Links 3/8/19

Don’t Sell Out the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to Oil Companies Audobon Society (guurst). Please consider signing.

Triton is the world’s most murderous malware, and it’s spreading MIT Technology Review (Robert R)

Encouragement Without Education Backfires On Recycling Efforts Gizmodo. Someone on my floor is horrible about recycling. Puts non-recyclable stuff in bins and also puts stuff that is recyclable in wrong bin.

Expedia: A Cautionary Tale For Cryptocurrency In Travel Forbes

More people in their 30s and 40s are having strokes. How to recognize and prevent them MPR News (UserFriendly)

Study reveals how psychedelic psilocybin improves long-term creative thinking New Atlas (David L)


U.S.-China Trade Deal Isn’t Imminent So No Summit Date Set, Envoy Says Wall Street Journal. Mr. Market will not be happy.

Demystifying Debt Along China’s New Silk Road The Diplomat. Resilc: “The local corruption on these projects has to be staggering.”

China’s exports fall more than 20% in February; overall trade data come in much weaker CNBC. Note China regularly reported crappy trade data the month before it was up for its semi-annual review by Treasury for whether it was a currency manipulator when the Administration was making serious noises about pulling the trigger.

North Korea

North Korea’s Game Plan And Its Upcoming Satellite Launch Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)

US wants Pyongyang to explain rebuilding at rocket launch site Financial Times

ECB Follows Fed in Flip-Flopping on Interest Rate Guidance Bloomberg (UserFriendly)

US Dollar Hits 52-Week High in Cleanest-Dirty-Shirt-Syndrome on New ECB Stimulus, as Old ECB Stimulus Fails to Stimulate Wolf Street. (EM). Good detail but perpetuates the misunderstanding that negative interest rates are stimulative. They signal deflationary expectations, and in deflation, the right approach is to defer spending. In addition, negative interest rates and even negative real yields deprive savers of income. In the US, Ed Kane estimated that super low rates deprived savers, particularly retirees, of $300 billion in income. Contrary to what economists want to believe, those savers do not dig into capital but generally hunker down and spend less, which is contractionary.


Passport Office website crashes after warning that 3.5 million holidaymakers could be stopped from entering EU countries by a No Deal Brexit Daily Mail


Setting the Stage for an Encounter at the Colombia-Venezuela Border Counterpunch (resilc)

MSNBC’s Ali Velshi Chokes On His Own Propaganda Lee Camp. From earlier this week, still germane.

New Cold War

Russian ship with ‘vomit-inducing weapon’ spotted off UK coast Independent (resilc)


“Watch the film the Israeli lobby didn’t want you to see” Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

Foreign Office grants Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic protection Guardian (Kevin W). So now the UK acts, after she’s been imprisoned for three years.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Facebook’s new move isn’t about privacy. It’s about domination Guardian (David L)

Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for Facebook sounds a lot like China, where I couldn’t buy a cup of coffee without the app that dominates people’s lives there Business Insider (Kevin W). Similar theme to Guardian account.

China’s ‘Black Mirror’: Millions Banned From Travel SafeHaven

Egypt Government Used Gmail Third-Party Apps To Phish Activists ZDNet

A New Method of DNA Testing Could Solve More Shootings Wired (resilc)

Trump Transition

Paul Manafort gets just 47 MONTHS in jail for tax and bank fraud after judge calls Mueller’s demand for 19 to 24 YEARS ‘excessive’ and says Trump’s wheelchair-bound campaign chair ‘lived an otherwise blameless life’ Daily Mail

Mueller team wants to withhold 3.2 million ‘sensitive’ docs from indicted Russian company Fox News (Kevin W). A troll farm.

Trump Administration Weighs Publicizing Rates Hospitals Negotiate With Insurers Wall Street Journal (UserFriendly)

Trump Labor Department proposal, released today, would prevent millions of workers from getting paid overtime Economic Policy Institute

Kirstjen Nielsen’s Testimony About the Border Was an Utter Embarrassment The Cut (resilc)


House passes anti-hate measure amid Dem tensions The Hill

Omar uproar swamps Pelosi Politico (UserFriendly)

Congressional Vote Of Bigotry Exposes 23 Bigots– Or 24 If You Count One Who Refused To Vote DownWithTyranny! Skip: ” readers might enjoy both the editorial on Ilhan Omar by the dean of Israeli journalists, Gideon Levy of Haaretz, and the imbeded keynote he gave last year at a conference on Israeli influence on American foreign policy that I thought quite impressive, courage I wish we’d see more of in American journalists.”

Ilhan Omar Controversy: Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren Defend Criticism of Israel Newsweek (UserFriendly)

Green New Deal

The case for green realism Project Syndicate. Today’s must read.

Bloomberg Launches Alternative To Green New Deal OilPrice


Sen. Sherrod Brown, Democrat from Ohio, won’t run for president Washington Post (UserFriendly)

Cornel West Endorses Sanders: ‘My Dear Brother Bernie Stands Shoulders Above Any Of The Other Candidates’ Inquisitr (furzy)

With Bloomberg Out, Wall Street Desperately Turns to Biden Vanity Fair (resilc)

César Hidalgo: A bold idea to replace politicians TED Talk (UserFriendly). In the spirit of “No idea is so bad that you can’t come up with something worse.”

Lyft’s IPO disclosure shows it’s not close to profitability and has no good way to get there Mike Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times. A shout out to Hubert!

Tesla is reportedly sending employees home early to cuts costs Business Insider (Kevin W)

Volkswagen Taps Into $50 Billion War Chest To Take On Tesla SafeHaven

Amazon Suppliers Panic Amid Purge Aimed at Boosting Profits Bloomberg

Amazon Closing All of Its 87 Pop-Up Stores As Its Retail Strategy Shifts NPR


Modern Monetary Theory: Democrats Should Try New Economic Ideas Bloomberg (UserFriendly)

The Reformation in Economics by Philip Pilkington review: a revolutionary approach Irish Times (UserFriendy). Pilkington once wrote regularly for NC.

Economics After Neoliberalism Boston Review (resilc). Also flagged in commments.

Guillotine Watch

The Super-Rich Are Being Scammed on Their Private Jets Bloomberg

Class Warfare

To Reduce Inequality, Let’s Downsize the Financial Sector Dean Baker (Brian M)

Gender wealth gap could take two centuries to close Financial Times. So much for women’s liberation. By then, the Jackpot will have come and men’s strength will give them the upper hand.

New York Considers Taxing Non-Resident Owners of Luxury Apartments Bloomberg

How to Think About Taxing and Spending Like a Swede New York Times. Resilc: “And less DoD spending.”

Antidote du jour (John B): “Grazing Cow at Cliff Edge on Inishmore, Aran Islands.

And a bonus (martha r):

See yesterdays Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. pretzelattack

    the first antidote is dramatic. the booby is looking for a different approach to a problem

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The cliffs on the south of Aran Mor are indeed among the most dramatic places in Europe. There is a great fort at the highest point – recent archaeological research indicated that early bronze age people actually lived quite literally on that cliff edge – scarcely imaginable if you’ve ever been there in a gale (and there is usually a gale blowing there). An English artist and mathematician called Tim Robinson did beautiful hand drawn maps of the island and wrote an amazing travelogue of that coast called Stones of Aran – highly recommended for anyone interested in wild places.

      I’ve never seen cows up there but they frequently wander from their fields – I’ve heard sometimes the island cattle even eat seaweed. The main problem the cattle have is water – despite all the rain there, the island is usually bone dry as its all limestone pavement.

      1. icancho

        Tim Robinson’s Aran books are wonderful, as also his trio of books on Connemara: Listening to the wind, The last pool of darkness, and A little Gaelic kingdom. Exceptional evocation of a landscape, its history, it people, its legends.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Thanks for reminding.

        I remember seeing it on Visions of Britain and Ireland not too long ago.

      3. Synapsid


        Looking back 3000 years or so into Bronze Age Ireland: Those cliffs may have been a fair way farther out to sea back then, so the village would have been somewhat less precarious. It still would have been as you say–a challenging place to live.

        The coasts from Kerry all the way north through the Hebrides to the Orkneys and the Shetlands are as staggeringly beautiful a landscape as I can imagine, and the climate is a good part of that.

      4. Oregoncharles

        Readers might also want to look up JM Synge’s play “Riders to the Sea,” set on the islands and first produced in 1904. It’s a poetic drama, remarkably beautiful.

        Apparently it was, and probably still is, a rough life.

  2. Wombat

    Re- Protecting the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.

    Rather than going through a third party site, if you have the time, consider personalizing a public comment and sending before 13 March. Previously, I have reviewed various Forest Service and BLM post hoc rollups of public comments and these agencies often bin identical comments that were received or pushed by a third party conservationist organization. This may reduce the comment’s aggregate impact. Here is the link to send a comment directly:

    And here is the BLM page with all the current information on the plans:

    1. Carla

      Thank you for the tip (makes sense) and the excellent information. I had already clicked on the link and submitted by the time I read this, but I will submit a comment directly as well.

  3. James

    In the opening phase of the mating ritual, this mesmerizing Blue-Footed Booby sizes up the mesmerizing Blue-Footed Booty of its desires.

    1. diptherio

      Upon returning from a vacation to the Galapagos Islands, mother proudly presented me with a tee shirt bearing the likeness of two Blue-Footed Boobies bearing the caption “I Love Boobies!” Thanks, ma.

      1. BillC

        Mine gave me the matching floppy wide-brim sun hat. I’ve never had the nerve to wear it.

      2. ewmayer

        BBC used to maintain a “Wildfacts” web archive with entries on various critters found in the UK. The page on the Great Tit (parus major) – since taken down, it appears – had a hilarious line toward the end, on conservation status, to the effect of “Great Tits are not considered threatened. There are several million pairs in the UK.”

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I’m just curious how the #MeToo faithful view a series of comments like these above. I’m of the opinion that our gender differences provided by nature should be celebrated and enjoyed, that we should not strive to somehow pretend the genders are the same, and that light-hearted comments like these are OK. As Catherive DeNeuve said “vive la difference”.

          But surely an orthodox MeToo-er would completely disagree?

          I think it’s fair to say that the male of the species enjoys the female form, especially the additional adipose tissue designed to nourish babies. Do the faithful wish to expunge such toxic preferences?

          1. ewmayer

            The problem I have with most such activist movements which suffer from mission creep is the “no sense of humor” one – in the present case, folks who would deny that both sexes can still engage in what Chaucer might have dubbed healthy ribaldry without it being a form of oppression and harassment. And last time I checked, I wasn’t your boss and you weren’t my executive secretary, so the “harassment masquerading as workplace banter” angle is not in play.

