Links 2/18/19

Pope asks for prayers for sex abuse summit at Vatican Associated Press

Behold the giants, the vast new buyout funds of private equity FT

Brian Preston: The activist judge shaking the climate change world Australian Financial Review

The Green New Deal Is Impractical, But ‘Practical’ Solutions Haven’t Worked Either FiveThirtyEight. Reactions to centrist pushback.

The Green New Deal Isn’t Too Expensive. Doing Nothing Is. Washington Monthly

The War On Climate Change Won’t Be Won Quibbling Over The Green New Deal’s Costs HuffPo

When Kodak Accidentally Discovered A-Bomb Testing Popular Mechanics. From 2016; an example of mobilization’s down-side.

The war on plastic will dent oil demand more than anticipated FT


Several Labour MPs about to resign, say party sources BBC

Spanish warship ordered ships to leave British waters near Gibraltar Reuters

Theresa May’s Brexit unity plea shattered by leaked WhatsApp messages The Times

Flybmi’s Collapse Over Brexit Strands Passengers Across Europe Bloomberg

Airbus warns of ‘catastrophic’ no-deal Brexit Politico. Final paragraph: “The company has a backlog of orders for 9,000 aircraft, [Airbus’ Senior Vice President Katherine Bennett] said, which means it would be “many, many years” before U.K. employees would be affected in case the company decides to relocate.”

Britain’s richest man quits the UK: Billionaire Brexiteer Sir James Ratcliffe ‘relocates to Monaco in a bid to save £4bn in tax’ Daily Mail

Seaborne ferry fiasco reflects wider problems in government outsourcing Institute for Government


Cybersecurity Powerhouse Israel Is Ripe for Election Meddling Bloomberg.

Anti-semitism vigilantes are feeding the far-right Jonathon Cook

Sudan’s December Revolution is not an Arab Spring Sudan Tribune


How China Came to Dominate South Sudan’s Oil The Diplomat

China Property ‘Stealth Easing’ Spreads in Boost to Home Prices Bloomberg

China’s January passenger car sales in biggest drop in seven years as worries over economy, spending deepen South China Morning Post

The Chinese Military Speaks to Itself, Revealing Doubts War on the Rocks

Data leak reveals China is tracking almost 2.6m people in Xinjiang FT. “SenseNets’ database was freely accessible on an online server without a login password for half a year.”


US Backs India’s Right to Self-Defence, Drops Customary Call for Restraint The Wire (J-LS).

India Proposes Chinese-Style Internet Censorship NYT

India proposes more than $12 billion of pollution-reducing incentives Reuters

In a land of many rivers, clean water is out of reach National Geographic

EPA blasted for failing to set drinking water limits for ‘forever chemicals’ Science

Trump Transition

1 big thing: Trump’s go-it-alone presidency Axios

Six Historians on Why Trump’s Border Wall Won’t Work Rolling Stone

White House Asked Japan for Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize Nomination New York Magazine. A man’s reach must exceed his grasp, or what’s a military protectorate for?

‘My whole town practically lived there’: From Costa Rica to New Jersey, a pipeline of illegal workers for Trump goes back years WaPo

The Rawlsian Diagnosis of Donald Trump Boston Review

Democrats in Disarray

Donald Harris Slams His Daughter Senator Kamala Harris for Fraudulently Stereotyping Jamaicans and Accusing Her Of Playing Identity Politics Jamaica Global Online. The money quote:

Professor [Donald] Harris has issued a statement to in which he declares:

“My dear departed grandmothers (whose extraordinary legacy I described in a recent essay on this website), as well as my deceased parents, must be turning in their grave right now to see their family’s name, reputation and proud Jamaican identity being connected, in any way, jokingly or not with the fraudulent stereotype of a pot-smoking joy seeker and in the pursuit of identity politics. Speaking for myself and my immediate Jamaican family, we wish to categorically dissociate ourselves from this travesty.”

“Travesty.” (Ground zero for this story. There’s also a lot of interesting information on the history of Jamaica.)

Green New Deal: Some Democrats on the fence Roll Call

Long before City Hall rats, L.A. has struggled with the rise of typhus Los Angeles. One way to look at the Harris campaign is that’s it’s a grab for national power by a local oligarchy. Despite Clinton’s blessing of coastal model as “optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward,” I think that oligarchy’s performance is not without its issues.

Health Care

Health Insurance Coverage Eight Years After the ACA The Commonwealth Fund. “The greatest deterioration in the quality and comprehensiveness of coverage has occurred among people in employer plans.”

How Much Will Americans Sacrifice for Good Health Care? Editorial Board, NYT. Versus “how many” we’re sacrificing today.

I Don’t Give A Sh*t How You Bend The Cost Curve Eschaton. “[Mail] them a card on day one that they can use to go to the damn doctor without paying any money.”

Bodega owners rally for right to sell marijuana when its legalized NY Daily News. I always cherished the dream that marijuana legalization wouldn’t be corporatized…

Imperial Collapse Watch

In Huawei battle, signs of US decline Asia Times

If Elliott Abrams’ Career Is a Disgrace, Then American Foreign Policy Is Disgraceful Hmm Daily

Class Warfare

Finding Home in a Parking Lot City Lab

Small research teams ‘disrupt’ science more radically than large ones Nature

AAAS: Machine learning ‘causing science crisis’ BBC (press release).

Instagram is a disease: Photographer Raghu Rai The Telegraph (India)

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterdays 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. emorej a hong kong

    Seven MPs have resigned from the Labour Party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Brexit and anti-Semitism.

    They are: Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey.

    I have long seen this as inevitable and better than any alternative. A Corbyn government with its majority dependent on Corbyn-haters would be helpless. Better to fight the next (and the next) election with them as opponents.

      1. Clive

        Not quite the same connotations but, rather than passing the popcorn, I viewed the proceedings (unedifying as they were) while partaking of a nice cup of tea and a sit down. I certainly was glad of both by the end of it all. I often found myself wondering if it was perhaps some sort of improvisational theatre. I was tempted to nominate it for an Arts Council grant.

        Then I checked I wasn’t mistakenly tuned into U.K. Comedy Gold or one of those sorts of channels. Perhaps watching Carry On Politicians!Ooh, matron, take them away-yyy!” No. Seriously. Do please take them away.

          1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


            “have a cup o tea and a sit down”

            Gotta be better than John Oliver and his bullsh’t show.

  2. el_tel

    Small research teams disrupting science more: I can certainly believe this based on my own experience in academia. My “disruptive” (and IMHO best) article(s) were as part of a team of 3-4. The larger team articles (6) were consolidations.

    However, pause for thought should be given to what goes on in medicine/health (and fields I published in). Firstly, particularly for clinical trials and other evaluations, the perceived need to recognise the contributions of an often very diverse group of health service researchers (the clinicians, the medical statistician, the health economist, the sociologist, the qualitative researcher etc etc) means large authorship lists may be common in both disruptive and consolidation papers; the authors’ own proposed measure of co-citations might also fail.

    Secondly, journals increasingly require the contribution of every author to be explained in detail, which can “prune out” junior researchers in the interest of achieving the particular journal’s “typical/desirable” number of authors per paper. In clinical medicine the number can be large but in many branches of health services research there has historically been an explicit/implicit rule that you shouldn’t have more than around 6 authors. Such rules – whether written or unwritten, could throw a spanner in the works when it comes to future prediction using this paper.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    Airbus warns of ‘catastrophic’ no-deal Brexit Politico. Final paragraph: “The company has a backlog of orders for 9,000 aircraft, [Airbus’ Senior Vice President Katherine Bennett] said, which means it would be “many, many years” before U.K. employees would be affected in case the company decides to relocate.”

    This is a bit of an odd complaint by Airbus. They are saying it will be a catastrophe and they’ll have to leave but… well, they will still be building wings for years. I’m not sure if the last line was an attempt to stop employees from panicking, or whether they are really just saying that any decisions to move will be long term.

    What it doesn’t mention of course is that Germany and France in particular will be free post-Brexit to offer any incentives they want to attract Airbus to move (or just shift its orders to other factories with the capacity to build wings).

    1. Mirdif

      The odd complaint is due to public relations. They’re trying to make sure no damage comes to the Airbus “brand”. It’s the same for Nissan saying the X-Trail will be manufactured in Japan where the real place is likely to be on the continent, IMO. They’ll announce this at a later date if so because even if tariffs are set to go to zero eventually due to the EU-Japan FTA the cost of transport is likely to be more than manufacturing in the EU using existing plant or perhaps even once the cost of new plant and JIT supply chain is factored in. At the moment announcing Japan as place of manufacturing is better from a PR point of view.

      I’ll predict in a couple of years Honda will announce a new plant on the continent. I’d be very unsurprised if we find they have people working on this now.

      There again, I could be wrong and shipping costs from Japan will be less than establishing capacity and associated supply chain in Europe.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Several Labour MPs about to resign, say party sources BBC

    As many predicted, Labour has split before the Tories.

    So far, seven have gone. My initial thought is that this has been very badly planned and organised by them, it looks like something precipitated it. They don’t seem to have a clear idea of what they represent or whether they are a new party or just a protest against Corbyn. And no Tories have joined them, which is disastrous for dreams of a new ‘centre’ party.

    This is very damaging for Labour and may ensure the Tories are tempted to go for another election after Brexit. But so far it doesn’t look fatal for Corbyn.

    1. Monty

      Good riddance. Each of these MPs should have been deselected back in ’17. They could have run (and lost) under a manifesto they supported, rather than trying to derail one they didnt.

    2. Big River Bandido

      I don’t think it’s really that bad for Labour. Ultimately, once Brexit happens (and however it happens), the political costs of it will be borne by the party in power.

