Links 1/27/19

Bacteria and viruses are fighting back, but will big pharma save us? Guardian (The Rev Kev)

Scottish stone circle isn’t so ancient after all, archaeologists say Ars Technica (Chuck L)

Brianna Decker Will Get Her Prize Money After All, Just Not From The NHL [Update] Deadspin (Chuck L)

Why women are outperforming men at the extremes of endurance FT

‘Don’t kiss or snuggle hedgehogs’ because of salmonella risk, CDC warns WaPo. And when the subject is hedgehogs, I can’t resist posting this: Rory Stewart on hedgehogs. Well worth your time on a January Sunday afternoon.

Endangered British birds to be hunted under new permit – here’s how that could fuel an illegal pan-European trade The Conversation

Waste Watch

Supermarket cuts emissions 53%, offsets rest TreeHugger

Marie Kondo is No Cure For Our Hyper-Consumer Culture American Conservative

Communities across the country are taking radical steps against plastic AlterNet


The Western world may no longer underestimate Isis, but we’ve failed to learn the most important lessons from its rise and fall Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

Why American figures like Michelle Alexander are breaking their silence on Israel Independent. Robert Fisk.

Jewish stones are better than Palestinian stones Mondoweis (chuck l)


Human Rights Double Standard: Iranian Sanctions Impact the Most Vulnerable Jurist


UK firms plan mass exodus if May allows no-deal Brexit Guardian (The Rev Kev)

Brexit: the invisible battle

Health Care

Millions of Americans Flood Into Mexico for Health Care — the Human Caravan You Haven’t Heard About Truthout

State of emergency declared in US measles outbreak France24

Mother’s lifesaving surgery stopped at last minute because her bank blocked payment for operation Independent (The Rev Kev)


Priyanka Gandhi Vadra: a scion of India’s first family steps up FT

Polio vaccine shortages pose a great risk to children, even if India is ‘polio free’

Future of Work in India: What is the View of the Indian Industry? The Wire


Is China’s plan to use a nuclear bomb detonator to release shale gas in earthquake-prone Sichuan crazy or brilliant? SCMP


Before Venezuela, US had long involvement in Latin America AP (furzy)

US calls on countries to ‘pick a side’ in Venezuela crisis Al Jazeera

Trump’s ‘Axis of Evil’: Pompeo, Bolton & Abrams Common Dreams

Scholars Condemn US Interference in Venezuela, Seek Negotiated End to Standoff The Wire

Zakharova Mocks ‘8 Day Snap Election Deadline’ For Venezuela – But There’s More Fort Russ News (The Rev Kev)

The US’s “Economic Blockade” Paved the Way for Venezuela Coup Attempt TruthOut

Down from the Mountain London Review of Books. From 2017; still germane.

Class Warfare

Brazil’s Bolsonaro sings a song of human folly at Davos Asia Times. Pepe Escobar.

Right “To Their Faces,” 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Tells Davos Elite Climate Crisis Their Fault Common Dreams

Fields of Blood: My Life As a Prison Laborer Marshall Project

Why Aren’t Hedge Funds Required to Fight Money Laundering? ProPublica

Where you live in the US can tell you how likely your job is to be automated MIT Technology Review

New Cold War

A N.Y. Times Story Just Accidentally Shredded the Russiagate Hysteria Truthdig. Lee Camp.

Progressives Helped Pave The Way For These ‘Russian Asset’ Bernie Smears Caitlin Johnstone

Tariff Tantrum

A simple chart shows the winners and losers from Trump’s trade war with China Business Insider (The Rev Kev)


Koch network reportedly plans to stay out of 2020 presidential race Axios (furzy)

Likely 2020 Dem contenders to face scrutiny over Wall Street ties The Hill

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch


Verizon caves, won’t charge “spam” fee for texts from teachers to students Ars Technica (Chuck L)

Trump Transition

Trump and Ocasio-Cortez use the same tricks to win at politics NY Post

America Pushes Allies to Fight Huawei in New Arms Race With China NYT

IRS will need at least a year to recover from government shutdown, watchdog tells Congress WaPo

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    “US calls on countries to ‘pick a side’ in Venezuela crisis”

    Proconsul Pompeo should really get new material. I mean really, “Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem”. Started to get me all nostalgic that for George W. Bush. Remember his “You are either with is, or you are with the terrorists”? Here, this may jog people’s memories-

    Then again, maybe Pompeo is just a fan of “Pirates of the Caribbean”-

    And is that a Blue Tit in today’s Antidote du Jour?

    1. Alain de Benoist

      Putin and Erdogan should counter-attack by recognizing Marine Le Pen as the President of France due to the violent suppression of the gilets jaunes protests.

      One of the ground breaking ideas of the Trump campaign was his overt hostility to the NeoCons. Now he has let several NeoCons infest his administration while at the same time media NeoCons are relentlessly attacking him.

      Trump has to know about the “you break it you buy it” doctrine. Democratic politicians see those streams of refugees leaving Venezuela and are desperate to find a way to get them into the US in order to have generations of sure-thing Democratic voters. Chamber of Commerce Republicans want the same thing but for different reasons, they see (rightly or wrongly) generations of cheap labor and easily manipulated consumers. Trump is a fool to get involved in any way in Venezuela and already his actions are a clear betrayal of his base.

      I would not at all be surprised if Tucker Carlson primaries Trump and wins.

      1. timotheus

        The Venezuelan refugees I know are far from “sure-thing Democratic voters.” After their experience of “socialism” Chavez-Maduro-style, they could easily fall into the camp of the anti-communist Cubans. I had at least one explode in my face with bilingual f-bombs about “socialist” Bernie Sanders.

        1. Carolinian

          Presumably if Trump has his way the Venezuelan refugees you know will be headed back to Venezuela and replaced by poor people fleeing the Trump sponsored dictatorship, er, democracy. Perhaps the lesson here is that both wings of our duopoly have contempt for actual democracy while constantly prating about it.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            The Miami Cubazuelans.

            And that “Miami Cubazuelan” exploding about Bernie Sanders the “socialist” reminds me of how Black and White Miamians were united by the repatriation to Cuba of the kidnapped child Elian Gonzales . . . . standing together waving Confederate Flags ( I saw it on the news) and chanting ” One down, Eight Hundred Thousand to go!”

        2. skk

          Yes, there are Venezuelan refugees and then there are Venezuelan refugees. I’ve worked with two, one was a Prof in Venezuela, turned into a working statistician here, with parents and himself both with Spanish citizenship. Another is an anchor-baby of the late 80s I guess, with tri-national parents who choose to commute-live between ( Christian ) Lebanon and with their son in the USA. Yeah they choose Lebanon over Venezuela. I just shake my head at that. Not all of us are Robert Fisk after all.
          Without a doubt my colleagues would love nothing better than to bring Maduro down – and Chavez before that at that.
          For myself, at a national level, staying out of other country’s business seems like a very sound idea.

          So which refugees are people meeting ? Are they meeting any at all ?

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I think its quite similar to Iranian’s abroad in that most of those who leave are those with the wealth and opportunity – and this is usually the better off middle classes or the wealthy. And almost by definition they are people who hate the government as its one of the prime reasons they’ve left. So you can get a very skewed idea from talking to them. And it has to be said, that they become something of an echo chamber as they all end up socialising with each other, linking to each other on social media and repeating the same stories. And it has to be said that middle class Venezuelans are notorious for not having any inclination to mix with the lower classes, unless they are looking for a servant – and this applies to Venzuelans abroad too. I’ve a Venezuelan friend who quite openly refuses to talk to those she sometimes meets who she says are from the favelas. And she isn’t particularly snobbish or upper class, she just assumes they wouldn’t want to talk to her either.

            I’m not sure what you mean about Lebanon though – its actually a wonderful country to live in if you aren’t poor. You have great skiing and hiking just an hours drive from some beautiful beaches, and amazing food. And crime is very low, its a very safe country so long as the Israelis don’t invade. It never properly recovered from the civil war, but its still a far nicer place than you’d think from media reports. I’ve known ethnic Lebanese doctors who had passports for Australian and Britain, and chose to stay in the Lebanon for the quality of life.

            1. Synapsid


              Read carlos’ post, also at 1:28 pm, well down the page. I added material that is apparently in moderation.

            2. Wukchumni

              The Iranians in Tehrangeles I knew were all very pro-Shah, decades after he was gone.

              It was a most interesting diaspora, in that most came to L.A. with a bunch or barbarous relics, and the timing was perfect in the late 70’s early 80’s, as they were all net sellers into a market that was toppy.

        3. JerryDenim

          Most of the Venezuelans that have been able to emigrate/flee to the United States so far have been upper-middle class or from even more affluent strata of Venezuelan society. They see themselves as victims and refugees, and as such, they have the smoldering resentments of the aggrieved. Venezuelans of means were likely born that way and they were probably raised hostile to left-wing thought by old guard conservative families. If these people weren’t hostile to left wing politics before, I would imagine they almost all would be now, as this group sees themselves as being chased out of their own country by populism and socialism run amok. The ‘Chavez-Maduro’ experience you speak of. Bernie-hating Venezuelan immigrants stateside sounds about par for the course. I agree any immigrating Venezuelans are more likely to be like the Cuban Republican voters in Florida than any immigrant demographic that skews left.

          1. bob

            Anecdotal- I looked at a lot of the personal twitter accounts of people backing the coup who claimed to be Venezuelan. A lot appeared to be 2nd generation immigrants to the US who were, at the very least, solidly middle class.

            Jim Haygood (RIP) would have been their spiritual center. Scorned by the commies

      2. pjay

        Trump has not only let neocons into his administration, he now has what might be the two *worst* — Bolton and Abrams — in key positions. I’m still waiting for Trump’s 11-dimensional chess moves to make this all right.

        1. Massinissa

          It was a joke, but yes, I think most people here would prefer Melenchon. Le Pen just makes the absurdity more apparent and therefore more amusing.

      3. lordkoos

        The meme of Democrats wanting immigrants because they will vote Dem is a pretty tired right-wing talking point and (as usual) has little basis in fact.

        1. Carey

          I think you are likely right about that.

          “Dems”, as I see it, want more immigrants to the USA, which has a carrying capacity of, at best, one-third of the population we already have, for the same reason as “Reps” do: to *drive down wages and living conditions* for the great majority of the citizenry.


      4. Procopius

        I would not at all be surprised if Tucker Carlson primaries Trump and wins.

        I think I could live with that. Carlson seems to have become more sane recently. If the Dems nominate Biden, Booker, or Harris I might very well choose to vote for him as the Lesser of Two Evils™.

    2. nippersdad

      In similar fashion to the Dems’ new McCarthyism, the Reps also seem to be recycling a lot of old material; Bolton called out Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba as the “Triad of Tyranny” the other day. All that is missing is Colin Powell addressing the UN about aluminum tubes and yellowcake. I guess one can’t expect much originality from such people.

      With eight days to call elections, I am eagerly awaiting Maduro’s invitation of Russian electoral monitors into the country and daring Pompeo to say something about it. Maybe the increased speed with which all the usual actors are moving is an attempt to preempt a Syria on the Caribbean situation, but Pompeo is surely not the only one who can dare
      people to test them in this situation.

