Links 3/4/19

Parrots ‘hooked on opium’ wreak havoc on Indian farmers’ crops Independent (Re Silc).

The allure of financial tricks is fading FT

Quadriga Crypto Mystery Deepens With ‘Cold Wallets’ Found Empty Bloomberg. I’m not sure it’s so much of a mystery….

Why Crypto Companies Still Can’t Open Checking Accounts Bloomberg. See above?

The Indy Explains: Can marijuana companies use banks? Nevada Independent

Two federal agencies investigating fatal Tesla crash in Florida MarketWatch

Customers flag bottled water smelling of ‘old socks’ and ‘urine,’ but CFIA says it poses no health risk CBC

Q&A: Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP Endocrine News. Disruption. In a bad way.


Brexit: UK ‘abandons’ key backstop demand in move set to spark Tory row Mirror

May gets Brexit boost from key Tories linked to backstop RTE

£1.6bn ‘bribe’ for poorer towns as May seeks Labour’s backing for Brexit deal Guardian

France’s minorities are angry, too. But they’re mostly sitting out of the yellow vest protests. WaPo. Can our commenters on the ground in France confirm or deny?

Portugal Dared to Cast Aside Austerity. It’s Having a Major Revival. NYT (UserFriendly).


Breaking the Silence The Intercept

War on Al-Aqsa: what is the price of a Netanyahu victory? Mondoweiss (CL: “Are the Palestinians in for a wagging of the dog?”).

Google, siding with Saudi Arabia, refuses to remove widely-criticized government app which lets men track women and control their travel Insider (CL). Ka-ching.


Venezuela’s Guaido to risk arrest as he returns home to challenge Maduro Reuters. “Our scene opens….”


Chinese tech scene hit by job cuts as austerity bites FT

Huawei exec sues Canada over detention Politico

Friday Song: ‘Outside World’ And Its Yearning And Heartbreak SupChina


Global ecommerce talks strike at roots of WTO, says India The Economic Times (J-LS).

Trump Transition

Mueller’s Final Report Will Ignite an Epic War Over Disclosure Bloomberg (Re Silc: “What won’t?”)

House Democrats ramp up investigations of Trump The Hill. Film at 11.

1 big thing: Scoop — Trump campaign clarifies 5G policy after catching administration off guard Axios


Why Donald Trump could win again, by Dave Eggers Guardian (s.n.). A must-read. Trump invades Beto’s house. Note the “diversity” of the crowd, as well as the size.

Bernie Sanders sends a warning to 2020 rivals with rollicking weekend rallies CNN

Sanders rally in Chicago:

Watch a Wisconsin Woman Name 27 Cheeses in 30 Seconds While Wearing a Cheese Hat Munchies

An unflinching look at violence in Chicago The Economist

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Black Agenda ADOS

Health Care

Hundreds of hospitals punished for lax safety. Here’s how to see if yours is one Ars Technica (CL). Look up your hospital.

Why Measles Is a Quintessential Political Issue of Our Time The New Yorker (KS).

Why measles is so deadly and vaccination so important Deutsche Welle

Realignment and Legitimacy

Trump’s Election and Brexit Proved “Revolt of the Public” Prophetic (interview) The Intercept (B). Former CIA analyst Martin Gurri: “The year 2011 proved to be the moment of phase change, when digital anger passed over into political action. That year saw the Arab insurgencies, but also the “indignados” movement in Spain, the ‘tent city’ protests in Israel, and dozens of Occupy movements in the U.S. All these political insurgencies began online. The public we first glimpsed when I was with CIA has since toppled dictators, smashed political parties, and of course elected outlandish populists to high office.” Interesting, but the quoted generalization is incorrect, at least for Tahrir Square, which began with Egyptian organizers (who also had a shadowy color revolution connection via OTPOR). Similarly, capital “O” Occupy in the US was preceded by a distinctly non-online series of state capital occupations. And the Carré Rouge movement in Quebec in 2012, which might be viewed as the “last gasp” of the Occupy “phase change,” began on the ground in Montréal with students rightly ticked off at tuition hikes. Substitute “became visible to CIA analysts” for “began,” and I would agree. But Gurri mistakes the pointing finger for the moon. As digital triumphalists will do. NC readers are, of course, familiar with all this, because we covered it at the time.

Ethical issues, staff mistreatment leads to uncertain future for PSU president The Oregonian

Class Warfare

Teachers in Oakland approve contract ending strike AP

Managers need new ways to deal with worker dissent FT. No doubt!

Employee Rights Under Siege as Arbitration Clauses Proliferate Pacer Monitor

What Does the Radical Left’s Future Look Like? New York Magazine

Five myths about socialism WaPo

‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Had Strong Opinions About Appalachians. Now, Appalachians Return the Favor. NYT (UserFriendly). “Conservative moralizing dangling off, like the price tag on Minnie Pearl’s hat” (!) is 180° wrong. The moralizing is the hat; the memoir is the dangling price tag.

You can’t do this dog’s job—but you could try to be half as good Quartz. Detector dogs. Interesting to transpose these requirements to AI.

Is Ethical A.I. Even Possible? NYT

The End of Economics? Foreign Policy (UserFriendly).

Who Links To Whom? The 30M Edge GKG Outlink Domain Graph April 2016 To Jan 2019 The GDELT Project.

Twilight Zone America Power of Narrative. Always good to see one of the last of the old-school bloggers still in the game.

Antidote du jour (via):

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. Harold

      How doth the little busy bee improve each shining hour?
      And gather honey all the day From every opening flower!

      Kind of gives the lie to bees as a symbol of industry. Maybe it is taking a “power nap.”

      1. Wukchumni

        You’ll see non producing beehives all over Utah if you keep your eyes open…

        Mormonism has its roots in Masonry, where the beehive is a prominent symbol.

        Brigham Young liked the symbolism of worker bees (the people), slaving their little asses off for the hive (Brigham).

        Brigham Young liked that the beehive referenced the Jaredite people in The Book of Mormon, whose word for beehive was, you guessed it — “Deseret”.

        1. Michael

          To be is to do…Kant

          To do is to be….Nietzsche

          do be do be do…Sinatra

          Refrig magnet for decades

      1. Anon

        That is two bees nearly enveloping the pollen producing elements of a (likely) poppy flower.

        The photograph appears to have been taken at high shutter speed; the bees appear in “stop-action”. They are unlikely to be lounging, as it appears.

    2. Samuel Conner

      In Autumn I’ve noticed carpenter bees getting “trapped” (my interpretation; but it seems highly plausible as there are no flyers remaining in previously busy flower patches) on flowers in late afternoon when the air temperature falls too low; evidently their flight muscles don’t operate well when it is cool. They overnight on the flower and leave in the morning after the sun warms them up.

      1. Wukchumni

        Owning a restaurant with outdoor seating in the summer-fall is a bit of a hurdle here, as we have what are called ‘meat bees’ and they don’t sting much, but love to linger over tucker on your plate, which is highly disconcerting to your customers as a rule of thumb and fingers holding utensils.

        1. Synapsid


          Are they bees, or wasps?

          Wasps are often called bees and in late Summer or early Fall especially they will go after meat. We watched a wasp cut a neat semicircle out of the edge of the bologna in a sandwich once, during a field course in the Cascades, and then fly away with it.

        2. JP

          Actually they are ground wasps. But do those suckers sting or bite? I’m not sure but I know personally they can draw blood, especially if you have food on your hands.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Some flowers function as solar collectors, apparently in order to attract bees. So they warm up faster on the flower – you can see all the radial lines around those two bees.

  1. zagonostra

    >WaPo: 5 myths of Socialism.

    If socialists want to convince Americans, Europeans and others that they have the best solutions to contemporary problems, they need to show that their policies can generate substantial wealth and resources as well as, simultaneously, a more equitable distribution.

    Hasn’t Social Security and Medicare done that? Hasn’t a for-profit healthcare system run by predatory insurance companies done that? Hasn’t the current unfettered financial capitalism that Michael Hudson and others so eloquently demonstrate in their writings put the onus of “convincing” squarely on capitalism?

    No Ms. Berman, I think the convincing is incumbent of those who prop up the corrupt current political system that allows for corporations to rig the system for special interest and against the common interest.

    It’s unfortunate that if socialism is associated with repressive regimes often enough no amount of “convincing” is going to change anyone’s mind, that’s the way propaganda work, no amount of listing of myths is going to penetrate. Sometimes, pain and suffering are the only teachers that can get through…

    1. Chris Cosmos

      So let’s change the name of socialism to something like “friendliness” or just “being helpful” to your neighbor. This sort of healthy-society socialism is quite distinct from “statism” that socialism often implies.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Socialism…associated with repressive regimes…

        Statism that socialism often implies…

        It’s a good sign we are progressing from the initial reaction of ‘good, they are calling us socialists,’ as we realize the word is being used to take advantage of decades-old/centuries-old popular mis-perception of it.

        There is work to do to overcome that, and whether it can be done before November, 2020, that’s the question.

      1. Aumua

        I thought that the ultimate goal of socialism is communism. But don’t tell that to the Post for god’s sake.

        1. Wukchumni

          That’d be E.P.I.C.

          The EPIC movement continued after Sinclair’s defeat. It “recalled a mayor, kicked out a district attorney, replaced the governor with one of our choice” between 1934 and 1938, according to Robert A. Heinlein, who by then was deputy publisher of the EPIC News. Heinlein also ran for State Assembly in Hollywood and Beverly Hills in 1938. He lost, causing him to take up science fiction writing to pay off his campaign debt.

          1. zagonostra

            Robert Heinlein, the dean of science fiction and my favorite author from my youth – had no Idea.

            I just finished reading his introduction to Theodore Sturgeon’s God Body ..thanks for info, NC commentatori is the best.

      2. Anarcissie

        Socialism is, or used to be, the ownership and control of the means of production by the workers or the community in general. ‘Democratic socialism’, as used currently by Mr. Sanders and company, is not socialism at all; it’s the good old capitalist Welfare state, and organized earliest by Bismarck, I believe, and somewhat exemplified by the New Deal. In such an arrangement, unlike literal socialism, political and economic power remain in the hands of a capitalist elite. Communism — any form — is not socialism at all. The misuse and smearing-out of language makes it very difficult to talk about anything because one has to precede every fact or opinion with a dictionary. But people must like that because so many of them do it.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Yes. And the original meaning of “socialism” has been so thoroughly lost that there is another word for worker ownership and control: syndicalism. Not necessarily anarchist.