            On the distaff side, I thought Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s “Virgil, you wiener!” line to Ed Harris in The Abyss was plenty funny too, despite it being oppressive to the male gender, or something.

  4. Scott 2

    I watched how our city’s waste contractor handles recyclable contamination. The landfill truck comes through around noon to pick up the trash in grey containers. One of the crew just looks in the blue recycling containers and if there is one plastic bag in it, the whole container of recyclables goes into the landfill-bound truck. Another truck comes by a few hours later and takes what’s left of the blue bins. I would estimate half of the blue bins head to the landfill.

      1. Wukchumni

        What was the point anyway?

        Imagine a plastic Pepsi bottle in Poughkeepsie in which the short-term owner didn’t put what was left of their cigarette into the opening and then screw down the lid, i.e. a clean no-brainer recyclable, that the ‘Poughkeepsie Municipal Recycling Center’ sorted out as good to go on it’s 10,000 mile voyage to China, which encompassed being put into a TEU and sent on a choo-choo to the left coast, before it’s fortnight cruise to the middle kingdom, where if everything went right, we’d get it back in the guise of some schlocky consumer item that was so reasonably priced that we didn’t mind that it fell apart in 6 months, after a roundtrip that was about 1/12th of the distance to the Moon, in total.

        1. Patrick Newbery

          The point was money: while else would an empty plastic bottle be shipped 10,000 miles by conventional petroleum-fueled transportation? while it should/could have been done for environmental stewardship, in the end, we still pretend to be the intelligent species, and believe the bottom line for everything measured in economic benefit, as if there’s no relationship between the environment and economics

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          If recyclables were reasonably well sorted and deposited to landfills by their sort category it would make mining for scrap materials much easier for future scavengers for resources.

        3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          And said schlocky consumer item ended up in the stomach of a dolphin or in the gut of a tiny crustacean living under 30,000 feet of water at the bottom of the Marianas Trench.

          They say our age is called “The Anthropocene Age” but maybe a better moniker would be “The Plasticene Age”.

      1. barefoot charley

        In the build-up to WWII Japan was our scrap steel and iron recycler–they had no ore of their own and had relied on the US for decades. Roosevelt embargoed the recycling after Japan’s invasion of Manchuria, forcing Japan to invade SE Asia, with pit stops in the Philippines and Pearl Harbor. Odd how recycling matters.

        1. Susan the Other

          Yes. Recyclables are resources. The trick is to construe the products and create the jobs. It would have happened naturally except for the frantic drive for profit that pushed us all to planned obsolescence and massively over consumption. Those industries were methodically set up to produce and sell by any possible externalized costs. There’s no reason all that engineered waste cannot be reversed.

      2. bob

        Not sure India was “recycling” the plastic. Most places who were importing it were doing so to burn it for electrical generation.

    1. ChristopherJ

      Our governments have the power to change this.

      For example, they could mandate that every person who wants to sell edibles in your country use packaging, bottles or containers, that are made from recycled materials.

      The problem is a lack of demand for recyclables. I am told that our beer makers can buy new bottles from overseas cheaper than they can buy new or recycled locally. So they do and their packaging ends up in land fill, or big storage sites waiting for someone to do something with it. China’s packaging, indeed a lot of their consumer stuff, including plastic clothing and so on, essentially ends up polluting our land and not theirs. (Not that China and the rest of Asia don’t have their own environmental challenges.)

      As we know this is occurring, we all see it, we can only assume that our governments are no longer working in our interests and are enabling the people and the corporations who profit without paying for the environmental costs of the rubbish they include when they sell us their consumer products, foods and drinks.

  5. allan

    23 Bigots: You’ve got to admit that it would have been hypocritical for IRA fundraiser Peter King
    to vote for the resolution. Shouldn’t we be celebrating his intellectual honesty?

    On a totally unrelated note, check out the Oscar™ nominated short documentary A Night at the Garden,
    about the American fascist rally in Madison Square Garden in February, 1939.

    The Oscar™ shorts are finishing up their theatrical runs, but will soon be available for streaming.

      1. nycTerrierist

        Wow, amazing story and what an inspiration.

        Can’t believe this unbelievably courageous woman is not more widely known.

        Freddie Oversteegen, brava and r.i.p.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I’m a bit sceptical about that story. I’m no expert on the Dutch resistance, but I think its generally accepted they carried out only a handful of assassinations, and those were almost all of Dutch collaborators, not Nazi’s or soldiers. The reason was simple – the Nazis practiced massive retaliation for every German death (50 civilians were shot when one Dutch SS officer was killed on his doorstep). If German soldiers were being killed in that way, dozens would have died in retaliation, and there is no record to my knowledge of this happening. The Communist resistance (the main part of the Dutch resistance) focused primarily on protecting Jewish families, helping downed airmen, and intelligence gathering for the Allies.

        Apart from the charismatic Hannie Schaft, a lot of them were written out of history because they didn’t want to admit that it was the Communists who did most of the hard work to undermine the German occupation.

        1. Wukchumni

          “Soldier of Orange” from 1977 is one of my favorite WW2 films, starring Rutger Hauer, and directed by Paul Verhoeven.

          From a book of the same title, by Erik Hazelhoff.

        2. David

          There was a major independent report in the 90s which revealed the unsuspected extent of collaboration with the Nazis during the occupation, all based on original documents . In addition more Dutch volunteers per head of population joined the Waffen SS than from any other country. Of course none of us were there, and if we had been we might well have collaborated too. History is awkward like that.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yeah, the impression I get is that the awkward reality for the Dutch is that only the Communists really worked hard to undermine the occupation. And at the time a lot of what we’d now called mainstream centrists saw the Communists as enemy no.1 and so didn’t see anything particularly wrong with collaborating with the Nazis if it meant keeping the Reds at bay.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              My dad was born and raised in Den Haag and when the Nazis marched into his university and said “you are racially equal to us so join us” he said it was tempting, they were on a serious roll and the atrocities were not yet common knowledge. But he thought about it and chose resistance instead, minor stuff like sabotage but also agitprop. He wrote an anti-Nazi play and on dress rehearsal night they marched in and arrested him. So I think there was quite a bit of Dutch resistance, even if the tales of covert murders are a bit exaggerated.

          2. Procopius

            … more Dutch volunteers per head of population joined the Waffen SS than from any other country.

            I find that quite surprising, considering how many from places like Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Latvia, etc. joined and are still honored as heroes for it to this day. I met a Ukrainian Green Beret in the Army back in the ’60s who was proud of having been an anti-tank platoon leader in the Waffen-SS, I suppose an SS-Untersturmführer.

        3. flora

          Oh, I have it on very good authority that the occupying Ger. army conscripted, or tried to conscript, all 15-20 year old Dutch males into their army, that is, all that couldn’t evade the conscription. (Those caught evading conscription could be ‘tried’ as ‘deserters’. You know how ‘deserters’ were treated. Think ‘shot’.) I think it’s entirely creditable that 14-20 year old young women would find ways to hit back at an occupying army destroying the young men of their occupied country.

          1. flora

            adding: the authority I reference is unimpeachable. My comment is intended in the private ‘witness to history’ mode.

  6. Bill Smith

    Manafort, given the judge said he should get credit for the 9 months he has already been in prison, should be out in 38 months? Maybe a little sooner for good behavior?

    1. sleepy

      Yeah, in the federal system you get up to a 10% sentence reduction for good behavior, so it should be closer to 34 months in prison. Actually, he’ll probably go to a halfway house a little before that.

      1. Earl Erland

        The First Step Act significantly increases the reduction of time, probably to 40 percent if he is a good little doobie in prison. At sentencing he will automatically receive a 54 day reduction for each year of sentencing. He will also be eligible to receive a reduction of 10 days for every 30 days he participates in a recidivism reduction program. That amount increases to 15 days should he be twice assessed to be at minimal risk for recidivism. The assessment must be done, at a minimum, annually.

    2. Alex morfesis

      Manafort will be out February 2021…conveniently moved to a very cold clubfed where it snows often and will walk out during a blizzard quietly in the middle of some emperor distrakto commotion created to provide cover to push the release to page 8 below the fold towards the center on a Wednesday evening….

      How much time did the Watergate outed by the penthouse girl geniuses actually spend in clubfed

    3. crittermom

      This light sentence has me screaming injustice!

      Here’s a little something more about the ‘prison’ where he’ll be serving his *cough* ‘sentence’:
      It’s even referred to as a ‘camp’.
      “…Cumberland Camp may or may not have perimeter fencing…”
      “..has many work programs which enable inmates to work outside the camp in the local community.”
      “Visit often if you can…”
      Hmm…wonder if it has a golf course, too?
      “prisoners are free to leave the premises to do yard work and the like, as long as they return.”
      “The biggest perk, though, is that prisoners tend to be on their best behavior for fear of being sent somewhere rougher. Nothing bad happens to you there.”

      He pleaded for leniency from this wheelchair–while never expressing remorse–& then stood up after the judge left?

      Imagine how any of us ‘regular’ people would be treated for lying to the govt after agreeing to ‘tell-all’, evading taxes, hiding money offshore, etc.
      We know none of us would get off this easy, let alone to be sentenced to this ‘prison’ (for the elite).

      Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting.
      Proof positive our ‘justice’ system is indeed broken.

      1. polecat

        “Proof positive our justice system is indeed broken.”

        Yesss, just ask HER –> … She’ll tell ya all about it .. well, maybe not !
        Oh …. and about Seth Rich ……………..

  7. Janie

    Thanks for the first two links under “Big Brother Is Watching You Watch”. The second, from Business Insider, is a vivid description of life with WeChat; and the first, from The Guardian about Zuck’ s vision, brings it home. Must reads for me!

    1. Chigal in Carolina

      Totally agree. I am in the process of trying to de-Google, including Chrome which btw has a new urgent message about a vulnerability that needs patching.

      Switched to a Mac and using DDG for search and Proton for email. Also got the Proton VPN. And I am getting my own router so AT&T doesn’t have control of my network.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        Suggest looking at DNS alternatives as long as you are re-routering. Various services available, starting with but not or variations in the G-word camp.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Thanks for the tip. The tech guy I am working with advises Netgear Nighthawk and said it should be at the AC level. Those are expensive!! I wonder if there N level would be good enough for me; I’m not a gamer after all

      2. Lambert Strether

        > Proton for email

        How do you like Proton? I have an account, and I know I should switch, but I tried switching once (to Yandex) but while the feature list was OK, in practice the experience and the UI/UX were worse than Yahoo. Have you encountered any gotchas with Proton? Something that you expected to be able to do easily, that in fact you could not do, or for which the implementation was ugly and stupid?

