Links 1/7/19

How cattle can help save the birds of the Great Plains National Geographic

Wettest-Year Records for 2018, Take Two Weather Underground

23AndMe’s Pharma Deals Have Been the Plan All Along Wired (DK).

What a Student Loan ‘Bubble’ Bursting Might Look Like Vice


Lorries to park at Manston airport this morning in test of post-Brexit travel plans if there is disruption at the Port of Dover Kent Online

Backstop letters between London and Brussels to be scrutinised Irish Times

Brexit CRISIS meeting: Will Theresa May CANCEL MPs’ weekends and holiday time? Express

THERESA MAY: Jeremy Corbyn didn’t even read my Brexit deal before he rejected it. His policy’s a cynical tissue of incoherence Daily Mail

‘Increasing Number’ Of Tory MPs Are Considering No-Deal Brexit As A ‘Viable’ Plan B HuffPo. A Leave-backing former cabinet minister: “We won’t be able to get certain foods like bananas or tomatoes but it’s not like we won’t be able to eat. And we’ll be leaving at a time when British produce is beginning to come into season so it’s the best possible time to leave with no deal.”

Commons revolt over No Deal: More than 200 MPs will tell Theresa May to rule out leaving without an agreement even if her proposals are rejected Daily Mail

The Dutch love to plan. But even they may not be able to avoid the chaos of a no-deal Brexit. WaPo

How groupthink polarized Brexit Politico. The article doesn’t match the headline. Or if it does, not in the way the author means.

EU’s wilful blindness to sovereign risk adds to eurozone danger FT


No Syria withdrawal without Turkish pledge not to attack Kurds, Bolton says NBC. Since the Kurds have been maneuvered into putting themselves under Syrian protection, this isn’t especially relevant, but can’t we get Bolton fired?

150 million Indians to go on strike against Modi’s “anti-labour” policies Quartz India

Indian scientists slam ancient Hindu ‘stem cell’ claim

Japanese Billionaire Responsible for the Most Retweeted Tweet Ever Bloomberg


Chinese tech investors flee Silicon Valley as Trump tightens scrutiny Reuters

How China’s worsening economic woes are shattering the dreams of its top graduate students South China Morning Post

In China, cash is no longer king Nikkei Asian Review

China, Europe, and the Great Divergence: A Study in Historical National Accounting, 980–1850 The Journal of Economic History

New Cold War

Drawing the Line on U.S. Reassurance to Eastern Europe Lawfare

Someone Finally Connected the Dots: Russiagate is Helping Trump (interview) Aaron Maté, The Mind Unleashed. Pretty obscure venue; I hope Maté won’t end up being ostracized, like Thomas Frank.

Trump Transition

Shutdown Watch: Trump says shutdown could last ‘months or even years’ Federal Times

White House asks Congress for $5.7 billion for ‘steel barrier’ Politico

What Trump Could Do If He Declares a State of Emergency Defense One

Why political appointees are getting a pay raise and most career feds, for now, aren’t Federal News Radio

Democrats in Disarray

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s $21 trillion mistake WaPo. Four Pinocchios. As I’ve said, AOC can be weak on detail, which bugs me. But that’s a staffing and ramping-up issue, and she’s evidently a quick study. So all this Bourbon-esque pearl-clutching and wig-straightening from WaPo et al. won’t count for a lot. Taking a longer view, there are two politicians I can think of who (a) give zero f*cks and (b) have cut through the political establishment like a knife through butter. One is Donald Trump. The other is AOC. Make of that what you will.

Dems livid after Tlaib vows to ‘impeach the motherf—er’ Politico. Like a flock of chickens clucking and flapping their wings…

This age of semiotics is breaking us Unherd

Health Care

The $9 Billion Upcharge: How Insurers Kept Extra Cash From Medicare WSJ

KARE 11 Investigates: A pattern of denial KARE11 (MR).

Denied: How some Tennessee doctors earn big money denying disability claims The Tennessean (MR).

Our Famously Free Press

Surveillance Valley by Yasha Levine – review Guardian. I suppose any publicity is good publicity, but after the Manafort/Assange debacle, the Guardian really does look like it’s circling the drain.

This “Integrity Initiative”/Institute of Statecraft* story seems to be playing out on Twitter, mostly. I haven’t seen what I would consider a ranking venue take it on; not even (say) HuffPo or TRNN. Odd. Clusters indeed:

NOTE * “Never eat at a place called ‘Mom’s.” And everything is like CalPERS:

How to Think About Empire (interview) Arundhati Roy, Boston Review

Imperial Collapse Watch

This Map Shows Where in the World the U.S. Military Is Combatting Terrorism Smithsonian (Furzy Mouse). The map is more useful than the headline.

The Sounds That Haunted U.S. Diplomats in Cuba? Lovelorn Crickets, Scientists Say NYT

California National Guard declassifies “Bro-Code Talkers” Duffel Blog

How to Get Venezuela’s Economy Going Again: A Conversation with Luis Enrique Gavazut

Venezuela’s congress names new leader, who vows to battle President Nicolas Maduro Los Angeles Times

Record Numbers of Americans Want to Leave the U.S. Gallup

8 Predictions for What the World Will Look Like in 20 Years New York Magazine

Why 2018 Was the Best Year in Human History! Nicholas Kristof, NYT. “But a failure to acknowledge global progress can leave people feeling hopeless and ready to give up. In fact, the gains should show us what is possible and spur greater efforts to improve opportunity worldwide.” JFC. How about my home-town?

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. paul

    RE: The league of extraordinary integrators. If you’re waiting for the huffpost to deliver, my advice is not to hold your breath.

    Mr Donnelly has some burning issues he doesn’t want to discuss:

    So, if no catastrophe happens to wake people up and demand a response, then we need to find a way to get the core of government to realise the problem and take it out of the political space. We will need to impose changes over the heads of vested interests. NB We did this in the 1930s

    My conclusion is that it is we who must either generate the debate or wait for something dreadful to happen to shock us into action. We must generate an independent debate outside government.

    To Uk citizen’s of a certain vintage he sounds a lot like Reggie Perrin’s brother in law, jimmy anderson.
    Except not funny.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Japanese billionaires…Chinese billionaires….Russian billionaires…and others.

      What are the top marginal tax rates in those countries?

      Are they over 70%? Do they need to be at least 70%?

    2. Olga

      This is really sick – I don’t even want to go into all the ways in which it is.
      Re-tweeting (is that kinda like the process of creating financial derivatives?) some SOB useless billionaire’s useless purchase conquests so that one may get a chance for a crumb off his splendid table?!
      I say the environmental catastrophe never had a more deserving target than us humans… if this is how low we’re able to sink.

      1. Solar Hero

        Dude you literally just have to put your finger on the screen where it says “retweet” to retweet

    1. foghorn longhorn

      June Cleaver spoke jive on a commercial Airplane.

      As an aside, Howard Cosell sitting between Bruce Jenner and O.J. Simpson back in the 70s, guys in 30 years you aren’t gonna believe this…

  2. Summer

    Re: Brexit

    Would that “crash out” scenario increase the potential for the country to become the Pirate Islands?

    I could see how a certain types would love that…not just criminals.

        1. ambrit

          Keep your eyes open for an IPO on the London Exchange for “Golden Hind Industries.” Probably affiliated with the “Drake Group.” Expect it to be a ‘Public Private Tiers’ initiative.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Arrrrrr! Does this mean that Talk Like a Pirate day will become an official day in the UK?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The Chinese, in less politically correct times, used to refer to Japan as the Islands of Wokou, the ‘Midget Pirate Islands’. Perhaps thats the UK’s future.

