Links 1/13/19

When London’s Dragons Ruled Before Skyscrapers American Conservative

One day your voice will control all your gadgets, and they will control you MIT Technology Review

Musk: Tesla getting “regulatory pushback” on remote-control feature Ars Technica

Sleep expert Matthew Walker on the secret to a good night’s rest FT

Before Lisbeth Salander: The couple that invented Nordic noir with the Martin Beck series of books Scroll.on

The prosecution of pirates was a model for today’s system of international justice The Conversation

Waste Watch

Precycle Is a New Bushwick Grocery Store With a Mission Grab Street

Syraqistan

Refugees in the Channel are risking everything because of western intervention in the Middle East Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

Iran protests to Poland over Iran-focused summit Reuters

NYT Laments U.S. Disengagement Even As There Is None Moon of Alabama

US takes Israel’s advice for unified ‘Syraq’ strategy Asia Times

New Jerusalem ‘Apartheid Road’ opens, separating Palestinians and Jewish settlers Haaretz (AL)

Palestinian citizens of Israel struggle to tell their stories Columbia Journalism Review

Our Famously Free Press

The US media has lost one of its sanest voices on military matters – so let’s hope William Arkin’s absence is brief Independent. Robert Fisk.

Everything the Western Mainstream Media Outlets Get Wrong When Covering Poor Countries Counterpunch

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

There’s a simple reason why your new smart TV was so affordable: It’s collecting and selling your data Business Insider. who’s watching whom?

The Remoralization of the Market NYT (David L)

Lawsuit challenges Wisconsin laws limiting new governor’s power Jurist

Gilets Jaunes

Yellow Vest Protesters Destroy 60 Percent of France’s Speed Cameras US News

Tens of thousands take to streets in Act 9 of ‘Yellow Vest’ protests France24.com

Brexit

Airbus faces a major disruption in a no-deal Brexit Handelsblatt

MoD sends planners to ministries over post-Brexit border fears Guardian

‘We Should Not Be Afraid of No Deal’ Der Spiegel. Interview with David Davis.

Brexit: one problem at a time EUReferendum.com

Class Warfare

Government Shutdown Threatens Section 8 and Food Stamps TruthOut

How neoliberalism’s obsession with markets destroyed the heart and soul of key jobs AlterNet

Fully Filling the Global Fund Project Syndicate Project Syndicate. Jeffrey Sachs et al.

Amazon.com Should Give The SEC What It Wants International Business Times

Democrats in Disarray

Welcome Their Hatred Jacobin

Oprah Sets Bradley Cooper, Michael B. Jordan & Beto O’Rourke Q & A For NYC Deadline Hollywood. Kill Me Now.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Is Running for President With Focus on ‘War and Peace’ Common Dreams

Kamala Harris Is Hard to Define Politically. Maybe That’s the Point. NYT

Joe Biden Should Spare Us All the Trouble TruthDig

As Democratic Elites Reunite With Neocons, the Party’s Voters Are Becoming Far More Militaristic and Pro-War Than Republicans Intercept. Glenn Greenwald

Health Care

Memorial Sloan Kettering Curbs Executives’ Ties to Industry After Conflict-of-Interest Scandals ProPublica

In states, Democrats start delivering on health care pledges AP

V.A. Seeks to Redirect Billions of Dollars Into Private Care NYT

India

Why Narendra Modi May Answer Farmers’ Distress With a Basic Income Plan The Wire

China?

All under Heaven, China’s challenge to the Westphalian system Asia Times. Pepe Escobar.

Is Xi Jinping’s Taiwan reunification push hastening a US-China clash? SCMP

The War on Populism Consent Factory (UserFriendly)

Trump Transition

President Trump promises H-1B visa holders changes, path to citizenship San Francisco Chronicle

‘Could you make these guys essential?’: Mortgage industry gets shutdown relief after appeal to senior Treasury officials WaPo

Worried About the FDA Inspection Shutdown? Eat Like You’re Pregnant Bloomberg

Trump’s Ambassador Finds Few Friends in Germany Der Spiegel

Antidote du jour (J-LS photo, December 2018):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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180 comments

    1. Baby Gerald

      The link in the list is still not working- there’s an ‘https:www.nakedcapitalism.com’ before the actual link in the code.

      Reply
  1. Olga

    For anyone who wanders about China’s intentions, “All under Heaven, China’s challenge to the Westphalian system Asia Times. Pepe Escobar” provides important guidance. The way he describes philosophical/historical/mythological underpinnings of the Chinese approach goes a long way to illuminating actions of the current Ch. govt.:
    “This introduces us to a fascinating conceptual bridge linking ancient China to 21st-century globalization, arguing that political concepts defined by nation-states, imperialisms, and rivalries for hegemony are losing meaning when faced with globalization. The future is symbolized by the new power of all-inclusive global networks – which is at the center of the BRI concept… Thus the Tianxia system is inclusive and not exclusive; it suppresses the idea of enemy and foreigner; no country or culture would be designated as an enemy, and be non-incorporable to the system.”
    To me, at least, this makes supreme sense – folks in the west have been conditioned over decades (centuries, actually) of imperialistic disinformation to think of the world in terms of divisions – pitting nations against each other in a (ultimately) destructive competitive tango. But it does not have to be that way. In fact – particularly given the life-ending power of the current military hardware – cooperation among the nations would seem to be the only way forward. I’ve long thought that this is what the Ch. are trying to achieve (and I am sure the Russians concur). Nice to know that there is an ancient thought process to back it all up.

    Reply
    1. Vastydeep

      Great points. It’s not just fiction: Xi is Milo Minderbinder, BRI is the Syndicate, and everybody has a share!

      Reply
        1. Vastydeep

          Seriously — the denouement of WWII that Heller describes in Catch-22 is framed in the certainty that the war would wind down and the Allies would win. Individual actors and actions wouldn’t change the outcome, so the whole goal for Yossarian was to keep *anybody – on either side* from killing him.

          Imagine a Catch-22 where the war is stalemated — like WWI, just endless pointless slaughter. In that world, the Syndicate might look like a better form of governance than either side is fighting under. There is some evidence that WWI ended because soldiers on both sides basically gave up the fight — the 1914 “Christmas Truce” – expanded. Pepe Escobar describes a worldview where they “give a war” — and nobody *does* come.

          Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      I’m afraid I have to respectfully disagree with this – I like Escobars writing in general, but I think he’s gone native and swallowed a lot of the tripe that the Chinese love to serve up to the laowai. This, in particular:

      One of Beijing’s key foreign policies is no interference in other nations’ internal affairs. In parallel, the historical record since the end of WWII shows that the US has never refrained from interfering in other nations’ internal affairs.

      The notion that Beijing will not interfere in other countries internal affairs will be greeted with a hollow laugh in countries from Myanmar and Thailand and Laos to the Philippines and Vietnam, not to mention Bhutan and other neighbours and those within its sphere of influence. What the Chinese mean when they say they won’t ‘interfere’ is that they won’t give lectures on human rights or take sides in internal civil wars – which is certainly an improvement on the west.

      But Beijing has never been afraid of using either direct military force (Tibet, Vietnam, and most recently the incursions into Bhutan), indirect military threats (most recently over its island bases, to countries including the Philippines and Vietnam), to a wider use of soft power through its Confucian Institutes. Not least, its particularly adept at using subtle forms of control on its diaspora to influence the host country.

      I can’t claim any insight to what is discussed internally in Beijing about the Belt and Road initiative – in many ways it is both admirable and incredibly ambitious. But its typical Chinese misdirection to insist that it’s just tied up in some ancient Chinese philosophical woo-woo. It’s all about power and money – extending Chinese control through its neighbours and sea lanes, and finding a way to absorb Chinese infrastructural over-investment. I’m not criticising China for this – this is what all powerful countries do to one extent or another, its just pragmatic geopolitics. But Escobar is allowing his gaze to be torn away from the real power dynamics of what is going on.

      Reply
      1. barefoot charley

        Good points. Fundamentally, China’s debt diplomacy across Asia and Africa looks as rapacious as the good old American-style, which kicks into high gear when emerging currencies sink against the dollar (thanks to Western ‘investors’. Whatever will precipitate equivalent Chinese asset-grabs (so far it’s been scale of debt and size of scandal in Sri Lanka and Malaysia respectively) confiscations will inevitably continue, because the trade to pay for all that infrastructure will be controlled by China. Ideals that pay aren’t so idealistic, and we know Pepe Escobar knows this. So I take this article to be some kind of insider-turnstile token payment, which I hope will lead to informed analysis in the future. (And it’s always fun to hear how others justify the unjustifiable.)

        Reply
        1. barefoot charley

          I blush to observe that Trump and the Grey Lady agree with me, so I must reconsider:

          The Trump administration has accused China of engaging in predatory lending aimed at trapping countries in debt, acquiring strategic assets like ports, and spreading corruption and authoritarian values. In response, the United States has announced an effort to help American businesses compete.

          “We’re streamlining international development and finance programs, giving foreign nations a just and transparent alternative to China’s debt-trap diplomacy,” Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech in October. The White House has also unveiled an Africa strategy aimed at China.

          From today’s https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/13/world/africa/china-loans-africa-usa.html

          Reply
          1. lordkoos

            “…engaging in predatory lending aimed at trapping countries in debt…”

            This kind of stuff is right out of the USA/IMF playbook.

            Reply
      2. Will This Post Or Disappear, Only Time Knows

        The Nation-State, vs the Feudal system isn’t that old in the west, it’s newly born infant in terms of China’s historical, philosophical, and moral code systems; this is what caused Sun Yat-sen a great headache, and is an important key to understanding the differences between Maoism and both Stalinist & Leninist thought.

        Government in Republican China by Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger
        https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/01/links-1-13-19.html#comment-3085262

        Reply
        1. Plenue

          “and is an important key to understanding the differences between Maoism and both Stalinist & Leninist thought.”

          Is it really worth spending time and effort understanding the minute difference between three systems that all ended in disaster and mass death? They all suck, move on.

