Links 2/14/19

Dear patient readers,

Your humble blogger is STILL not fully over That Bug. So forgive me for having less to say than usual.

Birdwatching Incidental Comics (blckdgrd)

What will climate feel like in 60 years? Fitzlab

China and India Lead the Way in Greening Earth Observatory

Famed WW2 Aircraft Carrier Torpedoed in 1942 Found Miles Deep in Pacific Ocean – Gizmodo (Chuck L)

Pentagon Fears Climate Crisis, w/ Billions in Damage to US Bases & Societal Upheaval Juan Cole (resilc)

Storm wreaks havoc in Northern California, while Southland preps for days of wet weather Los Angeles Times (David L)

Google Translate is a manifestation of Wittgenstein’s theory of language Quartz (David L)

Most Online ‘Terms of Service’ Are Incomprehensible To Adults, Study Finds Vice. That’s a feature, not a bug. Recall Greenspan said he couldn’t parse a credit card agreement.

‘Smart’ restaurants challenge for elderly Korea Herald

Blockchain and Trust Bruce Schneier. Important.

Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence Science Direct. PlutoniumKun:

Overall, in accordance with evidence from experimental animal and mechanistic studies, our current meta-analysis of human epidemiological studies suggests a compelling link between exposures to GBHs and increased risk for NHL.

China?

Inside China’s crackdown on young Marxists Financial Times

Trump Considers 60-Day Extension for China Tariff Deadline Bloomberg

How the fear of losing ‘face’ can help more Chinese tourists behave better abroad South China Morning Post (furzy)

Europe revamps copyright rules to help creative industries face tech giants Politico

Brexit

Bank of America says no going back on its $400m plans for Brexit move Financial Times

López Obrador Vows ‘Poverty’ for Mexican Government Consortiumnews (UserFriendly). As expected. In a post on him, we pointed out that he is fiscally orthodox.

Venezuela

Millions Flowed From Venezuelan Oil Firm to Small Bulgarian Bank New York Times

New Cold War

WHY THE DNC WAS NOT HACKED BY THE RUSSIANS Sic Semper Tyrannis (Kevin W)

Syraqistan

Giuliani and Netanyahu Raise the Specter of “War With Iran” Intercept. Resilc: “Just what we need to push us over the top toward USSR -style decline.”

Scepticism abounds over Egypt-Libya border wall Middle East Online

Netanyahoo Asks Arabs to “Advance The Common Interest Of War With Iran” Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)

Netanyahu’s War Talk American Conservative (resilc)

House passes bill to end US military support for Saudi war in Yemen The Hill

EU adds Saudi Arabia to ‘dirty money’ blacklist Al Jazeera (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

‘Facilitating Saudi Patriarchy:’ Apple and Google Blasted for Carrying App Where Saudi Men Track Wives Fortune (J-LS)

The Stolen Equifax Data Has Never Been Found, Experts Suspect a Spy Scheme CNBC

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Deep Hurt: Lessons From American Coups Counterpunch (resilc)

Eugene V. Debs and the Endurance of Socialism New Yorker (resilc)

Trump Transition

Manafort Judge Finds His Lies Violated Mueller Plea Deal Bloomberg

Immigrant Rights Groups Trash Border Deal: “Immigrant Families Will Pay the Price” Intercept. $1 billion when Trump wanted $5 is way less than the normal bargaining “meet more or less in the middle” so headlines about how terrible the deal is for immigrants actually help Trump.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Isn’t Looking to Retire Yet, But Is Another Supreme Court Justice Ready to Go? New Yorker

FCC Chairman Warns of ‘Regulatory Intervention’ as He Criticizes Carriers’ Anti-Robocall Plans The Hill

House approves motion condemning anti-Semitism The Hill (UserFriendly)

Ilhan Omar, AIPAC, and Denial LobeLog (resilc)

Omar, Trump envoy Elliott Abrams clash in fiery exchange The Hill (UserFriendly). Some discussion in comments in Water Cooler, and good to see this get traction.

Ilhan Omar Smacks Down Elliott Abrams In Front Of Everybody Caitlin Johnstone (J-LS)

California to scale back $77 billion high-speed rail project: governor Reuters. EM:

This is good news – in years to come that useless-by-itself stretch between Merced and Bakersfield will become California’s version of Japan’s “bridge to nowhere” make-work boondoggles. But I’m sure a lot of high-priced consultants did very well for themselves!

Under the Boot The Baffler (Anthony L)

Fake News

Does Washington Know the Difference Between Dissent and Disinformation? Matt Taibbl, Rolling Stone (Bill B)

Google Workers Lost a Leader, But the Fight Will Continue Medium

Google Will Spend $13 Billion On US Real Estate In 2019 CNBC

The Personal Toll of Whistle-Blowing New Yorker (Adrien)

Bond Funds Are “Potential Source of Financial Instability,” after Years of Global QE and Low Interest Rates: Fitch Wolf Richter

Guillotine Watch

CNN Howard Schultz town hall: a campaign based on 3 wrong ideas Vox. UserFriendly: “Wowzers Baghdad Bob sure changed his tune.”

Class Warfare

We are all peasants now: The student-loan crisis is destroying the middle class Condemned to DEBT

How Wall Street Bought Up America’s Homes Atlantic (UserFriendly)

Antidote du jour. Kimberly R: “Greetings! My brother gave me a camera for Christmas, and these birds have become my subjects for learning how to use it. Taken on our deck, North Lake Tahoe.”

And a bonus from martha r:

See yesterdays Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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163 comments

    1. zagonostra

      >WHY THE DNC WAS NOT HACKED BY THE RUSSIANS

      If you present below excerpt from the article to friends who have swallowed the Russiagate Narrative you will see behavior described in intro Psy101 on classical studies of cognitive dissonance.

      The FBI, CIA and NSA claim that the DNC emails published by WIKILEAKS on July 26, 2016 were obtained via a Russian hack, but more than three years after the alleged “hack” no forensic evidence has been produced to support that claim. In fact, the available forensic evidence contradicts the official account that blames the leak of the DNC emails on a Russian internet “intrusion”. The existing evidence supports an alternative explanation–the files taken from the DNC on between 23 and 25May 2016 and were copied onto a file storage device, such as a thumb drive….

      Taken together, these disparate data points combine to paint a picture that exonerates alleged Russian hackers and implicates persons within our law enforcement and intelligence community taking part in a campaign of misinformation, deceit and incompetence. It is not a pretty picture.

      Reply
      1. Mark Gisleson

        I’m sorry I lack the credentials to make this case more forcefully, but as a veteran of political campaigns from local to presidential, nothing about Hillary Clinton’s campaigns is NORMAL.

        She doesn’t run campaigns that are organized like actual political campaigns. She instead establishes a cult of personality that is direct at odds with classic strategies for winning elections.

        Her people use wedges to divide and shrink the electorate.
        Instead of turning out the vote, they try to discourage people from voting.
        Instead of reaching out to their base (whom they secretly despise) they focus on their enemies.
        They seek to discredit their enemies even within their own party.
        They burn bridges.
        There is no way for grassroots to communicate upwards.
        Dissent is not tolerated (even if it’s heard which is unlikely).
        They are NEVER to blame. Anything that goes wrong is someone else’s fault.
        When they lose, no lie is too egregious, no blameshifting too outrageous.
        They do not fail, others fail them.

        Campaigns fall apart after each election. Cults persist. The Clintonites are still fighting to cover up what happened in 2016. There’s nothing normal about that. So long as the party and the Clintonites are not held accountable, we will continue to struggle with bad choices at the ballot box.

        Reply
        1. Chris Cosmos

          Excellent analysis. Any normally run campaign could have won the election against Trump. The blunders were obvious to anyone paying close attention.

          Reply
        2. Aloha

          Couldn’t agree more! They have ruined the party and it really makes me wonder what they stand for? The Clinton Global Initiative (one of B & H Clinton’s personal bank accts) should be shut down and they s/b in jail. Today’s news in Haiti is appalling and the more I read it seems that B & H have become rulers along with their evil billionaire friends.

          Reply
        3. Spoofs desu

          “So long as the party and the Clintonites are not held accountable, we will continue to struggle with bad choices at the ballot”

          Indeed! But at some point, honestly, don’t we have ask ourselves if this is a bug or a feature?( to use the vernacular frequently used on this site. ) This has been going on for decades! Yet people still engage with this clearly dysfunctional institution and thus, through thier engagement, lend legitimacy to it.

          So, if this is a feature—and all evidence suggests it is—what problem is this feature solving? What is the mechanism by which the engagement is maintained? By both democrats and republicans? Do we just switch every 8 years and take turns hyperventilating about the state of affairs? The whole thing seems to me to be a bit of a ruse.