        1. Carey

          What a beautiful little antidote-birdie today! Now I know it’s a blue tit, too.

          This is a great place.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        I guess at least he has experience in the region…

        i’m weary of the bipartisan jobs programs for war criminals and other assorted evildoers.

      2. Stormcrow

        Kenneth Roth of HRW falls into line. Clarifying.

        Kevin Gosztola:
        It is sad testament to Human Rights Watch’s abysmal agenda on Venezuela that the organization’s executive director would blame Maduro for attempted coup orchestrated against his govt with key assistance from US officials, who are further destabilizing the country.

        1. The Rev Kev

          The Human Rights Watch has been co-opted by what you might call the deep state for very long time now in the same way that the media has. Very sad that.

    3. Synapsid

      Rev Kev and all,

      Bloomberg reports that Netanyau announced in a text message that Israel supports the opposition.

      Remember: The opposition is the National Assembly, which was in fact elected in open election and was then sidelined by Maduro, replaced by the Constituent Assembly in an election declared a fraud by most of the governments of Latin America along with Western governments.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Is China’s plan to use a nuclear bomb detonator to release shale gas in earthquake-prone Sichuan crazy or brilliant? SCMP

    Treat this with a major pinch of salt:

    The deeper the shale beds, the higher the water pressure needed to frack the rock and release the gas. Reaching China’s reserves, at 3.5km (2.2 miles) underground, would require a water pressure of about 100 megapascals, or about the same as is found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, the deepest point on Earth.
    No pump, pipe or drill shaft wall material has the strength to withstand such a crush.

    Most gas fracking occurs at this type of depth – the Marcellus shale is around 3 km underground and the reserves in the UK are much deeper (although not produced yet).

    Its unclear from the article but it may be that this new technology is intended to replace the need for a horizontal drill, but clearly given that conventional fracking ‘works’, it would need a lot of convincing for the industry to try something new like this. And it doesn’t obviate the need for vast amounts of water and frack sand, both of which China is distinctly short of in the regions where it has shale.

    1. JeffC

      Also, the approach has nothing in common with the Hiroshima bomb. See Richard Rhodes’s classic book The Making of the Atomic Bomb or a thousand reasonable summary articles or even—yes—Wikipedia. Saying this technique uses the same principle as that weapon is like saying a liver functions like a skyscraper.

      I’m sure the intent was to draw a parallel to the approach of the later Nagasaki bomb and its subsequent relatives, which per the same sources used focused shock waves created by explosives to compress plutonium, but it is still fundamentally dishonest journalistically to bring nuclear weapons into the discussion at all. Focusing waves is used in a gazillion applications (speakers and antennas, for example), and to single out this one for its reader titillation level is just smarmy.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Well, to be fair, the writer didn’t overdo that aspect, it was just a click bait headline which I ignored.

        1. ewmayer

          Using words like “nuclear bomb detonator” in the headline is just fundamentally dishonest, we are way beyone mere clickbait-hype here, IMO.

          Good – but less “eyeball grabbing” – analogy would be with lithotripsy for breaking up kidney stones.

          1. Procopius

            I have come to the conclusion that around half of all headlines are dishonest/misleading. They are not written by the reporters who write the story. The Editors have more power to slant the information we get than the reporters, who do insert their own bias. We should have learned our lesson when it was revealed that Henry Luce (Time Magazine) ordered his editors to use the material handed out by the Pentagon and suppress the stories his own reporters were sending from Vietnam.

        1. ewmayer

          Yeah, I’ve heard about that incident – note though, that with the bomb whose parachute failed and which slammed into the ground at 700mph, there was never any chance of a true nuclear detonation – here is the key snip:

          “The team had to recover the component that contained the arm safe switch, as well as 92 detonators burrowed in the ground. Each detonator contained a small amount of explosives and looked like a hand grenade.”

          That 92-detonator setup, a simplified and much-more-compact version of the massive complex mixed-explosive-lens design used in the Nagasaki bomb, is described in e.g. Richard Rhodes’ H-bomb memoir Dark Sun – specifically in the chapter on Ivy Mike, the first ‘true’ staged US thermonuke. Briefly, with advances in electronics it was possible to reliably get a whole bunch of such detonators to fire with microsecond simultaneity – and with a sufficiently large numbers of such inward-moving shock waves (each of which expands spherically outward from its detonator, i.e. is convex in the ‘wrong direction’ with respect to the fissile core) the aspherical “corners” created by the converging shock fronts – picture a spiky spherical-bodied grain of pollen, with the spikes being the corners and the spherical body the main coalesced-shock wave front – are small enough that they don’t affect the final result. At time of development of the Nagasaki bomb neitehr the state of the electronic art nor of the numerical fluid-dynamical modeling of such physics was sufficiently advanced to use a many-detonator method, so they used few external detonators and fancy explosive lensing to reshape the resulting shock waves into the right shape – very cool in its own way, but needing massive amounts of high explosive and way too bulky to turn into a compact staged thermonuke for which the primary fission weapon is the detonator for the fusion secondary, and which needs to be deliverable by non-huge aircraft or bombers carrying multiple such, and/or atop missiles.

          Anyhow, the above quote from the article makes clear that the HE spherical shell did not survive impact intact, meaning it would not have been able to properly compress the fissile core and cause a chain reaction. The main danger lay in its capability to fragment the fissile core and spread that material across the landscape. Even that may have not been a terribly great danger, since those cores are basically 2 hemispheres of solid metal fitted together – unlike the Hiroshima bomb with its huge bring-2-large-chunks-of-U235-together-to-create-a-supercritical-mass-assembly design, the resulting orange-sized sphere is still subcritical, it is the precise compression of said sphere by the HE assembly which renders it supercritical by way of size reduction – and IIRC Plutonium and U235 (such bombs typically used the former or a mix of the 2) are both extremely dense and not especially friable metals, i.e. the HE going off might simply have blown the 2 hemispheres, intact, some distance. And the fusion portion of such ‘production’ bombs use lithium deuteride (essentially LiH with the H atom being the deuterium isotope of same) which is nonradioactive, and sometimes a surrounding depleted-Uranium shell to catch high-energy neutrons produced by the LiH fusion and allow them to fission U238 atoms in the shell (producing similar energy to U235 fission) rather than to simply escape, thus boosting the weapon’s yield. But U238, although not exactly something you want scattered around, is also not terribly radioactive. IOW, the smashed-up HE portion going off would make for a really crappy ‘low yield dirty bomb’. For a terrorist-style dirty bomb one wants to use HE to scatter finely atomized dust of highly-radioactive material, e.g. the kind of ‘hot’ stuff used in the medical-isotope trade or that used in radioactive-isotope thermal generators (RTGs).

            1. Carey

              Or maybe we shouldn’t judge ourselves solely by the evidence of our worst examples, even if the latter do, *for the moment*, hold sway.

    2. ptb

      Engineer but nothing to do w/ oil industry… that quote about the impossibility of 100 MPa (~15000 psi) sounds like something was lost in translation. 15000 psi is 3x typical pressures of hydraulic systems. Expensive, sure, but not impossible.

      Unless the geology happens to somehow favor this technique all by itself, my wild and utterly uninformed guess is using explosives probably wouldn’t replace horiz drilling, or the sensing/guidadance systems that make it possible to hit the geological sweet spots. Thus it wouldn’t be some kind of revolution in cost. Maaaybe could it be used to enhance the existing fracking technology, as a pressure boost mechanism (followed by the same pumping of fluid with particles that keep cracks open etc. They’d also have to have very beefy valves “upstream” of the explosives to keep the shockwave contained, and of course stuff all this machinery into a pipe and have it still work, and come up with a way of observing the results. But there’s great money to be made building complex machines for nationally strategic industries.

      At least we’ll end up with better high pressure fluid system technology (valves, seals, pumps, measuring devices etc), which could be used in a less invasive way for geothermal. someday.

  3. Alex V

    At least the NYT article on Huawei acknowledges, in a roundabout way, the hypocrisy of American paranoia about their networks being used for espionage. It however leaves out one important point – a large portion of the patents defining the 5G standard are held by Huawei, and there are essentially no US owned manufacturers of mobile network equipment left (only component suppliers that manufacture in Asia) so the US will already be behind in trying to make its telecom networks independent of Chinese influence and will essentially be reliant on European suppliers.

    1. JTMcPhee

      How about stealing a march on evil Huawei and the corporate bandits who want to force us all into the wondrous rack of 5G? Why not roll out twisted-pair tip and ring copper wires, across the land, working on 48-volt DC power and working reliably through major devastations and power grid outages?

      Of course the telecom oligarchs have rolled up and removed mega-miles of those old Ma Bell regulated-utility wires and melted them down, where they haven’t just disconnected them and left them in place to rot and corrode underground or in sewers and wire chases in buildings across this great land. Because we are addicted, via their efforts and Bernaysians blandishments and our own stupid limbic systems, to Moar Bandwidth, more rentier-chargeable bandwidth, so much easier to hack and spy and extract data from, to feed the asymptotically growing and insatiable server black clouds of the NSA, and Apple, and Amazon and Google and other public-private partnerships… So who needs or wants those older, more robust systems, huh?

    2. Oregoncharles

      Another good example of what a threat globalization is to “national security.” Very odd, isn’t it, that the people who claim to be so concerned about “security” can’t see that?

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Supermarket cuts emissions 53%, offsets rest TreeHugger

    Good to see this, wasted refrigeration in supermarkets is a big bugbear of mine.

    I was thinking about this figure—which is admittedly daunting—as I read about the supermarket chain Aldi and its efforts to curb its footprint. According to Business Green, the UK arm of the German supermarket chain has cut greenhouse gas emissions per square metre of its sales floor by 53 per cent since 2012, largely through installing solar, buying green energy and undertaking significant energy efficiency and energy management upgrades.

    I’ve seen estimates that refrigeration in supermarkets amounts to 1% or more of all electricity use – in the US its around 3% of all commercial energy (not just electricity) use. And yet its vastly wasteful. I assume the big reason is display – the more upmarket the supermarket, the more it seems to favour those refrigerated shelves that are open and pour cold air all over the building. My local Marks & Spencers and Tesco are major offenders (in the latter case, they do have closed door systems, but they are so badly made and maintained they are usually left open.

    But I had noticed that recently both my local Aldi (Trader Joes in the US) and Lidl are much better – the latter has nearly everything in well designed and clearly well insulated deep refrigerated bins (you can tell they are well made because the air is normal temperature around them, no ‘leakage’, while the bins themselves are sub zero.

    Its a small thing, but the savings in CO2 emissions are not small. So well done to Aldi, its nice to see that the cheapest supermarket is also the best (incidentally, Aldi also recently announced here that they were upgrading their pay grades to allow for a full living wage – so they are undoubtedly more ‘ethical’ than their main competitors here.

