Links 4/5/19

Wolf pack living west of Cascade Mountains for first time in decades Seattle Times (furzy)

The Ocean’s Tipping Point Has Been Reached Inverse (David L)

AI pioneer: ‘The dangers of abuse are very real’ Naure

What An Aging Population Means For The Future Of The Internet BuzzFeed

Measles cases soar across US: ‘It’s getting worse’ Guardian

Boys trapped in Thai cave were drugged for risky rescue dives Los Angeles Times (Dr. Kevin)

Mobile phone electromagnetic radiation affects Amyloid Precursor Protein and α-synuclein metabolism in SH-SY5Y cells Science Direct. Krystyn: “Piling on the environmental causes of Alzheimer’s…”

Backyard chickens hit hard by a long-gone, extremely contagious disease New Food Economy (Dr. Kevin)

Bad diets killing more people globally than tobacco, study finds Guardian (resilc)

China?

US and China push back timing of possible trade deal Financial Times v. ‘New consensus’ reached on US-China trade, says Chinese Vice Premier Liu He CNBC

Western Wishful Thinking – ‘Excluding Everything That Makes China What It Is’ Strategic Culture (Chuck L)

Elite U.S. school MIT cuts ties with Chinese tech firms Huawei, ZTE Reuters (resilc). We had a different link on this yesterday, from South China Morning Post, so you get the Western v. China account.

How China Turned a City Into a Prison New York Times. Resilc: “This model will be expanded in many places. Focus the tech.”

France sticks to digital tax despite US anger PhyOrg

Brexit

Brexit: EU’s Donald Tusk ‘suggests 12-month flexible delay’ BBC. Tusk trying to be a hero….but do the heads of EU states want heroics?

Today in Brexit: Looks Like Theresa and Jeremy Might Not Be Able to Work This Out on Their Own Slate

Fearing a No-Deal Brexit, British Companies Hoard Like It’s Wartime Wall Street Journal

Brexit headline blizzard overloading FX algorithms RTE (PLutoniumKun)

Work permit system changes ahead of Brexit RTE (PlutoniumKun)

Venezuela

MAJOR: Venezuela begins Criminal Proceedings against Guaidó Fort Russ (Kevin W)

Syraqistan

Economic Reform in the Gulf: Who Benefits? LobeLog (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Ecuador embassy maybe about to boot Assange News.com.au. Paul R: “We’ve heard that before of course. I wonder if this time it might be because they think Corbyn will become PM so they want to get it done before that happens”

Be Ready To Act: WikiLeaks Source Says They’re Coming For Assange Caitlin Johnstone (J-LS)

Trump Transition

Mueller Report Subpoena: Congress Vs. Justice Department Bloomberg (resilc)

Disaster relief talks stalled by Trump feud with Puerto Rico The Hill

Trump ” Tweets his Ignorance” about Puerto Rico Real News

Pentagon’s $1 Billion for Wall: A Door-Opener to Crucial Fixes for Infrastructure, Environment? Counterpunch (resilc)

Jamie Dimon: US ‘absolutely’ right to enter trade war, despite short-term economic toll CNBC

Trump Administration Attempts to Strip Citizenship From Florida Truck Driver Intercept (resilc)

Unusual Cruelty at the Supreme Court Atlantic. Resilc: “It’s what we do best.”

Rethinking the Normalization of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era Henry Giroux, Tikkun

GOP base wakes up in Wisconsin The Hill

New McCarthyism

“Think Progress” Publishes Shameful McCarthy List Of Americans Jimmy Dore, YouTube (Kevin W)

2020

Nine Reasons Why You Should Support Joe Biden For President Caitlin Johnstone (Kevin W)

‘WELCOME BACK JOE!’ Trump tweets doctored video meme showing hands-on Biden grabbing his own shoulders and sniffing his hair Daily Mail (EM)

Obama is quiet as Biden comes under attack The Hill

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan throws his name into growing 2020 field NBC

Blatant bias against ‘crazy hair’ Bernie Sanders at Wash Post goes unnoticed by rest of media RT (Kevin W)

737 Max

Report details pilots’ struggle to save Ethiopian flight Financial Times

Trump to nominate Herman Cain to Federal Reserve board Financial Times

A 58-story residential skyscraper in Manhattan is reportedly tilting to the side, and there’s a battle over who’s to blame Business Insider (David L)

Dozens of female Microsoft employees claim they deal with shocking behaviour at work: requests to sit on a coworker’s lap, being called a ‘b*tch’ Business Insider (Kevin W)

Intersection Can Cause Tesla Autopilot to Swerve Into Wrong Lane Spectrum IEEE (David L)

Economics Now Points Away From the Laissez-Faire Approach ProMarket

Jeff Bezos to keep control of Amazon stake after divorce Financial Times. Wowsers. She helped start up the company, they lived and got divorced in a community property state…and she’s getting only 1/4 AND handing over voting control (for which Bezos would normally have to pay extra). Whoever represented her did a crap job. Even if she got all of everything else, it’s inconceivable that that would make up for the divvy of the Amazon stake.

Class Warfare

Hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio says capitalism is failing America, and we need to take 5 specific actions to save it Business Insider (David L)

The Epidemic of Debt Plaguing Central American Migrants New Yorker. Resilc: “USA USA has done nothing but screw up the Central America area for 100 years.”

Parents bribe service academies to not accept their children’s applications Duffelblog

The Next American Revolution Nation

Adrift In An Airship John Michael Greer (UserFriendly)

Antidote du jour (martha r):

And a bonus. A bit long but the cheetahs really are darling:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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186 comments

  1. Alain

    BBC. Tusk trying to be a hero….but do the heads of EU states want heroics?

    Not really sure this has anything to do with hero.

    It looks to me like a classic case of the good cop, bad cop shenanigans. Let’s wait and see what Mr. Barnier has to say on that.

    Reply
    1. urdsama

      Looks like France beat him to the punch. France is beyond done with this back and forth from the UK.

      Barring some amazing progress in the next 72 hours, I think the UK is out – even if France has to force the issue.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, Mays request for an extension to June was beyond stupid. I can’t think what she was thinking or why someone didn’t stop her. If she is trying to provoke the EU into pulling the rug from under her and the UK she is doing a very good job of it.

        Merkel was in Dublin yesterday, she was playing the ‘good cop’, saying Germany would do what was needed to ease the transition, but nobody doubts that she was also making sure Ireland is up to protecting the border. Today the Irish government has made it plain that they have advanced plans (but are not saying what they are for fear of provoking the Ultras and DUP). So I think the EU has already pretty much given up on it, its only a question of who says it first.

        Reply
        1. David

          It was entirely based on UK political considerations, and the text of her letter suggests that she expects it to be rejected immediately. If it was a serious proposal she would have explained how she intended to handle the European elections. In effect, she is signalling that the EU should impose a longer delay on her, and that will enable her to claim that they forced her to do it. There have been predictable reactions from European leaders, notably the French. They were obviously not going to roll over straight away, and they were telegraphing that it’s they, not the UK, who are in charge and that it is they who will impose the conditions. Prepare for another ritual humiliation of someone who would win a gold medal for masochism.

          Reply
          1. urdsama

            The problem is as a tactic, it only gives further ammunition to those in the EU that want to end it now. Additionally, it appears to have forced France to be even more blunt: without a concrete plan agreed upon by the Commons, there is no path forward.

            What are the odds that the UK government will come up with anything that resembles a consensus plan forward? Not only have the French not “rolled over straight away” but it made them even more clear in their objections and conditions. The bar has ben raised, not lowered. This eliminates some type of fudged proposal from the UK.

            This massively backfired in the UK’s face.

            Reply
            1. David

              It depends. I imagine the Europeans expected something like this, or at least something no better. In a sensible world, the letter would have been delivered in Brussels with a commentary saying that of course it was only an opening position, as the EU must certainly know. The 27 have to set out a hard line now, because otherwise they will be seen to be pushovers. In the end, though, the bar will be interpreted as whatever the 27 are prepared to accept, and indeed impose on the UK. Part of the purpose of coming on hard now is to signal that the EU will impose some very stiff conditions indeed. Which doesn’t mean everything will turn out all right, simply that at this stage of the game public comments by all sides shouldn’t be over-interpreted.

              Reply
              1. urdsama

                I disagree on the EU expecting something like this. The tone and number of EU government sources that have made very firm and almost annoyed sounding statements does not support the idea they expected or wanted this headache at the last minute.

                The problem with taking the position of –

                “The 27 have to set out a hard line now, because otherwise they will be seen to be pushovers. In the end, though, the bar will be interpreted as whatever the 27 are prepared to accept, and indeed impose on the UK.”

                is that the line has now become something the UK cannot deliver on. Tusk is trying to hold this all together, to find a way out; I don’t think he has a lot of support right now.

                This latest tactic has shown the EU it can’t be trusted. Especially in light of the comment by Jacob Rees-Mogg – “We could veto any increase in the budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block Mr Macron’s integrationist schemes”. Do you really think the EU wants that headache?