  5. larry

    The BBC source on Brexit is out of date already. The seven have resigned this morning. They will sit as independents. Some of them are Blairites. This will weaken Labour for the time being in virtually every respect.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’m not even sure its true to call them Blairites – the Blairite ‘strategy’ as far as I can see has been to fight internally. Its been suggested in the Guardian that Remainers (many are Blairites of course) are furious with them for the timing – it has sabotaged any chance of out-maneuvering Corbyn over a new referendum (assuming this is in any way practical).

      In their failure to offer a clear manifesto apart from whining about Corbyn they’ve made themselves look like just a bunch of malcontents, not a real split. Its very hard to change an initial impression like that.

      1. Avidremainer

        One of them has just stated on the BBC that she promised her voters that Corbyn would never become Prime Minister after the 2017 election. Treacherous or what?

    2. notabanker

      I don’t get the anti – anti-Semitic angle here. Is this a way to send an anti-muslim message without having to go there? Or am I just missing a bigger issue in British politics?
      Coming off the heals of the US AIPAC manufactured debate it makes me curiouser and curiouser.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        With regard to the anti-Semitism smears, over the week-end in France, its use was intensified against the Gilets Jaunes. Smearing opponents as anti-Semitic seems desperate and the last refuge of the scoundrel, or scoundrels in the case of these infamous seven.

        What links Luciana Berger and Jacob Rees-Mogg? The coal mines, around Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire and further afield in Nottinghamshire, owned by the ancestors of Rees-Mogg’s wife were nationalised by Berger’s grandfather, Manny Shinwell, soon after WW2.

        1. notabanker

          Thank you Colonel.

          So opponents of Neoliberalism are proponents of genocide. Or Russian communists. Or ‘gasp’ maybe both. I suppose every key political crisis needs a Titus Oates.

        2. Otis B Driftwood

          And used now against progressives in the US, of course. The anti-semite smear appears to be part of the neoliberal and neocon toolkit now. And it reminds me of the old saw when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

        3. Colonel Smithers

          I forgot to mention that Berger was going out with Blair’s eldest son when she was parachuted into Liverpool Wavertree. That must have felt like being parachuted into enemy territory as Berger is a rich and entitled so and so from Hampstead Heath.

          I know that it’s better to lie low and let the controversy pass, but Labour does need some deniable attack dogs unleashed on that lot.

          1. Mirdif

            Why am I not surprised that Luciana Dollybird “going out with-ed” her way to the top? Colour me cynical.

            Anyway, am I the only person that gets annoyed with the way Umunna keeps droppin’ the g off the end of words? Really gets on my nerves.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I find the focus on anti-Semitism very odd, and it leads me to think this was a rushed decision. That is no basis for a new political movement, not to mention that its guaranteed to anger a lot of regular Labour supporters who have now been labeled anti-Semitic.

        My initial feeling was that whatever the motive is for this split now, its been botched. If it was carefully planned, they’d be focused on positive messages ‘We stand for good public services, low taxes, motherhood and apple pie’, not on old internal battles that don’t mean much to the non-politically engaged.

        So far, I think Corbyn has gotten away lightly – a well financed and planned split would be a real threat, it might even have finished him. As it stands now, he’s just got rid of a few troublemakers.

    3. el_tel

      It may weaken Labour nationally but Chris Leslie’s personal arithmetic just doesn’t make sense to me at all. He is a remain supporter in a constituency that was pretty much 50/50 split on Europe with a sufficiently large majority at the last general election that if running as an independent to court the pretty posh (new) Labour wards that went remain he’d lose to an official anti/ambivalent Brexit official Labour candidate who’d clean up in the (now very deprived) strong leave wards where I grew up. The UKipers around here cannot be assumed to “go Tory” at all. Many are disgruntled Old Labour supporters.

      At the next election he’s out. Probably to the official Labour candidate (particularly since he doesn’t have any longstanding local loyalty – he was originally parachuted in). The Tories might just take it but given the wards and European split in views it’s unlikely. (The Tories only took the seat in 1983 during Thatcher’s landslide + SDP and even those factors would probably not have been enough had it not been for the capture of the city council by the “loony left” who overstretched.)

      Just checked – Leslie also can’t even keep the well-off Labour residents of Mapperley on side and has lost 4 votes of confidence! He’s definitely toast.

      1. Anonymous2

        Perhaps the most important immediate question is whether this encourages enough Tories to defect to deprive Mrs May of her majority even with the DUP? I am far from clear if this is a likelihood but I think the next few days could tell us.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I’m pretty sure that if they were going to go, they’d have timed it with this breakout. Even those facing deselection (there are a few) seem inclined to fight things internally.

    4. David

      Is anyone else getting a cold feeling up the back thinking of how the Gang of Four left the Labour Party in 1981 and kept the Tories in power for 16 more years?
      Electorates punish disunited parties, and for that reason I was a lot more sanguine than many about Labour’s electoral chances against a shambolic Tory Party. Now I’m not so sure. It’s just confirmation of the fact that the most powerful determinant of Labour Party behaviour historically is the flight from power at all costs.

      1. larry

        There are significant differences between the gang of four and the present gang of seven. The gang of four were Labour heavy weights with a political program. This group’s members aren’t and don’t. So, while causing problems for Labour, they may themselves disappear in time.

        1. David

          Agreed on the substance, it’s the impression given to the electorate that worries me, together with the likely saturation coverage of the seven by the media (it was media coverage which really did the damage to Labour in 1981).

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you and well said, David.

            I agree with you with you about the saturation coverage.

            Have you any thoughts about the smears of anti-Semitism against the Gilets Jaunes.

            TV5, including the 8 PM France 2 news, is no longer broadcast on satellite in the UK, so it’s a bit more difficult to follow what’s going on.

            1. Lee

              Here on the left coast of the USA I searched “8 PM France 2 news”, followed several links and ended up here:

              Don’t know if this is useful or what you’re looking for. Typically, it seems as if the conflation of of antizionism with antisemitism is confusingly and ambiguously ascribed to parties involved. Evidently, mainstream politicians and the famously free press cannot distinguish between the two.

              1. flora

                Longer comment lost in mod-land. It was a bit overheated.
                Shorter: It’s the 10% virtue signalling each other that voters opposing their economic programs should be ignored. Said voters being charged with “moral deficiency”, therefore not to be listened to. imo.

            2. David

              Ah, I was wondering if I should post a comment on this episode, because it’s sort of …. complicated. But since you ask so nicely, here’s the simplified version:
              There have been ritual accusations of anti-semitism against the gilets jaunes, but nothing very coherent, as part of Macron’s attempt to present them as neo-fascists. But the current fuss boils down to one incident on Saturday evening, involving the controversial right-wing author and polemicist Alain Finkielkraut (AF). He was apparently accosted near Montparnasse by a group wearing yellow jackets, who shouted “this is our home” and called him a “racist” a “fascist” and a “filthy zionist.” The last insult is a criminal offence in France, and indeed the authorities have opened a criminal investigation, though AF himself has said that he is not making any complaint. The identity of the group is unknown, and AF has himself said that he thinks they were a mixture of the extreme Left and Islamic militants. The person who shouted “this is our home” was, according to him, “not white.”
              AF is a controversial figure, outside the French mainstream and frequently attacked for his strong identarian and anti-Islamic views. The fact that he generally attacks Islam from a fervently zionist stance has, however, saved him from complete ostracism. Ironically, quite a few of the GJs probably find his views sympathetic, and he himself is on record as giving their demands at least qualified support. The whole incident is odd – it’s highly unlikely that a random group of GJs would recognise him: I wouldn’t. But the incident is a gift to Macron, the more since it takes place at a moment when there is an upsurge of anti-semitic graffiti, swastikas painted on walls, and that sort of thing. But Macron’s remarks are unlikely to have much influence outside the charmed circle of the French establishment. They just show how desperate he is for anything to beat the GJs with.

                1. David

                  Touchė! But they are ritual in the sense that there’s a restricted list of insults that are always trotted out in such circumstances and this is one.

              1. Grebo

                You seem to confirm my impression that characterising the abuse as ‘anti-semitic’ is a stretch. But calling Zionists filthy is illegal in France? What is that about exactly?

            3. skm

              Colonel, I get all domestic French TV (also Arte and RT France) in the UK on an awful satellite called Fransat Servimat – I say awful `cos I have the same set up in Italy and France 2, 4 and O disappeared 6 months ago (and the same happened to some others – they can be found complaining on internet) but the company is AWOL – impossible to contact. So, I don`t recommend it although it seems to be the only way to get these channels in the UK

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I think doing damage to Corbyn is the whole idea – they’ve not said or done anything to indicate that they have a serious agenda going forward (unlike, from memory, the Gang of Four).

        The media will hype them up, but at present I think its good news for Corbyn. 20 or more (along with some big names) would have been disastrous, but so far it just looks like some discontents who haven’t even shown enough competence to organise their split properly.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          My suspicions seem to be shared by John Crace:

          And that was that. Seven Labour MPs who had been openly at odds with their party had now decided to go it alone. It felt less a major political realignment than a cry of regret and irreconcilable despair. No one could quite work out what they had done or what they had achieved. If anything. Not even them. And we never did get to find out who the stool was for.

          1. larry

            The redoubtable John Crace. And he begins by implicitly referring to The Beatles in the title to his piece. Class. And he carries the metaphor to the end.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you, Larry.

              One wonders if Luciana Berger, parachuted into Liverpool from London, could name all the Beatles.

          2. Lee

            Thanks for the link. Such is the degree of my cultural deprivation that I had not previously read anything by John Crace. Better late than never.