    I don’t know if its significant that Aldi and Lidl are private companies, not public. Just perhaps not having to announce quarterly results to shareholders allows for more ethical behaviour. Or at least, doesn’t provide an excuse to put off

    1. katiebird

      I shop at Aldi in the US, for regular groceries, it is better for our family than Trader Joe’s which we use mainly for treats.

      I will take a good look at the refrigerators next time we go.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I only know about it because I shopped there when traveling through Germany. When they came to Oz a few years ago, I looked up the history to see what they were all about. Very secretive apparently.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              They are a typical German family run concern, I’ve dealt with a few of these over the years. Their corporate culture is always very different in my experience from non-German public companies. Despite their size, they still have the culture of a family company – everything depends on the whim or otherwise of whoever the family member is who’s in charge. One company I know – a very big name in construction equipment – has a major plant in a small Irish town that was built apparently because the owner simply liked the salmon fishing in the area.

              They strongly value loyalty – both to employees, customers, and suppliers, and they expect it to be a two way street. They tend not so much to be secretive, but to see their business as nobody elses, and feel no reason to share information. I guess its a cultural thing but most of the family members tend to be super discreet about their gigantic wealth. I believe that most of the Aldi family still live in very modest suburban houses, mostly because they simply don’t like attracting attention.

              1. Ignacio

                Refrigeration in the food supply chain is one of the big electricity tickets, and bigger one if we add home refrigerators. New technologies with improved EER allow for significant reductions. These machines work for long hours during the year.

                Another simple thing that would reduce electricity consumptiom significantly is to change water pumps in heating installations. If remember well, those account to about 2% total electricity in the EU. Old water pumps tipically function only at one speed, that is, at max speed. A lot of waste when water consumptiom is far from maximum capacity.

                The Aldi in UK case is a piece of good news indeed!

    2. Carla

      “both my local Aldi (Trader Joes in the US)”

      Small correction: in the U.S. we have both Trader Joe’s and Aldi stores, serving distinctly different demographic markets.

      Trader Joe’s started out as a California company and was acquired by the German company Aldi. Here in the U.S., Aldi’s seems to cater to middle- and working-class consumers, offering deeply discounted products in a utilitarian, discount-store format. Trader Joe’s stores are located in distinctly upper-middle class shopping districts and attract a wealthier clientele with “boutique” products. Trader Joe’s employees do seem to love their jobs; it appears management treats them very well.

      1. Carolinian

        There are two branches of Aldi owned by different Albrecht brothers. The branch that runs Trader Joe’s is different than the one that runs the discount groceries. It’s likely that one reason that Aldi and Lidl are better at not wasting refrigeration is less about the environment and more because it saves electricity and therefore money for these low margin grocers.

      2. Wukchumni

        When TJ’s was owned by a guy named Joe, it was a great shopping experience, as he might’ve located only 10,000 cases of the best french fruit preserves he’d ever tasted, and once they were gone, that’s it. There was a constant churn of interesting foodstuffs & wine.

        Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy shopping @ TJ’s currently, but I know exactly what i’m going to buy, and i’m never disappointed, as the stock only varies slightly with new additions.

        Want an oldtime TJ’s shopping experience in a supermarket?

        Grocery Outlet is fun. (just watch out for the use-by dates, on some products that means a fortnight from now)

        1. Chris

          I worked at the original Trader Joe’s when I was eighteen. Lots of Hawaiian music then and an interesting mix of employees and customers. Today it appears to be different and yet still has the same vibe as when I was there, some 45 years ago. And the founders name is Joe Coulombe and he used to show up and bag groceries at the store on holidays (yes, we were open holidays then). And he still shops there on occasion too.

      3. Jason Boxman

        I can confirm TJs employees seeming to like their jobs. I met a young woman a few months ago who raved about working there. She was an artist and they employed her to do arts things in the store or some such.

      4. elissa3

        A big drawback to TJs is their use of hard plastic packing for many of the refrigerated vegetables and fruits. I once was looking for 2 lbs. of eggplant for a recipe and was told “there are no scales in the store”; hence the fixed portion packages. Perhaps if consumers voiced their objection to this practice, upper management might change. . .

      5. Wyoming

        Our nearest grocery (if you want to call it that) is a Trader Joe’s. We never even go in the place as their selection of standard foods is so poor. I live in an a upper middle class community of about 1000 houses and the shtick here is that TJ’s is a liquor store which carries high end goodies for your soirée, but it is not where you go to buy groceries for a regular diet. Sort of like the liquor stores in the poor areas of Detroit carry some food for the locals as there are no regular grocery stores any more. As an aside I note that excessive liquor consumption is endemic here in retirement ville.

        About 40% of our TJ’s is the liquor section and it offers no meat, milk or bread products. Any Costco or Fry’s beats them hands down on both selection and price.

        1. newcatty

          Not sure where your Trader Joe’s is, but our closest one has ,we would guess , about 20% of floor space dedicated to liquor. It’s all wine and beer, no hard liquor. Our TJ’s has meat, dairy products and lots of bread products. We buy some meat there…best price for organic chicken, for example. We buy some wine and beer. Don’t buy fresh produce much…Don’t appreciate the plastic packaging. Can find a nice price on some loose organic veggies or fruit sometimes. Also, best buys on cheese stuffs. We are retired, too. (Mostly…husband still works part time for small solar company). Don’t belong to Cosco, not worth it for just the two of us. Shop Frys once a month for paper products, etc. Also shop Sprouts. We have the time to do shop at various stores. Can understand working people need to consolidate their shopping. Also, can understand that low income families need to shop at the least expensive stores for their food.

          We live in a small Northern AZ city and lots of elders live here. We are quiet on the soir’ee scene, but know that not all people in our age cohort fit your description of retirement Ville. But, we live in a small house on a hill, so out of the ville.

      6. Lee

        Friend of mine, a very fit 72 year old, has been working at Trader Joe’s for several years to supplement his retirement income. He finds it quite agreeable.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      About saving electricity by reducing the energy-waste of cold air spilling out from open faced coolers in supermarkets . . .

      The restaurant I used to work in had a “walk-in cooler”. The walk-in cooler had a bunch of heavy translucent vinyl strips hanging in it so that we could walk through them and they would drop-close behind us of their own weight. That kept most of the cold air in the cooler. Here is a picture of something exactly like that.

      What if all the open-faced sales-display coolers in all the supermarkets of the world had those kinds of hanging vinyl strips . . . all just translucent enough to see what was behind them? For a quick reach-in to grab the goods and go, with the strips falling right back into place behind the pulled-back-out hand; thereby keeping the cold air in the cooler?

      Thinking further, what if every private home-fridge and home-freezer all over the world had its own fridge-specific or freezer-specific version of those same cold-air-retention downward-hanging vinyl strips?

  5. nothing but the truth

    After all those heart rending soup lines, they will get money for sitting at home after all.

    However, the bill did not extend the same protections to the millions of government contractors, such as janitors and food service workers, who are often paid very little.

    Clearly, this should be illegal.

    Govt money should not be paid for services and goods not received.

    1. nippersdad

      Government employees should not have to resort to food banks because of one man’s hissy fit, either. The Constitution requires that the governments bills be paid, and Trump does not have the power of the purse. McConnell should be impeached or sued for having unilaterally turned over the prerogatives of Congress to Trump and thereby damaged the the government he was elected to help manage.

      What he did for Trump was clearly illegal, and that fact needs to be acknowledged.

      1. Procopius

        McConnell doesn’t have the power of the purse, either, the House of Representatives does, but McConnell should be voted out of office for this obstruction. He has announced he will not bring up for a vote any bill which he thinks Trump would veto. Congress can override a veto but he does not dare risk a majority of the Republicans doing that.

    2. marym

      What should be illegal is people elected to govern deciding not to do so as a stunt to serve their own political ambitions, forcing workers, their families, their creditors, those who depend on their services, and those who depend on their business to pay the price.

      What should be illegal is people elected to govern deciding not to do so as a stunt to serve their own political ambitions, forcing workers, their families, their creditors, those who depend on their services, and those who depend on their business to pay the price.

      The injustice in this case isn’t payment for services not delivered. It’s withholding payment in our name from workers who have been forcibly prevented from working.

      1. marym

        Edit: no, I didn’t really think the first paragraph was so insightful as to need repeating, but here we are…

    3. Alfred

      Apparently the same commentator retailed this argument on the 25th in a response to the post, “Are Federal Workers Being Forced Into Involuntary Servitude?” I replied to it then. I took that response to express a form of libertarianism that, I will now state explicitly, can be identified with the ‘selfishness’ of Ayn Rand. The argument’s insidiousness disturbs me, as I believe it should — though it clearly does not — disturb everyone. With the shutdown now (temporarily?) behind us, the ongoing campaign against federal workers in which today’s comment participates, appears clearly to belong to a politics of cruelty. (May I compliment marym on nailing in her comment the mechanics of how this particular episode of cruelty has been engineered by “withholding payment in our name from workers who have been forcibly prevented from working.”)

    4. Lee

      “They also serve who stand and wait.” Putting morality and humanitarianism aside, forgetting this dictum is a good way to lose the future availability of a temporarily idled workforce.

      It used to bother me that framers got paid a higher rate than we finish carpenters and cabinet makers. After all, we were the more skilled, or at least we thought so. Then it was explained to me that because of weather, framers working outside worked fewer hours per year than did we who worked indoors. If you wanted experienced framers the following year, you had to provide them enough income to get through the season they were not working.

      1. kgw

        I worked in that group of finish carpenters and cabinet makers, Lee…There are skilled framers, and then there are framers! As a matter of fact, I worked as a framer in the Berkshires for several years on a local contractor’s crew.

        Short anecdote: while working for an architect’s own house in Lenox, MA, he farmed me out to a developer in Canaan,NY. The developer had a framer he loved because “he was the fastest framer around.” I installed the kitchen cabinets in that house, and the window above the sink was 3/4″ out from the corner walls…How long could it take to lay a string on the wall? Go figure!

        1. knowbuddhau

          Ha, reminds me of the “siders” us painters had the misfortune of following on new construction Navy housing. Their caulking looked like the work of 3-year olds with paste. Actually wiped their hides on the siding.

          Not being a perfectionist here. There’s never time enough to be perfect, and no real need. Corners will be cut, and that’s fine. Comes a point, though, when it’s all cut, no corner. Their joints were wider than any caulk could fill.

          And that’s why we say, putty and paint makes up for what ain’t. But c’mon, buddy!

    5. Oh

      Aside from service workers providing janitorial and food services, I wonder if the contractors (read yuuge ones) will get paid within days? I don’t think they need to be if they’re like Cheney’s companies. Let them wait. And let the companies pay their workers and wait to be paid.

    6. drumlin woodchuckles

      Why not, in this particular case?

      The contractors did not withhold the services and goods not received. The TrumpAdmin willfully embargoed the services and goods not received in order to make them undeliverable and hence unreceivable.