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          I’m not that far in yet but I’ll keep you posted. It is a long, involved process for my tech-challenged self to de-google and de-yahoo and de-chrome but I am determined to do it to the extent possible.

          One thing I already ran into is that because of the nature of the work (psychotherapy) we all have professional emails with the and Proton does not allow those emails to be sent and received under its account as google (phone) does. That is, others receive emails sent to in their google inbox even though they retain the practice addy. When they reply, it goes out under the addy even though they are sending it from gmail so patients do not know your personal email.

          BTW we advise patients that emails are NOT confidential and I may just make it a one-way street, i.e. if it is helpful to them to send me an email knowing it is not confidential they may, but I will not compound the exposure by replying, rather we will follow up when I see them. Scheduling is handled through the office anyway.

          Since I have an Android phone I cannot completely eliminate gmail from my life but this may end up being the only purpose I still use it for.

  8. zagonostra

    >Study reveals how psychedelic psilocybin improves long-term creative thinking

    Terrance Mckenna and his brother Dennis were way ahead of what seems to be a resurgence of studies on the beneficial effects of ingesting psychotropics. And although much of what they said was off the mark, other views the expressed were spot on, such as those touched on in this article.

    What the study also demonstrates is that the propaganda pushed down the throat of the population in the guise of “war on drugs” was destructive, self-serving and duplicitous and I hope to God those bastards responsible for demonizing drugs will some day be seen for the monsters of humanity they are.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Drugs in the U. S. fall into two categories:

      1) Approved–

      These drugs have three characteristics:

      a) They are usually patented and very profitable for Big Pharma;

      b) They require a prescription from some gatekeeping professional;

      c) They are designed to enable your functioning acceptably in our sick society.

      2) Prohibited

      These drugs have two characteristics–

      a) They are natural substances or easily derived from natural substances;

      b) They open the user’s eyes to the sickness in our society.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        any stimulants which can keep you working without thinking while not being a danger to your coworkers or the profitability of MomCorp are allowed

        anything that would keep you from working without thinking while not being a danger to your coworkers or the profitability of MomCorp are not allowed

      2. Harry

        My first reaction is to think “thats right!”

        Let me go away and ponder for a bit to see if it still seems right in a day or so.

        In the meantime I need to get a book on mushrooms.

        1. Wukchumni

          They aren’t very tasty, and in lieu of a tome accompaniment, i’d say go with a squeeze of peanut butter to make it easier to swallow.

    2. Acacia

      “Psychopharmacology was faced with a political problem. The problem was how to distinguish drugs, which restored social order from drugs, which subverted the social order. The ‘decision’ was made to categorise as problematic and dependence producing any drugs, which subverted the social order.” — David Healy

  9. nechaev

    don’t know if this has been linked to yet. Almost forgot about the Skripal affair until I read this excellent summary of the many ridiculous things we are being asked to believe:

    Ten Points I Just Can’t Believe About the Official Skripal Narrative

    an excerpt from point nr. 3:

    The very first person to discover the Skripals ill on a park bench in Salisbury just happened to be the Chief Nurse of the British Army, who chanced to be walking past them on her way back from a birthday party. How lucky was that? The odds are about the same as the chance of my vacuum cleaner breaking down just before James Dyson knocks at my door to ask for directions. There are very few people indeed in the UK trained to give nursing care to victims of chemical weapon attack, and of all the people who might have walked past, it just happened to be the most senior of them!

    The government is always trying to get good publicity for its armed forces, and you would think that the heroic role of its off-duty personnel in saving random poisoned Russian double agents they just happened to chance across, would have been proclaimed as a triumph for the British military. Yet it was kept secret for ten months. …

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      one imagines MI6 has incorporated this debacle into training for current and future spooks.

      Bond-level espionage this was not.

      1. Lambert Strether

        It certainly is fun. The biggest, oddest fact of all to me is that the Skripals are still incommunicado; no press interviews. There seems to be no good reason for that, if the official narrative is true. For the rest of it, I can’t follow the detail; it reads like Wheeler on acid. Or different, more bad, brown acid.

    2. wilroncanada

      It seems to me the other part of that revisionist narrative that the British government has been trying to push for years is, in the treatment those near-dead Russians, the newly-introduced clones of Florence Nightingale, the British nurse and her daughter, were unaffected by the deadly toxin, while later the supposed policeman who attended later had to be hospitalized.
      Now, in addition, neither of these victims has been seen or heard from for many months, not even by the family they had been in constant contact with.

    3. ChristopherJ

      Thank you, Nechaev. Dyson analogy is brilliant. Yes, nothing about this is what they are telling us. And, where are the Skiprals now? If I were one of them, I’d be wanting to tell my story, even if I weren’t trying to cash in…

    4. laughingsong

      similarly the fella over at the blogmire has been shredding the Skripal case from the get-go — he’s a Salisbury resident apparently — and he also recently did a great 10-point summation:

      I have been following his Skripal case posts for a while and they are very damning of the official narrative. If you have time, you may want to sample his archive.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Good stuff at the Blogmire, yes. This piece is really excellent; a “massive takedown” as we used to say. Highly recommended! (The Blogmire is extremely clear on the timeline and the sourcing, and that helps him to avoid getting lost in the detail.)

        Here’s a more recent, shorter piece that recapitulates the main points.

  10. The Rev Kev

    Alan MacLeod’s tweet was hilarious and Mike Pence had all the look, while standing next to Greedo, of a man trying to give birth to broken glass. Pence actually believed this turkey and fell for it hook, line and sinker. How many times has some politician believed the story of some exile that his country will fall over themselves to put him in power if he just had some help from the US with a little bit of blood and treasure? Talk about Lucy and the football. Some commentator mentioned a coupla months ago that Machiavelli warned about taking the word of exiles and here it is five hundreds years later and this truth still holds true.

    1. johnnygl

      Speaking of which….where’s Ahmed Chalabi these days?!?!

      I gather the Cuban exiles did the same thing to Kennedy in the run up to the Bay of Pigs.

      I’m sure Ngo Ding Diem did the same.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Kind of like “Free Jon Corzine!”

          or a placard I saw once:

          “Waterboard Obama! Find Out If He Knows Anything”

          or after Reagan was shot, a bumper sticker:

          “Give Hinckley A Second Chance!”

      1. Procopius

        I gather the Cuban exiles did the same thing to Kennedy in the run up to the Bay of Pigs.

        I don’t think so. The operation was cooked up under Eisenhower. I don’t remember if he knew about it. I would kind of doubt that he would be told, because it was obvious to most sane people that it was a disaster in the making. Kennedy wasn’t told about it until a few days before the invasion was launched, and the only reason he was told was that at the last minute they realized they needed air cover, which the CIA could not provide (then) from in-house assets. Alan and John Foster were truly deluded about Communism and about Cuba.

    2. Olga

      Speaking of which – looking from up above (high up) on this blatant US attempt to orchestrate yet another coup d’état, it is hard not to notice the absolute, sheer incompetence. I still remember the 9/11/73 coup in Chile – that was a much more surgically performed overthrow (even though it did take about 3 yrs of the misguided Chilean middle-classes going into the streets and banging their pots&pans). The final strike, however, came swiftly…
      This coup is stretching out like molasses, very near almost a total loss of a momentum (which is very important for successful overthrows). Has the US empire lost even its – previously very successful and fecund – drive/capacity for coups? Imperial collapse in all its gory glory? (Let’s hope so.)

      1. The Rev Kev

        Agreed. It does seem more amateurish and slapdash than the ’73 coup. Maybe the plan was for all this to be done in a matter of days in a sort of shock attack. Now that that has failed, they are still trying to work out a Plan B.

    3. cat’s paw

      Pence is a walking dunce cap. Note he does the same squinty eyed ‘I’m being real serious and grave right now’ thing while giving a speech that dubya did.

      1. ewmayer

        “My close-fitting hair helmet will protect me from having to engage in actual thought.” — #Veepus

        1. Wukchumni

          Pence always has this look of having a corn cob shoved up his rear echelon, not that there’s anything wrong with a diet rich in fiber.

          1. Oregoncharles

            A DRY corncob.

            Just incidentally, free associating, dry corncobs make excellent handles for things like files. The center will hold the tang, and the rough surface provides an excellent grip. Free!

    1. johnnygl

      Even what you’ve described above undersells the built in advantage she’s got.

      Consumer discretionary products are all about marketing reach and finding a way to get eyeballs to see your stuff. The Kardashian mom may be a sociopath, but she really understands how sales and marketing works these days and she’s moulded her daughters into her family business.

      They’re excellent symbols of 21st century american decadence….and they market and sell that decadence to their audience.

      Simultaneously brilliant and disgusting.

      1. a different chris

        The Kardashian mom is a sociopath and thus she really understands how sales and marketing works these days.

        Fixed it for ya

  11. notabanker

    Today’s must read:
    Rather than portraying their scenario as rosy, they should show that it is feasible.

    Does anyone know of an example of a historical civilization that was able to transform itself while the majority of its citizenry still had basic food, shelter and health?

    The idea that people are going to choose a more difficult lifestyle, in the mass required, for a concept of the common good seems to me to be unprecedented.

    I agree with the conclusion of the article. I just don’t see people making a choice to change without an actual tangible threat to their existence. The paradox of climate change is that once those threats manifest themselves, its too late.

    If there is a historical example of this, it would be interesting to note what factors were at play and how people were motivated to change.

    1. diptherio

      I’ve been saying this forever. “Can you name one civilization that underwent a massive change in lifestyle, or governance, or anything else, based on an intellectual decision of the populace?” Seems to me, from my reading of history, that it’s war, famine, disease, etc. that usually leads to major overhauls in human societies, not everyone making an intellectual decision to live differently.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Jared Diamond discusses a few possible examples in ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’, but they’ve been disputed – they are mostly based on interpretations of archaeological evidence.

        Japan, of course, engineered an enormous voluntary change in the Meiji Period, although its questionable whether the average Japanese had much say in it.

        1. JBird4049

          Japan, of course, engineered an enormous voluntary change in the Meiji Period, although its questionable whether the average Japanese had much say in it.

          Not really voluntary as it was change or be colonized like Indian and China; the word “colonization” is usually a convenient term for invasion and conquest like collateral damage is for the death and destruction of the innocent in war.

          1. Wukchumni

            I’m a big fan, as always when somebody comes up with a new way of looking at how things came to be, it breeds contempt from those who feel threatened as it doesn’t jive with their old ways of thinking.

            Have a glimpse @ Jared Diamond’s Ted Talk from 2003, in regards to why societies collapse…


            1. Plenue

              But Diamond’s ideas aren’t new. He’s just regurgitating Crosby’s ideas (, which were already of dubious validity, and then extending them even further into unsubstantiated territory.