                Reply
    1. Doggrotter

      Hold up Hold up, he is just one of those fast talking lizards, trying to fill peoples heads with facts. Put your fingers in your ears and sing the “na na nana na na nana”(sorry my singing isn’t very good)

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        The caption to that picture should be: “205 year old wizard rises from tomb to exorcise Demons infesting Parliament. Complains, “I brought the wrong spoon to sup with these Devils!””
        We will soon see a new Brexomeme: ‘Barniers to trade. UK economy implodes. Intellectual vacuum inside Houses of Parliament sucks life out of City.’

        Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Remember remember the 5th of April
            Decision time only a week away
            In the exit stage left plot
            I see no reason why
            Treason can’t be bought.

            Reply
  2. Yikes

    https://www.theguardian.com/law/2019/apr/05/us-revokes-visa-of-international-criminal-courts-top-prosecutor

    US revokes visa of ICC prosecutor over Afghanistan inquiry
    Fatou Bensouda wants to open investigation into alleged war crimes, including by US troops

    Gotta hand it to Trump, he gets a two for one own goal, he picks the darkest skin member of the court to bar first. It’s nice to watch an empire self-destruct, if one can pick a safe spot to view the madness and is old enough not to worry about either climate change or nuclear winter.

    Reply
    1. WJ

      https://www.voltairenet.org/article205873.html

      The explicit “punishment” of ICC officials is consistent with US declaration of Golan Heights as Israeli territory (thus revoking the US’ own decades earlier vote at the Security Council) and signals the US eventual withdrawal from the UN, given their inability to control China and Russia via that process. Interesting take.

      Reply
      1. Chris Cosmos

        The US has no interest, from what I understand, in leaving the UN–the US ignores it whenever it feels like it so it poses no threat. During the Cold War I, the US had an interest in the UN (since it created it) for propaganda purposes at least. Today, the US has no interest in what any other country or international body thinks or decrees–we are a full-tilt Empire now without apologies. The US does what it wants because it can and its citizens completely support its actions. Until it is stopped Washington will continue to do as it pleases whether the government is Republican or Democrat–except the latter will do it with more polite rhetoric.

        Reply
        1. Mike

          True, and you must add that the UN totally ignores whatever the US decides to do on its own. So you must realize that the US leaving the UN is an incorrect presentation of the matter- the UN left itself a long time ago, submitting to the ‘privileged” nations with veto power and thus not having any power to stop pretty much anything. It is a shell, playing a shell game for appearance sake.

          Caveat: the UN’s role in children’s and aid programs has not been all bad, but charity does not change the base behavior, does it?

          Reply
        2. Andrew Thomas

          Public international law can now be summarized as follows: a country does whatever it would like to do that it believes it is big enough to get away with. If it succeeds, then it was big enough to get away with it. If it didn’t, it wasn’t. Countries that are clearly no big cannot do anything that bigger ones can stop them from doing, even if such efforts are perfectly “legal”, i.e. not constrained by the “law” as it was previously understood.

          Reply
          1. jsn

            “The strong do what they can, the weak endure what they must”
            400 BC, Thuycididies. Plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose.

            Reply
          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Maybe the answer is making all nations small.

            Nothing over 5 million people.

            Break up Russia, China, Japan, India, America, Indonesia, Gemany, France, etc.

            Still, the other quote is about strong nations, not big nations. So, more needs to be done, to make sure small nations are not strong nations.

            Reply
            1. Dan

              It might be simpler to just recognize the 3000 to 5000 indigenous nations that have existed for millennia, prior to the rise of nation-states. Bernard Nietschmann, among others, did excellent work on this front. The following short article (“The Fourth World: Nations Versus States”) is one of the most fascinating pieces of writing I’ve ever read:

              https://www.unl.edu/rhames/courses/war/bn1x.pdf

              Of course, I don’t know where exactly I’d fit into this “new” world, which is really a return to the “old” world. I imagine I’d find my way…

              Reply
        3. WJ

          I think Meyssan agrees with the gist of what you both affirm, but my sense is that the US’ explicit punishment of ICC and retraction of SC vote is part of signaling the dissolution of the very pretext of global international law and the gradual emergence of a two global legal zones, one orbiting USUKIS and the other constellated by China, Russia, and allied states. The emergence of two distinct global spheres of law would indeed be a new thing imo. Even if de facto it already exists.

          PS. Meyssan has a very good track record. He was writing long pieces on the 2019 Venezuelan coup in 2017 I think, and established the route and players of Western/Saudi/Israeli arms sales to ISIS well before anybody else did.

          “After having dominated the world, the weakened United States now give up on the United Nations. In order to conserve their dominant position, they are retreating to the one part of the world that they still control. Until now, Russia and China had considered them, according to the image used by Sergueï Lavrov, as a ferocious but dying beast which we must benevolently escort towards its death, making sure that is doesn’t provoke a catastrophe on the way. But the United States ended their decline by electing Donald Trump, who, having lost the majority in the House of Representatives, allied himself with the US deep state (attested to by the nomination of Elliott Abrams [6] and the withdrawal of the accusation of collusion with the enemy brought by prosecutor Robert Mueller [7]) in order to remain in power.
          In fact, we are not moving towards the creation of a third international institution, after the League of Nations and the United Nations Organisation, but towards a division of the world into two zones organised by distinct legal models – one under US domination, and the other composed of sovereign states around the « Greater Eurasian Partnership ». Unlike the Cold War, when it was difficult to cross the boundary between East and West in either direction, although the two blocks nevertheless accepted the single legal system of the United Nations, the new system should allow travel and commerce between one region and the other, but will have to be organised around two models of Law.
          This was precisely the post-Western world announced by Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergueï Lavrov on 28 September 2018, at the forum of the General Assembly of the United Nations [8].

          Reply
    2. amfortas the hippie

      aye. i hope my hermit kingdom is such a safe vantage point. i want nothing more than to watch the senescence of empire with a clinical detachment.
      the longterm hypocrisy of theusa re the icc is most damning, but i know noone irl who will venture there. too much… and mild, anodyne patriotic ignorance is so much easier

      Reply
      1. Sanxi

        amfortas the hippie, seems to be a theme of yours alas you are not safe, only if your part of some small town that has its [family blog] together. Some kind of tribe is necessary.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          aye! as a weirdo by trade, i used to often dream of pitchforks and torches, when i first arrived in this far place(and for a few years after 9-11!)
          but over the years, i find that i fit in better out here as a hermit who goes to the feedstore sometimes.
          me and civilisation can’t handle too much of one another,lol…although I’m not certain who is the allergen in this relationship.
          we’ll all get a ringside seat, regardless.

          Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      No place, really, to watch humans self-destruct, though.

      And in comparison, a self-destructing empire is not as riveting.

      Reply
  3. John Beech

    Susan,

    Loosing a pet is hard. People don’t believe me when I say it, but it may be as hard as losing a loved one. Anyway, very sorry for the loss of your beloved kitty.

    John

    Reply
  4. larry

    Chris Grey has a good blog post that he only put up a bit ago entitled “Parliamentary chaos holds up a mirror to the nation”. In it, there is this character assessment of the two leaders.

    “The personal and political dislike between May and Corbyn is visceral, probably greater than there has ever been, at least in my lifetime, between the leaders of the two main parties. Apparently despite that, but actually compounding it, are their resemblances. As I have written before, they are “remarkably similar in their grotesque rigidity and their slightly tetchy muleishness born of a mediocrity of character, intellect and judgement”. Both, moreover, are instinctively tribal.”

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’m no fan of how Corbyn has dealt with Brexit, but I think its unfair to compare him to May (except insofar as it is true to say that both are political tribalists). May is grotesquely out of her depth, with personality issues that make her a terrible choice for PM. But Corbyn in general has proven quite good at handling issues within the Labour Party (most thought it would have split by now with him in charge) and has always been willing to take risks in standing up for causes he believes in. I don’t think he’s a particularly deep thinker, but I wouldn’t accuse him of lacking character or intellect either.

      The other part of Greys blog I’d disagree with is this statement:

      It’s also tempting – and no doubt many succumb – to think that all the political drama shows parliament in a bad light. I don’t think so. There is, in a way, something admirable about the way that parliament has come so centrally into focus, with so many people now tuning in watch debates and votes. With it we have also discovered outstanding parliamentary commentators in Ruth Fox and Mark d’Arcy. Despite what the Brexiters told us, the British parliament is sovereign, and what it does matters.

      Looking from the outside, Parliament has disgraced itself and made itself a joke. It has shown that it is not truly representative (there certainly are not that many toffs in England compared to those on show) and it has failed to do its sovereign duty, which is to pick an executive that represents its (and the peoples) will. The basic unwillingness of more than a handful of MP’s to actually learn a little about the most important topic of the era (i.e. understand the nature of a CU or SM, etc) is shocking.

      The irony is of course that the UK Parliament has made the EU look incredibly good by comparison. It has stayed united and focused on the core issues and has represented fairly the interests of the most affected members and citizens.