          The below link is pretty awesome on calling out very specific and consistent organizational failures,; my favorite is the one where one of largest unions in the country wanted to send bus loads of members to the Michigan swing state, to do door-to-door campaigning (the most effective strategy) and the DNC leadership told them to turn around because they wanted the trump campaign to think there resources were being used elsewhere. Not exactly sure how that logic works for people getting paid huge amounts of money. (Hillary spent 1.2 billion dollars for this kind logic?). Thus, this seems like a feature.

          https://www.forbes.com/sites/lancesalyers/2016/12/15/hillary-clintons-loss-in-michigan-and-how-leadership-teams-fail/#132ab07f7e16

          Anyway…nuff said

          Reply
          1. Spoofs desu

            Wanted to add that the rational response would be not to engage in this ruse and thus take away its legitimacy: a boycott of the whole thing.

            Reply
      2. Chris Cosmos

        Sadly we live at this time in a post-rational age–facts, as all once understood them no longer matter. While the largely controlled media is to blame for this they are growing their flowers of deceit on very fertile ground.

        Reply
      3. BondsOfSteel

        I don’t know… I’ve debugged a lot of systems and I didn’t find the Binney & Johnson piece convincing.

        First of all, there’s no way any hacker is going to download directly to their own machine. You’re not going to find a direct connection to Russia that the NSA would have caught. The hackers probably gained access to a machine on the same network via several VPNs and cashed them there.

        Yea, sure, it could have been via thumb drive. But that doesn’t necessarily absolve the Russians either.

        I agree w the post that there hasn’t been a lot of information released… including any evidence that the Russians were involved. We’re left speculating. I hope the investigation isn’t.

        Reply
        1. JerryDenim

          Your computer security perspective is appreciated, but the burden of proof isn’t on Binney and Johnson since they’re not the ones attempting to remove a democratically elected executive or start a confrontation with a nuclear-armed super power. Not only are the allegations short on information and lacking in evidence, as you admit, but the genesis of the Trump/Russian double-agent story is of an extremely partisan nature and dubious as well. DNC/Clinton funded Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele, and Obama’s “bread-crumbs”. Add it all up and it stinks to high heaven. The intelligence establishment hasn’t given anyone a reason to trust their ridiculously compromised narrative and you would have to be a brain-dead amoeba with no knowledge of history or foreign affairs to not recognize a fairly standard, boiler-plate sabotage of an incoming administration by an outgoing administration for political reasons.

          I’m not going to shed any tears for dirtbags like Mannafort, Stone, Cohen etc. but if Mueller and Clinton Co. are successful (they already have been, because their narrative is now considered gospel by the righteous and good-thinking) , this is an absolutely terrible precedent which dooms our democracy. Trump, despite his big mouth and sharp elbows, is a fairly orthodox Republican with his plutocratic slash taxes and regulations approach to governing. Imagine what they would’ve done to a nice guy like Bernie who actually wanted to change things instead of a publicity hound like Trump who has merely rocked the boat a bit while stealing the silverware?

          Reply
        2. Beniamino

          “Doesn’t necessarily absolve the Russians either”? Why do “the Russians” need to be absolved of anything at this point? Why don’t we start with empirical evidence of wrongdoing before we worry about who needs absolution?

          I don’t question your credentials but the proposition that the innocent lambs at the NSA can’t even confirm whether or not a DNC server was remotely hacked (never mind by whom) is emphatically not credible.

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Before a judge, everyone is presumed to be innocent.

            In an investigation, they don’t say you’re guilty, but that you have to be cleared, if there is some link or suspicion.

            The ‘absolved’ here seems to be more in the latter category.

            Reply
            1. Oh

              If you’re rich and powerful, maybe that applies but for poor slobs it doesn’t. The clasical “innocent until proven guilty beyoun any reasonabl doubt” is just some more wool that they pull over the eyes of the common people.

              Reply
          2. Skip Intro

            The ‘Reality Winner’ leak of NSA internal documents showed that the only source the NSA had on involvement by ‘the Russians’ was the DNC-sponsored report from CrowdStrike, a firm run by a rabidly anti-Russian Ukrainian whose métier is fabricating false sightings of Russian hackers.

            Reply
        3. Roy G

          Yet these same ‘Russian hackerz’ were supposedly dumb enough to leave Cyrillic text and an homage to Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the KGB, in metadata? Too clever by half on the j’accusers.

          Reply
    2. ewmayer

      Seemingly lost in all this latest leak-or-hack kerfufflery is the overriding point – none of the affected parties has ever denied that the material in question was GENUINE AND OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE OF THE CLINTONITE’S PRIMARY-ELECTION-RIGGING EFFORTS. I’d say the citizens of a so-called democracy have every right to be made aware of this kind of thoroughly domestic-side rigging of their elections and undermining of their democracy, no? I care not whether the whistleblowers were campaign insiders or deplorable Rooskies – they did us a valuable service!

      Reply
      1. Roy G

        THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        It is both astounding and depressing to see how effective the DNC’s cynical ‘Russian Hackerz’ ploy was in misdirecting attention away from this, the Keystone fact of the matter.

        Reply
    3. vidimi

      i didn’t really get it. they state that it wasn’t a hack because the data type was FAT since all the seconds were even. then they say that the last data stolen from the DNC was on 25 May 2016 08:48:35. but that’s an odd second? what am i missing?

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        …they state that it wasn’t a hack because the data type was FAT …

        Yeah, that puzzled me, too, because FAT was replaced by NTFS in 1993 for Windows 3.1. Were the DNC still using Windows 3.0 or earlier? I know I can still format a thumb drive to use FAT, but I wouldn’t want to for large amounts of data. Of course, I am not a computer forensic expert. To me the most persuasive argument that the narrative is false was John Brennan’s assertion that he had evidence that Putin was personally invloved. If that had been true, he would have been guilty of the greatest national security breach ever, on the level of revealing before Pearl Harbor that we had broken the Japanese diplomatic codes.

        Reply
  1. Livius Drusus

    Re: Eugene V. Debs and the Endurance of Socialism.

    The article makes a good point about the timidity of modern American socialism. You almost never hear about public ownership anymore, even from people who call themselves socialists, even though public ownership was a major part of the socialism of Debs’ era.

    The comparison between Debs’ critique of Pullman and the lack of a significant critique of Amazon is telling. Most critiques of Amazon seem to focus only on working conditions but don’t touch on the immense power Amazon and other companies now have over our lives.

    It is this fact that makes me wonder if the modern resurgence of socialism is more about middle-class downward mobility and frustration than any principled commitment to changing the world. How many newly minted socialists would drop their support for socialism (really social democracy if we are being honest) if their student loans were paid off and they could better afford a mortgage?

    Reply
    1. Carla

      “How many newly minted socialists would drop their support for socialism (really social democracy if we are being honest) if their student loans were paid off and they could better afford a mortgage?”

      I really don’t think we have to worry about this. But if it’s keeping the Powers That Be awake at night, let’s add Everybody In, Nobody Out healthcare to the program, try it, and see!

      Reply
      1. Summer

        Meant for this comment to be a reply to here.

        “I really don’t think we have to worry about this…”

        Exactly. Rentiers are relentless.

        And people still think the TINA mindset is one that can be negotiated with.

        TINA means “There Is No Alternative.”

        That is a clear statement of a non-negotiable position.

        TINA can only be defeated, not negotiated with.

        Reply
    2. James Graham

      What “socialists” cannot understand: if government does it, government disappears.

      Huh?

      Execs in privately owned companies (been there, did that) learn to respect any government entity that can hurt their employer (IRS, FDA, etc., etc.)

      Which government agencies can inflict that sort of fear-inciting influence on another part of government?

      Take your time.

      I patiently await your response.

      Reply
      1. Lynne

        FBI, CIA, etc. Schumer was very clear that Congress is terrified of those agencies and that he considered it proof of stupidity that Trump did not appear to be terrified as well.

        Reply
    3. Chris Cosmos

      Yes, the downward mobility thing for the middle class is in play now. However the democratic socialism of Sanders is unlikely to come about, not because the people wouldn’t support it (they might) but that the US political-economic-cultural system is too corrupt for significant change of any kind. Socialism in Europe worked because people had some minimum sense of cohesion and felt that socialism was a good practical approach to real social needs. Also, the Europeans never quite bought into the culture of narcissism because their traditions and moral views have not changed as dramatically as those in this country.

      I see the USA as moving towards even greater narcissism and corruption. While there are “voices” out there urging us to move in another direction they cannot, in my view, overcome the political, economic, and cultural domination of corporations in our lives who supply the mass quantities of consumer goods and services that keep people in thrall to the religion of selfishness. What was once a middle-class sense of morality has been violated by the absurdity of US politics, a President who is ridiculous in everyone’s eyes, a Congress of corrupt toadies who swing with every wind of carrots and sticks wielded by the corporate heavies who swagger around Washington directing Congressional traffic. I sense, among people I know and see, a visceral disgust for the government, a growing fatalism of just making do with whatever the system hands out and so on. So while downward mobility is in play, at best, we might see some movement towards minor reform but any fundamental change insuring that all Americans are entitled to decent pay and working conditions, health-care, affordable secondary education is not going to go forward for no other reason that the bulk of our expenditures will continue to be towards war and Empire. Until we tackle the National Security (Deep) State there is no hope for fundamental reform (which we need) so the pauperization of perhaps half-the population seems to be on course. Cuts in “defense” and “security” can’t happen since the media is 100% on board with funding this State (because it is an intricate part of it) and anyone who steps out of line in that area will be stopped. The best we can hope for is an eruption of noblesse oblige among the oligarch class.