          The quirk is that that usually means the various enterprises co-ordinate via market mechanisms. If centrally controlled, it wouldn’t be very syndical – in fact, it would be communism, in which the state is the ultimate capitalist. The bureaucracy is not the workers.

          The confusion between communism and socialism was deliberately promoted, first by the communists for their own benefit (as a disguise), then by capitalists, again for their own benefit (to make socialism look bad) – a good example of the reason for the “smearing-out of language.”

          Although there are syndical enterprises around, it has yet to be tried as a primary economic mode. For one thing, it requires distinguishing between market systems and capitalism, not at all the same thing – more linguistic confusion.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Before we get into too much hair-splitting about the definition of socialism here is the Congressional testimony exchange I’d like to see:

            AOC: “Mr. Powell, as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank your job is to oversee the banking system, is that correct?”

            Powell: “Yes, that’s right”.

            AOC: “And that system and the entire American economic system is based on capitalism, is that correct?”

            Powell: “Yes, of course”

            AOC: “Would you say that one of the defining features of capitalism is that bad businesses are allowed to fail, so that new, better-run businesses can replace them?”

            Powell: “Yes, and that’s what keeps the system healthy over time”.

            AOC: “And would you say that a defining feature of socialism is that the government steps in and provides support to businesses, even if those businesses are uneconomic and would otherwise fail because of free market forces?”

            Powell: “Yes, and we saw a big example of exactly why socialism like that is such a bad idea with the collapse of the Soviet Union”.

            AOC: “OK I would like a simple one-word answer to this next question. The General Accounting Office says that more than $15 trillion dollars was provided as bailouts to banks. Would you say, in one word please, that that is an example of capitalism or of socialism?”

            Powell: “Urg…snort… bleep… gurgle… choke”

            (Powell’s head then exploded. Experts later concluded the cause was a fatal level of cognitive dissonance pressure, as Powell tried to reconcile his entire career and the actions of his organization with the new reality he suddenly became aware of)

    2. a different chris

      >If socialists want to convince …. Europeans

      Funny how seemingly half the WaPo editorial output for most of my adult life has been screaming about European “socialism”. But now that we’re actually giving it a look, they need to pretend that we are seriously talking about communes or something and Yurp is all big-C Capitalism all the time.

      Good news, though, means the Overton window has just made a major shift. Hey, I’ll settle for a German level of social safety netting for sure. Bernie and AOC have completely flushed the Pelosi/Obama “start out halfway and then keep moving right and then give up” negotiating tactics down the drain, thank god.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Take a look at today’s article on the Gilets Jaunes and France’s lack of social mobility. Germany is right up there with them, at least in the second graph; which might say something about the rise of
        AfD and the general destabilization of their party system.

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      “Hasn’t the current unfettered financial capitalism that Michael Hudson and others so eloquently demonstrate in their writings put the onus of “convincing” squarely on capitalism?”

      if you can’t win the game, try moving the goalposts…

    4. Rajesh K

      Socialism myth no 6: that it will stay forever. The capitalists have nothing to fear. If lessons from the 1930s depression can be forgotten within one or two generations, so will the lessons from the Great Crash of 20xx.

      Once everyone is “equal”, it will be off to the races again.

      Wanna bet?

      The cycle of socialism/capitalism wins. The rest is just details.

      1. Wukchumni

        I propose SoCalism…

        Everybody buys homes from one another in a spiral of prosperity gospel sans dogma, in an attempt to get closer to the coast.

      2. Grant

        I couldn’t disagree more. The environmental crisis will put an end to capitalism as we know it. I don’t assume that socialism will take its place, we could see a brutal, authoritarian, undemocratic and inequitable system take its place, but the environmental crisis calls for radical changes one way or another. Besides, in the past, capitalism did perform a bit better for the domestic economy and working people than capitalism does now. Given this and how the international economy has been structured, I don’t see how most people will have the luxury of living in a bubble in the decades ahead. I also think that, even without the environmental crisis, increased socialization is beyond question at this point. It is getting pretty hard, for example, to argue against more socialization of some kind within the healthcare system. I don’t think that will be out of the question in regards to banking, publicly owned ISPs, remunicipalizing utilities, Warren’s idea of a public enterprise producing generic drugs at cost, or non-state socialization like worker owned enterprises. The dominant ideas and institutions don’t work well anymore, and our problems are structural. I don’t see much from the right that would qualify as actual solutions, and those that want the system to remain don’t have much to offer either.

    5. Jeff W

      Haven’t the Nordic countries shown that? Matt Bruenig makes the case pretty well:

      In Finland, where I know the situation the best, there are 64 state-owned enterprises, including one called Solidium that operates as a holding company for the government’s minority stake in 13 of the companies.

      The Finnish state-owned enterprises include an airliner called Finnair; a wine and spirits maker called Altia; a marketing communications company called Nordic Morning; a large construction and engineering company called VR; and an $8.8 billion oil company called Neste.

      In Norway, the state manages direct ownership of 70 companies. The businesses include the real estate company Entra; the country’s largest financial services group DNB; the 30,000-employee mobile telecommunications company Telenor; and the famous state-owned oil company Statoil [now called Equinor].

      Bruenig says, including Denmark and Sweden, “Nordic economies are…home to large public sectors, strong job protections, and labor markets governed by centralized union contracts.”

      Given that, as Bruenig notes, “Each [of the Nordic economies] has an efficient single-payer health care system, free college, long parental leave, heavily subsidized child care, and many other social benefits too numerous to list here,” I’d hazard a guess that these socialist policies, involving large public sectors, strong labor protections and generous social benefits, do “generate substantial wealth and resources as well as, simultaneously, a more equitable distribution” (or, at least, don’t act as a bar against them).

      [I’m not so sure I would necessarily equate “socialism” with state ownership particularly but, since that’s how critics seem to tend to view it, I’d argue on their terms.]

      1. Oregoncharles

        State ownership isn’t really socialism, either, by Marx’s original definition. The bureaucracy is not the workers.

        It often makes sense for natural monopolies like utilities. I suspect the Scandinavian state ownership is being used for purposes of regulation, like Warren’s idea of a state-owned, not profit drug company. I wonder what their governance is like?

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Parrots ‘hooked on opium’ wreak havoc on Indian farmers’ crops”

    Maybe the US military should have introduced those parrots to Afghanistan to attack the opium crops there. Aerial assaults that you can believe in!

  3. Michael

    Hi, I’ve been living in France since 1984. From my perspective, a lot of the Magraban (North Africans) have been so beaten down financially and morally and of course, physically they’re content to let others bear the brunt. A lot live in large housing projects built over 50 years old and have not had much of a chance to escape. A lot of North Africans work for/with the yellow vests, and usually for low pay.
    “They’ve been there, seen that and have done it, already, and for a lot longer”.

    I think once things really start to rot we’ll see a morphing of their frustrations and maybe a more explosive form of social upheaval.

    1. Summer

      The suburbs surround the cities and the countryside surrounds the suburbs.

      Are they (suburban) residents in between a rock and a hard place or does it become a strategic position in an upheaval?

        1. mary jensen

          The French is as follows:

          maghrébin/maghrébine and if muslim: musulman/musulmane


    2. David

      I can’t get through the WP paywall, but the headline, at least, makes the mistake of assuming that “minorities” are a coherent group, all with the same interests and concerns. There are lots of “minorities” in well-paid middle-class jobs (every dentist I’ve ever had has been an Algerian for example). There are also lots of “minority” French people among the gilets jaunes, but the reason this doesn’t get more publicity is that they don’t see themselves as separate from the society and the community where they live. The case of the banlieus is very different, and I suspect that’s what’s really being referred to here. Aplogies to those who can read the story itself.

      1. ChristopherJ

        Paywalls are broken by and others

        Annoying vids and ads? Use the site

      2. Yassine

        The journalist indeed makes the mistake of confusing people living in the banlieues with “the minorities”, ignoring, for example, that there are descendants of immigrants living in rural areas and participating in the gilets jaunes movement. But overall, the article is thorough and nuanced in explaining why the banlieues have not joined the gilets jaunes.

      3. Procopius

        Don’t know if posting this is against site policy or not, but if you know how to manage cookies removing all cookies containing “washingtonpost” in their names will allow you to access WP stories three or four times, and then you have to do it again. I only access WaPo when a link takes me there. I got disenchanted with them when Fred Hiatt turned the op-ed page into a neo-conservative propaganda mill and fired Dan Froomkin.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Google, siding with Saudi Arabia, refuses to remove widely-criticized government app which lets men track women and control their travel”

    Maybe I can reword this story a little better. So, a bunch of tools at Google in discussions with a bunch of tools in Saudi Arabia, agreed that those tools there can keep on using a tool to keep their wives under their thumb. Great going Google! People are so proud of you.

    1. Eclair

      Regard the fable of the frog and the scorpion: when the scorpion fatally stings the frog, it is only because ‘that is the nature of the scorpion.’

      The nature of any corporation is to increase profits and maximize shareholder value. They are amoral. We should cease to be surprised when they do ‘evil’ things.

      From a letter to the construction managers at an SS Camp, written by the the head of a German firm, C H Kori.

      “Following our verbal discussion regarding the delivery of equipment of simple construction for the burning of bodies, we are submitting plans for our perfected cremation ovens which operate with coal and which have hitherto given full satisfaction.”

      Correspondence from another firm reads: “For putting the bodies into the furnace, we suggest simply a metal fork moving on cylinders.”

      (These letters are in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by Robert Schirer.)

      I am not suggesting we should allow such amorality to go unheeded.

        1. Eclair

          Thank you for the correction, Rev. I was rushing out for an appointment and was distracted!

