Links 5/25/19

Massachusetts Man Calls Police After Intruder Breaks Into Home, Cleans It, Leaves Without Taking Anything KTLA

U.S. starts giving documents to lawyers of ex-Goldman banker Ng in 1MDB case Reuters. Enormous corruption case chugs along.

Dems Want DoD Contractor Price-Gouging Fix National Journal

Meet Murray Cox, The Man Trying to Take Down Airbnb Bloomberg

Public-Private Partnerships Will Never Solve America’s Infrastructure Crisis In These Times

Brexit

Theresa May resigns after Brexit failure FT. [rimshot]:


It’s a sadness:

Theresa May: How strategic mistakes and the Irish question brought her down RTE

How deeply damaging policies have destroyed council housing Verso. On the Grenfell fire (see NC here and here).

Syraqistan

‘Troops To Iran’ Scare – The Mountain Brings Forth A Mouse Moon of Alabama. If only it were possible to convert hysteria into power, we could end the fossil fuel industry forever!

Senate panel rejects requiring Congress sign off before Iran strike The Hill

Trump Bypasses Congress Over Saudi Arms, Sparking Lawmakers’ Ire Bloomberg

The evidence we were never meant to see about the Douma ‘gas’ attack Robert Fisk, Independent

Venezuela

Here are 4 ways that Venezuela’s crisis could end WaPo

Key lawmaker wants U.S. to invade Venezuela to counter Cuba’s influence Miami Herald. Lindsey Graham.

Top US commander warns Maduro ‘mafia’ poses threat beyond Venezuela The Hill

Oppose Trump’s coup attempt in Venezuela (Commentary) Syracuse.com

India

An Indian Political Theorist on the Triumph of Narendra Modi’s Hindu Nationalism The New Yorker

Amar saffron Bangla: Five reasons for the BJP’s surge in Bengal Scroll.in

Don’t Fear the Modi: Hinduism Makes India Great The American Conservative

India Continues Surge Towards Status As First World Nation By Reelecting Racist, Right-Wing Authoritarian The Onion

Narendra Modi Barack Obama, Time (2015). A blast from the past.

North Korea

Memo to Donald Trump: It’s Time to End-Run Your Advisers on North Korea 38 North

China?

China’s Massive Belt and Road Initiative Council on Foreign Relations

Donald Trump’s Huawei ban is a more severe threat to global economy than trade war tariffs, economists say South China Morning Post

Donald Trump opens door to including Huawei in China trade deal FT

How China will protect one-quarter of its land Nature

Listen: Street Sounds of Chongqing from Urban Geographer Asa Roast Radii

Assange

Assange Indicted Under Espionage Act, Raising First Amendment Issues NYT

The U.S. Media Is in the Crosshairs of the New Assange Indictment Lawfare

On Julian Assange, the administration throws smart and careful out the window Editorial Board, WaPo. First, they came for Assange…

RussiaGate

Potential Clash Over Secrets Looms Between Justice Dept. and C.I.A. NYT. The lead: “President Trump’s order allowing Attorney General William P. Barr to declassify any intelligence that led to the Russia investigation sets up a potential confrontation with the C.I.A. It effectively strips the agency of its most critical power: choosing which secrets it shares and which ones remain hidden.” So, if the CIA has the power to keep whatever it does secret whenever it wants to, who’s really running the country?

Trump Transition

Federal judge partially halts Trump border wall funding, blocks $1 billion USA Today

Senator Sanders and Representative Lee Propose to Make Wall Street Pay CEPR. Financial transactions tax.

Labor Board Plans Rules on Worker Protests, Student Organizing (1) Bloomberg Law

Josh Hawley, the Senator From Main Street The American Conservative. Hawley is having a moment, isn’t he?

Avenatti, Wohl and the Krassensteins Prove Political Media Is a Hucksters’ Paradise Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

2020

Well, you know how Jews are:

Federal judge blocks Mississippi abortion law CNN

Ursula Le Guin on Abortion: “The Princess” & “What It Was Like” Reading is Therapy

Black Injustice Tipping Point

What Reparations for Slavery Might Look Like in 2019 New York Times

Black Capitalism Won’t Save Us The Nation

Boeing 737 MAX

Boeing faces preliminary SEC investigation into its 737 MAX disclosures Seattle Times. After Musk thumbed his nose at them. Successfully.

Optimism After Daylong Meeting On Efforts To Fix Boeing 737 Max NPR. They buried the lead: “[T]he process of conducting test flights and reviewing data could take three or four weeks once the company submits a formal application for review.” One would not want Boeing to rush. However, one might speculate that when the lid was lifted on the bucket of worms that was the MCAS software development process, the scope of work suddenly increased.

Class Warfare

When Socialists Swept Milwaukee The Belt. Site of the 2020 Democrat convention.

MacBook Pro 15″ Touch Bar 2019 Teardown iFixIt. About that butterfly keyboard….

Your ‘recycled’ laptop may be incinerated in an illegal Asian scrapyard PRI

Digital Socialism? Evgeny Morosov, New Left Review

Antidote du jour:

Bonus antidote (via):

Lazy, hazy, crazy….

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

217 comments

    1. Antifa

      Albinism is a recessive gene trait, and as such it can appear in virtually any mammal species, and in turtles, snakes, frogs, lizards, birds, etc. It is surmised that there would have inevitably been albino dinosaurs.

      It has been observed in most extant species at one time or another, although the rare albino Emperor Penguin of Antarctica has yet to be spotted with certainty. Every sighting of this rare bird has proven to be just another pile of snow.

      Reply
      1. Edward

        Albino peacocks must have a hard time mating. So does albinism interfere with the synthesis of vitamin D?

        Reply
      1. foghorn longhorn

        They are also subject to eye sight and hearing problems.
        We actually rescued an albino Australian Shepherd pup, she had some vision impairment, but she was a sweetie.
        RIP Jessa

        Reply
    2. ewmayer

      In my neck of the woods we call them Silicon Valley cubicle rats. Back in the days when I was onesuch I kept a movie poster for the 1956 B-SciFi shlockfest, The Mole People on one of my cubicle walls to remind me of my status.

      Reply
    1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      I totally agree & I suspect anyone who had as I have, spent nine months last year on Universal Credit would too – I keep my sympathy for the victims not the perpetrators.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      After watching that brief video on here, why do I have a feeling that May’s downfall was engineered by Larry the Cat?

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        “Engineered” assumes the presence of rational planning. This time around, let’s get all classical and attribute it to Nemesis.

        Reply
        1. Massinissa

          Yeah, May was certainly afflicted by Hubris if she actually thought she could pull off a Brexit at all, much less one that could please everyone.

          Reply
          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I don’t think either the Tories or Labour ever wanted to implement the will of the people…so we were treated to 400+ days of kabuki.

            Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind, etc.

            One of the other NC commenters is named WheresOurTeddy…but I’m wondering WheresOurNigel?

            Proof that passion + oratory + a singular focus on a world-scale issue = *power*

            I’d nominate Tulsi and The War. But while I think she has ingredients #1 and #3 I don’t think she has ingredient #2. We’ve had so many amazing orators: William Jennings Bryan, Martin Luther King. But rabble-rousing, passionate oratory from the current crop of midgets? Not likely

            So we’ll just slouch towards euthanasia…in the descent to our new disembody politic

            Reply
            1. none

              I couldn’t take Gabbard seriously in the past because of that lei she used to wear. More recently I’ve seen her without it, which helps.

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                Well, to cut her some slack, that lei might be a local Hawaiian political image, useful to her for Island politicking.

                Reply
  1. SOMK

    A note on something non-Irish readers may not pick it up on, but the use of language in that RTÉ piece on May is perculiar. RTÉ have gotten a lot of fairly justified praise here over their coverage of Brexit (in light of how poor the British has been), but some have read their coverage being more in line with British interests than Irish (“if you want to know what Britain wants look to Montrose” (location of RTÉ HQ in Dublin) I recall some saying). The repeated use of the terms like “Irish question”, “Island of Ireland” and “the Irish issue” without any qualifiers in that piece does grate, especially coming from the Irish national broadcaster (there is a thick streak of the Irish urban upper middle class heavily barraccaded in the non-sports departments of RTÉ who have a noted fondness for rugby, golf and a deep sense of cultural inferiority in relation to Britain) when a few weeks ago the Newstatesman was catching flack in Ireland for using that same term in a cover story entitled “The Return of the Irish Question”. The general response being along the lines the term frames the problem as having its roots in Ireland, never mind how the term “Irish question”, could more accurately said to be “the British question in Ireland”. https://www.joe.ie/amp/news/yet-andrew-maxwell-schooled-british-people-anglo-irish-relations-brexit-646756

    Reply
    1. shtove

      Is it Northern Ireland or the north of Ireland? Have to say, the odd time I’ve scanned through the Sunday Independent, their Brexit coverage seems to have descended from Richard North levels into the Telegraph ditch. Journalism? ‘Tis pity she’s a whore.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous2

      Fair point. It would help, I sometimes think, if the discussion focused on the possible problems arising at the British border.

      Reply
    3. PlutoniumKun

      Thats an interesting point, although I took the use of ‘The Irish Question’ in Connolly’s writings to be used a little ironically – he would assume anyone reading a long form article like that is aware of the historical analogies (for those who don’t know, its a reference to the longstanding 19th Century battles fought in the British Parliament over Irish Home Rule or otherwise).

      Following what was originally a joke (from Patrick Quilty I think), the Irish government tried to adopt the phrase ‘the British Border in Ireland’ rather than ‘the Irish border’ as the required phrase for the issue.

      A personal bugbear of mine is when the Irish media refers to ‘the Royal Family’ without defining which one.

      In overall terms, RTE’s coverage has been interesting in that it reflects both an ‘official’ view, being the national broadcaster, and a specifically middle class Dublin view of issues (due to the background of the journalists and managers), in that it has reflected the surprise felt by the Irish establishment at finding themselves much more in sympathy with Sinn Fein than the Tories. One thing I found revealing about Connolly’s article (which seems based on repeated interviews with Irish government insiders, especially diplomats), is that Varadkar was pushed into a corner of having to take a very hard line, mostly due to May’s similar inflexibility. Sometimes personalities really do matter in politics and history.

      Reply
    1. Chris Smith

      I was in India when Obama visited in 2015. I remember the Times of India reporting that Obama “warned” Modi not to backslide on “democracy” or some such. Obama then flew to Saudi Arabia and held hands with the theocratic monarch of that country with nary a word of criticism.

      Bitching about “democracy” to the elected leader of the world’s biggest democracy, and then going off to kiss the ass of an absolute monarch is not a good look.

      Reply
  2. PlantFox

    “Senator Sander and Representative Lee Propose to Make Wall Street Pay”

    The article clearly does not understand how HFT trading works. HFT will not be hurt by this proposal by way of paying the tax. Most HFT trading is simple market making. Sometimes they do principal trading, but not as frequently as the former. The proposals would eliminate principal trading which might make flash jumps less prevalent. However, HFT would not absorb these added costs. They most likely will widen spreads in markets by whatever the tax is. This creates a potential double tax scenario for other market participants. If a market participant does a market order, they pay the spread to buy/sell then are taxed on that trade. This will make market participants less willing to trade these markets, which brings down liquidity and volume. Since these proposals are based on current volume numbers, declining volumes would bring down tax revenue estimates for these proposals diminishing their effectiveness.