      Reply
      1. whine country

        We violated a cardinal rule with the GGC: Never waste a good crisis. Gonna need another one. Be careful what you wish for and just hold on. Otherwise, the beat goes on.

        Reply
      2. froggy

        European socialism wasn’t a result of social cohesion. Scandinavian social democracy came out of the Finnish civil war in which the Left was backed by the Soviets and Right monarchists were backed by Germany. The civil war included terror tactics, assassinations, mass executions, and food shortages. The Right won, but democratic compromises prevented establishment of a monarchy, and created a democratic government by 1919, which came to be dominated by social democratic policies. That’s my understanding, but I’m not a historian. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_Civil_War

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Can we please reclaim the word and the concept, and be honest about the “SOCIALISM” we already have?

          We already have massive-scale SOCIALISM in the U.S. But it’s the kind for corporations, not people. When banks get multi-trillion $ bailouts; when arms dealers get no-bid contracts that funnel taxpayer dollars straight to their coffers with no accounting oversight; when fossil fuel companies make the largest corporate profits in history but pay no taxes; when the Surveillance-Industrial Complex gets states and cities to pay for their headquarters.

          You prefer CAPITALISM you say? I’m all for it. Let’s apply CAPITALISM to all of the above, and we’ll have plenty of money to bring America’s infant mortality rate up to the standards of Bulgaria and Cuba; to help the 25% of children who live below the poverty line in the “richest” country on Earth; and to make sure people do not live in abject terror of ever getting ill.

          So reclaim the word! Reclaim the reality!

          Reply
    4. notabanker

      I would have never thought of myself as a ‘Socialist’. Yesterday I read Nathan Robinson’s speech at Andover and boy did that resonate. For me, leaving the US and living overseas fundamentally changed my view of the world, of people and certainly of the US of A. If what Nathan writes is described as socialism, then sign me up.

      I’ll be eternally grateful having attended a chinese Taoist funeral, the conversation with the taxi driver from Soweto about African dowries, the London black cab driver classifying various levels of poltergeists, lunch on a sidewalk in Madrid with colleagues that were previously .com email addresses and the list goes on and on. I can only hope I gave back just a fraction of what I learned. No matter how different people seem on the surface, they really aren’t. The untapped potential we have wasted in this country while we climb over top of each other to get more than the next guy is really quite sad. Now to do something about it………

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Chinese Taoist funeral.

        Taoism today is quite different from when Daodejing and Zhuangzi were written.

        The latter, for example, wrote about singing, drumming and dancing when his (I recall, if correctly) wife died, saying something to the effect like, c’est la vie.

        Daoists like that might still exist today.

        I wonder what kind (somber or joyful) you witnessed.

        Reply
        1. notabanker

          I have no idea how traditional it was, I would guess on the same scale as a Catholic wake in Middletown USA, quite modern. It was somewhat somber actually, but in a respectful, not tragic way. The traditions and customs were not something I had ever experienced before, but the premise was the same. Community gathering to support the family, pay their respects and release them to the afterlife.

          Reply
    5. jrs

      Can we at least be realistic and add decent paying stable jobs to that list? Because what good is cheaper housing and paid off student loans if you can’t even have that? Who commits to a mortgage out of earnings from a gig job? It’s not ownership of the means of production, but it would be the minimum needed to satisfy the downwardly mobile.

      Reply
    6. Grant

      “It is this fact that makes me wonder if the modern resurgence of socialism is more about middle-class downward mobility and frustration than any principled commitment to changing the world. How many newly minted socialists would drop their support for socialism (really social democracy if we are being honest) if their student loans were paid off and they could better afford a mortgage?”

      This is always the case though when systems fail and the problems are structural in nature. If the system at its root was okay and worked well for most people, then the calls for more structural changes probably wouldn’t be as strong. But that is the case in every revolutionary situation (we aren’t in one yet, but we are talking about people seeking structural changes). The international economy has been designed in such a way as to undermine democracy, environmental protection, workers rights, financial regulation, etc., and people on the right and left calling to either burn the thing down or calling for structural changes that would strengthen formal and economic democracy, workers rights, environmental protection, and would result in more equitable outcomes. Debs didn’t live in a situation like ours though in regards to the environmental crisis. The environmental crisis will make the status quo impossible in the decades ahead, and I think people realize that, even if they don’t like it. There is no realistic way to hold on to capitalism as it is if we want to avoid environmental collapse, or at least mitigate the damage. Can you imagine what Debs would have to say of capitalism’s role in the environmental crisis, the role of markets themselves, and the need for planning as a result of this, if the situation in his time was as bad as it is now? If the system at it roots could stay in place and still solve our biggest problems, it would probably dampen the growing radicalization in the country. The system doesn’t have solutions though, and again, the environmental crisis necessitates structural changes anyway. In regards to the international economy, I don’t see it as being politically or socially sustainable (unless we entirely get rid of democracy), and it surely isn’t environmentally sustainable. I think there was ways to maintain themselves at the root level a century ago, while still making the system more equitable (imperialism was one such mean), that are simply not available anymore.

      In regards to something like healthcare, the rotten elites certainly hope that they can put in place some changes, but as little as possible. The hope is that enough people will benefit from quarter measures that the calls for more structural changes will lessen. But the system is so rotten and has such large social costs, it is so inefficient, that any quarter measure will simply not do that. We have tried almost everything else worth trying that these rotten people have thrown out there and it has all been a failure. Again, they offer no solutions and alternatives, and the changes required are clearly structural in nature, not some tinkering around the edges.

      Reply
      1. LifelongLib

        I’m unconvinced (certainly welcome correction) that capitalism is the source of our environmental problems, or if it’s just industrial civilization per se. Is there any level of fossil fuel consumption that is environmentally sustainable? Is there some amount that is sustainable, and is there any evidence that a non-capitalist economy would have stayed within that sustainable amount? I once tried looking for figures on Soviet Union vs U.S. per capita energy consumption, just to get a ballpark idea of what amount of energy use is related to “consumerism” but didn’t have much luck finding figures I could compare.

        Reply
        1. Grant

          I think it is pretty clear that capitalism is central to our environmental problems since capitalism is the worldwide system and the international economic system has been created along capitalist lines. The WTO gutted portions of the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act, among other things, within months of its existence. The WTO claims that its dictates take precedence over any environmental agreements that its members have signed and it has been used to undermine things like the renewable energy industries in countless countries. NAFTA does so in similar ways, things such as the commodification of nature, investor-state disputes, rules in regards to government procurement, intellectual property rights, etc. But capitalism is a system based on continuous growth and we have reached the limits to growth. As Herman Daly has said, there is a difference between an economic system that is created to exist and function in a no-growth environment, and this system, which is based on growth but cannot grow anymore because we have reached sustainable limits.

          Any system that uses markets as much as capitalism does is necessarily going to be a driver in the environmental crisis, since lots of information is missing in markets. I also don’t see how we can possibly expect to operate within sustainable limits of consumption and pollution generation without some form of planning.

          It is true that many of the old communist countries were not good on the environment, I used to live in China and can tell you that just from what I saw. Those countries though were often developing and underdeveloped countries, or countries ruined by war, and tried to industrialize as quickly as possible to catch up to the West. Not only was the brutality of industrialization intensified, but so was the environmental degradation that accompanied that industrialization. Oskar Lange pointed out in the socialist calculation debate that a socialist system would do a better job of taking environmental factors into account, and that is true, but only if they utilize planning to take non-market impacts into account and if they value the environment. It is entirely possible to imaging how a socialist system could operate within sustainable limits. I cannot think of how capitalism could. If you could, give me a rough sketch.

          I say it isn’t possible because:

          1. Markets are using lots of information, and that missing information now dominates things we can calculate.

          2. There are limits to growth in throughput and pollution generation, we have reached or surpassed those limits and capitalism cannot function in a no-growth environment. The only part of the economy that doesn’t face resource or pollution limitations is the FIRE sector. That seems to be a huge systems problem.

          3. There is no realistic way to operate within sustainable limits without some form of planning, which seems to be a key feature of socialism. Only really used in the West during times of war, like WWII.

          Do you disagree with these things?

          Reply
          1. LifelongLib

            I’m not trying to defend capitalism. If a sustainable non-capitalist industrial system is possible I would welcome it. My fear is that it isn’t, that rather than our environmental problems resulting from capitalism, they are inherent in any industrial system.

            Reply
    7. jrs

      Of course not only the decline of the middle class but the millenials etc. are looking forward to ecosystem collapse. So there is that. And capitalism is the driver. In dawns on them when they look up from their own suffering and struggle how it’s all for a system that is literally destroying life on earth. Well yea ..