      Reply
      1. David

        Agree on Corbyn. I don’t think we have by any means seen the last of him. But I don’t see in what sense Parliament is supposed to “pick an executive that represents its will.” The executive (the government in this sense) is selected by the Prime Minister, normally to represent all the major shades of opinion in the governing party or parties. Parliament’s role, as we have discussed, is limited to voting out a government that can’t command a majority.
        The real problem, I think, is that the limitations of the Westminster system are being made cruelly evident. MPs are being thrust into a role of alternative source of power which the doctrine of the Separation of Powers says they should have, but for which they are manifestly incapable. In turn, this is because all ambitious MPs (which is practically all of them these days) want to be Ministers or front-benchers, so all they have to do is to vote the way the whips tell them. There’s very little incentive, under such circumstances, for MPs to develop any independent expertise or judgement at all. Now that government is incapable, it’s too late.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          What I meant by that is that my interpretation of ‘parliament is sovereign’ in practice is that this means it is Parliaments job to choose the government, and then hold that government to account. When a government is incapable of doing its job, then its Parliaments duty to replace it or to ensure there is another election. Its the second part where Parliament has failed. Yes, the reasons are structural, but the acts of the collective members hasn’t helped.

          Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            Yes, that’s my understanding (from afar, obviously) of how a parliamentary system works. It’s the reason I concluded that Britain doesn’t have one – any longer, I assume. The restrictions on Parliament’s control of the PM – they can’t hold another vote of confidence for a while – make it more presidential, actually a hybrid. In a parliamentary system, the PM serves at the pleasure of parliament. It’s quite fluid. Not in Britain.

            That probably isn’t the main reason they’re in such a mess, but it is the source of the constitutional crisis (granted that they don’t have one). Again, one wonders what will come out of it, once the dust settles.

            Reply
            1. Avidremainer

              You are confusing Tory party rules with Parliament’s rules. Only the Tories caninot bring a vote of no confidence before December this year. The opposition can bring a vote of no confidence at any time. david is quite right.

              Reply
              1. Oregoncharles

                Thanks for the clarification. There are other things, like the “government” setting Parliament’s agenda. In any case the level of dysfunction seems extreme.

                Reply
      2. a different chris

        Haha “toffs are overrepresented”. But in Merry Olde England’s defense, where isn’t that true?

        People who can’t think for themselves are the ideal props for their big-money backers.

        Reply
        1. shtove

          It might be useful to correlate regimental ties with the ERG diehards. Richard Drax is an interesting example, who just this week had to fall on his sword – unlike May, he failed to miss!

          Reply
      3. Sanxi

        One should not make psychology conclusions about an individual without conducting an in person interview. Unless you are speaking from personal experience where are you getting your data?

        Reply
  5. Lee

    AI pioneer: ‘The dangers of abuse are very real’ Naure

    Deep learning, as it is now, has made huge progress in perception, but it hasn’t delivered yet on systems that can discover high-level representations — the kind of concepts we use in language. Humans are able to use those high-level concepts to generalize in powerful ways. That’s something that even babies can do, but machine learning is very bad at…..

    But humans are much better than machines, and my guess is that one of the important ingredients is the understanding of cause and effect.

    Hmmm, can’t conceptualize and don’t understand cause and effect. What, no Singularity in our lifetimes? I’m heartbroken.

    Reply
    1. Bazarov

      This is likely an insoluble problem in that there’s no such thing as cause and effect, per Hume–that most radical of empiricists–who argued that when observing a phenomenon, one does not directly see a “cause,” one merely sees an order: X occurs after Y. We see that enough times and we say “X causes Y,” but in fact, the rational empirical underpinnings of that statement allow for something more like: “Y happens after X when I observe it,” meaning that “cause and effect” is nothing more than induction by simple enumeration, which as we all know, is not a very defensible rational grounds:

      The turkey gets excited when she sees the farmer coming at sunrise because the farmer always brings feed. Then, one morning, the farmer brings the ax…

      Reply
      1. witters

        The last is a matter of induction. And causation is not, contra Hume, at root inductive. (Imagine your car won’t go. You take it to mechanic who looks it over, says “It is perfectly fine. Nothing wrong. Just won’t go.” What will be your reaction? Will it change if the second and third mechanic say the same?)

        Reply
  6. Carla

    So let me get this straight: Ray Dalio says capitalism is failing America, cites an urgent need for the kinds of policies that of all the candidates, only Bernie would even attempt to enact, and says, “But don’t you dare allow Bernie to be elected.”

    Makes sense, coming from our faithful misleadership class.

    Reply
    1. jhallc

      Yes I was amazed to see this coming from Dalio. From the article:

      “Dalio analyzes the ways America’s economy has been failing the majority of its citizens and places the current environment in a global perspective. He wrote that he’s seen “capitalism evolve in a way that it is not working well for the majority of Americans because it’s producing self-reinforcing spirals up for the haves and down for the have-not.”

      Then I read further and saw the comment about the danger of “Populism”. I guess he must not be a fan of FDR. He doesn’t explicitly call out Sanders but, the implication is there that he’s dangerous.

      Reply
      1. Chris Cosmos

        Traditionally the American ruling class has hated socialism in ANY form. I believe, however, this class is worried about American society disintegrating and are rightly looking around for non-socialist ways to solve our social/economic issues without going in for socialist types of reforms. It’s a reasonable desire and reflects the real political reality of the real struggle that seems to be hidden underneath the surface within ruling circles–the conflict between governments and the corporate sector, i.e., who has the upper hand. I think Dalio is calling on his fellow elites to start taking more of an interest in society lest government is forced to and the balance between the private and public sector become unbalanced. I think he’s worried that if the capitalist class continues to focus only on their class-interests that it will harm them in the long run.

        Reply
        1. Carla

          I think he wants his fellow elites to take an interest in the plight of the unwashed masses, but NOT do anything about it. Have their cake and eat it, too — which after all, they have been getting away with for a long time.

          Reply
        2. Brian (another one they call)

          thanks Chris; I would alter the statements to reflect that oligarchs hate socialism when it is applied to everyone. Derk’s like Dalio are the first in line to ask for the benefits of socialism for their business, and condemn any benefits to the people. If it weren’t for pure socialism, Dalio would be a disgraced trader dealing with bankruptcy court. Political reality is ever in flux. Same thing for Mr. T-rump. Without bankruptcy laws protecting the bloated berserker, he would be a caddy on a pitch and putt course looking for tips. “Socialism been very very good to me” (stolen from Garrett Morris)

          Reply
          1. CanCyn

            Agreed Brian – I think the elite are only worried about their own arses – they need some kind of under class to service their needs (house and garden care, restaurant service, ‘beauty’ service, etc) & to purchase their crap.

            Reply
        3. Grant

          “the conflict between governments and the corporate sector, i.e., who has the upper hand.”

          There has never been much of a separation between the two. Seems to me that the post WWII era, the New Deal and Great Society eras, largely came about in the aftermath of a systematic collapse. If that objective reality didn’t force itself upon the capitalist system in the US, would we have ever gotten Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, among other things? I am not so certain.

          I am also wondering how exactly the environmental crisis can be dealt with while holding on to capitalism. If there is a way, I am all ears. I also would like to see how exactly the domestic economy could be made to be more equitable without structural changes, and how that could be accomplished without radically changing the international economic system, the dominant institutions and deals. How, for example, do we deal with the environmental crisis without basically ditching the WTO and NAFTA like deals entirely? Not just the institution or the deals, but the ideas within them?

          I understand wanting to hold on to a system that has benefited a particular person. What I don’t have to accept is that the system can be maintained in the current context and in the face of what is coming for us, unless people can explain how. I think it is clear that capitalism as we know it isn’t sustainable, but I also don’t think that automatically leads to socialism. It could lead to a pretty brutal feudal like system, or dictatorial governments. My guess is that many of these progressive capitalists, when it call comes down to it, would prefer a hierarchical and inequitable society to socialism, provided that they can be assured a spot near or at the top of the social pyramid. With the environmental crisis quickly approaching, my guess is that many of them will push to ditch any semblance of democracy. I say that in part because that is exactly what they have done for decades now, that is how they designed the international economic system, to undermine formal political democracy and economic democracy.

          Reply
        4. Massinissa

          “I believe, however, this class is worried about American society disintegrating and are rightly looking around for non-socialist ways to solve our social/economic issues without going in for socialist types of reforms. ”

          That might help to explain Yang’s candidacy. Also more reason to avoid Yang.

          Reply
    2. B

      My favorite part:
      “A bipartisan committee should work on developing new means of redistribution and community development”
      Sure, Ray, if there’s one idea our two parties grand can get behind, it’s redistribution – though I’m not quire sure it’s in the same direction that Ray has in mind.

      Reply
    3. notabanker

      His post in linkedin does a pretty good job of highlighting the current problems in neolib speak.

      BA is way out there. I am positive they have studied climate change in excruciating detail. His comments in that regard are perfunctory. In fact, he says socialists are good at increasing the pie. He knows this is not a sustainable direction.