  6. allan

    Bold. Progressive. Fighting for Florida’s working families … and against ethics complaints:

    Andrew Gillum’s Florida Ethics Troubles Just Got Worse [Slate]

    … However Gillum chooses to proceed, it’s clear that Friday’s findings undermine his account and, by extension, his credibility. Throughout the campaign, he insisted that he paid his share of the lavish excursions and never accepted gifts from lobbyists. That narrative is now almost impossible to believe. True, Gillum never performed favors for lobbyists in exchange for their largesse, which would be a federal offense. But even without a quid pro quo, his cozy relationship with lobbyists did not seem to comport with Florida law. …

    1. Alex morfesis

      Yup…Jim crow is live and well in Flow-rid-duh…what you didn’t notice the person who filed the actual ethics complaint… At least the good “doctor” was kind enough not to show up with a hood on when he handed in the complaint…

      We have an annual “ribfest” here in St Pete… A wild weekend using a public park almost for free…claiming a benefit to some little non profit… Over a million dollars a year…poof…into the vapor…half a Million dollars a year in mystery expenses…

      The great Pride parade and events…again…non profit benefits claimed to use the Commonweal…millions of dollars flowing…but wouldn’t ya know it…somehow there was no money left over to give to any non profit…
      Yup…must be ten years now…party party party Pride party…but…yup again…somehow magically they made no money again to distribute…

      but Gosh darn it…those are white events…

      and the darkeez need to be perfect…

      lest they get the idea they bee equals…

      100 dollar threshold in Florida ??

      How many ethics complaints has “doctor” Jackson and his friends at Gannett in Tallahassee filed against white politicians…

      hello great defenders of the plutocracy…you might want to ask questions about a rising tallyhustle state politician star whose dad abruptly resigned from the NYPD years ago and quickly moved to Florida… You know…times square…Basciano…

      Have never ever met, seen or heard any rumors of “clean” politicians…

      Really…some tickets to a play in new York city…??

      mayor Andrew g is certainly guilty of stupidity in hanging out with someone his staff did not properly vet…he is geniusy… How can anyone claim to be a real estate developer and never have built, nor rehabbed, nor own anything… I am glad former mayor Andrew g lost the election…because obviously he is an idiot for going on vacation and hanging out with…

      oh never mind…the guy comes from a political family…another empty suit told to step forward to the tape on the floor…look three inches above the camera lens and read the script as written…

      But please don’t suggest he is somehow unique in the proposition of a politician accepting toys from friends… Or people who want to be his friend…

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Why women are outperforming men at the extremes of endurance”

    Ah, but us men are sneaky. When put in a losing situation against women we do what we always do – cheat. That is why you see more transgender men compete in woman’s sports. Here is an example of a man who identifies as a woman winning the women’s world championship cycling-

    Look at the size of him against the second and third place women winners. And they were seriously p***** and so they should be. Martina Navratilova got herself into trouble recently by suggesting that if you were born with courting tackle, then you shouldn’t be allowed to compete against women. Of course that was not PC so they dropped a hammer on her and us men won again.

    1. Todde

      One of my woman fighters who used to train in my gym fought a transgendered man, Fallon Fox in a mma bout.

      Went about as well aa expected.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Your sobriquet and comments over the years have always reminded me of the following song which I ran across several years ago when trying to explain to someone what a Maine accent sounded like.

        The sentiment is one that anyone who ever hung around in bars with young males with too much liquor and too little else to do can understand but this gives a nice Maine flair to the whole thing. Not politically correct and those who are easily offended or triggered have been warned. Enjoy –

        F*&% ‘Em up Toddy

        1. Todde

          Lol. That could have been my theme song back in the day.

          My parents owned a liquor store when I was a kid. Started working there at 11.

          I used to have a personality you wouldnt take to a dog fight.

      2. Lee

        Yeah, when it comes to sport, there probably should be a clearer gender line than would be drawn in other endeavors. I just watched the Fallon vs. Jones bout on youtube. Given what she was up against, Jones acquitted herself well. If only she had been a bit more aggressive with her right hand counter to Fallon’s leg kick she might have fared even better.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Speaking of clear gender lines, anyone else remember the Golden Press Sisters, Tamara and Irina, who represented the Evil Soviet Union in international sports? Won a ton of medals, all kinds of records, and then retired before the first Olympic meets that would have required gender testing. They were derided as The Press Brothers, looking sort of indeterminate. Lots of controversy back then —

          I’m sure, as humans master their genomic structure and start producing true designer babies, sports competition will become even more interesting (and cosplay will no longer be just costumes, and fantasy shoot-em-ups will move into the “real world.” Can’t hardly wait!

          1. Lee

            I do recall this controversy. A reduction in gender dimorphism in humans could solve the domestic violence issue. Or at least make such conflicts more evenly matched. My mother carried a firearm and my first wife was a very physically fit electrician. You messed with either of them at your peril.

    2. Lee

      Are you familiar with the story of Alex Hai, the first transgender gondolier in Venice? It’s an interesting story that I encountered on Radiolab. Physically female, he identifies male, but was barred from a profession that has been male only for nearly a thousand years. His thwarted aspiration to be a gondolier became a feminist cause célèbre but he did not care one bit for being cast in such a role. If I may make so bold as to characterize his attitude I would describe it as: “I am not a woman, I am not a feminist, I’m just one of the guys, and an excellent gondolier.”

  8. timbers

    Tariff Tantrum

    A simple chart shows the winners and losers from Trump’s trade war with China Business Insider (The Rev Kev)

    Brazil and Russia seem to benefiting from Trump trade war with China, as U.S., Japan, Germany lose exports.

    May help to explain why Germany doesn’t like the trade war.

    And now we know that Trump truly is a Putin puppet.

    Maybe Rachel Maddow can do a TV show on this and Segway into pictures of Putin using his mental telepathy moon beams to control Trump’s mind?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Bolsonaro will burn down the whole Amazon to grow soybeans to sell to China. And China will buy every soybean that Bolsonaro can grow and sell from among the ashes of a burned down Amazon.

  9. Wukchumni

    Scottish stone circle isn’t so ancient after all, archaeologists say Ars Technica

    Drake’s Plate always fascinated me, as it was a playful hoax gone wrong-accepted as the real thing for 40 years after ‘discovery’, perpetrated by some Clampers from ECV in 1936.

    The so-called Drake’s Plate of Brass is a forgery that purports to be the brass plaque that Francis Drake posted upon landing in Northern California in 1579. The hoax was successful for 40 years, despite early doubts. After the plate came to public attention in 1936, historians raised questions regarding the plate’s wording, spelling, and manufacture. The hoax’s perpetrators attempted to apprise the plate’s finders as to its origins. Many presumed the plate to be authentic after an early metallurgical study concluded it was genuine. In the late 1970s, scientists determined that the plate was a modern creation after it failed a battery of physical and chemical tests. Much of the mystery surrounding the plate continued until 2003, when historians advanced a theory about who created the plate and why, showing the plate to be a practical joke by local historians gone awry. The plate was acquired by—and is often on display at—the Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley.

    1. Cal2

      The plate was found on a hillside,
      approximate location Via La Cumbre and Via Hermosa in Greenbrae, California.

      Right above the Southbound Highway 101 offramp to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.
      What a coincidence?

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Those archaeologist are just covering up their embarrassment. If a stone circle doesn’t show up on 19th Century OS 6 inch maps (which are incredibly accurate), and there is no local tradition or name of a stone circle in the area, then its not ancient, full stop. Many have been built by hobbyists for whimsical reasons over the years – a friend of mine has a beautiful one in a field he owns, built by his late father in law for no other reason than he had some spare stones and thought it would look pretty.

    1. nippersdad

      And, worse, he just doesn’t appear to learn. Supporting r/w talking points in those tweets yesterday, regardless of the “this medication has been shown to cause cancer in small….” type of disclaimer, is going to end up biting him in the butt. Someone needs to tell him that the disclaimers aren’t actually telling anyone not to take the medicine.

      1. pjay

        And as Caitlin Johnstone rightly points out in the link above, this only serves to bolster the forces that will red-bait him unmercifully anyway. As has been said before, Trump did well by selling an anti-interventionist argument to his Republican base. I can’t believe the Democratic or Independent masses are more war-mongering.

        1. nippersdad

          I thought that this was really well done:

          “Since the anti-Russia agenda is promoted by both the old guard Democrats and by more Progressive Democratic leaders like Bernie Sanders, the old anti-war Democratic Party has effectively vanished.”

          Yup. Trump got a huge amount of media coverage and votes purely due to his (supposedly) anti-war stances. That Sanders doesn’t appear to understand that he will be held to an even higher standard just boggles the mind.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Too many have forgotten the Vietnam War – started and perpetuated by Democrats.

            There never was an anti-war Democratic Party, EXCEPT when Bush was in office.

            That’s one reason there’s a Green Party in the US – certainly in Oregon.

            1. Procopius

              Yes. You can really say the Cold War and the Vietnam War were both started by Dean Atcheson and President Truman. Roosevelt was adamant that he was going to kick the French out of Indochina, but following the surrender our State Department persuaded President Truman to authorize the release of ships to transport French soldiers to Cochin China and Assam. Then Eisenhower/Dulles authorized the use of B-57 bombers to support the Foreign Legion at Dien Bien Phu. Not many Americans took the trouble to learn anything about Vietnam, including people in the Pentagon and State Department. Same with Iraq and Afghanistan. “We’re American, we don’t need no steenkin’ knowledge.”

      2. Chris Cosmos

        The Russia story has now been repeated so many times it is seen as true by “everyone” in the media and the political world. It is mainly a lie a very Big Lie and one that all politicians interested in higher office must agree to. Sanders is a realist who wants to do some good for the country–if he has to take the Orwellian route to power so be it–that’s how things go. There is a Narrative that has to be accepted or you have no chance as a politician or anyone else who wants a position of authority.

        1. pjay

          I think what you say is true for a large segment of the Professional-Managerial Class that controls the media and elite academia — i.e. the “10 percent.” But Trump was able to make this group look like the chumps they are. A good chunk of this group hates Bernie anyway and will support corporate pretenders. What I’m saying is that I think the *masses* would be open to honesty. Of course this would result in massive retaliation by the liberal media. But how is this different than what already exists?

          What I’m leaving out here is the possibility that Bernie actually *believes* the anti-Russia narrative, therefore his apparent “compromise” with the blob is at some level real. I can’t rule out this possibility, frankly, as much as I’d like to (the usual disclaimer: I have been a strong Bernie supporter in the past). As has been said, I don’t think this will help his electoral chances with the blob at all.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Every possible DemNominee sells the Putin diddit line. So does Sanders. Maybe Sanders even believes it.

            Still, a President Sanders would try getting us some New Deal Reactionary policies. Any other President wouldn’t even offer that.

        2. pretzelattack

          this reminds me of various defenses of obama over the years. if we keep accepting narratives like this, we have little chance of change.

          1. pretzelattack

            to me it’s like arguing the democrats had to go along with the iraqi wmd propaganda in order to maintain their electoral prospects. if you concede something as basic as this, why are you even trying?

          2. Chris Cosmos

            There’s a very dramatic difference between Obama, an obvious con artist or, at least, a well-trained intel asset, and Sanders who has a long record of progressive politics over a lifetime. I know Washington and you have to play within the playing field or you don’t play. You might have some ideal about good guys earnestly struggling to bring justice and the American Way to Washington but that idea does not and cannot exist.