      I see radical young people passionate about social change, very much considering the ecological need as well as the conservative older people who would stand in their way proclaiming their divine right to trash the world for their pleasures and the continuation of an unjust system. No, let them have the world. (I do realize there are young and old people on both sides of course)

      Reply
    8. Amfortas the hippie

      ^^^”…It is this fact that makes me wonder if the modern resurgence of socialism is more about middle-class downward mobility and frustration …”^^^
      or some lesser than bernie/aoc version of social democracy is being put forward as a blow off valve….like Amy Goodman, or early Rachel Maddow.
      Instead of “let them eat cake(brioche)”..it’s “let them protest and march and have meetings and yell and think they’re doing something”
      political engagement as sporting event. paint yerself in team colors, and don a giant finger and a beer IV hat.
      our high school football went to state this year(and won,lol)…the amount of resources and effort expended around just that one game…300 miles away…signs and rallies and hotels and dinner out and on and on for weeks…left the local populace spent and sated. scanner was utterly silent for a week after.
      merely the appearance of social democracy is what we must watch out for, for whatever it’s worth(and I am NOT hopeful that the american people are up to being not-fooled,lol)

      Reply
  2. Henry Moon Pie

    Re: second antidote–

    I’d like a black light poster version of that, please.

    In the category of Empire Collapse Watch, there’s a new Australian series on Netflix called “Pine Gap.” The show’s opening explains that Pine Gap is one of three American global listening posts with the other two located in Colorado and the UK. Those who read or saw “The Right Stuff” will recognize Pine Gap as the place where Gordon Cooper spoke with John Glenn as aborigines watched sparks from their fire ascend to sky where Glenn’s Mercury capsule was in dire danger of burning to a crisp.

    Aside from the “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Homeland” scenes of our warrior heroes tracking down terrorists by satellite and then droning them without really confirming who they are, the show has some interesting themes. Chief among them is the tension and distrust between the Aussies and the Americans, the latter being portrayed as hot-tempered, trigger-happy, loud-mouthed bullies. Among themselves, the Aussies rue what they see as the necessity of their alliance with the my-way-or-the-highway Yanks while they are becoming increasingly concerned that they couldn’t count on the Americans in a pinch anyway.

    An aboriginal woman who lives nearby recounts how the Americans just took the land from her people with the Australian government’s complicity. Later, the American head of Pine Gap sees a Chinese businessman and the aboriginal leader head into a golf club. Changing his plans on the spot, the American barges into the driving range warm-up and invites himself to make a threesome so that he can interfere with any attempt by the Chinese to negotiate mineral rights with the aboriginal leader. “Do you want to do business with that guy?,” the American asks. “You know you can’t trust him and what he’ll do to your land.” The aboriginal leader responds, “At least he asked first.”

    I’m interested in whether the Australian component of the NC commentariat has ever heard of this series, and whether there is indeed concern even among Australian elites about the long term viability of their alliance with the Americans.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Saw an episode of this series a coupla months ago but was not particularly impressed. The people in it seemed to take themselves too seriously. I’d rather watch an episode of “The Orville”. As for the alliance, that is another matter. Trump keeps on wanting to have more and more US military stationed down here. Unspoken is the desire for Australia to trash their relations with our biggest trading partner – China – and line up directly with the US in the Pacific.
      I heard tonight that John “Yosemite Sam” Bolton may be coming down here on a visit which is never a good thing. He’ll probably demand that the Australian Navy go pick fights with the Chinese in the South China Seas or maybe he wants us to send a contingent off to the Middle East if Trump decides to go after Iran. Whatever it is, it will not be good for us.

      Reply
    2. Gary

      I have the episodes of Pine Gap saved but have not watched them yet. Americans seem to never be depicted in a very good light outside of the USA USA USA!

      Reply
    3. Craig H.

      > Changing his plans on the spot, the American barges into the driving range warm-up and invites himself to make a threesome so that he can interfere with any attempt by the Chinese to negotiate mineral rights with the aboriginal leader.

      I can almost see a Chinese power broker playing golf. The guy leading the aborigines?

      Do aborigines even have leaders? I thought the whole point of being an aborigine is none of the other aborigines get to tell you what to do. This plot sounds like a stack of absurdities.

      Reply
    4. crittermom

      At the urging of a friend, I almost signed up for Netflix early last year as there are some series I’d like to see so I seriously considered squeezing out the money to do so.

      Then it was announced the Obama’s were getting their own show on Netflix, so I absolutely refused to join.
      Apparently, I’m not alone:
      https://www.businessinsider.com/netflix-backlash-barack-michelle-obama-deal-conservatives-2018-5

      I watched a little of the Grammy Awards recently, but thankfully missed the segment where Michelle joined in.
      As with the Clinton’s, I wish the Obama’s would just go away, & I say screw Netflix for giving them a platform to adulate themselves. Hmpff!

      Just my personal opinion, of course.

      Reply
      1. James Graham

        Although I find emetic the thought of watching either Obama on television, Netflix does offer excellent television at a bargain price.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i concur. lots of foreign things, as well.
          there’s a croatian show…”the Paper” which is inneresting…and the scandanavian cop shows are top notch.the dvd by mail part has the criterion collection, and other classics oriented things.
          we’ve had netflix for years…soon as they came out, we fired cable. so it’s been netflix alone until october–
          wife unilaterally ordered satellite and amazon prime(ugh) soon after cancer diagnosis (her: ” I want TV dammit!”—and who’s gonna argue,lol.)
          I didn’t allow a “unit” in “my room”(she moved to couch, took over living room…which is fine, and sort of normal for us…I’ve usually had my own bed due to cripplehood/writhing/weird hours)
          idk what prime costs…but netflix is a bargain.
          hulu is a bandwidth hog for some reason…which means endless buffering for us.

          Reply
      2. Aloha

        Crittermom I soooo agree! Why would I pay good money to see more Obama propaganda?
        I rented Fahrenheit 11/9 by M. Moore and there is a scene where Pres. Obama goes to Flint MI to speak at a Town Hall about the water crisis. He asks for a “glass of water” (not a bottle) and the audience is aghast. They are all yelling “Don’t drink the tap water mr pres. It will make you sick.” But he gets his glass of water and pretends to take a sip thereby giving the msg that the water is fine and he isn’t going to help them. He is a despicable man.

        Reply
        1. Earl Erland

          I have not watched the Moore film, but my jaw still hurts from the time it hit the floor after listening to the following medical/scientific opinion from Barack Obama, M.D. on the long term effect of childhood lead exposure:

          “But — and this is really important, so I want everybody to pay attention — if you know that your child may have been exposed and you go to a health clinic, a doctor, a provider, and are working with them, then your child will be fine. And the reason I can say that with some confidence is not just based on science, but based on the fact that keep in mind that it wasn’t until the ‘80s where we started banning lead in paint, lead in toys, lead in gasoline. So if you are my age, or older, or maybe even a little bit younger, you got some lead in your system when you were growing up.”

          Actually, the science, from the CDC is clear that no safe lead level exposure has been identified. Obama’s statement is of the type Trump would be perfectly comfortable repeating.

          Reply
      3. Oh

        Good on you for changing your mind. Avoid FB, Netflix, google, Amazon like the plague. Also YouTube. I’m distressed NC’rs post link to YouTube. It’s poison. Use VPN when you visit web pages

        Reply
  3. Isotope_C14

    What will climate feel like in 60 years? Fitzlab

    I’ll take Venus for 1000 Alex.

    Seems that this also works on N. America only, sadly.

    I guess the makers of the App don’t have a solid understanding of bacterial emissions in the permafrost…

    Reply
      1. Isotope_C14

        Seems like the Guy McPherson prediction is on course.

        Its good that we will be gone, but I feel deep sadness for all the animals we will/are going to take down with us.

        Perhaps DNA based life always destroys itself in the end, and we aren’t an abberation, but an inevitable end point.

        Reply
        1. Jeremy Grimm

          What is there about this climate app that supports your jump to concluding Guy McPherson’s predictions are on course?
          Here is the climate on Venus:
          “The average temperature on Venus is 864 degrees Fahrenheit (462 degrees Celsius).”
          “Venus has an extremely dense atmosphere composed of 96.5% carbon dioxide, 3.5% nitrogen, and traces of other gases, most notably sulfur dioxide. The mass of its atmosphere is 93 times that of Earth’s, whereas the pressure at its surface is about 92 times that at Earth’s—a pressure equivalent to that at a depth of nearly 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) under Earth’s oceans.”

          Instead of Guy McPherson I think I’ll stick with Hansen and James White. The worst case predictions for Earth’s climate suggest the Earth’s climate might jump back in time to match the climate it had some tens of millions of years ago. That will be devastating but it isn’t Venus.

          Reply
          1. Isotope_C14

            Just because the atmosphere might not be 96% CO2, the temperature is entirely possible.

            The CH4 alone is 100X potent a greenhouse gas over CO2. We also have vast amounts of NOx compounds from fertilizer.

            What happens when all the forests burn and the soot falls out of the air? How much CO2 is that? How much CO2 is tied up in soil? What happens when Antarctica has no ice? (Note, none of us will be alive to see that…)

            “Instead of Guy McPherson I think I’ll stick with Hansen and James White.”