      If you look at his 5 steps, the first 4 directly align with Yang’s platform. My interpretation is that this is not some altruistic admission for reform. He sees the writing on the wall. The lower class is going to come after them. Imo, this is stumping for Yang without having to come out and say Sanders = bad, Yang = good. Keep the game going as long as long as possible.

      Reply
        1. Grant

          “socialists are *not* good at increasing the pie.”

          That is a claim and one that needs to be substantiated, and clarified. I hope that we can continue to progress in our political discourse to the point where statements like this don’t just stand on their own but have to be backed up by facts and logic. I also don’t know what people mean when they refer to “socialists”. Does that include Swedish social democrats, the people that created the NHS systems in the UK, Tommy Douglas? Is there a careful comparison between Cuba and most other developing and underdeveloped countries? Like, has Cuba done a worse job at improving living standards than El Salvador, Haiti and Brazil (i.e., other developing countries in the hemisphere) since 1959, despite the US economic war against Cuba? During the Cold War, was it free market capitalism as the modern right would define it that battled communism, or was it basically in the West policies that were similar to what Bernie is now calling for? And who in the West called for those policies but the very “populists” that many in power want to avoid?

          Reply
    4. KevinD

      if he were only a millionaire would his views even be broadacst? we need answers from those at the bottom, not at the top.

      Reply
  7. JohnHerbieHancock

    Is the Duffleblog joke that the service academies are accepting just about anybody these days?

    When I was applying to college (mid 90’s) I remember the general thinking was that given the limited # of seats available, and what with the need to have a congressman sponsor you and all, it was really tough to get into West Point, Annapolis, or the Air Force Academy.

    But I’ve met a couple West Point grads in the last decade – all 5-10 years younger than me – that really makes me question that. Or maybe standards fell a lot as a result of the Iraq War II?

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      One of my nieces (who is a Echols Scholar at UVA, which I believe is conferred only to ~ the top 5% of admits, it’s not a hard %) applied to the Coast Guard Academy, and was accepted and it was very competitive. She almost went but she wanted to get a PhD in Marine Biology or a related field while in government service, but found out they wouldn’t pay for her to study the particular areas she was interested in.

      Reply
      1. Yikes

        The Coast Guard is (use to be?) the only academy that didn’t accept/give Congress critters (two) nearly free passes. That may have changed, but USCG never had the monies to attract the kind of corruption that comes with Empire, and thus is a poor guide to how the other institutions perform.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I always thought that serving at the Coast Guard station in Lake Tahoe would be the absolute cushiest position, given a choice of locales.

          Reply
          1. Off The Street

            USCG Recruits may enjoy the whitewater training at the mouth of the Columbia River. There was a television show a few years ago that showed the brutal waves where those very movable forces met soaking wet resisting objects and subjects.

            Reply
        2. The Rev Kev

          This is not your grandpa’s Coast Guard. Saw this morning an article describing how two US ships recently passed through the Taiwan Straits to stir the Chinese. One was a US Navy destroyer but the other was a US Coast Guard cutter named the “Bertholf”. The mystery is how a ship which starts off with the title “US Coast” ends up patrolling the Chinese coast which, according to Google, is about 7,600 miles away from America-

          https://taskandpurpose.com/navy-coast-guard-taiwan-strait

          Reply
          1. jax

            Because we’re at permanent war.

            My father served on a Coast Guard cutter during WWII at the beach in Normandy.

            Reply
            1. Baby Gerald

              My dad served on a Coast Guard cutter (two, actually- first on the USCC Duane and later on the USCGC Hamilton) in Vietnam and saw a bit of action on river patrol boats, but his rank was ‘gunner’s mate’ so he did weapon servicing most of the time or fired the cannon on the ship at targets on the coast. Nice place to get drafted, the USCG. They only lost a handful of men in the entire conflict, but they were definitely more involved than most might think.

              Reply
      2. Liberal Mole

        My son knew a few kids who were accepted to the Coast Guard Academy. All of them had to spend a year in an affiliated college to get their academics up to par before attending. We heard at MIT that CGA was, unlike many other sailing competitors, a school that provided a rigorous education.

        Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Duffel blog is a parody it similar to the Onion though this is more satire in this case.

      As far as your observations, there have been criticisms of the nature of the service academies over the years. The other side is its a self selective group. What kind of kid wants to go to West Point at 16 (which is when you have to be committed)?

      West Point also wants soldiers. Half the grads will be in the infantry, and long term, the absolutely must have mission objectives will be assigned to West Point grads. That means no questionable knees, asthma, etc. Whatever else you might think, West Point grads are expected to fight. They aren’t there to be part of a new army of button pressing. If Robert E Lee wasnt a traitor, we would have multiple movies about him in the Mexican War, and he was an artillery officer. His exploits then were amazing. Aren’t the SATs at West Point around 1350? It’s a good score, but if they are doing West Point, they are probably doing SAT prep classes. The Service academies exist to produce soldiers, not moral leaders or people with special grasp of national interests, those are the exclusive purview of the abstract people. From a daily perspective, they aren’t going to be any different than anyone else.

      Reply
      1. JohnHerbieHancock

        One of the guys I’m thinking of was a West Point grad, and decided on a career in the army, but has basically just been working as his battalion HR clerk for the last several years of his career.

        I only know more about his situation because he was asking me for advice about going to law school on the Army’s dime. he kept mentioning he would only go if he could get into Harvard law or something similarly presigious, but despite taking the LSAT several times, was barely scoring above the 50th percentile… and he was surprised the West Point diploma didn’t compensate for the poor LSAT. Not only was the LSAT score issue suspect, but his general lack of sense about everything made me wonder about the people the academies are cranking out. A few of the others I know weren’t as clueless, but still had big blind spots about how the world worked (outside of the base). I guess, to
        your point, if they’re looking for fighters, they wouldn’t necessarily be too concerned with the lack of common sense.

        Reply
    3. ex-PFC Chuck

      It’s known among interested circles that the service academies have been in the sights of the Christian Right movement since at least the late 1970s. A number of years back I recall reading, probably on either mrff.org or the now inactive talk2action.org, that an indicator of the increasing percentage of Xtian evangelicals among the cadet corps can be found in surveys that have asked, among other things, what the cadets’ safety schools of choice had been. Whereas a generation or two ago they were likely to be home state public universities or top drawer ones such as Michigan or Berkeley, now you’re more likely to see ones such as of Oral Roberts, Liberty and Bob Jones.

      Reply
  8. Olga

    Sometimes Guardian publishes interesting stuff:
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/05/whale-legs-earths-past-fossil-peregocetus-pacificus
    Whales walking on land: “Peregocetus pacificus – as named by a seven-strong paleontologist team led by Olivier Lambert – is a roughly 42m-year-old mammal that was excavated from the bed of an ancient ocean now preserved in Peru. The prehistoric swimmer wouldn’t have looked like any whale we’re familiar with today.”

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      I love the name they chose for it – Peregocetus pacificus ‘the wandering whale that reached the Pacific’. Its quite poetic.

      Reply
      1. newcatty

        Yes, it is poetic. Makes me think about the fact that today’s whales are remarkable beings with their great intelligence and society. Imagine whales walking on land…the possibilities.

        Reply
  9. zagonostra

    >Patrick Buchanan – The American Conservative

    Let’s hope Buchanan is correct.

    Should Joe falter and fall, Trump would be the nation’s last line of defense against the coming of a socialist America. For Never Trump conservatives, the day of reckoning may be just ahead.

    The Green New Deal would be enacted, as would Medicare for all, free tuition for college students, Millennial college debts paid off by the government, free pre-K schooling and day care, guaranteed jobs for all, a guaranteed living wage, repeal of the Reagan and Trump tax cuts, a re-raising of the corporate rate, a return of the top rate for individuals to 70 percent, and new wealth taxes on the rich.

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/buchanan/will-2020-be-the-beginning-of-a-socialist-america/

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      It will, as Lambert would say, be a clarifying moment. If Sanders wins the nomination it will be oh, so much fun to see what corporate Dems will do.

      Reply
      1. rd

        Medicare for All would probably increase corporate profits by 1-2% of revenue by reducing medical costs, especially those currently covered through employer-paid programs. I have been utterly baffled by the lack of interest in Corporate America in a Canadian style healthcare system that would slash their healthcare costs.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Additioinal profits by 1-2% of revenue by reducing…

          Are we talking about 1-2% additional profits, or some higher (not just 1-2%) profits from 1-2% reveune increase?

          And those number are the forecast (1-2%), and I think that explains the lack of interest, because 1-2% forecast is not enough to offset uncertainties inherent in many forecasts.

          Is the margin of error on this particular forecast more than 1 or 2%?

          Reply
          1. rd

            Canadian health care costs are about 12% of GDP while the US is about 17%. Much of the delta is paid by companies in their employer-paid insurance. So companies should be able to save total expenditures of at least 1% – 2% of GDP which should go straight to their bottom line.

            Reply
      2. Oregoncharles

        I hope he was taking notes on Corbyn’s experience – and Corbyn wasn’t actually in government.