            1. pretzelattack

              i dont think we can bring anything if we concede on absolutely vital issues like iraqi wmds or exacerbating tensions with russian, and i don’t think the distinction between obama and sanders is meaningful. it’s not clear what sanders believes here, for one thing, and it’s not clear that “not going along with it’ would hurt him–the mueller probe is widely derided. just as it’s not clear what would have happened if democrats had opposed iraq 2 and fought against that propaganda.

              1. Procopius

                Al From wrote a book called The NEW Democrats and the Return to Power.” . It’s certainly true that you can’t implement good policies if you don’t get elected. What he never seemed to understand is, getting elected is not useful unless you have good policies you intend to implement. Except to exercise power and get re-elected, of course. Which is not really what I had in mind. Deciding to destroy the New Deal because it was old fashioned is an example.

        3. Brooklin Bridge

          There is a Narrative that has to be accepted or you have no chance as a politician or anyone else who wants a position of authority.

          Don’t agree. This sort of thing is harmful at best. He addresses health care, the safety net and education so openly and plainly and without apologies. But keeps coming up with warmed over conventional platitudes on foreign policy and now Russia Russia. Which is it, being straight forward and unapologetic or ass licking myths about Russia or Syria or Venezuela to prove his bona fides?

          I don’t see this helping him.

          1. Chris Cosmos

            I think he must have received some assurances that is agenda would be transmitted far and wide. You have to remember that the term “socialism” had largely been forbidden in polite society and now can be brought up in public. Sanders has already made enormous inroads in the power-structure. He and others like him have a decent chance at power in the next few years whereas before Sanders rose up there was less than no chance of his agenda being even heard in the media. I don’t disagree with you, it might turn out to be counter-productive but that is his game to play as he sees it.

            1. pretzelattack

              i think it is more likely that he is being sincere in both cases, but unfortunately is just wrong on russia; as a commenter above said “and he doesn’t learn”.

              1. Carey

                No. I don’t agree. The Russia Russia Russia narrative is
                utter bullshit, and I can’t imagine that Sanders believes it.

                Will he let us down again, a la “we’re taking it all the way to the Convention!”; and, a better question, how did we-the-many come to this pass, where we’re depending on one,
                very old, guy to “save” us?

                Politics must, and will, become personal again.

              2. Skip Intro

                Do you think he believes the part where he is working for Putin to bring Communism to the US (then presumably back to Russia)?

                1. Procopius

                  That’s funny. Putin appears to hate Communism. I’m quite certain he does not wish to have it return to Russia. I don’t think he particularly wants a destabilised America, either, that will upset the world economy and harm Russia, too. Putin has been acting like a smart, thoughtful, rational person for years now, while the American elite have been acting batshit crazy sincy I was a kid (i.e., a long time).

        4. Lambert Strether

          > There is a Narrative that has to be accepted or you have no chance as a politician or anyone else who wants a position of authority.

          If Sanders was to fight this, it would have had to be fought immediately (and that would have meant fighting anonymous leaks from liberal Democrat allies in the intelligence community immediately. Not easy). It will be interesting to see what he does when the Russia narrative is turned around and used against his supporters, and then him. (I know at low levels this already happening, and presumably, as on the right, it will bubble up to the mainstream.) The desperate state of journalism feeds this, becuase this narrative is something publishers will pay for. Will Bunch recently lost his mind on RussiaRussiaRussia; I hope it’s hospital bills, rather than putting in granite countertops or a new deck.

    2. Oh

      Sanders is a master of the straddle. He is an independent but caucuses with the DimRats and wants to run as a DImRat. He ran against Hilly but he campaigned for her (in spite of all the dirty tricks by her campaign against him). I’m sure there are more examples. An old Chinese saying “He who has one foot on land and the other on the boat will fall in river” may catch up with him.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        Look, this is a politician who must play the political game. There is no such thing as a morally pure politician we might all approve of. Politics is about a combination of persuasion, deal-making and, above all, arm twisting and beyond.

        1. witters

          Stop with the “no such thing as a morally pure politician” – it is a strawman. The point is Sanders on “foreign policy” is with the Deep State – or whatever you call that thing in the US that give you the pure hypocrisy of exceptionalist imperialism. And now he’s tarred as a Putin Lover by his fellow Russia!Russia!Russia! narrativists! If here he don’t stand up, he won’t ever.

    3. Baby Gerald

      You want disappointing, try reading his book, Where We Go From Here – Two Years In The Resistance (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press NY 2018). I’m only halfway through this account of all the support he’s given to the Democratic party since getting the primary stolen from him and he’s mentioned the Russia hacking our elections nonsense at least three times so far.

      The book’s chapters are arranged chronologically from a mid-June 2016 meeting with Hillary to late August 2018 and often include speeches he gave since the election, but it’s still saddening to find him still going on about it in a speech– about foreign policy, no less– to Westminster College in September 2017. Bernie sayeth thus:

      ‘We also see a rise in authoritarianism and right-wing extremism– both domestic and foreign– which further weakens this order [he’s taking about the international order established after WW2] by exploiting and amplifying resentments, stoking intolerance and fanning ethnic and racial hatreds among those in our society who are struggling.

      We saw this antidemocratic effort right here in the United States, where we now know that the Russian government was engaged in a massive effort to undermine two of our greatest strengths: the integrity of our elections, and our faith in democracy.’

      As far as I can tell, he wrote this book in response to the DNC’s new purity test where they can ditch any candidate that the party donors and bigwigs feel hasn’t been loyal enough to the cause. Every chapter reads like ‘look, see me over here toeing the line!’ His measurement of success for the #Resistance is strained, to say the least. Take, for example, his conclusion to the chapter entitled ‘Inauguration Day- January 20, 2017’ where he beams with pride that he sent the ‘most successful tweet’ of the year sent by any congress member when he told Trump off, saying that ‘by attempting to divide us by race, religion, gender, and nationality, you actually brought us together’. I’m sure he thinks it sounds inspiring, but after what we’ve seen the #resistance do so far, it just comes off kind of sad.

    4. Summer

      Sanders keeps his supporters involved in the Democratic Party.
      Meanwhile, the Democrats are seeking a new base of disaffected conservatives. That is why they are more afraid of the billionnaire Starbucks CEO, Schultz, entering the race than they are of Sanders.
      They just need the Sanders supporters around long enough to beef up their numbers, until the dreamed of day when they can kick all of what is described as the left to the curb.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        All the SanderBackers in just three states . . . Penn/WI/MI . . . . just have to vote against Clinton 2.0 in 2020 to get Clinton 2.0 defeated. That’s all it takes.

        Meanwhile, I will live with Sanders’ enhostagement to Putin diddit.

          1. Chris Cosmos

            The Russia story, as put out by the mainstream, is so hopelessly wrong I don’t think he or anyone else is sincere in believing it–at least not those close to power it’s similar to the idiotic Iraq War WMD story.

      2. nippersdad

        I can only speak for myself, but the very minute, the second even, that one of them tries to claim that I am a Russian asset they will have lost my vote. I won’t be sheepdogged into that by anyone. Not Harris, not Sanders, no one.

        As there is no such thing as an individual when it comes to demographics, I am quite sure that I am not alone in that sentiment. If this Russia crap is actually going to be part of any centrist electoral strategy, they need to be very careful. Three is my favorite number, and I have only voted for Stein twice now.

        1. Carey

          I voted for Stein, too. But the Dems’ primary goal is defeating people-affirming policy, as I see it, and if they have to lose to do so, well, so be it. Does that not fit with what we’ve seen for the last twenty years?

          So losing our votes might not be a big bother to Our Dems.

          Direct Action for the Common Good

      3. Lambert Strether

        > until the dreamed of day when they can kick all of what is described as the left to the curb.

        That’s so obvious it’s hard to believe that Sanders hasn’t gamed it out. His independent media apparatus, independent fund-raising apparatus, and ability to draw massive crowds in auditoriums and Town Halls without party backing will make it harder to kick him to the curb than it otherwise would.

        The contradiction here is that a Democrat Party with a suburban Republican wing can’t deliver anything on policy. At best, they can try to rewind to 2009. And foment their own war. Let them try; I’m guessing that the contradictions will become evident sooner rather than later.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Endangered British birds to be hunted under new permit – here’s how that could fuel an illegal pan-European trade”

    This is disgusting this. To ‘prevent damage to crops and reduce interference with air traffic’? Really? That is the best that they could come up with? What, did the supply of Roman lark’s tongues run out or something for European restaurants? If farmer’s are so worried about their crops, maybe they could do what they did in Victorian times and station children in farm-fields to scare away any birds that tries to land there. OK, those kids had no time to go to school but sacrifices have to be made. I haven’t heard of any British airports being shut down because someone saw a bird either. Hopefully the people that shut down fox-hunting will get on the case here.

    1. crittermom

      I agree this news is disgusting. And heartbreaking.

      I noted a link in the most recent comment following the article regarding a petition in opposition to hunting some wild birds.
      At least we are not alone in our disgust.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Netanyahu’s election bombing campaign may lead to battle: Syria and Hezbollah have their fingers on the trigger”

    Of course the question remains. Would Netanyahu do anything that would get his fellow Israelis killed, just so that he could win yet another election and maybe escape criminal charges? Inquiring minds wish to know – as well as some nervous Israelis.

    1. Alex morfesis

      Politicians should not be allowed to take little blue pills…in fact they should be tested on a daily basis and forced to stay home if they fail…no different than drinking and driving…

      As for peas in the middle East…the only hope is if isreali and Palestinian grandmothers get together and open chicken and rice stands at key flash points…and regularly wave their butcher knifes while threatening to carve up anyone from either side who dares disrupt their business…

      You would be surprised what a bunch of crazy grannies with knives can do to otherwise super soldiers…

      The grannies of Crete so terrorized German soldiers, mein Dummkopf ended the use of paratroopers and their military got bogged down leading to the delays and eventual defeat in the campaign against the Soviets…

      Kosher and halal are basically the same thing…

  12. Wukchumni

    Polio vaccine shortages pose a great risk to children, even if India is ‘polio free’
    Reading of the measles outbreak among those children not immunized in Washington state, it reminded me of what my mom told me of the scourge that was Polio. She related that you never knew when or how it would hit, if somebody came down with it in her school, they’d close the school for a week sometimes. The most dreaded outcome being living out your days in an iron lung.

    1. tegnost

      similarly, people seem to have forgotten that 100 or so years ago you could die from stepping on a nail…tetanus shots have saved a lot of people.

    2. Eclair

      As the only child of protective parents, growing up in the 1940’s, I can attest to the pervasive anxiety that hung over our family, beginning in the early spring and lasting through the autumn. My older cousin had contacted polio, a lighter case, but she needed heavy leg braces to walk. So, when all my friends were off swimming in the local pond, I was never allowed to join them. As soon as the vaccine became available, I was first in line. I can only imagine the relief my parents must have felt.

      Full disclosure: My long-suffering parents nursed me through bouts of: whooping cough, measles, “German” measles and chicken pox. No diphtheria, as the vaccine was available at that time.