              Read the reddit link. Diamond’s ideas are literally wrong. It isn’t about them not ‘jiving’, it’s about how he mangles facts to hammer them into his thesis.

              1. JBird4049

                Perhaps. I can certainly see his ideas being incomplete and inaccurate.

                It just seems that too many current academics use “Reasons” while older ones used warmed over racial superiority to explain why Western Civilization managed to not only start, gain great sophistication, and then conquer every single other civilization, country, and society with the exception of Japan and Siam.

                Too much of the criticism of Jared Diamond is essentially credentialism. I got me a degree and he doesn’t so there!

              2. Wukchumni

                I found the links you provided to be chock full of niggling nothings, often from historians upset that he dared use their rice bowl w/o their permission.

                When I got to one that extolling Victor Davis Hanson instead, it was time to shut r’ down.

                1. Plenue

                  So the fact that he completely misunderstands/misrepresents how the conquest of the New World actually happened is a ‘niggling nothing’?

          2. Oregoncharles

            Jared Diamond and historians: one could say that he’s a rival power, and they’re talking their book.

            That said, he paints with a broad brush and is probably only half right. However, his work reflects a long-standing conflict within anthropology, between those who see culture as causal and those, more Marxist, who see it as driven by external, physical factors. Marvin Harris is the chief exponent of the latter, in previous generations.

            I would say that ultimately, livelihood rules – though brute force like invasions or epidemics may have the final word.

            1. JBird4049

              Advocates of both tend to take it to the extreme of saying only their causes matter which blinds them to any reasonable exceptions. That is human, but it does become a crusade to destroy the other side with its heretical dogma instead of a debate on the merits. The current identity politics has bled into it and made it worse.

              It’s disturbing to watch and study under its influence. Is what I am studying an honest exploration or not? A defense, an explanation, or a jeremiad?

        2. Plenue

          “Japan, of course, engineered an enormous voluntary change in the Meiji Period”

          Not voluntary to the samurai.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            It was the samuraiwho drove the change – the core opposition was not from samurai but from feudal landlords. It was a later myth to suggest that the samurai class were the drivers of the satsuma rebellion – in reality the Meiji restoration was a coup d’etat by the royal samurai retainers who then formed the core of ‘real’ ruling class. The Satsuma rebellion was led by rural lords trying to maintain feudal rights. Their ‘samurai’ were just following orders.

      2. Craig H.

        > Can you name one civilization that underwent a massive change in lifestyle, or governance, or anything else, based on an intellectual decision of the populace?

        The Christians took over the Roman Empire.

        There is some dispute about the moving force but it wasn’t war or famine or disease.

        1. Gary

          The Christians did not take over the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire changed their business model. Half the world still tributes to one man on a throne in Rome.

          1. diptherio

            This. The Empire adopted Christianity as a political expedient. Or rather, the emperor did.

            But I should clarify: I mean what civilization has changed the material productive basis of it’s sustenance based on ideology and been successful at it? I think of China’s “great leap forward” and the famine that ensued because(?) of it. I think the Bolsheviks had a similar experience.

            I’m a cynical b*stard, I’ll freely admit, but it seems to me that when cultures go through rapid change it is because a few people at the top of the society’s power structure have decided it’s in their best interest, and then forced everybody else to go along, whether they want to or not….or it’s because they’ve been conquered by an external power who does that, or some natural disaster or the like has simply made the old ways of doing things impossible.

            Most of us have to be forced into change, it seems to me. A friend who spent a lot of time at Standing Rock complained that they were there to protest an oil pipeline, but everyone was heating with gas and driving their trucks around, while the horses sat mostly unused in their pasture. And I, understanding this irony, and wishing it were otherwise, still drive a fossil-fuel powered automobile…as we say in Nepal ke garne? [what to do?]

          2. Olga

            Well, the Roman empire continued for almost 1000 yrs after the Fall of Rome around 476AD. It just moved east and became known as the Byzantine empire (and was Christian). In 313AD, Constantine converted to Christianity (still in ol’Rome), but then built a palace in Byzantium. So it might not be too incorrect to say that Christians took over.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              A thousands years after, or more.

              Various claims had been made as the Third Rome, inlcuding a Russian one.

            2. lyman alpha blob

              Prior to that the Romans threw off their monarchy and instituted the republic ~ 500 BC.

              That period is not well documented though – we know about it from historians writing centuries later to the point where the actual events had already become largely mythological, so hard to say whether the populace still had the basic necessities during the transition period or not. My guess though, judging from other, better documented history, would be not.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Come to think of it, there was a time in Rome’s early history when the elite aka the Senate got too heavy handed with the plebs. So the plebs actually upped and decamped from the city. Literally left the city. With few plebs left, the Senate found that they had bupkis so they negotiated for the plebs to return in exchange for rights and protections. So this might be ‘an example of a historical civilization that was able to transform itself while the majority of its citizenry still had basic food, shelter and health’.

            3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Gore Vidal’s incredible book Julian dramatizes the transition from the pantheistic sun-drenched “paganism” focused on this world to the dark, monotheistic death cult focused on the next. Took him almost 10 years of research to write. Yes, Constantine was pivotal.

            4. Procopius

              Minor quibble: It is now called the Byzantine Empire. They called themselves the Roman Empire at least up until 1453, ignoring the conquest by “crusaders” in 1205. And in fact there remained the “Holy Roman Empire” up until 1806.

              1. Plenue

                Holy Roman Empire was just a bunch of Germans that picked the crown up out of the gutter, as it were. There’s no real meaningful continuity between the HRE and the Roman Empire.

                If you really wanted though you could say that ‘Rûm’ lasted until 1922, since the Ottomans claimed the title by right of conquest.

                1. The Rev Kev

                  I believe that Voltaire once said that the Holy Roman Empire was “neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire”. He had a point.

      3. Olga

        Well, the socialist countries underwent tremendous changes “in lifestyle, or governance, or anything else, based on an intellectual decision of the populace.” (Never mind that that so-called “intellectual decision’ was severely influenced by lyin’western propaganda. A change still happened and was mostly peaceful.) Russia had a much rougher time of it (plus, most folks voted in a referendum to preserve the USSR, so one can argue that the change happened via the lyin’elites). But Russians survived, with only a US, Saudi-supported Chechen war.
        There may be other historical examples, but I’d have to think…

      4. Jeremy Grimm

        Look back on past civilizations. Suppose a populace could make a decision to change the lifestyles of their civilization — changes which should impact the lifestyles of all classes. How many populaces in past civilizations had the political power to effect the lifestyles of their civilization? With this hypothetical I am presupposing that the idea of everyone simply changing their own way of life regardless of the actions of others is neither likely nor an especially wise decision for an individual.

        What about our own civilization — does our populace have the political power to change our lifestyles?

    2. Chris Cosmos

      People do change if the mythological/conceptual framework changes. To put it another way. If and when the mainstream media presents climate change as an existential threat people will change and make sacrifices as Americans did during WWII.

      Social science studies have shown that people will choose meaning over comfort if given that choice and my experience in life has backed that up–of course those choices are rarely given by the PTB. Unfortunately in the US climate-change is not being presented as the threat it is since the role of the US mass-media is to ensure that the oligarchy stays in place so trivial stories, tempests in teapots, endless gossip, and imperial wars take precedence over real threats particularly if taking actions threatens any vested interest.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        “People do change if the mythological/conceptual framework changes.”

        Which brings us back to the ‘shroom story, Leary’s LSD in the water supply or a seismic movement in the Collective Unconscious.

      2. Shonde

        “trivial stories, tempests in teapots, endless gossip, and imperial wars take precedence over real threats particularly if taking actions threatens any vested interest”

        Bernie keeps talking about our rigged system. Well, when has it not been rigged? And now the wealthiest among us are figuring out how to rig any GND so they can once again come out on top. Once they have their plan in place, only then will we see a sudden shift in world wide focus from “trivial stories, tempests in teapots, endless gossip, and imperial wars take precedence over real threats particularly if taking actions threatens any vested interest” to pin point focus and action on solving our global warming problem.

        With age comes cynicism. Please tell me I am wrong.

        1. Chris Cosmos

          In my youth it was less-rigged than it is now. There were some politicians and even some journalists who were on the up and up. Gradually this changed starting in the 80s. While 9/11 really began the complete transformation of politics and journalism it wasn’t until the 2008 crisis and the election of Obama that the system was completely rigged. However, I think we are seeing the beginning of the Great Unraveling so I’m hopeful.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Less rigged…it depends.

            Some groups of people might say it is not less rigged.

          2. Jeremy Grimm

            I agree. I admit being relatively clueless in my youth but times did seem less rigged then. I recall a definite feeling of hope for the future shortly after the end of the space race and the Vietnam War.

            1. Carey

              Yes, I still felt hope in the mid-to-late 70s. Then Prop 13, Thatcher/Reagan, and it became Morning in America™-
              for the well-to-do.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One alternative is an Earth-haunting specter of a Green Dictator, or Green Dictatorial Saviour.

    4. David

      Walter Scheidel, “The Great Leveller”. Not many laughs, but basically a demonstration that it takes disaster level events to produce meaningful social change.

    5. Susan the Other

      One thing that bothers me at this point is that we are looking at the poor rural communities and stressed-out suburbanites and predicting that they are the most at risk. That might not be true. It depends on how we turn things around. They could luck out. If we are considering fundamental changes it is not out of the question to find a way to make rural and suburban populations very resourceful places. Since agriculture needs to be set on a different, sustainable course, rural communities could certainly prosper from new agriculture. And suburban communities could find a comfortable niche – instead of their insane commutes and lack of services they could come together and create better, more self-sufficient communities. As a society we will need to prioritize sustainability, create certain industries and subsidize them. How else?

  12. Wukchumni

    Russian ship with ‘vomit-inducing weapon’ spotted off UK coast Independent (resilc)
    How did the Russians get hold of a boat full of Olde English 800?

    1. Kevin

      Reminds me of the Germans, who tried, unsuccessfully to develop a giant speaker that produced a deep bass sound that was to cause opposing soldiers to defecate. Tough to fight with a pant-load.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Russian ship with ‘vomit-inducing weapon’ spotted off UK coast”

    In a way, this is a bit of a relief when you stop and think about it. The UK government can now claim that all those feelings of ‘dizziness, nausea and feelings of disorientation’ that the British people are experiencing are not due to the fact that Brexit kicks in in about 20 days with no deal in place but because of Russia’s nefarious Filin 5P-42 device.