            You’re welcome to “believe” whatever you want. The fact is NO ONE is going to stop producing GHG’s – The politicians won’t, the capitalists won’t, and we are all screwed. Every year gets hotter, the fires get worse, the hurricanes worse. When the hemispheric A/C is turned off this, or next summer, we are essentially doomed agriculturally. I wonder if the rich will try and eat their money?

            I bet if you were drinking a beer with your favorite climatologists, that they might tell you the truth. They know, even Jimmy Dore is saying it out loud, and as he says “he’s just a family blog nightclub comedian”.

            Reply
            1. ChristopherJ

              Thank you Isotope. Can’t eat hope either. Yes, abrupt change in weather is going to destroy our ability to grow food at scale. When the trucks no longer bring food, how long do you think you are going to last?

              I tell lovey not to expect more than 2 years

              Reply
            2. Aumua

              For what it’s worth, I am a grad student in Atmospheric Science, and AFAIK (I’m no expert, not yet anyway) the consensus among climate scientists is that while things are looking grim, they are not near the level of doomsaying that the likes of McPherson loves to toss around. A runaway acceleration is within the realm of possibilities, but it would take some really extraordinary set of circumstances to bring that about. Prophets of doom who claim we’ll all be dead within 30 years (or 2!) do not impress me.

              Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      That turtle looks like it is using some sort of dazzle pattern to confuse a predator as to just what exactly what it is looking at and where the edges are of it. Nice foto still.

      Reply
  4. zagonostra

    >‘Facilitating Saudi Patriarchy:’ Apple and Google Blasted for Carrying App Where Saudi Men Track Wives

    But apps that track political dissension, well those are ok…

    Reply
  5. Wukchumni

    Storm wreaks havoc in Northern California, while Southland preps for days of wet weather Los Angeles Times
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Reading various reports of rivers & creeks in NoCal that are/will be flooding, the ‘Valentines Day Mass Occur’, for the atmospheric river has all day to unleash it’s fury, and then another storm system moves in with liquid reinforcements, hardly skipping a beat.

    Reply
  6. PlutoniumKun

    We are all peasants now: The student-loan crisis is destroying the middle class Condemned to DEBT

    I think the word they were looking for isn’t ‘peasants’. Its ‘serfs’.

    Reply
    1. Chris Cosmos

      Yes, exactly. We are moving into a neo-feudal society which is preferable to the totalitarian state, in my view. Instead we have the State basically enforcing this movement. But feudalism offers us opportunities to form alliances with our fellows for common defense against predators much the same as medieval cities achieved independence within the structure of feudalism. We need to stop complaining and take steps to adjust to evolving conditions instead of imagining we can bring back some kind of egalitarian mind-set.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        >We are moving into a neo-feudal society which is preferable to the totalitarian state, in my view.

        Always see the bright side of everything, don’t you? :D

        Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The student-loan crisis is not alone in destroying the middle class.

      To only mention it, like that title, seems to imply it is more special among other crises.

      Reply
    1. Plenue

      I don’t think this actually says much about the validity of Wittgenstein’s ideas, since Google Translate, like all computerized translation services, is effing abysmal. It’s pretty okay for Spanish and maybe French, but it’s funny that they show a picture of German being translated because it’s mediocre at best for that language. Things only get worse the further East you go. Russian doesn’t fare well at all and the program is effectively worthless by the time you hit China and Japan.

      Reply
  7. PlutoniumKun

    Google Will Spend $13 Billion On US Real Estate In 2019 CNBC

    This seems to have been their policy for a while – unusually, Google have either bought/and or built themselves their office space and even sometimes apartments for their staff in Europe. Very few companies do that these days. I suspect it comes down to having more cash on hand than they know what to do with, so it does make sense.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      They have bought a lot of real estate in NYC, but having been subject to the conversations of several Google employees over the last months that has not included housing. Well not at least for any of the relocated employees I have ease dropped on.

      Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    “California to scale back $77 billion high-speed rail project: governor”

    From the State that brought you CalPERS. Obviously Governor Newsom has never heard of the Sunk Cost Fallacy. If he had he would have killed this project on entry to his office. If the guy honestly thinks that he would get the thing finished on this side of $100 billion then he must be dreamin’. Maybe they should have handled construction like they did with the First Transcontinental Railroad back in the 1860s. One mob building south from San Francisco and another building north from LA. Even if the damn thing got built have they taken into account the cost of maintaining this line if it was ever completed? I’m thinking that the money would be better spent on climate-proofing the State before the real fun begins.

    Reply
    1. Marlin

      Do you know, why it is so difficult to build this and maintain it?

      For comparison: The ICE track from Munich to Berlin of similar length and through very difficult terrain cost in the order of O(10) billion Euro.

      Reply
      1. WobblyTelomeres

        In the 80s, my employer started buying farmland like crazy, largely all overworked hardpan cotton fields, west of town. Didn’t make much sense at the time. A few months later, the state announced an interstate spur running right through his newly purchased land. I heard that he sold out at an enormous profit and opened a bank. True story.

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          A little real estate version of ‘insider trading’ or ‘front-running’, it sounds like?

          Soaking the state is one of the oldest tricks in the book to get rich if you’re an aspiring oligarch.

          Getting the state to give you assets on the cheap (or free) aka primitive accumulation, is another one.

          Reply
    2. jrs

      and yet we’re all supposed to jump on high speed rail with the Green New Deal. Hmm, the optics of that are absolutely HORRIBLE at this point.

      Mind you I would support many Green New Deal projects and push for them. Just the optics of high speed rail given that it failed so spectacularly in a huge, highly populated, blue, and prosperous (relatively but lots of inequality of course) state, it’s not good ..

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        When I was younger, I tended to think, ‘why not?’

        Everything was possible, at the speed of light.

        Now that I am older, with many mistakes made or received (experienced), I am more conservative (in estimating project completions or daytrading outcomes, for example).

        Reply
      2. Amfortas the hippie

        trains are efficient. much more green than jets. this HSR is to replace all the cross country and commuter flights.(i would selfishly welcome this, since i live in flyoverland, and those jets are often the only human noise i can hear)
        i reckon, given the recent track record of california dems, that this is a post-officing op.
        “see, we can’t do it”…no matter that everywhere else seems to have managed(second hand from family and friends who go to europe). it would necessitate taxes…and Public Works(!)…or MMT…in which case the jig is up, and the veil(OMG! The DEBT!) is hopelessly marred.
        kuntsler has been on about all the rail just rusting in the sun for a long time.

        Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think this offers a good lesson when we propose infrastructure projects.

      And that is, it will need to be withh some assurance that nothing like this (where the rich or the connected get richer, and we are stuck with non-productive outcomes) will happen, when we suggest this, that or nationwide green infrastructure projects, without sounding inexperienced (with human nature).

      Reply
  9. Summer

    “I really don’t think we have to worry about this…”

    Exactly. Rentiers are relentless.

    And people still think the TINA mindset is one that can be negotiated with.

    TINA means “There Is No Alternative.”

    That is a clear statement of a non-negotiable position.

    TINA can only be defeated, not negotiated with.

    Reply
  10. Another Scott

    Re: Google and Office Space
    Where are the environmentalists on this? Data is one of the main growth areas for energy consumption, and the mega data centers owned by Google and Facebook are a big component of it. Stopping the construction of these facilities will reduce energy demand (as well as the environmental impact of construction). They will likely enter into a PPA with a new wind farm for the output, claiming that it is green, but does anyone honestly believe that a data center powered by wind energy benefits the plant as much as simply not building the data center in the first place?

    Reply
  11. Brooklin Bridge

    There was a link yesterday followed by a line from Yves which went, “I’d rather a ban on IoT….” I don’t remember how, but I came accross this link of an article by Forbes: How IoT Innovators Can Transform The Insurance Industry

    Oh joy; in addition to intentional obsolescence which Yves mentioned, what a plan. The poor can go screw themselves since it will always be harder for them to be in compliance with the endless (and endlessly new) insurance requirements that are based on everything in your house (soon enough down to a pencil or paper clip no doubt) sniffing out every damn detail that goes on in your life. I can just hear some well bred a-hole – at half a million per year salary- opine on the basic fairness and “progress” of such technological advances (omitting of course the context: in a social, economic and political environment that has gone totally criminogenic – that is, insanely, pathologically extractive).

    And they say the Chinese with their socio-political report cards on each and every human in their pen are intrusive.

    Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “Famed WW2 Aircraft Carrier Torpedoed in 1942 Found Miles Deep in Pacific Ocean”

    Good to see that they finally found the USS Hornet. After the attack on Pearl Harbor the US Navy only had six aircraft carriers, with only three of them in the Pacific, to hold back the entire Japanese Imperial Fleet. This was in an era when ships carried the names of their predecessors and not some President’s name for political bonus points. In fact, the Hornet was the seventh to carry that name with a pedigree stretching back to 1775. There is some good footage on YouTube of this ship, now and then, at-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rneURk0RTtE

    Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Hash House Harriers (a drinking club with a running problem) hold a Betty Ford Rehab Hash in Palm Springs, and everybody gets pretty wasted in homage to the former first lady.

            Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      I found that article fascinating as well — something about deep-sea shipwrecks is fascinating, and the Solomons are about the deepest seas anywhere. But the “critical role at Midway” is a bit of euphemism to cover up an embarrassing failure. The Hornet never made contact with the enemy at Midway; the four Japanese carriers were sunk by aviators from the Enterprise and Yorktown.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        In that battle not much was going right for the Americans and defeat was on the cards after multiple failed attacks. And then it happened. An attack by American torpedo-bombers was massacred by the Japanese but in doing so, the Japanese fighters all went down to the deck to kill them off. Just then, the American dive-bombers finally found the Japanese fleet at the limits to their fuel range and had a clear attack on those carriers and proceeded to turn them to toast. As Wellington said about the battle of Waterloo, it was a near run thing. America was lucky too in having Admiral Ray Spruance commanding the fleet who because of his decisions turned the whole Pacific War around in that battle.

        Reply
    1. milesc

      The stablecoin proposition seems like a no-brainer for the issuer.

      The issuer gets to earn interest on the deposits, for as long as each stablecoin remains outstanding, which could be decades or indeed forever.

      Some coins will invariably be lost or otherwise become unspendable (purposefully blacklisted/disabled for breaches of Ts and Cs, or failure of a holder to undergo a random KYC check, for example), at which point the holder has nothing and the collateral belongs to the issuer; all the risk is with the stablecoin holder.

      If the stablecoin is a success, the issuer can create (or receive rent from) businesses that develop around it.

      There are already USD-based stablecoins widely traded (USDC, for example).

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        JPM seems late to the game of numismatricks, and the idea that other coins of the internet realm could convince people to part with their money, must’ve been particularly galling to them being on the outside looking in.

        Reply
    2. crittermom

      With obvious disregard for the environment, as well: (my emphasis)

      “Clients will be issued the coins after depositing dollars at the bank; after using the tokens for a payment or security purchase on the blockchain, the bank destroys the coins and gives clients back a commensurate number of dollars.”

      We’re not talking chump change. This sounds like a huge addition to their carbon footprint:

      “The lender moves more than $6 trillion around the world every day for corporations in its massive wholesale payments business.”

      This program is only for large corporations & it states that each coin is worth $1 US.

      Of course, this is only a test run, involving a ‘tiny fraction’ to begin with.
      Uh, huh.

      But hey, why should we care, since it’ll enable them to get their money hours faster? /sarc

      Reply
  13. jfleni

    RE: Google Will Spend $13 Billion On US Real Estate In 2019.

    They need somewhere to put all their yuppie-nerds, nutty or not!

    Reply
  14. Chris Cosmos

    I’ve been through so many “threats” to attack Iran made by the National Security State over the years but it’s never come about. There has been, of course, low level covert operations near the border for some time, but nothing resembling war or true preparation for war. Israel perennially threatens Iran but I don’t know if that’s posturing for domestic reasons or whatever. I just don’t see it happening.

    The oligarchy of the Empire (I include European vassals and Israel) uses low-risk wars as a means to keep their respective militaries in business and the populations of the Empire at least slightly worried about “security.” In other words wars are largely used for Orwellian purposes particularly in the USA. Note that the military is, by far, the most popular institution in the USA and literally worshiped by large numbers of people who get moist eyes (yes, these people exist) when the flag is raised and, as I saw on a local TV program, the military preserves our freedom and so on something that is objectively an utter lie–but the people tend to believe this no matter the evidence.

    The oligarchy uses war to keep the people in thrall and impoverished and the people fall for the con as all public institutions back up the worship of the military. No matter how many failures and defeats accrue it makes no difference in the worship. On the plus side this means that major wars can be avoided. Periodically major threats are made against substantial enemies like Iran, Russia, China simply to keep up tensions and NOT to actually have a war with these countries. The last thing the corporate elite want is a major destabilization of the cash-cow of the current system that keeps money steadily flowing towards the Imperial Oligarchs. Beside building expensive personal armies and underground palaces is too expensive and their trophy wives and mistresses prefer yachting.

    So, once again, color me skeptical about attacking Iran. One caveat–should the US population and that of its European vassals become rebellious then all bets are off–but we’re nowhere near that at this time.

    Reply
  15. pjay

    Re ‘Ilhan Omar Smacks Down Elliott Abrams In Front Of Everybody’

    It is interesting to compare the transgressions of — and reactions to — AOC vs. Omar. Maybe it’s just me. But the former strike me as mainly as the usual political theater (even though I like AOC’s establishment tweaking). Omar’s actions strike me as much more threatening. Despite her forced apology the other day, watching her testimony against Abrams (and that is what it really was – testimony on behalf of countless victims) reminded me of Schumer’s “six ways from Sunday” quote.

    Reply
    1. Eureka Springs

      She also seemed to be standing up for congress, the institution. Pardon or no, he should never be near public service, much less trusted by congress on anything. She will find it’s interesting and difficult to have more loyalty towards others who have much less loyalty to themselves.

      Reply
  16. David Carl Grimes

    Wall Street abetted the housing boom. Then, they benefitted from the housing bust. What’s surprising is that after purchasing thousands of homes, these companies are still losing money. No economies of scale. But, on paper, the homes have appreciated a great deal.

    I wish home prices had been allowed to drift down and mortgages had been written down to a level that reflects their true market value. Housing would have become a lot more affordable and there would probably be fewer homeless on the streets.

    Wall Street should reward Obama, Geithner, and Eric Holder with billionaire status after all these guys have done for them.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/02/single-family-landlords-wall-street/582394/

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      You don’t pay the hired help the big money. You don’t have to — easy enough to satisfy them with scraps, and keeps the costs down while discouraging over-reaching by minions.

      Reply
  17. The Rev Kev

    “As Rudy Giuliani Calls for Regime Change in Iran, Benjamin Netanyahu Raises the Specter of “War””

    Oh I can see it now. On Rudy Giuliani’s advice, Trump declares Maryam Rajavi – head of MEK – to be the President of Iran and any seized Iranian assets belong to them. Well, her actually because of the way this mob is set up. Do a sort of Venezuela. Yeah, that should do it. It does not matter that this organization is run like a cult and is hated with a passion by the Iranians as it fought on the Iraq side during the war between the two nations. It also has killed thousands of Iranians and reading about them at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Mujahedin_of_Iran tells you all you need to know about them. This mob was on terrorist organization’s list for years because of their activity and they have even killed Americans in the past but I guess with Rudy Giuliani, bygones should be bygones.
    As for Netanyahu, he can call for all the war that he wants but everybody knows that he is campaigning for election and this sort of stuff goes down well with the Settlers. Saying that Israel and the Arab states are side by side on this issues is a distortion of the truth though. Apart from the fact that Israel would let other nations fight for them – which should go down well on Arab Street – those very same nations know that if they were stupid enough to start something, then they could kiss goodbye to all their oil installations and de-salination plants. Europe hasn’t even sent their top people to this conference so it will be loud on proclamations but short on results.

    Reply
  18. Tinky

    re: Schneier and blockchain

    Undoubtedly a very good and though-provoking article. However, I would suggest that he undermines his credibility with both this:

    “Take banking, for example. Financial institutions, merchants, and individuals are all concerned with their reputations, which prevents theft and fraud.”

    and then this:

    “Honestly, cryptocurrencies are useless. They’re only used by speculators looking for quick riches, people who don’t like government-backed currencies, and criminals who want a black-market way to exchange money.”

    Reply
  19. John Beech

    Public ownership as a form of socialism, eh? Seen every day in the form of unrepaired potholes. While I hate the toll road I take to avoid surface roads, at least it’s maintained in good repair.

    Reminds me of a story regarding the Mustang Ranch in NV. Forfeited to fulfill unpaid taxes, they actually planned to run it, but weren’t allowed to take over the business license. Nevertheless, it makes me wonder, would they have screwed up selling whiskey and pussy, or made a go of it?

    My point is successful businesses often go under when the one who created it passes away because disinterested heirs take over. So what makes anybody believe socialism in America would be any different to how it’s worked elsewhere? Otherwise, Venezuela is but the latest example of a worker’s paradise going/gone to pot(hole). Prove me wrong!

    Note; the only successful example I know of, and it’s not exactly socialism but I’ll accept a win for their side under wherever guise it may exist is . . . Southwest Airlines. Employee owned and making quite a go of it. What makes it different? I know of another example where the founder sold the company to the employees and their ownership failed miserably resulting in the whole thing going bust just a few years later. I’m not privy to the details in either instance but surely this is worth studying.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      >Prove me wrong!

      Find me a pothole in France. Or Germany. Or Switzerland. Are you really serious?

      PS: Southwest has sucked the big one lately, haven’t your followed the news? That doesn’t disprove “socialism”, btw, because data is not the plural of anecdote. Does imply you are a bit behind the news, though.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        One of my friends just vacationed in southern France. He’s a former city planner, now in California. He couldn’t say enough about how terrific the roads were. He also said that if right wingers were sent to conferences in Europe and (just incidentally) saw the quality of the infrastructure, how well people were dressed, etc., they’d find it a lot harder to attack their bigger government model. They’d know they were lying to say Europe was a mess.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          I can confirm that in nearly every part of France I’ve been in, the local infrastructure is superb – not just roads, things like parks, libraries, tourism centres, local sports facilities, etc. Its not just a sign of money being spent, there is also a care and attention you rarely see elsewhere – such as extremely well designed signage and public spaces in towns. You can see this even in distinctly poorer European countries such as Spain and Portugal.