      1. JBird4049

        similarly, people seem to have forgotten that 100 or so years ago you could die from stepping on a nail…tetanus shots have saved a lot of people.

        Reading histories of previous epidemics and of then common diseases is just nightmare fuel. There is always some chance that a vaccine will do harm, but considering how bad it was before all these vaccines it’s just nothing.

        Full disclosure: My long-suffering parents nursed me through bouts of: whooping cough, measles, “German” measles and chicken pox. No diphtheria, as the vaccine was available at that time.

        My mom is an enthusiastic supporter of vaccines, but then she lived through the last of those epidemics and I lost my hearing due to German measles as its vaccine was not quite widely available yet. Anti-vaccination advocates drive her insane.

        Somehow, we as a society overreact to very little and often ignore what really is dangerous. It is like societal arthritis. Why is that?

        1. adrena

          I was on my deathbed at age three b/o German measles. I was in a “children’s home” and had nuns sitting around my bed praying I would survive. Well, I guess their prayers worked as I’m still around. Unfortunately, it screwed up my hearing a bit.

      2. newcatty

        Eclairs, I too lived through measles, “German measles and chicken pox. Fortunately, not whooping cough. I grew up in the early 50’s. I will never forget in early 70’s when I actually became aware of the physical devastation of polio on a person ‘s life. My Speech and Communications teacher at a local community college created us the first day in front of his desk at front of classroom. He stood on crutches and, had braces, visible, under his pants. As the students came in the hush was palapable in the room. Our instructor beamed at us, Hello! This is gonna be fun! And one of the most important classes of your life. Yes, I had polio as a kid. Let’s get started! He was right. We all enjoyed and would agree…awesome class.

  13. Mirdif

    Brexit: the invisible battle

    This and the Nick Cohen article have been discussed by some leavers on twitter today. The concensus seems to be that Richard North’s personality – “poisonous”, “unhinged”, “toxic”, “doesn’t do alliance” were some of the words and phrases used by his fellow travellers – is the major reason for his exclusion from the wider leave debate. George Monbiot also piled in and accused North of “overt and disgusting racism” due to North’s use of the term “jungle bunnies” and said that this was why he was such a liability and excluded to by the leave campaign.

    Dom Cummings apparently said that North was abusive especially towards women and that North’s attitude was “obey me without question”. However, I’ve never actually seen the exact quote from Cummings so it might be mudslinging – but I doubt it having seen the discussions on twitter today and the way North carries on in general.

    1. Susan the Other

      Interesting. I found North hard to follow as he talks with inside knowledge – that even most of the British population seem to lack. Referring to all the obscure politics going back to 2003 I didn’t really follow – kept trying to plug it into the LTC mess and bailout here as it always seems the topic is money. And the UK R finance. Yesterday’s insights on “Singapore on the Thames” was very understandable compared to this piece. And the end of the “battle” in 2015 was also cryptic – the battle between Cameron and the EU for financial autonomy in the UK? That Brexit was a deliberate policy, secretly agreed upon to achieve membership in the EU common market but not have labor regulations didn’t make any sense at all – who could think that you could separate the two? But North has been right if he saw this all as folly. Ten years is probably optimistic for severing ties painlessly with the EU. And it is time to be open and admit these mistakes to the public.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      North is, and always has been, very right wing. Among other things, he’s been strongly associated with climate change deniers (although confusingly, he shares his name with Richard D. North, who has published a lot of libertarian anti-environmentalist works, its easy to confuse the two and I’ve done it in the past). I’ve no idea if he’s made racist or sexist comments, but given the circle he’s moved in, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising if he did.

      However, it is pretty clear that the problem leavers have with him is that he knows what he’s talking about on trade, and they don’t like what what he’s saying. The right wing libertarian Brexit movement is a lucrative train for a lot of people and they don’t like it when someone shows them up. Its to Norths credit that he hasn’t taken the easy way out by keeping his mouth shut. So its unsurprising that they’d take any excuse they can to discredit him.

    3. shtove

      Nick Cohen and Richard North – strange bedfellows, I suppose. Looking back on my disqus history, I see I’ve been following eureferendum for 12 months (probably from an NC link).

      The output is phenomenal and hugely informative and, as far as I can tell, all errors are acknowledged and corrected.

      North is abrasive in both his articles and his comments section, but nothing I’ve read to give true offence – so that’s quite a record to put up against his detractors. And the comments are run as a tight ship – which I guess NC moderators will appreciate – although a couple of months ago much of the fun was drained out through what seems to have been administrative exhaustion.

  14. John

    Why Aren’t Hedge Funds Required to Fight Money Laundering?

    It would interfere with their business model.

    1. JEHR

      What a lovely little film! How can T not like all the Mexicans after he sees this film? It says all we need to know about what is right with this world.

  15. Jason Boxman

    And now, story after story about the long term damage emanating from this outrageous shutdown. But the Democrat Party has their political victory so the grifting can continue, with their sights set on regaining the White House with some corporate hack in 2020. Hooray.

    This is a third world country, without a doubt.

    1. Wukchumni

      I prefer to think of us as second world.

      I’d compare us to a thoroughbred race horse that was once dominating @ the track, but can no longer compete at the highest level, these steeds drop down to compete with lower echelon horses, with some reaching the claimers-the lowest ebb of horse racing.

      Often such horses would do ok as they dropped down to find a good fit, and in track parlance their ability to win against weaker horseflesh was on account of ‘past-class’.

      We’re living in a ‘past-class’ 2nd world country, oh yeah.

  16. Tertium Squid


    Home organizing has, over the years, spawned everything from HGTV shows to Marie Kondo’s “KonMari method” to an entire chain of big-box retailers. There would be no (or at least many fewer) organizing consultants without consumerism.

    That’s improper, for Kondo did nothing to cause consumerism, while HGTV and big boxes encourage it. And it’s a crass misrepresentation to group her approach with HGTV and the rest – HGTV doesn’t know what to make of Kondo. Her message is the exact opposite of theirs.

    Kondo says we already have everything we need to live joyfully and not waste money on closet organizers. HGTV on the other hand:

    1. Grebo

      Not really. She goes on about the Hindu part and ignores the nationalist part which is the part that worries me. Except that her Hinduism stems largely from the brain of a right-wing extremist American cult leader rather than from an organic relationship with Indian culture.
      She holds some admirable positions and, apart from her change of heart on LGBT matters, they do not seem to be calculated to garner popularity. But in the background the cult leader who pushed her family into politics is still skulking, and I wonder what his agenda is.

  17. Foomarks

    Del Mastro draws a comparison to diets depending on consuming fewer but higher quality calories. Well guess what: the cost of quality goods has gone up, so is it any wonder that the majority of consumers are purchasing more lower quality goods. Del Mastro also fails to mention that consumers are also inundated with advertising and peer pressure to consume—so I hope the next article he writes addresses this, otherwise I have to call BS on this finger-wagging article.

    Most of the hoarder tv shows I’ve seen bring in experts and cleaning crews to do most of the heavy emotional and physical work it takes to tidy up the home. And I was ready to poo-poo Marie Kondo for the same thing. But in fact, she’s forcing all the participants to deal and confront with their stuff directly, which I believe no other show has done before to this degree.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Your first para captures the essence of “substitution down,” which is the essence of Obama’s/Heritage Foundation’s plan to “reduce discretionary spending” by that “chained CPI” garrote to be applied to Social Security recipients. Can’t afford tuna fish on your serially reduced SS “discretionary benefit?” Step down your expectations and “substitute” some Dollar Store cat food for your protein, then! See how easy budgeting for necessities is?

  18. pjay

    Re ‘Down from the Mountain’- LRB

    Reading this article generated feelings of nostalgia and deep sadness. Nostalgia because I’m old enough to remember the hopefulness of the New International Economic Order days. Deep sadness because of what has happened since, and the seeming hopelessness of our current situation. Because the article is “balanced” (fairly, in my view), some readers will draw the lesson that socialism is hopelessly utopian and will always ultimately fall into corrupt incompetence. The lesson I draw is that authentic socialist impulses will always be strangled in the cradle by the powers that be wherever they are born.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      I didn’t read the article but am interested in your assessment. Those of us on the anarchist side of socialism believe that all large-scale political-economies dominated by a few powerful groups are going to automatically end up in ever worsening corruption. It is alienation and “I don’t give a shit” mentalities that doom us not just politically but culturally. Small scale socialism is natural in small communities. We know that human beings thrive not from alienation and “individualism” but in connecting with others–social science shows that connection, and meaning are critically important for our mental and physical health and happiness (as “happiness studies” have expanded our rulers take an ever smaller interest in the idea of being happy). Coincidentally, when left free of coercion most people, even those who have been damaged by alienation, will take to cooperation like ducks to water–I’ve seen it. This idea is anathema to ideologists who believe only a centralized system is a long-term solution to anything. It seems to work mainly for making war, as the USA, which has become almost as centralized and rigid as the old Soviet system, has dramatically shown. If we had no wars and “security threats” (nearly all of which are bogus or invented) we would have no Washington to speak of.

      1. human

        You make the point that the larger portion of our tax bill should be local and the smaller portion national. I agree completely.

        1. Todde

          You cant have a monetary system covering a large geographic area without a system kf taxation that allows for fiscal transfers.

      2. pjay

        I appreciate your comments and at one level I agree with most of them. What I mean by “authentic socialist impulses” entail above all a cooperative concern for the welfare of everyone vs. egoistic individualism, exploitation, and hierarchy. You are right that this is most easily achieved in smaller communities. And I admit that history mainly demonstrates the Iron Law of Oligarchy wherever large scale bureaucratic organization exists.

        On the other hand, there are limitations with small scale communal models of society and anarchist models of governing as well. Since these issues have been debated for a long time in countless books citing many historical examples, I hesitate to add my two cents. For every example of the positive effects of large-scale social organization I can think of (and I can think of several), I can also think of a counter-argument. So I’m sure smarter people than me can refute whatever I might say. I can also think of many examples in which smaller traditional communities, with considerable social equality and integration, can be quite oppressive for “deviant” individuals. So not all advocacy of “individualism” or “individual freedom” is undesirable, nor is “small” always beautiful.

        I know this is a cop-out. But it is hard for me to advocate a model of society outside of particular socio-historical contexts. I think it is *theoretically* possible to retain the desirable benefits of large scale modern societies like ours while (1) distributing these benefits much more equitably and (2) avoiding the more debilitating effects of unnecessary domination, exploitation, and inequality. That’s what some of the NIEO debates were about back in the day. The “deep sadness” I referred to reflects recognition of how unlikely this is today, given current structures of power, privilege, and information. I am not convinced that these problems are those of size, though I do see them as inherent in unfettered capitalism.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            Thanks for that link. Very interesting – David Graeber (and co-author) on the lack of archeological evidence supporting the conventional argument that civilization has been from the beginning (and thus it can be assumed to be necessarily) inegalitarian.