        1. ambrit

          The Cubans are also an island people, but seem to have had an attack of ‘split personality syndrome.’

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Those pirates were, more oftne than not, Chinese. Many were Fujianese. (Some were Europeans as well.)

        One of them from Amoy married a Wokou* girl from the Hirado island* and they had a son called Koxinga.

        *coincidentally, a friend from my Tea Ceremony school is from there too…a small island, off Kyushu.

        *Wo, pronounced wa in Japanese, according to Wikpedia, was replaced by another homonym to mean, peace/harmony/balance, by the Wa people after the 9th century. So, for example, Japanese style clothes would be called wafuku, and Western clothing would be yofuku.

      2. Craig H.

        On the Guns and Butter podcast Webster Tarpley said that Brexit is entirely the connivance of British oligarchs and they want a freer hand for privateering than Brussels-compliance permits. The main project is to contract themselves out to the Chinese commies and similar wealthy non-democratic regimes.

        Webster is a kook but a very clever one and I think he is onto something here.

        I have never seen a good rundown of the opinions of the richest citizens on Brexit. The company talking points seem to be they don’t really have an opinion so the story is unlikely to be presentable.

        1. ambrit

          Just like all the Mosley supporters before World War Phase Two.
          Could it be said that the two classes of person, Tory and Wealthy, do not necessarily intersect very much?

        2. Cal2

          Guns and Butter is now hosted and available at

          After our local Pacifica station dropped them, we never sent them another cent.

        3. Anonymous2

          Also some US oligarchs like Murdoch, Mercer. Hedgies have been prominent in financing it. They have been concerned that Brussels will force them to clean up their act.

          Rees Mogg’s hedge fund is said to be largely based on Russian investors.

          So yes, high probability that Brexit is aimed to make the UK safer for footloose, dirty money.

            1. Kfish

              Not any more, thank you very much. He surrendered his Australian citizenship for US citizenship a few decades back and we don’t want him.

              1. Darthbobber

                Hopefully he lied on his citizenship app, and we can send him back. Though since he established the viability of his model (or reestablished it, it’s just an updated version of the Hearst yellow press model), someone will always fill the role.

        4. Carey

          It has seemed unlikely to me that the UK elite would ‘let’ the the little people make such a far-reaching decision through mere voting, even if that vote was only advisory. Likelier that an outcome was designed by the few, then consent more-or-less manufactured among the already disaffected, to serve the formers’ ends.

          1. witters

            Right. It wasn’t a mistake by Cameron. And the people were fooled. Just mark it down as another failure for democracy…

  3. Geo

    No Syria withdrawal without Turkish pledge not to attack Kurds, Bolton says

    Curious how the #Resistance feels about being aligned with John Bolton on their Syria warmongering.

    I’m guessing since they’ve befriended Kristol, Bush Jr, and others it won’t be too much of a stretch for them to embrace him but he’s always been a special breed of lunatic on global affairs.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’m interested to see that according to that map Ireland has a US military base – this will certainly come as a surprise to Irish people (there isn’t one – officially at least).

      1. Nealser

        I’m guessing they are counting Shannon airport as a base since it has been transport hub for the US military.

  4. vidimi

    so the gilets jaunes finally hit my posh parisian neighbourhood this saturday. lots of burned barricades and scooters, some upturned garbage and glass dispensers, and even a couple of burned cars on the boulevard. the air was heavy with thick, toxic, black smoke before sunset. after offering some concessions mid-december, macron has inflamed the discourse by doubling down in his new year’s speech. he promised that reforms would continue and arrested one of the gj leaders on trumped up charges.

    unfortunately, support for the movement keeps dwindling. 55% of the public still support the protesters, down from nearly 80% at the start. 25000 people were estimated to have turned out all over france this saturday, according to state estimates. while likely an underestimate, it’s much lower than the 100000+ in the weeks before christmas, though higher than the previous week. to be continued…

    1. David

      The official government figures were 55,000 in the streets on Saturday, but this is an underestimate because a number of them heeded the advice to take the yellow vests off, at least some of the time, to avoid attracting the attention of the forces of order. Sheer numbers don’t tell you much. The total was higher than a week ago, and some provincial cities are seeing a steady increase, but it’s the effect of sudden and unexpected appearances by small groups that is really important. The GJ are now using some quite sophisticated tactics.
      And the government has no idea what to do. They have opted now to see the GJ as an enemy, and treat them as enemies of the Republic and democracy in general. Nobody is much convinced, and public support for their objectives (if not always their tactics) continues to be high. Macron is trying to play the De Gaulle 1968 card, but his problem is that he cannot give the same image of stability. Indeed, it’s Macron and co who are busy destabilising the country, and the government’s response to criticism of its “reforms” is just to carry on regardless. This is not going to end well.
      Incidentally, this weekend also saw a march by women members of the GJ. It was very deliberately presented as “not feminist”, but as providing “another perspective.” The women told the media that they were especially concerned for their children, and the kind of world they might grow up in. Some said that they were reluctant to have children at all. For the French elites, whose main concerns about any children they may have are ensuring they get into the right elite schools and deciding which foreign university to send them to, this kind of talk might as well come from Mars.

      1. nycTerrierist

        ah, very good

        thanks for this

        sounds very much like the sentiment behind Occupy here in the U.S.

      2. vidimi

        cnews was reporting on saturday only 25000, though i do now see the 50000 number reported. cannot say whether that is over- or under-stated.

        time will tell where this will lead. it seems that macron’s strategy was to wait it out and let the bad weather and the holidays weaken the movement. now that it’s picking up again, will there be a change in strategy? it’s hard to fathom another reversal.

    2. nycTerrierist

      thanks for the report

      wondering why GF momentum and support is slowing down, esp now that Macron
      has doubled down?

      any notion why?

      1. vidimi

        it was mostly due to the holidays and people having family obligations, as well as a spell of bad weather before the year end. this weekend saw much nicer weather so the crowds were back out, though still only at 1/3 of the peak numbers. what happens next weekend will be crucial, as if there is another increase in numbers, it will be clear the movement is regaining its momentum.

        1. David

          Yes, and also when the GJ started, the aped to some extent the traditional French practices of mass demonstrations. They have found a better way now though: if a hundred people take it it turn in groups of ten to block a roundabout, for example, it makes much more impact than if they all demonstrated at the same time. So numbers don’t tell the whole story.

    1. Donald

      Beat me to it. Some liberals have gone so overboard with the neoMcCarthyism I expect someone will say that in all seriousness. Maybe evil Russian scientists genetically engineered the crickets to mate in American embassies.

    2. Carolinian

      Evidently those diplomats never spent time down south where cicada season can be deafening.

      Meanwhile it’s not clear whether the Gatwick drone attack even happened. These are interesting times.

        1. witters

          Which is the weirdest story ever. I mean, where are they? Have they been “terminated” by our illustrious security services?

          1. Carey

            Last I heard, the Skripals were going to be relocated somewhere like
            USA! for their safety and well-being™.
            Surely on the road to wellville as we speak, or somewhere like that.

  5. allan

    Re: student loans. From the article:

    But short of fleeing abroad or going underground or something, you can’t ever—ever—walk away from student debt.

    Oddly, no mention of how non-dischargeability in bankruptcy came about.