    If you want institute serious market reform, have someone who has been a market participant help write it. Markets are complex, and haphazard regulations run the risk of creating non-intended effects.

    Reply
    1. Steve H.

      The focus is not simply generating tax revenues. “The losers are the high-frequency traders who can trade billions or even tens of billions of dollars in a single day, relying on beating the market by a fraction of second to get small profits on each trade.” Sanders has enough ‘non-neolib aesthetic’ economists in his ear that he won’t be under the illusion it will generate more revenue, it’s Pigovian towards speculative bubbles and rewarding the richest players.

      Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      The effectiveness doesn’t come from the amount of revenue collected. The tax is intended as a deterrent to parasitic HFT. Liquidity and narrow spreads are not some manna from heaven and if a hedge fund manager somewhere has to either pay an extra couple cents per share or forgo a profit they essentially took from someone else, I don’t think too many of the rest of us are going to lose much sleep over it.

      Reply
      1. PlantFox

        I agree that the tax reduces negative activities such as front-running, and momentum ignitions. I also support eliminating these activities, which right now are illegal, but hard to detect. If the concern is HFT, why level a broad measure on the entire market? Wouldn’t it be more effective to mandate speed restrictions on all exchanges? If the concern is hedge fund profits, why not raise short-term capital gains?

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Since when did we decide that capital formation, you know, where enterprises raise funds to generate new economic activity, should simply become a casino with a winner-takes-all tech race at the front?

          Just set the minimum holding period for a stock at 1 day. Analysts can go back to pondering whether a company’s strategy to outperform the risk-free hurdle rate make sense. And all those MIT grads can go to work curing cancer, sequencing the diptheria genome, or pouring lattes.

          Reply
    3. William Beyer

      Dean Baker has been advocating for an HFT for decades. The idea that he doesn’t understand how HFT works is laughable.

      Reply
    4. Effem

      Sophisticated investors will find myriad ways around any financial transactions tax (e.g., use swaps instead of trading the underlying) and the burden will fall squarely on ordinary investors. Wall St lawyers/accountants are infinitely more sophisticated than DC could ever hope to be. This is bad policy.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        The idea that market players are too smart for govt officials is a really ridiculous trope. Every weird scheme that the attorneys and underwriters come up with has to be checked with the IRS/Treasury Dept. to ensure it’s in compliance with tax rules. If IRS/Treasury say “no, you can’t do that, it’s taxable” then the scheme is dead.

        Whenever you hear about government regulators being outsmarted, it’s almost always a story of govt officials agreeing to look the other way on whatever scheme the players involved are running.

        When the Volcker rule was deemed to apply to CDO managers with regard to risk retention, lots of law firms and underwriters set up all kinds of weird financing structures which were given a pass. The whole conversation was moot once a court just threw the rule out and the SEC didn’t bother to challenge.

        Regulators can tax swaps and derivatives trading, they can force it onto exchanges instead of being OTC. Don’t kid yourself. You just need regulators that want to regulate and courts that will let them do their job.

        Reply
        1. Hopelb

          Good article in market watch called Capitalism’s Dirty Secret: it was built by lawyers not by the “ invisible hand” by Rex Nutting.

          Reply
    5. JohnnyGL

      “This will make market participants less willing to trade these markets, which brings down liquidity and volume.”

      The idea that HFT provides some kind of general good side effects for the market is laughable. It’s pure parasitism via front-running.

      The liquidity they provide has been repeatedly demonstrated to disappear when it’s actually needed. HFTs are they kind of players that give you an umbrella when it’s sunny and then take it back once it starts raining.

      HFTs are a public nuisance. They should be treated more like feedlots…profiting while dumping pollution on the rest of us.

      The real debate is tax vs outright ban.

      Reply
  3. Doggrotter

    Loved both alligators but particularly the one in the swimming pool.

    It would be good to put together a list of anti Assange journalists so that when they get arrested we can, ignore/laugh at them. Definitely not set up a go fund me for their defence.

    Reply
    1. Stephen V.

      THAT would be a long list, although their ranks seem to be thinning–Maddow and ? seem to have gotten the memo after 7 years….

      Reply
  4. timotheus

    “The U.S. Media Is in the Crosshairs of the New Assange Indictment Lawfare”

    No, the media ARE in the crosshairs. News media are not a single thing; there is in fact quite a lot of variety among them (for now). Saying “the media is” reinforces the belief that they are a monolith, which only serves Trumpist agnotology.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Well that is true and it is not. The bulk majority of media in the US is controlled by only six corporations so although not quite a monolith, is pretty damn close. But it seems that the media are in the cross-hairs as those great standard-bearers in truth & honesty in the media – Rachel Maddow & Chris Hayes – have come out and defended Assange as they finally woke up to the fact that this new interpretation of the law could just as easily apply to them. More so as they are American citizens and live where the FBI can nab them whenever they feel like it. More on this at-

      https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/professional-assange-smearers-finally-realize-his-fate-is-tied-to-theirs-4ae7cc8cb5d0

      Reply
      1. GF

        Here are 2 links to Democracy Now! from yesterday (May 24) concerning Assange and press freedom. The guests (including Assange’s lawyer) are very articulate and forceful in their condemnation of the charges filed and the MSM reaction:
        https://www.democracynow.org/?utm_source=Democracy+Now%21&utm_campaign=4c7ce42519-Daily_Digest_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fa2346a853-4c7ce42519-190344725

        This link is to a web exclusive continuation of the show which is even more scathing:
        https://www.democracynow.org/2019/5/24/assange_is_indicted_for_exposing_war

        Reply
      1. ambrit

        I’ll jump in and say that we are at the point of “mediumness.” This ‘medium’ is host to a great horde of pathogens, like in any research facility.

        Reply
  5. pjay

    Re: ‘Potential Clash Over Secrets Looms Between Justice Dept. and C.I.A.’ – NYT

    “So, if the CIA has the power to keep whatever it does secret whenever it wants to, who’s really running the country?’

    Exactly. NYT stenography from the CIA by Barnes and Sanger, as usual. We certainly wouldn’t want to endanger Brennan’s Secret Source, now would we? But didn’t I see Brennan on TV, right after the Mueller decision, admit that gee, he guessed the information he was given was not as reliable as he was led to believe? He was just a public servant doing his duty by passing it on. Blah, blah, blah.

    We’ve been fed these stories since the 70s. I want to both laugh and scream.

    Reply
    1. Procopius

      I’ve been wondering for a couple of years how to interpret that. If Brennan was telling the truth when he publicly announced that he had evidence that Putin was personally involved, then he was revealing a source close to Putin, and there could not be very many of those so an easy target for counter-intelligence. So if he was telling the truth he had just blown one of the most valuable intelligence sources since we broke the Japanese diplomatic cipher and certainly should have been prosecuted. If he was lying that undercuts all the rest of the Russiagate mythology. I missed hearing that he had been on TV casting doubt on his source. I’ll have to try to find a link to that and send it to Marcy Wheeler. Since Brennan already outed the source (wonder if he/she is still alive) declassification of the documents probably wouldn’t do any harm, but intelligence types really, really hate to release confirmatory evidence to their adversaries.

      Reply
  6. boz

    There are a couple of things in that Ursula Le Gain article I can sympathise with (I’m guessing it’s autobiographical?):

    – manipulative men
    – stupid fathers
    – cultural permissiveness and deniability to promiscuous men
    – cultural judgement of unmarried mothers
    – poor / nil sex education

    I think we could all agree that these things are not good and should be challenged/improved.

    I also acknowledge that times were different in that generation, and pressures felt by women then simply aren’t accessible to me now.

    The rest of it though was just sad. What a shame no one made a case for the dignity of human life and rallied around the newest member of their family. The author’s confident assertion that the first child would have precluded a happy life and further happy and wanted children is pure speculation. It also dismisses that notion there are any men in the world with big enough hearts to welcome a child not their own.

    What a shame that the author is content to write off the forever hidden potential of their first child.

    I’m not asking for anyone to drag a stone around behind them for the rest of their life and cry mercy.

    But the post hoc justification and advocacy of an intrinsically bad act is pretty disturbing.

    Reply
        1. tegnost

          And……..
          “But I find that the post hoc advocacy of what I see as an intrinsically bad act disturbing”
          How about that instead, because otherwise you are asking someone to go through their life dragging a stone of your own belief system behind them. Drag your own rock around, don’t tie it around someone else. My own belief system states that after the guy does his part, it’s not up to him anymore, so you’d best be careful what you do with your parts.

          Reply
          1. boz

            Hi tegnost

            If you’re going to use quote marks, please quote accurately.

            My fault for not being clear (blunt?).

            Everyone has their rocks to drag.

            I’m not judging anyone who has had an abortion.

            I just find it appalling that anyone could advocate that an abortion is a good thing or right.

            Reply
            1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              A Woman has a RIGHT to get an abortion because she has deemed it a GOOD THING.

              As far as my personal opinion, a kid is alive when it forms memory and conscienceness. So, like around 2 y/o.

              Reply
              1. boz

                Hi Jonathan

                The problem with your criteria is that it dehumanises comatose / vegetative people (it also permits infanticide).

                So in my view it is not a reasonable basis for drawing the line.

                Reply
      1. John A

        Having witnessed the birth of my children, I can say that if men could get pregnant, they would only ever have one child.

        Reply
        1. boz

          Hi John,

          I hear you!

          I’d also say it’s the only time in my life where I have felt utterly useless and powerless.

          I had to stand back, let my wife do her thing, and not get in the way of the doctors and nurses. Quite scary the first time around.

          Reply
          1. polecat

            I got snapped at in the birthing room by the mrs. .. for losing time whilst counting breaths between the better’s pushes .. but that was also after doing a rather poor job of negotiating the speedbumps on the approach to the hospital proper ! ‘:[
            I think, at the end of it alI, that I was the more nervous wreak of the three ..

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              I learned the truly amazing extent of Phyl’s vocabulary of expletives when we first tried for a natural birth. (Phyl was mid thirties for our first child, so it ended up Caesareans, all three times.)

              Reply
        1. boz

          Thanks for the link.

          Those women look like they’re having a great time!

          The men not so much. But still braver than I.

          Reply
        2. Eureka Springs

          I was a young kid when I heard Carrol Burnett compare giving birth to grabbing hold of your bottom lip and pulling it all the way over your head.

          Never forgot that.

          Reply
            1. ambrit

              Here we have always been. Birth control threatens to remove this draconian brake to female sexuality. Hence the concerted campaign against all birth control in the more Patriarchal cultures of the world.
              I have usually countered those who advocate against abortion with the suggestion that I would give them their abortion controls if they would give women the absolute, unrestricted right to free birth control methods. No age limits either. It is only recently that young women have been ‘encouraged’ to avoid childbearing before their late teens and twenties. Pre industrial cultures took the onset of childbearing as set by the onset of menstruation. To peasant cultures, women were often viewed as a child producing resource.
              In cultures without some form of birth control, and methods existed as far back as Pharaonic Egypt, the other way that unwanted children were dealt with was infanticide.

              Reply
              1. Irrational

                If the abortion ban goes with mandatory vasectomy for all males then we can talk.
                Just kidding of course, but why does anyone think they have this sort of right over other people’s bodies?