        1. Chris Cosmos

          I think you are right–you can’t generalize easily about political philosophy–I’m speaking here of an ideal which is, by definition, out there in the ethers. As a practical matter to enforce my anarchist paradise you would have to have a strong central authority creating the political framework for such a world. It can’t easily emerge from the current system without a very major change in the culture of the ruling elites–and they are the only ones who have agency in all this at this time though I’m hoping that can change before the world ends as another Venus.

  19. Wukchumni

    I’ve been backpacking for over 35 years now, and it’s weightlifting, but instead of the emphasis on doing it frontally, the onus is of course, on your back. And there’s other differences, where you lift is a moving panorama of mountains, meadows, rivers, creek and critters on the former, and just the inside of a gym on the latter.

    There’s plenty of women backpackers out there now, but it wasn’t the case not so long ago. It used to be a 75-25% or 2/3rds-1/3rds ratio of men to women on the trail, and on one 18 mile stretch of the PCT near Mammoth last summer, I saw more women bp’ers than men. (discounting boy scout troops that skew the numbers)

    One friend i’ve been on about 40 backpack trips with is just a little thing who can carry plenty and seems to get stronger the more miles you walk, she’s got endurance down pat.

  20. Wukchumni

    The NP’s that started using entrance fee money that had been earmarked for other uses, to run their operations in lieu of Federal funds in the midst of the shutdown, are singing the blues.

    To stay open, Sauer said the park relied on over $300,000 of entrance fees that had been earmarked for road and trail maintenance, campground improvements and construction of a proposed visitor center. Overall, he said, the park lost about $800,000, a figure based on “various sources across the nation.”

    1. GF

      Arizona was “lucky” that our Republican gov. Ducey funded keeping it open. I believe the cost was $50,000 a day or $1,750,000 total. They also didn’t collect any entrance fees. Heard the state is hopeful that reimbursement will be forecoming.

  21. Lee

    Bacteria and viruses are fighting back, but will big pharma save us? Guardian (The Rev Kev)

    Another example of Betteridge’s law as well as how capitalist incentives, as currently configured, are threatening our species’ survival.

  22. carlos

    On Venezuela.
    Regardless of how you feel about US intervention in Venezuela, there are several things being said that are wrong. For instance:
    1) Venezuela is a socialist country: False. Venezuela is an extreme case o a populist country. It represents the worst of Clientelism. If you want to work on any of the well paid government own enterprises you need to belong to the party. The revenue generated by the oil industry was diverted to the pockets of the government. Oil production wen from about 2.8M/day to 1M/day. The US didn’t cause that ask anyone inside PDVSA why there has been no investment in infrastructure.
    2) Venezuela is an independent country free from the US. False. Venezuela simply put is now a dependent of China and Russia (at worst economic terms)
    3) The poor has benefit: Some. Like I said if you belong to the party (active member) the party will give you things (food, housing and a job). If you really want to know who benefit from the current government, go to the best neighborhoods in Madrid and ask who owns the best real state there. See where the top government officials have their families. I mean it is really to painful to see how these thieves (and many of the commentators here) smear socialism and democracy defending these crooks.
    4) Thiy trying to overthrow a legitimately elected president: False. When Maduro won the election under shadow of suspicious death of Chaves in Cuba. He lost the AN (Asamblea Nacional) and lost all power. The first thing he did was to nullify all AN actions. Moreover, he created a parallel AN (ANC) to have all his budgets approved. Maduro has violated the constitution every year since elected.

    Finally, all of you ignorant commentators if you want to hate the US by all means do (free country an all) but do not display your ignorance by commenting on a subject you know absolutely nothing

    1. ChrisPacific

      I’d be all for people staying out of the Venezuela problem and not interfering if they are ignorant of the details of the situation. Unfortunately I highly doubt that Trump and his administration will abide by that rule, which means that it’s not really an option for US voters either if they are to hold them electorally accountable.

      The other solution to the problem is better information. What sources would you recommend for outside parties to become better informed on Venezuela? From the reading I’ve done there seems to be an extraordinary amount of spin on both sides, and separating fact from fiction seems very difficult.

      1. carlos

        There are not unbiased sources. My advice is to search and read from all points of view and reach a conclusion of your own. There are not good actors here just some less bad than others.
        This is one (Spanish)
        You will find lots of them (against Maduro) by searching “corruption” and “Maduro”. If you want Maduro’s view, Venezuela finances TeleSur (sort of like the Venezuelan Pravda)

        1. Joe Well

          You are sadly right that there are no unbiased sources anymore. Provea ( was once the country’s best source of information on human rights and the social situation in general, but now it’s thrown itself body and soul behind the opposition and has lost all objectivity.

          I would also point out that the level of violence in Caracas has always been sky high and it is now among the deadliest cities on earth, roughly on par with Tegucigalpa or San Salvador. If you criticize either the Maduro government or the opposition you risk your safety and so being truly objective and criticizing both puts your life at serious risk since who will have your back? So a big part of the lack of objectivity is that.

    2. GF

      As I understand it, being a dumb gringo, the oil money collected/earned by Citgo in the USA cannot leave the country even though Citgo is the money making arm of PDVSA. That and the US economic embargo is what caused the slide into chaos. I would like to know where the money generated by Citgo in the US is going??

      Also, as Yvs stated yesterday, the new guy has a 25% approval rating so the possibility of an election that includes the “opposition” just doesn’t seem likely and the US has not backed the move.

      1. carlos

        “That and the US economic embargo is what caused the slide into chaos.”

        The US embargo is a recent development. These people have been in power for 20 years. PDVSA’s declined started more than 10 years ago. PDVSA used to be run as a private company and as such it would keep some of the money for re-investment. Chavez decided that instead, PDVSA would give all the money to the government and then ask the government for money to invest. The problem with this is that there was no money approve for PDVSA (the government was using it for other things). The result of this was a company in a downward spiral: No investment in infra structure -> oil wells stop producing. No investment -> no exploration. At the end of the debacle, the government had to get loans from other countries just to feed the people (and buy the people’e votes). So it borrowed from China (and recently from Russia).
        Now the Chinese decided to start operating the oil fields in Venezuela because they no longer trusted Maduro to paid them back

        The result of all this is that the government has sold future production to China and Russia (without approval from the AN). I suspect, that those contract will be declare void by any new legit government (because they are). Now, Chavez kept saying about the Imperialism from the US just to end up selling out the country to the imperialism of China and Russia. Oh the irony

        1. tegnost

          funny how this comment is missing the colloquial missed pronunciations, the one example is approve, which is either a typo or a deliberate attempt to rusticate the commenter. One way to look this is in the grammatic structure of sentences. It’s not enough to miss spell a word or two, to be authentic native spanish speaker one would need to complicate the verb placement…pro tip? Certainly I could be wrong, but sentence syntax of carlos comments imply to me that this writer sounds like an english language speaker first.

          1. Joe Well

            That is a particularly bizarre ad hominem argument. The kind of thing one finds in other sites’ comment sections.

            I am not a native Spanish speaker, but as a second-language speaker I still find the appalling ignorance and prejudice on the part of non-Spanish speakers makes discussion of Latin America exasperating. This is also true when discussing the US with Latin Americans. Many commenters here have profound misapprehensions of the situation that result purely from lack of exposure to the primary sources, and their misunderstandings are simply too deep to address in an online comment.

            I would advise anyone to try reading original Spanish-language sources. Google Translate is excellent for English-Spanish translations.

    3. The Rev Kev

      As someone who has criticized America numerous times on these pages, I will have a go at answering your question. Actually, I don’t hate the US at all. Let me explain. It was the author (and WW1 vet) Erich Maria Remarque that taught me in one of his novels what the go was. Let’s talk about what Americans call patriotism – and the rest of the world calls nationalism. Remarque said that you can love your country and this would mean the people, the actual land itself and the customs that people used to get along with each other.
      Then there was loyalty to the State which means a country’s institutions, its governments, its courts, its administrative apparatus and its political parties. BUT they are not the same. The State desires that a love of country automatically translates to love of State so that if you do not love your government, you do not love your country. But you can criticize a country’s State but without also criticizing the Country itself. Clear?
      As for Venezuela, It’s none of your business. Zip. Diddly squat. There are 32 million people in Venezuela and they will sort things out on their own without foreign occupations. I was once in East Germany and though it took a long time, the 17 Million people there sorted that place out. Same with Russia when the people decided that the game was not worth the candle. So, using a word I picked up in Spain, a little more tranquilo on this subject please?

      1. carlos

        You to missed the point completely. My fault for not being clear. I’m not pro or against US intervention in Venezuela. What I make clear to all who say that the US is trying to overthrow a democratically elected socialist government is that is false. The government is neither legit or socialist. BTW all those countries that you mentioned (Germany, Soviet Union) didn’t fall without outside help …
        Also when you say “As for Venezuela, It’s none of your business.”. Well you couldn’t be more wrong.

        1. Pat

          AFAIAC unless you are Venezuelan or actually live in Venezuela it isn’t.

          The United States and its citizens including its supposed businesses and most certainly their pet politicians absolutely fall into that category. They don get to decide who has the right to be elected. And unless Venezuela is somehow a direct threat to this country we shouldn’t be sanctioning them, attacking them, fomenting coups, or funding their protectors and opposition. Unless they need food, medicine, or emergency help we should back the family blog off.

          Our HELP is deadly, destructive, and rarely well intended. We even pick and choose about fighting genocide based on what is in it for our oligarchs. We need to stop picking period until we clean up our own massively corrupt, criminal, political state.

    4. nippersdad

      I think we were all pretty aware of the corruption endemic to Venezuela at least since the Chavez Admin. I think we are also aware of the reasons why Venezuela has had to turn to Russia and China to prop up what little of an economy they have left after the fall in oil prices and US sanctions against them.

      You fail to mention, however, how it was the SC that dissolved the National Assembly after having found that the opposition had bought some of their elections and then refused to have new ones to replace them. The NA could have been reinstituted at any time had they met these electoral conditions, and since international monitors have found their elections to be more legitimate than ours are, I don’t think we are in a position to second guess those who would know best. It is also difficult to believe that their Supreme Court would violate its’ own Constitution so blatantly, and every story I have read seems to back up their decisions. Finally, it was the oppo party that decided to sit out the elections, Maduro didn’t make them do that, and he won by a significant margin.

      If you want to discuss my ignorance you are welcome to, but your lack of honesty on key points would tend to color any credence I might have in the arguments you make going forward.

    5. Skip Intro

      Cool that the blob’s social media team are now posting in broken english, for added authenticity. They’re really upping their game. Pulling Elliott Abrams off the bench is already paying off.

    6. Lambert Strether

      I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little of Venezuela (other than it’s been the victim of an obvious disinformation in our own press for many years). But I don’t have to know much about Venezuela to oppose our intervention there. Even if I accept all the premises of the anti-Maduro forces, I can still urge that the US not intervene, since I am hard-pressed to dredge up an example of where US intervention netted out positive for the locals (modulo the compradors).

      That said, I think any information from the ground in Venezuela is a good thing.* Perhaps insulting the NC commentariat isn’t the best tactic for getting that information across.

      NOTE * On clientelism, Greg Grandin in the LRB in 2017 seems pretty good.