    Also, the article (rightly) focuses on the impact of student debt on students, but the picture from the viewpoint
    of the institutions is pretty scary, too, since the debt bubble is intersecting with geopolitics:

    For American Colleges, China Could Be the New Travel Ban — but Worse [Chronicle of Higher Education]

    Paywalled, but starts

    The “Trump effect” has fueled worry that international students might be scared off. But amid worsening economic trends and feuding governments, Chinese students might simply go elsewhere. …

      1. Procopius

        There are other things Good Old Joe slipped in there. He made it more difficult to request bankruptcy protection and more expnsive. Back during the foreclosure fraud tidal wave there was a blog that printed up-to-date news about what was going on in the world of bankruptcy law, but I don’t remember its name now. He’s been screwing the middle class since the 1980s. I don’t understand who loves him.(other than MBNA).

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      A more immediate unmentioned point is how common it is for families to pay at least part of their kids’ tuition by taking out HELOCs and second mortgages, dialing back on paying down first mortgages, or ramping up credit card debt. A fair amount of personal debt today may correlate with the insane increase in cost of post-secondary “education”. However, there isn’t much data on these familial and individual work arounds. IMO nonetheless, current student debt datasets understate the scope of education-related debt burdening the US middle class today.

      This kind of debt-shifting is almost never covered in pop finance articles about student debt. I guess the financial journalism subculture lacks exposure to people whose families go all out to help the next generation.

      1. L

        Also undiscussed are the secondary hardships many students face. It is not uncommon now for schools to have not only special meal plans but literal food pantries for students who are paying tuition but cannot afford to eat. It is a problem that schools have been stepping up to respond to but the underlying problem, lack of support, is still there.

      2. Pookah Harvey

        From a 2017 report:

        The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a useful report a few days ago on student-loan indebtedness and older Americans. Here are some of the CFPB’s key findings:

        “The number of consumers age 60 and older with outstanding student loan debt quadrupled from 2005 to 2015, increasing from about 700,000 to 2.8 million.”

        During this ten-year period, the share of older student loan borrowers more than doubled, rising from 2.7 percent to 6.4 percent of all student-loan debtors.

        The average amount older Americans owe on student loans roughly doubled in ten years from $12,100 to $23,500.

        Among federal student loan borrowers who are 65 years old or older, nearly 40 percent are in default.

        In 2015, the total amount that older Americans owed for student loans was $66.7 billion.

        All this is very interesting, but here is the CFPB’s most disturbing finding: Almost three quarters of older Americans with student-loan debt (73 percent) reported that their loans were “for a child’s and/or grandchild’s education.”

        1. allan

          “for a child’s and/or grandchild’s education.”

          Fun fact: grandparents with the means can make tuition payments directly to the college
          or university, tax free:

          Grandparents can give the cash gift to the parent instead of the grandchild, because gifts to parents do not need to be reported as income on the FAFSA. Another solution is to wait until your grandchild graduates college and then give a cash gift that can be used to pay off school loans.

          Under federal law, tuition payments made directly to a college aren’t considered taxable gifts, no matter how large the payment. So grandparents don’t have to worry about the annual federal gift tax exclusion. But payments can only be made for tuition — room and board, books, fees, equipment, and other similar expenses don’t qualify. Paying tuition directly to the college ensures that your money will be used for the educational purpose you intended. A grand parent can still give a grandchild a separate tax-free gift each year up to the $15,000 limit ($30,000 for joint gifts).

          The good news is that this tax break more than pays for itself by incentivizing the job creators. /s

          The rich are indeed different from you and me.

      3. Cal2

        Biden’s the senator from where those banks are headquartered.

        Is it making sense now?

        Wonder how many of those with outstanding student loans would vote for Biden?

        1. Pookah Harvey

          Biden: “I think I’m the most qualified person in the country to be president.”
          Gee, where have I heard that before?

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Record Numbers of Americans Want to Leave the U.S.”

    Another anti-Trump diatribe. Boring! I think that they are missing something far more important going on here so I’ll have to ramble on a bit to explain it. At the risk of showing my age here, there was a band back in ’65 called The Animals that came up with a new song. Because of the lyrics, a lot of the troops in ‘Nam adopted it for their own. Here is a link for it-

    However when I read the lyrics of this song just now, I cannot think how prescient the words are for this song in light of what is happening these days. Here are those lyrics-

    I think that this is the real cause for so many people wanting out. Up to 130 years ago there was always the frontier to escape to but that was then and this is now. No more frontiers these days.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Intersting contrast – Americans wanting to get out, and people abroad, paying anywhere from $5,000/$10,000 to coyotes to cross the southern border, to millions of dollars as investor immigrants.

      Existing American: “Grass may look greener on this side, but I am leaving.”

      The question is, why the divergence?

      Ungrateful, spoiled Americans? I doubt it.

      The system favors new comers? That can’t be right.

      1. Darthbobber

        One is something people are actually doing, the other is something people are venting about. Don’t think we’ll be seeing net outmigration soon.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I live in Murica now, and I would like to return to the country where I once lived some years ago. Things weren’t perfect — there definitely were serious problems — but it did seem we were making progress toward repairing the many cracks and tears in that country. I know nostalgia sometimes makes things seem better than they really were but even so … I would very much like to return to the country where I was born … America, the US of A.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A side question.

        When, say, an Irish American moves to Ireland, is he (or she) an Irish-American Irish, or just Irish?

        And when a Japanese American moves to Canada, is he or she American Canadian, or Japanese American Canadian?

        And if this person then moves (and acquires citizenship) to Russia, is he or she Japanese American Canadian Russian?

        Perhaps this is confusing ourselves too unnecssarily, but with Identity Politics, you have to be always prepared.

      2. Synapsid

        Jeremy Grimm,

        Off topic: I replied to yours of yesterday.

        I strongly recommend the C S Lewis.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I replied to your reply. We may get cut off soon — so I’ll let you have the last word if you’d like. I’ll watch for your comments in any future discussions of “Open Science”.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Thank you Synapsid for for you arguments. I saved them and learned from you. I look forward to your further comments when “Open Science” comes up again.

  7. Off The Street

    The current age echoes with hemi-demi-semiotics. Somewhere an enterprising grant-writer is examining the intersection of otics and harmonics of some sense and sensibility.

      1. Off The Street

        I was riffing off the Unherd article link about semiotics, wondering how many layers and gradations of meaning and interpretation there could be before people lose sight of what is in front of them. Prior eras, take your pick, expressed things differently and I miss that.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Thanks for clarifying things. I didn’t see the link to the Unherd article. I tend toward the literal so I associate semiotics with the design of symbols — for things like road signs, or warning signs. I was unaware of the broader meanings of the term.

      2. ambrit

        Semiotics is an acquired sensorium of semantic translational functions.
        As the boys down at the corner store used to say: “That boy’s been ruint! He done graduated from the University of Texas – Jane Austin.” You could pick out the anti-semites in the crowd. They’d pronounce it, Jane Austein.
        Anti-intellectualism be everywhere.

        1. Cal2


          Anti-intellectual version below:

          “Person” “Children” “Partner” “Person” “Consumer”

          Double PlusGood version below:


          Double PlusPlusGood version below:

          Cipher Slave

          1. ambrit

            Egads! You make it sound like the ethereally eternal etiological effusions of effete eunuchs.
            Forbidden City Funnies. Vol. 0.

  8. philnc

    On the record number who want to leave the US: I’d suggest there may be an intersection with the college loan story. Young people especially have given up on the US, because their country has failed them. The deck has been stacked against them, and they know it. Many of them picked up on Obama’s shilling for corporatism and empire sooner than their elders. There’s also the historic lesson that the human costs of fighting to preserve empire always falls most heavily on the young. Time to get out while it is still possible to do so. At 62 I’ve seen this movie before, and don’t see many other alternatives for the kids.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its completely anecdotal I know, but I do know a number of USasians who have moved, or who have seriously considered moving to Europe or South America, and the key things they always bring up in conversation are medical costs, housing costs, retirement costs (especially if long term care is needed), education for kids, and personal safety (i.e. not so many guns around, although of course this doesn’t apply to South America).