  14. Watt4Bob

    The article about the Triton malware briefly mentions Stuxnet, the malware developed by the NSA and Israeli Intelligence to attack Iran’s nuclear program, but downplays the obvious role that Stuxnet had in subsequent escalation of cyber warfare in general, and the targeting of infrastructure controls in particular.

    From the article;

    There have been only a few previous examples of hackers using cyberspace to try to disrupt the physical world. They include Stuxnet, which caused hundreds of centrifuges at an Iranian nuclear plant to spin out of control and destroy themselves in 2010, and CrashOverride, which Russian hackers used in 2016 to strike at Ukraine’s power grid

    The following is a clear effort to shirk responsibility for throwing the first punch, so to speak.

    However, not even the most pessimistic of cyber-Cassandras saw malware like Triton coming. “Targeting safety systems just seemed to be off limits morally and really hard to do technically,” explains Joe Slowik, a former information warfare officer in the US Navy, who also works at Dragos.

    Other experts were also shocked when they saw news of the killer code. “Even with Stuxnet and other malware, there was never a blatant, flat-out intent to hurt people,” says Bradford Hegrat, a consultant at Accenture who specializes in industrial cybersecurity.

    This “cyber-Cassandra” immediately saw, and widely commented on both the dangerous precedent that release of the Stuxnet worm represented, and the foolish disregard for inevitable blow-back.

    I wasn’t the only one, there were numerous people pointing out the obvious danger of this reckless escalation in cyber space.

    Stuxnet represented both a tactical road map, and a valuable technical model to cyber warriors everywhere, one which they would inevitably reverse engineer and deploy against the USA and its ridiculously vulnerable infrastructure.

    Let’s not forget the hackers tool kits lost by the NSA and since deployed by our enemies.

    Remember that Huawei built back-doors in its 5G equipment in a tit-for-tat response to the secret back-doors installed in American equipment, and then try to understand the implications of our abandoning the manufacture of the 5G equipment, leaving the Chinese in control of the world’s next generation wireless networks.

    We’re the cyber gang that couldn’t shoot straight, led by a steady stream of short-sighted adjits, named Clapper, Alexander, and Hayden, some of which have invested in the search for personal profit based on products intended to ‘keep us safe’ from cyber threats that they themselves have a hand in propagating.

    Tell me again how you considered attacking safety equipment morally off limits?

    Tell me about any behavior you consider morally off limits?

      1. Watt4Bob

        The gist of my comment does not hang on the reality of Huawei’s back-door controversy.

        And I apologize for my lack of clarity on the particulars, I could have, maybe should have qualified that comment with an ‘if’.

        This link covers the issue more honestly than many.

        That said, the point of my comment is that most cyber attacks on American interests is directly related to our own cyber aggression towards others.

        1. wilroncanada

          Yes. Many of us, even cyber ingoramuses like me, foresaw that that which was hacked by the US and Israel, would result in blowback that would eventually affect our own countries.
          Most of the readers here who have read the article, also have noticed the total lack of agency in the article when it refrained from referring to the US and Israel when it briefly mentioned Stuxnet.

        2. The Rev Kev

          Thanks for that comment Watt4Bob. I too thought of the Stuxnet fiasco and wondered if this attack had been the result of another such rogue operation blowback. Blaming Russia for this one is pointless as released files show the US has methodology to label any attack as coming from Russia or China or whoever they want. Other countries must have the same abilities. I am surprised that an analysis of that attack did not reveal the words ‘Putin Was Here” in it.
          I can only think that with any such control mechanisms, that it be set up so that readings and the like can be done via the net but file permissions set so that any file changes can only be done at the local level and with two sets of authorizing people. This may cost money so may not be done. And to think that things like Stuxnet were released not due to vital interests but due to political expediency and idealology. Gahh!

    1. Chris Cosmos

      I find the notion that experts are “shocked” that malware has become a weapon almost insanely lame. Where have these people been? What view of the world do they have? In a world dominated by thugs, crimimals, martinets, and predator corporations why wouldn’t people use any tool available to threaten and hurt others?

      Over a decade ago Misha Glenny wrote that over 15% of the world’s GDP belongs to organized crime. From what I’ve seen I would estimate that it’s more like 20%. Plus what is Washington other than a higher level of organized crime. I believe, in fact, that governments, corporations, lobbyists often unofficially interact with organized crime–I’m sure Trump had close relations to organized crime.

      The most likely explanation to all this is that some combination of intel services (who are all crooked) and organized crime may be responsible for these attacks probably not to hurt people but to extort money from various organizations. AI advances will turn systems management into the wild west I suspect.

      1. three eyed goddess

        Governments ‘often unofficially interact with organized crime” – no, organized crime is the Left Hand of the State.

      2. RopeADope

        Michael Hudson also mentions it in ” Finance Capitalism and its Discontents”. The interview in question can be found here at Counterpunch.

        Anusar Farooqui does a good job of documenting the period where the fusion between the state and organized crime really took off.

        part 1:
        part 2:

        One cannot help but wonder if RFK was killed because his mafia busting spree while AG was interfering in the build up of the illicit offshore finance hub that the CIA and State was working to develop.

        1. JEHR

          The Old British Empire is still standing secret and strong amidst the financial community. Brexit hoisted it on its own petard. No sympathy here for the City.

        2. Pookah Harvey

          Michael Hudson also has stated that after 1941 the Democratic party decided to hand the unions over to the Mafia rather than having socialists in the leadership.
          at about 12:00 but the whole lecture is interesting. (one audio channel English and the other German)

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s an alarming thought that Washington, the monetary sovereign, is a higher level of organized crime.

        So alarming, progressives need to replace the current MMT described monetary system, to take that away from it.

        Or we can try to take to take it over, though it has as money as it wants to defend itself.

        1. Reluctant Lemming

          Acton observed that all governments, persisting long enough, come to resemble organized crime.

      4. Elizabeth Burton

        Isn’t Stuxnet supposed to have been a joint project between Israel and the CIA? But Triton, of course, could only have come from Russia, Iran and/or the DPRK. On the plus side, I did have to read a good bit of the article to find the expected money quote.

    2. EricT

      Why wasn’t UAE considered a suspect in the sabotage? There was an article about them hiring former CIA and NSA agents. On top of that, the royal family of Saudi Arabia was in a squabble with the UAE royals not to long ago, threatening invasion, over Al Jazeera and other issues. I recall an article bringing up about who the US would back up, considering that the US has a very large airbase located in the UAE.

      1. InUAE

        Regarding the squabble you mention above, I think it might be the Saudi Arabia vs Qatar spat that you are thinking of. In this matter (and many others) the UAE and Saudis are/were allies. There are still no commercial flights to and from Qatar from UAE and Al Jazeera is blocked on the Internet for UAE residents [I am one, so I have first hand knowledge of this].

        Here is Wikipedia’s version of events:

        This is not to say that Qatar does not have its own policies of hiring former spies from other nations. I am sure they have something in place given their regional “neighbourhood”.

    3. lordkoos

      I’m no cyber-expert, but I don’t understand why these types of systems must be connected to the greater internet. Seems like it should be a LAN only without outside connections, encrypted, and administered by on-site personnel. While this would limit the convenience of being able to manage the system remotely, the trade-off in vulnerability wouldn’t seem to be worth it.

  15. WJ

    From the Cornel West interview:

    Hillary Clinton will have an “active role” in 2020, her advisers told The Hill, and try to “unify” the Democratic Party. The former secretary of state will seek to play an important role in the upcoming election, according to individuals briefed on the matter…

    Oh good.

    1. nycTerrierist

      This time, it will require more finesse to rig the Dem primary to stop Sanders.

      I hope we can rely on her proven incompetence to screw that up.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        Clinton was incompetent but her people did a good job and no finesse to steal a number of primaries for Clinton. Clinton’s whole appeal was to align herself with the most corrupt elements of the DP. Local highly corrupt DP organizations will find a way to steal ballots as they did in 2016. This will have to be closely watched this time and preparations made by local volunteers and, frankly, armies of lawyers–there was some of that on the ground but the media, which is part of the DP, at times noted some of the stories but did not follow up nor comment on the fact the primaries were being stole right under their noses because no one wanted Trump to win. This time, with no single obvious DP favorite dissident forces have a better chance.

    2. Arizona Slim

      The key word in that passage is “seek.”

      And just because she will seek doesn’t mean that she will find that important role.

  16. notabanker

    In the ‘once you see it you can’t unsee it’ category:
    “I believe we need a crisis in Europe to really fix Europe.”
    Rising populism continues to be a concern and there’s a need to create more “inclusive capitalism.”

  17. Joe Costello

    The middle class and wealthiest will be greatest opponents to the necessary change to address environmental issues, it’s their life styles and power that will be most impacted.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      I don’t really agree. I see, in fact, that it is the more educated who have some notion of what climate change could do that are the most concerned however they are not likely to act because most of us in that class tend, to be blunt, to be wimps. The classes below the professional class have such a poor education that there’s little chance many of them will understand such concepts as non-linear systems and positive-feedback loops–not because they couldn’t understand it but because systems-theory seems to be reserved for the priesthood–it should be taught rather in place of geometry. Plus, the working class is just scared that they will lose what little they have if there is any dramatic change in the economy and can’t think much further than paying the bills each month. As an owner of a small business I am in the same position.

      In the end it has to be the ruling elites who have to decide this (doing something about climate change) is a problem worth pursuing.

      1. lordkoos

        While the more educated class may understand the threats of climate change, that doesn’t mean they are prepared to make the necessary personal sacrifices in lifestyle. I would take issue with the assertion that people with less education cannot understand what is happening. A feedback loop is a pretty simple concept.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        For comic relief — I ran across a reference to a Bob Mankoff cartoon favorite. It reads:
        “While the end-of-the-world scenario will be rife with unimaginable horrors, we believe that the pre-end period will be filled with unprecedented opportunities for profit”

      3. Grant

        The rich around the world consume a large portion of resources and are responsible for most pollution. The elites have shown that they are responsible or are willing to put in place the radical changes needed to address the environmental crisis. Peter Frase has a book called “Four Futures” that goes over the different paths moving forward. There are ways to deal with the environmental crisis that would be highly authoritarian and undemocratic, and there are ways of doing it in such a way that would be democratic and equitable. Frase calls one scenario “exterminism” (which I will link below). Why would we trust the elites to choose a means of dealing with the environmental crisis in a way that is equitable or democratic? It could be an extermanist option they chose because it benefits them. I mean, they have in the end been the ones that created the international economic system. That system is undemocratic, inequitable and a key driver in the environmental crisis. There are different ways to deal with the environmental crisis, and I don’t think the rich have done anything to deserve us trusting them. I also don’t think the rich and powerful understand this issue more than working people either. They have their own fantasies and illusions, ideological biases, and the poor and working people around the world have been fighting the rich in regards to the environment for some time. The Naxalite movement in India and the connection to the destruction of the forests there, the landless peasant movement in Brazil, the various battles over things like water privatization in places like Bolivia in the past, the conflicts in places like China between developers and those that want to protect communal property, forests, etc. Karl William Kapp showed that a large part of conflicts involved “cost shifting”, essentially battles over impacts that the market ignores. He called them social costs, some modern economists call them externalities, but it is a fact that in the modern economy many interests benefit from externalizing their costs, and their power to do so is a reflection of power dynamics in society. If communities are powerful and have particular rights, they could fight against the externalization of those costs. If they aren’t, then private interests will benefit by externalizing their costs off onto the general public, future generations, the environment and the poor.