        At the least, Sanders is intimately familiar with the workings of Congress.

        Reply
    2. Ford Prefect

      I hate to break it to Patrick Buchanan, but the US has been “Socialist” since FDR’s New Deal with Social Security followed by Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, etc. The only question is to what degree the US will be socialist or if Patrick Buchanan and the Koch Brothers can get Mitch McConnell and company to completely defund the New Deal and Great Society programs and return the US to a state where substantial percentages of the population become impoverished with no safety net again.

      McCarthy used to rail against “Communists”. Apparently, Socialists have become the new Red Menace instead, since it is pretty clear nobody in the US wants communism.

      Reply
    3. Chris Cosmos

      Only if Sanders or a facsimile wins a landslide election like Johnson or Reagan is there a chance that these sorts of policies will be enacted–that is unlikely. The majority of Democrats in Congress are opposed to all of those policies. The only policy that has a reasonable chance (assuming the Senate and House are both in the hands of the Democrats) is some slimmed down version of Medicare for all or perhaps some facsimile of a continental (Europe) style of universal system.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I agree.

        Le’ts not forget the lesson we have been shown, with the example of Trump. It’s not just getting a person into the White House, to doing things this way, thatIt way, or any other way you want.

        Will there be investigations? Nominations blocked? Impeachment? Removal due to (mental) illness (from, say, old age)?

        Fight them on the beaches? Landing grounds? Fields? Streets?

        I think, this shows, power in the US is not in just one or a few places, unlike some totalitarian countries.

        Here, you have NYT, WaPo, #Resistance, NY state, NY city, Assistant Attorney General, FBI director, British agents, professors at some UK college, senators (for example, McCain a while back), etc.

        Reply
      2. Hepativore

        Still, I think that some progress might be made, because Sanders would be willing as also able to play “hardball” unlike what traditional Democrats have done for decades. I think that he might be able to strong-arm Democrats into supporting his policies or else threaten to withdraw any and all presidential support or endorsement for their up-and-coming campaigns if they refuse to work with him. There is also the fact that Sanders might be able to call out his political opponents in Congress publicly and let them face the ire of the public if he says something akin to “THESE people are why Medicare-for-all failed! Make sure they lose in the next election!”

        While he would face a lot of opposition from his fellow Democrats, the presidential office has many political tools that would allow a president to keep malcontents in his own party in-line. The problem has been that since the late 1970’s Democratic presidents either agree with 80% of the Republican Party platform or do not want to upset the political apple cart in Washington D.C.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          He will not be fighting those traditional Democrats, but more their powerful supporters.

          Victories are likely to be pyrrhic, and expect trench warfare, scorched earth battles all the way.

          It’s a swamp, as Trump said.

          Reply
          1. Hepativore

            I am concerned that even if Bernie Sanders becomes president and successfully enacts various progressive reforms, the neoliberals will then strike back after his term or terms and start rolling back any accomplishments he made after he leaves office. Sanders will have to make very sure that he paves the way for future successors to carry the torch of progressivism instead of being a mere pause between the looting carried out by neoliberal kleptocrats that has gone on for decades. It might well pick up where it left off in a post-Sanders era if we are not careful.

            The beast of neoliberalism will take many years to fully defeat and it will probably take decades for us to remove the corpse and reverse all of the damage that it has done.

            Reply
      3. Grant

        Structural changes don’t happen in a system like ours between single elections, unless there is an actual revolution. So, why assume that if something can’t happen right away that it can’t over time? A person’s expectations should be different if they think over the medium to long term, versus 2021-2024. What can be accomplished over the medium term is different than what can be accomplished within Bernie’s first term. I see no reason to analyze what is possible by only looking at the short term. I don’t assume that the composition of politicians in government will be the same in ten years, if we have a good vision to organize towards and push on. No one, Bernie included, thinks that single payer will be established shortly after he takes, or would take, office. There is no realistic way, however, to move forward without a coherent vision and a set of policies to organize around, actual alternatives. Tommy Douglas didn’t get Medicare in Canada at the national level overnight. It was a relatively slow and grinding process, and the Liberals only voted it in nationally once the activists and social movements pushed it through elsewhere. There is a huge gap between what those in power offer, versus what is needed to address our largest problems. It shouldn’t be assumed that things don’t start to fall apart quickly unless structural changes are put in place, because things are not okay at their root. If things continue to get worse, the context that produced Trump will remain, and the next Trump will not be so incompetent.

        Reply
          1. jrs

            that’s noble, and yes assuming there is a long run at all, then we need to think about it and push in every possible way.

            But it has to be extremely discouraging for anyone who actually needs say single payer now.

            Reply
            1. Grant

              I am a cancer survivor. Just went through chemo a few months ago. I found out I had the cancer when I was about 30. I have a long road ahead of me in that regard. Believe me, I want it as soon as possible. This system may kill me. If the consumer protections in the ACA weren’t there, I would likely either be dead right now or most around me would be much poorer trying to save me. But, will it happen immediately after Bernie is elected, if he were to win? Probably not, unless there is a wave along with him and people put pressure on all of those in power. That doesn’t mean, however, that if it isn’t possible soon after getting elected that it can’t happen over a longer timeframe. Sometimes, changes do in fact take multiple elections. If I die, I die, I can’t control things, but knowing that my sons may not have to deal with this horrific system makes it a bit easier for me to deal with things emotionally. Personally, I don’t think we progress towards single payer by building on the flawed and overly complex ACA model. We progress by organizing and getting people into power that will put in place structural changes at once.

              Some structural changes will not happen right away even under the most ideal circumstances. We need a radically different international economic system, and the chances of us radically changing the international system within the next two years isn’t likely. We need radical, structural changes to deal with the environmental crisis. The time we have is determined by what the science is telling us. We either change in time to avoid collapse or we don’t. Mother Nature doesn’t care about what we consider to be pragmatic.

              We shouldn’t be discouraged though, and I say that even with my condition. We should instead work to create a coherent vision and organize towards it. We can speed up the transition if we organize well and others buy in. It’s up to us, another world is possible.

              Reply
              1. Copeland

                “most around me would be much poorer trying to save me”

                This describes the very fortunate* situation my wife and I are in, though I tend to think that these lovely family and friends are somewhat poorer, not much poorer, for saving us.

                *If one could describe not being able to afford health care in the first place, fortunate.

                Reply
            2. Copeland

              “But it has to be extremely discouraging for anyone who actually needs say single payer now”

              This is me with multiple debilitating, chronic autoimmune disorders and my wife with colon cancer. I’m unable to work and shes self-employed, so essentially no useful health insurance, although we pay up the a$$ for what we now call “don’t lose the house” insurance.

              Tulsi Gabbbard maybe a good way to “begin”.

              Reply
              1. Grant

                I am sorry to hear that. Staying positive and having a positive outlook does go a long way, I can say that with certainty. These types of situations are why I get angry when I hear people in power talk about things like single payer as if this is all ideological in nature. It’s my life. Maybe Pelosi is indifferent if people like myself die, maybe if I am one of the 45,000, she could give a damn, but I am a person and I would like to think I make positive contributions to society. My children love and care about me, so does my wife, family and friends. To think that the resources would be there to save me, and that all that would be needed was a system that worked better than this one, only to see me die because of the profit motive is crushing. I don’t know why people like Pelosi or the Republicans got into politics, but I can say that they are now in politics for all the wrong reasons. Them maintaining their power is a great microcosm of all that is wrong not just with our political system, but our society.

                Reply
                1. Janie

                  Grant and Copeland, I am so sorry for your situation, and Amfortis’s, and so angry with our system. Not that it does any good! I’m just hoping that the tide is turning and that you will get the help you need.

                  Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “The Ocean’s Tipping Point Has Been Reached”

    Maybe going off on a tangent here but this article reminded me of something that was promised would be in our future and never came about. No, not flying cars or personal jet-packs but actual habitations on the bottom of the sea. Maybe not so grandiose as an actual city but at the very least a colony established on the sea bed that was capable of mining and exploration and research. Lots of us are familiar with the promise of undersea exploration back in the 60s. Many people probably remember the exploration trips of Jacques Cousteau and when astronaut Scott Carpenter spent 4 weeks under the sea in the U.S. Navy’s SEALAB II project. But since then not much has happened. Unless you take into account stunts like the exploration of sunken ships like the SS Titanic. The reason that I brought this piece of history up is that if we had had colonies under the seas, we would have been far more aware of what was happening to the world’s oceans and it could have provided some sorely needed data. Maybe even Musk would have given Mars a miss and would have put his billions into undersea exploration instead. We would certainly have been aware that the ocean had a tipping point and that we were approaching it. Instead it is yet just one more road untraveled…

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      “The Ocean’s Tipping Point Has Been Reached”

      So Friedman was right, the world is flat and we’re going over a cliff…

      Reply
    2. Chris Cosmos

      Sadly, interest in the environment and particularly the seas and oceans has gone down dramatically. Americans are obsessed with screens and, at best, pets. The rest of the environment can just disappear and be replaced by some Disney theme park as far as most Americans are concerned. That doesn’t mean people are bad–just that the culture has moved in a different direction.