          Reply
      3. Plenue

        The idea being pushed in that article, that

        “the Tianxia system is inclusive and not exclusive; it suppresses the idea of enemy and foreigner; no country or culture would be designated as an enemy, and be non-incorporable to the system.”

        is 100% bullshit. What constitutes ‘China’ has waxed and waned over the ages, but invariably no matter how big or small it is, everyone outside its borders is firmly labeled as ‘barbarians’. You could say “oh, that’s just one way of translating it; it just means outsiders” but in practice the word is usually distinctly negative in connotation, just as barbaroi and barbarus were to the Greeks and Romans.

        The Japanese called their King an Emperor in a move to ape the grandest title from the Chinese; it was a deliberate statement of equality aimed at rebutting Chinese arrogance. To the Chinese there is only one Emperor under Heaven, everyone else is a Chieftain or King. Tianxia is a total systemic worldview to the extent that it divides everyone up into one of two categories: those who matter and everyone else.

        Reply
    3. Synoia

      On the two banks of the Blood River in South Africa live Zulu. During Christmas, when South Africa have a month long Statuary Holiday starting about December 16, to allow migrants to visit home, the two Zulu sides used to fight.

      And die. Why did they fight? Heredity enemies.

      Human nature, fight or flight controls out actions. Negotiate can only happen when both sides are no under pressure, and any agreement, requires both sides to be slightly unhappy with the agreement – a condition our US DBLs (dear beloved leaders) do not seem to grasp.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Is this what you are talking about?

        https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3376762/Blood-knock-surrender-three-rules-South-African-bare-knuckle-fight-club-tournament-held-Boxing-Day-prize-respect.html

        If so, don’t forget that in Victorian England and going way back, amateur boxing was very popular. I have read of how in Oz that they used to have boxing tents that went from town to town and challenging the locals in boxing challenges for money. Not so different to what those Bantu are doing as far as I can see.

        Reply
      2. knowbuddhau

        I’ll see your silly syllogism: If some people, at some time, did A, then all people, at all times, do A; and raise another:

        Peaceful society

        No trace of warfare has been found at Caral: no battlements, no weapons, no mutilated bodies. Shady’s findings suggest it was a gentle society, built on commerce and pleasure. In one of the temples, they uncovered 32 flutes made of condor and pelican bones and 37 cornetts of deer and llama bones. One find revealed the remains of a baby, wrapped and buried with a necklace made of stone beads.[5]

        Human nature, right? They were peaceful then, so we all must be peaceful always, right? Of course not.

        And it’s been found to be *freeze, flight, or by all means, avoid a potentially injurious fight; if fight you must, fight smart. Ever see smaller birds harassing eagles? I watched a trio of crows hardly let a bald-eagle rest, nearly driving it to ground several times, for 2 hours last summer. It’s not all about how big your stick is.

        As Escobar points out, it’s a culture thing. Ours is way, way past its sell-by date. Nothing in nature compels us to be bellophilic.

        Reply
        1. knowbuddhau

          And not to pile on, just browsing my favorite science site, seems it’s time for an update to our views about Rapa Nui:

          Easter Island not victim of ‘ecocide’, analysis of remains shows

          “The Rapa Nui people were, not surprisingly, smart about how they used their resources,” he said. “And all the misunderstanding comes from our preconceptions about what subsistence should look like, basically European farmers thinking, ‘Well, what should a farm look like?’ And it didn’t look like what they thought, so they assumed something bad had happened, when in fact it was a perfectly smart thing to do. It continues to support the new narrative that we’ve been finding for the past ten years.”

          See also: Easter Island not destroyed by war, analysis of ‘spear points’ shows

          Supporting those claims, other researchers looked at pre-contact land use: Researcher uncovers surprising cause of the demise of Easter Island indigenous population

          There is no evidence that massive physical erosion took place on Rapa Nui before European contact and it is unlikely that physical erosion caused productivity decline and societal collapse. While we do not have direct population data, it is clear that people were reacting to regional environmental variation on the island before they were devastated by the introduction of European diseases and other historic processes. In short, our research does not support the suggestion that societal collapse occurred prior to European contact due to physical erosion and productivity decline, but it does indicate that use of less optimal environmental regions changed prior to European contact.

          Our way of being human is not the only way. Just the one that, in only a few hundred years, has so overplayed its hand we just might ruin the only known biosphere in the known universe for everyone, at least for maybe a hundred thousand years or so. That is, if we don’t tip over into the Neo-Hadean. It’s potentially as bad as it can get.

          And it ain’t all neoliberalism’s fault: we were on this course before they jacked the state and juiced the economy. It was known in the 19th century that putting all that carbon in the atmosphere could change the climate. And it did. But we’re waging several illegal wars of aggression to dominate fossil fuels all the same.

          Rapa Nui society lasted 500 years. Will energy-intensive industrial society make it to the mid-2200s? Well, let’s see. Apart from any changes we might make, China and India have yet to fully build-out the way the US and Europe have. They show no intention of not. And what about mother Africa?

          The way we’re doin it now? Signs Point to No.

          Reply
    4. Fraibert

      I am skeptical of this interpretation of “all under heaven.”. I feel it deliberately glosses over an important component of the concept–that China is at the center of the world and all other peoples are to one degree or another parts of the periphery. I think rather than creating “cooperation among nations” the idea is to in part rerealize imperial China’s conception of itself in a modern context.

      Put that way, it is really about creating a sphere of influence and control. The west is not the only cultural with imperial history and thought.

      Reply
      1. Fraibert

        In short, I agree with PlutoniumKun’s comment above.

        We already spend too much time romanticizing our own issues… Let’s stop projecting our biases on foreign concepts that are 2500 years old..

        Reply
        1. Olga

          I would respectively disagree with your and PK’s respectful disagreement. I try to keep an open mind – and it is my point that those in the west have been steeped in the “it’s all about competition and the other” discourse for so long that they simply cannot conceive of any other way. Worse – they are automatically (a priori) suspect of “any other way.” It is quite sad, actually. The other point is – that the humanity simply cannot continue of the current path – otherwise war and environmental destruction loom. I’d say it’d behoove us all to suspend our skepticism and work towards a better end. Even if China were to be the new hegemon (and I do not believe that is possible, but what do I know), trade is always better than endless war.

          Reply
          1. coboarts

            And before the Battle of Plataea the forces of Xerxes offered the Greeks an easy way out, just be assimilated and we’ll set you back up. We have western civilization, because they didn’t choose slavery. In geopolitics there are no “good” guys. There are our guys and other guys. It has always been that way, and it hasn’t changed. But, of course, under Chinese skies there would be no more war and environmental destruction…

            Reply
          2. Fraibert

            You are expressing good and noble sentiments that I largely agree with.

            However, the phrase “all under heaven” as a concept is embedded within a China-centric conception of the entire universe (physical and metaphysical). However open-minded you wish to be, I do not see how Mr. Escobar or you can ignore this underlying fact. (In fact, my understanding that one of the many concepts contained within the phrase “all under heaven” is the actual concept that China literally IS “all under heaven”–that the entire world is China’s dominion.)

            Reply
            1. gepay

              Pepe Escobar has a very readable reporting style. He is also refreshing from the usual Western media mainstream reporting style on China. It is hard to know what is true. How much are Uighurs being repressed beyond the usual of insiders aligned with the central government getting the good contracts and the encouragement of Han Chinese to relocate there. I do wonder as he completely doesn’t report on Chinese government repression – like the social credit scores where if you criticize the government you don’t get to use public transportation or buy property. That said, building infrastructure in foreign countries to facilitate trade is far better than turning countries into rubble. Are they using “economic hitman” types of policies or simply the normal trying to get the best contract for oneself that one can? I notice that the new non-corrupt Prime Minister of Malaysia is renegotiating contracts made under the previous very corrupt PM.

              Reply
      2. bruce wilder

        Indeed.

        Consider China’s obnoxious insistence that the South China Sea is a Chinese lake. All the other countries bordering that “lake” are thereby reduced to tributary status and excluded from claims on the economic resources that the current UN sanctioned version of the Westphalian system accords them.

        The Westphalian system of territorial borders had a lot to recommend it, though it is now disparaged by “open-minded” liberals who cannot remember last week let alone the 17th century.

        Legally enacted borders have gradually ended centuries of pillage and nearly perpetual war over large areas of the globe. France and Spain have not fought a war across their border since the first treaty defining an international boundary with all the bells and whistles of Westphalia in the 17th century.

        The Westphalian system allowed states to settle boundary disputes with some semblance of practical finality in a large number of cases which effectively ended warfare between those states. This should not be overlooked.

        Reply
        1. Ook

          Re: “China’s obnoxious insistence that the South China Sea is a Chinese lake.”
          Surely that is preferable to America’s obnoxious insistence that the South China Sea is an American lake.

          Reply
          1. bruce wilder

            When the U.S. suggests that the South China Sea is “an American lake”, we will be able to make a comparison and decide a preference.

            Until such time passes, your opinion remains wholly irrelevant.

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              What would happen if the Chinese set up military bases in Cuba and conducted freedom of navigation exercises off the coast of Florida? Be worse if they announced their own version of the Monroe doctrine for South America. The first step in resolving conflicts is to understand how the other side views things.

              Reply
          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            But is it preferable to the concept that the South China Sea is nobody’s-in-particular lake?

            Also, America didn’t read its view of the South China Sea as authorizing America to strip-mine all the fish out of it and strip-drill and strip-pump all the oil out from under it.
            But the Chinese view self-authorizes China to do both of those things.

            China may be a better hegemon that America or Colonial Europe was. Africa and Eurasia will soon get the chance to find out. Hopefully America can seal itself off from the One Ball One Chain All-Under-Heaven Co-Prosperity Sphere. Hopefully America can build a future where America conducts as little trade with the foreigner as possible, in either direction.

            Reply
      3. adtena

        I used to rent rooms to Chinese students.

        They were certain that eventually, China would be the most powerful country in the world

        Reply
    5. Steve H.

      > it suppresses the idea of enemy and foreigner; no country or culture would be designated as an enemy, and be non-incorporable to the system.