      3. flora

        ‘Flight from power’

        If a party campaigns to win votes from the working class while having no intention of actually representing the working class or the economic bottom 50% – 70%, what else can the party do but flee from power, lest their real intentions become clear? (Lookin’ at you, US Dem estab…)

    5. Mirdif

      Well the plot thickens. The Independent Group is supported by Gemini A Ltd registered last month and the Director and Person with Significant Control is one Gavin Shuker. Looks like an interesting way to get around declaring who the real backers are.

  6. zagonostra


    It’s that simple. The details matter, but the wonks should be working out that shit between themselves, not by writing memos on op-ed pages because none of us should have to care about them.

    … mails them a card on day one that they can use to go to the damn doctor without paying any money. Then the wonks and the politicians can get to work for the next 10 years fixing the engine under the hood.

    Yes!, Eschaton is channeling my sentiments exactly.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Just do it, indeed. That said, bending that cost curve as much as possible from the get go is very important. Nothing to do incrementally if the history of other counties could ever be considered. Implementing their own form of national health care was the best, most effective time for cutting costs. How and what they did then also had great influence on how much the curve rose from that point forward. Ian Welsh among others used to write about this in detail.

    2. DJG

      Just to add how easy it is, as Atrios of Eschaton points out, you just vote to change the way people pay. As of 1 March, the residents of Piedmont region in Italy are no longer on the hook for “co-pays” / “ticket” at the pharmacy. The regional council decided it. But our U.S. politicians are much more concerned with who gives them money than with how their constituents have to use their own money.

      In short, just abolish the crap in the U.S. system:

    3. Susan the Other

      Absolutely. “I don’t give a shit how you bend the cost curve” either. Thank you Axios. I don’t think anybody can say it better. So Nancy and Chucky, heads up: it is really, really time for your malfeasance to end. OK?

      1. ChristopherJ

        This was a good quote from the post:

        Make voters happy by making them happy. Tomorrow. Eat the up front costs because we are a rich country and we can afford to eat the costs, and then spend the next 10 years clawing money back from the other “stakeholders” who have been looting the bank accounts of dying people for decades. Just don’t make us have to worry about how.

        Exactly, just make it happen, we don’t care how or where the money goes or comes from…

  7. zagonostra


    I have friends/family who still are clueless on Act I.

    Act 14 of the Yellow Vests was under heavy surveillance following the many degradations in Act 13 by the Black Blocks and Antifas. During the march, the head of the procession amused itself, on several occasions, to take another path that the route envisaged by the police prefecture which gave a hard time to the police forces. Despite the strong mobilization there was no significant degradation. In Paris, on Saturday, February 16th, 2019.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “US Backs India’s Right to Self-Defence, Drops Customary Call for Restraint”

    Is Bolton really suggesting that a nuclear power – India – should get into a stoush with a second nuclear power – Pakistan? There have been four major wars between these two countries and several armed conflicts. So they both have form in this area. I know that people like Bolton want to punish Pakistan because they did not get to win in Afghanistan but it is easier to start a war than to stop one. Right now a Saudi contingent is in Pakistan making nice with them so you could expect them to support that country and I am not sure that China might not be on their side too, especially since they have had their own stoushes with India not that long ago. This is not really a good idea by any stretch of the imagination. More on the wars between these two states at-

        1. Oh

          That fascist, religious fanatic Modi is playing this incident to the hilt He rebuffed offers for talks from Pakistan after Imran was elected. For all I know the car bomb attack could be an inside job. It appears that 70% of the people are supporting his tough talk. Add the US support to the powder keg and things could explode in a hurry. Of course, US support is probably only to sell them F-16’s and the like. Too late, the Indians will find out that they have once again been taken in.

    1. SpaceMtn

      I’m curious to hear what you think India should do in response to the ‘deadliest ever attack on security forces’ in J&K? Perpetrated by an outfit — JeM (Jaish-e-Muhammad), which is based in Pakistan and operates in the open there.

      1. The Rev Kev

        For a start they could close all borders between the two countries until there is a level of cooperation. These days there are a whole range of measures and activities – including sending Indian special ops across the border – that can be made use of. Having a major war break out between the two is in nobody’s interest and if I recall right, the main transport lines for supplying the US forces in Afghanistan go through Pakistan. They could get shut down real quick. Absolute worst case is that there is a war and Pakistan becomes a failed State with a lot of loose nukes laying around.

        1. SpaceMtn

          Thanks for the response. I agree a full scale war is in neither country’s interest nor in the interests of humanity at large. But the fact that these outfits — JeM, LeT, etc. — operate in the open in Pakistan, with official patronage (via the ISI), and routinely strike within India, really puts the Indian government in a bind. Hopefully pressure can be placed on the Pakistani government to shutter these organizations that are serving to destabilize an already acutely militarized region.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Thanks for your reply. I am going out on a limb here and make a guess that the only reason why they tolerate such a nest of vipers is that they see them as somehow essential to their survival in that region of the world. The US would not really be seen as an ally and they probably remember the time that the Bush administration threatened to bomb them ‘back to the stone age’ if they did not give total cooperation with Afghanistan. The threat has always been India but now that the US is trying to partner with India, this makes the whole situation even more dangerous for them.

          2. Amfortas the hippie

            is ISI still a CIA creature, or have they escaped the paddock?
            I can’t think of a single foreign policy problem we haven’t created ourselves.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you, A.

              Speaking of CIA creatures, how about the smartly turned out dude who calls himself the British Obama, or one of them. Chuka Umunna’s maternal grandfather was in MI5. His father died in mysterious circumstances, “peut etre un reglement de compte…”, and the family wealth and Chuka’s brief City career equally mysterious.

                1. Colonel Smithers

                  Thank you, Larry.

                  Little now other than like father like son.

                  The breakaway have organised themselves as a company, not a party, so avoid having to declare their investors.

        2. Procopius

          Having a major war break out between the two is in nobody’s interest and if I recall right, the main transport lines for supplying the US forces in Afghanistan go through Pakistan

          True, dat, but who knows what Bolton really thinks? Maybe he thinks that because the President has decided to defy him he might as well make it untenable for U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan. The man is a lunatic, albeit a very smart and effective one, and his allies and supporters are morons. Some of them are lunatics, too. I can not imagine why the neocons believe nuclear war is not a risk. If we were to engage Russia in a hot war, we would need to make it clear that “victory” did not mean annihilating the Russian state. I don’t think we can do that, given how our armed forces define “victory.”

    2. Chris Cosmos

      As usual, it depends on your definition of a “good” idea. Martinets like Bolton want war because that is what feeds distrust, fear, cruelty, aggression, war industries, and central power. In a world of perpetual war everywhere governments can take control of resources and citizens. Personalities that resemble Bolton can take the lead in all areas of society. Don’t underestimate the appeal of domination as a goal. On the other hand, people like Pompeo can further the goal of Jesus’ coming through armed conflict in their bizarre perversions of “Christian” eschatology.

      The assumption that people like Bolton or Trump for that matter are fools cannot be made unless we find out what their actual goals are.

  9. PlutoniumKun

    Six Historians on Why Trump’s Border Wall Won’t Work Rolling Stone

    The article might have been better if the historians chosen weren’t trying to make an anti-Trump point. For one thing, historians should know better than to bring up the old saw of the ‘failed’ Maginot line. In fact, the Maginot line did exactly what it was designed to do – force a German invasion to go via Belgium. It was the second part of the plan (stop the Germans in Belgium) that failed, not the wall. Likewise, the Berlin Wall did its job very well for several decades, its stopped the outflow of people and stabilised East Germany – it fell in the end because the USSR collapsed.

    Likewise, the Great Wall of China did its job too in providing a frontier for China – it was clearly more than a defensive wall (its design varies over its length – some parts are clearly defensive, others are equally obviously of symbolic value only). But its likely primary military purpose was to prevent roving bands of horsemen from raiding into China, and it likely succeeded at this.

    There are of course other walls that have succeeded in their design aims – Hadrian’s Wall provided a firm border for the Roman Empire for centuries, there is no evidence that the Picts or Scots (Irish) got past it. The border between the Koreas has been pretty secure (in both directions) for decades.

    This isn’t to say Trumps wall is a good idea – its clearly a very stupid one. But to say ‘walls don’t work’ is simply not supported by the historic evidence.

    1. David

      Absolutely. I’ve become sick of pointing out to people that the Maginot Line was a great success in what it was designed to do – force the Germans to come through Belgium. And what we used to call the Inner German Border effectively saved East Germany from economic collapse. As you say, walls do work in the sense that they achieve the objectives set for them.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, David.

        It was odd to see some Jewish TDS sufferer say that the Israeli wall was a good idea and worked, not just against terrorists, but also to keep out African economic migrants. Nice people, these Zionists.

        1. Ignacio

          Wow wow wow, I see here an anti- anti… anti-something!

          I was thinking on this anti-semitic thing and why is it pushed and you bring here the magic word, I believe: zionism. The fact is that these guys want an identification of the tribe semitic with the country Israel (Zion). If you dislike anything about Israel, then you must be anti-semitic and because anti-semitism is trully racism (and one that has been suffered a lot), you are necessarily a bad person.

          It was Goebbles strategy, repeat and repeat it again. Anyone who is not in favour of Israel (in general or in some particular instance) is falsely labelled as antisemitic. As if you disagree with some action taken by Denmark, then labelled as a deplorable anti-viking.

          But call goebblesian an israeli…

          1. vlade

            Labeling by a close, but not the same, is a very common strategy used by just about anyone.

            Historically, it always backfired.

    2. Oh

      I don’t really think Trumph or any of the politicians who are for the wall really care if it works. It’s a political ploy and also serves the purpose of handing out the large$$e.