      About a dozen years ago, there was a very significant influx of Canadians to the UK/Ireland (where many qualify for citizenships), driven largely by student loans – the driver was that the euro at the time was very strong compared to the Canadian Dollar – a Canadian room mate at the time told me that she and her friends were aiming to pay off student loans in 5 years which they felt would take a decade or more at home.

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Or Americans come together and change their government.

      Everyone Fights. No One Quits.

      This is just more divide and conquer.

      The young will END the Empire, not PRESERVE.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I think Goya was inspired by the Greek myth but I found this reference to Cronus [Saturn]
        Wiki []:
        “Some of these sources suggest that babies were roasted to death on a heated bronze statue. According to Diodorus Siculus, “There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus [Saturn] extending its hands, palms up and sloping toward the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire.”[8] They placed their children alive in the arms of a bronze statue of the lady Tanit:

        The hands of the statue extended over a brazier into which the child fell once the flames had caused the limbs to contract and its mouth to open… . The child was alive and conscious when burned… Philo specified that the sacrificed child was best-loved.”

        I also like referring to the idea of the old god Moloch.

    3. Jason Boxman

      I’d certainly be tempted to leave, but I’m old enough now I don’t get any points for my age in Canada. I missed that boat. I suppose I can apply for jobs outside the country or maybe I can transfer to another country through my employer.

      Why move? I have concerns about health care in this country and age discrimination at work as I get older. If the former happens, the latter will probably destroy me financially; and I’m healthy right now, thankfully. Gun violence is also a concern.

      I’m less uncomfortable flying than I used to be, so leaving is at least somewhat feasible logistically now. As for the rest, I wouldn’t know where to begin. Probably a year long research project.

  9. Aldous

    RE: Why 2018 Was the Best Year in Human History! Nicholas Kristof, NYT

    Nicholas Kristof strikes me as a run-of-the-mill optimist. After reading this mindless cheerleading for human progress, one wonders why anybody would waste their time worrying about the human-caused sixth mass extinction, human-caused climate change and the human-caused eradication of marine ecosystems.

    Conspicuous by its absence, I suppose.

    1. Summer

      It has to be hyperbole, no?
      Without reading it, I know he isn’t talking about human history. There isn’t even a definitive time line for the beginning of “humans.”
      So I know he’s talking about history from a narrow perspective.

    2. Spring Texan

      Strongly recommend a podcast called Citations Needed‘s episode “The Neoliberal Optimism Industry” (only episode I’ve listened to so far but it was fantastic on ‘pinkerizing’). It eviscerates Pinker and people like him who make a habit of telling rich people the world is better and richer than ever – also talks about their colonialist connections and blinders which I wasn’t aware of.

      I loved that they brought our patent ripoffs of the global South into it too . . . very intelligent presentation. Also pointed out other distortions, ignoring climate change, etc.

      They were also withering about the horrible Thomas Friedman and how skewed his narrative is.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Second this. This particular Citations Needed podcast names names and provides essential context.

        I already from reading George Monbiot’s take on Pinker got some insight into why my 1% frighteningly conservative brother sent us Better Angels a few years ago for Christmas.

        He basically stopped speaking to the rest of the family during the 2008 campaign (cut my mom off from her grandchildren because in supporting O he told her she was “harming” them so why would she even want visit–to this day refuses to see or even talk on the phone with her, so bizarre and sad) but still sends us books at Christmas.

        He lives in two, count ’em TWO, gorgeous homes in Palo Alto (when the house across the back yard on the next street went up for sale they bought it and razed it and built a castle-like “play” house on it with space for sleepovers for the kids, an exercise room, a media room, a wine cellar to house his 50k collection, a poker and pool room, and cool touches like secret passageways behind bookshelves, a turret, etc.). The yards of the two houses now create an enormous lawn extending from the tiled steps from the pool back of the original house to the granite steps up to the al fresco dining area complete with grape arbor of the new one. Slate shingles on the roof of course, in keeping with the castle theme.

        And yes, he is a member of the 1% and many of you would probably recognize the name of (maybe even have shares in) the company he retired as CEO from at 60.

        I go into this detail just because it boggled my mind as I was at the time doing psychotherapy with children on Medicaid on the south side of Chicago. That his two sons would have such a place all to themselves when the kids I worked with had so few alternatives to the street was truly shocking to me.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Helluva story that. Reminds me of the section from “The Great Gatsby” where Gatsby tried to pay his neighbours to have thatch on their roofs to complete the scene from what he could view from his home – something medieval – but that was a step too far for them.

  10. PlutoniumKun

    How groupthink polarized Brexit Politico. The article doesn’t match the headline. Or if it does, not in the way the author means.

    I think this article explains very well why the Remain campaign failed, but not at all in the way the author imagines.

    When we built the board of the Remain campaign, we were conscious that we wanted to be as reflective of society as possible. Our board was diverse and stacked full of amazing women such as businesswomen Karren Brady and Jenny Halpern Prince, broadcaster June Sarpong and arts director Jude Kelly. But the executive committee on which I sat was almost all male. Did that impact our decisions?

    As Sarpong says in her brilliant book “Diversify,” it’s the diversity — gender, ethnicity, sexuality and socio-economic background — that matters in order to reach the best decisions, as much as a diversity of views.

    1. a different chris

      >As Sarpong says in her brilliant book “Diversify,” it’s the diversity — gender, ethnicity, sexuality and socio-economic background — that matters in order to reach the best decisions, as much as a diversity of views.

      Huh? That sentence, well I’d like to say it doesn’t make any sense but it doesn’t even rise to that. It’s like saying “it’s the diversity – that is, different colors – that matters in order to have the best box of crayons, as much as the colors being different.

      That’s what passes for brilliant? Man I missed my calling.

      1. paul

        June sarpong,last time I saw her, was a bubbly yoof programme presenter.
        Her brilliance was certainly magnificently occulted at that point.
        That sentence indicates it still is.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Our Famously Free Press”

    Well the revelations coming out about the exposure of these group’s projects certainly certainly go a long way in explaining how a Jihadist propaganda unit winds up winning an Oscar and the mechanics involved in the Skripal poisoning. There is another aspect that I found troubling. The Integrity Initiative/Institute of Statecraft stories shows that they launched vicious attacks against Jeremy Corbin. And at the same time, they received some £2 million in funding from the UK Government for 2018/19. So if Government money is being used to attack the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, shouldn’t this be a major story. Has Corbin himself piped up with a WTF? No Parliamentary inquiries in the works about this? Just goes to show you that the modern media is the best that money can buy.

  12. Off The Street

    Key quote from the Aaron Maté interview:

    We’ve gotten to this point because some journalists have become such servants to power that they are willing to degrade journalism as part of their servitude.

    That should be expected in a neo-liberal environment. It would be refreshing to find some new approaches to media that included the following ideas.

    1. Provide clear indications of what is independently-verifiable fact and what is opinion.
    2. Indicate probability of certainty estimates with stories.
    3. Follow up on stories to show was shown to be true and what was mere speculation, and if that flushes out attempted mis-direction then readers are better off.

    Variations on those techniques used by some smart people in different industries like Ray Dalio at investor Bridgewater Associates and Scott Alexander at blog SlateStarCodex. In their own ways they seek to cut through to causes and effects and then use feedback loops to refine their understanding.