          Mostly I think this comes down to a very good (if, for outsiders, excessively bureaucratic and convoluted) regional and local government system with a wide range of funding sources (both direct taxes and top down subsidies). The overlapping local systems prevents the sort of competition you see in the US where wealthier areas can drain the tax base of poorer towns or regions.

          For all its faults, so many parts of France, including quite poor areas such as around the Massif Central or the south-west seem to have an enviable quality of life, even for people on low incomes. The current deep discontent I suspect is related more to people sensing the good things slipping away from them, rather than an objective sense of being downtrodden.

          Its an interesting topic in its own right – perhaps David could comment on this sometime, he seems well informed about how the French system works.

          Reply
          1. witters

            I’m sure David would agree with this: “The current deep discontent I suspect is related more to people sensing the good things slipping away from them, rather than an objective sense of being downtrodden.” Nothing “objective” here! Just a subjective sense of “good things slipping away…”

            Reply
          2. Cal2

            The high speed TGV trains often however, lack hot water, toilet paper and many of the bathroom door locks do not function. There has never been a death caused by these 200 MPH trains that have run for decades.

            In my experience, French machinery is delicate, complicated and jettisons common sense designs.

            Reply
    2. allan

      “Southwest Airlines. Employee owned”

      Southwest is not employee owned. It is publicly traded (LUV).
      It does have what (by the current horrible standards of US corporate behavior)
      a pretty good profit sharing plan (sort of like Kodak in the good old days).
      Although the numerous employees of contractors probably don’t qualify.

      Reply
    3. heresy101

      Try shopping at WinCo grocery stores. Founded by hippies in the 70’s and expanded by one of the owners into a multi-state shopping bonanza. The owner gave 80% of ownership to the workers unlike Bill Gates et al. He still makes a bundle, but the workers control the company.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Yes, they’re good stores. Unfortunately the one in my town is clear at the other end, and I’d rather shop at the Co-op, which is our corner store. We also have Bi-Mart, a worker-owned regional chain of general stores, at least partly discount. I shop there a lot, mostly for hardware.

        Reply
    4. Grant

      “Prove me wrong!”

      I am guessing nothing anyone says to you will change your mind, but who knows.

      “My point is successful businesses often go under when the one who created it passes away because disinterested heirs take over. So what makes anybody believe socialism in America would be any different to how it’s worked elsewhere?”

      What does this even mean? Cuba, for example, is far from a perfect society, but who in their right mind would compare Cuba to a developed country like the US? If you compare Cuba to other developing and underdeveloped counties, how can you say that it has “failed”? It certainly stands up well in many respects; healthcare, education, agroecololgical systems, its laudable foreign policy. It has its problems, but many of its problems it shares with other developing and underdeveloped countries, most of which aren’t socialist in any way, and most of those countries haven’t been on the receiving end of extreme US hostility either.

      Or take China. Angus Maddison has data that shows that the geographical area we call China was responsible for about a quarter of worldwide GDP in the early 19th century. It declined to about 6% as of 1949, thanks to British colonialism, as well as Japanese and western imperialism. As of 1949, average life expectancy, according to the World Bank, was 37 years. Can anyone deny it has made huge advancements since 1949? There were undeniable advances during Mao’s time too (1949 to 1976). Yes, there were bad things, but there were major advancements as well. And don’t tell me about the market reforms either, as if capitalism itself led China here. All the land, rivers and lakes are still publicly owned. There are still capital and price controls, state owned enterprises are still central to their economic system (as are township village enterprises). I don’t know what your definition of socialism is, but China would almost certainly not qualify as a capitalist system, and there is something called market socialism anyway.

      When I think of the Cold War, the logic I hear from the right becomes even more difficult. Beyond the fact that (as LS Stavrianos showed in his classic Global Rift) Eastern Europe was much poorer than Western Europe going back centuries, the cold war was not a fight between free market capitalism and communism. The countries in the west were social democratic systems, not free market economies. The modern European welfare state was created in the post-WWII period, Nordic social democracy grew in this period, the NHS systems in the UK were created in that period. The US was trending in the direction of social democracy then too. If you favor free markets, you really didn’t have a dog in the fight. Things have clearly gotten worse as we have increasingly moved in the direction of what is called “free market”.

      Single payer systems are more efficient than our privatized train wreck of a system. Public utilities generally charge less, and have better records in regards to customer service than private utilities. The overhead in the Social Security Administration is a fraction of what it is in lauded privatized systems like Chile’s. We have public police and fire departments, public libraries, the publicly owned and well run internet system in Chattanooga and countless other communities in the country, we have the Bank of North Dakota, worker run and owned enterprises, etc. Most of our technologies here in the US come out of the state sector. NASA, the military, land grant universities, publicly funded R & D. The public parts of our healthcare system (Medicaid, Medicare and the VA system) are all more popular and efficient than private health insurance in the US. A recent Rand study showed that the care in VA facilities often exceeds what veterans get from private facilities, and that is with thousands of open positions at the VA that the government refuses to fill. How exactly has socialism failed? It has, at worst, a mixed record, similar to capitalism. And it is capitalism leading us to environmental collapse, not socialism. So, if you can explain how we can hold on to the capitalist system and deal with the environmental crisis, I am all ears.

      Reply
    5. Grant

      By the way, please explain to me how “socialism” has failed Venezuela. Flesh the argument out, bring in some data and some logic. I am interested in hearing a logical argument that has a solid factual backing. I know the situation in Venezuela pretty well, so I am interested in hearing your argument.

      Reply
  20. Carolinian

    Lobelog puts forth the usual view that US/Israeli relations must be treated with great nuance even as grotesque caricatures of other countries–Russia, Syria, Iran, Venezuela–are freely trafficked by our establishment solons. Perhaps Omar was being a bit flip, but in an environment where a cowboy mentality prevails in our relations with all other countries then insisting on nuance when it comes to one in particular seems more than a tad hypocritical. Indeed advocates for that one particular country are often the ones most strongly egging on the cowboy treatment when it comes to the rest. A commonsense expression says that you can’t “have your cake and eat it too,” but there are always some who will certainly try….

    Meanwhile Phil Weiss addresses the idea that Christian Zionists are a leading factor in our ME policy.

    https://mondoweiss.net/2019/02/israel-christians-republicans/

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      I commented on that one on the site; I was unduly harsh because he and I are really on the same side. But the “anti-Semitic trope” trope is becoming seriously offensive. They’re trying to censor perfectly normal English speech on the pretense of being oh, so sensitive. In reality, they’re making up BS in support of Israel. I though Plitnick was much too mealy-mouthed about it.

      I’m sorry Omar apologized; there was nothing anti-Semitic about her comment. The real offense was that she accused her colleagues of being venal. There’s nothing new about that – everybody knows, and AIPAC brags about it; but it was indiscreet for a newbie.

      Reply
  21. Wukchumni

    And, among all offending nationalities, Chinese tourists have frequently been named the world’s worst.

    While this skewed impression has been caused by just a few tourists, it is becoming a common perception due to the dramatic increase in Chinese tourist numbers.

    I’ll take any Chinese tourist over a gaggle of Israeli tourists-in my opinion, the worst representatives of any country, when overseas, and that includes the ugly American tourist perhaps screaming at the top of her lungs in a Nat West bank in London, peeved that it isn’t the same as her bank in Chillicothe Ohio.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      Anti-Semite!!! Anti-Anti-Anti Semite!!!!! (I realized that two Anti’s cancelled out, thus the third) Holocaust Denier!!

      …can I get some some of sweet AIPAC Benjamins now? Please?

      Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      I’ve seen plenty of Chinese tourists but I’ve rarely seen them misbehaving. At worst they look a little at sea, which is understandable given how new foreign tourism is for them. I have bad heard stories though – mostly in Asia – Thai people are usually very tolerant but I’ve seen Thais reduced to speechless rage at the mention of Chinese tourists. Similarly in Vietnam. I suspect that some Chinese feel that they can behave badly in another Asian country (especially among people they feel they can look down on) than in the West.

      Israeli tourists have a terrible reputation – I was astonished many years ago the first time I backpacked in Asia and witnessed the abusive manner some Israelis would treat staff in hostels or restaurants. I talked to a few Israeli travellers – I quickly realised that those Israelis who didn’t want to be associated with that behaviour usually travelled alone – and they said it was related to youngsters finishing their military service and getting the aggression out of their system. But I think its also fair to say there is a cultural thing in Israel of not really making politeness a virtue. Much the same with Russians – they can be very blunt and this can come across as aggressive, even when they don’t really mean badly.