    2. David

      I hate to say it, but the problem with this kind of criticism is that it presupposes that some moral judgements and social customs are inherently and objectively right, and some are wrong. As I understand it, this app supports a widespread social norm in the Gulf that women should not go out of the house except in the company of a male relative. A lot of people in the West would be unhappy with such a custom (even though 150 years ago social attitudes in parts of the West were not so different), but you would need to be able to explain to someone from the region why, and how, that position was morally and logically wrong. I’m not sure that can be done, any more than, for example, a completely persuasive moral and logical judgement can be made about whether apps to track the whereabouts of convicted pedophiles in your area should be allowed, or even encouraged.
      And however highly we may think of our own moral standards (which are probably different from those of our parents, and very different from those of our grandparents), we also have to accept that they are far from universal. When I was young, for example, homosexuality was a serious crime, and that reflected widespread social condemnation of it. In large parts of the world today, popular views of homosexuality are similar to those of the West in the early 1960s. I think if people in parts of Africa, for example, were to hear that Apple and Google actually promote apps to help homosexuals find each other, they would regard it as evil and disgusting, and call for the apps to be banned immediately. We take it for granted that our moral views, where they conflict with the views of non-westerners, are better. So an app which helps men track their wives is evil, whilst an app which helps homosexuals find each other is fine. As for an app which tracks pedophiles, well, we’ll get back to you when we’ve worked that one out, but once we’ve decided, our views will be binding on everybody else.
      Frankly, I’m too aware of the limitations of my own moral judgements to impose them easily on other people, or for that matter companies most of whose business is outside the West.

      1. kareninca

        Ah, good old moral relativism. The appeal to it reminds me of my first philosophy course.

        Now, this is a very crude counterexample, but, using your reasoning, the social norm of killing Jews in Hitler’s German would be fine. So would the social norm of slavery in the American South. So would the social norm of Apartheid in South Africa. And the social norm of killing albinos for their body parts in some areas of Africa.

        If these are all things that are fine from your perspective, since they are just instances of the social norms of other cultures being acted on – well, I’m not sure what to say. If there is some way to distinguish them in principle from the subjection of women in Saudi Arabia and the prosecution of gays in Africa, I’d be curious to know what it is (hint: there is no distinction).

        Also, you are arguing that because modern Western moral views can’t be supported from first principles, people in the West should tolerate others’ moral views. That actually doesn’t follow logically. Their moral views can’t be supported from first principles either. There is no overarching “principle of tolerance” that can itself be derived from first principles, that we are obliged to apply.

        Another issue is the question of whether one should tolerate the intolerant. If the Saudis could, they would absolutely impose their moral rules on me. Why should I not reciprocate, and impose my norms on them? Because I believe in tolerance (see above; you can’t ground tolerance in first principles)? Tolerance grounded in radical relativism is a Western invention; by tolerating the Saudis I would be acting on a recent Western social norm. Tsk tsk. Perhaps I should act on their social norm – which is to tell other cultures what to do if I have the power to?

        In any case, it is certainly economically convenient for large multinational corporations to not care about human rights abuses; that is a lucrative position. At this point they can’t even be bothered to hire apologists.

        1. David

          There was no social norm of killing Jews in Germany. Studies of Gestapo files show how difficult the Nazis found it to stir up anti-jewish feeling among most of the population
          But that’s not the point. I haven’t said that any particular norm is “fine.” I’m not making value judgements at all. I know which moral standards I think are “fine” and I will fight to defend them, even if I have changed my mind about some of them during a reasonably long life. But in the end, and no matter how strongly I hold them, they are my judgements, just as your judgements are yours. We are no different from any other age, in that we assume that our moral judgements are superior to those of the past, even the recent past, and to those of other cultures. We may be right, but we have to accept that some things cannot be proved. You’re confusing the unarguable fact that values can and do change radically over time with the suggestion that therefore all values must be treated the same, which is a classic misunderstanding.

          1. kareninca

            ” I’m not making value judgements at all.”

            You’re making numerous value judgments, but you’re not willing to admit it.

            “I know which moral standards I think are “fine” and I will fight to defend them” isn’t a value judgment???

            “You’re confusing the unarguable fact that values can and do change radically over time with the suggestion that therefore all values must be treated the same”

            I’m not confusing the two claims. You are making both of them. The first – that values may change – you admit to making. The second – that all values should be treated the same – you go back and forth on. First you make it sound like we should respect other traditions (and thus treat them all the same). Then you say we should fight for what we think is right. You go back and forth.

      2. newcatty

        David, I regret to say it, but moral relativism is often the rationale for excusing or, in some cases, condoning amoral or harmful behavior. Mixing the examples of tracking pedophiles in a society with tracking women is a clear example of comparing Apple’s to oranges. Really? If a culture, society or nation state continues to Continue a “social norm” of controlling female members of that society, because of its historical reference, that is not a moral absolute that needs to be excused by others in the world. It is right , imnoho, to speak out against such a practice. Pedophilia is an absolute amoral and criminal behavior. There is no justification, or rationale, to condone or allow it in any society. Children are children and should be protected in any moral society. The fact that some cults or organizations condone, or even encourage, child brides is not moral. Child labor is not moral. Child neglect is not moral. Child abuse is not moral. Child slavery and trafficking for use and abuse is not moral. The genital mutalalization of young girl’s in some countries is not moral. Yes, homosexuality is not to be condemned, but children being used by men or women whether heterosexual or homosexual is amoral. There are moral absolutes in a just, compassionate and rule of law society. It’s admirable that you are “too aware of the limitations of my (your ) own moral judgements to impose them easily on other people…or for that matter companies…outside the West.” It is important to be non judgemental about others. It’s also crucial to stand up for what is morally right in any society.

        1. David

          Thanks for a thoughtful response. It all comes down to the question of whether you believe that moral judgements are, or can ever be, shown to be true, in the sense that, say, scientific judgements can be. There’s a long tradition of trying to demonstrate this, including taking precepts from the Bible or the Koran (thus the current example). But not only was and is there controversy over which moral values these books teach, most people today don’t accept that they are the last word either. So we are thrown back on human-derived norms and values, and, for the last couple of hundred years we have also ignored the other principal source for moral and values: tradition. Indeed, morals and values have changed at a breathtaking pace, often precisely in opposition to tradition. Some philosophers (Spinoza, Kant) tried to use logic and rationality to resolve this problem, but without much success. Inasmuch as there is a current philosophy of morals or ethics it’s a vaguely liberal one of “do your own thing”, coupled with, and often opposed by, increasingly vociferous demands to limit peoples’ ability to do their own thing when that thing offends us, or might offend somebody else. “That is morally wrong” means in practice nothing more than “I don’t approve of it.” Thus the current confusion.
          Relativism is often misunderstood. In the end, it’s no more than a recognition that, outside a universally shared moral framework, there can be no final, logically provable, moral standards. Indeed, such standards are observably changing all the time, and the undiluted evils of a century ago are the unquestioned orthodoxies of today. This is just simple observation, not a value judgement. In the end, I’m quite sure that we should fight for moral values we believe in, and it’s quite right to seek to convert others to those values. But we have to recognise that in fifty years entirely different values may be the norm. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and values, but nobody is entitled to assume, and act, as though those values were universally true.

          1. kareninca

            “Indeed, such standards are observably changing all the time, and the undiluted evils of a century ago are the unquestioned orthodoxies of today. This is just simple observation, not a value judgement.”

            You are using that fact as a principle of action, and so you are using it as a value judgment. You are not using it as a simple observation.

            “In the end, I’m quite sure that we should fight for moral values we believe in, and it’s quite right to seek to convert others to those values.”

            You are backtracking here. This does not follow from your original post.

            1. witters

              Well, I think David is right, and it does follow. And I really do think many believe they know far more about relativism than they do. (This is because for many the very mention of the term tends to kick in immediate morally loaded reactions of repudiatory absolutism). Anyway, for those with a real interest in the topic, I suggest starting with the very useful Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy here:

              1. kareninca

                It is certainly true that many believe they know far more about relativism than they do.

                Instead of simply asserting that you agree with David, why not explain why you agree with him? Mentioning the existence of reference material (which btw I am well familiar with) is not the same as engaging in debate.

          2. Harold

            I am not sure you can cavalierly dismiss Kant and Spinoza’s (and Adam Smith’s ) attempts to rationalize morality as having had “little success.” In fact maybe rationality is the wrong word, since Kant specifically wrote about the limits of rationality, and there was wide agreement that morality was based on empathy rather than reason. Not that I am an expert or anything.

            1. witters

              Unless “reverence for the [Moral] Law” is an empathic matter, then Kant is certainly not basing morality on empathy. In fact he explicitly and often repudiates any basis that claims to rest on “sentiment.” Morality rests rather (so K says) on our nature as “centres of pure practical reason” – of which he takes the constitutive logic to be captured in the Categorical Imperative.

      3. Gary

        The problem of immutable right and wrong in moral judgements is indeed a tricky one. I see as axiomatic that government and laws depend on the consent of those who’s lives are subject to them, and consent is the critical word. Yes, restricting female freedoms is a longstanding social norm in many places, and even in the west women could not have checking accounts or credit cards without their husband’s permission well into the 1960s. It’s all fine to say that it’s our way, or custom, we like it that way, but I suspect allowing the women to vote on it would yield unsurprising results, and that’s why the men won’t allow it.

      4. Oregoncharles

        ” (even though 150 years ago social attitudes in parts of the West were not so different)”
        A sudden Aha!: this is why women were willing to be pioneers; it was difficult and dangerous, but provided far more freedom than urban life. Of course, in somewhat different ways that was often men’s motivation, too.

      5. Plenue

        No amount of ‘eh, they’re a different culture’ is going to make me approve of or accept treating 50% of the population as objects.

  5. integer

    It’s the one year anniversary of the Skripal incident today, with many questions still remaining unanswered. I recently read the following article and found it to be one of the better efforts at reconstructing the chain of events from the available data that I’ve come across:

    The Alternative Skripal Narrative The Saker

    This is the alternative narrative I will set out in detail here so that the reader can judge whether it forms a more plausible and coherent story than the mishmash of improbabilities, absurdities and contradictions served up by the British police and MI6. Of course in the absence of all the facts we must sometimes use imaginative reconstruction to fill in the gaps, but the point is to see how many thorny problems, raised by the facts we do have, can be solved by this narrative and cannot be solved by the official one.

    1. Chirs Cosmos

      It certainly makes sense and may explain the stunning ludicrousness of the story. The tragedy is that the intel agencies knew the public would kind of accept the my-dog-ate-my-homework story that the media blasted out even though every single bit of evidence would have led to anything other than the conclusion they came to.

    2. David

      Al very amusing, with its “if”s, “maybe”s and “perhaps”s, but it does show that with a vivid enough imagination a number of disconnected stories can always be made to fit together. A would-be spy-novelist here, I suspect. It’s always easy, but always wrong, to fall into the logical trap of saying “because I find the official version hard to believe, literally any other interpretation must be true.”

      1. Plenue

        I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m still waiting for an explanation as to why a nerve agent supposedly multiple times more deadly than the already effectively instantly lethal VX has completely failed to kill a single person.