    1. Carolinian

      Re that key quote: is it “have become” or always were? I’ll admit I skimmed the Mate rather than wade through the arcane dispute yet again. He is certainly right that the whole thing is a (deliberate) distraction which is why–especially after all these months–some of us have lost interest.

      1. pjay

        “Distraction” it might be. But it is also the ideological justification for major actions by the military-industrial-surveillance-security-propaganda complex. It may be BS to us. But it is BS with *real world* consequences. It has turned many once-respectable journalists into blob apologists, which in turn contributes to further mystification. I respectfully ask good people not to lose interest in challenging this narrative whenever and wherever it appears.

        1. Carey

          Thank you for that fine comment. In the narrative wars, it seems to me that
          the Few are doing quite well, at the moment.

        2. Old Jake

          That justification is relevant only as it contributes to the gaslighting applied to the general public. To those sponsoring the wars it is irrelevant. So paying attention to it is just playing into their hands. Allowing it to run off like water from a duck seems more healthy, so one can concentrate on the important stuff without the need to keep calm one’s nerves.

  13. PlutoniumKun

    China, Europe, and the Great Divergence: A Study in Historical National Accounting, 980–1850 The Journal of Economic History

    I know its not exactly hot contemporary news, but I found this article quite fascinating. Thanks for posting it. Its useful as a reminder of course that historically countries got much poorer just as much as they got richer over time.

    The California School were therefore right to claim that, considering regional variation, historical differences in economic performance between China and Europe were much less than was once thought. However, the early claims of the California School went too far: China and Europe were already on different trajectories before the Industrial Revolution, as European economic historians have traditionally maintained. The Great Divergence began earlier than the nineteenth century.

    1. georgieboy

      Second that.

      Interesting that England surpassed China in GDP per capita by the 1400s according to their analysis — just 50 years after the first Black Death wiped out 40-60 percent of English population. This led to substantial upward repricing of labor and greater economic and cultural vigor for the non-aristocrats.

        1. JBird4049

          There is also the Chinese centralization of control the bureaucratizing of everything whereas the Europeans have always been fractured and have had a strong impetus to improve whatever it took to survive rather than maintain peace and stability.

          At times the Chinese methods for peace and general prosperity worked very well, but at the cost of little change and incremental advancement; the Europeans constant struggles, including war and more war, came at a high human cost and also created the new ideas and methods that ultimately dominated the everyone else.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Looking just at the last 600 years or so (covering Ming and Qing dynasties), we will notice that warfare was a constant presence in China.

            From the beginning of the Ming, they had to deal with the Mongols, north of the Great Wall. One Ming emperor was even captured. (He was emporor twice, a very rare event).

            Then, through out the dynasty, the Woku pirates plagued up and down the coast. There was constant fighting.

            Towards the end, there was the Korean invasion by Hideyoshi that Ming had to get involve, and later, the war on the Later Jin (or the Manchus).

            The conquest of China by the Manchus lasted several decades, and during the reign of Qianlong, force had to be exerted Xinjiang, Siberia (against Russians), Tibet to as far south as Burma. Then, came the various rebellions, including Taiping rebellion during which 20 to 30 million people died (one estimate).

          2. PlutoniumKun

            Its been argued that the primary difference between European and China’s development comes down to physical geography – Europes complex series of plains and mountains meant constant warfare between mini-states, but also meant that the wars were usually localised. If an area became devastated by conflict or other calamity, there was always somewhere peaceful for the smart and mobile to take shelter. Whereas China, which is essentially two gigantic floodplains, is a natural fit for a very large, centralised state. When that authority was stable, it led to periods of gradual growth and prosperity. But when something went wrong (climate, warfare, etc), things went wrong for the entire country and the backwards step was often catastrophic.

            Hence (it is argued), Europes history is one of constant steps backwards and forward, with a gradual iterative move forward, while China’s history is one of long periods of growth and peace, with occasional, but utterly catastrophic steps backwards (that article states that the Qing Dynasty lost 70% of GNP during one such catastrophe).

            1. JBird4049

              Yeah, I did understate the warfare that the Chinese often under, but the idea of centralization versus decentralization was my main point. The Western church/state divide or the tendency towards some sort of parliament or advisory council even if it was like the often impotent Russian Duma or the disorganization of various French parlements or worse, the Polish-Lithuanian Sejm. Even in an almost absolute monarchy like the Spanish Empire had some restrictions on it.

              To really oversimplify it, the centralizing overly homogenization of the Chinese allowed a good emperor to effectively rule, but a bad emperor allowed the whole society to be affected. The European much greater decentralization prevented the greater benefits of widespread good governance, but also prevented widespread disaster. That is one of the reasons democracies, or at least a society with some distribution of power is more flexible and innovative that non-democracies. Usually.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I would also suggest the quite unique mandarin bureaucrats that came up through the imperial examination, and the unified writing system (though pronounced quite differently, in some cases, unintelligible*, to various provinces).

                *Early Ming emperors whose founder came from Anhui province, bordering the divide betwen South and North China for millennia, often complained that Imperial Exam winners (who often came from the Yangtze Delta area, and Fujian), especially those from Fujian, spoke unintelligibly.

            2. Lee

              There was also that decision by the emperor in about 1400 to mothball China’s magnificent blue water fleet and destroy the maps and other data it collected. Not sure where that fits into the picture.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                The man who was emperor twice (as Zhengtong and Tianshun), ruled from 1435 to 1449, and from 1457 to 1464, had to fight the Mongols, because they were a constant threat to empire with Beijing as its capital.

                That’s about 30 years after the last voyage of Adm Zheng He.

                Perhpas they knew where money was needed.

                1. JBird4049

                  Perhpas they knew where money was needed.

                  It was not shifting resources to fight invaders that was the problem. It was the deliberate destruction of all the accumulated knowledge as it takes comparatively little resources to write and then maintain that knowledge as oppose to war or exploration. That is one of the perennial problems of the Chinese civilization; the belief that it is the Middle Kingdom, the center of the universe so why deliberately make and maintain open active relationships with the other countries, empires, and civilizations. It’s similar to what happened to the Japanese Shogunate except the Japanese (barely) avoided being colonized while China did not.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    There were diplomatic relationships with various countris.

                    In the Topkapi museum, one can find Yuan and Ming blue and white porcelains. They were given to the Ottoman rulers.

                    One Ming emperor (Zhengdo, long afte Treasure Boat voyages) is said to be particularly fondly of Muslim concubines.

                    From what I understand, cost was the main motivation, and destroying maps and boats was probably to ensure no one was tempted again to try such expensive projects.

                    Books about such voyages were written and collected from the Ming, through the QIng down to today.