      Reply
      1. newcatty

        Yes, Chris Cosmos. The most egregious of the theme parks are the “sea world” and “dolphin adventure” ones. They played the greedy and disingenuous propaganda game on the public that by going to their “parks” that you get to see magnificent beings up close and personal. There is a magic in being in their presence. This was used and the beings were exploited cruelly. So, who needs the oceans and seas …you can see fishes in aquariums and in some zoos. They also used the ruse that sea world, etc. Contributed to raising awareness for conservation of beings in the waters. Now, people are waking up to the scam. My daughter, who lives in So Cal, says she knows no one who would go to a sea world now. The existence of circuses and zoos are in the same category. Though here in my small city we have a rescue facility that the locals call the zoo. It’s set up like a zoo in that people can come and see the animals and birds in their enclosures. Every single one is a rescue one. Excellent care is given to the residents.

        Reply
    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I think the design of ocean dwellings posses some unusually difficult problems. I am curious to know more what those problems are. There is the great pressure the dwelling must sustain and the problems with corrosion and sessile organisms attaching to the exterior. Entry and exit present other problems. I occasionally toy with ideas for making an underwater igloo-like structure from thick pieces of curved glass. There are ways to efficiently curve flat glass using microwaves — a firm in Pennsylvania invented and specializes in this process. I thought there might be some way to scale the process down and make my thick pieces of curved glass from stacks of cut and curved flat glass glued together with one of the laminate glues used for safety glass.

      I was disappointed by the link article. There are many ocean tipping points. I only went to the link to find out which one had now tipped. That the oceans are trending toward large deadzones, and filled with plastic wastes and pollution, and growing hostile to most of the sea-life we know and love is not news.

      Reply
  11. jfleni

    RE: What An Aging Population Means For The Future Of The Internet.

    IGnore Buttbook; Its just like repeated nutty tv-commercials.

    Reply
    1. jrs

      The article seems poorly thought out, ok so maybe what it says applies to older people now on average, and so is relevant now. But it seems very worried about the older population growing in the future, but won’t the future older population be today’s “younger” population, time having passed and all that? Does it really think sharing fake news is some inherent property of having accumulated a certain amount of years? Wow kinda an ageist assumption …

      Reply
  12. amfortas the hippie

    re:archdruid.
    ive argued the same with team blue for years… engage the deplorables, dont merely condemn. like it or not, we must share the world with folks we dont like… even hate.
    and racism etc wont be cured by fiat and shaming. again, one mind at a time

    Reply
    1. Wyoming

      I’ve read the archdruid for years and can take or leave him. He gets it right on occasion and conveniently forgets when he missed the mark just like most people.

      But I do agree with your point re team blue. Unfortunately a version of the exact same comment applies to team red. Their hatred of team blue is epic and myopic and utterly clueless. Expecting these two groups to come to some tolerance and understanding of each other is beyond wishful thinking. Na gonna happn as they say. A balance of power and a manageable level of conflict is about the best one could ever hope for – and I have no expectation that is even achievable in today’s world. Conflict becomes us.

      Re the druids theme that team red will triumph again in 2020 – I too see it as a possibility but not a certainty.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        He was right the last time.

        While the decline appears to have stopped, both “major” parties are mere shadows of themselves. “Independents,” meaning everyone else, are a very solid plurality, over 40%.

        It’s very careless of us to let now-minor parties continue to control our politics.

        Reply
  13. lighter

    re: Amazon…

    I disagree. A drawn-out acrimonious divorce settlement serves no one but the lawyers and the tabloids. She still becomes the third richest woman in the world. Amazon stock is better off under Jeff Bezo’s control, which makes her wealthier as well.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      There is a difference between “drawn out acrimonious” and accepting on the order of 1/2 of what you deserve. You are promoting the proposition that women should be nice and concede. I doubt you’d be promoting this view if the spouse were a billionaire woman, like a Walton heir or Mag Whitman or Oprah.

      Reply
      1. Lee

        As a man previously married to a high earning woman, I support and benefited from divorce laws that I believe were initially enacted primarily to protect female spouses.

        I’m guessing that Bezos’ ex got something of value to her in exchange for her stock. My ex and I had some side deals and mutually beneficial arrangements that were not part of the final court order.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The FT article said in cases like this, usually the man and wife do a roughly equal divvy of the assets.

          There is no way that happened here. They don’t have assets outside the Amazon stock that remotely approach the +$35 billion she ceded to Bezos…..and that’s before you get to the value of the voting interest she also gave up.

          Reply
          1. Wyoming

            I think that Lee might have been referring to possibilities for agreements between the two of them on how they each would treat their children in trust and inheritances, and other items which would be impacted by their personal relationship and feelings for each other.

            Perhaps – just perhaps – she has such a huge belief in his ability to continue growing Amazon she believes that giving him control like she did will eventually return a larger reward for her and their children than taking the legal possibilities to the wall would.

            Or maybe she just does not care that much about getting exactly half. After all it was not any man who decided this settlement amount – it was her decision and it seems unlikely that she did it out of anything but personal decisions. She does not have any obligation to fight for what ‘women’ deserve so that other women getting divorced in the future have a better chance of getting what they deserve. Her only obligation is to herself and her children.

            Reply
        2. Wukchumni

          Bezos ex has about 30 years left in her tank, and she’d have to spend $3 million a day, day in and day out, to eventually run out of money, so maybe it didn’t matter all that much, her not getting more?

          Reply
          1. Kurt Sperry

            The difference between have one billion or a hundred billion dollars is probably less than the difference between having one dollar and a hundred.

            Reply
      2. nippersdad

        Maybe she just wanted out of the marriage? What one “deserves” is a pretty subjective concept, and having all of the money one could ever want or need AND the opportunity to get away from her spouse may be just exactly what she wanted. I know nothing about her, but her actions seem natural to me; it is not always about money or power, and it seems like you may be putting the onus on her to do something for her gender when it really should be all about her.

        Maybe she just wants to get it over with and go and sit on a beach somewhere. Not everyone is power/money hungry, nor should they be. It would be a pretty awful world if everyone was as red in tooth and claw as the guy she is divorcing.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Gosh knows I’m no fan of Bezos but she was instrumental 20 years ago. Since then it’s probably safe to say that this is the company he created.

          The bottom line is that she obviously considers the result fair or she wouldn’t have signed off on it. Since we are not inside their marriage who are we to second guess even if Yves is right about what she could have gotten?

          Of course in the bigger picture anything that would have more greatly weakened the Bezos megalomania express would have been more desirable.

          Reply
          1. ChristopherJ

            And not to diminish her work over the years, but isn’t he the guy that made the business, went to work everyday for it, had the ultimate business model, never make a profit.
            If I’d been his wife, I’d be somewhat persuaded to let him have more of the company under the circumstances, particularly if his lawyers could drag the process on and on.
            And it’s not as though the settlement is going to be iffy when she asks have I got enough?

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              You might be thinking of a matter of scale here. Suppose that it was a guy running a garage in the back of Bondi with his wife doing the accounts, the inventory, the advertising, etc. If they split up after the guy had a chain of garages, I do not think that you would begrudge the wife her dues as it was her hard work that enabled his success. A different wife could have crippled and ended his ventures (and I have seen it happen) through a lack of dedication. If the garage chain owner had a truck hit him, the wife would have stepped in and continued to run the chain of garages.
              This is the same thing. Would he have been in the same position now without the initial support and hard work of his wife? Maybe. Maybe not. Bezos was in a helicopter crash back in 2003. Suppose that he had bought the farm in that crash. Would his wife have not stepped up to run the company? Maybe not as well but who is to say? No, this is a matter of scale. Just because he is a billionaire does not mean that all the rules have to change for him. MacKenzie Bezos has her 49th birthday in two days time. It will be interesting to see what she does with her wealth over the next forty odd years or so.

              Reply
            1. cgeye

              How can something be worse than having your mistress’s brother share your dick pics with the National Enquirer?

              She had the leverage of that, then got less than half? If anything she’d get more, for the sake of optics.

              Reply
    2. Roger Smith

      The gluttonous excess of this drama should have been collected as massive taxes on the both of them. Debating fair v. unfair here makes my skin crawl.

      Reply
    3. Oregoncharles

      It’s none of my business, but I suspect there was a pre-nup involved. There almost always would be.

      Reply
  14. tegnost

    re the bezos divorce, one conceivable angle may be that she wants out, has a reasonable lack of concern that 36 billion is not enough, and is saying “get into your burning and drive into the sun” to a man who is obviously in a burning chariot, intent on driving into the sun…

    Reply
  15. Olga

    Western Wishful Thinking – ‘Excluding Everything That Makes China What It Is’ Strategic Culture (Chuck L)
    Well worth a read. Alaistair Crooke always has a good handle on things, particularly in the ME. There are also interesting links embedded in the article.
    “The point here is precisely that ‘the West’ is no longer the West. There is the belligerent ‘West’ of Trump, Pence, Bolton and Pompeo – and this is the ‘West’ that is incrementally losing traction across the Middle East, and beyond. And then there is ‘the West’ of the EU, but that latter ‘West’ too, is divided, and beset by forces opposed to its millenarian ethos. The West, as the ‘vision for the future’, indeed is receding.”
    China will emerge on top (though, not necessarily a hegemon) not only because of its size and growing economic prowess, but also because the west will become increasingly mired in its contradictions (from which there is No (orderly) Exit).