  10. justsayknow

    From the NatGeo
    In the lush Punjab, the pumps and pesticides of the green revolution have depleted precious reserves of groundwater and spawned hot spots of infertility and cancer. In the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, villagers complained that fluoride—a mineral tainting new wells drilled for growing human populations—was discoloring their teeth and causing bone deformities.
    It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed,” said Arati Kumar-Rao, a renowned Indian nature photographer and one of my walking partners. “Our denial is a form of mass blindness. /

    “Mass blindness” is an apt description of our times. And frankly I’m beginning to suffer a sense of hopelessness for our futures. Our economy depends on growth and growth is destroying our environment. In the US most of us can’t go past two weeks without a paycheck. We are enslaved to our debts and obligations. How can this change?

    1. Isotope_C14

      “How can this change?”

      Well, it can’t.

      Capitalism is a religion that will end our lives here in the very near term, and most non-bacterial species on this planet.

      If the people in charge were the wise people, instead of the people who just wanted more money, perhaps things could have been different. If people had took “The Population Bomb” seriously, we might have stood a chance.

      Sadly that time is over, and that book was out before I was even born. Apparently my Mom didn’t read it.


      If you want a dose of hope, of how things could have been, you could always check out Peter Joseph’s “The New Human Rights Movement”. Good reads for the end-times.

      1. marieann

        I didn’t read the book either but I was so ready in the 70’s to save the world but it went nowhere, and it is really hard trying to go it alone.

        We did only have 2 children at least, that was the thing back then,but even that went out of style.

        Luckily we never got hooked on the consumer society/free money when it started.

        1. Eclair

          ” …. but I was so ready in the 70’s to save the world ….” So true, marieann.

          I started in the late 60’s, by refusing my invitation to join the Junior League. I remember telling my then-spouse (whose career I definitely could have helped along) that the JL members were going to be the ‘first up against the wall!’ So young, so naive, so disillusioned now. But there were two of us, at least, marieann.

          1. marieann

            Yea, the naive part….so true. Maybe if we had the internet and NC back then, could we have done something, at least we would know we were not alone
            Thanks Eclair

                1. jrs

                  Well I’ve been sympathetic and activist at times (especially a decade or so ago) but I’m younger Gen X.

                  So there really were no movements of any real size, and there was always the pressure of survival in a more difficult (than the boomers had it for sure) economy. And any counter cultural hippy legacy had to be excavated out of tombs at that point, so buried and hidden was any real memory of it’s existence to our lives.

        2. Oregoncharles

          In my experiene, more than two children is still unusual and gets noticed. I do know a couple of outliers, though.

        3. Procopius

          I haven’t checked it out, but I have heard that the current birth rates in both Europe and North America are already below replacement rates. The poorer countries are seeing declining birth rates. I’m not optimistic, but it’s possible the global population will shrink to a sustainable level. There are other existential dangers, right now nuclear disaster seems to be most likely, with climate change a close second, but there are still positive outcomes possible if unlikely.

      2. Carey

        Perestroika is what’s called for, here in the exceptional nation; radical Perestroika.
        How to accomplish that, I don’t know.

        Start with a General Strike of the 90%?

    2. Chris Cosmos

      Well said. Certainly “growth” as an economic dynamic is no longer a good thing. One of the major sources of cultural blindness in not seeing that we’ve gone as far as we can in the old model of our culture and economy. We’ve achieved what Western man has set as a goal in the 17th and 18th centuries. We have the technology to create any kind of world we want but it requires both individual and collective changes in consciousness, i.e., to see that everything is connected sot that we can think in terms of accomplishing things together to reduce fear, poverty, war, pollution and so on–we have the tools readily available to do all this. At the moment most people aren’t ready for the next step and, like you, I’m not sure we will be able to take that step. The leading power in the world is now stuck in a System that allows little room for change. At this time, we are dependent on reform that will have to come from the ruling class who appear to be, from a social point of view, insane.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I think it could have been different this time. But on one level we’re just doing what we’re supposed to as a species: exploiting our niche, consuming resources, and battling back any competitors.

        So we’ve killed off 70% of all insects with our monocultures and our fancy new chemical creations. When that hits 90%+ the plants will die too: oops, that’s what we need to eat. So we’re next, the 7 billion of us will drop by 90% and a new equilibrium will be established. Then of course something will come along (an asteroid, a bacterium) and that funny anomaly called homo sapiens will be no more. He’ll just be a particularly interesting geological layer.

        I think we need to fight the tide and there’s still hope. But I’m surprisingly OK with it all, Buddhism teaches acceptance. So have a nice day.

  11. Ignacio

    RE: Spanish warship ordered ships to leave British waters near Gibraltar Reuters

    According to the Ministerio de Defensa of Spain, the warship Tornado was controlling transit and saw 3 boats anchored in a transit zone and the boats left the zone when they realized it was dangerous. Gibraltar authorities are making stuff up. It seems to me the authorities of Gibraltar want to call for attention within brexit crazyness.

    Londres niega la incursión de un buque español que denuncia Gibraltar The UK government released a statement saying that “there was not incursion in UK territorial waters”. To be sure there is a discrepancy between UK and Spain. Gibraltar was ceded to England as part of Utrectch treaty that stablished that only bay waters were included in the rigth of use were bay.

    1. rd

      Usually, harbormasters control where ships anchor while waiting to load or offload. There are generally fixed moored locations in sheltered waters that are set aside for these purposes outside of transit zones and the harbormasters will assign them to specific ships. I have seen ships sitting at anchor for weeks waiting for a berth to load or unload cargo. According to the Spanish version, it sounds like these ships randomly dropped anchors inside transit zones without a harbormaster’s direction. If that is the case, then these ships would have been an accident waiting to happen in a fog or storm.

    1. Carla

      To my surprise, it’s not all that easy to find locate information about Biden’s guilt regarding denying bankruptcy protections to student borrowers. I thought it was common knowledge, but apparently, those of us who know about it will have to shove it under the noses of Biden supporters. Here is one pertinent passage from a 2017 Alternet piece:

      “And when it comes to the student loan crisis, things start to look even less promising for Biden. According to a report by the International Business Times, Biden was a key proponent of the 2005 legislation passed under George W. Bush that made discharging student loan debt through bankruptcy essentially impossible. (Elizabeth Warren, during her time as a professor, even wrote a paper about Biden’s key role in pushing for this legislation.) According to the IBT report, “Biden’s efforts in 2005 were no anomaly … the Delaware lawmaker has played a consistent and pivotal role in the financial industry’s four-decade campaign to make it harder for students to shield themselves and their families from creditors.”

      As a result of these efforts benefitting lenders, the lenders feel freer to hand out more loans without fear of courts allowing customers to erase their debts. This in turn helped debt rates skyrocket since the ‘70s. In addition, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Biden has received approximately $1.9 million in campaign contributions from the financial services industry—something he will need to answer for in any potential primary debate.”

      1. Procopius

        I saw an article a few days ago saying that several long-time professional political strategists can not figure out where the push for Biden’s candidacy is coming from. They cited the student loan thing, also limits to credit card discharge in bankruptcy, authorship of the Violent Crimes Act, and influence on the Patriot Act as other obstacles he’d have to overcome. The only thing I can figure is just denial on the part of Clintonian establishmentarians. Biden can win because people will be so incensed over Russia, Russia, Russia.

  12. nippersmom

    If Elliot Abrams’ Career Is a Disgrace, Then US Foreign Policy Is Disgraceful

    I haven’t read the article yet, but the headline implies this is some sort of surprise or astonishing conclusion. Isn’t it fairly obvious that US foreign policy is disgraceful?

    1. Craig H.

      He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.

      F. Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

  13. nippersmom

    Bonus anti-dote: I wish more human pedestrians crossed roads like those elephants. They kept together, didn’t dawdle, and minimized their impact on the other users of the road. I’m not surprised no one complains – they are very considerate.

    1. bronco

      give those elephants an iphone and an vastly inflated sense of self importance and they will come down to our level quick enough

    2. DanB

      I like the way they keep the young inside the path of the adults and make sure young straddlers are moved back into the safety of inside the herd.

  14. Off The Street

    “Elliott from Harvard, the hitchhikers you picked up need the pills they left in your car”.
    He got around, first Woodstock, then Central America, who knows where next, that Elliottster.

  15. notabanker

    Interesting that 538 and HuffPo have inserted themselves into the GND debate. The tone of each is interesting as well. 538 is kind of grudgingly going along for the ride while HuffPo comes across as a firm advocate.

    Neither is enough, but light years beyond where this conversation was a year ago. There is certainly momentum.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think this is why the GND is excellent politics. It puts the ‘mild Green’ corporate media and politicians on the defensive. They don’t want it, but they look very stupid and corrupt trying to oppose it.

    2. Joe Well

      Also, I think we may witness a left turn in the media now that the children of privilege who write for them (Vice executive, for instance, supposedly said they only hired trust-fund twenty-somethings) are being forced to work in truly oppressive conditions for low pay in absurdly expensive metro areas.

  16. Robert McGregor

    “I Don’t Give A Sh*t How You Bend The Cost Curve”

    I see this a “hustle upon hustles” problem. The oligarchy and most of the 10% don’t want to change the status quo. They get rich off it. So they give arguments and write articles about how costly and impossible it is to change–in this case our Health Care system. It is just a “hustle” to confuse the public and maintain the oligarchy and the 10%’s power. TINA in other words. Isn’t it interesting that the people at the top of the hierarchy are always the ones that say “there is no alternative” (Margaret Thatcher) ?

    1. Robert Valiant

      Thank you for pointing out that the top 1% requires the enduring support of the next 9%.
      No, we’re not all in this together.

    2. jrs

      well it’s not just the 10%, it’s a lot of the economy, so realistically, people do get ensnared in that.

    3. Oh

      I can see how Obama bent the cost curve on health care. He just didn’t stop with bending it he broke it and prices skyrocketed.