                  2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    These are the two books I had in mind:
                    The Xingcha Shenglan (星槎勝覽; lit. The Overall Survey of the Star Raft) was a historical work written by Fei Xin.[1] Fei Xin had served as a soldier in the third, fifth, and seventh Ming treasure voyages under the command of Admiral Zheng He.[1] The book contains descriptions of foreign places that the Chinese mariners had seen. The literary term “star raft” refers to an ambassador’s flagship.[2]

                    According to Dreyer (2007), Fei Xin’s book was strongly influenced by Ma Huan’s Yingya Shenglan.[1] Ma Huan was a translator and interpreter on Zheng He’s fourth, sixth, and seventh treasure voyage.[

            3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Looking at Chinese history, centralization vs. fragmenation;

              Zhou c. 1046 – 256 BC
              Western Zhou
              Eastern Zhou —————-constant warfare, thus name like warring states
              Spring and Autumn
              Warring States
              Qin 221–206 BC————-very brief…a couple of decades of unification
              Han 202 BC – 220 AD———–first long lasting centralization
              Western Han
              Xin———————————–brief interlude
              Eastern Han
              Three Kingdoms 220–280—————–constant warfare among the 3 states
              Wei, Shu and Wu
              Jin 265–420
              Western Jin———————216-316, including the War of Eight Princes
              Eastern Jin Sixteen Kingdoms —-316-420, China divided, time of chaos
              Northern and Southern dynasties 420–589 – more warfare, division and chaos
              Sui 581–618 — brief unification, setting the stage for the next great dynasty
              Tang dynasty 618–907 —-the 800’s and 900’s saw weak emperors, control devolved to regional governors (often Central Asians).
              (Second Zhou 690–705)
              Five Dynasties and
              Ten Kingdoms 907–979———–More division and fighting.
              Liao 907–1125 —- They occupied areas around what is Beijing today
              Song 960–1279
              Northern Song Western Xia —-China divided among Song, Xia, Liao
              Southern Song Jin ———China divided among Song and Jin
              Yuan 1271–1368 —- strong central government
              Ming 1368–1644 ——-strong central governent
              Qing 1636–1912 ——-strong central goverment

              It is interesting to note that the Xinhai Revolution occured in 1911, and the last emperor abdicated in 1912, ending imperial rule in China.

              The number ’60’ is significant in Chinese culture, being 5 x 12. Five (5) refers to the five phases of the Wuxing Theory (5 elements, metal, wood, fire, water and earth), and twelve (12) relates to the 12 zodiac years. So, we can speak of fire dragon or metal dragon.

              Now, 60 plus 1911 is 1971.

              In 1971, Taiwan was expelled from the United Nation and China recognized.

              The number 108 is significant as well. It has to do with the 36 heavenly stems and 72 earthly stems of the I-Ching. In the famous Chinese novel, the Water Margin, there are 108 heroes (see 108 Stars of Destiny, Wikipedia).

              The year 2019 is 1911 plus 108.

              What is in store for China this year?

          3. vidimi

            it’s funny that europe has the reputation for being a warring place but if you look at the list of the top ten most violent human events of all time (by deaths), something like 8 of them include china. of course, the two world wars are at the top, and china spilled a lot of blood in both.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For example, by the 17th century, Chinese (some) were aware that western cannons were superior.

      From Hongyipao (literally Red Barbarian Cannon), Wikipedia:

      Several Ming officials who supported the use of the new technology were Christian converts of the Jesuit mission, such as the influential minister Xu Guangqi and Sun Yuanhua in Shandong. The Tianqi Emperor asked a German Jesuit, Johann Adam Schall von Bell, to establish a foundry in Beijing to cast the new cannons. The first pieces produced there could throw a forty-pound shot. In 1623 some hongyipao were deployed to China’s northern frontier at Sun’s request under generals such as Sun Chengzong and Yuan Chonghuan.[6][7][8] They were used to repel Nurhaci at the Battle of Ningyuan in 1626.[9] After the Later Jin captured a Ming artillery unit at Yongping in 1629, they too began production of the hongyipao

      And, as quoted above, Nurhaci lost no time trying to have them as well.

    3. CU 2Morrow

      The sad thing about the Tennessee doctors post is that one person makes these decisions. This decision is too important to put on one person. My mother was turned down for disability with rheumatoid arthritis. t Her feet were twisted so that every toe pointed a different direction. She was anything but lazy and tried to go back to work, making the pain even worse. She couldn’t make it a week and they suffered from the lack of income the rest of their lives. It also seems cruel to make it a yes or no decision. If you are almost disabled you get nothing. Imagine two people with almost identical conditions. One gets in, one gets nothing

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Indian scientists slam ancient Hindu ‘stem cell’ claim”

    I almost find this article charming. It’s like the old days of the Cold War when the Soviet Union claimed that they invented airplanes or the submarine or any other of a host of inventions. If someone piped up that someone had invented that thing in the west and not the Soviet Union, the Soviets would confer among themselves, then claim that this can only be because western spies stole it from traitors, and would then storm off.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “No Syria withdrawal without Turkish pledge not to attack Kurds, Bolton says”

    Bolton wants the Kurds protected. The Turks want to make sure that the Kurds do not remain a clear and present danger. Bolton does not want Syria to take back, umm, Syria. He also want the attacks against the ISIS remnants to continue. I think that I have a solution. This area needs troops from another country to take the US’s place in Syria. How about Israel? No, no – think about it.
    Israel has been friends with the Kurds for decades and supported their desire for their own country. Israel already occupies another part of Syria – the Golan Heights. It would give Israel access again to the oil they they use to buy off ISIS via Turkey. They could prove their desire to fight terrorists – by fighting those that have the ability to shoot back even if some of them are using Israeli-supplied arms. It would finally put paid to the saying that Israel will always fight to the last American soldier. What’s not to like?

    1. Jeff W

      It was! Thanks.

      Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was working in that taqueria, the Flats Fix, mixing drinks, literally less than a year ago—she quit in February, 2018. Her story is quite incredible—it might be even to her.

      One thing that that Insider story omits, though, is that, even in high school, Ocasio-Cortez’s natural—or, perhaps, preternatural—”presence” was becoming evident. Here’s an aneccdote, from a New York Times profile, which quotes her high school science teacher (with whom she is still in touch):

      At Yorktown High School, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was a serious science student and won second place in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2007. She presented her project, on the anti-aging effect of antioxidants in roundworms, to the town board of education, her science teacher Michael Blueglass said.

      “One of the administrators wasn’t there at the beginning and came in after she started, and he said to the superintendent, ‘What company is she from?’” Mr. Blueglass recalled. “The superintendent said, ‘She’s a 17-year-old senior in our high school.’ She presented herself, verbally, visually, everything, as if she was a 30-year-old professional presenter businesswoman even though she was 17 years old.”

    1. lordkoos

      That’s an expensive bike crash alright. I recommend crashing your bike in southern Idaho, as I did last summer. Didn’t break my arm but sprained my wrist and got banged up pretty good. Went to the local ER, cost to me after insurance, about $1000. I guess San Francisco is more expensive in every way…

  16. Summer

    Re: How to Think About Empire (interview) Arundhati Roy, Boston Review

    Basically think about everything the empire doesn’t want you to think about.

    1. David

      “The freer global capital becomes, the harder national borders become. Colonialism needed to move large populations of people—slaves and indentured labor—to work in mines and on plantations. Now the new dispensation needs to keep people in place and move the money—so the new formula is free capital, caged labor.”
      What on earth is she talking about?

      1. Harry

        Move the money and move the oil. Its just the people who have to stay put.

        To save time, from the 2min mark.

        Im curious – Ed Lucas is highly respected. He admits to knowing these guys (I met him in Moscow and always assumed he was a spook) but he thinks there is no alternative but to approach this problem this way.

        Im surprised no one thinks there is a problem with damaging the legitimacy of our institutions. Maybe this absence of concern tells us something about how long this has been going on.

      2. Lee

        I am a citizen in good standing in one of the richest countries on the planet. I can move money with a few clicks on the keyboard to just about anywhere in the world. Moving myself takes a bit more effort both financially and emotionally. And I am not poor (not rich either). I could afford to live in all but a few places in the U.S. but not even our adjacent international neighbors would allow me permanent residency let alone citizenship in theirs. Hell, there are millions of Americans who can’t afford to get out of their own counties. For citizens in less well off countries with more authoritarian regimes personal mobility is orders of magnitude more difficult.

