    https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanhatesthis/france-paris-yellow-jackets-facebook

    Reply
  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Corporate tax breaks cost U.S. schools billions of lost revenue: report Reuters (EM)

    —-

    I googled ‘k12 education spending by country,’ (so that the below is reproducible) and got one from NCSE based on OECD data that showed the US #4 in spending in 2014. There is another one 2013 article from CBS that says US education spending tops global list. And a 2018 article from Investopedia that in 2014 the US spent the most (probably from the same OECD soure above).

    There are also results from the google search that talk about year-over-year changes, which are different from how much was spent in any particular year.

    Is that it, or are there other ways to looking that will show the US under spends? Perhaps knowledge received per dollar spent? (That would harder to compute. Do we go by international standarized tests to arrive at ‘knowledge received?’)

    Reply
    1. Left in Wisconsin

      The problem is there is no good way to separate out education spending from educational overhead:
      1. Employee health care costs are huge.
      2. Building costs are very high in very many districts. This is a huge problem in shrinking inner-city districts that often have very well-built but poorly maintained legacy schools.
      3. I believe transportation spending for US school children in much higher than in other countries.

      But I have never seen this clearly laid out anywhere by someone who knew the numbers.

      Reply
    2. noonespecial

      Re: [A]re there other ways to looking that will show the US under spends?

      I would recommend Jonathan Kozol (“Death at An Early Age” 1967 and “Savage Inequalities” 1991). His writings help provide some historical context.

      Here’s a link to an article from the Atlantic (1967) related to one of his first books “Death at An Early Age”.

      https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1967/09/death-at-an-early-age/305261/

      One only has to search “top vs. worst public school districts in state x” to learn that class matters in terms of educational outcomes.

      Reply
  25. John

    The poo article in the Guardian was the most useful and informative on offer today. It was actually a more accurate description of what was going on in National Cathedral as a crime family was burying its Capo.

    Reply
  26. Eclair

    Interesting, MyLessThanPrimeBeef. I did some searching also, and the US is certainly up there in per capita education costs.

    Of course, the US per capita spending on health care soars far above other countries. And, for this we get diminishing life expectancy and abysmal maternal/child death rates.

    Education costs include capital spending and transportation and, maybe, administrators? Do we ‘overspend’ on centralized new buildings and expensive school buses to transport students? Are there heavy layers of administrators (VP’s for Discipline?)?

    And, because school funding is very much local in the US, there tend to be great disparities among districts. And states. Per pupil spending varies from $6,953 in Utah to $22,366 in New York.

    But, large corporate real estate holdings do get breaks on property taxes. While local home-owners do not (unless you are a penurious senior, in some localities). But, do RE taxes also pay for other ‘amenities?’ Roads, bridges, parks, pollution abatement, public transportation?

    As I said, interesting. Why does the article pick education spending? And, certainly, per capita spending on many services, health care and education among them, does not insure quality.

    Reply
  27. ambrit

    Something for the California Wildfire files.
    A judge has ruled that Merced Property and Casualty Company must be liquidated because it is unable to meet all claims arising from the Paradise City fire.
    First: https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/04/us/camp-fire-insurance-company-liquidation/index.html
    Then the beginning of the end, read: https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/west/2018/12/02/510765.htm
    I noticed that, even though the policies will be taken over by the California Insurance Guarantee Association, there are limits to CIGA payouts, for the rest, get in line, hat in hand, at the liquidation process.
    This is just the beginning.

    Reply
  28. ewmayer

    o “Is visiting a robot brothel ok? Most people say yes, if you are single New Scientist (Dr. Kevin)” — Indeed, it would be crass to continue engaging in brothelly love after one is married … one’s robot spouse might be rather put out.

    o “China Announces Punishments For Intellectual-Property Theft | Bloomberg” — It’s easy to *announce* things. I hereby announce that I shall be the first human on Mars. See how easy that was?

    o “Trump’s New Immigration Rule Could Threaten Health Care for 6.8 Million Children Who Are U.S. Citizens | Governing” — You mean much like neoliberal for-profit rent-seeking has threatened (if not eliminated) health care for the rest of us U.S. citizens? Funny, I don’t seem to recall an MSM hue and cry about that much-wider-scale crapification as it was happening.

    o “The Secret Service Wants To Test Facial Recognition Around the White House The Verge” — Those scary-Trump Halloween masks are gonna be flying off the shelves.

    o “Apple Hit With Class Action Suit Over Lack of Dust Filters In Macbook, iMac 9to5Mac” — Yeah, and even in the early-gen MacBooks, they made those little cooling fans insanely hard to reach for cleaning/replacement. If they’d wanted to, they could’ve easily designed the fan unit to be easily pop-in-and-outable from the back of the chassis. But that would mar Jony Ive’s grandiose Frank-Gehry-esque seamless-design fantasies. Because a laptop is designed to be looked at like a piece of art, not used for work, dontchaknow. Actually, come to think of it, a Frank-Gehry-esque titanium housing might’ve been a good idea, aside from the hideous manufacturability issues and expense – but I’m sure Apple would’ve found plenty of showoff-loving users willing to pay $1000 extra for an ultra-tough and kewl titanium housing.

    o From the Volcker piece: “Tight money is usually the cause célèbre of the American right. When the Fed dropped interest rates to zero and started up quantitative easing to boost the recovery from the Great Recession, eventual House Speaker Paul Ryan and the rest of the Republican Party were apoplectic, repeatedly warning that hyperinflation was just around the corner.” — Well, hyperinlfation of a kind *did* occur in housing and other financial assets. My apartment rent doubled between 2011 and 2018.

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