      1. jrs

        please, this is ridiculous. Prices would not be less without the ACA (I’m assuming the status quo prior not MFA) and much of the cost increases we have seen with the ACA recently are Trump administration policy changes to it.

  17. Stillfeelinthebern

    Really good post on the GOP tax law and what it really means for 2018 tax filers.

    This. “Instead, the Trump Administration gave little to no outreach on the subject, and went ahead and adjusted the withholding tables before the changes could be incorporated into the payroll software companies had. They guessed at the amount of new income that would have to be taxed, but left it up to the everyday person to make the changes to their W-4 forms, even though they knew this would result in more people having to write checks to the IRS in early 2019”

    1. bronco

      so people who customarily let the irs hold their dough interest free are all going to stop so it doesn’t happen anymore.
      Eggs were broken , omelets for all

    2. tegnost

      I’m sure the student loan grifters are loudly complaining, they need those tax return confiscations to pay their bills!

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Im one of those. Last filed taxes in 2015 and promptly got a letter saying my refunds been garnished cuz Student Loan Debt. I believe it was around 1500$, alot of money for me.

        Its been 3 years so i have to file this year. Are you saying ill actually get my refund?

        1. tegnost

          no, if you have to pay the irs rather than get a refund, or get a reduced refund there’s nothing/less for them to take…

  18. jfleni

    RE: Spanish warship ordered ships to leave British waters near Gibraltar.

    One more “Nutty Albion” response to join with Brexit an an off shore island slowly goes mad! In case anybody forgets, Gibraltar was CONQUERED , not won in fair battle! They’ll be looking for California next!

  19. rjs

    i haven’t seen this mentioned elsewhere; there’s a new nuclear weapons plant being planned for Ohio:
    the civilian uses of this are just to blunt the opposition…

    the next generation of strategic nuclear weapons has already rolled off the assembly line at its Pantex nuclear weapons plant in the panhandle of Texas…these are much smaller than what was used at Hiroshima, and are meant to be used…

    i’ve always figured we’d end up freezing through a nuclear winter long before anything like catastrophic global warming set in…

  20. Dita

    In other news, the New York City Housing Authority plans to privatize management of 62,000 units of public housing. Especially in Manhattan. Tenants and local activists have been cut out of this process, that affects them directly. Call me cynical but the city’s planned neglect followed the claim that public housing is in such disrepair that only developers can “fix” the situation is a truly long con. Bug, meet feature!

  21. petal

    Thank you for the Popular Mechanics article about Kodak and the a-bomb testing. My family has farmed just east of Rochester for ~150 years. I am sick to my stomach after reading the article and wondering about a lot of things.

    1. Carolinian

      That’s a great article. Apparently all of us were exposed if we were around before the test ban treaty. It’s also an example of how the MIC are a danger to more than just our wallets.

      1. zagonsotra

        If you read up on “Trinity” you’ll see that the scientist there were taking bets during first experiment on whether the detonation would destroy the atmosphere, statistically it was small number but large enough for some, like Fermi to playfully take bets on the extinction of the human species.

        1. Jason Boxman

          I just bought a used book about him when I was visiting Philadelphia last week. Hopefully it’s interesting. That prediction is about the only thing I actually know about him.

        2. Carolinian

          Yes I know. BTW there’s an annual car tour out to the first explosion site for those who are really into Trinity. You can see where the sand was fused into glass. I haven’t done this myself but have been to Los Alamos and the museum.

        3. Plenue

          I’ve wondered about that before, specifically why it didn’t happen. Can anyone explain the mechanics of why nukes *don’t* start a runaway burning off of the entire atmosphere?

          1. UserFriendly

            Why would it? Burning it off would require a fuel, something that reacts with oxygen to form a flame ending in CO2 and H2O. Could it possibly create a pulse that pushed a lot of gas out past the gravitational pull of the earth? possibly but that would have required it to be orders of magnitude stronger than it was, but I suppose they could have been unsure how much mass they were turning into energy.

  22. Chris Cosmos

    What is practical or not practical vis a vis climate change needs to be talked about in a much wider frame of reference. To start we have to examine what the science is telling us. Without that “trying” to do anything is meaningless and the article cited above said nothing about that. People don’t understand the almost ridiculous dangers human civilization is facing, potentially, if we do nothing as the US is doing now. Until that science is examined and a good risk assessment is made based on the best measures on what is going on no Green New Deal is going anywhere and that’s a certainty in my reading of the current political situation. I mean you can’t even get the leadership of the Democratic Party to take an interest in the Deal and the Republicans and Trump will fight it at every turn. If Trump loses in 2020 and the Dems take the Senate then, maybe some intense amount of hand-waving will take place and something like a Obamacare (i.e., a fraudulent program) will result as the grand jewel in the crown and the “progressives” will crow about a “victory” and so on and so on.

    A better approach, as I indicated is start with a graduated carbon tax and, even more important, two critical reforms: 1) removal of “personhood” of corporations making officers of the corporation liable to criminal prosecution as well as civil penalties as a court might see fit and making stockholders in the corporation liable to financial fines and other civil penalties as well; 2) establish a national board that charters corporations who will be responsible to the public as well as stockholders–should a corporation show a pattern of acting against the public interest, like Wells Fargo, Monsanto, big Wall Street banks, government would have the right to suspend or withdraw its charter and liquidate the corporation; and 3) recognize “externalities” as legitimate costs, for example, if a company wants to pollute the water-table that the company pay the costs of cleaning it up which will mean that it will probably find ways to recycle or change its manufacturing processes. Of course these things would be, like carbon taxes be instituted gradually and scientific boards would be set up to advise courts.

    This plan would fulfill the idea of some libertarians that courts and the law are a better way to deal with environmental laws rather than government programs and might get some support for this on the right, pending naturally, on the spread into the public sphere into the reality of what awaits us if we do nothing or, as Democrats prefer to “do”, which is waving arms around and making back-room corrupt deals with corporations for yet another hustle.

    1. Wyoming

      In a perfect utopian world we could do many of the things you mention. But then if we lived in a world like that we would never have ended up in the position we are in. Reality does bite.

      But that is the real issue here…reality. We deal with it or it deals with us.

      The science is pretty much done at this point. We are just working out the details. Any examination of that science with the goal of performing a risk assessment has already been performed to the level which matters. The GND is irrelevant – not that many of its ideas would not have been a good idea 20 years ago – as it is far too little and far too late. We are past the point in time when such measures would potentially have led to a better situation.

      There is nothing in our political culture and our national character which will lead to the dramatic changes needed at this point. Nothing. It matters not who is elected. Items 1, 2 and 3 above are so unlikely to occur in the real world of US politics, power relationships, and the inherent difficulty in expecting a significant change in human nature, that they are like fantasy science fiction. There is simply no path from where we are to a political structure in the US which would allow those items to happen. A carbon tax? Too little too late.

      I also think it is a complete misunderstanding of libertarianism to think that its adherents are likely to support any of the above. The libertarians I know here in AZ are not particularly enamored with govt of any kind, nor laws or courts. It is about power relationships and the point of a gun.

      To put it mildly we are in the midst of the train wreck. It is far to late to prevent it. The goal must be to survive it. And the real questions are how to do that – given the science, the data, and most importantly of all, the wickedness of basic human nature.

      We simply cannot get anywhere with our vast and rapidly growing global population. Civilizational survival is dependent on a dramatic reduction. Literal survival is potentially on the table as well. Since there does not seem to be any practical and acceptable means of this rapid reduction then we are going to have it happen the hard way. People know this in their bones.

      The tale of human history tells this story many times. When catastrophe is coming those with power try and accumulate more power and wealth as that gives the best chance of being the last man standing. There will be many who see their best chances at tying themselves to those with that power and supporting them – the soldiers if you will. Collapse appears to most as a zero-sum game. You make it or you don’t. You pick your side and everyone else is the enemy – and common sense says to pick the side you came to the dance with. We have done this over and over again. This time it really looks like it is for keeps.

      So the rich of the world are mostly responsible for this situation. And they are going to make damn sure that they pay the smallest price possible. This is what power does. And this is what those who’s fortunes ride on the success of those rich powers expect them to do. We are just in the early stages of collapse and problems seem to be manageable, but they are just the beginning and they will grow exponentially. This will overwhelm any Green BAU solutions. Immigration? What will the American people do when it is not 400,000 coming in a year but 4 million and then more. That is coming. The same will happen to Europe. What will happen when 50 million Bangladeshi’s head for India? It will not be allowed to happen (providing of course that the Indians and Pakistani’s don’t nuke each other at the instigation of the US before then). What happens when the global food supply is insufficient to feed everyone on a large scale. It is going to happen.

      Every place which falls apart is an apparent good to a place which has not fallen as far. Thus Brexit is a good for the US, conflict between India and Pakistan another plus, chaos in Latin America – why not, and so on. Never waste a good crisis nor miss the opportunity to create another one. As long as you end up less worse than they do you win. This is the world I see us living in.

      1. notabanker

        What has really been resonating with me is the notion that there is no room for hope. What’s needed is courage.

        1. Wyoming

          Hope and courage are, of course, different things. Having hope does not mean you are courageous And some of the most courageous are those who have set aside hope and continue on in spite of that.

          Having hope, or not, does nothing to fix our problems. The same problem exists with those who constantly say we need optimism – I would beg to differ on that as well. When I was young I served in an organization which conducted extremely dangerous activities for the USG. We had a saying “Optimists die young.” Assume the worst and plan for it and you have a much better chance at survival. Assuming everything will work out is to often fall prey to lack of full effort and it courts disaster.

          One has to be a hard headed realist. Set aside wishes and focus on probabilities. This is what it means when saying one has to deal with reality.