      “Individual Borg rarely speak, though they do send a collective audio message to their targets, stating that “resistance is futile”, generally followed by a declaration that the target in question will be assimilated and its “biological and technological distinctiveness” will be added to their own.”

      Reply
    6. John Merryman

      It goes much deeper than that. East and West even view time differently. In the West, we see the future as in front of us and the past behind, because we see ourselves as discrete entities moving through our context.
      While the East views the individual as part of their context and so the past and what is in front are known, while the future and what is behind are unknown. Which is actually more physically accurate, as we see events after they occur, then the energy flows on, creating more events.
      The larger reality is that both are true, in their own spheres. We are mobile organisms, interacting with our environment, both affecting and being affected by it. Nodes, networks and feedback.

      Reply
    7. Curious George

      Yeah I read that piece too, well partially. I stopped reading after this sentence: “Thus the Tianxia system is inclusive and not exclusive; it suppresses the idea of enemy and foreigner; no country or culture would be designated as an enemy, and be non-incorporable to the system.”

      At that point I had to think about the re-education camps. Of course when everyone is forced to think the same then no one will be foreigner. At least in our “imperialist” western civilization we on occasion listen to other thoughts and ever so often integrate those.

      And then of course there is Kenya. Enough said.

      Reply
      1. witters

        “Of course when everyone is forced to think the same then no one will be foreigner. At least in our “imperialist” western civilization we on occasion listen to other thoughts and ever so often integrate those.”

        Well, you would say that. (And see how it has worked with hegemonic neoliberalism!)

        Reply
      2. Richard

        Not a lot of re-education camps are in the business of “suppress(ing) the idea of enemy and foreigner”. I believe they’re usually completely the other way around. You may be projecting.

        Reply
  2. The Rev Kev

    “Trump’s Ambassador Finds Few Friends in Germany”

    And Richard Grenell makes the case why major counties should recruit their Ambassadors from a professional diplomatic corps after they have worked their way up the system. Just because you were a director on the TV soapie “The Bold and the Beautiful” too does not mean that being an ambassador will be the same sort of work. Grenell seems to be the sort that literally does not care what sort of damage that he causes in his job so long as it furthers his career plans. I have no idea what the repercussions will be but I am sure that there will be some and at a very inopertune time. Unmentioned in this article is how he has just threatened German companies that contribute to the Nord Stream 2 line-

    https://www.rt.com/news/448696-us-ambassador-threat-nordstream/

    Reply
    1. marym

      He has degrees from an evangelical college and Harvard’s School of Gov’t. He was communications director for the US ambassador to the UN for the entire GWB administration and an Obama critic on Fox during the Obama years. Whatever his personal ambitions, his public support for right-wing politicians seems consistent with this background.

      Reply
  3. PlutoniumKun

    The US media has lost one of its sanest voices on military matters – so let’s hope William Arkin’s absence is brief Independent. Robert Fisk.

    This is pretty sad, Arkin was one of the very few analysts worth paying attention to. In all the junk on TV news there are occasional gems and commentators with integrity and something to say – but one by one they are being pushed out.

    What is key I think is this paragraph from Fisk’s article:

    Arkin’s draw – for me, at least – is that he doesn’t suck on the rubber tube of Wikileaks or social media whistle-blowers. He prefers to dig down through the pages of dull, boring real military information available in serious army and air force journals and official government documents.

    I think a key mistake many anti-war and anti-imperial activists make is that they sometimes take the lazy way out and jump on any story or leak to confirm their prejudices. It take hard work to really plough through the mountains of information out there to get the true story of what various military establishments are up to. You don’t need leaks or whistleblowers (they are useful, but not essential). Very often the information is out there in plain sight, you just need to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Its hard for individuals, and sadly there are few journalists left with the time or inclination to do it.

    Just to give one example of what I mean, the South Koreans are soon to launch a new class of submarines, the Desan Anhn Chango class. The class is designed to launch ballistic missiles and cruise missiles (South Korea already has medium range ballistic missiles that can hit any part of North Korea or Japan). The wikipedia article states that they are for cruise missiles, but other sources make it clear they have dual use and it could, with modifications, easily launch ballistic missiles.

    This capability has almost no conceivable use in any conflict with north Korea as the number of missiles it could carry are minimal compared to those it can launch from land. It only makes sense to spend billions on submarines like this if you intend to develop nuclear warheads and your potential target is someone other than North Korea. And yet so far as I’m aware no media outlets have paid any attention to this – you would imagine this is a pretty significant deal. I’m sure the Chinese and Japanese have noticed though.

    Reply
    1. David

      “I think a key mistake many anti-war and anti-imperial activists make is that they sometimes take the lazy way out and jump on any story or leak to confirm their prejudices.”
      Totally agree, and this is why I commented much more severely than anyone else on the Ames piece last week, which I believe fell into this trap. There’s a powerful temptation – in effect a kind of confirmation bias – to evaluate leaks and news stories in terms of how far they confirm your prior assumptions, and to ignore those that don’t. And unless you know the background, it’s often hard to understand correctly what leaks from within government actually mean, and so often the effort just isn’t made.
      One example: some years ago a colleague was involved in a long correspondence with the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament about the risks to the local population (as I recall) from Trident nuclear submarines and their missiles at Faslane. It only became clear quite late on that their opposition was based partly on the fact that they thought the missiles were liquid-fuelled, and so much more dangerous than they really were. In fact, all UK missiles since Polaris have been sold-fuelled, and the warheads are stored a long way away from the missiles. It was never clear what the source of their information was. Wikipedia existed then I think, and in any case it wasn’t actually hard to find technical details of the Trident missile – they just were not prepared to make the effort.
      To some extent, the ineffectiveness of most civil society criticism of the defence establishment comes from the reluctance to actually do the hard work of analysing material and reaching valid conclusions. I think this is actually a real shame for democracy.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’ve had the exact same experience myself of pointing out reasons why a particular protest is based on a misunderstanding of the technology – and then I’ve been labelled a sell-out or whatever. Confirmation bias is an incredibly powerful thing (and of course it often works both ways in a conflict).

        Reply
    2. Fraibert

      The wiki page notes that it is heavily using domestic technologies–keeping the powerful Korean conglomerates happy could be an explanation by itself. It’s also likely viewed as an investment towards a nuclear triad if the US does withdraw from Korea–and given South Korea’s neighborhood in the globe, developing a deterrence would likely be perceived as a top issue at that point.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        I don’t buy that its about internal spending – they could just as well spend the money on destroyers and tanks and keep all the chaebol (and the military) happy. The Koreans don’t have the wealth to throw it around on useless weapon systems – if they are spending big money on one system, they intend it to work. The question is, what strategic thinking has led them to think they need ballistic missile submarines.

        Reply
        1. bwilli123

          The argument that I’ve read elsewhere (sorry no link) is that if the USA withdraw from South Korea (perhaps as a result of the re-unification process) then Japan will immediately go Nuclear.
          South Korea would then feel compelled to do the same.

          Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            That is, I assume, the thinking. They don’t want to be caught naked if US politics makes a sudden change. The US is, as Lambert has repeatedly said, is not agreement-worthy.

            All the major Asian powers are clearly planning for a post US world – this is clear from the direction of their military spending (the original point of my post). The Japanese are massively upgrading their military. The Taiwanese have a new defensive strategy aimed at China. The Malaysians just bought a lot of Sukhoi-30s. The wonder is that nobody seems willing to talk about it.

            Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Pepe Escobar may live long enough to become very disappointed at the various Asian countries’ churlish unwillingness to be One with China under Heaven.

              Reply
            2. FluffytheObeseCat

              Those who have been overly powerful for too long are stupid about waning influence. Even when it’s glaringly evident.

              Having said that, Olga, RevKev, and a few others here are nuts to be chortling about a future in which China has replaced the U S as the singular international hegemon. In that future world, European and Commonwealth nation states (and individuals) are unlikely to retain much special privilege. The annoyance of living under the yoke of myopic, overly US-centric hegemony may seem small….. if or when your nation shares the status of, say, Uzbekistan.

              Reply
              1. The Rev Kev

                Chortling about a future with China as a Hegemon? Hardly. Personally I think that Chinese nationalism is insufferable but that is beside the point. You cannot deal with something unless you understand it and I would give the devil himself his viewpoint before going after him.
                I have made plain in comments before my opinion that we are shifting from a unipolar to the more normal multipolar world and I merely observe that China will be one of these poles. Look, just because I observe that leaves fall in the autumn does not mean that I am in favour of going out with ladders and plucking leaves off trees. It is all part of a historical process that we are living through. Clear?

                Reply
        2. David

          Well, in my experience they are long-term thinkers. They have priced in a US withdrawal (not unwelcome, at least for the Navy and the Air Force) and have been moving steadily towards an ocean-going Navy for the last couple of decades. I suspect the immediate target, at least, is China, and the wider objective is to become a major power in the region, overtaking Japan. It’s known that they have the technical capacity to conduct a nuclear weapons programme, and they were caught by IAEA enriching fuel to, I think, 70% a few years ago. They can also be a bit arrogant and insular (more than the Japanese) so they probably haven’t thought through the full implications if it becomes evident that they have all the bits in place to become a nuclear power
          More generally, though, there are a few more things you would need to look out for to be sure they were moving in that direction. If they have a (potential) delivery system, they still need to actually design a warhead that will function. I don’t know of any state that has actually done this in modern times without help from abroad (for India it was Russia, for Pakistan China and for Israel the US and France). Assuming a nuclear test is out of the question, they’ll also have to develop other methods (based on mathematical modelling) of ensuring the warhead will go bang, as well as surviving the shock of the descent. They will also need a highly accurate guidance package on the missile (different technology from cruise missiles) as well as extremely accurate targeting information. So any hints of movers in this direction will confirm your suspicion.
          Ultimately they may be going for a situation where they will be able to say to China, or anybody else, you don’t know we have nuclear weapons, but you can’t be sure we haven’t. This would put them in the same situation as, say, Germany and Japan, capable of moving to nuclear weapon state status very quickly, but at the moment not doing anything that contravenes the NPT.

          Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            Thanks David, that’s a very accurate summary of the situation I think. I would just add that for the billions spent on this submarine I’d be very surprised if it turned out that some that money hadn’t ‘leaked’ to developing an outline of a warhead design (at the very least). They certainly have the materials and the technology. I’ve heard estimates that it would take the Japanese no more than 6 months to produce bombs, but they have the advantage of having lots of Plutonium, as my namesake would confirm.

            Incidentally, I believe Taiwan have a bomb design – they went a long way towards producing one in the 1980’s before US pressure forced them to dismantle their facilities.

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              I wonder if the South Koreans are planning on getting nuclear material from their North Korean cousins to jump start their nuclear program in case Japan decides to go nuclear. It would make sense as the North Koreans would have hands on experience for dealing with live nuclear materials.
              Would you believe that Japan had some sort of nuclear research program going on during WW2? I was reading “Life” magazines for some research and one post-WW2 issue featured a story about a boat that was dropping equipment from the Japanese program off into the ocean into Davy Jone’s Locker.

              Reply
                1. The Rev Kev

                  Thanks for that link. I would hate to imagine where the Japanese would have used such a weapon if they had managed to build one. Seems that the Japanese were not history’s victims as they make themselves out to be. I guess that this goes in the same folder that stories about Unit 731 disappeared into.

                  Reply
    3. Andrew Foland

      There is another conceivable use, namely to discourage a first strike attempt on the land-based missiles. DPRK would be forced to assume that even a successful first strike on the land force, resulting in total destruction, would still be met with submarine-based retaliation.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        The South Korean cruise and ballistic missile force is based on mobile launchers, and have enough range that they can be distributed to the south of the country, far out of range of most DPRK weapons. Even with a nuclear strike, its inconceivable that they could knock out more than a small percentage of them.

        Reply
  4. timbers

    Class Warfare

    Government Shutdown Threatens Section 8 and Food Stamps TruthOut

    Well at least this time the Uni-Party shut down some parts of government they both seem to want to shutdown, only they want to do it forever. Maybe they just aren’t confident enough yet in adding Social Security and Medicare to the parts they shut. There’s always next time, though.

    When do we get a government shutdown that shuts down the Military, Dept of State, Congress, Presidency, Dept of Homeland Sec, FBI, CIA, NSA…

    That’s the government shutdown I support.

    Reply
    1. Baby Gerald

      Great point, Timbers. The only impact you see them discuss regarding Homeland Security is at the bottom where screeners who earn approximately $40K a year get to start the new year sweet talking their always-understanding-and-never-predatory creditors into letting them skip a month or two on their bills and mortgages while they’re not getting paid. No mention yet of their managers who earn probably twice what screeners do, but if the shutdown lasts more than a month we’ll likely start hearing from the lower managerial ranks, as well.

      Reply
    2. rd

      I think the Democrats need to completely rethink their negotiating strategy. McConnell is sitting this one out. “Elf on the Shelf” Pence is actively negotiating but every pronouncement he makes is immediately contradicted by Trump, so its clear he is not representing the Trump Administration but instead is part of the imaginary program. I don’t think Kevin McCarthy has been informed yet that there is a government shutdown.

      So the Democrats desperately need to find somebody to negotiate with who could provide assurance that Trump and the Republican senators will support a negotiated position. I think there is only one way to do this: they need to set up a negotiating committee from Fox News to negotiate the appropriate legislation on the Republicans behalf since they know what will cause the Republicans to get successfully primaried or not. If the Fox News team supports the details of the legislation, then the politicians will likely follow, including Trump. So they could get a group of people like Brian Kilmeade, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity to negotiate with the Democratic staffers. They would probably need Chris Wallace in the room to interpret and do simultaneous translation so the two sides could communicate and understand each other.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        That negotiating committee will also need to have Rush Limbaugh on it, because part of the pressure getting Trump to adopt the “my wall or government shutdown” position came from Rush Limbaugh and his fans.

        Reply
  5. PlutoniumKun

    When London’s Dragons Ruled Before Skyscrapers American Conservative

    Whatever you think of the occupants, the City of London used to be architecturally very beautiful.

    Unfortunately, these well-intentioned dragons at the thresholds of the City of London have been unable to guard against the onslaught of hubristic architects and developers. Falsely proclaiming sustainability, their profit-driven, out-of-scale glass towers are destroying the historic character of this once beautiful City.

    The outcome of the recent building boom in The City is discordance at every level. The cacophony of buildings rising to the east of St. Paul’s Cathedral leaves much to be desired, especially at the pedestrian level. The argument thrust upon insecure decision makers — that an iconic glass tower skyline is necessary for a city to be taken seriously as a financial center — is utter nonsense. One can only hope that this lesson from London will convince other cities that the emperors of glass towers have no clothes.

    The Luftwaffe of course, didn’t help matters, but the greed of the City is most obvious in the way it allowed itself to be torn apart with appalling corporate towers. At least the rich of the 18th and 19th Centuries tended to have reasonably good taste – this lot just hire starcitects, give them almost unachievable requirements for floor space ratios, and then let them rip.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Well the Luftwaffe did and didn’t help. A lot of good buildings were lost in the war and I read of people at the beginning of the war wondering the streets of London saying goodbye to some of the most beautiful buildings. More survived than anybody had a right to believe but there were a lot of destroyed tracts of land. Just after the end of the war, some people were saying that here was a chance to rebuild the city in a more beautiful way. In the end they were ignored and what you see is what you got. :(

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Unfortunately, those advocates for rebuilding in a more beautiful way, had developments like the Barbican in mind.

        You can always improve things after a war, but I do think those cities (like Warsaw) that rebuilt more or less as it was had the right idea. The best cities grow organically, even if over a basic plan. When you have to rebuild quickly its quite rare for it to be better in the long term (there are exceptions, most notably London after the Great Fire).

        You are right of course that the Luftwaffe didn’t do nearly as much damage as claimed. Go to Birmingham and they’ll tell you the beloved Bull Ring (the old medieval quarter) was destroyed by the Luftwaffe. But its still more or less intact as shown in 1946 plans. It was later road developers that turned it into the hellhole it became (only partially improved by the corporate led soulless hole it is in its most recent incarnation).

        Reply
      2. Off The Street

        Some English friends said that the Luftwaffe mistakenly missed all those ugly and squalid East End housing targets. They averred that a few well-dropped bombs could have made rebuilding postwar London so much better for so many. Presumably the occupants had sufficient time to seek shelter in the Tube stations or elsewhere.

        Reply
        1. David

          My mother’s family were under that lot, and some of them did indeed go to the Tube stations, although after a while many people gave up and slept at home, reasoning that if a bomb was meant for you there was no point in running.
          More importantly, the Luftwaffe had very little idea what and where it was bombing. Targeting technology was in its infancy, and it’s likely that average error of the Luftwaffe in 1940 was at least as great as that of the RAF later in the war – about five miles. The pilots followed the River Thames, which put them roughly in the right area, but the blackout would have prevented precise targeting even if they had the technology for it. As it was, the Luftwaffe crews, who wanted to get home in one piece, often seem to have released the bombs a few minutes too early so they could turn away. This meant that the bombs often landed in the East End, rather than in the centre or West of the city. And of course after the first few bombs started fires, a process of creep-back began, which took them further to the East anyway.

          Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            I can’t remember where it was exactly, but I remember wandering through a graveyard in the East End and I came across a tiny memorial over a mass grave – 27 names on it I recall, some children, many of the names seemingly Dutch or East European, all the residents of a single building. It was probably a tenement of some sort with lots of refugees that got hit. It occurred to me that maybe refugees didn’t know where to go when the sirens sounded.

            The irony is that during a major air raid people were largely safe underground, a high proportion of the fatalities were caused by stray aircraft or other accidents rather than organised raids, presumably because people weren’t under cover. I used to map bomb tracks many years ago when doing land surveys (it was a way of seeing if there was a possibility of there being unexploded ordnance when the diggers went in) and so I was looking at casualty lists in the West Midlands. It was well bombed as the Avery plant in Smethwick was a major military component factory.

            Surprisingly, a high proportion of the deaths were friendly fire. One wedding party in a pub was wiped out, killing 8, caused by an anti-aircraft shell fired at a stray aircraft. Several dozen died in Oldbury when a Lancaster jettisoned its bomb load when it had mechanical problems. So far as I know those were the two biggest individual fatal strikes in that part of west Midlands.

            Reply
            1. David

              Tenement buildings in that part of London were very common before the war (my mother grew up in one), and the process of clearing them and moving people to newly built housing in the suburbs was not complete when the war started. Remember that the official advice was not to go to underground shelters – indeed the authorities at first tried to stop it. The official advice was to dig a shelter in your garden (the so-called Anderson shelter) but for that you had to have a garden.
              I remember my mother saying that in her area there were very large numbers of Yiddish speaking families from Eastern Europe who had arrived a generation or so before. Others also arrived in the 1930s. Many of her friends were from this community and, like many people from the area, her (cockney) English was sprinkled with occasional Yiddish loan words. So its possible that the dead whose memorial you saw were from that background: Yiddish and Dutch are part of the same language family, and one could easily look like the other.

              Reply
        2. The Rev Kev

          I was reading up on the Blitz a few years ago and read a report of how the Luftwaffe was dropping their bombs short so that they were dropping their bombs on the East End rather than the City but it was decided to let this continue to save the City from the bombs and let the East End go.
          While doing this research, I cam across a site that shows the destruction of the Blitz using a map which you can zoom in and out with. You can search for specific streets and there is a lot of information there as well. It is at-

          http://bombsight.org/#15/51.5050/-0.0900

          Reply
        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          East End . . . East End . . . hmmm. Isn’t the “East End” where a lot of poor tenement Jews used to live? One does hope that your English friends were not regretting the survival of these poor East End Jews . . . .

          Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Key word: appalling. Glad to hear it’s not just me that thinks so. They also need to get rid of that stupid ferris wheel sitting in the Thames.