        Alternative explanations as to what really happened may engage in grasping at straws, but that doesn’t change the fact that the official story is literally the stupidest thing to come out of the post-2016 fever dream (with the possible exceptions of ‘Russia hacked the Vermont energy grid!’ and Maddow’s amazing ‘Russia might freeze Americans to death!!11one’).

        1. ChrisPacific

          I don’t know what to make of it myself. The official version is pretty obviously a lie, but I’m having trouble seeing it as any kind of frame-up either, simply because you would expect them to make a better job of it if it was.

          I suspect that in reality it was something like the Sy Hersh report on the killing of Osama Bin Laden – somebody’s operation that went off the rails somehow and ended up with a lot of messy and public consequences, for which nobody was prepared to admit the real reason. So they settled on the least implausible/most politically convenient version and went with that. At the time it was clear if you read between the lines that Porton Down, for example, had been strong-armed into producing a conclusion that fit the official narrative and wasn’t happy about it.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Yeah, everything is off about the whole story. Just read this morning that they are replacing the roof of the Skripal house. Why just the roof? I have no idea and they won’t tell you anyway. When the government gives you a bowl of propaganda chocolate to eat but you notice that it smells kinda funny, then perhaps the government is not actually giving you chocolate to swallow.

      2. integer

        It’s always easy, but always wrong, to fall into the logical trap of saying “because I find the official version hard to believe, literally any other interpretation must be true.”

        Who’s saying that? Nobody, that’s who, and it seems fairly disingenuous on your part to suggest that anyone is. I think it’s reasonable to engage in speculation, and no one is claiming that the article is anything but, least of all the author. The article puts forward what I regard as a plausible sequence of events – certainly more plausible than the official narrative – but regarding something as plausible is not the same as accepting it as established fact. Your position seems to be that if the public is lied to in a blatantly obvious fashion, then it is always wrong to speculate as to what might be the truth of the matter. I don’t agree with that.

  6. Wukchumni

    At this time 150 years ago, measles brought down the 60 Yokuts tribes here in reverse decimation, leaving only about 10% left to tell the tale.

    Settlers and the Wukchumni band of Yokuts here had a good relationship, and when they all started dying, one of the things the Indians did differently was they all had sweat lodges by the river, so the settlers burned every one of them, thinking it must be the culprit.

    Out of it, came the very first Native American Ghost Dance in 1870, held in Eshom Valley, about 20 miles away from where i’m pecking on this keyboard presently. The survivors reckoned if they held a marathon dance lasting a week, their loved ones who perished would come back from the dead.

    Yokuts tribes populated the San Joaquin Valley, from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (“the delta”) south to Bakersfield and the adjacent foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which lies to the east.

    In the northern half of the Yokuts region, there were some tribes inhabiting the foothills of the Coast Range, which lies to the west. There is evidence of Yokuts inhabiting the Carrizo Plain and creating rock art in the Painted Rock area.

    Robert F. Heizer and Albert B. Elsasser 1980 suggested that the Yokut had numbered about 70,000.

    They had one of the highest regional population densities in pre-contact North America.

  7. el_tel

    The anti-vax movement is one that drives me up the wall perhaps more than any other. Those who claim that “it’s our choice to not vaccinate and affects no others” are talking rubbish. There are infants and those whose immune systems are weak/malformed mean they have NO other defence other than herd immunity. The map of socio-economic advantage in Sydney was shown to predict levels of vaccination – and I saw it anecdotally first hand, living in one of the poshest parts of Australia – a man literally dragging his obviously whooping cough-infected child across the road to go to a set of shops that boasted all the usual stuff (no GMOs etc). Talk about getting your priorities wrong. Plus a “libertarian” US friend who got whooping cough thought such parents should be shot: I assumed he was being inconsistent and hadn’t been vaccinated. He HAD. But the pertussis vaccination is NOT life-long: it was assumed that when given (like when he and I had it), its 30-year-odd benefit would be sufficient since whopping cough would be eradicated within a couple of decades. The problem was the scientists never counted on stupid people.

    I know this sounds awful and contrary to modern democratic norms, but I think those who refuse to vaccinate should all be forced to live in an area that is physically isolated from everyone else. Let them experience a major measles/whooping cough epidemic to teach ’em: my grandma said it best – “the burnt hand teaches best”.

    And publications like the Guardian should be prosecuted: they had PROPER scientists like Ben Goldacre who wrote columns…..yet they contributed to the whole “there may be something in the autism thing” story….largely because the journos writing such stories didn’t understand basics such as statistical significance, and that “giving each side 50/50 coverage” is NOT a valid scientific criterion when you look at sample sizes, issues of confounding, etc etc.

    1. a different chris

      I agree everybody should be vaccinated. Heck, the Aztecs would have developed a vaccination program of some sort, had they known.

      But the problem is the “scientists” pushed things like Wonder Bread as good for you and so they dug a lot of their current hole themselves. And didn’t one of the “inert” ingredients in vaccines wind up to not be so inert? Not a good look. So, in a world of well-paid supposed experts, in a country where 15% of every dollar goes to the medical field, I’m not pointing fingers at Jenny Mc, Mc… what’s her name. This is yet another elite failure, the anti-vaxxers are just a symptom.

      I wish we could vaccinate against elite failures somehow…

      1. Wukchumni

        People forget how ravaging eradicated diseases were, scarlet fever sounds more like she’d be a porn star now.


        We were skiing @ Heavenly about 20 years ago and Jenny McCarthy was learning how with an instructor, attired in a shocking pink 1 piece ski-suit. She played hard to miss.

        1. Phenix

          Scarlett Fever is a strep infection. There is no vaccine.

          Small Pox on the otherhand is locked away by the US and Russia. That was a useful vaccine.

          The current vaccine schedule is too aggressive. If you do not adhere to the CDC schedule you are considered unvaccinated. Babies do not need a Hep B vaccine at birth.

    2. Chirs Cosmos

      So you don’t see why people distrust the authorities? You don’t see that people are concerned for their children and feel they aren’t getting straight answers from the authorities? There is good reason, for example, not to trust Big Pharma–don’t you understand that the ONLY mission of these companies despite their BS PR is to make a ton of money? It should be well-known by now that medical data cannot be trusted–doesn’t mean it’s “wrong” it just means there are complicated issues here that aren’t easily resolved. So I think you should reconsider the coercive force of the authorities who like nothing more than to bust people. I don’t have an answer. I do know that one of my children reacted visibly badly to immunizations in the 80s and who is, in fact, on the autism spectrum though very high functioning. No one is doing, in my opinion, much work on what is causing the amazing growth in autism. Maybe it’s not immunizations but it has to be something.

      1. BCD

        I’m all for healthy skepticism but burying your measles infected child due to mistrust of authority is a high bar to clear on the “this is totally rational fear” scale. It turns out that misunderstanding the risk/reward equation in the case of measles vaccinations leads to a higher probability of having to lay your child to rest in a casket some day than having to deal with an autistic child. The “coercive force of the authorities” regarding the measles vaccine has been so ready to “bust people” that communities are now having measles epidemics. That dude in Louisiana who got sentenced to 13 years in prison for possessing 9 joints wishes he could get this kind of “coercive force of the authorities”.

          1. BCD

            In unexposed native populations the death rate from measles has been seen as high as 67%.

            In modern times from 0.2% in healthy people with access to healthcare on up to 10+% in poor malnourished children. Worldwide 2.6 million people died of measles in 1980 from 8.4 million reported cases. There were more than 800,000 reported infections in the US in 1954 alone and there were a lot of dead kids as a result. Also measles and the related things that come with it can cause nasty long term consequences like blindness, hearing loss, and permanent brain damage.

            I’ve seen the myriad “convincing” articles trying to make claims about measles being the lesser of 2 evils citing rising Autism rates and inflated data which doesn’t correct for past miss-classification while claiming no deaths in the USA with more than a new 99% vaccinated population. Obviously vaccinated people rarely die of measles and Autism cases were often misdiagnosed as downs syndrome or something else prior to the mid 90’s. If there is a large enough population of unvaccinated people studies indicate mourning parents will be the result even in the USA with access to good healthcare.

      1. ChristopherJ

        Thank you, gf. I did not realise the extent to which children in the US are subjected to vaccinations.

        Very interesting presentations

        1. ChristopherJ

          I’ll add that, in Australia, your children can’t go to school unless you have the vacc certificate.
          I got measels and mumps as a child, and chicken pox iirc, my life was never in danger. Measels is rarely fatal

          I will give the pro choice people a little bit more respect after watching this man talk.

          Those autism numbers, an increase of 16% per year since 2000. Just shocking and never a word from the msm. Lot of money in vaccinations

          1. Oregoncharles

            they took the mercury out of vaccines somewhere around 2000, but the autism epidemic kept right on. So it wasn’t the mercury, but nobody knows WHAT it is. (The obvious candidate is pretty obvious, but no one will pay for that research.)

            There are religious groups, like the Seventh Day Adventists and Christian Scientists, who don’t use vaccinations. They provide a readily available control population.

            Personally, I think vaccinations are one of the great blessings of modern medicine. They and public hygiene are the reasons we live so long. Prevention always trumps cure. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t problems; it’s just that mercury causing autism isn’t one of them. Would be nice to know what it did cause, though. The worst effect, as others have pointed out: it provided rational grounds for distrust. That is hard to fix.

    3. cuibono

      “Between 1900 and 1963, the mortality rate of measles dropped from 13.3 per 100,000 to 0.2 per 100,000 in the population, due to advancements in living conditions, nutrition, and health care—a 98% decline (Fig. 1).2,5 Malnutrition, especially vitamin A deficiency, is a primary cause of about 90,000 measles deaths annually in underdeveloped nations.6 In the U.S. and other developed countries, 75–92% of hospitalized measles cases are low in vitamin A.7,8

      Research studies and national tracking of measles have documented the following:

      1 in 10,000 or 0.01% of measles cases are fatal.3
      3 to 3.5 in 10,000 or 0.03–0.035% of measles cases result in seizure.9
      1 in 20,000 or 0.005% of measles cases result in measles encephalitis.4
      1 in 80,000 or 0.00125% of cases result in permanent disability from measles encephalitis.4
      7 in 1,000 or 0.7% of cases are hospitalized.10
      6 to 22 in 1,000,000 or 0.0006–0.0022% of cases result in subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE).”

    4. el_tel

      So many points that can be knocked down (and indeed have been on NC in the past).