    Reply
    1. pjay

      Also from the article, citing Martin Jacques:

      “There is still a widespread view in the West that China will eventually conform, by a process of natural and inevitable development, to the Western paradigm. This is wishful thinking. By concentrating on similarities, rather than recognising difference, the Western world ‘excludes everything … that makes China what it is’.”

      One reason we do not recognize this is that what “makes China what it is” according to Western media is exemplified in the nice little NYT video in today’s links, ‘How China turned a City into a Prison.’ This is the alternative to neoliberalism according to our press. No other models to be considered, at least not by “serious” people.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      A very important article this. Those countries in the middle east have seen a succession of countries smashed up by the west creating chaos and waves of terrorists. Why would you tie your fortunes to countries that do this at the slightest excuse or because those countries want to smash and grab your wealth? Certainly countries like Russia are always ready to negotiate and come to agreements. China too for that matter. And they don’t make constant threats against you either. The Christians in the region too have seen how the ‘Christian’ west has thrown them to the wolves in places like Iraq, Libya and Syria. And of course China views that ‘reconstruction comes before political settlement’ as the west is absolutely determined that there will never be a settlement or reconstruction in Syria unless it involves Assad leaving and letting in the west and its ‘partners’ as in Jihadists. They have flat out said this. If the EU does not want China in because they act like Chinese instead of westerners, then maybe they should just refuse them and tie their future fortunes to the political and economic stability of the Trump administration instead. Yeah, that should work out great that.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You will find people in that region complaining about China, Russia or the US.

        For example, in another region, Taiwan, it’s ‘political settlement before reconstruction, or commerce.’ Here, the political settlement in quesion is no independence for Taiwan, which is the status quo, until it becomes not settled, perhaps.

        No one is that exceptional.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          What I meant by that ‘political settlement before reconstruction phrase’ is what is happening in Syria. The west spent billions of dollars destroying the place. They have now said that they will give no money for reconstruction until there is a political settlement – which means putting the Jihadists in power and Assad fleeing the country. The west has even threatened sanctions against any company that does any reconstruction work in Syria at all to achieve this aim of still winning the war. Simple blackmail. So countries like Russia and China are stepping in and saying that those people need help now and cannot wait on some never-ending political process held in Geneva. You can bet that there are gig to be some long term repercussions to this saga.

          Reply
  16. allan

    The IRS Tried to Take on the Ultrawealthy. It Didn’t Go Well. [ProPublica]

    … It’s particularly important to audit the wealthy well, and not simply because that’s where the money is. That’s where the cheating is, too. Studies show that the wealthiest are more likely to avoid paying taxes. The top 0.5 percent in income account for fully a fifth of all the underreported income, according to a 2010 study by the IRS’ Andrew Johns and the University of Michigan’s Joel Slemrod. Adjusted for inflation, that’s more than $50 billion each year in unpaid taxes. …

    Which is exactly why the IRS is now going after EITC recipients.
    When you’ve lost the car keys in the golf course club house, look for them in the groundskeeper’s shack.

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      That golf quip reminds of another old classic: guy coming home late from bar loses keys in a dark alley. A little while later a bar buddy of his, also coming home late, runs into him looking for something in the circle of light cast by a nearby streetlight, asks what’s up. Guy: “I lost my keys in that alley over there.” Buddy: “So why aren’t you looking for them over there?” Guy: “Because the light’s better over here.”

      Reply
  17. The Rev Kev

    “France insists on digital tax despite US anger”

    A good question is why is Pompeo fighting a tax on Google, Facebook, Amazon & Apple? It’s not like they are short a quid and cannot afford to pay it. Having these same companies sneaking through the back door in places like Ireland must be really getting old with cash-strapped countries like France. Does Pompeo have similar objections to any cars manufactured by Chrysler, Ford, General Motors or Tesla being imported into the EU and having to pay a tax?

    Reply
  18. anon in so cal

    “Vietnam’s Empty Forests

    Yes, the country is an epicenter for wild species diversity. No, wildlife travel is not much pursued, and Vietnam has also become a world center for criminal wildlife trafficking…..

    Vietnam’s decline is especially intense. For example, in a single remote national preserve set aside for the saola and other rare animals, 23,000 cheap but fatally efficient wire snares were found in 2015, the most recent year tallied. Tens of thousands more of these snares are placed each year, as fast as they can be confiscated

    ….Some of this carnage supplies national appetites for Eastern traditional medicine in Vietnam and neighboring China. Examples from a lengthy catalog of purported remedies include: tiger penises for impotence, bear bile for cancer, rhino horn for a hangover, loris bile to ease the serious airway infections that arise from Vietnam’s air pollution.

    Even more of the motivation, surveys have found, “is to supply the rampant demand for wildlife meat in urban restaurants, which is very much a status issue,” said Barney Long, director of species conservation for the nonprofit group Global Wildlife Conservation.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/01/travel/vietnam-wildlife-species-ecotravel-tourism.html?fallback=0&recId=1JS1ymEEt1GcvWJI7ymGTAj9QKa&locked=0&geoContinent=NA&geoRegion=CA&recAlloc=story&geoCountry=US&blockId=home-featured&imp_id=102750796&action=click&module=editorsPicks&pgtype=Article&region=Footer

    We went to Hanoi about 8 years ago, visited Tam Dao National Park. There were a lot of birds, at least.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’ve cycled in the mountains of Vietnam – both the Central uplands and the Northern Uplands – the forests are incredibly dense, its unsurprising there are possibly unrecorded animals still living there. But hunting is widespread – I remember once when riding on an empty road a guy just popped out of the forest with a squirming small animal under his arm – I’ve no idea what it was, but it still had a snare attached. The local peoples pots of stew were full of unidentifiable animal bits. In the Central Uplands you see many people with visible birth defects – presumably a gift from Agent Orange. We can only guess the impact on the wildlife there.

      Mind you, some of those species are finding new homes – the tiny forest deer of Vietnam, the Muntjac, is now a pest in the UK, it was introduced as an ornament for large gardens. I used to see them regularly when cycling in remote trails in Oxfordshire and Suffolk. Apparently they’ve also been introduced illegally to Ireland by hunters, but I’ve not seen one yet.

      Reply
    2. bassmule

      Ah yes, “tiger penis.” As the late Mr. Bourdain suggested: Why don’t wildlife advocates just start sending mass quantities of Viagra to southeast Asia?

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Its actually something of a myth that the wildlife is being destroyed for the sake of middle aged droop. Mostly the rare species are considered to be sources of cancer cures in traditional medicine.

        Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Wonder what wildlife treasures China is buying from Siberia.

      Ginseng is not wildlife, but maybe Siberian tigers have something to offer, or bears (bear claw is on the Man-Han Imperial Banquet list).

      Reply
  19. Cal2

    “GSM radiation seems to contribute to the Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease pathogenic mechanisms.”

    Forget all your troubles, forget all your cares,
    use your cellphone on the golfcourse and then eat
    where pesticides residues served…

    Besides cell phone radiation, golf course pesticides cause Parkinson’s
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180523133158.htm

    Wait until there’s a 5G mini-cell tower on the power pole outside your children’s bedroom window.

    According to Physicians for Safe Technology, risks from 5G include:

    Damage to the eyes- cataracts, retina
    Immune system disruption
    Metabolic disruption
    Damage to sperm
    Skin damage
    Collapse of insect populations, the base of food for birds and bats
    Rise in bacterial resistance and bacterial shifts
    Damage to plants and trees

    https://mdsafetech.org/5g-telecommunications-science/

    Reply
      1. Lambert Strether

        Calcium channel blockers won’t help the insects, though. (I’m haunted by the idea that insect die-offs aren’t climate-related at all, but from something lateral — pesticides (no duh) are a good candidate, but cellphone radiation is an even better one, because they will not have evolved to adapt to it; it has never existed on the planet’s surface.

        Reply
  20. Wukchumni

    Wolf pack living west of Cascade Mountains for first time in decades Seattle Times (furzy)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Let the re-wilding continue, nice story.

    The claim is there were thousands of people in Mineral King in the silver boom that wasn’t in the mid 1870’s, and there is precious little to eat in the higher climes of the Sierra in a comes from the ground standpoint, and there were 2 herds of 75 Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep around 10 miles distant from one another in Farewell Gap & Timber Gap, which would have made them nearly as common as deer are now in the valley. My guess is they got eaten.

    What a sight to see that would be, and they’ve been relocating Bighorns from Mt Baxter, to select locations all around us, 15-25 air miles away.