        1. Carey

          Thanks for this fine comment. My question would be why the rich and powerful would choose some option *other than* exterminism?
          I see little evidence that the health of the commons is a concern for them; it looks, in fact, like they’ve been doing their best to destroy it since at least

          1. Grant


            The problem is of course that many of our decisions today will impact people not yet born, they will impact ecosystems, there are social impacts, and none of that goes into prices. So, whether it is the rich or everyone else, we have to figure out how an economic system that relies less explicitly on market information would operate nationwide, we have to create institutions and policies that deal with limits to growth in regards to throughput and pollution generation in a democratic and equitable way, and we have to figure out how to move from a chaotic and decentralized system like ours to one that is compatible with some form of national planning. Cause the idea that a decentralized economic system can operate within sustainable limits without some planning is problematic, naïve in fact, I think. I don’t trust the rich to do much of anything beyond asserting their domination over others and the decision making process.

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              I have begun to doubt “that many of our decisions today will impact people not yet born”, primarily the unstated assumption — but not us. I have a very uncomfortable feeling those of us in the present generations will feel some of the impacts of our decisions very soon. When one summer, all the Arctic ice has melted, we will strongly feel some of impacts of our decisions.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Setting the Stage for an Encounter at the Colombia-Venezuela Border”

    I think maybe that Colombia is reconsidering its options here. Obviously there is going to be no quick coup but a long ongoing process that may or may not succeed. They are already being swamped with Venezuelans fleeing the heavily sanctioned country but if the place breaks out into a shooting war, then that becomes Colombia’s problem big time. The US may not have a border with Venezuela but Columbia does and it is about 1,378 miles (2,219 kilometers) in length. Columbia may consider running in troops that way but there is nothing stopping Venezuela doing the same to them. What if it was a shooting war and Venezuela decided to assassinate a few high-profile politicians or do maybe some good old-fashioned sabotage of facilities in Columbia so that they could feel the pain as well? In spite of being asked, I see no countries in South America that supported the attempted coup actually willing to send their own forces to launch an attack on Venezuela. Certainly Colombia is not volunteering any cannon fodder for such a venture. I’m not sure how but I think that this whole episode is going to have some real blowback in South America over the next coupla years for a lot of countries. Maybe some even in Europe.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Colombia is most certainly not in a position to go to war. They have managed to tamp down their own civil war with the aid of the US but the internal peace is tentative–any additional pressure could, again, break open society. Columbia has similar class and radce problems as pre-Chavez Venezuela had.

      1. wilroncanada

        A recent report I read somewhere indicates that the co-optation of the remaining leaders of violent opposition to the violent regime, is already breaking down in the countryside, where most of the opposition has always come from, and the Colombian government is having increasing difficulty keeping a lid on, even with their “partners”, the US the UK, and Israel pitching in with “security help” (spy services, logistics services and mercenaries).

  19. tegnost

    re the faceborg articles, the guardian was a little less breathless about it all, while the BI story portrayed the dystopia with a thin veneer of TINA…probably good to read both of them for perspective

    1. curlydan

      I’ve been to China on many 3 week trips in the past 15 years. In my view, you can get by without WeChat decently in a 3 week timeframe. But for the 6+ week timeframe (e.g. Business Insider), yeah, you’d need to get a working cell phone and a WeChat account. Then again, you’d probably need Mandarin lessons as well.

      Traveling in China, though, follows the same rules as most foreign countries: obey the local laws and don’t make the authorities PO’ed. Living is China is similar: you can have fun and make money, but don’t get the Communists PO’ed at you.

      By the end of 3 weeks, I’m ready to get the hell out of China. I’m just a ‘Murican at heart, needing my daily milk, ice cream, hummus, Cheerios, and chips and salsa :)

  20. carycat

    “sails close to UK territorial waters” which means those pesky ruskies are in international waters.
    Shouldn’t all those lovers of Freedom of Navigation in the DoD and state department be giving the British Admiralty a talking to since they have just conducted just such an exercise in the South China Sea this January?

    1. John A

      There was a scare story in Scotland recently. A few Russian ships were passing in international waters from Murmansk to the Med, but due to very bad weather conditions they came closer to the coast of Scotland than they usually do, which is permitted by exercising the right of innocent passage enshrined in international law and as stipulated in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10th December 1982.
      However, they were in international waters at all times.
      Naturally, this explanation was never made clear in the Scottish media.

  21. Wukchumni

    If indeed everything is CalPERS, which i’m more in agreement with every passing stanza of the long playing charade, what does the endgame look like, with the domino factor of fraud?

  22. George Phillies

    The 23 alleged bigots. Well, perhaps not.

    Politico claims:

    “THOSE WHO VOTED AGAINST IT — including New York Rep. Lee Zeldin, who was most animated against the bill — said it was a sham, and should’ve focused more squarely on Omar’s remarks.”

    That is, they voted agianst the resolution because it was not adequately against Omar.

    THere is a new AOC fundraiser based on this criticism of her and her friends. Quotes from the fundraiser, whose claims I have not investigated, include:

    “It’s official – AIPAC is coming after Alexandria, Ilhan and Rashida…Rashida, Ilhan and Alexandria have at times dared to question our foreign policy, and the influence of money in our political system. And now, lobbying groups across the board are working to punish them for it….Some members of Congress have even gone so far as to claim that ‘questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable…just a decade ago it was ‘unquestionable’ to not support the war in Iraq…And we all saw what resulted from that lack of discussion and negotiation…Help us build a progressive movement that fights for the honest conversation, inclusiveness and our universal fight with hate with a $27 contribution.”

    Readers will note that the fundraiser is getting huge free press from conservative Republican groups who might be suspected of not supporting AOC on every issue.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      On the plus side maybe AIPAC will not dominate the Democratic Party caucus as much. The radical pro-Zionist stance of Republicans in general is going to make it very seductive to exploit deep anti-Muslim sentiment in Republican voters to institute a new hate campaign against all things Muslim. It’s kind of ironic that AIPAC which is clearly run by the Israeli government’s intel service is going to have to go against Muslims while, at the same time, loving on the Saudis (Israel’s second closest ally) who are the direct source of almost all Islamic terrorism. It will be amusing to watch.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Critizing Israel does not imply hate for anyone.

      Similarly, criticizing Omar does not imply love for AIPAC.

    3. Alain de Benoist

      It looks like Alexandria, Ilhan and Rashida are in for the long term. They are holding a pretty good hand (the truth) and their opponents are not used to getting openly attacked and are overreacting in an hysterical fashion. I particularly appreciate the use of the word “universal” in their fund raising appeal. That will trigger some particularists. And they are quite wisely linking support to Israel with Trump and right wingers.

      With such an active left wing now on the march in the Democratic Party, if Donald Trump had any strategic sense remaining he would use this as an opportunity to veer hard to the right. Instead he so far seems to be making the obvious mistake of tacking towards the centre and morphing into Jeb Bush with a hot wife. He is losing his alt-right base who are now increasingly using their considerable meme-ing skills to mock Trump. Many in the alt-right are now flirting with Andrew Yang as their new “God Emperor”. They call themselves the Yang Gang. They know Yang won’t do anything about immigration but neither is Trump but with Yang they will at least have a $1,000 a month in their pockets every month. And since Yang is not white, he is not subject to the taboos about discussing white demographic decline. Tucker Carlson had him on his show and it was a love fest. This is a phenomenon to keep an eye on…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Every month $1,000?

        Since money is key in politics, giving Universal Income (the amount, like decifit spending, is not llimited to just ‘basic,’ but unlimited), to the people, maybe the people can buy more elections than corporations.

        1. Alain de Benoist

          Yang is all over the money in politics issue with his concept of “Democracy Dollars”. In addition to the $1,000 a month in Universal Income, every American would get $100 a year to pledge to her candidate(s) of choice. This flood of money would totally overwhelm the corporations and globalist billionaires who currently try to control our elections.

    4. a different chris

      >That is, they voted agianst the resolution because it was not adequately against Omar.

      This classifies them as not bigots how?

  23. tegnost

    Before reading the next link, look at this one…
    a tunnel paid for with gas taxes among other things, so spreading the pain out, also the new tunnel is a toll road
    Then this one… this standard seattle takeaway that you are not allowed to tax the carpetbaggers…oops I meant concerned business owners and speculators

    “Property owners of today will pay back a tiny bit of that equity gain through a new property tax proposed by the city for parcels near the waterfront, referred to as a LID, or local improvement district, to pay for the forthcoming waterfront park and promenade. The $160 million tax, negotiated down from $200 million after property owners objected, will hit those roughly within a quarter-mile radius of the viaduct. It translates to a one-time tax hit of $5,900 for the median commercial property owner and $1,900 for the typical condo owner.”

    I’m afraid “lesser seattle” has perished, RIP emmet watson

    1. lordkoos

      Seattle and WA state now seem to be in love with tollways. I was incensed when a couple of years ago they carved out two toll lanes (AKA “Lexus lanes”) in each direction on I-405 through Bellevue. So now during rush hour the wealthy can zip past traffic while all the working serfs who can’t afford the tolls are crammed down into two lanes, making an already bad commute much worse. Not sure how this undemocratic solution came about, but I’d bet there was some well funded lobbying from the wealthy in the Bellevue area.

  24. Summer

    Re: Economics After Liberalism
    “And, because working-class jobs tend to be more carbon-intensive, factory workers and truck drivers will be hurt more than designers and bankers.”

    Somebody funds and designs every factory, car, and truck, speculates on the price of oil, etc. Somebody makes the decisions where to drill and how often. Somebody decides what policies or trade agreements that increase the use of raw materials or chemicals.
    It’s not the working class. Many of these types of jobs are what people consider to be “above” working-class or blue-collar.

    What makes the factory floor worker less green than the bankers that fund factories or the lawyers that negotiate the oil companies’ contracts?
    And so on…

    1. Summer

      I just want to add: I wouldn’t be surprised if the Office of the POTUS has a bigger carbom footprint than thousands of truckers or factory workers.