      First of all, posting youtube vids to show why your anti-vax views are right? Try posting a peer-reviewed scientific article or three. There are plenty…and NOT sponsored by “big pharma”.

      Autism increase? Could be greater reporting…but, as NC itself reported, there has been a suspicious collapse in gut bacteria over the past few decades which is equally, if not more likely to explain things. MAOI antidepressants act on the gut and the brain….the link between gut and brain was established over 50 years ago. Try looking it up.

      The Lancet article was quickly discredited….and grossly wrong ones are quickly discredited.

      The “too aggressive” argument regarding immunisation has never been proven. Indeed splitting the vaccinations has indisputably led to kids not getting all their vaccinations (Japan showed this) – thanks to the new UK online systems I recently was able to look up my baby vaccinations. My mum missed one for measles, despite the fact she swears blind she followed up every single one for me. My younger sister didn’t get whooping cough one (thanks to the first erroneous scare). She has had pneumonia twice following her bout of whooping cough as a kid thanks to being unvaccinated.

      If you’re going to argue against, please use peer-reviewed articles and look up the past articles NC has posted regarding autism.

      1. eyelladog

        Do you blindly ask for the vaccinations for your kids?

        Or do you have the ingredients read to you? Do you make a decision that maybe x ingredient may not be what you want in your child?

        Since you want to use ‘anectdotal evidence’, my girlfriend is a nurse and sees aluminum in practically every vaccination product. Very few ever ask about the ingredients, as there is a version without aluminum, but that is not what is administered if you don’t ask. Aluminum is considered a neurotoxin and it is about accumulation since the body doesn’t really know how to eliminate it. Aluminum seems to accumulate in the brain and is being looked at as a reason for Alzheimer’s. . Great start to a child’s life, especially since they will then run the gauntlet of endocrine disruption (oh hey, an article about that today…)

        Finally, the schedule for vaccinations has become much more aggressive and overloaded, this can be easily found by simply looking at schedules from the 60s, 80s and now. The infant is almost better off with their mother’s milk, which does provide basic immune function ability until the infant develops their own system. Maybe that infant gap would be better if mom’s breast-fed instead of formula which is developed where?

        Basic nutrition of the mother and improvements in sanitation are more important than a vaccination. The vaccination is akin to a baseball pitcher’s hand in the entire motion of throwing a ball. The last bit to gap some velocity and control the pitch.

        How about smarter vaccination technique as opposed to overloading systems that have little flexibility over the first few years?

        What drives me up the wall is that people are so black/white on this. There is a massive amount of gray area, yet each side drives at each other with word cudgels like they know what’s best for everyone and their kids.

        1. el_tel

          Do you blindly ask for the vaccinations for your kids?

          yes. I go by the clinical trial evidence over literally millions of vaccinated kids, with follow-up over decades. I don’t just look on youtube.

          I gave an anecdote merely to support a HUGE Japanese study. What’s your HUGE study your anecdote supports?

          You make a series of unsupported statements regarding “aggressive” and “overloaded”. By WHAT EPIDEMIOLOGICAL STANDARD? And WHAT OUTCOME?

          Again, please quote a proper peer-reviewed study questioning mainstream vaccinations. Can’t? Yeah, doesn’t surprise me. NC has, as I already said, done this issue to death years ago. Please stop propagating youtube stuff which, if I were to be rude, would call “fake news”.

          If and when a huge, multi-country study shows some reason to worry about a specific vaccine (most likely one of its ingredients) then I’ll worry. That has NOT happened yet for any of the vaccinations we are discussing here and with a timeline spanning decades.

          Whilst people can quite legitimately disagree with my original view on segregating people, I find your kind of interventions deeply worrying and contrary to stuff NC has discussed in the past.

        2. newcatty

          Thank you for your thoughtful and reasoned response. It is , indeed, become a black and white argument. It seems interesting that a reasonable question regarding the number of, and the tight scheduling of vaccines starting with infants into young childhood , is equated with being an “anti-vaxer”. Also, what is the logical and medicallly necessary rationale for aluminum being in any vaccine? ISTR , the tragedy of a certain corporation pushing infant formula on some third world countries ,that had for their past cultural practices , mothers breast feeding their babies. In this case throwing out the babies with the mother’s milk was too real. Mothers, when not having access to clean water, or little potable water, were mixing the “formula” into contaminated water. It unsurprisingly led to sick babies. One of the most pernicious and devastating illnesses being infant diarhrea. Since the babies were not getting immunity from mother’s milk, the instances of other diseases increased. Evil, indeed.

          1. ewmayer

            “what is the logical and medicallly necessary rationale for aluminum being in any vaccine?”

            From the article I linked in the long comment that disappeared: “Aluminum is used in vaccines as an adjuvant. An adjuvant is vaccine component that boosts the immune response to the vaccine. Adjuvants allow for lesser quantities of the vaccine and fewer doses.”

            Now back to your agnotological mutual-support-showing…

        3. ewmayer

          @eyelladog: Yeah, thanks, but I’ll take the results of multiple peer-reviewed studies and the basic statistics about human aluminum ingestion over your “my g/f is a nurse and says aluminum is bad for you”, thank you very much:

          Vaccine Ingredients – Aluminum | Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

          Aluminum is used extensively in various ways:

          o Aluminum can be found in food-related products including pots and pans; storage containers, such as beverage cans; and foil.

          o Aluminum is found in numerous foods and beverages including fruits and vegetables, beer and wine, seasonings, flour, cereals, nuts, dairy products, baby formulas, and honey. Typically, adults ingest 7 to 9 milligrams of aluminum per day.

          o Aluminum is used for manufacturing of airplanes, siding, roofing materials, paints, pigments, fuels and cigarette filters.

          o Aluminum is found in health products including antacids, buffered aspirin, antiperspirants and some vaccines.

          Aluminum in vaccines

          Aluminum is used in vaccines as an adjuvant. An adjuvant is vaccine component that boosts the immune response to the vaccine. Adjuvants allow for lesser quantities of the vaccine and fewer doses. The adjuvant effects of aluminum were discovered in 1926. Aluminum adjuvants are used in vaccines such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, diphtheria-tetanus-containing vaccines, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and pneumococcal vaccines, but they are not used in the live, viral vaccines, such as measles, mumps, rubella, varicella and rotavirus.

          Vaccines containing adjuvants are tested extensively in clinical trials before being licensed. Aluminum salts, monophosphoryl A (a detoxified bacterial component), and squalene (a compound of the body’s normal cholesterol synthesis pathway) are the only materials that can be used as adjuvants in the United States. The quantities of aluminum present in vaccines are low and are regulated by the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER).

          The aluminum contained in vaccines is similar to that found in a liter (about 1 quart or 32 fluid ounces) of infant formula. While infants receive about 4.4 milligrams* of aluminum in the first six months of life from vaccines, they receive more than that in their diet. Breast-fed infants ingest about 7 milligrams, formula-fed infants ingest about 38 milligrams, and infants who are fed soy formula ingest almost 117 milligrams of aluminum during the first six months of life.

          Got any links to credible scientific studies to support your “aluminum is a neurotoxin” claim? The above article discusses the possible Alzheimer’s connection; the upshot there is correlation does not imply causation. Your claim that “the body doesn’t really know how to eliminate it” is patently absurd, we excrete nearly all we ingest in urine, and a smaller amount in feces. As the above article notes adults average nearly 10 mg/day ingestion, most by way of foods which naturally contain Al – were we unable to excrete it we’d be accumulating multigram-level quantities each year. Judging by your baseball “analogy”, your knowledge of sports physics is as bad as of biochemistry, because the pitcher’s hand doesn’t just guide the ball “the last little bit”, it is the entire means by which the body motion transmits accelerative force to the ball. I do agree with you on 2 points, however – the importance of breastfeeding, though for a whole hist of other reasons having nothing to do with “toxic Aluminum” – and this:

          “How about smarter vaccination technique” — From the above article: “Adjuvants allow for lesser quantities of the vaccine and fewer doses.” Sounds pretty smart to me.

          1. newcatty

            Ewmayer, that is quite the extensive and, apparently objective and sound scientific explanation from your link from “Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia” for why aluminum is in vaccines. It certainly is interesting that the aluminum is an adjuvant. How much research was there done on how many doses are needed for efficacy? And, on the quanties of the vaccine? I recall the many rationales for pesticides, herbicides, being pretty smart for big ag to support Monsanto, DuPont, etc. This is being challenged now. Chemicals in our food and water supply are not safe or ethical. I don’t think aluminum in pots and pans, “health products”, infant “formula”, is any rationale whatsoever for it being in use in these products. I would rather not have them in any food or beverage humans eat or drink. BTW, low brow beginning of your post to eyelladog. Nothing like putting words in his, and his “g/f is a nurse and says aluminum is bad for you” mouth. That was not said. It was stated that she knows the ingredients in vaccines.

            1. ewmayer

              “Since you want to use ‘anectdotal evidence’, my girlfriend is a nurse and sees aluminum in practically every vaccination product. Very few ever ask about the ingredients, as there is a version without aluminum, but that is not what is administered if you don’t ask. Aluminum is considered a neurotoxin and it is about accumulation since the body doesn’t really know how to eliminate it. ”

              If I misinterpreted that, and the nurse girlfriend merely mentioned seeing Al in the ingredients but the “neurotoxin, body can’t eliminate” BS is reflective of eyelladog’s beliefs and not those of the g/f, then I apologize to the nurse girlfriend! But in that case maybe the lady should try to help clear up some of the more blatantly biochemical-counterfactual rubbish her boyfriend embraces and feels compelled to spread over the internet.

          2. Phenix

            Aluminum us a nuerotoxin


            The man you are quoting wants to take children away from parents who will not vaccinate. Unlike 99.9% of people who say this he is in a position of power. He is a dangerous ideologue who goes as far as saying aluminum is safe. It is a nuerotoxin.

            Dr Sears has written a book about an alternative vaccine schedule. There are many doctors who disagree with CHOP.

            1. Plenue

              “The man you are quoting wants to take children away from parents who will not vaccinate.”


        4. skippy

          Good grief not this brigade again ….

          Pro tip back ground toxicity and as el_tel notes psychotropics that are persistent makes the whole can of tuna fish vaccination is ev’bal some bizarre knee jerk that has a high probability of some ideological bias.

          Old link I’ve proffered before –

          I lived in Boulder CO and find it hilarious that up stream in Nederland, some looking to chill out are redistributing their meds down stream …. but yeah vax ….