        Admittedly I haven’t been to London since the early 80s but it seems as though they were intent on countering the ambiance that made the place so appealing.

        Reply
      2. Kurt Sperry

        The west end of the City around the BoE and St. Paul’s is still quite nice to my eye. Old and new in a pleasing balance. Looking down any street east from there, however, brings the skyscraperscape into view. Central London is still very special architecturally.

        I’m trying to think of other European cities with a significant high-rise district, Frankfurt am Main, Milan, Paris, but only at La Défense outside the périphérique. I guess it depends what one considers “significant”. Where else?

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          I recall staying at the St. Paul’s youth hostel where all the doorknobs were low to the floor because it was originally the dorm for the St. Paul’s choir boys. Needless to say we Americans loved London (and more than Paris) for the quirky charm. If we wanted to look at ugly modern buildings we could have stayed at home.

          Still there btw…dunno know about the doorknobs.

          https://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/yha-london-st-pauls

          Reply
    2. Eclair

      “At least the rich of the 18th and 19th Centuries tended to have reasonable good taste ….”

      Probably not, alas. They were just lucky enough to have lived before electricity. And the elevator! And the development of, first, cast iron and then, structural steel.

      Reply
  6. Olga

    Trump’s Ambassador Finds Few Friends in Germany Der Spiegel
    This is an amazing piece – at the same time describing alleged isolation of the ambassador in Germany, while also furthering it. But – the amazing part – it also studiously avoids one of the main reasons why Grenell is to be avoided: i.e., his strong words regarding Nord Stream II. For that, one has to go to RT, which reported recently on Grenell’s threat of sanctions on participating companies (https://www.rt.com/news/448696-us-ambassador-threat-nordstream/).

    Reply
    1. Carl

      Thanks for bringing necessary context to the posted article. This guy sounds like the ambassadorial equivalent of John Bolton.

      Reply
    1. Baby Gerald

      It’s not just the neocons who are in a twist about Gabbard- she has the neoliberals worried also.

      As anecdotal proof, let me present my brother. Whenever I need the mainstream neolib attitude about anything, nobody has proven more reliable than my sibling junior of five years. Back in November, in conversation with him about the future prospects of the democratic party and who they might pit against Trump in 2020, I threw Gabbard’s name out as one of the possible prospects that I– his left-wing hippie bernie bro– could possibly support. My brother’s immediate response was, ‘Gabbard’s ok, but she’s a little kooky.’ Thus, I had gleaned from him in less than ten words the DNC’s general take on Gabbard back in November.

      I have yet to broach the subject with him since she announced her run on Friday, but if experience proves accurate I predict he will respond with something along the lines of ‘she has to explain her ties with Indian nationalists’ or some other nonsense talking points that trolls all over the internet have used to fill the conversation this weekend. Now that they can’t simply dismiss her as ‘kooky’ they will start digging into every aspect of her past, trying to paint her in the least flattering light. I’m all for owning up to past mistakes, but I’m also for the idea of personal evolution. My response to the claim that ‘she was only for gay marriage x years ago’ is the example of St. Obama being against it until he was for it– during the end of his second term. I’m also waiting for them to try to use her status as a veteran against her in some way.

      Anyway, I know this is all anecdotal but my point is that Gabbard’s fiercest opposition is more likely to come from within her own party than without.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        I know little about Tulsi other than what I read here but I think your point is well taken. The MSM are always putting themselves in the role of character cops to keep down any politician that might rock the boat. Left media shouldn’t fall into this trap because the only thing that really matters is what a politician is prepared to do and whether they have the ability to do it. Superficially at least it strikes me that Gabbard could prove to be a very effective politician. Things should be allowed to play out before pulling out the litmus tests.

        Reply
        1. pjay

          On “the role of character cops…”

          A key point in my view. I’d extend the analogy further to a “good cop/bad cop” function. E.g., with regime change interventions, the role of the liberal intelligensia (“good cops”) is to demonize the bad guy for “good” reasons — “Assad is a vicious evil tyrannical thug”, etc. Of course “liberals” don’t want us to bomb anyone; they just want to protect innocent victims. But in doing so they’ve provided ideological cover to the warmongers who don’t give a s*** about the innocent victims.

          Similarly, good liberals are just opposed to Gabbard’s “racism” and “crypto-fascism.” They don’t want war. It’s just a coincidence that the only prominent politician willing to discuss our interventionist foreign policy honestly has to be silenced — allowing the “bad cops” to continue their work unopposed in the political media.

          Thanks to Common Dreams for another brick in the wall.

          Reply
          1. nippersdad

            You seem very invested in her candidacy; very well informed. I certainly welcome her to the foreign policy debate, but many of her points seem contradictory. Would you care to explain her positions on Russia and how they advance a non-interventionist FP, esp. as regards Ukraine.

            https://www.tulsigabbard.org/tulsi-gabbard-on-russia

            She strongly opposes US support for extremist groups in Syria but equally strongly supports the self determination of Ukraine. When did overt Nazis become the types of moderate groups that we should support?

            Why is it a bad thing to provoke Russia in Syria whilst actively provoking them in Ukraine is the right thing to do.

            It is things like this that bother me, and if you could clear them up I would appreciate it.

            Reply
            1. Carolinian

              Isn’t Bernie also onboard with the Russia interference meme, Crimea was stolen etc? To me this is a key statement from your link

              Continued U.S. military involvement in Syria can potentially escalate conflict between the U.S. and Russia, which is extremely dangerous and unnecessary.

              Given that the establishment consensus is that continuing conflct between the U.S. and Russia is extremely necessary this is a change.

              To me it looks like she is trying to maintain her “national security” bona fides in order to defend a declared peacenik stance. But as I said above perhaps we should let her speak for herself in a campaign before jumping to too many conclusions.

              Reply
              1. pretzelattack

                ukraine is ever more dangerous than syria as far as prodding the bear. i don’t want to see a repeat of the cuban missle crisis, and i don’t expect all our airy nuclear deterrence theories to work well in a hot conflict.

                Reply
            2. pjay

              Honestly, I am not really invested in her candidacy, and I’m not sure she is ready to run for president. I defend her because (1) she is the only prominent politician willing to speak out clearly against interventionist policy in the ME, and also call out some of our lies; and (2) because there is clearly a coordinated campaign in the liberal/left media to smear her. To me it is clear that (2) is related to (1).

              There are clearly contradictions in Gabbard’s policy positions from my point of view. I think the link you provide is very useful. Given her background, interests, and the context of being a politician in DC, I would not expect her to be a John Pilger. I think her understanding of Russia’s position on the Ukraine is flawed, though I would agree with at least half the points on this link (she does at least acknowledge and condemn the role of the CIA there, even if she seems to underestimate that role). A member of Congress serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee is going to be exposed to a lot of biased information. I don’t know, of course, but perhaps her own experience in the ME helped her see through this more easily in that part of the world.

              I am not naive. For Gabbard to achieve her position at the DNC — not to mention membership in the CFR! — at her age means that some powerful people saw her as an up-and-comer who could be co-opted. Has she been? I don’t think so, yet. I think the proof of this is in the blob reaction any time she does something good (as defined by me, of course). I could be wrong. I also think she has been wrong in the past on some issues. I don’t excuse these. But I think they are being used in a campaign to discredit her in the eyes of the (compatible) left.

              I do not mean to sound antagonistic. I think we are on the same side here. The questions you ask are good ones. Sources like the one you cite here are valid and useful, in my view. Articles like the one above (or some cited in yesterday’s discussion) are not.

              Reply
              1. nippersdad

                Thank you for a well reasoned response.

                From the beginning I have welcomed her to the FP debate; her mere willingness to even have a debate is a valuable commodity that has been in short supply for a decade now, and desperately needs to be addressed. Her entrance into the Presidential stakes will suit that need very well, and I am grateful for it.

                While you may not find many of the articles cited useful, they are what we have had to work with. I am far more likely to believe a Palestinian activist than someone who supported a spate of Israel supporting legislation a mere two years ago and then suddenly had a road to Damascus moment just before deciding to run for the Presidency. People can evolve, she seems to be doing a lot of it, but it is their private policies that I seek to understand not their public ones, for obvious reasons.

                Carolinian is absolutely right to say that she needs to speak for herself before conclusions can be made, that is why I linked to her own FP page; these are, presumably, her own views. That said, going over her FP page, I couldn’t but be struck by the strange admixture of historical truth with almost pure neoconservative talking points across the range of topics addressed. Evidence, I would suggest, that some of those “hit pieces” you so deplore have fundamental issues that need discussion before the inevitable Daily-Kos-herd-effect takes hold.

                If this is her schtick, then it needs a unifying theory that isn’t immediately obvious to me. That is why I brought it up about Bernie (who I otherwise love), that is why I bring it up with her.

                Reply
            3. pretzelattack

              oh oh, didn’t know she supported our intervention in ukraine, that’s a huge deal with me because all the saber rattling vis a vis russia makes me very nervous.

              Reply
      2. FluffytheObeseCat

        Yeah. My take from online reactions to her decision to run is that key elements of our permanent elite see her as a genuine threat to their interests. They seem to believe her more of a threat than Sanders, possibly because of his long history of making do with the status quo in order to push incremental change (the “amendment king”).

        Also, she embarrassed some powerful Democrat high muckety-mucks in 2015-16, when she threw away a plum position to support Sanders. They want to really punish her for that, in order to discourage other young, junior Reps from taking similar risks. They can tolerate Sanders (over whom they have little control regardless) but they will beat down their own subordinates when they show any spine or originality of purpose.

        All the pearl-clutchers insinuating online about what an “Islamophobe” Gabbard simply must be!!!!! because she doesn’t support our Clinton-led status quo in the MENA….. it just kills me. They’ve turned a blind eye to our slaughter festival for 18 years, but they – THEY – are “troubled” by her attitudes!

        I’d say there are many thousands of grief-stricken survivors in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya, etc. who would welcome her as POTUS. Living is of more interest to them…… than the disdain of a woman on the other side of the world, who is refreshingly uninterested in slaughtering them.