    Here’s a link to the Mt Langley herd, relocated in 1980:

    https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Bighorn-Sheep/Sierra-Nevada/SEKI/Langley

    Reply
  21. Summer

    Re: Jamie Dimon / China / Trade War…CNBC

    The last paragraph, Dimon lists what he thinks are the GOOD things happening im the economy:
    “The U.S. is chugging along,” Dimon said. “Forget the noise — all the geopolitical stuff affects market but unemployment is going down, and wages are going up, business confidence is high and housing is in short supply.”

    “Housing is in short supply…”

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      Housing is short supply?

      Yes, so is buildable land.

      There is plenty of land, remote from jobs and without water….

      Reply
      1. jrs

        It’s part of it. At least here in California we are told we have not just a housing affordability problem, but an actual housing shortage – as in not enough housing has been built for the last few decades for the population period. Market failure anyone? But that’s not a good thing.

        Reply
  22. Carey

    ‘Salvini aims to forge far-right alliance ahead of European elections’:

    “..Europe’s rightwing populists are in power in Italy, Hungary, Austria and Poland and are riding high in several countries including France and the Netherlands, and, according to polls, will make significant advances in May’s elections. However, they are not predicted to form a majority and most analysts believe they will struggle to present a united front..”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/04/salvini-aims-to-forge-far-right-alliance-ahead-of-european-elections

    The EU Parliamentary election results could be interesting.

    Reply
  23. JohnM

    Re: Bad diets killing more people….
    Another week, another Guardian piece quoting Walter Willett on the danger of red meat consumption. While not endorsing the dubious methodology of this ‘nutrition science’, i’d invite anyone mildly interested to download the report, found here, and look at the chart on page 8 to see for themselves the purported magnitude of the red meat danger relative to other food groups that compelled Willett to repeat his warning.

    I’ll also note that while the deadly red meat category was reserved a special spot on the ‘number of deaths’ chart, it appears that the data collection (see page 3) did not even isolate this as a food group but lumped it together (as is often the case) with all processed meat.

    Pretty typical fare for the Guardian, at some point you start to wonder about an agenda…

    Reply
  24. barrisj

    So, Congress decides to invoke the War Powers Act, and says no more military support for KSA in its genocidal campaign in the Yemen – but wait, Trump will veto it, and his veto very likely won’t be over-ridden. Small wonder that this Act, designed to restrict “executive” wars absent a (Constitutionally-mandated) Declaration of War, has been rarely invoked, as short of having a huge veto-proof majority in both Houses of Congress, the Act is at bottom a feckless and impotent corrective to the “Commander-in-Chief” doctrine, whereby presidents since Truman used all matter of subterfuge to commit the US military to a shooting war without a formal Congressional Declaration of such….plus ça change….

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/04/us/politics/yemen-war-end-vote.html?emc=edit_cn_20190405&nl=politics&nlid=8948375420190405&te=1

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      What they did NOT do is cut off the money. That is Congress’s ultimate source of power – though they are now dealing with a president who is willing to defy it. That declaration of “emergency” is a constitutional crisis – that Congress set up by giving presidents that power, unrestricted.

      Reply
      1. barrisj

        Quite right…basically a simple “Resolution” with near-zero consequences…ah, that “unitary executive” – remarkable how many historians who once promoted a “strong president” are now suffering buyers’ remorse.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether

        Good points, both. Charles Pierce, before he lost his mind, called George W. Bush “C-plus Augustus,” but the title might be more aptly given to Trump. The Roman Senate, after all, gladly ceded power to Augustus, as long as he respected their sensibilities (and allowed them to keep their wealth).

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          Another reason for the Roman Senate’s acquiescence, as well as the rest of the various classes, was because everyone of talent and drive, often along with their entire extended families, died in the Republic’s final century; too many families desire to at least match the accomplishments of the forebearers displayed their family’s Ancestor Room by going into politics were exterminated. I don’t see the Gracchi Brothers, Marius, Cicero, or even the Plebian Assembly allowing Augustus to rule without a gigantic FU to him.

          Restated, the money was not as important as the respect gained by accomplishments in the Roman Republic and the society was determined to have a say in their government. The perpetual warfare both internal and external with increasing slaughter at all levels, but especially of the Senatorial class, had reduced government to a chaotic mafia like rule by the sword but without the Commission to keep the peace. Greed, then fear, and finally mutual mass suicide had replaced the ability to self-govern; the ability to govern democratically and administer the government ended and autocratic rule replaced it.

          Our government at all levels is self neutering its ability to legislate and govern because the legislators, as well as the senior members of the bureaucracy and the military, want to get the sweet bribes, kickbacks, and well paying sinecures that is given for doing the wealthy and connected their bidding instead of actually using the authority and power given to them to do their jobs. That is one of the reasons Emperor Trump was elected. Our government(s) is loosing the institutional memory, skills, and habits needed to run a society at all levels.

          We are self administering the doctor’s icepick and lobotomizing ourselves.

          Reply
    1. flora

      Thanks for that link. The Seattle Times had a good story about this. Apparently, in the old days ( 30-40 years ago) Boeing knew their big jets could get into this state and there was a long detailed explanation in the pilots manual about an emergency recovery procedure that worked. The recovery procedure used a counter intuitive step that was necessary to release forces on the jack screw temporarily so pilots could manually turn trim wheel.

      That recovery procedure information isn’t in the new jet’s pilots manual.

      https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/boeings-emergency-procedure-for-737-max-may-have-failed-on-ethiopian-flight/

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Will more people choose rail travel?

        Does it depend on the situation? For example, the high speed train crash in Wenzhou, China, back around 2011. For the unlucky victims, it was not safer.

        Reply
        1. flora

          Did the Chinese train authority have in its database information about how to control the situation which it did not distribute to rail train engineers?

          From the above Seattle Times link:

          “More detailed instructions that conceivably could have saved the Ethiopian plane are provided in the 1982 pilot manual for the old 737. As described in the extract posted by the Australian pilot, they require the pilot to do something counterintuitive: to let go of the control column for a brief moment.

          “As Lemme explains, this “will make the nose drop a bit,” but it will relax the force on the elevator and on the jackscrew, allowing the pilot to crank the stabilizer trim wheel. The instructions in the old manual say that the pilot should repeatedly do this: Release the control column and crank the stabilizer wheel, release and crank, release and crank, until the stabilizer is swiveled back to where it should be.

          “The 1982 manual refers to this as “the ‘roller coaster’ technique” to trim the airplane, which means to get it back on the required flight path with no force pushing it away from that path.

          “If nose-up trim is required, raise the nose well above the horizon with elevator control. Then slowly relax the control column pressure and manually trim nose-up. Allow the nose to drop below the horizon while trimming (manually). Repeat this sequence until the airplane is trim,” the manual states.”

          *

          I hope all pilots of the Boeing big jets read the Seattle Times story. It seems sort of like teaching learning car drivers how to steer into a skid to pull out of a skid (on ice or rain soaked roads), even though with anti-lock brakes and traction control today’s modern car drivers aren’t supposed to need that skill anymore. (Except when they do need that skill.)

          Reply
          1. Carey

            That would be quite a task to perform at 1000′ above ground with multiple alarms going off, though, don’t you think?

            The 737 MAX was an accurately named mega-kludge.

            Reply
    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Interesting link and yet what are the odds Trump would figure that out or be able to do anything even if he did?

      Another slant, perhaps too far fetched, but It’s just possible that they (US/Britian) are playing reverse ‘cry wolf’ to lull Assange supporters and that they hope when the event finally does happen, many supporters will assume it’s another false alarm. Might make it a little easier to hijack him out of the embassy and into the tender ministrations of US’s British police and extradition dogs.

      Reply
  25. WestcoastDeplorable

    That Buzzfeed piece is trash. You guys should know better than using them as a resource. They make the statement that older people are more likely to disseminate fake news, but it’s not backed up with anything! It’s an opinion piece of two Indian dudes.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I would think younger people are more likely to disseminate fake news.

      Looking back, when I was 3, 5, 9, or 12, I was more credulous.

      And in general, for people, the question is, does a person’s cynicism increase with age? The same or less?

      Reply
    2. Lepton1

      I don’t think that many young people care deeply about these topics. They may be spreading fake news but it is not about social security.

      Before she passed on, my aunt included me in an email list with a bunch of older people. I spent a fair amount of time debunking things like “Democrats are trying to kill Social Security.” They would just throw out crazy stuff, I had to take time to dig up factual stories.

      Just one anecdote.

      Reply
  26. Plenue

    >Rethinking the Normalization of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era Henry Giroux, Tikkun

    “Talk of a fascist politics emerging in the United States is often criticized as either a naive exaggeration or a failure to acknowledge the strength of liberal institutions.”

    I’m sorry, what? Often criticized by who? Fearmongering about Nazis and saying Trump is New Hitler is the norm.

    Reply
  27. Teejay

    The chimp is fixed on watching his great, great grandfather in old Ronald Reagan movies. He can’t get enough of it.

    Reply

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