    5. Reify99

      For some years, prior to the current vaccine deniers movement, Pertussis was the only vaccine preventable disease that was on the rise, despite vaccination. Around 2006 a pertussis booster was added to the tetanus vaccine armory, the Tdap. Given to adults to renew THEIR immunity to stop transmission to young children.

      Immunity wanes with most vaccines, at least the measurable circulating antibodies do. The “B” white cells, or “memory cells”, a troop of which is created for each pathogen, theoretically do not wane, but they are not measurable because they stay in the lymph system unless signaled to come out by the immune system.

      The upshot is that vaccines are effective, (just look at the drop off in disease after each vaccine introduction) but that we cannot completely measure their effectiveness, AND we need community buy in order to enhance effectiveness—herd immunity.

      For years it has been the case that it is much easier to destroy this community engagement than to build it back up again.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        And, if there is any justice, Jenny McCarthy will be remembered as a mass murderer.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Portugal Dared to Cast Aside Austerity. It’s Having a Major Revival.”

    2015 – Courtesy white phone for Professor Mark Blyth. The Portuguese translations of your book “Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea” are ready for shipment to Portugal.

    At this point I am calling bs on this whole austerity deal. The WTO knows that austerity does not work. Any economist that is not an ideologue will tell you that it does not work. So if the EU and countries like Germany are pushing for it and even demanding it, it can only be for other reasons. Either they want those countries to implement austerity so that they are turned into wealth pumps for the transference of wealth to the northern countries in the EU or else you have a situation like the UK where it appears to be used to enforce neoliberal ideas like selling the Royal Mail, gutting the NHS for eventual breakup and sell-off or because it does not effect anybody important that they know.

    1. notabanker

      I’ve listened to a lot of stuff from Blyth, huge proponent. Just saw him on YT a couple of days ago talking about the Euro, a lot of conversation on Greece, Germany, Ireland, Italy and some on France. I don’t recall him talking much about Portugal specifically. Any pointers would be appreciated.

      1. IsabelPS

        Mmmm… 8 months is a lot of time in politics… This NYT article is from July last year. The news at the beginning of the year are not brilliant. And the notion that this gov “cast aside austerity” is biting it in the ass nowadays. Election year, everybody wants the piece of the cake that it was promised and there is no money to fulfill the promises…

        1. Grant

          Is that not a problem though with the structure of the EU and the EMU? Isn’t it about what the ECB can and cannot do? I mean, the thing was created as a means to cement a wide range of really horrible policies, at least on economics, policies that are aimed at benefiting and empowering those that created the thing. It seems that there is a very narrow range of policy options that are actually possible, and solutions often fall outside that range.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Just used Mark Blyth as an example of how the effects of austerity are well know enough to rate books being written about the subject. Woudn’t be surprised if they did know of his work in Portugal though.

    2. WJ

      “so that they are [1] turned into wealth pumps for the transference of wealth to the northern countries in the EU or else you have a situation like the UK where it appears to be [2] used to enforce neoliberal ideas like selling the Royal Mail, gutting the NHS for eventual breakup and sell-off or because it does not effect anybody important that they know.

      This is precisely how austerity does work! Why else would anybody choose it?

    3. Ape

      Some believe it. A lot of “pragmatists” are massively ideological.

      Just look at Merkel – she’s constantly believing crap that someone with her intellect should be able to recognize as crap. She’s not naive or dumb but an ideologue, it appears.

      Every pragmatist is a deep ideologue. They just know what works.

      1. Chirs Cosmos

        Pragmatists like Merkel don’t mean what they say and have little room for ideology. They understand the balance of power–that’s what national politicians do–they are power brokers not princes of kings. At best national leaders of any country can sort of move policy in this or that direction. But they can’t do it without powerful forces behind them.

    4. tiebie66

      Austerity might not work elsewhere in the world, but in Portugal it might have worked. It appears that the reforms Portugal undertook were effective: “The programme quickly started to bear fruit. Exports started growing faster than the euro area average, as the economy became more competitive. A two-digit current account deficit was erased. The budget deficit shrank, and growth resumed. Portugal was able to issue bonds again, and successfully exited the programme in June 2014.”
      “The short-term economic and financial situation of Portugal has improved and important progress has been made in addressing near-term risks. Overall, Portugal’s economic rebalancing building on the basis of reforms implemented during and after the macroeconomic adjustment programme has made good progress. Going forward, the challenge is to further strengthen the reform momentum. In this regard, ambitious growth enhancing reform and sustained fiscal structural consolidation are essential to improve the economy’s resilience to shocks and the medium term growth prospects.” .

      Furthermore, Greece suffered from a sharp drop in tourism while Portugal benefitted from a sharp increase in tourism as tourists started to avoid the refugee crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean. Tourism has been increasing since 2011 and sharply since 2014. Tourism now contributes about 17% to GDP and supports, directly and indirectly, about 20% of all jobs in the country.

      In my view, it is not possible to attribute Portugal’s performance to casting aside austerity policies without a more careful analysis. At a minimum, the effects of prior adjustments and the increase in tourism have to be removed to get a better understanding of the effects of anti-austerity policies.

      1. Plenue

        “In my view, it is not possible to attribute Portugal’s performance to casting aside austerity policies without a more careful analysis.”

        Sure it is, for the simple reason that austerity is pure economically illiterate bs that doesn’t work, anywhere, ever. The only time it has ever not been a complete disaster is when the cuts in government spending were accompanied by a significant outflow of the population.

    5. heresy101

      A better article on Portugal than the Carlos Slim rag:
      Be sure to select English.

      A couple other previous NY Times articles on Portugal:

      Olive oil is mentioned in the articles and the largest Portuguese producer appears to be a leader:
      “Super-intensive olive plantations, or hedge-type olive plantations, are very similar to wine-growing. They permit even higher densities, exceeding 1,200 olive trees per hectare and going as high as 2,000. Although they require a much higher investment, super-intensive olive plantations allow greater productivity per hectare, early entry into production and fully mechanized operations. This makes harvesting so effective that it can exceed five hectares a day, leading to greater efficiency and rationalization of costs and resources.”

        1. IsabelPS

          Actuallly, someone draw my attention to the Portuguese version of this article, where this sentence could not possibly be published (even in the Acção Socialista…):

          Lisbon’s former mayor António Costa, a socialist, won by a landslide and brought in 32 percent for the Partido Socialista…

          Indeed, the Portuguese version only says

          O ex-presidente socialista da Câmara de Lisboa, António Costa, obteve novos votos e levou o seu partido aos 32%.

          I couldn’t find the (original?) German, but I would love to see if it is the English translator or Mathias Punz himself that put in that “landslide”…

  9. Wukchumni

    Quadriga Crypto Mystery Deepens With ‘Cold Wallets’ Found Empty Bloomberg.

    A quadriga being a chariot with 4 horses, would this one be the 4 horsemen of your financial apocalypse?

    Aside from throwing gold bars overboard in the deepest part of the Marianas Trench, is there a better method of never recovering your investment other than cryptocurrency?

    1. Oregoncharles

      Actually, To Be Fair, this looks like an outright Ponzi scheme, a rare case of pulling out in time. Assuming he isn’t really dead, or that his wife has the money. Similar schemes have been done with regular money.

  10. Summer

    RE: Twighlight Zone America
    The tiresome Sad Sack act — this bumbling, inept creature who is so, so sorry about everything (except for the acts of repentance he’s now being forced to perform, which are ennobled by his immense suffering, including the fact that he’s so, so sorry about everything) — was clearly designed to convince all of us that he couldn’t actually cause anyone any harm. It reminds me of Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) at the very end of Psycho: “I hope they are watching. They’ll see. They’ll see and they’ll know, and they’ll say, ‘Why, she wouldn’t even harm a fly.”

    Those last lines alone are worth a donation to the writer.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not what one says, but what one does.

      …exclaiming “Nope, no no no, its not about me!”

      The crowd then naturally erupts into a #NotMeUs chant

      Sanders: Not me, us.

      Crowd: Not me, us.

      What he says, the followers repeat.

      The ‘not this person, but us’ is better demonstrated, and reported, with, for example, people in the crowd initializing something, with the ‘not about me’ person yielding the floor to them.

      Perhaps that was what happened, but that tweet doesn’t capture that. It seems to suggest it’s about Sanders.

      1. ShamanicFallot

        Brian: ‘you’re all individuals!’

        Followers: ‘we’re all individuals!’

  11. Summer

    RE: Hillbilly Elegy response

    “Pruitt compares Vance’s memoir to those by Barack Obama and Justice Sonia Sotomayor. What if Obama, she asks, had condemned “those he worked among as a community organizer in Chicago, even while basking in his own success as the obvious fruits of his own labor.”

    Vance wrote/spoke condemning words. He hasn’t set any policy or governed.
    Obama governed with actions. What is the state of the people’s lives, those he worked among as a community organizer?

  12. Wukchumni

    Supposed to get hit with another round of atmospheric river starting tomorrow with it coming right at us, and not only is the fishing no good, but you run the risk of it stalling out heavily laden overhead for a spell, which is what caused heavy rainfall from the wine country up to the Oregon border last week, flooding the market.

    NOAA says get an ark, because it’s supposed to rain 3-5 inches up to 8,000 feet tomorrow, and there’s 6 feet of snow @ 7k that’s already water heavy from having absorbed the largess of other recent warm rainy days & nights.

    1. Briny

      Thanks for the heads up. I can remember travelling across Shields Ave. here in Fresno in a punt.

  13. Wukchumni

    The allure of financial tricks is fading FT
    “Play debt”

    “Roll over debt”

    “Shake hands”



    It isn’t as if the big dogs of money came up with any new tricks…

  14. Harold

    Pretty troubling that some of the most prestigious hospitals in NYC, such as Columbia Presbyterian, refuse to participate in these safety surveys.

  15. Summer

    Re: Google / Saudi Arabia

    Tech is becoming more and more platforms that deliver you to authoritatian regimes.

    1. Eureka Springs

      How dare Apple and Google empower individuals with the same power they have and governments have.

      First they came for parolees with anklets, then they allowed tracking of children for safety…

    2. Carey

      Well said! I feel the steadily increased “nudging” every time I’m online.
      Measures can be taken..

    3. Robert McGregor

      They need GROWTH! Since their “new products and services” pipeline is weak, where else can they find “big growth” possibilities than authoritarian governments? There are plenty of those. “Do only evil.”