        Reply
        1. Richard

          +100
          I think the support for Sanders in ’16 was unforgivable to many
          “loyalty” is that important to dem regulars
          I agree that the criticism of her as “anti-muslim” is rather beside the point (on purpose of course) if the point is take away the matches from the sociopaths who want to set everything on fire. Can’t have that.

          Reply
      3. Pookah Harvey

        Gabbard plays a good tune, but there are questions concerning her progressive cred. See Jacobin article: Tulsi Gabbard Is Not Your Friend

        Clearly liberals and leftists who admire Gabbard’s foreign policy are mistaking her anti-interventionism for dovishness. But Gabbard’s foreign policy, while an improvement on Trump’s — and what isn’t? — would continue to foment anti-American resentment and anger around the world, with its casualties, destruction, and casual violations of national sovereignty, fueling the very “endless war” she despises..

        Reply
    2. Carolinian

      A campaign about “war and peace” sounds long overdue to me. Perhaps to cure capitalism we first have to cure imperialism. The two do seem to go hand in hand.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I honestly do not care one mote about her stance on Indian nationalists etc. The significance is that she is willing to frame the primary overarching argument from the very outset: War/Death/Spend Everything to Kill Everything versus Oh/Look What Else We Could Be Doing With All Of That Money

        Swords to Plowshares please and thank you

        Reply
    3. Ignim Brites

      It will be interesting to see what kind of questions Gabbard raises about the US’s forever and everywhere war. The US hegemonic strategy appears unassailable among the DP policy leaders at the major media companies.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        I like to call these ‘revealing moments’ when you find out who is actually who. As an example, Trump says time to leave in Syria and suddenly you found out all those who are actually backing the Forever War. The media was almost emphatic in its demand for war-war-war along with a few foreign governments. Even some Hollywood stars were insisting we had to stay in Syria. Very revealing all this. Some politicians were forced to call it one way or another while others ducked under the cone of silence. The same will be true of Gabbard when you see who comes out as her avowed enemy.

        Reply
  7. QuarterBack

    Re neoliberalism destroying the soul of key jobs. It reminded me of a 1990s conversation I had with one of my best friends a few years after he had graduated from an Ivy League medical school. He said “If I had it to do all over again, I never would have chosen medicine. You spend your entire education learning to be the best doctor, only to have your decisions run by a bunch of Fuller Brush salesmen.” Within a few years, he indeed stopped practicing and took on a leadership role in an ancillary part of the industry.

    I too have experienced a decline of the collective soul of the technology sector. It’s as if it has transformed into a giant audition of method actors. Employers have become more focused on finding actors that can look, dress, and posture their role in the script. The executive meeting agendas focus their energy on polishing the scripts and sets, while the marketing folks produce exciting trailers that often have little resemblance to the plot. All the while, the passions and craft of the employees that create products, services, and quality are left to play extras or maybe if they’re lucky, character actors or perhaps a “based on the work of…” mention in the credits, but it will be the charismatic actors that make the big bucks, walk the red carpets, and hold court to their understudies, and the very industries transform pursuing scripts that can draw the marquee actors.

    As a nation, we devolving to become nothing but a show. The fact that ‘Identity Politics’ dominates is apropos – image is all that matters. Meanwhile, to rest of the world we are increasingly seen as “all hat, no cattle.”

    Reply
    1. David

      The article is quite right about the basic problem – I lived through it in the UK in and after the 1980s. But it also shows, in its reflexive cringe about the “dark side” of “hierarchies of gender and race” in the past, the problems the identity-based modern Left has in accepting that, just maybe, in one area, things were better in the past. (As it happens, my doctor for many years when I was a child was a woman, and the father of my best friend was a doctor from India). In reality, it doesn’t have to be a straight either-or judgement.

      Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    “The prosecution of pirates was a model for today’s system of international justice”

    So the idea of universal jurisdiction is that any court could prosecute any pirate, regardless of where they came from or where their crime had taken place. Use to read stories of Royal Navy ships hunting down pirates in the 19th century and dealing out justice on the spot. It made great reading. Hey, wait a minute! This principle would also apply to mobs like Google, Facebook and the like as they do their business across international borders and act like pirates. Hang ’em from the yardarm I say!

    Reply
    1. Lee

      The imperial nation states had to keep those sea lanes safe for the transport of slaves and the gold and other goodies they were made to mine, farm, and make. Some model, indeed. And what’s worse, the pirates provided the dangerous model of worker owned, democratically run collectives. So naturally, they had to be wiped out.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Also more than a dose of hypocrisy as Britain’s great era of wealth supposedly started with state sponsored piracy under Elizabeth 1.

        Reply
        1. Lee

          Not to mention her broken promise to her sailors, prior to their engagement with the Spanish armada, to amply reward them.

          After the victory, typhus swept the fleet, killing off thousands of English mariners. Elizabeth failed in her promise to pay the sailors, and of the few who did survive, even of the crew of the royal warship, Elizabeth, most expired destitute in the gutters of Margate.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Armada

          You’d think, with sailors’ numbers so greatly reduced by disease, that the crown and a grateful nation could have at least rewarded the few who survived. And their widows and orphans seem to have escaped history’s notice entirely.

          Reply
          1. JBird4049

            You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
            We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
            Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
            The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
            For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
            But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
            An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
            An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

            As they say, the more things change…

            Reply
        2. pretzelattack

          yeah sir francis drake springs to mind. it’s an earlier version of the “freedom fighter/terrorist” usage.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            If the entrance to SF Bay wasn’t fogged in when Drake’s ship was in the area, we might be calling it Francisico instead.

            Reply
        3. Oh

          Not to mention the world earliest paid plunderer, Columbus who was financed by Queen Isabel to loot and plunder several nations of the “new” world.

          Reply
  9. Olga

    A few additional links worthy of perusal:
    If you’ve been wondering who killed UN’s Dag Hammarskjöld, here is a clue: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/12/raf-veteran-admitted-killing-un-secretary-general-dag-hammarskjold-in-1961
    (does not speculate on who gave the orders)
    More on GJ from France: https://thesaker.is/gilets-jaunes-sitrep/
    And the often over-looked, but always illuminating Mr. Bhadrakumar: https://indianpunchline.com/why-india-should-pay-attention-to-us-turkey-spat-over-s-400/

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      There are numerous suspects for the death of Dag Hammarskjold – for various reasons, the US, France, Britain, Belgium and the Soviets had reason to dislike him, mostly because he was getting in the way of their ambitions for the Congo (which at the time had most of the worlds known reserves of uranium). The most likely culprits I think were private interests aligned with the Belgians, they had most to lose, but there’s always been a strong suspicion that whoever ordered him killed, there were many other powerful forces that knew of the dangers, but chose to turn a blind eye.

      There is quite a good recent war movie depicting his assassination (which keeps the culprit vague) – The Siege of Jadotville. Its worth a look, despite its inevitably chaotic script (its an impossible job I think to shove in all the complex politics of the time into one films running time).

      Reply
      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

        I almost posted this Counterpunch link today – Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?– but opted not to, b/c I wasn’t able to check these conclusions out with a friend of mine who knows far, far more about this history than I do, and I also wasn’t sure how much interest readers might have in the topic. But since the issue is now raised here in comments, I’ll throw this Counterpunch piece into the mix. This analysis seems plausible to me, but I lack knowledge and expertise to draw an informed conclusion.

        Reply
        1. David

          Well, what would establish the hypothesis that the plane was shot down as a certainty would have been the discovery of marks on the fuselage indicating that it had been hit by 30mm cannon fire. From the fact that none of the sources mention this, we can assume that no such marks were found (remember the shooting down of MH17 and the arguments about what the marks on the fuselage meant). So if you follow the Counterpunch logic, the alternative is either that the engine caught fire naturally, and the pilots tried and failed to crash-land safely, or that a lucky or highly skilful attack using almost no ammunition set the fuel tank on fire, such that the ensuing conflagration destroyed the evidence.
          If you are interested in this period, I would recommend Ludo de Witt’s book on the death of Lumumba, the Congolese Prime Minister, available now in English I believe. It has the advantage of being based on contemporary Belgian and UN sources, and features Hammarskjold quite a lot. He comes over (from memory I haven’t got it to hand) as a fierce opponent of Lumumba, who was happy to see him dead, although in favour of a peaceful solution to the secession of Katanga.

          Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            Well, maybe I’m guilty of some confirmation bias myself with it, but from memory the aircraft remains were never recovered or subject to detailed forensic analysis. There has always been a dispute about some injuries to some of the bodies, with speculation that they were caused by bullets. The only thing we know is that the investigation was botched as they never fully secured the area and remains quickly enough and nobody seemed to take proper responsibility. Whether that was incompetence or conspiracy, I don’t really know.

            Reply
            1. David

              I’m sure your last couple of sentences are true, not least because air-crash investigation was in its infancy then. But the Counterpunch story does talk about at least parts of the aircraft being recovered (landing gear and flaps for example), and in those days most people would be able to recognise something that looked like damage caused by a weapon. (Of course the fact that such damage hasn’t been reported doesn’t mean it didn’t happen). On the other hand the speculation that some of the bodies had bullet wounds (which I admit is new to me) doesn’t square very well with the idea that the plane was brought down by cannon fire. I have never, thank goodness, had to look at a body hit by a 30mm cannon shell, but I can imagine it would be fairly obvious. On the other hand I’m probably guilty of whatever the opposite is of confirmation bias – ingrained scepticism, perhaps.

              Reply
        2. PlutoniumKun

          Thanks – as an aircraft nerd that was a fascinating read and confirmed what I’ve always suspected – that it was shot down by a Fouga.

          The big question is who ordered it – the article doesn’t address it in detail but I suspect its on the right path when it suggests that private interests behind the Katanga mercenary army is the most likely culprit.