        Put a bit more polemically: labor is organic with the limitations to which flesh is heir. While finance capital is an abstraction controlled by a relative small number of our fellow organics who are by their wealth and power freed from the everyday constraints most of live within. As such these fellow organics are largely devoid of fellow feeling and so know phk all about how to run the world they are ruining for us organics for the sake of an abstraction. Or something like that.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          You can only move money about the world because there is a huge back-end infrastructure that allows it and many national government office holders and bureaucracies have coordinated policies regarding finance to allow/promote it. That is hardly an abstraction.

          But I totally agree with your point that the appearance of being able to do this “naturally” contributes to the dearth of humanity evident in too many “successful” people.

      3. Darthbobber

        Except that the bosses also want people moving, up to a point. There’s no shortage of pro easy migration agitprop from the representatives of large capital, so they seem to see their own interests differently than she does

  17. Summer

    Re: 8 Predictions on How the World Will Look In 20 Years

    Huge conflicts and changes predicted. Nit one war predicted….alriiiighty then!

    I guess all the military escalation is for what then?

    1. RWood

      Could this be in answer?

      For the military, the lesson of the past world wars is that wars are won by the side which has the largest oil supply. And they remember it. So, if you want to attain military dominance, energy independence is not enough, you need to attain energy dominance.

      And so, everything makes sense, also in view of some recent results on the statistical patterns of wars. Wars, it seems, are correlated to the thermodynamic phenomenon of entropy dissipation in complex systems. The more energy there is to dissipate, the faster it is dissipated. And if this dissipation is really fast, it may take the shape of a war — surely war is the fastest way to destroy (dissipate) accumulated resources. But, in order to dissipate resources, you need to accumulate them first, and that’s the role of shale oil in the current situation.

      Which means that shale oil is not a natural resource, it is a military resource. As such, it doesn’t matter if it brings a profit or not for the investors. What matters is how it can be used to maintain and expand that gigantic social and economic structure that we call “Globalization” (another slogan that can be decoded as “the global empire”).

      As long as the production of shale oil increases, we face the risk of a new, major world war. We can only hope that the shale bubble bursts by itself first. One more good reason why a Seneca Collapse of oil production would be good for all of us.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Most of the predictions for the future seem far-fetched or very much subordinate and peripheral to the actual changes we might reasonably expect. The link’s authors predict a “‘Climate Leviathan’, or the dream of a planetary sovereign, as a likely outcome, as humanity will eventually have no choice but to resort to geoengineering for survival” [Malvin’s review of their book “Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future” on Amazon]. This frightening fallback on geoengineering seems to be coming more frequently from both sides of the political/economic aisles. This link’s authors predict a future Climate Leviathan which sounds like their version of one arm of Wolin’s Inverted Totalitarianism — at least as I understand it from its descriptions by Chris Hedges.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      As for you question about military spending and where are the wars? .. Each of the services takes its turn at receiving US government largess to feed their favorite affiliated portions of the MIC. Right now it’s the Air Force’s and Navy’s turns. The Army already had their turn with the Future Combat Systems and ongoing spending for operations in our endless wars. Remember the DoD predictions for growing climate related risk and unrest around the world came out ~2012. Our grand strategy for the present is the “Pivot to Asia” which easily supports Air Force spending on F-35s and upgrades to our nuclear arsenals and funding lines for Navy shipbuilding and operations. The DoD money must flow. Besides the earlier predictions of small scale unrest worldwide didn’t really go away. They just got crowded out by the no self-driving car prediction.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Dems livid after Tlaib vows to ‘impeach the motherf—er’ Politico. Like a flock of chickens clucking and flapping their wings…


    Is the Trump style so effective that Tlaib is using it back on Trump himself?

    Is he complimenting by imitating?

    1. Duke of Prunes

      I thought that was a very interesting video. It reminded me of a clip I saw a few years back where the researcher suggested that desertification was caused by *lack* of grazing and not over grazing as many (himself included) had assumed ( This was a few years ago, and I was beginning to wonder if this was just a crank since I had not really heard anyone else adopting these ideas.

      The earth is a complex system… who knew?!?! It’s stories like these that really make me fear geo-engineering as geo-engineering “solutions” tend to focus on a few variables when, time and again, we later learn that biological systems are more complex than we originally thought.

      1. davidgmillsatty

        That was probably Allan Savory’s Ted talk. All high density short duration grazing programs are based on his concept. In the video above the little clip about paddocks comes straight out of Savory’s talks.

        And it is becoming more and more popular because of the economics.

        There is another talk by the PhD in soil Carbon Cowboys where he says there is a tipping point at 20% of farmers and ranchers. Once you reach that point then there is a landslide paradigm change. At the time of that video several years ago “organic” grown beef was at 7% and high density short duration grazing was already the most popular form of “organic” grown beef.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s $21 trillion mistake WaPo. Four Pinocchios. As I’ve said, AOC can be weak on detail, which bugs me. But that’s a staffing and ramping-up issue, and she’s evidently a quick study. So all this Bourbon-esque pearl-clutching and wig-straightening from WaPo et al. won’t count for a lot. Taking a longer view, there are two politicians I can think of who (a) give zero f*cks and (b) have cut through the political establishment like a knife through butter. One is Donald Trump. The other is AOC. Make of that what you will.

    4 possibilities

    1. Speak softly and carry a big stick
    2. Speak loudly and carry a big stick
    3. Speak loudly and carry a small stick
    4. Speak softly and carry a small stick.

    I often identify myself with the last one…unfortunately.

    Trump, on a few occasions, by being the president, can do #2.

    For AOC, I would like to see some concret material results first…may not have to be of the ‘putting a new justice on the supreme court’ kind. That would be asking too much.

    So far, it’s more of ‘news about AOC herself.’

    Hopefully, some concrete material results soon. It could be helpful to the constituents of her district when it comes to voting again in 2020.

    1. Grant

      “Hopefully, some concrete material results soon. It could be helpful to the constituents of her district when it comes to voting again in 2020.”

      My guess is that most of them didn’t see tons of material benefits from the policies that Crowley supported, which is why he lost to someone he massively outspent. The stuff that AOC wants to change is structural and will not change in a few years time, unless a revolution is in order. If a politician, especially in NY, wants to give the store to Wall Street, it will sail through the government. Put in place much of anything that brings material benefits to working people and the poor? No matter how small, it will be a knock down, drag out fight. Given this, Crowley’s job was much easier. He delivered to people it is easy to deliver to in this system.

    2. aletheia33

      if she keeps on the way she is now, i’m more worried about her getting shot than not achieving concrete goals.

      it takes all kinds. she is one in a million, or 100 million. she can lead a charge like nobody’s business and totally command what used to be called the airwaves.

      others may be more adept at pragmatic problem solving and building a movement–not to say that she won’t be. others may do better at other things she may not be strong in. and raw potential is very appealing and full of the unknown. but she does have the appearance of the kind of leader who, with luck, may come along once in a generation.

      i don’t know enough history on such leaders to comment on the role that delivering the goods to their first electoral constituencies plays in their long-term effectiveness as leaders at the national level. can others weight in?

      and these times are unprecedented in various important ways, so anything seems possible while at the same time there seems to be no hope.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      So far, it’s more of ‘news about AOC herself.’

      Because the GOP persists in keeping her there with personal critiques. If she doesn’t respond, they’ll claim victory. It’s a totally no-win situation unless she deals with them directly. And when she does, the media are right there salivating.

      The simple fact is the older generations, especially the establishment-rewarded segments of same, are so used to having younger people bow to their self-appointed authority they don’t know how to deal with someone who doesn’t care who they think they are, or who speaks their mind without recourse to the obfuscatory legalese that says absolutely nothing at great length (cf. Beto O’Rourke et al.).