  16. Jason Boxman

    Looks like today is the end of an era for me. I’ve been reading, but certainly not paying for, NYTimes since the fraudulent and immoral boosterism for the Iraq War. Today, they finally started blocking private tab browsing, so I either need to signup for an account for 5 or whatever free articles only per month, pay, or walk away.

    Looks like I’m going to walk away, since I can’t support murderous journalism.

    Without daily links from NK, I’d truly have no idea what’s up in the world.

    Thank you.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        Thank you for that link.. it is nice to have these resources available when needed.

      2. Jason Boxman

        That looks useful, I need to signup. I got used to buying used books about things I wanted to read. Thanks.

    1. Massinissa

      I assume you mean ‘NC’.

      To my knowledge North Korea doesn’t have a set of daily links :)

  17. Wukchumni

    The Indy Explains: Can marijuana companies use banks? Nevada Independent
    Our local is over in Woodlake (some wags are calling it Weedlake now on account of it being the only non Rx pot shoppe from north of L.A. County to Merced, a huge swath of some several hundred miles) seems to me to be a tempting robbery target as everybody knows all transactions are in cash and it’s strictly a ‘cash goes in-doesn’t go out’ proposition within. And not only that, but all operations along the supply way have to transacted in do re mi.

    When you think about it, what sort of businesses are cash only nowadays?

    The last one I can remember was a Chinese restaurant in L.A. I ate at with my mom about a decade ago.

      1. Wukchumni

        It’s all cash at the horse races, whereas at the casinos, they want you to cash it into chips before you play, in order to divorce you from thinking you still had it.

    1. marieann

      I pay cash as often as I can, at the store, for haircuts,restaurants and any store that I don’t usually frequent.

      If the banks want me to use a card they will have to remove the fees involved for me and also for the seller.

  18. Carey

    I wonder how far we are from a time when persons who work for Googie/FB and the
    like will be obscuring or hiding it?

    “You’re either with us, or against us” can cut both ways.

    1. Wukchumni

      Memoranda Law:

      Whatever you’ve said, written & viewed can be used against you as self-incriminating.

  19. Chirs Cosmos

    I want to connect two stories listed above. First the brilliant piece by Dave Eggers. He showed, by simply being there he elicited some great little stories of people which help us understand our culture. The emphasis on liking Trump because, he doesn’t give a fuck what anyone says is stunning. It says, in effect, that significant numbers of people will believe anything if a certain mythical framework (Trump is a caudillo and strong) is emphasized. Truth as such is not important to these people. The fact is we live in a post-rational society. That doesn’t mean all people were very rational in the past it means, simply, that reason is not considered important. In the past scientists, experts, and others in authority were presumed to have greater knowledge than ordinary citizens whereas today most people have understood that they’ve been bullshitted for years and believe only those things that fit into their mythological frameworks. Myth, today, ALWAYS trumps reality. I see this in personal encounters with a variety of people in my line of work and social encounters. Having said that, I don’t believe Trump will be re-elected. There are some very appealing candidates out there who will change the Overton Window as much or more than Sanders did. .

    The other story is about the Skripal case that offers us a fairly credible explanations for the almost ludicrous evidence presented in the UK/US media. The fact that editors created a narrative that has no basis in the actual evidence presented. The official narrative is clearly and obviously very bad fiction. The fact is that CIA and MI5/6 clearly believe the English-speaking population would believe anything to build up their inbred confirmation bias about Russia. The Russians are seen both as all-powerful masters of the universe bent on conquering the world and complete idiots blundering an assassination using a ridiculous method for killing someone when a bullet to the head would have been easy. Assassination is a fine art and I know all intel agencies and many criminal organizations do it as a matter of routine.

    My point here is that the authorities depend on the stupidity of the general population and the fact that the mainstream media have no shame in reporting as fact clear howlers as instructed by the usual suspects.

    1. Massinissa

      “There are some very appealing candidates out there who will change the Overton Window as much or more than Sanders did. .”

      If I may ask, which ones are those? Beyond maybe Tulsi, it seems to me Sanders is the only one really shifting the overton window. The rest of them are mostly relying on identity politics or trying to poorly ape Sanders.

      1. jrs

        Well people at neighborhood council meetings are talking about Andrew Wang (I know Wang who?) and the UBI.

        I think his goal was to start a conversation, I mean Trump may have convinced absolutely anyone they can be President, but I’m not sure it is actually so. And I might think: how can this possibly work even to start a conversation (Wang who again?) But apparently it is starting at least a few conversations.

        1. barefoot charley

          Understanding Liz Warren’s limitations as well as any NC reader, I must note she has checked, blocked and shoved left the finance Overton window. She and Bernie are the only candidates who understand global finance rackets like Tulsi understands war rackets. Only a reformer, but not a complete phony.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Anyone can be president.

          That’s true…though I would like a little more information about him. How does his experience compare with, say, that of posters, guest authors, and/or host/hostess here? Should some of us be encouraged or be inspired to run as well? Is Andrew’s ideas or proposals the same, better, or not as good, as those discussed here?

        3. ChrisPacific

          I like Yang and I think he has some good ideas but he has zero name recognition. He will make barely a ripple. (I’m still glad he’s running though).

      2. Chirs Cosmos

        As jrs said Andrew Wang has a very detailed set of programs that are very rational, pragmatic and will change the OW by introducing UBI and data-driven ways of approaching problems. I also have to include Marianne Williamson who is introducing morality and spirituality and questioning are basic assumptions. This is unusual for Democrats who often seem to have little moral, philosophical, or spiritual foundation for what they are proposing.

    2. Tomonthebeach

      “Oh yeah? Well if you’re so smart, how comes you ain’t rich?” This playground rejoinder seems embedded in the binary-thinking brains of Trumpies.

      That Trumpies as a group are stupid seems beyond debate. However, it was curious how people with nothing but lottery tickets in their futures seemed not only to embrace neoliberal capitalism but to buy into Trump’s Brags-to-Riches image as if he was some sort of genius proof that they too might (miraculously) strike it rich, and thus they should support policies that favor the 1% — just in case.

      How can the Democracts turn that preposterous and ignorant credo around? Trying to wise them up does not seem to work. Maybe it is satanic :-) .

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That is a good and long article. Being busy today, I haven’t time to finish it, but this part intrigues me:

      She’d asked her best friend to come with her, but her friend said that if she came, she’d be on the other side of the street, at the Trump rally.

      “My jaw dropped!” Sias said.

      she knitted me a pink pussy hat last year for the women’s march!” But then something had changed. Her friend had recently moved to South Padre Island.

      “Living down there with all those rednecks? It’s right outside Brownsville, you know, right on the border. Now she wants to build a wall, or lock ’em out, or whatever shit they say. She gets so angry!”

      She (the friend) should have been interviewed, so we hear her side of the story.

      Without that follow up, we are (or I am) left with the impression that living in certain places in the country, one’s body can be snatched by space alien Trump, or something like that.

  20. allan

    Everything is CalPERS, lower education edition: Missing Federal Aid Payments [Inside Higher Ed]

    In a possibly unprecedented case, Argosy University fails to distribute millions in federal aid to students as its campuses are on the brink of closing.

    Argosy University has failed to distribute nearly $16.3 million in federal aid to thousands of its students.

    And chances are the students won’t get the money, according to financial aid and education experts …

    Financial aid experts said while the department’s moves with Argosy are reminiscent of Corinthian Colleges’ collapse in 2015, denying students’ their financial aid refunds is unique.

    “This is a very unusual situation,” said Justin Draeger, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. “I’ve never seen this sort of thing where funds are moving around in a school with no explanation of where they are, and they haven’t been accounted for correctly.”…

    For some definition of very unusual.

  21. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Venezuela’s Guaido to risk arrest as he returns home to challenge Maduro

    One of the legitimate criticisms I’ve heard about Maduro is that he doesn’t fight back well against the opposition’s lies and propaganda. That wasn’t as big of a problem for Chavez – remember him speaking at the UN saying he could tell George Bush had recently been there because he could still smell the sulphur?

    I read a great critique yesterday of what happened with the National Assembly elections a couple years ago and once again we are not being told even close to the whole story. I can’t seem to put my finger on the link but I believe it was from the Venezuela Analysis website that has been linked to a few times here recently. Long story short, the opposition got more votes however there was one province with reports of voting irregularities which affected both chavista and opposition candidates. Because of the irregularities, I believe it was the courts who said the recently elected officials from that province could not be seated and new elections must be held. The chavista officials agreed to a new election but not the opposition, and the national assembly seated them all anyway despite the court order. The courts held the NA in contempt and refused to recognize anything they did until new elections were held and to this day it still hasn’t been done, which is why the courts have arrogated to themselves powers that were held by the NA.

    From what I understand new elections would have resulted in an opposition majority in the assembly no matter what, so why wouldn’t the opposition agree to it? The same reason they boycotted the legitimate presidential election that was held last year, an election that they called for themselves – it’s just theater to make Maduro look like a dictator to people who aren’t paying attention.

    Maduro needs to arrest this clown and when Elliot Abrams starts squawking about it, declare Lyndon Larouche the new president of the US and tell that world that if Trump can unilaterally declare a new president for his country, then what’s good for the goose…

    Unless Russia and China have both said they will not intervene in the event of a US invasion, I fail to see why Maduro doesn’t put up more of a fight.

    1. Wukchumni

      Lyndon’s dead, but I had an idea.

      What if Sanders wins the Presidential election in November, but tragically passes away before the inauguration unbeknownst to all. Could we just prop him up in a chaise lounge with a lowered podium @ the swearing in?

      1. newcatty

        Wukchumni, think you have watched too many pop films in your life. It seems to have infected your brain. Bernie is not a character in a “comedy”. Just because there is the same name doesn’t mean your idea is cleaver or humorous. Keep on being witty though…The Mark Twain award awaits you once your fame reaches a wide enough audience. Hmmm…maybe you are a writer and/or performer in cognito?