          Reply
    2. David

      I saw the Guardian story this morning and it’s a classic example of what PK was describing above and that I commented on. The Grauniad has been trying for a while to find a way of somehow linking the UK government to the killing of Hammarskjold, and this headline is obviously intended to make you think that the killing was done by a British former RAF pilot (hint, hint, the UK government must have been involved, or known,). In fact, as you read on, it becomes clear that the person concerned was a Belgian who escaped after the fall of his country and fought with the RAF in the Second World War, twenty years before. He was hardly alone, there was an entire Polish squadron, as I recall. He returned to Belgium after the war. End of story. Indeed, as the story acknowledges, there’s nothing really new here, except the history of wartime service.

      Reply
      1. Off The Street

        The Guardian emulates the New York Times, or vice versa. The stories begin with the leading headline to entice readers while the eventual offsetting or exculpatory details, even facts, are buried deep in the script. If readers start at the bottom of the article and work their way up they might find some truths more quickly. Bug or feature? Why not both?

        Reply
        1. Olga

          That is kinda how I’ve been reading stuff lately – beginning, end, and then the middle. Seems to work better somehow.

          Reply
  10. David

    For those who may be interested, a few remarks on the gilets jaunes, to supplement the France 24 piece, and update Olga’s link above.
    Yesterday saw increased mobilisation of the GJ, and for the first time a gathering from all over the country in an area outside Paris. There was little violence, except right at the end of the protests in Paris. The GJ had stewards deployed for the first time, to help to avoid incidents, and this seems to have worked.
    There’s no doubt that the GJ are changing the political debate in the country, and not just in obvious ways. To fill the space available, and because the public expects it, the media have to interview the protesters, and make at least an attempt to explain what they are protesting about. For the most part (eg the story in Le Monde this morning) the protesters turn out to be thoughtful, but angry people, demanding things like “tax justice” and to be “actors in our own lives.” This is not the kind of thing, and these are not the kind of people, who are normally quoted in the media, and it will necessarily have an effect on a whole series of debates. Demands for economic justice have been deliberately muffled in recent years and, for all that the government is trying to pretend that the GJ are a fascist-nationalist conspiracy, their mobilisation has brought the subject into the spotlight again.

    Reply
    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      There has been a notable spike in slander against the GJ movement in the English language press just this weekend. I take it to indicate that they are making an impression. The slander articles are – invariably – saturated with disdain for the “thoughtful [but average], angry people” getting a tiny touch of recognition. Or respect.

      Reply
    2. Bugs Bunny

      Talked to relatives in the US about the GJ this weekend. Was not too surprised that their only view was that the GJ were protesting against taxes to address climate change. That must be the MSM take overall in ‘Merica.

      Tried to explain the true scope of the movement but was told that I was “projecting”.

      Seems like live takes on the ground from a person you’ve known most of your life don’t mean much when easy-to-digest truthy lies have been hammered deeply into your brain by the pretty talking pictures.

      Reply
      1. Oh

        You can see the obvious bias in the US press (US News and world report) linked above where they use the word “environment friendly” [“The demonstrations, which began in November as a protest to an environmentally friendly fuel tax, have absorbed a variety of other causes, many of them based around pocketbook issues.”] to describe the fuel tax not bothering to point out that it would unfairly impact the poorer people. They could have described it simply as a fuel tax.

        Reply
    3. Tomonthebeach

      France is the most enigmatic example of republican democracy in history. Lucky for us, we did not overdue Franklin’s post-revolutionary fascination with France in forming our own government.

      Those familiar with France’s history appreciate that this sort of mob violence as a means for expressing displeasure with their own government seems to be the norm; not the exception. As for fascist elements, Robert Paxton, considered THE expert on the topic, has pointed out that fascism has regularly attempted to gain a foothold in FR. He has attributed its failure to lack of support (tacit or otherwise) from the social Darwinist capitalists who dominate(d) the conservative wing of French politics. In DE and IT, Adolf and Beni eventually got that support, and we saw how that turned out.

      Reply
  11. Judith

    A question regarding Patrick Cockburn’s article about middle east war refugees. He says:

    “There is a clear connection between western intervention in the Middle East and North Africa and the arrival of boat people on the beaches of southeast England. But much of the media does not highlight this and, by and large, voters do not seem to notice it.”

    This connection (not just in the UK, but in Europe in general) has seemed clear to me since the US war in Iraq. Cockburn does not offer an explanation as to why voters have not noticed this connection.

    Why have the people of Europe not made this connection?

    Reply
    1. Ape

      It would make us partially responsible. If it’s blowback for policies our governments/elites failed to adequately push back on then those elites (us) aren’t well-meaning victims of conditions but bad-intentioned incompetents.

      This all assumes that voters all in all are just parroting elite positions. I think that’s a sociologically and psychologically tenable assumption.

      Reply
    2. jo6pac

      I guess they haven’t made the connection for the same reasons Amerikans don’t. The message is control by lame stream corp. owned media and the last thing they would do is point out is if Amerika didn’t have all these wars going in the name of the big D then all these citizens would be at their home countries. Then always a few that might leave for a better place but not by the thousands. The people in Mexico are mostly from South Amerika were Amerika (hillabillie) over threw the Honduran govt. just like she did in Libya. Amerika and it’s proxies are very skilled in killing people of other nations and creating millions of refuges. Sad thing to be known for except the lame stream corp. owned media never gives the facts or even info that this is even happening. Sad:-(

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Oh, it all there for the seeing, but a lot of money is spent on vast amounts of propaganda, obfuscations, distortions, and just lies to hide this reality. Digging out from that pile of fecal matter to see the truth, or at least some honest facts, is difficulty for many, which, of course, is the intent.

        Reply
    3. fajensen

      Why have the people of Europe not made this connection?

      Every single political party in the Danish parliament supported the bombing of Libya, this means that everyone are basically responsible for “Uncorking Africa” and for restoring slavery markets, possibly kicking off ISIS with all that weaponry “liberated” by the Jihadists we happily provided air support for on behalf of Hillary.

      Since everyone are responsible for the fiasco, it equals out and it becomes one of those things one doesn’t really talk about in politics and there is strong consensus on not talking about it, to the extent that “serious media” will not report on it either.

      Media need access to report on political stories and that access can easily be withdrawn. There is very little diversity of opinion because of concentrated ownership, the profit margins are very low, today few media has reporters on site and relies on database feeds from Reuters, articles are selected based on algorithms that are swapping “Relevance” for Page-View; all this is leading to the situation that “Official Media” has become very controlled and extremely risk-adverse.

      Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “Tens of thousands take to streets in Act 9 of ‘Yellow Vest’ protests”

    I can see why the French media is considered biased by the French people. When it mentions an “ex-boxer filmed viciously beating two officers” I thought that they had to be joking. I saw that film clip. That guy had his fists and his training. The police had body armour, helmets, riot shields and their truncheons. I would call that a fair fight. These yellow vests are really getting it down pat. Don’t have leaders who will only be arrested in an attempted decapitation strike. Threaten bank runs for which there is no defense and puts the banks on notice what is possible. Tape over speed cameras which starve the State of revenue. Do flash barricades on tunnels and the like which the French police are too far wide spread to cover. Don’t deliberately antagonize the police if you don’t have to. I believe that you could call this asymmetrical warfare.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      Kind of weird though — not a shaky “crazy things are happening and I’m just a guy with an iPhone trying to capture it” but looked like a staged video. That is, the cops weren’t in on it but the way the camera tracked the boxer was so well as to seem planned.

      Reply
      1. David

        According to one story I read, the boxer had weighted gloves on, which means that, whoever started it, he was looking for a fight.The police, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, are under orders not to get into situations like this if they can help it, but to stay in large groups that can support each other.

        Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      Just heard about this boxer from reading one of the links Olga posted above and looked up the clip. As you said, a pretty fair fight –

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUw37-eNSxg

      Of course had he tried this in the US, he’d be in the morgue leaking blood like a sieve, so I give the French police props for allowing him to stay above the ground. Wonder how long before the police decide to support the protesters or at least look the other way. According to a documentary I saw years ago about the former Yugoslavia, that is what led to Milosevic’s downfall – once the protesters had surrounded the government buildings, the police refused to crack down on them.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Of course had he tried this in the US, he’d be in the morgue leaking blood like a sieve,

        Or at the very least they would have gotten a dozen of their friends, and beat him almost to death, if not beyond, whatever their orders, because reasons. It puts into perspective on just how brutal our policing is here in the States.

        Reply
  13. Morgan Everett

    The Greenwald article is pretty depressing, though I’d already strongly suspected that Democratic voters had gone full pro-war. If the Democrats want to turn their voters against Medicare For All, they should really look into getting Trump to come out in support of it.

    Reply
    1. Ignim Brites

      Are Dem voters really pro war? Doubt it. Do Dem voters believe that being pro war is to be anti Trump? Maybe. Do Dem voters believe that the anti Trump leadership is pro war. Possibly. But really it is just that being pro war is momentarily a virtue signal. Why is it a virtue signal? Only due to the virtue of the signaler. It has no reference to anything other than the virtue of the signaler. This can go on because the Amercan people actually have no interest in any affairs beyond the US borders. That is why a policy of massive retrenchment is really the only option for a substantive foreign policy.

      Reply
  14. allan

    A Bolton from the blue: White House Sought Options to Strike Iran [WSJ]

    President Trump’s National Security Council asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran last year, generating concern at the Pentagon and State Department, current and former U.S. officials said.

    The request, which hasn’t been previously reported, which hasn’t previously been reported,
    came after militants fired three mortars into Baghdad’s sprawling diplomatic quarter, home to
    the U.S. Embassy, on a warm night in early September. The shells – launched by a group
    aligned with Iran – landed in an open lot and harmed no one. …

    Non-interventionism with Trumpian characteristics.

    Reply
  15. dcblogger

    I was thinking about the government shut down and how this contributed to the break down of the norms. Somehow our elite got the idea that they did not have to do their job at the most basic level. And not just the federal government, there are been state government shut downs, most famously Pete Wilson failed to pass a budget and expected state employess and contractors to accept state script. When did this begin? Reagan? Or were there shut downs during the Carter administration. I can’t remember.