                Reply
                1. ambrit

                  Actually not a bad idea, if it didn’t leave the physical methodology in the hands of an easily coerced “professional” class. I’ve read that vasectomies can be done so as to be reversible.
                  As for “this sort of right,” I’ll say that it would be on a par with the idea that inequality of any ‘social’ sort was a “natural” thing.

                  Reply
              2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

                Exactly, unwanted babies got tethered by the ankles and thrown off a cliff/hill.

                Reply
              3. Procopius

                Bear in mind that throughout human history most children did not live past the age of three, so in some cultures they weren’t even given names until they reached that age. If you reached the age of twelve you had a pretty good chance of making it to sixty or seventy. Since so many women died in childbirth, it was prudent to start bearing children as soon as they could to improve the chance that two or three of them would survive into adulthood

                Reply
                1. ambrit

                  Agreed so far as it goes, but, who determines when the female, child or woman, begins childbearing? I guess that, biologically speaking, menarch determines the transition from childhood to womanhood. The entire idea of the ‘Maiden’ is fraught with social controversy.
                  As to early childbearing, the fact that in primitive agricultural societies, children are seen as labour units comes into play. Extended childhood seems to be an elite concept. Elite in this sense being defined by “Access to Excess.”

                  Reply
            2. Vince

              And we also have the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world.

              So for a not insignificant number of women, forced pregnancy = forced death.

              For the rest, it equals forced irrevocable change to their bodies, and some of those changes are not benign.

              A woman doesn’t just house a growing fetus. She builds it with her own body, at a cost to herself.

              Reply
          1. lordkoos

            A friend of mine was stung by a scorpion in Spain, she said it was the first time she had experienced something more painful than childbirth.

            Reply
            1. MichaelSF

              My mother said she’d rather give birth again than have another bad kidney stone. I’ve had some experience with kidney stones and if childbirth is anything like a bad episode of stones, I’d certainly make sure to avoid it.

              Reply
    1. Medbh

      The author’s confident assertion that the first child would have precluded a happy life and further happy and wanted children is pure speculation.”

      It’s not speculation. It’s statistics.

      Do a google search for teen pregnancy or single parenting. Here’s a couple of them from https://www.momjunction.com/articles/teen-pregnancy-and-statistics_00361369/#gref

      -Over 4 of 10 teenage girls get pregnant once before the age of 20, and 8 of these 10 pregnancies are accidents/unplanned.
      -Teen pregnancy is one of the main reasons why teens drop out of school. More than half of all teen moms don’t graduate high school.
      – Less than 2% of teen moms graduate college by the time they turn 30.

      Some single parenting statistics (from https://prospect.org/article/consequences-single-motherhood)
      -Children who grow up with only one of their biological parents (nearly always the mother) are disadvantaged across a broad array of outcomes. As shown in figure 1, they are twice as likely to drop out of high school, 2.5 times as likely to become teen mothers, and 1.4 times as likely to be idle — out of school and out of work — as children who grow up with both parents. Children in one-parent families also have lower grade point averages, lower college aspirations, and poorer attendance records. As adults, they have higher rates of divorce. These patterns persist even after adjusting for differences in race, parents’ education, number of siblings, and residential location.

      Reply
      1. boz

        Thank you, Medbh for your thoughtful reply.

        I found both articles very compelling, particularly the second one, which even though it dates from 1994, remains germane today, not just in the US (I presume), but also in the UK and no doubt elsewhere.

        What I find rather tedious about abortion debates is that they tend to let the fathers off the hook. It’s no wonder then, that the debate focuses on mothers and then takes on a rather judgemental-defensive tone, precluding any kind of meaningful dialogue.

        So I would not deny any of the poor outcomes illustrated in the research – no, I totally agree that these are not desirable.

        There are three things I would then say:

        1. Men (and their sons) need to up their game. Make yourself useful, pay into the pot, and change some nappies. Show some damn respect to the girls and women in your life and be a decent role model for the next generation of men.

        2. These undesirable outcomes are statistical – not guaranteed – outcomes.

        3. Even if they were guaranteed, they would still not be comparable to the moral gravity of aborting the fetus.

        I was trying to put my finger on what I found objectionable about the original article.

        The argument that we are doing “myself/us/the family/the world/the fetus” a favour by aborting them is a terrible justification to make.

        It is terrible because it proposes there is a category of human whose dignity and rights are in fact alienable.

        Abortion on any grounds apart from threat to life of the mother is problematic because of the de-humanising implications for how we treat post-natal humans who fall into the same category, eg:

        – sick / disabled
        – high / low IQ
        – “desirable” characteristics
        – male / female (witness the tragic generation of men with no wives)

        There’s more I want to say, but I’ve already re-written it a couple of times and it’s still too long. So I’ll stop here.

        Reply
        1. Medbh

          Thank you for your thoughtful response as well.

          “Abortion on any grounds apart from threat to life of the mother is problematic because of the de-humanising implications”

          Forced pregnancy is dehumanizing to women. No one has the right to use someone else’s body without their consent.

          Should living donor transplants be mandatory? About 20 people a day die while waiting for a liver transplant and 13 a day for kidneys. The procedure poses a similar mortality risk to the donor (30 in 100,000 deaths for liver or kidney) compared to childbirth (26.4 per 100,000) does to women.

          I have no right to your liver or kidney, even if I need it to survive. Nor does a fetus have the right to use a woman’s uterus.

          I wish there was a greater appreciation for how traumatic and dangerous pregnancy can be. I’m a very active and healthy woman. I had to be induced at 35 weeks with my first child because of extremely high blood pressure, developed intrahapetic choleostatis of pregnancy, and required surgery to stop bleeding for the last one. Any of those conditions could have killed me. Pregnancy and childbirth is not treated with the gravity it deserves. Even when everything goes right, woman are not the same after going through the process.

          Reply
          1. boz

            Hi medbh

            Thanks for sharing your experience of pregnancy. I agree that it is a very dangerous thing to go through from the mother’s perspective. And yes, women are forever changed in many ways by the process.

            I think you and I are talking at cross purposes a little when you mention forced pregnancies.

            I see forced pregnancy as a terrible thing, and the man / men who instigate it should be punished severely.

            It still doesn’t however provide grounds to terminate in my view. In all of these things the fetus is still an innocent party (presuming acceptance of personhood and rights).

            Reply
            1. Pat

              But that presumes something that is in the eye of the beholder so to speak. You obviously presume the fetus is more than a point in the process of reproducing a human being. I do not. If the process does not progress to an advanced point you do not have a human being, even one which needs massive intervention to survive. Many things can interrupt that process, most of them under little control of people. The fetus is not an innocent party until it has completed the process, I.e at birth.

              Reply
      2. mnm

        Another thing that isn’t taken into account is the stress, many infants & children neglected, abused or murdered by their parents are brought into the world with young parents with no support system. Homelessness, poverty and a lack of social support is far worse now than in previous years. They will end up as part of the public-private prison system as corporate slave labor on tax dollar dime.

        Reply
      3. anon in so cal

        Calling out single motherhood is no longer acceptable on my public university campus.

        It’s referred to as an example of a “problematic discourse.”

        Separately, there have been articles about impending intractable inequality stemming from divergent marriage and parenting trends of the college-educated versus other non-college-educated demographic strata. The gist is that the former delay marriage, delay parenting until the 30s, and then jointly devote massive resources toward parenting fewer offspring. The offspring consequently have a significant leg up on offspring of other demographics.

        I think this is one such article: (i unsubscribed to the NYT and have exceeded my monthly articles):

        https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/18/upshot/rich-children-and-poor-ones-are-raised-very-differently.html

        Reply
      1. boz

        Hi Lambert

        I guess your point here is that a woman should be the only one to decide what happens with her body.

        And I agree.

        But this argument as applied to abortion stands on the premise that a person’s right not to be killed only begins once they are born.

        I don’t see how this distinction can safely be made without justifying infanticide.

        Reply
        1. marku52

          LIke I said, it starts with 2 cells and ends with an actual human. Any separating point between the two ends is going to be arbitrary and controversial. The convention up to now (first trimester) seems reasonable. But it’s a totally gray area, probably why the anti forces are going to maximum ends–if the fetus is human, the mother is a first degree murderer…..Which is pretty absurd for a clump of cells, and completely ignores.any rights of the mother.

          Reply
          1. boz

            Hi mark (?)

            Thanks for your comment. It is arbitrary and controversial.

            I’ve seen it summarised elsewhere that many pro-choice advocates readily accept the fetus is human and endowed with rights, BUT that the ethic of personal autonomy surpasses those rights.

            This is an interesting angle. In my view the right of autonomy is shaky ground, for several reasons:

            1. Humans do not live in perfect autonomy (trade offs are always required, except for hermits)
            2. The value of personal autonomy is not greater than the social damage caused by an abortion to all in the immediate social web (parents, any siblings, grandparents, cousins, friends etc)
            3. Autonomy is preserved through the decision of who to have sex with, and how (contraception being another boring long essay).
            4. There is no autonomy “get-out” for killing a post natal person. So what justifies one for pre natal killing? (“The fact it’s in my body” is circular reasoning).

            At least, that’s where I think the new ground for discussion is – the role of personal autonomy.

            Interested in other/dissenting views.

            Reply
            1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              The only way any of us will be satisfied is when we solve poverty and lack of education, thus getting rid of the need to have an abortion.

              Reply
              1. Medbh

                We will always need abortion, at least until a flawless method of birth control exists.

                I don’t think people understand how easy it is to get pregnant, even when using birth control perfectly. The average age for a girl’s first period is 12, and menopause is 45. That’s about 30 years of potential pregnancy. About 15% of people using condoms get pregnant each year, and about 9% for the pill. But that’s just for one year, not the 30 years of a woman’s fertility. That dice is rolled every year.

                I’m 44, and I know of no woman my age who has not had an unplanned pregnancy. No one talks about it openly, which is probably part of the problem. People think only irresponsible, uneducated women get pregnant. But statistically, most women will have an unwanted pregnancy at some point in their lives, even if they’re using birth control perfectly.

                Reply
            2. Medbh

              “4. There is no autonomy “get-out” for killing a post natal person. So what justifies one for pre natal killing? (“The fact it’s in my body” is circular reasoning).”

              I don’t understand what you mean by this. Wouldn’t self-defense be an example of this principle? You aren’t charged with murder if you kill someone who was trying to kill you, or, in some states, even if someone was trying to rob you. I’m not obligated to feed you, even if you’re starving. You could argue there’s a moral argument, but in the USA, there’s definitely not a legal one.

              Reply
              1. boz

                I take your point on self defence.

                Not to be glib, but most babies aren’t trying to kill their mothers.

                Reply
                1. Medbh

                  Fetus don’t try to kill their mothers, but they do. To continue the previous analogy, people also go to prison for manslaughter.

                  Even if we accept your premise of fetus personhood, it would not supersede a woman’s ownership of her body and her right to make choices about what happens to it.

                  Reply
            3. marym

              Those suggested rules about when girls and women can have consensual sex, lack of consideration of real life circumstances of consent and birth control under which they become pregnant, and list of people (including “etc.” !!!) to whose interests a pregnant woman should be subservient, are some examples of why “many pro-choice advocates readily accept” or at least strongly suspect that making abortion illegal is really about using the power of the state to control women’s bodies and lives.