      1. Joe Well

        I have tried to understand the Venezuelan situation because I had to study the rise of Chavez for a university project and also to understand Venezuelan acquaintances, and I can honestly say that the current “Constitutional Crisis” is a complete cluster-family-blog.

        The crux of the situation is that the Maduro government believes the National Assembly to have been legally dissolved and therefore is not only illegitimate but that its members are acting illegally by even meeting and debating legislation. The opposition, on the other hand, believes that Maduro’s constitutional committee (which I will describe below) is also illegitimate and therefore has no power.

        A constitutional committee (to write a new constitution) was convened in mid-2017 by Maduro (as was his prerogative under the existing constitution) as a way to negotiate a settlement to the impasse between the opposition and the government (an aside: the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of that conflict was the [majority pro-government/Chavista/Madurista] Supreme Court ordering that a handful of elections to the National Assembly [unicameral Congress with an opposition majority] be redone because of apparent impropriety and the NA went ahead and seated the members anyway in contempt of the decision).

        The opposition, which reflects a lot of Venezuelans’ opinion [they claim the majority opinion but I totally doubt this], regarded the new Constitutional Convention as illegitimate and refused to participate (their reasoning seemed to be that they assumed in advance, based on Maduro’s public declarations that certain conservatives would be excluded, that Maduro would rig the result). There was apparently “only” 41% turnout (abysmally low by the standards of a functioning democracy, e.g., not the US) for the elections for the Constitutional Convention members who would write the new constitution. Also, there were, finally, serious accusations of tampering with the election results, after years of unsubstantiated accusations of fraud against earlier elections. For instance, the Carter Center had monitored earlier elections and denied allegations of irregularities but was not allowed to monitor this vote, and denounced the results as illegitimate.

        So, there is a real, true impasse here, not just the hyped rhetorical “government shutdown” type impasses we are accustomed to in the US. In the US, we all agree who the Congress, the Executive Departments and the Supreme Court are, even if we rightly believe that their officeholders frequently break the law in ways that should land them all in prison. Maduro supporters sincerely believe there is no National Assembly and the National Assembly supporters sincerely believe Maduro has been effectively impeached and fired. Both sides have strong support for their positions. And each side has millions of Venezuelans behind it.

        Unfortunately, the “international community” (not just the US, but also the EU, and most Latam governments) has overwhelmingly taken one side in this conflict despite the weaknesses of that side, putting the thumb on the internal scales in Venezuela and, I believe, making a negotiated settlement even less likely.

        Just as a matter of law, sanctions are bad in principle and should be lifted (I’ve talked to some rank-and-file Venezuelans in the opposition do not believe there are sanctions and think it’s all Maduro propaganda) and in addition, Venezuela should get direct aid in the form of food and medicines, but there would certainly be a lot of black-marketeering of those goods to Colombia and other countries and so Big Pharma and Big Ag, I imagine, would be against. Strong laws against international money laundering and bank and real estate secrecy would do a lot to help Venezuela, but then they’d also bring down the elites of almost all countries in the world, especially Europe (Helmut Kohl, anybody??).

        So, Venezuela is an extreme case of the crisis of legitimacy of institutions around the world and the the world is making the situation worse.

  23. Synoia

    Bacteria and viruses are fighting back, but will big pharma save us?

    $urely they will. They will jump directly on it, predicting immediate $uccess., while protecting Drug Price$ which in a magnanimou$ effort, only $upport their re$earch.

  24. FluffytheObeseCat

    “Finally, all of you ignorant commentators if you want to hate the US by all means do (free country an all) but do not display your ignorance by commenting on a subject you know absolutely nothing”

    Hatred of the people of United States of America is conspicuous by its absence in this forum. Hatred of self-absorbed jingoism and obfuscatory ramblings designed to cloud the key issues at hand………. that we have a taste for.

    Our Pompeos, Boltons and Abrams are not grandstanding and pontificating over Venezuela for the betterment of our national interest, and clearly, you are equally disinterested in our well-being. So. Return to Madrid, Spain, and continue gazing with fury at all the prime properties whose ownership histories you are so tellingly familiar with. And leave us free from your haughty, suave, florid…….. and boundlessly self-serving bullshit.

    1. carlos

      So fluffy I can only conclude that you do not dispute my facts: The current Venezuelan government is not democratic. The current Venezuelan government is one of the must corrupt in history (and for Venezuela that is an accomplishment). The Venezuelan government is illegitimate. It has bypass the democratically elected AN. BTW just in case to know I said Madrid but you will find these so called “socialists” owning the best of the best real state in: Panama, NY, West Palm, DR. One more thing weather the US should intervene or not that is a different matter but please don’t call Maduro’s government a paragon of democracy or socialist. It is neither

      And as a personal note to you. When you say “And leave us free from your haughty, suave, florid…….. and boundlessly self-serving bullshit”. Well sorry to disappoint you but I plan to give you more “And leave us free from your haughty, suave, florid…….. and boundlessly self-serving bullshit”. You know this being a free country and all…

      1. Massinissa

        “Most corrupt in history”

        Link please?

        “You will find these socialists owning real estate…” Irrelevant

      2. nippersdad

        You just made her point for her: “It has bypass (sic) the democratically elected AN.” No. The Supreme Court dissolved the AN because the opposition party seated three legislators that were proven to have bought the votes for their office and then refused to hold new elections for those offices.

        If you are going to give us yet more of this, please try not to be so obvious. This may be a free country, but making free with the facts is still looked down upon.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > The Supreme Court dissolved the AN because the opposition party seated three legislators that were proven to have bought the votes for their office and then refused to hold new elections for those offices.

          Anybody got any links on the details of this process? (I’ve gotta say, any legal process* that Pompeo, the horrid Elliott Abrams, and The Blob are relying on is highly likely to be somewhere on the spectrum between dubious and just ginned up, but you never know!

          NOTE * Assuming that Guaido’s faction and our intelligence community are independent entities, another assumption that seems dubious to me.

          1. Charlie

            Actually mentions the vote buying allegations (I didn’t see that in the OffGuardian link), but can’t vouch for accuracy. That said, here it is:

            “After the opposition won a parliamentary majority in the legislative elections of December 6th 2015, reports emerged surrounding allegations of vote buying in Amazonas state. The National Electoral Council (CNE) launched an investigation in response, while the TSJ made a ruling placing a bar on the four legislators from Amazonas taking office pending the results of the probe. These legislators include two lawmakers for the opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), an indigenous representative allied with the opposition, and a pro-government legislator.”

            Other links say the ANC and the AN (under TSJ supervision) are run as two legislative houses much like the House and Senate while the matter is settled, but I can’t vouch for that either.


      3. FluffytheObeseCat

        “The current Venezuelan government is not democratic”

        And Cardi B is not a virgin. Why should I care? Why should any American voter concern herself with this?

  25. Stephanie

    Re: Marie Kondo. Watching the KonMari method in action on Netflix, with piles (and piles) of clothes and books and tchotchkes all laid out in a central location for sorting, I was reminded strongly of the stink/river spirit bath in Spirited Away. A YouTube vid, Understanding Spirited Away: Consumption and Identity,, argues that a central theme of the movie is that “the only way we can overcome our fear of emptiness is to stop feeding it.”

    I have no idea if Kondo’s counseling will help anyone long-term, and I understand the crabbiness it inspires – giving away crap you don’t need/use IS an exercise for the privileged. But the one thing she doesn’t do on the show is attempt to shame or judge anyone for their decisions, which is an attitude I think the left would do well to adopt when encouraging much-needed lifestyle simplification.

    1. Craig H.

      They have a quote from her on wikipedia:

      I was obsessed with what I could throw away. One day, I had a kind of nervous breakdown and fainted. I was unconscious for two hours. When I came to, I heard a mysterious voice, like some god of tidying telling me to look at my things more closely. And I realised my mistake: I was only looking for things to throw out. What I should be doing is finding the things I want to keep. Identifying the things that make you happy: that is the work of tidying.

      I am not the intended audience for this person. On the other hand a lot of people are going to get buried if they don’t follow the buy one book, cull one book routine. There was a guy on one of these threads a few years ago that said he broke the concrete slab on his house with his book mass. Maybe he was pulling our leg.

  26. allan

    “Sanctimonious purists of the professional left” is so last decade:

    Josh Marshall @joshtpm

    This stuff being aimed at Harris is typical of a lot of the extreme sectarian left over many decades. It’s not even really accurate or fair to call it left, more like cult-like extremism which gloms on to the structure of a tight ideological system.

    All glommy cult-like extreme sectarian leftists, please report to the DNC re-education camps.

    I’m old enough to remember when Marshall cared about policy.

    1. Carey

      2020 will sure be interesting: will a tiny, insular, self-interested minority be able to shove
      a corporatist candidate down/up our er, throats? Stay tuned…

      Monkey-wrench the Few

      Action for the Common Good

    2. Lambert Strether

      > typical of a lot of the extreme sectarian left over many decades.

      Marshall seems, or pretends, not to know that DSA, for example, is deliberately a “Big Tent” organization, as is the Sanders campaign, even more so. They are not sectarian in the least, which is why you see idelogical battles among the tendencies.

      Marshall seems to be projecting, as if there were a Brock on the left. There isn’t, for the obvious reason that there isn’t the funding for it. The dunking I’ve seen on Harris is so obvious a child could do it, because all you have to do is look at her record. To the extent any of it is organized, I’d say it comes from Californians who have been fighting her for many years; that is, the people who bore the consequences of her record.

    3. Lambert Strether


      > “Sanctimonious purists of the professional left” is so last decade:

      “Nattering nabobs of negativism” — Spiro Agnew, 1970

      Josh’s alliteration (“S…t…….s p…sts .. … p….ss….. …t”) — is more sophisticated than Agnew’s (“N…….. n….. .. n………”). Being more complex, it may be less memorable, but the hissing sound, as of snakes? Framing one’s opponents as vermin is an old, and not very nice, tactic, even if not done consciously.

  27. Carey

    From the ‘Is Big Tech Merging With Big Brother..?’ piece:

    “As the idea of a “right to privacy,” for example, starts to seem hopelessly old-fashioned and impractical in the face of ever-more-invasive data systems—whose eyes and ears, i.e., our smartphones, follow us everywhere—so has our belief that other individual rights, like freedom of speech, are somehow sacred.

    Being wired together with billions of other humans in vast networks mediated by thinking machines is not an experience that humans have enjoyed before. The best guides we have to this emerging reality may be failed 20th-century totalitarian experiments and science fiction. More on that a little later…”

    The writer doth protest too much, I think: more resistance-is-futile messaging from the Few, is how I read this piece.

    we’ll see about that

    “..well I was just too stubborn to ever be governed by enforced insanity…”


    1. Summer

      “more resistance-is-futile messaging from the Few, is how I read this piece.”

      Yes. So is the “they already have your info so resistance is futile” type of messaging.
      Again, constantly updated data is their currency.

      1. John k

        I guess because hills team was so successful. In 2008 and 2016.
        And so cheap.
        She’s just as smart as hill… kind of scary. Unless you favor trump.

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