      2. Chris Cosmos

        In a sense the situation is hopeless. But we’ll get nowhere on a personal level if we persist in playing the hopeless card. I think reason is one tool that is very useful in the practical sense but in the larger scheme of things Faith is more important–and confidence. There is a chance that the ruling elites may decide not to destroy human civilization. If enough of them decide that then it’s possible to make changes along the lines I’ve suggested. First, it doesn’ dramatically shift all that much and can be implemented without too much government bureaucracy. I don’t agree with your view of libertarians–they are a very diverse lot some who believe in science. Unfortunately most of them are convinced that the science is a “hoax” to destroy what they see as an attempt to institute a totalitarian state. The sad part of all this is that these people are a result of a horrible science education program in our country.

        Once people begin to understand that this is not a hoax, and certainly the ruling-elite know it isn’t then something might get done. At the moment, those who are not personifications of evil are afraid of those that have the guns on their side. If the guns can be trained elsewhere and that’s, frankly, up to the three letter agencies who have the power to kill whoever they want should it ever come to that (usually it never comes to that because the threat is the bottom line of everything that happens in Washington).

        What we can do is change the common culture because that will begin to cause a sort of “morphic field” of change. The elites are the actors but we can form the shape of things to come.

      3. Eclair

        This is a perceptive essay on our situation, Wyoming. The reality, as you point out, probably is that the country, humanity, us, cannot get our act together to do something. It might be a lack of imagination or an unwillingness to give up our ‘way of life.’ Until we have to. And by then it will be too late.

        One of the stories in Suite Francaise, revolves around a set of Parisians who simply cannot fathom the possibility of a German invasion of France. Their comfortable way of life is sacrosanct. When the impossible happens, they load their material goods into cars and head south, with thousands of others, completely unprepared for the disasters ahead.

        It takes courage to face the almost 100% probability of the coming devastation. And even the most imaginative of us probably cannot predict the exact paths and timing it will take. As you remark below, assuming the worst and planning for it increases one’s chances for survival.

        We need courage, yes, but we also need hope. After all, each of us knows that there is no hope of living forever. But we forge ahead for years, filled with hope. At least most of us do. I often laugh with my family and friends, that the recipe for a happy life is to have low expectations.

        Same thing with hope; there may be no hope that we humans will survive or that we will not go down without taking with us the innocent bees and dragon flies, the eagles and giraffes. But there are still the everyday small hopes. That we live to see our grandchild’s first steps, that the year’s first strawberries will ripen tomorrow, that the heat will break by evening and the rains will come. And there is the ever-present hope that we have the courage to remain kind in the face of disaster.

    2. jrs

      one problem with the courts is they are being packed with extremely conservative people by Trump, so we would have to somehow overcome that. I mean these are people that don’t think a law against age discrimination in employment applies to hiring. So that’s what we would have to contend with.

      1. Wukchumni

        The only way to dispense with the assorted old guards, is to make the object of their mutual desire worthless, as in debauching the almighty buck.

        They’d be toothless…

    3. Jak Siemasz

      No problem…we are just going to suck all the CO2 and methane back out of the air:
      the Sky Scenario, proposed by Shell, calls for the
      use of carbon capture technologies to meet the goal of the Paris
      agreement to limit the global average temperature rise to well
      below 2°C from pre-industrial levels. That scenario calls for the
      construction of 10,000 industrial-scale plants — the size of a
      modern refinery — to remove carbon from the atmosphere,
      between 2020 and 2070.

  23. Otis B Driftwood

    Anti-semitism is also charged against progressives in the US, of course. The anti-semite smear appears to be part of the global neoliberal and neocon toolkit now. And it reminds me of the old saw that says when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

    And it is quickly becoming shopworn.

    1. Wukchumni

      Claiming somebody is anti-semetic is really similar to calling something pornographic, the claimant always knows better and by using a blanket statement, typically ‘wins’ the argument.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Also charges of sexual misconduct targeting progressive men who have the potential to attain positions of power. I thought I was just being paranoid, but I watched it unfold in the Virginia mess when it looked like the progressive lt-gov might succeed to the Big Chair if Northam resigned. This barely weeks after a letter complaining of such misconduct in campaign offices was deliberately targeted at Bernie Sanders.


      1. newcatty

        Elizabeth Burton, no it would not be “coincidence”. The upshot seems to be that there is a great danger to, since a lot of old saws are being brought out today in comments, “throw the baby out with the bathwater “. Of course, the sexual misconduct accusations are current ammunition for targeting any opponent (usually men). It really doesn’t seem to matter which side uses it. That there really is not a difference in our major political parties, is mostly a given. I find it sad and destructive though to not take the fact that “sexual misconduct” is a reality. The “me too” movement highlighted it in elite circles, such as celebrity and high-profile media . Lots of complaints that the sexual abuse of “ordinary” women was ignored or ridiculed. The prevalence of sexual abuse, to just focus in America, is widespread. The acceptance of old saws , like “boys will be boys” or, “old norms and times are still being challenged” is drivel. The propaganda to conflate bad sexual behavior with the other old saw, ” the war of the sexes” is still used in media, the “justice system, “entertainment industry” and in popular culture. Just think, of the reports of sexual harassment and/or abuse of women in the military. This only exists because it is allowed to exist. And, let us not forget the old saw, “a man’s house is his castle”. This, of course, means a man can dictate and control the plebes in his house. That spousal abuse (most commonly men on women) and child abuse are not seen as the truly horrific crimes that they are, for the most part, is again happening because it is allowed to happen. The fact that middle school and high school kids are watching porn ,as not just for fun, but for guidance on how to have sexual activity with their peers is helping to create young people with sex being something that is empty of any affect or kindness. Of, course, that are exceptions to this outcome. Freedom to make and/or watch porn isn’t the concern here…We watched the Grammy awards show. As we watched some Of the women performers, before fast forwarding, this came to my mind. I said to my spouse: Well, it looks like the girls have said, When the boys go low, we will go lower!

  24. Summer

    Re: Kamala Harris / Jamaica /Identity Politics

    I see hiring all those Clinton campaign staffers is paying off…

      1. Enquiring Mind

        Harris may want to keep a close eye on all those hirees to make sure they aren’t merely lent or otherwise still in thrall elsewhere. Given the propensity for staffers and others to be approached routinely for off-the-record comments, reporting back to the mother ship or activities of whatever nature, staff and system security take on heightened risk.

      2. Carey

        I agree, except I see not contradiction between the significance and the lack of
        coverage. Getting this feeling that the PTB have settled on Harris for the Win.
        We’ll see.

      3. ewmayer

        Why would you be surprised at the establishment-propaganda mill known as the MSM simply choosing to ignore inconvenient truths? They do it all the time. What-truths-to-ignore is just as important a part of their overall mission as what-lies-to-publish, because publishing inconvenient facts tends to undermine their sacred official narratives.

    1. Joe Well

      I couldn’t bear to read the link. Even for someone as deeply unsympathetic as KH, getting a statement publicly debunked and disavowed by your own parent is ugly.

      Also, I’d like to point out many Americans’ patronizing of their ancestors’ countries feeds anti-Americanism from Ireland to Italy to Mexico and probably many more places as well.

      If you were ever attempted to call yourself “Irish” (or another nationality) without the passport of that respective country (or even with the passport in some cases), why don’t you read this Wikipedia entry on “Plastic Paddy” aka “Fake Irish.”

  25. Dan

    Your observation that the California “oligarchy’s performance is not without its issues” is a wonderful understatement. Every time I go to the polls at a general election I sum offered the chance to select a Democrat or a Democrat (and no one from any other party) to hold state office – it feels absurdly Soviet. Unfortunately the Party, despite its supermajorities, had not managed to drag public education out of the toilet or do much about the housing emergency. You’d think any self-respecting one party state would want to occasionally wow it’s subjects with some sort of grandiose achievement…

    1. QuarkfromDS9

      (Former Californian here)

      The reason you only get to vote between two Democrats is because they pushed electoral “reform” called the “Top Two Primary”. I saw the “Top Two Primary” as an obviously designed attempt to disenfranchise third parties and engineer a permanent super majority for the Democrats, which is exactly what has happened since it was enacted. I voted against it, but sadly enough of California didn’t see it my way and passed it. It’s funny because “progressives” around the country get very confused when I tell them I usually just vote Green and am generally disinterested in the Democrats (with a few notable exceptions). But as someone who’s lived most of their life in California, what has a permanent super majority of the Democratic party done? Single payer healthcare? Nope. Tuition free college? Quite the opposite, tuition keeps going up at UCs and CSUs. And don’t even get me started on the inaction of the ridiculously spiraling rent crisis.

      I hope California will one day ditch the Top Two primary and move towards what Maine has done, and implement instant run off voting.

      1. jrs

        Only that’s not how it went down. Both parties actually opposed open primaries. The voters voted for it though despite that.

        UCs and CSUs actually have lower tuition than most state colleges in other states even if it has gone up. HOWEVER, they are way overcrowded. It’s hard to get an education in this state due to that. But while everyone likes to talks costs, noone seems to talk availability – we have insufficient state and community colleges for the population period at this point it seems.

        1. QuarkfromDS9

          I was already aware the Republicans opposed it (as it puts them at a serious structural disadvantage) but yes you were right that the Democrats apparently did oppose it, at least symbolically. I don’t remember them putting up much of a fight against it though, and now that it’s been in practice now for almost a decade, it’s played out exactly as I have described, structurally engineering a super majority for the Democrats. Which I guess explains why they haven’t tried to repeal it.

          As for your point about the colleges…

          UCs do not have lower tuition than most state colleges, they in fact have higher tuition than most states (Tuition in 2019 for the UCs (not including campus fees) is 13,900 dollars (for the entire year) where the average is 9,970. To drive it home further, ASU’s annual tuition including fees is 10,822 dollars in 2019 and University of Nevada Las Vegas is 6,551 dollars including fees in 2019).