              Dissenting view: Women have been terminating or trying to terminate their pregnancies since the beginning of time for any number of reasons, many of which (e.g. serious women’s health and fetal development issues which present no non-tragic choices) are opaque to ignorant politicians, or which (e.g. rape, incest, child abuse, spousal abuse, poverty) aren’t particularly important to them. Nevertheless, women will continue to have to make these decisions. They shouldn’t need to resort to coat hangers.

              Reply
              1. boz

                Hi marym

                You’re right, inserting “etc” was careless.

                Where it is justified (rarely, in my view) it should be safe and legal.

                Thank you and medbh and others for engaging in a civil manner.

                I have learned a few things from this exchange.

                Reply
                1. marym

                  “Justified” can only be decided by the woman and her doctor, not the committee you name (with or without “etc.”) or authoritarians in positions of power.

                  “Rarity” begins with addressing the cultural issues you referenced @ 5/25 at 9:27 and the economic, social, and willful ignorance/propaganda issues in my comment. It requires that there be more choices available to women, not fewer.

                  While authoritarians in power, and their voters, remain unconcerned about or hostile to those issues we’ve described, closing clinics, denying healthcare funding, and implementing restrictive laws to achieve “rarity” are only instruments of control over women’s lives and bodies, not a means of achieving life for the not-yet-born, no matter how much any given individual may, as a matter of personal conscience, want to it be.

                  Reply
    2. Edward

      I think both sides of the abortion debate have valid arguments. Having said that, I suspect that many anti-choice people are against abortion for others, but not so much for themselves. I wonder how many secret abortions Donald Trump has been involved in?

      Reply
      1. marku52

        Given that a birth starts with 2 cells and ends with an actual human, any intervention in between is going to be arbitrary, and controversial. I find it interesting that the anti forces are finally admitting that the logical conclusion of the “fetus is a human being” would be that a woman who has an abortion is guilty of premeditated murder.

        I’m surprised they are willing to go there, politically it will be a terrible look when the first woman gets sent to jail for life alongside actual premeditated murderers. Tho I suppose they can presume that only people of the wrong color will end up in that situation, and the rich will just send their daughters to Chicago or Winnepeg, just like they always used to.

        I suspect this is how the US comes apart. The SC kills Roe, and then legality is state by state. The ineffective Dems lose the house again, and then the Pubs, holding all three branches, ban all abortions.

        A whole block of states say “WTF!” and refuse to go along. Then what? the Feds call out the National Guard to shut down the clinics, or the Governors call out the Guard to protect them? A disastrous mess, and a total loss of legitimacy for the Federal Gov.

        Strangely, once the 2 sides separate, the lines are almost the same as the Civil War divide.

        Reply
        1. nippersdad

          IIRC, the new Georgia law imposes the penalties even if one has an abortion out of the state.

          So, if a woman having an abortion is going to be accused of pre-meditated murder then what of those who passed a law with no loopholes when a woman dies in childbirth? Could one then accuse each and every person who voted for the bill of murder and the state which enforces it as well?

          That might be a good way of term limiting “conservative” pols, if nothing else.

          Reply
          1. marku52

            That seems to have big jurisdictional issues. How can it be a Georgia crime if it was not committed in Georgia?

            Another problem.: All those incarcerated pregnant women now are carrying recognized human beings that are incarcerated without due process? One can assume they have standing to sue to be freed.

            Reply
            1. Crestwing

              Additionally, if the mother dies during the delivery, because of the delivery, can the fetus be charged with involuntary manslaughter? It is after all a legal person.

              Reply
    3. curlydan

      “What a shame that the author is content to write off the forever hidden potential of their first child.” I’ve read her “What is was like” comments many times, and she never did this. You’re right she speculated where she would have been after a forced pregnancy.

      “What a shame no one made a case for the dignity of human life and rallied around the newest member of their family.” It is a shame to see no one rally behind a newborn or a mother. It’s a shame that legislators passing anti-abortion bans only appear to rally around forcing the pregnancy to full-term. These legislators who say “life is so precious” refuse to rally for free day care, tuition vouchers for women to get back in school, forced paternity tests and garnishing the father’s wages, counseling for women who would have full term pregnancies due to rape or incest, and counseling for women who might give up the child for adoption. Once the legislators have accomplished their goal of forcing the woman to give birth, that baby and the mother don’t mean [bleep] to them.

      Reply
    4. Yves Smith

      I suggest you familiarize yourself with the physiological damage suffered by the children of heroin addicts (as in pregnant women who were used) and alcoholics and reconsider you position. At least some of those addicts do have the good sense to have an abortion rather than produce a child that will probably have psychological and mental impairments that they can’t raise properly either. These children aren’t likely to be adopted either, so the fallback is bouncing around foster homes. And you think this is a good outcome?

      And some women aren’t suited to be mothers and choose not to be one. So you’d punish them by having them carry a baby to term even if they took precautions? No birth control method is 100% effective (except having your tubes tied).

      Reply
      1. boz

        I don’t think anyone could deny this is harrowing stuff:

        Tommy’s charity on drug use in pregnancy

        It is difficult to show the exclusive heroin can have, without including other lifestyle factors.

        What we do know is there is a link to reduced growth of baby, as well as the baby suffering from withdrawal symptoms when born which can range from mild to life-threatening. Such symptoms can include sleep problems, irritability, seizures, tremors and problems feeding.

        Women who inject heroin or other drugs may become infected with viruses such as HIV or Hepatitis B or C from dirty needles, and risk passing the virus on to their babies.

        There’s also the Zika virus:

        CDC briefing

        What we know

        Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus.

        Infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect called microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects

        Zika primarily spreads through infected mosquitoes.

        You can also get Zika through sex without a condom with someone infected by Zika, even if that person does not show symptoms of Zika.

        There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika.

        What we do not know

        How likely it is that Zika infection will affect your pregnancy.

        If your baby will have birth defects if you are infected while pregnant.

        The full range of health effects that Zika virus infection during pregnancy might lead to.

        Natal addiction is a spur for better drug policy and intervention. The Zika virus calls for poverty relief, more research, better healthcare.

        Abortion solves nothing in these cases.

        It doesn’t fund drug innovation, new surgical methods, or any top-of-cliff measures.

        It’s not even an ambulance at the bottom.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          Oh, come on. So you want to force addicts who have the common sense to have an abortion because they know any child would be damaged by their addiction and/or they’d do a bad job of parenting to produce children you admit are likely to have physical and psychological issue because maybe someone will Do Something about addiction? Did you miss we’ve had a War on Drugs since the late 1960s? And how is that going?

          See Clive’s comments earlier about the low success rates in treating addicts. Probably the best one can hope for is they stay mainly clean. And Clive was too modest to say he’s volunteered for a very long time in a clinic, so he’s seen this problem first hand.

          Reply
  7. jefemt

    National Journal DOD MIC price-gouging fix: the issue of $700 MIC hammers, etc.

    A lesson for single payor– cost containment and regulation MUST occur, right?

    Funny thing– free market health ‘care’ and health insurance have NOT contained costs.
    Maybe if we simplify taxes to a few tiers of percentage of gross, get rid of deductions, we can turn the accountants loose to track actual costs, and have health care goods and services be ascertained, and then covered, full life-cycle, but cap the absurd over-reach (obscene pay-scales, overblown billing for services, procedures. )

    I can’t imagine that we wouldn’t save a ton, with the side benefit of care for all, not just the congress, the wealthy, the employed, active military, and gubmint workers (versus self-employed, artists).

    The $5.00 tongue depressor already exists— do we know what it truly costs, all-in?

    Reply
    1. rowlf

      If another Truman Committee could spring into existence the US could probably live with Russian levels of defense spending and still provide security for the country.

      From when war profiteering was considered unpatriotic:
      The bipartisan special committee was formed in March 1941 to find and correct problems in US war production with waste, inefficiency, and war profiteering. The Truman Committee proved to be one of the most successful investigative efforts ever mounted by the US government: an initial budget of $15,000 was expanded over three years to $360,000 to save an estimated $10–15 billion in military spending and thousands of lives of US servicemen. For comparison, the entire cost of the Manhattan Project was $2 billion, at the time.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truman_Committee

      Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    “Theresa May: How strategic mistakes and the Irish question brought her down”

    I have been thinking about a solution to the Irish Question for quite some time and I think that I have an answer. This is not to be confused with the Irish Question of the 19th century but merely its latest 21st century iteration. A secret agreement should be drawn up between the UK, the EU and Ireland but without any of those parties knowing what is in it. It should then be locked in what I call a Schrödinger’s Box. Nobody would know what was in that agreement without opening it up and reading it which would not be allowed.
    So things go on pretty much the way that they are with everybody thinking that they have gotten the best of the deal. And in a sense they will. But just to keep everybody honest, I would also place not a cat in there but a tactical nuke in that box that may or may not be rigged to explode if you opened the box. Nobody could know without opening it and of course nobody would be game to. It may sound stupid but no Brexit agreement can be reached without the Gordonian knot of the Irish question being solved first and that won’t happen until Ireland is re-united. So, don’t hold your breath waiting for an agreement.

    Reply
      1. Synoia

        Every time the English believe they have answered the Irish Question, the Irish change the question.

        And I note no definition of “Irish” in this discussion.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          I think it was the English that drew that line.

          Then, of course, it was the English who voted for Brexit and effectively ended the Good Friday arrangements, which were a half measure that worked.

          Somebody’s been changing the question, all right.

          Reply
    1. skk

      In 2016, the “Leave” campaign certainly never brought up the N.I / Ireland border issue. There’s a certain irony, or do I mean hubris when time and again the British pols, of both parties, think they finally, one last time, solved the Irish Question – when all along, instead of getting ahead of history, and towards an irrevocable re-united Ireland, they’ve kicked the can down the road.

      I’d really thought though that the Good Friday agreement had done a good job. Cos I was seeing the violent groups coming to negotiations from a position of weakness – that support was declining in the age of the surpra-national EU, which weakened the national question’s mindshare – and not that the blurring/removing the NI/Ireland border was quite a facade for meeting their goal, somewhat , of Irish unity and thus their signing-on to the deal. I was wrong.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        The Irish government at the time did actually send politicians one one or two occasions symbolically to canvass on behalf of the EU, raising the issue of the GFA and peace in general. But they held back from doing more than a symbolic gesture mostly due to a fear it could be misinterpreted (foreign interference, etc). It was the British media that simply ignored the issue, not I think that subsequent events indicated that most English (as opposed to Scottish) voters gave a toss about Northern Ireland.

        And yes, the GFA quite explicitly recognised that the EU dimension reduced the significance of national sovereignty, something which no doubt particularly annoyed the DUP (who never officially agreed the GFA), given their fear of Rome Rule.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous2

          Yes. Also when the subject was mentioned a number of English Leave side politicians (e,g, Teresa Villiers) dismissed the issue on the basis that it would not be a problem and nothing would change at the Border – which in practice could only be true if the UK stayed in the Single Market and some form of customs union with the EU. Which it could of course still do whilst leaving the EU but which would negate the main purposes of Brexit as now conceived by the Tories – ending freedom of movement and signing a trade deal with the US.

          I think some English politicians are hoping to be rewarded by US companies for improving their access to the UK market. Yes, I fear it is that sordid.