    2. ewmayer

      “because working-class jobs tend to be more carbon-intensive” — especially working-class jobs that got offshored halfway around the globe, leading to supply chains that run from US/Europe to SE Asia and back again! But I suppose that’s the fault of all those Deplorables who simply “couldn’t compete with China” and thereby forced all those poor C-suiters and wonkish economists who provide them with intellectual cover to make the gut-wrenching, agonizing, I-still-lose-sleep-over-this-despite-my-300x-average-worker-comp-package decision to move the jobs overseas, right?

  25. chuck roast

    My first professional project was a report on New Mexico Recycling and Economic Development in 1992. That research project taught me that recycling could be done right, but it’s expensive – too expensive. Recycling is just another grift. And a poorly designed grift at that…a bogus mirage that we have all bought into because it makes us feel righteous. It’s a fool’s errand.

    Ya wanna save the planet…ban containers made from hydrocarbons; minimize and tax packaging and waste and require reusable containers. I’ll go back to my cave now.

    1. Olga

      In the socialist world, most containers were glass (I think we were too poor to afford plastic). Recycling was highly encouraged, with fairly high deposits. Same for paper and cardboard. Cans were not recycled. Not sure recycling paper is really “too expensive.” Nor glass… but plastic maybe.
      There was a story here once about Chinese lingerie sellers in a very conservative part of Egypt – quite a hoot – but the second part dealt with a Chinese business, set up to manufacture stuff from plastic bottles. Did not seem to be that difficult (of course, they could not find enough labour in E.) Maybe we just need some creative ideas about all junk we produce…?

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I agree with your point that recycling many materials is really not all that expensive — or should not be. The costs are part of the price we pay for ‘freedom’. I know a little about glass. I can think of no good reason why the mix materials in the glass for jars and bottles couldn’t be standardized sufficiently to make the cullet more easily recycled. The labeling of items for sorting seems more than a little open for improvements — especially labeling designed to support automated sorting processes. There is a very great need for simpler consumer sorting systems. In California I felt as if I needed an attorney on hand to advise me how to properly sort my trash. Single stream recycling … is a telling system for saying recycling is a fake.

        Your suggestion that we “need some creative ideas about all junk we produce” — how about this: We might pass — AND enforce! — laws against planned obsolescence. Many of the things we use in everyday life could be standardized to make replacement parts easier to find, less expensive, re-usable across products, and more easily repaired. Our standard of living could benefit greatly.

        I cannot claim these are “creative ideas” but I do think they might be both actionable and effective — if ‘we’ ever again have some control over the government.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I think you need to add more to your program:
      Containers need to be standardized and their labeling should be easy to remove so the containers can be re-used. [I am very fond of glass myself.]
      I also think there should be a way to distribute goods from bulk containers taking the idea from the bulk goods markets started in the 1960s and 1970s. But I don’t think those markets really came up with a complete solution. Of course health codes are needed to validate AND accommodate these bulk containers and their use.
      Rather than banning containers made from hydrocarbons we need to create laws limiting their use to very special applications where a hydrocarbon container best fits purpose. Given the many toxins plastics carry and spread to the environment there should be a government agency charged with controlling how the plastics are produced, how plastic products are produced, and how and where they are used.
      I need to learn more but so far as I understand petroleum products I believe the raw materials for plastics represent a portion of the crack that might not find other uses(?) and if so I worry about how the ‘wastes’ of petroleum cracking might be used and how they might be disposed of. I recall reading somewhere that at least initially the chief product derived from petroleum cracking was diesel. The gasoline engine and introduction of the automobile helped with another large portion of the crack. There is Macadam for the highways. But what of the portion used for plastics? Rather than providing handsome subsidies to the petroleum cartels we need a government agency to actually manage and control how those cartels operate their refineries. In fact, given present exigencies such control, and perhaps nationalization, would seem a matter of National Security and/or Homeland Security — although I confess I’m not sure where one begins and the other ends.

      1. Oregoncharles

        J.G.:” Of course health codes are needed ” I deal with bulk distribution every day, at the local co-op, which happens to be my corner store. But the Market of Choice, bigger and more upscale, also has a large bulk department.

        My co-op had a program where they sterilized donated containers for reuse. Worked great, and kept a lot of containers out of the landfill. Then the state “health” inspector shut it down, on the pretext of the code. Personally, I think this was corrupt, the result of lobbying from the container industry. Can’t allow a proven precedent like that. To compound my anger, the department stonewalled my attempt to find out more, refusing to answer a single question. The arrogance was appalling. All this is down to our terribly liberal governor; the director of the Ag Dept. is appointed, not elected.

        So I question the honesty of “health” inspections.

        I’ve been circulating a petition on the subject to send to the state; people sign it in a hurry. Might even get some sort of response from the governor’s office, after I send it out as a press release.

  26. Cal2

    The circular firing squad continues:

    Pelosi wants illegals to be able to vote:

    Speaker Pelosi spoke on the importance of passing H.R. 1, the “For the People Act of 2019,” “to lay the foundation to pass the Voting Rights Act, strengthened after the actions of the Supreme Court, which significantly weakened it,” she said.

    .@SpeakerPelosi – We Should Not Be ‘Suppressing the Vote of Our Newcomers to America’ #tcot #ccot #TuesdayThoughts #TuesdayMotivation
    — (@cnsnews) March 5, 2019

    Oh, and 16 year olds as well.

    I am honored & excited to be introducing my very 1st amendment on the House floor, an amendment to #HR1, the #ForthePeopleAct. My amendment will lower the voting age from 18 to 16, allowing our youth to have a seat at the table of democracy. #16toVote
    — Rep Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) March 6, 2019

    1. Enquiring Mind

      New strategy, overwhelm media with craziness so that people tune out. The 72 hour news cycle runs, new stuff happens, people forget, they resume old habits, are reminded to mock old canards and conspiracy theories.

      Heckuva job, Brownie. Way to build those coalitions.

    2. The Rev Kev

      ‘Pelosi wants illegals to be able to vote’

      I totally agree with this idea. Just as soon as they get their American citizenship they should absolutely have the right to vote. Of course there is no guarantee that their votes will not be discarded like the 900,000 that were thrown away in Pelosi’s home State of California. Which, by the way, apparently explains how Bernie never did too well there but then that is an issue for another day.

      1. marym

        (emphasis added)

        SEC. 1011. b.
        (1) FINDINGS.—Congress finds that—

        (A) the right to vote is a fundamental right of citizens of the United States;

        (B) it is the responsibility of the State and Federal Governments to ensure that every eligible citizen is registered to vote;

        (C) existing voter registration systems can be inaccurate, costly, inaccessible and confusing, with damaging effects on voter participation in elections and disproportionate impacts on young people, persons with disabilities, and racial and ethnic minorities; and

        (D) voter registration systems must be updated with 21st Century technologies and procedures to maintain their security.

        (2) PURPOSE.—It is the purpose of this part—

        (A) to establish that it is the responsibility of government at every level to ensure that all eligible citizens are registered to vote;

        (B) to enable the State and Federal Governments to register all eligible citizens to vote with accurate, cost-efficient, and up-to-date procedures;

        (C) to modernize voter registration and list maintenance procedures with electronic and Internet capabilities; and

        (D) to protect and enhance the integrity, accuracy, efficiency, and accessibility of the electoral process for all eligible citizens.

    3. marym

      She didn’t say she wants illegal immigrants to vote, nor does the bill (see below @8:08 pm)

      1. Cal2

        “House Democrats voted Friday to defend localities that allow illegal immigrants to vote in their elections, turning back a GOP attempt to discourage the practice. As The Washington Times reports, the vote marks a stunning reversal from just six months ago, when the chamber – then under GOP control – voted to decry illegal immigrant voting.

        “We are prepared to open up the political process and let all of the people come in,” Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and hero of the civil rights movement, told colleagues as he led opposition to the GOP measure.

        Texas Republican. Rep. Dan Crenshaw raged:

        “It sounds like I’m making it up. What kind of government would cancel the vote of its own citizens, and replace it with noncitizens?”

        1. marym

          I have heard of instances where local governments allow undocumented immigrants to vote in local elections. I didn’t find anything about that in the bill, just doing searches on words like immigrant and local.

          On an internet search I found a link to a Washington Times post today: House votes in favor of illegal immigrant voting; and a Fox post: House Dems reject motion to condemn illegal immigrant voting.

          The latter is probably what happened. The vote was a response to a Republican stunt trying to add a last-minute non-binding condemnation of undocumented immigrants voting. Here’s a link to a description of the attempt, and the general process of inserting provisions in this manner.

        2. Skip Intro

          Well, who could question Zero Hedge reporting? Thanks for reliably keeping us apprised of the latest GOP talking points!

  27. cuibono

    ‘How to Think About Taxing and Spending Like a Swede’
    Please considering a warning sign on any links to Krugman articles …

  28. pierre

    Re: Green Realism

    Yeah, we’ll just sit here, adjusting our body thermostat as the planet boils and who knows, maybe we can then have tomato plantations in Greenland all year round.

    And don’t worry, Bloomberg has an alternative. Except that he “steered clear of giving away any details or a deadline of any sort for this initiative.”

    Best of all, “whether it will be more affordable, however, is doubtful.”


    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I am very skeptical of the Green New Deal [GND] and agree with this link’s assertion “…the green transition will not be a free lunch” and the “Green New Deal supporters tend to pander to these feelings” — feelings that the impact will not be more wrenching than “…eating a little less meat and using more efficient cars, provided their purchasing power does not change.” But after that beginning of the link my views differ.

      I am more than a little vague on what solutions the GND might advocate once it moves from resolution to more actionable vehicles. The link seems to assume the GND will include a carbon tax. That seems like ‘weak tea’ as far as solutions go — already giving in to fairly standard notions for using fiscal tools to achieve economic and political policy. The link then suggests “full redistribution of carbon tax proceeds can alleviate the burden on the most vulnerable.” When has that ever happened? I hope the GND can come up with something more radical than a carbon tax. I believe taxes for the last fifty years have always burdened the poor and middle classes most heavily. [Do the truly wealthy even pay ‘much’ in the way of taxes?] The GND invokes the ghost of World War II. Does a policy like carbon taxes seem like the kind of government actions characteristic of the war effort? It doesn’t to me. Next the link discusses “debt finance” and “fostering innovation and competition” … sounds more and more like a Market solution to me.