          Even the Cal State’s (CSUs) when you factor in mandatory student fees, aren’t that much cheaper. They come out in 2019 to an average of 7,216 (it varies between campuses as some Cal State’s have additional mandatory student fees). While cheaper than the average, I’d hardly call that affordable. Now you could argue that is mitigated by California’s more generous (by American standards) financial aid system, but that’s kind of like responding to me saying California doesn’t have single payer by telling me Covered California is better than most other state’s health systems. While that may be true, technically, doesn’t really address what I was saying.

          I do agree the California universities and community colleges are too impacted. Some programs have insane wait times (some nursing programs now have 7 year wait lists). But that’s tied to the ever increasing high tuition, in that the state government doesn’t really have much interest in continuing to fund public higher education. At least not to the levels that is currently required. That’s part of the reason you’ve seen the explosion of shoddy for profit vocational schools, especially in California, it’s a way to skip to the head of the line, at the cost of quality.

    2. Meson

      I’m no fan of the top two system here, but think of it more as a runoff election. You have the opportunity to vote for all sorts of people in the primary, then the top two in the general.

      1. QuarkfromDS9

        That’s true in theory, but not true in practice. If it were like the French, then yes you’d have a point. But the French system of a two round run off and the Californian Top Two primary have important distinctions.

        Parties themselves still hold their own primaries (which means only one member of each party gets to be on the ballot, which prevents the flooding of same party candidates that is a hallmark of the California Top Two primary. Meaning you’ll never see a race in France that’s Socialist Party Vs Socialist party or what have you)

        The media in France actually pays attention to the first round, and that round is high turnout. The media pays virtually NO attention to the Top Two Primary in California, which is held in the summer and is VERY low turnout, as most summer elections are. This is a very important distinction, because most Californians aren’t even aware of the Top Two primary, how it works and let alone when it’s being held or who is running. Very different dynamic than France’s two round runoff.

  26. Ignacio

    Brexit, things yet to be fixed in case of no-deal. For instance Health Care Services for UK- retirees in Spain

    No Deal Brexit and Concern About the S1 and EHIC

    In few days The Government of Spain will issue a decree containing contingency plans for no-deal brexit. I don’t know if the issue above will be addressed but the decree will cover first and foremost issues with rigths of citizens.

    1. Ignacio

      No-deal Brexit: Brits in Europe furious over EU’s new contingency plan

      On the crucial subject of citizens rights the Commission has decided not to take action as a bloc but instead urge individual EU countries to take steps that would allow UK citizens to stay and give them time to apply for the relevant visa.

      But campaigners for Britons in Europe say the EU’s decision to leave the issue of citizens rights up to individual countries shows that the millions of EU citizens in the UK and the one million Brits in Europe have been “abandoned”.

      “This means that there will be no soft landing for over 1.2 million British nationals living on the continent who will have to adjust to life as third-country nationals overnight once all their EU rights have been stripped from them.”

      I think they don’t understand that these decissions have to be made at state level. Keep calm… and see what the relevant contigency plan brings

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Wow that’s… not helpful! If I was one of the hundreds of British pensioners in Spain I’d be in a panic reading that.

      The interesting thing is the distinction between ‘residents’ and others. I don’t know of official figures, but my understanding is that there may be many thousands of UK ‘residents’ in Spain who for tax reasons have not formally registered their residency. I would imagine they are in a serious situation as they wouldn’t even be able to use travel insurance.

      I would imagine though there is a good incentive for Spain to try to be generous on this – my understanding is that non Spanish residents are a major source of income for the health care system (as charges are transferred to their ‘home’ systems).

      Incidentally, I was in the Irish embassy in Lisbon last week. There were older people with very English accents there enquiring quite anxiously about their Irish passports.

      1. Ignacio

        It is a complex issue that migth become messy. In Spain healthcare is responsibility of the regional governments (Comunidades Autónomas). I’d prefer centralized administration. I guess that Andalusia and Comunidad Valenciana is where most UK’ers live

      2. Avidremainer

        British citizens do not qualify to use the NHS by virtue of being British. They qualify by virtue of paying their dues.
        It is perfectly possible to be British and have to pay the full cost of any treatments received from the NHS. The system is only free at the point of need, it still has to be paid for.
        Many British EU residents are in for an awful shock if they think HMG will ride to the rescue.

  27. William Hunter Duncan

    A “war” on plastic and a “war” on climate?

    If that goes as well as Libya, Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan, or our war on poverty…

    Does anyone here in America know how to use metaphors that do not call to mind death and destruction?

    1. Ignacio

      It is everywhere. ar on this, war on that… a bad sign of the times. We are so used to the word that it looks like war is the new normal.

    2. Pat

      Please do not forget the ‘war on drugs’.

      Although that has been a winner for CIA drug runners and the private prison system, so maybe I’m wrong about it NOT going well.

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      And at the same time, the word “peace” has all but disappeared from the political lexicon. Only an outcast Presidential candidate like Tulsi Gabbard dare utter it.

    4. Laughingsong

      My favorite usage recently was a little joke sign that read:
      “The war on drugs brought about more drugs and the war on terror brought about more terrorists. So let’s have a war on money and jobs and see where it goes.”

  28. Pat

    In today’s let the media ignore bigger issues for juvenile junk segment, the headline over at Yahoo is Baldwin wondering if Trump’s reaction to his latest SNL appearance is a threat against him and his family.

    *pounding head on desk*

    It is all too stupid on so many levels.

    1. notabanker

      I quit reading daily printed newspapers about 20 years ago. I stopped watching American cable news about 10 years ago. I stopped using Google news about 3 years ago. I refuse to pay for subscriptions to corporate owned media. I click out of anything that requires me to disable my ad blocker.

      I do not do that as some form of rebellion against the dark side of the force. Economically, it means nothing to those sources. I do it to keep my focus on being able to maintain a level of critical thinking. Otherwise, I get too distracted by it. I can’t afford to burn energy fighting propaganda, it’s just too voluminous.

  29. Wukchumni

    You a-go tired to see me face
    Can’t get me out of the race
    Oh, man, you said I’m out of place
    And then you draw bad card
    A-make you draw bad card
    And then you draw bad card

    Propaganda spreading over my name
    Say you want to bring another life to shame
    Oh, man, you just a-playing a game
    And then you draw bad card (draw bad card)
    A-make you draw bad card (draw bad card)
    A-make you draw bad card

    I want to erase my neighbors
    ‘Cause I’m feelin’ so right
    I want to turn to Mnuchin
    Blow them out tonight, eh
    In a rub-a-dub style, in a rub-a-dub style
    In a rub-a-dub style, in a rub-a-dub style

    ‘Cause we guarding the neoliberal palace so majestic
    Guarding the palace so realistic

    Them a-go tired to see me face (oh yeah)
    You say them can’t get me out of the race
    Oh, man, it’s just a big disgrace
    The way you draw bad card (draw bad card)
    The way to make foreclosure moves (make foreclosure moves)
    The way you draw bad card (draw bad card)
    A-make you draw bad card (draw bad card)
    A-make you draw bad card
    In a rub-a-dub style, rub-a-dub style
    In a rub-a-dub style

    1. Joe Well

      If only we lived in a more civilized society, these commoners would have been forced to refer to him as Sir Jeff by now. /s

      1. tegnost

        When I see the “vest picture” of bezos I think there must be a Kato, or like a washington generals level ninja team who randomly attack him but who are paid to be spectacularly beaten up. He’s becoming a caricature of himself in a mirror looking out

  30. xformbykr

    AAAS: Machine learning ‘causing science crisis’
    The subliminal message I picked up from the article is “we’re lost, and it’s AI’s fault”. IMO there is a lot wrong, albeit there seems to be a reproducibility crisis. Firstly, the second sentence of the article stated “increased use of such systems [machine learning applied to large datasets] was contributing to a crisis in science”. Wow, the headline made the simple leap from “increased use … contributing to” all the way to “causing”. (Come on, now.) Secondly, I suspect that a fault lies more with “big data” than with AI. Yes, the discovery algorithms applied to large datasets are regarded as AI. They attempt to ‘discover’ relationships in large, merged datasets in much less time than would be required by human efforts. The article’s first sentence tells us that these discoveries are about relationships that unfortunately don’t apply to future data. That is a limitation should be recognized and accepted.

  31. Wukchumni

    It finally snowed and stuck on the ground in a once every few years gig, nearly 1 glorious inch worth. Wraparound white has beat a retreat though, and is hanging out 1,500 feet above.

  32. Oregoncharles

    “When Kodak Accidentally Discovered A-Bomb Testing Popular Mechanics. From 2016; an example of mobilization’s down-side.”

    This has tremendous personal resonance, because I was born in 1945 just a few miles upriver from Vincennes, Indiana. And my wife, just a couple of years younger, grew up in Spokane, making her a Hanford downwinder. Fortunately, both of us have dodged that particular bullet so far, but you have to wonder how many Americans (to say nothing of others) died miserably because of the testing.

    In fact, there was an article years ago (hence no link – I remember the gist but not the title) arguing that the US had essentially bombed the southwest; the deathrate among the downwind residents was severe.

    There is a direct impact on the contemporary issue of nuclear power – and for that matter, Obama’s nuclear weapon program. The nuclear engineers and, worse yet, nuclear businesspeople, are essentially asking us to trust them. But if you look at the history, it’s quite clear that that would be self-destructive. Whatever their personal intentions, collectively they cannot be trusted. Corners will be cut and others will be endangered. Some of the Hanford releases in the 50’s were INTENTIONAL, to see what the wind would do.

    1. Synapsid


      In the mid 1950s we lived in Henderson NV, eleven miles east of Las Vegas. One morning when it was still dark my parents woke me up and we went outside and faced north. Wonderful starry sky, I always love desert sky.