          Reply
  9. roadrider

    Re: recycled laptops

    Hmmm. What about making the manufacturers responsible for accepting and safely processing the e-waste they generate by obsolescing perfectly good products on an accelerated scale? Yes, these things would then likely cost more but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing at all. If the alternative is what we have now where the problem gets shifted out of sight and mind to the those who have no alternative but to risk their health to do the job then I say we could all do with fewer new and shiny electronic toys. After all, it really ins’t our needs but the need for increased profits by the manufacturers that’s behind the proliferation and planned obsolescence of these devices.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      I recall many years ago an environmental writer suggested that sales taxes be adjusted to bring back renting as a viable option for most electronic items (I’m old enough to remember when many people rented TV’s rather than bought them). The idea was that if people rented rather than bought washing machines, pc’s, etc., there would be less incentive for built in obsolescence and it would be easier to have recycling. I think cheap credit was the main reason why the old rental shops died out.

      One irony of course is that the likes of Apple have deliberately obfuscated ownership and the licensing of products – you don’t really own your phone or iPad, so we now have the worst of all worlds – planned obsolescence along with disposable hardware.

      Reply
      1. Lepton1

        You don’t own your Apple product? Got a source for that?

        Apple has worked harder than most to recycle their products and has set a goal of not using any mined elements in their products. Granted, that won’t happen soon, but I’m glad they are investigating that and working toward that goal.

        Apple has publicly stated that they are working to make their products last longer and they offer software support for a longer time rather than obsoleting products. You can now install the latest iOS on a five year old iPhone.

        Having said that, this is a work in progress. They need to do more.

        I think all manufacturers are in the bind of trying to produce a device with the latest and greatest displays, WiFi, computing speeds, memory storage and such, while trying to avoid using toxic materials. It is in the nature of capitalism to follow the shortest path from raw materials to product in order to maximize profit.

        Reply
    2. Susan the other`

      that’s a very good idea. the government could subsidize this one by passing laws that require any old computers to be returned to the manufacturer at the time of purchase of any new computer. might even jump start an electronics recycling industry which isn’t impossible – it’s just messy.

      Reply
    3. Medbh

      “What about making the manufacturers responsible for accepting and safely processing the e-waste they generate by obsolescing perfectly good products on an accelerated scale? ”

      Let’s have that rule for all goods! Things that are thrown away don’t disappear…they’re just moved out of sight. I think manufactures should be responsible for the entire lifecycle of anything they produce. Anything that is produced needs to be composted, recycled, or otherwise disposed of, but at their cost. Plastics, packaging, clothing, and electronics would quickly become much more expensive and sustainable if manufactures could not offload disposal costs onto others.

      Reply
    4. ChrisPacific

      Re: your final sentence, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read articles insisting that aggressive, risky, high growth strategies are a necessity for big companies like Apple. Typically the stocks of these companies are priced on the basis of totally unrealistic growth rates (on the order of 20% to 30%) continuing for years or decades. Analysts are starting to notice that now that the companies are so big, continuing customer growth projections requires a market share of well over 100% within a relatively short timeframe. Instead of drawing the obvious conclusion (growth rates are overblown, valuations need to come down) they argue that companies must stake everything on a roll of the dice and place their core business at risk in order to achieve those profit growth rates any way they can, at least for a while longer (typically by upselling their existing customers to the point of absurdity). I think this is a big driver behind a lot of the planned obsolescence stuff as well.

      Reply
  10. lyman alpha blob

    RE: the antisemitic tweet at Bernie

    YMMV on the anti-semitism aspect but the more important part IMO is the politico hit piece it came from: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/05/24/bernie-sanders-millionaires-226982

    Scroll down to the part where they show the net worth of other senators running for president, bearing in mind that Sanders’ supposedly untoward wealth is primarily based on the value of the real estate he owns, much of which his wife inherited IIRC. So Kamala Harris, a senator from California, where you can hardly buy a tool shed for under a half million, is only worth $400,000?!?!?!? And Gillibrand from NY is only worth $300K? Do these women live in cardboard boxes or under a bridge? Or perhaps they simply give their own political salaries and benefits away to the poor as soon as they cash the checks every week?

    Bernie better throw off the kid gloves soon.

    Reply
    1. marym

      According to the article, he paid off his mortgages with part of his book sales. Here’s KH numbers for 2014-16 with $2.1 million minimum assets and $1.7 million minimum liabilities, including $1.1M in mortgages. She’s written a memoir and a children’s book and went on a book tour before starting her campaign.

      Reply
      1. lyman alpha blob

        Thanks for the link, that’s interesting info. I find the way they calculate these figures more than a little dubious. KH may have a bunch of HELOCs, but are they all maxed out? How much of the mortgage is still left to pay and how much equity do they have in the house? And these are just the declared assets. While I suppose it’s possible that Sanders has been squirreling away millions in the Cayman Islands, I find it much more likely that KH and the like would do so. Grifters gotta grift and all.

        I find Warren’s wealth of $4.7 to be much more believable than those of Harris et al, but she also strikes me as more honest than the rest of them too. If you have been in the workforce for the last quarter century or more when home prices have skyrocketed, working good jobs with decent benefits as Harris clearly has, and you claim to be worth only $400,000, you have either squandered your money and need some serious financial help or you are lying.

        The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive though.

        Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “Senate panel rejects requiring Congress sign off before Iran strike”: ‘The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday rejected a Democratic proposal to require congressional approval before the U.S. can take military action against Iran.’

    How about I re-word that sentence so that it matches the reality more, so-

    ‘The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday rejected a Democratic proposal to require Congress to follow the U.S. Constitution before the U.S. can take military action against Iran.’
    Does that read better?

    Reply
    1. Edward

      I wish the press would adopt your wording. Of course, they seem to have a mania for these illegal wars.

      Reply
      1. RWood

        Jonathan Cook:

        The corporations that run our media and our governments have simply conflated in their own minds – and ours – the idea that their narrow corporate interests are synonymous with “western interests”.

        The false narratives they generate are there to serve a system of power, as I have explained in previous blogs. That system’s worldview and values are enforced by a charmed circle that includes politicians, military generals, scientists, journalists and others operating as if brainwashed by some kind of death cult. They see the world through a single prism: the system’s need to hold on to power. Everything else – truth, evidence, justice, human rights, love, compassion – must take a back seat.

        It is this same system that paradoxically is determined to preserve itself even if it means destroying the planet, ravaging our economies, and starting and maintaining endlessly destructive wars. It is a system that will drag us all into the abyss, unless we stop it.

        https://dissidentvoice.org/2019/05/the-western-media-is-key-to-syria-deception/

        Reply
    2. richard

      MOA linked today had a darkly humorous map from a german satire site. I’ve seen j.dore run the same map. It shows Iran surrounded by the dozens of us bases, each represented by a little us flag, with the headline “Iran Moves Its Country Dangerously Close To US Troops”.

      Reply
    3. Cal2

      No link to who or how they voted.
      Notice that there’s plenty of room for ads in the story though.

      Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      No good that. Through twitter, Sanders has already repeated what amounts to CIA talking points on Venezuela so has aligned himself with the neocons here in the same way that he signed up with the Russia!Russia!Russia! campaign. He has his strong points and is solid on domestic affairs but I do not think that foreign affairs are a strong point with him.

      Reply
        1. nippersdad

          Though that does seem to be changing. He has gotten a lot of mileage out of not apologizing for his foreign policy stances since that interview where they tried to get him on the ropes about Ortega. When all they had in response was that he had been rude to the MIC spokes-model, he finally appears to have fully understood that an anti-interventionist FP has political legs beyond a gotcha for those who voted for the Iraq war.

          Reply
  12. dearieme

    The only thing that took my eye in the Bernie-and-the-Benjamins article was this: he married Jane O’Meara Driscol … who had been his significant other the entire time he was mayor and served as the director of his administration’s youth office.

    I thought bonking the staff was meant to be a no-no. Shouldn’t metoo be paying attention?

    As for a couple being dollar millionaires – many couples who own a house (a single house) anywhere within sixty miles of London will grin at the idea that it’s wealth beyond the dreams of avarice.

    Reply
    1. newcatty

      Oh dearieme, nice try to smear Sanders. It not a meetoo example of a woman being exploited, harassed or abused by a man in a more superior position. The key to understanding this is that O’ Meara Driscol was his significant other, not a staff member who was coreced into being subjected to unwanted sexual behavior by a male superior. As far as I know, it is not a problem for an administrator to have a SO work in his office.

      Reply
      1. dearieme

        Appointing your lover to an office of profit isn’t poor form? How odd. What about all the non-lovers he discriminated against?

        Reply
  13. skk

    Thanks for this good link – https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/an-indian-political-theorist-on-the-triumph-of-narendra-modis-hindu-nationalism

    Instead of the rants in the Guardian,and the NYTimes this is thoughtful. This part resonated :

    I think this is part of the appeal he projected, is that he has been able to basically say that India’s power structure was constituted by Anglicized élites, and that secularism has become a cultural symbol for a contempt of Hinduism rather than a constitutional philosophy of toleration.

    More mundanely, the lack of an effective opposition was of course a factor. Those miserable Die-Nasty pols – the Gandhi family and their Congress fiefdom may finally perhaps be put out to pasture.

    In a Marxist analysis, from a cultural, not economic point – one would call those elites “comprador bourgeoisie”. From a 20 century analysis, I’d call it auto-Orientalism. Here’s a looong essay discussing those aspects.

    https://swarajyamag.com/politics/a-victory-for-democracy-ordinary-indians-do-not-vote-to-gain-foreign-or-elite-approval-that-is-the-whole-point-of-our-constitution

    There’s some thoughtful paragraphs there on the “idea of India”, of Macauley’s directive on Indian education, of auto-Orientalism.

    Reply
    1. Chris Smith

      That’s the reason I prefer ecommerce. Sure I have to wait a few days for my order, but I get exactly what I want. Brick and mortar selection only seems to have gotten worse over the past decade.

      Reply
      1. tegnost

        Could it be that brick and mortar has gotten worse over the last decade because because the current version of “capitalism” is explicit and implicit subsidies to e commerce and the assumption of capital that they can take a loss wiping out brick and mortar that they will make up later by raising their prices and et al. when you have no other choice. Also, crapification is way easier when your can’t look at the product before purchase. Lastly, after everyone buys everything from ecommerce, largely if not completely dominated by amazon or amazon web services, how will anyone have money to buy anything?

        Reply
        1. jrs

          it’s probably self-reinforcing. It would also help if brick and mortar stopped buying all their inventory from China (not that Amazon is much better on that score, just the selection is wider so you might be able to find something not made in China. And they aren’t the only online option).

          As for clothes, yes you can’t just find some staple clothing item you like and keep buying it, fast fashion and all that, it can be gone before you can blink. But even if we occasionally follow fashion, we probably mostly just want boring staples. Pants to wear to work, underwear etc.. And then when they wear out to be able to go to the store and buy the same thing or similar. Stores have made this impossible with their fashion of the season or the month.

          Also I think stores are sabotaging their own retail sales to go digital. So one goes to a store and tries on something, the fit is good but only odd colors are available, but go online to the retailers website and low and behold, there it is, in a color one actually wants. It’s like stores WANT us to use them as mere trying on rooms for clothes or else they would carry more color selections etc.. that they only carry online.