    Reply
    1. lyman alpha blob

      These government shutdowns over the longer term do not benefit the politicians who start them at all. Ostensibly the purpose is to raise the public’s ire against one political faction or the other. However as we have more and more shutdowns, and despite the fact that some people’s livelihoods are damaged at least temporarily, the fact that we don’t see looting and rioting in the streets during these shutdowns leads people to wonder why it’s necessary to have any of these clowns in office.

      It’s the governments that are operating, most often to the detriment of their constituents, that bring pissed off people into the streets – see France.

      Reply
  16. nippersdad

    Whoa!

    “No, its’ Bernie or bust. I don’t care if we have to roll him out on a hand truck and sprinkle cocaine into his coleslaw before every speech. If he dies mid run, we’ll stuff him full of sawdust, shove a hand up his ass and operate him like a goddamn muppet.”

    OK, now that is how it is done! I just loved this.

    https://thebaffler.com/all-tomorrows-parties/its-bernie-bitch-frost?fbclid=IwAR0iVzx2fLgy3RgB24QM_n5K7op3o0QH2289glAa7pZZ_D7cbREle29oVrw

    Reply
  17. beth

    This link:
    Amazon.com Should Give The SEC What It Wants International Business Times

    does not work. Please delete after change.

    Reply
  18. Jason Boxman

    I recently read an article about the shutdown that said the 80 people at EPA that do inspections are furloughed. My first thought was, why do we only have 80 people doing inspections when the government is funded!? (And of course the article didn’t mention that, when they do levy fines, they’re so insignificant or they’re deferred, so it doesn’t seem to matter much anyway.)

    Reply
  19. Carolinian

    That’s a great Truthdig piece on Biden–very well written. And if Biden is the Dem’s non poetical Hamlet then surely Hillary would be their Lady Macbeth but without all the “out damned spot” hand washing. This isn’t the first article to suggest that Biden could have won last time if the field had been clear. But it does say that his indecisiveness was as much to blame as HRC’s big footing the nomination process.

    Reply
  20. Cal2

    “Your smart TV is watching you.”

    Isn’t it possible to cover the camera and the microphone?

    Like FBI directors who think it’s good enough for them, I cover the camera and microphone on my desktop. Aluminum foil tape, underlain with toilet paper to prevent tape glue from messing up lens or microphone should I want to use them in the future.
    Where are the cameras or microphones on TVS? Someone techy should start a website about location and methodology.

    Reply
    1. barefoot charley

      A windfall combined with a hard-drive crash led me to buy a Lenovo laptop, which turns out to be a corporate fave. The home office can take over the whole thing and suck up all info at any time, for example–didn’t know that!

      On the other hand, its camera has a built-in slide-over so poor executive drones can exercise their ‘privacy’ while . . . whatever. So I slid the slide.

      Reply
  21. bob

    Re: Kamala Harris Is Hard to Define Politically. Maybe That’s the Point.

    It’s very simple-

    Kamala Harris is a cop

    Reply
    1. Cal2

      Except for the physical fitness requirements, the background check, credit rating and psychological exam. Taste in music:

      “So one day I was in my office at the courthouse, and I heard my coworkers talking outside my door. They were talking about how they’d prove certain people were gang-affiliated.

      So they mentioned the neighborhood where the arrest had occurred — the way the people were dressed, the kind of music they were listening to.

      And hearing this conversation, well you know I had to poke my head outside my door. And I looked at them and I said:

      ‘Hey, guys. You know that corner you were talking about? Well, I know people who live there.’

      ‘You know the clothes you were talking about? I have family members who dress that way.’

      ‘And that music?” — and now I’m about to date myself — ’Well, I have a tape of that music in my car.’

      Reply
  22. Susan the Other

    Language is a weird as quantum physics. I don’t see much difference between “Tianxia” and neoliberal utopian hallucinations. I also don’t see much difference in the human instinct for power, whether looking at China’s long history of wars and emperors and dispossessed people or the West’s. But all we have to do to form an opinion is do a phase change for words and meanings and voila! We have inscrutable politics.

    Reply
  23. Susan the Other

    About Nordic noir. I’m addicted to it, and Beck especially, because it rarely panders to false sympathy. Maybe that’s why the characters are so convincing and the actors so capable – they aren’t expected to do some morality play. I’d put Breaking Bad in that category of “accurate fiction” too. By the ratings, everybody and their dog likes this stuff. So why do we have such crappy, cheap, dishonest and sappy TV? She asks naively.

    Reply
    1. Jos Oskam

      Agreed about Beck. I think the Sjowall/Wahloo books are masterpieces. By the way, the character of Gunvald Larsson only appears for the first time in “the man on the balcony” but for me it’s the most appealing character i’ve seen in any crime novel.
      These books are vintage but not outdated.

      Reply
  24. Cal2

    Kamala Harris hard to define? Not at all. She is a shape-shifter, a chameleon and like an octopus, has the ability to slither through any political opening.
    The voters of the California Democratic party pulled the lever to vote for her as senator, but what choice did they have?
    Her protegee, Willie Brown, Speaker of the State Assembly and Mayor of S.F. was her original launching mattress pad to fail upwards.
    “you must either be for the police…?”She is reviled by them after not seeking the death penalty for the assault rifle killing of Officer Erik Espinoza, when she was S.F. District Attorney, the twice paroling of an undocumented gang member that then killed the Bologna Family, a Secret Masonic Police force working out of her A.G.’s office,
    https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-aide-harris-accused-rogue-police-force-20150505-story.html
    huge payoffs for sexual harassment in that office, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/senior-adviser-sen-kamala-harris-resigns-after-report-400-000-n944701
    and last but not least, getting a nice campaign donation tip from Republican Steven Mnuchin after letting his One West Bank slide after defrauding over 36,000 Californians through illegal mortgage practices while the homeowners got a few ballyhoo’d crumbs.

    Reply
  25. Kurt Sperry

    “The EU is preparing to delay Brexit until at least July after concluding that Theresa May is doomed to fail in getting her deal through parliament.

    The country’s 29 March deadline for exiting the EU is now regarded by Brussels as highly unlikely to be met given the domestic opposition facing the prime minister and it is expecting a request from London to extend article 50 in the coming weeks.

    A special leaders’ summit to push back Brexit day is expected to be convened by the European council president, Donald Tusk, once a UK request is received. EU officials said the length of the prolongation of the negotiating period allowed under article 50 would be determined based on the reason put forward by May for the delay.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jan/13/eu-preparing-to-delay-brexit-until-at-least-july

    Reply
  26. allan

    The 2017 tax reform will allow you to file your tax return report 2019 used car sales on a postcard:

    … Tax refund checks play a big role in selling used cars. A $2,500 or $3,000 income tax refund can be a sizable down payment, particularly on a used car.

    The peak period for used vehicle sales typically follows when tax refunds have been received by most households, according to Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Cox Automotive.

    Now, there’s a growing concern that some households could receive a far smaller refund — or might even owe a bigger tax bill than they’d normally expect — because they received more money each week in 2018 in their paychecks, thanks to changes in the tax withholding tables under the new federal tax law.

    A Cox Automotive analysis of employee withholdings indicated that the amount being withheld from each paycheck for taxes is even less than the tax rate reduction should have produced.

    Many people may not have been withholding enough in taxes out of their paychecks in 2018 to even cover the new, lower tax rate, Smoke warns.

    As a result, there’s a sizable risk for a surprise in the spring when it comes to seeing smaller tax refunds. …

    No one could have predicted …

    Reply
    1. allan

      Part 2: The 2017 tax reform will allow you to file your tax return your CPA to list on a postcard
      the continuing professional education seminars he needs to attend in order to understand the TCJA:

      Small-business tax deduction has CPAs scratching their heads [AP]

      Millions of small business owners will be in uncharted waters this tax season as they try to determine if they qualify for a deduction that could exempt one-fifth of their income from taxes.

      Five months after the IRS issued guidelines to help business owners and tax advisers understand how the complex deduction works, accountants and tax attorneys still have questions.

      Even those who have attended seminars and workshops about the new law have come away scratching their heads, especially about a section that bars service providers like doctors, lawyers and consultants from claiming the deduction. Some of these company owners have businesses that don’t easily fit into the IRS guidelines or proposed regulations the agency has also issued.

      “There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there,” said Jeffrey Berdahl, a CPA in Allentown, Pa. “It’s going to be like the Wild West.” …

      Weird, since as is well-known from the 2009-2016 era, if there’s one thing the the GOP can’t stand
      in economic policy, it’s uncertainty.

      Reply
  27. crow

    One day your voice will control all your gadgets, and they will control you MIT Technology Review

    Don’t need my fridge telling me what I need at the store, or more likely, telling what brand to buy. Just another monetization scheme. Will there be an Internet off switch on my toaster? Doubt it. I’ll just unplug the thing when I’m not using it. There will be a market for pre Internet connected appliances, I predict.

    Don’t need this, don’t want it. I’m sure I’m not alone.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      There will also be a market for the services of people who can strip the digital chips and cooties out of interneted appliances in order to make those appliances analog again.

      Reply
  28. VietnamVet

    China and the Wall go together. The US government shutdown will last till something collapses and costs important people money or lives. Two very rich groups in the West are fighting over the ideology that supports the free movement of people and capital verses those who want secure borders to keep the Others out. China used the corporate counter revolt that started in the 80’s to benefit itself. Together with Russia, China has resurrected the multipolar world that recognizes national borders. The problem with ideology is that it creates people who can’t walk in other people’s shoes. Like the Great War, the world is again on a precipice. So far, by some miracle, war with Iran, Russia or China has not broken out. Probably due to the fear that a nuclear war will kill the VIPs.

    Reply
  29. Ignacio

    RE: Before Lisbeth Salander: The couple that invented Nordic noir with the Martin Beck series of books

    This article about Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö couldn’t have a better start than a Chandler quote. I consider these three, together with swedish Henning Mankel, italian Andrea Camilleri and spanish Manuel Vázquez Montalbán my favourite and somehow leftist noir writers .

    Reply

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