      Then the entire bowl of the sky flashed like a searchlight, for part of a second, and went out. They’d set off another one up at Yucca Flat. The time had been announced on the radio I guess, so we wouldn’t miss it.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Yes, that’s what I remembered about the downwinders. They might as well have been near Hiroshima – worse, because it was over and over again.

          1. Synapsid

            Rev Kev,

            Back in 1991 I camped maybe a hundred yards from an abandoned uranium mine in the San Rafael Swell, east of the Wasatch range in Utah. The ore that had been taken out was the mineral carnotite, yellow-green and crumbly, and I hoped to get some samples for the lab without going into the old mine itself. Anyone who enters an abandoned mine is an idiot; the footprints going in and out testified to the idiot population in that part of Utah.

            I looked around the mouth of the adit (the thing was huge–they must have driven trucks in) and there was carnotite for the taking. I scraped some into a plastic bag and stowed it for the eventual trip home. It pegged the Geiger counter even when set on low sensitivity.

            Imagine working in a mine digging out a radioactive mineral that is crumbly; think of the air you had for breathing. Even an ordinary face mask isn’t going to save you, and these mines were worked in the 1950s–I doubt that respirators were the order of the day. Lung cancer was very common in uranium miners in the Southwest back then; carnotite dust added to the effects of smoking which was very common.

              1. Synapsid

                Lambert S,

                It was common knowledge back in the day, which makes it anecdotal but I expect it was more correct than not, that all the Navajo uranium miners died of cancer. It was said that the supervisors wore masks but the mine workers had none. I don’t know how accurate that is but it does speak to what was thought at the time: that everyone knew uranium mines in Navajo country were deadly.

                A scandal that got big in the 1960s and 70s was that in that region uranium-mine tailings had just been dumped, forming hills that kids rode their bikes up and down. That helped trigger attention to environmental cleanup in general.

            1. tegnost

              There was a spring near moab that we would fill water from when on mtn. biking trips there o too many years ago. One day while filling a guy walks up with a geiger counter….didn’t use that spring so much after that…

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > There is a direct impact on the contemporary issue of nuclear power – and for that matter, Obama’s nuclear weapon program. The nuclear engineers and, worse yet, nuclear businesspeople, are essentially asking us to trust them. But if you look at the history, it’s quite clear that that would be self-destructive. Whatever their personal intentions, collectively they cannot be trusted. Corners will be cut and others will be endangered.

      We certainly don’t know how to manage software; it’s not clear to me that we know how to manage nuclear plants at the required scale for GND. We do know how to manage aircraft, presumably because elites ride them. (Perhaps we should legally mandate that all elite bunkers be within range of a nuclear power plant?) This is probably a bad analogy, but I’ll forge ahead: If we have or could make nuclear plants as safe as airplanes (where safety is measured, say, by crashes and near-misses), how many Fukashimas would there be, under the conditions of a massive roll-out? Presumably one Fukashima in the next few decades would be acceptable as the price of not cooking the planet, but would ten? One hundred?

  33. barrisj

    Re: Huawei…the US is rapidly conceding telecom innovation to China, while protecting its own producers under the guise of “blocking potential cyberthreats”. Easier to throw on blanket import bans and tariffs than match or improve upon evolving technologies. Asia and Europe have far superior Internet access and speed than what is offered here, Chinese smartphones – on a dollar-for-dollar basis – outperform iPhones, Chinese-driven 5G rollout will occur first, and the upshot of all of the US actions trying to quash Chinese electronics innovations is in fact promoting a national policy within China to become self-sufficient in, e.g., semiconductor chips. “Loss of leadership” is largely self-inflicted, with US R&D expenditures stalling or giving way to “enhancing shareholder value” by stock buybacks, increased dividend payouts, the government bereft of some sort of unifying national R&D targets, the lot. All that American governments can do is fume about “IP theft”, “tilted playing fields”, “national security threats”, ignoring the massive state-catalyzed drive to technological superiority that characterizes China’s headlong progress in these fields.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the massive state-catalyzed drive to technological superiority that characterizes China’s headlong progress in these fields.

      Very true. OTOH, I don’t accept the notion of “innovation” as an unqualified good, and I don’t see why we need 5G. Or 4G or (if there was one) 3G or 2G. My 2G pay-as-you-go Nokia flipphone gave me all the functionality I need. We might also consider, since metal theft is an index of economic hard times, whether the rollout of millions of small cell-phone towers might not present risks not necessarily taken into account by the MBAs making the business case.

  34. Oregoncharles

    “Bodega owners rally for right to sell marijuana when its legalized”
    If they can sell alcohol, they should be able to sell marijuana.

    Oregon experience: recreational hemp is restricted to special “dispensaries,” not always the same as the ones that sell medical marijuana. That’s in parallel with Oregon liquor law, which creates special state-licensed stores for hard alcohol – but not for beer and wine, which are more like marijuana. The dispensaries aren’t particularly corporate; most are local small businesses, although there are so many that I’m sure there will be a lot of concentration.

    That doesn’t really make a lot of sense, but it was a sop to the moralistic pecksniffs that oppose legalization. It’s treated as a dangerous substance, like hard liquor, even though it isn’t. Rationalization will be the next step and of course the dispensaries will be against it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I would rather have marijuana sales and distribution be as non-corporate as possible. If “Package Stores for Pot*” is the best we can do, I’m for that….

      NOTE * I don’t know what kidz these days call cannabis. I always called it The word I heard used was “dope” (and definitely not “grass” or “weed”) but my understanding is that dope also covers white powders, so perhaps that’s not the word to use. Just waiting for “Pot Lite™” and so forth.

  35. Oregoncharles

    Health Insurance Coverage Eight Years After the ACA” – Just to drill it in:
    Uninsured went from 19% to 12%, a remarkably paltry gain for such a huge effort, albeit important to that 7%. It’s remained at 12% for a long time, revealing that the program was never intended to cover everyone.

    And at the same time, “underinsured” ROSE by the same amount, which makes me wonder why they say it’s due to changes in employer plans – though I know that those have been considerably crapified (my son’s was). It appears that those who got Obamacare plans, all 7%, are all underinsured.

    Incidentally, the percentage of uninsured did NOT increase when Trump rescinded the Mandate, proving, as I suspected, that it was unnecessary – a clear case of payoff to major donors (ie, corruption). The “markets” are also probably pointless; what worked was the subsidies, allowing people who wanted insurance but couldn’t afford it to get it, however inadequate. Those who didn’t want it didn’t get it, Mandate or no. And of course, some were actually worse off under Obamacare, so they wound up uninsured, too.

    1. Joe Well

      I agree with the above and would add that Obamacare represents a remarkable political self-own for the Democrats since private insurance was rapidly getting worse anyway, only now bad healthcare is mostly a Dem baby.

      In Massachusetts, when the state forerunner of Obamacare was debated ca. 2005, some of the defenders said we were likely only kicking the can down the road by 10-15 years but it would buy time to come up with something else or be rescued deus ex machina by the feds with national single payer. hahahahahaha

      1. Carey

        “insurance”, “coverage”, “access”; none of these are health *care*.

        Fight the obfuscation and obfuscators

    2. jrs

      The subsidies don’t work very well. They only work at all if you can predict your yearly income, but not everyone’s income is that smooth and predictable (sheesh they give us the gig economy, and then think we have predictable incomes). And due to Trump’s changes to the ACA there is such a penalty on silver plans that going off the market is often better.

      1. juliania

        in general, they lost it because of Obama, period. (And that’s a huge period! Should have said exclamation point!)

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Incidentally, the percentage of uninsured did NOT increase when Trump rescinded the Mandate, proving, as I suspected, that it was unnecessary – a clear case of payoff to major donors (ie, corruption). The “markets” are also probably pointless; what worked was the subsidies,

      Twas a truth universally acknowledged among neoliberals that the mandate was necessary for actuarial reasons, to force well people into the pool. The corruption would be cognitive, then.

      And yes, the markets did work in the sense that the number of insured in the aggregate did increase. Leaving aside the crapification of the policies, I would argue that eligibility was so random with respect to income, age, and jurisdiction as to amount to access to health care via sortition; certainly a novel concept in a putative democracy.

      In the end, ObamaCare has proved that Medicaid (a single, though not universal payer) works. Who knew? And it only took two presidential cycles to follow the kicked can down the road, open it, and find out it was empty. Well played, all.

    4. Pat

      One of the reasons the Swiss system has both pricing regulation and significant control over premium increases is that subsidies are not limited to those in a particular income range. If your insurance costs are greater than a particular percentage of your income you get a subsidy. Gives the Swiss government a real stake.

      Mind you there are a lot of rules and regulations in the Swiss system that keep costs lower and healthcare the goal not the after thought that were jettisoned in the various Americans adaptations. Even then their market based system is the most expensive one around. Ours still doesn’t count not being universal.

      A couple of commenters on another blog owe me money as they bought the clear bull that ACA would eliminate medical bankruptcy. I sometimes wonder if they have yet figured out yet how big a boondoggle Obama managed with his version of healthcare reform and that they fell for it.

  36. Joe Well

    I would imagine though there is a good incentive for Spain to try to be generous on this – my understanding is that non Spanish residents are a major source of income for the health care system (as charges are transferred to their ‘home’ systems).

    Would a Brexited UK accept the charges? Or maybe I’m not understanding this. My understanding was that the UK government was particularly stingy with pensioners living abroad, and there are many in Southeast Asia, for example, who are on the verge of starvation.

  37. Plenue

    >Pope asks for prayers for sex abuse summit at Vatican Associated Press

    Oh for the love of…gods have nothing to do with this. The Catholic Church is a manmade bureaucracy. Hold your damn priests to account. If you won’t do it, secular authorities will.

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