          Reply
      2. Carolinian

        One implication of the above is that widespread adoption of e commerce may be a threat, not just to brick and mortar, but to Amazon as well. I recently ordered an obscure appliance part from Walmart.com and they allow you to pay with regular store gift cards and to pick up in the store without even giving an address. Returns can be made to the store and this goes for third party items sold by the company as well.

        In other words people without a bank account or even a fixed address can now participate in web shopping. I’ve always thought that Walmart (whatever you think of them) could challenge Amazon if they really wanted and it’s possible they now really do.

        Plus if people start to think they can trust small internet sellers and not just Amazon or Walmart then that could be a new game indeed. Amazon might not disappear, but their huge share of online could shrink–dealing a blow to that “series of tubes” in orbit that Bezos thinks we will someday live in. His megalomania badly needs a comeuppance.

        Reply
      3. PlutoniumKun

        I do wonder if you really get what you want – my experiences have often been that having ordered, I find that its not quite the right fit, or the colours are different, etc. I much prefer to try things on or feel with my hands before buying, so I only usually buy things from brands I know online.

        Just as an example, I cycle a lot and I recently wanted to get a small courier bag suitable for carrying a laptop (my favourite one having been stolen and now out of manufacture). I couldn’t find anything suitable in any local shop, so I bought one online from a German sports retailer. While its not a bad bag, its far bigger than I thought, the photos and description were quite deceptive.

        Reply
        1. Chris Smith

          My experience with online retailers has been really good to date. Like you, I prefer to get my hands on something before I buy it. The problem around my neck of the woods (upstate NY) is that once I get my hands on something in a shop the only thing I learn is that I don’t want it and end up searching for something online. This has become especially true for clothes, where the local shops (except for those dealing in high end business wear) cannot seem to stock anything that is not in good part polyester.

          Reply
        2. Lepton1

          I’ll be wishy-washy and come down on the middle of this. Lots of things I only buy in person, mostly food (farmers market and specialty grocers, bakery), wine and champagne.

          I buy a lot on eBay because they have the odd parts, discontinued items or things like meteorites that aren’t sold in stores. I avoid Amazon like the plague. I do shop at specific sites like
          monoprice.com great for cables, chargers and such
          owc.com memory, storage
          mackweldon.com, meundies.com clothing

          Some things, like shoes, it is better to shop for in person. I’ll buy from the store where I can try these on in order to reward the merchant for carrying them.

          Some clothing I buy online and some only in person. Replacement Levis are easy to buy online. A sport coat is better to buy in person where you can check the fit then have it taken in (or let out) where needed.

          Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      He sounds PO’ed that the store didn’t have what he wanted and claims he can get it all online without using Amazon, but doesn’t seem to make the connection that the reason the store didn’t have what he wanted was likely because of Amazon’s business practices. Main Street didn’t just hollow itself out, it had more than a little help

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        On the other hand Richter–this seems to be his beat–has said that the US is hugely overbuilt with retail compared to other countries. And there are lots of oddball specialty items that one would never have found in a small town like mine, even before e commerce.

        I do think the notion that UPS or USPS or Amazon slavey van drivers will someday be door delivering all the goods we buy to be unlikely in the extreme. Stores will persist. But the store pickup model could take off. Those who hate Walmart will no longer have to wander around their giant stores.

        Reply
        1. ObjectiveFunction

          Overbuilt compared to other Western countries maybe, but here in Asia, brick and mortar retail is still off the charts. Every month another big mall seems to go in, often cheek by jowl with its competitors. Rural Vietnam is overrun with ‘big box’ electronics chains in every one horse town.

          Never been clear on why. At a guess, it’s a blend of (a) the Asian market day tradition (what Americans would call flea markets);
          (b) the desire to shop conspicuously and receive service, for status;
          (c) ‘mall ratting’ for families of lesser means: window shopping (and selfie-posting) in an aircon environment, plus cheap treats in the food court

          … But how these chains make rent, and whether all this will pancake once the EM boom finally goes bust is another question again.

          Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      From the Richter piece:

      A few years ago, I walked to Macy’s Men’s Store by Union Square to buy the same brand and type underwear I always bought there. But they didn’t have it anymore. They’d cut their inventories. And staff was nearly absent. The cost cutters had taken over from the merchandisers. It was obvious. And they’d wasted my time.

      Same thing happened in the Macy’s at Bangor Mall, which is still hanging on by its fingernails. What I noticed was that I couldn’t buy a well-cut, well-made topcoat.

      However, the neoliberal playbook applies to retail, too. One overwhelming way that brick and mortar retail was sabotaged is that Amazon was allowed to get away with not charging sales tax.

      I think, though without evidence, that physical stores also offer a check on the quality of the physical goods. For example, since Macy’s didn’t sell the sort of pants I like, I found some on Amazon. I ordered one pair a year for two or three years, and then suddenly, when I had ordered the same product from the same page, with the same photo the pants had been crapified: Cheap zipper, lousy stitching. I suppose returns are free, but they aren’t really; I have to print out a label, and I have no printer….

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        I wonder though if its just the decline of the shop which has led to poorer quality, not specifically online pressures. I tend to avoid online purchases, but there are a small number of specialist clothes shops that make higher quality and ethical-ish products that only sell online, presumably as they find it hard to get their products in regular shops at reasonable prices. One I’ve used occasionally is Howies, a small UK company, and the quality of their clothes is fantastic, they last far longer than equivalent clothes I’ve tried from regular retailers. There are also a few ethical shoe companies that only sell online, although I’ve no personal experience with them, but I’ve heard they are really good.

        Just as another point, some shops will order online for you and not charge delivery if its the same brand – my local Patagonia shop will do that for anything they don’t have in stock if its on their website. And yes, I know Patagonia are hideously expensive, but they are one of the few genuinely ethical mainstream brands, so I get their kit if I can afford it.

        Reply
        1. Jackson

          I was in SF this month and had the Patagonia store order stock from Reno for pickup so I would not have to pack so much. I also took used Patagonia clothing for recycling and reuse. A rain jacket was deemed to be still under warranty so unexpectedly I was given a $140.00 gift card. I’ve been a dedicated Patagonia customer since 1995. The company leads by example and even though you pay more, their ethical business mode is unique and unsurpassed.

          Reply
      2. Monty

        They have changed the returns procedure so you don’t need a printer anymore. You don’t even need to repack it. Just drop the items off at a UPS store or have a UPS driver collect them from your home.

        Reply
      3. Olga

        One quibble I’d have with this piece is that Richter already knew exactly what he wanted because… he likely made the initial selection at a physical store. Being in a store, where one can view, touch, and try on merchandise is a huge advantage that cannot be replicated by e-commerce (well, maybe at some point in the future). So this is a dilemma – we like physical stores, but e-commerce is more convenient. Wonder how it’s all play out.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          “Showrooming” was much talked about awhile back–the phenom where people would go look at something in a store and then buy it on Amazon. I also believe return rates on online merchandise are quite high and especially for things like shoes and clothing. There was even a business in California that would box and send back your Amazon items for you. As I recall Amazon would pay for the service because bulk returns saved them money.

          On the Walmart site the TOS say that all items can be returned to the store for sending back but must be boxed and taped by the customer. This may not apply to items from Walmart itself. I haven’t tried it (still waiting on my ordered part).

          I do think buying clothing sounds dubious unless you already know what you want and the size.

          Reply
  14. roxy

    alligator on pool float-I was relieved to read that it was a wild alligator, respectfully dealt with by professionals, and not some jerk’s “pet”.

    Reply
  15. anon in so cal

    “A federal judge in California has blocked President Donald Trump from building sections of his long-sought border wall with money secured under his declaration of a national emergency.

    U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. on Friday immediately halted the administration’s efforts to redirect military-designated funds to build sections of wall on the Mexican border.”

    https://nypost.com/2019/05/25/judge-halts-plan-to-build-parts-of-border-wall/

    (sorry it’s from the Post)

    Gilliam is an Obama-appointed San Francisco lawyer

    https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Lawyer-Haywood-Gilliam-confirmed-as-federal-judge-5963839.php

    I realize a fair percentage of NC readers support some version of open borders. But, even assuming MMT, is open borders compatible with Medicare For All and other features of a hoped-for more robust social safety net? Supposedly, 150 million people from around the world would like to emigrate to the US. Current US population is approximately 350 million. So, can the US provide Medicare For All for 500 million? Can people be denied entry solely because they are from geographically-remote areas? If a significant % of these potential immigrants are currently impoverished, can the US maintain minimum wage law enforcement if they were to emigrate en masse? Is it unethical, elitist, and selfish to speak of over-crowding and gridlocked roads?

    This invokes the condemned Garret Hardin “Lifeboat Ethics” book from years back.

    http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/phil%20115/Hardin-on-lifeboat.htm

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      I have not seen support for open borders at NC. Indeed the opposite is what I’ve seen and no, open borders is not compatible with M4A, or pretty much anything else except keeping labor cheap and destroying social programs

      Reply
      1. jrs

        Noone supports it except *some* activists on the left. It’s mostly a straw man. However if there is anything that will DRIVE the mainstream toward support of open borders, it’s a reaction to Trump.

        Reply
        1. jrs

          And the irony is that Trump is certainly hateful and prejudiced and being so hateful is driving extreme reactions to him, but he’s not EVEN anti-immigration.

          He doesn’t enforce existing laws. And he’s calling for MORE *skilled* immigration. That’s a gut punch to the middle class, what little remains of it.

          Reply
        2. WheresOurTeddy

          “X wants open borders” is a dog whistle to racists and white nationalists. I am an ardent socialist whose personal network involves some of what can only be described as “hardcore leftist” people. I know zero people who are for open borders.

          Reply
    2. marym

      The judge based his ruling on separation of powers (Congress had not appropriated the money for this use) and the legal definition of military construction.

      Here’s the Gallup poll with the “150 million” number. People can judge for themselves how likely it reflects people in a position to migrate and the extent to which the souther border is a likely point of entry.

      The actual visa lottery (not Trump’s mischaracterization), far less barbaric treatment of people arriving at the souther border, e-verify for employers, changes to particular types of visas that have negative impacts on some employment sectors, and not bombing other people’s countries and overthrowing their governments are valid alternatives to consider for changes to immigration levels. A wall, a religious ban, fear-mongering and demonization of non-white immigrants, and dismantling reasonable lottery and family immigration policies are not.

      Reply
    3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Im for Open Borders for Citizens and Workers of the World, NOT BUSINESSES.

      People should be allowed to go wherever they want.

      FREEDOM!!!!!

      That said, Im against open borders in the current political context.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        Bernie’s going to have a difficult line to walk though indeed, as many of his supporters probably are for open borders. So it will be interesting to see what he says if pressed on the issue, and distracting as well as this should not be the litmus test with all the other issues we face.

        Reply
        1. WheresOurTeddy

          “Bernie’s going to have a difficult line to walk though indeed, as many of his supporters probably are for open borders”

          Citation needed, dog

          Reply
  16. Stephanie

    Re: the MA man who received the guerilla cleaning service – when I was in college a roommate who worked at the local Subway had a similar visitor who was apparently very invested in toilet hygiene. Guy would show up every Tuesday, about half an hour before close, in a trench coat, leather aviator helmet and goggles, and proceed to clean both the restrooms before departing. He never said anything to them and they never got his name.