      The closing suggests the GND presents a too rosy scenario — that is hard to disagree with, although I have no idea what the GND intends after we join hands and sing Cumbaya. There is no reason why the poor and middle classes should not gain in benefit from a GND. The key is careful design of the solution to assure that jobs are created to match jobs lost, that there is a national industrial policy to foster innovations AND implement them — the Market be damned. As for carbon taxes — I favor much more direct government control over the petroleum and coal Cartels than taxes and what has passed for ‘regulation’ in the past. The GND and sister policies could drive a spear into the heart of the Neoliberal monster that devoured our government. As matters stand I am concerned it will be too easily turned to nicely feed that monster.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Here’s the original, a 14-page policy document:

        It’s also a campaign document, so I don’t doubt there’s plenty of wishful thinking in it, too. The 2 pages of links might help.

        As I said separately, I think it goes almost without saying that saving the world will require some sacrifice. I think the GND should be presented that way, as a heroic effort. Much of the content is meant to spread the sacrifice more evenly. We can’t save the climate on the backs of the poor – the Gilets Jaunes have already shown that that’s a losing approach.

        1. Lambert Strether

          This from Bruegel/Project Syndicate:

          The truth is unfortunately quite different. The transition to a carbon-neutral economy is bound to make us worse off before it makes us better off, and the most vulnerable segments of society will be hit especially hard. Unless we acknowledge and address this reality, support for greening the economy will remain shallow and it may eventually wane.

          “Addressing” this reality is not sufficient. Ameliorating it is not just the right thing to do, it’s essential for the success of the project.

          There was a strong strain of eugenics in the progressives; I think this “people will have to suffer” — by which is always meant other, less essential people — moralizing is a descendant of that strain. Same with the “too bad, so sad, but billions will have to die [rubs hands]” mentality. Why on earth isn’t saving as many as possible the ruling principle?

          UPDATE More from Bruegel/Project Syndicate:

          Furthermore, the distributional effects of the green transition are unfortunately adverse. The poor and the suburban middle class spend more of their income on energy than the rich and the urban professionals do, and often lack the means to buy a new, efficient heating system or to insulate their house. And, because working-class jobs tend to be more carbon-intensive, factory workers and truck drivers will be hurt more than designers and bankers.

          Cool, cool. Let me translate: The financiers who profit from exploiting the working class, and the professionals who make their livings from doing the bankers’ work with instruments like foreclosure notices, health insurance denials, and crooked financial instruments bear no responsibility for the systems they own and create, and the working class must suffer to clean up the problem (so that, presumably, the financiers and professionals can stay in the saddle and keep wielding the whip, the spur, and the snaffle).

          That is “realism.” I think it’s a big ask. I mean, as if “will be hit” and “will be hurt” wasn’t a political decision, and one openly formed on the basis of class!!

          Think about this for a moment. What is the one asset working class people can always produce, an asset that not only produces income for the family, but care in old age? That’s right, children. The obvious response to Bruegel’s proposal* is for the working class, globally, to start breeding like rabbits (see Frank Herbert, The Dosadi Experiment). The only way out is through, donchya know…

          NOTE * “Fortunately, these effects can be softened. The full redistribution of carbon tax proceeds can alleviate the burden on the most vulnerable.” Lol, a complex eligibility scheme based on jiggering the tax system. Will they never learn?

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I hold no obligations to the word ‘lifestyle’ other than any implicit nods to the single use of the word in the link’s source. I looked at your link and … I am confused as to what your comment means. The word “epiphenomenal” is very nice but I think it is a long way to express something you might more directly describe. Our ‘lifestyle’ is very much determined by other factors. I believe our housing, its costs and limitations, our dependence on the automobile, our buy-in to “keeping up with the Jones’s” and the implicit acceptance of the Jones’s norms are all part of the base phenomena underlying the epiphenomena of our lifestyle. But I can only guess at what your comment intends — please elaborate. [Also — assuming your comment was a reply to mine — please use the “reply” tag under my comment. I looked through the comments for other uses of the word ‘lifestyle’. Did you intend to locate your comment in the thread following notabanker March 8, 2019 at 8:53 am? Regardless — your comment could use a little elaboration for the ‘unwashed’ — such as me.]

      1. Mattski

        It’s an awful word that progressives have derided for several decades. I thought I was replying to you, but it landed down here. Yes, you can say superficial but “ephiphenomenal” gets at the way the term barely skims the surface, failing to hint even a little at the drivers of all of our hideous overconsumption and destructive use of fossil resources, which we obviously agree on generally. Without being too contentious, I do think that it implicitly suggests that these things are matters of individual choice when they are not. That leaves us back in the realm of a certain kind of liberalism and idea of agency that can tend to suggest that if each of us recycled or rode a bicycle everything would be fine; no, we’d still have this failed system, now in neoliberal hyperdrive, and the stupid idea that the pursuit of profit should govern human affairs. (Fascinating how we are to put total faith in something so inhuman on one end and think of it as absolute freedom on the other!) The backgrounder because I was intrigued by Olga’s comment. Thanks for your patience; I didn’t mean it as an attack.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Sorry if the tone of my comment were off-true. I didn’t take your comment as an attack. I rather thought, as your further comment indicated to me, that we were largely in agreement. I appreciate the elaboration of your comment and agree with you. Don’t be afraid to be contentious — as long as you contend as a true advocate for your ideas. I welcome contention as an exercise toward my greater understanding of an issue.

          I believe you’ve identified an interesting problem. [I still don’t like “epiphenomenal” because it brings back too many memories of my youth listening to Marxists argue ad nauseum about issues that to me were plain without fine tuning the Marxist terminology for describing them.] I believe that any notion that many of our actions are “matters of individual choice when they are not” and any “idea of agency”, which I believe leads in turn to questions of culpability and blame, is misplaced. I hate to admit it, but I believe even our Elites are much more susceptible to ephiphenomenal [Please correct me if I use the term wrongly!] demands and beliefs than would support attributing to them full culpability for their actions — but I would not hold back my hand from the release of the guillotine blade when their necks lay bare before it. We are all victims in different degree to the common beliefs and demands of our class, of our culture, and of our generation. I also like playing with the idea of Corporations as an alien life-form. Few humans who work in a Corporation, even at the highest levels, seem willing to admit adherence to the principles that animate the Corporation’s actions. Similar conflicts seem to exist in many employed by our government, though few have courage to become whistle-blowers — and I don’t fault them much as I admire the heroism of such whistle-blowers as there are. It were as though Humankind were become captive to the very organizations it built as its servants.

  29. Oregoncharles

    “The case for green realism ”
    Well, yes. Saving the world will not be cheap or easy.

    The disproportionate impact on the poor and disadvantaged is one reason the Green Party’s Green New Deal emphasizes environmental justice – redistribution and aid efforts to avoid saving the world on the backs of the poor.

    Incidentally, as their program makes clear, the diesel tax was only the final straw for the Gilets Jaunes; their overall declining conditions are the real problem – and the reason they cannot absorb a relatively small tax increase, especially when the wealthy just got a tax cut, which Macron rules out retracting.

  30. Oregoncharles

    Since nobody’s reading it, Baker’s key suggestions:
    “A modest tax on financial transactions;
    Complete transparency on the contract terms that public pension funds sign with private equity companies; and
    Complete transparency on the contract terms that university and other nonprofit endowments sign with hedge funds.”

    Not bad, but sort of paltry. Further suggestions:
    Ban most derivatives. They destabilize the whole system, as we learned in 2008.
    Ban mergers and acquisitions (short of legal bankruptcy). An effective market depends on the participants being relatively small, so concentration is against the public interest.

    That would shrink the financial sector.

  31. Carey

    I read it, and think that an financial transactions tax would be an excellent way to start
    reining in the financial sector. Something like a People’s wedge issue, i.e., why not,
    exactly, other than to maintain the present ossified structure? Wonder if the MPP are
    looking at this.

  32. Plenue

    >Modern Monetary Theory: Democrats Should Try New Economic Ideas Bloomberg

    “Quantitative easing? Worked out fine.”

    For some.

  33. witters

    Here is our new audacious hope and changer in full plumage:

    [From The Hill]
    Question: “Do you think Congresswoman Omar was unfairly singled out?”

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “You know, I think that things came down on her a little too hard.”

      1. Oregoncharles

        Whereas Omar seems to have come to Washington to throw bombs. I just hope she doesn’t blow herself up.

        I think Pelosi read AO-C the riot act. Omar seems to have brushed her off, aside fro half-hearted apologies.

        Note: Omar wasn’t born here, isn’t eligible to become President. AOC is.

        1. Lambert Strether

          AOC’s language suddenly became corrupted shifted over to all this weird and mushy identitarian verbiage, almost like “let’s all sit in a circle,” or as if she thought of herself as a facilitator rather than a Representative, writing stuff down on a flip chart instead of kicking ass and taking names. The idea that obvious contradictions can be papered over if we were all just nicer to each other. (It’s not a matter of listening; the power players know perfectly well what they’re doing.)

          Not what I expect from AOC, and if politically motivated, a miscalculation. If she’d backed Omar full-throatedly (“Omar said nothing wrong” would meet the case, and IMNSHO has the great merit of being true) she’d be the leader of what in fact turned out to be a victory over the corrupt liberal faction that controls the Party (and will primary her in a New York minute, or redistrict her out of her seat, no matter whether she’s nice to them or not.)

          It may be that the composition of voters in her district drove this, but even then, I think there are generational differences over Israel in the Jewish community).

          NOTE Omar gave zero [family blogs]. That’s the stuff to give the troops!

      2. skippy

        Public choice [theory] media in a hyper time event horizon means one can be the toss of the town only to become a burnt offering the next day …. environmental conditions necessitate everyone is jack be nimble …

        On the other hand I think is incorrect for others to expect someone so young and inexperienced to shoulder the burden of somes’ expectations … neck adversity … hence why Sanders is probably the most likely to move the Overton window with sufficient mass behind him. This would create political space for those like AOC et al to cut their teeth without unrealistic expectations foist on them.

        I think we would all agree it took decades of ideological institutionalism to arrive to this place, attempting to change anything without the networks and funding the past enjoyed is always going to be a hard slog.

        Yet in the face of all this MMT is getting a good public airing, which is, actually, sending orthodoxy into self defeating hysterics e.g. being pulled up on rank intellectual dishonesty due to past public statements of effect in retrospect to recent proclamations.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > is incorrect for others to expect someone so young and inexperienced to shoulder the burden of somes’ expectations … neck adversity …

          That’s true, too. I don’t think AOC understands the degree of perfidy that can go on (and all from nice, well-meaning, smiling people, too). She needs to spend more time back in the District, I think.

          1. skippy

            Yes Lambert … the “I” gave and my skin is clean again was broadly discussed on NC in the past and concur that her job is to both swim with her constituency and work to provide concrete benefits to promote social cohesion and opportunity to better themselves.

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