      AOC knows what platform she ran on, and it included keeping faith with the people who elected her. Her reports about the “orientation meetings” she and the other freshmen had to attend make it clear they were told to toe the line or else. She, and hopefully the others who ran on a true progressive agenda, will stare the guys from Goldman Sachs in their beady eyes and say “We’ll take ‘or else'”.

  20. Jeremy Grimm

    By chance I ran across the following while searching for something else:
    “Obedience – American documentary film presenting the Milgram experiment.”
    “Obedience” is now part of the public domain and can now be viewed online at:

    It’s fun to watch some of this documentary and then watch the early scenes of the first “Ghostbusters” filn.

  21. JBird4049

    ‘Increasing Number’ Of Tory MPs Are Considering No-Deal Brexit As A ‘Viable’ Plan B HuffPo. A Leave-backing former cabinet minister: “We won’t be able to get certain foods like bananas or tomatoes but it’s not like we won’t be able to eat. And we’ll be leaving at a time when British produce is beginning to come into season so it’s the best possible time to leave with no deal.”

    This is f***ing insane. One does not, in anyway, threaten a nation’s food supply. Revolts and economic collapse are often the result of food shortages especially if they are perceived to be avoidable. This isn’t groupthing. It is policy done by glue sniffing.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The fact that a supposedly responsible adult could make such a stupid statement says everything you need to know about the quality of UK politicians now – and why Brexit has disaster written all over it.

  22. juliania

    That Vice article on student loan debt made me so angry I just cut to the bottom of comments, so forgive me if it has already been addressed and much more adequately than I can do.

    ‘Slick’ was my first impression, but the second solidified around considering the student as the beneficiary or even the ‘investor’ in the loan. What I understand about all of the potential bubbles mentioned in the article is that no, the loaners were not acting out of the goodness of their fiduciary hearts, but as was pointed out long ago by Yves and Lambert here, there was a huge amount of Wall Street chicanery going on, first with mortgages and then with student loans – all that debt was being tranched and sold to investors anywhere those could be found. That’s what it was all about, not to mention compound interest and falling behind on payments that were at the very least, sucker bets for the poor. Somebody was making money hand over fist – and it wasn’t students!

    And yes, the bubble is formed by the supposition that students can’t escape that mountain of debt they have incurred – running up against Michael Hudson’s “Debts that can’t be paid won’t be paid.” Sure, go after their social security, go after their medicaid, medicare – nothing is going to make a dent in that trillion mounting up further as we speak. Go after their kids? They don’t have any. Their parents? They are already trying to support their loved ones on their own fragile resources. And bet your life those students, the 40 percent who can’t pay now, are going to die earlier than their parents did. Burst, bubble, burst!!!! And take this snarky article with you!

    1. JBird4049

      Well, it is often the educated, but desperate, middle or lower aristocratic classes that lead the revolts. All that education and nothing but misery is not a good combination for the ruling elites. “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose” after all.

    2. Carey

      Having felt undermined by the Vice author’s slippery points of emphasis and consequent misdirections in the linked article, I read their next piece down; and I’d say the quiet-but-firm message was and is “guess what, kiddies: you’re screwed- here’s how- and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it!”

      We’ll see about that.

  23. Nakatomi Plaza

    “Chinese Tech Investors Flee Silicon Valley…”

    I know the loss of this money has potentially negative consequences, but I could care less about those particular consequences. Having left SF three years ago because it was just too expensive, I wonder if cutting off the endless funding for ridiculous VC projects (Grown men riding motorized scooters? Suckers using their cars as taxis, double-parking and making traffic noticeably worse by the year? Thanks, tech.) won’t restore some quality of life for ordinary Bay Area residents. No, not the tech people and the politicians who could care less about the rest of us, but ordinary Californians. Just the possibility that housing costs could normalize and the destruction of everything once sane in the city could be curtailed is enough for me to cheer the end of all that Chinese money. One of the favorite targets of the disenfranchised here is all the Chinese money flooding into housing, and though the impact is certainly exaggerated, it does matter. I’m not aware of a single thing done (or even proposed) to address foreign capital artificially driving up rents (Prop 10, which would have enabled rent control, was defeated last Nov, but that’s a different issue.). With this one bit of legislation the Trump administration has done more to potentially materially improve life in the Bay Area than I think I’ve seen from our Democrats in ten years, and he did it accidentally!

  24. Oregoncharles

    “What a Student Loan ‘Bubble’ Bursting Might Look Like ”
    Pretty vague. If everyone just stopped paying on their student loans, how is that different, economically, from the government forgiving them all – which is a serious and doable proposal. Granted, the government would have the authority to collect from whatever assets those people have; but would it have the capacity? This might be a lot like ending the draft with a mass refusal, not that that actually happened.

    In brief: it still isn’t clear to me, or I think to the author, what that “bubble” bursting would amount to. The most concrete suggestion was that the for-profit and more marginal colleges wouldn’t make it. Is that serious, unless you work for one?

    Would it collapse the economy? Maybe, but I don’t see a case for that.

  25. Oregoncharles

    “The Dutch love to plan. But even they may not be able to avoid the chaos of a no-deal Brexit.”

    Disturbing, on multiple counts. Brexit is essentially a reversion to the norm – a norm that the
    EU, and Britain as part of it, deals with everyday in its dealings with other countries. Particularly amusing is the line about Dutch officials ransacking the archives for old agreements with Britain that might still be in force. The two have been intensive trading partners for millennia. There are people along the coast who speak a language midway between English and Dutch/German, called Frisian.

    So why is reverting to the norm a catastrophe? I think this reflects badly on both sides – incompetence on Britain’s, bureaucratic rigidity on the EU’s. For another instance, they are scrambling to have enough veterinary inspectors at the moment of separation; but British farm practices won’t have changed a whit. Why is this an emergency?

    At least it puts specifics to my assumption that there will be significant losses on the EU side, as well. That’s probably the reason they’ve been as patient as they have. But pretending that it’s a big emergency is silly – and may not actually happen. A lot can happen under the gun.

  26. flora

    From 2007: A NYT book review of ‘Shop Class as Soulcraft’.

    Making Things Work

    Crawford argues that the ideologists of the knowledge economy have posited a false dichotomy between knowing and doing. The fact of the matter is that most forms of real knowledge, including self-knowledge, come from the effort to struggle with and master the brute reality of material objects — loosening a bolt without stripping its threads, or backing a semi rig into a loading dock. All these activities, if done well, require knowledge both about the world as it is and about yourself, and your own limitations. They can’t be learned simply by following rules, as a computer does; they require intuitive knowledge that comes from long experience and repeated encounters with difficulty and failure. In this world, self-­esteem cannot be faked: if you can’t get the valve cover off the engine, the customer won’t pay you.

    This seems relevant to many topics discussed at NC.

    1. Carey

      Crawford’s ‘Shop Class as Soulcraft’ is well worth reading, especially in these times IMO, and I plan to read it again soon. Thanks for this.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      Great find, many thanks for posting. This speaks to something extremely profound in our social contract that so many of us have lost touch with.

  27. The Rev Kev

    “Dems livid after Tlaib vows to ‘impeach the motherf—er’”

    First they get upset about an old video of a hot, young babe doing a dance routine. Now they are upset about a women using the sort of language that they use probably all the time. Were these people born old?

    1. Carey

      Maybe. To me, it all feels any more like theater, this and that group managed to this and
      that effect; and to the benefit, probably, of only one, small group.

      So much so, that I find myself saying, almost singing: “this and that, this and that…”

  28. ambrit

    Could the little critter in the second antidote be ‘Maud’dib?’
    Preparing for a Butlerian Jihad against Apple?

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