    Having cleaned public bathrooms at a number of venues by that point in my life, I could only think the guy had lost it completely, because why-oh-why put yourself through that if you didn’t have to? Now I’m more inclined think of him as a fairy godmother/rescuing angel, albeit someone to be approached with caution, as one should all supernatural beings. I think I would put my foot down if it were in my own house, despite the origami toilet-paper roses. If I’ve left a stack of junk in the corner, or left dirty dishes in the sink, it’s because I want them there, dammit.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      A friend of mine managed an NGO that provided help for LGBT+ youth with small offices and meeting rooms. When tendering for a cleaner they got an offer from quite a wealthy architect that he’d happily do the cleaning for free after hours. His only condition was that he was allowed do it in a French Maid’s outfit.

      Apparently they had quite a discussion before concluding that it was not a great idea to accept that offer.

      Reply
  17. RopeADope

    The clash over Russiagate should be split into multiple parts.

    1) Whatever scheme the CIA and neocons had running that they intended to use Trump for in order to have a narrative handy for when Clinton became President.

    [This is legit for DOJ to pursue, by all appearances Obama had lost control of the agencies and they were up to their own shady business]

    2) The real alarm the intelligence agencies had when Jared Kushner started scrounging for money. I believe this arose when Ivanka Trump and Wendy Deng made their trip to Croatia in August 2016.

    [This is a legit investigation for Congress to continue]

    3) The neocon-adjacent groups that flipped to using Trump instead of Clinton as their vehicle in order to get more profitable side deals. Remember Clinton’s “They were never going to let me be President.” on election night? This is what she was referring to.

    If I remember correctly this flip was late Sept or early Oct and was readily apparent in a complete shift in the right-wing media sphere. Given how Clinton had campaigned to win over right-wing billionaire fascist CAP adjacent types and alienated large swaths of voters her campaign was finished before the election even took place.

    [This is legit for Congress to pursue as there are long-term national security threats to the US, Japan, S Korea, Europe, Australia and New Zealand from these deals. A global John Bolton created energy cabal able to set prices and based in the Middle East where Bolton’s paymasters reside is a major threat. With climate change there will be some form of energy rationing and developed countries are going to be a major target for wealth transfer. Global fascism will derive its power from this energy cabal.]

    4) Trump’s history of money laundering for criminals that were looting Russia and other post-Soviet economies opened the possibility that other actors could take advantage of the chaos of his election.

    [This is a legit investigation for Congress to continue especially given Trump is violating the US Constitution]

    Mueller was brought in as a long-time GOP cleaner to protect #1, fix the mess arising out of #2 and #3, and investigate #4.

    I could make an educated guess why Mueller stopped but he should testify himself why he did in a closed hearing. And it should stay closed because it is really embarrassing to watch the Democrats partake in cretinous performative art for the cameras instead of asking informed, hard hitting questions.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      ” by all appearances Obama had lost control of the agencies” – pardon my language, but WTF? Do you realize how severe a condemnation that is, or how much of an emergency? Now it appears that Trump never gained control.

      It’s quite a case for a full-blown investigation by the DOJ – or a reconstituted Church Committee.

      This is very much a Pretorian Guard situation. It could be all over.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        I’ll chime in and say that 9/11 was our “Reichstag Fire” event. Though not as ‘severe,’ the Patriot Act was close to an “Enabling Act” event. Now, with the “RussiaRussiaRussia” propaganda and agitation process and the “Fake News” process, we are being set up for a “Kristallnacht” event. Attacking Iran next would be an “Invading Poland” analogue? (We all know how well that last item turned out.)
        This History isn’t rhyming, it’s singing in close harmony!

        Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        ‘a Pretorian Guard situation’

        You know, that is a pretty astute description that. It seems to match what actually happened.

        Reply
    2. Yves Smith

      4. is complete bullshit.

      First, there is no money laundering in selling real estate unless the transaction occurs outside the banking system (buyer paid in cash or say diamonds). Money laundering = taking the proceeds of a crime and getting it into the banking system. There is zero evidence Trump took anything other than transactions though banks (save in his casinos but none of people making these allegations are talking about that).

      Second, the plutocratic land grab in the early 1990s in Russia was not a crime. Looting, yes, but not a crime. The US actively supported what was going on there. Did you manage to miss that the State Department funded major projects, such as one run via Harvard?

      Third, in the early 1990s, New York real estate wasn’t looking very good. Commercial and residential properties took a big hit in the 1990-1 recession. NYC real estate didn’t start recovering until 1994.

      3 is also bullshit. Sheldon Adelson and the super influential Robert Mercer were backing Trump well before September:

      http://fortune.com/2016/08/03/trump-billionaire-backers-list/

      And I don’t believe anything Clinton says about why she lost. She lost because she was a lousy candidate who ran a lousy campaign where she kept displaying her sense of entitlement. All she’s done since election night is attempt to shift blame.

      I have no idea what you are talking about re 2, and I’m not about to try to make sense of it.

      Making stuff up is against our written site Policies.

      Reply
  18. Olga

    The evidence we were never meant to see about the Douma ‘gas’ attack Robert Fisk, Independent
    It is a reflection of the sorry state of the current western journalism that even Fisk – after writing a fairly comprehensive and critical piece about OPCW’s suppression of a dissenting analysis of the Douma (so-called) chemical attack – views it as necessary to add the following:
    “But two words of warning. Just because the OPCW took the extraordinary decision to cover up some of its evidence in Douma does not mean that gas has not been used in Syria by the government or even by the Russians or by Isis and its fellow Islamists. Undoubtedly it has. All stand guilty of war crimes in the Syrian conflict. The OPCW’s dishonesty – for that is what it amounts to – does not let war criminals off the hook.”
    This para is then followed by a reminder of Iraq’s WMDs deception! One can hardly make this up…. (As for the above para, interesting how Fisk lumps everybody together – Russians, Syrian govt., ISIS – via a false equivalency, and declares them all guilty. Never mind who started the war, never mind the difference between victims and perpetrators – all are guilty. Fisk used to be more discerning, and had a clearer sense of the right and wrong. Of course, at least he is writing about this helpful leak, while the rest of west. media are quiet.
    (Plus somebody slipped up in the editing dept – as the Syrian “regime” occasionally becomes a government.)

    Reply
    1. pjay

      Yes! I would like to know when Fisk thinks Syria “undoubtedly” used gas. In each of the major publicized instances the evidence has been dubious and credibly challenged, at least. The most famous attack in 2013 was ambiguous enough that Obama decided not to retaliate as planned. And *Russia*??!

      I guess to be able to say anything sane about Russia or Syria in any mainstream publication you have to include such BS statements, to indicate you are still a “Serious” person.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        If, by Syria, Fisk means those purveyors of purient propaganda, the ‘White Helmets’, then, yes, I would wholeheartedly agree. But, alas, he doesn’t .. thus, I don’t !

        Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, that struck me too – its unusual of Fisk to be so dismissive of those who – after all – have been proven right repeatedly. I’m sure he must be well aware of Seymour Hershes writings.

      I can only assume this is due to the intense pressure on journalists to conform that even a very independent minded man like Fisk feels the need to hedge his writings on a topic like this. Of course the OPCW findings doesn’t ‘prove’ Assad didn’t do it, but its hard to prove a negative. By any standards, the balance of evidence points to both ‘attacks’ as having been faked. I don’t see why its so hard for journalists to write this.

      Reply
      1. Tom Doak

        Because if you can’t prove what you wrote is true, you might be punished under the Espionage Act as a traitor to USA^3!

        Reply
    3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      YUUUUUUUP.

      I was like, ‘YEAH, GEAUX, FISK, GEAUX!!!‘ “Tear up MSM!!”

      *Fisk clarifies that he does in fact believe there was a gas attack*

      ‘NOOOOO, FISK, SAY IT AINT SO!!!’

      Reply
  19. Wukchumni

    Meet Murray Cox, The Man Trying to Take Down Airbnb Bloomberg
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Awhile back, I walked into my friend’s office where she runs about 25 vacation rentals here, and she greeted me with a smile and a hug and said “You’re friends with the most hated woman in town” as she has about 10% of the action in short term rentals.

    There’s never been a more divisive thorn in our tiny town side, as for once people could make bank on something, not a typical feature in this place with no crime, gangs, graffitti, or work.

    Those against do it yourself motels often cheek by jowl next to their residence are vociferous in their opposition, and what’ll be interesting is the rental homes are really deteriorating, as upkeep isn’t really being done, in fact it’s a struggle to find people to clean them, and some commute from 50-60 miles away, as nobody is all that motivated in town to do it.

    It’d be interesting if Murray’s quest is successful, as all of the sudden there’d be the aspect of 250 homes on the market here, a good many fixer uppers in the mix.

    Reply
  20. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    re: CIA /Trump conflict over secrets: Hasn’t the CIA been running the country since the election of November ’63? Go on pretending there’s no ‘deep state’. If Trump can leash that monster, it may go a long way to levelling his foul karma. But I suspect if he were truly serious, another ‘lone nut’ would appear.
    Or you could just go on repeating this mantra over and over: “Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, shot President Kennedy from the Texas Book Depository…”

    Reply
    1. roadrider

      They don’t do lone nuts with guns any more – at least not for the most visible targets. The way they took down Nixon was much cleaner. These days, a Spitzer-style operation is more likely although Trump, with his history of lewd conduct and statements about same may be invulnerable to that approach. Not to worry though, there’s little danger of Trump really being serious about exposing the CIA.

      Reply
    2. Olga

      So the (Orwellian) synonym for assassination is now “election?” Ok, good to know … or, was it a Freudian slip?

      Reply
      1. Alex morfesis

        Paperclipyrs East and West took down cruise-chef and JacKd within 12 months…or as secret ancient alien technologists predicted with the help of cosa-nostradamus, was Alex Hidell in fact, really a space alien who could bend time and redirect matter or was he….

        Reply
    3. neo-realist

      Speaking of neutralizing figureheads who don’t go along with the program, don’t they do cancer inducement now? e.g., Chavez.

      Reply
  21. Susan the other`

    Two good articles on China. Thank you. Jixi Gao. Nature. China will protect one quarter of its land. Only China would plan that big. It’s wonderful. And I detected a climate change subtlety: many people along the proposed protected areas (many of them shoreline) will have to be relocated. Making lemonade is the only way to go. And the other article from the always displeased CFR on the BRI and its possible miscalculations. The CFR talks of the usual western brand of financing and seems to suggest that the BRI can only succeed if they can get the gracious financing of all the usual suspects (WB, IMF, etc.) It would be nice if the CFR could come up for air once in a while – even they can surely see that China is in a perfect position to float all it’s Eurasian partners with cooperation agreements. And China is such a manufacturing dynamo it can offer manufactured goods in exchange for needed resources. This questions what Macron said about China running the risk of making its partners all vassal states. The real danger to the BRI, to my thinking, is that China and its partners will take on exogenous financing and will be forced to over industrialize in order to pay the debt service. I hope China is looking at that one very carefully. The BRI is also an opportunity for China to promote Eurasian green economies and jobs. And they do seem to have a mind for just that.

    Reply
    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Sorry to single you out, but the superior concern of the Wise Thousand Year Mandarins in Beijing for the planet seems to be a recurring delusion among certain otherwise clear-eyed comrades here.