  22. allan

    Corn and other important crops can now be gene edited by pollen carrying CRISPR [Science]

    The genome editor CRISPR has transformed many areas of biology, but using this tool to enhance certain varieties of crops such as wheat and corn remains difficult because of the plants’ tough cell walls. Now, a major agricultural company has creatively solved that problem by using pollen from one genetically modified plant to carry CRISPR’s components into another plant’s cells. The solution promises to speed the creation of better and more versatile crops, scientists say. …

    Hard to think of comments about this that won’t have already occurred to NC readers,
    but before jumping to hasty conclusions, please be assured that all is well:

    … But scientists say that if it were done in the field, the changes wouldn’t spread because the male genome in the pollen—which carries the CRISPR apparatus—disappears shortly after fertilization. “The CRISPR machinery gets lost—it’s transient delivery,” Que says. And because the method doesn’t involve putting the CRISPR genes into the DNA of the resulting crops, they likely wouldn’t qualify as genetically modified under current U.S. regulations, making it easier to obtain regulatory approval for selling the crops. …

    Elon’s Mars shot is looking better all the time.

    1. Oregoncharles

      At what point can the scientists who actually do stuff like this be regarded as criminals?

  23. Wukchumni

    In a pickle
    Need some lettuce
    83 Burger Kings

    American private equity firm Blackstone is on the hunt for a buyer to take over the Burger King New Zealand franchise.

    A spokesperson for Craigs Investment Partners confirmed it has been mandated to sell the business on behalf of Blackstone.

    Deutsche Craigs has been hired to run an auction for the fast food business.

    The AFR reports that Burger King NZ makes an estimated $20 million each year.

    A flier flagging the sale has been released, which plays on the brand being resilient.

    Blackstone paid close to $108m in 2011 for the franchise for 75 restaurants. Today, there are 85 spread across the country, 83 of which are owned by Blackstone.

  24. Oregoncharles

    “Quadriga Crypto Mystery Deepens With ‘Cold Wallets’ Found Empty Bloomberg. I’m not sure it’s so much of a mystery” –
    Credit where it’s due: it’s very rare for a Ponzi scammer to actually take off with the loot before the pyramid collapses. Takes tremendous self discipline.

    I wonder where he is, and how long he’ll stay hidden? Is there a body? Is his wife still n Canada?

    1. Wukchumni

      Bruce McNall was my favorite Ponzi before everybody got into the game.

      Somehow a dealer in ancient coins managed to own the L.A. Kings, top-rank thoroughbreds and a movie business, until that Cinderella story went to prison.

  25. Arizona Slim

    Slim checking in from Tucson.

    Here’s a local story that illustrates why citing the source of your economic development statistics is so important. Matter of fact, we insist on such citations here on NC.

    Well, the founder/CEO of the organization covered in this story didn’t do that. And, poof, there went some of the funding for his organization’s big annual event.

  26. akaPaul LaFargue

    re Oakland teachers: The union announced Friday that the teachers won everything they demanded.

    Essentially this is a DemoParty spin from the union leadership. Last night I heard a dissident teacher report on the large % who voted NO cuz…. nurses in schools retain too large case load (1,000’s of students/nurse!) so unlike W.Va, no solidarity w/nurses/staff, school closings only delayed 5 months (see Chgo), and even their pay demand was whittled down and extended another year. Oakland is becoming too expensive for teachers to live in the city! Below is one comment on East Bay Times report:

    “The school board CLAIMS they have to cut essential programs in order to meet teachers’ demands. But the honest truth is they were going to make these cuts anyway, they just keep postponing them until after the contract with the teachers so they can blame them on us. Teachers got basically no money- the “bonus” for last year doesn’t even cover the salary we lost during this strike. They could instead cut from all of the 200k+ executive positions, or the payroll person who got 6 figures of overtime pay, or make plans to move from their fancy expensive rented building. They are choosing the “easy” things to cut- supportive programs for kids, instead of the hard things to cut, like their executive friends’ cushy salaries and their fancy PR contract. We’re going to still try to shut these cuts down, though we don’t know how to do it.”

    HuffPost reported this:

    From a teacher: School district officials had said they didn’t receive enough money from the state to allow for more spending on wages and other resources. Meanwhile, teachers claimed that the problem stemmed from district mismanagement of funds and spending too much on administrators and outside consultants.

    The most hopeful sign that the teachers may continue the fight is that they have incredible support from the community (much like Chicago, though not as organized). For example (from Huff.):

    “During the strike, an average of 6 percent of the district’s 37,000 students went to class. Many parents and kids opted to picket and rally alongside teachers.”

  27. Oregoncharles

    “What Does the Radical Left’s Future Look Like? ”
    I wouldn’t call that “radical.” I wouldn’t even call the Green Party “radical.” And although I wasn’t as politically active then, I remember SDS and the late 60’s, too.

    Actually, I quit reading in disgust before I got very far. He’s a Pied Piper.

  28. Plenue

    >Black Agenda ADOS

    How about the actually radical idea of giving whatever support is needed to everyone, regardless of background, simply because the fact that they have a pulse entitles them to it?

    “I deserve X because my ancestor was a victim” is a nonstarter, and incoherent and invalid as well. Freaking EVERYONE’S ancestors were victims at one point or other. Should we be handing out stuff to the descendants of krauts, daigos, wops, polacks, and micks as well?

  29. Savita

    just on vaccinations.
    In Australia parents used to – maybe more open minded ones still do – have ‘measles parties’.
    If one kid came down with the pox or measles, they’d quickly get all the kids together for a gathering so they could all be exposed , have their one episode early, and thereby strengthened – and it was done with

    Another point overlooked is the biology of the immune system. Those against vaccinations explain that an IV dose bypasses the systems the body uses to create antibodies and build immunity. Inhalation and or saliva are needed for contagion to be properly processed by the liver and update the immune system. IV administration bypasses all the biological structures the immune system relies upon

    and of course hygiene. the dramatic reduction in diseases over the decades has far more to do with standards of living, hygiene, washing hands, clean water, proper sewage treatment.

    As for hospitals – you don’t want to know just how often doctors wash their hands, and how many patients wouldn’t contract infections in a hospital if hand washing occurred as it should. This has been known since forever but here are two recent studies

  30. Savita

    In case there was any doubt!

    European Elections
    The page above defaults to ‘Ireland’ because it’s the English version.
    However, scrolling to the bottom displays ‘How can I vote in other countries’ explaining the information is available in English and the native language of the selected country. A pull down menu offers a list of all EU nations. No UK option

  31. viscaelpaviscaelvi

    Re. the WaPo article on France’s minorities:
    A French geographer, Christophe Guilluy, published a book, La France périphérique, in 2014 describing the division of France in three separate parts:
    1-The inner cities, integrated in the global economy, populated by the educated classes.
    2-The banlieues, the immigration belts surrounding those inner cities, mostly populated by immigrants and their descendants.
    3-Peripheral France, where the français de souche (pureblood Frenchpeople) are the majority.

    The 2005 riots were led by the youth from the banlieues. The gilets jaunes come from peripheral France.
    They are two different phenomena and I assume that part of the reason that the banlieues are cool about the gilets is the apprehension with which the 2005 riots were received by the purebloods.
    There is plenty of analysis of the gilets in French that elaborates from this angle. I am not sure that much of that debate has transcended into English, but if it hasn’t, it should.

    1. Savita

      Thank you. It will be interesting to observe the candidates the gilet jaunes nominate for the EU Parliament and how many votes they receive.
      It’s not a job for the faint hearted! I wouldn’t like to do it! I am sure they will choose their nominees wisely.
      Perhaps there will be a follow on effect, of nominated gilet jaunes going on to careers in domestic politics regardless. Can you imagine Macron facing off a gilet jaune in a televised debate!
      It’s certainly a significant boost to income – from a lorry driver to a EU national representative

      1. viscaelpaviscaelvi

        My hunch (and I left France in 2005, before the banlieues explosion) is that if the movement creates a political party it would dispute the real left space, but I am not sure what it would add to it, at least ideologically. In any case, if fully articulated, that political party would have a narrower base than it seemed it would have a couple of months ago.
        And if the movement is not articulated politically (or even if it is), part of them could end up tipping an election for the Front National.

        Emmanuel Todd has two things to say about the articulation of the gilets with broader politics, which I fully share (although they are now a few months old, and things may have changed a bit):
        1-That the elephant in the room is the Euro and the constraints it imposes on the capacity of France to sort out its problems
        2-That the real danger is not that the gilets do a revolution (he remains a supporter of liberal democracy), but of a coup by the powers that be if the movement becomes uncontrollable.

  32. UserFriendly

    I’m kind of surprised no one mentioned that intercept article Lambert quoted at length… (Unless I missed it). Here was my comment when I submitted it.

    CIA has really improved their propaganda department. Erases inequality, corruption, and elite immunity from the crisis and redirects the blame cannons on the internet allowing diverse opinions and stupid plebes not understanding how good they have it or how government works. The amazing part is how subtly that is done; over and over she is on your side with criticisms only to take a quick pivot and point out why the obvious solution is impossible and that we really should stop trying to fix it.

  33. JB

    The Martin Gurri interview was an interesting read. It would’ve been stronger if he had connected U.S. foreign policy (i.e., war/intervention) and sponsorship of politicians (campaign contributions & lobbying) to the crisis of legitimacy & authority. In general, I find these omissions too often in these types of pieces. He discusses the information age, but no mention of Wikileaks, whistleblowers (e.g., Snowden), or hacks (e.g., Strafor) that have eroded moral authority, justifiably so. He seems to make an underhanded case that movements don’t have solutions, controlling information is needed to maintain order, and the public’s aspirations are naive (framing it as utopia). I don’t think he does justice to these topics, they deserve much more depth because they are way more nuanced, I don’t agree with the way he has presented them.

  34. meeps

    Thanks for the links pertaining to the HAC (Hospital Acquired Conditions) law; they raise some legitimate questions about the efficacy (or not) of financial penalties to reduce patient infections.

    This is pertinent to current healthcare policy concerns (M4A incentive structuring, the legacy of ACA carrots and sticks) but is also personal to me, as I have a family member who contracted a Hospital Acquired Infection. The discovery in her case shows that the hospital was hiding its infection rates, failing to timely report them and attempting to treat the infections as internal matters. Whether the HAC law penalties influenced this behavior on the part of the hospital or not, I don’t yet know. Interestingly, the pattern of obfuscation came to light because a whistleblower was trying to bring attention to it, which indicates there are perverse incentives somewhere in the system that are overriding population health. Quelle surprise, right?

    Anyway, Lambert’s other timely piece on Pramilla Jayapal’s new M4A bill left me optimistic because the bill contains protections for whistle-blowers. Hopefully the passage of a new bill can
    A) Happen! and
    B) Resolve some of the deeply destructive tendencies plaguing the US healthcare system so that whistle-blowing isn’t the only avenue for truth.

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