      Most countries have a few bad examples – I’ve seen enough horrible behaviour by Irish travelling abroad not to feel smug about this – but I don’t think Americans are anywhere near the worst. I think Americans just struggle more to adapt to things outside their comfort zone. I’ve a cousin who ran a small upmarket guesthouse with his wife and they eventually packed it in despite its huge success – mostly they said, because of American tourists. Its not that they were particularly rude or unpleasant, just that they seemed oblivious to how often their requests were unreasonable – such as knocking on my cousins bedroom door at 3am asking for hairdryers, that type of thing. It wore them down after a while.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A while back, when one-child policy was still in effect, boys in China tended to be favored over girls (until marriage age, I suppose…then, fewer eligible brides could only make them more precious, I would think).

        Would that make male Chinese tourists behave differently than female Chinese tourists?

        Another distinguishing fact is that the wealth in China today. We hear more stories of rich, young Chinese (tourists or residents) with expensive race cars. Those automobiles are usually not driven humbly, one would think.

        Reply
      2. Carolinian

        It’s been a long time since I last traveled to Europe but one should mention the flip side of this which is host treatment of their guests. The English and continentals seemed downright hostile at times and rarely friendly. By contrast the Irish seemed to love Americans–perhaps because so many of their relatives are over here.

        I suspect most Americans tend to be friendly to foreigners–or at least Europeans–if only out of curiosity. When it comes to the rest of the world we don’t get out much.

        Reply
      3. Plenue

        The Israeli tourists being atrocious doesn’t surprise me. Their entire country is a racist ethnostate the preaches its citizens are special. I wonder what white South African tourists were like, back in the days of Apartheid.

        The Chinese being so bad is interesting. You would think stereotypical ideas of Confucian ideals would mean they’d be well behaved and care about how they appear to others. My first thought would be maybe it’s because they’re outside the panopticon hellscape that is China, and the behavior of Chinese tourists is abnormal to how they usually behave. But then I’ve heard Chinese are often assholes within China as well, so I have no idea.

        Reply
          1. Plenue

            Frankly I’m fine if you feel that way. Israel is literally a racist, supremacist state. Most of the people who aren’t like that have given up and left the country.

            Reply
  22. Big River Bandido

    Thank you for the Caitlin Johnstone link; it’s always a pleasure to watch someone like Eliot Abrahs squirm, and always a laugh (albeit tinged with horror) to see the lengths that The Blob (Democrat and Republican alike) will go to protect one of its own. Could Omar be trying to send a signal?

    I especially appreciate Johnstone’s take on the exercise of power and political attack:

    The only reason powerful people get away with doing very shitty things is because the majority allows them to. The majority only allows them to because they’ve been propagandized to. The weakest link in this chain is the propaganda. Attack there.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The US is not Canada and this is not 1968. The 1960s in the US was the high water mark of social programs.

      The health care industry has long been the biggest lobbyists in DC. Obamacare was written by a health care lobbyist. The US has more specifically a health insurance industry which no one is willing to take out and shoot, drug companies that no one is even willing to stop letting pump up their margins by putting their big margin drugs on TV (drug companies now spend more on marketing than R&D, and even that # is inflated, since over 85% of “new drug applications” are mere minor reformulations of existing drugs to extend their patent life) and hospitals owned by highly influential private equity funds.

      You are greatly underestimating the degree of opposition.

      And please don’t tell me public opinion matters. Strengthening Social Security, even if that were to mean raising taxes, has for decades polled at a bare minimum of 60%, usually more like 70%. Yet Social Security keeps being reduced by overt and stealth cuts like inflation adjustments designed not to keep up with inflation. It will take more than voters having a preference for this to get done.

      Reply
      1. Mike Smith

        Caitlin Johnstone is an activist – not NC’s style. I lived in DC in the 60’s. Civil rights, social legislation, end to Vietnam war all brought about by activists. These courageous young women deserve everybody’s support.

        Reply
      2. Big River Bandido

        Yves, were you responding to my comment or did your comment get misplaced? I’m having a hard time drawing the connection…

        Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Much as I’d love to see air travel reduced, I’m a bit sad to see it die – its an amazing piece of engineering.

      Ultimately, this probably reflects wider concerns about the Middle East – the A380 was mostly aimed at airlines using the Gulf States as giant hubs between Asia, Europe and the Americas. For all their high profile, the big Gulf State airline companies seem to be consolidating rather than pushing for yet more endless expansion. I’ve noticed that the days when the flights they were offering were much cheaper than alternatives are long gone.

      Reply
  23. Adam1

    Equifax Mystery – another false flag?
    “One former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the Equifax investigation…
    “…In particular, the credit information can be used to identify people in key positions who have significant financial problems and could be compromised by bribes or high-paying jobs, the former official said. Financial distress is one of the most common reasons people commit espionage.”
    Unless Equifax hasn’t fully fested up to what was stolen, I can’t find any reporting that lists actual credit reporting data as being stolen. Yes, lots of personal info was stolen and card numbers stolen, but I can’t find any listing of the credit data which would include total debts, credit utilization and the like which is what is being alluded to in the above quote. But I also find it interesting that, “The buyer was probably a proxy for the Russian or Chinese government.”

    Reply
  24. Matthew G. Saroff

    The new EU rules on copyright are a complete clusterf%$#, and they are not going to accomplish their stated goals.

    Reply
  25. JTMcPhee

    In banking news, I learn that my “local bank” (actually pretty big regional bank), Suntrust, is to have a “merger of equals” with BB&T, another pretty big regional bank. Their “service areas” overlap, here in the Southeast. The cut-and-paste on-line sales pitch for this “deal” consists of repetitions, under various heads, of “synergies to take advantage of disruptions” and such. We depositors and card carriers are not supposed to worry our little heads over what it all will mean. Because of course the visible fronts of the coalescing entities will “remain the same until some time later,” when the new, improved, disruptive on-line apps will roll out, and all the decimation of the banks’ ranch offices will be done “late in 2019.”

    I’ve gotten used to the idiosyncrasies of the existing Suntrust on-line banking, including occasional unexplained outages and minor discrepancies (always in the bank’s favor), and have taken in stride a recent date breach (“no significant personal data was (sic) released”). I know this all is “inevitable,” of course, and this MarketWatch piece headlining the Suntrust-BB&T “deal” preps us mopes for the “inevitable” incoming wave of further mergers and consolidations in retail banking: “SunTrust and BB&T are merging — here’s what customers need to know,” https://www.marketwatch.com/amp/story/guid/A1E9F39C-2BE1-11E9-B3AC-56DE9177C6F8 What “customers” need to know is that the opportunities to be screwed by the Banksters and busily advancing, along with crapification.

    And even the credit union that actually still holds and services my mortgage has done its own bit of consolidation with “business interests.”

    Postal banking, anyone?

    So much stuff that needs fixing, from the mope’s perspective — and so little energy and effective organization to “make it so…” At least we can still gather here and share our observations on all the stuff that is going pear-shaped and degrading…

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      BB&T used to be run by, perhaps still is, a hard core Randian. You would go to their video drive thru and Fox News would play while you were waiting.

      I have experience with both companies and can’t say I cared for either.

      Reply
  26. RopeADope

    It looks like Tom Malinowski was the only one from WSWS’s MILO House Rep list that voted against the Buck Amendment to Khanna’s Yemen bill. Interestingly enough, Tom is the only winning MILO that Obama had endorsed in his first round in August.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      While I’m thrilled that Amazon ‘doesn’t bluff’ bwahahahahaha, and I’m pretty damn sure that Cuomo is spitting nails at all the money he just saw slip through his fingers. I’m also very very sure that NYC will get punished by him for it. The MTA and public transportation will see that money when hell freezes over.

      My biggest question from this is how they had to work and how much they had to pay for Amazon to get that ‘seventy percent of NYers’ even going upstate. Thirty I would buy, seventy no family blog way.

      Reply
  27. GF

    Related to Birdwatching

    Tomorrow is the start of the annual Great Backyard Bird Count.
    This Presidents Day weekend is the annual Great Backyard Bird Count sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This is your chance to participate as a “citizen scientist” — in the comfort of your home, in your yard, or out in the field. In 2018, a total of 180,716 checklists were submitted, 6,459 different species were observed, and a total of 28,908,016 individual birds were counted. In 2018, the top 10 most frequently reported species, based on how many checklists included these species, were the following: 1) northern cardinal, 2) dark-eyed junco, 3) mourning dove, 4) American crow, 5) blue jay, 6) downy woodpecker, 7) house finch, 8) black-capped chickadee, 9) house sparrow and 10) European starling.

    The web page to register: gbbc.birdcount.org

    Reply
  28. Tomonthebeach

    China and India leading the way in Greening.

    That is the best evidence to date that trees will not free countries from deteriorating air pollution, as these two huge countries are basket cases. Quick, run into the woods if you cannot breathe!

    Reply
  29. lordkoos

    Hope you feel better soon Yves. If it’s the same bug that my wife and I have been fighting for a week, it’s a real nasty one that takes some time before going away.

    Reply
  30. juliania

    Thanks for the greener earth news. Just in time for spring planting! I had to zoom on the map – the North Island of New Zealand is in a sorry state, though. Brown as.

    It’s inspiring though – as much greenery gained as South American forests. A lot due to multi-cropping, but still. All us little people – keep on keeping on!

    Reply

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