      Meanwhile, back in reality:
      – the air is still visibly orange in large parts of the Middle Kingdom. They have great environmental laws but don’t enforce them, except on special occasions;
      – the global ozone hole is growing again, and has (of course) been traced back to massive uncontrolled CFC emissions in northeast China;
      – we are now in the 4th year of China supporting world coal prices at nearly double their actual cost of production; and aggressively pushing huge shoddy made-in-China brown coal power plants and dams for EMs (alongside a flood of cheap solar panels that are strangling developers of more efficient panels);
      – Their so-called ‘reforestation’ is entirely stands of cheap quick-growing timber which are ecological deserts, just like the palm oil plantations that are displacing the world’s last rain forests, again to feed insatiable Chinese demand for edible oils and now, laughably, biofuels;
      – 2600 Chinese supertrawlers continue to sweep all oceans clear of pelagic fish;
      – As one rare species after another is gobbled up at luxury banquets (cenae Trimalchioni), others now appear on the menu (Goodbye hornbills!)
      – Dead pigs in rivers, bird flu, yadayadayada….

      Chinese civilization is in the ‘machine gunning herds of bison from trains’ phase of its own Manifest Destiny. Sure, they will talk and talk, whatever gets you off their backs, and then go ahead and keep looting the planet to make an extra dime per unit.

      For sure, we aren’t setting a great example either, but it is beyond pollyanna to use China as a paradigm.

      Crony central planning won’t recork the bottle crony capitalism (and the worse angels of our own human nature), has opened.

      Reply
      1. John k

        I think China loses more land when ocean rises 100-ft than any other… very heavily populated land.
        And demographics the like the world has never seen. Not many young to take care of the old while manning the factories, the military, etc.

        Reply
      2. Susan the other`

        Yes, I don’t deny any of this OF. But can you imagine what it would be like if China went full laissez faire? It would dwarf our old Manifest Destiny. They would not be able to control and direct events at all.

        Reply
  22. Carolinian

    Taibbi–good to see him wheeling his snark cannon in the direction of the MSM, but he’s a little late to the party. Before there was CNN and Trump there was Monicagate, stolen 2000, valorization of that Trump like boob, Dubya, bended knee toward Reagan. Trump is as much a product of all that went before as a trendsetter who finally pushed them over the edge.

    Reply
    1. Geo

      Tiabbi’s been on it for the 15 or so years I’ve been reading him. Over a decade ago he published his book “The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire”.

      I don’t think he’s of the mind that Trump is the problem but a symptom of a nation gone mad and in the late stages of terminal stupid.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        I stand corrected although I have seen him in more recent TV interviews say that attacks on the press are exaggerated. Those were pre Trump. His recent Russiagate piece seemed a bit of a turning point.

        Reply
      2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        “The Divide” and “Griftopia” are awesome books.

        Taibbi has a unique perspective, having seen the wholesale looting of the USSR by USA, Inc.

        Reply
  23. ewmayer

    o “Assange Indicted Under Espionage Act, Raising First Amendment Issues | NYT” — Assumes facts not in evidence, specifically that The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are something other than dead letters. But I realize the whole “#resist this assault on the First Amendment” meme is important to the likes of NYT and WaPo, as part of their ongoing pretense to be purveyors of news and practitioners of journalism, rather than establishment/imperial-propaganda rags.

    o “What Reparations for Slavery Might Look Like in 2019 | New York Times” — Keep that electorate distracted with magic sparkle ponies and politics of division, NYT! Oddly, or not, I’ve not seen a major polling outfit publish results of a nationwide “we asked black Americans whether they thought reparations for slavery or broad economic justice and opportunity for all was more important as a national priority” survey. (If someone reading this has heard of such a survey, I’m all ears.)

    Reply
  24. Cal2

    Modi article(s)

    We have a presidential and more likely, vice presidential candidate, who knows something about Hinduism, and could become a great ally and link to the largest and fastest growing country in the world that is the natural ally of the U.S. and traditional enemy of China. Oh, and with Bernie, would kick Trump’s ass in an election, If the Democrats are smart enough allow him to win.

    https://religionnews.com/2019/01/26/tulsi-gabbard-religious-bigotry-is-un-american/

    That picture says all you need to know about the past and future of the Democratic Party.

    “I too have been accused of being a “Hindu nationalist.”

    “My meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India’s democratically elected leader, have been highlighted as “proof” of this and portrayed as somehow being out of the ordinary or somehow suspect, even though President Obama, Secretary Clinton, President Trump and many of my colleagues in Congress have met with and worked with him…The strategic partnership between our two countries has been a priority for several decades now. To question my commitment to my country, while not questioning non-Hindu leaders, creates a double standard that can be rooted in only one thing: religious bigotry. I am Hindu and they are not.”

    “When I deployed to Iraq with my fellow soldiers, putting our lives on the line for our country, no one questioned our patriotism because of our religion. No one asked whether we could be trusted because we were Jewish, Catholic, Muslim or atheist. We all took an oath to serve our country and defend the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution.”

    Reply
    1. polecat

      F#ckin A !!

      I’d vote for that pipe-stroking air-boarder in a physiological-split-second, if she were to materialize onto my ballot … I mean, it’d be absolutely No contest .. as ol’ gropy Joe would not only NOT catch a wave … he’d drop like an anchor .. straight down to Davy Jones’s hurt Locker !

      Reply
      1. Geo

        Agreed. The odds of her making it to that are slim but she’s the only candidate my broke self has sent a few dollars to. She’s not perfect by a long stretch but her attitude toward foreign policy is a breath of fresh air. In my dream world it’s her and Bernie for ‘20. His flaws as a candidate are remedied by her and her flaws by him.

        As is said often here, their biggest challenge is the Dem establishment and media narratives. This recent (overnight?) awakening about the Assange indictment gives me a faint glimmer of hope that the narrative is cracking a bit. That’s an issue Tulsi was practically alone on in the current world of politics.

        Reply
  25. The Rev Kev

    “Optimism After Daylong Meeting On Efforts To Fix Boeing 737 Max”

    If I was Boeing, I wouldn’t be getting all optimistic. The investigation of the 737 MAX crashes has resulted in investigations of older Boeing 737 NGs due to inadequate recovery procedures based on runaway stabilizers. Boeing screwed it up and the FAA once again fails to catch it. And Wikipedia tells that that as of last July, there were 6,343 of these birds in operation around the world-

    https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/05/boeing-737-max-crash-reveals-a-severe-problem-with-older-boeing-737-ngs.html

    Reply
  26. Carolinian

    Latest Moon takes on the 737 Max saga and suggests that some of the problems go back to the 737 NG of which 7000 were built. He says that the manual trim wheel was made smaller for the NG and the rear stabilizer made bigger–thus making it harder for the pilot to manually recover from a “runaway stabilizer” situation or a runaway MCAS if that happens.

    A couple of points though: The runaway stabilizer situation he describes is due to an electrical fault that could cause the electric trim motor to jam the stabilizer in a full dive or climb position. Therefore the motor would have to be disabled by a switch and the now smaller trim wheel hand cranked to restore trim.

    But he has to go back to a 707 crash in the 60s to cite a precedent (I believe a California Alaska Airlines accident was since caused by this) and so we can guess that “runaway stabilizer” is quite rare and probably applies to any jetliner.

    And also the recent MCAS situation is different in that the pilots can turn the MCAS off and after that restore trim using that electric motor and the trim switches on their control yoke. Assuming the pilots are attentive, our 737 Pilot commenter has even said that you can grab the trim wheel by hand to keep the automation from moving it to the extreme position. Reportedly in the Ethiopian crash it had reached the extreme position and at 500 mph to boot so this case did mimic “runaway stabilizer.” But one should bear in mind that the MCAS would never have activated without the bad AOA sensor so there are other factors.

    Anyhow, worth a look, but not entirely persuasive

    https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/05/boeing-737-max-crash-reveals-a-severe-problem-with-older-boeing-737-ngs.html#more

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Just to add, the runaway stabilizer situation that B describes could theoretically take place at any altitude and not just during the period when low to the ground. The MCAS accidents happened near the ground because the MCAS, fooled by that AOA sensor, kicked in as soon as the flaps were raised.

      And here’s a supposedly comprehensive list of airplane accidents up to 1989. They don’t always cite the cause but a search reveals only one–that 707–caused by runaway stabilizer.

      https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_accidents_and_incidents_involving_commercial_aircraft_1960_–_1989

      And finally movie fans know that runaway stabilizer–or at least jammed stabilizer–was the cause of the crash in Denzel Washington’s movie Flight. There he somewhat improbably flew the plane upside down once close to the ground and then turned it back over for a belly landing.

      Reply
      1. GregG

        Not runaway, more like jammed, but January 31, 1990 – Alaska Airlines Flight 261, an MD-83, crashes into the Pacific Ocean off Point Mugu, California, after problems with its horizontal stabilizer. All 83 passengers and 5 crew members are killed. I believe it was a stripped/jammed jackscrew and only relevant in showing the compounding problems; if I recall it was the resulting speed that caused slats and other structural pieces to fail; traced to poor maintenance.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          That’s the one I was thinking about. Of course if the stabilizer was jammed then no amount of trimwheel turning would fix. Perhaps they could have tried a Denzel (not to make light of course–I believe airplane people have said the movie maneuver would never work).

          Reply
          1. RMO

            The Alaska Airlines accident was caused by poor maintenance practices – and an Alaska mechanic had previously gone to the FAA due to his concern of things he had seen in the hangar. The FAA ultimately took no action. The NTSB found widespread maintenance problems during the subsequent accident investigation.

            The elevator trim jackscrew had stripped due to lack of lubrication.

            This particular accident isn’t covered in the series but I recommend Macarthur Job’s “Air Disaster” series of books to anyone interested in aviation safety or accident investigation. They’re thorough, accurate and very readable.

            Reply
    2. Yves Smith

      No, 737 Pilot maintained specifically that “runaway stabilizer” was a response that every pilot was to have memorized and there was a card on the windshield for that too. So I would assume it’s not uncommon but pilots have typically been able to handle it.

      And you also forget that the switch that turned off MCAS also turned off power to the trim motor. That’s why the Ethiopian Air pilots turned MCAS back on after having successfully turned it off.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        I believe the Seattle Times has said that one of the announced MCAS changes was a separate switch for the MCAS without disabling the trim motor. When I pointed this out the other day 737 Pilot said there were already several ways to disrupt MCAS while preserving motor operation including using the trim switches on the yoke–which interrupt MCAS although it will come back 10 seconds later–and like I say simply grabbing the trim wheel which has a clutch to the trim motor and can be stopped. He said the correct procedure for an MCAS runaway, as opposed to so called stabilizer runaway, was to interrupt the MCAS and then use the electric trim motor via those yoke switches to restore level flight. Then the electric motor could be disabled altogether and the trim maintained manually by the pilots turning the wheel.

        My prob with the MOA post is that he is treating runaway stabilizer and MCAS runaway as though they were the same thing and suggesting the entire 7000 plane 737NG fleet is at risk. Runaway stabilizer would be a drastic event were it to happen with a big risk of crashing the plane since in theory it could happen at any time, not just when the pilots are at the controls and flying manually. I don’t believe it could be something that routinely occurs.

        Reply

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